So when did grace become just another attribute of God? I bet if you ask the next ten people you meet to define grace, chances are they are going to articulate that part of the meal we usually perform with our mouths half-full, or they’ll tell you it means “God’s unmerited favor.” Really? That’s it?
Paul stated at the end of Romans 5 that ‘where sin abounded, grace abounded that much more.’ He continued in Chapter 6 saying ‘Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?’ Good point. Kind of like dancing with a dead person. Let me know how that works out for ya.
Still, if grace is only an attribute of God that identifies His forgiveness, then it would no longer be a factor in our lives once we are living holy, consecrated completely unto God. But Paul continues to tell everyone he “talks” to in his letters “Grace be to you”, or “May God give you even more grace.” He also tells us in Romans 5:17 “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” What?! Does that mean only the crazy kids who are sinning all the time get all the grace?! Not at all. God’s grace is more than a character trait. It is the very source of our salvation.
The Greek word used for grace in Romans 5:17 is charis [ka-rees]. It is partially defined in Strong’s G5485:
of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
Sounds like a little more than forgiveness to me. Or that mouth half-full part. Dictionary.com even weighs in on the possibility of more with their 8.b definition which states “the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them” Is it just me? Does that sound like an empty characteristic, or something that is powerful and alive?
“In Paul … charis is never merely an attitude or disposition of God (God’s character as gracious); consistently it denotes something much more dynamic—the wholly generous act of God. Like ‘Spirit,’ with which it overlaps in meaning (cf., e.g., [Rom] 6:14 and Gal 5:18), it denotes effective divine power in the experience of men” —James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), p. 17.
God’s grace is amazing. It is the thread by which our salvation is woven. Grace saves you, and grace keeps you. Without it, you’ll always struggle, and with it you’ll always reign or win. There is absolutely zero replacement, and no amount of works will help you achieve it. It is a function of our own humility, the same humility that helps us come to the realization of our need for more. For something greater. For something real. Something that makes sense and never has to apologize. God’s grace will never leave you, but can be forsaken by you should you go it alone. My guess is though, that won’t last very long. Let me know if you want to hear more, how it changed my life, changed my marriage, changes my now, and directs my future. I’m not my own. And I’ve never felt better.
Grace be unto you…and even more.