Grace: How God Interacts With Us

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Grace

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 1 John 4:8-16 8 He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
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). 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 John 1:14-16 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
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God calls us through His grace (Galatians 1:15 Galatians 1:15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
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Through grace God pronounces us “justified”— righteous and free of sin-as a result of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (Romans 3:24 Romans 3:24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
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; Titus 3:7 Titus 3:7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
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God offers us salvation—His gift of eternal life—through grace (Romans 5:15-18 Romans 5:15-18 15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded to many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses to justification. 17 For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came on all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came on all men to justification of life.
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; Titus 2:11 Titus 2:11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
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; Titus 3:5 Titus 3:5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
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; Acts 15:11 Acts 15:11But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
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Through grace God allows us to enjoy a relationship with Him (Romans 5:1-2 Romans 5:1-2 1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
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God saves us through His grace (Ephesians 2:5-8 Ephesians 2:5-8 5 Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) 6 And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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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 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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; Hebrews 2:9 Hebrews 2:9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
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Through grace God gives us mercy and “help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
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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 8:1-4 1 Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take on us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
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, 2 Corinthians 9:8 2 Corinthians 9:8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
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God forgives us through His grace (Ephesians 1:7 Ephesians 1:7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
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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 2 Corinthians 8:9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich.
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; compare Philippians 2:5-11 Philippians 2:5-11 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. 9 Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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God gives us consolation and hope through grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16 2 Thessalonians 2:16Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
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Through grace God grants spiritual gifts to His people for the benefit of those in His Church (Ephesians 4:7-16 Ephesians 4:7-16 7 But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Why he said, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
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; 1 Peter 4:10 1 Peter 4:10As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
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God’s grace—His dealings with humanity motivated by love—are part of the true gospel (Acts 20:24 Acts 20:24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
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). 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 .)