The concept of God’s “grace” is beyond words. It shines its brightest, however, against the backdrop of God’s unfailing love on behalf of sinners, who actually do not deserve it.
Understanding the grace of God has always been a daily adventure for me. But it was illuminated when a good friend of mine introduced me to look at grace through the original Creek translation of the word χαρις (Charis).
Charis has various meaning that naturally blend together into one another, like a tapestry of colour. I soon discovered that it is difficult to fix a precise meaning of what the word wants to convey. Perhaps it is because our concept of the grace of God has become confused due to misuse and overuse of the word “grace”.
So let’s unpack Charis
- Primarily the word seems to denote pleasant external appearance, “gracefulness,” “loveliness”; cf. the personification in “the Graces.”.
- Objectively, charis may denote the impression produced by “gracefulness,”
- As a mental attribute, charis may be translated by “graciousness,” or, when directed toward a particular person or persons, by “favour.”
- To compliment this, charis denotes the emotion awakened in the recipient of such favour, i.e. “gratitude.”
- Finally, charis may mean the act by which graciousness is expressed.
The important part played by grace in the plan of salvation is of itself a good reason for observing the significance of the word charis; and the many and varied applications that are made of the term “grace” by Christians emphasise the need for a clear understanding of the word.
For myself, the concept of grace went little beyond the basic definition of “unmerited favour” or “the free gift of God.” I have struggled to describe the free grace of God, and in fact I found the word had been clouded and disguised so effectively I can only think this is a deliberate cover up by the enemy. This fundamental question of God’s grace did not seem to have an answer that came readily.
God’s grace is a free gift
So I started with what I knew. Grace can be described as the “undeserved favour and kindness of God.” There is nothing I can do to take it because it is given by God as a gift. Only through Jesus Christ we are offered grace, a free gift.
Furthermore, it is not a gift that anyone on earth has a right to as no one is deserving of the free grace of God, yet He gives it to us freely in abundance. ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God’ – Ephesians 2:8. This scripture encapsulates for me grace in one sentence. I have been saved by grace through faith. It is not by works or doing good deeds or anything else, but only by God’s gift through faith. He has shown me His undeserved favour and kindness by overlooking my sins and allowing me to enter life now, and later into eternity, simply because I believe and have faith in his son Jesus Christ.
All that I am is totally a result of God’s grace
The deeper I get into knowing and experiencing God one thing becomes more and more clear. That is, all that I am, all that I ever have been, and all that I ever will be is totally one hundred percent a result of God’s awesome grace. Every failure I experience causes me to humbly become more dependent upon God’s grace, causing me to decrease and Jesus to increase in my life. All and every success I have is not mine but rather a result of God’s grace at work in me. Spiritual success has nothing to do with me or the things that I do or don’t do; except for the choice to both accept and live in grace, or reject the free gift by rejecting God and His Love. I can’t add anything to grace and I can’t take anything away from it.
Grace requires that I abide in Christ
‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’ John 15:4-5. Without God Í can do nothing, thus the fruits of being a Christian are a result of God’s work of grace in my life, not by my own efforts. What I am required to do is abide in Christ as a branch in a tree. The only work that a branch does is remain in the tree, then life giving sap and nutrients come up through the tree giving it life and producing fruit.
Grace has already prepared my work in advance
The works that we do for God are the works that He has prepared in advance that we should walk in them; they are not a result of our efforts. They are God’s works that we move in being guided by His Holy Spirit of Love. This is your destiny on earth. ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ – Ephesian 2:10.
Sometimes I have a tendency to do things on my own to get out of His arms and run. I want to do the work instead of letting God do it. Then the Lord will chastise me and cause situations that are too big for me to handle alone, which sends me running back into His arms where once again I rest in His grace, trusting Him to rescue me.
The cross stands alone – God’s unfailing love
The scene of the cross was the ultimate demonstration of love. God was willing to suffer in agony and pain to demonstrate the love that He has for you and me. Every time we sin we must remember the cross and thank God for His grace and compassion for us because that is where each sin was paid for, even the ones that we commit today.
Grace replaces my knowledge
The ramifications of God’s grace to me in Christ vitally affect my life in every area. Throughout the New Testament the effects of God’s grace are emphasised. Everywhere I turned I ran into the word. In fact, the Lord Himself is described as the very epitome and manifestation of God’s grace.
Then there came a point at which my knowledge of God and His love reached critical mass and there was a breakthrough into the rest dimension, the realm of trust and faith that comes from love. No longer do I struggle to obey God’s commandments, it is easier, and I enjoy them because there are only two, love God and love your neighbour; when I keep these two all the others are kept also.
A mosaic of grace
The best thing I can ask God for is His grace and unfailing love remain in me and upon me. God’s rich mosaic of grace colours my life in every way. I can go to God for every need, to fall in love with Him again with all my heart, to crave a new hunger for more of His Word, a desire to serve Him, and a greater passion to know Him in an intimate way. This is my prayer and also I pray it for every person who reads this blog.