“BALANCED GRACE” - WHAT IS MEANT WITH THIS?

By: Mary Felde
From: January - February 2015
Found in: The Gospel of Grace
We sometimes hear about “balanced grace”. But what do we balance grace with? Is it possible to balance grace at all?

On several occasions I have heard people mention that they fear the teaching about God’s Grace. When travelling around to preach, I have experienced people coming up to me before the meeting with worried comments about the so-called “grace-teaching”. But after the meeting, those same people are reassured, because they understand that it is a balanced teaching about grace. I will explain further what I mean by that expression, but let me first refer to a small conversation I had with some European Bible school students visiting Africa. We were discussing their concerns about the teaching on grace, and I said the following: “The same grace that forgives us, will also help us to say NO to sin.” One of them immediately exclaimed that he had never heard such a statement before! And I believe this is where the problem lies. Many have only heard parts of the teaching about God’s grace, so I can understand that people can get worried.

The same grace that forgives us, will also help us to say NO to sin

In this teaching article, I will share some words about what God’s grace is and what it is NOT, so that we can see how dependent we are on it—in all areas of our lives. Personally, I want to hear more teachings on the Grace of God—not just for knowledge, but for living and experiencing God’s grace at work in all areas of my life and ministry.

What God’s grace is NOT

First, a short definition on what God’s grace is NOT, so that it is easier to avoid misunderstandings.

1. Grace is not “a license to sin” (Jude 4).

Gal 5:13
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Rom 6:1-2
What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
It means that grace doesn’t make us free to sin, but rather sets us free from the strength of sin. Therefore, it is important to have a lot of teaching about the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

Rom 6:14
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Tit 2:11-12
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.

2. Grace is not “a license to laziness”.

Paul is the apostle with the most revelation about God’s grace. Have a look at what he writes:

1 Cor 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

As we can see, he worked A LOT, but he could still rest, being confident that it was God’s grace that worked through him. I once heard a preacher say that when he discovered Christ in himself, he could do four times as much as he did before. How? Maybe it was because he previously would spend four days preparing a single sermon, however now, the sermons would easily flow out of him, one after another.

We can still be very active under God’s grace, but it works in another way. Grace never threatens us with demands (or puts heavy burdens on us), but it works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13).

3. Grace is not “an encouragement to settle down under bad circumstances”

Some may say, “Well, we can be content in this run-down house, because we have God’s grace.” Yes, God’s grace will help and strengthen us in all circumstances! But God will also help us so that our circumstances improve! Nothing is impossible for Him.

What God’s grace IS

1. Grace is what comes from a God FULL of grace (Psalms 145:8, 17; Luke 12:32).

Jesus was FULL of grace and truth (John 1:14, 17; Luke 2:40; Luke 4:22). What you are full of will come out. If you squeeze an orange, out comes orange juice. I often think of when Jesus was pressured the most, while hanging on the cross; His merciful nature was revealed: “God, forgive them, because they know not what they are doing.”

2. Grace is God’s undeserved favor and goodwill for us (Eph 2:6-8 Ampl; Rom 4:4; Matt 20:1-15).

We cannot do anything to deserve or earn salvation or any other blessing from God. God’s blessings come to us because of God’s goodness and not because of our own goodness. Therefore, we are continually overwhelmed by how good God is! The Bible says, “The goodness of God leads us to repentance.”

We cannot do anything to deserve or earn salvation or any other blessing from God.

3. Grace is that God Himself works for us, in us, and through us, although we have not deserved or earned it.

This is exactly what I yearn to experience more of; that Christ in me is greatly manifested, and that I increasingly more will learn to put all my trust in Him who performs miracles, transforms lives and situations, and opens doors no one can shut.

There is grace for every area of our life

I was a missionary in Asia for seven years. Those were good years, but the first year was quite challenging. There were several reasons for this, and one was that I didn’t know that I was completely righteous in God’s eyes. It was in this period that God began to reveal what His grace was in my life, and this revelation became forever planted deeply in my heart.

For God’s grace is so much more than only the forgiveness of our sins!

So when people have concerns about the Gospel of God’s grace, I believe some might not have heard all that grace will do in people’s lives. For God’s grace is so much more than only the forgiveness of our sins! A practical way to explain God’s grace can be done by dividing it into three areas:

  1. Saving grace

  2. Standing grace

  3. Serving grace

I will explain these three areas in more detail in part two of this teaching series.

Balanced grace

In the introduction, I mentioned something about balanced grace. So what is this? What can we balance grace with? If we think that we can balance grace with the law, we run into problems. Because we would then mix the new covenant with the old covenant, and we would dilute the gospel and hinder its power. So this would be a completely wrong way to balance the teaching about grace!

God who forgives all our sins, will also change our lives so that we say no to sin

So what are we to do then? We continue to strongly and clearly teach that Jesus took all our sins upon the cross and that we have forgiveness for all our sins, because this is the truth and the core of the gospel. However, we then balance this teaching by saying that the same God who forgives all our sins, will also change our lives so that we say no to sin. It is fantastic to discover that the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ is God’s power unto salvation, to living a transformed life, and to seeing God’s power working through us to meet other people’s needs!

May the grace of God be with you in abundance!

By: Mary Felde

Mary Felde is a missionary and worldwide speaker of the Word of God. She has thought in churches, seminars, conferences, and Bible schools on four continents.

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