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: October 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crossing Guards for the Doctrine of Separation

       We have all kinds of new guidelines being established for the practice of separation.  Things are certainly looking a lot different in practice than they did just a decade ago.  Biblical “fellowship” is now being defined by degrees and on levels often without any criteria of biblical exegesis.  Theology has moved into the helter-skelter world of rationalism and the fluid constructionism of the Post-modern view of truth as a commodity that is constantly evolving to be relevant to the culture in which it seeks to co-exist.  We would expect this praxis within Liberalism.  We might even expect it within Emergent Evangelicalism with its constant quest for cultural relevancy.  We have seen this happen within Evangelicalism as they spend more time asking questions than they do providing answers.  However, we would expect Fundamentalists to be above such nonsense. 
          The guidelines and boundaries for biblical separation are not complex issues.  We establish these guidelines and boundaries for biblical separation by answering one simple question according to the exegesis of Ephesians 4:1-7.  What action, attitude, or false doctrine on my part will cause me to lose the supernatural enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and break “the unity of the Spirit”? 

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).

          The emphasis of this text is basic.  The tri-unity of God between the three Persons of the Godhead is perfect.  In the tri-unity of the Godhead, there is unity in essence, doctrine, purpose, and practice.  The only time in eternity that the tri-unity of the Godhead was ever broken was during the three hours of darkness (Luke 23:44-47) when Jesus, the eternal Son of God incarnate, bore the wrath of God for the “sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).  That was the true agony of the Cross and all Persons of the Godhead suffered during those three hours due to that broken fellowship. 
          Is there a practicum for separation in Ephesians 4:1-7?  I think the answer to that question is obvious since a central purpose of the text is about “unity of the Spirit.”  The only distinction not defined in the text is the breadth of this “unity of the Spirit.”  Herein lays the difficulty in the practicum of separation.  Is the text referring to “unity of the Spirit” within the context of all the ambiguity of Christianity?  Is the text referring to the “unity of the Spirit” within the context of individuals within individual local churches?  Or, is the text referring merely to individual “unity of the Spirit”?  Again, I think the obvious answer is individual “unity of the Spirit.”  If the priority of my life is to pursue perfect unity with the Godhead it must be within their own perfect unity in essence, doctrine, purpose, and practice.  Therefore, my goal as a Christian is to pursue the communicable attributes of God, the mind of God through doctrinal purity, heart of God in loving people in the depth of self-sacrifice defined by Christ at Calvary, and a walk that is completely separate from any degree of worldliness and separate unto perfect righteousness.  That must be my personal answer to the question regarding what is involved in seeking “the unity of the Spirit.” 
Secondly, I must take into consideration any other partnerships I will join myself to in that pursuit of the “unity of the Spirit.”  My primary partnership in ministry is with Jesus Christ (John 15:1-5).  Therefore, my primary responsibility in the practicum of separation is to insure that I do nothing or align myself with anyone that might cause me to break my “unity of the Spirit” with Jesus.  The practicum of this is found in answering the question of Amos 3:3 - “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  It is a rhetorical question with an obvious answer. – no!  If I join myself to another who teaches “other doctrine” (I Timothy 1:3; heterodidaskaleo - het-er-od-id-as-kal-eh'-o), will that cause me to break fellowship with God and lose the “unity of the Spirit”?  The answer is again obvious-yes!  Decisions regarding these other partnerships must include other individuals and other associations.  When there are a large number involved in this association, such as a local church or group of local churches, there must be consensus.  If the primary consideration is to insure that my fellowship with God is never broken, my obvious consideration of any consensus is that it is narrowly defined, not broadly defined.  In other words, I am not going to align myself with individuals, a local church, group of local churches, or associations of pastors who hold to any theological positions that I believe are unbiblical.  I am not going to risk breaking my fellowship with God over some frivolous fellowship with someone I think is leading people astray.  I am going to make sure I sound a certain trumpet.  Equally, I am going to make sure I do not sound an uncertain trumpet (I Corinthians 14:8).  God and His Word becomes my Crossing Guard when it comes to making these kinds of fellowship decisions.  I refuse to cross until I have God’s permission through a Scriptural mandate. 
          If a spiritual leader understands that anything he does outside of the “unity of the Spirit,” or the filling of the Spirit, is nothing more than a work of the flesh, why would he be willing to compromise that spiritual dynamic for anything.  This is certainly true of sharing a platform at a Bible Conference with someone who obviously is practicing things you consider to be sin.  We might justify such an action if the Conference was in the form of a debate and the individual participants are presented as coming to represent certain defined arguments.  In such a format, there is point and counter-point.  I have found these formats to be counterproductive.  In other words, the sides have already been formed and each side simply Amens the person postulating their position.  Also, simply because one person does better in the debate does not mean that the position he postulates is correct or his arguments valid according to Scripture. 
However, in the justification for platform fellowship with those holding to false doctrine or involved in sinful practices, there certainly appears to be a manifestation of misunderstanding of what is necessary to maintain fellowship with God.  The point is simple.  Can I in anyway enter into fellowship with someone out of fellowship with God because of false doctrine, or sinful practices, and not become out of fellowship with God myself?  Answering this question becomes the crossing guard to my practice of separation.  If I care about my fellowship with God, I will be very careful how I answer that question.  I certainly would lean towards taking a more stringent position rather than a more lenient position.  This is certainly not an area for arguing for liberty when we have so much Scripture defining doctrinal parameters. 
Inventing such terms as Platform Fellowship and Table Fellowship do not help in this discussion when these practices are not really fellowship at all.  I can be the friend of a heretic and have a cup of coffee or meal with him to discuss truth without entering into any kind of ministry partnership with him.  I must be careful that my public appearances with him are not construed as any kind of endorsement of his views.  Therefore, I would favor meeting with such a person in the privacy of my home rather than in public places.  I want to be careful that I never give another Christian a wrong impression.  I must especially be careful about public appearances in preaching/teaching/speaking engagements.  I have made some bad decisions about such things in the past and constantly regret them. 
          Christians do not understand the grief that our broken fellowship with God causes Him.  If we did, perhaps we would give much greater consideration to the flippant way we make ministry decisions and join hands with infidels to God’s truths.  Secondly, in an area in which God constantly rebukes me, we would be more careful to insure we act instead of react when it comes to all decisions in life.  I find myself often taking personal offense against things I think are offensive to God.  I know He is perfectly capable of dealing with those situations Himself.  Instead, I see the potential corruption of people, and the love that God has given me for those people, reacting protectively rather than through loving warnings.  Then, I become a corruptor in a different way than the infidels.  In such reactionary behavior, I too can grieve God. 

40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! 41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:40-41).

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).

          It certainly is difficult to maintain a balance in practice between Ephesians 4:30 and the following two verses.  This is the struggle in dealing with theological diversities.  Trying to maintain a sweet and godly spirit when discussing Bible truths with people with which you completely disagree is very difficult.  Sometimes you want to just grab them and shake them into submission.  Of course, such actions would just drive the dissenting parties farther apart.  More importantly, such actions would grieve the Holy Spirit and cause Him to break fellowship with you.  In other words, such actions would cause the one practicing them to lose the filling of the Spirit.  In such cases, a believer’s carnality corrupts the potential for God to work supernaturally through that situation. 
          Then there are those that give priority to what Ephesians 4:31-32 says without giving the priority of the text to verse thirty.  Although both aspects must be balanced, there is a higher priority established in verse thirty.  This priority removes every excuse for compromising God’s truths or for giving a precedent for maintaining fellowship with an infidel (unbeliever or unfaithful believer) above our fellowship with God.  Herein there must be the most careful examination of our associations with those holding to false doctrines.  We must carefully consider a number of things in both our association and identification with someone we believe holds to false doctrines. 

1. How will my association or identification with someone holding to false doctrine be construed by those who look to me for leadership?
2. Will my association or identification with someone holding to false doctrine give an immature believer a false impression regarding the quest for doctrinal purity? 
3. Will my association or identification with someone holding to false doctrine give an immature believer incentive to accept the writings or statements of the person I associate with even though I completely disagree with that associate?
4. How might my association or identification with someone holding to false doctrine harm an immature believer?
5. What would I have to do to insure that my leadership influence, on whatever extent my influence might exist, might not harm another man’s ministry or lead another person astray by my association with someone holding to false doctrines or involved in worldly practices? 

          I believe those in pastoral leadership, and those holding influential positions in Christianity, ought to be answering questions rather than raising more questions.  God has appointed me His Crossing Guard only for the local church over which He has appointed me Bishop.  However, I am going to be very careful with whom I associate lest they begin to give God’s sheep permission to walk where God has forbidden. 

3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:3-6).

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.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Has God Changed the “Old Paths” for a new "radical center"?

From the beginning of time, Satan and his forces of evil have sought to obfuscate the narrow way that defines perfect holiness.  With each new generation, there are new offerings in the nuances of obfuscation, even though these nuances are often in tiny increments of deviation from the pathway of righteousness.  They are often subtle deviations and they are offered as the true pathway.  These subtle deviations from the true pathway of righteousness usually carry a more anthropocentric emphasis.  They exalt love for our fellowman above our love for the truths of doctrinal purity.  It is one of Satan’s age-old tools of obfuscation.  When someone refuses to be acceptable to various degrees of deviation from the pathway of righteousness or from doctrinal purity, he is immediately accused of being unloving. 
Apparently, there are now certain acceptable deviations from the pathway of righteousness and doctrinal purity.  These new degrees of acceptable deviations are not based upon an accusation regarding the fallibility of Scripture, but the fallibility of theological dogmatism.  Apparently, we can never be certain about anything any longer.  Oh yes, there are certainly theological absolutes, but they fall into a very narrow category we will call the fundamentals.  Apparently, now the only real fundamental worth separating over is the Gospel.  Of course, this Gospel Only view must be very broadly defined to include Lordship Salvation, Easy Believism, Only Believism, Monergism, and even the Pentecostal Full Gospel.  These New Centrists are no longer going to separate over unimportant doctrines such as false Ecclesiology, false Eschatology, false Cessationism, or even over what defines acceptable spiritual music in the worship of God. 
When a person has somehow justified his actions, he will hear no other point of view even if it comes from his peers.  When he is corrected or criticized by his peers for an obvious  deviation from his previous practices, he justifies his new practice by condemning his old practice along with everyone that still walks in that old way.  The historic pattern is that the new generation rising to power must always be willing to kill the giants of the previous generation in order to establish a new monarchy of leadership.  Every new generation is willing to accept the new leadership especially if they come offering a governance of lower expectations.  That new leadership will always find a way to justify those lower expectations and do so without shame.  There really is “nothing new under the sun.” 

15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken” (Jeremiah 6:15-17).

As each new generation accepts these new pathways of acceptability, there will also be those still trumpeting the “old paths.”  Once the new generation has accepted these new pathways of acceptability, they also MUST reject those trumpeting the “old paths.”  Those still trumpeting the “old paths” must be labeled as extremists and hypers.  Granted, there are always extremists and hypers in every generation.  Therefore, it is easy for those promising to refine the pathway of righteousness simply to push everyone to the right of them into various categories of extremism.  After all, they can justify this because they are the new right.  This is just more justification.  They “will not hearken.” 
Apparently, there is no allowable degree of tension in the spiritual dynamic of theological discussion.  Apparently, all forms of experimentation in theological dialogue must be allowed if we want our voice heard by those that disagree with us.  Apparently, there are those who think they will be able to convince those who have deviated from the path of righteousness, even though all of their arguments have already historically been cast aside.  Those proclaiming to possess a more noble degree of true biblical love argue that obviously those arguments were cast aside because they were offered in an unloving way and with a too dogmatic voice.  The outcome of this philosophy is that the discussion with heretics (those dividing the pathway of righteousness) never comes to an end.  God’s command regarding this is simple – “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:10).
Those that claim to possess this higher and nobler degree of true biblical love do not see themselves as deviating from the narrow pathway of righteousness.  They simply believe that the narrow pathway of righteousness is narrower than God intended.  They see themselves redefining the pathway of righteousness.  For them, the pathway of righteousness is really much broader than hitherto allowed.  For them, there is room for broad acceptance of numerous theological views because man is fallible in his interpretation of Scripture.  In fact, they tell us, those who hold to the old narrow pathway of righteousness are actually in the ditch somewhere.  They tell us that they in fact are pursuing a radical center of a new broader way. 
It is amazing how Inclusivism always comes wrapped in such wonderfully intellectual and rational packages.  Amiability is the new word for theological toleration.  Amiability is the new word for biblical love.  I come from Old School Fundamentalism.  We believe in theological absolutes and we believe those theological absolutes are black and white issues.  We believe if you study the Word of God diligently that you can actually find dogmatic answers to every important question about God, life, and the biblical practice thereof.  Old School Fundamentalists were taught about social engineering through the processes of the Hegelian Dialectic and Centrism.  Therefore, we talked in the language of right and wrong, not right and left.  Centrism is the language of culturally acceptable norms.  Right and wrong is the language of the God of the Word.  There is no acceptable deviation in the language of right and wrong when it comes to the pathway of righteousness.  There is just turning aside or straight on.  Today, we need more men who are willing to obey God's command to Moses in Deuteronomy 5:31 - “But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.” 

29 O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! 30 Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. 31 But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. 32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:29-33).

          I do not understand how knowledgeable men can so easily be led into the ditch of philosophical compromise.  I do not understand how knowledgeable men can justify using the language of Centrism when they must know it is the language of cultural manipulation.  I think they must understand their methodology and have adapted certain agreed upon talking points.  If they are right (and their argument is that they are right), then everything to the right of them is wrong and everything to the left of them is wrong.  Yet, they are willing to label everyone they say is to the right of them as Hyper, while labeling select individuals to the left of them as friends.  Then they separate from those to the right of them (which means all those unwilling to accept their new center) and maintain fellowship with those they admittedly understand to be to the left of them.  It does not seem too difficult to discern the direction in which they are moving, even though they claim they have not moved.  This obviously tells us something about them.  Either they never were where they once professed to be, or they have moved.  Either of those two possibilities is unacceptable.  

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.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nine Characteristics of Hypo-Fundamentalism

          The prefix hypo is derived from a Greek word meaning under, defective, or inadequate.

1. Hypo-fundamentalism abdicates biblical dogmatism and promotes an ever-growing Inclusivism in theological issues.  Although Hypo-fundamentalism may not accept false doctrines as true, they are tolerant and accepting of those holding various degrees of false doctrine.  Therefore, they seek to redefine biblical Separatism.  This was the sin of Peter and Barnabas at Galatia (Acts 15:1-6 and Galatians 2:11-12).

2. Hypo-fundamentalism has a corrupted view of Ecclesiology.  Failing to make distinctions regarding dispensational transitions, they adopt the Kingdom Age view of the Church and adapt that view into the Church Age.  This corrupts such texts as Ephesians 4:1-16 from a local view of the Church (Ecclesiology) to a universal or mystical view of Ecclesiology within all of the ambiguity of what defines modern day Christianity.  Hypo-fundamentalism increasingly accepts varying degrees of Reformed Theology often beginning with Calvin’s Soteriology and the willingness to accept, or tolerate, Reformed views of Eschatology and Ecclesiology.

3. Hypo-fundamentalism rejects the preservation of God’s inspired words and accepts and adopts Eclectic Textual Criticism as their model of Eclectic Reconstructionism of the Bible.  Although they claim to believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures in the autographs, they do not believe they have the preservation of those inspired words in any apograph or group of apographs.  Although they usually reject Dynamic Inspiration of the Originals, in their view of preservation, they then practically can only accept Dynamic Preservation because they can never be confident their reconstructed texts have the exact preserved words from the originals. 

4. Hypo-fundamentalism rejects militant opposition against doctrinal heretics and promotes an ongoing dialogue with them as opposed to separation from them - apposition rather than opposition.  In apposition there are varying degrees of allowed “fellowship” (ambiguously defined) so as to gender ongoing discussion rather than following the biblical mandate: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:10).

5. Hypo-fundamentalism accepts ever-increasing degrees of Soteriological Inclusivism and Soteriological Reductionism.  These varying degrees extend into Lordship Salvation, Monergism, Predestinationism or Predeterminism, Easy Believism, Only Believism, even into the Crossless Gospel extremes.  Although there is ongoing discussion regarding these variations, they continue in varying degrees of cooperative ministry within the dialogue. 

6. Hypo-fundamentalism seeks cultural relevancy above personal sanctity.  This exists on numerous levels.  However, on whatever level it exists it is sacrificing God’s supernatural and enabling grace for the world’s “friendship” (acceptance).  This is another level of apposition – the belief that ministry to a culture is done as part of that culture rather than separation from that culture by establishing a local church counter-culture within the culture.  Hypo-fundamentalists seek to obfuscate the line of demarcation that separates the believer in his being “in the world” (John 17:11), rather than “of the world” (John 15:18-19 and 17:14). 

7. Hypo-fundamentalism seeks to avoid being viewed as religious fanatics at almost any sacrifice to true Biblicism.  This is manifested in the extreme by introducing contemporary Christian Rock Music into worship services and the toleration of practices such as Contemplative Prayer, tongues speaking, social drinking, pre-marital sex, and general worldliness in dress and entertainment.  Many hypo-fundamental churches no longer require abstinence from the use of alcohol and refuse to make social drinking a test of fellowship.  Sin is spoken of in generalities rather than specifics.  Their common word expressing distaste for these tests of fellowship is the word Legalism as defined contrary to biblical norms 

8. Hypo-fundamentalism adopts the Right and Left terminology of Centrism while always viewing themselves as being the Center.  Their word for this is balanced - meaning only their defined allowances of deviations from their center.  All to the right of them are dogmatic hypers, and therefore rejected as unmovable.  Everyone to left of them are potential friends.  True Biblicists see no right or left when referring to biblical Truth.  True Biblicists see only right and wrong. 

9. Hypo-fundamentalism favors varying degrees of multiplicity of elder rule that leans more towards Presbyterian Polity in Board administrated churches rather than Congregation Polity administrated under the leadership of a godly Pastor/Elder/Bishop.  In many cases, this is theological reaction against the apparent abuses of ungodly Pastors/Elders/Bishops, who “lord over” God’s people.  Abuses give no mandate to abandon established biblical precedents.  Rather, true Congregational Polity should biblically correct these abuses through confrontation and reproof.  Hypo-fundamentalists think they have a better way than God’s way.  

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.