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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: What Is Grace?
 

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  September 7, 2017 --

Sometimes it is a good idea to look more closely at religious terms that we use freely but seldom think deeply about. In previous articles I have written about Faith, Hope, Charity, Thankfulness, and Brotherhood, but I haven’t written about Grace. Yet we encounter it frequently in a religious context. A common benediction, taken from 2 Corinthians, says: “May the Love of God, the Grace of Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

There are some commonplace meanings of “grace” that may mislead us. We are not talking here about humans showing grace, as in “simple elegance or refinement of movement”. Perhaps we need to be more specific and ask “what is the Grace of God” and “what is the Grace of Jesus Christ”. As is my habit, I looked first at what the original Hebrew and Greek words were that are translated as “Grace”. Psalm 84:11 says “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and honor.” The Hebrew word translated as “grace” wherever it appears in the Old Testament is _chen_, which can also be translated as “kindness” or “favor”, and derives from a root meaning to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior. In the New Testament _Grace_ is a translation of the Greek _charis_, closely related to _charisma_, which in Greek originally meant a divine deliverance from danger. I’m reminded of one early English religious reformer who, upon seeing others being led to the scaffold, is reported to have said “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” In this sense, there is but little difference between “the Grace of God” and “God’s mercy.

We can define the Grace of God as the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. What about the quotation at the beginning of this article “the Grace of Jesus Christ”. Does this differ from the Grace of God? No, for we are told that Jesus Christ is the Grace of God, as it says in John’s gospel: “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. “

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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