by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 6 Study # 1 February 13, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(060)Thesis:At what point does "fact" trump "claims"?
Introduction:In our studies of Galatians, we have looked in depth at Paul's argument that his Gospel is of divine origin. His statement of that argument is that his Gospel is not "of man", but it boils down to the same reality: it is Truth with a capital "T". A primary line of argument for Paul has been his claim that he never had sufficient exposure to those "in the know" to be able to preach the Gospel with the kind of argumentative authority that was his.
This evening we are going to look into the second stage of that argument as it is recorded in 1:18-20. In this place, Paul argues that it was after three years that he did go to Jerusalem but that, when he got there he only saw Peter and James and, that, for only fifteen days. This is a reinforcement of his basic argument. However, he ends this segment with an odd claim: "before God I am not lying". Because of the importance of this claim, it will be the focus of our study this evening.
I. Paul's "Habit" of Making This Claim.
A. Romans 9:1.
B. 2 Corinthians 11:31.
C. 1 Timothy 2:7 (the oddest of all of Paul's claims).
II. The "Problem" Such a Claim Creates.
A. On the one hand, it highlights the possibility that Paul is spinning a yarn.
B. On the other hand, it brings up a most vexing problem: do not most "liars" claim they are not "lying", and what good is such a claim in any case?
III. Why would Paul insert this claim into his argument at this point?
A. What, of "the things I am writing to you", would most likely create the accusation?
1. Not the "it changed my life" argument (even his opponents agreed that he was no longer preaching their "truth" and called him a traitor).
2. Rather the "I had no contact with those who could have taught me the Gospel" argument.
B. What is the potency of this argument?
1. It, if true, is inescapable and cannot be "explained away".
a. It is a form of the apologetic of Isaiah who, in multiple ways, argued that God is indisputably the True God because of the manifest logic of "prophecy" (Isaiah 40: 5-10).
b. It has no "alternative explanation".
c. The only "alternative" the adversaries have is the "he is lying" accusation.
2. It, if true, leaves all men without any true options beyond yielding to the message.
a. This is where the bind comes into play.
1) Men do not like "final Truth" because it disallows any legitimacy to their false pursuits.
2) This dislike arises because of the falseness of all men's Love/Faith complex.
b. This makes relating to Grace man's only true option.
1) This throws most of man's sense of security out the window because Grace cannot be "leveraged" and is beyond human "demand".
2) This insists that man relate to God as Love or not at all.
a) This means he has to believe that God loves him.
b) And it, by extension, means man has to love all others also.
IV. How Does The Claim Further Paul's Argument?
A. It goes without saying that all men seek to be believed.
B. It also goes without saying that most men cannot be believed.
C. And, it is an established fact that even liars will claim to be telling the truth.
D. So, is Paul admitting that all that he has written can be destroyed by the simple accusation that he is lying?
1. It is true that the accusation does shoot Paul's entire letter down in the minds of those that believe it.
2. But it is equally true that simply denying that one is lying does not help a lot.
3. So, why does Paul deny the accusation?
a. The denial acknowledges Paul's awareness of his opposition's tactics.
b. The denial emphasizes Paul's awareness that "faith" makes a crucial difference to those who "believe" and to those who do not.
c. The denial raises the bar on the entire "accusation/denial" debate to the level of historical examination (this is, actually, the only way "Truth" can be established -- see John 3:12).
1) But, given the difficulty of historical examination, what is the real impact of the denial?
a) Very few will actually engage in historical examination.
b) But, having a method of verification does help in a significant way: all the listeners have to do in regard to the accusers is ask for their "proof" (it is easy to impugn another with an accusation; it is altogether another thing to validate it).
2) Thus, the necessity of "evidence" makes all "claims" subject to examination, not just the claims but also the accusations.