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FROM THE PASTOR'S STUDY

Topic: Message Outlines: Chapter 4

Romans 4:16-22 (2)

by Darrel Cline
(darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)

Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2
November 15, 2005
Lincolnton, N.C.

(176)

Thesis:The issues of "faith" ultimately begin at the foundation: God's revelation of His intentions.

Introduction:In our study last week we focused our attention upon Paul's claim that there could be no certainty in the promises of God if grace could be shunted aside. Man simply does not have the capacity to bring the promises to pass, nor does he have the capacity to lay a legitimate foundation down so that God can legitimately bring the promises to pass as a consequence of man's efforts. His argument included the claim that God made the process a "faith-based" process for the specific purpose of bringing grace to the front of man's thinking so that certainty could be seen clearly. It should be obvious that if the Performer of the Promises is God, there is no problem with certainty. But, what ought to be obvious is often not clear at all because some "complicating" issue is introduced into the mix. In respect to the certainty issue, man says that attempting to "believe" that God will do as He has promised without it being hinged upon whether man will behave himself, or not, is foolishness. So the complication is introduced: it is not that God is incapable; it is that, without man's submission, He is unwilling. Thus says man as he "complicates" the issues. But Paul says that it was precisely because of man's lack of good behavior that God determined to make "Promise" hinge only upon Himself. The issue is not that man does not behave; it is that he can not behave. Thus, if God wishes to get anything done, He must get it done on His own; He cannot trust man to do what he should.

Now, this raises this issue: does man's behavior, then, not really make any difference? Is man not really a player? Paul would answer that this way: man's "play" is "faith-dependent". It makes all the difference in the world whether a man believes God, or not. Heaven and Hell are the final habitations and "faith" is what determines where a man ends. Even in the text before us, Paul declares that it was because Abraham "believed" that he was able to "become" what God had said he would be. But, it is crucial that we understand that the issue is "believing", not "performing". Performance is the inevitable outworking of "belief", and it cannot be effectively addressed except by addressing the content of the "faith". The problem is this: faith is not a finally established, fully developed, entity until it has been fired in the kiln of the trials and complications of living. Faith can falter without promise going out the window because the ultimate foundation of faith is God's performance. Faith cannot fail without promise going out the window, but whether faith fails, or not, is God-dependent. Why do you suppose that Jesus told Peter that He had prayed for him that his faith fail not?

So, this evening we are going to look at this issue of how God enables a man to "believe" unto the "promised result".


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This is article #177.
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