Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
Thesis: The "problem" of suffering in this present world is only a "problem" because we are both ignorant and self-centered.
Introduction: Last week we were, again, considering Paul's teaching about the impact of the Holy Spirit upon us as believers. We saw that Paul was very intent upon making sure that we are "sure" about the most fundamental of all of the issues of the eternal Kingdom of God. In spite of the fact that the vast majority of people who get into "God" stuff seem to cling to the notion that mankind needs an axe hanging over his head in order to get him to "behave", Paul's theology of God absolutely refuses to go there. For Paul, if people who were in bondage to Sin, are ever going to become free, it will only be by the gradual movement in their hearts and minds from "the force of unwilling constraint" to the "compulsion of real love". God is love and accepts nothing in the final sense that is not rooted and grounded in it. So, if anyone is ever going to actually get to the place where Love is the normal driving force of choices and actions, certain absolute provisions must be made by God. In our study last week we saw that the Spirit of Adoption, Himself, is at the root of those absolute provisions. And we saw in our study that being a child of God is the point of beginning.
Now, for this evening's study, we are going to look at another of the "absolute provisions" and one of its "logical extensions". This "provision" is God's practice of extending Himself and all of the matters that are associated with Himself in His creation-reality to His children. He provides them with His own Spirit to give them a sense of what it means for Him to be "Abba". Then, once they have been born into His family, He declares their future to them: inheritance of, and in, the Kingdom of the Father. It is this future to which we turn our attention tonight as we look into Romans 8:17.
October 16, 2007
- I. Paul's "Logic".
- A. He begins with "if children".
- 1. This is a significant "if".
- a. Everywhere in the world, people address this "if" issue.
- 1) Atheists deny its validity, but still attempt to posit some basis for trying to keep human beings from self-destruction in the carnage of competition.
- 2) Even the most violent aggressors choose some kind of "theology" to justify their aggression.
- 3) And even the most pacifistic pleaders do their pleading on the basis of some kind of universal foundation.
- 4) The Scriptures also have a deeply invested commitment to an ultimate multi-personal, peaceful, reality.
- b. That it is an "if" issue automatically means that there are the "included" and the "excluded".
- 2. The "child" identity is established, or denied, by the action of the Spirit.
- a. That action is relationally rooted: He does not enter our hearts with His "Abba" cry (Galatians 4:6) without relating to us in the way of personal relationships.
- 1) The biblical roots of personal relationships exist at the Love/Faith level.
- 2) The biblical roots exist in the reality of relational nihilism (total hopelessness) because of the breach of the Love/Faith level that occurred first when Lucifer set up a counter "Love/Faith" system and second when Adam bought into it.
- 3) The biblical roots exist because of God's refusal to accept an ignorance-based, undebated, breach of relationship as the final state for persons who share His image in the sense of "enduring sensibility".
- 4) The entrance of the Spirit into our hearts with His "Abba" cry is a response on His part to our yielding in the "debate".
- b. That action is relationally substantial: He does not enter our hearts with His "Abba" cry as a mere "one of a gazillion" events.
- 1) One in a gazillion gets lost in the shuffle.
- 2) Relational regeneration is sufficiently potent to stay "on top of things".
- a) When we are walking with God by the Spirit, He is central to our focus in the midst of all of life's events.
- b) Even when we are not walking with God by His Spirit, He manages to be a pretty constant distraction.
- B. He continues with "also heirs".
- 1. Any "also" has a straightforward assumption: the prior reality is not "all" or even "enough".
- 2. The "heirs" issue has multiple parts.
- a. At one level, being an "heir" means the present is not much like the future is going to be.
- b. At another level, being an "heir" involves a perception of some kind (legitimate or illegitimate) of the "father's" possessions and their implications for future experience.
- c. At yet another level, being an "heir" involves the impact of "hope" (or, if the inheritance is a pile of unpaid bills, "despair") upon the present mental state in terms of how one goes about responding to the present.
- 3. The fact that "also heirs" is a part of Paul's "content" also has a major implication: what we are does not always stay where it needs to in the competition for attention that is an integral part of our lives.
- a. Being disoriented is a basic element of any life that does not have a regular set of events to bring legitimate orientation back into focus (this is the reason for personal and collective routines of deliberate relating to God).
- b. Being deceived is also, however, as great a problem as being disoriented: one needs a legitimate perception of "inheritance" in order to function as an "heir".
- II. Paul's Distinctions.
- A. It is one thing to be "an heir of God".
- B. It is another thing to be "a joint-heir with Christ".
- C. The distinction exists in the second "if".
- 1. Paul's second "if" is intensive ("if indeed") as though it might not be a part of the case.
- 2. This second "if" raises the issue of "suffering together with Christ".
- a. The "joint-heir" issue has "attending requirements" that are beyond simply being the Father's child and His heir as a result.
- b. The "suffering" is tied to the "being glorified together with".
- 3. This "if" brings in an entire "set" of "attending realities" -- the greatest of which is the fundamental fact that "glory" is tied to what one actually learns and embraces at the final level of reality-perception (I Love/Believe at this level).