When John summarized the glory that he saw in Christ, he used the words "grace and truth: "…we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Not only did he see truth in Christ; he also saw grace. What is grace? What is the connection between grace and truth? I believe our comprehension of this is lacking at times. Let us ask God to lift that vision, that we may know the fullness of His grace in all things.
What do we understand when we hear the word "grace"? A common understanding of grace is "unmerited favor" or simply mercy. Thus, when we hear the term "grace," our minds often just interpret the word as "God being good to us in a way that we don't understand or deserve" and leave it there. While I agree that mercy and unmerited favor are included, I believe "grace" goes much further. Consider the following scriptures:
"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…" (Titus 2:11-12)
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10).
In these three scriptures, do you think that "God's unmerited favor" is all that is meant? I do not think so. Grace is imparted by words, grace teaches, and grace gives ability to labor in the lives of others. A statement we find in many places in scripture is that "grace is in Jesus our Lord." "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1). If we then go back to what is meant by "in Christ," we can say that grace is experienced as we abide in Christ (or, in a proper relationship with Him). Here are some definitions offered by men, that expand the meaning of grace:
Perhaps God can give you a better definition than any of these, but one thing we can say for sure: grace is "in Christ" and can be seen when it is present. It is effective in each member to change us into the image of Christ and express the character and nature of God through us. Thus we can see it is closely connected with truth. They are both experienced "in Christ." Grace is experienced as we walk in truth, in faith before God. It is this real expression of God in us that saves us out of our sin and brings us into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
Too often, the gospel that is preached is just a theoretical gospel with no power. That is not the gospel of Christ. Paul says that the gospel of Christ has power—power to save us from our sin, power to walk above sin, power to do the will of God, and power to declare who God is in truth. That takes ability from God; thus, an essential element of grace is ability that is not from us but from God. What allows us to experience this ability? We must walk in truth. When we walk in truth, our hearts will be established in the grace of God. "Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them" (Hebrews 13:9).
Remember that Jesus said He is the truth. To live and walk in Jesus, we must walk in truth. But grace is "in Christ Jesus," so as we walk in truth, we will experience this grace (ability) that is ours in Him. The converse is also true. If we do not walk in truth (Jesus), we will not experience the grace that is in Him. This leaves us trying to live by our own ability (our own knowledge, strength, and resources). I am afraid this is where many find themselves. They do not know the power of the gospel, but instead of coming back to God and beginning to walk in truth, they redefine grace at a lower level (unmerited favor that accepts us no matter what), then just try to go on and do the best they can.
Acceptance before God is as we abide in Christ. Mercy is in Christ. Grace is in Christ. Wisdom is in Christ. Strength is in Christ. God has given Him to be all things to us. Remember the goal of God: "That God may be all in all." This does not begin at the grave, but now. Now is when God wants us to know the fullness of His grace that He has provided for us in Christ Jesus. "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). God wants us to draw upon the grace that is in Christ Jesus, that we may live in His grace and walk as He walked, to declare in a many-membered body who God is. This cannot be done in our own ability, but only in His grace. He has made provision for this at Calvary. To avail of that provision and experience the riches of His grace, we must walk in truth and love underneath the authority of Christ.