Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Grace and Truth


John 1:16-17 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


What is Grace?

There are some words that are hard to define because they mean different things in different situations.  Grace is one of those words.  Sometimes it means favor which is usually unmerited.  Sometimes it is a gift or a blessing.  Sometimes it means the qualities of graciousness like kindness and compassion.  Sometimes it is respect and consideration of others.  I find it interesting that we never name a boy grace but we often give girls that name. 


What is Truth?

Pilate couldn’t figure it out what truth was.  He seemed to think that truth was whatever worked politically at the time (see John 18:38).  I think we call this relative truth.  However, it was true that Pilate could find no fault in the Lord.  But it wasn’t true that he would be able to treat an innocent man fairly and keep the Jews satisfied.  Truth is almost as difficult to define as grace.  Truth is something that is based on fact.  But what is a fact?  It is something based on objective reality.  However, even objective reality seems to change over time.  Today the person who is loudest and most shrill with the ability to repeat a thing over and over again is often considered to have the truth.  One thing we know, God says all men are liars so we can’t be sure that men are always telling the truth.  What we can know is that there are some men who want to tell the truth and who try to tell the truth.  Even the scientific method gives different answers over time to those who believe that science is the only source of bedrock truth based on provable facts.   The last I knew, science couldn’t decide if light was wave energy or particle energy.  They may have that figured out by now, I don’t really keep up.  But the point is, truth should be based on objective facts, but some objective facts seem to be awfully subjective. 


So What is the Grace and Truth that came through Jesus Christ?

Since this passage is comparing grace and truth to the law, I believe that this statement has to do with the righteousness obtained through the Old Testament law versus the righteousness obtained through the Lord Jesus.  The law was a standard of behavior.  When that standard was not met and when there were objective witnesses to the law breaking there were penalties or consequences.  Unfortunately, the law wasn’t always administered fairly or uniformly.  Often some people were above the law and some people were unfairly accused.  But the Lord applied the law uniformly and fairly.  Then he found means to righteously forgive those who had broken the law.  While it takes the epistles to fully understand this interplay between grace and truth, the Lord was always the standard bearer with regard to both.  Since all have sinned,  the truth is that we are all condemned under the law.  But God is just and the justifier of all who believe in Jesus.  He could be just and gracious because He was willing to bear the consequences of our sins for us.  He set us free from the penalty of the law..


Grace and Truth in Everyday Life

While the Lord maintained the truth while showing grace in so far as our salvation is concerned, He also set an example of behavior with regard to everyday life.  I like to think of truth as the engine in a car.  It is the thing that makes things go.  All the parts have to work together perfectly to maintain forward motion.  But grace is like the oil in the engine.  It keeps things running smoothly.  Without oil, the engine may run for a while, but pretty soon there is going to be a lot of loud noise and the engine is going to seize up.  Nothing is going to work.  There was nothing wrong with the engine until the oil was left out.  Some people think grace has to do with overlooking sin which is based on the truth standard.  But grace doesn’t overlook sin, it makes provision for it so that the person who sins is not destroyed but is helped.  Think of the woman in John 8.  She was caught in adultery.  The Lord could righteously say, "Neither do I condemn thee."  But he also said, "Go and sin no more."  Her sin had been found out.  Her embarrassment was real.  Those who hypocritically brought her without bringing the man involved couldn’t condemn her.  They had probably all committed the same sin and knew that the Lord knew that by what he was writing on the ground.  But the Lord hadn’t sinned and would one day die for her justification.  This was grace and truth in action. 


Both truth and grace are in short supply today. Lies are often presented as truth.  Bullish behavior rather than gracious behavior is often the way people maintain power and control.   Once we are saved we are supposed be Christ-like in our behavior.  That means that we maintain the truth in a gracious way.  We should not intentionally lie.  We should speak to others with respect.  We should have empathy for the fallen.  We should judge without hypocrisy.  We need to show grace and graciousness in our desire to maintain the truth. 


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of January 22, 2017

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