Introduction:In our study last week we considered Paul's confrontational question in Romans 9:20-21: WhoareyoutotalkbacktoGod? In that study we focused upon a very large and enormously consequential reality: without humility on man's part, there is no understanding of anything. It should, therefore, be no surprise to anyone that wisdom has almost disappeared from planet earth. Man's arrogance has currently almost reached the stratosphere and the inverse is true of his wisdom. Thus, the point the apostle has made is both blunt and profound: if we really wish to understand so that we may "live", we have no alternative but to humble ourselves and take our position as students of the Truth from God rather than critics.
This evening we are going to push that envelope. We are going to begin a look into Paul's "explanation" to the "humble" of the reason(s) for God's methods in particular respect to His total refusal to permit man's "works" to be ultimately determinant. We are going to do this by considering what he said in 9:22-23. And we are going to consider this text in the light of God's question of Adam in Genesis 3:11.
I. Our First Consideration: God's Intention "To Make Known".
A. There are at least three issues involved in "making known".
1. There is the issue of the importance of knowledge.
a. Knowledge is a tool of Life.
b. Ignorance is a tool of Life.
c. But the latter is the majority characteristic and the former is where the emphasis falls (There is no "alternative Psalm One").
2. There is the issue of "down-line purpose".
a. I have argued at length that "revelation" is totally unnecessary to intentional destruction.
b. Unless I am completely wrong, this means that God has a beneficial reason for "making known".
1) Beneficial means "Life-nurturing".
2) Life-nurturing means "joy-producing".
c. Thus, "Life/Joy" is the "down-line purpose" of God for what He did/does in order that a matter might be "known".
3. There is the issue of "current need".
a. By "current need" I mean the need that is present at this time because of a need that has always been present.
b. The "current need" consists most fundamentally of "whole truth" in balance.
1) Every element of Truth has counter-balancing opposites.
2) Every time there is a deficiency in the "counter-balance", there is a profound danger of evil.
c. The difficulties lie in the reality of "created personality".
1) "Person" is defined theologically as being in the image of God in special terms.
a) There are elements of the image of God in everything God does.
b) But "personhood" is a unique expression of the image of God.
c) This unique expression seems to most fundamentally settle around the three most prominent attributes of the Trinitarian God.
i. The Father is depicted most fundamentally as the Root of Intention ("Not My will, but Thine be done"); the One making the plans.
ii. The Son is depicted most fundamentally as the Expression of Intention (In the beginning was the Logos...); the One in total acquiescence to the plans.
iii. The Spirit is depicted most fundamentally as the Executor of Intention (Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit); the One executing the plans.
d) Thus, where there is the capacity to make plans, to respond to plans, and to execute plans, there is "personhood".
2) "Created" personality means "like God" but "less than God".
3) "Like, but Less Than" means at least two things.
a) The basic ingredients are available.
b) There is a "purposeful process" that has a "More Like, but Still Less Than" final objective.
4) The major difficulty is maintaining the balance of Truth during the process of moving the "Far less thans" to the "More Likes".
a) In "creation" there is an inescapable "balance" problem.
b) There is no available instrument of the essential "balance".
i. Without "Sin" there is nothing to bring God's "counter-balanced character" to light.
ii. Without the counter-balances, "Sin" is inevitable at some point.
iii. The only "drag" on the irruption of "Sin" is "a retarded process" in which the "available" truths are being developed to some degree.
iv. As soon as those truths are "made manifest" to the "degree" that is possible without "Sin", the next step, on the part of the creature, is, inescapably, going to be sinful (this is the reality of the "creation" of "person" and not even the Creator can stop it from occurring).
c) God had a choice regarding "creation", but He is subject to Himself in the reality of the creation of "images of God".
B. There are at least four subsequent conclusions that arise.
1. Somehow, in the "balance" that is God, the creation of persons is legitimate even though it inescapably means "Sin" will occur.
2. At least in the truths that have been made known, the God Who decided to create has shown that He did not exempt Himself from the consequences of the Sin that He decided to "permit" for a season (He does not demand more of creatures than He is willing to do).
3. And the intention of Life/Joy is still the objective, even though it is now revealed to be selectively limited.
4. And the requirement of humility yet hangs over man without risk for those who embrace it.