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What is Grace?

The word grace is used more than one hundred times in the New Testament, indicating it is one of the most important words in the Scriptures. According to Ephesians 2:8, grace is the agent by which God saves us, “for by grace you have been saved.” We cannot save ourselves; only God’s grace can save us. But what is this grace that saves us? Some Christian teachers define grace as God’s unmerited favor. According to this definition, in saving us God bestows favor on us that we do not deserve. Although God does favor us in His salvation, in the revelation of the New Testament, grace is much more than undeserved favor from God.

In the Bible grace is referred to as the grace of God (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; 8:1; 9:14) and the grace of Christ (2 Cor. 8:9; 12:9; 13:14), and the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). Thus, grace is related to God, to Christ, and to the Spirit—to the person of the Triune God. In the New Testament a phrase such as the love of God often means not merely that love is something that belongs to God but that God Himself is love (1 John 4:8). Similarly, the phrase the word of God means that the word is God (John 1:1). Thus, the grace of God means that grace is God, the grace of Christ means that grace is Christ, and the Spirit of grace means that the Spirit is grace. Based on this, we can conclude that grace is God, Christ, and the Spirit—the Triune God Himself.

Furthermore, John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us...full of grace,” and verse 17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came through Jesus Christ.” The law was something given—the law and its giver were separate. But grace came with Jesus Christ, the incarnated God—grace and Christ are inseparable. Thus, grace is a living person, Jesus Christ Himself, who is the embodiment of the Triune God (Col. 2:9). First Corinthians 15:10 and Galatians 2:20, considered together, are further proof that grace is Christ Himself. In the former Paul wrote, “not I but the grace of God which is with me,” and in the latter he said, “no longer I...but...Christ who lives in me,” indicating that the grace that was with the apostle was the very Christ who lived in him. Moreover, 2 Timothy 4:22 says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” This again identifies grace with Christ, the Lord. Thus, the very grace given to us by God is the very Lord who is with our spirit. Galatians 6:18, Philippians 4:23, and Philemon 25 all confirm that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, is with our spirit, that is, in the deepest part of our being.

Based on the full revelation concerning grace in the New Testament, we may define grace in this way: grace is God in Christ as the Spirit dwelling in our spirit to be everything to us for our enjoyment. On the day of our salvation, when we believed in the Lord Jesus, we received Him into our spirit as grace (John 1:12). This grace, which is the living person of Christ, is what saves us. Day by day, and even moment by moment, we can experience and enjoy this wonderful, saving grace.

For further reading on this subject, please see The Law and Grace of God in His Economy; Life-study of Genesis, Message 63; and Life-study of Galatians, Message 11, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 15, July 1999

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