Updated: Mar 25
Grace is a term that appears frequently throughout the Bible, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is a powerful concept that is closely associated with the idea of mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward undeserving people, and it is often described as a gift from God that cannot be earned or attained through human efforts. In this class, we will explore the meaning of the word grace as used in the Bible (NIV).
The word grace is first used in the Bible in Genesis 6:8, where Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This was during a time when God saw that the earth was corrupt and filled with violence, and He was planning to destroy all life on earth with a flood. However, because of Noah's righteousness, God decided to spare him and his family. The fact that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord means that God showed him favor that he did not deserve.
In the New Testament, grace takes on an even greater significance. In John 1:14-17, it says that Jesus came full of grace and truth. This means that Jesus was the embodiment of God's unmerited favor and that through Him, we can receive God's forgiveness and salvation. In Romans 5:8, it says that God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is the ultimate expression of God's grace toward humanity.
Another important aspect of grace is that it is a free gift that cannot be earned or attained through good works. In Ephesians 2:8-9, it says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." This passage makes it clear that salvation is not something that we can earn by our good deeds or religious rituals. It is purely a gift from God that we receive by faith.
Grace also has a transformative power in the lives of those who receive it. In Titus 2:11-12, it says, "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." This means that when we accept God's grace, it changes us from the inside out. It empowers us to resist temptation and to live a life that honors God.
However, grace does not mean that we can continue to live in sin without consequences. In Romans 6:1-2, it says, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" This passage makes it clear that grace does not give us license to sin. Instead, it calls us to a higher standard of holiness and righteousness.
Finally, grace is something that we must continually rely on throughout our lives. In Hebrews 4:16, it says, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." This means that whenever we face difficulties or trials in life, we can turn to God's grace for strength and encouragement.
In conclusion, the word grace is a powerful concept that appears frequently throughout the Bible. It is closely associated with the idea of mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward undeserving people, and it is a gift that cannot be earned or attained through human efforts. Grace has the power to transform our lives and empower us to live a life that honors God. However, grace also calls us to a higher standard of holiness and righteousness. It is something that we must continually rely on throughout our lives, trusting in God's unending love and mercy.
What is the GRACE of God? How does the Bible talk about it?
Does the term always mean the same thing?
Grace as a noun. (Gracious)
Psalm 45:2 (NIV)
You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.
Grace as a verb (adorn, bless)
Proverbs 1:8-9 (NIV)
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
Grace as "favor" (the Hebrew word for grace is "hen" sometimes translated "favor". (mercy, affection, positive notice) Used as a formula in the OT to ask for mercy or to ask for a favor.
Genesis 18:3 (NIV)
He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.
Genesis 30:27 (NIV)
But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.”
Traditionally the term "Grace" has been defined as God's "unmerited favor". In many cases in the Bible this is an accurate depiction of the meaning intended.
As one bestowing "unmerited favor"
Story of Noah (Gen 6:8)
Story of Hannah (1 Sam 2)
John 1:16-17 (NIV)
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Discussion: Compare Noah/Hannah with the plight of mankind/sin
(God shows grace by rescuing from impossible situations)
Saved by Grace through Faith
Galatians 2:21 (NIV)
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Grace in the New Testament takes on some additional implications.
Grace as a Christian attribute
2 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV)
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.
Hail Mary full of Grace*
Stephen full of Grace and Power(Acts 6:8)
Jesus full of the HS (Lk 4:1)
*The prayer incorporates two greetings to Mary recorded in the Gospel of Luke: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee", and "Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb". Luke 1:26-28
Is Grace customized by God to each believer?
Romans 12:3 (NIV)
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:6 (NIV)
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
Ephesians 4:7 (NIV)
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Discussion: How is your personal story a demonstration of Gods Grace and how does that unique experience EMPOWER you to minister to others?
Grace teaches and empowers us
Teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness (Tit 2:11-12)
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Grace in action (pay it forward?)
Acts 4:33 (NIV)
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them
Grace as a "gift" of ministry (generosity) (2 Cor ch. 8-9)
2 Cor 8:1 (NIV)
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
Corinthians 8:7 (NIV)
But since you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you--see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Grace as office of ministry
Galatians 2:9 (NIV)
James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.
Grace is given to us as a gift
Grace is God’s mercy to us
Christ broke through our impossible
predicament: standing condemned by sin
Give of yourself for others even as Christ sacrificed his riches for you.
Forgive as you have been forgiven
Don’t judge, show compassion & generosity
Let God' Grace be "at work" in your life
GOD’s GRACE TO YOU IS UNIQUE!
Look for opportunities to share what YOU have received with others