My friend recently asked me what the word “grace” meant according to the Bible. I wrote this post to share what I’ve learned through my research.
What is the biblical definition of grace? Grace is a favor from God that is not earned. We receive this favor through salvation from God and other blessings from him. God’s grace is not dependent on our acts, but solely on the fact that He desires to gift it to us. 2 Timothy 1:9 says that God has called us to live a life that is holy because of His grace.
God’s grace is amazing because it’s gifted to us everyday by God and helps us as we become more like him. Follow through this post with me as I dive deeper into God’s grace.
Biblical Definition Of Grace
We all deserve death because we have all sinned. What we do not deserve is the salvation and blessings we have through Christ, but this is grace.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—Romans 5:12
We need grace daily, but it is something we cannot earn. Looking in scripture we see again and again that man did not deserve to have the day-to-day satisfaction in life but we have favor undeserved from God. This favor undeserved is most prevalent in salvation.
Grace is as simple as God giving favor, which we do not deserve.
Our salvation through Jesus was through grace because God saved us when we could not save ourselves.
Grace shows up so much because it is such a big part of who we are as Christians. Not only the grace that was shown when we were saved but the grace we receive.
God shows us grace when he answers our prayers and works in our lives. It is only through grace that we can be saved, through God’s favor.
When we are saved we have victory over sin and death, but we still fight to resist sin and walk in a God-honoring way. Grace gives us the ability to fight against the desires of the flesh.
Grace does not have to do with anything we can or will do. We cannot pay it back in any way, there is so much in life that costs time, money, or effort, but grace is free. Grace is based on the goodness of the giver, not on the one receiving it.
When reading through the letters that Paul wrote to the early churches in the New Testament, Paul commonly brings up grace.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.Romans 11:6
The way Paul states it in Romans is pretty clear, grace is not based on anything we can do, or else it would not be grace.
And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,Romans 3:24
In this passage, Paul equates grace to a gift, a gift that comes through Jesus Christ. As Christians, we should be blown away to be offered such a gift, and at such a good price- free.
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.John 1:16
When looking at scripture if you see a word that is used multiple times, you should pay attention to it. John writes not simply of grace from God, but grace upon grace. John is putting a lot of importance on grace. We are not going to run out of grace from God.
The love of God is active through grace. When we want to know how God loves us, or where we see his love in our life, it is through the grace that has been extended to us day to day.
He loves us in a way that even when we fail, there is grace waiting for us.
Examples Of Grace
Grace can seem abstract and be hard to understand.
In today’s culture, everything is based on what you have done. If you have worked hard enough you earn a raise, if you save your money, you can reward yourself with a vacation. If you don’t keep up with the workload then you won’t get promoted.
It can be hard to understand how grace, something that is unearned, plays out in our own life.
When looking for examples of grace, it is all grounded in the gospel. The gospel and grace go hand-in-hand because the gospel is biblical grace.
Throughout the Old Testament we see the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, mess up multiple times. From the time that God brought the people out of Egypt, the Israelites complained and worshiped other gods.
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.Judges 21:25
This pattern continued. The people of Israel would sin, God would punish them, the Israelites would repent, God would rescue them, but the people would once again forget and fall into sin.
God’s grace was seen again and again when God forgave the people of Israel, but we see God’s ultimate grace come to the Israelites and us through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Jesus came to earth and lived as a man, experienced life, but ultimately died for our sins. He then rose again defeating death and after he ascended sent the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Philippians 2:6-8
Jesus’ life and death were not pleasant, he humbled himself to death on the cross, only through his death, we are saved.
This salvation that is offered to us, and to all including the Israelites who kept turning away from God, is grace because there is nothing we have done to earn salvation.
Jesus came not because we were doing so good, or even because we asked.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8
When we were still sinners stuck in our sin, enjoying our sin, God showed us grace. God’s grace in our own life is the greatest display of grace.
We see grace in other ways throughout scripture. An example of this is when David shows grace to Mephibosheth.
Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, and Jonathan is the son of Saul. Saul had been the king of Israel for many years, but had become distant from God and no longer listened to what God had to say. Saul sought to kill David when he found out that David would be king instead of his son Jonathan.
You may think that being hunted after would make David upset at Saul, but even when the opportunities presented themselves, David did not harm Saul.
After David had become king, he asked if there were any living relatives of Saul left, the answer was yes, the son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth.
While David was king and could have done anything he wanted, he chose to show kindness to Mephibosheth.
David showed kindness to the relative of his enemy, not because of anything that Mephibosheth had done, but out of grace.
David gave Mephibosheth the land that belonged to Saul and had Mephibosheth eat at David’s table always, making sure he never wanted, a gift of favor not earned by Mephibosheth- freely given.
The Importance Of Grace
Grace is more than a nice-sounding concept it is something that we need every day.
We know that Paul writes a lot about grace in his letters to the various churches in the New Testament.
Paul writes of his need for grace every day all the time. We also need grace every day all the time.
In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about a thorn in his side. There was something that he labeled a thorn in his flesh, he pleaded with God three times that he should take it away. This thorn made him less dependent on himself and more dependent on God and His grace every day.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 12:9
It is in our imperfections and weakness we see the beauty of God’s grace shine through in our lives.
We can look at this word grace all day, and even read throughout scripture as God shows grace, but it becomes so much more prevalent in our lives when we accept it for ourselves and live in the grace given to us by God.
Grace is important because the gospel is important. The gospel is important because it is our salvation from being forever separated from God because of our sins.
Grace is entwined in the history of the world. God created us and loved us, but we sinned but he kept showing his love to us even as we continued to turn away from him.
When Jesus came and died on the cross and through grace we were saved we know that it is not on our basis that we were saved, but truly as a gift because God loves us. Grace will impact our own lives every day.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present ageTitus 2:11,12
Grace is an important, and vital part of the process to become more like Christ. Grace is essential for salvation and therefore essential for our lives.
Responding To Grace
Yes, God extends grace to us, but are we going to accept it? And how do we accept God’s grace through salvation as well as grace every day?
We already know by the definition of the word that grace will not be dependent on anything we do, we could be a good person or mess up, but God offers us salvation through His grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Ephesians 2:8,9
As we read in Ephesians, it is by grace that we have salvation, but through faith. Our faith in God is how we accept the gift of grace that is offered to us. By grace through faith is how we have been saved.
Our response to this amazing grace that God has given us should not be to turn away and think hearing about it is enough, instead, we should seek to have God’s grace be a part of our everyday life.
Just like we saw in Paul’s life through the thorn in his flesh, it was in his weakness that Christ shone through, in the same way, the more we rely on God and not on ourselves we will see God even more.
It can be hard to admit weakness or to let it show at all, especially in today’s society that values independence, but we will not get to see God work if we do not let him.
God can not be glorified if we contribute the successes in life to ourselves, and the weaknesses we ignore.
In our walk as Christians we want God’s grace to be working in us every day, not only is it important that we be vulnerable and let God work, but we need to be humble as well.
Many times humility and weakness are connected, as we examine the weaknesses in our lives, it becomes clear that we don’t have anything to bring to the table. God is the one working through us in amazing ways.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’James 4:6
It is to those who are willing to humble themselves and come before God in weakness who will truly get to see the power of Christ work in their life.
Our eyes should be focused on God, He is the source of grace.
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1b,2
As Christians, we do not want to forget where the grace that we need to live every day comes from. We should focus our eyes on Jesus, and as it says in Hebrews, he endured much for us, and we did nothing to deserve the gift of salvation.
As sinners we need grace every day, and that means humbling ourselves every day, it may not seem like a pleasant thing to do at first.
We don’t want to acknowledge how broken we are and how broken the world around us is sometimes, but when we do come to God in our weaknesses, he will be able to fill us up.
If we don’t think we can get through the day if we do not think we can resist temptation again it is God’s free favor to us to help us.
If you haven’t experienced or felt the grace of God, pray and ask Him to reveal His grace to you.