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Definitions of Grace


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Many discussions are lengthened and many permanent misunderstandings occur because of failure to agree on what grace means. I was reading this afternoon from an author who succinctly capsulized what I mean when I say that I am "saved by grace alone". In the interest of prompting discussion, I will go so far as to suggest that if your definition of grace implies that it is a mere synonym for faith, that you will fail to understand the biblical writers. I have seen a few Mormons say they oppose "salvation by grace alone", because they believe that "works" are a vital component of salvation. They seem to think that grace is faith. I have seen some Evangelicals say they embrace "salvaton by grace alone" because they deny that "works" are a vital component of salvation. They seem to think that grace is faith. Grace is not faith. Faith is not grace.

I have heard it said, and I have at times said it myself that "grace is undeserved or unmerited favor". I would submit that it is true that "grace is undeserved or unmerited favor". But we receive unmerited and undeserved favors daily that are not salvific. Have we merited a sunny sky or deserved a warm bed under a waterproof ceiling? Grace is undeserved and unmerited but so are many gifts that are showered on the "just and the unjust" and do not seem to be proof of God's favor and our election as children of God. All grace is undeserved favor, but not every undeserved favor is grace.

From the Venerable Louis of Granada, a Spanish Dominican of the 16th Century we read a definition that I submit for your consideration:

"...grace is a supernatural quality which enables man to participate in the divine nature and which makes him God, so to speak."

---Summa of the Christian Life, Volume Two, Selected Texts from the Writings of Venerable Louis of Granada. O.P., Translated and Adapted by Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P., TAN Books and Publishers, 1979, p. 55
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That's a great definition, 3DOP.

I'm one who uses the "unmerited kindness or favor" definition but that "favor" also has a very specific definition.

For me, in addition to the reconciling atonement of Christ, which is clearly an act of Grace, "Grace" is a divine awakening to (1) our desperate need for a Savior, (2) the reality that one has been provided, (3) an overwhelming love for God in response to His love for us, and (4)an acceptance of the salvation He offers such that (5) our very nature is changed.

The entire process is "Grace" and I think it is unmerited, kind, and a bestowed favor that we can not force but which happens to us as we are prepared to receive it.

Grace is the moment God reaches out and touches us individually wiping the sleep from our eyes so that we see Him for who He is and ourselves for whom, through His Son, we can become.

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Grace is everything God has done for us that we cannot do for ourselves (Creation, Atonement, Resurrection, etc.). Since works determine our degree of salvation, we not not saved by grace alone, but by grace through faith after all we can do.

Same as appending James 2:24 to Ephesians 2:8-9

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I think too that we show we accept Grace by works namely living the gospel-having faith, baptism, repenting, following the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end, like a covenant, God is saying I will do for you what you can't but I want you to do what you can like living the gospel

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I knew a wonerful lady in Provo, Utah... She defined Grace as follows:

G = God's

R = Riches

A = At

C = Christ's

E = Expense

I have never looked at Grace the same way since I heard that!!

Silver Girl : O )

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"Grace" is perfect Justice. Mercy is inclusive. Without mercy there can be no justice. I have never understood the "mercy cannot rob justice" quip. Because in order to obtain justice someone must be merciful first. So when "God" is seen as dispensing "grace" we are actually seeing the love of justice at work. Nobody will be spared a lesson. And nobody will endure a moment more of misery than is required to "get it", i.e. understand what Joy is. The instant you comprehend the Joy and reject what causes the misery you have obtained grace. It's really that simple and that instantaneous. As for getting over the past: how do we come to feel that our "new self" has nothing to answer for to the "old self"? Without this trait we have not attained to grace yet. The life of John Newton as dramatized in the recent film "Amazing Grace" is illustrative: he KNEW that his old self was dead and gone in the grace his God had given. And though the memory of his past darkness and crimes were with him still they were dead with the old self. God would see everything balanced and cured. John Newton did not have to worry himself over that or how or when it would be done. Something to do with an eternal perspective is key to obtaining (accepting) grace: we realize that this world is not all that there is to existence, and that as immortal beings we are here to learn what Joy is and is not. Once we learn how we have inhibited or driven away Joy, we can work to get it back (or get it for the first time for some who have it hard). And once we are working to get and grow Joy (not mere happiness) we are no longer the person we were before. Believing in immortality is an essential, I believe. Without belief in the eternal nature of my soul I will not view my present acts as definitive of anything. But with my soul being everlasting, I view my present thoughts and actions as a direct image of my true self: there is no "later" for me, only NOW. Similarly, there is no "before" with me; so if I was otherwise than I am now, that old image is dead. This is the grace of God....

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