Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 3
January 2, 2011
:The message is true because God is the chief Actor.
:In our studies to date in the first chapter of Galatians, we have seen that Paul is attempting to provide a legitimate foundation for faith
in his message. The reason for this is that Paul clearly understood where "faith" stands in the order of the things that most critically affect a person's experience of Life. It is not
"ground zero" (that position is held by "love"), but it is
the first consideration of any step away from "ground zero". Love, by itself, is of no use; it is only when love is actively pursued that its values make their intended impact. And it is at this point -- the initiation of active pursuit -- that "faith" becomes critical.
But, for "faith" to bring a good result, it must be legitimate; and, for it to be legitimate, it must be rooted in two things simultaneously: first, it must be rooted in Truth; and, second, it must be rooted in an understanding of Truth. In other words, it is not sufficient for "faith" to be rooted in Truth; it must be springing out of the understanding of the Truth by the "believer". "Faith" is not something that can be exercised as long as "understanding" is out of the picture.
Thus, Paul is fixated upon providing an "understanding" of why his message should be considered true. And, as we have seen, his first step toward the provision of such an understanding is the argument that his message is true because it has the ability to rearrange both the root values and the root precepts of those who believe it so that they line up with the only kind of "love" that is universally recognizable.
This evening we are going to begin to look into a further development of Paul's argument and what we are going to see is that Paul's message is true because its capacity to rearrange one's basic values and beliefs results from direct divine involvement. In other words, the message is true because God is the primary Actor in the process of revealing, clarifying, and convincing those who believe it.
So, let's look into Paul's words in Galatians 1:15.
- I. Paul's Root "Faith Theology".
- A. The verse is all about God not only taking action, but being seen as the One taking action.
- 1. In the verse, both Paul's physical birth and his spiritual birth are attributed to God.
- 2. This focus is necessary because of the penchant men have for separating the Actor from His use of means and, then, attributing the action to those means.
- a. This penchant exists because men desire to both establish and maintain distance between themselves and God as is illustrated by Adam's attempt to hide in Genesis 3.
- b. This desire is driven by man's commitment to "live" on his own terms.
- B. But the verse begins with Paul's appeal to the issue of God's "timing" in terms of His active interruption of His own enforcement of His created processes as His means to His ends.
- 1. Typically, God enforces His creation-order in terms of its cause/effect reality.
- a. Deists have been known for centuries as folks who have recognized that God's universe generally runs according to established rules; their error was in not also recognizing that God's universe is always subject to His own use of those rules in conjunction with His own decisions to take special action.
- b. Mystics have been known for centuries as folks who have recognized that God is the ultimate root of all good results; their error was in misunderstanding the reality of processes in regard to those results (God is not the direct cause of many "apparently" good results) so that they often judged a thing as "good" before its real character was revealed.
- c. The distinction between these types of folks is problematic for "faith" because it takes more wisdom than men have to discern when it is God Who has inserted the action into His creation and when it is a recipient of God's dispensation of power to act that is the "inserter".
- 3. But, Paul's "when" in 1:15 is a declaration that the cause/effect stream is affected by divine activities and that those actions have a "time" in which they are inserted into the stream so that they will produce the ordained "end" within the Plan of God.
- 4. In the Gospel narratives, Jesus is consistently presented as doing what He did in order to bring people to faith in His Father with significant regard for issues of "timing".
- a. The record of John 9 is as pointed as it can be that men are instruments of God to fulfill His good purposes (a status that men ought to long to possess, but often resist tooth and nail because they do not wish to be subject to pain or loss even if it is only temporary and will do great good for countless people -- a wish that is fundamentally contrary to the glory of their God).
- b. Though many of the works of Jesus seem to be spontaneous responses to a present and immediate need that appears to have just developed, there are enough examples of people whose situations had to be endured for long periods of time before there was any relief given to make us aware that "timing" has a particularly significant part to play in how The Plan is to be brought to fruition.
- 5. This Gospel presentation of works designed to bring "faith" to life in the hearts and minds of people is no sideline issue: "faith" in the true Glory of God is the only means to "Life".