by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 4 January 9, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(050)Thesis:Paul's characterization of God is that of One Who takes specific action at specific times within the "typical" flow of His enforcement of His cause/effect "norms".
Introduction:In our previous study we focused upon the issue of "timing" in Paul's comments about God's involvement in producing His life-changing message of redemption. It is our argument that God typically enforces all of the details of His cause/effect creation while atypically addressing the developing outcomes at specific points along the way in order to alter those outcomes. In Galatians1:15 Paul points to two of those atypical actions of God. He "separated" Paul from his mother's womb, and He "called" Paul into His Plan. These atypical actions were separated by more than thirty years but are a part of Paul's argument because of the particular impact that each of them made.
These comments by Paul inevitably produce an interesting perspective on how "Life" should be viewed. It is a "typical" process wherein the rules of the harvest dominate, but also wherein the God of those rules is free to address them by His own "special" adjustments at points along the way in order to bring the Master Plan to fulfillment. These "special adjustments" are, however, not violations of the "typical"; rather, they are simply God's own actions being inserted into the "flow".
This evening we are going to look into God's special "adjustments" of the "flow" as Paul presents them.
I. At Issue: The Master Plan and the Gazillion Details.
A. Currently there are more than six billion, human, "chooser-producers" on planet earth.
B. If the "rules" of the harvest are real, the presence of so many whose actions have an effect on downline outcomes means that all outcomes are "iffy" unless there exists both a "general" direction within the creation and a set of "specific" adjustments along the way.
C. Paul's picture of God's dealings with His creation is such that His "rules of the harvest" underwrite a "general" direction and that His "specific adjustments" provide a deliberate corrective along the way. [By way of illustration, consider a train in motion. Generally, trains run along a very specific track that keep them from veering off into any direction contrary to that specific track. However, trains will move without "tracks". The problem with such movement is that the rules of friction will invariably cause the train to shift directions so that no one can tell where it might ultimately go. However, if someone big enough gives the train an occasional nudge along the way, its direction can be controlled.]
D. The problem with the view of the creation as an untracked train is one of power and wisdom.
1. To direct a train as large as creation requires a greater power than creation.
2. To bring such a train to any predetermined destination, given billions of people capable of "adjusting" the route, requires a wisdom beyond conception.
II. The Divine Adjustments in Paul's Reasoning.
A. Paul's physical existence within God's creation as one whose choices would make their own set of adjustments to the flow was, according to him, one of God's particular actions that was designed to bring the Master Plan to fruition.
1. At issue here is a particular question: Why did Paul decide to elevate this particular detail to the level of a "divine adjustment"?
a. Theoretically, any "typical" event could be exalted to a "special" event.
b. But, the elevation of any event to the level of the "special" makes an impact upon those whose attention is brought to focus upon it.
c. Paul clearly intended to cause his readers to think about God's involvement in his birth as a particular act of God.
2. At issue here is also an attached question: What did Paul's birth actually signify in his presentation of his reasons for the Galatians to believe his words?
a. Those words are words about God's gracious provision of Life by means of faith.
b. The physical birth of the messenger necessarily addresses whether that gracious provision of Life by faith will ever take root (Romans 10:14).
c. Additionally, the words about the physical birth of the messenger necessarily address whether the hearers are going to embrace the issue that "Life" is by grace through faith.
1) Physical birth is the classic illustration of "grace" in terms of one of its most critical characteristics: human existence and function as a consequence of divine determination in contrast to human initiative.
2) Before men can ever get down to brass tacks about living for God, they must come to grips with the reality of His determination(s) and embrace it/them.
a) At issue is the question of "vision" as it relates to goals in life and just who has the necessary wisdom to settle the "vision" issue (every time man complains about something, he is challenging the "vision" of God).
b) Also involved is man's penchant for pre-determining which "events" will bring "Life" into the mix and which will not (as though he had the wisdom to be able to do that).
3) Additionally, before men can ever get into the swing of living for God, they must get directly involved in taking His words seriously so that those words have a direct impact upon their daily choices and actions.
4) Paul's elevation of his physical birth to the level of "special divine intervention" in the flow of the universe forces his readers to come to grips with both "grace" and "faith".
B. Paul's spiritual development within the context of God's creation as one whose sowing would make a major impact on the development of the Master Plan was also presented to his readers as a "divine interruption" in the normal flow.
1. This was, according to his words, a matter of God's point of view about what, when, and how the insertion of an "adjustment" was going to take place.
a. Paul's view of what the translators call God's "pleasure" is actually a view of "how God thinks" in respect to the execution of the Master Plan.
b. Paul's picture is of God "deeming" a certain action at a certain time to be "fit" to accomplish His short, and long, term objectives.
2. This was presented by Paul as a clear involvement of "grace" on God's part.
a. The "call" of God has all kinds of variations from the most subtle to the most inescapable.
b. In Paul's case, subtlety was completely set aside because he was "hell bent".
c. This, according to Paul, became the standard of "grace".