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The basic definition of grace is favor, the free and undeserved help, one way, as the person receiving the grace did absolutely nothing to deserve it or warrant it. Unmerited (undeserved) favor.
We can and do give grace to other people. However, grace in it’s purest expression, the deepest meaning of it, is a gift from God to individuals. It is generous, free and undeserved. There is a depth to it that is unimaginable because it is so huge, so deep, so vast.
There is common grace which each and every person receives.
And whether a person wants to believe it, or not, it is from God. Whether a person believes something or not does not change it from being factual truth.
Nothing exists simply because it exists. There is something holding it together. God. Common grace is called common grace because its benefits are experienced by, and intended for, all of humanity, without distinction between one person and another.
There is God’s sustaining care for His creation called providential care in creation (meaning advantageous, favorable.) We have rain, sun, crops grow, we breathe, we wake up and our planet still exists.
There is a restraint of sin, or providential restraint of sin. While some individual people do absolutely horrendous things, people as a whole group are not as bad and horrific as we could be. There is something restraining us, a conscience, some sort of moral code. Problems arise when people are designing their own moral codes, but again, there is something restraining many to most individuals that they can behave in a semi civilized way and do not totally and completely run wild.
There are providential blessings to mankind. Advancements in medicine, technology, basically anything that people have done that improve the lives of other people are outcomes of God’s common grace. His creation, the brains He gave people, the ability to reason and experiment and study and learn and design, all our from God and His common grace. med are seen as initiated by common grace.
And then there is a special grace which is different.
Saving grace. That is the grace from God by which God draws people to salvation. What is salvation? Well, there is an eternal existence for our souls. There are two possible destinations. Although it may feel like death is the end when someone we know dies, it is not. Not for that person. We do not all go to heaven, and hell is not a place to be joking about. Both are real. In 2003 a research group discovered 64% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die, but less than 1% think they might go to hell. Once again, truth is truth, reality is reality, whether or not an individual decides to believe it. For more in depth information, the big picture, please visit this page.
Understanding the reality of an eternal existence is important because it shows how infinitely dependent we are on God for everything. The Biblical language for hell is symbolic. Souls without bodies cannot have a literal fire burning them. However, fire and darkness in hell are vivid descriptions of what happens when we lose the presence of God. He is there in hell as He is everywhere, but He will be removed from those in hell. Remember, physically alive here on earth, whether we believe it or not, whether we accept God or not, there is that common grace from God sustaining us and our life. Darkness in hell refers to the isolation, and fire to the disintegration of being separated from God. Away from the favor and face of God, we literally, horrifically, and endlessly fall apart. It is almost unimaginable it is that horrific.
To be away from God is the worst thing that can happen to us. Why?
We were originally created to walk in God’s immediate presence. God is everywhere and upholds everything, only in Him do we all speak and move and exist at all. So in that sense, it is impossible to be away from God. Even hell could not exist without God upholding it, and having a purpose for it being there. The Bible says sin excludes us from God’s face, His presence. All of our life; the joy, love, strength, purpose, meaning, ability, everything is found in God’s presence, His favor.
Separation from God and His blessings forever, hell, is the reality to which all the symbols in the Bible that describe hell point to. We are not destroyed out of existence but we are ruined and destroyed, completely incapable of all the things a human soul is for. No more reasoning, feeling, choosing, giving or receiving love or joy simply because the human soul was built for enjoying the true God, and all human life flows from that. It is a common grace that in this world, every person, even those who have turned away from God are kept capable of reasoning, feeling, love, joy. Hell is the place where we lose God’s supportive presence all together, and no matter what a person is experiencing here on earth, it is not the hell of eternity.