The Grace of God is NOT what you think

abe inetianbor
"Human forgiveness to me is mercy but God's 
forgiveness is what I call Grace." - Abraham Inetianbor.
God's forgiveness takes away sin, something that a human forgiveness cannot do. This is why it's called grace (Acts 4:12). Grace is a word that is used to describe an event that was planned from the beginning but took place starting from The Cross to The Right Hand of God (Ephesians 4:7-10). Showing love, mercy, forgiveness, or kindness to a fellow human being doesn't mean I gave them grace because bible context of grace is much bigger than just an unmerited favor. Yes, I can say they don't deserve it all I want but it's still not grace in bible context. The dictionary definition of grace is plastered everywhere and that's not what I'm here to talk about because that definition has left us in a place where we find ourselves trying to equate mortality with immortality (John 3:1-12). The Greek word Chari means grace, kindness and life. You can use it however you choose in content but my concern is what grace truly represent in bible context (Titus 3:1-11).

The word "gay" use to be defined as "happy" but now it means something else because dictionaries are subject to content update. The bible may be translated and updated based on language but the context is always the same. The dictionary is mostly correct in understanding the bible in content, not in context. To understand the bible in context, you need a deeper study of scriptural cross references not just a dictionary meaning of a word. You need to let the bible speak God's language (the truth) not forcing the bible to speak your language. We can try as much as possible to use physical things to describe something spiritual but this does not give us the right to equate them because they'll never be the same. See my chart below for details.

We see grace as just a gift that we don't deserve, which is correct in content. I agree that the grace of God is free (Acts 10:1-48, Mark 10:17-27, Ephesians 2:1-10) but at the same time priceless because the ultimate divine price was paid for it by someone who knew no sin. This is where grace gets its power from and should not be minimized or compared to anything else under the sun. We can show, share or let people know about this divine (spiritual) gift called grace (Jesus) through preaching, teaching and the way we live our lives but we cannot give it to someone because we don't own it, not even if we die for someone else. We show Jesus (grace) to the world by the way we live (Christ-like). You can't give what you don't own; including your soul (Luke 12:20).
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I'll do my very best to break it down with more scriptural references than I normally would so we can all learn together. If you find any mistakes or concerns, please feel free to bring it to my attention because I'm just going to let out whatever biblical references comes to my head as I type...this would be longer than my normal post because it is too important to me. I've taught this in the past so I should have some notes to add from my archive. GRACE is what saves us and our "good work" is just a way of saying thank you to God for His salvation. Human forgiveness may or may not temporary protect you from physical punishment but this doesn't protect you from physical death that is inevitable. God's forgiveness protects your soul from eternal punishment and death. This is why grace is spiritual, which I will explain later.

Let me clarify one thing first. John 1:14 says Jesus is full of grace and truth. When Luke said in Acts 6:8 that Stephen is "...a man full of God's grace..." or as some would say, we are full of grace just like our heavenly father, Luke was simply referring to what Jesus said during the beatitude in Matthew 5:6. Jesus said "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Hebrew 11:6 basically said the same thing as Jesus in the beatitude. You are probably asking yourself what in the world does this beatitude thing has to do with grace. This is why Jesus also closed that sermon in verse 48 of Matthew 5 by saying: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect." Grace is the only thing that makes us perfect, blameless or righteous in the eyes of God (Ephesians 5:27{25-32}). When God sees us, he sees righteousness, which also means that he sees grace, not sin. Stephen being "full of God's grace" means he was made perfect because of his belief and faith in God.

We hunger and thirst after righteousness when we believe and have faith in God through Jesus Christ. This causes us to be filled with righteousness because our faith is not in man or in this world but in God. Abraham thirst after righteousness when he believed and had faith in God, and that faith was counted unto him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). So being filled with grace like your father in heaven does not mean you poses the power to hand out grace like a gift. It is the gift of and from God (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:23-24, 1 Peter 4:10, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Philippians 1:2); an immeasurable gift of God that saves souls; the perfect gift of and from God called Jesus; not the gift of or from man because no man can give "the perfect gift." If Jesus on earth couldn't even give grace until his blood was shed on the cross, what makes us think we can give or receive grace from a fellow human? Again, you can't give what you don't own.
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We all (myself included) have to be very careful so we don't unintentionally trivialize "the grace of God" (Titus 2:11-14) which is made available "through Christ" (John 1:17) to all men. God alone gives grace and humans cannot give grace - period. On its face, there is virtually no difference between grace (chari), forgiveness(synchoresi) and mercy(eleos) especially in content. But in context, I believe (not my opinion) that there is a big biblical difference. Here is an example of grace and mercy being used differently - "...so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16). 

Yes, God forgives just like we do. Yes, we show mercy to others because God showed us mercy. But the mercy He shows us through the forgiveness of our sins is called GRACE. The mercy we show others through forgiveness IS NOT grace. The only reason we continue to receive forgiveness from God (if we don't turn back fully to our worldly ways) is because God sees the blood that we came in contact with at baptism and this blood is what shields us and gives us that ultimate forgiveness (continuous cleansing) that takes or wipes away sin. This is what the bible refers to as the grace of God - not of man. An individual who has not been in contact with that blood cannot claim to have received grace simply because he or she was forgiven by a fellow human. Christians can not claim to have received grace from any other human being because only God can save and His power to save is only, only, only in the blood of Jesus, which is also summarized in the word grace.
  • Please read the book of Acts 19:3-5 and John 1:29. Notice that even the baptism for "forgiveness" by John the baptist DID NOT TAKE AWAY SIN. Only "The Lamb of God" does (John 1:29-30). So forgiveness on its own does not take away sin. This is why forgiveness from God through the blood of Christ (aka Grace) is needed, different and unique.
Unlike the old testament where frequent daily and annual animal sacrifice was required for forgiveness of sins but did not take or wipe away sin for good, Jesus became the perfect sacrificial lamb once and for all (Hebrews 4:4-14) to take away sin and removed the power of sin over us. This is why baptism is done once but the continuous cleansing remains available to those who have grace, which they received when they came in contact with the blood of Christ at baptism. We may be a priesthood but Jesus remains the high priest so let's not get it confused by thinking we are capable of giving grace to others, which is the only thing that has the power to take away sin.

My forgiveness cannot and will not save your soul. When I forgive you, the forgiveness does not take away the sin that you committed because my forgiveness has no power to save. You also do not have to repent or believe in God for me to forgive you; actually, you don't even need to feel bad or say sorry for me to forgive you and this is why my forgiveness is not grace and surely will not save you because human forgiveness has no power to save. I repeat, no power to save. If my forgiveness is the same as that of God, why do you need God then? Now focus on what I just said in this paragraph and read it again. If you still think a human being as sinful as I am can give another human being grace, then you either don't understand the true meaning of grace or we can just agree that God's forgiveness is as weak as my forgiveness. Thanks be to God that this is not the case because his forgiveness is different.

It is my Christian duty to forgive in order to avoid the headache that comes with carrying that anger with me or sinning as a result of it. My forgiveness to you as a human being helps me more than it helps you. But the forgiveness from God, which I call grace is ultimate because of its power to save and takes away sin (Acts 3:19-20). It is free to all who believe, repent (Acts 2:38) and are covered in the blood of Christ through baptism (Romans 1:16 and 8:3). Sin entered the world through one man (Adam) and the gift of God for hope of eternal life (grace) comes only through one man (Jesus) - Romans 5:17-21. Romans 6:1-4 is clear that grace is received when we die to sin and come in contact with the blood of Christ through baptism. This makes it obvious that grace is spiritual because you can't go fishing for grace in any body of water or from another human being.

To forgive is to pardon or have mercy on someone. God gave us the power to forgive, not the power to take away sin or save another human soul. This is what grace does, it saves. Preaching and bringing souls to Christ is not by human power (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 and Acts 2:47) and not a guarantee for salvation. If the blood of bulls and goats; the baptism of John the baptist and/or the forgiveness from a fellow human being is the same as the forgiveness from God, then our forgiveness to a fellow man will be able to takes away their sin; so who really needs Jesus? Like Paul said, "God forbid." There is no small or big grace; there is "The Grace of God." If humans can give and receive grace from each other, then we all will be saved regardless if we believe in God or not.
Grace and Mercy
Yes, these words grace, forgiveness and mercy are often used interchangeably and virtually means the same thing from man's point of view but the focus here is the biblical context and true meaning of the grace of God; not what I think or what you think. The word God can be used interchangeably in reference to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Also, love can be used interchangeably but the context will usually determine or differentiate between agape (truly selfless), eros (erotic or romantic), storge (family or relatives) and/or philia (friends or "brotherly"). The same goes for grace and mercy. 

Grace and mercy both have forgiveness attached to them but not all forgiveness are created equal like I already explained. The mercy of God was shown when he promised not to destroy the world again like he did during the time of Noah but that mercy did not take away sin. People continually paid the ultimate price for their sins until grace (Jesus) came and took that burden (Romans 6:14) of being perfect under the law away. This is why reference was made to the flood in 1 Peter 3:18-21, to show that the grace of God that we receive through baptism in the water is indeed different and does take away sin. The same water that physically destroyed the world is now being used to spiritually save us through faith in Christ Jesus. 

Please, feel free to set aside your human dictionary and grab the bible or bible app. Using words interchangeably in content does not always mean that they're being used in the same context. The difference to me, is as much a difference as there is between man and God. To understand the difference between Grace and Mercy is to understand the difference between spiritual (God) and physical (man). 
Examples of Physical vs Spiritual
A regular meal (lunch) vs The Lord's Supper (Communion) - 1 Corinthians 11:23-34
Baptism in water vs Jumping in water to swim - 1 Peter 3:21
Brick Temple vs Body Temple - 1 Corinthians 6:19
Blood (bulls and goats) vs Blood (Jesus the Lamb) - John 1:29 
.....and many more.
Any two or three people can gather together anywhere anytime but such gathering is not spiritual until God becomes involved. Anything that invokes the name of God and blood of Jesus in accordance with the scriptures in a honest and sincere manner automatically becomes spiritual. 

Jesus in Matthew 23:16-22 explained why things on their own with little to no importance are made important when spirituality gets attached to it. However, the greater importance is still placed on the "alter" and not the "gift" on the alter. In the same way, forgiveness on its own is a show of mercy but when the blood of Jesus becomes involved or attached to it, the meaning or thought behind it becomes sacred or spiritual. The forgiveness from God automatically becomes GRACE because the blameless blood of Christ makes that forgiveness from God more powerful, sacred and different from the one you can get from humans or from the blood of bulls and goats (Romans 8:1-38). Just as Jesus placed more importance on the alter, not the gift in Matthew 23, we ought to do the same with his blood when attached to forgiveness. The importance is placed on the blood that makes the forgiveness more powerful because forgiveness on its own does not take away sin.

The Lord's supper or communion was just another meal until Jesus said: "...this is my body" and "...this cup is the new covenant in my blood" so you "...do this in remembrance of me."- 1 Corinthian 11:23-29. From that moment on, whenever Christians come together to take the communion, it's no longer just the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, instead it is spiritually called the body and the blood of Christ.
The greek word baptizo (baptism), which means to immerse was used multiple times in content but we are able to differentiate the meaning based on context. 
  • John the baptist's baptism was not "spiritual" because it did not include grace (Acts 19:3-5) so people were NOT being born again into a new life and yet it was called baptism. It couldn't have because grace was made manifest through the precious blood of Jesus, and can only be received through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). 
  • Apostles Mark and John both in their opening chapters talked about the baptism of the holy spirit (Mark 1:8, John 1:33); Matthew and Luke (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16) both referred to it as "spirit and fire." 
  • It is clear that immersion has to be physically in water (Acts 8:36-39). But in 1 Peter 3:21, though the same word was used, we are able to tell from the context that this process of baptism becomes spiritual when the right message of grace is involved. That same message that the apostles received and preached in Acts 2. 
There is no longer a physical temple where we must meet to worship. We are the temple (the church) and when we come together anywhere to worship in spirit and in truth, God is always present. Having God as the center of a physical gathering makes what looks physical to human into spiritual. In the same way, the blood of Christ turns forgiveness into grace that takes away our sins.

There is no denying that the God of mercy in the old testament is the God of grace in the new testament. This is salvation we are talking about here my friends. The power of God to save us. If you disagree with my belief of what grace is, let me know why you do, based on the scriptures, not what your professor or dictionary says. I'm always open to learning the truth. Please, do not not flood my email without reading the entire piece. It will be helpful to first read in detail including scriptural references before contacting me. May the grace of God continue to be with us all.