Grace (common, efficacious, prevenient): One of the central concepts of the Scriptures, grace speaks of God’s loving actions toward creation and toward humankind in particular. Grace is the generous overflow of the love of God the Father toward the Son, Jesus Christ. This love is most clearly demonstrated to humans through God’s selfless giving of Jesus to enable people to enter into a loving relationship with God as the Holy Spirit enables them. Common grace speaks of God’s extension of favor to all people through providential care, regardless of whether or not they acknowledge and love God. Efficacious grace refers to the special application of grace to a person who comes by faith to Christ for salvation. It is the special act of God that brings about the true salvation of a person. Prevenient grace, though often thought to be synonymous with common grace, refers more specifically to the Wesleyan idea that God has enabled all people everywhere to respond favorably to the gospel if they so choose.1
1. Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 56.