by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 January 3, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(184)Thesis:The "reckoning" is "for" us so that we might begin to participate in the Life that has its roots in the forgiveness of sins and the freedom of righteousness.
Introduction:In our last study, we considered the methodology of faith. It has to do with "giving glory to God", which means giving a legitimate answer to the question of whether God's characteristics are sufficient for the fulfillment of His words. Paul got this methodology from the record of God's challenge to Sarah in Genesis 18:14. In that text, "crunch time" had come and it was time for the beginning of the realization of the promise. And, when it is time for the fulfillment, it is time for "faith". And, when it is time for "faith", it is time to squarely face the question of the glory of God and the content of the promise.
Now, as we continue our study, we are going to look into Paul's "application" of what he has explained about Abraham. He says that it was written that Abraham was "reckoned" righteous for us. It is his point that God's actions in history are recorded so that those who read of them might be drawn into the fruition of the point of God's actions in history. There are two issues here. First, there is the issue of why God hasacted in history. And, second, there is the issue of why God hasrecorded what He has done. The two issues are resolved by a single reality: God seeks to impart His Life to men. This evening we are going to look into this business of "application".
I. The Dangers of Expectation.
A. When seeking to "apply" the words of God to our own situation(s), we are in some danger of false expectations.
1. The issue of expectation is crucial to our experience of Life.
a. When expectations are fulfilled, we are filled with a sense of confirmation.
b. When expectations are frustrated, we are filled with a sense of confusion.
c. When our expectations are of "good", the confirmation/confusion issues directly determine whether our experience is of "Life" or of "Death".
d. When our expectations are of "evil", the confirmation/confusion issues still dominate our experience.
2. The issue of the confirmation of expectation is most dangerous.
a. When we are filled with a sense of confirmation, our "faith" is significantly "hardened" into a basis for the way we look at life.
b. If the "confirmation" was generated by a false expectation, we find ourselves being drawn inexorably into a "hardening of unbelief" that we see as "legitimate understanding."
3. But the issue of confusion is also dangerous.
a. If we "expect" what we "believe" to be God's promise, and we are frustrated in the expectation, we are highly likely to turn away from what we believed was God's promise. This will result in our development of a new way of looking at life.
b. If we turn away from what was God's promise, we are in significant danger of being drawn inexorably into turning away from God Himself.
B. When seeking to "apply" the words of God to our own situation(s), we are in some danger of seeing only what we wish to see.
1. When Paul wrote of Abraham's "faith", he did not mention his trip down to Gerar.
a. The absence of reference is not "deceptive" (one can never "mention" everything).
b. But the absence of reference can tend in the direction of misunderstanding.
2. When Paul wrote of Abraham's "faith", he did expect that his readers would be aware of the biblical record of Abraham's life.
3. When we read of Paul's "application" of Abraham's experience to our situation, we must include all of the data in the development of our "expectations".
a. The trip to Gerar is highly instructive about one thing: "faith" is an "in-process" issue in this life and should never be overloaded with "expectations" that are contrary to the divine process.
b. The development of expectations is what "faith" is all about.
C. When seeking to "apply" the words of God to our own situation(s), we need to have a basic "T"heological orientation that can stand the testings of our expectations.
1. Paul summarized the "faith of Abraham" as having two fundamental roots.
a. Abraham's God was an "Incremental Actor" with a "Big Picture Mouth".
1) Big pictures always have a myriad of unexpressed, but essential, details.
2) Unexpressed, but essential, details always show up incrementally.
b. Abraham's God was powerful enough to frustrate even the greatest of enemies (Death) of His Big Picture.
2. Paul's focus of "application" to us is in the "relational universe".
a. The issue for Paul is "justification".
b. The issue of justification is the restoration of harmony between a Person and persons.
c. The issue of the restoration of harmony between persons is the reality of God's created universe as being fundamentally relational and only incidentally material.
1) God is not, and has never been, particularly interested in creatures whose fundamental perspective of His creation is material.
2) God has always been particularly focused upon bringing His creation into the fulness of relational harmony between persons.
3. Our basic "T"heological orientation, therefore, needs to be of God as Person, as Planner, and as Provider.
a. He does not focus upon impersonal issues -- they are incremental bits in His personal universe.
b. He does not produce the End without the details and nothing (Romans 8:28) of the details has ever gotten away from Him.
c. He does not depend upon the creation to do what He alone can do, nor does He expect the creatures to take upon themselves to fulfill what He has promised.