Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6
Thesis: The quality of my life is directly tied to my resurrection with Christ.
Introduction: We have been wrestling with Paul's argument in Romans 6:1-14. In this text he claims that we are so united with Christ that we cannot sin. His thesis is established by his question: How can one who has died to Sin live any longer in it? Our "wrestling" occurs because it is an indisputable fact of our current experience that we not only can sin, we do -- more or less regularly. So, in our studies thus far we have attempted to clarify some of the issues that are involved. The first of those issues is the nature of the "mechanism" that so unites us with Christ that we are rendered incapable of sinning. Paul calls it "baptism", but he does not mean "water" baptism, nor does he mean the "baptism of Christ" which He promised in Acts 1 -- the gift of the Holy Spirit. Instead, he means that "baptism" which is effected by the Holy Spirit Who, by it, places us into Christ so that we become a part of His body so that we are now so united to Him that He is the Head and we are the members of One Body that is completely involved in the accomplishment of the will of the Father. This issue does not answer all of the questions, but it does, at least, begin to give us a basis for understanding his argument. Obviously, if you and I are real members in a real Body that has Christ as its "Head", we cannot be involved in activities in which that Body would not engage.
The next issue that we tackled was the question: Just how "real" is both the "Body" and our "membership" in it? We saw that at least part of the answer to that question is that the "reality" exists in the "reckoning of God". And, since the God of Abraham is One Whose "reckoning" is "big picture" and not "present details", it is His characteristic to address the big picture to the present historical setting so that He often declares what "is not" as though it "is" because He declares the final reality while the current developing issues are dominant in the minds of those who are "in process". Thus, for those "in process" it often looks like God is lying -- declaring something to "be" when, in the present historical setting, it "is not." The net result of this is this: those who reject His declarations of what "is" when their experience says it "is not" get all balled up in "doing sins" (because "faith" drives behavior) while those who accept His declarations as the "real" truth find themselves operating in godly and righteous ways (because "faith" drives behavior).
This raises this question: Is it all just a "mind game" wherein the "power of positive thinking" is at the root of a kind of "mind over matter" reality? And the answer is a qualified "No". To understand this we turn again to Paul's argument as it unfolds in Romans 6:4. There he claims that our "life" contains the potential of "newness" in direct relation to our participation in the resurrection of Christ. Formerly, he argued that we "cannot sin" because we are "dead" in Christ to Sin. Now, he argues that we are capable of "new life" (i.e., life out from under the bondage to Sin) because we are "raised in Christ". How so?
August 22, 2006
- I. The Answer Begins With the Issue of the Resurrection of Christ.
- A. In the "big picture", Christ is seen as the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8)...an event that ultimately took place in actual history.
- B. In the same "big picture", Christ is seen as "resurrected from the foundation of the world" (all of prophecy is nothing more than the declaration of the "big picture" before "historical fulfillment" catches up to it)...another event that ultimately took place in actual history.
- C. In the "dovetailing" of the "big picture" with "current historical unfolding", the "big picture" is brought into "historical reality" by what Paul calls "the glory of the Father".
- II. Thus the Answer is Tied Up With "the Glory of the Father".
- A. The resurrection of Christ was brought to pass in history by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- 1. Jesus said (John 10:18) that He had the "authority" to take up His life after He had exercised the "authority" to lay it down.
- 2. Paul said (Romans 1:4) that Jesus was raised from the dead "according to the Spirit of Holiness".
- 3. And this text tells us that Jesus was raised by the glory of the Father.
- B. Paul's choice to focus upon the "glory of the Father" is extremely instructive for our grasp of how we live in "newness" of life.
- 1. The issue of the "glory".
- a. It is seen as the mechanism of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
- 1) The focus of this "mechanism" is identified by Paul in Romans 1:4 as "power".
- a) This is deemed by Paul to be a most fundamental issue in that one of two crucial revealed facts that leave men "without excuse" is "power" (Romans 1:20).
- b) This is deemed by God to be a most fundamental issue in that the initial characterization that He chose to use in divine revelation regarding Himself is that He is "God" (i.e., "Elohim" -- the Executor of Power).
- c) The claim of biblical revelation is that "power" is a primary concern for the creatures of God: nothing can occur without it.
- i. There is no point to "love" where there is no "power".
- ii. There is no point to "faith" where there is no "power".
- iii. There can be no "hope" whatsoever where there in no "power".
- iv. It appears from what we think we know from scientific inquiry that "power" in the form of energy is, perhaps, the most fundamental building block of all of creation.
- 2) "Power" is seen as a fundamental validation of "Truth" because it is the mechanism of "resurrection".
- b. It is referred to as "glory" rather than power because...
- 1) If "power" is the issue, Paul would have just said "raised up by the power of God".
- 2) Though "power" is a focal issue in resurrection, "motive" is more important as a focal issue in the real issues of life: Why did God use "power" to raise Christ from the dead?
- 3) The phrase "glory of the Father" expands the issue from simple "power" to the greater issue of overall "character" because there is a "motive" issue involved.
- a) The "glory" of the Father brings in multiple other characteristics that make it imperative that we understand that God, as "Father", was moved to exercise His power for reasons that have their roots in Him...in His "glory"...in what He is like.
- b) "Power" issues feed into the entire "problem" of conflicting values and methods and the consequent and inescapable "Death" that such conflict brings with it everywhere it shows up.
- i. One of Satan's most effective tools is the accusation that God is simply a powerful brute who cannot be trusted to have any good motives for His actions. He simply wants His way as opposed to allowing anyone else to have theirs.
- ii. But "glory" issues address this greater problem by compelling men to consider just whether it is even possible for God to be a powerful brute (why would such a person even allow a "satan" to exist?). [Satan's very existence absolutely destroys his argument regarding the despicable character of God for if God were as he accuses Him of being, Satan would be the first person God would eliminate.]
- c) The use of "Father" is not accidental.
- i. The reference to "Father" deliberately raises "Father" issues.
- (a) A fundamental "father" issue for Paul in Romans is given in Romans 4 in respect to the "fatherhood" of Abraham as a crucial aspect of the "promise" -- a "father" of many nations I have made you.
- (b) One of the characteristics of "fathers" is that they are the original "pattern" by which the "sons" are characterized (Note Romans 4:11).
- (c) Another characteristic of "fathers" is that they have a fundamental commitment to the quality of the life of their "sons" (Note Romans 8:15 and Luke 11:11).
- ii. This is the point of contention for "faith".
- (a) How does one measure the "father's" fundamental commitment to his sons at any given historical "point"? It cannot be done. Even for Solomon, it was a repeated thesis that man cannot discover the "point" of any particular event in history by investigating it (Ecclesiastes 3:11 and 8:16-17). The fact is that God's works are often not visibly "beneficial" and, thus, men cry out against Him.
- (b) It was for this cause that Jesus plainly demanded that men call no man "father" upon the earth (Matthew 23:9): God must be defined as "Father" and the definition must include what He has "said", not what men have "experienced".
- (c) It was only after the resurrection of Christ that His Father's commitment to Him began to be radically clear...for certainly no one was able to see it at the Cross.
- (d) The point is that "newness of life" actually has its beginning at the point of "faith" in the reality of the use of the "glory" of Life by One Who is "Father".
- 2. The issue of "newness of life".
- a. "Life" is all about inner attitude: the quality of life that creatures experience is decidedly tied to this issue of the glory of the Father.
- 1) On one side of the coin there is the fact that the quality of life is a "head" issue: all issues of "quality" are determined by what is "loved" and "believed" -- both of which are issues of "understanding" that comes through the mind.
- 2) On the other side of the coin is the fact that the quality of life is a "power" issue: what one "loves" and "believes" is tied to whether there is "power" sufficient to possess the beloved by the means identified in the faith.
- 3) The result is that "quality of life" is determined not by what happens but why it happens: "Life" disintegrates under the weight of evil intentions, not undesirable events.
- b. This question, then, arises: what is the connection between the resurrection of Christ and my "love/faith" issues?
- 1) Is the resurrection a declaration that the "Father" will use such power to grant me what I want when I want it?
- 2) If such a declaration is not on the table, what is?
- a) The resurrection does argue that the "glory of the Father" is, to some degree, at our disposal with certain immovable boundaries.
- b) But the "boundaries" issue is critical. The "Father" will always exercise His power to do what needs to be done for those who depend upon Him. But, "dependence" begins with the most fundamental root: the humility of the dependent (specifically in the twin areas of love and faith). It is not humility that exalts one's "love" above God's, nor is it humility that exalts one's "methods" over God's.
- c) A great deal of "quality of life" is available -- just as soon as the Father's "values" are embraced and the Father's "methods" are applied.