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: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Twelve
The Relationship of Faith to Spiritual Empowerment

“4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:4-6).

Faith is a decision that grasps onto intangible realities. Faith is a blind man staring blankly into the darkness listening for the still small voice of God in the whisper of the wind, smelling the scent of God through fragrance of a flower carried gently upon a breeze, and seeing that which is invisible to his eye knowing with surety that God is real and that there must be a Creator if there is a creation. However, although we are all spiritually blind to God’s existence, real faith is not content to mere intellectual assent to a probability. Real faith must, and will, reach out to try and grasp the intangible transcendence of God; to touch God or to be touched by His immanency.

We must lay some historical background here in order to understand what is being emphasized in this text. Jesus said he would come again. Many believers assumed it would be during the first century of the Church. In II Timothy 2:17-18 we read of two men - Hymenaeus and Philetus, “who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; overthrowing the faith of some.” False teaching already existed by 67 A.D. leading people to believe they had missed the second coming.

In I Thessalonians 4:13 Paul prefaces his statements regarding the rapture of the Church and the second coming of Christ intending to correct an abnormality in doctrine – Ignorance. “But I would not have thou ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which no hope.”

Christ and the apostles taught the imminent (any moment) return of Christ for his Church. By the time of the writing of the epistle to the Hebrews (about 68 A.D.), most of the first Christians were growing old. Christ had not returned and many of the Jewish believers were giving up hope and returning to Old Covenant Temple practices. (The Temple was not destroyed until 70 A.D.). Hebrews 11:4-13 gives an important message by the example of four patriarchs to the professing Christians of this era; true faith does not give up hope. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises” (Hebrews 11:13a). This theme will continue through all the examples of faith in chapter eleven.

“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise” (Hebrews 11:39).

In Hebrews 11:4-13, we have the examples of four men and one woman who saw eternity through the eyes of faith and “embraced” the “promise” that God offered for them to possess. These five people saw certainty (“substance”) sustained in God’s immutability and rested their eternal hope in God’s promises (Hebrews 11:1). These are five examples of people whose faith became the proof (“evidence”) of the reality of the invisible things of God. They all moved in the direction of their expectations of God.

1. Abel’s continuing testimony of faith was that he maintained pure worship according to God’s ordained pattern (Hebrews 11:4).

We are told in Genesis 4:2b that “Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” God had already established that man’s approachability to Him must be preceded by faith in the death of a substitute. Abel maintained purity of this faith/belief and worship by strictly following this pattern directed by God. This pattern has never changed.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Cain on the other hand abandoned this idea. Cain tried to approach God with the fruit of the cursed ground and the produce of his cursed hands. Why was Abel’s offering “more excellent”? It was “more excellent” because it was offered based upon continuing faith through strict application of God’s instruction.

This is the continual warning of Hebrews; “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation (2:3). Abel is the positive example of continual faith. Cain is the negative example of reprobation in abandonment of God’s ordained way thereby exemplifying falling away from true faith.

“If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:6).

By Abel’s continuation in the practice of faith, manifested by the sacrifice he offered, he obtained witness (God’s testimony) “that he was righteous” in the substitute portrayed by his offering (Hebrews 11:4).

“21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26).

There was no difference between Abel in Cain in relation to their being sinners (Rom. 3:22-23). The difference was in their faith. Real faith never gives up on the promises of God. Real faith sees those promises as certainty (Hebrews 11:1).

The word “testifying” is from the Greek word martureo (mar-too-reh’-o). The interesting thing about this word is that it is in the Present Tense. In other words, God is still giving witness to the superiority of the sacrifices (“gifts”) of Abel, and by that continuing witness of God, Abel, though now dead, continues to speak to us as well (Hebrews 11:4). Abel was righteous, not on the basis of his character, but based on his gifts or sacrifices manifesting the object of his faith. God keeps that kind of testimony alive, even though the original testifier has died.

“And by it” (his continual faith) Abel continues, even after death, to bear witness to the “certainty of God’s promises” (11:1). He continues to witness, but had he quit at any time in his life as did Cain, who after having his offering rejected, “went out from the presence of the Lord” (Gen. 4:16); if Abel had done that, He would bear no continuing witness. The idea of the text continues the emphasis that the only way to approach God is found in and through Jesus Christ as the substitute sin bearer.

2. Abel is our example of continuing faith in the purity of worship of God, while Enoch is our example of continuing faith in the purity of walk in fellowship with God (Hebrews 11:5-6).

“21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: 22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Geneses 5:21-24).

Enoch walked with God for 365 years of his life and God took him home without death. Why did God bless Enoch with a blessing no one else in history has ever been blessed with? The answer is because he “pleased God” by maintaining perfect fellowship with God, he “walked with God.” “He pleased God” (Heb. 11:4), this is the testimony God gives about Enoch.

We often speak of giving testimony for God. Telling people about Who God is and what He is doing is what people of faith do about the God we love and serve. Yet, how often do we consider the fact that God bears testimony about us; glory!

Hebrews 11:6 continues to exemplify the faith of Enoch with the all encompassing, time transcending statement, “But without faith it is impossible to please God.” Was Enoch sinless (Romans 3:23; 5:12)? So what made the difference? God says his faith made the difference. Enoch, like all after him that wanted to please God, “came to God.” He believed God was who He said He was. By faith Enoch believed God would reward those “that diligently seek him.” The example then is in the answer to the question, what do you suppose Enoch (a man of faith) did as the result of that belief? He diligently sought God until God was so pleased with him that God just translated him right off of the face of the earth.

The words “diligently seek” are from the Greek word ekzeteo (ek-zay-teh'-o). It refers to an insatiable craving to know God. Perhaps this definition is why only one man in the history of the world has the testimony of Enoch.

3. Noah is our example of continuing faith in the purity of work or service (Hebrews 11:7).

God continues to maintain the testimony of real people of faith. In Genesis 5:29 God says of Noah, “And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” The word “Noah” means rest or comfort.

In Genesis 6:9 God says of Noah, “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Like Enoch, Noah “walked with God.” In Genesis 6:22 God says of Noah, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”

According to Hebrews 11:7, God tells us that Noah, “moved with fear” of God, did what God told him to do. Why was Noah’s service of faith so great an example of continuation in service? In Genesis 7:4 God said to Noah, “I will cause it to rain upon the earth.” That does not seem like such a remarkable statement to us today. What makes it remarkable is to understand that, according to Genesis 2:5, it had never rained before and here you have a man building a giant ark for floating a zoo and preaching that God was going to destroy mankind by causing it to rain.

“5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Genesis 2:5-6).

Can you imagine the ridicule Noah got during the 100 years he spent building this giant circus boat. Yet he did not quit “according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22).

4. Abraham is our example of continuing testimony of faith in the purity of witness (Hebrews 11:8-19).

God had given him the promise of a land and a people (nation). Can you imagine stopping Abraham after he had left his home and family at Haran? “Where are you going Abram?” I don’t know, I am going someplace where I will receive an inheritance.” Who told you that and how will you find it if you don’t know where it is? God told me! He will show me! Which God do you worship Abram? I worship my God!
The world would shake their heads in amazement over a man wondering around in the desert looking for a land he does not know where it is, believing in an unknown God. Yet Abram continued looking (vs. 9). Why? Because faith saw certainty in the promise of God (Hebrews 11:10).

Abraham’s continuing testimony of faith in purity of his witness is twofold: land and people (11-12). Did Abraham quit believing God for the son he was promised? He waned but never quit. He was 99 years old and Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born. Jacob would be Isaac’s son sixty years later. By faith, the land of promise was Abraham’s possession (11:9), although he never possessed it except by faith.

AUDIO MP3 at link below

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Eleven
Making Sure We Possess Unfeigned Faith

“1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. 17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (I Timothy 1:1-16).

Apart from the supernatural working of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God we are all what Paul describes in verses 9 and 10; “9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” These are the words God uses to describe all of us when we live in the carnality of the defilement of our “flesh.”

We will not be preoccupied with these words that describe our corruption apart from the inward working of the indwelling Spirit of God. Instead, let’s examine what is necessary to insure that these defiling characteristics do not flow from our lives; “unfeigned faith.” The word “unfeigned” comes from the Greek word anupokritos (an-oo-pok'-ree-tos). The word refers to something that is not dissembled, undisguised, without pretense, real, genuine, or without hypocrisy. “Unfeigned faith” is an apparent faith. It is a faith that is openly visible and easily distinguished from the counterfeit. There is no attempt to manipulate people or to get them to follow Christ through deceit or hidden agendas. This kind of faith is open and transparent about both its intentions and objectives. This is not true of the false teacher who seeks to make merchandise out of people.

“1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (II Peter 2:1-3).

The word “feigned” in II Peter 2:3 is from the Greek word plastos (plas-tos'), meaning artificial or molded. The idea is the use of words to manipulate. Words are carefully chosen by the deceiver to fit the individual. This is an excellent description of Positivism. Positivism tells a person what he wants to hear, not what he needs to hear. Positivism talks around sin, not about sin. Positivism never confronts the problem head on, but seeks a painless pathway (an impossibility in the extraction of sin from our characters).

Positivism sees people as merchandise. Since the Church is dependent upon the voluntary benevolent giving of people, the Positivist’s agenda is focused upon keeping people benevolent (wanting to give). In such a scenario there can be no genuine confrontation in the Plastic Church of disingenuousness with what is genuine (“unfeigned faith”). In the scenario of the Plastic Church, definitive doctrine (indoctrination) must be deemphasized and personal relationships (socialization) must become the emphasis. In the Plastic Church scenario, people do not attend because they are learning definitive Truths that help them with their personal relationship with God, their practical sanctification before God, and their supernatural enablement by God in doing the work of the ministry. Instead, the Plastic Church scenario is where a person comes once a week to get stroked, coddled, tickled behind the ears, and made to feel good about his life even though his faith is plastic and his life is plastic.

Today’s evangelical Christianity has an abnormal, dysfunctional passivity when it comes to Truth (“unfeigned faith”). Therefore, almost all professing Christians are caught somewhere between empty faith (unbelief) and full faith. Full faith rests completely upon the knowledge of God as revealed by His Word. To truly and intimately know God is to truly and genuinely trust God.

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. 10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee” (Psalm 9:9-10).

Yet, “unfeigned faith” is careful not to make knowledge of God’s Word a substitute for a faith relationship with God. Those with “unfeigned faith” will not easily be led astray by the deception of false emotions. Those with “unfeigned faith” will have spiritual discernment to discern between good and evil.

“10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:10-14).

Christians need to know and be told that they will stand before God and be accountable for their superficial knowledge of God’s Word and for their superficial knowledge the God of the Word. They will even be held accountable for their own deception by the false teachers who are able to use plastic words to manipulate them into accepting and producing a plastic faith. God is only going to be satisfied with the real thing; “unfeigned faith.”

Real faith causes us to act upon what we believe. Faith is not in knowledge. Our faith is not even in the Word of God. “Unfeigned faith” leads us to rest in the Person of God and to live our lives to His glory according to the principles and precepts of His Instruction Book. There is great defilement in religion without relationship. There is great defilement and self deception in knowing, but not doing what God’s Word teaches us. There is great defilement in doing what God’s Word teaches us because we want acceptance from our peers rather than because we genuinely love the LORD and want to please Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Plastic faith is always a defiling and a corrupting kind of pseudo-faith.

The Hebrew word that is translated “faith” in the Old Testament books is the word emuwnah (em-oo-naw'). It literally means firmness. However, the stability or firmness is dependent upon the surety of the foundation of the Truth upon which faith is structured.

The word “believe” in the Old Testament is usually translated from the Hebrew word aman (aw-man'). The English word amen is a transliteration of this Hebrew word. It literally means to build something up or support it. When a Truth about God or from God is believed, that Truth literally becomes a foundation upon which one builds his life and upon which a person lives and walks each day. Therefore, the phrase “walk in the light” is to literally walk upon the pathway that is the Truths that one amen’s. To declare an amen to a Truth read or proclaimed is in essence to publicly declare before God that you believe that Truth to be sure/solid and is now part of your foundation for living. This kind of faith is “unfeigned faith.” Anything else is just plastic faith. In fact, plastic faith is not faith at all. Plastic faith is a deceptive faith that defiles the person before God that is possessed by it (people do not possess this kind of faith, it possesses them).

Faithful means full of faith. A faithful life is a life filled with living the detailed knowledge of God’s Word. A person who believes that the Word of God is the Word of God will “labour in the word and doctrine” (I Timothy 5:17). A life empty of real faith is a life empty of the intimate knowledge of the Word of God. Show me a person who is not interested in knowing the details of the Word of God and I will show you a person with vain faith. Real faith is always anchored to the promises of God revealed in His Word.

“12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Corinthians 15:12-19).

A life full of faith acts upon the truths believed. The Spirit filled believer who prays for the salvation of a friend or neighbor then begins to move in the direction of expectation. If that believer never moves in the direction of his expectation, his faith is in vain.

“14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 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. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-20)?

In the next verse, James 2:21, the Word of God gives us the example of faith that moves in the direction of its expectation; “21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” If Abraham would not have actually been willing to offer Isaac, would God have accepted a mere declaration of faith. Real faith is always tested and proven faith. If your declaration of belief is never moves in the direction of its expectation, your faith is in vain (it is empty).

Therefore “vain” faith is empty of two necessities.

1. Intimate and detailed knowledge of the Word of God
2. The failure to move in the direction of our expectations of God

If those two necessities are not intricate parts of your Christian life, you are living in the power of your own carnal “flesh.” What that means in practical language is that you are spiritually powerless to engage the forces of evil and Satan will “sift you as wheat.” Unless you are honest about this evaluation of your faith, you will spend your life in denial. You will deny the actuality of your own unbelief and, in doing so, will continually deny the LORD.

“31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death {a proclamation of faith is not the same as an action of faith; Peter was not willing to move in the direction of his expectation}. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me” (Luke 22:31-34).

Now, before we get too haughty in ourselves, we better remember that it was only Peter who had enough faith to get out of that boat to attempt to meet Christ on the stormy sea that one night. He may not have gotten far, but at least that once he moved in the direction of his expectation.

AUDIO MP3 at link below
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Ten

The Impact of Spiritual Defilement (Uncleanness) Upon Prayer

“Let your heart soar on the wings of prayer to places your hands cannot reach.”

Seldom do Christians ever consider the broad spiritual ramifications of the impact of sin in their lives and the defilement before God that sin causes. Any sin that is not repented of, abandoned and confessed to God, and cleansed by the Blood of Christ (I John 1:9) makes that Christian unclean and defiled before God. Until that uncleanness is cleansed, that believer is out of “fellowship” with God and all spiritual blessing upon his/her life is lost. In our salvation, God creates a new union with the believer, which provides all believers with the possibility/potential for spiritual empowerment. However, unity with the believer, through which empowerment flows, is dependent upon the believer’s being clean before God and living in “fellowship” with Him.

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word {Logos} of life {the “Word of life” is used here to refer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as equal to the “breath of life;” Gen. 2:7}; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship {koinonia; a working partnership in the work of the ministry} with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship {koinonia; a working partnership in the work of the ministry} with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:1-9).

As we consider the practical aspects of each person in a local church as we are networked together in the “work of the ministry” through the omnipresence of God, what are some absolute essentials necessary for us to see the supernatural working of God through the Spirit filled lives of His individual distribution centers of grace. The first step in missions/evangelism/disciple making is always SUBMISSION!

1. Absolutely no spiritual fruit can be produced apart from “abiding in Christ.”

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” (John 15:4-5).

Since this is an emphatic Truth, how should this Truth prompt us to pray one for another in our everyday, moment-by-moment walk with God “in light” (I John 1:7)?

2. We must understand that there are two Gods; there is a big “G” God and a little “g” god. Believers partner in prayer with the big “G” God to thwart the workings of the little “g” god.

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” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (II Corinthians 4:1-7).

Understanding the spiritual reality of the existence of these two supernatural beings, how should the Truths from these three texts prompt us to pray one for another in our everyday, moment-by-moment walk with God? Make a list of prayer needs prompted by your knowledge of the Truths in these three texts.

Although Satan is a powerful enemy, he is still just a created being who’s power is very limited compared to God’s power. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). How should this knowledge impact your boldness in prayer & witness?

3. The “grace of God” is the supernatural enabling of a believer’s life, ministry, witness, and prayer through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. Anything attempted for the Lord apart from, and without, that supernatural enabling is an attempt to do God’s work in the power of the “flesh.”

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 {charisma}, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace {charis} 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).

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech be alway with grace {charis}, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:2-6).

4. Sin defiles the believer, his ministry, and his prayer life before God. Sin is any action, thought, or emotion that is out of alignment with the will (Word) of God. We tend to minimalize thought sins and emotion sins. For instance, pride is a sin that defiles a believer just as much as adultery. Remember, “pride made a devil out of an angel” (Tom Ferrell).

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Corinthians 10:3-6).

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence {desire for the forbidden}, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:1-11).

5. Perhaps the most wasted and abused resource of God’s grace in the Christian’s life is the amount of time we waste trying to do God’s work in our own strength and in defilement before God because our attempts at missions (“the work of the ministry”) are not bathed in the prayerful declaration of our own absolute dependency upon His empowerment. Power from God flows from prayer to God that comes from a heart that is pure with God.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:16-18).

If we understand the necessary condition of personal righteousness before God in practical sanctification before our prayer life can be either “effectual” or “fervent,” how should this knowledge preface the priority of our prayer life before we begin to make our requests known unto God through prayer?

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15).

6. The primary purpose in prayer is that God will be glorified (revealed in all His wondrous attributes) through answered prayer. The primary purpose in prayer is NOT to have our prayers answered.

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).

If our desire for answered prayer is truly motivated by the desire to see God glorified, how critical is it that this attitude and desire become the prefix to prayer and how should this truth be communicated through our prayer?

7. Prayer that moves God is prayer that keeps the eternal Kingdom of God at the forefront of all that we ask God to do. Although God’s provision of the material needs of this physical life are important, we must be careful they must never be given priority over things that have eternal consequences. If the Christian is living in “fellowship” (synergism) with the Holy Spirit, God has promised that material needs will be provided. Therefore, the believer who “lives by faith” does not need to constantly be asking God for these provisions. In stead, he should be BELIEVING God for these provision. When our spiritual priorities are in order, God takes care of our minorities.

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:25-34).

The priorities of our prayer life should be preoccupied with the supernatural, spiritual workings of God. The moment a spirit-filled believer engages God in prayer, Satan engages that believer in spiritual warfare. If Satan can keep you from being spiritually empowered by the indwelling Spirit of God through tempting you into sin, or by misdirecting the priorities of your life away from prayer, witnessing, and making disciples, he does not need to worry about anything you do because it will be spiritually powerless any way.

Understanding these matters should greatly direct how we pray one for another and what we should be praying about. Understanding these matters helps us grasp the reality of spiritual warfare and helps understand that we should expects sharp, hostile opposition to the things we attempt to bring God glory through our lives. Discuss and formulate a theology of prayer that encompasses all the truths from this short study. Discuss and list specifics that we need to pray about and pray for both for ourselves, our local church ministries, and for missionaries throughout the world.

AUDIO MP3 at link below


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Nine
The Four Leavens of the Defilement of Spiritual Empowerment

“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” Matthew 13:33).

“5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:5-12).

“14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand” (Mark 8:14-21)?

The word “leaven” in the Word of God is always used to represent some form of spiritual corruption (defilement or uncleanness before God). Any form of leaven must be removed or cleansed from our lives before God can use us or empower us spiritually. The first instance of spiritual corruption began with the fall of Lucifer due to his own corruption through arrogance and pride.

“12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14).

However, like all fallen beings, misery loves company. Lucifer, once fallen, set out to corrupt or “leaven” all of God’s creation. In his fall, he led one third of the angelic host into his rebellion against God’s appointed order and against God plan of redemption.

“And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven {angels}, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon {Satan} stood before the woman {Israel} which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child {Messiah} as soon as it was born” (Revelation 12:4).

Then Satan introduced the “leaven” of his sin into mankind through the deception of Eve by using the attribute of love against mankind. In Satan’s deception of Eve, he introduced more spiritual death into God’s creation of mankind. Adam loved Eve more than he loved God and willfully sinned against God bringing the “leaven” of the corruption of sin into mankind seminally (Rom 5:12).

However, God had a plan of redemption and reconciliation in place before the “foundation of the world.” He would become a man to die in the sinner’s place to pay the death penalty of the curse that His holiness necessitated. This was God’s promise to mankind in the words of God’s curse upon Satan and his forces of evil.

“14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15).

In Genesis 3:15, we have the Protevangelum; the first mention of the good news of the promised coming One. This was the gospel in the Promised One that Adam and Eve trusted in order to be saved. Immediately, Satan sought to instill the “leaven” of corruption to distort the simple message of redemption and reconciliation through the coming Promised One. Very shortly after the fall, we find Cain and Abel where Cain rises up in insurrection, rebellion, and jealousy against his brother Abel because Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice of a Lamb while Cain offered the work of his own hands to God. Cain believed Satan’s leaven of spiritual corruption of the good news that any avenue to restored fellowship with God is acceptable as long as we are sincere. In Cain deception, Satan introduced the “leaven” of corruption of false doctrine regarding a way to restored fellowship with God through “works” rather than “by grace through faith.”

We must never forget, this world has two Gods. There is thee One and Only True God with a capital “G” and there is the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4) with a small, tiny, itsy-bitsy “g.” The “god of this world” is the “god” and author of the leaven of spiritual corruption intent upon defiling everything and everyone before God. For the believer, any defilement equals the loss of spiritual empowerment.

There are four types of “leaven” (spiritual corruption) mentioned in these three portions of Scripture. Satan’s “leaven” of defilement comes at us from many different angles taking numerous avenues of subtleness. If he can infect us with any one of these forms of leaven, we will be defiled before God and unusable for the purposes God has saved us for.

1. The leaven of Sin (the corruption of spiritual seduction)
2. The leaven of the Pharisees (the corruption of spiritual hypocrisy)
3. The leaven of the Sadducees (the corruption of spiritual existence)
4. The leaven of the Herodians (the corruption of Politicalism)

First, let’s talk about the corruption of the leaven of sin. Sin is more than acts contrary to the will of God in either disobedience or rebellion. Sin is really the very essence of our existence apart from the inward supernatural enabling of the indwelling Spirit of God. Sin is descriptive of our very nature of thought, desires, and actions apart from God’s supernatural inward workings. Sin is a fountain that corrupts everything that comes from our lives.

“10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. 15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. 16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:10-20).

The “leaven of the Pharisees” is the hypocrisy of religious externalism and spiritual pretentiousness. This comes in the form of self-righteousness manifested primarily through contempt for sinners. The defiling leaven of spiritual hypocrisy looks at others in their sinfulness and presumptuously passes a sentence upon them. The spiritual hypocrite infected with the leaven of pretense creates a level of expectation for others that he knows that even he does not keep. He does not even consider the sins of the heart and the sins of the thought life. Nonetheless, he is defiled before God (and maybe not even saved).

“In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).

“14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. . . 16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor. . . 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty” (Matthew 23:14,16 & 18).

The “leaven of the Sadducees” is the denial of supernatural powers or an eternal state of existence for believers (Heaven or Hell). The is the “leaven” of false theology through human rationalism. The Sadducees denied the resurrection from the dead, and the eternal state of existence of those resurrected. The Sadducees were one of the earliest form of Deism due to the influence of the Greek culture upon them (Hellenization). They did not believe that God interfered in the world in any supernatural way. The simplest way to explain Deism is the idea that God’s creation was like a man throwing a bowling ball down the lane. Once the ball has left his hand, he does not interfere in any way. In Deism, God is always transcendent (separate from and completely independent of the physical existence) and never immanent (meaning to remain within). The point of the “leaven of the Sadducees” is that bad theology or false beliefs about God’s involvement within His creation certainly is contradictory to synergism with God in spiritual empowerment of a believer.

“23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, 24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. 27 And last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. 31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. 33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine” (Matthew 22:23).

The “leaven of the Herodians” is a worldly compromise of absolutes for political and sociological advancements through political activism.
The Herodians sought to integrate Roman political policies and culture into the nation of Israel. However, there is a more serious heresy in the “leaven of the Herodians. They looked to the Herods, Herod the Great, Antipus, and Agrippa successively as their Messiah. Therefore, they were in alignment with the Sadducees regarding their Deism and the Kingdom being merely temporal and earthly. They merely placated the Pharisees regarding Jewish government polity doing all they could to gain acceptance from Rome. Their compromises mirror the philosophy of the Emerging Church of today. We must always remember that the words politics and compromise are directly connected and almost synonymous practically.

“15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way” (Matthew 22:16-22).

“Leaven” is any form of false doctrine (heterodoxy) or false practices (heteropraxy) that result in false allegiances, alliances, and practices. The outcome of any one of these forms of “leaven” in a believer’s life is the breech of fellowship (synergism) with God. When this happens there is no possibility for spiritual empowerment until the believer is restored to fellowship with God by repentance of the sin, of pretentiousness/hypocrisy/self-righteousness, false doctrine, and/or false allegiances that compromises a believers separation from worldliness and unto God.

“Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning” (Exodus 34:25).

“No meat-offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire” (Leviticus 2:11).

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