Thesis:Participating with God in His large Plan is supposed to be the automatic result of participating with God in His Life.
Introduction:In our study last week we were looking at Paul's explanation of God's "process" by which He has determined to accomplish His agenda. We saw that the focus in the chapter is not upon the "final" issue, but, rather, upon a very key "sub" issue: salvation. Since the "final" issue is absolutely keyed to salvation, Paul determined to make sure that his readers understood how God was going to actually bring it to pass. He said, in effect, "salvation" occurs when a person "calls upon the Lord" because that person has "believed with his heart" that the Lord has been raised from the dead. At this point, the focus is upon what I will call a "one-on-one" relationship between God and the person who is saved by the belief/calling phenomenon. This focus is "big picture" critical because all manner of deceptions are perpetrated by people who are unwilling to be as exclusive as any "one-on-one" issue is.
However, "salvation" requires a larger setting than this "one-on-one" issue allows. Because of this, Paul's "logic" begins to move from the "one-on-one" reality that is core-critical to a secondary reality that also proves to be very important. I call this reality a "one-with-one" issue.
This evening we are going to look into the meaning of this "one-with-one" issue.
I. Paul Has Argued For a "Shift" in Focus.
A. As long as the focus is upon "salvation" as the outcome of the response of a person to God, the issue is really "one-on-one".
1. This issue boils down to a "belief" in the core detail that Jesus was raised from the dead, having died for sinners.
2. This "belief" immediately results in two inevitabilities: justification by God and calling by the justified to God.
3. This is essentially an issue of identifying the Who issue of God as Lord.
a. This is a two-fold issue: Who is "Lord" and What is He "like"?
b. This makes the issue a "Who/What" question that is to be answered by heart-faith.
c. The immediate result of the answer is the inclusion of the believer in the "Life-Flow" that exists in God.
B. However, there are other issues of focus in the larger concept of "salvation".
1. One of those other issues is the question of how the "Life-Flow" is going to affect those within it.
a. "Life" is essentially "spiritual".
1) This means that it cannot not be "active".
2) This means that it has two fundamental concepts tied to it: what will be the direction of the activity; and what will be the outcome? [This is "agenda" in a "Cause/Effect" universe.]
b. Being "spiritual", the "Life" immediately takes on what I have called a "one-with-one" reality: God and the person He has pulled into the Flow of His Life are now going to do some things together.
c. This, like the call out of a believing heart, is inevitable to the nature of the case.
2. Within this "other issue" is the relationship that "salvation" has to the spirit of the person who has been made "spiritually alive".
a. When God created man as a being of spirit, He made it impossible for the man to experience His Life apart from His Agenda.
1) All doings are "spiritual" in the sense of finding their impetus in the "spirit".
2) All doings are "agenda" driven.
3) All doings are "effect-causing".
a) The wages of doing things apart from His agenda is Death.
b) The rewards of doing things within His agenda is Life.
3. This all means this: Paul could not really address "salvation" in any larger sense than justification without including the processes of God and what they mean for those with whom He has shared His Life.
II. The Shift Immediately Reveals the Requirements of Participation.
A. Salvation cannot occur apart from calling; calling cannot occur apart from believing; believing cannot occur apart from hearing; and, Paul claims, hearing cannot occur apart from proclamation.
1. Proclamation necessarily involves a proclaimer and, unless God is going to restrict that activity to Himself alone, that necessarily involves "others".
2. Thus, "salvation" is, by this necessity, a spiral in which those who call become those who summon.
a. A strong case can be made that if this spiral does not develop, salvation is stymied.
b. But a case can also be made that the development of the spiral is not a one-step issue.
1) According to the text, "summoning" cannot occur apart from "sending".
2) This opens the door to an extraordinary complexity that makes room for all who respond to the call by calling.
B. At the Proclamation and Sending levels, "salvation" reveals itself to be "spiritual".
1. Proclamation cannot simply "occur".
2. Nor can Sending simply "occur".
3. As "spiritual" things, both proclamation and sending are outcomes of being in the Life-Flow of One Who is doing.
C. Being "spiritual", salvation involves taking the steps required as they are required.
1. There is nothing in this world that can simply be "done".
2. Everything rests heavily upon what has already been done and lays the foundation for what is going to be done.
III. The Requirements of Participation are Two.
A. A participant must address the "Large Agenda" issue with volunteerism.
1. This "Large Agenda" is inexorably tied to the salvation of people.
2. This "Large Agenda" is inexorably tied to whether any given action can lead to that salvation.
B. A participant must constantly question whether the small agenda details actually do fit the Large Agenda.
1. The fundamental issue is the question of whether I am being responsible before God.
2. One cannot compel others to be "responsible".
3. But one can refuse to make it easy for them to be "irresponsible".