Grace vs. Mercy
GRACE vs. MERCY
It seems, in the entries below, that "grace" and "mercy" have a common origin in the term "thanks". In fact, from the 1913 Webster's Dictionary, within the synonyms for "grace", "mercy" also finds a home,
"Elegance; comeliness; charm; favor; kindness; mercy. -- Grace, Mercy. These words, though often interchanged, have each a distinctive and peculiar meaning. Grace, in the strict sense of the term, is spontaneous favor to the guilty or undeserving; mercy is kindness or compassion to the suffering or condemned. It was the grace of God that opened a way for the exercise of mercy toward men." (Source: 1913 Webster's Dictionary)
I have even heard that grace is "unmerited favor", which aligns well with how the 1913 dictionary positions it. However ...
I propose to you, that these definitions are somewhat incorrect. This is because someone's theological view defined what "grace" and "mercy" was in that dictionary rather than the origins of the terms defining "grace" and "mercy".
The entries below are from the Oxford English Dictionary of 1888. Look over them closely because what I am going to propose to you is that "grace" is "merited favor", and "mercy", on the other hand, is "unmerited favor". I want you to gather the origins of the terms "grace" and "mercy" and then apply those origins to the context of the scriptures themselves.
I am writing this article because in modern Christianity, the popular teaching is that "grace" and "mercy" are synonymous, which means that they are the same idea or meaning.
The problem is ... "grace" comes through "faith" and mercy does not as is found here in the Bible in Romans 5:1-2.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Source: Bible - King James Version)
The common theology is that by grace a person comes to know the Lord, but that is by mercy that a person comes to know the Lord. In God's mercy, he sent his son, Jesus, as is seen in 1 Peter 1:3-5
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (Source: Bible - King James Version)
Without "faith", God is not pleased with anyone, which is seen in Hebrews 11:5-6.
"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Source: Bible - King James Version)
I could dedicate entire books to the subjects of "grace" and "mercy", but in this write-up I just wanted to clarify that they are distinctly different in Christianity.
Even on the Old Testament book of Exodus, God himself made a distinction between the two in Exodus 33:18-19.
"And he [Moses] said, I beseech thee [God], shew me thy glory. And he [God] said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy." (Source: Bible - King James Version)
Think of our existence in the terms of motion.
When we do things that please God, he may give us grace.
When we do things that displease God, he may give us mercy.
However, it is according to his will to whom he gives grace as well as mercy. But when it comes to you believing in Jesus, since he is pleased with Jesus believing in him, then he is pleased with you believing in Jesus. :) Amen!
So grace comes to us by faith, but faith is a work of the heart. It is something we do. And mercy comes to us by lack of faith, but lack of faith is also a work of the heart. It is also something we do.
Consider once again the Oxford English Dictionary of 1888 origins of "grace" and "mercy" below ...
What is it about the term "thanks" that has so much to do with "grace" and "mercy"?
To be continued ... December 29, 2021