Obviously, saying that grace does not mean “undeserved favor” is not going to go over big in our day. We’ve been bludgeoned with this definition and to go against it seems to go against the very Word of God itself.
Except that the Word of God never defines grace this way. Surely no one would ever claim to deserve God’s grace, but we’ve taken this definition to mean there is nothing you do for God’s grace.
“If we do something to get it that’s works and thus no more grace. God then owes us grace based on what we did,” is the objection. But I object to that objection.
God is the one who dispenses grace, and has, in fact, shown grace to everyone, as the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men, regardless of who they are. Grace has to be available to all or else God is a respecter of persons.
God does not dispense grace on a whim. Oh, I know, God says “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is true. God, being the dispenser of grace, decides who gets it.
And the rest of the Bible that was written to us by God as much as Romans 9:15, says that God gives grace to those who humbly receive it by faith.
Humbly receiving God’s grace is not doing a work, it’s not earning grace, it’s not deserving grace, it’s merely taking grace the only way God says His grace can be taken.
Allowing the “respect of persons” to help us define “grace” causes problems for two groups of people, both of which I’m sure I’ve heard from since bringing this up!
1) Anyone who believes in Irresistable Grace–If God foists His grace upon people for no reason, merely His whim, then God is a respecter of persons. He shows favor to people based on a predisposed feeling of favor based on nothing.
2) Anyone who thinks grace means no obedience–humbly receiving grace by faith implies submission and obedience. A disobedient person is not humble. Ever. God gives grace to those who want it, and you show your desire by your humility and desire to obey God.
The Bible does not use the word “grace” the way we do. We might as well face that point and deal with it rather than playing games and devising definitions that make us feel better about ourselves.