Just in case you missed our first Sunday at ABC last week, I’ve written a manuscript on my message below. All summer long, we are going to focus on this theme: GRACE & TRUTH. I will be preaching each week from the Gospel of John and in the first chapter, John tells us that Jesus came “full of grace and truth.”
Join us this Sunday at 9am on the 30th street Beach in Avalon. Bring your beach chair, some Wawa coffee and a carload of family and friends.
One of the most important things ever to be spoken about Jesus Christ comes in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. In what is known as John’s prologue, the beloved disciple paints the big picture of the Son of God. We see who Jesus was and is, what He came to do and what that means for all people.
And towards the end of the prologue, we come face to face with a glorious pairing found in the heart of Christ.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5,10-14
In Christ, we have the glorious pairing of both grace and truth.
Truth is not usually paired with grace. For most of us, we are more familiar with “truth and consequences.” The younger crowd won’t remember this phrase. It was one of the longest running TV shows in history. “Truth and Consequences” was started by radio host Ralph Edwards in 1940, but hit its heyday under host Bob Barker of “The Price Is Right” fame. He hosted the show from 1956 to 1975. Each guest was given a trivia question that couldn’t be answered, and when the buzzer sounded, they were faced with crazy consequences.
The younger crowd will be more familiar with this pairing: truth or dare. The game is easy, and actually dates back to the early 1700’s with the name: “Question or Command.” Each person has the choice between answering a question absolutely truthfully, or facing a usually embarrassing “dare.”
We are used to having truth paired with something hard or destructive in our lives. We often pair truth with fear. And to hide from the truth, we tend to wear masks. We wear a mask at Halloween to scare other people. The rest of the year, we may wear a mask because we are afraid. The fear is basic: “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me or love me.”
That raw emotion is what makes this pairing in John’s Gospel so glorious. Jesus came full of both Grace and Truth. He didn’t come with a lot of truth and a little bit of grace. And he didn’t come with a lot of grace and a little bit of truth.
Truth without grace is legalism, and grace without truth is license.
Truth without grace condemns, and grace without truth condones.
Jesus is FULL of both grace and truth.
The world without Christ is woefully void of both of these. Absolute truth is politically incorrect. Everyone gets to make their own truth, and no-one has the right to offend them in it. And our culture’s anger and unkindness smother grace.
God’s grace is what saves us; it is His unmerited or undeserved favor.
Philip Yancy, in his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” writes this:
“The critics are right: Grace is unfair. We deserve God’s wrath and get God’s love, deserve punishment and get forgiveness. We don’t get what we deserve. Paul put it ironically, “The wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life.” We work hard for wages, which vanish at death; we do nothing to deserve grace and get life eternal. If you want fairness, try a religion like Hinduism, which says we may have to go through thousands, even millions of incarnations before paying for all our sins. It’s unfair that a human rights abuser like Saul gets forgiven, or a murderer/adulterer like King David, or a thief hanging on a cross who has a conversion just before death. Yes, it’s unfair—gloriously unfair I would say.”
The good news of this glorious pairing in Christ is that you can approach Him in truth and receive amazing grace. You can do away with your masks; you don’t have to hide. He knows you fully and loves you completely.
This is what the Apostle Paul is saying to the Church in Corinth:
“We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:2 – The Message
Brennan Manning, a former Catholic priest, helped many people understand God’s amazing grace through his writing and his teaching. In his book, “Abba’s Child,” he wrote about “The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging.” Manning experienced the full grace of Jesus and worked hard to live in the light of truth. He wrote:
“The Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one problem: ‘Do you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?’
Jesus Christ, this very moment comes right to your seat and says, ‘I have a word for you. I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship. And my word is this: I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be. Because you’re never going to be as you should be.’”
As you read this article, are living in a way that has connected truth with either consequence, a dare or fear? Maybe you walk through most of your days wearing a mask because you are convinced that if people saw the truth about you, they wouldn’t like or love you.
That is not how Jesus comes. He comes full of both grace and truth. Christ knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head, and he offers full grace.
It gets even better…because of Christ, you can come to those around you with both grace and truth. You don’t have to perpetuate lies, and you have access to the power of Christ to offer grace to others.
You can receive this power right now:
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19 New Living Translation
This is one of the most significant things ever spoken about Jesus. It is a glorious pairing…Christ came from the Father full of grace and truth.