Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
Thesis: The issue of man's salvation is whether there is any "truth" in the "message" or the experience.
Introduction: In our look at Galatians 1:10 we saw that Paul was returning to the earlier thesis of his own motives in confronting the relational breakdown between the Galatians and God. Jesus' flat out declarations that men's motives determine their trustworthiness (John 7:18 and 8:50) mean two things: what those motives are is crucial; and whether others accurately perceive those motives is also crucial to a life of faith. Paul would not have returned to this theme if it was not critical.
Having, then, reminded the Galatians that the monkey was on their backs in respect to what they were going to do with what he wrote, he turned to his major thesis: the Gospel is of divine origin. Though we all subscribe to that thesis at some level, we are, nonetheless, going to look into it for many weeks to come as it is the subject of all the information given to us in the first two chapters of this book. The issue of our study this evening is going to be this fact: man's salvation is absolutely dependent upon whether, or not, man believes what God has made clear.
November 21, 2010
- I. Behind Paul's "Revelation" of the Gospel's Connection to Man is the Issue of Final Reality.
- A. Paul was not tilting at windmills in his letters.
- 1. There is a problem with the "bottom line" as far as man is concerned.
- a. That "bottom line" is his eternal experience.
- b. The problem is that his temporal experience is so far below what the Bible claims will be the final experience that it tends to undercut his confidence that what the Bible says is real.
- 1) There is not a believer alive who has not questioned his/her entrance into what the Bible calls "eternal life" because of the huge difference between his/her expectations of what that means and his/her actual experience.
- 2) Paul acknowledges this tension in many places, but still calls for a profound commitment to what the Bible claims is true.
- 2. But there is a greater problem: the final results are coming without regard for whether man effectively deals with his/her own tensions, or not.
- B. Paul's argument is unassailable.
- 1. He claims that what man's current experience may be is not what will be and no man can dispute this based on any rational argument (man's temporal experience is never monolithic and, therefore, cannot be used to declare what will be).
- 2. He claims that what a person believes matters because "faith" is too much of a foundational reality in all men's experience to be able to dismiss it and no one can argue this because "argument" means what a person believes matters.
- II. Paul's First Declaration: the Gospel is Not "According to the Standards of Man".
- A. The reason for the declaration is that men must come to grips with why the Gospel seems so far outside of the possibilities of "Truth".
- 1. At issue is the Gospel as "gospel".
- a. This issue is raised by the blending of noun and verb in 1:11.
- 1) The noun zeroes in on the character of the message as "good" news.
- 2) The verb zeroes in on the primary methodology of the message as "proclamation".
- b. This blend is critical because Paul's basic argument in this letter is that the results for men (whether "good" will come) derive from what he/she does with the content of that message when he/she hears it (at the point of proclamation).
- 2. Men have a very difficult time with "forgiveness" on the basis of "grace".
- 3. Paul's method of handling this difficulty is to "make known" two most critical realities.
- a. The "making known" is the clear manifestation by some method of some reality.
- b. The realities are two: the Gospel is not according to the standards of man; and it is by revelation of Jesus Christ.
- B. The nature of the declaration is first concerned with what Paul's grammar calls "the standards of man".
- 1. If the Gospel is not according to the standards of man, we must know of what those standards consist.
- 2. The context reveals at least three concepts of those standards.
- a. The standards have to do with man being either the root source or the instrument of the message because Paul says he did not receive it "from man", nor was any man his "teacher".
- 1) Men are inveterate glory hounds and are never satisfied unless they can be seen as the roots of what others consider good.
- 2) Most men, though not greatly satisfied by it, will also accept being seen as the means of what others see as praiseworthy.
- b. Those standards also involve the "agenda" of man as opposed to God's.
- 1) Paul's declaration of God's agenda is in 1:15-16 and has to do with the manifestation of His Son by means of human instrumentality.
- 2) Paul's "agenda", if it should be a reflection of man's, was the building of his own reputation in the eyes of men.
- c. Those standards also involve a critical focus upon oneself.
- 1) Men are totally self-absorbed in their natural state.
- 2) God is "man-absorbed" as the outworking of His own glory.
- 3) God's "other-focus" is diametrically opposed to man's "self-focus".
- III. Paul's Second Declaration: the Gospel is a God-revealed Message.
- A. The reason for the declaration is that "Truth" stands, or falls, according to its roots.
- 1. The Gospel is either false because its roots are embedded in human ignorance or it is true because its roots are embedded in divine omniscience.
- 2. What men "think" about what omniscience declares to be true is immaterial to the question of "Truth" but absolutely crucial to the question of man's entrance into its benefits.
- B. What does it mean for the Gospel to be "revealed"?
- 1. The word "revelation" means, in all of its uses, "to unveil so that there is no confusion".
- 2. The word is used in multiple New Testament texts (18 of them) and all of them deal with a certain level of confusion about what is either unknown or only partially known.
- 3. The point of "revelation" is the erasure of confusion by a high level of "certainty".
- C. How was the Gospel "revealed" to Paul?
- 1. We simply do not know.
- 2. The biblical record is ambiguous about the methodology.