On my recent vacation, I read an excellent book by Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox. It is based on John’s statement in John 1:14 that Jesus was “full of grace and truth”. Some churches (and Christians) today emphasize grace over truth while others do just the opposite. Christ did neither. He was full of grace and truth.The book is small (92 pages). It is part of Multnomah’s “Small Books, Big Change” series. Yet it has a big message. It is very easy to read, yet some of its principles are potentially life-changing, and merit thoughtful contemplation. To that end, I will finish out this “review” by providing some quotes from the book itself, and let Randy do the talking.
A grace-starved, truth-starved world needs Jesus, full of grace and truth. (p. 14)
Some churches today embrace truth but need a heavy dose of grace. Other churches talk about grace but cry out for a heavy dose of truth. (p.15)
Truth-oriented Christians love studying Scripture and theology. But sometimes they’re quick to judge and slow to forgive. They’re strong on truth, weak on grace.
Grace-oriented Christians love forgiveness and freedom. But sometimes they neglect Bible study and see moral standards as “legalism.” They’re strong on grace, weak on truth.
Countless mistakes in marriage, parenting, ministry, and other relationships are failures to balance grace and truth. Sometimes we neglect both. Often we choose one over the other. (p. 17)
Why should we have to choose between conservatism’s emphasis on truth and liberalism’s emphasis on grace? Why can’t we oppose injustice to minorities and to the unborn? Why can’t we oppose greedy ruination of the environment and anti-industry New Age environmentalism? Why can’t we affirm the biblical right to the ownership of property and emphasize God’s call to voluntarily share wealth with the needy? Why can’t we uphold God’s condemnation of sexual immorality, including homosexual practices, and reach out in love and compassion to those trapped in destructive lifestyles and dying from AIDS?
We cannot do these things if we are first and foremost either liberals or conservatives. We can do these things only if we are first and foremost followers of Christ, who is full of grace and truth. (p. 80-81)
If we minimize grace, the world sees no hope for salvation. If we minimize truth, the world sees no need for salvation. To show the world Jesus, we must offer unabridged grace and truth, emphasizing both, apologizing for neither. The Colossian church “understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6)
Truth is quick to post warning signs and guardrails at the top of the cliff. Yet it fails to empower people to drive safely–and neglects to help them when they crash.
Grace is quick to post ambulances and paramedics at the bottom of the cliff. But without truth, it fails to post warning signs and build guardrails. In so doing, it encourages the very self-destruction it attempts to heal. (p. 87-88)
Grace and truth are both necessary. Neither is sufficient….We who are truth-oriented need to go out of our way to affirm grace. We who are grace-oriented need to go out of our way to affirm truth. “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” No one did either like Jesus. Truth hates sin. Grace loves sinners. Those full of grace and truth do both. (p. 88)
In Jesus, “mercy and truth have met together” (Psalm 85:10, NKJV). Grace and truth met face to face on the Cross. (p. 92)