Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
Thesis: The question remains: to what does God respond?
Introduction: In the paragraph, 3:1-5, the issue in Paul's mind is one: What is the fundamental principle of spiritual life when that life is viewed as the outcome of God relating to man so that the man ends up experiencing the Life of the living God? In verse one, he posited the most fundamental Truth: Jesus Christ crucified. Out of that most basic reality came his next issue: what is the response that God requires of the person confronted with that Truth, and what happens to that person when he/she gives that response? Then, the next logical step was Paul's next concern: why can the Galatians not see that God's required response is "across the board" in terms of any kind of progressive development of man's experience of the Life of God? This problem Paul approaches from a different direction. He wonders whether the Galatians' initial experiences of the Life of God in their setting of "suffering" was wasted on them. Jesus Christ, crucified, means no one gets very far into "living" before they are confronted with the fact that not only is the Life of God a "stand alone" reality that exists quite apart from one's circumstances, but that Life of God is inherently self-sacrificial. In other words, "suffering" is an integral aspect of the experience of the Life of God as long as Sin exists in the setting, and no one can, or is even supposed to seek to, escape it.
Now, as we come to the end of the paragraph, and the last question of Paul's six questions, the issue before us is this: to what does God respond so that His "provision" and "active work" are an integrated part of man's experience?
November 20, 2011
- I. The Issues of Divine Provision and Active Work.
- A. The question Paul raises begins with God's "provision of the Spirit" (NASB).
- 1. In addressing the issue in this way, Paul turns the questions around.
- a. In 3:2 the question was Galatians-centered: How did you receive the Spirit?
- b. In 3:3 the question was Galatians-centered: How will you make progress in the experience of the Life of God?
- c. But in 3:5 the question is God-centered: What is the basis for God's activities in your lives?
- 2. In this about-face in terms of focus, the first issue is what Paul calls "God's provision of the Spirit".
- a. The word translated "provides" is a word only used in five texts of the New Testament (2 Corinthians 9:10; Colossians 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5; and 2 Peter 1:11).
- b. In every text there is a double focus.
- 1) On the one hand, there is a focus upon the fact that the "provision" is actually an act that has required a long-term set of multiple accomplishments before the actual provision is made [Note Galatians 4:4 and 3:14 -- both texts of actions that took a very long time to actually occur].
- 2) On the other hand, there is a focus upon the fact that the "provision" is actually a major event that has another long-term set of multiple accomplishments in view because there is another "goal" in mind.
- c. In our text, the double focus consists of: 1) seeing the provision of the Spirit as a "new", and significantly great, event; and 2) seeing the provision of the Spirit as having its own down-line goal in mind.
- 1) The giving of the Spirit to every child of God was not a part of man's experience before the crucifixion of Jesus (see John 7:39), but He is currently (after more than 4,000 years of prelude) the most basic experience of every child of God (see Romans 8:9).
- 2) The giving of the Spirit has, as its long-term goal, the conformation of the child into son-ship (Romans 8:14) so that the child can take his/her place in the Kingdom of God (a long-term process and event).
- B. The question Paul raises continues with God's "working of 'miracles'".
- 1. The translation is problematical (the use of "miracle" is a 7 out of 120 reality) because it leads to an unsustainable assumption.
- a. Paul presents the working of God as "normative" to the Galatians' experience.
- b. At issue is just what kind of works are "normative" with God?
- 2. There are two "examples" of "work" in Galatians that give understanding of what God considers "works of power".
- a. The generation of "apostles" in 2:8 is clearly a phenomenal "work", but it does not fit the typical mold of "miracle".
- b. The declaration of what "works" in God's order of His relational universe in 5:6 has to apply to God as well as man.
- 3. The "logic" of Christianity demands that we see every true principle leading to "character", so that the issue of "works of power" is, invariably, going to raise the issue of what "good" is to be accomplished.
- 4. The condition of man is such that it is easier to produce physical phenomena than it is to produce actual goodness out of the body of a human being (Note Matthew 9:5).
- II. The Issue of Divine Methodology.
- A. Does God ever exercise His prerogatives because He is "obligated" (Romans 11:35)?
- B. What is God really after?
- 1. A harmonious relational universe has an absolute requirement: "faith".
- 2. The lack of harmony in the current relational universe has one root: "obligation".
- C. The bottom line is the fact that "faith", as a response to "hearing", is what actually establishes "love" and "obligation" establishes "hate".