Grace – Our Working Definitions


There is so much to say about Grace. Much more than will fit into one page or even into a website. However, it is helpful to put into succinct form what we have in mind when we’re talking about Grace. In other words, this page sets up the context of our understanding and emphasis.You may passionately agree or disagree, depending on your point of view, but you are warmly invited to explore and perhaps join in the conversation. If you have a viewpoint that merges both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant into your own foundation of belief you are going to be strongly challenged by our presentation of Grace. If, however, you have a clear understanding of the place of the New Covenant which does entirely replace the Old, you are going to be encouraged and strengthened to go more boldly in the unfailing Grace of Jesus.

Our Definitions

Definitions are crucially important. We need to understand the terms we use when presenting concepts. We also need to understand the contexts, not just as in exegesis, where we seek to comprehend the language of Scripture in the context of the writers’ day, but also the context of our current discussion in regard to Grace. We must let the New Covenant teaching of the New Testament prevail.

Here are some highlights.

2Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s gracethat was given to me for you, 3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. 7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. – Ephesians 3:2-7 (NIV)

Grace

  1. Grace is to be defined as “God’s empowering presence”. It is that Presence that comes when the Holy Spirit indwells us.
  2. Grace is much more than just “unmerited favor”.
  3. Grace is that same Grace that was in Jesus. We have His Grace.
  4. Grace must be defined in the exclusive context of the New Covenant. (As a literary device, we will use the proper noun “Grace” with a capital “G” to refer to New Covenant or New Testament Grace versus “grace” with a lower case “g” which relates to Old Covenant grace.
  5. Grace must be understood within the context of the Person of the Holy Spirit.
  6. Grace is both a given (declared) righteousness and a granted (made) righteousness.

Grace is received by faith and it is the power of God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit to both justify and sanctify us.

Grace (God’s empowering presence) cannot be balanced through Law keeping (unbelief).

New Covenant

  1. The New Covenant was introduced and made possible by Jesus through His ministry, death, and resurrection.
  2. Jesus brought the Old Covenant to an end.
  3. The Holy Spirit replaces Moses (Law) as the authority and power of the New Covenant.
  4. The Old Covenant (Law) was a time (between Sinai and the Cross) when Faith had not come (Gal 3).
  5. Now that Faith (Jesus) has come we are not under the supervision of Law (Gal 3).
  6. The Old Covenant is now “obsolete”, “outdated” and “will soon disappear” (Heb 8:13 TNIV)
  7. In the Old Covenant, grace meant “unmerited favor”.
  8. In the New Covenant, Grace means the indwelling presence of the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

The New Covenant is the new government of God that is superintended by the Holy Spirit Who does not need the Mosaic Law as an assistant.

In the New Covenant trying to keep Law to be righteous is an act of unbelief. Intentionly obeying the Holy Spirit will accidentally fulfill every intent of the Law.

Righteousness

  1. English doesn’t quite do justice (no pun intended) to the Greek word “dikaioō” usually translated “to justify” or “to be declared righteous”. According to Gordon Fee1, the appropriate English translation should be “righteousize”, a word that doesn’t exist, so we use the word “justify” which in both English and German comes from our legal systems and has basically one definition, “to declare innocent”.
  2. The Greek word that the Apostle Paul uses means both to declare and make righteous.
  3. Grace, therefore, is God’s means to “righteousize” us, or both declare and make righteous.

Grace both justifies and sanctifies through the power of the Holy Spirit. – Paul, Galatians 2 & 3


  1. Gordon Fee, Audio Lectures “Galatians in a Week“, Regent Audio



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