(089)Thesis: Love for The God is an absolute essential for any confidence we might have that our circumstances are a part of His "love-for-us" dominion over them.
Introduction: In Romans 8 Paul has been focused upon God's Spirit as His provision for our experience of His "Life". And, within that focus, is another: God's Spirit's ministry toward us has one major goal. That goal is to enhance our future experience of the Glory of God by empowering us to "Hope". Because "Hope" is a direct outcome of our "Faith", it should not be incredible to us that this chapter strives to get us to "believe" certain absolute facts.
In our study last week we saw that one of those "absolute facts" is that The Spirit prays for us in perfect harmony with the character and will of The God so that we can be sure that The Father both hears the Spirit's unvocalized groanings on our behalf andanswersthem.
This evening we are going to look into another of those "absolute facts"; the "fact" that since The Father is answering the intercessions of His Own Spirit, we can be sure that the situations and circumstances of our daily lives are being used by Him to bring us to the "enhanced glory" that has been His goal all along. Romans8:28 has been quoted for centuries, even by those who have no active hope that it is true. This evening we are going to begin a look into what it actually says.
I. That We "Know" Another "Common Knowledge" Reality.
A. In 8:22 Paul claimed one "common knowledge" reality -- that the whole creation groans and painfully labors to bring forth "the adoption of the children of The God".
B. Now, in 8:28, he returns to a second "common knowledge" reality -- that everything that goes on is being used by Him to further His Plan to establish Eternal Life as the Experience of all those who redeemed.
C. The roots of "common knowledge".
1. One such root is "experience"; this is the basis for the 8:22 claim.
2. Another such root is "reason"; this is the basis for the 8:28 claim.
a. If the Son and the Spirit are both "Intercessors" for the children of God according to the will of God, and the Father always answers the prayers that are according to His will, how can anyone ignore the "logic" that The Father's answers are experienced in the hours, days, weeks, and years of our lives?
b. Clearly, it is "reasonable" to "believe" that The Father's dominion over His own creation is sufficiently powerful to defeat all of the "vanity" that is "out there".
II. What We "Know": Another "Common Knowledge" Reality.
A. There are some for whom The Father works all things unto "good".
1. That there is such a thing as "Eternal Life" also means that there is such a thing as "Eternal Death".
2. And it should be beyond debate that those who end up in Eternal Death are not experiencing The Father's pursuit of the "good".
B. Those some are identified first as "those who are loving The God".
1. This is not the only "qualifier" for whom the reality exists; it is simply the first.
2. There are two major issues in this "qualifier".
a. The first major issue is inserted into our thinking by the phrase "...that for those who are loving The God...".
1) The first is a fact not found in this text/context.
a) This fact is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22.
b) This fact is that all who do not "love" The Lord Jesus Christ are going to be banished into Eternal Death forever.
c) This fact, however, is stated by means of a different word for "love" than is found in our text: "phileo".
2) Because our text does address the issues of Eternal Life and Death, it is appropriate that we consider the parallel text of 1 Corinthians 16:22.
a) In this text, Paul simply winds up his letter by declaring that anyone who does not possess "philos" for the Lord Jesus Christ will be "anathematized".
b) Since the issue is so enormously important, we need to understand what Paul has declared.
i. On one hand, being "anathematized" means being cast into Eternal Death.
ii. And on another hand, those "cast into Eternal Death" are the opposite to those who, in are Romans text, have everything worked toward good in their case.
iii. Thus, we need to understand both "phileo" and "agapao" because they are the "qualifiers" for those who are subject to The Father's work unto "good" and those who are subject to The God's wrath.
c) What it means to exercise "philos" toward The Lord Jesus Christ.
i. In general, "philos" is the word for "love" that means "significant emotional attachment" (Note Jesus' words in Luke 22:48 to Judas and his use of a "kiss" to betray and Mary and Martha's summons to Jesus in John 11:3 compared with 11:35-36).
ii. In general, "philos" is the more potent word (as Peter reveals in his boasts and hurt feelings in John 21).
iii. But, in specifics, "philos" is not "super-potent" as Luke 11:8 clearly shows and Matthew 10:37 goes further and says that "philos" is sometimes conflicted in its own nature.
iv. Both Paul (in the 1 Corinthians 16 text) and James (in James 2:23 and 4:4) tie "philos" to "justification" (as an inevitable outcome of justifying faith because of the Spirit's ministry to and in us).
v. There is a tension here, but the fact is that Paul did not say in this 1 Corinthians 16 text that one had to "love" The Lord Jesus Christ above all other attachments (this is the goal of God in our on-going sanctification).
3) A second fact is that Paul used "agapao" in the Romans 8:28 text.
a) This word is found all over the New Testament (109 uses as a verb and 106 uses as a noun).
b) Its most basic meaning is "to value in a positive way".
c) It brings the strong implication of "values" to the table and points toward a "love" for The God that places Him at the top of the heap.
d) This is the only sense that makes sense in light of general biblical theology where "good" is defined in terms of participating in the glory of God to come.
i. If a person's behavior is not motivated by this love for God as the Top of All Valued Entities, Paul is clear: it profits nothing (no good comes of it).
ii. But, if a person is schooled to "love God above all", everything works to the enhancement of that person's participation in the glory to come.
e) So we can fairly conclude that this qualifier is significantly important and that the promise is an urging to put Him first above all.
b. The second major issue is inserted into our thinking by a second phrase, "...those who are called according to purpose...".