Pastor’s Ponderings, May 2019

“GRACE & TRUTH”

I have always found the opening words of the Gospel of John profound and powerful.  John 1:1 begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  And in verse 14 it is revealed that Jesus is the Word, stating, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  These verses clearly equate the Word with the One who came in the “flesh,” which we know as Jesus.  They tell us, essentially, that Jesus is God and that He existed long before He took human form in the “flesh.”  It is also clear that Jesus came full of “grace and truth.”

I remember reading a great book by Rob Renfroe entitled, “The Trouble with the Truth: Balancing Truth and Grace.”  The book focuses on Jesus’ witnessing God’s “grace and truth.”  Jesus came teaching through His words and demonstrating through His actions both God’s “grace” and “truth.”  The story of the woman caught in adultery found in John 8:3-11 provides a good example of Jesus showing compassion and speaking truth.  He says to those who would kill the woman as punishment for her sin: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).  When they drop their stones and leave, Jesus says to the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).  God’s “grace” offers forgiveness from our sins.  God’s “truth” says we need to stop sinning.  Jesus knows we are sinners.  He came not to condemn us but to save us.  But even though He has paid the price for our sins through His blood on the cross, He expects us to repent of our sins and change our ways.  He even sent us the Holy Spirit to help guide and empower us to be able to change.  The apostle Paul urges us in Romans 12:1-2 to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, and says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Jesus declared in John 14:6, saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  What Jesus is clearly and plainly saying is that He is the only true source of Truth and living by His truth is the only Way through which we can acquire Life eternal.  The consequences of our choice to either follow (remain in) Christ or go our own way are reinforced by Jesus in John 15:5-6, where He says: “If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”  Being connected to Christ and living by His “truth” results in experiencing His “grace” and bearing fruit.  Not abiding in Christ deprives us of God’s “truth” and “grace.”  Jesus also says in John 15:10, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.”  God shows His love through His “grace” and by teaching us “truth.”  We cannot expect “grace” without “truth.”  Unfortunately, we now live in a world that says there is no universal truth and everything is relative.  All religions are seen as an equal “way” to heaven, and “truth” is seen as relative to an individual’s perspective.  The Bible warns about this time of deception and false teaching.  Paul warns of the coming power of lawlessness that “deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thessalonians 2).  Peter warns of false teachers who “will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” and “will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (2 Peter 2).

As Christians, we are the Body of Christ, called to demonstrate God’s “grace” and live by God’s “truth.”  We cannot compromise the “truth.”  But people will not listen to “truth” unless it is accompanied by “grace.”  Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  If we show them we are Christians by our love, people will receive God’s “truth” and the “truth will set them free” (John 8:32).

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Pastor Harold