by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1 January 13, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(001)Thesis:God's good news is ours by reason of His initial activities in respect to preparing a particular man for the task of getting that news into a written form that has the capacity to bring us into the experience of the goodness of the news.
Introduction:The beginning of any study, of necessity, is 'introductory'. There are some basic issues that need to be put 'out there' so that they give specific direction to what is going to follow. This is the result of the basic requirements for understanding. No one understands until there is enough forest and trees to make grasping the particulars possible. Both a large generality and a sufficient number of particulars is required. Paul pursued this reality in his introduction to the epistle to the Romans. This was a group of believers to whom Paul had never personally ministered and about whom Paul could make only the barest 'assumptions' in terms of their understanding of God's message. Thus, Romans is a presentation of the most necessary issues of Truth for those who would experience the eternal life of God. This evening we are going to begin to look into Paul's introduction.
I. The Place Romans Occupies in the New Testament.
A. The New Testament is not arranged chronologically in reference to when the materials were written.
B. The New Testament is arranged, in one sense, thematically and, in another sense, by authorship.
C. The New Testament is all theologically determined, but its ways of getting that theology into our thinking varies.
D. Romans is at the head of the table in terms of straightforward doctrinal explanation.
1. As such, it gives theological orientation to our understanding of all of the New Testament
2. Its comprehensiveness and brevity imply the existence of the rest of the New Testament because it cannot cover a sufficient amount of the details so as to leave us with a peaceful resolution of the details of our experience.
II. The Place Paul's Self-Characterization Takes in Respect to His Message.
A. As the converted 'Saul', Paul exemplifies two critical issues.
1. The first of these issues has to do with that dominant bug-a-boo that we call 'status'.
a. By name and practice, 'Saul' was heavily into the satanic perversion of misguided status seeking.
1) Misguided status seeking arises out of the definition of the methods of life in terms of having creatures (created beings) give their respect, honor, adulation, love, etc. to the status seeker.
2) Saul, by name, was such a person -- both King Saul and Saul of Tarsus -- in that being on the top of the heap was highly valued by both in their lives as "Saul".
3) This issue is front and center in the life of every human being alive unless they have come to grips with the Gospel of God.
b. By the alteration of the name to 'Paul' we see a subtle declaration of the love-driven rejection of status 'needs' for the sake of others.
2. The second of these issues has to do with that exclusive issue which we call 'love'.
a. By name and practice, 'Paul' had developed into the divine practice of true status.
1) True status has to do with one's 'glory' -- Who one is and What one is like -- as it relates to the way others apprehend that 'glory'.
2) True status has only to do with the apprehension of one 'Other' -- God's perception of who I am and what I am like and how He reacts to that perception.
3) True status has, secondarily, to do with one's manifestation of glory -- what he does.
4) The expression of true status, consequently, has only one measuring device -- the love of God -- and One Measurer -- God Himself -- and only one relational objective -- the pleasure of God, not men.
5) Though, because of the love of God Paul cared about men's apprehension of his own glory as it related to how they would respond to God himself, in the final analysis Paul cared not one whit for whether men appreciated him or not because he only cared about whether God was satisfied.
b. Under the absolute statement by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 -- that nothing that was motivated by anything less than love would profit us -- Paul practiced this exclusive reality called love.
B. In describing himself as the bondservant of Christ Jesus, Paul set forth the first of the umbrella issues that would make the following details comprehensible.
1. All New Testament details must be brought under the over-arching reality of the Servant-Kingdom before they can be grasped with joy.
a. The Servant-Kingdom is the objective of the divine process in this world as we have known it.
b. None will be admitted into the eternal Servant-Kingdom that have not embraced its fundamental character.
c. None will embrace the fundamental character of the Servant-Kingdom without coming to grips with two things...
1) The futility of the pursuit of the pampered life [I will be served].
2) The absolute superiority of the nature of servanthood in respect to any kingdom (without this characteristic, all kingdoms are divided and will fall into chaos) [I will be a servant].
2. All New Testament details must be understood under the twin principles of the Servant-Kingdom as they are set forth by the Name.
a. The name "Christ" identifies Paul's Master as the King of the Servant-Kingdom.
1) The term "Christ" is clearly identified in terms of meaning by the Magi who asked where the "King" of the Jews was born [Matthew 2:2].
2) Since the King of the Servant-Kingdom is Paul's Master, it goes without saying that there will be no heirs of that kingdom who have not embraced Him.
b. The name "Jesus" identifies Paul's Master as the Lover Who sacrificed Himself so that the 'servant' could become a servant.
1) The theology of the New Testament, written by Paul, sets forth man's bondage to the Law of Sin which has one objective: to replace the Head with oneself.
2) This same theology provides a sufficient provision and motivation to alter those who have been pursuing their own lordship and turn them into servants.
3) It is the King as Jesus that moves to generate this absolutely remarkable transformation.