Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: God addresses our "troubles" until they are no longer "troubles".
Introduction: As we have moved into Romans Five, we have seen that Paul is building upon the settled fact of our "justification". He spent all of chapters 1-4 making sure that we understand clearly that we have a "standing" in the reckoning of God that puts us absolutely beyond condemnation, and that we have this "standing" by faith in a vicarious work accomplished altogether by Another. Then, having made the attempt to generate this massive theological shift in our minds -- from the notion that our performance qualifies us to be accepted by God to the truth that faith in Jesus qualifies us to be accepted by God -- he immediately turned to some "declarations" that are designed to put our souls into a state of "rest", and our spirits into a state of "response to being 'beloved'." We have peace with God so that He is never going to be our 'enemy' again; and we have a position within the Throne Room of Grace so that His supply will always be our experience.
These are extraordinary possessions. They are such enormous truths that our adversaries are unremitting in their attempts to unseat them in our minds. They are truths that are only effectual by faith, so the battleground is always going to be that arena where faith is the issue. This is the arena of the mind.
With this in mind, the apostle automatically, and immediately, turns to one of the most effective methods of the adversaries: the use of the reality versus the hope. There is too much unrest in our souls and too much of a sense of the failure-leads-to-rejection in our spirits. How can we have peace with God when we have so little peace? How can we exult in hope of the glory of God when we seem to have so little participation in His glory now? These are the questions that sponsor the inroads of unbelief and they have a common root: our present troubles. At some point, it is always "troubles" that challenge what we believe. We never wonder if a concept is true as long as our experience is running along in peaceful lines of settled joy. It is only when our experience gets to be painful and disappointing that we begin to wonder if we have "believed" Truth, or if we have simply deluded ourselves.
So, Paul deliberately turns to our "troubles". Therefore, we shall turn there with him.
February 14, 2006
- I. Our First Question: What Makes a "Trouble" a "Trouble"?
- A. Is a "trouble" a "trouble" when we are "untroubled" by it? If we are "exulting" in our troubles, are they troubles?
- B. When is a "trouble" a "trouble"?
- 1. Typically, a "trouble" is a situation, or experience, which seriously challenges either our "hope" for a certain outcome, or our "belief" that we are on the right track.
- a. These challenges come from three basic directions: physical pain, relational breakdowns, and fundamental failures of our efforts.
- b. These challenges, invariably, have a significant root in ignorance.
- 1) We have either set our hope for certain outcomes upon a foundation of deceit -- expecting something that is not a real part of "Life" -- or we have believed in a method of achievement that does not work.
- 2) Ignorance of what the Word of God calls "Life" and the means by which God will provide it is at the root of each challenge.
- a) I am using "ignorance" in this context to refer to either of two things: either a lack of knowledge of certain facts, or a resistance to a knowledge that we have, but do not wish to embrace.
- b) Typically, challenges only come when we are confronted with something we have not already faced with success.
- 2. Things/events/circumstances which have been successfully faced often are seldom seen as "troublesome"; typically, they are only seen as irritants...bumps in the road.
- II. In the Larger Context, What is the Believing Response to "Troubles"?
- A. First, it is by faith that our experiences, which are being overseen by God, are not permitted to be put into the category of the results of divine animosity [the song writer put it this way: "behind a frowning Providence, there hides a smiling face"]. We have peace with God.
- B. Second, it is by faith that our experiences are not permitted to be put into the category of futility [inhaling the air of the Throne Room of Grace is getting "Life" from the solid conviction that Grace means Effective Supply -- God at work on our behalf]. We have had an effectual introduction to the One Who sits upon the Throne of Grace.
- C. Third, it is by faith that our experiences are "known" to be the catalyst of God's labors on our behalf to enlarge our participation in His "Life".
- 1. We "exult" in the large picture: God has given us hope that we shall participate in His glory.
- 2. We continue to "exult" in the large picture: God has given us a solid commitment to qualify us for inheritance in the Servant Kingdom of Light.
- a. It is precisely here that "troubles" become "troubles"...we, having this commitment, are subjected to the means by which God will fulfill His commitment.
- b. These means are rooted in several truths.
- 1) Not all of the grace of God is vicarious.
- a) There are some things that are totally beyond our reach in our present condition. These things God, Himself, does for us. This is vicarious action.
- b) There are some things that are only beyond our reach because we do not employ the divine resources that are available to us. These things, God does not do for us. Instead, He brings us to the awareness of how to employ what He has given. This is not vicarious action.
- i. The fundamental "Resource" is the Spirit of God.
- ii. Our "employment" of the Spirit of God has to do with learning how to let Him "employ" us.
- 2) None of the "inheritance" issues are vicarious.
- a) It is a major doctrine, and a fundamental marker of "heresy", that coming into the identity of a "child of God" is founded entirely upon the vicarious works of Jesus Christ.
- b) But it is also a major doctrine that nothing of the child's "inheritance" is extended to him apart from his development into a sufficient maturity to allow his exercise of the inheritance without doing damage. [See Galatians 4:1-7]
- c) There is no backing away from the fundamental principle that "to inherit in the Servant Kingdom, one must become a servant". This cannot be vicarious. Though the Spirit of God is a huge, integral part of my identity and abilities, I am still a person in the Kingdom and I must take on the "glory" of the Servant God in order to be able to take a place of service in that Kingdom and not, then, introduce the chaos of a self-focused ruler.
- d) Nor can there be any "I'll wait until the final redemption to become what I will be forever." There is truth in the claim that resurrection imparts to us a sin-free identity, as Death is the boundary that does not permit sin's passage into our future. But it is not true that we are going to suddenly become something we are not. We are going to lose something that we are not [Sin], but we are not going to gain anything we do not already have. The Judgment Seat of Christ is an evaluation of what we already have and the "rewards" from that Judgment are simply the natural extensions of what we already are.
- 3) Being "involved" means being confronted by the issues of deceit in our ignorance so that we learn to discern and function.
- a) There is no point to "troubles" if there is no edification that arises from them. They are not futile experiences; they are divinely engineered tools of a greater inheritance.
- b) There is no point to the insistence upon growing in grace by "faith" if, in fact, it is unnecessary.