Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 5 Study # 6
Thesis: Commanding our "feelings" is more about embracing Truth than it is about trying to guide our emotions into a "right" course.
Introduction: As we have been looking into Paul's instructions to the Romans in 11:16-24 we have seen that Paul is attempting to set the record straight for his readers about the way God's Large Plan is being worked out in the details of the flow of time and about the way those readers are supposed to respond to that record. In the Big Picture, God has always intended to bring this world to His Christ as a governable entity under the intermingled themes of "righteousness, peace, and joy". The process of God's Large Plan began with the creation of less than omniscient "persons" and the permission of their willfulness for the demonstration of the Death-impact of "ignorant willfulness". Once the Tower of Babel had generated a "peak" in that demonstration, God's Plan was revealed to involve the demonstration of a workable solution to that root of Death. This demonstration consisted of personal dealings with Abraham that were rooted in what the Bible calls "Promise" and its automatic corollary, "Faith". The large message of this demonstration "peaked" with Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac on the basis of the divine imperative under "Promise". Abraham's willingness revealed that God's method of dealing with willfulness is actually effective: Abraham submitted his "personhood" to His omniscient and loving Creator because he "believed" Him. From there God's Large Plan addressed the most problematical issue of fallen personhood: spiritual superiority on the basis of personal diligence.
The period of the Law was intended to address the "superiority" issue by revealing the absence of "diligence". To do this, God chose a "showcase nation" by which He would demonstrate the fallacy of unbelieving pride. Once that task had been accomplished, He initiated another large movement in the Large Plan: the extension of the benefits of the "lessons of history" to all mankind in terms of "kindred", "tongue", "people", and "nations". This movement meant the "Promise" was going to break out of the dominant focus upon Israel so that every kind of men in every place on the planet could be brought into the "governable entity" that the Father intends to give to Christ.
There is, in demonstrable history and biblical revelation, a major hindrance to this Large Plan when it gets down into the nitty-gritty of the particulars: individual human beings twisting their participation in the "fatness" of the Promise into a renunciation of the major hindrance as a hindrance. This renunciation is consistent through mankind's existence and, thus, is always sticking its head up no matter what God has said and demonstrated in the past. Therefore, in the text before us this evening we read of Paul's demand that we both address our tendency to participate in that renunciation and defeat it. Paul's demand is this: Do not boast against the pruned branches.
This evening we are going to look into this demand by the apostle.
October 13, 2009
- I. What Was He Actually Addressing?
- A. At the most superficial level, he was addressing the attitude of formerly rejected branches, who have found themselves enjoying the "fatness", toward those formerly accepted branches who were cut out of the tree because of their refusal to operate within the confines of the "Promise/Faith" technique which Abraham proved to be the only effective remedy for ignorant willfulness.
- B. At a more specific level, he was addressing an emotional perversion of the blessedness of being allowed to be grafted into the tree.
- 1. Paul chose the word translated "boast not against" with deliberate care.
- a. It is a rare term for the New Testament (found only in three verses, two of which James wrote, not Paul).
- b. It has its meaning identified by the separation of its parts.
- 1) The main verbal idea is clearly given by Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:4 and 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and by James in 4:15-16.
- a) A comparison of Paul's verses reveals that he is addressing a response that is fundamentally "emotional".
- b) James uses the root in a context that defines its driving force: the high anticipation of the successful completion of grandiose plans for personal gain.
- 2) This main idea is clearly not, of itself, an "evil" thing as Paul's uses show.
- 3) The "evil", as shown by James, is the intentional exaltation of one's personal plans to expand one's own pleasures over God and His Plan.
- 4) When this main verbal idea is qualified by the addition of the prefix, we see that the issue of "focus" is brought into view.
- a) The issue of what I call "focus" is the underlying rationale that is attached to the fact of current privilege.
- b) In this underlying rationale is this "emotional position": I have been extended this privilege because I am better qualified than those who were pruned out of the tree so that they deserve what they have gotten and I deserve to be given their place.
- c) This boils down to this emotional reality: I have gained by their loss.
- i. The clearest example of this in our culture is the "emotion" that arises in the "winner" in all things competitive.
- ii. The point is that someone has to "lose" in order for the emotion to be the experience of the one who "wins".
- iii. This is a great evil as demonstrated by Jesus at Calvary Who refused to "gain" at someone else's expense.
- 2. This is an emotional perversion.
- a. Nowhere in agrarian reality is it necessary for a branch to be pruned out so that another may be grafted in.
- b. The only thing that could be driving this perversion is a perception that those allowed to be branches deserve to be.
- C. At the most profound level, he was addressing the distortion by the grafted branches of the root/branch reality.
- 1. Paul says, "If you insist upon feeling blest because you deserve to be, you need to rethink."
- 2. The blatant fact: the "root" bears the branches.
- a. The word "bears" means "to do for others what they cannot do for themselves".
- b. This is basic "grace" truth.
- c. This fundamentally contradicts every line of thought that has its roots in a sense of "achievement superiority".
- 1) The stark reality is this: the branches had nothing to do with their "being", their "presence in the olive tree of God", or their "ability to bear worthwhile fruit".
- 2) No human being "exists" out of his/her activity (parents do not ask the children if they wish to be born or have any contribution to make so that they may be born).
- 3) Parents do not become parents by their own action since the fruit of the womb is a gift of God.
- 4) No human being has his/her "presence" in their particular setting in life by their own decision-making or activity-taking (human beings are born into their setting in life without any one seeking, or getting, their permission).
- 5) And, though human beings are granted certain powers and developmental skills, even their accomplishments are theirs by the "grants given", not by their own sovereignty over their skills and abilities.
- 3. The final bottom line is this: emotional responses are automatic to the embrace of doctrinal "positions".
- a. No one can command their emotions.
- b. The only thing anyone can do about their emotions is to look into the "truth" that is driving them.
- II. What Was He Requiring?
- A. He was insisting that his readers become aware of their feelings.
- B. He was insisting that his readers adjust those feelings by investigating their roots in the areas of Love and Faith.