The Gospel of Jesus Christ contains four basic or fundamental truths. Remove any one of them and you possess a less than complete biblical gospel. This results in a fundamentally flawed message which is incapable of providing salvation for anyone from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin.
What are those four fundamental truths? They are (1) God exists; (2) Sin exists; (3) Salvation exits; and (4) One Savior exists to provide salvation: Jesus Christ. To remove any of these four truth statements is to seriously compromise the Gospel.
These four fundamental truths of the Gospel are located throughout the Scriptures. However, the text which I draw to your attention is John 1:1-18. Identified as John’s prologue to his gospel, these 18 verses contain some of the most crucial statements found in Scripture regarding the Gospel and the personal identity of Jesus Christ. The first portion of the prologue is John 1:1-4: God Exists! The second portion is John 1:5-8: Sin Exists. The third portion is John 1:9-13; Salvation Exists! The fourth and final portion is that One, Savior Exists: John 1:14-18.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
The glory of God often is revealed as bright, refulgent light (Exodus 24; Isaiah 60; revelation 21). John could very well be referring to his experience, along with his brother James and friend Peter, of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17). However, Jesus also manifested His glory through miraculous signs (John 2:11).
This glory was of the only Son from the Father. John testifies to the doctrine of Trinity in this statement, as he had in John 1:1. Jesus, the Word, and God in the flesh manifested on earth the same essential glory as the Father in heaven. God the Son and God the Father are one in essential nature (cf. John 5:17–30; 8:19; 10:30).
Notice that John uses the adjective “only.” The term “only” has the idea of “singular uniqueness.” Jesus Christ is loved by the Father like no other.
Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “By this word, John emphasized the exclusive character of the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Godhead (cf. 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). It does not refer to origin but rather unique prominence; e.g., it was used of Isaac (Heb. 11:17) who was Abraham’s second son (Ishmael being the first; cf. Gen. 16:15 with Gen. 21:2–3).
Finally, Jesus Christ is not only God in the flesh, who dwelt among human beings on earth, who was and is glorious, and the only beloved Son from God the Father, but also He is full of grace and truth.
To be full (πλήρης; pleres) means to be complete or lacking nothing. Jesus Christ was completely grace and truth. Grace (χάρις; charis) means to show undeserved kindness. Truth (ἀλήθεια; aletheia) in the context means that Jesus Christ is the true and real revelation of God.
The Holy Spirit brought the truths contained in Exodus 33–34 to John’s mind. This was the occasion when Moses asked God to display his glory to him. The Lord replied to Moses that he would make all his “goodness” pass before him, and then as he passed by, God declared, “The LORD . . . merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 33:18–19; 34:5–7).
These two attributes of God’s glory, grace and truth, which are displayed by the Son emphasize the goodness of God’s character, especially in relationship to salvation. Jesus as Yahweh of the OT (John 8:58; “I am”) displayed the same divine attributes when he “tabernacled” among men. (Colossians 2:9).
Jesus Christ must be thought of by His followers as more than their best friend. Rather, He is God. May we worship and reverence Him as such.
Soli deo Gloria!