Recently, two people who did not know each other and had never met crossed paths. One man tried to give the other one a lesson in theology. The other man, however, taught a much more valuable lesson in grace. One left with little, the other with much. Why? Because theology–as valuable as it is to help us know about God–is no comparison with grace, which is to not just know about, but to truly know God. I would be surprised—truly surprised—to learn of anyone ever being broken by a lesson in theology. But I would be even more surprised to learn of someone—anyone—who has truly been broken that was not broken by grace.
This is not to diminish the importance of theology and sound doctrine. But if the blessed knowledge of God that we share with others springs from the head and not the heart, it has no life-giving force. All of the theology of God is made alive in His grace. We may read our Bible our entire lives and know much about God and His character. But unless He opens our eyes and our hearts to really understand the grace He has given us in Christ, it means nothing. But praise be to the God of ALL GLORY when He does, and when a man who was once dead is made alive in Christ.
Theology–that is, the knowledge of God–helps us better understand God’s grace, and this is good… but in and of itself, it has never saved anyone. The grace of God, on the other hand… well, it is the only thing that saves and none have been saved–or ever will be saved–without it.
And what is the grace of God? No, brothers and sisters. This is the wrong question. WHO is the grace of God? That is the right question. His name in Jesus. HE is the grace of God. And what does the gift of His grace bring? It brings love, unity, humility. This is His character, and to those who have been touched by His grace–to these have been given the ministry of reconciliation. And without these gifts and fruits of His Spirit, the ministry will fail.
If you have access to an electronic searchable Bible, do a search for the “grace of God”. It is Jesus Christ. Everywhere you find this term, you find Christ. And where you find Christ in these passages, you invariably find the love, the unity, and the humility of Christ at work in His body. That’s because He is the head, and these qualities are in Him. Consider just a few passages. I encourage you to read each of these and really dwell on what is being said in them:
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:3-14)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… (Hebrews 12:14)
The grace of God is a man. But He is so much more than that. He is the Son of God, and no one comes to the Father but by Him. He is the Lamb of God, the Sacrifice… and the Lion of Judah, the Savior. He is the Just Judge, and the Righteous Redeemer of His people. He is Jesus Christ, and He is glory. He is the grace of God. And it is not nearly enough to know about Him, brothers and sisters. Know HIM. KNOW Him. He is the eternal word of God that will never pass away.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)