Many Things are True in Two Senses
In Bible classes, it is common to hear people speak out in defense of two separate, but equally true, positions. For instance, I heard a brother recently emphasize our need to see eternal life as a present possession (1 John 5:13), and another brother responded that we have the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2). Both of these are true; they simply present life in Christ from two different perspectives.
When we read the Scriptures, it becomes clear that some passages talk about the “already” part of life in Christ and others talk about the “not yet.” These passages are not in conflict. Both are needed, and if we quit thinking about either of these perspectives, our faith becomes unbalanced and ineffective. Consider three examples.
Salvation. The Christian’s salvation is a present reality. “By grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). But we are also in the process of being saved. Peter wrote, “You believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8,9).
Kingdom of God. God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13), but we have not yet gained “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). So the Scriptures speak of God’s kingdom as both a present reality and also a future hope.
Holiness. In Christ, we are “saints” or “holy ones,” and we are “holy brothers” (Hebrews 3:1). Together, the Lord’s people constitute a “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). But holiness is also a goal. Paul urges us to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Each of these points should remind us that our salvation in Christ is both an accomplished fact and also a growth process. Generally speaking, the present aspect of our salvation provides a “sedative,” and the future aspect serves as a “stimulant.” When we’re discouraged, we need to hear that our salvation has been accomplished by Christ so that we can rest securely in His grace. But when we’re lackadaisical, we need to hear that it is only the penitent and the diligent who are going to finish the race. Every Christian needs both truths. This morning we may need a “sedative,” but by this afternoon we’ll very likely need a “stimulant.”
The multi-dimensioned nature of truth is one reason we need to study all of the Bible. It is only by exposing our minds to every page of the Scriptures that we can avoid over-emphasizing one part of the truth at the expense of others. And mark it well: the more you think one perspective is “what we really need to hear right now,” the more you probably need to pay attention to the remainder of the Scriptures. The parts you don’t like to hear are often the parts you need the most.
Gary Henry – WordPoints.com