Grace and Mercy: How God Loves Us

We all use words without thinking too much about their meanings. People say “Hi!” and “How’s it going?” interchangeably, even though they technically have different meanings. The words grace and mercy are often used without differentiation, although, like the phrases we use in casual conversation, they carry similar but separate meanings. By diving into a proper understanding of grace and mercy, we can add insight to our faith conversations and develop a deeper understanding of Jesus’ love for us.

Understanding Grace

Grace is a defining aspect of Christian theology because it highlights how salvation is a gift freely bestowed by God, not earned through human effort. Ephesians 2:8–9 provides a beautiful picture of what grace means for us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Through the sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ, we receive forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life as gifts of God’s unmerited favor. This understanding of grace underscores the foundational truth that our righteousness before God stems solely from Christ’s atoning sacrifice. 

Exploring Mercy

Mercy, closely intertwined with grace, reflects God’s compassion and kindness toward humanity, despite our unworthiness. While grace is God’s free pardon when we deserve only His punishment, mercy is God’s compassionate action when He looks upon the suffering and misery our sin has brought upon us. Because God is merciful toward us, we are no longer bound to the penalty for our sins. Instead, we receive an outpouring of God’s grace toward us in Word and Sacrament and are brought into the full redemption that Jesus won on the cross. While Daniel E. Paavola addresses grace in Grace, Faith, Scripture: Portrait of a Lutheran, Paavola’s book Flowing from the Cross: Six Facets of God’s Forgiveness helps us see God’s mercy in light of the severity of sin. Paavola clarifies the definition of mercy by outlining aspects of forgiveness, which flows to us from the cross.

Living in Grace and Mercy

Understanding the distinct yet intertwined concepts of grace and mercy provides believers with a firm foundation for proclaiming and living in the love of God. Our righteousness stems solely from Christ’s merciful atoning sacrifice, and our certainty of salvation flows from God’s gracious gift of eternal life. We live as Christians set free by our merciful God, who graciously establishes and continues our faith.

Scripture: ESV®.

124577Learn more about the importance of God’s grace toward us in Grace, Faith, Scripture: Portrait of a Lutheran. The book offers a deeper view into how grace connects with the foundations of the Christian faith through concepts that Martin Luther highlighted.

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Written by

Melody Martin

Melody is a social media and email specialist at Concordia University Irvine and a former copywriting intern at Concordia Publishing House. As an alum of Concordia University Chicago, she holds an English major as well as minors in communications, creative writing, and theology. Her published poetry can be found in various journals, including her alma mater's Motif. She and her husband are torn between mountains and beaches as new Californians, but they always have a good book in tow either way.

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