by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 October 23, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(352)Thesis:There is a significant connection between what we learn in this time and what we are permitted to enjoy for all of eternity.
Introduction:Last week we looked into the fact that Paul tied the Spirit's ministry to us of establishing our identity as the children of God to the "automatic" conclusion that, because that is true of us, we are also the heirs of God's provisions. But we made the point that there is a specific difference between being an "heir of God" and being a "joint-heir with Christ". The "inheritance" that comes from being a "child" is that inheritance which God gives to every believer regardless of whether, or how much, those believers develop as "sons". The thief who came to faith just before he died alongside of Jesus on Calvary and the apostle who labored "more than them all" for 30 years or so will be given the same inheritance from the Father. But, Paul also introduced a second concept alongside of the truth of our being heirs of God; he said that "if" we suffer together with Christ, we will also be "joint-heirs" with Him.
Now, it is clear that the Bible says that because Jesus suffered the death of the cross, God gave Him a position and name that is above every name in heaven, on earth, or under the earth (Philippians 2:9). Thus, there can be little doubt that there is a significant relationship between the way we spend our lives on this earth and what we shall experience of eternal Life. This evening we are going to look into that reality as Paul addressed it.
I. The Involved Issues.
1. Paul's first "related concept" involves the way he looked at life as a set of settled truths.
a. The word translated in the NASB "I consider" is a word to which we have had a lot of exposure in Romans.
1) It first showed up in 2:3 where Paul questioned the way a certain group of his readers were "functioning" out of their "considering".
a) The issue in that place was the way they were living.
b) But all living arises from the way a person has put, and is putting, the puzzle pieces together.
2) It showed up several times after that, but all of them have the same idea as 3:28 and 4:3.
a) Both of these texts involve coming to a settled conclusion about the nature of reality.
b) When a person "considers", he is, in effect, saying: This is the way it is.
b. Because of Paul's use of this word in 8:18, we need to be very careful to understand what he has declared because it is a solid declaration of how God's creation works.
2. Paul's use of this concept at this point does two things.
a. First, his use tells us how absolutely important it is that we understand how and what we "consider".
1) In all of history, ignorance has led to actions rooted in choices that produced relative experiences of "Death".
2) Ignorance is the lack of understanding, but the deliberate acceptance of it has serious roots.
a) One of the roots of ignorance is having others who will do for you what you need (necessity is the mother of invention) so that you do not have to overcome your natural antipathy to put yourself out.
b) Another of the roots of ignorance is not having the resources of knowledge.
c) A third root of ignorance is the assumption of knowledge where there is only an accumulation of data without the key that ties it together in a unity.
b. Second, his use is found at the very place that has become, over time, one of the greatest points of contention between believers and unbelievers over the nature of God.
1) This use is about what Paul calls "the sufferings of this present time".
2) It is precisely the issue of "sufferings" in the universe of a "good" God that has been used ever since Genesis 3 to dissuade men from true love and faith.
3. What Paul "considered".
a. Clearly, Paul did not "consider" the arguments of the antagonists legitimate: that the presence of suffering in the creation of a God meant that there is a flaw in the "goodness" of God.
b. Just as clearly, Paul did not "embrace" the almost universal reluctance to submit to "sufferings" that the antagonists promote (see Romans 5:3 as his own statement of attitude, and 2 Thessalonians 1:4 as his enthusiasm for those who have the same way of looking at life).
c. The fact is this: those who resist sufferings the most create the worst of them for others.
1) That men refuse to "suffer" makes them generators of suffering: in their deep antagonism toward anything that makes them "adjust" their own selfishness, they simply make life harder on everyone around them, including themselves.
2) That such men/angels "blame" God for the very suffering that they are creating is pretty much Standard Operating Procedure for sinners.
d. And another fact is this: God has already determined that all suffering will result in glory for those who are not ignorant.
1) This is not a case where "the end justifies the means" because it is not God who determines to employ suffering to His ends; rather, it is God Who has determined that the evil of others will not be allowed to succeed.
a) Evil is not rooted in painful experience; it is rooted in intentionality: the intent to do harm to another.
b) God has decreed that no evil intention will succeed in its final goal.
2) This is an acceptance of the thoughts and deeds of other persons to a limited extent in the overall process of growing ignorant children into wise sons.
a) There are only three ways "persons" can be kept from doing evil: do not create them in the first place; eliminate them before they can put their evil into play; or, train them to choose good over evil.
b) God has opted for the last option and has determined that the allowance of persons to act as all persons act will be folded into the process.
3) The "glory" at the end will erase all of the negative aspects of the process.