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: May 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wisdom: Wisdom Crieth . . . in the Streets

20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil” (Proverbs 1:20-33).

To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of ignorance.” (A. Bronson Alcott)

There is a narrow line between willful ignorance and stupidity. This is especially true when knowledge is so readily available to people and so easily accessible. In a society like that belonging to the USA, there really is no excuse for ignorance. We have libraries of books that people can use without any cost to them. We have free public education. We have churches on almost every corner of our cities. We have internet resources available at the click of a mouse. Granted, all of these venues of the information highway are interspersed with destructive information and very dangerous philosophies. There are many detours on the information highway that will waste our time and there is a lot of broken glass for us to fall on and injure ourselves. One resource has proven itself reliable for thousands of years. This resource is the inspired and infallible Word of God. God’s Word is to be read, published and proclaimed by every child of God. The central reason people do not study God’s Word is unbelief. If they believed the Bible came from God, they would make knowing it a priority.

This is what God means by the words “Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words . . .” (Proverbs 1:20-21). This refers to the message of the prophets of God. God sent His prophets everywhere. God revealed His Word to the prophets and they were to disseminate that message on the widest scale possible. There was no television or radio. There were no printing presses. The prophets of God would wander through the streets of the cities and countryside day after day from city to city proclaiming God’s message. They would go to the city gates and the market places within the cities and proclaim God’s Word. Wherever people gather, the prophets of God would be crying forth the wisdom of God. The prophets were just messenger boys. They simply gave a body and a voice to God’s wisdom. They were the means God used to put legs on His wisdom.

All Christians are Ambassadors for Christ in the Church Age. We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God and each of us become His, legs, mouth and hands. We have been give the “ministry of reconciliation” and the message of God’s “word of reconciliation” and told to “go . . . into all the world” just like the Old Testament prophets were commanded.

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:14-19).

Ezekiel was one of God’s major prophets. God sent him to the whole nation of Israel while they were in Babylonian captivity to remind them constantly of the reason for their captivity. When God sent Ezekiel into Babylon to speak God’s Word to the captive Jews, God told Ezekiel that they would ignore what he was going to tell them. Nonetheless, God told Ezekiel to be faithful to his commission with the hope that some might hear and repent.

4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. 5 For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6 Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. 7 But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. 8 Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. 9 As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. 10 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. 11 And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear {intending to obey}, or whether they will forbear {forsake}” (Ezekiel 3:4-11).

Although the Holy Bible is still the best selling book on the market every year, it is the least read book by the vast majority of those who purchase it. The wealth of God’s wisdom is readily available to almost everyone in this country in numerous translations. God has given us an instruction book for living a fulfilling life and we have reduced it to a coffee table novelty to be dusted off every now and then. The Bible must be read to be useful, but even that is not enough. The Bible is a living book that is invaluable when it is lived. That is God’s intent in giving the Bible to us. To those who have God’s Word but ignore it, God asks the question, “
How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge” (Proverbs 1:22)? “Simple ones” is from the Hebrew word p@thiy (peth-ee'), referring to an easily seducible person.

Theological liberalism’s denial of Biblical absolutes has disemboweled the heart and soul of the Word of God by the denial of God’s verbal and plenary inspiration. This denial has equated the Bible as merely another of many books written by human authors of varying philosophies of life. Theological liberalism gives worldliness an equal platform for self-expression and self-fulfillment. We may go as far as saying that theological liberalism is ultimately the religion of self-actualization (deification). This is not wise.

Neo-evangelicalism enters this arena of through another, but equally destructive, doorway. Neo-evangelicalism takes God’s power away from churches by its denial of Biblical separation from worldliness and apostasy as an essential to God’s supernatural enabling. Like theological liberalism, neo-evangelicals rationalize the Word of God into a self-help book for group counseling. In doing so, the truths of Biblical wisdom that actually lead the believer into a supernatural union of synergism with the Holy Spirit of God are relegated into obscurity by labeling them as nonessentials. This is not wise.

To these two groups of professing believers (and every shade of gray in between) God says, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you” (Proverbs 1:24-27).

Even the poorest people in our nation are wealthy compared to those in poverty around the world. Most of these people (not all of them) are where they are in life because of willful choices that were very carnal and self-serving. Many are where they are in life because they chose to involve themselves with alcohol and other recreational drugs. Many are school dropouts. Many young people are living lives of self-destruction because they have had little or no parenting, having been seriously abused emotionally, physically and even sexually. We only need to look at the parents of these children to understand that their children live with little hope because they are being programmed for failure by a parent (or occasionally, two parents) more concerned with getting high than with their child’s welfare.

We look at all of this in amazement and wonder how such a great society could be reduced to such dismal and corrupted fruit when God has already plainly declared, “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Proverbs 1:28-31).

In most part, the American society has rejected the “counsel” of God. More and more each day it can be said, “They despised all my reproof.” As they shake their puny little fists of rebellion in the face of God, God says, “Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” The word “filled here in the Hebrew means to be satiated to the point of weariness. God will let them have all they want, more than they want, and even more than they can stand. Their lives will get to be like an overflowing toilet spilling their sewage and stench into every life to which they come in contact.

This is a rapidly growing segment of our society. It seems we are so simple minded that we cannot grasp onto the fact that He Who created us really knows what is best for us and what will fulfill us as human beings. Worldliness is the opposite of wisdom. We might even say that worldliness is the result of the absence of wisdom. We just cannot seem to grasp onto the fact, that although worldliness is a choice that we can freely make, worldliness it is not a free choice. In other words, worldliness will consume our lives with empty promises of happiness of which it cannot fulfill.

A cynic once said, “Ignorance is not bliss. If ignorance was bliss, most of the people I know would not be so unhappy.” There is a connection to ignorance and unhappiness or, not finding fulfillment in life. Wisdom understands that there are few things in this life that are really fulfilling and the wise person selective gets involved in those things at the exclusion of all things that do not fulfill him. As I have said, there is a narrow line between ignorance and stupidity. Those that ignore God’s revelation of Biblical wisdom are living definitions of stupidity. God’s offers His wisdom to us as a gift of His grace for us to take and used at will and without limitation. To ignore that gift of grace is an outrageous act of stupidity.

What does God want us to learn from Proverbs chapter one? When do we have wisdom?

1. With all our heart, we must learn to pursue wisdom as the great treasure from God that it is. If this is not a priority of our lives, we manifest our unbelief in God and the value of His Truth.

2. We must learn to be discerning regarding the world’s philosophies that pervert God’s wisdom. We must be very cautious about this lest we defile God’s wisdom with the integration of varying degrees of worldliness.

3. We must be faithful Ambassadors for Christ disseminating God’s wisdom and the message of reconciliation on the widest possible scale of our influence regardless if those to whom God sends us hear or reject the message from God. If we do not do this, we are not faithful no matter what else we do.

4. We must understand that our ministry of reconciliation is primarily to unbelievers and so, we should not be discouraged when the majority rejects the message God has given us to proclaim. This has been the historical norm for God’s prophets down through the centuries.

5. We must understand that the Christian life is not about pursuing happiness, but fulfillment through faithfulness to God. Our rewards are spiritual and eternal. There are no rewards for the unfaithful.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Wisdom: Wisdom from Above

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:13-18).

There is worldly wisdom and there is godly wisdom. These two different kinds of wisdom manifest themselves by the way people live and interact within their corporate ethic (our peer group, friends, and the people we influence and the people that influence us). Perhaps the best word to describe worldly wisdom is the word politician. The politician always knows the right words to say or the right things to do that gain him the largest following. The politician weighs every action on the scale of public opinion. What is best, what is right, or what is just may enter into his decision-making, but ultimately he will only act upon those things that will promote himself in the eyes of others. Politician is just another word for hypocrisy.

Worldly wisdom is a complete opposite to the “wisdom that is from above.” James tells us godly wisdom “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” When we think of a person with wisdom, we think of someone sure of himself, under control and usually having the right answer to almost any situation or question. To some degree that is true. We will see that God defines wisdom, not by what we know, but by what we are. God defines wisdom by character.

From a Biblical perspective, wisdom is the heart and mind of God operating in the life of a believer. That is purely a supernatural event. A person’s first act of wisdom is to reject the world and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. The instant a person does that God supernaturally indwells him and, from that moment on, God becomes a partner in everything he does. As the believer begins to co-operate with the indwelling Holy Spirit by actively yielding his body to the Holy Spirit and to God’s revealed will, something else is supernaturally produced, BIBLICAL WISDOM.

Is there a formula for Biblical wisdom? If there is one, it might be something like this: Illumination of the Word of God = Knowledge and Understanding. Knowledge of God’s Word + Yieldedness to the Holy Spirit = Wisdom as the by-product. Therefore, wisdom and spirituality are essentially the same things.

God says real spiritual wisdom shows in our behavior towards others in real tangible and visible ways. Wisdom and “knowledge” (James 3:13) are much more than mere intellectual possessions. Wisdom and “knowledge,” like faith (James 2:18), are evidentiary; they are visible, life changing practical possessions. Wisdom and “knowledge” are not intellectual trophies. Like faith that does not do what God commands, wisdom and “knowledge” are worthless if they are not lived.

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18).

According to James 3:15, being bitter, contentious, and dividing; an I want my way spirit is right out of the pit of hell (James 3:14). “Strife” is focusing on finding fault (blame) in order to force an issue and continue a quarrel. This attitude is not intent on finding a solution or resolving the problem. In this situation, pride is so controlling and dominating that factions begin to form cliques. They promote schisms and partisanship and people start gathering together in sides. It is all done in secret until one group thinks they have enough to wage war and win. This is not wise.

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members (James 4:1)?

According to James 3:17, spiritual wisdom is a visible reality that “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” There are seven evidences of a person with spiritual wisdom listed in James 3:17.

1. Wisdom is “first pure.” It is undefiled by any admixture of pride and selfishness that leads to strife, contention, bitterness, wrath, factions, and discord among brethren. True Biblical, spiritual wisdom is “pure” of all of these carnal attributes.

2. Wisdom is “peaceable.” It is intent on reconciling differences. It is motivated to resolve problems and restore relationships. The person who is unwilling to resolve problems and restore relationships is neither “peaceable,” spiritual, or wise.

3. Wisdom is gentle.” It is considerate, courteous, and reasonable when dealing with others. This person is approachable and not harsh when dealing with others. Lacking in this area manifests itself by being harsh and critical expecting more of someone else than we expect of ourselves.

4. Wisdom is “easy to be entreated.” It is easily persuaded of any wrongdoing even to the extent of looking for the source of the problem in one’s self. This person is not stubborn or hardhearted toward someone by which they might have been offended. They are willing to give a fair hearing to the matter and to do whatever they personally can do to resolve the problem.

5. Wisdom is full of mercy” and it is “full of . . . good fruits.” To be “full” of something is to be under its control (compare Eph. 5:18). Mercy is the willingness to help someone out of a difficulty even if that difficulty is the result of his own failures, and may cause harm to you or cost you personally. “Good fruit” is the beneficial outcome of the practical application of Biblical principles. It relates to the dormant potential for good that lies in the principles of the Word of God until at which time a person puts those principles into action.

6. Wisdom is without partiality. It lacks the desire to divide people into factions or wrangle people into a dispute. This person refuses to rank people by class or position; i.e., by the degree such a person can provide promotion, esteem, or benefit to you.

7. Wisdom is without hypocrisy. Literally, this means that this person does not wear a mask of pretense. He does not play politics by manipulating people. He is absolutely honest about what he believes is the truth about himself and others. He is an authentic person who does not need to hide behind the mask of being a friend, because he truly wants God’s best for everyone. He is a true friend who loves you enough to be honest with you and gentle enough to try not to discourage you.

One of Satan’s central attacks against the establishment of the practice of truth (wisdom) in the world is subtle influences that lead a person to self-deception about our motives for doing the things we are told to be the righteous things to do. Wisdom that is “first pure” must be pure of selfish motives. This is a very difficult area of discernment. Wisdom that is pure of selfish motives wants all the glory for the good one does to go to God. Yet, because we have a fallen nature, there is always the desire for personal recognition for the good things we attempt to do. This is critical area of self-examination in that God is very jealous of the glory due Him for what He does through our lives. He wants us to be constantly conscious of the fact that apart from the workings of His indwelling Spirit, we can do no good thing.

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17).

Spiritually wise people understand that only God can accomplish good things through the lives of people. Paul speaks of the stealing of God’s glory by the believers in Corinth who were giving undue glory to men by raising their spiritual leaders to degrees of status in a competitive way. The glory for the spiritual accomplishments in their lives belonged solely to God, not to spiritual leaders.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (I Corinthians 3:18-23).

As James 3:13 says, true spiritual wisdom is always accompanied by “meekness.” Meekness and wisdom always come together as a pair. “Meekness” is from the Greek word prautes (prah-oo'-tace) meaning mildness or humility. If God gives us wisdom and “knowledge” as part of His working in and through our lives, what is there to be proud about? Intellectual pride is a manifestation of foolishness, not wisdom. The person “endued with knowledge” understands the gift comes with overwhelming responsibilities. If God has qualified a man to teach (endued him with knowledge), that man is responsible to teach others the truths God has taught him. Teaching/ preaching is no position for the politician. Paul gave explicit warning regarding this to the pastors from Ephesus.

25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:25-31).

James has already warned in James 3:1, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. Wise people do not seek positions of prominence to which they are not qualified to hold. The word “masters” in James 3:1 is from the Greek word didaskalos (did-as'-kal-os). It refers to a doctor, an expert in a subject who is able to teach what he knows to others. So often people covet a position because of the prominence or prestige it offers without ever really considering the enormous weight of responsibility that comes with such positions. That is not a wise thing to do!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wisdom: The Battlefronts of Self-Discipline

1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods” (I Kings 11:1-8).

Living carnally (worldly) may be the grossest moral abuse of the grace of God any Christian can commit. I am not talking about the occasional slip into sin or losing an occasional battle in the temptation of our corrupt sin nature. I am talking about purposefully and carelessly living in disregard of God’s will and against His commandments to live holy and separated from worldliness. This kind of living disregards God’s expectations of His children, distorts His grace, communicates a lie about what it means to be a believer and shuts down God’s blessings on the spiritual lives of individuals, families and, local churches. Sadly, carnality exists among professing Christians in pandemic proportions. Carnality has become the norm, not the abnorm. As the lost world moves away from the commands of God at almost the speed of light, Christians are in fast pursuit like hounds in a hunt. This kind of carnality is the portrait God paints for us in the words of I Kings 11:1-8. What a sad picture it is.

The fame of Solomon’s wisdom brought the prominent people of the world before him with lavish gifts inquiring answers from him regarding life. It was a tremendous opportunity to teach the pagan world of the True God. Instead, Solomon took the glory for the wisdom God gave him for himself. The record of the wealth and fame that came to him due to this is recorded in I Kings chapters 9 and 10. We can learn a great deal from Solomon’s spiritual failure in his interaction with these other cultures. We can learn about one of the gravest of spiritual dangers that all of us will face in life: the pride of life.

“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. 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. 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).
Solomon’s failure began with a problem common to all of humanity: lust or carnal desires. “Solomon loved many strange women” (I Kings 11:1). What affect did Solomon’s interaction with all the various cultures that came to dialogue with him, seeking the wisdom God had given him, have upon Solomon’s life? Each time another nation came to meet with Solomon, it was like a parade of carnality before “the lust of” his “flesh, and the lust of” his “eyes, and the pride of” his “life.” Although Solomon HAD wisdom, he was not WISE to allow this.

Solomon’s father, David, had already failed in this very area of temptation. It is a common area of temptation to all humanity. However, Solomon did not learn from his father’s failure nor from his father’s commitment to insure that it never happen again.

I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalm 101: 2-3).
David said, “ . . . the work of them that turn aside . . .shall not cleave to me.” David understood that sin is sticky. Once sin gets hold of you, it will not let you go until it has consumed and destroyed your life. The reason sin is sticky is because our fallen natures are filled with corrupt desires. It is certainly not wise to allow the world to parade its temptations before our eyes. We may not be able to control all of the content of that parade, but most of it we can. Even if we are able to avoid the temptation in one given moment, what the eyes see, the eyes record in a mental picture in our brains. Then our fallen natures draw upon those mental pictures and begin to fantasize. Fantasy creates increased longing for more mental pictures. In this scenario, we can fully understand the statement, “Solomon loved many strange women” (I Kings 11:1). Lust is never satisfied.

It is apparent from the book of Ecclesiastes that Solomon was greatly influenced in a negative way by the many and varied cultures that came before him. It is also apparent that the more interaction Solomon had with these various pagan cultures, the more he was influenced by their philosophies and cultural practices. Solomon became a philosophical and theological integrationist professing to believe in YEHWEH while living like a pagan. In doing so, he led the nation of Israel into hedonism, paganism and, the horrible, deviant, perverse practices of idolatry. Idolatry is much more than the worship of stone, wood or metal carvings. Idolatry involves individuals in such perverse forms of worship that we are it is a “shame” to even mention what they do, let alone describe these practices.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:1-12).
Idolatry is a subtle deception. One can be an idolater without worshipping a stone, wood or metal idol. The primary word for “worship” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word shachah (shaw-khaw'). It means to depress or prostrate. It was expressing worship by bowing down to the ground and touching the forehead at the feet of the person or thing worshipped. Worship could also be expressed by obeisance, bowing the head of the body at the waist. Women would curtsy. There is also a wider and more common form of worship in simply giving reverence to someone or thing. This is merely expressing a feeling of profound awe, respect, and often love or veneration. Covetousness can also be described with these practices. Therefore, anything we lust after is a form of idolatry. “Solomon loved many strange women” (I Kings 11:1). Solomon’s idolatry existed in his heart BEFORE he began its outward and perverse practices.

There can be desires of the heart that are righteous. This exists when we give ourselves to pursue after God and invest our lives in the things He commands us to do. We do not truly worship God until we involve ourselves in pursuing personal holiness, being separate from worldliness, ministering to people by informing them of the gospel and God’s free gift of salvation, and teaching them how to live in a way that can be pleasing to God. Worship of God is the preoccupation of our lives with all that God is, all that God loves, and all that God tells us to do.

Solomon’s cooperation with pagans and the integration of paganism into his lifestyle completely distorted everything God had brought him into power to do. His life steadily led the nation of Israel away from the spiritual principles of wisdom that God intended for him to establish. Genuine wisdom is usually a complete contradiction to the vulgarities of human rationalization. Solomon took his human rationalism and integrated it with the wisdom God gave him. Perhaps we can say that Solomon was one of the first New Evangelicals. He began his slide into paganism by simply allowing the lust of his heart to take prominence over God’s desires for his life. We must learn from Solomon’s failure and from God’s warning to Solomon. If we do not, we are doomed to repeat it.

And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name here for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have Worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil” (I Kings 9:1-9).
We ask ourselves how Solomon could receive this kind of straightforward communication directly from God and still involve himself in the practices that he did. It is amazing and astonishing. However, we often fail to see that there was a 13-year time span between Solomon’s prayer in the dedication of the Temple (I Kings 8) and this communication with God. Solomon spent 7 years building the Temple and the next 13 years building his own house. Solomon essentially and practically abandoned the Temple while the world came to worship at his feet in the Temple he built for himself, which was even grander than the Temple of God. How easy it is to forget God when we become preoccupied with ourselves. This is the subtlety of carnality.

When sin finally finishes with us; we look back on the carnage of our lives in amazement. We ask ourselves how we could ever have been so foolish and so blind. We stand alone in the midst of destroyed lives of those that followed the model we provided and cry out to God in despair. Is there anyway to fix the mess we have created? The great truth of God’s Word is that is never too late to try.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 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).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wisdom: The Decisions of Life

There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? 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: 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. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:13-17).

The book of James is about change; change from the world’s way of living and relationships to God’s way of living and relationships. Repentance is the Bible word that describes the desire and determination for that change.

A Sunday School teacher once asked a class what was meant by the word repentance to which one student replied, “It is being sorry for your sins.” The teacher saw another student thinking deeply about the question and asked her what she thought repentance meant, to which she thoughtfully replied, “I think it is being sorry enough about sin to quit.”

Repentance is an attitude that reflects itself in a promise to God to join yourself in a partnership with the Holy Spirit to overcome specific sins and bring about the necessary change in our life through the enabling grace of God.

Most people would rather change jobs, friends, even husbands or wives rather then change what really needs to be changed, themselves. James 4:12 is a reminder that God will not allow injustice and improper behavior to continue. In addition, He asks the question; “Who do you think you are anyway, taking on the role of God?” No human being has the wisdom or attributes necessary to the spiritual micro or macro management of another person’s relationship with God. The only thing we can do is instruct people from God’s instruction book for living.

We think of justice as a blindfolded woman holding the balances of evidence in her hand.

In reality, God holds these balances. He is not blindfolded and He will weigh the evidence without partiality or prejudice. You will be judged on the basis of His evaluation, not your own. The wise person learns to look at himself through God’s eyes and not his own. Anything less is hypocrisy. Job said:

“Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity” (Job 31:6). (opposite: joke)

In James 4:13, we continue on with the person who knows the right things to do, but just never seems to get around to doing them (or refuses to). People continue day after day to presume on the future. They make plans for tomorrow while continuing their injustices against God and others presently. Only the obedient have any right to be optimistic about the future! People who know what is right and refuse to do what is right, and then make plans for tomorrow, presume upon the grace of God.

No one knows if they will have a tomorrow (James 4:14). The only opportunity we have to do right (that we can count on) is this present moment.

The brevity of life does not allow for the foolishness of a wasted moment in willful disregard for God’s will for your life. Our own pride and selfishness do not want to live in constant consideration of God’s will.

The spiritual reality is this: when a person leaves God’s will out of his daily planning and considerations, it shows the hypocrisy of his relationship with Him. THIS IS PRACTICAL ATHEISM.

But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (James 4:16). Here is the extreme that pride and selfishness takes us to.

1. James 4:11, it disparages others with slander, ridicule, and false accusations

2. James 4:12, it presumes on the role of God

3. James 4:13-15, it makes plans for the future without considering God’s will and presumes on His grace

4. Not only all of this, but they set themselves up as spiritual giants (James 4:16) while continuing to refuse to do what they know God wants them to.

“Rejoicing and boastings,” these terms are not intended to reflect verbal actions, but attitudes of disregard for God’s will in the matters of doing what is known to be right. This is the whole essence of the matter God calls The Pride of Life. This refers to a life lived in the knowledge of God’s will, but the prideful existence that fails to consider it for every decision and moment of living. That is why James concludes, “All such rejoicing is evil.” This epistle of James is directed to the Christian, not the pagan world of which this attitude would be expected.

There is the story of a little boy who just refused to do what was right. One day after an argument with a friend, he shouted some mean and hurtful things at one of his playmates, who went home very hurt and crying. The boy’s father heard what went on and stopped his son on the way through the front gate into their yard. The father told him that every time the boy did some thoughtless, mean thing that the father would drive a nail into the gate post half way, and each time the boy did a selfless act of kindness one of these nails would be pulled out.

Months passed and each time the boy went through the gate he was reminded of the reasons for those ever increasing line of nails in that post. The boy finally decided he would make the necessary changes in his life to get those nails pulled out. At last, the final one was removed. As the father pulled the last nail from the post, the boy danced around proudly shouting; “See daddy, the nails are all gone.” To which the father replied as he stood gazing intently at the post; “Yes son, the nails are all gone, but the scars will always be there.”

Wisdom understands that sin can be forgiven, but wisdom also understands that sin always leaves a scum mark on whatever it touches. Sin always leaves scars on our life, even when we stop, even when sin is forgiven. Eternity is negatively effected by sinful things we do. Eternity is also negatively effected when we fail to do what is right. Both sins of commission and sins of omission are serious failures in obedience to God’s will for our lives that cause us to waste our lives in the purpose for which we exist; bringing glory to God.

Life is a vapor; don’t blow it. At best, all of time is but a minute parenthesis in the vast and never-ending circle of eternity. One lifetime is just a tiny, minuscule fraction of that time line. However, the eternal value and potential of that one lifetime properly invested to the gory of God is almost immeasurable. The impact of the life of one person touches upon the lives of millions of others. Like a rock thrown into a lake, every molecule of water in the lake is impacted to some degree. Those with an eternal perspective of life will do all they can to impact this “under the Sun” world to the glory of God.

Those with an “under the Sun” mentality have another perspective of life. The “under the Sun” mentality is reflected by what I saw on the back of an old man’s tee shirt (just under his grey ponytail): “It is not that life is so short, but that dead is so long.” The “under the Sun” mentality then adduces that we must get as much out of life as we possibly can in the short time allotted. The person with the eternal perspective of life makes the opposite choice. He understands that the best way to get as much as possible out of life is to invest one’s self in the lives of others, to help them get saved and begin living their lives to the glory of God.

For many people (including Christians), activity is confused with progress like wealth is confused with success. In all the activities of life, there is a certain amount of expectation of joy. However, almost all activities where self-fulfillment is the goal, very little fulfillment is found and what little is produced last but for a few short moments. That kind of life is like opening the largest package under the Christmas tree only to find it full of old newspaper. For the person willing to invest himself in the lives of others, it is like opening the smallest gift under the tree, only to find the greatest and most precious of all God’s gifts to His children; joy.

Finally, in the waning years of life when our bodies grow old and wanting for strength, it is the joy that comes from knowing your life has made a difference in this world of billions of souls that makes the struggle all worthwhile. The joy is in knowing that we have been used of God to make an eternal difference in someone’s life. Then we can look upon the horizon of the setting Sun of our days on this earth and conclude with Solomon; “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

We will find no fulfillment in our golden years when our youth has been wasted on selfish pursuits. When our lives have been wasted, all that is left is the fleeting memories of yesterdays’ small moments of pleasure, instead of the joy of life where our last days are spent longing for tomorrow’s hope.

“As the outward begins to crumble away, the inner person needs more than a party hat and the illusion of youth and beauty.” (Kiddie, Looking for the Good Life)

Life’s ultimate consummation is death. The man who stands at death’s door without knowing by faith, and with certainty, what is going to be on the other side of that door once it is opened, is one of the greatest of all fools on planet Earth. A person needs to make decisions about eternity early in life while he still has strength and the mental and physical faculties for serving the Lord.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days {old age} come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened {Springtime}, nor the clouds {pain & gloom} return after the rain {expecting the Sun to shine}: In the day when the keepers {hands} of the house {the body} shall tremble {shake}, and the strong men {legs} shall bow themselves, and the grinders {teeth} cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows {eyes} be darkened, And the doors {lips as the opening of the mouth} shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low {due to the loss of teeth}, and he shall rise up {be awakened from sleep} at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick (voice and hearing} shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high {fear of falling due to difficult terrain}, and fears shall be in the way {even on level ground}, and the almond tree shall flourish (i.e., blossom; white hair among the dark haired youth like the white blossoms of the Almond tree against the dark green of the forest}, and the grasshopper {little things} shall be a burden, and desire {for life and its pleasures} shall fail: because man goeth to his long home {the grave}, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed {spinal cord}, or the golden bowl {skull cap containing the brain} be broken, or the pitcher {Vena Cava; right ventricle of the heart} be broken at the fountain {the heart}, or the wheel broken at the cistern {the heart no longer functions correctly}. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7).

What do these verses tell us? Our “under the Sun” existence is lived within eternity. Just as there are evidences for our beginning in life (conception and birth), there is evidence that our “under the Sun” existence is ending. Middle Age is really nothing more than half way to the end. Old Age tells us we are closing in on the Finish Line. No matter how optimistic we are about life, death is an inevitable consequence of life. In fact, life is not about our “under the Sun” existence at all. Life is gift of God’s grace given for us to prepare for eternity, get saved and invest our lives in the lives of others to help them do the same. We can take the short view of existence “under the Sun” or the long view of existence under Heaven. Which view do you think the Deceiver would like us to take?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wisdom: Trying to Live Right Side Up in an Upside Down World

Life can, and should be, a continual growth experience. Spiritual growth does not happen in a vacuum. Spiritual growth in wisdom in this world comes only to those who aggressively seek it in a very proactive way. Everything in this “under the sun” existence is under the influence of the “prince of the power of the air.” Through his introduction of sin into this world and his corruption of truth/wisdom, Satan has literally turned this world upside down. All of us were born into that upside down world. Lost people are not even aware that this world is upside down. They have no knowledge beyond what they know empirically, what they can see, hear, touch, smell, and feel.

Wisdom must begin with faith. There is another existence apart from this upside down world. There is a God Who lives in that other existence transcending this “under the Sun” existence. Although God is transcendent, He has chosen by His merciful grace to enter into our “under the Sun” existence and involve Himself in rescuing sinners from the condemnation of sin and the corrupting influence of the lies and deception of Satan. God wants us to be able to live right side up in an upside down world. He does this by offering sinners salvation “by grace through faith” and by supernaturally working in their lives to restore their knowledge of Him and His existence.

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Wisdom is spiritual growth in the knowledge of God’s existence and how to bring our lives “under the Sun” into harmony with that existence. This spiritual growth happens in a world of great resistance to all God wants for us. Every opportunity for growth will be met with satanic deception, distortion, corruption, temptation, and numerous choices that will seek to lead us down another pathway in life. Satan wants to keep our lives upside down in his upside down world. Growing in wisdom is about knowing the choices God wants us to make and making those choices regardless of the cost to us socially, economically, or physically. Spiritual growth is like building muscles. Muscles grow by repeated activity against great resistance.

Spiritual growth is like swimming upstream in a strong current. It will require great effort to gain any distance to get further upstream. If you rest for one moment, or if your effort is not greater that the forces operating against you, you will lose ground and be carried back down stream.

Spiritual growth depends upon how we respond (act upon) various situations and circumstances that arise in our lives. Wisdom is knowing how to respond in a way that God wants us to respond. Those with only an “under the Sun” perspective of life see trials and difficulties as hindrances to their objectives in life (happiness and pleasure). Those with an eternal perspective of life see these things as potential opportunities for spiritual growth and opportunities to bring glory to God through obedience to God’s directions for living. Operating from this eternal perspective is what defines wisdom. Only those with an eternal perspective of life (wisdom) will apply eternal principles to temporal situations.

Wisdom is a perspective of life that allows us to smile in the face of adversity because all our treasures are secure in God’s eternal existence. Worry and anxiety are part of this “under the Sun” existence. Worry and anxiety are merely symptoms that some part of our lives and possessions are not secure in God’s eternal existence. Wisdom does not continue in worry and anxiety. Wisdom increases our efforts to secure our concerns in God’s eternal existence. The counsel of God is always eternal counsel. True wisdom not only seeks to understand the counsel of God, but also seeks to follow that counsel in all circumstances of life by bringing every aspect of our lives into His eternal existence and under His sovereign care.

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:21-22).

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Timothy 6:6-12).

This world is truly upside down. Fallen humanity is upside down in that upside down world. When the early Christians began to be effective in the conversion of thousands of people within every community they lived and wherever they traveled, they were accused of turning “the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). This was the perspective of the “under the Sun” person living in the already upside down world.

The reality was that the Christians were not turning the world upside down; instead, they were turning the world right side up. It was all just a matter of what your perspective of life was. For people who have spent their entire lives upside down, they have come to believe that they and their lives are normal. Since the vast majority of the world live upside down just like they do, their conclusion appears logical, regardless of how wrong that conclusion is. In an upside down world, right side uppers must appear strange and radically different (the Bible word for this kind of person is “peculiar;” Titus 2:14 and I Peter 2:9).

The great difficulty for right side uppers is the enormous pressures from the upside downers to conform to society’s upside down image. The wise person understands that he cannot ever be what God intends for him to be as a positive influence in this world unless he is willing to be a right side upper in an upside down world. In the upside down world of lawlessness, rebellion, and hedonistic priorities, the right side upper must become an object lesson of submission to every God ordain authority (Ecclesiastes 8:2-5), because he understands that every individual will one day stand before the ultimate Authority, the LORD God Almighty.

5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. 6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. 7 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? 8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it . . . 11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: 13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God” (Ecclesiastes 8: 5-8 and 11-13).

A “wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment” (Ecclesiastes 8:5b). Wise people understand both “time” and “judgment.” Wise people understand that “time” and “judgment” are not necessarily coincidental. A person could live out his whole life (“time”) in wicked pursuits and it may appear as if there are no consequences for his actions. It may even appear this person is being blessed, while those pursuing righteousness in the hardships of life are being cursed. Wise people understand that those appearances are part of the satanic deception of this world. Wise people understand that God’s payday is not always on Friday, but they know “judgment” is coming and they know “it shall not be well with the wicked” when payday finally arrives.

Wise people also fully understand and believe in another reality. Those that never escape their “under the Sun” perspective of life, never trust in Christ, never are “born again,” and never learn God’s eternal principles for living, will continue to live as upside downers until they finally arrive at the hopeless end of their hopeless existence. When payday finally comes, their destinies are already eternally sealed.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:18-21).

“This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

True right side uppers have gained a completely different perspective of their existence. They understand that this life (existence) is merely a very short journey (James 4:14) in another existence all together different from the one we presently know. Wise people know that God’s grace has allowed us this short span of time in this upside down existence to choose a right side up pathway to God’s existence called eternal life. Therefore, right side uppers can live this temporal life with endless hope.

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:18-20).

“Under the Sun” people with an upside down perspective of life have no vision beyond the sunset of life. Therefore, they have no optimistic hope of any surety beyond this life. Unless faith in the “finished” redemptive work of Christ gives a person hope of another blessed existence beyond the grave, there is no hope in this life. It should not amaze us that people with nothing more than an “under the Sun” perspective of life adopt the upside down view of life; “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (Luke 12:19). These people require a person with a spiritual vision of eternity to share that vision in love and compassion.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher” (Romans 10:13-14)?

Evangelism is about sharing this eternal vision of another existence beyond the grave. Evangelism begins by confronting realities. Evangelism leads a person away from his hopeless end to an endless hope “in Christ.” Evangelism is what wise people do to help people they love escape their hopeless end. Evangelism is communicating about God’s eternal existence and telling people about the only way to get there.

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:1-6).

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10).

If wisdom is the heart and mind of God operating in the life of a believer, evangelism is what wisdom does in an upside down world. Wisdom is the aspect of eternal life that we presently possess. Evangelism is putting legs on that wisdom and practically and presently entering into God’s eternal life by investing our lives in the harvest fields of God’s eternal fruit. True wisdom truly changes our lives in this way. This is what defines living right side up in an upside down world. It is also a defining line between the reality of faith in Christ. If we are truly part of God’s eternal Kingdom, we must become part of God’s eternal purpose and part of God’s endeavors.

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Wise people with an eternal perspective of life invest their lives moment by moment “to seek and to save that which is lost.” The moment we cease to be preoccupied with that endeavor, we must recognize we have lost our eternal perspective of life. It is not enough merely to begin again to preoccupy our lives with God’s endeavors; we must first gain again our eternal perspective of life. True ministry that God can bless must flow from this fountain of wisdom. It is what motivates us and drives us throughout this “under the Sun” existence. There is a new day dawning. One of the greatest joys will be to stand on its horizon with God and all the redeemed rescued by the God’s grace through faith having had some small part as God’s Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

Your servant in Christ's service,

Dr. Lance T. Ketchum

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