Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7
Thesis: Hope does not lead to shame.
Introduction: In our study last week we saw that there is a specific "process" of hope. It is initiated by the vicarious work of Christ and is brought to fulness by the "co-laboring" of the believer and the Holy Spirit. The entrance into the Kingdom of God by a new birth is all about "faith in Jesus as the vicarious Laborer" and the inheritance in that Kingdom by the living out of the new life is all about "faith in the Holy Spirit as the Co-laborer with us." The process of developing a cooperative attitude toward the Spirit, Paul claims, is rooted in "tribulations". Apparently, the primary method of spiritual maturity is being compelled by the pressures we face to address the questions of just what is really important. As we are "pushed by the pressures", we begin to jettison the things of lesser importance so that we may retain the things of greater importance. The greatest danger in this process is the danger of hanging on to the wrong things. The purpose of the pressures is to compel us to turn loose of the "lesser loves" so that we may retain a grip on the "greater loves". Perhaps the best illustration of this process is the one from which the word "jettison" comes: the situation in which we are forced by dire circumstances to deliberately "throw overboard" everything that will contribute to our destruction.
There is one issue that stands as the determinative factor: our enduring survival (this is the "root" love). And, there is one question that stands as the determinative mechanism: our confidence in The Means of our survival. Therefore, Paul, having declared the method of God for our survival, now declares the commitment of God to our survival. So, this evening, we are going to at least begin to address this issue of God's commitment to our survival.
March 7, 2006
- I. The Apostle's "Definition" of Survival.
- A. Has little, to nothing, to do with our present bodies.
- B. Has everything to do with what Paul calls "being ashamed".
- 1. Thus, we need to understand "shame".
- a. It is not, fundamentally, an attitude of contrition or remorse: Satan will be "ashamed", but not "sorry" (in fact, his "shame" will only yield greater rage, not "sorrow" -- this is the "grinding of teeth" in the outer darkness to which Jesus referred in His description of Eternal Death).
- b. It is, fundamentally, being reduced to being an object of scorn by God.
- 1) In a fallen universe, it is impossible to escape being an object of scorn by many.
- 2) For this cause, in the "jettisoning process" one is always being pressed to decide whose scorn one must endure.
- 3) By every method of reason, that scorn must be endured which is only temporal and only produced by the lesser producers.
- a) The greatest danger here is that the determination of whose scorn will be endured may be made on the basis of "perceived proximity" (how close the scorners are) and a delusion about "temporality" (how long the scorn will last).
- b) The very idea of "hope" is that the determination needs to be made in light of "God" and the "enduring future".
- 2. And, we need to understand "hope".
- a. Paul says that "hope" does not "bring to shame".
- 1) He does not mean that anyone who "hopes" will escape being scorned by many.
- 2) He does mean that everyone who "hopes" will escape two things...
- a) The inner, and spiritually destructive, "rage" of being scorned (Paul's claim in Romans 1:16 that he is "unashamed" when "scorned" by the many is not a claim that he is not being "scorned", but, rather, that he is not pushed to the inner turmoil of rage by that scorn).
- b) The final, and totally destructive, scorn of God (the ultimate issue of "shame" is being finally proven to be totally unacceptable to God in view of His kingdom plan).
- b. This "defines" hope as an expectation that God will ultimately demonstrate one's acceptability to Himself and to those who will participate in His Kingdom.
- C. Means that survival is not enduring existence, but enduring acceptability.
- II. The Apostle's "Evidence" for Survival.
- A. Begins with the declaration of God's "love" for us.
- 1. "Love" is, contextually, defined as God's commitment to receive us, not reject us.
- 2. "Faith" in God's love starts with His claim to love us.
- B. Endures by the ministry of the Spirit of God to us.
- 1. There are a multitude of challenges to the claim of God...the greatest of which is our flawed understanding of the tactics of "love".
- a. Everyone who rejects the reality of the claim of the "love" of God does so on one basis: God's refusal to allow the "beloved" to have his/her way in the determination of what will be experienced.
- 1) This is the reason for the apostle's clarion declaration that "tribulations" are the mechanism of maturity and hope.
- 2) Those who reject this mechanism, reject the claim of God that He "loves".
- b. Everyone who gets past the problem of not being able to "have my way" does so on the basis of "Spiritual" understanding of the tactics of "love".
- 1) "Spiritual" understanding is produced by the Spirit.
- 2) "Spiritual people" deliberately put their "agenda" in God's hands by taking their own hands off. [Illustration: my claim to Hazel when we were first married that God would "hold" the place open for our mobile home if it was His will for us to obtain it and my claim to Hazel that by taking our hands off we were putting the results in God's hands when we were negotiating for our present home.]
- 2. There is only one answer to this multitude of challenges...God's own personal interaction with us, within us.
- a. Paul pointedly declares that the "bottom line" in our "confidence" that God's love is real is His own inner activity.
- b. That God does not do this for "everyone" is quite beside the point: that "objection" is simply another one of those ways that people resist God's claim.