GRACE AND TRUTH
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten by the Father, full of grace and truth.
He was guilty, guilty, guilty. He had committed terrible crimes, crimes worthy of death … and Rome nailed him to a cross. On the cross, he confessed his sin and guilt. On the cross he looked to Jesus in repentance and faith. On the cross, he found the grace of the Lord and was assured a place in Paradise. The thief on the cross made it to heaven the same way anyone makes it to heaven—by grace through faith in the truth.
Grace has been defined as the unmerited favor of God. The popular acronym rightly states, “Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is that which everyone needs and no one deserves. Grace is truly God’s love in action, paying the price for sin and receiving any sinner who will simply repent and believe.
GRACE IS NOT ALONE
Jesus was and is full of grace and truth. John 1:14 makes that abundantly clear. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” Both grace and truth are critically important. No one can be saved apart from the grace and truth of God—that man is a sinner, Jesus is God in the flesh, the One and only Savior who died and rose again, and repentance and faith are the means for accessing God’s grace.
Grace does not trump truth, and truth does not trump grace. They go together. Every pastor needs to remind himself of these two key foundational points. Every Christian needs to evaluate a church or ministry by grace and truth. A church that is grace heavy and truth light is out of balance, as is a church that is truth heavy and grace light. Jesus was full of both.
THE HYPER-GRACE MOVEMENT
There is a movement that has caught fire in the last few years that some have dubbed the hyper-grace movement. Hyper-grace is a term used to describe a new wave of teaching that emphasizes the grace of God to the exclusion of other vital teachings. Hyper-grace trumps truth and downplays confession, repentance, and obedience. As one writer put it, “The tragic conclusion to hyper-grace teaching is that we are not bound by Jesus’ teaching, even as we are not under the Law; that believers are not responsible for their sin; and that anyone who disagrees is a pharisaical legalist.” Jude warned against this very thing as he spoke of false teachers “who turn the grace of God into licentiousness [a license for immorality and unbridled lust].”
The truth side of the equation states that God expects His children to be holy as He Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Christians are new creations in Christ. He tells us to “come out from their midst and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). If we claim to be Christians and don’t have a lifestyle that is seeking holiness, we are walking in the darkness, deceiving ourselves and failing to “practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).
A DEARTH OF TRUTH
As I look around our nation, I believe we are experiencing a dearth of truth. Everything seems focused on God's favor and personal experience. So many people want to hear about their upcoming promotion, the fulfillment of their dreams, and their next big financial or relational blessing. They don't seem to want to hear about the holiness of God, the consequences of sin, the suffering that comes from following Christ, the reality of hell, and what is morally right and morally wrong.
The people said to the hard-hitting prophet Isaiah, "You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 30:10-11). Paul said in the last days people will not endure sound doctrine. They will come to church to have their ears tickled so they can feel good as they continue in sin. If they are confronted by truth, they will decry it as judgmental, hateful, insensitive, and archaic. But it is the truth that sets people free (John 8:32).
So... who will stand up for grace and truth? Both are desperately needed in our world today.
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.