In speaking with a friend recently, we both rejoiced in the wonder that salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ is so freely given. "It's all grace" we affirmed to each other.
After our discussion, however, I was reminded that while our affirmation was true, it was actually only half true.
"The law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
Grace did not, and does not, come alone. It always makes its journey to our hearts and minds with Truth, its inseparable companion. We cannot rightly receive God's unexpected and unmerited favor apart from the parameters of His Word. Nor can we survive exposure to the light of His Word apart from being hid in the cleft of the rock that is our Lord Jesus Christ. We must have Truth if we are to rightly appropriate and enjoy grace. And we must have grace if Truth is to redeem rather than destroy us.
There are few more important guiding principles in our relationship with God. Authentic worship always includes both grace and truth. Minimizing either aspect inevitably leads to false worship. Grace without truth leads to the delusion of relating to a "Jesus" who does not actually exist, or as Paul termed, "another Jesus" (II Corinthians 11:4). Truth without grace leads to a sterile and hollow believing that ultimately results in condemnation, first in ourselves, and then directed toward others as we seek to deflect our personal sense of not meeting up to God's ways and standards. Both paths end in frustration and the tragedy of spiritual disillusionment.
Grace always beckons us to know and embrace Truth. Truth always directs us toward the grace that causes the light of God to warm and illuminate rather than blind and burn. We must know both aspects of genuine worship, and we can be sure that the Holy Spirit ever works to keep the dual flame of living relationship with the Lord Jesus burning within our hearts and minds.
"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth."