Grace Alone

“by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

 

Anyone who hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ (I mean really hears the message) will likely wonder why God would do such a thing. Why would a holy and omnipotent God offer any reprieve to His rebellious created things? Why would any disobedience go unpunished? More incredibly, why would the King of glory make His lovingly faithful Son the object of His wrath on behalf of contemptible mutineers?

The Bible gives us no higher answer than to tell us that God has acted out of sheer grace, unparalleled grace, amazing grace. But, what is grace? Grace is neither a substance, nor thing; it is not sprinkled or absorbed. Grace is how we speak of God’s benevolent acts towards utterly undeserving sinners. Grace is the word we use to say that whatever purposes God has in saving a sinner, the motive does not originate in the sinful beneficiary.

God’s gift of salvation, from start to finish, is the result of God’s gracious resolve to love unlovable sinners. That’s it! That’s why sinners can rest assured that God’s love for them will remain faithful… because they had nothing to do with rousing God’s loving affection from the start.

Grace & Truth

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

 

Our common experiences often leave us with empty and foolish notions of both grace and truth. Grace, it is often assumed, is something less than judgment but nothing of genuine expense. It is a thing to which everyone seems entitled. Yet, we rarely hear how this might square with the notions of justice and goodness.

Truth has also been obscured in our day. It has become a wax nose that may be shaped according to preference. The only truly true truth is that nothing is absolutely and universally true. Of course, people rarely stop to think about the obvious contradiction of such a statement.

Jesus Christ, however, does not play by our modern (or post-modern) rules of social etiquette. He speaks with piercing truth and subduing grace. Jesus expresses overwhelming grace while He simultaneously speaks words of stinging truth. He lovingly tells us the hard truths we need to hear, and He shows amazing grace to undeserving sinners.

The presence of grace is not the absence of hard truth, and speaking the truth is not necessarily ungracious. Genuine love is expressed in both grace and truth.

The friend who avoids criticizing you because he/she does not want to hurt your feelings is no true friend. Such avoidance is selfish, and it perpetuates and encourages our own self-delusions. What we all need is a friend willing to enter into our weaknesses, tell us the truth about ourselves, and to offer us gracious grace. We need someone to be honest and loving, candid and caring.

In our day, like every era before, true friends are hard to find. Jesus is a friend like no other, and we may be refreshed by His grace and truth. Additionally, when we have received grace and truth from Christ, we must express the same to others.

May God help us to rest in Christ, and may He motivate us towards the more costly relationships – expressing real grace and truth.