Chapter # 10 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
Thesis: If "salvation" is as easily available as "calling upon the name of the Lord", there has to be a reason that everyone does not "call", but that "reason" is not to be found in some kind of breakdown in the process.
Introduction: Last week we considered Paul's declaration that God makes no "national" distinctions between those who call upon Him. He indiscriminately saves everyone who calls. This is the announcement of the apostle in spite of the fact that the vast majority of his kinsmen according to the flesh are unsaved because they will not call. So, in the face of the unbelief of Israel according to the flesh, the apostle launches into an unveiling of the divine process that begins at the end and ends at the beginning. The issue is "being saved" because God responded to one's "call". The promise is that God will save anyone who calls upon His name.
It is no small thing to remain lost in the face of such a promise. Thus, Paul decided to explore the process of God a bit for the sake of his readers.
May 5, 2009
- I. The End of the Process: Salvation.
- A. This is the restoration of personal interaction between God and the men He created.
- B. This is the greater goal of "faith".
- 1. Paul said that when a person "believes with his heart" he is declared righteous by God.
- 2. But being declared righteous by God is not an "end", but a means to an end: the renewal of relationship.
- 2. The Next to the Last Step: Calling.
- A. The "calling upon the Lord" is the textual equivalent of "confession with the mouth".
- 1. This eliminates the argument that it is necessary for men to make a public profession before men in order to obtain God's salvation because that is a human work that has no capacity to compensate for sins.
- 2. But, at the same time, it is a human action and salvation is not given without it.
- B. The issue is that for both "faith" and "salvation" there is what I will simply call "the nature of the case".
- 1. Nowhere does Paul argue that one can believe with the heart and not confess with the mouth.
- 2. Nowhere does Paul argue that one can be "saved" and remain in a non-communicating state with God.
- 3. Both faith and salvation need to be understood on their own terms.
- a. One can talk about faith and salvation as isolated realities in existence.
- 1) There is such a thing as "faith" apart from everything else.
- 2) There is such a thing as "salvation" apart from everything else.
- b. But one cannot talk about faith or salvation as isolated realities in function.
- 1) Function directly requires an active participation in cause/effect.
- 2) One cannot really talk about swinging an ax into a tree without clearly understanding that the tree is going to be marked inexorably.
- 3) Just so, it is impossible for "faith" to exist at the heart level and the mouth not be moved into action and it is impossible for "salvation" to exist between God and man and there be no "communication" between the two.
- 3. The Next Previous Step: Believing.
- 1. Here Paul clearly says that "calling" cannot happen until "belief" has taken place.
- 2. By this means Paul is clearly saying that "faith" is prior and he already said that when faith occurs with the heart, God responds with "justification": Justification is by faith apart from "calling".
- 3. Thus, the explanation for the lack of salvation which is rooted in the lack of calling is that there is a lack of belief with the heart.
- a. Israel's "lostness" was rooted in her refusal to "call".
- b. But this refusal to "call" was itself rooted in unbelief.
- c. And this unbelief meant that there was no "justification" by God.
- 4. The Step Prior to Belief: Hearing.
- 1. At this point, everything gets dicey.
- 2. We can easily understand how God must justify the one who is going to call so that he/she is motivated by the transformation of the heart to turn to God in active communication, but it is not so easy to deal with the breakdown at the "hearing" level.
- a. There is a certain inevitability of result in the function of faith: the mouth speaks to the God Who has justified.
- b. But Paul, himself, is going to deny any certain inevitability of result in the function of hearing in 10:16 and 10:18 and following.
- c. This means that the real issue "salvation" is tied to the condition of the heart.
- 1) If the heart is encased in armor, the arrows of the sound of the Gospel will simply bounce off.
- 2) It is only the unprotected heart that can be pierced by the arrows of God.
- 3. This step of "hearing" must be understood in terms of its place in the process.
- a. In the process of bringing salvation, hearing is absolutely necessary.
- 1) Faith is impossible without "content" and hearing brings that content.
- 2) Even those who typically create their own content of "faith" do not do so openly but talk of "hearing the still small voice of God" so that they can promote their agenda under a divine shield (by this even they admit that the content of faith must begin with God and He must share it with us).
- b. But we must understand this about "hearing": it has no functional necessities attached to it in respect to the issue of the penetration of the heart.
- 1) Hearing is the weak link.
- 2) It has no potency like a steel ax upon wood, or a heavy hammer upon a brittle shell.
- 3) This is the rationale for the necessity of the Gospel's proclamation being attended by the Holy Spirit's power.