by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4 February 5, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(378)Thesis:Faith that "all things work together for good" cannot exist without love for God.
Introduction:We have been looking into Paul's arguments for "hanging in there" when "suffering" has become a real part of our experience. He has consistently painted a picture of "hope" upon the foundation of the character of God. That "character" consists, primarily, of One Who is flatly unwilling to permit unrequited Love. He, obviously, is not unwilling for those He loves to suffer. This fact, by itself, is sufficient reason for most people to keep their distance, but they do it foolishly. Likewise, He is not unwilling for those He loves to have to submit to His totally undemocratic way of doing things (6:20) without detailed explanations. This fact is also used by some to keep their foolish distance. But, in every place and all over the place, the Scriptures declare that God will not "suffer" those who "suffer for His sake" to "suffer" any real loss. Losing a baby tooth so that a permanent, more durable tooth can take its place is not a real loss in spite of the screaming, whining, bleeding, etc. that may attend that non-loss. The problem is perspective and if a person ever grows up he will invariably take on a mature perspective that validates the fact that what was once considered a terrible loss was, in reality, a mere bump in the road.
The issues are two:the character of the God Who is flatly unwilling to permit unrequited Love; and the true character of the temporal "sufferings". This evening we are going to look into the character of the God Who is fixated upon establishing reciprocal Love.
I. That No Personal Relationship Survives the Absence of Reciprocal Love Is Generally Indisputable.
A. At issue in this thesis is the definition of "personal relationship".
1. This is not just any conceivable "interactive relationship" between persons.
2. This is what the Bible would term "fellowship": the flow of "contribution" between persons when both have something to give and neither has any reason to be restrained in that giving.
B. At issue in this thesis is also the definition of "survival".
1. This is not merely a continuing existence of some kind of union over time.
2. This is what the Bible would term "Life", a quality of experience marked both by "joy" and the necessary subsets that are typically referred to as "the fruit of the Spirit".
C. At issue in this thesis is also the phrase "generally indisputable".
1. In the contrarian absence of "sense" that many human beings possess, nothing is indisputable.
2. But, at any level of genuine reason, it cannot be disputed that unless there is a genuine willingness by all to put all others ahead of oneself no "fellowship" can "survive".
a. This is the rationale for the permanent division of personal beings into two separated groups where no "flow" exists (Heaven and Hell).
b. This is the rationale for the primary descriptive terminology of the Kingdom of God as "a Servant Kingdom".
II. That the "T"heology of the Scriptures is of a God Who Flatly Rejects the Practice of Unrequited Love is Also Generally Indisputable.
A. That the "second" issue in Romans regarding the work of the Spirit of God in our behalf is the "pouring out" of the love of God in our "circumcised" hearts reveals the fact that God is not into practicing, or establishing, a thesis of unrequited Love.
1. God does not "save" people by "forgiving them" to keep them from being separated from that group which descends into the final form of Hell.
2. God "saves" people by "forgiving them" to establish them in Love so that they may become loving.
a. The major road-block to the development of Love is the knee-jerk selfishness that measures every experience in terms of whether "I" like it.
b. The major road-block-remover in the development of Love is the divine imposition of suffering for a good reason so that "I" might learn to not measure all by selfish standards.
1) Only the selfish object to "suffering".
2) Only those who suffer learn to reject selfishness.
B. The categorical declaration of 1 Corinthians 13:3 that no "loveless" action will bring any manner of "profit" is as strong a presentation of "T"heology as can be found in the Bible.
C. The text of Romans 8:28 is within this flow of divine revelation regarding the immutable commitment of God to requited Love.
1. The abuse of this text is legion: people are constantly insisting that "all things work together for good" with little to no regard for the prerequisite.
2. In Paul's sentence, the prerequisite stands first.
a. And we know...
1. There are two basic kinds of "knowledge".
a) One kind is "rational" and only leaves people open to condemnation because they "know" better than they "do".
b) The other kind is "interactive" and enables people to function by building into their thinking certain ways of "doing".
2. Paul is simply declaring in our text that "we know" as a rational reality that is basically indisputable.
b. That for those who love God...
1) "Love", at its most basic root, is "oblivious" to whether there will be any return.
2) But "Love" that is lavished upon someone/thing that does not give any return is wasted because "God" is "Love" and everything/person who is "ungodly" is beyond even His ability to provide benefit as long as they remain "ungodly" (thus, the beginning of benefit is repentance).
3) And "Love" has to be "of God's kind" in order to fit this context.
a) The word "agape" is problematical when it stands alone, outside of any context because it can be totally self-centered (as when the Pharisees "loved" the chief seats in the synagogue).
b) But John and Paul make deliberate comments that establish a particular "manner" of "agape" that characterizes God.
i. 1 John 3:1.
ii. 1 John 4:10-11.
iii. John 15:13.
iv. Romans 5:8.
c) God's "kind of love" in this context is "suffering as Christ did" (8:17) and that is the only kind of love that is promised extraordinary "glory" at the end.
i. God's kind of love made manifest in Christ was bi-directional: He loved His Father and He loved His Church.
ii. No one who does not love like that can expect any encouragement from Romans 8:28.