Think About This: “If you think that there is anyone in the world so good that God could do something for that person’s sake, you don’t know sin; and if you think there is anything that God will not do for you for His sake for His name, you don’t know God!” — A.W. Tozer
Posted on May 26, 2023 by Elizabeth Welte in Freedom Fighters
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9 (NKJV)
So, when you’re thinking of God’s grace what comes to mind? Do words like: pleasing, thanks, or praise ring a bell? Does it take you back to a time when families said “grace” before dinner was eaten? “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”, for example, is an acrostic that got etched into my mind very early on my walk. For me, it meant God is so generous with His mercy that if I accept the free gift of salvation through Christ, He’ll forgive me if I own up to my wrong doing, turn from it, and accept whatever the consequences are based on His grace towards me, and stay outta hell. What a bargain!
Well, that was good stuff to tell myself. After all, being allowed to think that God’s “dungeon” was just below the church floors was scary stuff to a kid growing up in the Catholic church. Just so you know, it had less to do with what was being preached from the pulpit and more to do with my wild-eyed imagination. What can I say, I watched a lot of horror movies when I was young and they were filmed in what looked like the church building I was in. In my youthful way of thinking it went like this: disobey God and to the dungeon you go, where you’ll end up in the hands of Dracula (where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth) and then it’s all over for you! Like I said, wild-eyed imagination.
But what if I have been looking at this whole grace thing with one eye closed? Maybe I need a better definition of the word grace? Hmm…well I’ll need a dictionary for that, alrighty, so where did I put that? Oh, here we go, grace—hmm, noun, effortless beauty, or charm of movement, huh? That doesn’t sound like God’s grace, of course, I looked the word up in my trusty red-covered American Heritage Dictionary: College Edition. Maybe a Bible Dictionary would be more helpful? What’s this word, charis? Greek? Χάρη? Huh? Google. Precept Austin, here we go. “Grace is everything for nothing to those who don’t deserve anything.” Now that sounds better, doesn’t it?
Now of course, things look like they may have gotten lost in translation, but this Greek word charis [pronounced: haree], according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has three basic uses: (1) a charming quality that wins favor, (2) a quality of benevolence that gives favor to inferiors, and (3) a response of thankfulness for the favor given. History may say that the translators who were involved with the writing of the 1611 KJV Bible may have found the Latin word gratia (which means pleasing, thanks, or praise) a close substitute, but when the apostle Paul used the Greek word charis he was going for “a quality of benevolence that gives favor to inferiors.” Why? Glad you asked…
Having experienced Jesus first hand, the apostles were motivated to make sure that folks really understood how awesome it was that the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph wanted to provide the unmerited divine assistance needed for their sanctification (a good place to say Jesus). The apostle Paul was particularly fond of the using the word charis because he too understood “the quality of benevolence that gives favor.” That little moment on the road to Damascus could have gone a totally different way. But every dirty, rotten, filthy thing this Pharisee of Pharisees did to people was forgiven and his purpose was made clear. So, yeah, he’d make sure folks understood that kinda grace.
And it’s this kinda grace that we see in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. He didn’t want folks misunderstanding that their faith was a gift from God but that His grace, a merciful gift, was the gift before having faith in Him! This would be why Dietrich Bonhoeffer would warn against cheapening God’s grace and calling his readers out if they were treating God’s charis like “cheap jack wares.” So, if you were looking at God’s charis as a common gift that everyone receives once they come to faith in Christ, ya may wanna open the other eye.
I’m gonna end with a quote from John Ritenbaugh of The Berean Call: “Without His gift of grace, we would never have godly faith, the faith, in the first place. Faith, our trust in God, is a fruit of the grace God freely gives.”
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a child of El Elyon, a son, a husband, and a father. He has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy, 11/2003. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “… who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” – Hebrews 1:3-4