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: September 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Participating in the “Life of God”

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:1-4).

The only way anyone can know Who God is and what God is like is through the revelation of the Word of God. Yes, we can know there is a God by general revelation in creation. If there is a creation, there must be a Creator. However, God does not merely want us to know that He exists. God wants to have a relationship with us. Neither does He want merely to come to our house to fellowship with us. He wants us to live with Him in His house and have eternal fellowship with us. He wants us to be a constant and continual part of His life and intimately part of His existence. This is what the word “blessed” means.

Since God is perfect in holiness, He has some pretty stringent requirements regarding our personal holiness before we can have this kind of intimate relationship with Him. God will not, and cannot, change to be like us. We MUST change and become like Him. That will take a supernatural work of re-creation. This re-creation begins the moment we get saved and continues through our glorification. Therefore, the intimate relationship we have with God is not some future pie-in-the-sky thing. It is a present supernatural reality available to any believer at any moment through totally yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit and God’s will revealed through God’s inspired Word.

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:17-24; read Ephesians 5:18 again).

The blessing of the first Beatitude is for today; “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” But, the promise is eternal; “for theirs is {Present Tense} the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3b). This Beatitude opens the fountainhead that begins to define true spirituality; personal acknowledgement of our own moral bankruptcy.

God’s assurance of His blessing on this life corresponds with His announcement of the believer’s assured place in the “Kingdom of heaven.” This is a reward of salvation, not that which procures salvation. The “Kingdom of heaven” is not conditioned on the believer recognizing and accepting his moral bankruptcy. It is an announcement of the reality of the believer’s position “in Christ” regardless of that moral bankruptcy.

The word “for” in Matthew 5:3 is the Greek word hoti (hot'-ee) meaning because or since. The believer ought to recognize his moral bankruptcy because the Kingdom of heaven is his. Because God’s gift of grace in our salvation is so overwhelming and incomprehensible compared to what we deserve and because the Kingdom of heaven is where we will spend eternity as opposed to eternal damnation, we should never forget what we are without Christ and His indwelling Spirit in our life and we should readily recognize and accept this truth about ourselves publicly. We ARE sinners! Apart from the supernatural operations of the indwelling Christ, a sinner is all we could ever hope to be.

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

“Conversation” is from the Greek word politeuma (pol-it'-yoo-mah) and refers to a citizenship. Because we are presently a citizen of heaven due to the grace of God in the gift of salvation, we should be careful and always ready to publicly recognize and accept what we are apart from Christ. When Jesus returns to catch away all believers prior to the seven year tribulation on the earth, he will be coming from His “Father’s house” in heaven to take us to a place He has been preparing for us. He will be coming to take us home. Not just His home and the Father’s home, but our home. How can believers know this and not be grateful?

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Because the Kingdom of heaven is yours in Christ, because He has saved you from the condemnation of your spiritual bankruptcy and moral depravity, are you willing to recognize and accept what you really are apart from His working in your life? Are you willing to recognize and accept that whatever good comes from your life and whatever God does with your life, Jesus Christ deserves all the glory for it? Are you willing to recognize and accept that without Christ you are a no-body and can do nothing?

Friends, here is the place for new beginnings in being used of God once you have trusted Christ for salvation. It is walking away from the personal ambition to be a somebody and a willingness to be a nobody in the world’s eyes. When this happens you become somebody God can use.

The church is failing to fulfill the Great Commission and the beatitudes reveal to us a significant cause. A large percentage of Christians refuse to become disciples of Jesus Christ. They refuse to be different, distinctive, and separate from the world. The Beatitudes define nine distinctive attitudes Christians are to maintain about themselves in order to retain God’s blessing upon their lives and ministry. The word “blessed” signifies God’s pledge, assuring God’s partnership (“fellowship”) in whatever that believer does in the Name of Christ.

The first distinctive characteristic of a true disciple of Jesus Christ is a proper attitude of what he really is without the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ. He is absolutely morally bankrupt, completely destitute of righteousness, and totally depraved. The first Beatitude is a right attitude about what we are. We ARE sinners! The second Beatitude is a right attitude about OUR sin and sin generally.

Blessing 2: “Blessed are they that mourn” (Matthew 5:4a)

When the believer has a right attitude about sin (living in a continual attitude of repentance) in general and his sin particularly, his spirit will continually be broken about sin. This goes beyond the sins he might commit personally and extends to brokenness about sin in general. Sin destroys, perverts, and defiles everything it touches. The believer who is broken about sin will readily recognize the tendency and propensity for sin in his life. He will not try to represent himself to the world has some super saint who lives above temptation or that he has achieved some higher plane of sinless perfection in his life. Christians, regardless of how close they walk with the Lord, are nothing more than sinners saved by grace and enabled by grace. Notice the many “ifs” in I John 1: 6-10.

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. 8 If we say that we have {Present Tense, Active Voice, Indicative Mood; “if we say we presently have”} no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess {Present, Active; Subjunctive; “if we are confessing”} our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:5-10).

Because it is so easy for a person to receive forgiveness of sin there is the tendency to forget that when a child of God sins, he brings great sorrow to God because sin is an outward act of rebellion against all that God is and all that a Christian should be. In that choice of sin the believer chooses to live in the realm of the curse rather than in the realm of God’s New Creation. Christians often think of God as a Being absent of emotions. That is not the God of the Bible. God frequently describes His emotions towards the actions and lives of His children. Notice the different emotions God reveals in the following verses:

34 When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God. 35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. 36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. 37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. 38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. 39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. 40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert (Psalm 78:34-40)!

True disciples are cognizant of the pain and grief their sin and sin in general brings to God. The suffering of Christ before and during the Crucifixion is intended to represent to some degree the anguish, pain, and suffering of God regarding the contradiction that any sin is against His holy and righteous character.

I do not believe we will ever be able to fully comprehend in this life the pain and anguish sin brings to God, because in our fallen state we can never comprehend holiness. God is holy. This fact about God is the eternal proclamation of the Cherubim of God before the heavenly hosts. They are continually proclaiming of the holiness of God. Apparently even the holy angels and the Redeemed in Heaven need to be continually reminded of God’s perfect holiness.

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

Only when Christians get some comprehension of this absolute and perfect holiness of God will they ever come to be broken about their sin. Brokenness and grief about sin was always the first response of anyone who had a personal encounter with God. We find this true of every individual to whom God revealed Himself in the glory of His existence. A similar response will be prompted in the life of anyone who comes to know the attributes of God beyond the mere intellectual level. We should not need to see God face to face to generate this response of faith.

1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone {utterly cut down to a place of indefensible silence and guilt before God}; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:1-5).

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15).

5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

The person possessing brokenness about sin manifests that brokenness through humility before God first and before the world second. To expect God’s blessing on our ministry without humility is like expecting fruit to grow without trees or a tree to grow without water. To know our complete destitution of moral goodness apart from the operations of the Holy Spirit of God through our lives will naturally generate genuine humility and eliminated self-righteous pride.

God’s expects His children to be humble before Him and open and transparent about what they are and what they do. God’s blessing will not come upon the life of the person who presents himself as being above sin. God’s blessing comes upon the life of the individual broken in spirit about his sinfulness and humble in heart about what he is before God. We should be broken in our spirits because we a broken in our existence. We ARE sinners! Even our earthly existence is broken. We are part of a cursed creation. We should be broken in spirit about that condition and flee to God for His solution; regeneration and progressive transfiguration (Rom. 12:1-2).

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).

We find both the example of being broken about sin in the “publican” and the contradiction of this attitude in the “Pharisee” in Luke 18:9-14.

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man {the publican} went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself {a braggart who builds himself up before men or even in his own self-opinion of inflated value} shall be abased {degraded or brought down}; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

The self-righteous person sees himself above and beyond sin. He does not see himself as a sinner by nature. He looks on the outward appearance and refuses to look on his desires and lusts. In doing so, he justifies himself before God (the opposite of humility). The self-righteous person believes he deserves God’s blessedness upon his life. The humble believer understands that anything God does for him or with him is undeserved and an act of grace. Notice the characteristics of the person broken about sin and humble before God.

1. “Standing afar off,” expresses a fear of God.

2. “Would not lift up his eyes,” expresses humbleness before God.

3. “Smote upon his breast,” expresses a condemnation of himself before God.

4. “God be merciful,” expresses recognition of deserved punishment by asking for mercy (asking not to be given what is deserved).

The word “mourn” in Matthew 5:4 is the strongest of all nine words in the Greek used to express grief. It is the kind of grief God wants us to have about sin, both in our own life and sin in general. When was the last time you wept about some sin in your life? When was the last time you humbled yourself before God in prayer and confession about sin? When was the last time you asked God to forgive you because of your careless attitude about sin?

If you want God’s blessing on your ministry, you will need to maintain a broken heart about sin. You will need to learn to keep short accounts of sin. When you are a sinner who is broken about sinfulness, sin will be a problem that you are constantly aware of and constantly dealing with. You will not let sin go un-confessed. What is your attitude about sin? How serious are you about sin? It is not enough to hate sin. You must hate sin enough to be as inwardly broken about it before God as you are spiritually broken by it.

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.