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: The Indwelling Spirit and the Foolishness of Preaching

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Indwelling Spirit and the Foolishness of Preaching

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls(Acts 2:14-41).

Ten days after the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father in glory, the Person of the Holy Spirit of God was released into the world. However, He was not merely released into the atmosphere. In God’s omnipresence, the Spirit of God already filled the atmosphere of the world. On the Day of Pentecost, the Person of the Spirit of God was released into those believers who had trusted in the death, burial, and resurrection/glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation and redemption.

Upon Christ’s resurrection/glorification, He created a New Genesis and a New Existence where once again God would dwell within His creation, although only within those “born again” of the Spirit into this New Genesis. The intent of this new spiritual dynamic was for the ongoing work of God in the New Creation, that began in Christ “before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9 & Titus 1:2), would now continue through a supernatural partnership (“fellowship”) with “born again” believers indwelled by, and filled with, the Person of the Holy Spirit of God.

The indwelling of the Spirit of God is conditioned upon being saved. It is the outcome of a person’s faith decision to repent of sin, believe the Gospel, confess Christ to be JEHOVAH (LORD), call on the Name of Jesus to save us from eternal separation from God (“death”), and receive the Person of Christ in the Person of the indwelling Spirit of God. The indwelling is a one-time (once-for-all) occurrence that never needs to be repeated in that God’s promise is that He “5b will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5b-6).

The filling of the Spirit of God is the releasing of the creative power of God through the ministry of the life of the Spirit indwelled believer. The intent of this release of the creative power of God through the “work of the ministry” in the life of a believer is for spiritual “fruit” to be produced to God’s glory. Spiritual “fruit” refers specifically to souls being saved by the Spirit filled believer’s proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a sinner brought to conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and that same sinner making a faith decision to repent, believe, confess, call upon the Name of Jesus, and receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. This whole spiritual dynamic of the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit through the life of a Spirit filled believer is that which defines “by grace through faith” in Ephesians 2:8-9. The word “grace” defines the supernatural operations of God in every dispensation. In the Age of Grace, the supernatural operations of God are done through the lives of Spirit filled believers.

The filling of the Spirit of God is conditioned upon total surrender of a believer’s will, emotions, actions and ambitions to the indwelling Christ. In the filling of the surrendered believer by the Holy Spirit, that believer is literally physically, emotionally, and spiritually transfigured to be Christ-like.

When a believer is filled with the Spirit of God, that believer will be preoccupied with the same things the Spirit of God is preoccupied with. In other words, there are spiritual outcomes that manifest a believer’s being filled with the Spirit. If the outcomes do not exist, neither does the filling exist. When a believer is truly filled with the Spirit of God the Christ-life will be produced. The presence of the Christ-life will be manifested through seven outcome realities in that believer’s life. The Spirit filled believer will be:

1. Preoccupied with being separated from worldliness

2. Preoccupied with being holy in that separation from worldliness and holiness are two essentials for our ministry to be acceptable unto God and, therefore, blessed of God (for “fruit” to be produced)

3. Preoccupied with the in-depth study of God’s Word to be equipped to do the “work of the ministry” in persuading sinners of Truth

4. Preoccupied with maintaining unbroken fellowship with the Godhead through total surrender of our wills and absolute obedience to God’s will

5. Preoccupied with seeking the lost and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ

6. Preoccupied with leading the people who get saved to become part of a local church where they can be discipled and be sent “into all the world” (authority to minister always comes through a local church)

7. Preoccupation with discipleship involves teaching people the doctrine of grace and the spiritual essentials necessary to create a continuum of “fruit” producers.

Throughout the history of Christianity, these seven outcome realities have preoccupied the lives of those we have come to know as truly great Christians. The light of their lives shined so brightly in the darkness of the evil corruption of the world that they could not be ignored. Their lives drew the attention of the world upon them and that attention was almost always accompanied by great persecution; “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). As their lives moved through the history of this spiritual tension, thousands upon thousands came to trust in Christ for salvation, were added to the membership of local churches, and were discipled to create a continuum of what really defines true Christianity or remnant Christianity. In every case they brought forth much fruit.

Clearly, this is the spiritual dynamic we see in Acts chapter 2 and is the historical record of the beginning of the New Covenant in the Acts of Jesus Christ through the Indwelling and Filling of Believers by the Holy Spirit (the real subject matter of what is commonly referred to as the Acts of the Apostles). Truth that is known, but never lived, is more dangerous to the believer than complete ignorance in that the believer, at the point of that knowledge, immediately becomes responsible to live what he knows. The difference between the Truth we know and the Truth we live is the measurement of the degree of our own hypocrisy.

Prior to the ministry of John the Baptist and the beginning of the ministry of Jesus Christ, there were 400 years of silence. For 400 years God’s voice through a prophet was silent to the people of Israel. There were many false prophets and false Messiahs that came on the scene of history over those 400 years, but God did not speak through them. The coming of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the message of redemption broke through this darkness of silence like a bright morning sunrise after a long, dark night.

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The last act of Christ before His ascension unto the Father was to delegate the responsibility of the proclamation of the Gospel and of making disciples to Church Age believers. 8 But ye shall receive power {dunamis; i.e., mighty force implying, miraculous, creative, explosive power}, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and {the outcome of this power is that} ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:8-9). The filling of the Spirit of God is almost always accompanied by the manifestation of the powerful proclamation of the Gospel producing/creating “fruit.”

Preaching: the Preoccupation with the Ministry of Proclamation

Never in the book of Acts is the filling of the Spirit separated from the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a primary outcome of that filling.

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore {due to Saul’s persecution of the believers before he was saved} they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word(Acts 8:1-4).

“19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21).

Perhaps one of Satan’s greatest deceptions and perversions of moral responsibility is the deception that preaching is only the responsibility of a select, special group of people that would come to be known as clergymen. The etymology of the meaning of the word clergy is that of higher learning or in the noun form, a very learned person. This evolved into referring to someone with high theological training as a Clergyman.

The second greatest deception and perversion of the Great Commission given to all believers was that preaching was to be done by Clergymen in a building called the Church. This made the Church (whatever that term came to mean at that point in history) become a place where people came to hear the Clergyman preach (in most cases that meant whatever perversion of the Gospel that Clergyman believed).

Although the proclamation of the “whole counsel” of God is the business of the Pastor of a local church, the preaching of the gospel is the responsibility of every Christian in every venue, place, and opportunity of their everyday lives. Certainly, this proclamation of the Gospel and Christ’s expectations of the Redeemed is not to be segregated from our everyday lives and it is not to be relegated to within the Church House walls.

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:17-21).

The Scriptural pattern of preaching found in the book of Acts is not that of a handful of specially trained men, but that of every “born again” believer telling others about what happened to them personally and what Christ will do for others if they will believe. This Scriptural pattern of preaching found in the book of Acts defines what normal, Spirit filled Christianity should look like and be occupied with.

This radical transitional change of responsibility between the thousands of years of recorded history of the Old Covenant and the first 60 years of the beginning of the New Covenant on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 is exemplified by the fact that “preaching is referred to 20 times in the Old testament and 250 times in the New testament.”[1] This preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and creating disciples of Jesus Christ is what defines the “work of the ministry” that all believers are to be brought to spiritual maturity to be equipped to do.

Discipleship should be the occupation of every local church as it assembles and evangelism (preaching the Gospel) should be the occupation of a local church as it leaves the assembly and goes into the world. Local church membership, personal and corporate Bible study, personal and corporate prayer, and the preaching/teaching ministry in the assembly CANNOT be separated from this ultimate responsibility to preach the Gospel and make disciples. In Ephesians 4:1-16, the Apostle Paul details the moral responsibility to the grace of God in the local church and sets before us an outline of necessities to the outcome of true local church growth (“for the edifying of the body of Christ,” vs. 12b).

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 {the worthy walk now defined} With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 {unity now defined} There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one {every individual, signifying individual responsibility} of us is given grace {the inner supernatural enabling} according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts {the gifted men of verse 11} unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill {referring to the filling of the Spirit} all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers {those that preach and teach in the assembly of local churches}; 12 For the perfecting {to completely furnish all that is necessary to complete a task or purpose} of the saints, for the work of the ministry {to take what they have been taught by the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers and proclaim it in the world}, for the edifying {referring to the construction of the living Temple organism through evangelism/discipleship) of the body of Christ {local churches}” (Ephesians 4:1-12).

Ephesians 4:12 clearly lays the responsibility upon the gifted men that Christ gives to local churches for preparing ALL believers within a local assembly to preach/teach/speak about the Lord Jesus Christ, His provision of salvation “by grace through faith,” and His definitive expectations of those who profess to be “born again” of the Spirit of God. However, if the gifted men that Christ gives to local churches have done what they are commissioned to do, the responsibility for reaching the world with the gospel and making disciples of every nation (ethnicity or language group) becomes the responsibility of the members of the “body of Christ.” This understanding radically impacts how each individual establishes his/her own missional vision regarding personal responsibility to the ministry of a local church and how that local church extends its ministries in “all the world.”

Ephesians 4:13-16 continues to define and develop the missional vision of a local church and individual members of that local church in their accountability to the Lord Jesus Christ and to one another in some very specific detail. As we read the text, notice that there is an ultimate and definitive goal in the spiritual maturity that is prepared to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe in these few verses we can find why individual Christians and most local churches are really ineffective in confronting the world with the doctrine of condemnation and becoming part of the rescue mission of Christ; SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY. This spiritual immaturity can be credited to one of two causes (or both). People either refuse to learn and obey or God’s gifted men are not teaching the whole counsel of God.” In the first case, there is little a pastor can do but to shake off the dust of the ground from his feet and move on to another locality where his ministry might be received. In the second case, where the pastor is failing to teach the whole counsel of God, the people need to cry out for the teaching they need or find a local church where the pastor is fulfilling his obligations to try to bring the people to spiritual maturity. Look at Ephesians 4:13-16 and see the perimeters of Christ expectations regarding this.

13 Till we all come {attain to or arrive at} in the unity {oneness} of the {one} faith, and of the knowledge {intimate, relational knowledge, not mere intellectual knowledge} of the Son of God, unto a perfect {teleios; completed in spiritual maturity in living the Christ-life} man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ {i.e., maturity compared to Christ and His teachings} : 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:13-16).

Clearly, according to Ephesians 4:13-16, we are given a measurable standard by which we can compare where we are and where we ought to be both individually and corporately as a local assembly. Every individual member within a local assembly is an integral part of the mechanism of church growth. Each of us are uniformly accountable for one another’s spiritual growth towards spiritual maturity. To divorce ourselves from that responsibility is a serious manifestation of either ignorance or willful disobedience. In either case, it is still SIN! Surely we can understand that even God cannot bless something we do not do. Surely we can understand that our failure to work towards spiritual maturity is a gross abuse of the grace of God.

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; Systematic Theology; Vol. VII, Thirteenth Printing, June , 1976, page 254

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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