Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When "Grace" Isn't Grace, How To Discern

Lots of people and churches all over the world love to use the word "grace". It's certainly not an uncommon concept in Christianity and it's probably got several popular definitions such as unmerited favor or God's Riches At Christ's Expense. I'd say both of those are true but as Steve McVey has recently written on his blog, grace is NOT just another doctrine, not even if you call it one of the most important doctrines. Grace is a person, Jesus! "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)

So here's a simple little litmus test to use anytime you start to get confused by something being said or taught about grace: replace "grace" with "Jesus". Here are some examples:

Grace is wonderful but you can go too far with it.

Jesus is wonderful but you can got too far with him.


You have to be careful with grace, it can lead to liscentiousness and people thinking they can just go out and sin all they want.

You have to be careful with Jesus, he can lead to liscentiousness and people thinking they can just go out and sin all they want.


It wouldn't be possible to appreciate grace if we weren't constantly aware of our sins and apart from our sin there is no need for grace.

It wouldn't be possible to appreciate Jesus if we weren't constantly aware of our sins and apart from our sin there is no need for Jesus.

And how about this...

Grace is good but we also need to obey the moral law.

Jesus is good but we also need to obey the moral law.

So....Jesus wasn't quite good enough??? He was merely an addendum to the Law, a great little addition? Not quite important enough to actually replace the whole OLD system completely? Methinks it would not be called the 'old' covenant if it were still in use. Mealsothinks Jesus is the mediator of a far superior covenant that has been referred to as "NEW".


Anonymous said...

no where in the bible did it says grace is jesus or the person of jesus. grace came THROUGH jesus or for example, a box of chocolate came THROUGH your sister to you does not make your sister a box of chocolate.

this grace doctrine is totally ridiculous, dangerous and deceptive. it draws people away from the true agenda of the gospel which is political!!

Phil said...

Hi Jul. I've found though that people can talk about Jesus with many superlatives and say its all about looking to him etc, yet at the same time say we're under law and demands. Its "scary" to me as someone who's still trying to get out into real liberty and all its consequences. Cos 2Cor3 says if there's a veil of law over your eyes, you can't see/know Jesus, or yourself as he would have you.

So I guess I worry a bit about saying Grace = Jesus because we need to see grace before we can see Jesus. We need to see the truth about Jesus and the gospel to see Jesus daily. I can't say "I see Jesus" and "look to him alone" and "He is grace" if I'm rejecting the truth about grace at the same time. Cos all I'll be doing is getting my mind "puffed up" with some notions of him benefiting me, Galatians, when He's not.

Do I make sense? What do you think?

jul said...

Phil, I'm not sure I understand what you're getting you mean that you think if we say Jesus is grace than people who think they know Jesus will also then think they understand grace?

In my opinion it wouldn't matter because either way they'd be deceived. Many people talk about grace and have not the first clue what grace is, same goes for Jesus. Talk is just talk. I think I could make a stronger case for saying that Love is a person, Jesus is love, because Scripture clearly says God is love. To me, love and grace are very closely intertwined...

If I'm not getting what you were trying to say, feel free to try and explain again! Sorry if I didn't get it.

Phil said...

Not sure what I was getting at Jul, to be honest. I'm more tired than when I wrote that too lol!

I think I was meaning something like that. Something like we need to know how grace and truth comes "by" Jesus so we can see that He "is" grace and truth personified? That grace is the message of righteousness, life and full blessing apart from works "by" Jesus, as well as "in" Him. Gift and Giver. The Gift revealing the Giver. It seems important to describe grace with both dimensions because I can't have the Giver without the Gift, nor the Gift without the Giver...and I can't know the Giver without knowing the Gift first. Do I make sense?

Pray for me Jul. Thanks for adding me as a friend on facebook.

Anonymous said...

This would only work if you could also reverse each statement, for example: instead of "Jesus died on the cross for my sin" you should be able to say "Grace died on the cross for my sin". This of course, could never be, for if grace had ever died, God would have ceased to be, and we would have been immediately annihilated.

Some may then answer that the syllogism only works with the Diety of Christ, not his humanity, and anything particularly ascribed to the humanity of Christ wouldn't count in the argument.

Okay, let's say someone argued that way, we should be able to say, "I worship Jesus" thus, "I worship Grace." I hope you can see the problem here. This is blatant idolatry. We may worship no one but God. We may not worship any action of his any more than we can worship creation (also an action arising from his nature).

There are other issues that I have with your post, but this just addresses the argument itself. Perhaps you have thought of the logical and theological inconsistencies contained in it, if so, I would like to hear how you have dealt with them.