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Grace: one of the most abused words in the Bible

Updated on February 12, 2013

Grace in the New Testament

Grace is one of the most abused words in the Bible. Many Christians argue over the freedoms grace allows a believer. There are two views of grace. The two views are extremely different and opposing. There is a new movement in the church that has brought upon a freedom of grace mentality that allows one to do anything he pleases. They believe grace frees one from the harsh laws of “legalism.” They deem grace as that which frees you to worship and live in any way that pleases you.

On the flipside the Biblical view of grace sees it as a freedom to live Godly. It chooses to believe grace is the freedom from sin to a new life. It does not display grace as a license to live like one did before salvation. Grace is not a tool to be abused by a believer.

These two views are very conflicting. To better understand the meaning of grace one must examine the word itself. The Greek word used in the New Testament for grace is caris. It is used 122 times in the New Testament when translated grace. It is also translated “thanks.” II Corinthians 9:15 uses this translation. The word literally means “grace, favor, a favored position, state of grace, or goodwill.” (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Friberg, Friberg, and Miller. p. 407)

Grace plays an important role in our salvation. In Ephesians 2 it is twice stated: "by grace are you saved" (verses 5,8). Since this is the mode of a Christian's salvation, it is of paramount importance. However, the question arises “What is grace?” Is grace the "freedom" to do as we wish? Grace versus works has been an ongoing war of words in Christendom. The answer is found in two passages. In Romans 6:15 the Bible says, “ What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” In Jude 1:4 the Bible says “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is clear that God wanted it to be known that grace was never intended to be a get-out-of-jail free card. The use of grace is intended to show one how undeserving he is in the gift of salvation. Apart from grace we would all be lost. ( NT Biblical Word Study on 'Grace'  at Foundationsforfreedom.net)

Paul used grace in every epistle (except Romans) that he wrote. They all begin and end with the mention of caris.In the rest of the New Testament it is used to describe the kindness by which God bestows favor upon those who do not deserve. It also speaks of the kindness of God that grants sinners pardon for their sins.

The first New Testament occurrence of caris is in Luke 1:30 where the mother of our Lord is greeted by Gabriel as having "found favor with God." It is used specifically in the Gospels in reference to Jesus. So central is grace to NT Christianity that it became the apostolic greeting to the saints. The original recipients of the epistles (and we, their spiritual descendants) are greeted by "grace to you" in Romans 1:7,1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, and so on. It is clear that grace has many uses in scripture. It is a greeting, a description, and a tool of God. The most important use of grace, however, is way in which Christ offers a free salvation to those who could not attain or afford such a gift. (Faithalone.org)

The word “grace” will always have special meaning with a Christian. It is necessary to our salvation. However, a Christian cannot earn grace. This is very hard for some to understand. Nothing a person does merits grace. That is why it is so significant. Believers depend on grace alone through faith alone. Grace will always be the greatest gift a man could accept. However many aren’t willing to accept this free gift. Christians are told to “Grow in the grace.” When more believers begin to obey this command the lives of others will be affected. If only believers would be more gracious perhaps more people would turn to the Savior. It is clear how often grace is misused or even abused. Christians should strive to “grow in grace.”

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