Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 9
Thesis: The "power" of God is most often "seen" by those who have two characteristics: they understand the "stage" upon which the "power" works; and they believe the declarations of God in view of the invisible reality of that "stage".
Introduction: In our look at Mary's declaration of just how significantly her "soul" and "spirit" were affected by what God did in her "body", we have seen that she is expressing the "normal" Christian life. Her "soul" is fixed in terms of its evaluation of the things that are happening to her, and her "spirit" flexes according to what those happenings signify in respect to her "humble condition". These twin issues are tied into what God has done and is doing in her physical world. All of this, according to verses 49-50, are rooted in the"holiness" of God and the "mercy" of God. The "holiness" of God governs how God responds to rebellious mankind and the "mercy" of God governs how He responds to those who fear Him.
There is an important observation that needs to be made: this activity of God, to which both our souls and spirits need to respond properly, is an expression of His "power". This morning we are going to consider Mary's statements about the "power" of God.
May 23, 2004
- I. The Different References to the Power of God.
- A. The linguistic choices.
- 1. The ischus of God: power that is inherent to being.
- a. Being assumes a capacity to exist in respect to the biblical concept of Death as the threat to the quality of existence.
- 1) Death is not the threat of "non-existence" precisely because "being" is underwritten so that there is sufficient "power" to maintain existence.
- 2) Death is a threat, however, to the quality of one's existence.
- b. This "underwriting power" is the ischus of God -- His inherent strength to continue to be Who and What He is in the face of His adversaries.
- 2. The kratos of God: power that is a manipulation of the ischus to bring about results that are desired.
- a. The key issue in kratos is the issue of "organizational skill".
- b. The essence of kratos is not really "power" in a raw sense; rather, it is "wisdom" in the organization of what is available so that maximum impact can be created.
- c. This "organization of what is available" is the kratos of God.
- 3. The dunamis of God: power that is viewed from the perspective of "undeterrable impact".
- a. The key issue in dunamis is the question of whether a determined result can be brought into reality.
- b. Typically, the dunamis is the result that has been brought to pass by the kratos in conjunction with the ischus.
- 4. The illustrations of these three concepts as they interplay in language.
- a. In the area of military "power"...
- 1) The ischus of an army is its soldiers and their equipment.
- 2) The kratos of an army is its officers and their strategic skills.
- 3) The dunamis of an army is its victory over its adversaries.
- b. In the area of the physical body's "power"...
- 1) The ischus of one's body is its physical components: bones (in size and durability); tendons (in tenacity of fixture to the bones and durability); and muscles (in size and disciplined status).
- 2) The kratos of one's body is the organization of the components to maximize their ability to take on a given task.
- 3) The dunamis of one's body is the capacity one has to effectively accomplish the determined objective(s).
- B. Mary's choice of words in her explanation of her experience...pregnant in body; fixed perspective in soul; and fluctuation of feeling in her spirit.
- 1. In respect to the total experience, she says "the Mighty One has done great things for me" (1:49).
- a. This is a use of a form of "dunamis".
- b. By this use, Mary is claiming that God has established certain incontrovertible realities that cannot be subverted: He has accomplished certain things on my behalf that cannot be undone.
- 1) It is this perspective that gives her "soul" its ability to "fixate".
- 2) It is this perspective that gives her "spirit" its ability to "exult" (because what has been accomplished cannot be undone by any opponent).
- 2. Then, in respect to her pregnancy (you will bear a Son Who will rule over the House of Jacob forever), she says "the Mighty One ... has done mighty deeds with His arm" (1:51).
- a. The translation here needs clarification.
- 1) The word translated "deeds" is singular...though the "examples" Mary gives are multiple.
- a) She establishes two major "deeds" -- maintaining "holiness" in respect to those who reject God, and expressing "mercy" to those who fear Him.
- b) She then gives multiple illustrations of her meaning...
- i. He has scattered those who are proud.
- ii. He has brought down the "powerful" and exalted the humble.
- iii. He has filled the hungry and sent the wealthy away empty.
- 2) Mary's point is that God has pulled off a major accomplishment by the use of His organizational abilities...the major identity of which is the ability to balance both the demands of justice toward those who reject mercy and the demands of mercy toward those who are terrified of justice.
- b. The major observation here is this: Mary claims the Mighty One (dunamis) has pulled off a kratos (a major display of wisdom in the use of ischus to accomplish a dunamis).
- II. Mary's use of the "arm of God".
- A. The word translated "arm" is only used three times in the New Testament.
- B. A highly informative use is John 12:38, which is a quote of Isaiah 53:1.
- 1. The issues that this reference brings to the table.
- a. First, it is "normal" for the "arm of God" to be concealed...one can only "see" it if there is something in place: one must "believe" the report.
- b. Second, there is a particular "stage" upon which the "arm of God" is played out...
- 1) This "stage" is only incidentally "physically visible" [Mary was "visibly" pregnant].
- 2) This "stage" is the invisible arena of soul and spirit [Mary's soul and spirit only reacted the way they did because she believed in the true identity of the One Who was growing in her womb and no one ever gets to the same condition of soul and spirit unless they also believe the same report].
- 2. The point of Mary's reference to the "arm of God" is that by supernaturally impregnating her God pulled off the greatest coup of all time...
- a. On the one hand, He managed to maintain "holiness" with "mercy" in dealing with the promise to David as the issues unfolded in the days of Coniah [See Jeremiah 22:24].
- b. On the other hand, He managed to maintain "holiness" with "mercy" in dealing with the larger promise of eternal life to those who fear Him [though Jesus would be a son of Adam, those who believe the report will cease to be].