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Paul’s Use of the Word “Grace,” by Brent J. Schmidt, from Relational Grace: The Reciprocal and Binding Covenant of Charis (published by BYU Studies)
When Paul writes “grace,” he invokes the social system in which a benefactor gives something of value to another, and the receiver is obligated to give thanks, service, allegiance, and lesser value back to the benefactor. Scholars beginning in the fifth century changed the meaning of this word to mean something given with nothing required in return, but this is not what Paul and other NT authors intended. This book examines the meaning of “charis,” grace, in ancient and modern times.

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Addressing the question of whether we are saved by faith or works, Christian author C. S. Lewis wrote: “It [seems] to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary” (Mere Christianity, 148).

“If grace is a gift of God, why then is obedience to God’s commandments so important? Why bother with God’s commandments—or repentance, for that matter? …

“Our obedience to God’s commandments comes as a natural outgrowth of our endless love and gratitude for the goodness of God. This form of genuine love and gratitude will miraculously merge our works with God’s grace” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Gift of Grace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 109).

We should not see our good works as a way to prove our worthiness, nor should we see Christ’s grace as a reason to excuse our mistakes and sins.