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: Transitioning from Prophets to the New Covenant Priesthood of Evangelists

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Transitioning from Prophets to the New Covenant Priesthood of Evangelists

“12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:12-17).

Matthew 4:12-17 gives us the context of the dispensational transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and provides us insight into the primary directive of New Covenant responsibilities for all believers of the Church age. Matthew 4:12-17 transitions us from the prophets/evangelist and priests of the Old Covenant as spokespeople for God to the New Covenant prophets/evangelists and priests as spokespeople for God. The responsibilities involved in this transition are critical to defining New Covenant faithfulness for every believer.

According to the inspired words of the Apostle Paul, “prophecies, they shall fail” (I Cor. 13:8). What this means is that new revelatory “knowledge” (I Cor. 13:8, “knowledge, it shall vanish away”) of future events and the revelation of God’s will to the prophet will vanish away or come to an end, i.e., cease. This would happen “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (I Cor. 13:10). The Cannon of Scripture was sealed with the completion of God’s prophetic revelations to the Apostle John with what we know as the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). This cessation of prophetic revelations is confirmed by the last few verses in the book of Revelation:

“18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).

In Revelation 22:6-7 we have God’s command for earning rewards for all New Covenant prophets/evangelists/priests (all Church Age believers). It defines the transitional issue of responsibilities of New Covenant believers that is taking place in Matthew 4:12-17. The key word is the word “keepeth” in Revelation 22:7 and the responsibility of spiritual influence delegated to us in the Great Commission.

“6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:6-7).

The word “keepeth” is translated from the Greek word tereo (tay-reh'-o), which means to keep an eye on, to guard, or preserve. This is very similar to God’s command to the Jews of the Mosaic Covenant.

“And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them” (Deuteronomy 5:1).

The word “keep” in Deuteronomy 5:1 is from the Hebrew word shamar (shaw-mar'). It has almost exactly the same meaning as the Greek word tereo (tay-reh'-o) used in Revelation 22:7. Deuteronomy 5:1 gives us a threefold expansion of God’s expectations regarding what it means to “keep” His Word.

1. “That ye may learn them” or learn God’s revealed will
2. That ye may “keep” or preserve God’s revealed will
3. That ye may “do them” or obey God’s revealed will and thereby be right with Him and blessed of Him.

This defines the perimeters of spiritual influence that God intends for every Church Age believer. The perimeter is the world of the fallen creation in which we live. Obviously, we cannot “keep” or “do” what we do not know. Therefore, we must “learn” the Word of God to “rightly” divide “the Word of Truth” (II Tim. 2:15). Therefore we are commanded to “study” the Word of God in depth.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

The depth and detail of our learning the Word of God and God’s revealed will is defined by the word “keep.” We preserve the revealed will of God by learning it in detail and teaching it in detail to our children and all that enter into our realm of spiritual influence at the level of their spiritual need. This teaching ministry is the fulfillment of Christ’s command to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The word translated “teach” is from the Greek word matheteuo (math-ayt-yoo'-o). It refers to enrolling those who are “born again” into training as students with the intent that they become scholars so that they can, in turn, teach others to do the same (II Tim. 2:2). This is a defining factor in faithfulness and central to the “work of the ministry” (Eph.4:12) for which all believers are being perfected or matured/equipped.

“1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2).

It is said that there are two kinds of people in the world. You are, and will be, one of these two categories of people. The kind of person you choose to be will determine the realm of your spiritual influence.

1. Those that are made by the times (those who are shaped by the culture and customs of the world)
2. Those that are made for the times (those who shape the culture and customs of the world by creating a counter-culture of God-kind righteousness)

The model of ministry that we find in Jesus Christ, beginning in Matthew 4:12-17, is the model of how every Church Age believer is to spiritually influence the world through knowing, teaching/preserving, and doing/living the Word of God. This shaping of a counter-culture of God-kind righteousness is the overall goal of Christ in His teachings in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 and Luke 6:20-49. This is the embodiment of the Christ-life defined by the Greek word logos in John 1:1 describing the incarnate Word of God in the Person of Jesus Christ.

“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4).

The Christ-life is the Will of God lived out in human flesh through salvation/regeneration and through the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost this indwelling Logos of the Christ-life was given to EVERY believer that is “born again” of the Spirit of God. The Christ-life is both “eternal life” and the “life” that is “the light of men” (John 1:14).

“11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:11-12).

This Christ-life is released into the realm of the spiritual darkness of the curse through the filling of the Spirit of God. This supernatural life can ONLY be released through this supernatural operation of God called the filling of the Spirit. The ministry of every Believer/Priest, which includes every believer of Church Age, is release the Christ-life through our human bodies through learning the Word of God, keeping/preserving/teaching the Word of God, and living the Word of God in the enabling power of the indwelling Christ. It is through this trilogy of progressive transfiguration of our lives through learning, teaching, and living the Truths of God’s Word that we bring the spiritual influence of the New Creation into and upon the cursed fallen creation of death and spiritual darkness. Bringing the spiritual influence of the New Creation into the fallen creation can only happen when the believer learns to habitually live as part of the New Creation in this present life.

The degree of any individual believer’s influence upon this doomed world of the spiritual darkness of the curse is determined by these three criteria of modus operandi. We can determine our commitment to this spiritual influence and fulfilling the Great Commission by answering three questions:

1. What is my commitment to learn the Word of God in depth and what is my plan to acquire an in-depth, scholarly knowledge of God’s Word?
2. Once I have been adequately taught to know the Word of God, on what levels of my influence am I going to keep/teach/preserve the Word of God so future generations can have what I have?
3. According to John 15:5 (“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.”), how can I know when I become a living Logos in doing God’s revealed will?

Once a believer has been “born again” of the Spirit of God, he is part of two realms of existence. He is still “in the world,” or the material existence of time, space, and matter. He is also been baptized by, or with, the Holy Spirit into the supernatural spiritual realm of existence called “eternal life,” also referred to as the “new creature” (lit. creation; II Cor. 5:17). The baptism with the Spirit of God brings the believer into spiritual union with the Godhead and into the realm of His spiritual existence and influence upon the cursed world living in the darkness of sin. The filling of the Spirit of God releases this supernatural spiritual influence of the Godhead directly into the world through the life of the “born again” believer. This is the spiritual potential for every believer of the Church Age who will learn the Word (Will) of God, teach the Word (Will) of God, and live the Word (Will) of God. There are two ways this supernatural spiritual influence is released into the world through the Spirit filled believer’s life:

1. Intentionally or directly
2. Incidentally or indirectly

These two ways by which the supernatural spiritual influence of the New Creation is released into the world through the Spirit filled believer’s life are detailed in Matthew 5:13-16 in the metaphors of “light” and “salt.” These two metaphors refer to the believer’s testimony of the Christ-life in the world and upon the world. We will look at is these in greater detail later in these studies.

“13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Our testimony will influence others. If we live carnally and worldly and profess to be a Christian, we are in fact denying Christ the spiritual influence He intends to generate through our regeneration. In this case, we are a bad spiritual influence giving credence to the satanic corruption that is us and that is in the world. It is Christ’s intent that “the regeneration” would give us an avenue of escape from this spiritually corrupt influence of our fallen natures.

“1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1”1-4).

For any believer to live in such a way that would continue to manifest “the corruption that is in the world through lust” is a gross abuse of the grace of God that brings our lives into the realm of blasphemy. Such a gross abuse of grace distorts and perverts all that God seeks to do by bringing sinners into the New Creation and empowering them to live beyond and above the curse. Such carnality does not multiply the “grace and peace” available to us “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” It in fact, diminishes and devalues “grace and peace” thereby distorting what true worship is “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

In Matthew 4:13, we are told, “And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim.” Zabulon and Nephthalim are the two farthest northern tribes of Israel around the Jordon River valley that first runs into the Sea of Galilee (also known as the Sea of Chinnereth, Gennesaret, or Tiberias). Capernaum is a city on the far Northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum would become the headquarters of Jesus from this point forward and the city in which most of His miracles were performed.

Zabulon and Nephthalim became known as “the Galilee of the nations,” because it had become the habitation of numerous Gentiles and half-breed Jews. The whole area was looked upon with great distain by the Pharisees. The city of Nazareth was located within the boundaries of the land given to the tribe of “Zabulon” (or Zebulon). Nathaniel reflected the prominent view of this area by most of the Jews when he said to his brother Philip, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). It was in the midst of the greatest darkness of the nation of Israel where Jesus began to be the “light of the world.”

Matthew 4:14 tells us that Christ taking up residency in this area was a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy given by the prophet Isaiah. In other words, the spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel should have recognized Jesus as Messiah because of this fulfillment of prophecy and the sign miracles that He did here.

“1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:1-7).

Clearly Isaiah 9:1-7 is a Messianic prophecy and Christ quotes it because He is the literal fulfillment of the prophecy in His incarnation. This is confirmed by the fact He took up residency in “in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim.” We tend towards the opposite in our logic of choices of places to live and minister. Christ chose the place of the greatest darkness in the nation of Israel because that was where the “light” was needed the most and where the “light” would be the most noticed and the most welcomed. Yes, those that love the darkness will hate the light, but those living in the destruction that the darkness brings will welcome the opportunity to be rescued from that darkness and the hope that the light brings. Christians need to be prepared to live in these kinds of localities. Most Christians today would be overcome with the darkness.

Christ did not minister just in the city of Capernaum. He ministered in a region known as “Galilee of the nations.” “Galilee” is from the Hebrew word Galiyl (gaw-leel'), which means circle or circuit. The Sea of Galilee form an oblong circle surrounded by the land of the most Northern tribes. These were the places of Israel’s greatest and earliest apostasies. Christ spent the vast majority of his three years of ministry before His crucifixion traveling within this circuit. It was within this realm of spiritual corruption that He sought the fertile ground of religious pluralism to train His disciples in how to be light and in which they were commanded to live the truths He taught them. It was in this hostile environment that fishermen were taught to be fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). It was in this hostile environment that Jesus taught these disciples the basics of spiritual influence.

Jesus understood some things that most evangelists do not. He understood that people live in the squalor of sin because they are trying to escape from life, not because they are enjoying their lives of sin or fulfilled by the lives they live. Sinners live in sin because their hopes are lost in the despair of their own corruption. When you know nothing but darkness, light restores hope. In this hopeless despair, people are drawn to the light. Be light!

Anonymous comments will not be allowed.Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at:http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/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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