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Reflecting Grace and Truth

by Carl Westerlund

Reflecting Grace and Truth

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth…For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14,17).

In the Old Testament, the manifestation of the glory of God filled people with fear. But when God took upon Himself human flesh, people had the opportunity to view the glory of God in a new way. The opportunity was given not just to view the glory of God from a trembling distance, but also to draw near and to observe it closely. And today, as we observe Jesus, two characteristics of His glory that stand out are grace and truth.

Jesus Demonstrated Grace and Truth

Jesus took on human form. We call this the incarnation. The Greek term for word is logos. We can illustrate logos by two-way communication. In communication, you have a sender and a receiver. Communication links these two…Logos equals communication. God communicated to man by sending Jesus as the Logos communication.

In this human form, Jesus chose to tabernacle with us. The Greek word for tabernacling, skenoo, literally means, “to pitch a tent.” For a season, Jesus pitched his tent among us that we might understand what God is like.

This revelation of God gave us a glimpse of the glory of God. “We beheld His glory.” “Glory,” when applied to God, represents all of God’s attributes -- love, omnipotence, holiness, immutability, goodness, wisdom and so many more.

Two attributes are highlighted in John 1:14, 17, to show all that God is. In contrast to the Law of Moses, which gave a limited perspective of God, Jesus Christ came to manifest “grace and truth.”

The grace factor: Grace gives us what we don’t deserve. It can be called “favor.” If we work, we earn a wage. If we win in sports, we get a prize. If we achieve academically, we get an award. But grace is like none of these. Grace demonstrates unconditional love. Grace does not require good behavior in order to show love. Grace is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts”(Zechariah 4:6). This grace work contrasts with legal striving. Grace is the opposite of the law. Law is performance-based. Its basic message is “You don’t measure up.” Grace represents acceptance.

The truth factor: Pilate asked the eternal question, “What is truth?” Truth means nothing can be hidden; everything is disclosed. Everything stands fully in the light. Truth is absolute and can be illustrated by the 2+2=4 in math. It always is the same. The sign for truth in sign language is the hand making a straight line. A straight line is always the shortest distance between two points. Curved lines take many forms. Truth is integrity. It can be counted on. It is a constant. Falsehood reveals deceit and dishonesty. When truth is missing, trust also does not exist. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). We can trust Him, because He is the truth.

We Reflect Grace and Truth

The moon has no light of its own, but it reflects the light of the sun. The incarnate Jesus showed us what God is really like. As the followers of Jesus, we must reflect Him to the world around us, demonstrating the character of Jesus full of grace and truth.

Reflecting grace: Grace grants favor to the undeserving. We are all prodigals from God, but just as the father in the parable of the prodigal son received his son with open arms, so God receives people even though all have wandered.

Grace gives freedom. This can be reflected in marriage. How much control should a man have over his wife? He should have as much control as Christ exercises over the church. Christ frees up the church to make choices. Many husbands act like the law, conveying the message, “You fall short. You don’t measure up.” We can best start a grace life by doing it in the home. By showing grace, we communicate that the relationship is more important than our personal preferences.

By showing grace to others, we communicate acceptance rather than rejection. We show grace, because Christ has shown grace to us. “So accept each other (show grace) just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified" (Romans 15:7).

Reflecting truth: Truth may be described as total integrity. In our relationships, nothing should be in darkness, but all should be exposed to the light. We must be honest with ourselves, honest with others and honest with God. We reflect truth when we are true to our word. We don’t bend the truth or make promises that we don’t keep. This means we are true to our covenants, those formal promises we make, such as in marriage.

Reflecting truth means that we are consistent to what is right, even when we are alone and no one is watching. It also means that our private life is consistent with our public life. This means that our behavior with our family in the car, going to church, is the same as our behavior when we get to church and are with the church family. We may say it is not a matter of knowing the truth, or speaking of things that are true, but rather that we are being the truth.

So how do we do it? The old saying is that we become like what we look upon with approval. We need to keep our eyes on the Son of God as revealed in Scripture, so that we reflect Him and His grace and truth to others.

Carl Westerlund

Carl Westerlund has been on the pastoral staff at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa since 1987, following 19 years of pastoral ministry in three other churches.