The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 01/02

Posted on | January 2, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 01/02

Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:15–21

The Most Important Word in the Bible

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 

Bible scholar William Barclay says that John 1:14 might well be “the greatest single verse in the New Testament.” Without opening up a debate about whether or not you agree with him, let me ask a question: As you look at the amazing verse printed at the top of this page, which word would you say is the most important? Think it over . . . I’ll wait.

I’d love the chance to listen to and discuss your answer, but let me share my opinion. Strangely enough, I’ve come to regard the humble little conjunction “and” as the most important word in this verse. So if, as Barclay suggests, John 1:14 is the greatest single verse, I suppose you could say I believe the most important word in the Bible is “and.” The word occurs four times here, but I’m talking about the final usage where John speaks of Jesus being “full of grace and truth.” Jesus wasn’t full of grace or truth, but both together. Truth without grace is a hammer, coercion. Grace without truth is sloppy agape, sentimentalism. Jesus was full of grace and truth. By holding together in himself what appeared to be incompatible opposites, and by living in the tension rather than trying to resolve it, Jesus lived a life that had never been seen before. By doing so he made possible the redemption of the world.

Are you beginning to see the genius of the and? Almost no one likes a peanut butter sandwich. Fewer still like a jelly sandwich. Peanut butter or jelly sandwiches simply have no appeal. But when the two ingredients are combined into one pea- nut butter and jelly sandwich, you create a gastronomical delight.

Do you remember from elementary science the difference between a mixture and a solution? A mixture describes two ingredients, gravel and water for example, that coexist but remain unchanged. A solution, however, describes two ingredients that are mixed together in a way that neither ingredient is ever quite the same again. A packet of Kool-Aid powder mixed with water becomes something entirely new. The powder dissolves into the water so that a new solution is created: Kool-Aid.

The Gospels show us what the fullness of grace and the fullness of truth look like when mixed together in the life of one perfect person. In Jesus’ words and actions we see an amazing tapestry of truthful grace and graceful truth, woven together in a way that both realities are recognizable, but neither is quite what it was before. Jesus made it look so easy, so effortless. But don’t be fooled. To live in the paradoxical tension of grace and truth is to live in the constant reality of pain. Nowhere is this more evident than on the cross. There, grace and truth collided in furious intensity, but the fusion made possible the redemption of the world. If Jesus had opted for grace or truth, there would have been no pain. There would have no cross. And there would have been no redemption. It is the marriage of grace and truth that makes the Gospel possible. This is why I believe the word “and” is the most important word in the Bible. What God has joined together, let no one separate!

One more thing. Jesus sent his disciples into the world saying, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). God intends for you too to be full of grace and truth. So go in the power of his Spirit and live out the genius of the and.

 

If we minimize grace, the world sees no hope for salvation. If we minimize truth, the world sees no need for salvation. To show the world Jesus, we must offer unabridged grace and truth, emphasizing both, apologizing for neither. —Randy Alcorn

 

point to ponder When you were a teenager, how did your parents demonstrate grace and truth when it came to raising you? Did they seem to give more weight towards one than the other?

prayer focus That God would enable you to live within the balance of grace and truth.

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