In nearly fifty New Testament passages, God is associated with grace. This article explores why is God a God of grace.
God embodies and personifies love and grace. Even in the Old Testament, He is described as loving, forgiving, gracious, compassionate, merciful, as well as slow to anger and punishment (Neh 9:17, 31; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 116:5; 145:8; Isa 30:18; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2)
The God of grace makes His general grace universally available throughout the creation in the form of life sustenance, provision, renewal, and special blessings for all creatures and people of all nations (Neh 9:6; Job 5:10; 24:5; 25:3; 36:31; 38:41; 65:9; Ps 147:9; Isa 55:10).
In addition to the above-mentioned general grace of God’s provision and help (2 Cor 9:8; 12:9), the New Testament refers to a special grace brought by Jesus Christ (John 1:14-17) and offered to all who are receptive.
It appears from both experience and scripture that some people are more spiritually inclined than the majority. Perhaps those the Father has drawn or called to become Jesus’ followers and disciples (John 6:44). This being “chosen” – or helped to choose God’s way – occurs by grace, without any merit of the individual involved. It is a free and unearned gift (Rom 11:5-6) and involves an opportunity to embark on a way to salvation through transformation by divine love, imparted through the Holy Spirit, which is free for the asking (Rom. 5:5; Tit 3:4-7).
Of course, free will on the part of humans is involved at all times. Those who desire and accept these gifts of saving grace then need to cultivate soul growth and development in their lives, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit which imparts God’s Divine Love and nature. They need to “walk in the Spirit” and love God and others as Jesus loved — with the Divine Love that transcends the natural human love they are born with (John 13:34, 15:12, Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:16, 25; Eph. 5:2, 8, 18; 2 Pet 1:4).
In the context of saving grace, the Bible shows that this grace includes:
The message of the gospel
God’s intervention in the lives of those who are called to discipleship
Response to God’s call
God’s way of life
Means of justification, sanctification, salvation, and eternal life
The present redeemed state of believers
Personal spiritual gifts and responsibilities
(Acts 11:23; 13:43; 15:11; 18:27; 20:24, 32; Rom 3:24; 5:2, 21; Eph 1:7; 2:5-8; 3:2-8; 4:7; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 4:10; 5:10.)
According to The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality, in an article entitled “Grace” by Robert Haight (p. 452-464), grace is:
A gift of God
Love and favor
God’s initiative of salvation
God’s merciful response to sin and death
God’s personal self-communication to humans
God’s indwelling – that is, a person’s union with God
Fully gratuitous – free, unowed, unearned, and undeserved
The following passages show more specifically how saving grace is special, and occurs in addition to the general grace available to all humanity and in which, through the omnipresent Spirit of God, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-28).
Those graced with the saving grace have the opportunity to be the first-fruits of salvation (Eph 1:3-14; Jas 1:18; Rev 14:4). They have been enlivened from being spiritually dead in sins and their eyes have been opened to God’s special revelation (Eph 2:4-10; Mt 13:11-17; 16:16-17, 20; 1 Cor 1:21-24). They have been drawn by the Father, shown their sinful and alienated state, and called to repentance, reconciliation, and ultimately oneness with God through the Divine Love of the Father imparted by the Holy Spirit (Jn 6:44, Acts 2:38-41; Rom 5:5, 8-11; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 2:12-20; Col 1:19-22).
Through the Holy Spirit imparting God’s Divine Love and nature into their souls, they have entered into the special grace and become God’s true and redeemed children, born of the Spirit (Jn 1:9-13; 3:5-16; 1 Pet 1:1-5, 23). All this is entirely God’s doing and grace – without any human merit except for faith and acceptance of the divine invitation (Rom 3:21-28; Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 1:8-10; Tit 3:5). The Holy Spirit is a guarantee of divine adoption or new birth as children of God and of future glory and immortality in God’s Celestial Kingdom (Rom 8:9-17, 22-23; 1 Cor 15:50-57; Mt 24:30-31).
So, indeed, God can truly be seen as a God of grace. Firstly, grace given to all human and non-human creatures in providing them with life and sustenance. With Jesus’ coming, humanity received the opportunity for a new and special grace first offered to and rejected by the first humans. This offer was to receive and be transformed by God’s Divine Love and nature resulting in glory and immortality. God commissioned Jesus, the first human to embark on this new journey of grace. He and his followers were commissioned to preach the gospel of grace, which is also the gospel of the Kingdom of God and encompasses the whole will of God (Acts 20:24-27).
© Eva Peck, 2009; updated 2021
A book Gospel of God’s Grace and His Kingdom can be downloaded here.
Header: Nerry Burg