“I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus” (I Corinthians 1:4). “The grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus” is the grace of God given especially “in Christ Jesus.” I say especially, and not exclusively. Yet I am tempted to say exclusively, for while God loves everybody He can manifest His grace only in terms which represent His character, and in no other place is the character of God seen except in the character of Jesus. “Grace and truth came by [through] Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
If God gave His grace except in terms of Jesus Christ He would misrepresent His own character. In misrepresenting His own character He would misrepresent the nature of the moral universe. So His giving in terms of Jesus Christ is not arbitrary, but obligatory. He can’t give in terms other than Jesus Christ and be God, for God is a Christ-like God.
In Christ Jesus God can give with both hands. Outside Christ He gives just enough to let the recipient know He is there — just enough to spur him to seek the grace of God in Christ, where he receives fully and abundantly. If God should give fully and abundantly outside Christ, the recipient would be satisfied this side of Christ, which would be this side of reality, which would be harmful to the recipient.
“Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” — note the “and truth.” If grace came apart from Christ it would be other than truth. For it to be grace and truth it would have to come through Jesus Christ. If God gave grace through an idol it would make God into the image of the idol. An idol doesn’t represent God, it misrepresents God. So grace and truth have to come through Jesus Christ and only through Jesus Christ. Grace outside of Jesus is legalistic; in Jesus, grace is life. — E. Stanley Jones.