Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11
Thesis: We must be confident of our relationship with God while not thinking that it has any roots of any kind in us.
Introduction: In our study last week we put our focus upon two of Paul's words in Romans 5:9-10: much more. It was our claim in that study that the underlying reason for Paul's emphasis upon the enormous superiority of God's provision for our sin was the need we have to be sure of our acceptance by God. The provision that is in Christ is "objective" and "universal" in that Christ died for the sins of the world. But it does no good for the provision to be "objective" and "universal" if the "subjective individual" does not "believe" in it. In other words, it does no good whatsoever for a person to have a Redeemer whom he does not trust. Thus, Paul declares the two roots of "faith" in his explanation of the greatness of Christ's provision: first, and primary, is the ministry of the Spirit mentioned in 5:5; and second, but not unimportant, is the verbal declaration and explanation of that Spirit in the words of the inspired apostle. That "faith" is a production of the Holy Spirit is declared by the apostle in multiple places (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; Galatians 5:22; etc.). That "faith" is the direct consequence of hearing the word of God is also declared by the apostle in multiple places, of which Romans 10:14 and 17 are an example. From the textual fact that Paul's "mention" of the Spirit involves a part of one verse and his "detailed explanation" involves several verses and many more words, we can draw the conclusion that Paul did not concern himself overmuch with what the Spirit was going to do, but, rather, concerned himself almost completely with making as plain a case as he could in words for faith.
It was, after all, Paul's theology that it was his job to plant/water, but it was the Spirit's choice to make of his efforts what He would (1 Corinthians 3:5-7).
Now, this evening, as we move into the last verse of this paragraph, we are going to look into Paul's third declaration of how we "exult". He said, in 5:2, that, because we are justified, we "exult" in hope of the glory of God. Then, in 5:3, he said that we also "exult" in our tribulations because we know how God works to bring us into the greatest possible experience of the "glory" that we anticipate on the basis of 5:2. Now, after going around the block in respect to our troubles and His love through 5:3-10, he returns in 5:11 to the initial issue: our "exulting". Why does he do this, and how do we do this?
April 4, 2006
- I. Paul's Visit to the "Edge".
- A. In 2:17 Paul began a rather extended "shredding" of Jewish pride with the words "you make your boast of God".
- 1. It is indisputable from the following, detailed, dismantling of the Jewish mind, that Paul intended to expose the Jewish pride that made them enemies of God.
- 2. It is indisputable from his opening words (those of 2:17) that he considered "boasting of God" a relatively serious problem in some way.
- a. Clearly, from what he goes on to say in 2:18 and following, he considered the "boast" a vain thing.
- b. Clearly, from 2:24, he knew that the Jewish claim to be "the God's own people" was a significant root of deep antagonism between the Jews and the rest of the world.
- c. Thus, we can easily conclude that "boasting" is a huge problem, both within (as it relates to an attitude that creates enmity with God) and without (as it relates to the proclamation of that attitude to others and creates enmity with them also).
- d. And, this conclusion is reinforced by 3:27 which indicates that the apostle considered "boasting" a very great evil.
- B. But, now in 5:11, Paul uses exactly the same terminology (both in words and grammatical form) of "us" (himself and his fellow-believers) and presents it as a good thing.
- 1. How can this be?
- a. If boasting is so odious a thing as to make enemies of both God and men, how can Paul turn right around and use the same terminology as if it is a very good thing?
- b. Our confidence in divine inspiration and the harmony of Truth means we can have a legitimate answer.
- 2. It can be if...
- a. We understand that "boasting", stripped of its extremely negative factors, is not an inherently evil thing.
- b. We understand that God put the "status lust" that is the root of all "boasting", both good and evil, into man in the beginning as the foundation of his experience of Eternal Life.
- 1) There is no life where there is no fundamental desire to be "accepted into the fellowship of God".
- 2) This is the desire to have the status of "an accepted person" in the eyes of God.
- 3) "Boasting" is directly related to this "status lust".
- a) If the "lust" is going begging, "boasting" becomes a way to try to obtain it, or shore it up. This is evil boasting.
- b) If the "lust" is being fulfilled, "boasting" is simply the expression of the joy that is natural to the reality.
- c. We understand that acceptance before God is rooted in the Person and works of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1) This is an enormously exclusive "root": not one iota of our acceptance before God is rooted in us in any way whatsoever [This is Paul's thesis for the rest of chapter five].
- 2) This is the point of all of Romans up to this point: man's failure is absolute at every point and Christ's success is absolute at every point.
- d. We also understand that even the issue of "faith" does not cross over the line of the exclusivity of the root.
- 1) If faith is "of" man, at least some of our acceptance by God is "of" us.
- 2) But if faith is a "given to man" reality, it is impossible to "boast in an evil way" (1 Corinthians 4:7).
- e. We also understand that it is not the doctrine of "faith as a gift" that strips the evil from boasting, but the reality of the "chief of sinners/brood of a viper" mentality that does this [some of the most arrogant people in the world proclaim their belief that faith is a gift].
- 1) No one can embrace their reality as John did when he claimed to be unworthy to loose the thongs of Jesus' sandals and be an evil boaster.
- 2) No one can reject their reality without being an evil boaster.
- 3) It is no accident that Paul used the present tense of the verb "I am" in 1 Timothy 1:15.