What's Grace?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by bmerr, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. bmerr

    bmerr
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    To All,
    bmerr here. I'm looking for the Bible's definition/description of the Grace of God. The verse I'm most familiar with is Titus 2:11, 12, which reads,

    11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
    12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world"


    In this text, it is the grace of God that teaches us how to live.

    I know there must be more to grace than that, but I'm having a hard time finding texts like that to explain it. I'd appreciate ya'lls help.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  2. billwald

    billwald
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    Standard definition is "unmerited favor." Dutch Calvinists divide this into common grace and saving grace.
     
  3. bmerr

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    billwald,

    bmerr here. Yeah, I've found that definition in a couple of commentaries, too. If you think about it, anything God does for man is unmerited. From providing us with the daily essentials, to providing a way of Salvation, to telling us about the way of Salvation. All of these things and more would be unmerited. God owes man nothing.

    Like I said, Titus describes grace as instruction, or "teaching us..." One can certainly see that instructive aspect of grace in the example of Noah.

    Gen 6:8 "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."

    Immediately following is a description of Noah, and then a short lineage from Noah (6:9, 10). Then verses 11, 12 describe the condition of the earth and it's inhabitants.

    But when you get to verse 13 and following, it seems to me as though the grace which Noah found is manifested in Gods' warning him of the coming judgement, and giving him instruction on how to prepare for it.

    Then way down in verse 22, we find, "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he." Hebrews 11:7 tells us he did it "by faith". So we've got grace and faith for Noah.

    What I'm trying to get to is a better understanding of Eph 2:8, 9. The reason is that the popular interpretation of these verses puts them in conflict with many other passages of Scripture, which in turn, have to be denuded of their meaning for folks to hold on to their interpretation.

    I figure, if we can get a better understanding of God's grace, we might be able to see things a bit more alike, instead of being so divided on so many issues.

    Divisions are the result of man's misunderstanding, and some of the fault may be mine. If so, I want to improve my understanding, and thus bring myself, and hopefully others, to a closer unity in Christ.

    Let's keep looking.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  4. bmerr

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    To All,

    bmerr here. I don't want to assume too much, but based on the absence of input thus far, I'm tempted to conclude that none of us has found any other Biblical description/definition of the grace of God.

    It appears that, whatever God's grace may entail, it is primarily manifested to man in the form of divine instruction as to how man ought to behave himself, or what man is to do.

    I'm still open for suggestions.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  5. billwald

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    It also includes this wonderful universe we live in and the rain falling on the just and the unjust.

    What about the people whom God has not instructed?
     
  6. DHK

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    Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    Grace is God's free unmerited favor.
    All of God's creation is God's gift to us; though we don't deserve it: the rain, the sunshine, the forests, the green grass, everything around us that God gives us--he gives us freely though we don't deserve it.

    And Romans 1:20 tells us that all of his creation (freely given to man) teaches us about God, so that there is no excuse for man not to believe in God. In that way it is instructive. And yet is simply His unmerited favor to mankind, just like his great gift of salvation--unmerited favor.
    DHK
     
  7. Ben W

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    Christ went through the cross, and would have just for you, that is Grace.
     
  8. IAD

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    A popular definition for grace is to turn it into an acronym:

    God's
    Riches
    At
    Christ's
    Expense

    Ten-plus years ago, Newsboys did a song called Good Thing. The chorus went, "When we get what we don't deserve, that's a real good thing, a real good thing. When we don't get what we deserve, that's a real good thing, a real good thing." The first half is about grace, the second about mercy.
     
  9. ascund

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    Greetings

    Another superb post from you!

    Then you followed this up with a song called "Good Thing" that combined grace and mercy. Well-done! Grace by itself is a good but partial picture. Same for mercy. These wonderful aspects of God's plan of redemption give us insights into God's character and attributes. This is a centuries old discussion where God's holines, love, etc are all examined.

    Spurgeon noted, "There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. ... But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. ... I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead." Source: Charles Spurgeon, Sermon: The Immutability of God, Jan 7, 1855, New Park STreet Chapel, Southwark; available: http://blueletterbible.org/Comm/charles_spurgeon/sermons/0001.html

    Lloyd
     
  10. DHK

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    Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
    Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
    Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
    There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

    Refrain

    Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
    Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that is greater than all our sin.

    Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
    Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
    Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
    Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

    Refrain

    Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
    What can we do to wash it away?
    Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
    Brighter than snow you may be today.

    Refrain

    Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
    Freely bestowed on all who believe! (grace)(faith)
    You that are longing to see His face,
    Will you this moment His grace receive?

    Refrain
    Julia H. Johnston,

    http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/g/ggreater.htm
     
  11. TexasSky

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    Zechariah 12:10 - And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

    A quick bible search for the word shows it is often used where you would expect "mercy" to be used.
     
  12. bmerr

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    To All,

    bmerr here. Well done so far, for the most part. DHK made a good point about the instructive aspects of the Creation. There is certainly ample evidence in the universe to convince the honest and pure heart of the existence of God.

    Even with that, it seems that the grace of God is primarily manifested to man in instruction, or teaching, of the existence of God (in Creation), and the duty, or God's expectation, of man (in written revelation).

    As said earlier, "unmerited favor" certainly is an apt description, but I don't think it's found in the Bible. That's what I'm interested in: how the Bible describes, or defines grace.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Feel free to continue.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  13. DHK

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    mercy = pity, having compassion on another.
    "As said earlier...certainly is an apt description but I don't think it is found in the Bible. That's what I'm interested in: how the Bible describes, or defines "mercy."

    If you were really interested Bmerr you would get yourself a dictionary and look these words up for yourself. The Bible is not a dictionary. We do have helps, such as Greek lexicons, even the abbreviated ones like the ones found in the back of Strong's Concordance. There are good scholars out there that can tell you the meanings of variuos Greek words. But most often a simple Oxford Dictionary will do in most cases. The simple definition of grace is found in an English dictionary. It is free unmerited favor. That is the English meaning. It is the Greek meaning. It is the Biblical meaning. It is the meaning that you can easily derive from Romans 11:6, as well as Eph.2:8,9, which I have expounded for you on numerous occasions. If you don't believe a dictionary or a Greek lexicon what will you believe. Are you looking for some book that will re-define the world so that it will fit into your heretical theology? You won't find it. Grace is free. It does not include works as the COC would want it to. Sorry to break the bad news to you.
    Salvation is a free gift of God; freely given to all who believe. That is grace--a free gift to those who don't deserve it.
    DHK
     
  14. ascund

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    Greeings all

    What lacks from this thread is the OT understanding of these words. How is it that the OT writers can speak of justice, forgiveness and mercy in the same context? Consider (psa 89:14, 101:1, 119:149; Jer 9:24, Hos 2:19, Zech 7:9, and many more)

    Forgiveness does not relate to either pardons or merciful acts in Western justice. In Western justice, mercy and justice are diametrically opposed. Westerners associate justice with punishment, not forgiveness. A western just judge cannot be merciful or forgiving.

    Biblical righteousness must not be seen as an impartial abstract legal decision without reference to God's eternal covenant based on hesed (loving covenantal obligation) and brit (covenantal bonding agreements). Biblical righteousness must be seen as protective and restorative actions that fulfill communal norms. This contrast of righteousness between the Western abstract legal justice and Hebraic relationship justice can be seen in the story of Tamar and Judah (Gen. 38). If this story is read in terms of Western justice, one cannot understand how Tamar could justly play the prostitute and not be punished when she herself produced evidence of harlotry. Judah’s pronunciation of innocence is understood only through covenantal justice as Tamar rightly orchestrated the restoration of proper norms within the family relationship. Judah had promised Tamar a husband and failed to follow through on his obligation. Tamar’s actions forced Judah to fulfill his family promise of progeny so that Tamar would have an inheritance and security in her old age. She took dramatic steps to re-establish the grace of covenantal normalcy.

    Grace cannot be unmerited favor without understanding God's move to re-establish covenantal norms. This requires (sometimes harsh) discipline and merciful justice.

    Grace is not Christ's Riches At Christ's Expense without understanding the eschatological goal of God's covenantal kingdom.

    Grace must include the joy of fellowship (I John 1:3) with Jesus Who is eternal life (I john 5:20) and others who are also in God's covenantal community.

    These are exerpts from my wanna-be, but alas not-yet-approved dissertation on I John.
    Lloyd
     
  15. IAD

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    It seems to me that there are maybe a couple of different types of grace. Bear with me for a moment, because I'm typing this about seven characters ahead of my actual thought process.

    *end disclaimer*

    The first type (and the type most often discussed/thought of) would be saving grace -- that is, receiving the forgiveness of sin, the promise of Heaven and the seal of the Holy Spirit at the time one trusts Christ as Savior.

    The second type would be daily grace, for lack of a better term. As Lloyd pointed out, there is a mercy component that goes hand-in-hand with grace, and I believe this is true in both the saving and daily grace aspects. Daily grace would often be called "God's blessings" -- things that happen that we truly do not deserve, but God decided to bestow upon us anyway. In earthly terms, I suppose it's like me wanting to buy my kids a DVD of old Popeye cartoons yesterday -- not because they had done anything special to deserve it, but because I'm their dad and just wanted to do something nice and unexpected for them. (Besides, it was only $6! lol)

    Your neighbor mows your grass for you while you're on vacation, just to be nice. You notice something interesting in Scripture one day, and two days later you're asked an unexpected question on that very verse and are able to answer it on the spot (this happened to me Wednesday night). The courthouse sends you a check for $300 because they found out they accidentally overcharged you on property taxes. Your body is running low on oxygen so you draw a breath, and lo and behold there's air available and it keeps you alive for another few seconds. I dunno, I'm just making these up on the spot, like I said, but these seem like examples of daily things that are part of God's continuing grace to us even beyond the point of salvation.

    I think God has daily grace by the bucketful, and He's anxious to pour it on His kids. The trick is to stay underneath where He's pouring it. He doesn't have to chase us like a moving target. He already knows where He's going to work. But we get busy, distracted, or otherwise engaged and miss out on where He's pouring sometimes. And there are even times when we don't even realize we've been drenched with daily grace.
     
  16. DHK

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    Is it mercy or is it grace?

    Put it the other way around (to be less offensive). You mow your neighbor's grass just to be nice.
    Why?
    Because your neighbor is really a nice guy, a good neighbor and he deserves a good favor from you every once and a while. (mercy) You are showing some compassion toward him.

    Because your neighbor's rotweiller's dog just attacked your five year old daughter, and she remains in critical care in the hospital. His dog is a continual nuisance to the neighborhood. No one has much respect for him. And now for this incident the entire neighborhood, if not the whole city (if it has hit the news) has turned against him and his dog.
    Now you mow his grass. That is grace. Doing it when he doesn't deserve it.
    DHK
     
  17. Gerhard Ebersoehn

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    What about that most amazing song: "Amazing Grace!"?
    I've known it - like we all have - for all my life, and still I cannot withhold the tears, every time I hear it in my mind or ears.
     
  18. Gerhard Ebersoehn

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    I think that when we pray for forgiveness of our sins, we pray for mercy; and when we pray to give thanks for our forgiveness, we praise God for his grace!
     
  19. Gerhard Ebersoehn

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    Yes, mercy has our self-interest in mind; grace has God's selfless interest in us, in mind.
     
  20. bmerr

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    To All,

    bmerr here. Again, thank you all for your input. As I've said before, the concept of grace is certainly not contained within the description in Titus 2:11, 12. Many of you have given excellent examples of grace shown to underserving neighbors, the fact that there is on-demand air available most anywhere on the planet, etc.

    It seems to me, though, that concerning the salvation of man, God's grace is manifested in the provision of Jesus as our Savior, and His instructions to man as to how to respond to the good news of His provision, the gospel.

    It is in that aspect of "grace" that we are saved, when we respond by faith, in obedience to the commands of the gospel.

    That is my understanding of Eph 2:8-9. The words "only", or "alone" are not found in the text, nor is the phrase, "of any kind". It seems to me it would be as dangerous to add them to one's understanding of the text as it would be to add them to the text, itself.

    I just don't think the popular interpretation of Eph 2:8-9 is in harmony with the rest of Scripture. I understand many disagree with me. I can live with that. I'm not mad at anyone about it. I'm just trying to improve my understanding of the Bible.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     

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