D-U-M Spells “Grace” (part II)

Last time, I delineated a difference between dGrace (“demerited favor”) and uGrace (“unmerited favor”). I believe that distinction carries us a long way, except for three times in the Bible where “grace” and Jesus are associated.

First off, Luke 2:40, says of Jesus that “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the charis of God was upon him.” That is the same greek word charis that we find, say in Rom 11:6.

So what kind of grace is this? Is it dGrace? Of course not — Jesus never sinned (de-merited). Is it uGrace? Here’s where the rub is. The reason some people insist that there was grace in the prefall covenant with Adam, I’m convinced, is that they would feel impious to speak of God as not being gracious. I don’t have that problem, because (as I described last time), I’m happy with the confessional term “voluntary condescension” to describe God’s unnecessary goodness to Adam.

So is Luke 2:40 talking about uGrace? I say no. When it comes to Jesus, I cannot call any “grace” that he receives at the hand of the Father “unmerited.” How could the perfection of Christ not deserve God’s favor? Thus, I offer a third sense of the word “grace,” namely “merited favor,” or mGrace. We have the same sense in English, as in “I’m really in the doghouse with the teacher right now, but if I make up enough homework, I can get back into his good graces.” Of course, sinners can never make up enough work to get back into God’s good graces, and Christ never left his Father’s good graces, but you get the point.

If this seems dubious, we see mGrace again in Luke 2:52, which is almost a repetition of 2:40: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in charis with God and man.” Whatever sense of charis we adopt in Luke 2, it must be opposite of God’s grace to man, since it is here exhibited in the opposite direction: from man to the God-man.

The other verse that applies “grace” to Christ is Phil 2:9, which describes the consequence of Christ’s obedience as: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and charizomai on him the name that is above every name.” The root of charizomai is charis. But even though there is no English translation (that I can find) which renders this as “graced him with the name…”, FV uses this verse as a lever to deny merit strict justice between God and Christ — since, after all of Christ’s perfect work, still it was an act of “grace” for God to administer his reward. But again, in this context, it seems obvious to me that the favor shown by God was neither demerited or unmerited by Christ, so we must be talking about mGrace.

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15 Responses

  1. Of course, the easiest solution is to understand an entirely different sense of “grace”, namely the first options given in the blue letter bible lexicon, both of which are miles from dGrace:

    charis: that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

    charizomai: to do something pleasant or agreeable

  2. What immediately comes to mind when I read this post of yours is the scripture you quoted, Romans 11:6:

    And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

    So it seems as though this verse refutes your idea of ‘mGrace.’ In other words, it is an oxymoron, according to Romans 11:6.

    kazoo

  3. That’s because Rom 11:6 (and probably every mention of ‘grace’ in Romans) is talking about dGrace, which is why the Covenant of Works is not (d)Gracious.

  4. How could the perfection of Christ not deserve God’s favor?

    The word “deserve” is not helpful here. My wife deserves my love and affection because of our covenantal relationship. I can even speak in terms of “owing” her my love and affection. But I don’t make her earn it.

    The question is, was the Father’s favor upon the Son before the Son lifted one finger to obey one Law? The answer is clearly yes.

  5. Whatever sense of charis we adopt in Luke 2, it must be opposite of God’s grace to man, since it is here exhibited in the opposite direction: from man to the God-man.

    Non sequitur. In John 15, our Lord says we abide in union with Him the same way He abides in union with His Father. To use your logic above, Christ would have to be saying that we abide in Him in the exact opposite way He abides in the Father.

  6. My wife deserves my love and affection because of our covenantal relationship.

    No, your wife has been promised your love and affection. It’s not about her merits, but about commitments you made to her.

    The question is, was the Father’s favor upon the Son before the Son lifted one finger to obey one Law? The answer is clearly yes.

    I know you like to confuse the issue by switching to the question that you like to answer, but the question is: had the Son merited the covenanted reward before the he lifted one finger to obey one Law? The answer is clearly no. Christ did not merely have to scrape through life without sin so that he could die a perfect sacrifice. He had work to do; an assignment, an agenda. Only when pre-agreed covenantal obligations had been (meritoriously) fulfilled could he claim the prize. Of course the same goes for Adam, but he crapped out early.

    The corollary to this question is: as freshly-justified Christians, before we ever lift one finger to obey one Law, are we neutral-righteous like baby Jesus? Or has the active obedience of Christ — his fulfillment of ALL righteousness — been imputed to us?

    I prefer the perfected messiah, but FV prefers baby Jesus. (Talladega Nights anyone?)

  7. In John 15, our Lord says we abide in union with Him the same way He abides in union with His Father.

    Really? I don’t see same way in Jn 15. But my original point is: God’s grace to fallen man is demerited favor, and man’s Lk 2:52 grace to the God-man can be neither demerited nor unmerited. Demerited vs. not-demerited. Opposite.

  8. The word “deserve” is not helpful here.

    No, not helpful, but harmful — TO YOUR ARGUMENT!

  9. TWEEET — Defensive foul: LATE HIT; penalty, five hail mary’s

  10. Really? I don’t see same way in Jn 15

    So Jesus is *contrasting* His method of perseverance with ours in John 15:10? No, he is clearly drawing a *parallel* as can easily be seen by the words “just as”.

  11. No, not helpful, but harmful — TO YOUR ARGUMENT!

    *golf clap* You didn’t even attempt to address my refutation of your use of the word. I agreed that Jesus deserves the Fathers favor but proved that we cannot therefore conclude that He needed to *merit* or *earn* it. I did this by calling “non sequitur” and providing an example of your conclusion not being the case. That proves it is a non sequitur, by the way.

  12. I see now that you addressed the comment in two comments…

    No, your wife has been promised your love and affection. It’s not about her merits, but about commitments you made to her.

    And the Father made commitments to the Son in the CoR and fulfills those commitments in the CoG. You have not therefore provided any distinction at the point of analogy.

    Further, the very fact that I have committed my love and affection to my wife is why I *owe* her my love and affection and why she *deserves* it. But again, she didn’t *merit* it. She doesn’t have to. I give it freely.

  13. Christ did not merely have to scrape through life without sin so that he could die a perfect sacrifice. He had work to do; an assignment, an agenda.

    First, you are being redundant. *Not sinning* and *completing His agenda* are synonymous. He could not have been sinless and not completed the agenda laid out for Him by His Father.

    Secondly, so do we have an agenda (What do the scriptures principally teach?). But our walking in accordance with God’s agenda for us isn’t meritorious. It is *abiding* (John 15:10 again). Nowhere do we see Jesus working to *merit* His Father’s favor or reward. They are His *inheritance* and *birthright* and He had to *abide* in order to receive them *just as* we must abide in order to receive our inheritance. Again, you have not provided any distinction at the point of analogy. And I’ll happily keep pointing that out until you do. :)

  14. I still reject your usage of the word “deserve” as a mirror image of “owe”. “deserving” is an adjective that describes intrinsic merit. And full obedience to God’s commands is intrinsically meritorious, because by obliging Himself to reward them, God declared them worthy of reward.

    And the Father made commitments to the Son in the CoR and fulfills those commitments in the CoG

    And the Father would not have been obliged to fulfill his commitments if the Son had not done the work he was sent to do. C’mon, you’re an expert in conditional covenants, how can you not see this?

  15. *Not sinning* and *completing His agenda* are synonymous.

    So at the incarnation, baby Jesus had completed his agenda? And why was there time for Adam to Fall? Why didn’t God look at his sinless creation, and say “(very) good enough! Time for consummation!”

    But our walking in accordance with God’s agenda for us isn’t meritorious

    Finally, something I can agree with!

    Nowhere do we see Jesus working to *merit* His Father’s favor or reward.

    First off, you’re doing the opposite of a false dichotomy, maybe a false unichotomy? All through Jesus’ life he had his Father’s favor, but had not yet fulfilled all rightnousness necessary to earn the end reward.

    Obviously, there is no way the bible can overcome your presuppositions of anti-merit. I see Christ working for reward in John 6:38, 17:5, and every mention of him purchasing us with his blood.

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