Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 6
Thesis: The most definitive issue between "Law" and "Promise", in respect to "the inheritance", is the specific identity of God as the "Actor" Whose behavior determines the details of the inheritance.
Introduction: In our studies of this paragraph (which culminate with this one), we have seen that a very major part of Paul's argument is that divine covenants cannot be altered and that they rule history in regard to their particulars. Under that major thesis, Paul argued that God made a covenant with Abraham and Christ, according to the particulars of "Promise", that completely eliminates "Law" as having anything whatsoever to do with the mechanism(s) that produce what he calls "the inheritance".
That this is not a well-understood concept is revealed by the vast number of "evangelicals" who regularly insist that one's "inheritance" in the Kingdom of God depends upon their obedience to His Word. Because this is such a confusion in "the faith", this evening we are going to attempt to clarify the most definitive issue that stands as the clarifying factor between "Law" and "Promise".
April 15, 2012
- I. The Major Reasons for Confusion.
- A. 1Corinthians 3:11-15.
- 1. As this passage is typically taught, every believer will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be judged for what he/she did in his/her post-conversion life because of the relationship between this passage and 2 Corinthians 5:10.
- 2. The focus of this teaching is typically upon the believer's responsibility to do deeds that can be revealed as "gold, silver, or precious stones".
- 3. The outcome of this teaching is typically one of two: either a doubling-down upon this responsibility, or a blowing-off of the whole idea.
- a. The problem with both of these outcomes is that they produce "wood, hay, and stubble".
- b. The reason for these outcomes is a most fundamental ignorance of Paul's most fundamental concept of the believer's post-conversion reality.
- 4. The bottom line is that people go away from this "Judgment Seat" concept with a serious ignorance of the distinction between "Law" and "Promise", and an inevitable default to "Law" as their mechanism of life.
- B. Colossians 3:23-25.
- 1. This passage is typically seen to be a statement of "how" one enhances his/her participation in "the inheritance".
- 2. As it is taught, people enhance the level of their participation in the inheritance by "doing everything heartily unto the Lord".
- 3. The inescapable conclusion is that one's inheritance depends upon one's obedience to the practice of serving the Lord Christ and that presses the necessity to "obey"; an integral part of "Law".
- C. Ephesians 5:3-8.
- 1. This text seems to most to reaffirm the concept that the inheritance is tied to what kind of person one is.
- 2. The almost inescapable result is that people identify what kind of person they are by whether, or not, they have committed any of Paul's list of no-no's.
- 3. The end result is that people tend very strongly to put the responsibility for what kind of works they do upon themselves so that they end up being the kind of person who can inherit in the Kingdom.
- II. The Major Problem: Ignorance of Paul's Principle of First Things First (previous covenants trump all that come after).
- A. If a person does not "get" the principle of Life at the beginning, everything afterwards tends to default to "Law".
- B. If a person defaults to "Law", the inheritance is directly affected.
- III. The Clarifying Reality: the Virgin Birth of Christ.
- A. Almost everybody ignores Paul's claim that the sole "seed" of Abraham is Christ because Isaac is accepted as the promised seed.
- B. But the fact is that Christ is the "Seed" to Whom the promises were made and He did not come into this world by any effort of any man, including Abraham.
- C. The point of this reality is that the most fundamental issue of "Promise" is that "Promise" has a single "Actor" in respect to fulfillment.
- 1. This means that "the inheritance" is tied to the actions of an actor.
- a. This means that everyone who understands that the particulars of anyone's "inheritance" are tied to "the deeds done in the body" is absolutely correct.
- b. This means that, to understand the distinction between "Law" and "Promise" we must understand that this "distinction" does not consist of embracing/jettisoning the fact that every deed done in the body comes to judgment and consequence.
- 2. This means that, if we are to clearly grasp the first principle of Life, we must zero in on the issue of what produces "deeds done in the body".
- a. The "production" depends upon four most critical elements.
- 1) First, the relative "health" of the body itself: it cannot do what it cannot do and the condition of the body has a direct bearing on the kinds of things that can come out of it.
- 2) Second, the "love" (value system) that drives all of the activities of the body.
- 3) Third, the "faith" (belief system) that seeks to implement the various "loves" of the value system.
- 4) Fourth, the "spirit" that energizes all activities so that what is loved and believed shows up in actual deeds.
- b. Because there is no escape from these four critical elements, we must understand how "Law" and "Promise" address them.
- 1) Law addresses "health, love, faith, and spirit" as issues of personal responsibility to be met with determination.
- 2) Promise assumes "health, love, faith, and spirit" are factors beyond human capacity that can only be met if God steps in.
- c. Because "Promise" insists that God must step in if any "inheritance-worthy deeds" are to be accomplished, we must understand that the most fundamental issue of "Promise" is that it is a commitment on God's part "to step in".
- 1) Inheritance is dependent upon "the deeds done in the body".
- 2) Thus, inheritance is dependent upon whether it is God Who produces those deeds, or not.
- IV. The Bottom Line.
- A. If it is true that only God can produce "inheritance-worthy deeds", it is imperative that we "get" two basic facts.
- 1. The coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was a definitive declaration that what was "dead" has been revitalized by a new spirit (this is the first of the first things for believers: "without Me ye can do nothing").
- 2. The issue of Life is Galatians 2:20.
- 3. The principle of Life is whether, or not, a person "believes".
- a. The only legitimate response to a "promise" is "faith in it".
- b. When a person "believes" a promise, that "faith" indicates that the "love" behind the "faith" is in harmony with the "love" of the one making the promise.
- 1) God makes no promises that He does not first generate the "love" that will make them "believable".
- 2) If a divine promise is appealing, divine love is driving both the appeal and the desire to "believe".
- c. When a person believes a promise made by God, there are inescapable consequences that result in "works" done by the body for one reason: God is the Responder to "faith"; not the person believing.
- d. When God is the One doing the "deeds of the body", they are "inheritance-worthy deeds" and no man can take credit for their production.
- e. Thus, the only issue that actually stands between "Law" and "Promise" is the issue of the Actor.
- 1) "Law" insists upon human obedience and rejects God as the Actor.
- 2) "Promise" insists upon divine willingness to act and rejects human endeavors as the key to the inheritance.