Good will and favor shown to one who can plead no merit*; particularly, the love of God in relation to the sinner as such. There may be love, but not grace, bet. equals or bet. a judge and an innocent person. Grace implies mercy or compassion for one who has by every right forfeited his claim on love. Such is the grace of God to the sinner. It is free because it is not grounded in any worthiness of man (Ro 11:6). Any admixture of merit or deserts, as constituting a claim on mercy, destroys the very essence of grace. Merit and grace are mutually exclusive.
Grace is universal. The entire world is its object. God became incarnate in Christ for the benefit of all men; He died for the atonement of the sins of all; all have been pronounced righteous through His resurrection; the invitation or call of grace is intended for all. No one is excluded from the salvation which grace has provided.
The grace of God is revealed (1) in the sending of His Son into the flesh, (2) in the justification of the sinner who accepts Jesus Christ as his Substitute in Judgment, and in the conversion of the sinner, and (3) in his glorification (resurrection, eternal life). This doctrine of grace gives assurance to Christian faith. Its promises are certain.
Grace is resistible, since it is offered to us through certain means (see Grace, Means of). Scripture constantly warns not to reject salvation.
Saving grace, in Christian theol., has been distinguished in its various operations as prevenient, inasmuch as by means of outward circumstances and associations, particularly through the outward hearing of the Word, the Holy Spirit would prepare the heart for conversion; as operative, inasmuch as it generates faith; as cooperative, inasmuch as it is active in the Christian, jointly with the regenerated will, to produce good works.
Scripture also uses the word grace in the sense of a gift possessed by man, 1 Ptr 4:10. This, properly a result of divine grace and not, as in its original sense, a divine quality or attitude, has been called infused grace. The RC Ch. teaches justification by infused grace (gratia* infusa); see also Grace, Means of, I 8.
E. Jauncey, The Doctrine of Grace, up to the End of the Pelagian Controversy, Historically and Dogmatically Considered (London, 1925); J. Moffat, Grace in the New Testament (New York, 1931); T. Hoyer, The Grace of God, The Abiding Word, II, ed. T. Laetsch (St. Louis, Missouri, 1947), 200234; O. Hardman, The Christian Doctrine of Grace (London, 1937); T. F. Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers (Edinburgh and London, 1948); C. Moeller and G. Philips, The Theology of Grace and the Oecumenical Movement, tr. R. A. Wilson (London, 1961); K. Rahner, Nature and Grace: Dilemmas in the Modern Church (New York, 1964).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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