Full of Grace and Truth
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:14, 16-17
It is important for us as believers to understand this dynamic relationship that exists between grace and truth. The first chapter of John reveals to us that the Law (Truth) came through Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John contrasts the difference between the ministry of Jesus and that of all those before Him. Moses had truth, but Jesus was full of grace and truth. (Please take note of the fact that “grace” comes first in order). John goes on to say that that we (believers) have received His fullness and grace upon grace. Beloved, we can’t achieve true spiritual growth by merely knowing more truth. In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:43-48 that maturity is measured by love (agape).
Each new revelation of truth requires an accompanying revelation of grace. The failure to understand this and to pursue truth without grace is spiritually suicidal. Exhibit A being the Pharisees, they knew the truth, but they lacked grace toward others. They applied the Word of Truth without the Grace of the Word. Many years ago, I heard Bob Mumford say, “Many times where the most Bible is preached, there is the least amount of love.” Sadly, I understand what he meant; though it most certainly should not be that way. Even more sadly is the fact that I have at times found myself exhibiting this phenomenon. I found that the more truth I learned caused me to develop a certain demeanor. (The more I learned “de meaner” I got.)
I am not advocating that we abandon the pursuit of truth, only that we not let “truth” outpace our “grace.” When this happens, our joy evaporates and our relationships are strained. I have yet to meet a brother who sees himself as the “Sheriff of God’s Kingdom” exhibiting the joy of the Lord. They are too busy straightening out everybody whom they think is in error. They may be right doctrinally, but their attitude is wrong. As they grow in more knowledge their isolation increases, because they see how “wrong” other brothers are. What they fail to realize is how long it took them to see what they now see, and how little they may see. For we all see “through a glass darkly.” If we think that we have the “handle” on all truth, we are truly deceived. There are many brothers with whom I find myself in disagreement with on certain doctrinal issues (predestination, baptism, eschatology, gifts of the Spirit, etc.) that I have nevertheless learned a great deal from. I read books written by Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Arminians, Calvinists, Orthodox, Baptists, Neo-Orthodox, Fundamentalists, Anglicans and Charismatics. (The biggest shock of all is that I have actually learned from “women preachers”.) Yes, I am rather eclectic, but I believe that I have learned to “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” I hope that my readers do the same with what I write. Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and Christian philosopher, is credited with saying: “In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” (By the way, he was a Roman Catholic who believed in predestination and election.)
Lest I be misunderstood, let me clearly state that I believe in upholding the standard of truth. Jesus never lowered the standard and in fact called for a “higher standard” than the Pharisees, one that was “inward” not merely “outward.” At the same time Jesus extended grace to those who failed to keep the standard. I for one am glad He did, or I’d be in big trouble. We likewise are to represent our Master by reaching out and restoring those who have fallen on their journey. Paul said that doing so was a mark of true spirituality (Gal. 6:1).
May we as God’s people learn to hold on to truth and grace simultaneously. We must never abandon either. This is wisdom: Every revelation of truth must be accompanied by a revelation of God’s grace.