Monday, March 7, 2016

God's Grace and His Truth

Yesterday in Sunday school we were talking about what I believed was the inevitable tension that exists between God's grace and His truth and how, if we allow that tension to become love, then the whole process is considerably less 'tense'.

Someone pointed out that grace and truth are not mutually exclusive in that God's grace is an integral part of His truth. This is brilliant as far as it goes, but when we allow one to define the other, we run the risk of moving toward total grace or total truth. Total grace allows all things, even things that fly in the face of virtue or compassion. Total truth is rigid, strictly defining what must be and excluding and condemning all things that oppose it.

So do we allow graciousness to over ride important truths about what God requires of us, what He expects from those that love Him? Are there in fact limits to God's Grace and compassion? If truth exists, then are we not compelled to say yes to that question?

This is a puzzlement. It is the tension. You can gloss it all over with love, but it is still very tense.

What then shall we say?

We have to find balance. Instead of searching for the limits of God's grace and how far out of the way we can push the limits of His truth, maybe we should just obey and bask in His glory.

There may well be limits to God's grace, but only He can define that and if these limits exist He never tells us about it in scripture. We are instead told about how much He loves us and what can happen to those that fail to observe the precepts of His truth. Those that persist in living in certain ways will not inherit eternal life. Jesus said this. Paul and Peter wrote about it. At the same time they all also spoke of God's preference for mercy and compassion and repentance.

At the root of this matter is God's sovereignty. He will do what He wants. He is God. He knows the hearts and minds of humanity and those that claim to be His possessions. He will take into account all things as He pursues us and we pursue Him.     

We cannot sin all the more that grace may abound and we cannot go "full pharisee" with His Word.

Children will test the limitations their parents place on them and their parents will apply the appropriate amounts of grace and truth as they see fit. So it is with our heavenly Father. Life's lessons can be difficult or easy. It all depends on our degree of submission to His will.

When Jesus was in conversation with Nicodemus as recorded in John 3, Jesus makes clear how God's grace, truth and love work together to save us who are willing.

1For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

So what are you saying Ghog? All I have to do is believe and I will enjoy God's grace and salvation and live in His truth? 

Well yes, but that belief, that faith has to translate to walking in the light and avoiding the evil deeds of the darkness. If your belief is the real deal, this will happen. Grace will cover the learning process.

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