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: Filled for a Working Fellowship

Monday, January 4, 2010

Filled for a Working Fellowship

The filling of the Spirit of God is what brings the believer into a supernaturally enabled partnership with God (“fellowship”) in “the work of the ministry.” This supernaturally enabled partnership in “the work of the ministry” is energized by the Spirit of God as the believer obeys the five commandments necessary to a right relationship with the Holy Spirit and unity with the Godhead.

1. Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)

2. Grieve not the Spirit (Eph. 4:30)

3. Quench not the Spirit (I Thess. 5:19)

4. Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16 & 25)

5. Be transformed/transfigured (Rom. 12:2)

These five commandments must be obeyed in order for God to generate or create a supernaturally enabled partnership with the believer in “the work of the ministry.” Being filled with the Spirit must be connected to walking in the Spirit. Filling is never static or without spiritual life. If there is no spiritual movement (“walk”), there was no filling either. What God fills, God moves! Spiritual people “obey from the heart” and begin DOING!

God does not leave us guessing as to how these five commandments regarding the believer’s relationship with the Holy Spirit are to be fulfilled. In other words, He has not told us to do something that He has not told us how to do it. The how is defined in detail in Romans chapter 6:1 through chapter 8:28 (as well as a number of other Scriptures). Lewis Sperry Chafer[1] gives us an important point of focus regarding this instruction:

“ . . . [R]especting the negative aspect of the spiritual life, it may be restated that each of the three foes – the world, the flesh, and the devil – can outmatch all human ability and the victory over them is gained only by the superior power of the Holy Spirit; and this success, if it is to become a reality in daily life, calls for a peculiar and altogether different plan or principle of living. The change from self-sufficiency to dependence upon the Holy Spirit is a comprehensive one; yet at no time, even when believers are fully enabled, does the Spirit of God work outside the functions of the human will, nor is a consciousness experienced that another than one’s own self is acting or determining. The spiritual life does not consist in the withdrawal of self, of initiative, or of the consciousness of responsibility. ‘It is God,’ the Apostle declares, ‘which worketh in you both to will [with your own will] and do [with your own doing] of his good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:13).”

Simply stated, the reckoning and yielding that Paul refers to in Romans 6:11-13 are not intended to bring the believer into a passive relationship with the Holy Spirit, but rather an active, cooperative partnership of two wills and two natures, the Divine and the human, in a both union and unity that will bring forth fruit to glorify God through a supernaturally enabled “work of the ministry.” The believer is filled with the Spirit to supernaturally energize a working partnership that the Word of God refers to as “fellowship.” Take “the work of the ministry” out of “fellowship” and you have destroyed the purpose of God’s supernatural enabling/filling. That is the context of God’s instructions that transition through Romans 6:1 to Romans 8:28.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin{through the filling of the Spirit}, ye became the servants of righteousness {living, doing, walking in the Spirit’s supernatural enabling}.” (Romans 6:1-18; underlining and bolding added).

The words “obeyed from the heart” in Romans. 6:17 give us a simple statement of a new reality made possible through yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and the conditions necessary to supernatural enabling. It is not enough to involve our physical bodies in an external form of obedience. There MUST BE a complete involvement of our beings spiritually, emotionally, and physically in this obedience. This answers the questions of Romans 6:1-3. The essence of the questions is this; since the salvation of our souls from eternal separation from God is not dependent in any way on how we live, does that mean God does not care how we live? Are we free to live any way we want to live? The answer is simply, “God forbid.”

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us {holds us together or compels us to unity in purpose}; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (II Corinthians 5:14-15).

The No answer to the questions of Romans 6:1-3 is expanded on through chapter eight to include, not only the No answer, but the how to answer. This how to answer involves God’s instructions for practical sanctification (separation from the world and from serving our sin natures and in our separation unto God and serving Him). God did not save us and make us part of the New Creation in Christ Jesus only to leave us powerless over our carnal natures. Grace is the supernatural enabling of God available to the believer to bring this “under the sun” existence to live within the New Creation.

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:15-23).

There is a critical phrase in John 14:20 to the realization of the potential to the practicality of presently living as part of the New Creation of the Lordship of Christ that is in every believer. We are positionally set apart from the world “in Christ” (the baptism of the Holy Spirit and regeneration). That is what Christ refers to in John 14:20 by the words “ye in me.” However the critical key to the realization of our spiritual potential “in Christ” is revealed by the words “I in you.” “Ye in me” refers to the New Creation “in Christ.” “I in you” refers to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of God Who desires to enable the believer to live as New Creatures. This is what the phrase “under grace” means in Romans 6:14.

In the Old Covenant, a believer was “under the Law.” That means during the dispensation of the Mosaic Law, the believer was under the administration (control) of the Law. In the New Covenant (the dispensation of the Church Age), the believer is under the administration (control) of grace. That means the intent of God in this new dispensation and New Covenant is to bring the believer to voluntarily yield his will to the indwelling Holy Spirit Who will empower that believer to live a life of righteousness that God can bless with the supernatural production of “much fruit” (John 15:8).

This teaching on practical sanctification is intent to present the means by which the believer can overcome the desires of his own corrupted sin nature of the old and cursed first creation. God’s purpose in indwelling the believer is that the believer’s fallen sin nature “shall not have dominion over” him (Romans 6:14). The words “have dominion over” are from the Greek word kurieuo (ko-ree-yoo'-o). It is a derivative of the Greek word that we get the word Lord from. It means to exercise lordship over someone. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is to provide a means to get victory over the dominating lordship of our carnal, fallen, and corrupt sin nature and bring our lives practically into the ongoing New Creation.

Again, the means God has provided for us to escape the domination of our sin natures is the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit is what Christ was referring to by the word “Comforter” in John 14:16. The word “Comforter” is from the Greek word parakletos (par-ak'-lay-tos). It refers to a person summoned to join another in a partnership venture. The idea is joining the strengths of two to function as one. In this case it is the union of the power of the Creator in union with the power of the yielded believer. Therefore, this yielding is not passive, but active (participatory). The realization of the potential that lies in the Lordship of Christ lies in the union of two wills. The will of the believer must be yielded to, and become one with, the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 6:11-13).

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 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 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 of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Ephesians 4:1-7).

This hypostatic unity of two wills (the believer’s will with God’s will) is what the Word of God refers to as “fellowship” and what Ephesians 4:3 refers to as ‘the unity of the Spirit.” It is also what Christ refers to in John 14:16 and John 15:4-7 by the word “abide.” “Abide” is from the Greek word meno (men'-o) and means to remain or to continue in a place or position. I believe the place or position that a believer is commanded to “abide” in is fellowship with God. Notice the number of times the word “abide” is used in John 15:4-7 and how it directly relates to bearing fruit for 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. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:4-7).

The work of the believer in maintaining his fellowship with God is to maintain a submissive and broken will to God’s will. In doing so, that believer will “abide in” Christ. The words “fellowship” and “abide” are synonyms in the practical application of the doctrine of grace regarding the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the body of the believer and the filling of the Spirit. The word “fellowship” is from the Greek word koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah) and refers to a joint participation between the yielded believer and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Notice the number of times the word “fellowship” is used in I John 1:3-7 as it relates to how a believer restores the relationship (abiding partnership or “unity of the Spirit”) that is broken by sin.

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship 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 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” (I John 1:3-7).

Relationship is another key word to the realization of the potential of the Lordship of Christ in our lives. The words “under grace” (Romans 6:14-15) bring the believer into a new relationship with God within the New Creation and frees him from an old relationship (“under Law;” Romans 7:1-4). The matter of maintaining that new relationship with God “under grace” is the subject of the rest of Romans 6:16-23.

“Under Law” the believer’s sin nature was in constant servitude to the Law of commandments because it simply brought the believer’s attention upon what sin is. Since the believer is a sinner by nature, the believer’s focus was constantly on the struggle to overcome his own carnal desires. The Law was powerless to do anything for the believer, but condemn him. The Law could not redeem the believer. Neither could the Law empower the believer to obey.

Romans chapter six is still dealing with the issue of abounding grace (Romans 5:15-21). Does God’s abounding grace free us to live a life of selfish pursuits? Salvation goes beyond the saving of our soul. It is God’s purpose and desire to save our lives from being wasted upon the ruins of the cursed first creation. God wants to use our lives to bring “many sons unto glory” (Hebrews 2:10). That is the purpose behind the teaching of the doctrine of sanctification in Romans 6:1-8:39. God wants to teach us what we need to do in order to fully realize the potential of a fruitful life in the New Creation under the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the believer cooperatively yields his life to the indwelling Holy Spirit and practically brings his life “under grace.”

The word “also” of Romans 6:11 connects the practical aspects of the believers carnal desires of this life with the death of Christ (Romans 6:6). These two verses (Romans 6:11 and 6:6) are now connected by Romans 6:14. It is through the practical application of the spiritual realities of these two verses that the “dominion” (lordship) of the sin nature over the life of the believer is removed and the “dominion” of Christ (Lordship”) in the New Creation is established.

The word “yield” (Romans 6:13, 16 and 19) refers to a choice of lordship. If a person chooses the lordship of the Law, he chooses the “dominion” of the sin nature. If a person chooses to be led around by his emotions and carnal desires, he again chooses the lordship of the sin nature. Only when the believer chooses to yield “dominion” of his life (his will) to the “dominion” of the indwelling Holy Spirit will he begin to realize the full potential of the power of God in his life and practically bring his life into the New Creation.

We automatically become the “servants” of our choices (Romans 6:16). When the believer chooses to serve the desires of his carnal nature, he forfeits the power (not the presence) of the indwelling Holy Spirit in his life. Even though he is still positionally sanctified and his soul is eternally anchored in heaven “in Christ” (the New Creation), he moves his life back into the realm of “death” (the old cursed creation) where he is spiritually powerless and helpless. The realm of “death” is the realm of the Adamic curse (Romans 5:12). The realm of “death” is the realm of darkness and broken fellowship with God. The realm of “life” is the realm of “light” and the power of restored fellowship and restored dominion over angels (even the fallen ones).

When we choose to “yield” our will to the indwelling Holy Spirit, we choose a life of supernaturally enabled obedience to God’s will. When we choose a Holy Spirit empowered life of obedience to God’s will, we choose a life of obedience “unto righteousness;” that life of “righteousness” is a life that lives itself in the “light” of God’s fellowship and blessing (I John 1:7). The simple truth of Romans 6:16 is that you choose your master (Lord) and in that choice you choose to live either in the realm of death, darkness and the curse (the cursed original creation) or in the realm of life, light and God’s blessings (the New Creation).

The impact of living your new Spirit filled Christ-life will have on this world is simply a matter of choice. To understand what it means to be “under grace” is to understand the potential that lies in the matter of that choice. To say that “under grace” means to be able to live your life any way you want is a complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the God’s intent. “Under grace” means to live your life under the potential outpouring of God’s blessings through your Christian service and what the influence your new life can be once you learn to habitually yield your will to God’s will. The realization of this potential of your new life “in Christ” is simply a matter of choosing to completely yield the control of your life to the Lordship of Christ. Sadly, this is a level of commitment very few believers are willing to give to the Lord. Their profession of faith in Who Jesus is does not equivocate with a corresponding level of practice. Their lives become a shameful contradiction against what they profess to believe that in fact denies that profession.

“18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? 19 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. 20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. 21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; 22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:18-26).

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Volume VI, Dallas Seminary Press, Dallas Texas, Thirteenth Printing, June 1976, page 195


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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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