Chapter 6 - Truth and Grace
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“Truth without grace only kills, grace without truth goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and therefore unaccepted.”

John 1:14 tells us that Jesus came full of grace and truth. Both are very important and both play a valid role. Truth without grace only kills, grace without truth goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and therefore unaccepted.

If your doubts are accompanied by fear than I would say there's a good chance you have a larger grasp on the truth of God's holiness than you do the realization of God's grace. If as a Christian you are living in an unhealthy fear of God it's possible you simply don't understand grace or in your walk you've lost sight of it. One of the beautiful things I've learned about God is His giving of grace is not dependent on your understanding it. Your understanding it however is paramount to how you walk with God.

You're not the first to have this struggle. In Philip Yancey's book What's So Amazing About Grace? Philip writes about a famous author named C.S. Lewis. During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods' appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. "What's the rumpus about?" he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity's unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, "Oh, that's easy. It's grace."

We aren't the only ones who have struggled with this realization. If these “experts from around the world” couldn't grasp it than it's no surprise you or I have had troubles. Understanding grace has been a struggle since people were first called “Christians”. Hebrews 6 is addressing Jews that still felt they need to present an offering to God to atone for their sins. They acted like Jesus' finish work on the cross wasn't enough. Paul's letter to the Galatians, specifically Galatians 5 was rebuking them for trying to do what Christ already accomplished which they couldn't accomplish themselves anyways. These scholars and theologians mentioned above were educated as well and yet stumbled on one of the most basic fundamental parts of Christianity, grace.

One simple definition of grace is “undeserved favor”. Before we explore what grace is we must first understand why it's “undeserved”. To do that we must first learn the truth of God's holiness in an accurate way, then we can appreciate how it's a tutor to lead us to the grace of Jesus Christ. (See also Gal. 3:24). I want to warn you, this chapter is going to get tough before it gets better, but please take courage, it does get better! Surgery always starts with an incision.

What is a good example of a Christian? Don't answer this hastily, give this question some thought. When you picture the “ideal” Christian what comes to mind? I've had the opportunity to ask this question to several brothers and sisters in Christ and gotten a very wide range of answers. Surprisingly many seem to have an answer on hand rather quickly. Some list good characteristics such as selfless, loving, forgiving, wise, charitable, and the like. Some gave characteristics that should be absent from a good Christian's life such as lust, drunkeness, outburst of anger, selfishness, envy, hurtful words, etc. Some point to scripture such as Matthew 22:37-39 which express how we are to love the Lord our God with all we have and to love our neighbor as ourself. Some give the names of other Christian's who deeds have stood out in their minds. Some simply lower their demeanor and reply “not me”.

All of these responses have one thing in common. Merit. In every example was a performance based measuring system either crediting or condemning a Christian based on their actions. What they did right, what they did wrong, and what they didn't do at all. It's important to realize if we are going to size people up according to their works than we need to do so with biblical accuracy.

Did you know that there are parts of the bible that were written by the hand of God directly. Obviously all were inspired and written by God as Peter writes no part of scripture was written by men, but all were writing in and through the Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21), but here I am talking physically, by God's own hand. Exodus 31:18 records God handing Moses two tablets of testimony, tablets of stone, "written by the finger of God". On these tablets were the ten commandments the first records of the full law of God which we know today. So to say these ordinances are crucial, as the rest of the bible is, is an gross understatement.


  These laws may have been written thousands of years ago, but they are still completely applicable today. As Jesus puts it:


"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.- Matthew 5:17-20


  Jesus fulfilled the law, and the same is required of us. As it's written in Matthew:


"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. - Matthew 5:48


but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:15-16

  As is written in these above verses, specifically verse 17, we know that Jesus fulfilled the law. My question for you then is what are you doing with the law today? Furthermore, how do you incorporate the teachings of Jesus in the new testament. Jesus taught that if we love Him we'll keep His commandments (John 14:15). That we now have new commandments from Him, that we love one another even as He loves us (John 13:34), that we Love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), that we be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:47-48), that our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20), that we are the salt of the earth that is to remain salty (Matt. 5:13), the light of the world that shall not be hidden (Matt. 5:14), that we are to go and make disciples and teach them all that we are commanded (Matt. 5:19-20).


  More specifically to the doubter we are told not to doubt (Matt. 21:21), not to walk by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), not to fear, (Isaiah 41:10) not to be confused, (1 Cor. 14:33) not to let our heart be troubled (John 14:1). We are told by James (vs 1:6-8) that the one who doubts ought not to expect to receive anything from the Lord. And so we shouldn't expect anything. Why should we expect something that we have in no way earned or deserved?

How did you do with the verses above? Did you find them to harsh, unreasonable or unfair? Did you find them weighty and burdensome? We can debate the heart of God behind the rules but ultimately it's God's house and you only get in by His rules. If you are like me I suspect many of these rules you were already familiar with. If you are measuring your worth, your salvation, your justification on works than you've likely assessed where you ought to be to where you actually are and realized there is a gap. A big gap. You don't measure up, you're not even close. Maybe early on you felt like you measured up but as you begin to learn more of what is actually required of you than you realized you needed to try harder. The Pharisees were the merit based “rock stars” in their day and Jesus had this to say:

"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:20

Still not we give it a last hoorah...and we fail again. Faloompf...exhausted we find ourselves flat on our face. You're not the only one friend. Anyone that has ever sought to be justified by works has fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). When the disciples learned how difficult it was for a man to enter the kingdom of heaven they plainly asked Jesus, “Then who can be saved?”. A very valid question. His answer...

When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:25-26

In other words, you have no way to save yourself. Justification by works is bust, it flat out doesn't work. We know this scriptually and we know this by experience. We don't need more strength to fulfill the law, we've already failed it, we need a new system of justification altogether.


For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:3-4

This isn't a fix to the old system. Christ didn't come to bring a new way of doing the old system of merit based justification. He came up with a completely new solution where merit no longer plays a part a new system of grace through faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

So what do we make of all these rules then? Rules such as we are to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48), surely those are still applicable right? Absolutely they are. The righteous requirement of the law was never diminished. Christ didn't take away the rules, He fulfilled the rules and the righteous requirement of the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. - Matt. 5:17

Many Christians understand that Christ died for their sins but they miss the bigger picture. They somehow are invaded by the idea that Christ died for everything in their past so they can somehow start over... try again. Give these rules another go... Paul addressed this head on in Galatians.

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? - Galatians 3:3

Yes Christ died for our sins past, He also died for our sins present and sins future. Not only that but the one thing that could hold us guilty, being the righteous requirement of the law, Christ fulfilled, (Matt. 5:17), He completed it and nailed it to the cross.

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. - Colossians 2:13-14



God took ownership of all your sins and therefore God poured out His wrath on Jesus. Sins are dealt with, done. The part people fail to see is in doing so He gave all in Christ ownership of His righteousness.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21


Christ bore your penalty for this very reason, to impute to you His righteousness so that you can successfully be children of God with all that God requires fulfilled already in you. There is no more work to be done, Christ didn't come up lacking in His work on the cross. As Jesus said while on the cross, just before giving up His spirit, “It is finished!”.


One might say, sure sure, that's all fine for salvation but now we have new requirements from God. If we had new requirements than we would have a new law that is merit based. You missed what the bible is saying, you missed why it's called “GOOD NEWS”. It's not called “seemingly good news followed by some terrible news”. Christ addresses this assumption of new requirements head on.


Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” - John 6:28-29 (NASB)

Let me show you that verse again from the Amplified Bible which breaks down the meaning of the verbiage used here.

They then said, What are we to do, that we may [habitually] be working the works of God? [What are we to do to carry out what God requires?]

Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]. - John 6:28-29 (AMP)

What is the work that God requires? Trust in Christ! That's it. Done. No more. It's no wonder His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30


This is why we can rest. It's Christ's yoke, that comes with all sins dealt with and all righteous requirements met. The old yoke that was futile of trying to earn God's merit through works which left us weary and heavy-laden is replaced by Christ's yoke which is easy and light. Easy here doesn't mean there is less work than before, in the original Greek here easy meant gracious and pleasant. Light means there's nothing to it. Yes to Jesus. That's it, you've taking His yoke upon you.


But the bible says to “work out our salvation” (Phil 2:12). Work out, not work for. Exercise what is already yours.


Let me reiterate, Christ didn't come to strengthen the old way of justification by works. He came to fulfill the old way completely and bring a new way altogether. A new way of justification by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). In Romans 4 Paul is arguing this very point. One example he uses is Abraham when he quotes Genesis 15:6


For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” - Romans 4:3


Abraham trusted in God to make himself right with God. While he didn't know by what means God would do this, which we now know was through Jesus Christ, He did trust that God would provide the sacrifice (Gen. 22:8).


“So I should be concentrating on faith?” You should be concentrating on Jesus. Concentrating on faith makes faith a work. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. (Heb. 12:2). “Can it really be that easy? That seems unfair to Christ.”. Yes it is and yes it is. Not only is it easy but it's the only way, and you are right it's completely unfair. It's completely just but fair, no. God found a way to justly satisfy the righteous requirements of the law but how is it fair that we get the benefits that Christ earned and He gets the punishment that we earned. Nevertheless, that's exactly how it is. We weren't the first to feel offended at this unfairness. Peter felt it too.


Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:5-8


The only way is to let Jesus cleanse you. There is no other solution. It may be tough, it may even hurt to see the sovereign Almighty Righteous God stooping to cleanse your feet. But as Jesus said, if He does not wash us we have no place with Him. There is no other way, there is no alternative (Matt. 26:39). Look closer at the illustration of what Jesus did. In verse 5 Jesus used His clean garment to wash their dirty feet. His followers become clean all over and He who was clean now has the dirt of everyone on Him.


Makes you want to serve Him with everything you got doesn't it? It did me. So great a message how can we contain it? That is where works come in. Not as a requirement but as a provocation of grace. We don't work because we have to, we don't work because we ought to. We work because we WANT to. We work not as a means of earning God's favor. We already have His favor and therefore we are provoked to work. I once read John 14:15 in a completely different light than I do now. Let's take a look at it.


"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. - John 14:15


I used to read that verse like it was a commandment and think to myself “I need to show God I love Him by keeping His commandments.” Now it's completely different, viewed in the light of grace. That verse to me is simply an evidential verse, it's no longer a commandment. It's stating that keeping Christ's commandments will be an automatic result of our loving Him. The keeping of the commandments is simply evidence of our love for Him. Our love for Him provokes us to keep the commandments, not the other way around. We do not focus on the rules and hope that will somehow bring us close to God. We are already children of God and have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are as close to God as it gets and therefore are provoked to do good works. Are focus should be on Christ. He is the solution to every part of the Christian walk.


for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13


It is God who makes the changes on the inside at the core of our being. Once the core is changed the outside, our actions, our works, our fruit reflects the changes made on the inside.


You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. - Matthew 23:26


"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people. - Hebrews 8:10


You know what I once found terrifying that I now find quite relieving. I can rely on God for 100% of my Christian walk. Formerly, because of my need to control my situations the fact that one, I didn't play a part, and two I couldn't some how earn God's favor terrified me. That means I was entirely at His mercy. Now I rejoice at the very same thought. I'm at God's mercy! As I've learned about God's character I rejoice knowing that my salvation is secure not on the basis of what I've done but on the basis of who He is. As God is trustworthy so are His promises. While I am at His mercy He is very merciful. More merciful than any man. (2 Sam. 24:14, Isa. 30:18, Ephesians 2:4-5).


Jesus purposed an interesting question to Peter.


And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” - Luke 7:40-43


Let me ask this, which person among Christians was forgiven little? Honestly, when you face the wretchedness in your life who among us only owed a little? The answer is none of us. If you are like me than you need no convincing of your wretchedness but if you have any doubt read Romans 3:10-18.

So, want to love God more? The answer isn't found in works, that is making love a work. As God puts it, He desires compassion and not sacrifice. (Matthew 9:13). The answer is better learning who God is and what He has done for you. Instead of making love an object of focus I would challenge you to make Christ, His Character and His finished work on the cross an object of focus. Take it on yourself to learn more about your God and what He's done for you and you may find your love for Him increasing as a wonderful by-product.


In this next chapter we will look at just that. Who our God is, what He's done for us and who we are in Christ.


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