Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6
Thesis: The "fatherhood" of God is critical to the identification of His goals and methods.
Introduction: In our text, it is the "Father" Who raised Jesus from the dead. This is a critical declaration from many angles, but it is primarily a "faith" issue. The Ultimate Executor of Power has no need of agreement from any others to act, nor does He seek the approval of any others. But, Paul says, He is most accurately described as a "Father" when it comes down to His use of power for the sake of others. This evening we are going to look into why Paul would characterize Him in that manner.
August 8, 2010
- I. There Are Problems.
- A. In Matthew 23:9 Jesus insisted that His followers refrain from calling any man "father".
- 1. This has to be understood in light of Paul's own use of "father" in respect to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:15 and a host of texts wherein the writers referred to their readers in the endearing term of "children".
- a. This has to mean that Jesus' command has a specific set of boundaries that do not all apply to many of the settings of life.
- b. The particular issue in Jesus' command is the setting of self-exalters who seek the adulation of others as their "superiors".
- c. The particular "problem" is, then, the identification of who is truly superior and why.
- 2. Paul's context in Galatians is directly in harmony with this issue.
- a. The "truly superior" is the Ultimate Executor of Power.
- b. The reason for the superiority is obvious: the focus is upon Power.
- 1) The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is indisputably "powerful".
- a) Without debate, "resurrection" is a Life/Death issue at the level of physical "existence".
- b) Anyone who controls this level of existence is the Ultimate Executor of Power.
- 2) In the real universe, the bottom line will always end up being "whose will is enforced?".
- a) This is not conditioned upon other characteristics (it does not matter what the "character" of the Executor of Power is, the only thing that matters is the enforcement of His will).
- b) But the exercise of power is never arbitrary or unguided (it is the character of the Executor that determines how the power is exercised).
- 3. At stake in Paul's characterization and Jesus' prohibition is one critical factor: the attitude of those under the power.
- a. Jesus forbade the use of "father" in settings of "superiority" for one reason: the behavior of people arises out of the attitudes they take and the attitude that is most critical is that one which focuses upon God.
- b. Paul's characterization of the Ultimate Executor of Power as "Father" was also driven by the same fact (the exercise of power is immaterial to the actual identity and character of God, but it is not immaterial to the issue of whether others will trust Him).
- B. People "react" to God according to their own "father" experiences.
- 1. This is precisely why Jesus forbade the exaltation of any man to the position of "father".
- 2. This is a major fault that leads to all manner of evil.
- II. There Are Indisputable Realities.
- A. This "Father" raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
- 1. This means this: this "Father" was absolutely opposed to the agenda and actions of those who had Him put to death and He was not going to allow either to stand.
- 2. This raises a primary question: if He was going to "undo" the agenda and actions, why did He permit them in the first place?
- a. The permission of evil has always had one factor clearly in place: it will serve for the good of those who are inclined to learn (Romans 9:22).
- b. The permission of evil has always had a crucial "setting": creatures of sensibility (those whose quality of Life is experienced and eternal) have a great need to know their Creator (John 17:3).
- c. How is this not a divine use of "the end justifies the means"?
- 1) In the use of "the end justifies the means", it is the always the executor of power who implements evil means and then justifies them by the outcome, thus making the executor "evil".
- 2) In the real universe, there are certain "impossibilities", even for God.
- 3) In the Bible, God is presented as a Creator Who actually creates "persons", and a Servant Who permits others to share in the exercise of His power.
- a) As a servant, God's permission to others is real but not unbounded: He allows choices and actions, but not final determinations.
- i. "Servants" by definition are those who are subject to the decisions of others.
- ii. "Servanthood", as a characteristic of God, is, like all other characteristics, in a harmonious balance with certain antitheses in His character.
- iii. It is this "balance" reality that allows decisions and choices under the restriction of "final determinations".
- b) As a creator, God's permission to others accepts their limitations in the permission as well as the dangers (sin is not "inevitable" to creatures, but it is "possible").
- i. The creation of "persons" is done under the impossibility of the creation of deity.
- ii. The creation of "persons" is an act that includes limited intelligence, limited experience, and limited capacity to produce.
- iii. The "limitations" inevitably introduce the possibility of "sin" if "faith" and "love" are rejected as most fundamental requirements (and if our present experience tells us anything at all, it tells us of the damage that such rejection creates).
- c) Any "criticism" of God in respect to the presence of "evil" must, of necessity, arise out of the ignorance of the creature and stands under the foolishness of ignorance taking on omniscience.
- 4) In the Bible, it is always the executor of power who is responsible for the action taken, never the bystander(s) who might have altered the situation if that bystander had become an executor of power.
- B. It was as a "Father" that God raised Jesus from the dead.
- 1. This means this: what the "Father" permitted in regard to Jesus was both temporary and to be undone.
- 2. It is a characteristic of the "Father" in Galatians to use temporary experiences to lay the foundation for an explosion of benefits in the final state of experience.
- C. The "Father's" resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the final statement about what it means to be a "father": every evil will be reversed and used as a catalyst for incomparable glory for those who "love" and "trust" Him.