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

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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