Monday, November 02, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Christ as Grace and Truth

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 29 Num. 15
“Christ as Grace and Truth”

This is a season full of sentiment, but the Christian’s sentiment should be fuller and deeper and richer than all others’ because it is based on a divine verity: the incarnation of our Lord. We would do well to meditate often on the Lord Jesus’ enfleshment and its significance for our salvation, and there is no better passage than John 1:14-18 to help us: “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. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

Here, are set out three great truths to encourage our hearts. First, the reality of the Incarnation is stressed. It really happened: the Word became flesh. The eternal Son of God took on human nature. Do we have a hard time believing it? Well, John says, there is proof. “We” witnessed His glory. That is, all the Apostles and eyewitnesses saw His glory show through. Furthermore, John the Baptist testified of Him. John saw and confessed Him too. Finally, we know He is true because “we” have received grace after grace through Him. As “we” (not only the Apostles, but all who are in Christ) have experienced the benefits of His person and work, the reality of the incarnation is confirmed.

Second, we learn here that the work of Jesus Christ was savingly effective. Notice that John explicitly identifies Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word (17). What does it mean that “Grace and truth have been realized” through Him? Grace means “saving favor” -- the saving favor of God. This favor is realized through (and only through) the person and work of Christ which bring to expression God’s eternal love and saving purposes. “Truth,” here, refers to the “reality” pointed to by all the Old Testament promises and prophecies. The Old Testament foreshadowed that reality, but in Christ it has been realized. John is saying: “In Christ, we have found saving favor with God and Christ is the reality to which the whole Old Testament pointed.

Third, we discover that the Word has explained the Father (18). It is a standing theological principle of Scripture that God is invisible, but John’s words mean more: No man knows God as He is in himself. However, the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ, is “the Only Begotten God” (notice this unapologetic testimony to the divinity of Christ) and He has revealed Him. In other words, if you want to know God, you must do so through Christ because He is the Father’s definitive revealer. As J.C. Ryle put many years ago: “Christ is the meeting-point between the Trinity and the sinner’s soul.”

May your Christmas meditations be filled with incarnational truth and blessings. Merry Christmas!

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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