In Acts 2:46-47 we find the disciples:
" . . . having charis with all the people".
In Acts 7:10 we find God gave Joseph charis in the sight of Pharaoh. The King James Version Bible has translated charis as "favor" here. In other places we find charis translated favor (Acts 25:3, Luke 1:30, Acts 7:46). Favor is the obvious meaning.
Can favor mean the same as grace?
It is not clear why some do not like the definition of favor for grace. However, it does have the implication that it does not matter what you DO, once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior. Many believers know that it does matter what Christians do! We must keep the commandments. We know that "[God gives his Spirit] to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32). So how does favor figure in? We shall clearly see. The Truth will be plainer than ever!
In Webster's 1994 Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, the third definition of grace is "favor.” Its theological definition is "unmerited favor." Unmerited favor implies that there also exists favor by merit. By now, it should be abundantly clear that the correct translation of the Greek charis is favor.
Why does God give favor?
The misunderstood part of the grace versus works argument is that man receives God's favor (grace) for two different reasons. First, Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). Most all of Christendom would agree that this is God's "grace."
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes on him might not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)
Cleared of the death penalty over us is the first part of the salvation process. A Christian is justified (past sins paid for) by Christ's death as the Lamb of God. Christians can do nothing about their sins except accept Christ's sacrifice. Man receives favor by God with this redemption! WHY receive this favor?
Why does God favor man?
God did not favor with salvation the angels who sinned! God did not offer angels sonship (Hebrews 1:5, 2:6-10). God favored man because we are in his image. Awesome is the favor we have received. The offspring of any being looks like the father in kind.
" . . . we are the offspring of God" (Acts 17:26, 28-29).
"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1John 3:1).
Those who do not believe that man is in God's image cannot even understand why we receive charis (grace) to justification.
What does it mean to grow in favor or grace?
The other reason we receive God's favor (grace) solves the grace versus works argument. How does one grow in favor with any boss? He keeps his directives or commands! Once we have believed in Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for our sins (breaking the law of God), repented (keeping the commandments), and are baptized, we receive God’s Holy Spirit. We are now the children of God by the indwelling of the spirit. We have God’s seed in us (see 1John 3:1-2, 9). Now we have grown in (grace) favor in God’s eyes!
So the second reason we receive grace (favor) is we have God’s Holy Spirit in us leading us to keep the commandments in their spirit and intent (1Peter 1:22). As we learn to better keep the commands, we can receive more of God’s precious spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Notice Stephen was FULL of the Holy Spirit near the end of his life (Acts 7:55, 60). We grow in favor with God by maturing in the keeping of the commandments!
Not under the Law, but under Favor
Satan, the god of confusion, does not want us to understand this very important issue (Job 1:6, 1Corinthians 14:33, 1Thessalonians 2:18)! Therefore, he has changed the modern word "grace" to be "it is too wonderful to be understood." He would have us believe that being saved by grace alone means we do not have to keep the commandments.
Christians are not perfect. They may make a mistake and sin! They may not keep the Bible Sabbath perfectly every week. However, they are not openly working on God’s Sabbath days. Under the law each sin required an animal’s death in sacrifice (Numbers 15:27-28, Leviticus 4:13, 20, 22, 26-27, 31, 35, Leviticus 19:22). Under favor (grace) repentance of the sin is required and looking to Christ (Hebrews 10:10-11, 21; 1John 2:1-4). It means constant washing by the water of the Word.
True Christians are under great favor from God, called to be perfect. God watches over us as any good father watches over his children and favors them (1Peter 3:12, 5:10-12; Matthew 5:48; 1John 3:10). He even favors them with chastening when needed (Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19). Let us therefore keep his commandments and stay in his favor.
Written by: Bill Hillebrenner