What Actually is God’s Grace? How Can We Define it?

Titus 2:11; Romans 5:15; Ephesians 2:8

The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.

For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): What is grace?

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Grace implies an unmerited favour.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This, however, is not a complete definition.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Grace has been defined as the “unmerited favour” of God. An esteemed friend has pointed out that, grace is something more than “unmerited favour.” To feed a tramp who calls on me is “unmerited favour,” but it is scarcely grace. But suppose that after robbing me I should feed this starving tramp—that would be “grace.”  Grace, then, is favour shown where there is positive de-merit in the one receiving it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The Christian is not a good man.  He is vile wretch who has been saved by the grace of God.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Nay, which is more, we were enemies, Romans 5:10; not only malefactors, but traitors and rebels, in arms against the government; the worst kind of malefactors and of all malefactors the most obnoxious. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself, Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21. This enmity is a mutual enmity, God loathing the sinner, and the sinner loathing God, Zechariah 11:8. And that for such as these Christ should die is such a mystery, such a paradox, such an unprecedented instance of love, that it may well be our business to eternity to adore and wonder at it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.

JOHN LELAND (1754-1841): That God is good, and that men are rebellious; that salvation is of the Lord, and damnation of ourselves, are truths revealed as plain as a sunbeam.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Grace is nothing but an introduction of the virtues of God into the soul.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Consider the condition that men are in when this work is wrought, and we will see they can contribute nothing to it; that they have no aptitude for it, except that they are subjects capable to be wrought upon, being “dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1―being “dead” as to their soul’s estate, and as to their spiritual condition, like Adam’s body, before the Lord breathed in it the breath of life, and made him a living soul; as his body could not move, stir, nor act till then, no more can the natural man stir or act in the ways of God, till a new principle of spiritual life be put in him.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): In a state of nature men are a kind of atheist: whatever be their speculative belief, they are practically without God in the world; God is not in all their thoughts…Nature can never do the work of grace.

JOHN L. GIRARDEAU (1825-1898): Regenerating grace is creative power.

C. H. SPURGEON: Men cannot take the grace of God and employ it in turning themselves from darkness to light. The light does not come to the darkness and say, use me; but the light comes and drives the darkness away. Life does not come to the dead man and say, use me, and be restored to life; but it comes with a power of its own and restores to life. The spiritual influence does not come to the dry bones and say, use this power and clothe yourselves with flesh: but it comes and clothes them with flesh, and the work is done. Grace is a thing which comes and exercises an influence on us.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You hath He quickened, Paul says in Ephesians 2:1, “who were dead in trespasses and sins”—God quickens us, puts new life into us, puts this new principle into us.  Now let’s give that its value. God, I say, brings us to a new birth, or, to take another term, it’s a new creation. The God who created men at the beginning, creates us who are Christians anew—“If any man be in Christ, he’s a new creationa new creature,” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Very well, God brings to birth a new being, a new man.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): The grace of God subduing the heart to Christ is the sign of the birth from above.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): A Christian is a strange person. He is both dead and alive, he is miserable and glorious. He grows downwards and upwards at the same time; for as he dies in sin and misery and natural death approaching, so he lives the life of grace, and grows more and more till he ends in glory. But―glory must begin in grace.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): God alone can give spiritual life at the first, and keep it up in the soul afterwards.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): The grace of God converts the heart and regulates the life in time, and ultimately brings us to Himself in eternity.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Grace shall always lead to glory.

RICHARD SIBBES: He that keeps heaven for us will give us the necessary graces to bring us there.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Grace is glory militant, and glory is grace triumphant.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Glory is but grace perfected.

C. H. SPURGEON: What is grace? Grace is the free favour of God, the undeserved bounty of the ever-gracious Creator against whom we have offended, the generous pardon, the infinite, spontaneous lovingkindness of the God who has been provoked and angered by our sin, but Who, delighting in mercy, and grieving to smite the creatures whom He has made, is ever ready to pass by transgression, iniquity, and sin, and to save His people from all the evil consequences of their guilt.

MATTHEW HENRY: Grace signifies two things: the goodwill of God towards us, which is sufficient to strengthen and comfort us, and the good work of God in us.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): My grace is sufficient for thee,” 2 Corinthians 12:9, is a promise which embraces in its illimitable range every member, and all the circumstances of each member of the household of faith.


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