Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 10
Thesis: The ultimate bottom line of faith is that God never speaks without omnipotence.
Introduction: As we have worked our way through the conversation Gabriel had with Mary, we have seen a persistent theme in his words: the intention of giving her information that is preparatory for life. Life is an extremely complicated affair with myriads of specific details that are often shrouded in mystery. Not only are there a multitude of situations in the moments as they flow by us, there is also the reality that communication often breaks down because of the unspoken assumptions that exist in the minds of both speakers and hearers. To be sure, there are biblical answers to the vast majority of our questions, but our ignorance of the biblical content often leaves us without those answers. And, even when we have a fair grasp of the content, we yet often find ourselves surprised by God's actions because we have either forgotten what we know, or we have had a mental lapse in respect to how the content addresses our questions. In the face of these realities, our gracious God has done two things that work toward our great good. On the one hand, He has given us all of the answers we need in the details of His words to us so that answers are always available to us if we are persistent in the search; and, on the other hand, He has revealed, in the multitude of those words, certain key foundational principles that are what I call "generic" truth. By 'generic truth' I mean truth that is broad enough to give us a workable grasp of what God is like and will do even though we have no idea of the whats, whens, hows, and whys. "God is love" is one such 'generic truth'. We seldom understand what that means in specific detail, but we rest in the reality that love requires His pursuit of our best interests. Romans 8:28 is another one of those 'generic truths': we almost never understand except by hindsight how its truth is going to 'work', but we rest in the reality of the good He has promised. This morning we are going to look at one of these 'generic truths' that Gabriel gives Mary just before he departs. His statement is this: God never utters a word without backing it with omnipotence. We want to see why he leaves her with this 'deposit of truth' as he prepares to leave her.
February 22, 2004
- I. The Setting for This "Generic Truth".
- A. Mary's awareness of Elizabeth's frustrated life.
- 1. The two are relatives -- though we do not know how they are related -- who apparently have enough of a relationship that Mary feels comfortable in dropping in on Elizabeth for a three month stay.
- a. In this kind of relationship, the big-ticket issues of personality and perspective are well known.
- b. In this relationship, Mary knew about the reality of Elizabeth's frustrated life ["...her that is called 'barren'..."].
- 2. The words of Gabriel had to have been a "shock" to Mary since years had gone by without any "good news" and, even when there was good news to share, Elizabeth had not shared it.
- B. Mary's "similarity of circumstances" with Elizabeth.
- 1. Both are to have sons by special divine provision.
- a. Elizabeth's situation was her "old age".
- b. Mary's situation was her "manlessness".
- 2. The 'similarity' is going to generate significantly different results.
- a. Elizabeth is going to have her son in the context of high joy and community acceptance. She is going to go from "shame" in the eyes of men to joyful approval.
- b. Mary is going to have her son in the context of community suspicion and murderous intent. She is going to go from "approval" in the eyes of men to "shame".
- II. The Need for This "Generic Truth".
- A. The transition for Mary is going to be huge.
- B. The transition is going to be extremely hurtful.
- C. The transition is going to be theologically dangerous..."How could God do this to me?"
- III. The Nature of This "Generic Truth".
- A. At the very heart of Gabriel's statement is a core of Theology.
- 1. God never "speaks" except to "bless". Cursing doesn't require speech.
- 2. God never "speaks" outside of the context of "integrity".
- 3. God never "speaks" outside of the context of "omnipotence".
- B. At the very core of Gabriel's statement is a dismissal of human frailty.
- 1. God expected Zacharias and Elizabeth to exercise some common sense in their frustration.
- a. They had more than the two "unhappy" options in their barrenness...
- 1) Option One: God does not speak the truth.
- 2) Option Two: God is not happy with my efforts to please Him.
- 3) The Greater Option: God always keeps His word, and will do as He has said.
- b. Without specific conviction of sinfulness, they should have relaxed and expected a child.
- 2. Even when God's expectations were thwarted by human frailty, His word was unchangeable.
- 3. The words of God do not hang upon human frailty.
- C. The essence of Gabriel's statement is a huge "generic truth" that, though it does not answer all of the questions and does not solve all of the riddles, puts the heart of the believer completely at rest...God's power to enforce His integrity unto my benefit will invariably be unleashed!
- IV. The Real Life Results of This "Generic Truth".
- A. First, the words of God always come to pass in real-time history.
- B. Second, those who have some experience with this reality and who mix their experience with a cooperative attitude move in the direction of development into kingdom-people (bondservants).
- C. Third, those who move in the direction of development as kingdom-people show a great willingness to fall back upon the "generic truth" when it comes to "specific application" (be it done unto me according to thy word).
- D. Fourth, the cycle of words unto faith tends to be self-perpetuating...words that lead to faith lead to more words and greater faith.
- V. The Final Question: If This is True, Why Are We in Such Terrible Shape as the Community of Faith?
- A. The community of faith isn't in terrible shape.
- B. It is the community of the deceitful liars that is in terrible shape. It's relatively easy to profess to believe, but empty profession only leads to deceit and disaster.