Thesis:Even disbelief by everyone would not make "faith" a disallowed methodology.
Introduction:In our study last week we argued that Paul was presenting God's Plan for the expansion of His offer of "Life" to those who, having heard, believed. The spirit of man must have a part to play in the activities of "Life" in order to live fully. God's Plan to make His ultimate agenda the result of a massive, multi-layered task allows for the inclusion of all who, having believed, wish to enter more fully into the reality of His "Life".
But, participation must be conditioned by two very fundamental realities: first, it is only an "out of faith" participation that is allowed; and, second, it is not to be determined by the visible "results" which men determine. Paul profoundly wanted Israel to be saved by the Gospel, but his proclamation of it to Israel was met by stiff resistance everywhere he went. If he had determined his "participation" on the basis of whether the people would do as he wanted, he would have quit, or if he had determined his "participation" on his own abilities, he would have altered his message to get the results he wanted.
A "results" orientation is deadly to the Truth when it is held by men. Thus, we come this evening to a look at Paul's frank admission that the results for which he was looking had not panned out. We want to be clear about how he dealt with that reality.
I. The Frank Admission: All Have Not Yielded to the Proclamation.
A. The "all" needs to be understood.
1. Paul is not claiming that even the majority who hear yield to what they have heard.
2. Paul is using the "all" as an expression of two realities.
a. There is the "all" of ultimate hope.
1) Romans 11:26 declares that there is a scenario of the future in God's Grand Plan in which "all Israel" shall be saved.
a) This is the "Israel" that is within "Israel" as Paul explained in 9:6-8.
b) This is an aspect of Paul's motivation as it is revealed in 2 Timothy 2:10.
c) This is the indomitable Plan that cannot be defeated.
2) Paul is frankly admitting that he did not see his ministry as being an immediate part of this element of the Plan.
b. There is the "all" of heart-felt desire.
1) Paul could not honestly wish that his kinsmen in the flesh would be saved if it did not include all of them.
2) Paul did not allow his emotional pain regarding the fact that God's Plan did not meet his emotional desires to dissuade his participation: "Life" is not in the "results" but in the "active participation with God in what He is doing".
B. The "obeyed" needs to also be understood.
1. The unfortunate reality about translation is that it often hides as much as it reveals.
a. In Paul's doctrine, "salvation" results from calling upon the Lord out of a believing heart and this calling is directly tied to the necessarily preceding "hearing".
b. Thus, the "hearing" is absolutely crucial.
c. Thus, Paul deliberately tied his admission that all did not respond as desired to this issue: hearing.
1) The word he used to admit the failure of a proper response is a form of "hearing".
2) The text he quoted to buttress his admission was from Isaiah 53:1 and it had the all-critical word "hearing" in it.
3) The conclusion he drew in 10:17 continues to use the word "hearing" two more times.
2. The unfortunate reality about translation is that it is often used to pervert the very words that it is translating.
a. Paul is adamant that the two "methods" of obtaining righteousness from God are both distinct and mutuallyexclusive.
b. Bringing "obedience" into the mix as a translator's choice simply muddies the waters.
1) There is "an obedience of faith".
2) But there can never be a perversion of "promise" into "Law/demand".
a. What one does because he "believes" is automatic to "belief" because it exists in the heart.
b. What one does because he is "commanded" is altogether a different issue because of the distance such obedience can keep from the heart.
c. This is "T"heologically critical because it removes God from any, and every, form of hypocrisy (He does not do what is not "of the heart" and He does not ever allow anything to be legitimate that is not "of the heart").
II. The Appeal to Isaiah.
A. Paul is revealing that it has ever been the case that the message of a vicarious redeemer does not sit well with those who are intent upon establishing their own righteousness.
1. Paul's ministry did not uncover an enthusiastic embrace by any kind of a "majority".
2. Isaiah's ministry apparently ran into such a wall of rejection that he despaired that "any" had "believed" what they were hearing from him.
B. Paul is laying the groundwork for his revelation of 11:26.
1. Isaiah had laid out a phenomenal scenario of the future, but his own preaching had not ushered it in.
2. Paul held to Isaiah's future scenario, but he held it in the face of the fact that the Grand Plan has many stages before the final one.
III. Paul's Conclusion.
A. Isaiah taught that "belief" was the issue in regard to the things heard.
B. Paul's doctrine, then, of "faith" was deeply rooted in, and validated by, the premier Old Testament prophet in the post-Mosaic eras.