(175)Thesis:The mystery of our unity with Christ is the actual basis for all of our relationship issues with God.
Introduction:This evening we begin a new paragraph in our studies of Paul's message of legitimate faith. In the previous paragraph, Paul's point was that, though the Law has no direct bearing upon our participation in "the inheritance", its function was, nonetheless, a "justifying function" in that its purpose was to compel us to seek justification by a method not associated with the details of how we act. So, in an indirect way, the Law was designed to bring us to justification by completely locking us out of that possibility by its own principles.
This evening we are going to look, again, into Paul's argument about how we can be "justified by faith".
I. The Outcomes of "the Coming of the Faith".
A. In respect to "Law", the coming of the faith meant its demise.
1. This occurred as a matter of "world history": the nation was dissolved and, consequently, its national constitution was completely set aside.
a. The destruction of the temple stopped all of the elements of the sacrificial system.
b. The dissolution of the political system stopped all of the elements of the "legal" system.
c. The order of the world reverted to its pre-Babel state wherein there was no "nation of God" upon the earth.
2. This also has certain consequences upon every individual's "personal history".
a. The reversion of the world order included a reversion to "the law written upon the heart" with a "new" element: the promised "Other Comforter" Whose task was to enhance that internal monitor.
1) The internal monitor had proven itself ineffective, standing alone.
2) The addition of the more active and aggressive involvement of God's Spirit meant that the "reversion" was more of a new step forward than an old step backward.
b. Now, every individual's "history" is absolutely tied "the faith" in a way that transcends the former connection that the world's history had to "the Law".
B. In respect to "the faith", the arrival of the details of the content of "faith" meant a significantly greater number of "sons of God".
1. Paul's "we are/you are" switch in 3:25-26 indicates that the Jews (the "we") no longer had any ties to "the Law" and that the Gentiles (the "you") now have access to the inheritance of the sons of God.
2. The identification of the Gentiles who "believe" as "sons of God" indicated a huge expansion of the numbers of those involved in "the promise" made both to Abraham and to Christ.
II. The Basis of Those Outcomes.
A. First, a "baptism".
1. Confusing the various "baptisms" in the Scriptures allows those so inclined to retain their fixation upon justification by works.
2. But clarity regarding the believer's "baptism into Christ" allows every believer to begin to maximize his/her participation in the inheritance.
a. The believer's "baptism into Christ" is accomplished by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:13).
b. The believer's "baptism into Christ", though an enormous mystery, is, nonetheless, so real that it directly affects one's participation in "the inheritance" at all levels and in every particular.
1) It is because we have been placed into Christ that we are "justified" in the eyes of God.
2) It is because we have been placed into Christ that we receive the impact of God's promises to Abraham and to Christ.
B. Then, a "clothing".
1. The issue of "being clothed with Christ" is not only an "outer reality"; it is first an inner reality that shows up on the outside.
2. Paul's verb is used in the Scriptures to simply mean "to put on clothes", but it is used in several places to indicate that the action of putting on the clothes is a direct indication of something that has happened internally.
a. 1 Corinthians 15:53-54: it is impossible to simply "put on" immortality as a outer garment.
b. 1 Thessalonians 5:8: it is impossible to simply "put on" faith as an outer garment.