Jesus Christ – Full Of Grace And Truth
By Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
“And the Word was made 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” (John 1:14).
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
In Jesus Christ all the attributes of God are to be seen; veiled, but yet verily there. You have only to read the Gospels, to look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. It is veiled in human flesh, as it must be; for the glory of God is not to be seen by us absolutely; it is toned down to these dim eyes of ours; but the Godhead is there, the perfect Godhead in union with the perfect manhood of Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever.
The apostle says that the only Begotten is “full of grace and truth.” Others had been messengers of gracious tidings, but He came to bring grace. Others teach us truth, but Jesus is the truth. Jesus is not merely a teacher, an exhorter, a worker of grace and truth; but these heavenly things are in Him – He is full of them. There may be, there is, grace in other men; but not as it is in Christ – they take it as water flowing through a pipe, but He has it as water in its fountain and source. He has brought us grace in rivers and truth in streams: of these He has an infinite fullness; of that fullness all His saints receive.
Blended and Balanced
This grace and truth are blended. The two rivers unite in one fullness – “Full of grace and truth.” The grace is truthful grace, grace not in fiction nor in fancy, grace not to be hoped for and to be dreamed of, but grace every atom of which is fact; redemption which does redeem, pardon which does blot out sin, renewal which actually regenerates, salvation which completely saves. We have not here blessings which charm the ear and cheat the soul; but real, substantial favors from God that cannot lie.
Then blend these things the other way. The Lord has come to bring us truth, but it is not the kind of truth which censures, condemns, and punishes; it is gracious truth, truth steeped in love, truth saturated with mercy. The truth which Jesus brings to His people comes not from the judgment-seat, but from the mercy seat; it hath gracious drift and aim about it, and ever tends unto salvation. His light is the life of men.
See how grace and truth thus blend, and qualify each other! The grace all true, and the truth is all gracious.
Furthermore, it is grace and truth balanced. The Lord Jesus Christ is full of grace; but then He has not neglected the other quality which is somewhat sterner, namely, that of truth. I have known many in this world very loving and affectionate, but they have not been faithful; on the other hand, I have known men to be sternly honest and truthful, but they have not been gentle and kind. But in the Lord Jesus Christ there is no defect either way. He is full of grace which doth invite the publican and the sinner to Himself; but He is full of truth which doth repel the hypocrite and Pharisee. He does not hide from man a truth however terrible it may be, but He plainly declares the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. But when He has spoken terrible truth, He has uttered it in such a gracious and tender manner, with so many tears of compassion for the ignorant and those that are out of the way, that you are much won by His grace as convinced by His truth.
Our Lord’s ministry is not truth alone, nor grace alone; but it is a balanced, well-ordered system of grace and truth. The Lord Himself is in His character “just and having salvation” (Zech. 9:9). He is both King of righteousness and King of peace. He does not save unjustly, nor does He proclaim truth unlovingly. Grace and truth are equally conspicuous in Him.
Full of Grace
Thus have I taken the two together. Now I want to dwell briefly on each one by itself.
Grace is put first. “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace.” Jesus Christ is the Son of God; He is His only begotten Son. When He came into this world the glory that was about Him was a glory as of the only Begotten. A very singular, and very special, and incommunicable glory abides in the person of our Lord. Part of this was the glory of His grace.
Now, in the Old Testament you notice that the glory of God lay in His being “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). The glory of the only Begotten of the Father must lie in the same things as the glory of the Father, namely, in long-suffering and truth. In Christ there is a wonderful gentleness, patience, pity, mercy, and love of God. Not merely did He teach the grace of God, and invite us to the grace of God, but in Himself He displayed the grace of God.
This is seen, first, in His incarnation. It is a wonderful instance of divine grace that the Word should be made flesh and dwell among us, and reveal His glory to us. Apart from anything that springs out of the incarnation of Christ, that incarnation itself is a wondrous act of grace. There must be hope for men now that man is next akin to God through Jesus Christ. The angels were not mistaken when they not only sang, “Glory to God in the highest,” but also, “on earth peace, goodwill toward men,” because in Bethlehem the Son of God was born of a virgin. God in our nature must mean God with gracious thoughts towards us. If the Lord had meant to destroy the race, He never would have espoused it and taken it into union with Himself.
More than this, there is fullness of grace in the life of Christ when we consider that He lived in order to perfect Himself as our High Priest. Was He not made perfect through His sufferings that He might sympathize with us in all our woes? He was compassed with infirmities, and bore our sorrows, and endured those crosses of the human life which press so heavily on our own shoulders; and all this to make Himself able to deal graciously with us in a tender and brotherly way.
Then think for a minute of what He did. He was so full of grace that when He spoke His words dropped a fatness of grace, the dew of His own love was upon all His discourses; and when He moved about and touched men here and there, virtue went out of Him, because He was so full of it. At one time He spoke and pardoned a sinner, saying, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5; Luke 7:48); at another moment He battled with the consequences of sin, raising men from sickness and from death. Again, He turned Himself and fought the prince of darkness himself, and cast him out from those whom he tormented. He went about like a cloud which is big with rain, and therefore plentifully waters waste places. His life was boundless compassion. There was a power of grace about His garments, His voice, His look. Everywhere He went He scattered grace among the children of men; and He is just the same now – fullness of grace abides in Him still.
When it came to His death, which was the pouring out of His soul, then His fullness of grace was seen. He was full of grace indeed, forasmuch as He emptied Himself to save men. He was Himself not only man’s Savior, but his salvation. He gave Himself for us. He was indeed full of grace when He bore our sins in His own body on the Cross. His was love at its height, since He died on the Cross, “...the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God...” (1 Pet. 3:18).
Fullness of Truth
But then it is said there is in Him also a fullness of truth, by which I understand that in Christ Himself, not merely in what He said, and did, and promised, there is a fullness of truth. And this is true, first, in the fact that He is the fulfillment of all the promises that went before concerning Him. God had promised great things by His prophets concerning the coming Messiah, but all those predictions are absolutely matters of fact in the person of the Well-beloved. “For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen…” (2 Cor. 1:20). Verily He hath bruised the serpent’s head. Verily He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. Verily He hath proclaimed liberty to the captives. Verily He hath proved Himself a prophet like unto Moses.
According to my second text, in verse seventeen, I understand our Lord Jesus to be “truth” in the sense of being the substance of all the types. The law that was given by Moses was but symbolical and emblematical; but Jesus is the truth. He is really that blood of sprinkling which speaketh better things than that of Abel; He is in very deed the Paschal Lamb of God’s Passover: He is the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the peace offering – all in one! He is the true morning and evening Lamb; in fact, He is in truth what all the types and figures were in pattern. Whenever you see great things in the Old Testament in the type, you see the real truth of those things in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The covenant in its fullness is in Christ: the prophecy is in Moses, the fulfillment is in Jesus; the foreshadowing is in the Law, the truth is in the Word made flesh.
A Real Salvation
Further than that, our Lord Jesus Christ is said to be grace and truth in this sense, that He truthfully deals with matters of fact in the case of our salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ does not gloss over or conceal the condition of man in his salvation; He finds man condemned, and takes him as condemned in the very worst sense, condemned of a capital offense; and as man’s substitute He endures the capital penalty, and dies in the sinner’s stead. The Lord Jesus views the sinner as depraved, yea, as dead in trespasses and sins, and He quickens him by His resurrection life. He does not wink at the result of the Fall and of actual sin, but He comes to the dead sinner and quickens him; He comes to the diseased heart and heals it.
To me the Gospel is a wonderful embodiment of omnipotent wisdom and truth. If the Gospel had said to men, “The law of God is certainly righteous, but it is too stern, too exacting, and therefore God will wink at many sins, and make provision for salvation by omitting to punish much of human guilt,” why, my brethren, we should always have been in jeopardy. If God could be unjust to save us, He could also be changeable, and cast us away. If there was anything rotten in the state of our salvation, we should fear that it would fail us at last. But our foundation is sure, for the Lord has excavated down to the rock; He has taken away every bit of mere sentiment and sham, and His salvation is real throughout. It is a glorious salvation of grace and truth, in which God takes the sinner as God is, on the principles of true righteousness; and yet saves him.
But it means more than that. The Lord deals with us in the way of grace, and that grace encourages a great many hopes, but those hopes are all realized, for He deals with us in truth. Our necessities demand great things, and grace actually supplies those great things. The old law could never make the comers thereunto perfect as pertaining to the conscience, but the grace of God makes believers perfect as pertaining to the conscience.
Believing as I do in Him who bore my sins in His own body on the Cross, I feel that by no possibility can His atonement fail me. I have not imagination strong enough to feign a reason for distrust; I do not see hole or corner in which any charge could lurk against the man that believes in Jesus Christ. My conscience is satisfied, and more than satisfied. The atonement is greater than the sin. Speak of the vindication of the law is not the vindication even greater than the dishonor? Does not the law of God shine out more lustrous in its indescribable glory through the sacrifice of Christ as the penalty for sin, than it would have done had it never been broken, or had all the race of law-breakers been swept into endless destruction? O brothers, in the salvation of Jesus there is a truth of grace unrivaled! There is a deep verity, a substantiality, an inward soulsatisfaction in the sacrifice of Christ, which makes us feel it is a full atonement – a fountain of “grace and truth.”
Grace and Truth in Us
Nor have I yet quite brought out all the meaning, even if I have succeeded so far. Christ has brought to us “grace and truth”; that is to say, He works in believers both grace and truth. We want grace to rescue us from sin; He has brought it. We need truth in the inward parts; He has wrought it. The system of salvation by atonement is calculated to produce truthful men. The habit of looking for salvation through the great sacrifice fosters the spirit of justice, begets in us a deep abhorrence of evil, and a love for that which is right and true. When the Lord comes to us in Christ, no longer imputing our trespasses to us, then He takes out of our heart that deceit and desperate wickedness which had else remained there. I say it, and dare avow it, that the system of salvation by the indwelling of God in Christ and the atonement offered by Him for men has a tendency in it to infuse grace into the soul and to produce truth in the life. The Holy Ghost employs it to that end. I pray that you and I may prove it so by the grace which causes us to love both God and man, and the truthfulness with which we deal in all the affairs of life.
– Adapted from a sermon.