By Matthew D. Adams
First Presbyterian Church, PCA
Dillon, SC 29536
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)
My Church History professor at Erskine Seminary, Dr. Dale Johnson, used to start every new semester with John 1:14. He would then ask the following question, “Which side of the horse do you fall off of: grace or truth?”
His point came from the last part of that verse, that Jesus is the very definition of grace and truth. Full of Grace, Full of Truth.
Jesus in his perfection could be completely gracious even as he is completely truthful, whereas we as sinful people emphasize one or the other. Emphasizing the graciousness of God to the neglect of the truth encourages lawlessness. This teaches that God is gracious to forgive; therefore, we should just go, embrace our guiltiness, and not worry about the sin that we are committing.
Emphasizing the truthfulness of God to the neglect of God’s grace encourages works righteousness. In church circles we call this “Legalism.” This teaches that if we know God’s law we must do it to be saved!
What the Apostle John is telling us, and my professors point was, we see in Jesus both grace and truth perfectly – which reveals a fulfilled salvation on our behalf (grace) that leads to right living unto God (truth).
Jesus is full of grace. This can be seen in his earthly ministry of mercy, healings, and miracles. It is ultimately seen in his saving work for his people through Jesus Christ. Humanity cannot save itself from the punishment we deserve, yet God saw fit to send his Son, Jesus, who graciously took our place. This is the fullness of grace spoken of in John 1:14!
Likewise, Jesus is full of truth. Just like Jesus’ grace, his earthly ministry demonstrates his embodiment of truth. Proclamation of God’s Word, right interpretation of God’s Word, and Jesus’ unwillingness to change his words regarding salvation and the Kingdom of God are just a few examples of this. Ultimately, it was Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law that allowed him to be a worthy sacrifice on our behalf.
Without Jesus’ perfect obedience throughout his life (the truth), the salvation of his people could not happen (the grace). In that sense, Jesus counted the cost before God, and he found himself prepared for what needed to be done (Luke 14).
So, let me ask again: in your own life, do you find yourself gravitating towards grace or truth? One without the other is destruction. Without grace, you are missing the solid rock on which to build your house. Without truth, you are missing the house itself. Either way, when the rains come, you will be swept away!
Only as we hold fast to Jesus Christ, who is full of grace and truth, will we begin to recognize the sweet salvation given to us (grace) and the ability to live for God (truth). Jesus says it well in Matthew 7, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock…