by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2 July 22, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(418)Thesis:The "theology" of love is that it will embrace loss for the sake of another.
Introduction:When we last met, we considered Paul's preface to the content of Romans 9-11. We saw that he made a fairly big deal of his "truth speaking". We saw that he apparently believed that what he had to say was going to be so unbelievable that he felt compelled to insist that it was true before he ever said it. It was our contention that we have a profound obligation to embrace what is True regardless of how it makes us "feel".
We know two crucial things about "feelings". The first is that they lie at the roots of Life: Joy is a "feeling". The second is that they also have a root: feelings primarily arise from the interaction between values and reality and secondarily from the input that faith has regarding what is valued and whether, or not, reality will fulfill it.
So, what Paul wrote in Romans 9:2-3 is a major challenge for one reason: in those two verses he posits a tenacious "value" that reality is going to absolutely deny. This is a problem of such magnitude that we need to be reminded that Paul went to extremes in 9:1 to insist that what he wrote is truth.
This evening we are going to ask ourselves this question: What is this problem?
I. The Incredibility of the Claim In Terms of Sanctification.
A. What Paul claimed in 9:2-3 is that he possessed the love of God tothedegree of Christ Himself at least in regard to his "brethren".
B. In a world where that magnitude of love is never seen, and not believed even when it is preached as the reality of God, this is an "incredible" claim.
1. Men not only do not believe that a "man" could get to this degree of love, they do not even believe that God could operate out of this degree of love.
2. Men simply cannot get over the hurdle of their own self-interest so that they cannot conceive of anyone, man or God, having a completely self-disinterested character.
C. In the practice of the faith, one never finds this kind of love so that there is no faith that the process of sanctification can reach this far.
II. The Incredibility of the Claim in Terms of "T"heology.
A. The lack of human perception of this kind of love has a fundamental root: it cannot be seen.
B. This invisibility produces a kind of reductionism in man to what is visible.
1. What is visible to men is some level of sacrifice without a clear revelation of the driving force behind it.
2. What is reasonable to men is that whatever the level of sacrifice, there is no final sacrifice.
a. That Paul focused upon the temporality and insignificance of every level of sacrifice in terms of both the greater glory and the total failure of evil plays into this "reasonableness".
b. That the promise is of "Life" with the "former things" done away also plays into this "reasonableness".
c. Thus, there is little, to no, confidence that there is any depth to love because its sacrifices are insignificant.
C. This reductionism extends to God in the minds of men.
1. God is God; ergo He is so "massive" that whatever He has to do in respect to His creation is "no big deal".
2. Christ, as God, was only "dead" for, perhaps, as little as 36 hours; ergo the sacrifice of Christ was really not that big of a deal.
a. Men love their sons, lose them, and live with it for years and years.
b. God loved His Son, lost Him, and got Him back in a short three days.
D. This extension is completely off-target.
1. Remember, Paul considered what he was about to write so unbelievable that he had to insist that he was telling the truth.
2. What Paul wrote was ultimately "T"heological in that it was a mirror of what Christ went through with the Father.
3. As "T"heology, what Paul wrote must be grasped in order for our own lives to develop like Paul's did.
a. To "grasp" this, we must understand the eternality of God.
1) The eternality of God means that everything about God is unbounded.
2) This unbounded quality means that God is not bound by Time.
3) This independence of Time means that "a thousand years is as a day and a day is as a thousand years."
a) This means that what God experiences cannot be reduced by time.
b) This means that the sacrifice of Christ was not "over" in less than 36 hours [the "event" was "over" but the impact upon God is not].
b. To "grasp" this, we must understand the love of God.
1) For men, there are greater and lesser loves with greater and lesser results of both fulfillment and denial.
2) For God, there is no indication that anything is loved "more" than another.
a) This makes John 3:16 a choice, not between greater and lesser, but between equals.
b) This makes any denial of any love by God the equivalent of Calvary.
c) This means that there is a massive consequence to God for any denial of His love.
d) And this means that every time God accommodates our lack of love and faith He is involved in an excruciating loss.
c. To "grasp" this, we must understand the experience of God.
1) Paul's claim to "great heaviness" and "unremitting pain" in his heart is an expression of the reality of God's own experience.
a) It is impossible that Paul would love in a greater way than God.
b) It is by the Spirit of God that Paul loves as he does.
2) Paul's claim to "great heaviness" and "unremitting pain" in his heart is made in the face of his expression of great joy in 8:38-39.
3) This means that experience is a mixed bag of both Death and Life without the diminishing of either for those who share the character of God.
4. Once we grasp this reality we can turn loose of our false love of only the pleasant and begin to really live.