The Characteristics of Grace by Chris gilland

In this blog entry, we’re going to take a quick look at one of the most important key elements of our christian faith… Grace.

Before we start really talking a lot however about the topic of grace, I think it’s important that we first understand the source of where all things representing grace come from… In other words, what is the main outlet, if you will, for grace?

At the end of the day, we could sum it up many different ways. The truth of the matter however is, all grace comes from God. Let me say that again… All grace comes from God.

So, what I’d like to do now is to give you a few practical illustrations of how grace works, what it is, when/where it was used, and most importantly, how do we as christians respond to that grace.

A blind man once wrote and said the following words: “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” Amazing Grace has become one of our most well known hymns within the church.

So… what exactly is grace? Let’s start with a few examples. Dear friends, family, and readers, we can trace the action of grace all the way back to the book of Genesis! In fact, so far back, we can see God showing grace in Genesis chapter 1.

So, let’s very quickly look at this verse. In the Hebrew, it starts with the word, “Bereshit…” this is to say… in the beginning.

OK, so we know now when this took place… in the beginning. God… did what… created.

Think about this for a minute. Before the beginning, before creation, what do we learn in the next few following verses? Well, we learn that the world was filled with what? Darkness and void. So, take a moment to really meditate on this. Here’s this empty space… There is nothing there at all; it’s totally empty.

Do you remember going through science class in perhaps junior high, or high school and learning about outer space? What was one of the things you learned about? How about a black hole? Now, take what you learned about black holes and multiply that infinitely to not just one area, but the entire world. Not just this country, but when I say the whole world, I speak here of the entire cosmos! Everything!

But God filled this area with what? OK, yes, light, the sun, (I’m saying s u n,) etc. but at the end of the day, think more outside the box. He filled the empty void with what… his grace.

God loves us all so much that he wanted to share a part of his love and his mercy with us. but before he could do that, a worldly foundation had to be set.

So, now we have the world which was created in 6 days, and God rests on the seventh day, now today still known as the Sabbath. The word Sabbath comes from the hebrew word, “Shabbat,” which means the day of rest.

So… again, what is grace? The hebrew word for grace is חן, or in english spelling, this would be hhen. If you want to look this up, you can do so. It’s strongs number 2580, just FYI. What we have to understand about this, and why this is so important is that this word is a two letter parent route. Stick with me on this.

What I mean by this is that to uncover the original meaning of the word grace, we need to explore both roots, and words that are derived from this parent root. From חן (hhen) comes the verbal root חנה (Hh.N.H, Strong’s #2583), spelled exactly the same except with the addition of the letter ה (h) at the end. The
following verse provides a good example of the meaning of this verb.

And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. (KJV, Genesis 26:17)

If I am understanding this correctly, and someone correct me, if I’m not, I think that this verb means “to pitch a tent” or “to camp.” The noun derived from this verb is מחנה (mahhaneh.

A second verbal root derived from the parent root חן (hhen) is חנן (Hh.N.N, Strong’s #2603), spelled exactly the same except with the addition of the letter
ן (n) at the end. This verb is often translated as “to be gracious” or “have mercy,” however these are abstract terms and do not help us understand the
meaning of this verb from an Hebraic perspective, which always relates words to something concrete. One of the best tools to use to find the more concrete
meaning of a word is to look at how that word is paralleled with other words in poetical passages.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. (KJV, Psalm 6:2)

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. (KJV, Psalm 30:10)

But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them. (KJV, Psalm 41:10)

Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities
be overpast. (KJV, Psalm 57:1)

O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. (KJV, Psalm 86:16)

So… what are some of the parallels that we see here which define grace?

healing, help, being lifted up, finding refuge, strength and salvation
(literally rescue).

From a concrete Hebraic perspective, חנן (Hh.N.N) goes back to one thing… protection.

Where does one run to for protection? They run to God.

So, how can we break this down more simply? I’d like to give you two definitions of grace, now that we know the background…

1. Elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action.

2. Mercy; clemency; pardon

Look at the hymn where the well known lyrics say, “Though ye have sinned, he has mercy and pardon… pardon for you, and for me.”

Jesus tells, in the book of Matthew, a parable which talks about a man who owed a lot of money, and friends, I mean a huge significant amount! More than he ever could pay in one lifetime. What’s more sad about this is, he owed it to a king, among all people.

Extending his heart of compassion, and… yes… you guessed it… grace, the king set him free from all of his debt. Now of course, the story goes on to state that this man, once set free, went and nearly killed another man which owed him money. Well, you can imagine, when the king found out about this, he probably wasn’t very happy, don’t you think? No, he wasn’t! So, what did he do? Well, he asked the man, “How could you possibly do this after the grace…” there’s that word… “which I provided you earlier?” He then was thrown into prison… into captivity.;

My point is, this royal king showed the man… what? Mercy. Grace. Protection.

God’s mercy goes further though than this. God sent his son, Jesus, his only son mind you, into the world so that we as christians who believe can have that eternal grace… mercy… pardon… protection… protection though from what? From death… the eternal permanent death.

I like to think of grace as an acronym… G, R, A, C, E.

G=God’s
R=riches
A=at
C=Christ’s
and E=expense.

So, G R A C E. God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

Jesus was the ultimate sacrificial lamb. We were bought with a price. God could not allow us to enter his kingdom. We are not good enough to spend eternity with God. We never have been, and we never will be! Face it! It’s not going to happen. This said, we as christians should strive toward the fields of holiness.

What exactly do I mean by this: Well? simply this. God has made each of us in his own image, however knowing full and well that we never will meet that state of purity and perfection which was demonstrated on earth by Christ himself.

It took that child, in a manger, to live 30 years on earth, die on the cross, shed his blood, not in part, but entirely… you see… Christ didn’t give part of himself for you and me. He gave us his all! His blood should have been our blood. His spear should have been our spear. His crown of thorns should have been our crown of thorns. His nails should have been our nails. Ultimately, his death should have been our death. But yea, selah, he paid the price for our sins.

You know, I think about that, and it really is mind boggling! I was just talking to a friend the other night, and I remember telling him, “We don’t have to understand it. Just so that we believe… That’s all it takes, is to believe.”

But really is that all it takes?

Think for a minute about the story of Mary Magdalene. She was a full on prostitute. Let’s just be very bold here, and not sugarcote anything. She was a prostitute selling her body for very bad things.

You all know the story, and if you don’t, please write us and ask, we’d love to share it with you, but ultimately at the end of the day, she wanted what, more than anything? She wanted to stay with Jesus. But what did Jesus say to her? He told her to go from him. Friends, this wasn’t his way of rejecting her. You need to know that! Jesus was already in that area, so he wanted to send her out to other areas to tell the good news of the gospel, and of what just occurred. Well… what did! just occur? Grace. That’s right… Grace. God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Her sin, her debt, was set free because she believed.

Grace is an unmeasurable thing. Grace is not just an act of love, for it is so much more beyond that. It is an act of love, yes, but grace is unconditional.

So, what do we do with this grace? I like to adopt the philosophy of know, grow, go.

Before we can do anything, we must know about grace, what it is, etc. To do that, we need to know the creator of everything including grace itself… God. We do this through daily prayer, studying God’s word, meditating on his word, etc.

Secondly, we then blossom in his riches, and we strive to be holy in character. Again, we will never reach pure holiness. What is the root of holy? Whole. To be holy, is to be whole.

The only way that we can be whole is when the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and saves us from all unrighteousness the moment we confess, and cry out, “Lord, Lord! Save me!”

Finally, we must go. We must take the gospel to other nations… to other people who do not know the joy and the good news of Christ’s love, and… yes… you guessed it… grace.

So, I’d like to leave you, the reader with one final thought. How do we go about distributing the gospel.

Well, again, I want to give you another acronym for the word grace.

G=Go
R=Reach
A=Act
C=Care
and E=Educate.

So, let’s start with A for act.

The first step in proclaiming the gospel as an ambassador of Christ is to act. You can’t take the gospel to other areas until you are willing to take that initiative. In other words, you have to be willing to take some action. What is the root of action? Act. You have to act on God’s calling/commandments to take his word to other nations.

So now that we’ve decided to act, we need to put it into motion. This is where G for go comes into play. We now need to get up, and go teach the gospel.

R as in reach is the result of what happens when we do G as in go. By acting… A… then going… G… we now reach people/communities with the good news. It then penetrates their hearts, their minds, and above all, their souls.

Next, we have C for care. Part of bringing the gospel to other areas is to show compassion. This may be in the form of prayer, tithing, friendship making, it could be a number of things. The list goes on and on. The point is, what I want you to get from this is, we need to be compassionate and generous. We need to love as Christ loved us, and part of loving is caring for others. And this isn’t just their physical needs, although that certainly is one aspect. This is also caring for the Church, capital C, by the way, body in a whole, and for everyone’s spiritual growth, and needs. Remember? Know, Grow, go. We must help others know, then care for them so they can grow, to therefore be able to… you got it… go.

Finally is E, to educate. We as christians must then educate these people on how to take the gospel to further nations, that all nations may be then renewed for the glory of God’s holy purpose.

Friends, is this what you want? Do you feel that calling to spread the good news of God?

If so, we’d love to talk to you! Drop us an e-mail, or call us. Our contact info is listed on this website under the contact us link in the navigation bar. Just click the link, and scroll to see all the info you will need.

And more importantly, if you have not taken that extra step to surrender everything, your life, your possessions, everything, to God, I’d just encourage you right now at your computer, your phone, your tablet, however you’re accessing this page, to bow your head, and say this simple prayer…

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me. Thank you for coming into my heart to save me. Thank you for paying the cost for my sins: past, present, and future. Thank you for your mercy, and your grace. Lord Jesus, I give my heart to you not in part, but in whole, just as Jesus gave for me. I put my sin to death on the cross and lay it in the precious blood of Christ. Thank you Jesus.

In your name I pray…

Amen.