We can never downplay the importance of the ‘virtues that are typical of God’s Kingdom’. These virtues are expected fruit of our devotion to Christ. They are fruit by which men can be known for where they stand.
Godly virtues by themselves are like individual spokes in a wheel. Each has where it fits and where it functions well. However, the essence of the spokes is to make a wheel. Each spoke lying about by itself has very limited value, but when properly fitted with the wheel’s center, all is set in purpose.
This is the same with all the virtues of the Kingdom of God. By themselves, the virtues are incomplete and should be united with the purpose for their manifestation. Lord Jesus does it all.
When Jesus takes the stage, all godly virtues (such as love, grace, holiness, and so on) change from being mere concepts of theological thoughts and varied ideologies to being “living expressions of God in this world”. By this, I mean that although people can see ‘love’ as a virtue, which of course it is, however, when Jesus takes the stage, we realize that beyond ‘love’ being a virtue, “Love is a Person” and in addition to that, “Love lives in the saints”.
So, what about grace?
Among the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the gospel of John makes the earliest and most frequent use of the word “grace”. This is seen in John 1:14 for example, where the Word (Jesus) is said to be “full of grace and truth”.
There is a pattern in what Lord Jesus says about key Kingdom virtues. This pattern reveals that there is one central theme in God’s Kingdom. The theme is not any of the Kingdom virtues or gifts (such as holiness, sanctification, prophecy, etc.). If you try to show that the Kingdom of God is summarized into one of the virtues, you would have missed a core point.
The Kingdom of God has a central theme that unifies all virtues, privileges and gifts into one force. This theme is: “JESUS”.
Consider the illustration:
Jesus did not only bring truth, He said He was “The Truth”. As shown in the post “Jesus: more than the Life Giver“, Jesus did not only claim to give life, He said He was “The Life”. Jesus did not only come to show us the way to the Father, He said He was “The Way”.
In John 1;14, we see ‘grace’ side by side with ‘truth’. He did not only bring grace;
“Jesus Himself is the Grace of God”.
If Lord Jesus (the Living and active Person) alone is our consuming passion, we will grow in all the virtues of God.
As a dear brother, Frank Viola has shared in his “…journey into rediscoving Jesus“, all the wonderful virtues become dim, yet come alive with the centrality of Jesus Christ. When Jesus is at the center, you will not be chasing one virtue or another in a way independent of Christ, rather, all you will only see is Jesus revealed through the virtues.
“If you want to see what Grace really is, look at Jesus”; “if you want to know what it means to live by Grace, look at Jesus”.
He is “Grace personified living on the earth through all socio-cultural, economic, political, religious, scholastic and spiritual divides”.
The legitimate way to grow in grace is to have more of Jesus in you and revealed through you.
It is established that ‘grace’ goes beyond being a godly or theological concept. It is “a Living and active person- Jesus Christ”. Let us see what grace looks like when in action.
What Grace-In-Action Looks Like
1. Grace shows that it does not originate from this world. The Grace of God is from the Father Who dwells in Heaven.
2. Grace gives freedom (salvation) from sin, the flesh, the world and Satan. Not only that, it is evidenced by turning away from evil and the cravings of the world. It empowers with sober, upright and godly living. (Titus 2:11-12).
3. Grace never gives anyone a license to sin, rather it makes men live ABOVE sin (Romans 6:1-14). In fact, living above sin is a true mark of Grace (Romans 6:14).
4. Grace empowers you to be poor in spirit.
It empowers you to be pure in heart.
It empowers you to receive persecution for righteousness with joy.
It empowers you to be meek.
It empowers you to be a peacemaker and to thirst for righteousness.
Grace empowers you to be holy as God is holy (excerpts from Matthew 5).
Do you notice a trend?
Grace will always empower you to be in obedience to the Father and to be like Jesus Christ.
It cannot be otherwise because “Jesus is the Grace of God”, just examine His Life. The Son (Jesus) seeks to do the Father’s Will.
What is the case for people who hold onto ‘a grace’ that produces conflicting results with Who Jesus is? Any ‘grace’ that produces qualities that diverge from the person of Jesus Christ is not the Grace of God. Such ‘grace(s)’ is counterfeit, and a bait to lure men to destruction.
A ‘grace’ that produces the life style of “the broad way” in its adherents (who claim to be on “the narrow way”) is not from the Father of light. Such ‘grace(s)’ that does not naturally produce a distinction by loyalty to Jesus, through putting away all corruption, rather, produces conformity with the world’s standard, loose speech, subtle and obvious deceit, self gratifications, etc., is not of God.
There is something about the way the word “grace is used in scripture”:
“Grace does not just refer to receiving a privilege you could never deserve; it also means receiving empowerment to live above the corruption, foes and perversion of the system from which you have received undeserved pardon.”
Grace empowers man to please God, yet, it goes beyond being a virtue. Grace is a person; Jesus is the Grace of God.
At a time like this…
At a time like this when the subtility of the world is getting more complicated and the unstable can easily be swept off their feet, there is need to stand firm in the Grace of God.
I highly recommend the resources below for a collaborative impact on this topic. They are worth giving time and good attention.
The true grace of God by Zac Poonen (for the series).
Deep Ecclesiology (one man’s journey into rediscovering Jesus) by Frank Viola.
Read other posts on this blog:
It’s Quality that Counts