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 Outcomes of Pretentious Externalism

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Outcomes of Pretentious Externalism

In the book of Revelation, in the seven epistles of Christ to the seven local churches, Christ uses the phrase “I know thy works” on seven different occasions (Rev. 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, & 15). In each case the word “know” is from the Greek word eido (i'-do), which literally means to see with the end result of eyewitness knowledge and in-depth understanding that comes with the knowledge of both the motives and the actions that comes from those motives. On three of the seven occasions where Christ says “I know thy works,” He is speaking of a good testimony (Rev. 2:2, 9, & 3:8). On the other four occasions He is speaking of actions and motives that are a bad testimony (Rev. 2:13, 19; 3:1, & 15). The point is that God knows!

Your testimony before people may be good because it is good. It may be good because they do not know everything there is to know about you (which is true of almost all of us). Your testimony may be good before men because you have manufactured one and your Christianity is really a façade, a pretense, and a stench before God. Your testimony before people may be bad because you live badly. If you live like a devil, do not expect people to treat you like a saint.

However, your testimony before God is what it is without anything hidden from Him including the motives of why you do what you do. Your motives are just as important to God as what you do. The point is that God knows! God sees into all your secret places. He knows the thoughts and intents of your heart. If you believe in that God, you would be wise to remind yourself that all facades, pretenses, and all forms of self-manufactured spirituality are immediately reduced to dust and ashes before the fire of His eyes.

The manifestation of pseudo-faith is nowhere more evident than it is in the history of the nation of Israel. The history of the nation of Israel, like the history of the Church Age, is a history of declension (deterioration or process of changing to an inferior state). The prophecies of Isaiah come to Israel at the end of this declension along with the end of God’s longsuffering with national Israel. Church Age believers should read Isaiah and Jeremiah with extreme carefulness, for we of the Church Age have fallen into the same declension. The primary characteristic of this history of declension is threefold:

1. The children of Israel forgot that God sees all and knows all.

2. The children of Israel took God’s blessings for granted and became ungrateful.

3. The children of Israel failed to maintain doctrinal purity, practical holiness, and began to sacrifice their distinctiveness for varying degrees of worldliness.

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:1-20).

The miraculous Exodus of Israel from Egypt took place in about 1491 B.C. (Ussher). During the 40 years in the Wilderness of Sin God revealed Himself in many miraculous ways while He purged out unbelief from the nation. Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua began in 1451 B.C.

Although Moses brought Israel out of bondage, Joshua led them into the Promised Land. Both Moses and Joshua are types of Christ; “And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers” (Deut 6:23). Obviously this physical redemption is typical of the spiritual redemption of Church Age believers. Salvation delivers us out from the bondage of a death sentence upon our souls and glorification delivers us into the end of our salvation in the eternal state of the New Genesis “in Christ.” The life that we now live in the flesh is to be lived in the power of the indwelling Christ just as Israel was to live separated from worldliness and unto God. Therefore, the book of Joshua parallels the epistle to the Ephesians and the warfare of the believer with the world and his own carnality.

After Moses death, for the next 26 years God would miraculously lead the children of Israel in victory over hundreds of city-states ending with Joshua’s death and the record of the nation of Israel confirming their faith covenant with God in Joshua chapter 24. Yet, in the very first chapter of the book of Judges, we find the record of the failure of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Manasseh to completely drive out the inhabitants of the Land as God commanded. On two occasions in the book of Judges we find that Israel’s problems were directly connected to their failure to maintain doctrinal purity and continuity in their lives. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6 & 21:25). This began many years of compromise that would lead the nation of Israel into almost complete apostasy. This compromise led to two progressive outcomes:

1. God began to chastise the nation of Israel progressively (by withdrawing His presence) in individual tribes according to their compromise. Whatever their compromise was would also become their judgment.

1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you” (Judges 2:1-3).

2. As individual tribes compromised, they became progressively more apostate. After the death of Joshua and the passing of one generation (about 20 years), the vast majority of Israel moved in a four phase sin cycle that was repeated over and over again in the various tribes throughout the nation of Israel.

10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. 11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:10-15).

Phase One of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:11-13

This phase begins with apathy and complacency toward the things of God and His expectations of holiness and purity ending with the intermixing of pagan worship and heathen/worldly practices with the things of God. Eventually this progression would end with “forsaking” the Lord (vs. 12) and accepting total paganism and worldliness as each generation allowed a little more of God’s absolutes to slip through their fingers.

From where does such obvious and manifest unbelief come? According to what Paul tells us in Romans chapter 1, it begins with failing to glorify God as God and with thanklessness. If you are ungrateful for what you have as a Christian, you have forgotten from whence you have come.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified {esteemed/honored/magnified} him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain {morally wicked} in their imaginations {thought life}, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).

Phase Two of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:14

Once they began to move away from purity and holiness (separation), God’s chastisement would come upon them to the degree necessary to turn them back to Him and His truths (repentance). In this second phase, God’s hand of protection and blessing is withdrawn. It was God’s intention to prove to His people that they could not survive without His help.

Phase Three of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:18

Once the people were under the chastisement of God, oppressed, and put into slavery, they would begin to remember the God they professed to know and worship. They would begin to cry out to Him in prayerful repentance. God would hear their cries and groanings and have mercy on them. I always find it amazing to see what God has to do in peoples’ lives to get them to remember Him and cry out to Him in prayer for deliverance. When you decline into a life of sin, remember God, and then remember the only prayer from you He is interested in answering is a prayer of repentance that begins with asking for forgiveness for forgetting Him.

Phase Four of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:16

In this phase, God would raise up Judges to deliver them out of bondage and lead them back to righteousness, holiness, and purity. According to Judges 2:19, we find the repetition of this cycle throughout the book of Judges and throughout the Old Testament. (This cycle is also true of Church Age believers as well.)

“And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way” (Judges 2:19).

The prophecies of Isaiah began around 760 B.C. (about 645 years after Joshua and the end of the book of Judges about 1406 B.C.). From the end of the book of Judges, Israel’s history is one of increasing compromise and God’s longsuffering grace. Although there were occasional flickers of revival under a few of Israel’s kings, the vast majority of Israel’s history is that of a corrupt priesthood, false prophets, and selfish monarchies. It is an amazing testimony to God’s loving grace that He suffered them as long as He did.

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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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