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FROM THE PASTOR'S STUDY

Topic: Message Outlines: Chapter 4

Romans 4:9-15 (6)

by Darrel Cline
(darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)

Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6
October 25, 2005
Lincolnton, N.C.

(170)

Thesis:The "land" promise was not rooted in "law"; it was rooted in "promise".

Introduction:The studies that we have been doing in Paul's debate about circumcision have brought to light one most basic fact: because "circumcision" was "imposed" upon Abraham years after he had been declared righteous by God on the basis of faith, "circumcision" was not related at all to the question of how one becomes righteous before God. As we saw in our study last week, this raises an automatic question: to what issue, then, is circumcision related? The answer that Paul gave to this question is two-fold: it is first a sign; and it is second a seal. As a sign, circumcision was a teaching device that zeroed in on the essential requirement of a harmonious relationship (primarily with God, but also inclusive of men): circumcision of the heart so that the desire for praise is focused upon God. As a sign, it is not something that a man can accomplish: it is out of both his "realm" and his "capacities". And, as a seal, circumcision was a temporal indicator of the surety of the results of the declaration of righteousness -- results that were not to come in the present. As a seal, the issue was that the present lack of results would constitute a "temptation" to revert to unbelief -- the absence of present results is often used to deny the legitimacy of the promise(s). So, "circumcision" was imposed upon Abraham as a way to deepen his faith, not as a way to accomplish his justification.

Now, this evening we are going to look at Paul's continuing insistence that "promise" is not rooted in the principle of "law". That Paul feels compelled to continue to hammer on this thesis is a revelation of the difficulty man has with the issues involved. All of us do have difficulty with getting, and keeping, clarity regarding how "promise" works in man. Most, if not all of us, do as did the Jews: we turn circumcision from its original purpose as sign and seal to a demonic purpose as a true mechanism for obtaining righteousness before God. Thus, we are seeing Paul's return to his thesis: it was not upon the foundation of law that God gave the promise to Abraham and to his Seed.


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