Through the ages, people have struggled with the topics of grace and truth. They are complex concepts and can trip up even the best of us. In fact, one church member remarked, “My pastor was telling our congregation about an experience that had almost killed him that afternoon. In his desire to give God credit for protecting him, he made this rather feeble attempt: “If it weren’t for the grace of God, I’d be in heaven right now!”
Often the church has found itself out of balance – either overstressing grace, to the point of really saying nothing – or overstressing truth to the point that we worship right and wrong instead of almighty God. The church’s struggle is also our own. Think about it: when we see someone pulled over for speeding, who just a moment earlier went flying by us, we naturally think something like, “Well he got what he deserved,” but if we looked down at our own speed, would we be any less guilty?
So, what exactly is grace? I like what Dwight Moody said: “The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”
God is compassionate and loving and we are confident that when we call on God, he will respond. He will act, not because we merit help, but because he recognizes our desperate need and his love moves him to exercise his power to meet our need. That is grace. Grace teaches that God’s attitude toward us is one of acceptance and love. Grace is also the triumphant announcement that God in Christ has acted and has come to the aid of all who will trust him for their eternal salvation.
Now we need to ask, “what is truth?” Through the ages people have asked this question. Billy Graham says of truth, “It is contrary to reason for a thirsty person to turn from a pure, sparkling mountain stream to quench his thirst at a stale, putrid cistern – yet that is what the human race does when it rejects God’s truth and standards in favor of the devil’s impure philosophies.”
I really like the time-tested maxim: “Truth is the anvil which has worn out many a hammer.” And someone once realized, “Truth needs no memory.”
The truth is that sin finds expression in our lives. In Romans 3, Paul writes that all have sinned. So the Bible teaches us that truth is a dramatic statement about the human condition. Each person is helpless, trapped in sin and incapable of pleasing God or winning his favor. The truth then provides a clear perspective on reality. The truth is we need a savior. As we refuse to live self-deceiving lives, but rather commit ourselves to act by faith on those things that God says are real, we will personally experience truth.
Ultimately, the definitions of grace and truth are embodied in Jesus Christ. Jesus is grace enacted as God stoops to help the undeserving and pardon the helpless sinner. The result of balancing grace and truth in our lives is that we live as God intends for us to live. The truth is we need a savior and the grace is we have one in Jesus the Christ.