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: December 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Why We are Failing the Great Commission
Chapter Twenty-eight

Scenario: two children of the same age are caught doing something completely wrong.  One of these children was raised in a Christian household where he was taught the Word of God and was a believer clearly understanding the boundaries between right and wrong.  The other child grew up in a moral vacuum absent of any moral ethic having never taught the child what was right and what was wrong.  From which of those two children would you expect righteousness and whose failure was the most heinous?  This scenario is to what Peter speaks in I Peter 4:17; “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”  God expects MORE from His children than He does from the lost and ignorant children of the world.  THIS IS NORMAL!

Revival is the supernatural working (blessing) of God upon and through the life of a consecrated and sanctified believer-priest who seeks to do the will of God as revealed by the Word of God with the passion and love of Christ intent upon solely glorifying God. 

           The portion of Scripture called the Sermon on The Mount is probably the single portion of Scripture that best establishes the New Testament theology of revival and the criteria necessary for any real revival to ever take place.  Revival is quenched by BAD ATTITUDES and activated through repentance.

Many local churches have experienced revival at various times in their history to varying degrees.  Oftentimes revival on smaller scales is not even recognized as revival, but the reality is that any act of God’s blessing on a life is to some degree revival.  Revival is God’s life (the Shekinah; glory) shining out of the darkness of sin and corruption through a believer’s life.  Every sunrise reminds us of the way things ought to be!  The longer that light shines, the more evident is the revival.  If this statement is true, then Christ’s statement in Matthew 5:16 is a command for revival in the lives of all believers. 

           Our theology of revival (what we believe God’s Word teaches about the matter) will determine how we seek revival and how we interpret the events surrounding revival.  We could spend much time discussing inaccurate theology regarding revival and therefore the misinterpretation of those times when revival was evident on large scales or we can simply try to establish a Biblical theology regarding revival and re-interpret those times of revival according to that theology.  I choose to do the latter.  I do not argue with the historical fact of those times of revival.  However, I do disagree with the establishment of a theology of revival based upon the interpretation of the events of revival.  The opposite should be true.  We should establish a theology of revival and then interpret the events of revival from that theology.

The Lord uses the word “blessed” nine times in Matthew 5:1-12.  Therefore, we must conclude its meaning to be very significant to the purpose of His teaching.  It is from the Greek word makarios (mak-ar'-ee-os).  The simplest dictionary definition would be happy or joyful, but that does not give the whole meaning behind the word.  The real emphasis is not on the joy as much as it is on the source of that joy.  The joy is the result of the supernatural working of God in one’s life because a person has become what God wants him to become.  Being blessed is the result of being right with God.  Being right with God results in doing what God says to do and God supernaturally working through that doing.  

Theologically, blessedness is a state of existence within the realm of God’s “working all things together for good” (Romans 8:28).  The nine uses of “blessed” in Matthew 5:1-12 define the conditions necessary for a believer to enter into God’s realm of blessedness and are the details of what God means by the qualifier of “all things work together for good to them that love God” in Romans 8:28.  The nine uses of “blessed” define what loving God means.  The first step towards revival is when believers get their hearts right with God.  Getting our hearts right with God is what the nine “blessed” of Matthew 5:1-16 are about.  Revival ALWAYS begins with repentance in the mind and heart and then moves to the feet. 

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him {inner circle truth for ‘born again’ believers only}: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 13 {now begins the outcomes of being ‘salt’ and ‘light’ because a ‘born again’ believer maintains these attitudes of repentance} Ye are {present indicative; a fact of your present state of existence in the realm of blessedness} the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour {the distinctions necessary to blessedness} , wherewith shall it {‘the earth’} be salted? it {the ‘salt’} is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are {present indicative; a fact of your present state of existence in the realm of blessedness} the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light {the distinctions necessary to blessedness} so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:1-16).

           The first essential to a theology of revival is to differentiate between the blessings upon the children of Israel in the Old Testament (Mosaic Covenant) and what happens in the New Testament (the New Covenant; a dispensational hermeneutic).  On the Day of Pentecost, a new dispensation began with a New Covenant governance.  The Day of Pentecost came fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  On that day, God’s Spirit came into the world in a unique way.  This is a critical truth to a New Testament theology of revival and blessedness.  All the covenants that God makes are made with believers.  They are always sanctificational in nature and define conditions necessary for believers to be blessed of God and live in “fellowship” with God. 

           Salvation brings the sinner into the potential for blessedness from God but does not automatically give those blessing to the believer.  This is a major difference between the gift of eternal life in salvation and that eternal life issuing from the saved believer’s body through the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit.  Practical sanctification is essential to blessedness from God.  Each of the nine uses of “blessed” in Matthew 5:1-11 define attitudes (be-attitudes that lead to actions) necessary to practical sanctification.  

           In the Old Testament, the Shekinah glory of God descended upon the Tabernacle to give a visible evidence of God’s presence to the children of Israel.  However, before the Shekinah glory of God descended on the Tabernacle, every other item of service of the tabernacle had to be put in order (Exodus 40:1-38).  All those various elements that made up the whole of the Tabernacle complex were essential elements for the children of Israel to live in fellowship with their Redeemer and to have His blessing upon them.  Although each aspect of the Tabernacle was only typical of a spiritual reality, each was an essential element for maintaining fellowship with God.  This is the substance of the Sermon on the Mount!

           Living in fellowship with God, the “blessing” aspect of the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant beatitudes, is the essential and common truth to both New Testament revival and Old Testament revival.  The difference between how that fellowship is achieved and maintained in these two different periods of history (dispensations) is fundamentally different.  It is evident that maintaining fellowship with God in the Old Testament was very complex.  On the Day of Pentecost all of that changed.  A new dispensation of grace began.  The Shekinah glory of God descended upon the Tabernacle of God just as in the Old Testament, but that Tabernacle was now the body of a believer individually and corporately (the “body of Christ”).

           We sometimes hear this new doctrine of the Spirit without really taking into consideration the overwhelming and broad ramifications of the responsibilities it relates to the believer.  Let me try to illustrate it for you. 

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be . . . : and there was. . .” (Genesis 1:1-3).

           When the Word of God says He “created,” it means He brought something into existence that did not exist before and He made it out of nothing.  It is said that a group of scientists one day came before God and told Him that they were so advanced in their knowledge that they did not need Him any longer.  So, God told them to show Him their progress.  They proposed a contest to God.  They and God would each create a man.  The best one would win the contest.  God agreed and the scientist reached down and grabbed a handful of dirt to create his man to which God immediately said, “Oh no, you need to get your own dirt.” 

           When God created the heaven and the earth, it required power beyond human comprehension, let alone ability.  In the creation, God simply released some of What He is to generate His thoughts into a physical reality.  Something was not created from nothing.  Something was created from the will of the power of God.  

           When God’s glory descended upon the Old Testament Tabernacle, that visible reality was evidence to God’s redeemed that the power of God was present with them.  That power of God was and is the Person of the Holy Spirit.  That power of God made evident in the Shekinah glory was the same power of God that spoke the heaven and earth into existence.  

On the Day of Pentecost, it was that same Shekinah glory that descended upon all believers indwelling them and immersing them into the spiritual living temple of “lively stones” to which the Bible refers as the “body” of Christ making each of believer part of the New Creation “in Christ.”  SELAH

           Stop right there for a moment and think about that truth.  The dispensation of grace (enabling power) centers on the reality of the indwelling presence of the infinite power of God in the body of every believer.  The power of God is the Person of the Holy Spirit that spoke the heavens and earth into existence now resides in the body of every person who has been “born again” of the Spirit of God (regenerated).  That means, if you have been saved, you are part of the New Creation “in Christ” and the Shekinah glory of God lives in you.

           The simplicity of New Testament revival is that when your life is lived in fellowship with God, beginning with the nine be-attitudes, the Shekinah glory will begin to shine through you.  Deciding to generate the nine be-attitudes is where the command to “let your light so shine before men” BEGINS.  That is what Christ means in Matthew 5:16 when He says, “Let your light so shine before men. . .”  We shine when our lives are right with God (Matthew 5:3-12) and the indwelling presence of the Shekinah glory of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit reveals Himself in the “fruit of the Spirit” through our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

           It seems apparent that early Christians understood the singular importance of living in habitual fellowship with God.  The importance of living in habitual fellowship with God is communicated in John chapter fifteen by the word “abide” and it is directly connected to the blessing of God upon the production of “fruit” through the believer’s life.  All historical revival is marked by a return to holiness, prayer dependency on God, and a right relationship with God.  This always resulted in many people coming to trust in Christ.  Anytime people start getting saved, revival is happening at some level in a person’s life.

           Anytime people get saved it is the result of revival in a believer’s life.  A person getting saved is the “fruit” of revival and should not be confused with the act of revival.  Revival is when a person brings his mind, his heart, and his very soul into harmony with God and His Word (the nine be-attitudes).  The focus of revival must be on a right relationship with God beginning with a complete change of attitudes about God and sin.  The right relationship with God is the focus of the change of attitudes (repentance), not the “fruit.” 

Three realities must exist in a believer’s life before revival can happen.

1. The believer must know the truth.  God’s truth reveals what sin is.  God truth reveals how God wants us to live.  We cannot do what is right until we know what is right.  God’s purpose in teaching us truth is to restore the image of Him distorted by the fall so that we might once again have proper worship of Him (doxologically) and a relationship with Him in holiness (deontologically).

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

2. The believer must translate known truth into doing (obedience from the heart, James 1:22-25).  No matter how much truth you know, unless you put flesh on that truth by doing it, nothing is accomplished through that truth.  No one will ever get saved by you knowing the Gospel.  People get saved by hearing and heeding the teaching and preaching of the Gospel.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25).

3. The believer must be right with God through the confession and repentance of sin and yielded to a cooperative partnership with the indwelling Holy Spirit (I John 1:3-9).  “Fellowship” is the Bible word for this cooperative partnership with the indwelling Holy Spirit.  When a group of believers come together in this cooperative “fellowship” a synergy is created and their combined “light . . . cannot be hid.”

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If {every ‘if’ relates to a necessary condition of reality} we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:3-9).

           Understanding this trilogy for revival helps us understand why revival is a rare commodity in many churches.  It is rare in many churches because this trilogy rarely exists consistently in the lives of believers.  Knowing truth will not produce “fruit” until the believer lives known truth and he cannot live that truth until he is right with God and allowing the indwelling Holy Spirit to live through his body (Romans 6:11-13).

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:11-13).

           This trilogy of spiritual essentials is the subject matter of John 15:1-13.  It is also the subject matter of the Sermon on the Mount.

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:1-8).

           The struggle to make this spiritual trilogy for revival a consistent reality of our life is the struggle for the Christian life.  In most part, it is a struggle within us and our corrupted thinking and attitudes due to our fallen natures.  That is why Christ leads off His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five with the be-attitudes.  It is a difficult struggle.  It is a struggle to possess and process the “heart” of God through our lives.

           This struggle is what defines the “warfare” of the Christian life.  This struggle is what produces true spiritual growth in our lives.  Some individuals grow to live such consistent lives that they produce many disciples for Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul was one such individual.  We can see his understanding of this struggle by reading Romans chapters six, seven, and eight as well Ephesians 5:1-18 and 6:10-18.  This struggle for the be-attitudes was a priority to Paul.

           Most Christians do not gain the discipline of a consistent life lived in this trilogy.  We have occasional bursts of light like a flashbulb going off and some “fruit” is produced.  However, if we want to be spiritual lighthouses producing “much fruit,” we need to learn to habitually “hunger and thirst after righteousness.”  

           Seeking the face of God and living in fellowship with Him must become the central motivating force in our lives.  When the Bible speaks of the believer being “filled” with the Holy Spirit, God is not talking about “filling” the believer to the maximum capacity of that believer’s body.  When the believer is “filled” with the Holy Spirit, the believer is “filled” with the infinite power of the Creator God.  When the believer is “filled” with the Holy Spirit, the infinite creative power of God begins to overflow in his life in all three areas of the trilogy of revival.  Truth is understood and lived.  Fellowship with God is evident in everything that believer does and says.  “Fruit” is produced.  Souls come to Christ when that believer tells others of Christ.  The “fruit” of the Spirit is evident.  Regeneration of the lost and transformation of the saved take place.

           When the Holy Spirit of God controls every aspect of our lives, the Shekinah glory of God within us will burst forth as “light” into the darkness of this world.  The believer’s life will be a bright light shining in the darkness guiding men to find Christ and His wonderful gift of salvation bringing glory to God the Father.  Letting our light shine means getting our selfish desires, attitudes and practices of life out of God’s way.  Carnality and/or doctrinal compromise, to any degree, stops the overflow of His transforming power that God’s wants to flow into and through our lives.  

           Why did God create billions of stars and thousands of galaxies of stars and planets?  God created these majestic lights in the heavens simply for humanity to look up and see them and wonder at the majesty of the Being that put them there.  You are intended to be a up-close light of His majesty.  The Spirit of Christ is the “true Light” that “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).  

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

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 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, December 2, 2019

The Cup of Blessing

The Cup of Blessing

           The believers at Corinth had been saved out of idolatrous paganism.  The problem was that they were integrating the worship practices of idolatrous paganism
into Christian worship.  This happens in almost every culture where people have been saved from false religious beliefs to come to rest in the Gospel of Christ and receive the gift of salvation.  

Therefore, the integration of false worship practices from various false religions have been universally corrupting worship for thousands of years continuing to do so even into modern times.  The point is that practices that are culturally acceptable in diverse cultures that are connected to false worship are not to be accepted and integrated into Christianity.  

The integration of pagan worship practices into Christianity is what Paul addresses in I Corinthians chapter ten.  Paul addresses this by addressing the fact of the Jewish roots in Biblical Christian worship and thereby addresses that Christian worship has NO ROOTS IN PAGAN/IDOLATROUS WORSHIP PRACTICES.  This is the primary subject of I Corinthians chapter ten as Paul deals with the Lord’s Supper coming out of Jewish Passover and not the licentious fertility cultus of the pagan Love Feasts (I Corinthians 10:1-14).  

However, in discussing the Jewish roots of Biblical worship, we must be EXTREMELY careful not to drift to the extremes being advocated in the Hebrew Roots Movement, the Sacred Name Movement, Messianic Judaism, or the Worldwide Church of God.  All these movements corrupt the distinctiveness of Biblical Christianity by bringing emphasis upon aspects of the Old (Mosaic) Covenant rather than the dispensational transitions in worship and service under the New Covenant. 

15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion {koinonia; physically representative of the spiritual union in partnership in ministry with Christ} of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion {koinonia; physically representative of the spiritual union in partnership in ministry with Christ} of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they {the priesthood of Israel} which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he” (I Corinthians 10:15-22)?

           There are four “cups” being addressed in I Corinthians 10:15-21, although only three are mentioned specifically (the cup of wrath, the “cup of blessing,” the “cup of the Lord,” and the “cup of devils,”).  The practical and theological depth of what God is addressing in I Corinthians chapter ten and eleven is rather overwhelming.  However, the things of which God speaks are foundational to understanding what is involved in the celebration of worship in the Lord’s Supper as a “fellowship” of communion between true believers in Christ.  

Without understanding the practical ramifications of the theological depth addressed by Paul in these two chapters of Scripture, the Lord’s Supper is reduced to empty worship and a meaningless ritual.  Therefore, the believer who wants to truly worship the Lord Jesus in the Lord’s Supper as God desires must labor to understand the practical and theological depth to which a believer enters in participation in the Lord’s Table.  Each aspect of the elements of the Lord’s Supper are intended to remind the believer of what Christ has ALREADY accomplished on the believer’s behalf. 

The Cup of God’s Wrath

4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm 11:4-6).

“For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them” (Psalm 75:8).

17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:17-19).

Although not mentioned in I Corinthians 10:15-22, the cup of God’s wrath is the “cup” to which Jesus refers in Matthew 26:39; “let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” 

In Matthew chapter twenty-six, Jesus celebrated the last Passover and the first Lord’s Supper with His disciples.  This is the substance of practical and theological transition from the beginning of Matthew chapter twenty-six to the end of that chapter.  The transition is from incompletion in the Old Testament (Mosaic Covenant) type to completion in the New Testament (Covenant) fulfillment of the type.  This is to what Paul refers in I Corinthians 11:25, where Jesus says; “For this is my blood of the new testament {covenant}” (Matthew 26:28). 

Shortly after Jesus explains the real spiritual significance in the Passover as typical of His death to satisfy God’s wrath upon sin and remit sin’s penalty (Romans 6:23), Jesus agonizes in the garden of Gethsemane over the torture He would bear in His body and soul to redeem sinners from the penalty of their sins.  On three separate occasions of prayer, Jesus petitions His Father for another possible avenue of redemption for sinful humanity.  This is the connecting link to what Peter declares to the Jews in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  Peter’s statement in Acts 4:12 tells us he NOW comprehended something he did not yet understand in Matthew chapter twenty-six at Gethsemane. 

36 Then {after the last Passover and institution of the Lord’s Supper} cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and {Jesus} began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he {Jesus} unto them {Peter, James, and John}, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep {they did not have a clue to what was about to happen in the death of Jesus let alone the depth of accomplishment in which His death would immerse them}, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26:36-45).

The cup of wrath is the curse of God upon sin.  There is an assumption of understanding of the propitiation of God’s wrath in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The reason there is an assumption of understanding of the propitiation of God’s wrath in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is because the Lord’s Supper is ONLY FOR “BORN AGAIN” believers.  Therefore, before a person can be “born again,” that person MUST UNDERSTAND that God’s wrath has been once for all and forever satisfied and the penalty of sin has been once for all and forever remitted through the substitutionary death of Jesus.   


The failure to understand the propitiation of God’s wrath in Christ emptying that cup of wrath by drinking it for the believing sinner is a critical manifestation of a person having never understood the Gospel and therefore having never believed/rested in the Gospel.  The Lord’s Supper as a memorial of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is absolutely meaningless apart from a practical and theological understanding of the satisfaction of the wrath of God upon sin in God’s propitiation and the remission of sin’s penalty in the vicarious, once for all forever offering of the Blood of Jesus in His death on Calvary’s Cross. 

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham {salvation as a gift offered by grace and received through faith; Ephesians 2:8} might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (I Peter 1:18-21).

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:21-24).

The cup of God’s wrath becomes the “cup of blessing” to the believing Christian because Jesus completely emptied the cup of God’s wrath when He bore God’s wrath in His body on the tree.  Therefore, for the “born again” Christian understanding and resting in the propitiation of God’s wrath in the “once for all/forever substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, the Cup of Wrath becomes the Cup of Blessing and consecration to God.  In this transition, the Cup of Wrath becomes the “cup of salvation” (Psalm 116:13) and the “cup of blessing.” 

12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take {bear, to lift up or exalt through testimony and life} the cup of salvation {The very taking of the ‘cup’ was to lift up praise and thanksgiving to God.  Therefore, the ‘cup of salvation’ became a ‘cup of blessing’ God}, and call upon the name of the LORD {implies recognition of position as in Genesis 4:26 records the time when believers began to take God’s Name upon themselves as children take their father’s sir name}. 14 I will pay my vows {keep my promises especially regarding sanctification in living as a professed child of God before the world} unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people {as a faithful testimony to God}. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving {the ‘cup of blessing’ or thanksgiving}, and will call upon the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 116:12-19).

The Cup of Blessing

The “cup of blessing” is a cup of thanksgiving and praise to God.  Anyone understanding the once for all forever gift of salvation offered to sinners “by grace” and received solely “through faith” will surely offer a blessing to God in thanksgiving and praise.  To participate in the Lord’s Supper without this jubilation and praise is the primary meaning of participating in the Lord’s Supper before God that defines the failure of the person who “eateth and drinketh unworthily” (I Corinthians 11:29).  To eat and drink WITHOUT praise and thanksgiving removes the whole idea of the communion of praise and thanksgiving in the “body” of Christ.   This “cup of blessing” God is thanks and praise to God for ALL that is gifted to the Church corporately as a New Priesthood and all that is gifted to the sinner in the gift of “complete” salvation (Colossians 2:10).  How can a sinner understand the once for all forever remission of the sin penalty gifted “by grace . . . through faith” and not be bursting with jubilation?  Such failure is a complete contradiction of the “cup of blessing” directed towards God in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The dictionary meaning of the word Eucharist (Greek, eucharistía) means to be thankful or grateful.  This thankfulness is the communion of the Lord’s Supper that should be evident in every believer who participates.  

The meaning of the “cup of blessing” has a twofold root.  The “cup of blessing” refers to the family Jewish Passover cup now transferred to a cup of jubilation in the Lord’s Supper in the family of a local church of “born again” believers.  In the Old Testament celebration of the Passover, the Jewish households individually celebrated as a family of individual believers.  The Passover celebration was not a Temple celebration or one administrated by the priesthood of Israel.  The Passover was a household celebration administrated by the heads of every household. 
The Jewish Passover was a memorial celebration reminding the Jewish believers of the time when the “death angel” passed over the household that had applied the blood of the slain lamb to the doorposts and lintels of the doorways into their houses (Exodus chapter twelve).  Only those with in the households having applied the blood of the slain lamb, and those individuals who had eaten of the flesh of the slain lamb, would be delivered from the death angel’s passing over.  This is the “fellowship” to which Paul equates the participants in the Lord’s Supper.

In the Old Covenant, the head of every household would offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the Passover Lamb and the blood of the slain Lamb.  True faith understood that the thanksgiving was for what God did for those expressing faith in the slain Lamb and the grace of God in His passing over their households.  There was no sacramental merit in the slain lamb other than its typology of the “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 and Genesis 3:15).  The “cup of blessing” was much more than one man offering a prayer of thanksgiving to God.  The “cup of blessing” was the head of the household leading that household in all of them giving thanks to God every time they celebrated the Passover.  

The “cup of blessing” in the Lord’s Supper is a very similar “communion.”   The Lord’s Supper is a local church ordinance to be celebrated within the context of the “fellowship” of a local church assembly.  A local church assembly was often called a “fellowship.”  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion {partnership or fellowship in the shared benefits} of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion {partnership or fellowship in the shared benefits} of the body of Christ {commonality in the New Creation}” (I Corinthians 10:16)? 

The “cup of devils”

            In the “cup of blessing,” the participants give the Eucharist to God (blessing God through thanksgiving to God).  In the “cup of devils,” the participants receive the Eucharist (a blessing from the idol).  This is the sacramental view of the Lord’s Supper (Eucharistic view).  In the sacramental view of the Lord’s Supper, the emphasis is upon what the participant receives from the idol in a blessing of expectation of what the idol will do.  In the ordinance view of the Lord’s Supper, the emphasis is upon the blessing of thanksgiving given to God for what He has ALREADY DONE

The “cup of devils” is a reference to the drink offering poured out to the idol to which pagan sacrifices were offered.  A portion of the “cup” was poured out on the ground or altar before the idol and the rest of the contents was shared by all the participants in the worship of the idol.  The participants then believed they were sharing in the blessing the idol put upon the wine or strong drink in the cup.  

As the participants drank the wine or strong drink in the cup, they believed they were taking the idol’s blessing and receiving the spirit of the idol now in the wine into themselves.  Drunkenness in alcohol intoxication was interpreted as the presence of the spirit of the idol now within the body of the participant.  The blessing was the belief that they were taking the spirit of the idol into their bodies.  This foolishness is the source of the supposed presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacramental merit of eating and drinking the elements of the Lord’s Supper.  This is absolute paganism.  Christianity was already being paganized by the nonsense of this integration of pagan ideas into the Lord’s Supper by the church at Corinth before 60 A.D. 

Anyone believing in either the spiritual or corporeal presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper) thereby hold to this corrupted, pagan, and sacramental view of the ordinance.  The ordinance is thereby totally corrupted and anyone participating with that belief regarding the ordinance “eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (I Corinthians 11:29).

           The emphasis in I Corinthians 10:6-14 is a reminder to the Christians at Corinth not to integrate pagan and idolatrous ideas and practices of worship in with Biblical doctrines and practices of worship.  There is always a danger of interpreting Christian ordinances according to corrupted beliefs to which people have held before they came to trust in Christ.  The gift of salvation does not immediately erase all false doctrines or corrupt practices from the believer’s life.  This is the responsibility of every believer’s individual study of the Word of God.

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (II Timothy 2:15-16).

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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.