Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4
Thesis: What was it that man discovered about God that he didn't "like" so that he determined to rebel against Him?
Introduction: In our study last week we considered that one of the basic reasons for the expression of the wrath of God from heaven was that man does what he does, in attempting to keep Truth from having its beneficial impact upon creation, in direct and deliberate opposition to his certain knowledge of the power and personality of God. Paul told us that the knowledge is certain because God made sure that men knew it. He then told us that the knowledge was particularly focused upon two foundations that are rooted in the character of God. The first foundation is God's omnipotence: power is eternal. The second foundation was more difficult for translation, but it boils down to God's personhood: God is a Person, not a 'thing'. Now, the logic is this: man knows that there is a Person of Unrestricted Power over him and responsible for his being as a creature and, thus, that he, as a creature, is under absolute responsibility to be in glad submission to Him. This is basic knowledge and every person "has" it. There is no rational escape from it. Jesus made reference to this universally recognized truism when He said "Every kingdom divided against itself will come to desolation" in Luke 11:17. It is as clear as it can be to every thoughtful person in the universe that no kingdom can stand if it is not at peace with itself. When the question is raised, "Whose "vision" for the kingdom is to be the vision to which all must subscribe?", there can only be one legitimate answer: the rightful owner's. Paul, in one fell swoop, justified the outpouring of the wrath of God upon man for his intentional rebellion against the Owner of the Kingdom because, he says, man knows he is "creature" and God is "owner". Logically, even if God was of the character of the devil, all of that which He creates yet owes Him an undivided loyalty in submission on the basis of rationality alone.
Now, this evening, in light of Paul's second explanation for the outpouring of the wrath of God as given in 1:20, we are going to raise this question: Why did man refuse to "glorify the God as 'God'?" That man has refused to own the God as God is undisputable fact in the light of history, but there exists a prior question: Why? What did man discover about the "glory" of "the God" that caused him to take up an intentional and determined rebellion against Him?
July 27, 2004
- I. The Indisputable Claims of Paul Regarding Man's Rebellion.
- A. Who can dispute the claim that, at least for the vast majority of humanity, man is characterized by a refusal to gladly submit to "the God"?
- 1. Polytheism, Pantheism, and Atheism are overt declarations that those who embrace them are refusing to acknowledge "the" God.
- 2. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are overt declarations that there is only "one" God, but there are none within any of these three monotheistic "professions" who are not overtly and obviously hypocrites in their "professions" by reason of their own personal rebellions against the "God".
- B. Who can dispute the claim that, at least part of the time, all men are thankless?
- 1. Who is the person who has ever lived (apart from Jesus, the Christ) who has never voiced an ungrateful complaint?
- 2. There are none whose dissatisfactions have not been unleashed upon their fellows.
- C. Even the genuine children of God demonstrate their antagonism toward God by word and deed, so Paul's indictment stands uncontested.
- II. Why? What is it that man intuitively discerns about "the God" that puts him into "rebellion" mode?
- A. The text claims that men refused to "glorify" the God as God.
- 1. This means, on the one hand, that they refused to subscribe to what they knew was true of God ("subscribe", here, means "to actively embrace the truth as true of God").
- 2. This means, on the other hand, that they refused to submit to what they knew was true of God ("submit", here, means "to actively embrace the truth about God as a fundamental requirement for them to emulate").
- B. The text raises this question: what was it about the God to which men "refused" to "subscribe/submit"?
- 1. What are the hints in the text?
- a. Paul says that creation declares that God is a Person.
- 1) This "hints" at "personal characteristics".
- 2) This "hints" at "personal characteristics that are distasteful to men".
- b. Paul says that creation declares that God is a Person of Infinite Power.
- 1) This "hints" at "activities".
- 2) This "hints" at "activities which man has found to be distasteful".
- c. Thus, we are looking at "hints" that God has at least one attribute that has produced at least one action that man has determined to be "absolutely unacceptable".
- 2. What conclusions do we draw from the "hints"?
- a. Some might suggest that the "absolutely unacceptable" issue is God's powerful demand that men "submit gladly"...the "attribute" being "autocracy" and the "action" being "wrath for failure".
- 1) This suggestion fails because, as long as an 'autocrat' only 'does' what men 'like', they have no problem being 'gladly submissive'.
- 2) Thus, the issue is not 'glad submission to autocratic rule'.
- b. The only suggestion that makes any sense is that the 'autocrat' has 'done' something that men do not 'like'.
- 1) What has this "Autocrat" done -- that He keeps on doing -- that men do not "like"?
- 2) Without question, He has insisted upon -- and keeps on insisting upon -- the practice of self-denial for someone else's sake.
- a) The inherent issue of creature/Creator is the issue of the creature's responsibility to 'gladly submit' to the Creator.
- b) This boils down to a more fundamental issue: the issue of the creature's responsibility to deny himself at any and every point of "issue" between the desires of the creature and those of the Creator.
- c) This, further, boils down to a more fundamental issue: self-denial means "love".
- d) This means that, in Paul's terminology, man has refused to "glorify" (subscribe to) God in terms of "love" so that man sees the self-denial as one-sided; and, it means that man has refused to submit to God in terms of "love" so that man simply refuses to deny himself just because God wants him to.
- i. The real problem in the Garden was not man's "lack of faith in God".
- ii. The real problem was man's "refusal to love God".
- C. Summary: Man's rebellion is driven by his innate understanding that God's Kingdom is a kingdom of servants who love one another without restrictions when in a context of terrible loss.