by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3 January 17, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(188)Thesis:The issues involved in our justification are two: the payment of the redemption price and the conviction that God is really "about Life".
Introduction:We have been studying the issues surrounding the concept of "justification by faith". In our last study we focused our attention upon the difference between belief in God and belief in what God says. Paul made it a point to press the issue that Abraham was justified when he believed in God so that he could believe what He said to him. Rationally and biblically, faith in the Person must precede faith in what He has to say. Because Abraham was justified by faith in Him Who had the capacity to both prophesy and give life to the dead, Paul says we can also be justified by faith in Him.
But, as we said last week, Abraham was "justified" at the point of his faith in the promise of a seed "as the stars of heaven". That is what Genesis 15:6 says. The promise we have is not the same in content when we push the details. I have no promise from God that I will have a son. So, the specific content of the promises changes, but the root issue of faith never changes: God's true character is the root issue of faith. It was when the truth about the real nature of God was challenged that the truth of what God had said was able to be unseated and unbelief was able to come in and create the rebellion and its subsequent barrier that allowed Death to begin to reign.
So, this evening, as we wind up chapter four, we are going to look at the specific content of the promises we are to believe so that we may see how it is that we are justified by faith.
I. Paul's General Thesis: Our "Faith" is "Upon" the One Who Raised Jesus Our Lord From the Dead.
A. The first issue in the thesis is that our faith is resting upon One Who has acted in history.
1. It is a general truth that "faith" is never sought from us by God "before" there is a sufficient historical foundation to justify it.
a. For man, "faith" is not an irrational leap into wishful thinking.
b. For man, "faith" is a rational response to a significant (though not exhaustive) historical demonstration of truth-claims made by God.
c. For man, "faith" is rooted in the necessities of the relational realities of which all men are aware and by which all truth-claims must be evaluated.
1) Truth-claims, though made on the foundations of material facts, are not ultimately about material issues.
2) Truth-claims are fundamentally about "Life" issues.
3) Truth-claims, being about "Life" issues, are fundamentally about relational realities ("How do two walk together?").
a) The very first result of "sin" was relational discord.
b) The very first result of "reconciliation" is relational harmony (Note the very next verse in Romans after our current text).
2. It is a reality that the development of history brings a greater specificity to the faith that is sought from us.
a. It is true that the basic form of truth-claims existed from the beginning.
b. But the gradual and historical filling in of the form calls for a greater specificity of belief until, after historical resurrection, Jesus of Nazareth is identified as the Christ and everything hinges upon whether a person "believes" in Him as such.
B. The second issue in the thesis is that the action was a direct destruction of the power of Death.
1. According to Hebrews 2:15, "death" is the "enslaving" issue.
2. According to 1 Corinthians 15:26, "death" is the final enemy.
C. The third issue in the thesis is that the destruction of Death is essentially what God is "all about" ... i.e., He acted out of His essential character.
1. The reality is that there are two sides to the issues of the character of God and which side will govern God's actions toward the creature makes a great deal of difference to that creature.
2. God is "all about" death to those who live in the delusional world of relational conflict; but He is "all about" life to those who seek the world of relational harmony.
II. Paul's Subsequent Theses.
A. Jesus was "delivered up" to address the issue of our trespasses.
1. Everywhere in Scripture, "trespass" is presented as the root of relational conflict.
2. Everywhere in the Gospel, "trespasses" are presented as the issue of the coming of the Christ.
a. Both the coming as the Lamb and the coming as the Lion are intended to address the "trespass" issue so as to remove it from the "Light" side of the Kingdom of God.
b. Until the coming as the Lion, the proclamation is to be of the sufficient and efficient activity of the Lamb.
B. Jesus was "raised" to address the issue of our justification.
1. Everywhere the Scriptures address the Lamb's work in respect to "trespasses", the focus is upon "sufficiency".
2. Nowhere in the Scriptures which address the Lamb's work is "sufficiency" automatically tied to "efficiency".
3. Justification by resurrection is the issue of "justification by faith": it was by resurrection that Jesus was demonstrated in history to be the Sufficient Lamb.
a. This is the opening claim of Paul's Gospel (Romans 1:4).
b. The resurrection was the overt declaration, in demonstration, that Death is not capable of being victorious in its vicious efforts to establish relational conflict as the character of the "Light" side of God's Kingdom.
III. The Bottom Line: Justification is Not About Lip Service to Historical Facts, but is About Faith in the Person Who Establishes Those Facts.
A. The on-going fear of death within a person's heart/mind is a significant caution to the claim of faith.
1. Its presence does not deny the reality of faith (mustard-seed faith is typically very fearful).
2. Its presence does, however, challenge the reality of faith in the God of Life.
B. The on-going fear of death is an expression of the lack of a fully developed love, which is the result of an imperfectly developed faith [Note 2 Peter 1:5 and following].