(185)Thesis:His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out.
Introduction:In our last study we considered the differences between good "bondage" and bad "bondage". In that study I made the argument that "bad" bondage was "forced compliance, out of fear, to attitudes and actions that have built-in seeds of self-defeat". In that argument the issue of "defeat" centers around the question of whether, or not, the Joy of Life will be realized. The issue is not the "forcefulness" of what drives "compliance": Love is as great a "slave-driver" as Fear. The issue is not, technically, the present "feelings" of the slave: feelings are notorious for at least two deficiencies -- instability and ignorance. The bottom line issue is whether, or not, enduring Joy is the outcome.
This evening we are going to explore Paul's explanation of God's activity in light of the fact that enduring Joy is the real bottom line.
I. The First Thing Paul Declares: There Is Such a Thing as a "Fulness of the Time".
A. The requirements of a "fulness of the time".
1. A "definition".
a. One issue of "time" is the reality of a "medium" in which a "progression" of successive events take place.
1) The idea of "progression" is at least two-fold: there is an actual "beginning" and an actual "ending" to any given action; and there is a "setting in motion" of a kind of domino effect that we call cause/effect so that other "actions" are inevitable.
2) Time is the word we use for the sphere, or medium, in which this progression takes place.
b. A second issue of "time" is the reality of a "setting" that allows for "plans" to be made which consist of the intention of accomplishing a given goal by the implementation of a certain "row of dominos".
c. Thus, "time" has both the idea of "progression through multiple inter-connected actions to an inevitable end" and the idea of "allowing a pre-time period of planning so that both the end and its means are pre-determined".
2. Certain general "implications".
a. Any given "result" occurs in its "fulness of time" -- i.e., at the end of a series of preliminary activities.
b. Any given "result", in a cause/effect, temporal, setting will become a "cause" with a future "fulness of time" event.
c. All "results", in reality, set a host of domino lines in motion so that the longer "time" is permitted to exist, the more complicated the issue of "control" becomes; a reality that pushes men beyond themselves rather quickly into what is currently called "the law of unintended consequences".
d. Anyone who can actually determine a "fulness of time" reality beyond the immediate present would have to have a significant level of knowledge since, at any point in the flow of the medium some "line of dominos" might be set in motion that would counter a previous flow so as to nullify it.
1) The idea of "countering" involves the fact that lines of dominos can be frustrated so that intended outcomes never occur.
a) This is the BIG issue in bondage: setting things in motion with goals that those motions cannot bring about for one of two reasons.
i. Because the one setting up the line does not have the wisdom to set it up effectively.
ii. Because Someone has the ability and willingness to block lines even when the initiator actually has enough wisdom to set up a line that would normally bring the intended result.
b) This is also the BIG issue in freedom: setting things in motion that are guaranteed to bring about the intended outcome.
2) The idea of "countering" also involves the reality of an always present, always involved Overseer who determines which, and whether, lines of dominos will be allowed to run, and for how long.
3. Certain "T"heological "implications".
a. God's use of the power that underwrites all actions (whether seen as initiatory or a "fulness of time" event) is subservient to His knowledge and wisdom.
b. That God did not "send His Son" until more than four thousand years went by means a host of things, the chiefest of which is that His "solution" to the problem of evil is exceedingly complex because all of "time" is full of an ever-expanding complexity that makes any long term intended outcome more and more remote as time goes by.
c. That God had a fulness of time event in mind, as well as a determination to see it come to pass, means that power, knowledge, and wisdom are all under the dominion of His own Love (that system of values that guides all to its end).
B. The Implications of "the Fulness of Time".
1. Paul wanted the Galatians to get a sense of the "Who" with Whom they were dealing: a "God" who would either be inalterably "for" them, or "against" them.
2. Paul wanted the Galatians to also get a sense of their need for a "grace orientation" in respect to this "God" because He, not they, determines the reality and meaning of all events.
a. This "grace orientation" is supposed to find its roots in the minds of men in the nature of the "event" that is given "the fulness of time" billing:
b. This "grace orientation" fundamentally means that the only peace anyone can ever have is rooted in the Love of God.