John, in his gospel, said Jesus was, "full of grace and truth".
World English Dictionary at dictionary.com lists these definitions:
1. elegance and beauty of movement, form, expression, or proportion
2. a pleasing or charming quality
3. goodwill or favour
4. the granting of a favour or the manifestation of goodwill, esp by a superior
5. a sense of propriety and consideration for others
6. a. affectation of manner (esp in the phrase airs and graces )
b. in someone's good graces regarded favourably and with kindness by someone
7. mercy; clemency
a. the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man
b. the divine assistance and power given to man in spiritual rebirth and sanctification
c. the condition of being favoured or sanctified by God
d. an unmerited gift, favour, etc, granted by God
9. a short prayer recited before or after a meal to invoke a blessing upon the food or give thanks for it
10. music a melodic ornament or decoration
11. See days of grace
12. with bad grace , with a bad grace unwillingly or grudgingly
13. with good grace , with a good grace willingly or cheerfully
14. ( tr ) to add elegance and beauty to: flowers graced the room
15. ( tr ) to honour or favour: to grace a party with one's presence
16. to ornament or decorate (a melody, part, etc) with nonessential notes
[C12: from Old French, from Latin gratia, from gratus pleasing]
At wikipedia.org we find a group of articles concerning grace.
Divine grace in theology
Actual grace, a Roman Catholic theological concept
Irresistible grace, a Calvinist theological concept
Prevenient grace, a Wesleyan theological concept
Sola gratia (Latin for "grace alone"), a Protestant axiom rooted in the theology of Augustine of Hippo
Early release from prison for good behavior is not the result of grace. It is the result of compliance with rules (which, had the inmate complied with in free society would have kept him out of prison in the first place.)
Release by pardon from a person in authority, governor or president, is equivalent to grace. It may be somehow merited or not, depending on one's view of the particular case.
Sometimes a court will commute a sentence to time served on some legal basis. This also is not really grace but a process in the criminal justice system.
At thesaurus.com there are all these synonyms for grace:
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: charm, loveliness
Synonyms: address, adroitness, agility, allure, attractiveness, balance, beauty, breeding, comeliness, consideration, cultivation, decency, decorum, dexterity, dignity, ease, elegance, etiquette, finesse, finish, form, gracefulness, lissomeness, lithesomeness, mannerliness, manners, nimbleness, pleasantness, pliancy, poise, polish, propriety, refinement, shapeliness, smoothness, style, suppleness, symmetry, tact, tastefulness
As far as I can see, not a single one of them has anything to do with grace in the Divine sense. We know from Isaiah that Jesus was "in no wise comely that none should desire him". He most certainly posessed poise. You can read how He behaved and reacted to situations. Tactful, He was not. He spoke the truth as it is no matter if it ruffled feathers.
I was born into a family with Roman Catholics parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., some of whom were priests and nuns. I was educated by nuns, then brothers, and then Jesuits from first grade through my first year of college.
In youth, and again as a young adult, I served on the altar. I have been steeped in Catholic dogma. At age thirty nine I encountered Christ in a truly meaningful way and asked Him to be my Savior. I am born again.
Many in my family still adhere to Catholicism and will be offended by what follows. I never heard Jesus apologize for calling the religious authorities hypocrites and vipers. So I make no apology for writing the truth. Nevertheless, I ask my Catholic family members, who are themselves saved Believers, to accept my need to deal with and publish the truth about grace if they read this piece.
Below is displayed exactly what appears on the web site http://www.catholic.com/tracts/grace-what-it-is-and-what-it-does.
Below is what the cited verses say. On the basis of statements made by Jesus to the then living disciples, the Catholic church has decided that all ordained priests can absolve confessed sin. If that were true, and I contend it is not, the notion that a believer who sins "mortally" and doesn't get to a priest before he dies, goes to hell, is manipulative and false. The church actually teaches this doctrine ... at least it was taught to me in the several thousand compulsory religion classes I attended.
Imagine arriving at heaven's gate and hearing God say, "Let me see. Oh, yes. Here you are in the Lamb's Book of Lfe. I saved you. but then you did a no-no so I had to scratch out your name." Sarcasm or not, that is what their doctrine amounts to.
What John wrote in his letter is addressed to all Believers in his time. He says we can pray for a sinning Believer and God will accept that and God will "give them life", unless it is a sin that leads to death. This is no doubt where the RC came up with the idea of venial and mortal sins.
If you die bearing venial sins (and according to Jesus a just man falls seven times each day), you only suffer in a place called Purgatory (from purge) until you have been punished enough. No one in the RC knows how much is enough. No one can explain why there are leftover payments to be made after Jesus paid the full price of redemption for all mankind.
What's operating in such doctrines is a punishment mentality. A "God will get you for that" kind of view of life. I heard the phrase often enough when I was a kid, said to me or a friend. The essence of the problem lies in doctrines of men being taught as truth, though scripture plainly says, "Your ways are not my ways; your thoughts are not my thoughts".
There is no human who has ever peered into the mind of God. Jesus said God is a Spirit. Invisible. He sent His Son so we could SEE Him. He also said, to Thomas, "blessed are you who have seen and believed; more blessed are they who have not see yet believe."
Scripture says Moses saw God's backside. To see His face was to die.
It also tells us Jacob saw God face to face and lived.
Then again, John said "no one has ever seen God".
John wrote Jesus breathed on the disciples and said "receive the Holy Spirit". If the Book of Acts is to be believed, the Holy Spirit did not actually come until Pentecost. He came as the sound of a great wind into the Upper Room where the disciples waited, as instructed, to receive power from on high.
I reconcile these seemingly contradictory verses this way: when He breathed the Spirit into them, they became saved and born again in the Spirit. Their dead souls were brought to life. Even while doing what He said, waiting, they were uncertain what was coming. When the Spirit of the Lord filled them they became fully converted Believers, able to testify for Christ. That very day some three thousand souls were saved and entered the kingdom after Peter preached to them (each hearing in his own language by the power of the Spirit).
When Jesus took away the Keys to the Kingdom from the Jewish teachers and authorities, He gave them to Peter so those who came after could enter the Kingdom of God. What has followed as the church grew in number is a plethora of false teaching designed to give power to the self appointed clergy over the minds, hearts, and souls of those they indoctrinate, ideally beginning in kindergarten.
Much of organized Christianity is driven by human judgments of others against some standard they have been taught is God's Law. They do not fully comprehend that there are two kinds of sin. Original Sin and violations of the commandments given so human society could exist in peace and prosper.
The Original Sin is UNBELIEF.
The remedy is BELIEF.
Jesus said so.
God sent the Messiah to tell us how to return to Him through His grace.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No kidding. These sins are covered by the blood of JEsus shed on the cross. Original Sin is NOT automatically erased by the crucifixion. Rather, we have become enabled to become children of God by BELIVING. Any other doctrine is false. If you could get into heaven on merit, works, rules, good behavior, etc., Christ came for nought.
Do you remember the so-called "Good Thief" crucified next to Jesus? He made a public confession of faith: [Luke 23:42-43]
And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He [Jesus] said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
BECAUSE the thief BELIEVED
That was all it took. The thief, after a life of crime ending in execution, is instantaneously saved by Christ. The same is true for you and for me and every other dead soul on our planet. No intermediaries. No church buildingd. No Sunday schools. No clergy. Jesus + You.
[By the way, "In the Gospel of Nicodemus and Catholic tradition the name Dismas is given to the thief. He was never canonized by the Catholic Church but is venerated as a saint by local traditions as Saint Dismas (sometimes spelled "Dysmas" or in Spanish "Dimas")." wikipedia.org]
The Good Thief illustrates perfectly the parable of the vineyard Jesus told. In it, the workers who came early agreed to certain wages. During the workday the vineyard master hired more workers; some at the last hour. When wages were disbursed, each received the same wage. Those who worked the entire day protested they should get more than those who worked only one hours.
The master told them it his affair, not theirs, if he chose to reward all the workers equally. And so it is with us who enter the kingdom early in life and endure believing until the end. The reward is eternal life. It does not mtter how much we worked for the Lord. The deathbed convert receives the same reward. For this we are exceedingly joyful, that God is so generous to all who believe, whether for sixty years or sixty minutes. This is God's grace manifest.
What did JESUS say about sins and forgiveness ?
There is only one sin which leads to death ... blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. None, not one, of the Ten Commandments given Moses, nor on the detailed list in Leviticus, nor invented by any group or organization on earth as church law, can send a saved Believer to hell.
An argument could be made that failure to obey the first commandment; the one Jesus called the greatest commandment, results in damnation. A Believer DOES love the Lord, God with his whole heart and whole mind and soul exactly as God commanded and Jesus affirmed.
There is no danger whatever of losing salvation, the free gift from God to those who believe. Here is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus:
So much for the theological constructionism that pervades the organized church. We are saved by GRACE through FAITH in Jesus Christ, not by what men believe. The situation today is little different in principle from what it was when Jesus said ...
Selected Bible verses relating to Grace.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you and within you all the days of your life on earth.
Written by Wayne Hepburn, August 2012. I herewith place this document in the Public Domain