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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 08/09/09
In ROM 9:19 Paul’s debaters technique begins with two questions:
1) You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?
2) For who resists His will?” Paul anticipates the reaction that the Jews will have to his teaching of grace. They are unbelieving
Jews, legalists, Judaisers who despise the message of grace and are now antagonistic. Paul proceeds to answer certain questions that he knew others would have, and uses logical conclusions to demonstrate the fallacy of even thinking such a thing.
In verse 19 we begin with the Greek verb “ereo” meaning to say, to speak, or to conclude. Paul attributes the question to the thinking of the opposition, he knows what they will think, and they know it. In application of the Word of God whenever you are under pressure you must be able to think and anticipate. Next is the Greek adverb of time, “eti” which means “yet” or “still.” Paul is asking, after the presentation of ROM 5:1-9:18), why is there any opposition? The tremendous logic and ability of the presentation of Paul begs the question as to why anyone would say “No” to the doctrinal principles. The answer is pride, arrogance, the influence of religion, self-righteousness, and self-justification. It is because certain doctrines are resisted individually, and scar tissue is built up, and blindness of the soul is increased, then pride and arrogance is increased. The next word, “fault” is the Greek verb “memphomai” which means to find fault or to blame. This first phrase in verse 19 leads us to several principles.
1. This debater’s question anticipates objection to such doctrines as the Doctrine of Grace, Mercy, Divine Integrity, Divine Decrees, as well as other doctrines (and many others). How can you reject something unless you know it? This is why you should have chapter and verse before you disagree with some of the doctrinal principles which are being taught. This is especially important is the presenter of the doctrine has a personality or a vocabulary that is rubbing you the wrong way. Pastors are under the authority of God's Word which is the mind of Christ and their job is to study and to teach (ACT 6:2). The messages that come from the pulpit must be an accurate reflection of God's person, thinking, work, character and nature. As a student of the word of God you are to use discernment from the doctrine resident in your soul to determine if the doctrine is accurate. As a believer-priest you are under the authority of God's Word, the mind of Christ, just like the pastor. However, you are not designed to teach it to yourself. You are dependent on the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher (EPH 4:11-12).
2. The objection of the religious self-righteous crowd is irrelevant because it is blasphemous. Blasphemous because it assumes that God does not know what He is doing and that God is unfair in what He is doing. “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He” (DEU 32:4).
3. Paul anticipates the antagonism of the racial Jew against the true spiritual heritage of Israel. The racial Jew represents those who are under the Law while the true spiritual heritage of Israel represents those who are under the grace of God. Law and grace are mutually exclusive; therefore, the believer must choose one or the other. Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? (GAL 4:21). So,Paul is saying, “Tell me now, you who have become so infatuated with morality and lifestyle from the law or the 110 commandments: Have you paid close attention to that law?”
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman [Ishmael] was born according to the flesh [human plans and ingenuity], and the son by the free woman [Isaac]through the promise [the promise of God or divine ingenuity or power]. The child of the slave woman, Hagar, was born according to the flesh and had an ordinary birth [Ishmael], the son of the free woman, Sarah, was born in fulfillment of the promise, [Isaac].  (GAL 4:22-23)
The son of the slave woman, Ishmael, the father-son of the Arab race, was born by human plots and schemes; the son of the free woman, Isaac, the father-son of the Jewish race, was born by God's promise.
This is allegorically speaking: for these women [Hagar and Sarah] are or represent two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.(GAL 4:24)
These two women represent two covenants. One covenant originated from Mount Sinai, where the Law was given, and bears children destined for slavery; this is Hagar. The two births represent two ways of being in relationship with God. One is from Mount Sinai in Arabia, the other is from the divine promise of God because of grace.
Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (GAL 4:25)
Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to and belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children. It corresponds with what is now going on in Jerusalem—a slave life, producing slaves as offspring -- This is the way of Hagar.
But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.For it is written, “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband.”And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.(GAL 4:26-29)
As Church-age believers we are children, not by physical descent, as was Ishmael, but like Isaac, born in virtue of promise.  The Jerusalem above refers to the Messianic kingdom of Christ and the grace of God. There is an invisible Jerusalem, a free Jerusalem, and she is our mother - this is the way of Sarah. Just as at that time the child of ordinary birth (Ishmael), born according to the flesh despised and persecuted him who was born remarkably according to the promise and the working of the Holy Spirit, so it is now also (GEN 21:9).
In the days of Hagar and Sarah, the child who came from faithless human plots and schemes (Ishmael) harassed the child who came—empowered by the Spirit—from the faithful promise (Isaac). The apostle Paul is saying to the Galatians: Isn't it clear that the harassment you are now experiencing from the Jerusalem heretics, or the religious self-righteous crowd follows that old pattern?
But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. We who are born again are not children of a slave woman, the natural, but of the free, the supernatural. (GAL 4:30-31)
The slave son will not inherit with the free son. Those under legalism will never enjoy the inheritance that those under grace experience and enjoy. Paul anticipates the antagonism of the racial Jew against the true spiritual heritage of Israel.
4. The racial Jew emphasizes physical birth and natural descent from Abraham representing human viewpoint while the spiritual Jew emphasizes the new birth and spiritual descent from Abraham. The Jews thought that because they were Jews, they were special. However, notice what our Lord said: Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham's offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You shall become free’?”(JOH 8:31-33). They completely misunderstood the difference between physical freedom and spiritual freedom just as they emphasized physical birth and not spiritual birth.
5. This becomes a conflict of the natural verses the spiritual seed of Abraham. Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man's covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.(GAL 3:15-17). The promises, covenants, the agreements, were decreed and made to Abraham and his Seed (his Offspring, his Heir). God does not say, “and to seeds” (descendants, heirs), as if referring to many persons. The Law, which began 430 years after the covenant (concerning the coming Messiah), does not and cannot annul the covenant previously established (ratified) by God, so as to abolish the promise and make it void.
6. ROM 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?” proves the principle that irrelevance becomes irreverence by blasphemously maligning the character of God.
7. Scar tissue of the soul always finds fault with God and becomes critical of divine policy.
8. This first debaters’ question, "Why does He still find fault?" anticipates a distortion of doctrine - distortion on the part of Jewish reversionists who follow the same pattern as Pharaoh Amenhotep II.
9. The principle of omniscience, the reality of divine decrees and foreordination, the adoption of the elected ones, does not preclude or hinder or even contradict the function of the justice of God when He condemns and when He judges. God is completely fair in His judgments and condemnation of angels and members of the human race. There is no place for rejecting passages like; MAT 25:41b “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” And that's true of us as members of the human race, which is why we are free on earth to choosefor Jesus Christ. If we choose for Him we have eternal life and we will never see the eternal fire, but once the last judgment comes up for those who rejected Jesus Christ, they're through choosing and they go into the lake of fire. You can only get out by your own choices in time, there's no way you can climb out. REV 20:10 and MAT 25:41 indicate that Satan will spend eternity in the lake of fire and he will have company according to REV 20:12-15, those members of the human race who rejected Christ as Savior. Judgments such as this and others like 2PE 2:4 which says For if God Himself did not spare the angels when they sinned[those are the sons of God in GEN 6:2],but He incarcerated them in Tartarus with chains of darkness [zophos-black clouds and a mist], keeping them for judgment. (see also JUD 1:6).These passages, and others, are the reasons why we must conclude that God is just when He condemns and when He judges.
10. Foreordination or predestination does not hinder, coerce or cancel the function of the free will of man. God never tampers with man's free will and neither can man tamper with God's judgments.
11. Omniscience, foreordination and predestination acknowledge the free will of man and the principle of self-determination in human history. Self-induced misery and a tremendous amount of suffering comes from the law of volitional responsibility or reaping what you sow (PRO 1:23-31; JER 2:19) When God finally adds divine discipline to this, things even get worse! It is because we have made such a series of negative decisions to the point where we have become a danger to ourselves and to members of the human race.
12. On the basis of the imputation of divine righteousness to those who believe in Christ, the justice of God has the right to condemn those who do not believe in Christ. Just as free will of man is freedom to reject Christ so God is free to judge those who reject Christ.
13. On the basis of the potential of the imputation of blessing in time to the target of imputed righteousness, God also has the right to administer punishment and discipline to both the unbeliever and the believer. Discipline to the unbeliever is for rejection of the Gospel and to those believers who do not grow spiritually. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; (HEB 12:3-4). The writer of the book of Hebrews is saying others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what the Lord Jesus Christ went through all that bloodshed which represents His spiritual death or His separation from God.
And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; (HEB 12:5). Don't disregard God's discipline, but don't be crushed by it either. For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?(HEB 12:6-7). It's the child He loves that He disciplines; the child He embraces, He also corrects. God is educating you; that's why you must never quit or drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training.
But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?(HEB 12:8-9). Only irresponsible parents leave children to train and provide for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live?
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (HEB 12:10-11). While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them, but God is doing what is best for us, training us to live His highest and best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. Later, of course, it pays off generously, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, [Don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet!] and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; (HEB 12:12-15)
14. On the basis of the perfect character of God the integrity of God has the right to find fault with sin, human good, and evil. For example, the real friend to Job Elihu who functioned as a human judge rebuking Job's three so-called friends and sees Job's mistake, which was the attempt to vindicate himself at the expense of God's plan (JOB 33:1-4). That is actually a dissertation on the origin of life and it brings up a very important principle, which is the fact that God selected your parents, your nationality, your gender, and even your environment. If God did this then there are no grounds for complaining about anything in your life!
“Refute me if you can; Prepare yourselves before me, take your stand. Behold, I belong to God like you; I too have been formed out of the clay. Behold, no fear of me should terrify you nor should my pressure weigh heavily on you.” (JOB 33:5-7).
Elihu describes Job's inconsistency, he even quotes Job. “Surely you have spoken in my hearing and I have heard the sound of your words. ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me. And ‘Behold, He [God] invents pretexts against me; He counts me as His enemy’” (JOB 33:8-10). Elihu is challenging the thinking of Job. “How can you say, Job, that you are pure and without sin concerning this suffering and yet turn around and say that God has found fault with you and He counts you as His enemy. Your thinking is inconsistent!”
Job also said in verse 11 quoted by Elihu, “He puts my feet in the shackles; He watches all my paths.” This implies that God was somehow being cruel to Job, when in reality, God is honoring Job with the highest form of suffering for blessing that can exist in the human race. In verses 12-13, Elihu recognizes the silence of God as an important message to Job. The point is that we really have no right to question the decisions and the judgments of God. The evil that Job has turned to is the fact that he has been clinging to his morality rather than operating in his virtue, which he has, but is not operating in at the present time! Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel [or distorts my doctrine] by words without knowledge?” (JOB 38:1-2). One of the great sins of any believer is the distortion of doctrine: using doctrine rather than having doctrine use you. Job has the doctrine, but has made the wrong application. Remember that you can perceive and metabolize doctrine and still refuse to apply it!
15. The integrity of God and the entire essence of God can never be compromised by finding fault or judging or condemning or disciplining or punishing any portion or any individual in the human race.
16. The link between divine judgment or divine blessing is not subject to critical scrutiny on the part of mankind - mankind who possesses neither the facts nor the doctrine to be critical.
So the Jews found fault with Paul. They had a habit of finding fault because they had resisted truth. The less you know of the truth the more critical you are of the truth. They had resisted, just like Pharaoh, and they had all of this scar tissue in their souls; the more the scar tissue, the greater the arrogance. Critical people, when they are ignorant of the facts, are always arrogant. Because they had the habit of finding fault they did not want anyone else to find fault and they even criticized God for finding fault. “Why does He still find fault?”
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