words” normally mean lots of letters and a surplus of syllables. Here, I will
use “big” to mean a word’s frequency of use and its influence on society.
are many wonderful words in the languages of the world. Some of these words
have precise definitions like the word kind. Because of this
preciseness, the word is not a “wide” word. There are other words that are
“big,” “wide” and are not wonderful. Sin is one of those words. However,
there is a word whose definition is “big,” “wide,” and it is still wonderful. That
word is GRACE.
I tell you about this word, let’s look at the various definitions of the word
dictionary defines “definition” as:
Definition #1: A statement
of the meaning of a word or word group or a sign or symbol.
Definition #2: The meaning
of a word from the context of a paragraph or a story or a lecture.
are many such examples from the books of L.M. Montgomery. Here is one:
an August afternoon, with blue hazes scarfing the harvest slopes, little winds
whispering elfishly in the poplars, and a dancing splendor of red poppies outflowing
against the dark coppice of young firs in a corner of the cherry orchard, was
fitter for dreams than dead languages” (Anne of Avonlea).
scarfing and outflaming are invented participles made up from the
two legitimate words scarf and flaming. The definitions are clear
from the basic words and the context. Harvest is a legitimate word if it
is used as a verb or a noun. Here it is an adjective. However, the definition
is clear. Dancing is a legitimate word, but it modifies splendor,
which should not make sense, but it does.
Definition #3: An agreed-upon
meaning of a word within a certain group of people.
people invited to dinner could agree, before they arrived at the dinner, that
the main dish would be called “garbage.” At the table they would say things
like this to each other: “Please pass the garbage,” or “Boy, this garbage
tastes good.” The hostess might be offended, because she knows the standard
meaning of “garbage.” She was not in on the agreement.
happens in religion frequently. Mormons, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s
Witnesses, and Muslims all speak of Jesus, but they have different
definitions of who He is. They do not agree with each other’s definitions or
with the Bible’s. However, if we do not know that each group has an “agreed-upon”
definition within itself, we might think that they are talking about the same person
we are talking about.
know what they are talking about, but others who know the dictionary definition
or have a contextual definition of the same word, but who are not in on the
agreement, do not know what they are talking about, although they will think
that they know.
Reformed and Wesleyan theologies have modified the contextual definitions of
grace with their agreed-upon definition in their own group. The Reformed group
precedes the word with the modifiers sovereign and efficacious. These
modifiers are used so often that after the group is convinced of the modified
meaning, then “grace” can be used by itself and people will hear it in the light
of the new meaning. The emphasis is on God giving what cannot be refused.
Wesleyan group will place the modifier “free” in front of grace and use
it until the meaning is commonly understood. The emphasis is on man receiving.
has a clear
definition all by itself. The modifiers are applied to help God out so that people
will be sure to understand God’s meaning, as if He had not made it clear
definitions are O.K. for small societies using “in” words. They are not
legitimate for words of world-wide import. We should stick to the dictionary
definition, contextual definition, or common usage if the common usage is
is the definition from Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: Definition
#1: grace, unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or
in the Bible
let’s look at this wonderful word from the context of the Bible. This is
difficult because there is a lot of context. I will quote one passage from each
verse group to give some, if limited, meaning. I will group the verses in an
order based upon common meanings.
Source of Grace
· Luke 2:40: “And the child
grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on
· John 1:14
· John 1:16-17
· Acts 15:40
· Acts 20:24, 32
· Romans 1:7
· Ephesians 2:5, 8
Whom Is This Grace?
· Titus 3:5-7: “He saved us
through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured
out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been
justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
· Ephesians 3:2, 7-8
· 2 Corinthians 12:9
· 2 Corinthians 1:2
· Acts 4:33
· Acts 6:8
· Romans 5:15, 17, 20: “But
the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the
one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of
the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! … For if, by the trespass of
the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who
receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness
reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! … The law was brought in so
that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all
· Jonah 2:8
· Galatians 5:4: “You who are
trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have
fallen away from grace.”
· Hebrews 12:15
to Mercy, Faith, and Love
· Acts 18:27
· 1 Timothy 1:14: “The grace
of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that
are in Christ Jesus.”
Does Grace Do?
· Acts 15:11
· Romans 3:24: “And all are
justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
· Romans 5:21