The definition for Grace is this:
Grace is a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us through the merits of Jesus Christ for our salvation.
We also briefly discussed the fact that there are two kinds of grace.
- Sanctifying Grace
- Actual Grace
Neither of which are specifically named in scriptures. But the scriptures do testify of the two graces and there differences. For those who would deny that there are not two kinds because the scripture never names them should also know that the word Trinity is not mentioned in the scriptures either. Nor is the word Rapture, even though as Catholics we believe the bible tells us of a time at the end of the ages when we as the Church will be taken up to meet Christ in the clouds. (that's a whole different subject.)
Let's start with Sanctifying Grace:
Sanctifying Grace is that grace that confers on our souls a new life that is, a sharing in the life of God Himself.
Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
In order to enter into the kingdom of God, a man must be born again; this is accomplished through baptism, which confers on our souls a new life, a sharing in the life of God Himself. In other words-Sanctifying Grace.
This life..this eternal life is not a life separated from God it is a sharing in the life of God Himself.
Let me illustrate:
Behind almost every home is a current of electricity. Now an electric lamp will not work until it is plugged into the socket on the wall. Once that is done, the flow of electricity will also flow through the cord of the lamp and it will light up!
The same is with Eternal life. God's life is eternal. No beginning and no end. If we want to have a life in Him we must be plugged into the socket so that His life will flow through us. that is what it means when we say that Sanctifying grace confers on our souls a new life...a sharing in the life of God Himself.
Now Let's look at the the story of Nicodemus in more detail:
What is the part of water in the new birth? Some try to explain the water out of the new birth by saying it is a figure of the Holy Spirit. But this doesn't fit. This would make Jesus' statement in John 3:5 nonsense, "unless a man be born again of water (the Holy Ghost) and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" Others contend "water" refers to our first, physical birth and "the Spirit" refers to the new birth. But Jesus is explaining the method of the new birth here. I hardly see why He would need to say one must be born physically, i.e., be a person, before he can be born again. Further, Jesus used the term "blood" to symbolize the first, physical birth in John 1:12-13, not "water."
Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)
When one minister was asked, "What is the 'water' of the new birth?", he replied, "Buttermilk!" When the shocked inquirer asked why he believed this, the minister answered, "If it's not water, you might as well make it anything you want."
With what element of the gospel is water connected?
Then Peter answered: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then they desired him to tarry with them some days. (Acts 10:46-48).
Water is essential to baptism "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19)
Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5)
The Laver - the sacred washbowl of the tabernacle and temple (Exodus 30:18 Exodus 30:28 ; 31:9 ; 35:16 ; 38:8 ; 39:39 ; Exodus 40:7 Exodus 40:11 Exodus 40:30 , etc.), a basin for the water used by the priests in their ablutions.
Of regeneration- the word comes from two greek words: pálin, "again" and génesis, "birth, beginning" in other words a new beginning..a new birth....being born again.
When we are washed in water, we are born anew.
Not only does Sanctifying Grace bring about a new birth through the baptism waters but it also brings about the new birth through the Holy Ghost.
Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
But what is the part of "the Spirit" in our regeneration, that is in our new birth?
When the Holy Spirit leads us through the gospel to believe in Christ and be baptized in water, we are born again and become sons of God in Christ.
For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27).
As the results of this sanctifying Grace, we become new creations in Christ.
If then any be in Christ he is a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We become citizens of a spiritual kingdom.
But our conversation (our life, our citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
We become the sons and heirs of God
For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27)
For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17).
Our inheritance is the "incorruptible and undefiled" home in heaven
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy hath regenerated us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that can not fade, reserved in heaven for you, Who, by the power of God, are kept by faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5).
We are made holy and pleasing to God
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to all the saints who are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ: As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity. (Ephesians 1:1-9)
We are made temples of the Holy Ghost
Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? (I Corinthians 6:19)
"unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
"unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)
"you must be born again." (John 3:7)
Through the baptismal waters and the regeneration of our hearts by the Holy Spirit we become "born again", a "new creature" in Christ Jesus, "adopted sons of God". This is what Sanctifying grace is all about.