The word “grace” in its special Christian sense refers to the freedom of salvation in Jesus Christ. As used by Paul in particular, the word underscores the fact that salvation is freely given by God to undeserving sinners. This is its central meaning; it also has other meanings, some of them peripheral to the NT message of salvation.

The Greek term is cháris, a common word in secular Greek. The LXX uses cháristo translate OT Hebrew terms that often bear only a faint suggestion of the Pauline sense of cháris. NT writers other than Paul use the term, sometimes in a sense similar to Paul’s, but none uses it consistently with its central Christian meaning, and a few do not use it at all. Once the Pauline sense of the word is grasped, however, we can recognize all the saving acts of God as acts of grace, even when the word is not used. Our primary objective will be to examine the uses of the word cháris in the Bible; but it must be kept in mind that, in the light of its most pregnant meaning, the reality of grace appears clearly wherever God is revealed in His redeeming purposes and actions as the God who saves freely, without obligation and without regard for merit.

To be risen with Christ means not only that one has a choice and that one may live by a higher law – the law of grace and love – but that one must do so. The first obligation of the Christian is to maintain their freedom from all superstitions, all blind taboos and religious formalities, indeed from all empty forms of legalism. The whole Christian life is a life in which the further a person progresses, the more he has to depend directly on God. The more we progress, the less we are self-sufficient. The more we progress, the poorer we get so that the man who has progressed most, is totally poor – he has to depend directly on God. He’s got nothing left in himself.

Grace is of a stirring nature, and not such a dead thing, like an image, which you may lock up in a chest, and none shall know what God you worship. No, grace will show itself; it will walk with you into all places and companies; it will buy with you, and sell for you; it will have a hand in all your enterprises.s a man, looking steadfastly on a dial, cannot perceive the shadow move at all, yet viewing it after a while, he shall perceive that it hath moved; so, in the hearing of the Word, but especially in the receiving of the Lord’s supper, a man may judge even his own faith, and other graces of God, to be little or nothing increased, neither can he perceive the motion of God’s Spirit in him at that time; yet by the fruits and effects thereof, he shall afterward perceive that God’s Spirit hath little by little wrought greater faith and other graces in him.


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