Have you ever been almost clubbed to death by Bible verses from a fellow Christian and left on the side of the road wounded and confused? Or worse yet, have you done this yourself to a fellow Christian? Have you ever seen two Christians hurtling Scripture at each other, each one hoping to land the fatal blow? It’s a shame when non-christians seem more tolerant and forgiving of each other than people who call themselves Christians. Don’t get me wrong, there is a definite need at times to discipline by proper use of Scripture. But what I want to address here is an improper use that occurs from time to time. Let me explain by using an article I had in my archives that confronts the situation better than I can write. The following, except for the conclusion, is not mine:
And the Word became 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 NKJV)
The “Word” was clearly identified in John 1:1 as God Himself.
Even though we may not be able to fully understand what actually took place when God Himself walked among us, we can however understand how Jesus conducted Himself as He walked among us. John describes Him as “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Of all the wonderful ways in which to describe Jesus, John boiled it down to two simple words: grace and truth.
When you place these two words side by side, you can often think that they are opposite ends of the spectrum. I have met many over the years who are full of grace, but devoid of truth. They have hearts that care for others, but they don’t have any truth to help them. Theological liberals often fall into this category. I have met even more over the years who are full of truth, but lacking in grace. They know the Bible very, very well. But, rather than using the Bible as a splint to help set the fractured wounds, they use it like a club and beat people over the head with their sin. In my own life, I have faced the tension between these extremes as well. I have clubbed people with the Bible when I should have extended grace to them. I have granted grace when I should have confronted them with the truth.
But Jesus didn’t face this tension. He was full of grace. And He was full of truth. He wasn’t half grace and half truth. Jesus was 100% grace and 100% truth. He never sacrificed truth as He showed grace. Nor did He ever demonstrate a lack of grace in communicating the whole truth.
By definition, grace is unmerited and undeserved. Because of this, grace will often surprise us. When Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, it was shocking to His listeners that the Samaritan would be so gracious to the man who had been robbed and beaten (Luke 19:30-37). The story of the prodigal son finds its surprise in the gracious response of the father who lavished his repentant son with a feast (Luke 15:11-32). This is why John Newton wrote about the amazing grace that saves wicked and sinful people. This includes all that have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life.
Many times in the Bible, Jesus put His grace on display. This was especially apparent when Jesus was in the midst of those who needed grace. When dining at the home of a Pharisee, a woman known as a “sinner” came to Jesus, weeping and wetting His feet with her tears and wiping them off with the hair of her head. To this woman, Jesus said, “Your sins have been forgiven” (Luke 7:48). Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery. Rather, He protected her from her accusers and sent her on her way (John 8:11). Jesus had a reputation of being a “friend of sinners” (Matt. 11:19). He was a friend to them, because He extended His grace to them.
In our day and age, truth is often minimized. There are many who believe that truth is relative, and say that what is true for one may not be true for another. This simply isn’t right. There are absolutes in the world, and they are established by God in His word. Jesus said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
Jesus, Himself, was “full of truth.” He was not merely an abstract philosopher, on the order of Plato or Socrates. Jesus identified Himself as the embodiment of truth. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He spoke the truth; He lived the truth; He was the truth. There was no falsehood in Jesus at all. His every action was motivated by the truth and demonstrated the truth. As a result, we are to believe and obey all of His words.
When Jesus was born into this world, He was born to die. Nowhere does this perfect balance of grace and truth demonstrate itself than in the cross of Christ. Certainly, the Lord is gracious and forgiving. But, God cannot forgive us by simply overlooking a transgression, because the truth regarding sin is that every sin must be punished. This is what the entire sacrificial system ought to teach us. But, in the cross, God has found a way to be full of grace and truth. His sacrifice was sufficient to satisfy the justice of God. Rather than punishing sinners, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment of those who believe in Him. His sacrifice was a demonstration of pure grace. We deserved nothing of this.
In conclusion: Let’s not have both barrels loaded to confront our pet peeves of those around us. Let’s not misuse the Scriptures. Whatever we come up against, let’s use 100% grace along with 100% truth just like Jesus did. Let me illustrate with this closing analogy. I always carry a Leatherman multi-tool on me during my waking hours. I find it extremely useful as I go through my daily routine. But, at work I am an engineering technician that repairs equipment when it breaks down. I have a full toolbox on wheels that has every tool imaginable to do my work efficiently. I can use my Leatherman in a rush to do certain things at work in a hurry, but I must take extreme care when using it. If I use the Leatherman rather than taking the extra time and effort to roll out my toolbox and grab the exact tool that is made for the job, I take the chance of damaging the hardware slightly. Even though I was able to make the repair and get the equipment running again, it could of been done without causing any undue damage that may adversely affect future repairs. This is the same way with Scripture. Let’s only use what is proper and necessary, so that grace and truth can prevail!