I once attended a church where grace was rumored to mean that we were alright even if we never obeyed God. Grace meant God was cutting us slack. He knew we would sin so He lowered His standards of acceptance. We were saved by grace not by works so - why bother doing any works at all? I found this definition hard to reconcile with John 1:14.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NKJV
I wondered what Jesus was doing full of grace if grace means a lower standard or cutting someone slack. I pondered in the great words of Indigo Montoya (The Princess Bride), “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” I knew that Jesus was full of the oil of gladness. He was full of the Holy Spirit. He was full of grace. Grace is translated from the Greek word charis. Charis is translated as joy, favor or grace. Since Jesus was full of the oil of gladness maybe that equated to joy or charis or grace. It seemed that grace was more connected with “anointing” than with lower standards.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” Hebrews 1:9 NKJV
Maybe grace is the anointing. We are to operate out of the anointing. We are to burn the oil not the wick. We are to do what we do with the strength God provides. The joy of the Lord is my strength. “Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.” (1 Peter 4:11 NLT)
As I was learning about charis which means joy, grace and favor, I happened upon the story of Mary being visited by Gabriel in Luke. “Rejoice beloved young woman, for the Lord is with you and you are anointed with great favor” (Luke 1:28 TPT). Read the story for yourself to see what favor actually means. After Mary was told she would have a baby, she asked how and Gabriel told her “The Spirit of holiness will fall upon you and Almighty God will spread His shadow of power over you” (Luke 1:35 TPT). It seems that God was going to do the work. Favor or grace seems to relate to the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
“And Mary sang this song: “My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God! My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God! For he set his tender gaze upon me, his lowly servant girl. And from here on, everyone will know that I have been favored and blessed.” Luke 1:46–48 TPT
‘Blessed’ literally means to be empowered by God to prosper. When the charis came upon Mary, she was empowered. Other verses in the New Testament relate grace to divine power.
“Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:7 NKJV
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33 NKJV
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 NKJV). The gospel is called the gospel of grace. We are saved by grace. It takes power to invigorate a dead body. God does the work in His energy.
"And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work" (Romans 11:6 NKJV). Grace or divine effort is contrasted with works of human effort.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV). Paul worked using God’s grace or empowerment to labor with.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace (joy, favor) is sufficient (more than enough) for you, for My strength (the joy of the Lord) is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV). Three highlighted words are used synonymously. Paul saw grace as divine power.
Grace is the divine power of God resting on me. It resides when I turn from trying to do things in my own strength and humbly and in faith ask for His strength. Grace is not a lowering of standards but empowerment to rise to His standards. He does the work. His joy is our enabling strength.
Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest. I will help carry your burden. I will teach you how to work with me using my strength. I will direct and empower you. Your worries will melt away. Cast your cares upon me and I will care for you. I know where you are weak and I am able to turn that weakness into strength. My strength is made complete in your human weakness as you humbly resist trying to do my work in human effort. It is a good day when you see that you cannot do it but that I can do it through you. It is a day of joy.☺
Graduate student at CLU
Calgary, AB Canada
April 16, 2022
Note from Mark Virkler - I have listened to MercyMe - Flawless hundreds of times. It is a fantastic revelation of GRACE!!!
Related Resources:How to Be Empowered by the Holy Spirit!