Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 15
Thesis: It is imperative that we understand God's purpose for our salvation.
Introduction: As we continue in our studies of Luke's record to Theophilus, we come this morning to the statement by Zacharias that Yahweh swore to Abraham that He would give us the ability to serve Him all of our days. This is a profound promise that has enormous implications. For this cause, we need to consider these words for a bit.
October 24, 2004
- I. Some Reasons for Some Serious Thinking About Yahweh's Promise.
- A. First, what is the implication of the oath in light of the New Testament revelation of the weakness of our experience in the time-bound part of "our days"?
- 1. It is a matter of grave concern that the New Testament does not present anyone as perfect in the service of Yahweh.
- 2. It is a matter of grave concern that the New Testament unabashedly reveals the fact that a person can be a genuine believer and still engage in behaviors that are so disgusting that even an extremely pagan culture can be disgusted by them [1 Corinthians 5:1].
- a. Paul does not challenge the reality of this person's future salvation [5:5].
- b. But he does demand that certain steps be taken so that the future salvation can be a genuine reality.
- 1) Paul taught that the processes of sin are progressive and extraordinarily dangerous for all men, including believers [1 Corinthians 11:29-32].
- a) The issue of "dangerous" exists on two levels...
- i. There is the level of "limited loss".
- ii. There is the level of "total loss".
- b) Many think that "limited loss" is not a matter about which to be concerned ("not to worry, we are alive and that's the main thing"), but in reality there is real damage involved in limited loss.
- i. This is where many use the "I'll be satisfied just to get in" concept in relation to the servant kingdom.
- ii. This is foolish in light of the reality of just how bad "limited loss" can be.
- 2) That Paul taught that the Lord is the Ultimately Committed One does not do either of two things that are common in the "Church"...
- a) The "Church" is not free from the obligation to come together and sit in judgment upon the sins of its members even to the point of delivering a failing brother over to Satan.
- b) The "Church" is not free to use "trust in the Lord to do His work" as an excuse to refuse to be the instrument of that work.
- 3. It is a matter of grave concern that the New Testament reveals an urgent insistence that we live by faith while the "Church" has turned "justifying faith" into the "end" instead of the "beginning".
- a. Almost all of the entire New Testament was written to correct the "Church" in its perception of God and its pursuit of life in Him, and that same "Church" has set the Book on the shelf in favor of trying to get other people to buy into the same kind of truncated "gospel" that it has come to embrace [this smacks of Jesus' accusation that the Pharisees would criss-cross earth and sea to make a "convert" and then turn him into twofold more of a child of hell than themselves -- Matthew 23:15].
- b. It makes no sense whatsoever that God would "inspire" the writing of the entire New Testament, go to enormous lengths to get it into the hands of his people, and then make its contents of no consequence by permitting deliberate ignorance to go without serious, though admittedly limited, consequences.
- 4. It seems that the fundamental implication of the oath in light of the general weakness of the experience is that God has tied far more to the issue of "faith" than men are willing to recognize.
- a. That God gave the promise in the form of an "oath" means that He intended that men would be encouraged to believe it.
- 1) The problem here is two-fold...
- a) There wouldn't be such an intense focus upon "the believability of the words" if "belief" was a simple matter.
- b) There is no clear line of demarcation between what is "faith" and what is merely "mental assent"...even Paul couldn't tell [2 Timothy 2:18-19].
- 2) The root of the problem is that biblical faith issues forth into correspondent action, but action can be produced by things other than "faith" and who can tell what is the real motivation?
- a) This root is complicated by the fact that one can "believe" a promise and not "believe" its logical consequences.
- b) When the logical consequences are disbelieved, the original "faith" is called into question...it's a small step from the realization that "I should have believed this or that" to the question "have I believed at all?"
- b. That the promise is a promise to give us the ability to serve Him all of our days means that He did not give the promise to give us the ability to not serve Him and still live in comfortable confidence.
- 1) That the "promise" moves from the absolute efficacy of the work of Jesus to the relative efficacy of the work of the Holy Spirit in producing a life of service is at the crux of the issue.
- 2) Given this "movement", there is only one answer to the "have I believed at all?" question: the answer of the same Holy Spirit Who disappoints us because He does not produce as much in us as we think He ought.
- a) The Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are the children of God.
- b) If there are doubts, only He can resolve them.
- c) But, the issue of our text is this promise: He will resolve them.
- i. There can be no "fearless service" where there is no confidence.
- ii. Confidence is not a "human" production; it arises from the internal ministry of the Holy Spirit.
- iii. But this ministry is precisely what Yahweh promised with an oath.
- c. That the promise is a promise to give us the ability to serve Him means that no one who claims to have believed the Gospel can have any hope whatsoever that he/she will not be cast into Hell if the claim to faith does not issue forth into an active life of serving Him.
- 1) Consider this illustration: there is a couple who dearly long for children; so they rejoice exceedingly when she becomes pregnant; and then, when the day comes for the birth, she brings forth a living, healthy, child full of potential; and they take this child home and never feed, clothe, or otherwise take care of it. Instead, they busily engage themselves in the attempt to produce another child as they let the one they just brought home die from neglect. This is the view of God that people have who think that "getting saved" is what it is all about.
- 2) The question is this: can this view of God result in salvation for anyone?
- d. The bottom line is this: what is the purpose of the Gospel?
- 1) Those who view it as a promise of heaven after a life of living like hell are very likely to discover that heaven is not what they are going to get.
- 2) The promise is not of "heaven"; it is a promise "to give us the ability to serve Him all of our days in spite of any and all enemies".
- e. So the question is this: what have you "believed"?
- 1) Have you been using "faith in Christ" as an excuse to refuse to serve God?
- 2) Or is your "faith in Christ" a fundamental motivation for your desire to serve God?