Truth or Consequences
The fact is, grace does not remove consequences for our decisions and misdeeds for the scripture still states that seed time and harvest or sowing and reaping would never cease (Gen. 8:22). We can, however, walk in truth by grace, as empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can avoid experiencing the ultimate outcome of sin, no matter how well deserved, as a result of this gift we call grace.
Again, truth is a twin of grace and is defined as:
• Fidelity, constancy, sincerity in action, character and utterance, the state of being the case, fact…a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality; the body of true statements and propositions. In truth: in accordance with fact or actually, we see demonstrated by attitude and action, such as in…
• Joshua 24:14, as in sincerity the children of Israel were to put away idols, and though they struggled with this issue their whole journey with the Lord, it was always God’s desire that they walk away from idols, and embrace the Word of God in fullness.
• In I Kings 2:4, the word states that they were to follow the Lord with all their heart. If they did so, He would always provide leadership capable of leading them in truth and towards truth.
Of course, according to Psalms 25:5, 10, 51:6, truth must be taught, and God’s people must be lead; God calls leaders and followers to keep covenant with Him. That was always the challenge for God’s people, and the failure to remain in covenant with the Lord led to all the difficulties throughout the Old Testament history.
Get in the Flow
Remember, it is not just grace and kindness, or truth and righteous, but it is both grace and truth, flowing together that makes for our balanced and effective life in Christ (Proverbs 3:3). This Old Testament principle is echoed over and over in the New. It is seen in John 8:32, 14:6, 18:37, 38. The Word abides, so we must know and apply the truth. This leads to true freedom when we follow fully the One who is truth, for Jesus is Truth.
There is a song I remember so well from my childhood, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood” written by William Cowper, 1731-1800, that speaks of the fountain that washes away the guilty stains or the results of sin in our lives. It is the blood of Jesus that washes us clean as snow, by God’s grace. We need to get in the flow and allow His grace balanced by His Truth to lead us into the paths of righteousness.
This awareness should lead us to renounce former ways of behaving that do not line up with God’s word, and embrace the truth of God’s word (2 Corinthians 4:2.) This includes putting off of the old and putting on of the new, renewing our minds, and putting on the new self as described in wonderful detail in Paul’s writing, as well as James (Ephesians 4, Colossians 2, James 1, and Hebrews 12).
Most believers today are interested in and desperately in need of grace. They desire to live a grace filled life, counting on the forever forgiving grace of our Father. They may often think of God more as a doting grandfather than Father, but God is our Father, providing abundant love and care, mixed with a healthy dose of discipline as needed. Most believers, especially young ones, struggle to live the principles of a Christian life (truth). It is not a relative truth but is demonstratively stated in the Bible for our benefit; Grace and truth -both are needed, and in healthy measure. Thank God, our Father, through his Son, has fully provided to us all that is needed for life and godliness – through Christ. As I have written more extensively in my book, “Transferring the Vision” Paul writes this personal and intimate letter to his son in the Lord, Timothy. He reminds him, no doubt based upon previous teaching, that the goal of the teaching ministry is transformation. Seeing true change come to a person from the inside out is transformation, made available to each of us by the gift of grace. Grace is the gifting of God, in this case given through the Five Fold ministry gift of the apostle/teacher. The goal of any teaching or training is change, growth, or maturity, as demonstrated by a change in the heart, mind and behavior of the recipient of the teaching.
The goal of grace and truth was for a disciple of Christ to grow in:
• Love (Agape), which meant both a change in affection and orientation, from self to God and His purposes, and also from selfish ambition to compassion, or love that is acted upon.
• Perception or Thinking. Along with a change in the heart of a person, there should also be a change of thinking, which is what Paul calls a good conscience. This comes from a purified heart, one cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and by the washing of the water of the word. A good conscience is essentially a God consciousness, having the mind of Christ. This develops as we repent (change our thinking from the world to Christ and His word) and believe what the word of God says to us in our daily walk with Him.
• Behavior or Lifestyle. Finally, there should be an outworking of faith, which is a change of behavior. Paul calls this a sincere faith. Another way of stating this is that a believer exposed to the word of God, over time, should change from the inside out. His heart first, then his thought process, and then behavior.
Much of church history has focused on external change which is important, but should be the result of inward change, not in place of it.
Being Who You Already Are
Another way of discussing the results of Grace and Truth applied to our lives can be seen in Paul’s writings to the church in Colossi.
Colossians 2:9-15. It reads:
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead; And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities He made public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Notice the author’s emphasis.)
Please note the tense of Paul’s writing. It is past tense, the significance of which is enormous for the believer. Because of all Christ has done for us, having our sin nailed to the cross on our behalf, we now can live full and gloriously free from the guilt and shame of the past. We can walk in victory through the empowerment of the Spirit in us. This truth is difficult for many believers to grasp.
If fully comprehended, this reality leads us to being who we already are; free, cleansed, forgiven, loved, and graced! All of these benefits are given to us. It then flows from a shared life, for we must remember we share this together, not just individually. It helps to remember Christ is in us, and He is the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)
Because He lives in us by grace, as we walk in truth, we can live a balanced life, (Luke 2:52). This balanced life was essential for our Lord Jesus, who grew in wisdom and knowledge and in favor (grace) with God and man. As He grew, so can we naturally grow, by His grace lived out in truth. For He has called each of us to live fully with a…
• Kingdom Perspective (Rom 14:17), where our focus is always on living right (we have been made righteous, and now must live right as He gives us strength), walking in peace (Christ is our peace, and we can live at peace in the midst of any storm) while filled with the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. In other words, we can grow in:
• Freedom and Maturity, going beyond childhood and adolescence to maturity or fatherhood is truly possible. As John Grubb stated in his teachings in Japan, “Fatherhood has forgotten his own growth, is free from his own concerns, and is occupied in service to others. God doesn’t live for Himself. God is the everlasting servant of His own creation in infinite grace, and in an endless stream for self-giving. In His infinite grace He is concerned about us. And so, to know Him, that is from the beginning, is to have His exact character, and to have that by nature (our new nature in Christ).” (For more on this, see 1 John 2:12-14 and my book, Journey to Wholeness).
In Christ, we are (now) new creations, the old things have (past tense) passed away, behold all things (in Christ and in us) are new (2 Cor. 5:17). The goal in the Christian life, and the difficulty for most of us, is walking out what we have already received in and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. With God’s grace, and as we walk in truth, all things are possible – if we believe. Grace and truth: The Twin Towers of the Father’s Heart…and a final word from my boy Ben.
Benjamin lied. He lied as habit; often lying when he didn’t need to. In many ways, this was understandable, considering his early life of abandonment by parents and rejection by peers. He had bounced around from foster home to foster home, leaving him feeling less than loved and wanted.
In his late teens, Benjamin had a true encounter with Christ. He was, in his own words, “radically saved.” Soon after he joined a church and enjoyed initial forgiveness but still had trouble grasping the full concept of grace – let alone truth.
As he grew in the Lord, having settled into the church, and which is common for all believers, issues of life, rooted in false beliefs, born from his early abuse and neglect, emerged. His propensity to lie when convenient and inconvenient resurfaced. He knew truth and The Truth, but struggled to walk in it frequently suffering the consequences of choices made. But in time, truth won, as an atmosphere of grace in his church allowed the former liar to enjoy the freedom of becoming a truth seeker and liver with the help of loving friends who confronted him with truth in grace.
It is this atmosphere of grace, where truth seeking, and living out the truth is needed today. Believers need time to work through life’s problems, and the church is the perfect place, designed by God, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and grace and truth.
A Final Look
Terrorists destroyed many lives on September 11 of 2001. As the twin towers in New York tumbled down, the terrorists were guilty of taking the lives of many innocent victims. They also robbed us of important symbols of American prosperity, power, and influence. This was indeed a crushing blow to the people of this great nation, and it left many feeling vulnerable and afraid.
Yet the terrorists were unsuccessful in destroying this nation’s identity. The towers that represented success, power, and prosperity may be gone, but this nation’s identity remains intact. It is still based upon a fundamental truth that continues today, for we are still “One Nation under God.”
Ultimately, as much as we love this nation, our primary allegiance must still remain to our creator who is Jesus Christ. We have no king but King Jesus, and all of our national allegiance must be subordinate to the Kingdom of God.
There is no terrorist attack big enough to destroy our identity in Him. Our salvation and our destiny, both as individuals and as a body, remain, regardless of what tomorrow holds. Even if this great country ceased to exist, our identity would still remain as believers in Him.
As we pause each year to pay tribute to the lives that were lost in this horrendous attack, let us not be so quick to forget the towers that remain. They are the twin towers of our Father’s heart, that is, grace and truth.
Jesus, who is full of grace and truth, revealed to us the very nature and character of God our Father. He did this by the words that He spoke and the deeds that He did. These two characteristics, grace and truth, are to be seen in the church, in our homes, in our work places and in our personal lives.
Think about it. Grace, the unmerited, but extremely costly grace of God is exactly what the world is searching for, although unwittingly at times. They do not need our judgment or our criticism, but our genuine love and acceptance. After all, they were created in the image of God. They also need the truth, the truth that salvation is found in Jesus Christ.