May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace – Phil 1: 2
Paul routinely greets his readers with the blessing of God’s grace. Interestingly, Paul makes a slight modification to the traditional greeting in the ancient letter-writing format. The use of Charis (Grace) goes beyond the regular Chairein (Greeting).
For the Apostle, the concept of “grace” is simply profound. Sadly, we use the phrase “by God’s grace” rather casually. We do not understand the enormous implications of Paul’s predilection towards “grace”. Understanding the importance of God’s grace for our Christian life, faith, and witness is critical for our spiritual growth and well-being.
God makes His grace available to us. His grace transforms our lives and makes us whole.
Paul seems to have a particular fondness for “Grace”. In fact, he uses the word ‘grace’ about eighty times in his letters. We risk losing out big time if we ignore the idea of “grace.” Let’s discover the various aspects of grace that God so freely offers us.
The Protestant (Wesleyan) tradition speaks of four types of grace: Prevenient, Justifying, sanctifying and glorifying grace.
- Prevenient grace prepares our thoughts and hearts to receive the gospel. Even before we are aware of God, he is active in and around our lives.
- Justifying grace makes it possible for us to accept God’s forgiveness and pardon.
- Sanctifying grace enables us to live a Christian life. It allows us to invite the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and lives.
- Glorifying grace enables us to be a New Creation, fully conformed to the image of Christ.
Understanding the importance of God’s grace for our Christian life, faith, and witness is critical for our spiritual growth and well-being.
The Catholic tradition understands God’s Grace in two forms: Actual grace and Common grace.
- Common grace is God’s kindness to all people, including those who reject him or stay away from him (Ps 104:14; Mt 5:45; Lk 6:35; Acts 14:17; Acts 17:25).
- Actual grace is God’s help in guiding our will, illuminating our minds, and enabling us to choose good over evil.
Besides, we have ‘Preached grace’ (Col 1: 5 -6), ‘Provisional grace’ (James 1:17), ‘Miraculous grace’ (Acts 6:8) and ‘Sustaining grace’ (2 Cor 12:9).
We do not understand the enormous implications of Paul’s predilection towards “grace”
God is the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10). God makes His grace available to us. His grace transforms our lives and makes us whole. It is a blessing to have God’s amazing grace as our inheritance.
Questions for Aha moments
1) Do I know my inheritance in Christ Jesus? Am I aware that I am standing in the spotlight of God’s amazing Grace?
2) Do I receive in faith God’s sanctifying Grace that helps me become a better Christian?
3) Do I have eyes to see evidence of God’s common grace – in music, art, film and literature?