Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8
Thesis: Believers are, as their most basic identity, The Beloved of God.
Introduction: In our last study, we considered the significance of the believers in Rome being The Called as that characterization of them impacted Paul's stewardship as apostle to the nations. In a nutshell, Paul had been given a task by God that was fundamentally impossible for him to accomplish -- he could not generate the obedience of faith among the nations -- but he responded to it as though it was a matter of grace -- for it was indeed a matter of grace: God requiring; God providing for the fulfillment of the requirement; and God giving the credit for accomplishment to His steward. Paul went about his stewardship full of the knowledge that The Called were "out there" and God would use him to reach them [Note 2Timothy 2:10]. Now, this evening we are going to move into Paul's characterization of his readers as it is given in seed form in 1:7. He says three things about them. They are in Rome. They are the "beloved of God". And, they are "saints by calling". That they are in Rome is the least significant point in this characterization and we are not going to spend any time on that. However, that they are "beloved of God" is probably the most important thing that can be true of anyone. Therefore, by reason of its extreme significance, we are going to camp here this evening.
March 9, 2004
- I. What Does It Mean For Someone to be Loved by God?
- A. There are two fundamental circles of love.
- 1. First, there is the circle that contains only the Lover and one of His Beloved.
- 2. Then, there is the circle that contains the Lover and all of His Beloved.
- B. There is one definition for love.
- 1. Love is only known by sacrifice.
- a. Lesser need requires lesser sacrifices.
- b. Greater need requires greater sacrifices ["...greater love hath no man than this..."].
- c. The unwillingness to match the sacrifice to the need means the absence of love and the entrance of hate.
- 2. Sacrifice has only one objective: the experience of life for the beloved.
- a. The experience of life has two requirements.
- 1) All of the necessities for life must be provided.
- 2) The provision must turn the "beloved" into a "lover"; otherwise, there can be no life. Life is impossible for a narcissistic hater, no matter how great the provisions.
- b. Sacrifices that do not produce life are exercises in futility.
- 3. The objective of life has a focal characteristic: status in the eyes of the Lover; i.e. the realm of "life" when love is involved is the realm of the "spirit" where status is the crucial issue.
- 4. To be "beloved", then, means to have sufficient status in the eyes of another that that other will do whatever needs to be done to provide the benefits of life for you at whatever cost.
- C. There are two realms in which the definition has to be played out.
- 1. First, there is the realm of the one-on-one.
- a. Does God love His enemies?
- b. Why was there no "Redeemer" for the angels? [see B2b above].
- 2. Second, there is the realm of the one-on-many.
- a. In this realm, what is love in respect to one is hate in respect to many others.
- b. It is this realm that makes the puzzle the hardest to put together because there are a multitude of interests that must be taken into consideration.
- D. The ways God's love must be understood. [See notes on Romans, Study # 7 of Chapter 1, Paragraph 1].
- 1. God's love is infinite, all-pervasive, inclusive without exception, and unconditional.
- 2. But, God's love does not provide equally for all that He loves.
- 3. And, God's love is experienced most fully by those who believe most fully in it and, as a consequence, feel no need to acquire it.
- 4. The oddity is this: at some point one must become a "lover" with no regard for whether he/she is a "beloved", but, in the realm of fallen man, this is apparently rare as Paul and Moses are the only two who are attributed with arriving at this level of development.