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Between Two Truths

Chris Buttery
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The Bible is replete with "twin truths" - two truths that appear to be contradictory yet when held in tension to each other provide a complete picture of truth. Often the following are seen as opposed to each other in the Bible - law and grace; faith and works, love and obedience; and there are more. In this presentation with Pastor Chris Buttery discover that God's Word cannot be broken and that God is the God of the whole truth.

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  • April 11, 2015
    11:30 AM
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For millennia people from different countries cultures and backgrounds have found direction and encouragement in the inspired pages of the Bible in his day. Jesus directed listeners to search the prophecies of Scripture to find him. The only way of salvation two thousand years later as we stand on the brink of eternity. We know less need the purpose and hope God's Word provides Sacramento central church brings you receiving the word timely Bible messages presented by pastors Chris buttery and Mike Thompson amazing revelations await viewing God's Holy Word the Bible. Well this morning. I want to talk to you a little bit about being between two truths. Oftentimes you look at the Bible and there appears to be what appears to be sometimes contradicting views and yet they are not and they simply compliment each other one of the most famous trials in history was that of Benjamin Francoise could assume in London eighteen for I don't know why all the good stories come out of London England past my own national Cuba sewer was a Swiss valet who was accused of. Slicing the throat of his elderly employee Lord William Russell what made his trial notorious was the argument for the defense the police had bungled the investigation the evidence against kivas see it was was caught circumstantial at best one of the officers had perjured himself and the maid's testimony brought suspicion on herself. Now the defense attorney Charles Phillips was convinced of the innocence of Cuba Syria and cross-examined witnesses aggressively at the beginning of the second day of trial however could assume to confess privately to his lawyer that he indeed actually had committed the murder. When asked if he was going to play guilty he replied to. Lawyer Charles Philips No sir I expect you to defend me to the upmost so Philips was faced with a dilemma. Should he declared the court to the court that the man was guilty which probably would have been the right thing to do or should he defendant curve assume as best he could and not break the confidentiality of client lawyer relationship which would have been also the right thing to do which is more important telling the truth by turning him in or performing his professional Judy thus committing committing to his promise Philips decided to defend the guilty man. But despite Philip's efforts of a sewer was convicted. When the dilemma was later made public Philip's decision. Basically to defend a murderer horrified British society and brought him a great deal of criticism. Who would want to be in Philip's place in a case like this what do you do when you're faced with a tough choice like this what right do you choose what do you do when you will between two troops. Thank God that when you come to the Holy Bible you don't have to decide between what appears to be two contending ideas. Jesus tells us in John Chapter ten and verse thirty five will put it up on the screen for you here. John ten thirty five that the Scriptures cannot be watched friends cannot be broken. No one needs to decide for example between the old and the New Testament. You just don't need to they're not rivals competing for a prominent place. They're not playing a game of tug of war they are one harmonious whole because there is one off the behind them all and that is the Creator God and we can confidently contend that God is not bipolar and God is not schizophrenia. He's not Dr Jekyll one my. And hide. Mr Hyde the next the God of the Bible is not is not a living eternal contradiction. He is the truth. He is the whole truth and he is nothing but the truth. So why do Christians often get all mixed up over this how is it that we are accustomed to segregating and dividing what God has put together a stories told about the Devil who was walking along with his cohorts one evening they saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny one of the find said one of the Koval It's to the devil he found a piece of truth. The devil replied Doesn't it bother you that he found a piece of truth. The devil said No I'll see to it that he makes a religion out of it this little story points out that humans are prone to fall to Satan Sophos tree of believing pot truth lies here your Bible's time with me to Genesis Chapter three you recall way back there in the far off Garden Home of our first parents that sinister angel but Guy old Eve by preaching three pot truth lives three part truth or three part truth will us what were the when you look with me in Genesis Chapter three and verse four. He said You shall not surely die. That was the first one the second one is found in verse five where he says you shall be like God that's right and you shall know good and evil. Those were three pot truths the devil was preaching and the part truth that he was preaching was God's grace a pot from his justice. It's OK You shall not surely die you become my god you and I good and evil just no justice just God's grace and His mercy mercy were his pot truth lies actually true. Did the pair dire. Right after eating the fruit bowl. Yes and no they didn't die that day so real was their death on separating themselves from the source of life that to live. They must be born again. Did I become like God. Well yes and no. In choosing to worship self. They did not become like God but they did become gods because self worship is the basis of all idolatry. Did they know good and evil. Yes and no they did come to no evil immediately. However except for the miracle of grace. They would never know the good ever. Now it's important to note that after the devil had assured the pair that there was no real danger in eating the forbidden fruit. He now with kind of a sinister gotcha charged them with sin and left them condemned to be full of the pot truth lie all the pot truth of God's absolute justice of pot from His Grace the enemy of souls is always seeking always seeks to pit one truth against the other as if they were in conflict with each other he revels in dividing what God has put together and so very often human beings fall for it nearly every time one but generally speaking we're attracted to ideologies or things that compliment or affirm our own personal lifestyles. This makes plain why if we held on to any known scene in our lives we would be naturally attracted to something that suits our experience that makes us feel better about it and rationalize it somewhat like a baby is attracted to nectar. Now while the Bible doesn't present contradictory pitches it does present twin truths that compliment each other however these are mistaken. Often times to. Be at odds with each other and let's take for example the attributes of God. Unfortunately there are those who tripped up over this apparent contradiction of the God of holiness and justice in the Old Testament and the God of love and mercy in the news. However notice that God does not want to take you with me to Exodus Chapter thirty four Notice God does not God describes himself to Moses when passing before him and how Moses responded Exodus Chapter thirty one shooter notice how God describes himself Exodus thirty four six through nine notice and the Lord passed before him that is Moses and proclaimed the Lord God merciful and gracious long suffering and abounding in goodness and in truth. Keeping mercy for thousands for giving iniquity in transgression and sin by no means clearing the guilty visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generation so Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth and worship. Then he said if now I have found grace in your side O. Lord let my Lord I pray you go among us even though we are a stiff necked people and Potter now iniquity. And our sin and take us as your inheritance a point we need to grasp is that God is first holy and then he is everything else. God is first holy and then he has everything else. Often we like to focus on the forgiveness of God on His love for us attributes that typically make us feel very comfortable but forgiveness and love fade in significance when we don't have a clear understanding of God's justice and His Holiness some of also made a mistake in misrepresenting his mercy to mean that God is tolerant of sin but this combi because holiness and sin polar opposites. We simply can't appreciate that salvation is and what it is unless we grow. Something of the meaning of the holiness of God On the flipside if we understand the true awfulness of even so cold all we misunderstand the true awfulness of so-called small sins. We won't be able to appreciate the majesty and the glory of God's holiness. When we emphasize one component of God's attributes to the exception of another or if we hang on to one leaving the other out. We're always going to be in grave danger of believing a high truth. I can caution of the devil. Now take a sphere. For example take a sphere for example to split through the diameter of a sphere makes two opposite hobs out of the whole of two hemispheres the same thing happens when the sphere of truth is divided it creates two opposites two or pot truth. Opposites or hemispheres. Yet both pots are required to make a complete whole if one speaks a half truth that they convey a vital part truth but each pot truth is isolated and insulated from its complement complement complement of truth. Dr. A Leroy Moore in one of his books he wrote describes this half truth full truth concept here first a two languages that are spoken he says one is and we're going to look at some technical terms. One is paradoxical and the other is dialectical paradoxical and dialectical when referring to paradoxical language. He is always referring to that which appears appears contradictory. Yet in reality is not I'm quoting now paradoxical thus refers to truth not philosophy truth that seems to involve contradictory ideas to be completely true however both ideas must be held together in tension and thus in balance and when referring to a dialectical language. He means a method which pits one pole against the other destroying the paradoxical principle dialectical thinking splits the sphere of truth into opposite hemispheres. So then instead of complimenting or complete compete completing each other the principles a set against each other paradoxical thinking however never splits one pole of truth against the other and never seeks to demonstrate the superiority of one principle above the other that acknowledges tension in all truth. In other words encourages not to split the sphere of truth keep it intact let's look at an example a common and serious result in splitting this view is pitting law and grace against each other with each of the argument with each side of the argument seeking to control the meaning of the one it considers to be less important however neither principle can be understood. Except in relation to each other when more is over emphasize or dominates Grace what are you going to get a legal estate type of religion right righteousness by works or righteousness by performance grace is not usually denied but is subordinate to the law and thus we get things off kilter and off balance. Now on the other hand when Grace dominates the law the result is it's another big word antinomianism antinomianism that resists and even opposes the law of God. Now this is unfortunate because one cannot fully appreciate Grace outside of the law of God the basis of all spiritual revival is predicated on the law of Jehovah of Almighty God So the splitting of truth leads to a mis understanding regarding the role of grace and obedience faith and works love and. The Spirit of Truth and the spirit of the law and the letter of the law you have the Bible saying for example in the two verse eight nine. Chapter two verses eight nine that we are saved by was saved by grace and yet in Revelation chapter twenty two verse fourteen. It says those who keep the commandments of God have entrance into the kingdom of God So we are saved by grace and yet only those who are BT and can enter in to the kingdom of heaven have right to the tree of life. Now here's something important to remember if the Bible said it then we believe it I meant. I meant if we believe it then how do we make sense of what appears to be two principles that appear to be opposed to each other when we have to consider the entire framework of Scripture and not let isolated texts or all hang on to isolated text on their own. So let's make sense of a baby in sin Grace. If you if you follow with me first of all Lucifer he was cast out of heaven because of what disobedience that's exactly right. Adam and Eve that were cast out of the Garden of Eden because of what. Disobedience. So Jesus has a problem. Jesus has a problem the problem is that he took if he took people to heaven who unknowingly disobedient to the will of God then the devil. What would he do. He cry foul and he'd say you have to take me back to heaven you said it is for this reason that though we aren't saved by our obedience. We are saved for al all for obedience and the person who resists being obedient over time cannot be saved it is clear from Genesis to Revelation that although people cannot do anything to add to this salvation. They can do a number of things to lose their salvation. Can we break the law of God and go on sinning and yet claim to be saved by Grace told. That in Romans Chapter six verses one and two notice what he says here remains chapter six and verses one and two he says What shall we say then shall we continue in sin that grace may abound. God forbid or certainly not how shall we you who died to sin live any longer. In it so you see how the Bible often brings the two principles together revealing that they are not in opposition to each other but they are in fact in harmony with each other complementing each other forming complete truth and not HOF truth or hemispheres of truth. Well how about faith and works. How about faith and works simply this the test of whether or not because we're saved by grace through faith. Right but we're judged by the way we're judged by the law works were judged by works right. How what about faith and works the test of whether or not our savation is working in our lives is the fruit that we bear. It's a simple as that one thing is for sure we cannot bear fruit without being connected to Jesus Christ amen. Jesus said in John fifteen five I am the vine you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in Him bears much fruit for without me. You can do nothing that's exactly right. So consider with me for a moment a tree. What is the health of the tree dependent upon. Yeah that's right its root system good root system equals healthy tree beautiful fall age of the tree all the tasty ripening fruit depending on what type of tree it is ripe consider that the soil the soil is Christ and the root system is your faith in him. If your faith is rooted in Christ will the tree of your life be healthy will be bearing fruit sure they'll be fruit beds definitely should be and pull helps us understand the relation of this to each other. If Asians Chapter two we're going to read all of this together. If Asian Chapter two verses eight nine and ten oftentimes we talk about those eight nine but we we don't reverse ten the see the whole picture here. Chapter two verse is eight through ten For by grace. You have been saved through faith and then not of yourselves it is the gift of God Not of works lest anyone should boast for we are his that is Christ's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them so while we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus all of those things don't come alone it comes ready to work by transforming love as poll puts it We are created or recreated saw good works we are saved by grace through faith in order to perform good works. Let's be honest. We've lived in the land of disease and dysfunction for so long that we would rather defend our diseases and our dysfunction. We prefer to argue about whether God good works or obedience are necessary or even possible rather than consider that Jesus promised to give us the fruit of a holy and godly life as we surrendered to him in conversion. Let's consider more the promises of God for victory and for power and allies what do you say sure. Let's not squabble about whether obedience is possible or whether works on this. Good works are necessary they are and Jesus provides the Word of God provides Dain promises that encourage us and and spirits on the way and provide power for us for transformed living now one of my favorite authors elder the late elder herbut Douglas wrote about the importance of speaking whole truth not in Hobbes by illustrating this through the ellipse the. The ellipse is basically a stretched out circle like a football circle that has one center a circle has one center. It has a focal point but within the lips it has two folk I especially perfectly rather separated so that if one focus is pushed too far from the other the perfect ellipse no longer exists. Also if one emphasizes one focus above the other the ellipse simply becomes two circles for example we get water because of this ellipse principle water doesn't consist unless the circles of hydrogen and oxygen are brought into this show. If someone asked which would be more important to this to the answer. What would be more important the answer would be both equally important if you want a glass of water much lighter might lot much like asking whether the brain or the hot is more important in order for you to live. We simply cannot live without both. I meant equal. We need equal equally are important for our lives now Truth is like that truth in any area of thought whether it is theology whether it is philosophy musical or education can be looked upon in the form of an ellipse. So in politics we we see to focus on socialism and democracy in economics the folk I can easy in and free trade or government controlling capitalism in education you have content centered vs student centered education. The truth is that both sides have something helpful to say about the subject. Douglas says that in theology. Truth is some is the sum total of its objective and a subjective elements one focus is the emphasis on transcendence or revelation and the other is imminence which is human response such as reason and feeling. So he says here you've got the objective truth of a God who loves us and wants to save us and then you've got the subjective response of those because salvation won't do anyone any good unless they respond to it with faith you see he goes on to say to oppose or ignore all under emphasize one against the other would make two circles destroying this ellipse so salvation truth together binds together. The objective will of God and what is the will of God will of God is that all men would be saved. And the subjective. Yes of a responsible person a person who responds to that objective truth that God wants to save all as water can be divided and remain water. So the objective and the subjective elements of salvation can be divided and remain salvation. No one OS which side of the ellipse is more important. So when a person I want to talk a little bit with you about too big to more big words justification and sanctification when a person over emphasizes justification when talking about salvation and justification is simply Christ's work for the believer in redeeming him and forgiving him. That's justification in a nutshell. If someone over emphasizes justification it can lead to a passive Christian experience with faith becoming primarily a matter of mere mental assent to the truth that doesn't have any change in the life. This can lead to the careless phrase that the Atonement was completed on the cross because I wasn't the payment for sin as a as a part of the completed time and was paid on Calvary's cross but the Atonement wasn't completed on the cross. Now some think of a cation if there's an over emphasis on sanctification and sanctification is simply God's work in and through the believe a cleansing from sin and providing victory and power in the life. If there's an over emphasis on sanctification that can lead to maybe warm feelings or reasonal good works as a test of faith. This often minimizes the primary authority of God and it leads to thoughts like it's not true it is not truth it's not true for me unless I feel it or unless it makes sense to me or people may end up placing their faith on visual evidence like faith healers or speaking in tongues or charismatic speakers or in the quiet satisfaction that they have Jew to flee kept the commandments. That's what happens when one emphasizes sanctification So an over emphasis on justification tends to make imputed righteousness' that's the the covering of Christ's righteousness on the repentant believers life and over emphasis on justification tends to make imputed righteousness' the most important element of salvation is an important element of salvation. Absolutely it is an emphasis over emphasizing on on sanctification which is imparted righteousness Christ's righteousness infused into the believers life tends to make human performance the basis of salvation. So is the imparted righteousness of Christ important. Absolutely but one is not more important than the other you have the imputed and you have the imparted righteousness of Jesus you see an over emphasis for example on Christ Ministry on the cross to the neglect of his high priestly ministry tends to minimize the important work of the Holy Spirit In The Life. So those who over emphasize Grace tend to seek assurance in the security of certain legal transactions taking place up there in heaven without a corresponding adjustment in their life to order their life in harmony with God's will and purpose and yet. On the other hand many do not place proper emphasis on Grace tend to seek assurance in right behavior while I'm doing this and I'm doing this right so I must be right with God. Both of these Neither of these pictures need that leader these individuals picture of gracious forgiving the Lord who extends his personal power to the penitent so that the sin that needs forgiving can be overcome. It's not seen in its true light. Now I want you to notice with me what the Bible says and how it places justification and sanctification alongside of each other to me to first John chapter one and those not I want to take a look at three text and there are many but this one take a look at three texts with us here. The smaller the first John chapter one verse nine we know what it says If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins hold of this holiday What is the forgiveness of since that is what justification all the imputed righteousness of Christ right. Sure exactly right. So notice. First on one we just read if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us that's justification and to what cleanse us from all unrighteousness that's sanctification can't have one without the other Jesus doesn't just forgive us and then leave us to ourselves moping around struggling with sin issues and temptation and says all the bass I died for you on Calvary's cross all the that's not how it works. It's not how it works and even though does Jesus say here's my lord I want you to a bay and provides no power for a B.. He says I will cleanse you if you confess I will forgive you if you confess and I will cleanse you I will impute my righteousness and I will impart my righteousness now go of the Romans chapter Romans chapter eight and verse one Romans chapter eight and verse one notice. Romans eight verse want to says there is therefore now. No condemnation. To those who are in Christ Jesus. What is that to those who are in Christ there is no condemnation what is their justification right. That's justification that's right. Who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the earth the spirit What's that sanctification you see how Paul brings the two thoughts together justification and sanctification I'm going to forgive you and I'm going to forgive you I'm going to save you. I'm a savior for obedience you see justification sanctification one more Matthew six. Matthew chapter six verses twelve and thirteen. Matthew chapter six verses twelve and thirteen. This is in the Lord's Prayer notice. Jesus is teaching the disciples he is teaching you and I how to pray and he says forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors what's their justification as an op Surely that's justification and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil what is that sanctification So you see in several instances in the Bible how the Bible writers including geezer's brings justification sanctification together brings forgive pardon and power for a holy life together he brings forgiveness and he brings the impartation of the Spirit of God into the life he brings those two thoughts together not one. Opposing the other but one harmonious whole truth truth is the is the embracing lips as herbut Douglas writes not two separate elements salvation. According to Dr Moore is paradoxical not dialectical by splitting the spheres of truth. Now we must always bring together the sweetness and the substance of the gospel. Now some of you like peanut butter sandwiches and in peanut butter you going to get good protein you're going to get some fat subs. But Tad a little bit of jelly right there little substance makes a sweet and nice. We must always bring together the sweetness and the substance of the gospel because the Bible brings it to us. God always brings together the sweetness and the substance of the Gospel never one without the other now and Seventh Day Adventists we are blessed to have the writings of Ellen wide who we believe was given the prophetic gift and I want you to notice some of her statements before we close relating to this issue of these of the ellipse of truth. The sphere of truth. The substance and the sweetness of the Gospel noticed this in messages to young people Page thirty five. She says the righteousness by which we have justified is imputed the righteousness which we are sanctified is imparted The first is out title like a deed to a house or title to a car that says I'm the legal possessor of the holder The first is out title to heaven. The second is our fitness or qualification for heaven. So this righteousness Christ offers both of both of these aspects of the Gospel the office to each one of us has imparted and his imputed righteousness or imputed impart of righteousness that's ministry. That's messages to young people. Page thirty five notice great controversy. Page four eighty nine the intercession of Christ in man's behalf in the century above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was his death upon the cross by his death he began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven can have one without the other and then in that beautiful little book steps to Christ page sixty three. She says Our only high ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ notice impute. Did to us and in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed and imparted to us and then to more many scripts release Volume twenty page three hundred ninety eight to talk of Christ without the word leads to sentimental ism. I want you to notice what she's referring to there are folk who will uplift Jesus and talk about Jesus and mention him and talk about him to the detriment or to the putting down or to the neglect of the Bible to talk about Jesus but there's no word and so you're left wondering what cheeses are they referring to here she says to talk of Christ without the word leads to sentimental ism and to receive notice on the flip side to receive the theory of the word without accepting or appreciating it's all authors makes men legal formalists she says but Christ and his precious word are in perfect harmony. So when we talk of Jesus let us up. Let us uphold the Word of God when we uphold the Word of God Let us uphold Jesus at the same time and will avoid these ditches and these extremes and then lastly ministry of healing page one twenty nine the progress of reform. Depends upon a clear recognition of fundamental truth while on the one hand danger looks in a narrow philosophy and a hod cold off the doxy on the other hand there is great danger in Caylus liberalism. So here you've got to two groups of people those who are focusing on the law those who are crossing their t's and dotting their i's they've got their little list of things to do legal US cold formal religion it on the other hand you've got those who seek to ignore the plain writings of the Word of God. God's commands and then just simply focusing on the love and the grace of Jesus that makes him feel warm and cozy and comfortable and sin is never pointed out and there's no repentance and there's no remorse. She says we must avoid both we must avoid both Listen friends. Listen we need to be careful never to play off one aspect of truth to the other you you remember the old story about the blind man who asked to describe an elephant remember that one felt the tail of the elephant and they describe the elephant they said the elephant is like a rope and then another felt the leg and said that the elephant is like a tree and a third felt the trunk of the elephant and said the elephant is like a snake now sounds funny for sure but we need to be careful we don't do this with the gospel. We all start off spiritually blind and even when our eyes are wide open to the Gospel of Jesus Jesus is still big oh Jesus is still wide Jesus is still deeper than we and Michelle Lee felt it's my prayer. It's my prayer that we will not limit God in what he wants to do for us and in and through us. Let's be sure to always embrace the whole truth the whole truth and by doing so enjoy to the fullest extend the privilege of salvation through Jesus Christ. What do you say amen amen. We're so glad you decided to tune into today's receiving the word program. If you have a special prayer request we would be happy to pray about it for you to discover more about the Bible through our free online bible studies or listen to more life changing Bible messages go to an essay see central. Dot org and click on the media resources tab. If you've been blessed or encouraged by our ministry and God impresses you to support us then visit our website or write to us that's sixty forty five chameleon Avenue Sacramento California ninety five eight one nine always gladly receive God's word.

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