Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
Thesis: "Counting on the facts" is the only way of life.
Introduction: In our studies thus far we have seen that Paul is adamant about the fact that God is operating upon a specific foundation. That foundation is a blend of love and faith. There is no compromise. Only the love of God will still be standing at the end of the fight, and only those who believe will be ushered into the victory celebration. This is the immutable background of human history.
Two weeks ago we zeroed in on the issue of "faith" in the light of the lies and delusions that smother the vast majority of human beings. We saw that there are four "pillars" of faith: the content arises from the mouth of God; there is a genuine conviction that the content is true; behavior flows out of that conviction; and God does what He uttered. And then we put our attention upon what I called "the end of death." Death exists on three levels, so the "end" of death has to address all three of those levels. The death of the body has to be defeated. That is what physical resurrection does. The death of the soul has to be defeated. That is what the union of hearts does. And the death of the spirit has to be defeated. That is what becoming co-laborers together does. The future scenario presents these solutions in their final states. The resurrection/rapture solves the physical death problem. The marriage of the Lamb ends the death of the soul. And, the assignment of a position in the Servant Kingdom of the Servant God ends spiritual death.
But, we are not in the final state; we are here in this world under the fundamental characteristic of warfare. And, the war is all about the love/faith blend to which God is absolutely committed. Being an issue of the blending of love and faith, the war is fundamentally about "concepts". Which "ideas" are true and which are delusions? So, Paul turned to one of those most fundamental "ideas": our union with Christ in His Life -- including His righteousness, His death, His burial, and His resurrection. In his words he set the union before us as absolute fact. That it contradicts a great deal of our perception of reality is a given. No one wages war in the arena of "faith" if there is only one perception of reality.
Thus, having set the "reality stage" in place, in Romans 6:11 Paul calls for a legitimate response. He calls this response "a conclusive determination." This evening we are going to look into this summons.
October 10, 2006
- I. The "Conclusive Determination."
- A. The word translated "consider" by the NASB translators and "reckon" by the Authorized Version translators is a word that means "to think your way to a conclusion that will determine what you do."
- 1. This meaning shows up in Mark 11:31.
- 2. This value of this meaning shows up in multiple texts which declare that God has set some things forth as His way of "reckoning" and it determines how He is going to act.
- a. In Mark 15:28 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 God "reckoned" Christ to be the essence of "Trangressor" -- even though He had never done even the tiniest thing wrong.
- b. In Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3 God "reckoned" faith to be the same thing as perfect righteousness -- even though the faith was weak, vacillating, and did not produce perfectly righteous behavior.
- c. In Romans 4:8 and 8:33 God refuses to "reckon" sins to some men -- even though it is indisputable that their behavior is sinful.
- d. In Romans 6 God reckons those who have believed in Christ to have died with Him, to have been buried with Him, and to have been raised with Him -- even though they are neither dead, nor buried, nor resurrected.
- 3. The impact of this meaning is found in our text: we are summoned to "reckon" as God does.
- a. This means that we are going to have to embrace His definition of reality in the face of the overwhelming contradiction of the "reality" that presents itself to us as the truth.
- b. This means that we are to "count on it being so" that we are "dead to sin" and "alive to God."
- B. There is no "wiggle room" in this "conclusive determination."
- II. The Nature of the Determination.
- A. We are dead to sin.
- 1. This does not mean that we "cannot" sin.
- 2. This does mean that we do not "have" to sin.
- 3. This does not mean that if we "do" sin there is no consequence.
- 4. This does mean that if we "do" sin there is no judicial consequence.
- 5. The "reign" of sin is over in two respects...
- a. It cannot force us to sin as it used to do before we were united to Christ.
- b. It cannot bring us to condemnation as it used to.
- c. Thus, its power and consequences are both broken.
- B. We are alive to God.
- 1. This does not mean that we always, only do what God wants us to do.
- 2. This does mean that at any given point in time and occasion we can do what God wants us to do.
- 3. This does not mean that we suddenly have a comprehensive understanding of love and faith and how they are presently working in our underlying motivations.
- 4. This does mean that we suddenly have a working link to the Life of God that can provide His love and faith for whatever tasks we face.
- III. The Biblical Realities...
- A. A conclusive determination will enable us to live effectively.
- B. But there are these "qualifiers" for our understanding that the actual outworking is...
- 1. Incipient: Paul claims the circumcision of the heart begins the process.
- 2. Incremental: Paul calls for the "renewing of the mind."
- 3. Experiential: John claims that we "love God" as the consequence of our perception of His love for us; and Paul claims that the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts so that He is at work in us to both "will" and "do" His good pleasure. It is an expression of the uncircumcised heart when one is "loved" and takes advantage of the "Lover".
- 4. Dangerous: Paul's last letter is indicative of the "majority" result -- that men simply cave in over time and will not stay the course. That he had to write to Timothy to summon him to faithfulness and that, in that writing, he mentioned that "all in Asia have forsaken me" is potent testimony to the fact that the provisions of God are not such that the results are inevitable. Godliness is not the inevitable result of a long life; many forsake the clear conscience and sincere faith that are required for a long life to produce the desired goal.
- C. But the qualifiers need to be understood in light of the Bottom Lines:
- 1. God's will is going to be done. That is guaranteed.
- 2. God's justice has been satisfied. That is guaranteed.
- 3. God's Kingdom will be populated. That is guaranteed.
- 4. That Kingdom will be organized and established upon servant principles. That is guaranteed.
- 5. But, when it comes down to the particular individual, all bets are off.
- a. A particular individual may come to regeneration.
- b. A particular individual may come to spiritual maturity.
- c. A particular individual may hear the "Well done, good and faithful servant."
- d. A particular individual may, at the end, be able to say, "I have fought the fight and kept the faith."
- 6. This is the peculiar tension of divine revelation: the boundaries are set in stone, but the outworking of those boundaries flex within the realities of human responses in specific regard to the "conclusive determination."