Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 7
Thesis: "Purpose" is required by divine intelligence and automatically establishes all manner of particular "boundaries".
Introduction: Last week we raised the question of why Paul immediately switched from identifying those for whom all things work together for good as "those who love God" to identifying them as "the according-to-purpose called". The answer I put forward is that there is a heavy theological determination in God and His apostle to take away every basis in man for taking credit for the good that arises in his experience. The biblical description of man in this sin-dominated world is that if he can take credit, he will take credit. This is not a complimentary picture of us, but it is a true one. And, if a man seeks to take credit for what God does, "all things do not work together for his good". It was Paul's desire to make it possible for men to actually "love" God so that all things could work to their good. To do that he had to turn them from the pronounced credit-taking tendency that leads to Death to the credit-giving practice of Life. That was the heart of last week's study.
Tonight we are going to delve into the second identifying clause: "the according-to-purpose called".
February 26, 2008
- I. The First Requirement of "Purpose": an Intentional Deity.
- A. It is impossible in this creation to establish the argument that any being of intelligence ever takes any action "to no purpose".
- 1. This thesis is logic-tight in that it cannot be refuted.
- a. No one can demonstrate any link between intelligence and purposelessness.
- b. Even the attempt to demonstrate such a link proves the thesis.
- 2. This thesis means that, even if the Bible did not tell us that God has a purpose for what He does, He would still have one.
- B. Since God is both omniscient and infinitely wise, He is what men would call "intelligent".
- C. Since God is "intelligent", He is intentional: He acts "according to purpose".
- II. The Second Requirement of "Purpose": Selective Activity.
- A. From what we know of creation, there are often multiple activities which will yield the same end result.
- B. From what we know of creation, there are often a host of activities which will block the accomplishment of an intended result.
- C. Therefore, we have to conclude that for God to accomplish His purpose, He will do those things which will result in His objective and will frustrate every activity which will block the accomplishment of His objective.
- III. The Third Requirement of "Purpose": Effective Activity.
- A. It is a blight on the descriptive term, "intelligent", to take any action that has within itself the seeds of its own frustration.
- B. In a creation where there are both activities which will yield a given result and activities which will frustrate that given result, taking action must be more than simply selective; it must also be effective.
- C. In our text, "calling" is presented as the "effective" activity.
- 1. It stands in the center (third of five) of God's declared activities: foreknowing, predestinating, calling, justifying, and glorifying.
- 2. It is presented as the effective means for producing the required "love" that results in everything being employed to produce the "good".
- IV. Conclusions We Draw From These Requirements.
- A. Any time any "doctrine" is presented as "biblical", it has to meet these criteria.
- 1. It has to be able to show that it is connected to the intentional God.
- 2. It has to have the quality of making distinctions between Truth and Error: it must be selective.
- 3. It has to have the ability to actually accomplish the objectives for which it was revealed by the selective, intentional God.
- B. In regard to the entrance of any man into the "good" that the Bible defines as "the joy of Life", two attitudes have to be excluded.
- 1. On the one hand, the "purpose" of God cannot be subjected to derogatory criticism.
- 2. On the other hand, the "purpose" of God cannot be opposed.
- C. In regard to the doctrine of "the purpose of God" the issues of "final objective" and "servant objectives" must be clarified and maintained.
- 1. There can be no greater disaster-producing activity than putting forth a false "final objective".
- 2. There must be a long-term commitment to coming to terms with the complexity of the plethora of "servant objectives".
- D. In regard to God's purpose to eliminate human "credit-taking", as a "servant objective" that opens a rather large door into the experience of "good", the issue of love for God must be maintained as the consequence of love by God coupled to "faith".
- 1. This explains why a few men love God when the vast majority do not.
- 2. This explains why the lovelessness of the vast majority is not a reason for despair: the purpose of God is being accomplished and nought can frustrate it.