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, 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.

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