Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 13
Thesis: To be strengthened in faith, we must understand our place in the program that has a five-fold emphasis upon Yahweh's intention to bring it into being.
Introduction: One of the "issues" of a slow crawl through the words of the Bible is the risk of overkill at a point where people are not terribly interested. Even if there was, at one point, a bona fide interest, overkill can kill it. So, our study of Luke's record of the Picture of Jesus the Man of God has some risk in it...the risk being that I will be so committed to getting the details out in front of us that we will all lose interest. However, there is risk on the other side of the issue also...the risk that we will proclaim truth that is not understood and, therefore, disbelieved. The bottom line for our studies is this: I assume the love is present (the book was written to a theophile and is only good for theophiles) and I assume the present faith must be both informed and strengthened. So, this morning we are going to look at the Spirit's focus upon the strength of Yahweh's commitment to bring His declared program to fruition and to seek to understand our individual place in that commitment.
October 10, 2004
- I. What Is the Strength of Yahweh's Commitment?
- A. First, it is a commitment to mercy that was made to individuals centuries ago.
- 1. The priority of mercy...
- a. Jesus twice (Matthew 9:13 and Matthew 12:7) said how critical "mercy" is.
- b. In Micah 6:8, there is a broad statement of what is important...and it demands that we "love" mercy (the translation of khehsed into Greek is normally by means of eleos--the word in our text).
- c. The point: God never requires of man what He is not already doing.
- 2. The focus upon the fathers...
- a. According to Luke 1:17, the program of God will be established through the fundamental agency of "fathers".
- b. The statement of our text (1:72) is an echo of 1:54-55 where the "fathers" are identified as beginning with Abraham.
- c. The point: Abraham had a "time frame" that was 2000 years prior to Luke 1:72 and this means that Yahweh is fundamentally committed to whatever it takes to fulfill His words even after 2000 years have gone by.
- B. Second, it is a commitment to "remember".
- 1. We have already addressed the issue of "remembering" when it is applied to Yahweh.
- a. It is a human expression that focuses upon taking action.
- b. It is typically used of Yahweh when He is taking action in the reality of men's present experience.
- 2. The point of the statement is that "no word of God comes without power tied to it."
- 3. Thus, the statement that Yahweh is "remembering" His holy covenant is a statement that is designed to establish Yahweh's commitment to do the mercy that He committed to.
- C. Third, it is a commitment to a "covenant".
- 1. The significance of a covenant is that it is a solemn commitment entered into by means of beyond-the-normal-speech.
- a. When God entered into the covenant with Abram, He did it according to the manner outlined in Genesis 15:7-21.
- b. Then in Genesis 17:10-13 He required that Abraham establish an unusual practice in order to respond to His covenant commitment.
- 2. The point: covenants are deliberately unusual in order to highlight the degree of commitment that the maker(s) have to fulfillment.
- D. Fourth, it is a commitment of "holiness".
- 1. The point of the word "holy" is "the fixation upon the accomplishment of the stated agenda".
- 2. Thus, calling the covenant "holy" is a deliberate emphasis upon the degree of commitment that a focused fixation upon accomplishment brings to the table.
- E. Fifth, the holy covenant is called an "oath".
- 1. "Oaths" are dangerous things for one cause: they bind their makers to fulfillment of words with serious consequences for failure.
- a. James warned against making oaths: James 5:12.
- b. Jesus said that anything more than "yea" and "nay" was of evil: Matthew 5:37.
- c. Ecclesiates 5:5-6 warns that God will destroy the works of those who do not meet their obligations.
- 2. "Oaths" are unnecessary for Yahweh because it is impossible for anything He says to be separated from the power required to bring it to pass: Hebrews 6:16-17.
- 3. Thus, the point of calling it an "oath" is to intensify the issue of the commitment of Yahweh.
- II. Why Do Some Have No Confidence that Yahweh Has Included Them?
- A. Invariably, the lack of confidence arises from one of two "attitudes".
- 1. There is the "attitude" that finds its expression in the words "I have Abraham as my father" (Luke 3:8): this is an attitude of smug arrogance that communicates a lie -- it proclaims a strong confidence where there is none.
- 2. There is the "attitude" that finds its expression in the words "I knew that thou art a hard man" (Matthew 25:24): this is an attitude of angry despair that also communicates a lie -- it proclaims the worthlessness of faith in mercy.
- B. The real question, though, is this: where do these attitudes come from?
- 1. Both attitudes come from the same place: the hardness of a heart that is so determined to maintain self-determination that it will not give it up.
- 2. Both attitudes are the consequence of a mental determination to keep the door shut on the truth of the mercy of Yahweh.
- 3. Thus, heart and mind are determined to resist confidence in Yahweh's words.