Weightier matters of faith, mercy, and freedom.
Jesus came so we could have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). “I am the good shepherd,” He said (v. 14). The desire of all good shepherds is that their sheep have abundant life — good pasture for grazing, plenty of water, protection, etc. The more we understand God’s grace, the greater our abundant life in Jesus. “Grace for grace” in John 1:16 means it is continuous.
God’s grace does not make sense to our human thinking. After wasting all his possessions, the prodigal son came to his senses and came home to a loving father who showered him with love and gifts. That’s God’s grace!
Raised in CoG7, I accepted Jesus at age 16, was baptized, and became a member. I have great respect for my minister-father and other early leaders of our church. Becoming an adult, I began to question some things. When I realized I could not improve on God’s grace by my works, I was ready to enter into the abundant life in Christ, and what a blessing it has been! God’s grace was the missing truth in the first one hundred-plus years of our church history.
I became aware of my legalism when an elderly couple asked if they could take my family out for lunch the next Sabbath. Because of poor health, his wife couldn’t prepare a meal for our family. “No, thank you,” I said. “I’m not comfortable eating out on Sabbath.” But I was OK with my wife or someone else slaving over a hot stove to fix a meal on the Sabbath.
Later it hit me hard what I had done. I was a Pharisee. I had denied this wonderful Christian couple some fellowship they wished for.
At retirement, my wife and I moved to Colorado’s Western Slope. With no CoG7 near, we fellowshipped with other Sabbathkeepers. Observing these well-intended people wrestle over law, I got a clearer grip on God’s grace and fully realized who I had been the first half of my Christian life: a Pharisee of the Pharisees.
I have come to a firm conclusion that we are saved by grace alone (John 1:17; Ephesians 2:8, 9). Sometimes I shout, “Hallelujah!” Sometimes I weep with joy when I think of God’s amazing grace. This is the abundant life Jesus promised.
— Willard Hawkins
Principles of Grace
Grace is free (Romans 5:16, 17; 6:23). Though often used as an excuse, this is an important property of grace.
Since it’s free, none of the following can be used to gain grace: absolute obedience, understanding all doctrine, holy living, personal achievement, buying grace, earning it, stealing it, or even petitioning the Lord for it. Because grace is free and universal, you either accept it or reject it. Nothing else works. In accepting Christ as your Savior, you get grace (John 1:17)!
When we accept Christ, we want to become like Him and are transformed to obey the laws and judgments set down by the Father. These laws and judgments cannot be lightly violated without serious consequences. Thus grace is the undoing of sin (Romans 6; 1 John 3:3-24).
Another important principle in understanding grace is humility. The more we humble ourselves, the more grace God gives (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5, 6). Those who struggle against evil are assured by this that they have access to the Lord’s abundant grace.
Grace internalizes God’s love within us — a miraculous concept. To give the full details of grace and how all parts of the concept are interrelated would require a complete volume. After giving this a lot of thought, my best effort is to define grace as the power of the Holy Spirit working through His divine presence and internalizing the love of God in our hearts so that we can externalize His love to our fellowman.
— Roy Keim
Truth About Freedom
Freedom is a good word. In this land we have intense feelings about freedom. Our nation’s most important documents declare our intent to be a free and independent people.
Personal political liberty in the US is not the most important freedom. If this country somehow lost its freedom, would your faith be weakened or destroyed? Or, in your mind and soul, would you retain the best freedom?
Jesus outlined that greatest freedom: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, NIV). Earlier, He told us what we need to be free from: “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (v. 34, NIV).
Jesus did not die on the cross so people can live in political freedom in America. He shed His blood to give us freedom from sin. By faith in Him, we are free from the tyranny of our enemy the Devil! Helped by the Spirit of Christ, we can choose to live in His full and precious freedom.
Truth sets us free! God’s grace sets us free! The Holy Spirit’s power keeps us free! Our Lord Jesus Christ did the work that makes us free indeed. Free from the tyranny of the serpent’s lies. Free from the old covenant legalism and ritual. Free to live without the tangling slavery of sin. Free to live in heartfelt joy, exuberant hope, guaranteed assurance of eternal salvation! Every day of our “free” lives, we should get on our knees and thank the One who fought and died for our true freedom. Thank You, Jesus!
— Ken Lawson
Cottage Grove, MN
Fullness of Grace
When John says that the only begotten Son of the Father is “full of grace and truth” (1:14), he is saying, by implication, that God’s other sons are not full of grace and truth. Only God’s begotten Son is full of those characteristics. He also implies that Christ’s being full of grace and truth leaves no room for ungraciousness or falsehood in Him.
When John says that we have all received “of His fullness” and “grace for grace” (v. 16), I think it means becoming more like Christ, becoming more truthful and gracious. As Christians exchange our worldly grace for godly grace, we become more like Him. He is where we get any graciousness that we may have.
— Roy Marrs
I am grateful to write on this wonderful topic from John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father . . .” — especially on the final part of the text: “full of grace and truth” (NIV).
The Father’s love for His creation was expressed before our fall in the garden, and after it. God made His love real in human form: His Son Jesus Christ! Even now, if we breathe, it is by His grace and truth. Thank You, Lord, for the ultimate expression of Your great love!
The amazing but difficult thing to explain is this transition from the infinite (God) to the finite (man), from the eternal to the non-eternal (time), and from the invisible to the visible. In this transition, this incarnation, we see more clearly the divine salvation. No other angel, human, or creature could do this.
The divine-to-human transaction still happens today, through our own encounters with God through Jesus. Only in this will we truly see God‘s grace in the way, the truth, and the life!
“Full of grace and truth” shows perfect balance. Grace can never separate from truth, nor can truth be apart from the ineffable grace of God. Glory to God!
— Lázaro Gutierrez
El Paso, TX
Jesus, God’s Gift
Having no merit at all, we were redeemed from sin by the sacrifice of God’s perfect Lamb. Because the wages of sin is death (and all have sinned), that sacrifice brings us trembling to the cross of Calvary. We think about it, sing about it, and tell about it. The broad brush of Christ’s blood covered the apostles, who carried His kingdom message. It covered the thief who died on the cross beside our Savior. The brush of grace was inclusive of crooked tax collectors, prostitutes, a despised Samaritan woman, self-righteous Jewish leaders, and sinners of every other kind.
Through the ages, this grace has been and will be experienced over and over until the day that John describes like this: “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb
. . . crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9, 10).
The brush of His grace through Jesus is unlimited for those who kneel at His feet. The title of the wonderful hymn, “His Grace Reaches Me,” personalizes the phenomenon of every repentant sinner being saved by grace. That grace is the reason for the joy that floods our heart and increases its rate when we sing all manner of “Amazing Grace.”
The thought of Jesus being “full of truth” comes into sharp focus when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). This much is clear: Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Even in some “Christian” circles, the thought today is that one may connect with God through any of the great world religions. The reality, however, is that Christ is the only true access we have. This gives urgency to His Great Commission to preach the gospel around the world, because “he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16).
“Full of truth” has another important meaning: Not only is Christ the embodiment of God’s truth, but every word He spoke and every sermon He preached is absolutely true. No false thing or false word is in Him. We can count on His word to put us on the right path. Any other path is wrong.
— Dale Lawson