Divine grace

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Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation;[1] and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.[2]


Grace in Christianity is the free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowing of blessings.[3] Common Christian teaching is that grace is unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to humanity by sending his son to die on a cross, thus delivering eternal salvation. Bill Gothard has suggested "God's grace gives us the desire and the power to do his will."[4]

Within Christianity, there are differing concepts of how grace is attained. In particular, Catholics and Reformed Protestants understand the attainment of grace in substantially different ways. It has been described as "the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern liberalism from conservatism".[5] Catholic doctrine teaches that God has imparted Divine Grace upon humanity, and uses the vehicle of sacraments, carried out in faith,[6] as a primary and effective means to facilitate the reception of his grace.[7] For Catholics, sacraments (carried out in faith) are the incarnational or tangible vehicle through which God's grace becomes personally and existentially received.[8] Reformed Protestants, generally, do not share this sacramental view on the transmittal of grace,[9] but instead favor a less institutionalized mechanism. For example, in the Catholic Church, the primary initiation into a state of grace is granted by God through baptism (in faith)[10] instead of by a simple prayer of faith (sinner's prayer); although, Catholics would not deny the possible efficacy of even a simple prayer for God's grace to flow (Baptism by desire[11][12]).

In another example, for Catholics, the sacrament of reconciliation (in faith) is the primary means of transmitting grace after a mortal sin has been committed.[13]

Scriptural usage

In the New Testament, the word translated as grace is the Greek word charis (/ˈkrɪs/; Ancient Greek: χάρις), for which Strong's Concordance gives this definition: "Graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)".[14][15] A Greek word that is related to charis is charisma (gracious gift). Both these words originated from another Greek word chairo (to rejoice, be glad, delighted).[16]

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term used is chen[17][18] (חֵן), which is defined in Strong's as "favor, grace or charm; grace is the moral quality of kindness, displaying a favorable disposition".[19] In the King James translation, chen is translated as "grace" 38 times, "favour" 26 times, twice as "gracious",[20] once as "pleasant",[21] and once as "precious".[22]


Hindu devotional or bhakti literature available throughout India and Nepal is replete with references to grace (kripa) as the ultimate key required for spiritual self-realization.[23][additional citation needed] Some, such as the ancient sage Vasistha, in his classical work Yoga Vasistha, considered it to be the only way to transcend the bondage of lifetimes of karma.[24] One Hindu philosopher, Madhvacharya, held that grace was not a gift from God, but rather must be earned.[25]


Dr. Umar Al-Ashqar, dean of the Faculty of Islamic Law at Zarqa Private University in Zarqa, Jordan, wrote that "Paradise is something of immense value; a person cannot earn it by virtue of his deeds alone, but by the Grace and Mercy of Allah." [26] This stance is supported by hadith: according to Abu Huraira, prophet Muhammad once said that "None amongst you can get into Paradise by virtue of his deeds alone ... not even I, but that Allah should wrap me in his grace and mercy."[27]

See also


  1. OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11b
  2. OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11e
  3. OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11a
  4. Gothard, Bill. "Grace and Faith".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Charles C. Ryrie, The Grace of God (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), pp. 10-11.
  6. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1127. Vatican City-State. Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. http://www.saintaquinas.com/Justification_by_Grace. html
  8. Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ, the Sacrament of Encounter with God (Rowman & Littlefield, 1963), Foreword pp. 16
  9. http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Heaven_-_Heaven_in_Protestant_Christianity/id/1292134
  10. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1992. Vatican City-State. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1260. Vatican City-State.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1281. Vatican City-State. ... those who ... seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1446. The Vatican. Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as "the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace."<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Strongnumbers.com Grk 5485
  15. Strong (2001) Grk entry number 5485 (p. 1653)
  16. Strong (2001) Grk entry numbers 5486 and 5463
  17. Blue Letter Bible entry for Strongs Hebrew term 2580, Blue Letter Bible institute, retrieved 2011-01-01<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Biblestudytools.com "Chen"
  19. Strong (2001) Hebrew entry number 2580 (p. 1501)
  20. Proverbs 11:16 and Ecclesiastes 9:11
  21. Proverbs 5:19
  22. Proverbs 17:8
  23. Descent of divine grace The Hindu, June 30, 2005.
  24. [1]
  25. Great Thinkers of the Eastern World, Ian McGreal.
  26. Bassam Zawadi, Answering Common Questions on Salvation That Christians Pose to Muslims, retrieved 2011-01-01 Unknown parameter |coauthor= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Chapter 15: None Would Attain Salvation Because of his Deeds but it is Through Lord's Mercy, Number 6764", Sahih Muslim, Book 39, University of Southern California center for Jewish-Muslim engagement, retrieved 2011-01-01<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Strong, James (2001), The Strongest Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Zondervan, ISBN 978-0-310-23343-5<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Stongnumbers.com, Online Parallel Bible Project (Biblos.com)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Biblestudytools.com, Salem Web Network<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>cs:Milost

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