Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 9
Thesis: The only part individuals "get to play" in their eternal identity is that part called "believing".
Introduction: Paul, in Romans 5:12-21, is very much "geared up" to make a case for the individual's inability to "do" anything that will make any difference in how things play out. It is pretty much impossible to read this paragraph and not come away with the sense that "the ball game's over". Adam struck out. Jesus hit a home run. As we come to 5:18-19 this evening, we are confronted with the same thesis: one man's offence brought condemnation; one Man's fulfillment of righteousness brought a return to Life. In fact, the thesis is intensified in that Paul not only says condemnation and Life are beyond the current individual's ability to do anything about them, he also says that the roots for those results were determined by Adam and Jesus: Adam actually constituted men "sinners"; and Jesus shall constitute men "righteous". The problem with this thesis is two-fold: first, it generates a sense of absolute futility in that it seems to declare that man has nothing to say about his future; and, second, it generates a sense of serious discord with a huge amount of the Bible which continually summonses man to make choices and take actions. How do we address these apparent problems?
June 27, 2006
- I. First, We Understand What the Thesis Really Is.
- A. The thesis is "Big-Boundary" reality.
- 1. Nowhere in this text and context does Paul say that men are not real persons who think real thoughts, feel real feelings, choose real choices, and create real results by taking real actions.
- 2. Everywhere in this text and context Paul makes it inescapable that the thinking, feeling, choosing, doing and creating are taking place under a very real Macro-boundary (a "fence" around the pasture).
- a. This boundary is this: "nature determines the character of everything under its dominion".
- 1) There is no true "micro-management" under "nature" - there is an enormous pool of possibilities within the "fence".
- 2) But, the "Macro-management" of "nature" makes it inescapable that every single fulfilled possibility has the characteristic of the "dominating nature".
- b. The boundary means this: one's nature is only escapable by a change in the essential makeup of that nature.
- 1) As long as a cow is a cow, we will not see it flitting from flower blossom to flower blossom, collecting pollen and fertilizing plants so that they can reproduce.
- 2) As long as a snake is a snake, we will not hear it trumpeting its pleasure as it sucks water up its nose and sprays it over its back on a hot summer day.
- B. The statement of the thesis.
- 1. Taking the text in reverse, we see that the "hearing" of each "determinative actor" was absolutely crucial.
- a. Adam "heard" and then reacted by "suppressing" what he heard so that he acted in contradiction to what he had heard.
- b. Christ "heard" and then reacted by "submitting" to what He heard so that He acted in harmony with what He had heard.
- 2. The consequences of the responses to the "hearing" were "constitutionally imposed" upon those with a genuine linkage of nature with the responder.
- a. All who derive from Adam's physical power to pro-create share in his "nature" which has been absolutely altered by his "suppression of the truth".
- 1) The fundamental characteristic of all of Adam's offspring is that they "suppress" the Truth (see 1:18).
- 2) The "natural" consequence is "sin".
- b. All who derive from Christ's spiritual power to re-create share in His "nature" which is absolutely fixed, unchangeable, by His "submission to the truth".
- 1) The fundamental characteristic of all of Christ's new creations is that they "submit" to the Truth (see 2:8).
- 2) The "natural" consequence is "righteousness".
- c. There is a difference in "time": Paul switches from the aorist passive to the future passive.
- 1) This must be taken into consideration.
- a) Many false expectations and conclusions are drawn when we fail to understand that Christ's "re-creation" is real, but incipient, and will not be final until the redemption of the body.
- b) The reality has its "functional boundaries" (the persistently disobedient are to be considered unregenerated).
- 2) This establishes the true believer's hope.
- 3. Looking at 5:18 we see that the consequences are "logically inescapable" [Consequently, therefore,...] and "impact inescapable" [condemnation by one; Life by one].
- II. Second, We Embrace the Real Issue.
- A. The Real Issue is this: only God can change a person's nature.
- 1. No man, by anything he can do, can change his nature.
- 2. Every man, by natural generation from Adam, is locked into his nature.
- 3. Only God, by resurrection power, can replace the Adamic nature.
- B. The significance of this issue is that the Bible tells us in every place that God is willing to replace the Adamic nature and does when men are told the truth of the Gospel and they cease to "suppress" it.
- 1. "Suppression" is the fundamental characteristic of the "nature of Adam's offspring" so that they cannot cease from it except by the presence and power of God's Spirit.
- 2. But, given the presence and power of the Spirit of God, man either stops resisting what is, to him, plainly true, or he hardens himself against the obvious and refuses to allow God to alter his nature.