People sometimes ask me, “Why do you say grace is another name for Jesus?” or “Why do you say grace is a Person?” They are referring to something I wrote in my book The Gospel in Twenty Questions:
Grace isn’t a bunch of rules for you to keep. And grace is not God’s lubricant for greasing the cogs of self effort. Grace is a Person living his life through you. Living under grace is like being married, only more so. It’s the adventure of life shared with Christ. (p.2)
Of course, I am not the only one who says grace is a Person. Many others have, including Joseph Prince:
Grace is not a theology. It is not a subject matter. It is not a doctrine. It is a person, and his name is Jesus. That’s the reason the Lord wants you to receive the abundance of grace, for to have the abundance of grace is to have the abundance of Jesus. (Destined to Reign, p.24)
Prince says that the law is impersonal and was given (suggesting an arms-length transaction), while grace is personal and came when Jesus came (John 1:17). That sounds good to me, but some people find this weird.
“You make it sound like there’s a fourth member of the Trinity called Grace.”
We’re simply saying that God gives us his grace through his Son. Jesus came full of grace from the One who sits on the throne of grace. He is the personification of the Father’s grace. No Jesus, no grace. Know Jesus, know grace.
“But isn’t it weird to say grace has a personality?”
Maybe, but it’s not without Biblical basis. In Romans Paul describes sin as having a personality. He says sin is a noun (not a verb) characterized by desires and an agenda. In fact, everything the Bible says about sin is true of Satan. Both sin and Satan seek to devour us (Gen 4:7, 1 Pet 5:8) and kill us (Rom 7:11, John 8:44), and both have been defeated by Jesus (Heb 9:26, John 12:31).
Just as sin is synonymous with Satan, grace is synonymous with Jesus. Here are eighteen reasons why.
Why is grace another name for Jesus?
- The gospel of grace is the gospel of Jesus (Acts 20:24, 2 Th 1:8).
- We are saved by grace (Eph 2:5); we are saved by Jesus (2 Tim 1:9).
- We are justified by grace (Rom 3:24); we are justified by Jesus (Rom 4:25).
- Grace helps us; Jesus helps us (Heb 4:16).
- God’s grace offers salvation to all (Tit 2:11); Jesus is the Savior of all (1 Tim 4:10).
- God is love and love that stoops (or comes down) is grace; Jesus is the Father’s love come down (John 16:28).
- The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9) and the Spirit of Grace (Heb 10:29).
- All the blessings of God come to us by grace alone and all of them are found in Jesus (Eph 1:3).
- Grace is a teacher (Tit 2:12); Jesus is a teacher (Matt 8:19).
- Grace reigns (Rom 5:21); Jesus reigns (1 Cor 15:25).
- When the Galatians cut themselves off from Christ, they cut themselves off from grace (Gal 5:4).
- In the same way that God is love, Jesus is grace (see 2 Cor 13:14).
- The Bible speaks of “the love of God” and “the grace of Jesus” ( 1Cor 16:23, Rev 22:21).
- God’s grace is given in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:4, Eph 1:6, 2 Tim 1:9, 2:1). Jesus is the embodiment of God’s grace.
- Here are two Biblical blessings that say the same thing: “The Lord be with you” and “grace be with you” (2 Tim 4:22, Phm 1:25).
- The Old Testament prophets foretold the coming of Jesus and the coming of grace (1 Pet 1:10). These weren’t two separate events. Grace came when Jesus came (John 1:17).
- To the degree that we know Jesus, we enjoy God’s grace (2 Pet 1:2)
- Jesus is the word of God and the word of his grace which can build you up (Act 20:32)
Why does it matter?
This matters a great deal because grace will not bear fruit in your life if you think it is merely a concept or a doctrine. As Judah Smith said recently:
We shudder at the term grace because it has been so maligned, so abused, so misrepresented. We see grace as the get out of jail free card. “Oh yeah, I love me some grace man. I get my jiggy on in the weekend then I come back on Sunday and get me my grace on.” No, that’s not grace. You’ve met a concept, not a Person.”
I regularly encounter people who don’t know what grace is so they misuse it or they attack it. Just the other day someone wrote to tell me that too much preaching on grace leads to wrongdoing. That’s simply not possible when you have a proper understanding of grace. Grace no more leads to wrongdoing than love for your spouse will lead you to Ashley Madison.
The other day I happened to catch a prominent TV evangelist tearing my stuff to shreds on his program. (Watched by millions!) It’s nice to be noticed but I was saddened that he was using his platform to disparage the only thing that can empower people to live well.
I occasionally get asked by pastors to come and preach a sermon or run a seminar on grace because they recognize it as a hot topic. It makes me wonder what they’re preaching when they’re not preaching grace. Jesus is not a “hot topic” or a buzzword to be slotted into your teaching schedule. He’s the Lover of our souls and the Center of Everything!
What grace is not
Grace is not a doctrine or a podcast or a tweet. Grace is not a season to walk through or a midweek seminar. Grace is not one aspect of God’s character to be balanced against his other, less gracious aspects.
Grace is a Person who loves you, died for you, and now lives for you. The gospel of grace is the gospel of Jesus – there is no difference.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!
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