The Color of Grace

By Mac Deaver

God made man to be oriented in two directions. Man would while on earth always feel the “tug” of his physical atmosphere and also the “tug” of the metaphysical or spiritual atmosphere. His body would find attraction (and to a point even a necessary attraction) to things of this life (including food and covering—1 Tim. 6:8) while his spirit would find an appeal to something beyond what this world can of itself offer (Acts 17:27; cf. Col. 3:1-4). And this dual “tug” is captured in the free will choices of every person. There is an essential tension between flesh and spirit as they war for dominance in human personality (Gal. 5:17). All of our choices we make while in this body of flesh. Our human spirits are called upon by a wise and mighty Maker to choose spirit over flesh. But we must make that choice while still living in the body of flesh. And we must choose spirit over flesh because flesh goes back to dust and spirit goes back to God who gave it (Gen. 3:19; Eccles. 12:7).

This body of flesh is amazing in that it delivers to the brain certain “information” which then enables our mind to do its work. Our atmosphere makes an appeal to our minds through our senses that bring information to our brains in particular ways that make life so enjoyable and choices so necessary. Our five senses allow us contact with our physical atmosphere. The sense of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch put us into physical relationship with this physical world. And each sense has its own peculiar function in the way that it delivers information to our brains. And each of us values each sense. We would not want to lose any of the senses. Perhaps the sense of sight is the one we would least like to lose. It is of course an enormous ground for temptation (cf. lust of the eyes–Gen. 3:6; 1 John 2:16) while at the same time being such a blessing for enjoyment and a means of spiritual improvement (for example, through the examination of the universe [Psalm 19] and through the reading of God’s word (cf. Eph. 3:4; 1 Tim. 4:13; Rev. 1:3). Most men and women of whom we read in Scripture were people of sight. The blind men were the exceptions and on rare occasion the recipients of miraculous power (John 9:32; 8:22-26; Matt. 9:27-31).

Through sight the world we live in reveals itself to us in form and color. Light provides our capacity for vision and makes the distinction between darkness and light visually possible. Moses records for us the fact that following the initial creative act of Almighty God, “darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2). After the creation of light, God separated each from the other and gave to each its own name (Gen. 1:3-5). In Job 38:8-11 we learn that thick darkness was a “swaddling-band” for the sea. And in a most humbling and exposing question, God once asked Job, “Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof, That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, And that thou shouldest discern the paths to the house thereof?” (Job 38:19-20). Did Job know how to follow the path or trail of darkness all the way to its source? And we know that Job is not alone in his inability for such a search. Later in the New Testament, light will represent God, truth, and goodness, while darkness will stand for ignorance and evil (1 John 1:5-7; Eph. 5:7-14; Luke 22:53; Eph. 6:12), and darkness will even come to indicate the final and complete loss of all privilege and blessing forever (Matt. 25:30; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 13).

Following initial creation, God had said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). The Logos or Word was the agent of creation in whom was life and light (John 1:1-5). Jesus Christ in his incarnation was “the true light” (John 1:7-9).

Now, as earlier mentioned our vision or sense of seeing makes possible not only form and the distinction between light and darkness, but it also reveals to us color. Interestingly, the first explicit reference to color in the Bible is Genesis 1:30 where Moses informs us that “every green herb” was intended for animal consumption. And the next reference to color is by way of introducing to us the “bow in the cloud” which was to be the sign of God’s promise that never again would he destroy the earth by a flood (Gen. 9:8-17). In the dictionary part of the Dickson New Analytical Study Bible, we find the following description of “rainbow.” “A beautiful arc exhibiting the colors of the spectrum, formed opposite the sun by the refraction and reflection of the sun’s rays on rain drops or mist. In Genesis, God tells Noah that the rainbow is the symbol of the covenant between God, Noah, and every living creature (Ge. 9:12-17; Re. 4:3).” When we consult the Revelation passage, we find that in John’s vision, the rainbow is around the throne of God.

Now, let us think about grace. There are various aspects of the topic such as: the nature of grace, the location of grace, the specific conditions of grace, the limit of grace, the purpose of grace, the distinction between grace and work, the essential connection between grace and work, etc. There is no actual color of grace, but if grace did have a color what would it be? Think with me just now about the color of grace. In the Bible as truths are told about actual events that have happened or that are yet to happen, we are on occasion introduced to colors that may or may not be in the textual accounts being considered all that significant for the moment, but when collected together may provide for us a combination of color whereby we can describe the magnificent grace of God. At least, for a moment, let us try to glimpse the color of grace.

First, it is partly the color of purple (John 19:1-5). Following the scourging, the soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it on the Lord’s head. They also took off his own garments and replaced them temporarily with a “purple garment” or a “scarlet robe” (See also Matt. 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; Luke 22:63-65). They put a reed in his right hand to represent the scepter of a king, and they mocked him by kneeling down before him in feigned worship. They spat on him and took the reed from his hand and struck him with it. They placed a blindfold over his eyes, struck him, and then requested that he identify the assaulter. Yes, they mocked him in worship as though he really was a king. So, they mixed their insincere worship with their sincere brutality, and little did they know that the One robed in scarlet was born to be a king and was about to willingly die for those abusing him (John 18:37; Rom. 5:6-8). Grace has within its fabric the color of purple.

Second, grace is partly the color of red (Rev. 1:5; Acts 20:28). About sixty-three years following the event of the cross, John on Patmos Isle would remind us that Jesus “loosed us from our sins by his blood.” There was blood on his back from the scourging; there was blood on his brow from the thorny crown driven into his skull by the soldiers who struck him on the head with the reed. There was blood from the wounds in his hands and in his feet through which the nails affixed his body to the cross. After all, in the wonderful eternal purpose of God, that marvelous human body was prepared for this crucifixion (Eph. 3:10-11; Heb. 10:5-7). And after he died, a soldier pierced his side and out came blood and water (John 19:34). The Father had announced at the Lord’s baptism in water that Jesus was in fact his son in whom he was well pleased (John 1:29-34; Matt. 3:17), and at the Lord’s death the Father again claimed him, in effect, by the various miraculous demonstrations of God’s power, tearing the veil between the holy of holies in two pieces and doing so from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51), providing an earthquake that opened the graves from which certain saints arose following the Lord’s own resurrection (Matt. 27:52-53), tearing rocks apart (Matt. 27:51), and having already provided darkness from noon to three over the land, one half the time that Jesus spent on the cross (Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:25, 33). The darkness and the earthquake along with other features of this most unusual scene were sufficient to produce fear in the hearts of a certain centurion and his associates as they watched Jesus. They got really scared and they reached the conclusion, “Truly this was a son of God” (Matt. 27:54). Thus the Father claimed Jesus by water at the Lord’s baptism. And the Father claimed Jesus by deed when he shed his blood. Thus, Jesus had come by water and by blood (1 John 5:6). And when the Lord died, a soldier pierced his side and out came blood and water (John 19:34). Indeed, grace is partly the color of red.

Third, grace is partly the color of white (Rev. 3:4; 7:13). Just as light comes to be distinguished from darkness as indicating truth and goodness, the color white comes to represent purity and innocence. During the Lord’s transfiguration, “…the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling” (Luke 9:29). Mark says that “his garments became glistering, exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them” (Mark 9:3). Following the Lord’s resurrection, Mary saw two angels in the tomb. They were dressed in white (John 20:11-12). Immediately following the Lord’s ascension, two men in white apparel asked the apostles why they were looking into heaven (Acts 1:10). If the color of an angel’s garment is mentioned, inevitably it will be white. Many years later, the Lord through John informed the church at Sardis, “But thou hast a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments: and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.” Later in John’s visions, an elder asks him concerning certain ones that are arrayed in white robes. Who are they? Where did they come from? John has no answer but is sure that his inquirer has it. Indeed, the elder responds, “These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Their garments are clean; they are white because they have been washed in blood. The color scheme of grace is profound! Just as a man may become rich by becoming poor or may become first by becoming last or may become wise by becoming foolish, he may wash his garments in red blood so that they will be white. Such language is unique, such concepts are ironic, but the thought becomes clear as we understand that a believing, penitent confessor washes his robes when he is immersed in water unto the remission of his sins, for it is at that point that the Lord’s blood is spiritually applied to his own human spirit (John 7:24; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4). Yes, the color of white is represented in the fabric of grace.

Fourth, the color of grace is partially composed of blue (Exod. 26; 1 Pet. 2:24). You may read of the ornate nature of the veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place. The veil was composed of “blue, and purple, and scarlet” (Exod. 26:31). You may well recall that in Judaism only the High Priest could enter the holy of holies, and that he could do so only on one day of the year, the day of atonement (Lev. 16). He could only come inside the inner veil with blood that he was to sprinkle before and upon the mercy seat (Lev. 16:15). This inner sanctuary was off limits to the rest of the Jews and even to the High Priest himself except on that one day of atonement. In the New Testament the Hebrews writer uses the most holy place as representative of heaven itself (Heb. 9:24). Following the death of Christ, as God tore the inner veil in two separate pieces, he was declaring that heaven was now available to his people in a way heretofore unavailable. Heaven was no longer off limits to God’s people. The sacrifice of Christ could do what that of bulls and goats could not do. The cross was able to perfect for ever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:1-4, 14; Heb. 9:23-28). Jesus has now gone into heaven itself to appear before the face of God for us, and he will one day come back to claim those who have waited on him unto salvation (Heb. 9:27-28). Thus, when the veil (colored with blue and purple and scarlet) was divinely torn, God was saying that the sacrifice of his own dear son, just concluded, was sufficient as a sacrifice to take care of the sins of man (cf. Isa. 53:11; Rom. 3:25-26). Also, consider that when Jesus suffered for us just before and on the cross, his body was so tortured that it became one single bruise. In 1 Peter 2:24 we read, “who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.” The ASV gives us a footnote on the word “stripes” showing that in the Greek New Testament the word is in fact singular and could be translated “bruise.” The Lord’s body was in effect one continuous bruise. Thus, when we think of the Lord’s sacrifice and how it makes heaven now possible for us, we think of the divinely torn blue and purple and scarlet veil giving us access to heaven but only at the price of the battered and bruised body of Christ himself.

Fifth, the color of grace is partly pale (Rev. 6:7-8; Psalm 116:15). In Revelation six, we learn that John watches as the Lamb opens the seals that had kept the contents of a curious book concealed. This book was held by One who sat on the throne. No one could open the book and see what was inside except the slain Lamb that was now alive. As the Lamb removes each seal further information inside the book is revealed. With the opening of the first seal, John sees a white horse. The second seal removed reveals a red horse, the third a black horse, and the fourth a pale horse. The rider of the pale horse is identified as death, and we are informed that Hades followed him. Indeed, the removed fifth seal reveals slain saints beneath the altar, waiting for justice regarding their murders. They are told to have patience; other Christians are yet to be killed before final justice is rendered. The pale horse is the color of yellowish-green. It is the color of a corpse. Grace involves death. It surely entails the death of Christ on the cross, for Jesus tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). Life was removed from the body of Christ temporarily as he winged his way to Paradise at the moment of his death (Luke 23:43). He expired (Luke 23:46). While crying out with a loud voice, he released his spirit (Matt. 27:50). He had been given the authority or right to lay his life down and to take it again; no one actually took it from him. The commandment that gave him this right came from his Father (John 10:17-18). The loud cry that preceded his death was the cry of triumph. He had not been defeated! Yet, his body was now a corpse, and was taken by two men and placed in a tomb. Regarding us, the Scripture is clear that our old man must be put to death. Spiritually speaking, we all must die to sin (2 Cor. 5:17). In our case, it is death by burial into death (Rom. 6:3-4). We rise with a new nature and with the Spirit of God now indwelling our body (2 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:9). The body once dominated by flesh and sin is now dead, but the human spirit is said to be life because it is now joined to the Holy Spirit himself (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:16-20). But in time even Christians must meet the appointment of physical death (Heb. 9:27). Death “the rider” finally comes on his corpse colored horse to take the spirit away. Indeed, the corpse is taken to the cemetery for burial, but the spirit goes back to God for final disposition (Eccles. 12:7: Heb. 9:27). Grace is composed of yellowish-green.

And sixth, grace is partly crystal clear (Rev. 21:6, 11; Rev. 22:1; Heb. 10:22; John 4:10; John 7:37-39; 1 Cor. 12:13). It is the color of fresh, clean water (John 4:10). The Holy Spirit himself is likened unto such water of which Christians drink (John 7:37-39). This is possible because all who become Christians are born of water and Spirit (John 3:3-5). That is, they are immersed in both water (Acts 8:36) and Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). They drink of one Spirit as if they were drinking fresh, pure water. There was always only one way into the kingdom. There was always, in one sense, only one baptism, and it was a baptism with two elements: water and Spirit. And everyone who entered the church came in under the application of the principle stated by Jesus in John 3:3-5. There are absolutely no exceptions to the application of this principle to any case of (1) conversion or (2) kingdom entry in the book of Acts. None! In baptism our bodies are to be bathed or washed in clean water (Heb. 10:22), and our spirits are submerged into the purity of the Holy Spirit himself. We thus from baptismal water arise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4), our human spirits now joined to the Holy Spirit himself (1 Cor. 6:16-17). The Holy Spirit within is as a spring producing rivers of water within the saint (John 7:38-39). And furthermore, the holy city of God (the heavenly Jerusalem) to which saints now march is glorified with a light said to be like crystal (Rev. 21:10-11). Yes, grace is partly crystal clear.

Then again, grace is the varied color of precious stones (Rev. 21:19-21). The foundations of the wall surrounding the heavenly Jerusalem are precious stones. There is jasper which can be of various colors including blue, purple, and green. Sapphire is blue. Chalcedony is whitish and bluish or grey. Emerald is green. Sardonyx is reddish and white. Sardias is reddish. Chrysolite is gold. Beryl is sea-green. Topaz is yellowish. Chrysoprase is golden green. Hyacinth is light violet to moderate purple. And amethyst is deep purple or violet. Such colors are meant to place before us the undeniable fact that heaven is a place of indescribable beauty. The gates to that holy city are of pearl (Rev. 21:21), and the city itself is pure gold like unto pure glass (Rev. 21:18). And all who enter were of character like unto gold, silver, or costly stones (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

And in the eighth place, the grace of God could be partly the color of gold (Rev. 5:8; Rev. 21:21). The prayers of the saints in John’s vision are likened unto incense within golden bowls. There is no way for a Christian on this earth to successfully live a righteous life without the constant employment of prayer. The prayer of a saint is to be utilized along with the rest of his spiritual armor (Eph. 6:17-18). Through it, much needed power is provided (Eph. 3:14-21). The grace of God which remains so accessible to his children will be of little value if his children cease to pray. The Lord taught to pray sincerely and meaningfully (Matt. 6:5-8). He taught us to pray dependently (Matt. 6:11). He taught us to pray forgivingly (Matt. 6:14-15), and hopefully (Matt. 6:10, 13), and urgently (Luke 18:1-8). And Paul told us not to stop praying (1 Thess. 5:17). And James assures us of the value of a righteous man’s prayer (Jas. 5:16). And of course, that kind of prayer is a prayer of faith (Jas. 1:5-7; cf. 1 John 5:14-15). The one street in heaven is of gold, “as it were transparent glass” (Rev. 21:21). And those who will walk that street who arrive on the other side of death from our period of time are those “faithful until death” Christians whose faithfulness was to a great degree determined by their sweet relationship to the Father through authorized prayer.

And finally, the color of grace is the color of the glory of God (Rev. 21:23-27). The light from heaven which revealed to Saul of Tarsus the ascended Christ was a light brighter than that of the noonday sun (Acts 9:3; 22:6; 26:13). Saul then could not see “for the glory of that light” (Acts 22:11). And the extent of light that would blind a physical eye on this earth will in heaven be the extent of light that will provide vision to all the residents of the eternal city. The sun and moon will not be needed. Their light which served this universe so well is not appropriate to the metaphysical or spiritual domain which will be the home of the soul. And the greater light that ruled the day, and the lesser light that ruled the night, will be no more since the first heaven and earth will by then have fled away (Rev. 20:11). The New Jerusalem will be bathed in the light of the Lord God the Almighty and of the Lamb (Rev. 21:23). And in some way, whatever glory from this universe that can be translated into glory appropriate to the new domain will contribute to the spiritual atmosphere there (Rev. 21:24-27). We cannot begin to imagine the beauty of that eternal situation that awaits the faithful children of Almighty God.

Indeed, if grace had a color, the colors that we have here collected from Holy Writ, would at least in part characterize in color that favor bestowed upon the sons and daughters of men. May God help us to appreciate the grace of God more and more and to constantly live in its loving and beautiful embrace.