By Doug Mamvura
Grace is the foundation of our relationship with God. While grace is important and vital in our relationship with God, we have also to understand the importance of balancing truth and grace in that relationship with God.
While there is an emergency of grace in the body of Christ which is very exciting, there is an equal emergence of abuse and misuse of God’s grace.
John 1: 11-13, states that “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name..”
According to verse 13 above, it is very clear that not everyone is a child of God but those “who received Him”. The world is declaring that everybody is a child of God and even the church is deceiving people that everyone is a child of God and this is not true.
Indeed, everybody came from God but in the context of verse 13, you can only become a child of God after you have received Him.
In John 1:14, the Bible states that “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Here we see the importance of having the balance between grace and truth. Jesus never compromised the truth, and yet He was very gracious.
How sad that the Jesus we see in the Bible is not the one who is preached in most of our churches today. According to Romans 8:29, as believers, we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (Jesus). God’s plan is for you and me to be like Jesus, to behave like Jesus. We will never look more like Jesus unless we are filled with grace and truth. We have to be gracious, compassionate, kind and moral people if we are to be like Jesus.
In addition, we also have to be a people of truth, who speak the truth in love according to the Word of God. We see Jesus praying in John 17:17 saying “Sanctify them with thy truth. God’s Word is the truth and that is what we need to speak without any fear or compromise. Some of us compromise the truth because we don’t want to offend people who pay huge tithes in our churches. We should preach the undiluted Word of God as is.
In John 14:6, Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. This means that anyone who claims to honour Jesus while advocating other ways to God, to truth, or to life besides Jesus is a deceived or a deceiver.
When we are talking about God’s grace, we are referring to His immeasurable love, kindness and favour. He loves us the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us where we are. Grace is about the unconditional love for us demonstrated by Him sending His only Son to come and die for us sinners that whosoever would believe in Him, would not perish but have everlasting life. It is also His unmerited favor towards us, which has nothing to do with our acts or works.
This grace has to be balanced by truth which is God’s Word and His kingdom principles. There are some things that are consistent with God’s principles. God has a moral code that never changes. His principles never change regardless of colour, gender or religion.
Furthermore, grace is God’s nature. In 1 John 4:8, we read that “God is love”. He is love personified. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God for God is love.
On the other hand, truth is God’s character. One of God’s character is His faithfulness. We see in Romans 4: 21 how Abraham discovered how faithful God was- “and being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
Notice that Abraham wasn’t just persuaded; he was fully persuaded. Many people have been persuaded that the promises of God are true, but they stop short of meditating on God’s Word until they become fully persuaded. God is not man that He should lie nor son of man that He should repent. He upholds everything by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).
The same God who promises is the one who performs the promise. What an awesome God we serve. By virtue of His character there are things that God can’t do. God can’t lie. It is impossible for God to lie. He can’t break His Word. When He speaks, it is a covenant and He doesn’t change. God can’t sin. All this is part of the character of God or the truth about God which we should imitate.
God wants everybody to go to heaven and He has made a way to go to heaven, but you have to choose to go to heaven. He will not force you to go to heaven nor to serve Him. While there is grace to save everybody, those who exercise faith in the grace of God, will be saved and those who reject Him will not see heaven. This is the truth. It doesn’t matter how nice you are as a person, as long as you don’t receive Him as your Savior, you will go to hell. We do not have to compromise truth to be a people of grace.
Some of us in the body of Christ are telling people that everybody is going to heaven in the name of grace. The truth is that unless you accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you are headed for hell. Our emphasis though is not just about hell, we should tell people about God’s love so they can accept Him willingly, not intimidate them to accept Him because of hell. Be that as it may, we still need to tell the people the truth that in spite of God’s grace which is available to everyone, one has to accept Him as their Saviour if they are to avoid hell.
Grace without truth is meaningless. Jesus died for the sins of the world, however that grace is meaningless if we don’t mix it with faith to us saved. On the other hand, truth without grace is mean.
I have met people who know the truth but have no grace and they are mean. I remember as a baby Christian at the university, there was a brother who would literally torment me. Every time I saw this guy, I would literally freeze. He wanted to know what time I had prayed in the morning and how many chapters of the Bible I had read and would not take any excuses. Consequently, I ended hating being a Christian and felt imprisoned because of his legalistic behaviour.
There are people who are so legalistic to the exclusion of grace. Some of these people can take one verse from the Bible and start hammering and condemning other people. These are the Pharisees of our day who are so self-righteous.
We have to interpret all truth in the light of God’s grace. Even our enemies we should be kind to them. Stephen prayed for people who were stoning him for God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. This is grace.
A woman is caught in the very act of adultery in John 8:1-11. The Pharisees bring this to Jesus and they go for truth independent of grace. They said Moses said she should be stoned according to the scriptures. But they didn’t bring the man to Jesus. This is because they weren’t really interested in justice. They were trying to trap Jesus. Jesus had been preaching mercy and forgiveness. If He condemned this woman as the law required (Leviticus 20:10), He would lose His followers. If He didn’t condemn the woman, then they would have a right under the law to stone Him. They thought they had Jesus whichever way He went.
Jesus didn’t pass judgment on this woman, but He didn’t excuse her either. He simply turned their attention from her to themselves. He placed the requirement upon them that they had to be without sin to condemn her. They were not without sin and, therefore, couldn’t meet the condition.
- Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @dougmamvura