Grace: How God Interacts With Us

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How God Interacts With Us

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The apostle John summarizes God's motivation and character in three simple words: "God is love" (1 John 4:8-16). His dealings with us are motivated by His love—His care, His concern and even His correction—so we can receive His gift of eternal life as members of His family.

Several of the apostles summarize God's attitude and approach of loving care and concern for us with the term grace. Paul, Peter and John use the word quite often. What do they mean by it, and how can it help us better understand our Creator?

Grace is the word most frequently used in modern Bible translations for the original Greek word charis. There is no simple English-language equivalent. Charis means "that which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor [and] acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired . . . [and] a favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver" (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 1993, p. 1469). It comes from the Greek verb chairo, which means "to rejoice" (same source).

Charis is also translated as "favor," "thanks" and "pleasure." A simple way to define grace would be to think of it as God's unearned, undeserved favor toward us—motivated by His love and concern for us, especially those of us who accept His invitation to enter into a relationship with Him. It encompasses all of the wonderful gifts God so graciously offers us.

Paul typically starts his letters to the churches with the phrase "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." In doing so he wanted to impress upon his audience God's favor toward those who accept His calling.

How does God express His love for us through grace?

Through grace God reveals Himself and helps us come to know Him and Jesus Christ His Son (John 1:14-16).

God calls us through His grace (Galatians 1:15).

Through grace God pronounces us "justified"— righteous and free of sin-as a result of Jesus Christ's sacrifice (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7).

God offers us salvation—His gift of eternal life—through grace (Romans 5:15-18; Titus 2:11; Titus 3:5; Acts 15:11).

Through grace God allows us to enjoy a relationship with Him (Romans 5:1-2).

God saves us through His grace (Ephesians 2:5-8).

Because of God's grace, God offered Jesus Christ, and Jesus offered Himself, as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9).

Through grace God gives us mercy and "help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

Through grace God gives us not only what we need but enough for us to share with others (2 Corinthians 8:1-4, 2 Corinthians 9:8).

God forgives us through His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

Through grace Jesus Christ came in the flesh in the role of a servant so we could have a Savior and receive eternal life (2 Corinthians 8:9; compare Philippians 2:5-11).

God gives us consolation and hope through grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16).

Through grace God grants spiritual gifts to His people for the benefit of those in His Church (Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10).

God's grace—His dealings with humanity motivated by love—are part of the true gospel (Acts 20:24). The gospel—the good news—is the message of God's plan to offer eternal life in the Kingdom of God to all who have ever lived and will yet live. This is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in taking on Himself the penalty for our sins.

The gospel includes the wonderful news that God will intervene in human affairs to save us from ourselves and send Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. (To better understand the truth about the Kingdom of God, be sure to read the booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom.)