What Is Meant By The Grace Of God? [Part Two]

I will come at this question in two ways: first, "grace" as it is defined in the Theological Word Book of the Bible, edited by Alan Richardson, and second, as I personally understand it and am blessed by it.

In the Word Book article written by N.H. Snaith, it is stated that there is a sharp distinction between the use of the word grace in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it can be used to designate kindness and graciousness in general, with no particular tie or personal relationship between the individuals involved, and generally shown by a superior to an inferior when there is no obligation to do so. It is also used in the OT, however, to signify a specific kindness that gives pleasure to both giver and receiver, thereby implying some sort of special relationship between them. On the other hand, in the New Testament, grace indicates quite specifically God's redemptive love, which is always active to save the people and to keep them in relationship with God. In this way, it implies God's continual, unfailing faithfulness both to his covenant and to his people forever.

Yet how do we understand, how do we experience grace today? I often think of it in terms of a statement I once heard: "You are accepted." You and I are accepted, fully and totally accepted by God, now, always, without condition, without deserving, without question. To be accepted in this way means to be cherished, to be loved, to be guarded from ultimate evil. It means that who we basically are is valued, honored and respected. It means that we don't have to earn or deserve such care; it is simply there for us, ours as a gift outright. The grace of God is given to us at God's initiative. It is an expression of God's love for us, of God's desire, of God's unconditional acceptance, an expression of the very nature of God's being.
What Is Meant By The Grace Of God? [Part Two]
The author Frederick Buechner, in his book Wishful Thinking, puts it this way: "The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you. There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too." - The Rev. Margaret Gunness.

Grace is basically a gift. It does not come as a result of something a person did or in recognition of an accomplishment or milestone. So, unlike a birthday or Christmas gift that one receives in recognition of an event, grace is given to us by God for no reason. All of us are recipients of the grace of God regardless of how "good" or "bad" we are. - Emily.

When I think of the grace of God, I think of steadfast love, compassion, mercy—a kind of unconditional acceptance that is unlike human love. To me, Psalm 103 describes the way in which God reaches out to us with this forgiving, all-encompassing love. The other powerful illustration of "grace" is the way Jesus treated persons-- accepting those who were considered outcasts by eating with them, healing them, listening and talking with them. - Susanne.

Grace is the unconditional love of God for us, exactly as we are, apart from our own efforts. This is the accepted definition of "grace," with the ending phrase reassuring us that we have no worries about our present state of sinfulness.

Still, my soul tells me there is a caveat.

We must accept this grace in a special way known to God and us as partners. (Once you start talking to God as You, this becomes easier and easier.) This acceptance must include, "How can I thank You?" For above all, we must return His love. Then listen and wait. You will hear, "Love your neighbor." Do it. - Margie.

Grace is God's protection of his children--his umbrella. We can be aware of it or not. - Jim.

The grace of God is evident all around us. One Sunday one of our priests was asked to lead services for about 100 homeless men and women. The priest started to recite the 23rd Psalm, and after a pause of just a second, every man and woman joined in the recitation. These people know well the valley of the shadow of death. I heard the grace of God that day. - Christine.

Grace is the difference between Man and God. God has the ability to "forgive and forget." Man, on the other hand, has the ability to forgive, but not forget. Another difference is that God always forgives, while not all of us are capable of forgiveness. - Crady.

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