I’ve found that most arguments, debates, and misunderstandings regarding beliefs within Christian circles actually boils down to what an authentic manifestation of God’s grace is contituted as.
In The Handbook for Today’s Catholic, I’ve come across the section Grace: God’s Life Within You…
Grace – God’s life within you – transforms the whole meaning and direction of your life [1772, 1810]. In grace, St. Paul declared: “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (Philippians 1:21) [1010, 1968]. Ultimately, grace – God’s free gift of himself to you – is life eternal, a life that has already begun. Already, while you are still an earthly pilgrim, grace is “Christ in you, the hope for glory” (Colossians 1:27) .
In short, from my own Catholic perspective, grace is the Spirit of God who is “poured out into our hearts” as Romans 5:5 says. Grace, in this sense, is the presense of God’s living, dynamic Spirit, enabling us us to live with a new, abundant inner life that makes us “share in the divine nature” as 2 peter 1:4 notes.
There’s quite a bit more on this subject. However, I can’t reproduce the entire section here-- even though this concept is explained excellently here.
Having said this, could other denominations provide their own definitions of grace?
I would like to compare and contrast them with Catholic teachings in order to see what common grounds there are-- and where the manifestations of God’s grace differ with Catholic teachings.
I can only give my understanding from reading the Bible.
Grace is the free and unmerited gift of God, by which He freely bestows all favor or blessings upon mankind at His own discretion and according to His sovereign will.
Grace must be distinguished from God’s mercy and love, both of which can not save us of themselves, but are only the motivators of God’s Grace. See (Ephesians 2:4-5).
(Ephesians 2:8-9) does not allow for any human merit in the exercise of God’s Grace. Salvation provided by grace requires only true faith (by the gift of grace) in our Lord Jesus Christ, which will later provide the evidence of good works by faith.
Grace makes it possible through true faith in Christ to then have Christ’s merit bestowed upon us (covered in His Blood), and thereby obtain salvation “in Christ” and remain so in spite of our imperfections. Grace is not a static gift of God. It grows and shows itself to others by our continuous works of faith provided by God’s continued gift of grace in us as we are “in Christ”.
[quote= Dr. Jerry Bridges (Reformed theological seminary)]God’s favor through Christ to people who deserve His wrath. By His grace, we do not receive the wrath we deserve. Instead we receive the favor we don’t deserve.
A southern Baptist said:
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
The Mercer University Baptist Summit:
Grace means that God embraces every one of us without exceptions. We make exceptions. God does not.
There are no outcasts with God.
So, the Baptist idea is about the power of freedom – the freedom to connect with God, the freedom to connect with scripture, the freedom to connect with one another in being church.
And the Baptist idea is about the power of grace – the sheer wonder that God has chosen to connect with us –
Not because we have managed to lay hold of God,
because God has never let go of us.
That’s the meaning of grace.
Assemblies of God:
Grace is defined as “undeserved favor”
[quote=Peter Hastie]This is the meaning of grace – that Christ has brought us into the Father’s presence on the basis of His performance, not ours. This notion of grace is under attack today within the evangelical church by those with a diminished notion of sin. This issue of AP is a reminder that our best efforts, experiences and strivings do not win a place before the Father – that is accomplished by Christ alone.
] Although the term grace properly denotes God’s unmerited favor in Christ Jesus, Scripture uses it also to describe the spiritual gifts or excellences which God, as the gracious Lord, works in all believers and by virtue of which they begin to fulfil the Law (willing and faithful service, 1 Pet. 4,10; patience in suffering, 1 Pet. 2,19; conscientious administration of the office of the ministry, Rom. 15,15.16; etc.). In this case the effect, by way of metonymy, is named after the cause, or the gifts of grace are named after their divine Source. *Nomen gratiae per metonymiam [effectus pro causal] pro donis ex benevolentia Dei in nos collatis sumitur.
Grace is an attribute of God’s divine nature, not a “presence”.
It would be correct to say that “It is BY grace that we have the presence of God’s living, dynamic Spirit in us”.
To say grace is the presence itself ignores how the presence got into us (by grace).
Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving; it is not the actual benefit of His presence bestowed.
Grace is not the same attribute as the attribute of God’s presence.
I guess I disagree. For example, Colossians 3:4 says that when Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Jesus is our life. And the grace that we have by the presense of God himself living within us – as temples of the Holy Spirit – and acting through us.
As I’ve said elsewhere, we know, for example, that 1 Corinthians 12:3 says that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 10:19-21 goes even further and says, “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
This is exactly the same kind of spiritual dynamic understood within the Christian Scriptures to be at work within the Hebrew Scriptures too.
For example, 2 Peter 1:21 says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
In other words, when someone is truthfully speaking truth in regards to God’s revelation, they are not speaking. God is speaking through them. Therefore, the words they speak are a manifestation of God acting though them to reveal his will.
As I pointed out before, the Scriptures are exceptionally clear about how this dynamic works.
1 Peter 1:23 say that you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 John 2:14 says I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Colossians 3:16 says to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Romans 8:9 says that you are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:16 asks. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
2 Corinthians 13:4 says he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.
Galatians 2:20 says I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Ephesians 2:22 says in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
2 Timothy 1:14 says to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
1 John 4:12 says if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:15 says if anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
1 John 4:16 says and so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
Colossians 1:29 says to this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 asks, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”
There is a tremendous amount of Scriptural writings which display this interaction between God and man, with God acting through those who believe.
Therefore, I think it is wrong to say that grace is not the same attribute as the attribute of God’s presence. According to the Scriptures, grace is indeed the presence of God’s life within you. In fact, without his living presence we are cut off from his grace.
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