With such fine definitions, we deceived ourselves that we have good and deep understanding of the terms of Grace and Mercy.
However, the definition of Grace as unmerited favor is wrong. I used to define grace as making up of two parts - unmerited and power. But after hearing James Ryle (Truthworks.org) preaching in Grace Chapel (gracechapel.net) on 23 Jul 2006 "Living a Legacy Part 4", I have to drop the unmerited part and just keep the power part. The unmerited part comes from God's mercy and need not be repeated in grace. In Tit 1:4, the benediction from Paul is "Grace, Mercy and Peace". (which matches well with 2Tim1:7 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control).
How to Judge the Correctness of a Definition?
Defining Grace as "unmerited favor" causes grace to be misunderstood as a license to sin!
- Gal 5:4b ye are fallen from [grace]. How can one falls from unmerited favor ?
- John 1:14b Jesus was full of [grace]. Is Jesus unmerited to have full of grace? Or is Jesus so bad that he need to be full of grace?
The Right Definition
James Ryle defines it as, "Grace is the empowering Presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do."
In shortest possible form, Grace is "God's presence" or God's power", for victorious, abundant, Christ-like, God glorifying living. Wherever that is the presence of God, there is power. God's power comes from His presence in us.
If we take grace as God's power, then it fits well in the above 3 verses cited. James 4:6, proud people don't see they need God's power. The humble people know the truth of their weakness and ask God for power. In Gal 5:4, if we rely on our own ability (our flesh) to be righteous, we do not need God's power and has indeed fallen, or depart from God's power (Grace). In John 1:14, Jesus is full of God's power and presence.
The Weak/Carnal Paul to Victorious Paul
Salvation for all is God's mercy of unmerited favor. Christian growth (becoming like Christ) is depending on us to be full of grace (God's presence and power) through crucifying our flesh (self-will, self-confidence, self-capability, self-pride) and follow after the Spirit. It is about abiding in Christ, living from the Vine of God's presence and power and then be fruitful.
The Verses Coming Alive
2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace(God's presence & power), and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let's compare, which definition gives better emphasis
- Rom 11:6 And if by grace[unmerited favor of God], then is it no more of works: otherwise grace[favor] is no more grace[favor]. But if it be of works, then is it no more [God’s favor]: otherwise work is no more work.
- Rom 11:6 And if by grace[Power of God], then is it no more of [men’s] works: otherwise grace[God’s Power] is no more [of God]. But if it be of [men’s] works, then is it no more [God’s power]: otherwise work is no more work.
- Eph 2:8 For by grace[unmerited favor] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
- Eph 2:8 For by grace[God's power] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
- Grace is the God's power that comes from God and not of ourselves. The grace power is a gift, the unmerited, for us from God. Paul had already doubly emphasized that Grace was not from us (1st) and it was a gift (2nd) from God. There is no need to triple emphasis by saying grace is unmerited favor. Grace is the favor, the Power of God. Please note that grace,as presented above, while it was made available for all, it is only given if we asked for it (James 4:8).
See part 2 Grace - God's Loving Power for You to become Your Very Best
- The Balanced View: Degree of Grace - From Grace-less to Ultra-Grace
- The Error: Grace - Wrong Definition leading to Shameful Behavior
- The Right: From Be-Do-Have to Be-Do-Have-Share
John Bevere’s definition for Grace: “God’s empowerment that gives us the ability to go beyond our natural ability.” John's message on grace can be found in YouTube as well.
Note: John Bevere's definition was also pointed out in one of the comment. Sorry that I missed that.
The Right Meaning of Grace used by the famous Actor Andy Griffith
"I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before."
Grace is God's power given to those who ask for it especially those called by God to accomplish His will.