Grace & Truth

Turn with me to John, chapter 1, verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Verse 14: “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.”

Verse 16: “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

Verse 17: “For the law was given by Moses, But grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Grace and truth belong together. The Bible is very explicit in placing grace and truth together. If you try to deal with one without the other, you will get off course.

My dear friend in London, England, Selwyn Hughes, has been diagnosed with cancer. I have known him since 1960. He used to say: “If you have all Word and no Spirit, you will dry up. If you have all Spirit and no Word, you will glow up. But if you will put the Word with the Spirit, you will grow up!”

In like manner, you cannot have repentance without faith or faith without repentance. They are Siamese twins. They complement each other and work together.

The same is true with grace and truth. If you have grace without truth, you have a license to do whatever you want. God’s grace forgives sin, but when you put truth with it, you learn that God hates sin. He forgives sin for the benefit of the sinner, but He still hates sin.

One great battle in Sturgeon’s life was against why he called hyper-Calvinism which denied the universal invitation to come to Christ and also the practice/teaching of what is called antinomianism (or anti law). They preached that the moral law was not for Christians, that the moral law had nothing to do with Christianity, because (they said) we are saved by election.

I beg their pardon! We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is the divine influence on the heart (Lexicon). We get the word touch from this. Grace is the touch of God that changes you, making you different from what you would ever be otherwise. You can never be what God wants you to be until He touches you. You will never walk with God until you learn to walk in truth. And you cannot walk in truth without grace because you do not have the strength.

The reason we so desperately need Him and His grace and truth is the devastation that the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the garden brought to the human race. Disobedience to the Word of God separates man from God, but it was the fruit of the tree that did the damage.

If someone says, “You must not take drugs,” when you disobey, the disobedience is a slap in the face to the one who advised you against it. Yet the drugs, themselves, are going to do the damage. The fruit of the tree of knowledge devastated the human family. It polluted the blood putting death into the gene pool. It affected the brain so that now no one uses more than 30 percent of their brain.

The last Adam, Jesus, had no physical devastation. Physically, He was Perfect with no spot nor blemish. He could perceive what other people thought. His retention was absolutely perfect. Whatever the Father said to Him, He never forgot! What a Man He was physically! And when He was anointed by the Spirit of God, He was invincible–bull of glory!

The Bonding

One thing about this great church and pastor is that they are bonded. They did not do it. God did! I do not want to burst your bubble about Preston. He is smart and is a great leader, but he could not bond you to himself unless God made it work. God did the work when Preston spent hours stretching out before Him in prayer. It was not the genius of Preston Moore. It was the touch of God in his life and in this work.

The bonding of grace and truth does something so vast that you absolutely cannot understand it all. I cannot get hold of it as I would like, though I have dug into it, studied it, and turned it over and looked under it. It is so wonderful, so glorious. Grace and truth together–God’s grace forgives sin, and His truth will get you out of sin!

Some folks have the attitude, “Well, I’m saved. And the Baptists tell me I’m saved forever, so I can do whatever I want to do. I’ll still be saved.”

The truth of the matter is that you cannot do as you please!

The devil would rather get hold of you, Christian, than an old rag-a-muffin out there. He would like to tear you apart and make a vagabond out of you. He would like to hold you up before God and say, “See there, it doesn’t work!” as he tried to do with Job.

 

Grace and truth do work! When the grace of God comes into your life, you want to walk with Him. Truthfully, the sinner, who is in the clutches of sin, wants to get lose. I have never met an alcoholic who would not weep at the thought of getting lose. I have walked into the hospital many times to see drug addicts who had gone so far that they were seeing things, screaming and jumping around to the point of having to be restrained. They would beg, “I want to get free. I want to get loose. I don’t want this any more!”

Only the power of God can separate them from it, and by His grace He will do it. Sin has already devastated the human family. The practice of sin only aggravates it.

Grace is bonded with truth. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. . .”

Truth is the opposite of error. Truth is a straight line while error is drifting–variance. Hallelujah! Truth never changes. What was true in my dad’s day is true now.

Hollywood and politicians rise and fall on the quality of their material. Sometimes a film comes out of Hollywood and flops, and they say, “Well, we had good actors, but we just didn’t have good material!”

But there are no Gospel preachers who can claim that! We have the best material, authored by the greatest Author whoever lived. All the answers are in the Bible. The answers are not the problem. The questions are our problem. We need to learn to ask the right questions. When we do, we will get the right answers from The Book. Amen.

 

The bonding of grace and truth has the power and ability to change you from what you did not want to be into what you would like to be. You are not yet what you would like to be, but you are making progress! You are like the dear old sister who said, “Pastor, I want to testify. I’m not what I ought to be, but thank God, I’ now what I used to be! And, praise God, Hallelujah, I’m not what I’m going to be either!”

Thank God, His grace keeps working in our lives, connected with truth. Grace without truth is a license. Truth without grace is brutal, harsh. The only way for you to preach the truth and it have the proper effectiveness is in grace.

I spoke recently at Tennessee Temple University. I do not know how many times I have spoken there, but that time God just laid it on my heart to say, “If you’ve received grace, you should have some grace.”

We fundamental, separated, saturated, simonized (and all that good stuff) independent Baptist know how to tell the truth on everybody! We cut them all to pieces! The problem is that we forget about grace! We even shoot our own. More fellows are being shot down with friendly fire than almost anything else. But I want to tell you something, my friend. The grace of God will make you reach down for that brother who is falling and try to help him up! The grace of God will cause you to talk tenderly and kindly to that fellow who is hurting and wounded instead of saying, “Well, you’ve brought it on yourself! Why don’t you go ahead and take your medicine like a man!”

 

Instead you’ll say, “Dear Brother, if it wasn’t for the grace of God, I’d be where you are right now. By the grace of God, you can get it right!”          THANK GOD FOR GRACE BONDED WITH TRUTH!

Examples of grace can be found in the Old Testament. (I will mention three here):

(1)

Gomer–She married one of the greatest prophets of all time, Hosea, a blue blooded, aristocratic type (lived over on the north side in the big house!). Then she disgraced him, her family, and her children. God sent Hosea down to the slave market to buy her back–not to be a scrub woman, not to be a charwoman, but to come back and stand by him in a white gown when he received the guests, to stand by him when he met with the elders! That is grace. Redemption brings grace!

(2)

Ruth–She was a Moabites. Her husband married her while sojourning in Moab. As a Gentile, she was not in the registry. The right of her inheritance was purchased by Boaz after the death of her husband. She was a new purchase.

We Gentiles really were not redeemed as Israel was redeemed (bought back). We  are a new purchase. Our registry is not in the vaults of Jerusalem. Our registry is at the right hand of God in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We are a new purchase! Glory to God!

(3)

Mephibosheth–He was lame on his feet and lived down in Lodebar. One day, as he looked out the window, a grand chariot, drawn by the grand horses, decked in silver and gold harnesses, and driven by valiant men backed up to his door. He must have thought to himself, “What are they doing here?”

 

The fellow knocked on his door and asked, “Are you Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan?”

“Yes.”

“We’ve come to fetch you!”

“Such a dead dog as I?”

“Yes.” They said. “The king wants to show grace to you because he loved your father.”

These are illustrations of grace! But they all had to go through the process of truth. Gamer had to be redeemed. Ruth had to be purchased. Mephibosheth had to be fetched. That is putting grace and truth together–bonded!

The Balance

When you put grace and truth together, you have balance: Balance like the colors on the curtain of the Tabernacle. Three of those colors were blue, red, and purple. Did you ever see those three colors together? They are gorgeous!

Just outside Lancaster, Pennsylvania, they have built a tabernacle on the same order as the Tabernacle in the wilderness. It is the same size and his the same beautiful colors. As you enter the grounds, you see that beautiful blend of colors. There is a balance. When you have balance in your Christian life, you have beauty.

We want balance. Sometimes preachers get in a bind. We want to warn people to stay out of sin and not get in the ditch. But then, they watch us as we go out into the ditch and get a fellow out and say, “You’re forgiven!” We do not want to endorse the lifestyle of the fellows in the ditch, but grace and truth demand that we get him out of the ditch!

 

The preacher warns you against the sins of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. He bears down making you feel like you are rotten to the core. He is trying to keep you out of the ditch! But he is walking a fine line, because his heart reaches out to the one who is wounded, hurt and torn. THAT IS BALANCES! We need balance.

When someone is filled with grace, truth goes with it, and after awhile it will change him. Amen.

I could tell you a thousand stories, but let me tell you just one. I will not go through it all, but I had a fellow saved one time who had been living in an automobile and an abandoned house. He worked at a steakhouse as a dishwasher just to get some food. His clothes were dirty. His hair was down over his shoulders. He did not have a handkerchief. He would not have known how to use it, if he had one! But he fell in love with a beautiful girl who worked at the steakhouse. He tried to clean up so he could ask her out.

She told him the only way he would see her would be to come to church with her.

So he came. In the parking lot after the service, he said to her, “I’m never going there again!”

“Why?”

“You must have told that preacher all about me! He preached all around me. He preached Heaven high, Hell hot, and me out over Hell on a rotten limb!”

I did not even know he was there.

 

He wanted to see the girl, so he came back again, and again, and again. Finally, one Sunday morning, he came down the aisle. His nose was running! He was slobbering! They had to give him tissues while he squalled and prayed. Somebody finally told him, “You don’t have to talk God into saving you. Just trust Him!”

He got up and said, “I’ve never felt like this before in my life. This is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. What do I do next?”

Someone said, “You need to get baptized.”

I was aggravated. That was back in the hippie days. I had argued with those “hardheads” about their long hair and with those girls about their hot pants and mini skirts. They wanted to wear them in our choir! I was fighting with them and their folks.

On Monday morning I was thinking, “I’m supposed to baptize that guy. What am I going to do?”

I said, “God, if You really saved him, and You live in him, and You want him to get his hair cut, You tell him! If he is going to argue with anyone, God, let him argue with You!”

Honest. Scout’s honor! Thursday he came by the office, and we did not know him. I do not think he had any hair left! His blue jeans had been washed. His shirt was new. His face had been washed. Even his ears were clean!

What happened? Enough truth went in with the grace to cause him to want to get straightened out on the outside. Is it not wonderful when it balances out, when the grace that comes to live in your heart balances with truth!

Now, it does not work that fast with everyone. The Lord tests our grace to see if we have enough to wait on them!

 

Now, do not let him teach a Sunday school class. Wait until he gets straightened out. But love him and be kind to him. He is changed inside, but when he looks in the mirror and sees the old fellow, he says, “Something’s out of gear here! I thought I was changed. I AM CHANGED!” Then he begins to do something about the outside.

A fellow came to talk with me one day. He said, “When I look in the mirror, I see my same old self! But you told me that I was new inside, and I know I am new inside.”

I said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Get all that stuff off you that looks like the old self and see if that doesn’t make a difference.”

Two or three days later he cam back. Now the mirror reflected the new man that was inside!

Grace and truth have to balance. LET IT WORK! If a fellow has his hair cut above his ears, has on a three piece suit, and has his shoes shined, it does not mean he has grace. He may be mean as a dog or a con man!

Then, it may be the other way around, and he may be saved but not mature yet!

The Beauty

“We beheld His glory!”

The most beautiful thing you will ever see is somebody walking, talking, and living like Jesus. He (Jesus) is wonderful in every respect. He is like the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon. He has a fragrance about Him, and when He moves through, the whole atmosphere changes. He is beautiful! He is glorious!

If you cannot look at the sky or see the beauty of a sunset in the western hills and know that God loves beauty, there is something wrong with your understanding. God loves the beauty of nature because He made it that way.

But the Lord Jesus outshines them all! Brother Gene Winfrey and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland. They brought the queen’s crown jewels to put on display. We were walking through with the other tourists. All of us were in awe of their beauty. A Scotsman was standing there (a guard at attention). Everyone kept bragging on the jewels. After awhile he could stand it no more. In his Scottish brogue he said, “The beauty of the jewels is only out-shined by the beauty of the Queen, herself.”

Oh, the beauty of creation is marvelous, wonderful, and glorious, but it is out-shined by the Creator! His beauty and His glory are unsurpassed. When His Shekinah glory filled the house of God, the ministers could not minister.

We are wanting revival. We are wanting His Presence. I know this crowd: when you get a taste of it, you want more. When you get some more, you want more! And when you get some more, you want MORE! But, after awhile, if you get enough of it, it gets so good that you cannot even minister. You cannot do anything. It will stop the singing, the preaching and the shouting. The birds will stop singing. Everything will go deathly quiet. When the power of the Shekinah glory comes, that beauty will be so awesome, so powerful, and so glorious, everything will stop!

I have only been there two or three times in my life, but I have been there! And I would like to go again! The trouble is, I do not know the path.

As a lad of a boy I can remember walking past the bedroom on my little Scottish grandmother, Ida Myers Moore. I would hear her calling out to God in prayer. I did not understand exactly what was happening, but I knew she had gotten hold of God. In those days she turned our family around with her prayers. I knew that when Preacher Swords, Brother Cecil Johnson, or Preacher Fields prayed, something was different. Their voices would change.

Old Uncle Daniel Turner, hands as big as a ham of meat, would get down quietly over in the corner at Pleasant Grove and begin to pray. His voice would lift, and after awhile you would start listening for angels, because you knew you were in the presence of God. I wanted that in my life. I did not know how to ask for it. I just wanted it!

Prayers is the sincere desire of the heart. As a little 12 year old boy, I went down behind the barn by the hog pen, got down in a little sandy ditch and started talking to the Saviour. Somehow the Lord said to the angels, “Usher him in a little closer. I have something I want to do for him and need to get him ready.”

I do not know how I got there. Twenty years later I went back to that same sandy ditch, but I did not get where I got that day, because I did not have the angel to usher me.

Three others time in my life this has happened to me. The second time was when Mom and Dad and I were in the front room (the fire room) at the foot of their bed. Preston and Syble were outside playing, and Dad said, “Son, before we go to church today, I want you to pray.”

I started praying and all of a sudden, what happened in the ditch happened in the house. When it all quieted down, Dad was stretched out on the floor and Mom had her little hand up in the air saying, “Oh, God, what are we going to do with this child?”

 

HE IS BEAUTIFUL! I WOULD NOT TRY TO DESCRIBE HIM. I just reached a place close enough to the heart of God that was so beautiful that it was beyond description.

Jesus said that if you want the Holy Ghost, just ask.

“Well, what if I ask and don’t get there?”

Just ask again. Just keep on asking!

When the material things, the popularity, the friends, and all you have begin to fade into the back ground, and you say, “Oh, Lord, I can’t live without Your Presence in my life”–such a beauty will come into your life that folks will see the difference!

THE GRACE AND TRUTH OF God are just as real today as they were when Paul preached about them. Are they real in you your life?

They can be!

The Eagle Magazine