by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9 August 29, 2010 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(018)Thesis:The primary issue of "grace" in our text is whether God is going to extend it.
Introduction:We have worked our way through the part of Paul's introduction that puts its focus upon his identity, message, and associates. We have seen that the issues involved are whether Paul can be trusted in regard to his message of the redeeming King and how his words are supposed to be understood. In our last study we considered Paul's reference to his associates as "all brethren" so that we might understand that we live in a relational universe as opposed to a mechanical one.
This evening we are going to at least begin to look into his desires for the Galatians. They are two: grace and peace. Both are incredibly large concepts that take a lot of "getting used to" and both have a very primary place in the "Galatian Problem". The "grace" side of things is God's. The "peace" side of things is man's. Though both are presented as extensions of divine activity from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the former is deliberately focused upon objective divine activity and the latter is deliberately focused upon whether those for whom the action was taken "get it". At the individual level grace without peace is futile and peace without grace is delusion. Therefore, we are going to at least begin to look into Paul's wishes for his readers: grace and peace.
I. The Massive Problem.
A. All forms of religion that operate under the banner of "Christianity" profess to be compatible with "grace".
B. Every person who operates under the banner of "Christianity" strongly tends to stay in a fog in regard to "grace".
C. The issues of "definition".
1. The issues are large enough to have a divine imperative behind the "name" of "John" (Luke 1:13) because of the distortion in Jewish theology.
a. The Jews would have adamantly declared that they "believed" that Yahweh is gracious.
b. Those same Jews had developed a theology that kept "grace" bound so that it could not dominate the relationship between God and man.
2. The issues are large enough to have the apostle "John" write the contrastive statement that "the Law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
3. The largeness of the issues compels us to zero in on "bits and pieces" as the various contexts demand.
a. For instance, Romans 11:6 deliberately puts "grace" into a juxtaposition against "work" so that they are methodologically exclusive.
b. Another illustration is Romans 3:24-26 where "grace" is placed into a juxtaposition against "justice" so that the clash is so great as to demand Calvary (Jesus).
c. What is involved here is "T"heology wherein the conundrum for man is the reality of God's character as a composite of "opposites" and the practical question of how a man can determine which of God's alternative characteristics will dominate in any given particular situation.
1) At stake is man's capacity to function by faith because "faith" requires some level of certitude in the particular situations of our experience.
2) At stake is also the question of man's willingness to function by love because "love" permits God to be God without explanation.
3) At the levels of both "faith" (responding to individual declarations from God) and "love" (permitting God to determine what, when, how, etc.), man must take his place in the "relational universe" and deal with God as a person under the reality of His infinity and man's finitude.
4. The "bits and pieces" of "grace" at the beginning of Paul's letter to the Galatians are several.
a. First, there is the obvious "problem" of the "Galatian Problem".
1) Where "grace" sufficiently dominates, there are few, if any, "problems".
2) Where there are "problems", there is an obvious lack of "grace" in some form.
b. Second, there is the obvious "desire" of the apostle that God, as Father, and Jesus, as Lord, would be a bit more involved at the "grace" level.
c. Third, there is the clear declaration by the apostle that even "apostles" (2:14) can actually "frustrate" the "grace" of God (2:21).
d. Fourth, there is the declared fact that "grace" was so "potent" in the activities of Jesus, the Christ, and of the Father Who raised Him from the dead that we have to understand "grace" as a form of divine activity that is distinctly separate from human participation in any (positive) form.
e. Therefore, at the level of "definition" we are compelled to view "grace" as a divine attribute that, though enormously potent when it comes into play, can only be "wished for" and not "insisted upon".