Throughout my years as a missionary, sharing the Word of God with people around the world, I have often encountered the claim “Grace came with the Lord Jesus and did not exist before.” Interesting how these false claims exist.
How do I know this claim is false? First, the Hebrew word for Grace, חֵן, chen, also means ‘favour’ and may be found in every book of Scripture, including Genesis. For example, in Genesis 6:8, we read the phrase: ‘vnoach matzaן chen b·oini יieue, and Noah found grace in the eyes of God’. And then, in Isaiah 26:10, we read – Even if grace (also favour, pity) is shown to the wicked, he still doesn’t learn what righteousness is. Thus, we have at least two locations, where the word ‘grace’ appears long before the Apostolic Scriptures. There are many more instances, but there isn’t enough space in this blog entry.
But, what is ‘grace’? The Cambridge Dictionary defines Grace as, Formal approval or kindness, especially (in the Christian religion) that is freely given by God to all humans, and, the charming quality of being polite and pleasant, or a willingness to be fair and to forgive’.
Then, we find in the online site, https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/grace/, ‘The word “grace” in biblical parlance can, like forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation, mean something as broad as describing the whole of God’s activity toward man or as narrow as describing one segment of that activity. An accurate, common definition describes grace as the unmerited favor of God toward man. In the Old Testament, the term that most often is translated ‘grace’ is chen; in the New Testament, it is charis’. How, then, do human beings receive grace from Yahveh? Is it just His freely given favour, forgiveness and salvation, to whomever He wishes? Is it truly unmerited and cannot be earned?
My Jewish brothers and sisters believe grace can be earned and cite Noah and Avraham as examples of receiving Yahveh’s grace, through trusting in Him. The act of trusting, in their eyes, is the work that is done, in order to receive God’s grace. But is trusting an act of ‘work’ or is it obedience? And, if obedience is conducted through love, can it be called ‘work’?
All of us, at one time or another, have been in a relationship characterized by unconditional love. When such a relationship exists, what is done in love is not considered work; it is done voluntarily in love, without expectation or remuneration of any kind. To find such love, let us travel to John 14:15,16, where we find Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, sharing with us: If you love me, you will keep my commands; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever. Love in relationship brings with it obedience to a set of boundaries and expectations, which are determined to create harmonious relations within the relationship. Can you imagine the sheep challenging the rules set by the shepherd? In the same way, can you imagine one lover challenging another, when the rules of the relationship have been set by both?
When Yahveh creates a relationship with us and we with Him, He expects obedience and, as is His love for us, He gives us Grace. That is the way of love with our Most Holy God.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=A+Journey+Through+Torah+%3A+An+Inroduction&ref=nb_sb_noss