Category: What is the grace of God?


Mercy and grace are often confused. While the terms have similar meanings, grace and mercy are not the same. To summarize the difference: mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.

According to the Bible, we have all sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). As a result of that sin, we all deserve death (Romans 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15). With that in mind, every day we live is an act of God’s mercy. If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be, right now, condemned for eternity. In Psalm 51:1-2, David cries out, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” A plea to God for mercy is asking Him to withhold the judgment we deserve and instead grant to us the forgiveness we in no way have earned.

We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5). Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God favors, or gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Rescued from judgment by God’s mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive beyond that mercy (Romans 3:24). Common grace refers to the sovereign grace which God bestows on all of mankind regardless of their spiritual standing before Him, while saving grace is that special dispensation of grace whereby God sovereignly bestows unmerited divine assistance upon His elect for their regeneration and sanctification.

Mercy and grace are best illustrated in the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. We deserve judgment, but if we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we receive mercy from God and we are delivered from judgment. Instead of judgment, we receive by grace salvation, forgiveness of sins, abundant life (John 10:10), and an eternity in Heaven, the most wonderful place imaginable (Revelation 21-22). Because of the mercy and grace of God, our response should be to fall on our knees in worship and thanksgiving. Hebrews 4:16 declares, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Grace is a  constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the  coming of Jesus (John 1:17).  The word translated “grace” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word  charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can all extend  grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God,  it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather  than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the  undeserving.

Ephesians  2:8 says, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of  yourselves.” The only way any of us can enter into a relationship with God is  because of His grace toward us. Grace began in the Garden of Eden when God  killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis  3:21). He could have killed the first humans right there for their  disobedience. But rather than destroy them, He chose to make a way for them to  be right with Him. That pattern of grace continued throughout the Old Testament  when God instituted blood sacrifices as a means to atone for sinful men. It was  not the blood of those sacrifices that cleansed sinners; it was the grace of God  that forgave those who trusted in Him (Hebrews  10:4; Genesis  15:6).

The apostle Paul began many of his letters with the phrase,  “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:3).  God is the instigator of grace, and it is from Him that all other grace flows.  Grace can be easily remembered by this simple acrostic: God’s  Riches At Christ’s Expense.

God shows both  mercy and grace, but they are not the same. Mercy withholds a punishment we  deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. Consider this illustration:  you were stopped in your old clunker for going 60 mph in a school zone. The  ticket is high, and you can’t pay it. You appear before the judge with nothing  to say for yourself. He hears your case and then, to your surprise, he cancels  your fine. That is mercy. But the judge doesn’t stop there. He walks you outside  and hands you the keys to a new car. That is grace.

In mercy, God chose  to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place (Titus 3:5; 2  Corinthians 5:21). But He goes even further than mercy and extends grace to  His enemies (Romans  5:10). He offers us forgiveness (Hebrews  8:12; Ephesians  1:7), reconciliation (Colossians 1:19-20), abundant life (John 10:10),  eternal treasure (Luke 12:33),  His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13),  and a place in heaven with Him some day (John  3:16-18) when we accept His offer and place our faith in His  sacrifice.

Grace is God giving the greatest treasure to the least  deserving—which is every one of us.