Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 5
Thesis: The foundational issues of "revelation" in regard to the "in me" reality are mostly concerned with getting the facts straight, not making the vessel "perfect".
Introduction: One of the most deceptive attacks upon "Truth" is the use of accusations of impropriety against the messenger to disparage "faith" in the message. We see this tactic used all of the time and every where because we live in a message-conflict universe where what one believes has enormous consequences. The reason that we need to realize that finding a flaw in the messenger does not do anything to the issue of the truth of the message is that the apostle made the transformation of his life an initial issue in his letter to the Galatians so that they would be inclined to believe his message.
While it is true that one's failure to function in consistency with one's words makes a valid point, that "point" is not that the message is in error; rather it is that the messenger does not believe his/her own words. But Paul's argument was not that failure made the message false; it was, rather, that success made the message true. It works like this: a lack of message-behavior consistency only raises the issue of whether the one who failed "believed"; it does not raise the question of the truth of the message. When Jesus declared that the one who "believed" could say to a mountain, "Be plucked up and cast into the sea", and see the actual result (Matthew 21:21), what He said was either true or not true, but the fact that no one has ever actually done that particular act cannot be used to establish which of our options is fact. Alternatively, however, if one saw a mountain cast into the sea, that would establish which of the options was true. Therefore, failure does not challenge the truth of the message, but success does establish it.
This evening we are going to look into Paul's words about God's purposes for "separating" Paul and "calling him". And we are going to do so in light of the comments I have already made about the issue of determining the truthfulness of the message. What we are going to see is that the presence of Christ in a person has more to do with getting that person to the point where he/she can see the truth than it does with getting that person to do the truth. At the outset, let me say that I am not minimizing the doing of the truth, but I am attempting to get the cart and horse in the proper order because doing can be stimulated if the truth is established, but doing is impossible if we believe a lie.
January 16, 2011
- I. The Initial Issue: God's Sense of What is "Fit".
- A. The issue of what is "fit" is raised by the word that the translators of the Authorized Version and the NASB rendered "was pleased".
- 1. The word has more to do with the way God thinks about what will, and will not, effectively produce the outcomes He seeks than it does about His emotional condition.
- 2. Rather than "being pleased", God was actually thoughtfully engaged in addressing what types of actions were necessary on His part in order to bring His Master Plan to its intended culmination.
- B. The subsequent activities.
- 1. Two actions have already been considered: Paul's "separation from his mother's womb" and his "being called by God through grace".
- a. These actions were included in order to establish the fact that "grace" is the dominating characteristic of God's message to men.
- b. These actions were required, as past events, in order for the actions recorded in 1:16 to take place.
- 2. Two further actions were necessary if what God saw as "fitting" to the Master Plan was to actually occur.
- a. The first of these needed actions had to do with what Paul meant by his words, "to reveal His Son in me".
- b. The second of these needed actions had to do with what Paul meant by his words, "that I might preach Him among the nations".
- II. The First of the "Further Actions".
- A. The issue of "revelation".
- 1. In all of the biblical uses of the term "to reveal" two things stand out.
- a. On the up side, "to reveal" means "to bring a hidden reality into a sufficiently clear manifestation as to enable both faith and its most immediate fruit".
- 1) Matthew 16:17 tells us that the hidden truth about Jesus' actual identity was revealed to Peter by the Father.
- 2) There is no more crucial truth than this for any man's perception as Jesus declared in John 8:24.
- a) In this text, the issue is faith in the actual identity of Jesus.
- b) In this text, the most immediate fruit of such faith is the forgiveness of sins so that one does not die with those sins still held in charge against him.
- d. On the down side, "to reveal" never means "to give pervasive insight so that one can consistently apply the clarity to the whole of one's view of life".
- 1) Matthew 16:22-23 tells us as bluntly as possible how easily one moves from "faith" to a Satanic mindset.
- 2) There is no indication anywhere in Scripture that the fruit of "faith" is revoked when one embraces an inimical mindset, but the Scriptures are full of the fact that "Life" cannot flow into, or out of, one whose mindset is thus.
- 2. In Galatians the uses of the term "to reveal" are both (1:16 and 3:23) tied to the Large Plan of God in which His purposes are moving along a predetermined chronological path.
- a. In our present text (1:16) Paul introduces the fact that the Large Plan involves a distinct change of "audience" for the words of God.
- b. In the other text (3:23) Paul declared that the Large Plan had involved a significantly long fixation in "revelation" upon "Law" (Justice) so that those who were subjected to "revelation" could come to "the faith".
- 3. In Galatians there are also two references to "revelation" as a noun that are both tied to Paul's personal involvement in the Large Plan.
- a. In 1:12 he told the Galatians that his message was "personally delivered" by "revelation" by Jesus Christ.
- b. In 2:2 he told the Galatians that his message was compared to that of the known apostles so that its truth might continue with them (2:5).
- 4. The point to all of this appeal to "revelation" is that God had a distinct purpose for His act of "revealing" the message to Paul.
- B. The issue of the "content" of the revelation.
- 1. Biblically, all "revelation" is centered on the Son of God.
- a. This means that Jesus is presented as the essence of God and all "revelation" about Him is to be understood as Truth about God.
- b. This means that the Son of God is, in fact, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
- 2. In Galatians, the issue of the revelation of the Son of God boils down to a core fact and a core consequence.
- a. In 3:1 the core fact is laid out: Jesus Christ was crucified.
- b. In the whole of the rest of the letter argues that the core consequence is that this death is only applicable to those who receive it by faith as opposed to any form of human behavior changes because the issue of behavior leads immediately to its moral character and that leads immediately to judgment.
- 1) Judgment against character leads to condemnation.
- 2) Judgment in favor of character leads to boasting.
- C. The issue of the "location" of the revelation.
- 1. The word translated "in" is problematical.
- 2. The context is very helpful.
- a. The issue of the revelation of the Son of God "in" Paul is stated as the preliminary to his being able to "preach Him among the nations".
- b. The prior context of 1:12 establishes that Jesus Christ "revealed" His message to Paul so that he could be the "apostle" he was summoned to be.
- c. The follow up of 1:17 establishes that Paul's aside in Arabia was where he got the revelation that allowed him to begin to preach Christ (1:23).
- d. These statements, taken together, reveal where Paul got the core of his theology of Life.
- 1) Paul's fundamental theology of Life centered upon the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ.
- 2) This boiled down to one basic principle: for the Life of Jesus to be manifest through a human being, that human being had to have the Spirit of Jesus within him so that he could live by that Spirit.
- 3) Thus, Paul's preaching was declared to be attended by the Spirit as the source of the message (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
- 3. The point of this "location" is that Paul immediately ties his message, not to his own success, or failure, in behavior, but to the principle of God for "Life".
- III. The Second of the "Further Actions".
- A. The heart of the purpose of God is the fulfillment of the Large Plan.
- B. The core of the truthfulness of the message of God is accuracy.
- C. The core of apostleship is sufficiently clear understanding of the message as to enable the accurate proclamation.
- D. The core purpose of accurate proclamation is "faith" so that "behavior" might be affected.