by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 12 September 4, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(113)Thesis:The removal of the mystery involved in Christ living in and through the body of a "believer" most fundamentally involves the clarification of Truth in terms of its myriad parts.
Introduction:In our study last week we began a consideration of Paul's presentation of the reality that it takes the Spirit of Christ within to make the Life of Christ obvious without. In that study we noted that such revelation begins with absolute freedom from Law because at issue is the presence or absence of proper motivation, an issue that is impossible for a fallen creature who will always seek to preserve his/her "life" if it is at stake. Then, Paul's argument is that Christ's presence within directly involves the issue of "capacity". The issue is how Christ intends to make His Life and Truth obvious to others through His disciples in His material absence. The promise of the indwelling Spirit is the heart of the Gospel. But, in the text, Paul freely admits that there is such a thing as an "in flesh" limitation to the freedom Christ has to make Himself known through our bodies. That limitation is directly associated with the realm of the reality in which co-crucifixion and co-resurrection exist: the realm of spirit and mind. In this realm, the make-or-break issue is a thing called "faith".
This evening we are going to look into Paul's "faith" issue.
I. The Conflict "in the Flesh".
A. It is indisputable that Paul's scenario in our context is of two "believers" who both possess the indwelling reality of Christ in sharp conflict over behavior issues that reflect doctrine.
B. Obviously the question is, "If Christ dwells in Cephas, why is he failing so badly?".
C. This raises the question of how Christ makes His presence known through a "fleshly" body.
II. Paul's "Faith" Position.
A. It is fundamentally rooted in a very particular concept of "faith".
1. "Faith" cannot be "generalized" into a vacuity.
a. There are two ways in which "faith" is bled dry of its impact.
1) The misuse of the words ("faith, belief, I believe," etc.) so that the definitions are actually subverted.
2) The application of the words to concepts and situations wherein there is no "known" linkage (a person claiming to "believe" when he/she has no idea what God has said about the particulars).
b. The only way "faith" can have its impact is by "particularization".
1) James opens his letter with the frank declaration that it takes "wisdom" to be able to adequately handle attacks against "faith" and makes the promise that such wisdom is available.
2) The heart of this "wisdom" issue is a very particular understanding of both the situation and how Truth applies to it.
2. The reality of faith is that its impact is determined by the One in Whom the faith is focused and not in the one exercising it.
a. When Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego took their faith stand, the first thing that happened was that they were bound; then they were delivered to the flame.
b. Out of the gazillion things that could have happened, the one thing that did happen was their fire-proofing, a reality that they could not have even dreamed.
3. The arenas of impact are divergent.
a. One of the arenas is internal and personal -- what happens to the one believing.
1) This varies to extremes depending upon the strength of the "faith" as is shown by the differences between the woman with the issue of blood and the centurion with the ill servant.
a) At the very root of "faith" is this reality: it drives its possessor against all odds and without any consideration of opposition within or without.
b) Also, however, there is this about "faith": the more a person understands the issues and how Truth functions, the easier it is on him/her.
2) The "increase of faith" is incipient and extremely challenged by deceptions.
a) The greatest single delusion seems to be this: that Christ can make Himself known through a body that is not committed to that objective.
b) A corollary delusion is that Christ can be known through a vessel that is not committed to His values.
b. The other is external and beyond one's own personal reality -- what happens in the world of men and angels because one believes.
1) God has never put this issue into man's hands.
a) 1 Corinthians 3:6 declares that "results" are completely in God's hands.
b) He always does what He said He would do, but after that, what He does is at His own discretion.
2) Since God's judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out, it is ludicrous for men to "judge" the events outside of their bodies in terms of God's "faithfulness".