Grace Upon Grace
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
If you could hold a mirror in front of your "heart," what would be revealed?
Scripture answers this question: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
How do we know our hearts are deceitful and sick? How do we know good from evil, right from wrong? It is because of God's law, which serves as the mirror to the heart. God's law reveals the condition of our hearts. But note what John says in our text in verse 17—"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
The Law shows us what God wants, and He wants us to be holy as He is holy. Grace gives us the desire and power to be holy. The law could not do that. Yes, there was grace in the Old Testament, but not in the fullness now experienced through Jesus. The Law could not save us and the law cannot motivate us for holiness. But Jesus, by the work of the Holy Spirit, can do this.
Let me illustrate how this works:
The famous missionary Hudson Taylor struggled with the same feelings that many of us wrestle with today. While in China, he wrestled with bouts of anger, frustration, and discouragement. He wondered how he could possibly be a leader and example for others when he himself was not a “victorious” Christian.
One day, a Godly friend sent him a letter, and the Holy Spirit illuminated Hudson Taylor's heart and mind to understand what it really meant to abide in Christ. He suddenly realized that it was not his job to struggle and strive in order to be a good Christian but rather to simply abide in the vine, and the life-giving energy from the vine would produce the fruit in his life.
John tells us from Jesus and His fullness, we receive grace upon grace—literally, "grace heaped on grace" to live the life He has called us to live. You have Christ, the hope of glory, is in you! Abide in Him!
There is no mysterious formula for abiding in the vine. Put yourself under fountains of God's grace. "Those who have a personal relationship with God include God in their daily lives. They pray to Him, read His Word, and meditate on verses in an effort to get to know Him even better. Those who have a personal relationship with God pray for wisdom (James 1:5), which is the most valuable asset we could ever have. They take their requests to Him, asking in Jesus’ name" (Got Questions). Preach the gospel to yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to control your mind and help you fight fatigue and fear.
The Apostle Paul summarizes all of this so well in 2 Corinthians 3:7-8. Meditate on this verse and humbly admit your need for grace...upon grace...upon grace! "Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?"