Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3
Thesis: The righteousness which God gives to men is rooted in faith.
Introduction: We have, for a long time, been looking at the fact that humanity is enslaved by sin. In our last two studies, we have argued that Paul's perspective on "Jewishness" is that it brought this human condition to its greatest clarity. If some "men", to whom God gave the highest privileges, were guilty of turning on God in a murderous way, then it should be crystal clear that there is something horrifically wrong with mankind. Who can argue that the Jews were not given the greatest opportunity to fulfill the identity of humankind as God's created servants? God did not create mankind to take His place; He created mankind to participate in His Servant-Life. The Jews were put on "center stage", under the most "provisioned" conditions since the Garden of Eden, and, on that stage, they proved beyond debate that man is "under sin". Paul's argument is that it was the divine intent for the giving of the Law to make this point. The most critical conclusion of this argument is that God never intended for the Law to be used by men to establish their own righteousness.
That brought us to the claim that Paul made in our last study: there is a completely different way to approach the problem of man's lack of righteousness before God. It is a way that was revealed by both the Law and the Prophets. It is a way that was confused by man's depraved twisting of the purpose of the Law and the Prophets into a way to establish their own righteousness. It is a way that is completely separate from the fundamental principle of Law (which is the principle of divine demand/human performance in a context of disunity).
This evening we are going to look further into this "completely different way" of approaching the problem of man's lack of righteousness before God.
June 21, 2005
- I. The Context of the New/Old Way.
- A. Paul claimed it is a New/Old Way.
- 1. It is "new" in the sense that Calvary made it "more manifestly clear".
- 2. It is "old" in the sense that the Law and the Prophets had already borne witness to its reality, presence, and effectiveness.
- B. Paul claimed that the primary context for this New/Old Way is the bondage of man to sin.
- 1. This was his thesis as given in 3:19.
- 2. But the heart of his thesis, as given in 2:17-3:18, is that man, in his bondage, is fundamentally committed to establishing and maintaining his independent and superior identity.
- a. Man's primary mechanism for achieving this fundamental objective is two-fold.
- 1) First, he strives to perform in a way that is superior to others so that he can establish his independence and superiority [see Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15 compared with Galatians 1:13-14].
- 2) Then, he boasts of his performance so that he can maintain his independence and superiority [see Paul's automatic question in Romans 3:27].
- b. Man does not stop with "men" in this pursuit; he reaches even to God.
- C. Thus, the context of the New/Old Way is man's arrogance made manifest by man's boastfulness.
- II. The Foundation of the New/Old Way.
- A. In 3:22 the foundation is revealed to be the faith of Jesus Christ.
- 1. Paul says, "But [it is] a righteousness that comes from God on the basis of the faith of Jesus Christ...".
- a. First, there is the issue of the faith of Jesus Christ as it produced the foundation for God's gift of righteousness.
- 1) In order for there to be a righteousness that could be given to men, a qualified Man had to achieve it.
- a) This is the heart of the virgin birth, the temptation of Christ, the Spirit-led life, and the vicarious death issues: a legitimate representative of man had to achieve for man what was required.
- b) This is the heart of Justice.
- 2) In order for there to be a righteousness that could be given to men, a qualified Man had to believe God on every point of Truth at every point of life.
- 3) Thus, it was the faith of Jesus Christ that qualified Him to be the Man Who could achieve for mankind the righteousness required by the glory of God.
- b. Second, there is the issue of the faith of Jesus Christ as it produced the impetus for God's gift of righteousness to men.
- 1) The issue here is the impact that the faith of Jesus had upon the Father.
- a) For faith to be faith, the Father had to have made some promises to the Son.
- b) For faith to be faith, the Father had to "come through" on the promises once the Son had "believed" Him (faith is not faith if it is placed in an illegitimate object -- one which cannot/will not fulfill the promise(s)).
- c) At least one of the promises had to do with a "Bride" made of members from every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe, and, once believed, it was the Father's responsibility to produce this "Bride". This effectively removes all of the efforts of men from the mix and puts everything upon the efforts of the Father [Note John 1:12-13 and John 17:6, 9, and 12].
- 2) This issue is highlighted by Romans 9:6-13 where we see clearly that Isaac did not become a part of God's fulfillment of His promise by any "faith" he exercised.
- a) Most people have been taught to believe that it is "their" faith that makes them the children of God.
- b) It is the faith of Jesus Christ that has made us the children of God.
- 3) It is absolutely crucial that we understand this because of the danger of our "reabsorption" by the Law of Sin through deception.
- a) The "requirement" of personal faith can be approached by either of two "methods": the "Law" or "Grace".
- i. Any "requirement" that is to be met by man's "production" is legal and will produce both pride and boastfulness.
- ii. Any "requirement" that is to be met by God's "production" is gracious and will produce both humility and a silence of boastfulness.
- b) It is the testimony of experience and Scripture that personal faith is the production of the Spirit of God, not the will or intelligence of man.
- i. As Paul went everywhere preaching the Gospel, people believed even though there was scarcely any foundation laid in reason or information.
- ii. There is no explanation for faith once the Holy Spirit is removed from the equation...man's depravity is militantly opposed to "faith".
- B. In 3:22 the consequence is revealed to be man's personal faith.
- 1. In order for God to keep His promise to His Son, He had to bring some of every kindred, nation, tongue, and tribe into His Life so they could live for the Son.
- 2. In order for God to bring men into His Life, two things had to happen.
- a. They had to be "qualified" objectively: i.e., they had to be determined to be "righteous".
- b. They had to begin to practice the critical "method" of Life: i.e., they had to start believing the points of Truth as they make contact with the details of experience.
- 3. Thus, God "qualified" men by virtue of the Son's "faith"/"faithfulness", and He persuaded them to trust Him so that they could begin to live.
- C. In 3:22 the demolition of the human (arrogant) exclusivity is accomplished.
- 1. Arrogant exclusivity is invariably linked to the pride of superiority.
- 2. Paul says this is totally invalid because "there is no distinction".
- 3. Thus, the kindred, nations, tongues, and tribes are available to God for His faithfulness in keeping His promise(s) to His Son.