Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6
February 28, 2006
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope:
5 and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.
- I. The Second Consequence of "Pressure" is What the Translators call "Experience/Approvedness".
- A. The difference in translation indicates an ambiguity in terminology.
- B. The word Paul used indicates a process in which a person/thing is subjected to a "test" by which certain conclusions are drawn about the true nature of the thing/person.
- 1. Sometimes the word is used when the focus is upon the "testing" itself (2 Corinthians 8:2).
- 2. Sometimes the word is used when the focus is upon the "consequent conclusions" that are drawn from the testing (2 Corinthians 2:9; 9:13; 13:3; Philippians 2:22). In this focus, the "meaning" is "evidence" that argues for a given conclusion.
- C. The only "testing unto revelation of the reality of the hidden fact(s)" that yields "hope" is the testing that reveals that a person has the hidden reality of peace with God and a standing in grace that has led to exulting in the hope of participation in the glory of God. Obviously, if a person does not have that hidden reality, any "testing" that comes along will reveal the absence of that reality.
- 1. The point Paul is making is that "hope" arises from "discerned reality": one can only "hope" when there is sufficient evidence for it.
- 2. There is a difference between "hope" that requires "evidence" when the "evidence" is for a thesis of "vicariousness" and "hope" that requires "evidence" when the "evidence" is for a thesis of "personal character".
- a. Entrance into God's Kingdom is rooted exclusively in Jesus Christ and His vicarious work.
- b. Relative position in God's Kingdom is rooted in the development of inner character in the heir of that Kingdom.
- 1) The development of "character" begins with the creation of a completely "new" reality: the union of our souls to Christ's Spirit -- a reality that is characterized as a "regeneration" or "new birth".
- 2) But, in keeping with the metaphor of a "new birth" is the reality that what has been created requires development into a "mature man" (Ephesians 4:13).
- a) It is this process of maturation that is the target zone of the "testing".
- b) The "goal" of the testing is not to "reform" the "old man". This is not possible by reason of the reality that the "old man" is the "generation" of a viper (note John's message in Luke 3).
- c) The "goal" of the testing is the maturation of the "new man" that has been "created" in Christ Jesus "in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).
- i. This "creation" is absolutely perfect and incapable of sin (1 John 3:9).
- ii. But, this "creation" is the equivalent of a newborn who needs to go through all of the processes of maturation that are involved in getting a newborn to mature adulthood. Even Jesus went through this process and "learned" in the midst of it (Hebrews 5:8 --He was a "perfect Son", but He was not a "mature Son" until He had gone through the process).
- iii. The implication is this: while that which is "born of God" cannot sin; it can, apparently, not "progress" except through the processes that are involved. The major issue in the "process" is the issue of learning how to relate to the Spirit of Christ Who is the "Other Half" of "me". As I learn to trust, I grow in maturity. When I am in disbelief, the "old man" is dominant and producing sin through my body.
- D. The question, then, arises: who is the one who learns of the hidden reality? In Genesis 22:12, the "angel" of Yahweh said, on the heels of the "testing" of Abraham (Genesis 22:1), "...now I know that thou fearest Elohim...". In this text, there is the "problem" of the identity of this "angel" because, on the one hand, if this "angel" is really "God", then He already "knows" and the phrase becomes a figure of speech, but if he is simply an "angel", then he "learns" from Abraham's actions and the phrase is literally true. The "problem" is that "he" says that Abraham did not withhold his only son "from me". In any case, the text suggests that there are "angels" who learn (note Ephesians 3:10 and 1 Timothy 5:21) from the "testing unto revelation" process. And, there is the fact that men learn about themselves from their reactions to such testing. And there are other men who also learn the "truth" about those subjected to the test -- though this "truth" may not be "true" (the conclusions men draw from isolated "tests" may not be completely accurate -- as when David "failed" the test of a naked Bathsheba and some were tempted to draw some final conclusions about him on the basis of that failure alone). What, then, is the point of "inconclusive evidence"? This: evidence is never "inconclusive" in respect to what it reveals; but it is "inconclusive" when what is revealed is used to draw conclusions that the revelation does not warrant. In other words, sometimes people wish to draw "large" conclusions (such as whether a person is "saved" or not) from "small" evidence. The evidence always proves the truth of "something", but it often does not prove the truth of a "larger something". David's failure with Bathsheba "proved" he had an undisciplined sexual lust, but it did not prove he was an "unsaved man". Likewise, Lot's example proved him to be a significantly carnal man, but it did not prove him to be "unjustified" (for Peter pointedly declared him to be such in 2 Peter 2:7). The point of Paul's text here in Romans 5 is that we learn from our own testing what the truth about us is. The reason I say this is that we are the ones who "hope" as a consequence of the testing to which we are subjected. It is as we come through the "test" without "failing it" that we grow in "hope": there is no hope in us; but the question of "hope" is whether God is really involved with us in "Life". If we pass the tests that come, we have "evidence" that He is involved. Obviously, we must be careful to only draw legitimate conclusions from the evidence, but, just as obviously, there is no "hope" that arises from failure. Hope is rooted in evidence. Successful completion of a "test" proves the presence of the God of Success and unsuccessful completion of a "test" proves the absence of the God of Success. The problem for all of us is that the success/failure reality is the reality of a mixed bag. But, the presence of a mixed bag is "proof" of the presence of God because there is no success without Him. Also, it is a great error to attempt to draw the conclusion before the evidence is in -- i.e., before the "test" is over. Many saints stumble in the midst of the "test" but are then strengthened by the God of Success to continue and are ultimately successful even though there were stumblings along the way. Job is a classic example of this. Job loved God above God's blessings (which was the point of the test), but it is clear that Job had some problems in his love for God as he went through the process, otherwise he would not have been so embarrassed when he was called to the presence of God at the end. The bottom line is this: "hope" exists in the heart of the individual believer, so he is the real target of the "evidence". What the angels learn is one thing; what other "observers" learn may be yet another thing; but it is what the "believer" learns that is the crucial foundation of "hope". One can "hope in Christ" with no growth at all; but one cannot "hope in the glory of God's Servant Kingdom" without being personally involved in the process of personally growing into servanthood.