Friday, September 11, 2009
The term "grace" is used often by Christians. When asked to define grace, the hemming and hawing often begins. Let's look at the different definitions that are given to the biblical idea of grace.
A Roman Catholic will say grace is infused through the sacraments ex opere operato, which means "from the work done." The work that was done was Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Roman Catholics believe the efficacy of God's grace is to be found in the sacraments. The sacraments are infused with God's grace, so upon receiving of the sacraments one has received God's Grace. Grace becomes an enabling force to live a more holy life.
A Wesleyan, or Arminian, believes grace is an innate object, a mysterious operating mechanism that provides power to choose salvation. This power is given without the preached Gospel, and without the sacraments. This infused grace is given by God to all people. Grace allows one to overcome sin.
A Calvinist believes grace is received upon the preached Word, without the Sacraments. This definition allows one to choose God. It is the I in the acronym TULIP. This is a secret working of the Holy Spirit. Grace gives power to have victory over sin.
All three of these views make man the one who chooses faith. All three of these see sin as a problem to be overcome by infusion of grace. In other words, to overcome sin, we need God's grace. Then faith becomes predominantly about our own moral improvement; and forgiveness of sin is tangential. Inward gazing becomes the focus of faith, and the rule by which to judge one another.
Grace is God's attitude toward us: God loving us while we were his enemy; dying for us on the cross.