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By: Larry Shaffer
A friend posted some pictures of the Cascades in my home state of Washington. Majestic! I’m going to post them this week.
Grace Upon Grace
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of Men…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We are going to begin John today. Father, please reveal Jesus to me as I read through John. That I might know Him, follow Him, be enthralled with Him, follow His example and be like Him.
Verses 1-18 introduces the main themes of John. They are packed with profound and rich theological truth. (Don’t be afraid of theological truth. Once understood, it can enlarge and strengthen your view of God.) The book of John is all about Jesus. Simple but profound. Jesus as the Word, the Light, the Life, the Witness, eternal, powerful and glorious.
For the next couple of months, we have the joy of soaking in Jesus and all that He is as revealed by the elder statesmen of the apostles, John. What it all comes down to is Jesus is the beginning and the end. To read of Him, think of Him, understand Him and follow Him is life transforming. We will be changed. We will be amazed. We will be enriched. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
This morning I’m drawn to the phrase “full of grace and truth” verse 14. And “for all of His fullness we have received grace upon grace” verse 16. “The law came through Moses, but grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ”, verse 17.
In a sense, grace and truth seem in conflict. Truth carries the sense of absolutes. The law of Moses was truth and still is truth. If a man sins, he must die. That is truth. In Jesus, the truth of the law is never forsaken but the element of grace is emphasized. Grace was also part of the Old Testament writings as well. People often overlook it but it is there. But Jesus personified grace. His life, ministry and message brought a whole new measure of grace…and therefore, a fuller realization of grace.
For those of us who receive Him, we receive grace upon grace upon grace. The readers knew the law which was the truth but Jesus brought the fullness and the perfect blend of Grace and Truth. “But of His FULLNESS we have all received GRACE UPON GRACE”, verse 16. I am undone apart from your grace.
To plumb the depths of the meaning of God’s grace in our lives is a lifelong pursuit. An initial thought of mine is that we can be tempted to allow grace upon grace to bred apathy in our lives. There is a movement among certain evangelicals that says we don’t need to discipline ourselves to live righteously because grace already covers all our sins. In other words, you don’t have to feel the conviction to avoid sin or feel an obligation to live a moral life. Now that, I believe, is a perversion of the gift of grace.
Consider the following; “For you were called to freedom brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh,” Galatians 5:13. For an even more direct scripture, consider Titus 2:12, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age.” God’s saving grace not only brings forgiveness, but it comes with the instruction to live a godly life, not to earn the grace, but to give God glory.
Lord, may we lavish fully in all that Your grace means to us. It instructs us; not like the external law instructs, but by changing our hearts internally. Grace, from the inside out, gives us a heart to honor you with our lives. It also gives us direct access to You for all our prayers and needs. Let us draw near with confidence to Your throne of grace, Hebrews 4:12. Thank you Jesus. Amen!