Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 5 Study # 5
Thesis: God has revealed a "Large Plan" with multiple outcomes from one fundamental root.
Introduction: Last week we attempted to tackle Paul's doctrine of pruning in the light of his doctrine of sovereign election. We pointed out that he was the one who declared that he had become persuaded that "nothing could separate the predestinated, called, justified, glorified (Romans 8:30), elect (8:33) from the love of God" and that it was he who warned his readers in our current text that "God will not spare thee" any more than He spared the natural branches who opted for unbelief. They, he said, were broken off and so shall all be who "do not continue in His goodness". Thus, it is the words of the apostle that, when combined with our ignorance of his understanding of God, that create a significant tension for human beings who give a little attention to God and His ways.
In our study I attempted to show that Paul's concept of "faith" is a concept of a continuum that has a beginning, a period of development, a point of solidification that results in justification/glorification, and an end in the final stage of the Kingdom of God. I also attempted to argue that since grafting into the tree occurs at the point of "faith", it occurs before the point of solidification and, thus, is not an irreversible act because, until the point of solidification, "faith" can be overturned (2 Timothy 2:18). By these two arguments, I attempted to show how "the faith of the elect" (Titus 1:1), against whom no charge can stand (Romans 8:33), is not the faith of those who use their grafting into the tree as a basis for boasting and highmindedness. Such a "faith" is actually a departure from the goodness of God and results in a reversal of the grafting.
Now we are set to consider another of Paul's concepts: that of "participating in the root of the fatness of the olive."
October 6, 2009
- I. Our First Consideration: The "Fatness".
- A. Paul alone uses this word in the New Testament and only here.
- B. Paul's meaning is revealed by his prior descriptions.
- 1. In 11:11 he calls the breaking/grafting "result" salvation.
- 2. In 11:12 he calls "salvation" the riches of the world/Gentiles.
- 3. In 11:15 he calls the method of these "riches" reconciliation.
- 4. And in the same verse he calls "reconciliation's" impact life from the dead.
- C. Thus I conclude that "the fatness" is the enormous wealth of participation in resurrection life by the key means of a restored harmony between God and the participants (reconciliation).
- 1. One key concept that must be kept in place here is Paul's "faith as a continuum".
- 2. Another key concept that also must be kept in place here is Paul's argument that our present experience can be a real, but preliminary, experience of that resurrection life.
- 3. The two coalesce into the reality that any time one believes any truth he/she participates in at least the preliminary benefits of that truth and the opposite reality also stands: at which time anyone believes any lie he/she participates in at least the preliminary consequences of such unbelief.
- D. And I argue that such "fatness" is tied to Paul's "root" concept (he writes of the root of such fatness).
- 1. The "root" has already been established by Paul in this letter.
- 2. His argument in Romans 4 presents Abraham as the father of all who believe and the progenitor of two distinctly separate aspects of God's Large Plan.
- a. On the one hand, Abraham is the "father" (root) of those Gentiles who believe because he received the promise while he, himself, was a "Gentile" (uncircumcised).
- b. On the other hand, Abraham is the "father" (root) of those Israelites who both participate in his "Jewishness" by the circumcision of those born in his house and walk in the steps of his faith.
- 3. But we must understand that Abraham's identity as "the root" has two elements; the man and his faith.
- a. This means that any who are to participate in the fatness that comes out of the root must be tied to the man (note Galatians 3:29) and to his faith.
- b. Thus we have the explanation for the concept of "grafting": it supplies the tie to the man.
- c. And we have the explanation for the concept of "pruning": if the faith is not exercised, the tie to the man is severed.
- II. Our Second Consideration: the Particulars of the Fatness.
- A. Abraham had a specific "faith".
- B. Its summary was given by Paul in Romans 4:13: he was to be "the heir of the world".
- C. But its particulars were given by Moses in Genesis 12:1-3.
- 1. We must remember that Genesis 12:1-3 is prior to Genesis 17:10.
- 2. We must also remember that Genesis 12:1-3 is post Genesis 2-3.
- a. The Genesis 2-3 text tells us that man is by nature a tripartite personality with the potential weakness of deception.
- 1) He is a combination of body, soul, and spirit.
- 2) His ability to function in any and all of these realms is directly tied to what he believes.
- 3) His potential to deception makes him susceptible to the death of his ability to properly function in any realm which he approaches in unbelief.
- b. The Genesis 12:1-3 text reveals that Yahweh addressed this potential with three specific commitments which, taken together, make one an "heir of the world".
- 1) At the body level, God committed to providing Abraham with a sufficient "land".
- 2) At the soul level, God committed to developing of Abraham a "great nation".
- 3) At the spirit level, God committed to establishing Abraham's reputation in terms of a "great name" through which he would be a "significant actor" in God's designs.
- 4) The sum of these commitments meant that Abraham would be able, by faith, to actively participate in everything that God's "world" has to offer; he was promised to be "the heir of the world".
- D. All of the branches who are "of Abraham" by natural generation, or by grafting, are subject to the same commitments by the same methodology.