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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Eight
Doing: Ministry and the Manifestation of Power

“7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:7-11).

In I Peter 4:7-9, there is given an admonition to believers within a local church union about living during the last days. The Church Age Dispensation will end with the death of every lost soul on the face of planet earth. Only those who repent of sin and trust in the finished work of Christ for their redemption during the seven year Tribulation will enter into the Kingdom Age Dispensation alive. Every other person who has received the mark of the Beast will be destroyed by the glory of the coming of Christ. With this view in mind, the believer should carefully follow the admonitions of I Peter 4:7-9.

Along with what we are told in Revelation chapters four through nineteen and numerous other prophecies, this is the world view of every Christian who believes in the imminent (any moment) second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the looming dark cloud of God’s promise of His unleashed wrath in His judgment of the nations.

This is the theological foundation in an any moment pending reality to which the words, “7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Peter 4:7-9) are addressed. Perhaps if we truly understood this any moment pending reality, we might begin to take these words seriously.

The word “end” in I Peter 4:7 is from the Greek word telos (tel'-os). This word refers to the point aimed at as a limit or the point of termination. The Church Age Dispensation is the next to the last age of God’s longsuffering grace upon this fallen creation. Then comes the “day of wrath” that Paul speaks of in Romans 2:5: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God . . .” This is the future horizon that all Church Age believers must be constantly reminded of. We must keep this prophecy as part of today’s possible realities.

Years ago, shortly after the Vietnam War, there was an extensive influx of Hmong people to the United States. After a while, many of them, especially their elderly, were going to emergency medical centers for treatment of malnutrition. They were living almost completely on blanched white rice manufactured in the United States. The fact is, their was not enough nutrients left in the processed rice to sustain them. Even though they increased the amounts they were eating, they were starving to death.

I believe this scenario is equally true of local churches where the “meat” of Bible doctrine has been removed. Take the definitive Truths of God’s Word away from the admonitions to a local church and you take away the spiritual nutrients that lead us to power with God. Although that local church may look like and act like it is growing, it is dying of malnutrition at the same time.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee expecting a rich, robust flavor to fill your mouth only to find nothing more than a cup of warm, brown water? Have you ever sat down at a table with someone where the food looks wonderful, but there just seems to be a lack of titillating odors and when you taste the food you realize why? It is tasteless? Have you ever gone to a sports activity expecting to see exciting competition between some very skilled athletes only to find mediocre performances with almost a complete lack of enthusiasm? What is common to each of these scenarios? We came to each of these experiences in life expecting something that just wasn’t there. No matter how much we wanted it to be there, it just was not there.

Vapid means flat, tasteless, or dull. The coffee was vapid, because it was made from poor coffee, there was not enough coffee in the mix, or the coffee was just poorly prepared. The food was vapid, because it had no seasonings, or it was not prepared properly. I do not get too excited about going to someone’s house for a steak if I know that their method of preparation is boiling it. Sports activities are vapid if the participants do not put in the necessary effort to perfect their skills and if they do not play with a passion to win. The Bible word for vapid is “lukewarm.” It is the word Christ uses to describe the plastic, tasteless, pretentious, lifeless local church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. He spewed it out!

Every Christian is commanded to be both “salt” and “light” in this world. Yet, the Christian that is not empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit will be savorless salt and hidden or covered “light.” The point is that we are going to be “lukewarm” if we are not willing to make some extreme, radical changes in our priorities of life and how we live this new live we have “in Christ.” Before we fool ourselves into thinking that we have achieved some type of success because we have convinced a large group of people to join our multitude, we better examine what kind of multitude we really are and what we are trying to become.

“25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35).

I Peter 4:7-11 gives us a spiritual recipe to avoid being a vapid local church. In I Peter 4:7-11 we see a number of words that describe the overflow of the Spirit of God manifesting His indwelling power flowing through our lives. There are seven ministry areas of the Christian life that are intimately and intricately connected to having a right working relationship with the Lord Jesus that are key to releasing His power through our lives in ministry to one another.

1. Sobriety; from the word sophroneo (so-fron-eh'-o) meaning sound of mind or thinking. Sound mindedness comes from thinking things through and taking into consideration all the Truths of God’s Word as they weigh upon any given subject or situation. Sophroneo was a word that described a person who did not allow his mind to come under the influence of alcohol.

2. Watch unto prayer; the word “watch” is from the word nepho (nay'-fo), meaning to abstain from wine drinking and connects sobriety (right mindedness) with prayer (God-dependency) in power with God in all matters of life. Contradistinctively, failure in nepho (abstaining from wine drinking or any similar worldly practice) would disconnect the believer from power with God. Even worldly desires manifest a weak mind (the opposite of a strong or sound mind).

3. Fervent charity; literally, unceasing sacrificial (parenting kind of) love for other true believers. The idea is the willingness to make extreme sacrifices for one another in order to help one another grow in grace and escape the shackles of our own selfishness. The words “charity shall cover the multitude of sins” in I Peter 4:8 is a quote from Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” The idea is that love is not constantly stirring up the dunghill of yesterday’s failures of a fellow Christian that have been confessed and forgiven.

4. Use Hospitality; from the word philoxenos (fil-ox'-en-os), it simply means being fond of guests. Christians ought to enjoy the company of other Christians and “use hospitality” to encourage one another. Notice this comes with the qualifier, “one to another without grudging” (grumbling or complaining about having to do it). Remember, “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Cor. 9:7). Hospitality is expensive both monetarily and in time. If love does not cost us something, we have not loved.

5. Minister “the gift;” “gift” is from charisma and “minister” is from diakoneo (dee-ak-on-eh'-o). In other words, God did not give us the supernatural gift of spiritual enablement to consume upon ourselves. He has gifted us with the intent we will use that “gift” and spread its as a resource to the widest possible scale of our influence “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Notice, there is a stewardship involved. Stewardship means we will be held accountable for this “manifold grace of God.” This accountability defines the dispensation (stewardship) of grace. Salvation is a free gift of grace, but with it comes overwhelming spiritual responsibilities to which we are accountable to God. He expects “fruit.”

6. Speech; “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11). The word “the” is not in the Greek text in front of the word “oracles.” It should read, “Speak as oracles of God.” The idea is the “thus sayeth the LORD” proclamation of the Old Testament prophets. The idea is that you are not communicating some philosophical idea or some great thought from your own mind. There is no option for debate or dissension. Truth is to come forth from the mouth of the prophet of God as if God is speaking Himself. Therefore, when you are speaking forth the Word of God, you are to do so with the authority of its Author.

7. Ministry to the glory of God; “if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11b). We often hear the word charismatic used to describe people who can attract large crowds. They are more like fly paper. The fly was just looking for a place to land and get something to eat and then he found himself stuck.

When God uses the word charisma, He uses it in the context of His supernatural enabling of a believer for the “work of the ministry.” This gift of grace is never to be use for some guy to build himself an empire of loyal followers. God’s gift of grace is to be used to make believers followers of Jesus Christ where all that we do is intent upon bringing God glory, i.e., revealing Him in all of His wondrous attributes to a blind, cursed, and dying world of sinners. Sometimes there is a narrow line that is difficult to discern whether a man is building himself a kingdom or if he is working to win souls and make disciples for the Kingdom of God.

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