What would it mean to live “under grace”? Whatever else it might mean, it could mean nothing less than living under Jesus, the God of grace, living under the care and keeping of “the LORD, who made heaven and earth . . . [who] will not allow your foot to be moved . . . who keeps you . . . [who] shall preserve your soul” (Psalm 121:2, 3, 7, NKJV).
Jesus is the incarnation of Yahweh; whatever is said about Yahweh in the Old Testament applies to Jesus as well. Living “under grace” in the Old Testament era would mean living under the care of Him who revealed Himself as “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exod. 34:6, 7). Israel’s hymnal was laced with songs of praise to their God for His loving, gracious, forgiving ways toward them (Ps. 85; 103; 111:4; 145:8).
The grace of Yahweh/Jesus so overwhelmed the Old Testament believer that Jonah used God’s grace to excuse his disobedient refusal to go to Nineveh with God’s warning message: “I fled . . . for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm” (Jonah 4:2, NKJV). While Jonah was wrong to flee his mission initially, he can be commended for affirming that God longs for all to respond to His timeless and universal appeal: “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth” (Isa. 45:22, NKJV)! Though Jonah proclaimed Nineveh’s doom, the Holy Spirit enabled the Ninevites to interpret God’s warning as a loving appeal to repent and be saved. Wicked Nineveh responded and, for at least a period of their history, lived “under grace” (Jonah 3–4). Living “under grace” was never an exclusively New Testament experience.
When Jesus came to earth, Paul declared that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all” (Titus 2:11, NKJV). But God’s grace did not begin in the New Testament era. John wrote that Jesus’ appearance and mission added “grace upon grace” to the Old Testament revelation and experience of God’s grace (John 1:16, NASB). Paul referred to the gospel variously as “the grace of Christ,” “the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6, 7); “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24); “The gospel . . . [of] grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim. 1:8, 9, NKJV, emphasis supplied). In other words, “the gospel of grace” revealed progressively in God’s covenant(s) throughout the Old Testament era and in its fullest expression when Jesus came in history, existed in the heart and councils of the Trinity “before time began.” Thus, Ellen White could write, “The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant” (The Faith I Live By, 77).
Every day of our lives, Jesus invites us anew to experience the wonder, the security, and the adventure of that grace! “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16, NKJV). That “throne of grace” is Jesus’ throne. That “time of need” is every day. The result is a life lived “under grace” that makes a difference for the kingdom of God for eternity.