What is grace?

by Matt Slick

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is where God shows us mercy, kindness, and patience instead of the judgment that we deserve for sinning against him. God's grace cannot be earned by our actions or sincerity. It cannot be lost by our rebellion or sin. Grace is based on the character of God and not on our sincerity, performance, or ability to keep the law of God. Otherwise, grace would not be grace. 

  • Rom. 11:6, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."
  • Gal. 2:21, "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
  • 2 Timothy 1:9, "who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity."

If it were not for God's grace, we would never be saved from his righteous judgment. It was the grace of God that worked in Christ who bore our sins in his body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) so that we might be forgiven and justified by faith (Rom. 3:28; 5:1). Because of God's gracious kindness, all who put their trust in his work on the cross will receive forgiveness, salvation, regeneration, and the eternal love of God. Again, God's kindness to us is based on his
character--not on ours. His grace to us is completely and totally an act of his free will and not based on any ability, merit, or performance of our own.

God's grace is manifested to unbelievers also. Ultimately, all people deserve the judgment of God because all people have sinned (Romans 3:23). However, God does not execute his judgment upon all people right away. Instead, he is exceedingly patient and kind towards them. Please consider what Jesus said regarding loving our enemies even as God loves the unrighteous:

Matt. 5:43-48, You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy." 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you 45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

False Religious Views of Grace

Roman Catholicism

  • Meriting Grace to attain eternal life:  Catechism of the Catholic Church 2010, "Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.”
  • Meriting Grace to attain eternal life:  CCC 2027, "No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.”

Mormonism

  • Saved by grace alone is evil:  "One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.206. See also The Book of Mormon Student Manual Religion 121 and 122, 1996, p. 36).
  • Justification by faith alone is evil: "The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith Alone has exercised an influence for evil. The idea upon which this pernicious doctrine was founded was at first associated with that of an absolute predestination, by which man was foredoomed to destruction, or to an undeserved salvation,” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, p. 432).

Christian Science

  • Grace is spiritual understanding: "Philosophical links, which would unite dead matter with animate, Spirit with matter and material means, prayer with power and pride of position, hinder the divine influx and lose Science,--lose the Principle of divine metaphysics and the tender grace of spiritual understanding, that love-linked holiness which heals and saves,” (Miscellany, p. 206).
  • Grace is understanding God: "All this is accomplished by the grace of God,--the effect of God understood,” (Christian Science vs. Pantheism, p. 10).

 

 

 

 
 
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