"Why do you stress the grace of God, but don't talk much about His other characteristics?" I'm often asked. People often like to remind me that there's much more to theology than grace. "We need grace but there are other important things too," somebody recently said.
I think this kind of criticism misses the point altogether. Grace isn't an important doctrine that takes its place in line with other doctrines. Grace is the essence of the gospel. In fact, the Apostle Paul called it "the gospel of the grace of God" in Acts 20:24. The essence of our Triune God's DNA is grace. He has been and will always be a God of grace. To talk about grace is to talk about Him.
Some think they are making an admirable statement to say that grace is an important doctrine, but while asserting such a thing sounds complimentary it actually undermines the strength of grace. Grace is not an important doctrine. It is not to be put on a list of doctrinal teachings. It is from our Father's grace that every other spiritual reality we can know flows. Every doctrine and all our understanding of theology must recognize God's grace as the fountainhead of truth.
To suggest that grace is an important doctrine is like saying that breathing is an important part of my life. That would be an understatement of ridiculous proportions. Breathing is not an important part of my life. When Paul said, “For me to live is Christ,” he might as well have said, “For me to live is grace.” They are the same in essence. John said that Jesus came “full of grace.” (See John 1:14) It’s who He is, not something He does.
The word gospel means “hilariously good news.” What is this good news that Paul said he had been entrusted to share with those around him? It was the good news of the grace of God. So, we see then that grace is not an important doctrine. It is what gives the gospel it’s meaning.
Sometimes pastors have said to me, “This year we are focusing on grace in our church.” “What are you focusing on during other years?” I find myself thinking. Grace isn’t important. It’s everything.