Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 5
August 15, 2004
Lincolnton, N.C.

<085> Thesis: The greatest single issue anyone ever has to face is this question: have I any value to God? Introduction: In our consideration of the birth of John and the record of the debate about what his name should be, we have seen that Luke is bringing a major thesis to the front burner. That thesis is that there is a focal characteristic of God that men must have front and center in their heart/mind complex if they are to experience what the Bible calls life. Everybody has a focus upon some aspect of God's character that dominates the way they approach life. It is Luke's contention that graciousness is the focal characteristic that is necessary. In our last two studies we have seen that John's identity was highlighted by the recorded debate so that graciousness would be paramount and that the consequence of that focus was, initially, fear. Fear naturally arises from the focal characteristic of God called holiness. And, as we saw last week, this is the focus that must be in place initially for one simple reason: men never come to grasp "grace" if they have not been deeply schooled in "justice". Grace cannot be known without a backdrop of demerit. Justice provides that backdrop. But, there are two major problems for men in this "process". The first is that they may never be sufficiently schooled in Justice to ever be able to come to Grace [this leads inexorably to self-righteousness and arrogance], and the second is that they may be so twisted by the schooling in Justice that they cannot "let it go" in favor of Grace [this leads inexorably to hopelessness and despair]. Now, this morning, as we continue looking into the text, we will discover that there is an "issue" that is dependent upon the successful operation of the process of God. There is, hovering over this thing called "life", a central "issue" that simply must be addressed at some point. This "issue" is the reason for "fear" and it is the basis for the insistence Luke is making for the fundamental focus-shift. This issue can be summarized with this question: Have I any value in the eyes of God? Clearly, if I have no value in the eyes of God, I have much to fear as I move toward the final declaration of my worthlessness to Him. On the other hand, just as clearly, if I have any value in the eyes of God, it cannot be rooted in His appreciation of my character and actions, for He knows that I have sinned, do sin, and will sin against Him. So, we are going to look into Luke's record to see how he handles this "hovering issue".