*Note: edited on Thursday, August 7*
A godly man shared a nugget of wisdom with my husband and I last night. We were getting to know each other, and he shared some of his history in the church. There was one period in a church that was particularly discouraging and hurtful to him. He said he learned from that experience that there was grace, and then there was everything else. And everything else, he said, led to death.
Wow–that was profound. And he is exactly right. There is grace. Period. And if you don’t get grace, you are spiritually dying. Everything else leads to death. If you don’t get grace, you don’t get the gospel. If you don’t exhibit grace to others, it’s evidence you don’t understand it for yourself. If grace doesn’t dominate your relationship to God and your obligation to others, your religion will suck the life out of you and others around you.
A good book to read on this subject is All of Grace by C. H. Spurgeon.
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Addendum: I’ve had a helpful discussion on this topic with a friend over the last few days that prompts me to add some thoughts. John 1:17 speaks of grace and truth, and Ephesians 4 speaks of truth with love. The question then arises–can we overemphasize grace and love at the expense of truth? I don’t think so. In fact, my understanding of grace and love is that both are meaningless apart from the truth. Grace has a stark understading of the issues. It sees the truth of our sin and depravity at its clearest level. Grace isn’t simply responding nicely or politely to someone while either passively or actively denying their (or your own) sin. Grace gets reality. It understands the truth. First, it reflects an understanding of the truth of our own sin. And secondly, it reflects an understanding of the sin of others. But most of all, it understands the truth of all that the death of Christ on the cross means for us.
So, my clarification is that grace is meaningless without truth. But truth will kill you without grace.