Grace as a Nickname

Christians are people who have come to know, at least by experience, something of the marvelous grace of God. Having been found by grace and formed by grace, we revel in the glorious reality that God has made his immeasurable kindness known to us through his Son and by his Spirit.

But just what is grace? Is “grace” simply a way of speaking of the fullness of the attributes of God? Is it best understood as the favorable disposition of God toward his creatures? Is grace a substance that is transmitted from God to men? Is grace any action of God directed toward mankind? Is it some mixture of all of these things, none of these things, or something conceptually different altogether?

This morning a pastor asked me a pointed question: “Exactly what is grace?” While I am accustomed to describing grace, I don’t believe that I have actually ever taken the time to offer something approaching a definition of grace. Below I provide an initial attempt at the question.

“Grace is the gift of God whereby he supplies the dynamic of his own demands; grace is not an impersonal force but rather the communication of God’s own Self through the operation of the Spirit mediated through creaturely means; most properly, grace is synonymous with the redemptive revelation of God in Christ, it is shorthand for the miracle of mercy in Jesus. Thus, grace has a proper name–Jesus Christ.”

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