What is Grace?

I was talking this weekend with a group of people from our church about “insider” language: the “stuff Christians say” that can be difficult for people outside Christian circles to understand. It doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t use terms like justification, sanctification, sin, gospel, or infralapsarianism (ok, maybe we shouldn’t use infralapsarianism). However, we should go to great lengths to explain these “insider” terms to those who don’t understand.

Grace is one of these important biblical terms that we must explain. For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard grace defined as “God’s unmerited favor.” This isn’t a terrible definition, nor is it completely wrong. However, it doesn’t capture the full picture of what grace entails.

In his book, The Transforming Power of the Gospel, Jerry Bridges writes that a biblical definition of grace is

God’s blessings through Christ to people who deserve His curse.

I find Bridges’ definition very helpful in truly understanding the biblical concept of grace. Blessings from God through Christ include life, breath, transformed living, and—primarily—salvation. But this salvation isn’t just given to people who are indifferent toward God, but to His enemies!

As Paul writes in Romans,

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.

As enemies of God, we deserve His curse. But in His marvelous, wonderful, and loving grace, He blessed us with new life and salvation in Jesus.

That’s grace.

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