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The Doctrine of Grace

Steven R. Cook GRACE Undeserved acceptance and love received from another. Although the biblical words for grace are used in a variety of ways, the most characteristic use is to refer to an undeserved favor granted by a superior to an inferior. When used of divine grace toward mankind, it refers to the undeserved favor of God in providing salvation for those deserving condemnation. In the more specific Christian sense it speaks of the saving activity of God which is manifested in the gift of His Son to die in the place of sinners.1 The Hebrew words !xe chen, !nx chanan and ds,x, chesed reflect Gods grace in the Old Testament. The Hebrew noun !xe chen appears 69 times, the verb !nx chanan 56 times and both words are translated grace or favor (Gen. 19:19; 32:5; 33:8; 34:11; 47:25; Ex. 33:12-17). Gods loyal or faithful love, ds,x, chesed, is often used in connection with His demonstrations of grace (Ps. 51:1-3). Because the Hebrew word expresses an undeserved favor at the hands of a superior, God is never said to seek or obtain favor in the eyes of any of His creatures. There are, on the other hand, examples of humans seeking or receiving favor in the eyes of the Lord: Noah (Gen. 6:8), Moses (Gen. 33:12), Gideon (Judg. 6:17), Samuel (1 Sam. 2:26), the exilic remnant (Ezra 9:8; Jer. 31:2). In these examples grace denotes mostly Gods undeserved gift in election. It is an expression of His sovereign love (Exod. 33:19). Furthermore grace forms the basis of all of Gods relationship with man and His activity in behalf of man. Grace delivered Noah and his family from the flood (Gen. 6:8) and Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:19). Grace gave Moses a personal knowledge of God and His ways (Exod. 33:1213), assured him of Gods presence with Israel and forgiveness of their sin (Exod. 33:17; 34:9), and caused him to see the glory of God (Exod. 34:1823). It was grace that chose Israel for Gods inheritance (Exod. 33:16) and preserved the remnant from captivity (Ezra 9:8). It was grace that chose David for kingship (1 Sam. 16:22) and, after a successful rebellion against him, restored him to his throne (2 Sam. 15:25). It is grace that will cause Israel one day to recognize the Messiah (Zech. 12:10). Grace brings mercy (Num. 11:15; Isa. 60:10), and the withholding of it brings judgment (Josh. 11:20).2 Exodus 33:12-17 Then Moses said to the LORD, See, You say to me, Bring up this people! But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, I have known you by name, and you have also found favor [!xe chen] in My sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor [!xe chen] in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor [!xe chen] in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people. 14 And He said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. 15 Then he said to Him, If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. 16 For how then can it be known that I have found favor [!xe chen] in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth? 17 The LORD said to Moses, I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor [!xe chen] in My sight and I have known you by name.

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Chad Brand, et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 678. Ibid., 678.

Psalm 51:1-4 For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Be gracious [!nx chanan] to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness [ds,x, chesed]; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. The Greek word ca,rij charis is most commonly translated grace, favor, and thank you. ca,rij charis appears 155 times in the New Testament, and from that number the apostle Paul uses the word 130 times. Grace refers to the unmerited favor that one person shows toward an underserving other. The greatest expression of grace is observed in the love God shows toward underserving sinners for whom He sent His Son to die in their place so they might have eternal life in Christ (John 3:16-19; Rom. 5:610). Three uses of Grace in the NT (ca,rij charis): 1. Charis was used as a response one gave for favor shown; that is, a thank you. 1 Corinthians 15:57 but thanks [ca,rij charis] be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks [ca,rij charis] be to God for His indescribable gift! 2. Charis refers to the quality or attribute present in a thing that made it beautiful or attractive (i.e. appearance, actions, words Luke 4:22; Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6). Luke 4:22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious [ca,rij charis] words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, Is this not Josephs son? Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace [ca,rij charis], as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. 3. Charis also refers to the favor one person did for another. A gracious disposition generally leads to gracious acts. A gracious person gives freely, no strings attached, from the source of his own possessions, for the concern of others, and without expectation of return. Luke 6:32-36 If you love those who love you, what credit [ca,rij charis] is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit [ca,rij charis] is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit [ca,rij charis] is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.