Receiving Grace and Truth
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” John 1:17 - 18 In my daily Bible reading I am reading through the prophets. After reflecting on the major themes of the prophets for several months I thought of what God might say through his messengers today. What might God speak to us?
For an answer we need to hear what God spoke to his people through the prophets. An observation I have to this concern relates to the familiar passage from the prophet Jeremiah. We know the reassurance God gave his people through Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Without any hesitation I affirm these words of hope and restoration for an exiled and broken people. Yet, as I have read the prophets (and still am reading them) I must admit that most of God’s words are those of his holiness, justice and therefore judgment of a rebellious nation. The promise in Jeremiah 29:11 must be placed against the numerous words of judgment and calls to repentance.
This leads me to the next questions: how would we measure up to God’s people in the Old Testament - to his people in the early Church - and to the people in church history? Or, is it best that we not compare ourselves to God’s people at any time in history nor learn lessons from them? If our answer is “Yes” then I believe we would be wise to consider several things:
- The Bible is saturated with accurate descriptions, negative and positive, of God’s people along with God’s response to his people.
- These descriptions are written for specific purposes.
- We do well to consider where we would be in comparison to God’s people. - Further, we do well to reflect on what God might say to us.
Certainly we would desire that God’s word to us be those he gave Jeremiah in 29:11 - words of hope and a future. But, if we are honest with ourselves, and truly believe that God is holy, just, and almighty, then should we not expect God to have also direct words of judgment - words we may avoid and ignore.
I began this word for pilgrims with the description of Jesus’ mission - that it was with “grace and truth.” Even the most superficial study of Jesus’ life will show that he demonstrated and spoke both “grace and truth.” This means - if we are committed to hear Jesus’ words with integrity we will hear both his compassionate and gentle words of grace but also his clear, direct and harsh words.
May God give us an open heart to hear and receive both – Grace and Truth.