by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3 March 23, 2014 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(029)Thesis:What ought to happen and what does happen are divided by whether, or not, the "believer" is "believing".
Introduction:In our last study we saw that the Thessalonians had become a "type" of responders to the Gospel that set forth a pattern for others to imitate. Paul's logic in this text is that "imitators" of the Lord become a "form" of faith that others should imitate. This means that "faith" can turn a person into someone to be emulated. However, the fact that "those who believe" need a form to follow in order to fulfill the purpose of "faith" in God's economy must mean that "faith" can be real without having a sufficiently comprehensive impact as to make the "believer" a "type". It should have such an impact, but it does not always do so. Otherwise there would be no need for some to be "types" and others to be "imitators".
This evening we are going to consider why the "should" does not always show up.
I. The Description of "Your Faith".
A. Paul deliberately describes "your faith" as "that which is toward God".
1. There are, fundamentally, two kinds of "faith".
a. There is a "faith" that is lodged in "idols" (...you turned to God from the idols...).
1) There are those who are "externalists" who do not recognize that there is an internal root to the worship of "idols".
2) The root to all worship of "idols" is one and the same: the desire to retain "control" over the issues of "life" while simultaneously desiring to have a "genie" pop up out of a bottle to fulfill the "control" issues that are beyond the person giving the "worship".
3) This, subsequently, means that all "idolatry" is really "self-worship".
b. There is a "faith" that is lodged in "a living and true God" (...you turned to God...to serve...).
1) The living and true God does not deal in the "genie" factor realm.
2) God's goal in being willing to extend succor to those in need is one: to turn the seeker into a willing participant in Life as defined by the Servant God.
2. This is extraordinarily significant for two reasons.
a. A "turn" to "a god" or "the God" obviously means a "turn" to an "executor of power" because of personal need.
1) The nature of "need" comes into play here in a significant manner because of the lack of human understanding as to the real nature of "need".
2) Paul clearly nails down the issue of "need" in 1:10 by telling us that the problem is "the coming wrath".
b. Jesus taught that such a "turn" would be met by God's omniscient, wise, omnipotence even if the "degree" of "faith" driving the turn was minuscule (Matthew 17:20).
B. Paul consistently characterizes "faith" as an internal conviction that, invariably, results in at least one external action.
1. Paul's theology of "faith" is that it is the "methodological instrument" to obtain a response from God (this is the entire "point" of "turning to God").
2. That God can "respond" in omniscient, wise, omnipotence and not accomplish anything is ludicrous on the face of it.
3. Thus, the "work(s) of faith" are always seen by Paul as expenditures of energy by God for, in, and through those who "believe"; never by the believer him/her self (all that is valuable in God's relational universe is identified as "the fruit of the Spirit", not the "works" of those who believe).
4. Additionally, the "work" of "faith" is always precisely tied to the specific "need" and to the promise of God in regard to that particular need so that we must be careful to identify both the "need" and God's commitment in respect to it.
a. The specific need that the Gospel specifically meets is "salvation from the coming wrath" and the specific "work" that God does in response to "faith" is to produce a "non-working rest" (Hebrews 4:10) that is rooted in the reality of the salvation given.
b. All other "needs" fall under this "rest" and "cessation from work" so that the believer never does any "work"; all of the productions from his/her body are "of the Spirit of God" and none are of "the spirit of man".
c. Thus, the relapse into a "works" mentality is a departure from "faith" and "grace".
d. This does not mean that the believer's body is idle; it means that all of its energy and activity comes from the Spirit to the intentionality of God so that all "turning" is "to serve".
II. The Conclusion(s).
A. The reason that the shoulds do not always show up is that they are rooted in the activity of God and He is often absent because He has been banished by those whose "faith" is significantly undercut by ignorant self-will.
1. There are too many places in the New Testament that insist upon "growth" in "wisdom and understanding" for us to be able to dismiss the linkage between a discernible "faith" and a hidden one.
2. There is too much revelation (an entire New Testament) to be able to "assume" that "faith" will automatically produce the "across the board" impact that actually occurred in Thessalonica.
a. Need requires clarity of whether it is real, or not.
b. Need requires a commitment from God to be able to expect anything from Him.
c. Need requires a methodology to obtain what God has committed Himself to provide (i.e. "faith").
B. Another reason the shoulds do not always show up is that "faith" is often strenuously resisted because of fears and lusts.