by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 April 6, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(022)Thesis:Getting "spiritually" involved in God's program means making specific decisions about where the priority on serving God will be set.
Introduction:In our study last week we looked into Paul's "first" effort beyond his introduction of himself to the Roman believers. This effort was to explain to the Roman believers how he viewed God and how he viewed the Roman believers themselves. He viewed God as One Whose grace towards him included His use of the Roman church to fulfill what He required of Paul. And he viewed the Roman church as co-laborers together with him. He expressed these attitudes in order to facilitate a willingness on the Roman believers' part to give him a hearing as he wrote to them his "Gospel of God". This evening we are going to move further into this effort by Paul to acquire a willing hearing from them. As an apostle, he knew that his message was absolute Truth and that any level of scepticism toward it would be deadly for those who became sceptical. But, as a realist in the world of the first century, he also knew that the Roman believers were not strangers to the reality that anyone can claim that their message is absolute truth. The claim does not create the reality. So, on the one hand, he had an absolutely truthful, life-giving message, and, on the other hand, he had an audience that needed to be able to believe that message. Thus, he approached the issue by two methods: he thanked God for grace already given; and, he called upon God to be his witness as a truth-teller. This evening we are going to look into this business of God's "witness" to the apostle's validity.
I. The Nature of Man's Problems With Truth-Claims.
A. First, anyone can make Truth-claims.
B. Second, many folks are making Truth-claims.
C. Third, from the "many" are a multitude of claims that simply cannot be true because they are in conflict with each other...the principle of internal consistency is violated.
D. Fourth, no man has sufficient personal resources to be able to determine which of the claims are, in fact, true...the complexity is enormous and beyond any individual's abilities.
E. Fifth, every man has an inherent reluctance for anything to be true that challenges his personal comfort zone issues.
II. The Divine Solution to the Problems.
A. First, there is such a thing as a divine witness.
1. Paul said, in Romans 8:16, that God's Spirit bears witness with man's spirit.
2. John said, in 1 John 3:24, that we know by God's Spirit.
3. Jesus said, in John 10:14, 26-27, that His sheep hear His voice.
B. Second, this divine witness "settles" issues by bringing us to a sufficient strength of conviction that we are not "bothered" by them any longer.
1. This "settling" is sometimes instantaneous, but often is a process.
2. The disquiet a person experiences when confronted by a truth-claim that has not been "settled" is evidence of the need for the divine witness.
C. Third, the "settling" of issues by the divine witness typically involves the issues that Paul made reference to in the verse before us.
1. First, there has to be an initial "settling" by this divine witness.
a. In our text, the thing that Paul wanted "settled" for the Romans was simply that he was in prayer for them on a daily basis.
b. This is not the simple thing it appears to be.
1) If God settles this issue for the Romans, they will be inclined to give Paul's words a serious consideration.
2) If they are inclined to give Paul's words a serious consideration, they have been moved into the process that includes both receiving God's words and having their meaning "settled".
a) This means that God seldom settles great blocks of truth; rather, He settles one or two issues at a time.
b) This also means that the process itself requires the on-going involvement of a person with that process.
2. Second, there has to be a positive response by the person for whom something "settles".
a. It is possible for a person to come to believe that God means a certain thing by what He has said, but the person does not want to have his/her life dominated by this "truth".
b. If a person comes to this point of "crisis" where he/she knows the truth but does not want to yield to it, the person must make some determination regarding what he/she will do.
c. Paul, in this text, has personally illustrated what response is necessary.
1) He already told his readers what requirements had been laid on him by God.
2) In this verse He tells his readers what his personal decision was.
a) His 'spirit' had been directed to yield to the summons and assignment.
b) As a consequence, he was now fully involved in zeroing in on his assignment.
i. As an example, this calls upon his readers to yield their spirits also to their own divine summons.
ii. As an example, this call to yield involves making deliberate choices about what will and will not be tolerated as "eaters of the hours".
3) In this verse's claim regarding Paul's prayers we see a practical example of how Paul zeroed in.
a) It was his job to do what the Romans were doing by God's grace.
b) Since they were doing his job, he backtracked a bit and determined to buttress their performance of his task by adding his effort from a different direction: he began to pray every day for their lives and efforts.
i. This was simply Paul expressing his commitment to do what God had told him to do while simultaneously recognizing that God had graced him in order to lighten his load.
ii. This was not Paul practicing some "spiritual disciplines"; rather, it was simply his response to the "settled" conviction in his own heart that he could have a part in doing "his" job.