We want to be balanced people. It is considered a good thing to have a balanced diet or to keep a healthy balance between work and pleasure.
But sometimes, balance is a bad thing. For example, finding a balance between fidelity and infidelity in marriage – or between honesty and dishonesty – doesn’t make any sense.
With this in view, sometimes people express the funny notion that grace and truth somehow need to be kept in balance. “We want a preacher who will preach about grace as much as he preaches truth,” says the preacher search committee. “Grace is a wonderful thing, but you have to keep grace and truth in balance so you don’t go to extremes,” says the Bible study teacher. (After all, no one wants to be thought of as an extremist!)
The problem with this reasoning is that it separates grace from truth – as if they are opposed to one another.
Grace and truth are not opposites; they are conjoined twins! You cannot have one without the other.
Grace is truth, and truth is grace.
Both are perfectly united in Jesus, who is the “only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Thus, we have “grace and truth through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16).
You can’t talk about grace without talking about truth.
What does grace without truth even look like?
It is a mistake to emphasize God’s grace while neglecting the necessity of obedience. If a church hears not much more than a constant drivel of “self-help” and “God is love” sermons, it won’t be long before the members start to conclude that costly obedience is not very important.
But this wouldn’t really be “grace” in the first place. If God’s grace is taught in any way that somehow lessens the seriousness of sin, undermines the importance of obedience, or cheapens the necessity of holiness – that isn’t grace; that’s license (Rom. 6:1, 15; Jude 4).
You cannot have grace without truth. By God’s grace, He has saved us and instructed us how to live obediently to Him. Note Paul’s words:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:11-12)
Those who do not love the truth of God’s Word – both the “hard” parts and the “easy” parts – have forfeited God’s grace. Knowledge of the truth of God’s Word is what gives us freedom (John 17:17; John 8:32). The fact that God has extended His grace to those who are perishing, and has given us instruction on how to be free from the slavery of sin, is truth!
You can’t talk about truth without talking about grace.
The core of Christianity is God’s grace. That’s why Paul refers to salvation in Christ as a “grace” system (Rom. 6:14).
To preach that we are saved purely by perfect law-keeping and therefore need no grace is error; It is a false gospel (Gal. 1:8; 5:4).
Yes, we must obey God from the heart (John 14:15). Yes, we must obey 100% of God’s commands to the best of our ability (Heb. 10:26). Yes, we will be in some way “judged according to our works” (Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 2:23; 20:12-13). Grace, after all, is only found through the obedience of faith (Eph. 2:8).
But why do we obey? Because of God’s grace. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And – even after our best efforts to obey the truth – we will still be “unprofitable servants” (Luke 17:10). God, by His grace, still cleanses us of sins and shortcomings (1 John 1:7). That is why the gospel is still the good news for Christians!
Thank God for His glorious grace, which makes me want to obey Him even more!
They aren’t opposites.
The lie that we need to somehow find a balance between grace and truth might sound good to those who don’t know any better, but it is a devastating idea.
Grace and truth are not opposite sides of the coin – they are on the same side!
If you’re going to draw a line, draw it between rebellious, immoral living and thinking you can make it to heaven simply by our own meritorious works. And in that case, both are equally wrong (and we don’t need to find a balance between them).
Thus, we begin to see that there is technically no such thing as being too far to the “right” or too far to the “left.” Moderation, or “balance,” between these two is just a mirage. There is only right and wrong, and we must be fully committed to the grace & truth that is found only in the last will and testament of Christ.
Grace and truth are synonymous because they are both found in Jesus. Therefore, let us be 100% committed to both.
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