Chapter # 1  Paragraph # 3  Study # 5
June 22, 2004
(continued June 29, 2004)
Lincolnton, N.C.

<036> Thesis: There is an "exclusivity" to the "righteousness of God" that disallows any, and every, appeal of man to any act of righteousness which proceeds out of his body...regardless of the "spirit/Spirit" that was ultimately behind the act. Introduction: In our study last week, we considered the claim that Paul made that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who "believes".  We zeroed our attention on the question of what it means to "believe".  We made the claim that everyone seems to have an almost intuitive grasp of what it means to "believe" as soon as we move it out of the theological realm into the daily experience where "believing" is fundamental to every action and, in relationships, there is an enormous awareness when someone "does not believe me"...which indicates that I know what it means to "believe" (I can hardly accuse someone of not "believing me" if either I, or they, do not know what "believe" means).  We noted three important facts about "believing". First, everyone has an intuitive grasp of the fact that "belief" is the root of "action" [no one, outside of theological debate, argues that one can "believe" something and not have one's course of behavior affected by it].  It is not the action, and the same action may actually be sponsored in different people by different "beliefs" [people can, for instance, submit to water baptism on the basis of several different "beliefs"].  So, we must keep "faith" and the behavior(s) it sponsors separate in our thinking.  Second, everyone seems to clearly understand that "faith" has "specific content".  In the real world, there is no such thing as a divorce between "faith" and "doctrine".  It is impossible to "set our doctrinal differences aside" (though it is not impossible to exercise gentle patience toward someone whose doctrine differs from one's own) for the simple reason that if a "truth" is true, and one believes that it is true, there are consequences to violating it to which one should not subject himself.  The issue of doctrinal differences is not "setting them aside", but working through them until we come to a "unity of the faith".  The point, is, however, that everyone seems to understand that "belief" is pretty concretely tied to a specific content. And, third, the fact that "belief" in a "specific" aspect of the "Truth" will always produce behavior consistent with it does not eliminate the reality that "belief" in a "specific" aspect of the Truth does not always produce the behavior that some "expect" because of their understanding of the "connections" of truths in the Truth.  Their understanding may be radically different from that of the person they are observing.  The problem here is that "behaviors" are often produced by multiple "beliefs", some of which are true and some of which are erroneous. This evening we are going to move into Paul's fundamental declaration that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation because of that Gospel's "revelation" of the righteousness of God.