GRACE: God's Redemption At Christ's Expense
Rev. David J. Rogers, Ph.D.
In this paper, I will define what grace is by a dictionary definition, a biblical definition, and how we relate to God's grace to us.
I. What is Grace?
Whenever I ask myself a question about a phrase or word, I have the tendency to pull out my 4" thick dictionary and research the origin of a word. I will give a quick review of the different long English definitions listed under the word. But, what I really spend time reviewing is the origins of where we got the word in the first place. So I looked at the word "grace," from the view point of Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary – Unabridged. Our English word grace comes from the Latin word gratia, which means favor, esteem, or kindness. Gratia comes from the Latin word gratus, which means pleasing or agreeable. Looking at Webster's definition of grace, it can be said that grace is favor, esteem, or kindness that is received from another. It can be said then, that when God gives us grace, He is giving us His favor, blessing us with His kindness. How easily I have mistaken His grace over the years. As a youth, "saying" grace over my meal would have been inappropriate. But, asking for God's grace or thanking God for His grace through provision of the meal would have been appropriate. Perhaps I should have seen grace as a gift, a free-will gift from God, and a gift that cannot be demanded or taken by force. Grace being favor could not be anything other than the generosity, esteem, or kindness of one to another.
The Bible says God gives grace. The word grace is used 170 times in the King James Version of the Holy Bible. There have been some excellent scholars of the Bible. These scholars have made some excellent biblical references available to see how the word grace was used in the Bible. Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words tells us the word grace comes from the Greek work charis. The subjective definition of the word charis is "on the part of the bestower, the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds, graciousness, loving-kindness, and goodwill generally." The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words shows us that ( charis ) is defined as the "devine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life -- acceptable, benefit, favor, gift, joy, liberality, pleasure, thanks."
Grace then, whether in English, Latin, or Greek, would be the gifting of favor or esteem upon someone. Effectively, you liked them, so you wanted to do something nice for them and gifted them. The gift does not have to be anything specific. It is a gift. In our case with God, He gifted us with favor (grace) and with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We did not deserve the gift. The gift was given out of His grace toward us.
II. God: The "G" of Grace.
When we look at God's grace to us, why is that important? Why is favor from God so important? To really know the answer, you must know who God is. The English word "god" came from the Middle English, Anglo-Saxon, Goth word god or godd. This word meant deity, divine nature. In the Greek the word is theos. In the Hebrew the word is el. The base meaning of the words el or theos is one who has strength, might, power, great, is strong. It could be said that there have been many gods. Why is the Judeo-Christian god different? What makes receiving grace from the Judeo-Christian god so special? It is the very nature of who He is and how He made Himself known to man that makes Him, the Judeo-Christian god, different.
In Genesis 1.1, the Judeo-Christian god introduces Himself as Elohim. "In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth." [KJV] This is an important introduction of Himself. Elohim is the plural of the Hebrew word eloah (deity), which comes from the root word el (strength, mighty, power). Elohim could be defined as "gods" or as powers. As elohim is used in Genesis 1.1, it implies that the one creating the heavens and earth encompassed all power or might in Himself. This upsets all of the polytheistic religions. Polytheistic religions acknowledge there are many powers, or many gods. The god of the Judeo-Christian Bible states there is only one god in whom all power exists, just one creator of all that exists.
In Genesis 2.4, Elohim further defines who He is. "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens." [KJV] Many Bible translators have used the convention of using "God" in the place of elohim and "LORD" in the place of YHWH when these two words specifically reference the God of the Bible. It is an easier explanation and an honorific to the Judeo-Christian God. In Genesis 2.4, God further defined Himself as YHWH Elohim. The word yhwh connotes self-existence. It comes from the root Hebrew word hâyâh, which means to exist, to be. The implication God makes is that He is the self-existent, no beginning-no ending one in whom all powers exist and the creator of all things that exist. This is His suppositional truth. This is His basis for everything else He says or does.
So, why is God's grace so important to us? The creator of heaven, earth, and all things that exists desires to give us favor. The one in whom all power exists wants to extend to us "the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds, graciousness, loving-kindness, and goodwill." You could have no better benefactor, no better patron, no better ally, and no better friend. He who rules the heavens and the earth extends to us His free gift of grace. That is important. That free gift of grace explains many reasons why God has done the things He has done for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes. It explains His temperance toward us, His patience, His protection of us, His blessing of us, His other gifts to us, His long suffering of all our foolish ways. Man is foolish, if you had not realized this yet.
III. Redemption: The "R" of Grace.
As we read through the rest of Genesis, we see how man sins. The English word "sin" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word synn or sin, which means evil or wickedness. Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines the Hebrew word for sin (awen) as "iniquity [not being equal], vanity, sorrow, the absence of all that has true worth; hence it would denote 'morale worthlessness,' as in the actions of wrongdoing, evil devising, or false speaking." Vine shows the Greek word for sin (hamaria) as "a missing of the mark." The imagery is like an archery contest. The archer's eye is on the target. The arrow is loosed. And, somewhere in the flight, the arrow changes course, missing the target. Sin.
Sin came into this world through the selfish actions of one man, Adam. In Genesis 2, God told Adam to eat of every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 3, Adam did not confront the serpent or correct Eve as to what God had actually said. Eve ate and gave some also to Adam, who was with her. Adam chose to separate himself from God. Adam no longer had equity with God, equality with God. Adam, by choosing a different path than walking with God, missed the mark of a life in right relationship with God. Adam sinned.
It was not God's plan that Man should be separate from God. God had made Man in the image and likeness of God. (Gen 1.26) God had to cover the sin of Adam, the missing of the mark of all Adam's descendants. Adam set the pattern of disobedience to the Word of God. In Genesis 3 when confronted by God, Adam cast the blame on Eve- the female God gave Adam. Eve now has the pattern and casts the blame on the serpent. Willful disobedience combined with denial of the act has become the pattern established. No care was given as to the consequences of the act of disobedience. All sin can be tied to that combination.
Man's first actions, after his willful disobedience, were to cover himself with fig leaves and hide. It is interesting that Adam used leaves to form his covering. Once the leaves are pulled from the branches, they begin to die. They may be green for a while, but they are dead and will wither. God interceded on behalf of Adam and Eve. God showed them how to make coverings for themselves out of animal hides. God shed blood to cover them, another pattern set.
As blood was spilled in the flesh to cover Adam and Eve (Gen 3.21), so too blood, a sacrifice, had to be spilled to cover Man in the spiritual. The blood sacrifices made by Man were a type of covering sacrifice. The only way to permanently cover the sin of Man was through a more perfect sacrifice, once for all.
"But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, 'Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, but a body Thou hast prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast taken no pleasure.' Then I said, 'Behold, I have come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.'
"After saying, above, 'Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast not desired, nor hast Thou taken pleasure in them,' (which are offered according to the Law), the He said, 'Behold I have come to do Thy will,' He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." –Hebrews 10.3-10 NAS
Jesus Christ became the vehicle of redemption for Man. A cost had to be attached to the sin of Man. A price had to be paid to bridge the separation of God and Man. Redemption comes from the Latin word redemptio, meaning a buying back. Redemption is a variation of the English word redeem. Redeem comes from the Latin word redimere, meaning to buy back or ransom. Dimere means to purchase. Re means back. We can then say the redemption Jesus Christ gave us at the cross was a buying back of Man from a price already paid. We who are in Christ Jesus have been paid for twice. The English word redeem comes from the root word deem, meaning to judge. We can also say that we have been re-judged for our sin and Jesus Christ took our place in judgment. Jesus was our punishment under the judgment. He paid the price, the cost, of our judgment.
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." –Isaiah 53.4-5 KJV
IV. At: The "A" in Grace.
At judgment, someone had to pay for the cost of repairing the breech, the separation between God and Man. Someone had to be judged and punished for the sin of Adam and all the descendents from Adam and Eve. As the sin was a spiritual sin acted out in the natural, a natural act had to be performed to repair the spiritual breech between God and Man. Within the court system of the United States of America, if you are found guilty of your crime (sin), you are judged and must pay out the requirements of that judgment, whatever it is. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, tells us that all have sinned and have fallen short (sin, missed the mark) of the glory of God. (Rom 3.23) All are guilty of sin. In Genesis 2.17, God tells Adam the punishment for being judged disobedient. "…for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die." The punishment was death. Just as the leaves Adam used to cloth himself were dead but still green for a little while. Adam, according to the Bible, lived 930 years and died. Remember, God is the Eternal, Self-Existent One in Whom all power exists. God made Man in His own image. Adam was no longer like God and died.
Since Adam failed to walk uprightly, circumspectly, and righteously with God, someone was needed who would, who could. As that spiritual perfection in right standing with God was lost, the breech demanded spiritual perfection, right standing with God, to repair that breech. The judgment and punishment for the "sin" had to fall on someone. Either the person committing the sin or someone else is required to take the sinner's place. The Bible says that such a person was and is the Messiah (Anointed One, Christ). Specifically, the one anointed to be the salvation of God's people. King David of Israel most notably described the Anointed One (Messiah; Psa 2) and the prophet Isaiah as receiving punishment. (Isa 53)
V. Christ: The "C" in Grace.
Who was the Christ, Messiah, Anointed One? What is the Christ? Why did it have to be Jesus? What does it mean to be "anointed?" First, what does the word christ mean? The English word christ is very nearly a direct transliteration of the Greek word christos. The word christos came from the Greek verb chriein, to anoint. Therefore, the word christ means one who is anointed or anointed one. In the last 1900 years, the word christ has become synonymous with Jesus Christ, the Lord's Anointed. But, what did it mean to be anointed?
The English verb "anoint" means to pour oil upon; to smear or rub over with oil or ointment. Anoint also means to consecrate by the use of oil, a sacred rite of great antiquity. Monarchs, prelates, and priests were anointed as part of the consecration ceremonies. This custom is still used today. Consecrate means to devote to a sacred or high purpose, to dedicate. Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his sons were anointed as priests in the service of the Lord in the Tabernacle. (Exodus 28.40) Sacrifices unto God were anointed. (Exodus 29.36) The Tabernacle, itself, was anointed. (Exodus 40.9) God commanded Samuel to anoint Saul as king over Israel. (1 Sam 9.16; 15.1) God commanded Samuel to anoint David as king over Israel. (1 Sam 16.12-13) By these few examples it is shown that people or things are anointed for specific use, entitled or commissioned for a specific purpose.
Throughout history, many have been anointed. All were anointed, commissioned to some specific purpose. It has been said by some that there have been many christs. And, there have been. But, to what purpose have they been anointed? Only one through out history has been anointed to be the salvation of God's people. From Genesis 3 through Malachi 3, the prophets spoke of only one who would repair the gap between God and Man. Jesus was that prophesied repairer of the breech and spiritual sacrifice. But, why did it have to be Jesus?
The English name Jesus comes from the Latin word Iesus, the Greek word Iesous, which comes from the Hebrew word yeshua, which is a contraction of the word yehoshua. Yehoshua comes from the two Hebrew words YHWH (God, Jehovah) and hoshia (to help). A literal translation of the name Jesus could be "God helps" or "help of God." Mary was told by Gabriel, the Angel of the Lord to name her son Jesus. (Luke 1.31) The person we have come to know as Jesus was to be the embodiment of the help of God.
Since sin entered into the world through a man created solely by God, a new man had to be created that was not tied wholly to the inherited sin of Man. God, through Mary, created a new Adam, Jesus- the help of God. Jesus grew to be a man, a righteous man. He never sinned; His heart was fully toward the Lord God. In due time, Jesus was baptized by John, His cousin, in the Jordan River. It was at that point the Lord God anointed Jesus. (Matt 3.13-17; John 1.29-34) Jesus returned from the desert through Galilee to Nazareth and proclaimed to what purpose He was anointed. (Luke 4.14-21) Jesus fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Christ. But, why did it have to be Jesus?
First, in Genesis 3, as part of God's judgment against the serpent, God foretold that it would be the seed of the woman that crushed the serpent. (Gen 3.15) The repairer of the breech would also be the vehicle of God's judgment. In Deuteronomy 18, the Lord God said He would raise up a Prophet from the midst of the people and He would be like God and speak for God. (Duet. 18.15-19) He would rule as King. (Psa 2) He would be a descendant of King David and a priest-king like Melchizedek. (Psa 110; Mark 12.35-73; Heb 6.20, 7.1-3, 8.1-6) He would be a sign to kings and the world. He would be a ruler. (Isa 9.6-7) He would be a greatly exalted sacrifice. (Isa 52.13-15, 53.1-12) He would be God with us. He would be the manifested Word of God as a Man. (John 1.1-14) He was from God and the Lamb of God. (John 1.15-36) He came to take away the sin of the world. (John 1.29, 36)
VI: Expense: The "E" in Grace (Note the cost).
The expense. The cost. The price. The payment due for the judgment against the sin of Man. That is what Jesus came to earth to be. What did it cost Jesus to be our sin sacrifice, our payment for the judgment of sin?
Jesus was and is God. Isaiah 9.6 said His name would be called Mighty God, Eternal Father. His name would be Emmanuel, which is translated God with us. (Isa 9.6-7; Matt 1.23) He was in the beginning with God and was God. (John 1.1-2) He was God become flesh. (John 1.14) In Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col 2.9) He enjoyed all of the fullness of God and all things came into being by Him. Apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1.2) He was God. He was and is the Eternal, Self-Existent One, in Whom all powers exist (YHWH Elohim). He gave all of that up to be our sacrifice, our punishment, our judgment payment.
It should go without saying that being YHWH Elohim is the epitome of wealth. The creative God Who could make all He desires. Yet, though He was rich He became poor. (2 Cor 8.9) He traded His wealth, riches, to be a righteous man before God. He walked in everyway as a man. He was born. He was hungry. He was dirty. He was hot. He was cold. He knew joy. He knew pain. He had to learn Hebrew and the Law. He had to learn carpentry. He had to deal with splinters and customers. He was a little boy. He was a teenager. He was a young, successful businessman. He was a brother. He was a son. He was a relative. He did all as God commanded. He was lead of the Spirit. He did not walk in the fullness of the Godhead. He was a man. He did everything as a man, except one thing. He did not sin. Going from knowing all, being able to do all you plan to do, to being human is the poverty.
More was required of Jesus, the Man, the Son of God, than just walking through this life as a righteous man of God. Under the Hebrew Law, on the Day of Atonement a spotless lamb was offered as a sin offering. This blood sacrifice covered the sin of Israel for the year. This sacrifice was done annually. (Heb 9.7,25, 10.1,3-4) Jesus was to be an eternal replacement for the annual sacrifices. (Heb 9-10) Early in Jesus' preaching career He tried explaining to those around Him that He would be the Lamb that was slain for their sin. (John 3.14, 8.27, 12.27) Either they did not believe Him or their hearts were hardened against Him.
"If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things? And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but the world should be saved through Him." John 3.12-17 NASB
Another cost to be paid was the cost of breaking covenant. In ancient times a covenant was a bonding agreement that could not be broken without a cost to the one breaking the covenant. The cost was agreed upon before the covenant was made. God made a covenant in blood with Moses and the children of Israel. A blood covenant required the blood, the death, of the one breaking the covenant.
"For where a covenant (testament) is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives." Hebrews 9.16-17 NASB
God's love for us was (is) so great that He, Himself, paid the cost of covenant breaking and thereby created a new covenant.
"And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." Hebrews 9.15 NASB
Not only did God make covenant, bless Man, forgive sin, but personally paid the price of the judgment of sin and the price of covenant breaking. The Eternal, Self-Existent One, in Whom all powers exists (YHWH Elohim) took our punishment, was scorned, mocked, beaten, whipped with a Roman scourge, had his beard plucked, forced to wear a crown of thorns, judged falsely of blasphemy and sedition, forced to carry a cross timber down a street of deriders, nailed to a cross, left to suffocate on the cross, taunted by onlookers, received the punishment of our sins in His body, but He was separated from God the Father and received death, unjustifiably. The Eternal, Self-Existent One, in Whom all powers exists (YHWH Elohim) died. God separated Himself, in our sin, from all that was holy. He died that we might have life, riches, blessing, and right standing with God the Father and all that is holy if we only believe He paid it all on the cross at Golgotha. (Matt 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 18-19) How much more can you love someone than to punish yourself for the sin of your children?
It is clear to me that Man has been bought with an exceedingly high price. Yet God does not hold any animosity toward Man. In fact God has decided that due to Man's right relationship with Himself through belief in what Jesus Christ did for Man at the cross that God will richly bless Man with unmerited favor and every good gift.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Ephesians 1.3-7 KJV
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2.4-8 KJV
What is grace then? Grace is a free-will gift of love from an Everlasting, Eternal, Self-Existent God who loves Man so greatly as to punish Himself rather than His children. All that He requires is that we love Him, trust Him, and obey Him. It is much like me telling my son in his toddler years to not touch something because it is hot and I get burned in the process. And, all I tell my son is don't do that you will get burned. Jesus took my place. He was burned in my stead. The chastisement of my peace was upon Him. By His stripes He received I am made whole. The grace He gives us is this. We can walk with Him in the cool of the day just as if we never sinned, just as if this was the way it always was. Grace is His bearing me up when life is difficult. Grace is two sets of footprints in the sand when I need a friend and one set when I can no longer bear up because He carries me.
Grace is not a thing to be possessed or demanded. Grace is the free gift of His good pleasure in acts designed to assist and bless Man. Grace is not a substance. Grace is an action from a loving Father who is God. And, the only way into this grace with the Father is through the selfless sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son, at the cross. Man cannot come near unto God without first accepting the price paid by Jesus Christ. All must accept that Jesus paid the price, was Man's judgment sacrifice, once for all- if Man only believes.
Jesus, I believe you are God. I believe you are the Son of God and the Son of Man. I accept the price you paid for me at the cross. I ask you to come live with me. Be Emmanuel, God with me. Let me receive your grace. Forgive me of my sins that I might live with you all ways. Lord Jesus, be Lord of my life. Let my life be an offering pleasing to you. Let me experience the grace You paid so high of a price to give me. Come abide with me and let me abide with You. Let me dwell in Your house forever. Amen.