Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
Thesis: 'Faith' is Paul's answer to everything that is wrong with the world.
Introduction: We have come to the end of the first paragraph in the third section of Galatians. As we look at the final declaration Paul made, we note that he puts "faith" at the top of the heap of things which are supposed to address what is wrong with the world. At first blush this looks a bit different from his claim in 1 Corinthians 13 that "love" is the "greatest" -- putting "love" at the top of the heap. But, what we can easily recognize is the fact that the Galatian letter is all about "methodology", not "objective". In terms of "method", it really does not matter what the "objective" is; what really matters is whether, in fact, the "method" will work. In Jesus' comment about being able to move a mountain with "faith as a grain of mustard", He did not raise the issue of whether the mountain needed to be moved; He simply said that "faith" could move it. Paul, however, in our text, does address whether "faith" will actually work. Thus, this evening we are going to look into what he wrote.
March 3, 2013
- I. Paul's Focus Upon "Accomplishment".
- A. All three of Paul's "method" issues have an "objective" in view.
- 1. Circumcision is presented as a one-word summary of an entire unit of thought that has "acceptance by God" in view.
- 2. Uncircumcision is likewise presented as a one-word summary of the opposite unit of thought that has "acceptance by God" in view.
- 3. Faith is, thirdly, also presented as a one-word summary of the alternative to the entire universe in which circumcision and uncircumcision function as methods of achieving "acceptance by God".
- B. Paul's choice of words in addressing these "methods" is deliberately focused upon "the inherent nature of things".
- 1. There are three major "power" words in Greek.
- a. Dunamis looks at "power" as a "force" that is viewed as unstoppable.
- b. Kratos looks at "power" as an "organizational ability" that rests upon the person's ability to organize what is available to make things to happen.
- c. Ischuros, the word associated with Paul's verb in our text, looks at "power" as "an inherent capacity" based upon the laws that govern the way things work.
- 2. Paul's choice to focus upon "the inherent nature of" the varied approaches means that he is looking at the question of whether, or not, the "systems" (circumcision, uncircumcision, or faith) have the inherent capacity necessary to the task.
- II. Paul's Dismissal of the Entire Continuum of Circumcision/Uncircumcision.
- A. On one end of this continuum is "circumcision": the approach of "revelation/obedience".
- B. On the opposite end is "uncircumcision": the approach of "ignorance/reaction" (just do the best you can in the moment -- a "method" that depends entirely upon how astute one is regarding the scenario that has been tossed in your face).
- C. Neither of these approaches -- and nothing on the line between their extremes -- has what is necessary.
- III. Paul's Alternative.
- A. At the top of the heap: faith.
- 1. This raises the issue of whether, or not, his readers understand what "faith" is.
- 2. Biblically, "faith" is, at its core, a "passive" state in which the "believer" expects God to take action.
- a. Jesus' "faith as a grain of mustard" posits results that only God can achieve on the basis of a power that only God has.
- 1) Matthew 17:20.
- 2) It should, then, be beyond obvious that "faith" is an attitude of the powerless that moves God to act on their behalf.
- 3) It is clear that Paul has moved the issue of "inherent capacity" out of the realm of man into the realm of God as Omnipotent.
- b. Abraham's greatest "learned lesson" is revealed by Paul in Romans 4:21.
- 1) In that text he says that Abraham's "fully developed conviction" was this: What God promises is up to Him to accomplish.
- 2) Thus, the "inherent" issue is transferred to God.
- c. This does not rule out human action/behavior simply because God is committed to sharing His Life with others.
- 1) This means He lets them be involved with Him in what He does.
- 2) He is the Ultimate User of Intermediate Agents for the joy of those agents who cooperate with Him.
- 3) However, the human behavior/actions that are allowed to be involved are only "workable" because God sustains their impact(s) by His own power, wisdom, and selective permissions.
- d. This does rule out human "roots" for whatever task, or agenda, is in view (man does not decide what is important, nor does he make the Promise to see it realized).
- B. Underlying "Love".
- 1. "Faith" is an operational word; indicating "method".
- 2. "Love" is an objective word; indicating "task".
- 3. "Faith energized by love" simply means that anything that fits the underlying "love" of the One Whose inherent abilities work along the lines of the "faith" of men, will come to pass.