Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 11
Thesis: The mystery of godly living is rooted in its ceasing to be a mystery.
Introduction: We said in our study last week that the bottom line to all legitimate doctrine is right behavior. There is no point to claiming a concept is "true" if it, in fact, does not lead to actual godly behavior.
The reason that the Gospel puts it focus upon Faith and Love is that actual godly behavior does not simply consist of overt behavior. The issues begin deeply within at the level of values and move outward to the surface and beyond by means of faith.
Paul's focus upon the absolute requirement of freedom from law addresses man at the deepest level of his values because man's greatest difficulty is his selfishness and that issue loses its strength when the self ceases to be threatened. Fear is Love's greatest enemy and the promises of God address all of the fears of men directly. When the promises are believed, Love casts out all fear.
But, all of this is just "talk" unless faith in the promises is actually possible for men. It is for this cause that the Gospel has its most potent root in the actual reality of regeneration by means of the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ. In Galatians 3:14 Paul linked the blessing of Abraham to the provision of the Spirit by Jesus Christ. Likewise, in Ephesians 1:13 Paul actually called the Spirit of Christ "the Holy Spirit of the Promise".
For this cause it is no surprise that Paul defined the root of his life in terms of the indwelling Christ in his dispute with Cephas. This evening we are going to look into that issue.
August 28, 2011
- I. The Issues: Death to Law and Life to God.
- A. In both cases, the heart of the claims has to do with the capacity to act.
- 1. Being dead to Law most fundamentally means that the Law totally loses its ability to have any impact upon the one who is "dead to it".
- 2. Being alive to God most fundamentally means that God has an undiminished capacity to empower the one who is "alive to Him".
- B. In both cases, the most fundamental significance of the claims is that both Love and Truth hang in the balance.
- 1. If Paul did not have an actual freedom from Law by death to it, his Gospel of Love is a deceptive lie.
- 2. If Paul did not have actual life from God by regeneration, his Gospel of Truth is also an unreality.
- C. In neither case does being an "apostle" (or any other identity in the Body) have any direct impact.
- 1. Cephas was God's appointed "apostle to the circumcision", but that did not keep him from legalistic thinking and behavior.
- 2. What Paul was declaring of himself is true of everyone who believes the Gospel.
- II. The Mechanism: Genuine Union With Christ.
- A. Paul's Gospel is Promise.
- 1. This most fundamentally means the One Who made the promise(s) is the one Who bears the responsibility to fulfill it/them -- this was the critical lesson of Abraham's faith (Romans 4:21 compared to 4:16 shows that "Promise" is only "sure" if its fulfillment rests only upon the One making it).
- 2. The essence of the Gospel is the promise of the Spirit (Galatians 3:14).
- a. The promises of forgiveness of sins and a judicial decree of righteousness are not the essence -- they are the means to a greater end: union with God.
- b. Union with God is the be-all end-all when Life is the issue.
- 3. The methodology of the Gospel is a union with Christ that is so real that one actually participates with Him in both death under the Law and resurrection to newness of Life.
- a. At one level, Christ was the only One crucified and raised.
- b. At another level, every believer is genuinely united with Christ so that what He did, they did.
- 1) In Adam, this uniting was physical and genetic.
- 2) In Christ, this uniting is spiritual and mental.
- 4. Promise does not mean "unreality"; it means "delayed finality".
- B. Paul's Gospel is rooted in Faith.
- 1. Hebrews 11:11 pointedly declares that "Promise" is only fulfilled for those who believe and the implication is clear: if the person at the center of the particular issue refuses to believe, "the rocks" will serve as the intermediate agent (Luke 19:40).
- a. A further implication exists in this text: whether a person "believes", or not, is ultimately up to God and His dealings with that person.
- b. This implication cannot be used as an excuse by the unbeliever -- the rocks have no resistance to being God's tools.
- 2. The reality of faith is that its impact is determined by the One in Whom the faith is focused and not in the one exercising it.
- a. When Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego took their faith stand, the first thing that happened was that they were bound; then they were delivered to the flame.
- b. Out of the gazillion things that could have happened, the one thing that did happen was their fire-proofing.
- 3. The arenas of impact are divergent.
- a. One of the arenas is internal and personal -- what happens to the one believing.
- 1) This varies to extremes depending upon the strength of the "faith" as is shown by the differences between the woman with the issue of blood and the centurion with the ill servant.
- 2) The "increase of faith" is incipient and extremely challenged by deceptions.
- b. The other is external and beyond one's own personal reality -- what happens in the world of men and angels because one believes.
- 1) God has never put this issue into man's hands.
- a) 1 Corinthians 3:6 declares that "results" are completely in God's hands.
- b) He always does what He said He would do, but after that, what He does is at His own discretion.
- 2) Since God's judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out, it is ludicrous for men to "judge" the events outside of their bodies in terms of God's "faithfulness".