TEEN TREE OF LIFE
The Grace of God - Part 2
June 26, 2022
Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
In last week’s Teen Tree, we discovered that learning to trust God is vitally important at every point of your life and in every circumstance, but the need for it is more obvious in difficult times. For that reason, it’s important to know His Attributes. Grace is one of God’s Attributes and is the subject of our study.
The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament explains that the Greek word group – charis, charizomai, charito – had a meaning in early Greek of “what delights.” Over the centuries it expanded in meaning to include “a state causing joy or an act accompanying it,” then to the favor of fortune and kindness in reference to an act that causes pleasure. By the Classical period it could be used in reference to favor received from the gods or what would please the gods and also picked up a connotation of thanks. Therefore, when we prayer before a meal, we say, “Let’s say grace.”
The verb form took on the meanings of “to show pleasure,” “to show oneself to be pleasant” in word or deed. In the Hellenistic period, it took on the meaning of a demonstration of the ruler’s favor and of being a gift. It also took on a sense of religious quality as a power that streams down from the world above. In the Septuagint, it was the word most often used for translation of the Hebrew word hanan as we studied last week.
The Theological Dictionary also points out that charis is not used in MATTHEW or MARK and only four times in four verses in JOHN. It is used eight times in LUKE and seventeen times in ACTS. The apostle Luke uses it in the common sense of a favor for someone in ACTS 25:3 (New International Reader’s Version): They tried very hard to get Festus to have Paul taken to Jerusalem. They asked for this as a favor [charis]. They were planning to hide and attack Paul along the way. They wanted to kill him.
Luke also used it to mean giving thanks in LUK 17:9 (New American Standard Bible): He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? He also uses it in a religious sense of finding favor with God in LUK 1:30 (New International Reader’s Version): But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you.” Luke uses it again in LUK 2:52 (New International Reader’s Version) when writing about Jesus as a young boy: Jesus became wiser and stronger. He also became more and more pleasing to God and to people.
Jesus’ taught with “gracious words” as we learn in LUK 4:22 (New International Reader’s Version): Everyone said good things about him. They were amazed at the gracious words they heard from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. The apostle Paul proclaimed the Gospel of the Grace of God in ACTS 20:24 (New International Reader’s Version): But my life means nothing to me. My only goal is to finish the race. I want to complete the work the Lord Jesus has given me. He wants me to tell others about the good news of God’s grace.
Now look at ACTS 11:23 (New International Reader’s Version): When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad. He told them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. When Luke writes that Barnabas “saw what the grace of God had done” – he is referring to the favor, or Mercy of God, in converting sinners to himself..
In ACTS 13:43 (New International Reader’s Version), we read: The people were told they could leave the service. Many Jews followed Paul and Barnabas. Many Gentiles who faithfully worshiped the God of the Jews did the same. Paul and Barnabas talked with them. They tried to get them to keep living in God’s grace. In the last sentence of this verse, Luke is saying that they encouraged the Gentiles to continue to credit the Gospel; to receive The Holy Spirit and His Influence; to bring forth The Fruits of That Spirit; and as a result of this, continue under the favor and admiration of God.
The most extensive use of this word group – charis, charizomai, charito – in the New Testament is by Paul, James, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews. Paul uses the term in various ways including as an expression of thanks in ROM 6:17 (New International Reader’s Version): You used to be slaves of sin. But thank God that with your whole heart you obeyed the teachings you were given! He also uses it this way in 1 COR 15:57 (New International Reader’s Version): But let us give thanks to God! He gives us the victory because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done. And then again in 1 TIMOTHY 1:12 (New International Reader’s Version): I am thankful to Christ Jesus our Lord. He has given me strength. I thank him that he considered me faithful. I thank him for appointing me to serve him.
Paul commonly uses it in the salutation or benediction of his letters as in “Grace to you,” and “the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” His usage of the charis word group is extensively tied to God extending His Favor to sinful man in the Gift of Salvation that comes from faith in the person and work of The Lord Jesus Christ. Linguistically this arises from “making glad by gifts” of showing free unmerited Grace. It is tied directly to the meaning the word group developed in the Hellenistic period in being something that is the demonstration of a ruler’s favor as a gift and the streaming down of a power from the world above. In Paul’s usage in this sense, it is God’s Unmerited Favor given as a Gift to sinners as His Power through The Holy Spirit changes the heart and mind of the sinner to believe and follow The Lord Jesus Christ.
Taking in all these concepts, Grace in general is showing beneficial favor and kindness to one in need. That is why Grace parallels so closely to the idea of Mercy. Grace flows from one who is in a superior position to one who is in an inferior position. This is a blessing that is to be sought in prayer, pleading and supplication, and the response in receiving it is thankfulness. In the theological sense, Grace is Divine Favor that bestows blessing on undeserving man and often specifically the unmerited Divine Favor given to a human to bring about Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. It is in this sense that Grace is directly tied to Salvation to such a degree that Paul can state that Salvation is by God’s Grace.
Now let’s look at Grace and Mercy together. The American Christian pastor and author A. W. Tozer said, “In God, mercy and Grace are one; but as they reach us they are seen as two, related but not identical.” Grace and Mercy are similar in their emotional compassion and response of kindness to someone in need. Mercy has an emphasis on alleviating suffering by withholding the just punishment deserved. Grace places the emphasis on the giving and reception of unmerited blessing. Neither Mercy nor Grace are deserved and neither can ever be earned for if the benefits of each could be gained by works, then there is no need for either of them. Think about that for a moment. It’s a very cool statement!
If a person could gain the benefits of Mercy by their own merit and works, they will have paid for Redemption and Restitution and are no longer in need of Mercy for there would no longer be any deserved punishment.
If a person could gain the blessings received by God’s Grace based on their own merit and works of righteousness, they would be receiving wages of just compensation and not Grace. But man has no merit of his own and no works of righteousness which he can do to meet God’s Perfect Standards, so the blessings of Grace cannot be earned. You cannot make yourself a child of God. You can only become His child by Him adopting you into His family, and that comes only by believing in Jesus Christ. This is taught in JOH 1:12 (New International Reader’s Version): Some people did accept him and did believe in his name. He gave them the right to become children of God.
HEB 4:16 (New International Reader’s Version) ties receiving Mercy and Grace to God’s character: So let us boldly approach God’s throne of grace. Then we will receive mercy. We will find grace to help us when we need it.
God’s Throne is a place of judgment for those that do not believe in The Lord Jesus Christ; but for those that have placed their faith in Him, as their High Priest, His Throne is a Seat of Grace. Instead of condemnation, according to His Own Good Pleasure, He grants Mercy for sins committed and Grace in blessings to overcome troubles in time of need. Mercy withholds the deserved punishment through forgiveness while Grace eliminates it through Justification and brings about adoption.
[to be continued]