by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9 March 16, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(016)Thesis:Believers, as the Beloved of God, are destined to be the Lovers of God.
Introduction:In our last study, we considered the significance of the believers in Rome being The Beloved of God. We considered several of the issues involved in being loved by God, including why it is that many of those loved by God end up being condemned by Him to the eternal flames. The short answer to this 'oft-used' question is not what most of us fall back on: it is not man's "free moral agency". Man hasn't been "free" to choose his course since Genesis 3. Rather, the biblical answer is that love requires "faith" in order for it to accomplish its objectives. In other words, if a person, though loved by God, rejects the claim that God loves him/her, the love of God for him/her cannot accomplish its objective of turning him/her from selfishness to selflessness. If this happens, the "beloved" will be rejected by God just as Satan and his followers have been. The issue here is not a matter of man turning himself from his overweening love for himself to a considerate love for others. Rather, the issue here is a matter of man's embrace of the true reality that he is loved by God. This is not a matter of "will". It is a matter of "conviction". Our "wills" do not determine our "convictions"; rather, our "convictions" determine our "wills". The point of revelation is not "choice", but "belief". God reveals Truth so that we can understand it and then believe it. That God loves us is beyond question as to the reality. Unhappily, it is not beyond question as to the mental hoops through which we jump. This is the reason that Paul invariably fell back upon the significance of our being The Called. For Paul, there are the beloved of God and there are the called of God and the two, though they overlap in terms of what is included, are not the same. All are beloved; some are called. This raises this huge question: if God loves "all", does that not mean that He must call "all"? How can God love and not call?
I. The Love and Silence of God.
A. The love of God, in its most basic reality, is the willingness of God to sacrifice Himself for the sake of those He loves.
1. This willingness has been demonstrated in history at Calvary.
2. The degree of love was also revealed in that same point of history.
3. No man can legitimately say "I am not loved by God".
B. The silence of God, in its most basic reality, is the refusal of God to say more than has already been said because of the futility involved.
1. God began speaking before man began being...the content of the speech of God was already on hand before man existed.
2. Therefore, man came into being in the context of being spoken to by God.
3. The record is that man deliberately turned a deaf ear toward God at the point when he was required by the developing circumstances to respond to love with love.
4. More speech beyond the point of man's deliberate deafness would not prove greater love, nor would silence beyond the point of man's deliberate deafness prove the absence of love.
a. Once a person embraces a given objective, more speech is vain [Note Romans 10:21].
b. Speech is only effective at the point when the objective is no longer sacrosanct.
II. The Love and Call of God.
A. The essential nature of the call of God.
1. It is a summons to sainthood.
a. What is a "saint"?
1) At root, a "saint" is someone who has been heart-focused upon love for God.
a) The biblical record is profuse in its testimony that the problem with man is that, at heart, he is incorrigibly self-centered in his love.
b) The biblical record is clear in its testimony that the chief action of God in bringing man to the kingdom is the fundamental alteration of the heart.
c) When God puts it into the heart of a man to value God above all other values, He has created a "saint".
2) In time, a "saint" is someone whose heart has only been core-altered, not totally rewritten.
a) The seed of love for God has been implanted, but the germination and growth of the seed has not been fully developed.
b) It is through the circumstances of time that the germination and growth takes place through the processes of confrontation in experience.
i. Man's experience is 24/7 and consists of being subject to developing circumstances within a mentally reflective process in which he thinks about what he is experiencing.
ii. God is the gardener who controls both the circumstances and what He reveals to the person within the reflective process.
3) Ultimately, a "saint" is someone whose heart has been completely rewritten so that all of its values are properly aligned under its chief value of love for God.
b. How comes the summons?
1) It comes by way of biblical revelation as it is attended by the power of the Holy Spirit Whose illumination regarding Truth is overwhelmingly convincing in arguing down all of the resistance.
2) It comes through human instrumentality and activity: the "called" is impressed by the Spirit with the truthfulness of the messenger.
2. It is a summons to ultimate self-denial.
B. The essential nature of the love of God: completely involved with producing life in others at whatever cost.
1. Part of the cost is borne by the Lover: God does not escape the sacrificial nature of love.
2. Part of the cost is borne by the beloved: God's creation does not escape the sacrificial nature of love.
3. Part of the cost is borne by the called: God's called one does not escape the sacrificial nature of love.