I am so very thankful for the grace of God!!!!
In the New Testament, the word translated as grace is the Greek word charis (/ˈkeɪrɪs/; Ancient Greek: χάρις), for which Strong’s Concordance gives this definition: “Graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)”. A Greek word that is related to charis is charisma (gracious gift).
I’ve noticed that, among Christians the word “grace” is often used interchangeably with the word “mercy”. Mercy is the bestowal of favor that is not deserved. Certainly, grace is a product of mercy. Grace takes mercy a little further.
Grace is the divine influence upon the heart of man and its reflection in life. Therefore, grace is the change that we see as a byproduct of receiving God’s mercy.
It seems that grace is the predominant theme in modern day Christianity. Guess what? I’m great with that!!!
But, I believe that much of the talk that magnifies God’s grace would actually better be described if we used the word “mercy”. Most of the magnification today is upon God’s mercy in taking our deserved punishment away from us.We are thankful that we don’t have to pay for what we have done (so am I!!!!!). Yet, we skip the fact that true grace is the receiving of power to live a life that is different from the one we lived while unsaved. We are fine with the skipping of punishment but not so hip on giving up control of our lives to the grace of God.
I want to share something with you.
I’m a pastor and because of that fact, I attend a lot of funerals.
I haven’t been to a funeral in many years in which it was declared that the deceased did not know Christ. In every funeral I’ve witnessed in the last few years, the deceased went to heaven no matter how they actually lived their life! Yes, in some of these instances, the person gave their life to the Lord at some point near their death. But, in some cases, that never really happened. Maybe the individual was exposed to Christianity but their life never produced fruit consistent with the reception of God’s grace.
Is God’s mercy effective for those who refuse it?
We misunderstand grace and confuse it with mercy. We also believe that mercy triumphs over a lack of repentance. But, in this belief, are we on sound biblical ground?
Our worship of “grace” (when we really mean mercy) is kind of like the Israelite’s dilemma in Numbers, chapter 21.
The children of Israel became tired on their journey out of Egypt. They spoke against Moses and against the Lord. God sent fiery serpents among the people (can’t wait to really understand what these were!) and they bit many and many died. The people said to Moses, “We have sinned; pray that the Lord will take away the serpents!” The Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”
Great story of mercy and grace!
The children of Israel kept the bronze serpent with them for many years. In 2 Kings 18:4, we find that the children of Israel had been worshiping the bronze serpent since the days of Moses!
While seeking the mercy and favor of God, the children of Israel began to worship a symbol of His grace rather than the Giver of grace in spite of direct biblical commands against such behavior!!! (Exodus 20:4-5)
Kind of reminds me how so many people wear the symbol of the cross around their neck yet live as if grace has never touched their lives!
Grace is not a license to sin. No grace is received by those who are unrepentant.
Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Romans 6:1-2
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29
Jesus died for our sins; to bring to reality the death of the control of our flesh. He was raised from the dead so we could walk in newness of life!
Consume us, Precious Lord with the fire of purity and holiness! Thank You for Your mercy which, once accepted, leads the recipient into the grace of God which releases the control of the Holy Spirit!!