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

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Seven

Becoming Fructiferous: the Outcome of the Actualization of a Disciple

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:1-8).

Christ considered a Christian or local church that did not win souls and make disciples an anomaly that was wasting His Blood investment in the redemption of their souls. Fruit bearing is expected!

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, 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 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).

Within the text of II Peter 1:1-8, we find a trinity for fruit production. This trinity comes all wrapped up for us in the word “faith” in II Peter 1:1. This trinity rapidly unfolds in the next seven verses in the key words “grace,” “peace,” “knowledge,” and “divine power” ultimately ending in fruitfulness (fruit bearing). This trinity involves three spiritual dynamics (the Tripartite of Power):

1. Knowledge (illumination) of God’s will through His Word

2. The supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit of God in the illumination and the application of God’s Word

3. Translating the Word of God into the language of living (becoming “doers of the Word”)

Training in these three areas is really what defines “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). Herein is where most local churches fail so often in their discipleship (“perfecting”) ministry. This is also what makes preaching different than teaching. Teaching primarily appeals to the head while preaching primarily appeals to the heart. Preaching is the dogmatic presentation of the truths of God’s Word in the power of the Spirit of God (“unction”) resulting in the confrontation of our Will Gates with the intent of bringing our living into harmony with the Word of God (living/doing faith).

Knowing faith is not the same as living faith. We see very few real life changing decisions today in our invitations at the conclusion of preaching services. The lack of these decisions is even more evident in the reality of the lack of any real change in how people live out their professed faith in the everyday living of their lives by engaging their corporate ethic with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is almost as if people think they can live the Christian life (living faith) covertly. This kind of thinking must be confronted and eradicated before true living faith can become a reality. Living faith is a public faith that stands on the highest ground of a person’s corporate and individual influence with a living testimony of a life that points to Jesus Christ.

25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:25-28).

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

Orthodoxy must always result in orthopraxy. Orthodoxy involves knowing correct doctrine. Orthopraxy is accurately living correct doctrine (truth) to the degree that it reflects and restores the image of Who God is in our lives resulting in manifesting His communicable attributes to the world. This is known as bringing God glory. Glorifying God (manifesting Who He is through the way we live) is the primary purpose of Bible study and the pursuit of orthodoxy. Without orthodoxy we can never achieve orthopraxy and we can never truly glorify the Lord. The focal purpose of orthodoxy is always doxological or it is not orthodoxy.

Obtaining “like precious faith”

The word “faith” is used of both saving faith and living faith in the Word of God. The context of use must determine which of these meanings are being referred too. These two meanings of faith can be found together in Romans 1:17.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from {saving} faith to {living} faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

The context of II Peter is referring to Christian service (ministry). Therefore, the meaning of the word “faith” here is living faith. In this context the word “faith” refers to putting some muscle upon the theological bones of Bible doctrine. It is not that the believer puts life to the Word of God (it is inherently living). The idea is that the indwelling Holy Spirit of God puts life to our bodies, dead in trespasses and sin and still possessing a Sin Nature, through the transforming, cleansing power of the Living Word of God. This happens when the believer yields to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and begins to live the truths of God’s Word through the Spirit’s supernatural enabling (grace).

However, this miraculous work of the indwelling Spirit does not take place until a believer yields to the indwelling Spirit AND begins to live the Word of God (living faith).

Biblical faith is not merely what we choose to believe. Biblical faith is Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura means our beliefs are what the Word of God teaches; nothing more and nothing less. This is what the Word of God means when God speaks of “like precious faith” and “the faith.” Biblical faith is not about man’s opinions, traditions, or philosophies. Biblical faith is not about our observations of human behavior patterns (psychology). Biblical faith is not discovered by rationalism or human logic. Biblical faith comes by the supernatural illumination of Sola Scriptura. This is an absolute necessity in the spiritual dynamic of faith building in both the life of the preacher/teacher and in the life of the disciple.

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2).

Therefore, the second aspect of the Tripartite of Power necessary to fruit bearing is the fact that Theology (knowing Who God is) is intricately connected to Pneumatology (knowing Who the Spirit of God is and what He is doing in our lives). This is the connecting link in II Peter 1:1-8 between saving faith and living faith. This is communicated in this text by the words “grace,” “divine power,” and “partakers of the divine nature.” If we miss this truth, we miss the primary distinctive characteristic of what defines the Age of Grace or the Church Age.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you . . . 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:18-20 and 26).

The third aspect of the trinity necessary to fruit bearing is that Pneumatology (knowing Who the Spirit of God is and what He is doing in our lives) is the connecting link to translating the Word of God into the language of living (becoming “doers of the Word and not hears only”). Anything less than living supernaturally enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God will be nothing more than carnal legalism.

1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5)?

The Christian life (living faith) is supernaturally produced. Apart from the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit of God, the Christian life is completely beyond our realization. The Spirit of God produces the Christian life in us when we yield our will gate to Him as He reveals His will to us through the illumination of the Word of God.

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:1-5).

In II Peter 1:5-8, the Christian life is described by seven tangible, evidentiary realities that are added to faith intended to make a believer’s life fertile soil for fruit bearing to the glory of God. The word “add” is from the Greek word epichoregeo (ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o). It really means to nourish or to aid. The context would imply that the seven attributes listed bring faith to its fullest potential; i.e. fruit bearing. As these seven qualities are built one upon another (the word “to” should actually be translated upon) and are connected one to the other, they will nourish faith to its fullest stature and potential.

1. Virtue; from arete (ar-et'-ay), manliness or valor and probably refers to moral strength of character

2. Knowledge; from gnosis (gno'-sis), most commentators agree that the context implies this to mean applied knowledge for discerning the will of God and therefore knowing the will of God with assurance dogmatically

3. Temperance; from egkrateia (eng-krat'-i-ah), self control or self restraint; refers to holding oneself in.

4. Patience; from hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay'), meaning constancy; enduring under trials or difficulties

5. Godliness; from eusebeia (yoo-seb'-i-ah), holiness or separation from worldliness and unto ministry (loving self sacrifice)

6. Brotherly kindness; philadelphia (fil-ad-el-fee'-ah), kindness and generosity to other believers

7. Charity; agape (ag-ah'-pay), sacrificial benevolence to the benefit of others. This kind of love does not happen apart from GIVING of self sacrificially. It is the kind of love that God is.

These are the essentials of grace to produce fruit through the empowering of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In other words, there are some very tangible aspects of Christian character that we must possess before the power of the indwelling Spirit of God can be released through our lives. The Word of God does not tell us to what extent we must have added these qualities, but I would surmise that the more of these qualities we possess the more eternal fruit will be produced through our ministry by the Holy Spirit.

These are the attributes of a living faith forged in the foundry of spiritual growth intent upon production of eternal fruit. These attributes forge a chain that connects the supernatural existence of God to the temporal existence of mankind. The believer with these qualities added to his/her faith becomes that connecting link. The outcome of that supernatural connection is that “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:8).

Central to a local church’s failure in fulfilling the Great Commission is the failure of people who have not forged a real world faith in their lives and who are not living in the Tripartite of Power. Wilderness Christians remain in the barren wilderness of fruitlessness because they have a superficial knowledge of God, a superficial knowledge of the ministry of His indwelling Spirit, and a superficial faith that never connects them to the spiritual warfare that living in the Promised Land necessitates.

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