Romans 7 intro — Roots of Western Theology (Bible study notes)

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I.  Recap

  • Romans 1:16 proclaims: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation
    • the power of God unto sozo — wholeness in every area of life; nothing missing, nothing broken; wholly healed and delivered;
  • Paul preached the simple Gospel that declared that we are whole, complete, with nothing missing and nothing broken in our lives; wholly delivered from sin and 100% reconciled to the Father — no trace of separation!
    • but Romans is taught it is usually from a sin focused perception that is radically different than what Paul taught.
  • What we come away with is:
    • man is sinful
    • God is Holy and can’t look upon sin
    • sinful made is made clean and righteous only when he makes the choice to believe
    • anyone who doesn’t “believe” is separated from God and unrighteous
    • and is subject to God’s wrath
  • This “gospel” — or really anti-gospel preaches a chasm of separation — holy God on one side and sinful man on the other side that is only bridged by sinful man making the choice to place “his” faith IN Jesus
II. Gospel = Union NOT Separation
  • This concept of separation from God because of our sin was not the Gospel that Paul taught it’s not the Gospel he received from Jesus (Gal 1:12)— in fact it’s not the gospel at all.
    • it’s not the message of Romans
    • and it’s not what Jesus revealed to us about the nature of God
      • without a correct understanding of God’s nature, we will have a misunderstanding of this Gospel of Grace.
      • and we will construct a Gospel not rooted in the finished work of Christ
  • The Gospel of Grace is all about our union with Christ
    • Jn 17:21: that all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me
    • Eph 1:4: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world for us to be holy and blameless before Him, in love
    • Col 2:12 (Mirror): your co-inclusion in Christ is what God’s faith knew when he powerfully raised him from the dead.
      • Hos 6:2: and on the third day he will raise us up so we can live in his presence.
  • Paul’s message was INSIDE YOU IS CHRIST!
    • he only preached the finished work of the Cross that revealed:
      • it was for ALL mankind
      • it revealed new humanity, a new creation
      • one that was no longer in Adam but IN CHRIST
      • there was no longer a sin nature but Christ’s nature in mankind
    • he taught a message of God’s abundant grace towards us, in us and through us
      • actually Paul called it hyper-pleonazo grace: meaning super abounding; beyond counting; super, exceedingly abundant;
      • 1 Tim 1:14: And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
    • because super, exceeding abundant (hyper) grace is who God is… it’s His nature!
      • Jn 1:14: The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
      • we saw His glory — glory is doxa: esence, substance;
      • FULL of grace is His nature
      • Ex 34:6: And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious (grace), long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
      • abundant in Hebrew is “rab” meaning so abundant, that there is nothing to compare it to.
Our Father is super, exceedingly abundant (hyper-pleonazo) beyond all compare (rab) in Grace… in Mercy… in Long-suffering… in Goodness (relentless covenant love)… and in Truth.
So, if sinful man separated from God is not the Gospel… not the message Paul taught, not the Gospel message Jesus taught him, where did we get it?
II. Philosophy & Empty Deceit
  • Christianity has two schools of thought— Western and Eastern
    • and they officially split into two branches of Christianity in 1054
      • Western Theology:
      • Focus is on the removal of sin — that man has offended God, is standing guilty before Him and cannot enjoy God’s favor again unless man’s sin is removed; predestination; penal substitution; free will; Evil springs from free will which is bound to the nature it occupies. In fallen men the will is evil and only does evil; When men are regenerated, they have the capacity to choose good or evil; After one is saved by grace, men must strive to be holy;
      • Eastern Theology (Trinitarian Theology):
      • It is Christ centered — Scripture is read through the lens of the person of Jesus; He is the full and final revelation of who God is; God is love; The point of the cross was redeem mankind not appease an angry God; co-union with the Godhead; all is all; everyone is in Christ; justified by the faith OF Christ, not our own; NOT universalism
    • We are part of the western branch of Christianity
      • rooted in Greek philosophy of dualism – good and evil; light and dark; and separation from God — and influenced by Augustine
  • In St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome there are The Four Pillars.
    • on each pillar are names of men that have been called the Doctors of the Church.
    • St Ambrose and St Augustine for the Church of Rome and St. Athanasius and St. John Chrysostum for the Eastern Orthodox Church.
      • church thought and framework for theology and interpretation was shaped by Augustine and Athanasius.
      • the eastern Christian church followed after the teachings of Athanasius
      • the western Christian church was primarily influenced by Augustine
  • Augustine based much of his writing for the Western church on the problem of man’s sin
    • his quest for answers to the problem of sin came from his own lifelong struggle with sex
    • He said Romans 13:13-14 was the Scripture he read that caused his conversion: Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
      • while it’s a good Scripture, it’s no wonder his theology was so behavior focused.. sin and punishment;
      • after his conversion he lived a life of celibacy and poverty believing that both sex and money were evil
    • because of sin consciousness, he devised a very Roman view of law and justice that has since shaped the Western church.
      • terms like “Penal Substitution” and “Man is separated from God by Sin” are all birthed from his commentaries.
  • Athanasius, on the other hand, came from a very Jewish mind-set and laid the foundation of what is known as Trinitarian Theology.
    • his theology was based on 2 Corinthians 5:14: For the love of Christ constrained us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
    • his writings and commentaries centered around union and relationship in the Godhead, rather than on sin and punishment.
  • Athanasius was mentored by Iraenus who was mentored by Polycarp
    • Polycarp was mentored by the apostle John
  • Augustine was influenced by the teachings of Stoicism, Neoplatonism, Aristotle, Plato, Manichaeism, and the Roman Catholic Church
  • Paul warned in his letter to the Colossians not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deceit
    • Col 2:8: Take heed lest there will be anyone taking you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the principles of the world and not according to Christ.
  • Men in the 3rd and 4th century began mixing the ideas of the philosophers with the message of Christianity
    • philosophy is philosophia in Greek and means a lover of wisdom
    • these lovers of wisdom (philosophers) were trying to find answers for what they felt was lacking in their lives — seeking understanding apart from Christ
  • But all understanding, all wisdom is found in Him
    • Jesus is Wisdom — 1 Cor 1:30
    • we’re to be lovers of Wisdom… lovers of Him — not love wisdom apart from Him!
  • Col 2:9 says that the reason we are not to chase after philosophical wisdom not of Christ is because we are already COMPLETE in Him….. filled to the FULL with the fullness of the Godhead!
    • Augustine never seemed to get that revelation as is evidenced in his theology of separation from God
III. Jesus Said We Will Know
  • When we fell away from God (in Adam) we wrongly assumed that He fell away from us
    • in Adam we ran and hid expecting God to punish us and judge us
    • over several millenia, that same fallen Adamic mind gradually worked up a systematic theology (a theory of God) that said: God is over there and I am over here
  • But we were always in Him, even before we fell in Adam – Eph 1:4 (Mirror)
    • long before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, His death predated the foundation of the world – Rev 13:8, 1 Peter 1:20
    • there never was a separation between heaven and earth except in our minds darkened (blinded) by sin – Col 1:21-22
  • We have been focused on a separation that does not exist from God’s perspective
    • separation was “real” from our perspective — sin blinded us to the actuality of His love and nearness
      • Isaiah 59:9,10: We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom. (10) and we grope about like blind people. We stumble at noon, as if it were night, as if we were in the dark world of the dead.
    • Sin blinded US to His glory, but sin NEVER removed God from us
  • Isaiah says His glory COMPLETELY fills heaven AND earth – Is 6:3
    • sin caused US to pull away, fleeing from intimacy, relationship and vulnerability
    • but there is nowhere we can hide that is not aflame with Presence – Psalm 139:*
  • Sin had two radically different effects upon God and man
    • for man – sin caused us to run FROM Him
    • for God – sin caused Him to run TOWARD us!
  • The gospel is concerned with pulling us back – waking us up to the reality that we were never abandoned.
    • the cross was not about Jesus appeasing God so that He could FINALLY look at us… FINALLY love us
    • NO! It was about repairing our corrupted state!
      • we were the ones that needed to be reconciled…. God didn’t need reconciling!
      • it was about destroying our old, fallen delusional nature — a nature that was never the authentic us.
  • Jn 14:20: In that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you
    • there is never a time when Jesus was not in the Father.
    • never a time when we were not “in Him.”
    • Jesus said we will realize — ginosko: to intimately know
      • then we won’t have to seek after philosopher’s “wisdom” or empty deceit.
    • the problem has been a lack of knowing that we are in Him and He is in us and He is in the Father, so we too are in the Father — it’s a lack of knowledge of our co union
      • this intimate union in the Godhead is what we were created for
IV. Creation
  • Genesis 1
    • God created everything and it was GOOD
    • then He made mankind in His image and likeness – male and female
    • over ALL of this He declared it is VERY GOOD
  • Gen 2:8
    • He planted a garden in Eden and placed man there
      • in Hebrew Eden means delight, pleasure, luxury
    • a river flowed from Eden and separated into four separate rivers
      • the names of the four rivers were the Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates
        • Pishon means increase or full flowing — abundance
        • Gihon means bursting forth or gushing — overflow
        • Hiddekel (Tigris) means swift or darting; actually a word picture of a swift arrow in flight — Purpose
        • Euphrates means good, bountiful, fruitful — Goodness and Fruitfulness
    • Jn 7:37-39: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit….
  • This is where He placed man — in a delightful, pleasureful, luxurious place — and out of His Spirit (The River – Jn 7:39)… out of our co-union flows abundance, overflow, purpose, goodness and fruitfulness
    • Psalm 36:8 talking about the lovingkindness (chesed) of God toward humanity: They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
  • Religion and philosophy attributes the desire for pleasure to the sinful nature
    • but truth is we were designed for pleasure
    • we were not designed for lack, toil and the curse of a fallen world
    • and we can only find pleasure where He has planted us — IN CHRIST
      • Eph 1:4 – from before the foundations of the world He chose us (planted us) IN CHRIST
      • Mk 16:19 – After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
      • Ps 16:11 – at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore
  • He also placed in the garden of Delight… in the garden of Pleasure – two trees
    • a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil
    • the tree of life is also mentioned in Rev. 22
      • it was on either side of the River of life (Spirit) that flowed from the throne of God
      • and it continually bore fruit and its leaves were healing for the nations
      • there was no more curse BUT the throne (grace) of God and of the Lamb shall be in it
      • and His servants will serve Him – actually in Greek it says His servants will worship Him
      • and they will see His face (co-union); and His name will be on their foreheads
      • and there will not be night, nor the need of a lamp, or the light of the sun because the Lord will enlighten (shine) upon them and they will reign (rule) forever and ever
    • What a beautiful picture of us IN CHRIST!
  • Religion and philosophy eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and as a result produced all kinds of sin conscious doctrine that we were never meant to have in our lives
    • doctrines given to us by Augustine who mixed Christianity with the pagan philosophies of his day
      • duality — good and evil; light and darkness
      • sin consciousness and separation from God
      • penal substitution
  • We were created to feed from the tree of life – to live in co-union with the Godhead
    • to live a life that rests in the final words of our Lord and Savior — IT IS FINISHED!
V. Conclusion
  • Catch the revelation of IT IS FINISHED
  • Paul did!
  • Go to 2 Cor 5:14-20 — this is a beautiful look at the finished work of Christ in us and ALL men and a good foundation as we head into chapter 7 next week
  • verse 14 (Mirror): The love of Christ resonates within us and leaves us with only one conclusion: Jesus died humanity’s death; therefore, in God’s logic every individual simultaneously died.
    • Paul is saying, “this is our judgment: if one died for all, then all died”
    • One died as ALL- so ALL DIED
    • This whole passage is about reconciliation – mutual exchange
      • God was in Christ – and what was He doing IN CHRIST?
      • Mutually exchanging Himself for the world – reconciling the world to Himself
      • He became sin — we became righteous
      • He died for ALL — so then ALL died
        • it says this is the way we are to judge ourselves and others
          • until we do we stay in bondage to sin consciousness
  • Paul discovered God’s logic — that ONE died FOR ALL
    • before we knew it, before we made a decision, we were included in his death, burial and resurrection.
  • ALL things have become NEW in Christ
    • doesn’t mean everyone realizes it… they have an identity crisis
    • but believers should be the ones to believe it and telling those who haven’t awaken to it

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