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: Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Four
The Spiritual Dynamic of the Empowerment of a Local Church

(Review Tripartite of Power)

“12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:12-31).

Modern Bible believing Christianity has become preoccupied with what we are supposed to separate from. What we separate from is certainly important. However, being separate from sin and worldliness is not all that is involved in the believer’s practical sanctification. The believer must also realized that there is Someone and something that he is separated unto. As the Church (“body of Christ”) has progressively become more worldly and carnal over the years, we have seen two phenomena take place within Evangelical Christianity (Liberalism completely abandoned practical sanctification in most part almost a century ago):

1. First, because believers have become so worldly and carnal in their preoccupations with Neo-hedonism (pleasure seeking), Church leaders have become preoccupied with dealing with worldliness and carnality as almost an end in itself. This has led the Church into legalism (erecting external controls of the “flesh,” Gal. 3:1-5); i.e., the false notion that a person is spiritual if he keeps away from certain taboo sins or practices.
2. Second, there is almost a complete failure to teach WHY believers are to be separate from sin and worldliness; i.e., because this keeps them from being undefiled before God and provides the power of God in their lives to engage the forces of evil in the battle for souls, lives, and “fruit” to the glory of God. Until the believer is separated from sin and worldliness, there is really no reason to teach that person what he is separated unto; i.e., to service of God in doing the “work of the ministry.”

“19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (II Timothy 2:19-21).

I Corinthians 12:12-31 is not a text that is filled with truths that are difficult to comprehend. Like the human body, a local church has numerous body parts that all serve different purposes. Although there are many different body parts that all serve different purposes, they are all under the direction and sovereignty of one head. Because these many body parts have one head, they do not function independent of one another. Because these many body parts naturally obey the one head, they work together in a partnership of unity and harmony, each supplying to the body the uniqueness and individuality that each body part possesses as a gift from God. Why is it then that so few local churches appear to grasp these truths and put them into practice? The answer is equally simple. Each body part must recognize it has a unique function and fulfill that function in the power of the indwelling Spirit of God (in grace). Each body part must be totally yielded to the Head before the harmony of the body can be created. This harmony too is a supernatural work of grace in the ministry of the Holy Spirit’s enabling.

I once visited a man in the hospital who was comatose. He sat in his chair and stared blankly. I was told they believed he heard people, that his eyes worked fine, and that every part of his body functioned adequately. However, he could not (or did not) feed himself. He could not (or did not) dress himself or clean himself.

Although everything about him physically was fine, he needed someone to do just about everything for him except the automatic functions of his body. There was a living soul trapped within that body, but his brain was disconnected from this world, which in turn disconnected him from being able to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

Many local churches are comatose. What I mean by that is that many local churches are characterized by lethargic inertness and unresponsiveness to spiritual stimulation. There are people attending the church’s services. They seem to be breathing and moving around. They appear to be growing spiritually, but they just never, ever produce any fruit. When this is the characteristic of a local church, it is really a symptom of a much more serious spiritual problem. When this is descriptive of a local church or an individual Christian, one of the three aspects in the Tripartite of Power is missing or disconnected. One or more of three failures exists in the majority of the members of such a local church.

1. There is ignorance of the Word of God, and therefore the will of God, so that the believer is either living in sin or disobedience (any degree of disobedience, commission or omission, is sin).
2. The believer is not yielded to and “filled with” (supernaturally and spiritually empowered by) the indwelling Holy Spirit.
3. The believer is not involved in doing the “work of the ministry,” prayer, and aggressively seeking to win the lost to Christ (even God cannot bless something you do not do).

Any one of these three failures (or combination of any) within the membership of a local church will result in a spiritually dysfunctional local church. What this means practically, regarding a local church or individual, is that no lasting fruit can be produced until this problem is corrected.

According to a number of statements by the Lord Jesus, He has very little tolerance for fruitless local churches and/or fruitless Christians. It is clear from the statements of the Lord Jesus that being fruitless is a major and unacceptable abnormality.

Before the spiritual fruit of souls can be produced, the Seed of the Word of God MUST BE SOWN. That means Spirit filled believers must tell people about the condemnation God has put upon mankind. Spirit filled believers must tell lost sinners about the details of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Spirit filled believers must direct souls to repent of sin and “dead works,” to trust in Jesus, and call upon His Name to be saved. If Spirit filled believers do not sow the Seed, the Seed will not be sown.

“11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:11-15).

Yes, much Seed will fall upon unfruitful ground and unproductive Soil ending the hope of spiritual fruit. However, that is not due to any failure or weakness of the Seed. A good farmer understands that the preparation of the soil PRIOR to sowing the seed is extremely important to how much fruit, if any, will be produced.

Why does Christ give this parable? He gives this parable because He wants us to understand the believer’s responsibility in warning the hearers about these situations. In most part, the hearers determine what kind of ground their lives are going to be. Therefore, they need to be warned about Satan’s tactics regarding keeping the Seed from taking root and bearing “fruit to perfection.”

Secondly, the warning is about faithful believers “having heard the word, keep it” (Luke 8:15). The idea of the word “keep” is to retain, possess, or hold onto. This would appear to be a contradiction. How can we sow the Seed if we are holding onto it? This is not talking just about keeping the Truth of God’s Word in our minds, but about living the Truth of God’s Word in our everyday lives. The Word of God must become as much a part of us as an arm or a leg. Keeping the Word of God is doing exactly and everything the Word of God directs us to do. It is ridiculous to think that anyone will give us any credibility in our teaching them the Word of God if we do not love the Word of God enough to live it and do it ourselves.

Although a fruitless Christian and a fruitless local church is an anomaly that cannot be allowed to continue to exist, Christ is patient with Christians and local churches allowing for time to correct their fruitlessness.

“6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard {referring to the Pastor or Disciple Maker} , Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he {the dresser} answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down” (Luke 13:6-9).

“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 15:4-8).

Because the vast majority of Christians live under the false belief that the “work of the ministry” (in leading souls to Christ, teaching them to know the Word of God and live the Word of God, and become evangelists themselves) is delegated to Pastors, professional Evangelists, and certain specially gifted people, they will spend the 1,000 years of the Kingdom Age on the Sidelines of Shame because of disobedience to the Great Commission. To profess to be a Christian and not be actively, boldly, and aggressively involved in bringing souls to Christ and making disciples of Christ is an absolute contradiction, paradox of truth, and an anomaly of everything that defines Christianity. It is a complete contradiction against everything that defines the priesthood of all believers who are part of the body of Christ. In that Christ died in our stead, with the free gift of salvation comes an overwhelming obligation to live in “Christ’s stead” (II Cor. 5:20).

“14 For the love of Christ constraineth {presses or compels} 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” (II Corinthians 5:14-15).

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

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