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Redefining Grace

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Some of the phrasing from evangelicals is kind of funny and a little gross too.  “Washed in the blood” and “On-fire for Jesus” tend to be phrases that don’t connect to well with most people, unless they speak fluent Christianese.  Yet I have found that many of the simple words we use to describe this God, or living in relationship to God, are lost in translation and we’ve become inoculated to the power from which they originate.

We can do this with many words in our modern day tongue like love.  I love my wife, I love a hamburger and I love God are all true statements yet the definition of love is different in all three cases.  There are times when I say “I love you” to my wife when I truly mean, “I am amazed and charmed by your beauty”.  Now what if she takes that as the same way I mean, “I love a hamburger”?  To be terrific we must be specific and there are times when we need to say more then “I love you” because the ears that it fall on might just need us to be specific what we are saying.  Now let’s step back into some modern day Christianese.

Grace has become a buzzword in Christianity and we read it 131 times in the New Testament alone, most of the time passing right over it because we’ve become inoculated to the definition and power of the word.  Most of us associate grace with God and the process of salvation.  Grace then gets pigeonholed into being about salvation and therefore those heathen need grace and we have received it and are no longer in need of it.

Now Grace is many times defined as “Unmerited favor” or an “Undeserved gift”.  Many have even sought to turn it into an acronym – God’s Riches At Christ Expense.  And we know we need grace in order to “be saved”.  But what if we missed the true meaning of Grace.  What if we unknowingly have commoditized the gospel of grace and it is been brought back under the power of a religious system that we now call a “relationship”.

Grace is defined not only by the end result of it, which is “unmerited favor”, but we need to understand the means that it comes.  Thayers defines it as “the merciful kindness by which God, exerts his holy influence upon souls”.  So the conduit or means of grace is God Himself, in His tender loving kindness offering us Himself and His influence over our very being”.  This is a moment-by-moment need of the soul of a person in order for them to experience real communion with God.  Grace is not only needed for salvation but it is what we now live by, His grace is always sufficient.  Titus 2:11-12 says this very succinctly:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

Notice it is that same grace in salvation that we need to live by, that actually comes along side us to live the Christian life.  It is a moment-by-moment experiencing of His presence within us that leads us through life.  This is the kind of closeness that union (1 Corinthians 6:17) brings with our God, this is the God of relationships.  So next time you see the word Grace simply put the definition in and begin to see the relational way that God guides you.

David Geisler

About the Author

Dave Geisler is a son, husband, father and pastor/teacher. He has been married to Jackie for twelve years and they have 3 children. Dave is the teaching pastor at A Grace Place Church in Bradenton, Florida. Along with co-shepherding the beloved ones at AGP church, Dave also travels and speaks at conferences and other congregations and has an online ministry through Facebook, blogs, and online videos. You can find more information at www.agpchurch.com.