by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 February 15, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(100)Thesis:"Boasting" in God means to express the conviction that God "has accepted" the one who is "boasting".
Introduction:In our study last week we noted that Paul's words in 2:17 are coming off of the heels of 2:15-16 where two things stand out. First, there is the declared fact that a Day of Wrath is inevitably coming. Second, there is the declared fact that man has an internal critic whose decisions regarding his behavior generate tension in view of the coming Day. We also noted that the Jews had mounted three defenses against the "tension". They attempted to relieve themselves by appealing to their "Jewishness", which boiled down to a claim to exemption from wrath on the basis of genetics. Then, they attempted to relieve themselves by appealing to the legitimacy of their "knowledge base": the Law. And, finally, they attempted to relieve themselves by appealing to their "God-connection". We made the claim that these "attempts" to relieve themselves fell into the biblical categories of body, soul, and spirit as the fundamental areas of human interest. The "Day of Wrath" is reported in Scripture to harbor three basic threats: fire (for the body); tears (for the soul); and gnashing of teeth (for the spirit). Thus, any attempt to relieve oneself from the tensions built into the threats has to address each of the potentialities.
This evening we come to the third of these "attempts": the "God-connection".
I. The Primacy of the "God-Connection".
A. The bottom line on the Day of Wrath boils down to one issue: whether one is accepted by Jesus Christ (the Judge on that Day), or rejected.
1. It's pretty much a moot issue where a person came from (genetically) or what he knows (of the Law) if, in the end, the Judge rejects him and sends him off into the regions of eternal death.
2. It's unarguable that Paul's "Gospel" definitively establishes Jesus, the Christ, as the Judge on that Day.
a. This is the claim Paul made in 2:16 and always preached everywhere he went.
b. This puts the "Jew" who possesses the "Law" at a distinct point of tension for one simple reason: they have rejected Jesus as God's Judge on that Day.
B. The bottom line of this third line of defense for Paul's countrymen boils down to one issue: the claim to possession of a "relieving" "God-connection" has to address the identity of the "God".
1. Since the "God" is going to accept, or reject, men on some basis, the issue of "basis" bubbles immediately to the surface.
2. The "basis", according to every theology known to man, is "definable".
3. Paul's claim is that the legitimate "basis" begins with whether one has permitted, in his own heart/mind complex, the Jesus of biblical revelation and historical demonstration to be the Judge on that Day because this is the defining issue of the identity of the "God" with whom one claims a "relieving" "connection".
II. The Significance of the "Boasting".
A. What is "boasting"?
1. Biblically, "boasting" begins in the inner regions of the heart/mind complex.
2. Biblically, "boasting" addresses the central question of whether one will be accepted, or rejected, by the Ultimate Judge.
3. Biblically, "boasting" is the positive, internal, exulting of the individual who is convinced that acceptance will be his "lot", which finds external expression in a variety of ways.
4. Biblically, "boasting" is also the pathetic, external, attempt of the individual who is not convinced that acceptance will be his "lot" to "shore up his spirit" in the face of his internal disquiet by means of verbal self-aggrandizement...trying to "force" faith into existence by means of both self-expression and the opinions of those who are "impressed" by the "boasting".
B. What is "boasting in God"?
1. Paul was clearly pulling the central issue of man's existence into the forefront.
2. That his kinsmen according to the flesh "boasted in God" means that they were outwardly proclaiming that the God Who is, was the God with whom they had a "saving" "connection".
a. This is no small claim as it addresses the central issue.
b. It is a complex issue.
1) There is nothing more dangerous than answering the question: Who is God?
a) The danger exists because a wrong answer puts the absolute-ground of all of life into falsehood and makes the entire life that is built upon that foundation a lie.
b) The danger also exists because a wrong answer that makes all of life a lie puts the "liar" on a direct, eternal, collision course with the True God.
c) The danger also exists because a wrong answer, which makes life a lie and a future collision with the True God inevitable, also sponsors a life of deep and abiding commitment to the "God" and even the consideration that one might be wrong tends to be seen both as an insult to the "God" but also a denial of "faith". This makes "conversion" an extremely difficult "event" because of the upheaval involved in jerking the foundation stone out from under the entirety of the life that has been built upon it.
d) The danger also exists because there is only a very small step from the "answer" to the "attitude" that follows...and if the "attitude" is evil, the "answer" is wrong even if the words are right [The Jews' claim that their God, as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the True God was true in the words, but the pride in the attitude signaled the reality of "drawing near with the lips while maintaining a great distance in the heart"]. The True God is not the sponsor of evil attitudes.
2) There is nothing more necessary than answering the question: Who is God?
a) This is not an "optional" necessity (man cannot "not" answer the question because he must have a foundation to build life upon).
i. Even atheists do not escape this necessity by their "denial" that there is a "god" because they invariably fall back upon some "argument" which establishes the presence of "authority" in their lives (whatever establishes the "truth" of their arguments is their "god"). The essence of the definition of "god" is "authority" and it is an inescapable fact of all existence.
ii. Agnostics are a bit more "honest" in that they look at the task of trying to ferret out the identity of the True God and declare it too large for their abilities. But, they are not, by this form of "honesty", exempted from the necessity of the answer: man cannot live without "authority" in his existence.
b) This is not a necessity of "convenience" that can be easily "decided" just to get on with the process.
c) This is the foundation of existence as it relates to man as a living, feeling, choosing creature in a cause/effect universe with a destiny in view of the Day of Wrath.