by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8 April 24, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(076)Thesis:The response of the other "apostles" was rooted in what they "saw".
Introduction:In our study last week we noted that God's gift of "apostleship" was the gift of an inerrant understanding of Truth. Those given such a gift had an unerring ability to ferret out any, and all, aberrations from the Truth. It did not include "omniscience", but it did include a supernatural ability to recognize any illogical "connections" between established "truths". Besides being evil, false doctrines are always irrational in the sense that the "logic" involved is faulty. With legitimate rationality, omniscience is unnecessary. It is important for us to understand that this gift did not include the purity of love that is necessary to live by the inerrant logic of the gift. Apostles could, and did, fail to live up to their gifting, but that does nothing to the essence of the gift; it only affects whether anyone could trust an apostle on any given day.
When Paul went up to Jerusalem, he did so under the strength of the knowledge that the other apostles couldnot "honestly" resist his explanation of the Gospel. In this letter to the Galatians, he argued that they didnot resist -- a strong evidence that his message carried the day. However, it might be argued that they simply caved in to his dominant personality out of fear: not resisting is not proof of a pure heart. Since a lack of resistance is not "proof", we have to understand why Paul set it forth as an evidence that the Galatians needed to consider.
I. The Significance of the Absence of Apostolic Resistance.
A. What was "at stake".
1. Paul's claim in 2:5 is that it is the Gospel itself that was at stake.
2. Given this claim we need to understand that, because the Gospel is simply a methodological tool toward a greater end, it is Eternal Life that is at stake.
B. The nature of the apostolic response.
1. Paul's claim is that the "seemers" did not "add" (pros ana tithemi) anything to his message.
2. This claim's essence is that the "seemers" recognized the "wholeness" of his message.
a. One only "adds" to something that is deficient.
b. The willingness to refrain from "adding" is a statement of one of two things: either there is an agreement that the unit is a whole piece; or there is an unwillingness to stand against the "logic".
1) An honest willingness to refrain from "addition" would signify complete agreement.
2) A dishonest willingness to refrain would signify cowardice.
3. Thus, the question the Galatians have to answer is that one which addresses the loves/fears of the "seemers".
C. The roots of the apostolic response.
1. According to Acts 15, the decision was rooted in "logic", not intimidation.
2. Because "logic" is revealed to be the undergirding foundations of the decision, only those who reject the logic can seek to establish the decision as rooted in ungodly fear.
a. Though Paul's claim to have the backing of the apostles in Jerusalem is not, of itself, a proof of the legitimacy of his message, it is a strong argument because of nature of the process -- debate unto clarity of indisputable logic.
b. Any who continue to resist Paul's explanation of the Gospel will, therefore, have to give a reasonable demonstration that the apostles in Jerusalem caved into fear (a significantly difficult thing to do since Paul, Barnabas, and Titus were the clear minority in that setting).
D. The outcome of the absence of apostolic resistance.
1. At one level, Paul's message was exalted to the level of dominance.
a. His adversaries might well have argued that this resulted in the destruction of the Gospel itself just as he argued that if their message had carried the day the truth of the Gospel would have disappeared.
b. In any case, it was Paul's explanation of the Gospel that was established as the Church's message so that the Galatians could not call themselves "members of the Church" if they rejected it.
2. At another level, however, the internal consistency of the message was preserved.
a. Paul's "salvation by grace through faith" doctrine fundamentally established the claim that "salvation" was a God-extended, un-compelled, Justice-free, offer to be believed, or rejected.
b. Thus, at root is the issue of whether a person will "believe" or not.
c. This raises the question of "why" a person would "believe", or not, and the question of "how" a person "believes".
d. For internal consistency's sake, the "whys" and "hows" have to be consistent with the broad issues of grace and faith.
e. This means that the bottom line is the issue of why one person sees the "logic" of a given argument and another does not.
1) This pushes the issue back to the essential identity of "apostleship" because it is that gift that makes inerrant logic possible.
2) But the essence of apostleship includes the fact that it is a "gift" from God by grace through the working of the Holy Spirit.
3) Thus, the bottom line is that it is only by a "gift of grace from God" that anyone has the capacity to recognize the logic.
4) This being the case, the internal consistency of the Gospel involves whether, or not, the message preserves "grace", and Paul's explanation is the only one which does that.
a) If any matter does not require an uncompelled initiation by God to get it "going", it is not a matter of "grace".
b) If the doctrine of salvation is attached to human performance issues, God not only becomes the "responder" and not the "initiator", but is also "under obligation" and His response can in no way be called "uncompelled".