Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 6 Study # 1
Thesis: Anything that diverts our "faith" from the God of Promise is destructive to the flow of Life from Him to us.
Introduction: In our studies of Romans 9-11 we have seen Paul set forth argument after argument in the attempt to get his readers to actually "focus" their "faith" upon the God of Promise. His opening salvo was 9:8 where he made the critical distinction between "the children of the flesh" and "the children of the promise". This distinction had a fundamental background in 4:21 where he claimed that Abraham had come to "full persuasion" of a key doctrinal truth: the One Who makes the promise(s) is the One responsible to keep it/them. Additionally, the One who is responsible for keeping it/them is the One who is to be credited with the outcomes. Thus, in 9:11 he firmly declared that neither Jacob, nor Esau, had any practical participation in their placement in the Plan of God.
There is a very good reason for this "argument after argument" mode of writing. It is found in the emphasis in our text upon the knee-jerk tendency of all men everywhere to seek ways to make their experience of good the outcome of their own doing. The problem with this knee-jerk tendency is that it is rooted in the attitude that brought sin into existence in a "very good" creation in the first place. It consists most fundamentally in a misdirection of the focus of faith. Faith, first and last, is supposed to be absolutely "in God"; not in His "works", nor in His "words", nor in the outward ripples of either. As soon as faith's focus is diverted from the Person, human elements creep in that corrupt it.
Paul's concern is fixed upon these creeping corruptors because they, like flesh-eating bacteria, have the ability to destroy the Life that flows when God is the actual focus of our confidence.
Therefore, this evening we are beginning a study of the next salvo in Paul's push to purify our faith: his "revelation" of a mystery that God had kept hidden for 4,000 years.
October 27, 2009
- I. The Reason for the Revelation.
- A. Incidentally, it was to dispell "ignorance".
- 1. It is "incidental" in the sense that the dispelling is a lesser "step" in the staircase of desired ends.
- 2. It is, however, "necessary", though "incidental".
- a. God, in essence, is a "Sharer of His Life".
- b. In the reality of personality, "participation" with God is essential to the flow of Life from God.
- c. For this cause, God is the God of the Staircase Who urges His creation to take each step as it comes without looking down (we are to always be looking unto Jesus, not looking at the process).
- 1. This is really a "focus" issue, not an "unawareness" issue.
- 2. Peripheral vision has its purposes, but "focus" is not one of them.
- 3. The problem, as always, is "ignorance" when the "focus" has been diverted.
- a. Ignorance is never a problem of itself.
- b. Ignorance is only a problem when problems have been inserted into the relationship between the God of Life and the creatures who could be sharers in it.
- B. More fundamentally, it was to defuse the readers' most profound involvement with "The Problem".
- 1. The greatest form of "The Problem" is the shifting of the "focus" of faith from God to the "believer".
- a. This is the origin of Sin in the very beginning.
- b. This is the origin of all sins ever since.
- 2. The way "The Problem" is discussed in our text is what the translators have called "being wise in your own conceits".
- a. Literally, Paul said the problem was being of an opinion about oneself that has to do with the question of why "my life is good".
- b. Paul's focus was upon the word translated "that you should be wise".
- 1) This is not the typical noun/verb issue of "wisdom" as the Bible generally presents it.
- 2) This, rather, is the verbal idea of what we would call "common sense".
- a) This verb is used in multiple texts where the issue is whether a person takes the kind of precaution that most everyone would recognize as "sensible" (as in Matthew 7:24-25 or 25:1-13).
- b) The issue is the downline results that should be easily recognizable ahead of time.
- c. Paul put a qualifier into the mix: "that you should be wise to yourselves".
- 1) This boils down to "being wise in one's own eyes" (Proverbs 3:7 and 12:15).
- 2) At issue is not whether a person is experiencing good, nor what the steps have been to get to that experience, but whether the person who has taken those steps did so as a consequence of having "common sense".
- a) Biblically, "faith" is never supposed to be in the creature's attributes.
- b) The issue of "faith" in the Bible is always that God's attributes are the answers to every "why" question.
- II. The Content of the Revelation.
- A. It had been kept under wraps by God for 4,000 years.
- 1. Ignorance of large segments of God's Large Plan is not necessarily a problem.
- 2. This "mystery" was only revealed by Paul because a problem had arisen: the subtle shift in the minds of the Gentiles who found themselves enjoying the fatness of the root from the facts to the delusion.
- a. The facts surrounded God's sudden inclusion of them.
- b. The delusion was that, somehow, they had a creditable part to play in that.
- B. It consisted of a deliberate shift by God from a fairly exclusive focus upon Israel to the exclusion of the Gentiles.
- 1. The shift was created by God's allowance of an incipient hardness to occur in the majority of Israel.
- 2. The incipient hardness was permitted because God intended to open the fatness of the root to the nations.