Truth without grace= legalism. Grace without truth = lawlessness. Truth and grace together = liberty. When I first heard these words, I was reminded of a home group meeting we had a very long time ago. We were discussing what was taught in the pulpit about grace and truth. Somehow, if I remember correctly, the topic came to a conclusion that we had to balance grace with truth or we would either end up in legalism or lawlessness. Well, the truth of the matter is that it is not a matter of balancing the two. They are two different categories of the same truth that need to work together. If Truth stands alone, it can lead to legalism in our lives. If grace is without truth, it will produce a cheap grace, not a valuable one. So what is the answer? If I look at myself and see which way I am leaning toward, I would lean toward the side of truth alone. I love the Truth and would probably die for the Truth. Whenever I see any kind of truth being violated, something rises in me to protect it and make sure people believe it. Does grace negate truth then? Not at all. The truth of God in our lives needs the grace of God. It would be like trying to make a piece of machinery work without oil. The machine could be perfectly made, but if it doesn't have oil in its parts, it will not work. If we have grace without the truth, it isn't true grace. It would be like oil without the machinery. It wouldn't make sense.
How does this affect evangelism? Most people I see who participate in evangelism seem to love the truth. They have a handle on preaching the truth, but does it always have grace with it? If it doesn't, it will end up preaching legalism, or that is the way it could be received by the hearers. Some things we have to keep in mind are, we need God's grace in our lives, just as the hearers need God's grace in their lives. We cannot give away what we don't have. The Gospel and its effects should be working in our lives primarily, as we share it with others. We are not saved by obeying God. We have to first recognize our continual need for the grace of God. It was not a one time need being met when we first came to Christ. Although we are forever justified in God's sight, we still need His grace to live out our lives for His glory every day (the process of sanctification). Again it is like the piece of machinery trying to work without being oiled. It just doesn't work. And it involves humility. We don't have the ability to preach the Gospel and teach God's word without God's anointing on us. And we dare not try. The fruit that comes out of our obedience is also an evidence of God's grace. We obey God, but the results are always up to God. He will get the glory. If we take the glory, it will not represent the True and Living God properly. It would be, in a sense, like lying about who God is. Not a good thing to do.
On the other hand, we could put such an emphasis on grace. There would be a variety of reasons we would be tempted to do this. The main one I think would be because we think that if we talk about sin with people, they will reject us or our message. If they reject us, and that is distressful to us, to a point where we want to change the message of the Gospel, we should ask ourselves if we are dealing with the fear of man. All of us have this to a degree, and it does need to be dealt with as idolatry, but if it affects how or why we share the Gospel, then it is sin. Another reason people do this could be possibly that they really don't understand the Gospel. Perhaps they think because we are saved by grace, that sin isn't involved. After all, Jesus died for our sins, so basically, we are saved, as long as we believe that is true. Well, if that is true, then the devil could be saved because he knows that is true. Yes, Jesus died to pay for our sins, but we must repent and put our trust in Him, or nothing will happen. People tend to go to one extreme or the other. Either they believe God's Word is true, and we must respond by obeying Him, or they think that God's grace is a free ticket for us to stay in our sins and be ok on Judgment Day. We do need to obey Him. But we can't obey Him. We are dead in our sins. But we can trust in Him and He can set us free. It is not about having the truth or having grace, we need both! When we have both of those together, we will be like the piece of machinery that has been oiled. We will work properly and will have the power to obey and love God, something we could not do in ourselves. The grace of God teaches us to say 'no' to sin and 'yes' to righteousness. We need to hear the truth and receive it to be set free. When we have both truth and grace, we have the liberty in Christ that God promises us. See Ephesians 2:8 and 9, Titus 2:11 and John 8:32