Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
Thesis: The distinctiveness of the grace-gift.
Introduction: In our last study we attempted to follow Paul's thinking as he set about to enable us to understand Adam as a "type" of Christ. The difficulty in "following" exists in the fact that Adam and Christ were extremely different, so to make the one a "type" of the other has many "qualifications". Paul's overall point is that Adam is a type of Christ in that he is the human race that sprang from his procreative capacities and Christ is the human race that springs from His recreative capacities. The claim that the two are the races they produce is a major stumbling block to our understanding because we each exist as discernible individuals. But, just as "individuality" does not exist in Deity as a "polytheistic" reality, neither does "individuality" exist in humanity as a "polyhumanity" reality. In other words, the "individuality" exists under the absolute dominion of the "unity" so that no matter how many "individuals" there may be, all are "essentially" the same. And, since they are "essentially" the same, they all have the same fundamental attributes and produce the same fundamental results. So, when Adam sinned, the entire race not only sinned, but became essentially sinners. And, when Christ did the Father's will, His entire race not only did the Father's will, but became essentially saints.
There is a lot of mystery here for two reasons. First, the end result of Christ's activity is not yet a fully historical reality/experience: we are not yet what we shall be. In a sense, we are still "in the womb" as a metaphor for the "pre-final-reality" that "birth" will bring. And, second, we have been immersed in "individuality thinking" for thousands of years -- Adam essentially rejected his "unity" with God so that he could be "his own person" and the consequence of his rejection has been that everyone of his offspring is seriously and essentially committed to being "his own person".
But, there is a powerful and unarguable clarity in the reality of our experience: it is an inescapable reality that we all die (there has to be a reason for this) and that we are all naturally sinners (there has to be a reason for this as well). And, it is upon these undeniable facts of experience that Paul launches his "typology of Adam and Christ".
So, this evening we are going to attempt to continue to follow Paul's thinking as he sets about to explain the "qualifications" of the "typology". The first of these "qualifications" is the significant distinction between the "roots" of the impact of the "type" and the "antitype". The root of Adam's impact was his "stumbling into aggression against God". The root of Christ's impact is what our translators call the "free gift". There is a significant problem here, so we are going to zero in on what the "free gift" means.
May 16, 2006
- I. The Nature of the "Problem".
- A. Adam's "root" is presented as a "personal" (involving intellect, emotion, and volition) activity that created a lasting and comprehensive result.
- B. Christ's "root" is presented by the translators as a kind of "thing" -- a "free gift" -- that also has a lasting and comprehensive result.
- C. We are more adept at understanding how an activity can produce a result than we are at understanding how a thing can produce a result.
- II. The Solution to the "Problem".
- A. The translators' "problem".
- 1. Paul uses three connected terms in his explanation.
- a. First, he introduces us to his explanation with the word translated "free gift" [this is the word "charisma"].
- b. Second, he embellishes this word with the explanatory phrase "the grace of God" [this includes the word "charis"].
- c. Third, he further embellishes the word with a second explanatory phrase "the free gift by grace" [this includes the word "dorea"].
- 2. The "natural" conclusion is that the "charisma" is the combination of the other two: the "grace" of God and the "freely given gift".
- a. This is why the translators went with "free gift".
- 1) Since "grace" does not "require", its exercise is "free".
- 2) Since a "free gift" does not "require", it also is "free".
- b. But, in doing so, they put the focus in the wrong place.
- 1) The focus is not upon a "gift".
- 2) The focus is upon the "grace" that produces it.
- c. What we need to understand is that "grace" is not a "thing", and a "charisma" is not fundamentally a "gift".
- 1) A "charisma" is a divinely imparted ability to act [a cursory look into the use of this word in the New Testament reveals that it typically refers to a God-based ability to do what cannot be done apart from God].
- 2) The issue here is that the first distinction between Adam and Christ exists at the level of the roots of their diverse abilities.
- a) Adam "stumbled into" an irreversible "independence" in which his "abilities" to act were significantly cut loose from the Spirit of God.
- b) Christ, on the other hand, deliberately reinserted "Spirit-of-God-capacity" into His recreation of a new humanity.
- i. He was introduced as the One Who would "baptize with the Holy Spirit".
- ii. Shortly after He accomplished His redemptive work, He sent the Holy Spirit into the redeemed.
- B. Our "Solution".
- 1. First, we must understand that there is a significant difference between Adam's "stumbling" and Christ's "act of empowering".
- a. Adam's "stumbling" was caused by a combination of "lusts" and "ignorance" that was driven by "disbelief".
- b. Christ's "empowering" was caused by a combination of "love" and "wisdom" that is underwritten by the essence of Deity.
- 2. Second, we must understand that there is a significant similarity between Adam's "stumbling" and Christ's "empowering".
- a. Adam's "stumbling" was an action that generated both comprehensive and irreversible results.
- b. Christ's "empowering" was an action that also generates both comprehensive and irreversible results.
- 3. Third, we must understand that neither Adam, nor Christ, did something that produced its "end" immediately.
- a. There is such a thing as a "mystery of iniquity" that has been taking the entire length of human history to "come to fulness".
- b. There is also such a thing as a "mystery of godliness" that has also been taking the entire length of human history to "come to fulness".
- 4. And, finally, we must understand that our particular participation in the "empowering" of Christ is directly tied to what we believe so that our participation is diminished by the things we believe that are not true and is enhanced by the things we believe that are true.