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: November 2019

Monday, November 11, 2019

Transforming Transfusion Preaching


Why We are Failing the Great Commission
Chapter twenty-six
God has Ordained the Foolishness of Preaching
Transforming Transfusion Preaching


         Undoubtedly, the first epistle to the Corinthian believers is an epistle defining the scope of Biblical repentance.  The aberrations of carnality addressed by the epistle were not to be allowed to continue and were to be addressed by the leaders of the local congregation through “preaching.”  Of the sixteen separate chapter divisions in the first epistle to the Corinthians in our KJV Bibles, fourteen of those chapters rebuke and reprove the Corinthian believers (“saints,” I Corinthians 1:2) for carnality, false doctrines, sinful attitudes, and false practices.  The epistle is a sermon preached on preaching.  


          “The gospel” to which the epistle refers is all that the death, burial, and resurrection/glorification of Jesus accomplishes for the believing sinner.  This extends far beyond salvation from Hell.  Included in this salvation is the salvation of the believer’s life from waste through practical sanctification.  The future glorification of the believer’s body is also included in this good news.  Much of what the first epistle to the Corinthians addresses will be lost if we do not understand that the good news extends into all three of these aspects of a believer’s salvation. 

I Corinthians 1:17 immediately divides the hearers of the good news into two distinctly different apposing categories (appose: to place something in proximity to or juxtaposition with something else).  To the understanding and believing sinner these accomplishments are truly good news resulting in the manifestation of the creative power of God in the regeneration of a lost sinner.  To the unbelieving sinner these accomplishments are just “foolishness.”  The preacher of the good news may not understand to which category of hearers he is preaching until they respond to the preaching.  The vast majority of the epistle is addressed to those who view Paul’s preaching on practical sanctification as “foolishness.”  This is the aspect of the “gospel” that the Corinthians were rejecting.  This is the primary in a series of appositions. 

Paul is beginning to develop a presentation of ideas that attempt to bring the intangible realities of the invisible dimension of the spiritual into sight through a faith understanding of that invisible reality.  Within the invisible spiritual dimension, known only through faith and the teaching of the Spirit (I Corinthians 2:9-16), there are no grey areas between righteousness and unrighteousness.  Within the invisible spiritual dimension there is just darkness and light.  Everything is just black and white with no confusion about right and wrong.  This is the discerning understanding of the spiritual dimension that God wants His Spirit to teach all believers.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).  Spirit filled preaching and Spirit-filled hearing of that preaching is to bring the believer into a full understanding of all things spiritual in both apposition and opposition to the carnal.  Carnality always begins with misunderstandings of the spiritual existence.  Life transfusion preaching will ALWAYS be life transformation preaching. 

Another differentiation in the first chapter of first Corinthians is the apposition between the “wisdom of God” and worldly wisdom (“wisdom of words,” (I Corinthians 1:17).  The “wisdom of God” is a purely spiritual thing defined as the communication of the heart and mind of God.  In this kind of preaching, the purpose is not so much about merely communicating God’s truths, but rather the spiritual transfer and integration of the heart and mind of God from a Spirit-filled communicator to a Spirit-filled receptacle in another person whose heart is prepared to receive the transfusion.  A Spirit-filled receptacle has open ears and an open heart.

This is a transfusion rather than a mere transference because when the transfusion of the heart and mind takes place, that transfusion transforms the life into which the heart and mind of God is transfused.  This transforming transfusion of the heart and mind of God (“the wisdom of God”) is the purpose and goal in true spiritual preaching of God’s Word.  

For preaching to be spiritually effective it must be spiritually infective.  Preaching is much more than the transference of mere intelligentsia (facts).  Only a believer can prepare himself to be the spiritual receptacle for this transforming transfusion.  This miracle of transfusion can never happen against the believer’s will.  In other words, this transfusion cannot be forced down another person’s throat.  This spiritual dynamic of teaching/preaching is to what Paul speaks in the first two chapters of his first epistle to the Corinthians.  Trying to fill a receptacle without ensuring that the receptacle is opened is an operation in futility.  Be very careful it is not your carnal spirit and your bad attitude that closes the receptacle of deposit. 

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it {‘the preaching of the cross’} is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:17-31).

In I Corinthians 1:17, we are immediately confronted with a harsh apposition between mere ritualism and the transference of real spiritual life through truth communication (transforming transfusion preaching).  “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”  The ritual of water baptism transfers NOTHING to the believing participant in the ritual.  It is complete foolishness to think that there is a spiritual pill we can take or some magical ritual in which we can participate that will transfigure us from the carnal into the spiritual.  Yet, this is exactly how the legalist thinks. 

Paul is addressing the great fallacy of the magic pill philosophy to become spiritual proposed by the legalist.  This nonsense proposes that there is some transference of spirituality, conversion, or forgiveness through participation in some religious ritual as proposed in the idea of Sacramentalism.  If ritual baptism was the magic pill that could accomplish transference of spirituality, conversion, or forgiveness then Paul would have been preaching water baptism.  He did not! 

Paul preached and taught “the gospel” of salvation from Hell through the propitiation of God’s wrath upon sin in Christ upon “the cross of Christ.”  Paul preached and taught “the gospel” of salvation from Hell through the impartation of God-kind righteousness to the repentant believing sinner through the indwelling Spirit of Christ (justification).  Paul preached and taught “the gospel” of salvation of a believing sinner’s life through yielding to the indwelling Spirit of Christ in obedience to God’s will to live a sanctified life before God.  Paul preached and taught “the gospel” of salvation unto the ultimate glorification of the believer’s body and deliverance from the very presence of sin. 

The “gospel” Paul preached and taught involved specific details defining the spiritual operations of God in all three aspects of a believer’s salvation.  None of these three aspects of a believer’s salvation could ever be viewed as anything but precious and powerful.  Such a view of preaching brought incredible delight to those whose ears were opened spiritually and whose hearts were a readied receptacle for what God offered.  They certainly would not be treated as “foolishness.” 

All three aspects of a believer’s salvation are carefully defined and explained (“preaching of the cross”) in the sixteen chapters of the first epistle to the Corinthians.  I Corinthians 1:17-31 is foundational to the unfolding of all of this.  If we miss this foundational understanding of transforming transfusion preaching in the first two chapters of this epistle, we will also miss the spiritual transfusion of the heart and mind of God intended for us through such careful explanation/preaching.  For the true believer, the believer that believes every Word of the Bible is inspired of God, God’s ordination of preaching His Word is to spiritually transform the believer from the heart to the feet.  This outcome is what defines transforming transfusion preaching.  If spiritual transformation is never achieved, transforming transfusion preaching is not accomplishing its purpose due to some form of shutdown in that believer’s communication and reception of truth processing.  There must be a compulsive desire for spiritual transfiguration that begins in the heart of the believer thereby opening the receptacles of the mind to the Spirit of God’s teaching ministry. 

Necessities for Transforming Transfusion Preaching

1. Real Faith

Real faith believes deeply in the reality of God and His love for us.  Real faith understands that God has communicated His will for His “born again” children solely through His inspired Bible.  Therefore, real faith loves faithful preaching, teaching, and thorough explanation of the Bible.  Loving faithful preaching, teaching, and thorough explanation of the Bible is the first manifestation of a person’s genuine love for God because it is ONLY through studying God’s Word can we know God’s will, what God loves, what God hates, and what God’s plans are for us and our lives.  Real faith hates anything that corrupts true knowledge of God.

103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:103-104).

126 It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. 127Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. 128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. 129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. 130The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. 131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments” (Psalm 119:126-130).

Unfortunately, most of what many call faith these days is really not faith at all because it is not solely sourced in orthodoxy coming from a right understanding of the Word of God.  When faith is real, transforming transfusion will take place through any type of genuine devotional interaction with the Word of God.  Real faith does not require someone to plead with you to read your Bible, to attend the services of your local church, or to long for the preaching of the Word of God.  All of these things are what define and manifest real faith.  Without the reality of these compulsion, faith is artificial. 

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. . . 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:1-2 and 6).

2. Real Faith generates Real Love

Real faith and real love for God want what God wants more than anything else in this world.  Real faith wants to live in “fellowship” with God and become part of His redemptive purposes through the “work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).  Real faith generates a compulsion to talk with God (prayer) and to hear from God by reading His Word and passionately listening to His Word taught and explained.  Real love for God wants fellowship with God.  Real love is consumed with knowing God personally and intimately.  In really loving God there is an inner compulsion to walk with God, worship God, live with Him in the minutia of life wanting every aspect of our being to be filled with all that God is.  Real love of God is ALWAYS defined and manifested by being consumed with FAITHFULNESS to Him and to His Word. 

162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. 163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love. 164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments. 165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. 166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. 167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly. 168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee” (Psalm 119:162-168).

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is {this reality is he} that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him {doctrine of spiritual reciprocity manifested in transforming transfusion}” (John 14:15-21).

3. Real Faith plus Real Love results in Real Ministry

Real faith and real love ALWAYS result in spiritual “works”!  It is these spiritual “works” that define true faithfulness.  Real faith and real love ALWAYS overflow “unto good works,” the “work of the ministry.”  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).  Real faith and real love understand that the believer has an obligation in a vocational calling of real ministry.  

26 For ye see your calling, brethren {the holy and royal priesthood of all Church Age believers; I Peter 1:9}, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things {morally headless; moral blockheads} of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things {morally weak because they are morally ignorant} of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things {without kin; of unknown descent} of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye {priests} in Christ Jesus {the believer’s eternal High Priest}, who of God is made unto us {positionally} wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth {rejoices in something}, let him glory {rejoice} in the Lord {being able to serve as part of the New Creation ‘in Christ’}” (I Corinthians 1:26-31).

Paul’s first rebuke to these “saints” (sanctified priests) is found in I Corinthians 1:10-13.  This is the springboard for the next fourteen chapters of rebukes and reproofs (corrections). 

10 Now I beseech you {parakaléō; pleading}, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions {schisms creating different elitist prejudicial sects according to who baptized them} among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you {apparently not by the pastors, one of which was Apollos; vs.12}, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe {either this information came to him from someone from this household or most likely the problem was sourced in this one family where this spirit of contention and elitist prejudice was being produced}, that there are contentions {arguments, quarrels, debates } among you {Why didn’t the rest of the congregation put a stop to this nonsense?}. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith {the wicked and carnal elitism generated out of a false belief about having a superior baptism based upon who baptized someone now permeated the whole congregation} I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul” (I Corinthians 1:10-13)?

This rebuke of I Corinthians 1:10-13 is quite a statement considering Paul’s introductory salutation defining the commonality of all believers “in Christ” as representative priests before God.  In I Corinthians 1:2-9, Paul establishes the communion (commonality) of all Church Age believers “in Christ” as believer-priest and their common supply of enabling grace for servanthood ministry.  Understanding what is being communicated in I Corinthians 1:2-9 is critical to understanding the context of everything else said in the first epistle to the Corinthians. 

2 Unto the church of God {an assembly of believer-priests} which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified {this is the outcome of perfect, complete sanctification before God by justification and the impartation of the righteousness of Christ through the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ} in Christ Jesus {the New Creation through Spirit baptism}, called to be saints {sanctified ones; referring to their ministry as priests before God}, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord {as all believers’ High Priest in the literal Holy of Holies in Heaven; refers to the believer-priests praying to the Father in the Name of Jesus}, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ {this is their common potential for righteousness, illumination, and spiritual power in the enabling grace given to every believer priest in the indwelling Spirit}; 5 That in every thing {commonality in every spiritual aspect of potential through the enabling of the indwelling Spirit} ye {plural; everyone}are enriched {enabling grace; spiritual wealth of unlimited spiritual resources} by him, in all utterance {includes thinking, reasoning, resulting in right doctrine and the communication/explanation of right doctrine}, and in all knowledge {based upon the trustworthiness of their common Teacher/Illuminator; I Corinthians 2:9-16}; 6 {verses 6-9 provide a list of commonalities that belong to every believer-priest}  Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you {plural; everyone}: 7 So that ye {plural; everyone} come behind in no gift {there is commonality in the gift of the Spirit, but there are ‘diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit,’ I Cor. 12:4; ‘differences of administrations, but the same Lord,’ I Cor. 12:5; and ‘diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all,’ I Cor. 12:6}; waiting for the {second coming; the rapture first and then returning with Jesus to rule the Kingdom Age} coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm {future, active, indicative; the final and complete stabilization of the believers in their glorification and eradication of their sin natures}you {plural; everyone} unto the end {until the end of theChurch Age}, that ye may be blameless {not to be called into account for failures} in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ {referring to the Judgment Seat of Christ; II Cor. 5:10}. 9 God is faithful {God will always do what He promises}, by whom ye {plural; everyone} were called unto the fellowship {the ‘fellowship of the mystery,’ Ephesians 3:9, in the priesthood of all believers as ‘workers together with God,’ II Cor. 6:1} of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord {within and under the Sovereignty of the Lordship of Jesus}” (I Corinthians 1:2-9).

It is not the preacher’s responsibility to make you love the Word of God or even to make you love preaching.  That is totally on you.  Loving the Word of God and loving the preaching/teaching/explanation/application of the Word of God is a choice.  That choice is dependent almost totally upon the reality of your worship of God and the value you give to intimately knowing Him and His will for your life.  

If the three necessities for transforming transfusion preaching are not genuine then transformation will not take place: real faith, real love, real passion to change lives (passion and compulsion to do the “work of the ministry”).  If these three necessities are not real, nothing about the professing Christian will be real either, for these three necessities define real Christianity.  Any thing LESS is just pretense!

3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: 7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:9-11).


Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 50 years.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The "Fellowship of the Mystery" versus the "Mystery of Inequity"



Why We are Failing the Great Commission

Chapter twenty-five

Life is an Investment of Time in the Eternal

 The "Fellowship of the Mystery" versus the "Mystery of Inequity"

         
For what is your life?  This is the age-old question.  This is the question of James 4:14.  The question of James 4:14 simply put is: “What is the purpose of life?  Why do I exist?”  A mere “under the sun” perspective of the purpose of life is purposeless and narcissistic.  For the selfish person, life is empty of meaning and devoid of anything other than satisfying the lusts of the flesh.  Fleshly lusts are only momentarily satisfied when four chemicals are released into our brains by our bodies creating feelings of happiness (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins).  God created our bodies to produce these natural chemicals and for us to experience the feelings of happiness accompanying their release into the pleasure centers of our brains. 



However, when people become preoccupied with things that trigger the release of these chemicals into the pleasure centers of their brains, this pursuit is something known as Hedonism.  Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence.  The Hedonist (or Sensualist) believes Heaven is a place to enjoy all the pleasures available at the whim of any moment.  Solomon explains the Hedonist’s view of life in the book of Ecclesiastes.  Solomon gives us a list of his pursuits to fulfill the pleasure centers of his brain in Ecclesiastes chapter two.  Men are still trying Solomon’s failed experiments thousands of years later and are still learning the same things Solomon learned. 



Solomon records the conclusion of his Hedonistic experiments with the words; “all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).  This statement simply means a carnal life is empty of purpose and frustratingly unfulfilling.  This is known as the Fatalistic view of life.  We do not need to personally pursue each of Solomon’s many carnal happiness experiments.  We can just read the results of Solomon’s experiments and the conclusions given to us by God in His inspired Words.  The conclusion summary is simple: TRY TO CARNALLY FULFILL YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFE WILL BE REMAIN UNFULFILLED AND SHALLOW!  In other words, do not waste your time on any of these experiments. 



14 There is a vanity {something transitory and unsatisfactory} which is done upon the earth; that there be just {saved people living righteously} men, unto whom it happeneth {they die} according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men{unsaved people living unrighteously}, to whom it happeneth {they die} according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. 15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun {the this life only or this world only view of existence; Existentialism}, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him {the only thing that lasts is the memories of joyous self-indulgence} of his labour the days of his life {upon what he spent his gained resources}, which God giveth him under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:14-15).



          Solomon’s experiment with Hedonism and Existentialism lasted most of his lifetime.  He wasted his life on carnal experiments that discovered truths from which every person can learn if we will just read his conclusions given us by the inspiration of God.  We should make it our careful concern and consideration not to waste what Solomon learned through the waste of his life. 



Solomon was asked by God in I Kings 3:5; “Ask what I shall give thee.”  We all remember that Solomon asked for wisdom to discern right and wrong; “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people” (I Kings 3:9)?  Solomon understood the grand responsibility of leadership decisions and the impact of those decisions upon millions of lives.  Your decisions carry an equal weight of responsibility.  You are leading the next generations who will then lead their next generations.  You are beating down the pathways through the wilderness of sin upon which they will walk. 



A great deal of Solomon’s wisdom was gained through Solomon’s carnal life decision experiment failures.  This is the lesson of Ecclesiastes: YOU CAN LEARN FROM ANOTHER PERSON’S SUCCESSES AND FAILURES IN LIFE.  Learning to “discern between good and bad” can be taught by the careful explanation of God’s Word, or these things will be learned through life’s failures repeated over and over again until we learn them.  Repetition is the mother of learning.  If you do not learn from your failures, you will be doomed to experience them again and again. 



Ecclesiastes is a life lesson about gaining the wisdom that it took Solomon a lifetime of failures to learn.  God gives us that wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes free to us and without the pains that accompany those failures.  However, these lessons of wisdom that Solomon learned not only cost him dearly, these lessons of wisdom that Solomon learned cost his family dearly.  Most of Solomon’s children and descendants lived in total rejection of God, ignorant of salvation by grace through faith, or any pursuit of righteous living.  Most of Solomon’s generations lived in pagan Hedonism and died to go to Hell.  We need not make the same foolish carnal experiments as Solomon.  Our generations need not be destined for the same destiny of Solomon’s generations if we are to ask God early in life: what is the purpose for my existence?



Ecclesiastes chapter twelve is the final record of Solomon and his conclusion about the singular fulfilling purpose and objective of life.  Ecclesiastes chapter twelve is an old man speaking to the young about what God taught him about life through a lot of failed experiments;



Remember {be mindful; keep God at the forefront of your decisions and devotional thinking} now thy Creator {you are God’s creation for God’s purposes} in the days of thy youth, while {before} the evil days come not {the physical decay of old age of which he describes in verses 2 through 7 and you cannot serve God as you could when you were young}, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no {sensual} pleasure in them {left in my later years of life; Hedonism never gives what it promises}” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).



13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).



          For most people, life is just a series of ultimatums that must be obeyed or else.  What a sad existence.  This certainly does not describe a life of faith.  A life of faith is a passion for the pursuit of the knowledge of God through the knowledge of God’s Word.  However, the passion to know God and His Word then immerses the believer in God’s loving passion and purpose of revelation to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples (Christ-followers) out of those saved; who then possess the same passions.  To transfer knowledge of truths without a passion for the souls and lives of people is a corruption of the purpose for the teaching of those truths.



13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:13-17).



Passionate communication, whether it is written or proclaimed, without communicating God’s purpose for that passion is just sensationalism.  As sensual sinners, we relish in sensationalism.  Sensual sinners want to be excited until that enthusiasm comes with moral responsibilities.  Then, those moral responsibilities bring us under the discomfort and guilt of conviction.  Truths that stir your soul must move your heart to move your feet or you are just an emotional sensationalist!



Religious sensationalism has learned to produce the feelings of worship without the accompanying moral responsibilities of the passion for righteousness before God and without a passion for the lives and souls of the lost.  All of this creates an appearance of worship and an appearance of godliness, but nonetheless it is false.  Such people present “a form {appearance} of godliness, but denying the power” of godliness (the supernatural power of God released into the world through true godliness; II Timothy 3:5).  Such people have no real passion for godliness nor any real passion for God.  They certainly have no passion for righteousness or any real passion for winning souls or making disciples.  We know this true because of their easy willingness to compromise the doctrines of salvation and separation from worldliness to gather a crowd of people.  Such people can barely define what worldliness is let alone define was it is to “love not the world, or the things of the world” (I John 2:15). 



The power of godliness is to what Paul refers in Ephesians 3:9 as the “fellowship of the mystery.”  In another place, he refers to this power as “the mystery of godliness” (I Timothy 3:16).  The power of godliness will never be generated apart from a personal passion for godliness in a believer’s life.  This is an conditional essential, not a mere preference. 



In Ephesians 3:9, the Apostle Paul begins to address his intent of the text by the words “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.”  This teaching will continue through the end of the epistle with another reference in Ephesians 5:32 – “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”  This addresses the priesthood of all believers “in Christ” in “the work of the ministry” to which every believer is being perfected (Ephesians 4:12).  We might say that Ephesians 3:9 is the introduction to “the mystery” while Ephesians 5:32 is the summation of the mystery. 



8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints {priests; sanctified ones set apart unto the ‘work of the ministry’}, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose {the New Creation} which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory” (Ephesians 3:8-13).



          What then is “the fellowship of the mystery” of which Paul speaks?  “The fellowship of the mystery” is the “one flesh” of the New Genesis through salvation and regeneration of lost souls.  “The fellowship of the mystery”  is “the eternal purpose {the New Creation} which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  “The fellowship of the mystery” is the ultimate glorification of all “born again” believers as the literal family of God.  “The fellowship of the mystery” is the intimate, personal, interdependent relationship of all believers within a family partnership in the “work of the ministry” (preaching the Gospel and making disciples).  



Paul describes this “fellowship of the mystery” in Ephesians 4:2-6 - “2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” 



In other words, all believers are made part of something much larger than themselves or the petty little mundane issues of drama with which we so often preoccupy ourselves.  This “fellowship of the mystery” is the present-day responsibility for the believer to keep at the forefront of everything he does in this world. 



The “fellowship of the mystery” is spiritual warfare against any thing and everything that opposes God’s purposes in the redemption and salvation of souls lost in sin and corruption.  The “fellowship of the mystery” is spiritual warfare in discipleship that teaches saved people the will of God, the love of God, and the enabling grace of God through “fellowship” with Him.  The “fellowship of the mystery” is the purest and ultimate goal of Biblical evangelism – restoring God-kind righteousness in the world through the lives of believers fully yielded to and trusting in God’s will. 



“Fellowship” is from the Greek word koinonia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah).  Koinonia is a working partnership, joint participation in some work or effort, or sharing the distribution of personal resources.  This “fellowship” is experienced both on an individual level with Jesus Christ and a corporate level with other believers within the context of a local church ministry.  We must be careful to retain these two different perspectives in understanding the supernatural elements involved in the “fellowship of the mystery” - personal fellowship with God and corporate fellowship with God.



“the mystery of iniquity” (II Thessalonians 2:7)



          The individual Christian’s part and the part of every local church of believer-priests in the “fellowship of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9) is God’s solution to “the mystery of iniquity” (II Thessalonians 2:7).  In other words, these two mysteries are in opposition to one another in both their methodologies and outcomes.  The “the mystery of iniquity” is a working network of evil that opposes all that God proposes. 



The “the mystery of iniquity” is to what Paul refers in Ephesians 6:11 as “the wiles of the devil.” In Ephesians 6:12 “the mystery of iniquity” is described as “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Most Christians are babies when it comes to understanding the dangers that they oppose or even the dangers that oppose their ministries.  They ignorantly align themselves with “spiritual wickedness” even disguised as worship of Jehovah.  Thereby, they ignorantly turn something designed to be good into evil and something designed to bring light into darkness.  This is the warning of Christ to the multitudes that followed Him looking for the sensational and miracles; “Take heed therefore that the light {the spiritual eye of the soul} which is in thee be not darkness {blinded by doctrinal corruption}” (Luke 11:35).  Understanding the enemy against which we fight, and the devices he uses, is critical to understanding the absolute essential to living in fellowship with God fully yielded to the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ. 



10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power {sovereign dominion} of his might {‘fellowship of the mystery’}. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).



Another phrase for “the mystery of iniquity” is the phrase “the world” (I John 2:15).  The phrase “the world” is used by God to describe the cursed original creation now fallen under the dominion of “the devil,” cursed to ultimate destruction, and presently being demonically influenced by varying degrees of evil to bring it to a global government composed of everything evil and antichrist



15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).



The phrase “the world” is a phrase that describes Antichristism, which is another word that refers to “the mystery of inequity.”  This is to what God refers in Isaiah 5:20 with a proclamation of condemnation; “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  God seeks to bring clarity of His will and righteousness with Biblical revelation (truth).  The “mystery of inequity” seeks to bring confusion (“hath God said,” Genesis 3:1). 



3 Let no man deceive you by any means {regarding the rapture of the Church and the second coming of Jesus to the earth}: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed {who now works in the shadows and darkness because the world is blinded to the spiritual realm because of the fall and the curse}, the son of perdition {the antichrist}; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work {how the fallen angels influence and corrupt by using humans and why God simply does not immediately intervene and bring His judgment upon them}: only he who now letteth {restrains} will let, until he {the Holy Spirit as he came to indwell believers on the Day of Pentecost and since} be taken out of the way {at the rapture of the Church, the Spirit’s restraint upon the “mystery of inequity” will be removed as the Church is removed}. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (II Thessalonians 2:3-10).



          The “mystery of iniquity” (II Thessalonians 2:7) is an undercurrent of evil that seeks to corrupt everything that is righteous in the world and everything good that humanity seeks to do.  This is what defines worldliness and the all-encompassing corruption of all humanity through doctrinal deception, human sexuality, human emotions, and the corruption of every desire of the heart towards complete selfishness.  Therefore, anyone involved in the “work of the ministry” understands without reservation the meaning of the statement “the mystery of iniquity doth already work.”  In other words, Antichristism is actively alive in the world and is converting the masses to its doctrines.  What are its methodology and goals?  The methodology of “the “mystery of iniquity” is “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish” and its objective is “because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.” 



          The “mystery of iniquity” is to what Paul refers in Ephesians 6:11-12.  The “fellowship of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9) is to what Paul refers in Ephesians 6:10.  The word light is often used to describe the person living within the “fellowship of the mystery.”  The word darkness is often used to describe the person living within the “mystery of iniquity.”  Most Christians believe they are totally committed to the “fellowship of the mystery” of Ephesians 3:9.  Satan is getting a lot of mileage out of Christians these days.  The truth is that Christians are often involved in worldliness in various degrees, which activities really nullify their influences on the glory of God.  Varying degrees of worldliness in the Christian’s life make him more a part of the darkness, than he is a part of the light



          Never underestimate what the “mystery of iniquity” will be able to accomplish with one selfish moment of self-indulgence in your life.  Never underestimate what the “mystery of iniquity” will be able to accomplish when a Christian gives in to his lusts for one day or even one hour.  The “mystery of iniquity” will magnify those few moments of selfish indulgence in ways you cannot imagine and to degrees of which you will never be aware.  Therefore, Paul warns us about the “mystery of iniquity” in Ephesians 6:10-12. 



          The point of the warning of Ephesians 6:10-12 is that Christians can become major contributors to the “mystery of iniquity” if they fail to live in fellowship with Christ “and in the power of his might.”  This is what happens when moral standards are lowered, when Christian ethics are compromised, and when holiness is no longer the priority of the Christian’s living. 



When doctrinal purity is compromised, the believer’s walk in light is also going to be compromised.  When the believer’s walk in light is compromised, that believer becomes part of the “mystery of iniquity” to the degree that compromise negatively influences another person’s separation from worldliness.  The point is not just that the forces of evil, the “principalities … powers … the rulers of the darkness of this world … spiritual wickedness in high places,” corrupt our influence on glorifying God.  The point is that the Christian loses the supernatural strengthening of the Lord and “the power of His might.” 



          The “mystery of iniquity” is an all-encompassing phrase that refers to the collective corruption of truth, theology, moral righteousness, behavioral ethics, human sexuality, progressive permissiveness towards immorality, and satanic influences that are completely invisible until they become embodied and expressed through a corrupted life.  The important thing for every Christian to understand is that until we are glorified and completely delivered from our sin natures, we are going to be part of the “mystery of iniquity” to some degree. 



The ONLY REMEDY for this corruption of our natures is complete yieldedness to the indwelling Holy Spirit and the revealed will of God in the Word of God.  Since this is an absolute reality, how important is it for you to understand your Bible and be fully established in right doctrine (orthodoxy)?  Since right living can only exist if one has right doctrine, how important is making sure you have right doctrine?  What nuance of God inspired Scripture becomes unimportant or insignificant?  Since most newly “born again” people come to a local church with a boat load of false doctrine, how important is it to find a local church that does not marginalize doctrine so as to maximize numerical growth?  Any person who marginalizes doctrinal purity for the purpose of some type of pseudo-unity exposes himself as a major contributor to the “mystery of iniquity.” 



The “mystery of iniquity” extends far beyond religious apostasy within Christianity.  The “mystery of iniquity” extends into the areas of paganism, Atheism, and into every fiber of world politics.  By the end of every Dispensation of God, every New Beginning by God, the “mystery of iniquity” becomes an all-encompassing force of evil that literally has captured and engulfed almost every aspect of world culture. 



It is the ultimate goal of the “mystery of iniquity” in every Dispensation to conquer the “fellowship of the mystery” to which Ephesians 3:9 refers.  We have numerous occurrences of the “mystery of iniquity” engulfing and dominating the world.  However, in every occurrence, God intervened with a New Beginning and with a successful remnant of faithful believers.  This was certainly true just before the Great Flood of Genesis 7:17-24.  Genesis 6:5-12 tells us of the moral environment of the world just prior to God’s judgment.



5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:5-12).



Of course, Noah would plant a vineyard shortly after the Great Flood, make wine from the grape juice, get drunk, and carelessly expose his nakedness to his son Canaan.  In that transgression, Noah would become a major contributor to “the mystery of iniquity.”  He would curse Canaan and divide his own household.  Such a division was an operation of “the mystery of iniquity.”  Although most of humanity was killed by the flood, “the mystery of iniquity” remained and continued to corrupt humanity by using humanity’s sinful innate corruption of the human nature.  Therefore, an ongoing major contributor to the “mystery of iniquity” is the fallen sin nature still engrained within every believer should that believer not habitually yield control of his will to the indwelling Spirit of God.  Any time, and to whatever degree of compromise, a believer fails to live totally surrendered to the indwelling Spirit will be the degree to which his/her life contributes to the “mystery of iniquity.”



Our inability to see God, or know Him in any other way than faith, causes us some grave misunderstandings of God purposes.  For instance, why would an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator want to formulate a partnership with His creatures in “the work of the ministry”?  Why would such a perfect and holy Being want to have anything to do with people who, by their very nature, are a contradiction against His character and nature?  We will never understand the “fellowship of the mystery” to which Paul refers in Ephesians 3:9 until we understand that God must make us righteous and sanctify us unto holiness before the “fellowship of the mystery” can ever actually happen. 



The answers to any of these questions regarding why God would have anything to do with sinners is always answered by one word –GRACE.  God wants all sinners to be saved AND live in fellowship with Him because “God is love.”  The “fellowship of the mystery” is once a sinner is saved then God’s love and grace begin to flow through the believer who is in fellowship with God. 



7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:7-16).



In I Timothy 3:16, Paul refers to the “fellowship of the mystery” as the “mystery of godliness.” Paul then explains in that same verse how God’s gracious benevolence provides the believing sinner with the gift of God-kind righteousness (justification) and positional sanctification (set apart to serve Him).  All of this happens “by grace through faith” in the finished work of Jesus the Christ, the incarnate, dead, buried, resurrected, and glorified Son of the living God. 



14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Timothy 3:14-16).



The point of I Timothy 4:16 is that no one can achieve God-kind righteousness.  No one can be godly, or like God in righteousness, to be either saved or sanctified.  True faith understands the impossibilities regarding achieving God-kind righteousness and yields those realities to the Holy Spirit.  Faith understands the hopelessness and helplessness of the righteousness dilemma.  We cannot be saved apart from having God-kind righteousness and, once we are saved, we cannot be used by God unless we practically live in God-kind righteousness.  Therefore, the only solution to humanity’s righteousness dilemma is the gift of the grace of God that gifts the sinner the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Secondly, the only hope of ever being used of God to combat “the mystery of inequity” is to understand the gift of grace enabling that is provided to any believer who will completely yield his body, soul, and spirit to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.



The issue of the word “mystery” in the Word of God is the invisible supernatural aspect of what is happening.  Therefore, “the mystery of inequity” is humanity’s inability to see and understand the forces of evil in fallen angels (demons) that are manipulating the corruption of all that is righteous and holy in the world.  This is something only Bible believers can know about and understand to any degree.  We certainly will not learn about “the wiles of the devil” from the secular schoolbooks and apostate religious leaders who deny the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture.  These people become partners in “the mystery of inequity” because they deny the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture.  How can anyone know what “the mystery of inequity” is about if they refuse to believe the revelation that exposes the mystery?



The “fellowship of the mystery” to which Paul refers in Ephesians 3:9 is the supernatural partnership that is necessary between a believer and God before any believer can bare spiritual fruit to the glory of God.  We cannot see this partnership because it is invisible to our eyes.  We can only know of its availability by faith in God’s Word.  Also, we can only know that we have this fellowship with God in the “work of the ministry” by faith.  We can see the manifestation of this fellowship with God through the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).  We can also see that God is using us to bring souls to Christ and disciple believers (John 15:12-8). 



What is visible (knowable) to us in our own lives is complete yieldedness to the will of God, total commitment in personal separation from worldliness and unto God, and the all-consuming desire of our hearts to magnify God within the realm of our influence.  If Jesus is the Lord of our lives, He will be the Lord of the realm of our influence.  Then, the “fellowship of the mystery” will be evident within the realm of our influence.  When Christians live in the “power of His might,” the realm of our influence becomes the realm of God’s influence through our lives.  Such a miracle is an invisible mystery seldom experienced but by a small minority of Christians.  Sadly, such a miracle is an invisible mystery seldom even known about by the vast majority of Christians.  Those believers will live out their lives without ever really being part of the miracle that is evangelism and disciple making.  They will never experience the fruit of the “fellowship of the mystery” because they will never comprehend that God wants to partner with them in the miracle of bringing souls to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 



Jesus taught several parables in Matthew chapter thirteen that provide an overview of the outcomes of the “mystery of inequity” and the “fellowship of the mystery.”  The point of these parables is that there are invisible spiritual forces in the world that work through their influence upon human beings.  One of the central means by which the “mystery of inequity” is affective is the corruption of the Gospel of salvation as a gift given “by grace through faith.”  In Matthew 13:36, Jesus explains this in the parable of the “tares” sown among the “wheat.”  There are only two messages of salvation in the world.  One will guarantee condemnation and the other will guarantee salvation and eternal life.  The first false gospel is salvation by “works” (Moralism or Ritualism).  The second and only true Gospel is salvation as a gift of God’s grace received through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  The first and false gospel will put you in the category of the “tares.” 



Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 50 years.