I have been receiving a huge download from the Holy Spirit as I seek more understanding of God and His Nature and Character. I admit that the thoughts are coming at such an accelerated speed that I find myself flipping from Scripture to Scripture to determine if what I am understanding is confirmed by God's Word. And I want to make it perfectly clear ... what I am about to share with you is from my own study of God's Word. This is my opinion, and by no means, should you accept what I say without doing your own study. But I am also declaring to you that I believe it is inherent upon [and necessary for] every Believer to search out God for themselves. He has given us His Word as a revelation of His Character and His Divine Nature, and far too many of us rely on our pastors, popular ministers, and online articles to define God for us.
I have been convicted in my heart that there is so much of the basic foundation of God's qualities and character that we really haven't figured out for ourselves. Oh, we know all the words and probably use them often in our attempts to explain our theology: Sanctification, Justification, Redemption, Salvation, Faith, Grace. But, do we really know what they mean from God's perspective? Or put another way, do we search the Scriptures to understand how they are to be applied to our relationship with Him; that they are not just doctrines, but real dispensations from God to be applied in growing towards Him?
For instance, I can say that I am saved by the Grace of God. But do I fully understand the implications of God's Grace? If you are like me, you've always understood the accepted definition of Grace as God's unmerited favor. Grace has been defined as the following: We have received forgiveness of our sins through Christ's death on the Cross, and there was nothing we did to deserve it. Grace has been given to us out of God's love and mercy; it's a gift. And that's usually as far as most Christians go with their understanding of Grace... it's a gift... and if you will allow me to apply a grammatical attribute, it's a noun.
And here is the astounding revelation I received as I did a deeper study on the Hebrew (Old Testament) understanding of the word Grace, and the Greek (or New Testament) interpretation. In the Old Testament, the word for Grace is the Hebrew word chên. And, indeed, it is a noun, and it does mean a favor; whatever is pleasant and agreeable. What's more, there is no alternative word for Grace in the Old Testament --- everywhere it is used, it has the same meaning.
In the Old Testament, Grace is usually applied in terms of "give favor" -- But the Lord was with Joseph, and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer (Genesis 39:21); "obtain favor" -- I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; (Exodus 3:21), or "find favor" -- And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. (Genesis 6:8).
The Hebrew word chên comes from the word chânan, which includes the meaning to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior. Strong's Concordance also says, "Generally, this word [grace] implies the extending of "favor", often when it is neither expected nor deserved". So, this seems to tell me that the modern Church's understanding of Grace is in line with the Old Testament perception.
But when I looked at how God applies the concept of Grace in the New Testament, I saw a dramatic change. Grace becomes a verb! And just like in the Old Testament, there is no alternative word or meaning for God's Grace -- everywhere it is used it means the same thing. And the Greek word for God's Grace is charis. At its root it indicates an act of favor on the part of the giver, and thanks on the part of the receiver. Charis is related to sins and the attribute of God's Grace that they evoke. It is God's Mercy (the free gift of forgiveness of sins) and compassion that recognizes the misery that our sin brings us. It is God's tender sense of our misery that displays itself in His efforts [Grace] to lessen and entirely remove our misery. God's Grace is applied; it is bestowed; it is His power to equip us for ministry. This is what is shown us in Hebrews 4:16 ... Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. God's grace is a weapon in our spiritual war with the devil. It is help in time of need, which implies [to me] that God's power is behind it.
What about our free will? When God activates His Grace in our heart (His ability to not commit the sin), our will has a choice --- continue in our pursuit of that sin, OR come into agreement with God and let His ability (power to resist the sin) become our motivation. This is the true understanding of that oft-quoted Scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ... but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. When God's Grace is activated in New Testament Believers, there you will find the power of Christ.
Grace is the manifestation of God's ability in any situation! When the Apostle Paul wrote, By the Grace of God, I am what I am, I believe he was saying that Grace was the Ability of God surging through his veins and empowering him to do the work he did. Paul was plugged into God's Grace all the time. That's how he lived! And we can live that way, too! Every time we come to a challenge, we should ask ourselves, "Do I want to tackle this with my own ability [my own strength, wisdom, power], or with Jesus's?"
I find it interesting that the first and last use of the word Grace in the New Testament involve our Lord Jesus Christ: And the child continued to grow, and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Luke 2:40); and The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen (Revelation 22:21). In both instances, it is the power and ability of the Almighty God [exhibited through Jesus Christ] that is being manifested. Let me be clear -- I accept the truth of God's unmerited favor in my life. But I don't want to settle for only that portion of His Grace. It want it all! I want His ability to resist sin to invade my heart, and I want His power to be manifested in all the works I do for His Kingdom. I recognize my own weakness and come into full agreement with Him; calling upon His Grace to be applied, to be bestowed, and to empower me to live a righteous life that pleases Him. That is what Jesus did, and He is Grace personified.
Acts 20:24 "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God".