What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?

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The word grace appears often in the Bible, from its first book to its last. But what does it mean? Does your understanding of grace agree with the Bible?

To understand the meaning of grace, we need to understand the Hebrew and Greek words used for grace in the Bible and what they reveal to us.

Grace is truly a great gift from God. What are some of the things that happen through grace?

The Bible is hard on its heroes. While it records their great deeds, it also records their flaws and often their worst sins.

God’s Word tells us that our sins have separated us from God. So what is the solution to this estrangement? God has provided a way through His grace.

We must have faith that Christ really lived and died for us and that He will change us now and ultimately at the resurrection.

Many people struggle with unresolved guilt and feelings of shame over past mistakes and sins. How should our faith in God’s grace and forgiveness affect our conscience?

Some people believe that when a person commits his or her life to Jesus Christ, accepting Him as personal Savior, then eternal salvation is totally assured from that moment on, with absolutely no possibility of ever losing it. This is often referred to as “eternal security” or “once saved, always saved.” But does the Bible really teach this? Let’s examine the Scriptures to understand the truth.

Eternal life is God’s gift of grace, not something any of us deserve or can in any way earn.

The best way to understand grace may be to see it in action. In the life of Jesus Christ we have a perfect example of grace to follow and show in our lives.

John never stated or implied that no form of grace came through Moses. John understood that everything good has come by God’s grace—including the law revealed through Moses.

Sometimes we must be rescued and delivered from desperate situations before we can move forward on the path toward God’s spiritual salvation. We encounter a number of such individuals in the Bible.

As we see repeatedly in the surrounding chapter, Jesus exemplified God’s grace again and again in what He did while on earth. And the Gospels are filled with many other such examples. But Jesus also told a remarkable story that illustrates the magnitude of God’s grace toward us. Commonly known as the parable of the prodigal son, it’s found in Luke 15:11-32.

Many people have the impression that grace and law are fundamentally opposed. But is this what the Bible teaches? Let’s examine what it really says.

God’s law is a reflection of God’s mind, nature and character.

Many people point to Romans 6:14, which says, “You are not under law, but under grace,” to argue that Christians, being under grace, no longer need to obey God’s law.

A comment by Paul that many lift out of context and misinterpret is Romans 3:28: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”

The word grace had deep meaning for the apostle Paul. His letters form the bulk of what we today call the New Testament, and in those letters he used the Greek word charis, most often translated “grace,” approximately 100 times. Remarkably, the subject of grace shows up multiple times in every one of his letters that has been preserved for us.

Paul taught that salvation is a gift from God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

The Bible describes sin as the deadly enemy of all mankind (Romans 6:23). Our corrupted human nature has a powerful compulsion to sin (Romans 8:7). But to receive God’s gift of eternal life, we must forsake sin—a process the Bible calls repentance.

The word grace is regularly used by some religious people as if it replaces all need to obey God’s law. That conclusion is not only inaccurate, it is also diabolical!

Many people think Jesus of Nazareth came to do away with the law, replacing law with grace—but did He? Few things could be more important to you than understanding this matter! A careful study of Scripture shows that Jesus was much more than most people realize, and this truth has huge implications.

The Greek word commonly translated “grace” had a specific meaning in the first-century Roman Empire in which the apostles taught. What does it reveal?

The Greek word charis, commonly translated “grace” in our Bibles, had a specific meaning in the time and culture in which the New Testament was written. It also had a set of other words associated with it that appear many times in the Bible, particularly in the letters of the apostle Paul. Understanding what these words meant in that context aids us greatly in understanding what they should mean in the lives of Christians today.

The concept of grace was depicted visually in a motif common in the Greco-Roman world in which the New Testament was written. Aspects of grace were personified as deities, which, though clearly unbiblical, helps to illustrate how charis, or grace, was viewed.

Today our written communications with other people are so hurried, so instant (think texting, email or social media), that we rarely if ever deeply consider our words’ impact and meaning. But personal communications weren’t always this way. Writers in early times often put a great deal of thought into the words they used.

In light of what the Bible shows us about grace, what does this mean for us? Does receiving God’s grace come with obligations? How can we grow in grace?

In the hours before His death by crucifixion, Jesus made a remarkable statement to His disciples: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).

As we have seen in this study guide, grace is a free gift from God and a reflection of His loving nature and character. But we have also seen that the fact of grace being a free gift has been misunderstood, misapplied and misused by those who argue there are no requirements for continuing in it.

How does grace interact with the law of God? How do we reconcile grace and law? Two major gifts of grace are the unmerited mercy God grants us by His loving nature and His spiritual law the apostle Paul said he took “delight in” (Romans 7:22).

People often think of God’s grace in terms of His mercy—His showing of compassion and particularly His forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Yet God’s grace involves far more than this—indeed, all of His good gifts to us. Nevertheless, His merciful forgiveness is an important part of the grace He bestows. And a condition of our receiving and continuing to receive His forgiveness through grace is that we ourselves must be merciful, forgiving as we are forgiven.