Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: A Time for Every Purpose

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Time for Every Purpose

Often, during times of difficulty or when things are not going well in life, I have had people ask me, “What is God trying to tell you?” It is not my intent in this study to address this question, but to ask another question. Do we interpret God’s will by circumstances of life or by the Word of God? In answering this last question, it is not my intent to propose that we should not seek to discover if difficult circumstances in life are the result of God’s chastisement or the trying of the reality of our faith. Certainly, if we will not heed the revealed will of God in the inspired Words of God, He will speak to His children through the “rod” (Micah 6:9). However, there should be a governing principle in understanding God’s will: never seek to interpret God’s Word by the circumstances of life, but rather interpret the circumstances of life by a correct interpretation of God’s Word.

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? 10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-10).

The book of Ecclesiastes is running proverb of wisdom from an “under the sun” (this world only) perspective of existence. We should be extremely careful to maintain that perspective as God gives us a view of human existence and wisdom from an almost purely humanistic perspective. If we do not maintain our understanding of this context of the book, we will be led to the fatalistic and deterministic view of existence that is doomed to merely surrender to the issues and trials of life rather than to live in a higher, nobler purpose that literally transcends this world and this “under the sun” existence.

We live in a cursed world fallen in corruption and destined to destruction. Uptopianists do not like those kinds of statements. They like to think that the world is naturally getting better and people are becoming kinder and gentler. They like to think that eventually humankind will be able to usher in a perfect, sinless, sickless, greedless, and warless utopian global society on planet earth. This is obviously a noble ideology, but it is also in extreme contradiction to the Word of God.

The subtle ways in which Utopianism has infected the thinking of our world is evident in liberal Christianity and its Social Gospel. It is event in our changing global economic and political scene of Secular Humanism Socialism redistribution of wealth. However, the one place you would not expect to see this philosophy accepted is within the circles of Bible believing Christianity (Evangelicalism & Fundamentalism). Yet we see the prevalence of this heresy even among most Bible believing people. How do we see it? We see it in the way people view “under the sun” circumstances of life.

Although the Second Law of Thermodynamics is more complex than normally stated, it simply means everything is in the state of entropy or decay. In other words, nothing is getting better. Things are getting worse. That does not mean that science is not getting more advanced or mankind’s inventions are not more intelligent, complex, or that they do not last longer. The Second Law of Thermodynamics simply means that everything wears out!

Bible believers reveal the degree of their Utopianism whenever they blame God for their car breaking down, for when their bodies get sick or grow old, and often just for the things that do not go exactly the way they want them to, or the way they expect them to. Iron rusts and wood rots. The facts of life tell us that new things grow old and stop working. New roofs become old roofs and begin to leak. The same rain that brings nourishment to the ground can brings floods of destruction. The same Sun that softens the butter hardens the clay. Weeds grow faster than fruit producing crops. People get sick and, eventually, they will die. Good and new beginnings, especially in governments, will eventually become corrupted and make slaves out of people. Unless men and women are restrained by the Truths of God’s Word, by the consciousness of right and wrong, and by the knowledge of a God of Judgment and Justice, we will turn on one another in a survival of the fittest mentality with the stronger devouring the weaker. That is the reality of this “under the sun” existence; and its endless succession of repetitions.


9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11).

This does not mean that God does not regularly interfere and intercede in the circumstances of life, especially in the lives of His children (“born again” believers). He can intercede in circumstances to keep us from calamity or out of harm’s way. God can interfere in our lives through chastisement. God can lead us to people who can help us and instruct us in the way of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Even though we live in a cursed world of sin and destruction, God loves us and is graciously working to help us escape both the condemnation He has place upon this world and the corruption of our own fallen natures. Nonetheless, life and the curse are happening all around us and to us. We may be saved from the condemnation, but we are still in the world. Our bodies are mortal and they are growing old and dying. Things are falling apart all around us.

The true believer does not allow his thinking to get locked into this “under the sun” mentality of Fatalism. The true believer understands and lives in an invisible reality of a new existence referred to in the Word of God as the “new creation” or “the regeneration.” This reality is eternal and everything that is invested in this existence becomes eternal as well; our lives, our resources, and our talents. True believers work in this world, but seek to invest themselves in the eternality of our “new creation.”

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation {politeuma; community responsibilities or loyalties of citizenship} is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:13-21).

The pseudo-nobility of utopian ideology is in fact a lie and deception intent upon leading men astray to focus their attention upon social programs and cultural evolution. Paul addressed this in his second epistle to Timothy.

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. 10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:1-15).

Undoubtedly, things are not getting better in our world. In the “last days,” prior to the catching away of Church Age believers, “evil men and seducers” will rise up out of the sea of evangelical Christianity. The words “evil” and “seducers” describe them from God’s perspective. The word “evil” is translated from the Greek word poneros (pon-ay-ros'). It means to be hurtful or harmful in effect or influence. These men will come on the scene promising a new way to worship. They will offer new interpretation of holiness. They will profane that which is holy by profaning the Name of God and the Character of God with false doctrine. They come trying to break down the walls between the Church and the world, merging them together in such a way that worldly sinners and carnal Christians can feel comfortable in their sins and in their worldliness (the Emergent Church coming out of Evangelicalism).

Secondly, they are “seducers.” This is translated from the Greek word goes (go'-ace). The word means to wail like a wizard utters magic spells or magic words. The implication is a person who is an imposter and who deceives people to follow him for selfish purposes in order to defraud. The Word of God speaks of this kind of imposter as making “merchandise” out of people. They are not true men of God. They are in the ministry for themselves and for personal gain in power and prestige before men. These men (and women) come disguised as Evangelicals. These men (and women) are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (II Peter 2:1-3).

The word translated “merchandise” in II Peter 2:3 is the word we get our English word emporium from. The Greek word emporos refers to a merchant. An emporium is where merchandise is sold to make money or profit. The idea of what Peter is saying is that people are viewed by these “false teachers” as nothing more than a means to gain fame or make profit. These “false teachers” are empire builders and their empires and success is measured by how many people they can deceive into following their teaching, by the size of their facilities, and by the size of the offerings that people give to support them. People to them are like cows. Cows need to be kept contented so they will keep coming to the barn to be milked. Whatever it takes to keep the cows coming to the barn and whatever it takes to keep the milk flowing defines what their ministry is going to be like. The more cows you can seduce to come into your barn, the more milk you can get. This kind of leadership is immoral and disgraceful. It is the same corruption of responsibilities for which the priesthood of Israel was castaway by God. God gives a solemn warning regarding these corrupted and corrupting false teachers and those who follow them in their corrupted false doctrines, “whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it. 4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. 5 My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. 6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. 7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:1-9).

Understand the circumstances of world events by understanding the Word of God and what God says will happen in the “last days.” Understand that when we begin to see these circumstances described by the Word of God coming to pass that we are in those last days. Then, we must be careful to be busy about the Father’s business and be careful to maintain a Biblical world view of the “last days.”

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (I Thessalonians 5:1-10).



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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

The audio for this message is available at the link below:
A Time For Every Purpose

2 comments:

Tom said...

As you say, it is a fairly common occurrence to hear Christians ask in times of difficulty, “What is God trying to teach me or tell me now?” That is the question I don’t hear when Christians are living in times of blessing. That thought supports your proposition that we (Christians) tend to interpret God’s will by the circumstances of our life rather than by the Word of God. Unfortunately, that proposition tends to be true more often than not.

I find this most evident in talking with buyers about financing a home. I am a real estate broker so I talk with people quite often about their finances. I will be dealing with Christian (saved) buyers, especially first time buyers, about their indebtedness and most often their car payments. I find the majority of people are “overcarred.” In other words, they own more car or cars than they can afford. We will be looking at a car payment that is 30% of their household income and trying to figure out how they can afford a home and the car. My advice is like Dave Ramsay’s, “Sell the car.” Their reply many times will be, “But God gave us that car.”

I then say to them in the most tactful way, no, the finance company agreed to finance someone because they wanted the sale and you were willing to sign the papers. If God would have “given” you that car, He didn’t need the finance company. An understanding of the Bible indicates that God is opposed to debt and to anything else that puts us in bondage so why would He “give” something that has bondage attached to it.

The couple believed that because circumstances allowed them to buy the car, it was therefore God’s will where an understanding of Bible principles would recognize that this was the car dealer’s will not God’s.

Jerry Bouey said...

Bro Lance, I found you on SermonAudio, and have some of your sermons now on my Ipod. This was the first one I listened to. It was good to hear it as I was reading this article (I appreciate your articles, but sometimes I get distracted due to their length - this helps me to focus). This was a message worth meditating on this morning. Thank you.