Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Most of us Christians do not really understand grace.  When I think of much of the preaching I’ve heard in my life and the books I have read, when I hear the moralistic political rhetoric that’s thrown around, when I talk to Christians, both “mature” and “immature,” I’m forced to this conclusion.  Of course, none of us have a complete understanding, but I believe most of us don’t even have a “working” understanding.

So when I received a request to teach a series on the topic in my Sunday school class, I jumped at the chance, even though I’d never taught it as a topic before.

But when I agreed to take on a study of grace in our Sunday school class, I didn’t realize what a huge task I was taking on.  Not far into my study and thinking on the topic, I realized that a complete study would involve the whole Bible, as well as its application in every area of our lives.  As I don’t have enough years left in my life for that, I decided I need to break the topic down into small bites.

So I begin with some word studies and definitions.  First, we need to have a working definition; I believe a simple synonym will do in most cases.

Grace is “favor.”  We could replace nearly all references to grace in our Bibles with this simple word.  As a matter of fact, many translations seem to use the words interchangeably.  Some would add to the definition the adjective “unmerited,” but isn’t that idea already included in the word?  Aren’t all favors unmerited?

The Old Testament is full of this word, even in what we might term a “secular” or non-religious usage.

Jacob, for instance, sends a message to his brother Esau hoping “…that I may find favor in your eyes” (Genesis 32:5).  “Joseph found favor in the eyes” of Potiphar (Genesis 39:4).  These are common expressions and all use the word “favor,” which is the same Hebrew word elsewhere translated “grace.”

For starters I’d like to look at the biblical words – Greek and Hebrew – that are usually translated “grace.”

First, the Greek words used in the New Testament:
·        Charis (pronounced khah’-ris) is found 156 times, usually translated “grace,” “favor” or occasionally “thanks.”
·        Charizomai (pronouned khah-ridz’-oh-my) is found 22 times, usually translated “grant,” “give freely,” “forgive.”
·        Charitoo (pronounced khah-ri-tah’-oh) is found twice, usually translated “bestow favor,” “favor highly.”

The Hebrew words used in the Old Testament:
·        Chen (pronounced khane) is found 67 times, usually translated “grace,” “favor.”
·        Channun  (pronounced khah-noon’) is found 13 times, usually translated “gracious”
·        Chanan (pronounced khah-non’) is found 80 times, usually translated “be gracious,” sometimes “beseech” (request grace).

So there are at least 340 references to grace in the Bible besides other similar words, such as “mercy,” “compassion.”

I plan on rambling through this study in the near future.  There are many thoughts still rushing through my mind.

Also see:
            CHEAP GRACE
            FREE GRACE


Dr Chris Hill said...

Hi Bill,

Here's a good video I found on YouTube about religion, you might like to view it and see what you think.

”God in my life”

I think it makes a lot of good common sense don't you?

Chris Hill

American youth: Young gifted and passionate about religion. ”Fiery lady”

Bill Ball said...

Chris: I've seen these questions before. Check out my posts: 10 QUESTIONS: and 10 QUESTIONS ANSWERED: (

gary said...

i am sure it will be an interesting study. our tendancy is to increase our value and merits and reduce God's. that i know for sure. to make him in our image and not accept His perfections or justice. and grace comes when we need it, not before. that's the grace/faith thing. hope to follow along with you. does God withdraw his grace do you think?

Canadian Atheist said...

Good topic and I look forward to future posts about it.

Anonymous said...

Hi to the canadian athiest from a former bordering athiest. if you are trying to sort things out,i wouldn't recommend looking at the jewell of god's creation(people) as an example.I heard a story of a conversation about two gorillas in africa looking at how people behave and they decided they weren't going to evolve any longer. you will always be confused and which came first, the chicken or the egg will be an unsolved question to you for ever. the highest educational institutional places in the world draw a blank here also.don't stop asking questions, there are answers but finding them is unnerving-at least they were to me.

Canadian Atheist said...

Hi Anonymous! I never stop asking questions. Now you've piqued my curiosity about the answers you found. Have a happy New year!

Anonymous said...

hello athiest to the north, thanks for the NY greetings. ate lots of food.we often look at christians as hypocrites. and sometimes if not most of the time we rightly fill the role especially when "love" is considered. a great contrast is seen in matthew 6:45 during one of the darkest hours of Gods people.we often take forgranted the common things. I read this and asked could this be true, god was loving me for so many years and i didn't even know it?

Bill Ball said...

There is no Matthew 6:45. I think you meant 5:45.