by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 January 5, 2014 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(007)Thesis:"The work of the faith" is identified as "serving the living and true God".
Introduction:Last week we looked into the link between Paul's fixation upon "grace" and his practice of "prayer". It was the point of our study that, since "grace" has a fundamental characteristic of being absolutely outside of the entire "world" of "doing" so that certain things "will follow", "believers" have a profound need to have a basis for "hope" that is not rooted in what they "do". Paul's solution to this great need was talkingto the One Whose decisions were going to be both "gracious" and "good". In other words, "prayer" moves the future away from a mechanistic do-this/experience-that process that eliminates personal interaction to a "come, let us reason together" process that compelsinterpersonalinteraction and has the capacity to settle one's mind and heart so that whatever it is that God is going to-do/not-do will not be a negative thing.
With that in mind, this week we are going to look into the "ask" part of "prayer" that Paul expressed. "Grace" means God is free to not do what we ask, but it also means that His reasons for what He decides to do are always a perfectrationale for "gracious goodness" toward those who seek Him. So, what was the "ask" part of Paul's prayers?
I. Paul's Use of "Remembering".
A. It is typical of Paul to use "remembering" to actually mean "askingfor something".
1. Galatians 2:10 does not mean anything if it does not mean "letting the memories create a workable solution to a problem".
2. Ephesians 2:11 does not simply mean "remember"; it means "let the memories direct your current attitudes and actions".
3. Colossians 4:18, likewise, does not simply mean "remember".
B. In the actualprocess of "memories driving actions", there is a crucial element: the need for wisdom to know which of the myriad "actions" to take.
1. This highlights the practice of "prayer" (i.e., interpersonal interaction) as "asking toward God".
2. This also highlights the need to know the situation (which we seldom know).
II. Paul's First "Memory": "the Work of the Faith".
A. The translators' "work of faith" hides Paul's actual meaning.
B. "The work of the faith" doubles down on a particular result from a particular point of view.
1. Unspecified "faith" defaults to a "conviction" of the truthfulness of a claim that actually yields a decision/action in real life.
a. Any/every time a "claim" is made that results in either a non-use, or a contradictory-use in real-time, it cannot be said that the person is "believing" that particular claim except in those situations where the "claim" has no "understood" connection with the on-going processes of actions/reactions.
b. It is impossible to argue that "faith" is genuine when the actions taken are contrary to the issue of that "faith".
1) There is, however, a problem at this point with certain realities highlighted by the Bible.
a) John 12:42 posits a "faith" that refuses to "confess".
b) Acts 19:18 posits a "faith" that led to "confession".
c) A careful comparison of these texts reveals that "confession" is not "automatic" to the particular that was "believed", but can be traceable backwards to that particular if there is "understanding".
2) The solution in every case is to be found in identifying the "specific truth believed" and the "specific action taken".
3) The bottom line is that "faith" is neither a "human overcoming of fear", nor a "confidence focused upon its outcome"; it is a dependence upon God that results in His response.
a) The mustard seed faith that moves mountains is not "human" in either the sense of "origin" or "result".
b) God is the only One capable of "convincing someone that a truth is true" and He, alone, is the "Responder".
2. Specified faith always has a specified content and resultant behavior.
C. In our text, "the faith" is very broad with a very specific result.
1. "The faith" is a phrase that is all-inclusive of all of the Truth.
2. "The work" is a phrase that identifies the goal of that comprehensive body of reality.
D. In our text, "the work" is identified by several phrases.
1. That they "became followers of us" indicates "the work".
2. That they "became examples to all who believe" indicates "the work".
3. That their faith was "spread abroad" indicates "the work".
4. That their testimony was that they "turned to God from idols" indicates "the work".
5. That their testimony was that they "turned ... to serve the living and true God" indicates "the work".
6. That their testimony was that they "turned ... to wait for His Son from heaven" indicates "the work".
E. In our text, "the work" is boiled down to "serving the living and true God".
1. That this was "an example" to all who believe means that some who believe have not yet made that connection.
2. That some "in the faith" do not yet have that understanding indicates two things: that "the work" is supposed to be seen as "the ultimate implication of Truth"; but "the work" is not always the result of "faith" (unspecified and ignorant).