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UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF INCOMPATIBLE TRUTH
Anyone who has earnestly sought to understand the ways of God has been confronted by the perplexing mysteries of opposing truths. Placed side by side, these truths appear contradictory, forcing us to choose one while ignoring, minimizing, or reinterpreting the other to which we are less disposed. The problem is that God speaks in "stereo," but we only hear in "mono."
Over time however, we develop "stereo" spiritual hearing, and our perceptions change. We come to see the harmony between truths that first seemed quite opposite. Christ Himself is the Truth and the great Reconciler of truths. All things are brought together in Him (Eph. 1:10). Focus on Him reconciles our understanding of conflicting truths, and in turn the parts of the body of Christ distinguished by their adherence to a particular truth. This reconciliation applies not only to doctrinal truth, but also to experiential truth, ie, to truth that explains the Holy Spirit's work in and upon the believer.
Over the last 200 years, but especially since 1900, the main division over experiential truth has been between those who relate to the Lord primarily through His inward sanctifying work and those who relate through His more evident charismatic work. Failure to discern and understand the complementary relationship of these works has crippled the Church* perhaps more than the confusion over any other pair of irreconcilable doctrines. This is because more than correct understanding lies in the balance. At stake is our spiritual experience. Our experience determines the basis on which we end up actually relating to the Lord. It determines whether or not we truly grow into Christ and where we finally appear in His kingdom. At stake is not just a belief system, but our very destiny in Christ.
The Nature of "Incompatible Truth"
One of the key principles in unlocking the mystery between apparently incompatible truths is to understand that spiritual truths are rarely equal in force and scope, yet all truth is interdependent. Sometimes we make the mistake of talking about equally balanced spiritual truths. Truths, for example, about the sovereignty of God and the will of man are sometimes considered equal. This is not true. Yes, they are interdependent, but no, they are not equal in nature, scope, or effect.
More accurately, spiritual truth is either "foundational" or "structural." It is either central or facilitating. In any pair of contradictory spiritual truths, we tend to find that the one is necessary to the existence of the other (foundational), but the other is essential to affirmation of the first (facilitating or structural.) The difference of importance is traced to the difference between Creator and creation.
Source Truth and Reflective Truth
Source truth refers to those propositions of spiritual truth which rest in who God is or in relating man directly to God. These truths are foundational. They are able to stand alone. This is because God is Truth Personified. He is the fountainhead of all reality. He was before anything else existed and without Him nothing else can exist or has any meaning.
The creation is truth reflected. Reflective truth refers to those propositions which attest to something about creation or about man's relating to God through creation. These truths are structural and facilitating. They cannot stand alone but relate back to foundational truth for their support. Yet they are necessary to the displaying of source truth. Without them, there is no expression for the glory of the former.
The best Scriptural illustration of the relationship between source truth and reflective truth is seen in Paul's description of the unequal yet interdependent realities between man and woman:
For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man...
In the Lord however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. I Cor. 11:8-9,11-12
Applying this illustration, man represents source truth and woman represents reflective truth. Building on this picture, we are shown in Ephesians 5 that man and woman are a type of Christ and His People. Hence they picture the Lord of the universe in relationship to His creation. Christ, the Truth, is totally self-sufficient and foundational. Yet the truth which pertains to His people is necessary to Him because it amplifies Him. His people are His "house" (Heb. 3:6). They are His "structure" through which He is reflected. And all of it is of God.
Source truth by itself is like electricity with no filament through which to shine. Reflective truth by itself is like a light bulb with no activating power. But together they display the complete revelation of God. Though their natures often appear contradictory, they are essential to one another in the plan of God.
A Man in a Garden
Our subjection to sin through the knowledge of good and evil is responsible for the division we sense between these types of truth. Prior to the fall of man, Adam had a perfect relationship with God. That relationship was carried out on two levels. One was direct, the other indirect. Adam had immediate communion with God. But he was also placed in a garden. Through his interaction with creation's mysteries, Adam came to a fuller apprehension of who God was.
At first, Adam was able to carry out a perfected relationship with God directly, and indirectly through His creation. Then, his subjection to the knowledge of good and evil changed all that. It created a permanent division in the human heart forcing man to relate to the Lord through either the spiritual or the natural, the eternal or the temporal, but not both. The goal of redemption is to restore our ability to relate perfectly to the Lord both directly and also indirectly through involvement with His creation. As we come into full redemption and are delivered from our schismatic knowledge of good and evil, these truths are reconciled in us.
This book is about the two great post-conversion works of the Spirit's redemption in the Church today: the work of transformation, and the work of anointing. These two works correspond to the two realms of truth we have outlined in this introduction. The next four chapters will detail the scope of each work and put them into their proper relationship within God's overall plan for our complete salvation. Because of the interlocking nature of the concepts to be presented, there will be an overlapping and repetition of some points in the discussion as the same concepts are appreciated from varying angles.
In the second half of the book, we will study the historical process of the Spirit's restoration of these great works over the last 250 years, and take a look at the deficiencies in the body of Christ today where we have partaken of only one or the other. Finally, we will discover how our ability to function in God's Kingdom of the coming age is dependent on our coming into the fullness of these two works in our lives.*
* For the remainder of this book, the capitalized word "Church" will refer to the general body of Christ, ie, the church-at-large. The word in small case will refer to a local assembly or other subsegment of the body of Christ.
[Chapter 2: TRANSFORMATION: THE WORK OF THE CROSS]
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Merrimack, New Hampshire
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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