by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 December 18, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(139)Thesis:God's "reckoning" of a man as "righteous" is restricted to issues of "Justice" and has to do with God accepting an actual reality as a legitimate equivalent of an actual unreality.
Introduction:In our studies of Paul's use of Genesis 15:6 in his presentation to the Galatians, we have pressed three ideas: first, the "why" of faith is tied to God's commitment to use His promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 as His controlling intention in regard to bringing blessing to human beings; second, the "how" of faith is tied to God's commitment to use "faith" as the "identifying trait" for the identification of those human beings who will receive His blessing; and third, God's use of "faith" as a matter of fundamentally identifying the identity of the one "believed".
In regard to this last idea, we pressed the notion in our last study that Genesis 15:6 is in its particular place in Moses' record because of the nature of the problem of getting human beings fundamentally fixed in terms of the "who" that they trust. Initial believing does not underwrite constancy of believing, and belief that only endures until it is challenged is not what the Bible calls "faith". "Faith", as the Bible identifies it, is an enduring fixation upon Yahweh, God of Abraham, as the One Who brings about blessing without human mediation. Thus, "works" have no place in "faith" because they tend in the direction of inserting a root of blessing other than Yahweh.
This evening we are going to go one step further. We are going to consider how the Bible says that God "reckoned" faith to be an acceptable equivalent to actual righteousness.
I. The Indisputables.
A. God's "reckoning" of a man to be "righteous" does not bring him to sinless perfection.
1. Not only do all of the biblical writers acknowledge the reality of their actual failures in terms of genuine godliness after their relationship with God has begun, the biblical record contains many examples of "righteous men" doing grievous sins (the most notable are David and Lot).
2. Paul's teaching in the New Testament is very clear that sinless perfection is a post-resurrection "hope".
B. The idea that God can say that a man is "righteous" at the same time that he is involved in acts of ungodliness is difficult for men to process.
1. This challenges the very essence of both Truth and Justice.
2. This is a major excuse for multitudes who reject "faith".
II. Other Indisputables.
A. The Bible presents the actions and sayings of God as having their roots in eternity and their fruits in "developing time".
1. Christ is identified as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (in the Authorized Version rendition of Revelation 13:8; 1 Peter 1:20).
2. The Book of Life has the names of the heirs of the Kingdom from the foundation of the world.
3. Romans 4:17 identifies the focus of Abraham's faith in the Person Who does two things: He raises the dead (reversing what "is"); and He calls things that are not as though they are (in essence, prophesying).
B. The concept of "reckoning" involves two major issues.
1. First, it denotes a "way of thinking" (Mark 11:31; 15:28; Romans 2:3).
2. Second, it often characterizes this "way of thinking" to involve a significant contradiction to actuality (Mark 15:28; Romans 2:26; and our current text).
C. In respect to Paul's interpretation of Genesis 15:6, at issue is only one issue: God's "reckoning" of a man to be impervious to His "Justice".
1. This means that God simply refuses to acknowledge a man's "sins" when it comes to how He is going to respond (Romans 4:3-8; 8:33).
2. Since this does not invalidate Galatians 6:7-8, we must conclude that "justification" has only to do with removing man from the reach of "Justice" (it does not remove him from divine reactions).