Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5
June 22, 2004
(continued June 29, 2004)
:There is an "exclusivity" to the "righteousness of God" that disallows any, and every, appeal of man to any act of righteousness which proceeds out of his body...regardless of the "spirit/Spirit" that was ultimately behind the act.
:In our study last week, we considered the claim that Paul made that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who "believes". We zeroed our attention on the question of what it means to "believe". We made the claim that everyone seems to have an almost intuitive grasp of what it means to "believe" as soon as we move it out of the theological realm into the daily experience where "believing" is fundamental to every action and, in relationships, there is an enormous awareness when someone "does not believe me"...which indicates that I know what it means to "believe" (I can hardly accuse someone of not "believing me" if either I, or they, do not know what "believe" means). We noted three important facts about "believing".
First, everyone has an intuitive grasp of the fact that "belief" is the root of "action" [no one, outside of theological debate, argues that one can "believe" something and not have one's course of behavior affected by it]. It is not the action, and the same action may actually be sponsored in different people by different "beliefs" [people can, for instance, submit to water baptism on the basis of several different "beliefs"]. So, we must keep "faith" and the behavior(s) it sponsors separate in our thinking.
Second, everyone seems to clearly understand that "faith" has "specific content". In the real world, there is no such thing as a divorce between "faith" and "doctrine". It is impossible to "set our doctrinal differences aside" (though it is not impossible to exercise gentle patience toward someone whose doctrine differs from one's own) for the simple reason that if a "truth" is true, and one believes that it is true, there are consequences to violating it to which one should not subject himself. The issue of doctrinal differences is not "setting them aside", but working through them until we come to a "unity of the faith". The point, is, however, that everyone seems to understand that "belief" is pretty concretely tied to a specific content.
And, third, the fact that "belief" in a "specific" aspect of the "Truth" will always produce behavior consistent with it does not eliminate the reality that "belief" in a "specific" aspect of the Truth does not always produce the behavior that some "expect" because of their understanding of the "connections" of truths in the Truth. Their understanding may be radically different from that of the person they are observing. The problem here is that "behaviors" are often produced by multiple "beliefs", some of which are true and some of which are erroneous.
This evening we are going to move into Paul's fundamental declaration that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation because of that Gospel's "revelation" of the righteousness of God.
- I. The Fundamental Claim of the Gospel.
- A. Consists in a deliberate distinction between the righteousness of man and the righteousness of God.
- 1. In Romans 10:3 Paul makes it very clear that there is a significant distinction between these "righteousnesses".
- a. He says of the "heavily Scripturalized" Jews that they are "ignorant" of the righteousness of God without being ignorant of the need for "righteousness" in relating to God.
- 1) This is somewhat of a shock to our thinking in that we expect those who were the recipients of an enormous investment by God to "understand" at least the basics.
- 2) This is the reason that both Jesus and Paul were hounded to death by the Jews.
- a) Jesus accused the religious establishment of being so far out of the loop that they were children of the devil...and they killed Him for saying that.
- b) Paul accused the same religious establishment of the same level of ignorance and the same result occurred in his case.
- b. He goes on to say that the ignorance that existed drove them to pursue what they did know.
- 1) What they knew was that they had to have "righteousness" if they expected to be able to relate to a holy God.
- 2) This knowledge led to their extreme effort to "establish" their own righteousness.
- 2. In Philippians 3:4-11 Paul makes it very clear that not only is there a distinction between these two "righteousnesses", there is a completely different result from "depending upon" them.
- B. Consists in a different "faith".
- 1. Those that "believe" in the sufficiency of "their" righteousness are "believing".
- a. Luke 18:9 tells us that they "trust" in their own righteousness.
- b. Luke 18:9 also tells us the consequence of this "trust" -- they despise those who are not "as" righteous as they are.
- c. Paul latched onto that "result" as a fundamentally wicked thing and began to use it as one of the most fundamental differences between the saved and the lost.
- 1) Romans 3:27 makes "boasting" a fundamental wickedness.
- 2) Ephesians 2:8-9 does the same thing.
- 2. Those that "believe" in the sufficiency of "God's" righteousness are also "believing".
- a. Hebrews 4:10 tells us that those who "believe" unto the "rest" of God "cease from their own labors"...indicating that biblical "faith" unto the obtaining of the "righteousness of God" is a faith that absolutely resists the attempt to "attach" any work to what Christ did to obtain the particular result: obtaining the "righteousness of God".
- 1) This results in two particulars...
- a) The "believer" will absolutely refuse every teaching of man that "requires" any work that arises out of the body of man.
- b) The "believer" will absolutely refuse every teaching of man that "retroactively annuls" the result of "faith" so that one can lose what Christ obtained for him.
- 2) This also ought to result in one further particular: the absence of "boasting" and despising those who are "not as righteous".
- a) This is not "automatic" as 1 Corinthians 4:6-7 clearly implies...not because the "logic" is not there, but because the "implications of faith" have not reached that far yet.
- b) This reveals just how deep is the root of "boasting" in our fleshly hearts.
- b. Mark 10:15 also tells us that those who "believe" are "believing in a particular that has a larger setting that cannot be rejected or ignored".
- 1) The "faith" is to result in "the obtaining of the righteousness of God" as to the most specific "issue" of faith.
- 2) But, "the obtaining of the righteousness of God" is not a result that can be applied to just any scenario of the future.
- a) Those who think to "obtain the righteousness of God" means a future of complete irresponsibility both now and forever simply do not understand the essential reason for the New Covenant (God gave a New Covenant to make people "obedient people").
- b) Those who think to "obtain the righteousness of God" has no connection to the most fundamental issue of "relating to God in love, honor, and trust" are so misguided that they will be condemned as Paul said clearly in Romans 3:8.
- II. The Fundamental Promise of the Gospel.
- A. Paul identifies the fundamental promise of the Gospel in terms of this impact: salvation.
- B. This "impact" is not simply "justification", but it begins there just as "birth" is the beginning of the person's life in the external world.
- C. This "impact" varies only in terms of two determinants...
- 1. The amount of time one lives in "faith".
- 2. The degree to which the Spirit of God triumphs over the flesh during that time.
- a. The believer's "faith" is not allowed to "fail".
- b. The believer's choices are permitted to have their consequences.
- III. The Difficulties of the Unseen Realities.
- A. No one knows who is a Peter and who is a Judas except God: 2 Timothy 2:19.
- B. No one who rejects the "obligation" of "departing from iniquity" is permitted to be treated as a believer -- even if he proves to be one in the day of judgment.