by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 8 June 20, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(226)Thesis:"Reigning in Life" is a Love/Faith reality that has little to do with external circumstances.
Introduction:In our last study we made the claim that Paul's statement in Romans 5:17 was fundamentally "futuristic". The "reign" of Death had a very small beginning that gradually spread like leaven (or gangrene) throughout man's internal and external experience. In similar manner, the "reign" of Life has a small beginning that gradually spreads throughout the believer's internal and external experience. However, there is this huge difference: the reign of Death began with Adam and has been taking hold of more and more of human experience as time has gone by, but the reign of Life begins individually with each believer and must face the juggernaut of Death while attempting to expand its dominion within the life of each believer. When we look at Scripture and history, the track record is enormously "cautionary": the Scriptures and history reveal that most people do not comprehensively succeed. The plain truth is that our existence in this world is extraordinarily dangerous and only those who "fight" the "fight of faith" actually make the kind of progress that ends up producing a godly saint.
This "plain truth" is not supposed to discourage us; it is supposed to prepare us for the "fight" and to give us honest expectations. This evening I want to return to the issues that are involved in Paul's promise that those who remain on the receiving end of the abundance of grace and of the free gift of righteousness "shall reign in life". It is true that the promise is fundamentally "futuristic"; but it is also true that one can at least partially enter into the essence of the promise now.
I. The Impact of the Future Upon the Present.
A. According to Paul in 5:3-5, "hope" (which is "futuristic") is the objective of our being subject to significant difficulties because it keeps us from "shame".
B. According to Paul in 4:18, "hope" was the key to Abraham's success in becoming the father of many nations.
C. According to Paul in 8:24-25, "hope" is the foundation of salvation and the only thing that gives us the ability to "fight the fight".
D. According to Paul in 15:13, it is the "God of Hope" Who enables us to abound in hope.
E. And, according to Paul in 15:4, the reason for a lack of hope is the abandonment of the message and content of the Scriptures.
II. The Nature of Our Experience in the Present.
A. Paul couched his explanation of our experience in terms of "reigning in Life".
1. To "reign" means to exercise dominion over "what happens".
2. To "reign in Life" means to experience harmony with God in the midst of our circumstances.
B. Our current "reign" is specifically limited.
1. The biblical picture is not only a picture of significant limitation in respect to each believer's ability to "dominate" what "happens", it is also a picture of the fact that even Messiah's earthly kingdom is significantly limited so that it concludes with a massive rebellion against God and His Christ.
2. The biblical picture is a picture of a "reign" over the love/faith issues of the inner man so that one can "reign" over his/her "reactions" to the developing circumstances.
a. But, even this "reign" is not presented as comprehensive or easy.
1) It remains a "fight" at all times.
2) It is incremental, not comprehensive.
b. So, it is presented as an incrementally successful struggle.
3. The biblical picture is a picture of a "reign" that has enough success in the struggle to make "joy" and "peace" a regular (normal) reality [Note Romans 15:13].
a. The issues involved in a normal experience of joy and peace in 5:17.
1) According to 5:17, there is a continual reception of the abundance of grace.
a) This requires a "mindset" of "repentance" in which neither pride nor despair are permitted to settle into one's attitude.
b) This requires a "mindset" of "personal" participation that does not require that anyone else participate (we cannot "despair" over what others do, nor can we "boast" of our superiority to them).
2) According to 5:17, there is a continual reception of the free gift of righteousness.
a) This is not, technically, the kind of "receiving" that results in justification before God.
b) This is, however, a continual focus upon the fact of justification before God as a free gift -- i.e., it is a fact, and it is free [these twins keep us from despair and pride].
b. The issues involved in a normal experience of joy and peace in the larger context.
1) In 15:4 Paul made it as plain as possible that there is a necessary link between the Scriptures and our experience in hope [this is a recurring thesis of Paul -- as in 2 Timothy 3:14-15].
2) In 5:3-5 Paul made it as plain as possible that there is no necessary link between our circumstances and our experience in hope.