by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 February 3, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(004)Thesis:The identification of the "truth" is enabled by the internal consistency between what has already been validated as true and what is coming down as "greater explication".
Introduction:In our study last week, we attempted to grasp the significance of what Paul declared to be true of himself. He claimed to be a "called apostle" [which is a claim to be absolutely authoritative in terms of doctrinal content] who had adjusted his living to his calling [which is a claim to be making the effort required of stewards to be found faithful to the Grantor of the Stewardship]. These are significant claims for two reasons. First, there is a bottom line in the identification of a person as an "apostle" by his/her readers: if they buy into the identity, they are, of necessity, accepting "his truth" as "their truth". All of life flows out of what we accept as truth and there is no escape from the consequences of "believing" something to be "true". And, second, there is a fundamental issue involved in "truth" that is tied to the behavior of the "steward": nothing is true that does not align with the "bondservant Kingdom" in respect to the motivation of the "steward". If it can be established that the "steward" is seeking to "use" his "disciples" rather than "help" them, he is to be dismissed as an illegitimate steward and his message is to be discounted as a deceit. Paul wanted the Romans to know this and function by it. This evening we are going to move into verse 2, where Paul gives his readers the security of a solid foundation for the evaluation of "truth". In this verse, he claims that the message to which he is "separated" has been validated sufficiently for the absolute confidence of his readers. Remember: All of life flows out of what we accept as truth and there is no escape from the consequences of "believing" something to be "true".
I. The Significance of Prior "Promise".
A. The significance of promise as it relates to "truth claims".
1. The problem with "truth claims" is that anyone can make them.
a. This problem is compounded in history by the passing of time and the growing number of truth-claimers.
b. The problem is as real as the consequences in daily experience of "believing".
2. The way God has addressed the "problem": correspondence.
a. In biblical revelation, God never asks for "faith" in an "unestablished truth".
1) The bottom line of "establishment of truth" was the intermixture of "truth statement" and personal experience.
a) Typically, this was begun with short-term prophetic utterance.
b) Then it was accomplished by personal experience of the "fulfillment".
2) Once this "establishment" had become a fact of life, the bottom line moved to include "established testimony".
a) Not everyone is going to be given the "original experience".
b) The testimony of those who were given the "original experience" was to become the extended foundation for a person's own decisions about what is true.
b. In biblical revelation, God never excuses "unbelief" once the "truth" has been established.
B. The significance of promise as it relates to "truth's contents".
1. Nothing can be true that undercuts the "integrity" of the promise.
a. Promise, by definition, is a guarantee of a certain result in history.
1) The problematical issue involved in "certain results" has to do with two questions...
a) What is the relationship of omniscience to promise [transcendence]?
b) What is the relationship of omnipotence to promise [immanence]?
2) The biblical record of the immanent exercise of power by God in order to bring His words to pass clearly rejects the notion that God simply "looks down the corridor of time" and prophesies what He sees will be, but this same immanence also denies His 'particular' control over every detail of the flow of history.
a) There is no need for interruption by God if omniscience is the dominant reality.
b) There is no need for interruption by God if "all is predetermined".
3) The biblical statement allows personal participation up to the point where the stated plans of God come into jeopardy.
b. Any doctrine that denies God's willingness, or ability, to exercise sovereignty in order to fulfill His promises is false.
2. Everything is true that is a legitimate explication of the bigger picture of the promise.
a. Truth is both a whole concept as well as a particular statement within the whole.
b. Whenever particular statements are in harmony with the whole, they are true even though they reveal what was not known up until they were made.
C. Conclusion: Paul expects his readers to investigate what has already been established and compare what he writes to what has been written.
II. The Significance of Prophets and Holy Writings.
A. The fact of a divine methodology that involves the "bottleneck" of prophets and writings has long been established.
B. The fact of this divine methodology has to do with God's process of developing bondservants for His Kingdom.
1. Everyone has the most basic revelation required for personal response.
2. Those who have access to greater revelation have both greater opportunity as well as greater liability.
3. Servanthood has to do with the relative degrees of opportunity and personal response.