The Complete Guide to Grace

What’s the Difference Between Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness?


Explanations of grace often do more to muddy the water than clarity its meaning. The words grace, mercy and salvation are used interchangeably. Frequently, grace is defined as unmerited favor. However, when we focus on how unworthy we are to receive it, we make grace more about us than about God. There is a better way.

The Complete Guide to Grace clears up misconceptions about God’s grace and reveals truths about grace, mercy and forgiveness that will give you a new perspective of the blessings — and challenges — in your life.

Worksheets throughout the book make it useful as a personal or group study guide. Format: 6 x 9″ paperback with 205 pages. Also available in Kindle.

Table of Contents

  1. Grace, Mercy & Forgiveness
  2. Grace in the Old Testament
  3. By the Grace of God: Noah & Gideon
  4. Paul: A Lesson in Grace, Mercy & Forgiveness
  5. Grace, Faith & Obedience
  6. Grace and the Law
  7. The Throne of Grace
  8. Grace Teaches us to Say “No”
  9. God’s Grace is Enough
  10. The Favor to Suffer
  11. Be Strong in the Grace
  12. Administering God’s Grace
  13. The Effect of Grace

Free Resources

Three-Part Grace Study

  1. Would You Have Built the Ark?
  2. The Ultimate Case of Show and Tell
  3. You Get to Choose

God's Grace: Un-merited Favor or Un-imaginable Favor?

The unmerited vs unimaginable favor of God
God’s grace is often described as “unmerited favor,” but just mentioning merit as a consideration in our most important relationship can plant seeds of doubt that are difficult to overcome. Instead of confidently seeking God’s will for our lives, we can go through life wondering if there is a limit to how much unmerited favor we will receive. “If I do one more thing that disappoints God, will he decide that I crossed the line and stop showing me favor?”

To illustrate, if you thank a close friend for doing you a favor, he will likely say, “I was happy to do it.” If instead he responded, “I did you an undeserved favor,” you might wonder if he really was your friend. 

A father, who wanted to express his love to his son, would never say, “Son, I want you to know that you will always have my unmerited favor.” That would not make his son feel secure.

God’s interaction with Gideon also helps us see why bringing “unmerited” into the discussion of grace is not helpful. Gideon saw himself as the least in the weakest family in Manasseh, yet God sent his angel to convince Gideon that he was the one to lead the Israelites in battle against a powerful enemy. 

If the angel of the Lord, who called Gideon “mighty warrior,” had said, “The Lord is with you, mighty but undeserving warrior,” it would have been even more difficult to convince Gideon that he had the favor of God.

When we focus on how undeserving we are to receive God’s favor, we end up thinking more about ourselves than about God. God’s favor has more to do with his loving nature than with how deserving or undeserving we are to receive it. It is natural for God to love and show favor to his children; merit has nothing to do with it.

The Complete Guide to Grace clears up common misconceptions about grace and explains why it is more beneficial to focus on the many ways God shows his un-imaginable favor than to dwell on our lack of merit.

"God is closer, more patient & more involved..."

Jim LeflerMy study of God’s grace has radically changed how I view God. He is closer, more patient and more involved in my daily activities than I ever imagined. Think about the potential impact of the favor of God in your life. Nothing is more important. This book describes the many facets of God’s grace and all the ways it can impact your life on a daily basis.

The first half of the book describes the principles of grace, mercy and forgiveness, and presents what Noah, Gideon, Moses, Abraham and Paul discovered about grace, faith and obedience. The last half is devoted to practical applications of these principles in our own lives. Like the Apostle Paul, we can understand and appreciate how and why God’s grace is truly sufficient!

I began my study by asking “What’s the difference between grace, mercy and forgiveness?” Understanding these spiritual principles is not complicated. In chapter one I share my simple definitions that cleared up the confusion for me. I hope they will help you too. My prayer is that your relationship with God will be strengthened as a result of your study. Jim Lefler

Reader Comments

“Great Book! I always thought that I understood God’s grace, but this book opened my eyes in so many ways. I highly recommend this book.” — ANN D.

“This is a wonderful book! I’ve read it twice.” — FIVE STARS

“A very good book that includes the Greek and Hebrew words and their definitions/synonyms that elude to 3 words that shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Grace, mercy and forgiveness. Thank you so very much Mr Lefler.” — DALE BOWLEY

“A must read if you want to understand and appreciate God more!!! Lefler’s insights corrected many of my own misunderstandings of God and His grace. Consequently, my relationship with God and my family have been changed dramatically. Through an obviously thorough study of the Greek and Hebrew (regarding grace, mercy and forgiveness) and personal life examples, he presents God and His grace in a way easily grasped. My biggest take away was to focus less on my inadequacy and more on God’s favor. This has given me freedom to appreciate God and His glory making my worship deeper and more fulfilling. Thank you Jim. To God be the glory!” — GR8FUL

About the Author

Jim Lefler , author of The Complete Guide to Grace and co-author of Spiritual Discovery – 7 Principles for Spiritual Growth, served as an elder for two decades helping Christians overcome their personal challenges and draw closer to God. In 2001, Jim’s desire for a better understanding of the grace of God led him to ask: “What’s the difference between grace, mercy and forgiveness?” The resulting study led to a period of personal spiritual growth. The insights he shares in this book have helped many Christians, young and old in the Lord, feel the favor of God in their lives and understand the foundational principles of grace, mercy and forgiveness.