Tuesday, February 7, 2012

113. The Nature Of Grace

113.0 - Back To True North: Obviously, grace is also a very important concept to the redemptive agenda. In recent times, grace has come to be popularly understood to mean "unmerited favor." This is actually more the definition of mercy, which is a product of grace, than it is grace. So, the two terms don't precisely interchange.

So, let's just look at the recognized definition of the "Grace." Webster's Dictionary defines Grace as, "Seemingly effortless beauty, ease and charm of movement, proportion, or form; a charming quality or characteristic." Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary defines it as, "Any excellence, characteristic, quality, or endowment."

The Greek word which is translated as grace every time, save one, in the New Testament is "Charis." Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament , a widely and highly regarded work, gives this definition for that word, "That which affords joy, pleasure, delight." Strong's Dictionary of the Greek New Testament - also a very highly regarded work gives this meaning: "Graciousness (as gratifying) of manner or act."
113.1- The Simple Meaning: The idea here is simple. These dictionaries give us a much broader definition of grace than is involved in the popular idea of "unmerited favor." These respected lexicons define grace, in short, as simply a kind of "innate goodness" (innate meaning, from the beginning, or occurring originally or naturally.) So, the idea being conveyed in these dictionaries and lexicons speaks simply of a natural or characteristic goodness.

And that is the way grace should be understood in the New Testament. It is the natural or characteristic goodness of God. God is "graceful," or naturally good.

113.1 - The Common Language: We should point out that the Bible does not have its own special meanings for the words which it contains. In fact, just the reverse is true.

It is a necessary requirement for a Bible translator that he or she have a broad and accurate knowledge of both the language that is being translated from and the language that is being translated to.

This is necessary so that words can be employed accurately as to their common and true meanings. In any reputable translation of the Bible, every effort goes toward this accurate rendering into the commonly held usage.

So, accuracy is far better served when one understands grace as the general references render it: simply a naturally occurring goodness, especially in the nature of God. In the New Testament, the word grace usually speaks to us of that goodness, or in some cases, the products of it - a product such as mercy.

113.2 - The Role Of Grace: When we understand the true nature of grace correctly, the stage is then set to understand the role that grace plays in the transformation of the believer. There is a tremendous and extremely essential insight, which is entirely lost through the "unmerited favor" definition. It is the understanding that this same godly grace also eventually expresses itself within the believer.

113.3 - How Grace Comes - What Grace Does: It works like this. As we are baptized into Christ through the Spiritual Baptism (effecting a literal merger of His character essence with ours), then grace, like faith, is another is one of the qualities of His nature that is transferred to the believer. In other words, that naturally occurring goodness which compels Christ is then also embedded in the character of the believer. And, The result is a spectacular change in the way that God's people are personally governed and guided in their day to day life.

Paul confirms this transition to a new means of personal government by his statement in Romans, chapter 6, where he says, "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." With this statement, Paul affirms that in these New Testament times we have transitioned from the external government of the law to the internal government of grace. We are now guided by a natural occurring and compelling goodness; more precisely, the goodness of Christ, expressing itself within the believer.

This change provides a wonderful new simplicity to the believer. Now, he simply responds to the inner compelling urgings of goodness as the means of ordering and directing his own steps. In this way, grace becomes an effective internal replacement for the awkward and ineffective external law.

113.4 - A Vastly Superior Way: Obviously, this is a far superior method of running our daily lives. It is one that fits naturally where the external law did not. And, it is entirely the gift of the Living Christ living within the believer's character essence.

How very logical it is when you think about it. God has found a way to bring effective personal government to the human heart. It is the easy government of His grace. It is the much more intuitive government of instinctive goodness, which flows from the nature of the indwelling Spirit Christ.

What could be more normal? As the impulses of Christ course through the believer, he or she now serves God and true goodness with the same natural affinity with which they once served sin. Where once the dark urges of rebellion and self-determination designed our course, now we design our actions by the natural impulses of the inner law of godly goodness. And, to be sure, it does not make us a law unto ourselves; rather, it merely attunes us to God's highest law.

Oh, so that's what God meant when He said, "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes; and, you will keep My judgments and do them." So, it is grace that produces the insights, wisdom, and easy government of the heart which elevates and correctly directs our daily steps and designs the good solutions which life requires.

Therefore, faced with a redemptive choice between a no-investment-required kind of mercy, and the alternative of the living goodness of Christ directing from within - we should choose grace. Indeed, grace is the spiritual "golden goose." It is this Christ-enabled gracefulness which produces within the believer the precious "daily treasure" of true goodness.