Thursday, July 19, 2007

Meanings of Grace
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Meanings of Grace

Read: Ephesians 1:3-8

Intro.: Today we continue our “Studies in Grace”

  1. Probably the most common definition for grace is the little definition that many were probably taught in Sunday School: God's Riches At Christ's Expenses

  2. But this definition is just a memory device that only that gives us a glimpse of the true meaning of Grace.

Trans: Jesus, or any of the New Testament writers, never used the word grace.

  1. That is not surprising Jesus lived in Israel – and in the 1st century, English was not spoken.

  2. Jesus most likely use Hebrew as he wandered through areas around the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee.

  3. Though Hebrew was the most common language in the world at the time. For example, if the writers of scripture were to write today, they might use English. But English is really only the third most common language in the world. So, if scripture were written today, they might use Hindi – spoken by 366 million people in India. But the most used language in the world is Chinese, the language spoken by more 874 million people in China.

  4. But in the first century, the language of choice was Greek. There were other languages available – the west in Rome the language was Latin. To the north, in England and Spain, the languages were a number of Celtic languages. But Greek was the scholarly language of the day.

  5. The New Testament writers never used the word grace. The word translated “grace” in the NT is “caris“. During the next few minutes, I would like to look at three ways in which the New Testament writers used the word “caris“.

  6. caris“ is translated “grace” 130 times in the New Testament – but it is also translated four other ways. It would seem to me that one way to understand the meaning of “caris“, “grace”, might be to understand how the other ways in which we use the word is used by the New Testament writers.


T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at some meanings behind “GRACE” in the New Testament.

  1. caris“ is translated “kindness”

    1. Every so often, I am caught by surprise. But I should not have been.

    2. Most of you have heard me say, “I don't have to be nice. Nothing in scripture says I have to be nice. Scripture does say I have to be kind. Being nice is doing what you want, being kind is doing what God wants. Sometimes, they are the same, but often they are not.”

    3. Now why was I surprised that our the same word that describes God's grace, would also describe him as kind.

    4. the Lord is with you, you to whom (the Lord) has shown kindness” is one translation of Luke 1:28.

(Ill.) Longfellow once wrote:

Kind hearts are the gardens,

Kind thoughts are the roots,

Kind words are the flowers,

Kind deeds are the fruits.

Take care of your garden,

And keep out the weeds;

Fill it up with sunshine,

Kind words and kind deeds.1

    1. God may not be nice – but his grace is kind.

  1. caris is also translated by the English word “gift”

    1. Paul is ready to send a gift from the people of Corinth to the Jerusalem church. He writes, “Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.” That word “gift” is the word that is translated grace elsewhere.

    2. There are lots of ways of saying “I love you” to a person.

(Ill.) Gary Chapman has suggested that there are at least five ways to hear “I love you”. He makes the point that each of us can hear those words in different ways. If I want to really communicate that my love to someone, I need to be willing to find out how they best hear love. 1. Words of affirmation 2. Quality time 3. Physical tokens 4. Acts of service 5. Physical touch For example, the surest way for me to communicate to my wife that I love her is to do something for her – acts of service are the best way to say I love you to her. On the other hand, I respond to physical tokens – a stuffed animal or a coffee mug will say more about love than all the words in the world.2

    1. But all of the ways of saying I love you become more powerful when we give it as a gift – not something we earn or out of obligation.

    2. That is how God distributes his grace. It is not expected, it is not earned. But God gives it anyhow.

  1. caris“ is translated as good will or favor

    1. One of my favorite verses after I became a Christian in my first year of college was found early in the book of Luke. Luke 2:52 reads, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” That verse became my vision during those first years of my walk with Jesus.

    2. But, though I did not know it at the time, that verse was about grace. That word “favor” is the same word that we have been looking at this morning.

    3. And as a young man, it was my dream to model my life after that of Christ, after Luke 2:52.

    4. You know what, there is no reason that we could not make this our dream even now.

    5. As we leave today – I can choose, you can choose to live a life that will allow us to grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

  2. Finally, the word caris“ means “thanks.”

    1. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our word caris“ again shows up.

    2. Our practice of giving thanks for all of God's wonderful blessings, ought not come from mere habit, but from a genuine appreciation of all God has given us.

(Ill.) One of the best statements of thankfulness comes from a classic work of literature, Robinson Crusoe after finding a Bible on his island: I learned to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side, and to consider what I enjoyed, rather than what I wanted; and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them, because they see and covet something that He has not given them. All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.3

    1. Have you learned to experience grace? Have you learned to be thankful?


1Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.


3Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (145). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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