“The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalms 84:11 Psalms 84:11For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
American King James Version×).
Grace. It’s a word that appears more than 150 times in the Bible, starting in Genesis with “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8 Genesis 6:8But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
American King James Version×) to the Bible’s final verse, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21 Revelation 22:21The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
American King James Version×).
But what does grace mean? Today the word is rarely used in everyday conversation. It’s often associated with religious beliefs or acts. People speak of “saying grace” before meals. They speak of being “saved by grace.” They speak of God as being “full of grace,” meaning that He is kind and merciful.
Over the centuries the word has migrated into secular usage. We occasionally hear of someone who has “fallen from grace” as a result of his or her actions. We may know of people who are a disgrace because their deeds have disgraced them and been disgraceful. We may even say that such individuals have no “saving grace” in their favor.
Music composers sometimes add grace notes to a musical score—unessential, but adding to the listeners’ enjoyment. In the publishing field, subscribers to magazines and newspapers may receive several “grace copies” after their subscription has expired—a process called “gracing” in the industry.
Car rental agencies, credit card companies and mortgage lenders may at times give customers a “grace period” before additional fees are applied. People sometimes address royalty as “your grace” as a sign of the esteem in which they are held.
Variations of the word grace are common in the English language. We may refer to a dancer or nimble creature being graceful—elegant or beautiful in bearing and movement. It’s a high compliment to note that a person is gracious, meaning kind, courteous and compassionate. Conversely, to call someone an ingrate is a deep insult. We are grateful when good things happen. When we receive good service we express that appreciation with a gratuity, more commonly known as a tip. We congratulate others for a job well done. Saying something is gratis means it is free.
At times people try to ingratiate themselves with others, sometimes with gratuitous words and actions. If taken too far they may become, to borrow a Latin phrase, persona non grata—literally “a person without grace.”
With so many uses and so many shades of meaning, it’s not surprising that grace is a concept some find hard to define.
This has led to many misunderstandings—some with extremely serious consequences. In failing to understand grace as it is revealed in the Bible, some have accepted distorted views of God and His plan and purpose. It has even led some to “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4)—so yes, the consequences are serious!
What about you? What is your understanding of grace? Is it grounded in the truths of the Bible or rooted in the ideas and traditions of men?
A proper understanding of grace will forever change how you see God. It will also change how you see yourself and how you see others. Through God’s grace we get right with Him, and through grace we get right with others. Grace represents a spiritual quality you must have, and one God wants to give you in abundance. When the Bible proclaims that “by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×), we should see that the word grace is critically worthy of understanding!
God’s grace can motivate and encourage you in times of trial. Grace is an essential part of who God is and how He works with us. While it includes the extension of undeserved forgiveness and favor to mankind, there is more to it—much more!
We want you to understand the real Bible picture of grace—what the apostle Peter called “the true grace of God” (1 Peter 5:12 1 Peter 5:12By Silvanus, a faithful brother to you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand.
American King James Version×). It’s vital to your future—and to your salvation—that you understand what the Bible reveals. So join us now as we answer the question, what does the Bible teach about grace?