Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 3 Study # 9
Thesis: Firstfruit is a basis for expectation of final redemption.
Introduction: Last week it was our contention that "hope" has been designed by God, not to create false expectations about the present, nor to keep us from the experience of "groaning". Instead, "hope" has been designed by God to give us a mental focus that permits the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in and through us so that the groaning is not caused by our sins. Groaning is the result of the experience of the impact of Death, which is, in turn, the result of someone's sin. But, if we live in hope, the Spirit of God keeps us from producing those things which produce Death which produces groaning.
This evening we are going to pursue this issue a bit further. We have seen clearly that we are not going to be exempt from groaning in any case -- even the righteous and holy and loving Son of God "groaned" while He was among us and there is no indication that there is no groaning in Heaven even now because of the impact of sin in God's creation. What we want to see is more of God's provision for us in our groaning so that we are not overcome by it.
There is no doubt that how we deal with our major disappointments is crucial. It is in this area where we are most susceptible to becoming rebellious against God. As long as God, as the Executor of Power, uses His power to fulfill our desires we have no problem with His involvement in our lives. It is perfectly fine with us that He invades, interrupts, provides, directs, and, even, commands -- as long as the means and the end meet our desires and expectations. It is only when His interference subjects us to experiences and situations that we do not want that we are in any danger of rebellion. Therefore, we have a significant need to be able to deal with major (and even minor) disappointments. Part of that "dealing" is, as Paul says, "groaning" -- an acceptable response if the groaning is not because we did not get our way but because the situation is infected by Death because sin has been accomplished. But, there is more to it than just groaning...
December 11, 2007
- I. The Believer's Possession of "the Firstfruit".
- A. The "theological" overview of God's provisions.
- 1. When Adam introduced sin into this world, the impact was much like a seed, not a full blown plant.
- 2. As the seed began to produce its impact, there was an incremental disintegration in every aspect of man's experience -- physically he began to die (but it took over 900 years); emotionally he began to have serious relational conflicts with other human beings (Cain, his firstborn, killed Abel, his nextborn); and spiritually, he could no longer freely interact with God as he had done in the cool of the day.
- 3. As the proliferation of human beings began, the growth of the plant became extraordinary and the disintegration accelerated.
- 4. So, for "life" to continue, God had to do certain "compensating" things -- the flood was one of the most obvious.
- B. The "present" compensation.
- 1. The Holy Spirit has always been an integral aspect of God's dealings in creation, but He has not always had the same "general" impact.
- a. The Spirit was the One who made the Father's words at creation produce.
- b. In the era of God's specific dealings with Israel, the Spirit was the One Who acted in the "pinch" times to underwrite the crucial elements of God's gift of Life to men.
- 2. But, once the disintegration had reached the point that the chosen people were so corrupt that they, on the one hand, paraded their "religion" as superior and their "identity" as the chosen of the Creator and, on the other hand, despised God so profoundly that as soon as they had opportunity, they brutalized Him and put Him to death -- once this disintegration had reached this level of wickedness, God interposed with a superior Gift: the Holy Spirit was imparted to everyone at the point of their justification.
- C. The terminology of "firstfruit".
- 1. In this sentence, the "Spirit" is an appositive to the "firstfruit"; meaning that the Spirit is the firstfruit.
- 2. As the "firstfruit", the Spirit is a "harbinger" of things to come at the time of the main harvest.
- a. Firstfruit was, originally, the initial fruit of any producing entity.
- b. Firstfruit typically indicated the nature of the harvest to come: it contained a small measure of what the producer was going to produce.
- 3. As "firstfruit", the Spirit is what Paul, in Ephesians, called a kind of "down payment" on the promises of God.
- 4. But, as "firstfruit", the Spirit's impact is only a small measure of what the final harvest will make.
- a. This is not a belittling of the Spirit: He is full blown deity without qualification.
- b. But this is a belittling of what we are going to see as a consequence of His presence in, and among, us.
- 1) On one hand, Paul prayed to God for the Ephesians that He would allow them to come to grips with the "greatness" of the potential of His power (1:19) and his subscription of praise was rooted in what God "is able to do" (3:20).
- 2) But, on the other hand, Paul was constantly writing to people whose experience of the power of the Spirit was far less than what anyone expected.
- c. The "problem" is a problem of both Love and Faith: there is an extraordinary power available for some things.
- 1) Until the people of God value what God values, they cannot see much that demonstrates the power of God.
- 2) Until the people of God believe what God says, they cannot see much that demonstrates His power.
- II. The Believer's Possession of the "Firstfruit" in His Historical Context.
- A. As has been the case since the beginning, the longer time runs, the more problematical becomes even the most basic expressions of godliness.
- 1. There are some very basic immutable requirements for "Life" [What is valuable and what is true never changes].
- 2. The deeper the hole into which humanity has dug itself, the more "corrections" there are that need to be made before the "requirements" can be satisfied [as long as men attempt to apply the power of God to valueless objectives and deceptive lies, nothing of the Spirit is seen].
- 3. Thus, the actual manifestation of the impact of the Spirit is diminished over time unless/until someone finally gets the Values/Truth issues clear.
- B. We are a very long way downline from the original giving of the "Firstfruit".
- III. The Believer's Most Basic Anchor.
- A. The "body" is going to be "redeemed".
- 1. The major problem for man is his link to Adam at the physical level.
- a. According to Paul, Adam was able to pass on his bondage to sin by procreation.
- b. Without this actual physical connection to his progeny, his sin cannot be passed along (thus, the virgin birth).
- 2. Even Paul's deliberate use of "our" (plural) "body" (singular) -- being an echo of Romans 6 and its "our" (plural) "old man" (singular) -- is a declaration that man's problem is his connection to Adam, which is in his body.
- 3. This major problem has a real solution: redemption at some real point in the future and hope at this point in the present.
- B. To the degree to which we understand both our singularity of identity with Adam and with Christ, both by means of "birth", we shall be able to "Live" in the humility of confidence.
- 1. This will not eliminate the "groaning".
- 2. This will eliminate the wrong reactions to that which causes "groaning".
- a. Our understanding of our unity with Adam yields the necessary humility of Life.
- b. Our understanding of our unity with Christ yields the necessary confidence of Life.