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: February 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Evolution of Taxonomy in Theological Divisions

The Evolution of Taxonomy in Theological Divisions

          Taxonomy is the way we group things together for identification.  We all like to choose our own description and our own taxonomy.  That is really not the way things work.  We would have to be naive to think people are not going to try to define us or categorize us in some way.  This process is natural.  We are categorized by how we dress, the things we find to do for recreation, and certainly by what we believe and the way we live.  There are so many nomenclatures of taxonomy that it would be difficult to even list them all.  Most nomenclatures are not of a nature we would refuse them.  However, there are also nomenclatures of taxonomy with which no one wants to be identified.

Fundamentalism is a taxonomy that has really lost its identifiers.  Fundamentalism, as a movement, was born out of the struggle against Liberalism and Liberalism’s denial of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures and the cardinal doctrines of the faith.  Liberalism came from German Rationalism and Higher Criticism.  The Fundamentalist Movement has always been theologically ambiguous from its inception.  Therefore, taxonomy of divisions developed very quickly out of the large number of various denominations and theological positions within the movement.  

Terms like Evangelicalism, New Evangelicalism, and Neo-orthodoxy are taxonomies that separate certain positions from the group known as Fundamentalism. Fundamentalists wanted to exclude these divisions from their taxonomy.  Those holding these positions were not to be allowed to continue calling themselves Fundamentalists (most did not want the title).  That taxonomy within Fundamentalism continues to evolve today.  However, the new groups did not want to divide themselves from the taxonomy of Fundamentalism.  They began to practice a rather subtle tactic.  They continued calling themselves Fundamentalists while separating the group they view to the right of them out of Fundamentalism by calling these men Hyper-fundamentalists.  They change the identifiers in the taxonomy known as Fundamentalism.  This is a radical change in the way taxonomy evolves.  In order to do so, they took a more inclusive and fluid approach to separation that hitherto would have excluded them from Fundamentalism.  Those now labeled as Hyper-fundamentalists continued taking a strict approach to the interpretation of the Scripture’s teaching about separation.  

Strict Constructionism or Fluid Constructionism

Most people understand these terms as they are used in the arena of Constitutional Law within the USA.  Fluid Constructionists believe that the Constitution of the USA is a fluid document and needs to be reinterpreted according to the evolution of culture and the changing cultural values.  Strict Constructionists believe that the Constitution of the USA is a static document and that its interpretation should control how a culture evolves within the parameters of Constitutional Law.  Fluid Constructionism is actually an outgrowth of Liberal Theology, which takes the same approach to the interpretation of Scripture.  Liberal Theology began perverting evangelism and the purpose of the Church through this fluid approach in interpreting Scripture with such things as the Social Gospel.  The Social Gospel came from a fluid interpretation (actually misinterpretation) of Matthew 25:31-46.  The text talks about Christ rewarding believers that survive the Tribulation and who tried to help the Jews during the time the Antichrist seeks to have them all killed (correct Eschatology is important in the strict interpretation of Scripture).  The liberal Fluid Reconstructionists reinterpreted this text to mean redistribution of wealth through progressive Socialism.  False theology completely changed and redirected the missional purpose of the Church.  

Fluid Constructionism enters into Christianity in many ways.  Perhaps a basic way is the way in which people reinterpret God and begin to make Him into their image, or what they want Him to be or accept.  Doing this culturalizes God.  In this culturalization of God, there is a transition whereby the focus is progressively corrupted by varying degrees.  God’s commands are progressively replaced in their focus by man’s needs.  Doing this tries to make God more acceptable to the mixed multitudes.  Almost anyone should be able to see how all of this has made the Church anthropocentric in the Post-Modern era.  It is amazing how people justify these distortions of God.  It is also amazing how each generation tries new variations of these distortions.  It is almost like they view Christianity as some kind of ongoing experiment.  When people minimize God’s attributes, or maximize one attribute at the exclusion of others, they distort the image that God reflects of Himself through the revelation of inspired Scripture.  Which corruption do we evaluate as the greatest offense?

1. Is the greatest offense by the Atheist, who denies the existence of God and corrupts humanity with varying degrees of moral relativism and ethical subjectivism like Paul describes in Romans 1:18-32?
2. Is the greatest offense by the Distortionist, who distorts the image of God by corrupting doctrine and thereby corrupting the criteria for acceptable worship, acceptable service, or varying aspects of holiness and separation?   

          In the abdication of dogmatism, theology is now being presented as varying degrees of theological theories.  The Gospel Centrists are not saying it is inappropriate to disagree about these various theories.  They just do not believe they should separate from those holding to a different theory than they hold.  They redefine separation because of some silly notion that thinks separatists are unwilling to even discuss differences with those with which they disagree.  Such discussions are not fellowship.  We can have the discussion and be friends without joining in cooperative ministry with people of remarkable differences in beliefs.  

          Gospel Centrism takes an inclusive, fluid, wishy-washy approach to the practice of separation.  Others taking borderline positions on Gospel Centrism, like Kevin Bauder, David Doran, Timothy Jordan, and Douglas McLachlan are trying to define their own taxonomy.  I like these guys.  I like a lot of what they have to say.  Men like Matt Olson of Northland International University started down a slippery slope and appears to have completely lost his footing and theological anchors.  The sad thing about Matt is that no one knows what his taxonomy is yet.  We know where he is not anymore, but do not yet know in what taxonomy he will land.  In doing what they are doing, all these men become Distortionists and Contortionists in varying degrees.  They are Contortionists because of all the hoops through which they must jump to justify their distortions of the doctrine of separation.  The Atheist does not pose the threat to the purity of the local church like the Distortionist does.  The Distortionist works inside the camp, at least until he is put out of the camp.  Some of these guys suffer under an illusion that they are still inside the camp.  The Lord’s camp is stationary and right where it was when they left it.  God intended His children to cross the Jordan; not to stand in the middle of it.  If they stay in their wishy-washy river long enough, they will soon find themselves in the midst of the Dead Sea.  

          These men mentioned here are leaders in this distortion.  They want to change their taxonomy without changing their constituency.  That is not how it works fellows.  I am sure they are finding that out.  They now find their detractors to be those that they once called friends.  They now find their defenders to be those from who they once separated.  They have determined their own taxonomy.  They may be saying, good riddance to their detractors.  The fact of the matter is that you are changing your taxonomy by confusion and compromise.  Your detractors are trying to detract people from following you.  Understand this, your detractors love you and seek to persuade you to repent lest you end up in the Dead Sea.

10 In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. 15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD: 16 Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. 17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. 18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it. 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day {the day you repent and return} will I bless you” (Haggai 2:10-19).

          If you are a student contemplating enrolling in one of the institutions of higher learning led by any of these men, you might want to reconsider.  A simple principle might go something like this:


          If you are an alumni of one these institutions of higher learning led by any of these men, your degree is being devalued before your eyes.  Having a degree from any one of these institutions of higher learning will cast shadows of doubt upon your beliefs.  Your testimony is vested in your identification with these schools.  Make your voice heard.  Alumni Associations should be the most vocal of all voices.  Local churches should write formal letters of concern and protest.  A turtle never gets anything done until he sticks his neck out of his shell.

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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Advocacy of Jesus

Studies in the Epistles of John the Apostle
Chapter Five
The Advocacy of Jesus and Being Obedient Children

          The one, two, three, say it after me corruption of evangelism has filled local churches with people who have been told they have been “born again” because they prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, and got dunked in a tank of water.  I am not saying that talking to God about your decision to be saved is unimportant.  We do need to call on the Name of Jesus to be saved.  We need to communicate to God our declaration of faith in the Lord Jesus.  The fact is that many people are suffering under an illusion of salvation that is propped by someone inappropriately teaching them the doctrine of eternal security.  Yes, those who are truly “born again” of the Spirit of God are eternally secure in that salvation, but the question of the Epistle of I John is – ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE SAVED?  The evangelist would be wise to insure that reality before he/she proceeds with teaching eternal security.  When someone has doubts of his salvation, always begin by questioning that person’s understanding of the Gospel.  Then proceed to question their biblical response to their understanding of the Gospel.  The Epistle of I John defines a number of other empirical evidences of having been “born again” for which the evangelist should help the doubter look. 
          Self-delusion regarding salvation is a serious spiritual problem.  People who have had someone tell them they have been “born again” seldom examine their lives for the reality of that new life “in Christ.”  They often become confused because, after all, everyone sins after they have been saved.  This is not the real issue regarding sin.  The real issue is what we define as sin and what our attitude is about sin in our lives.  Most people readily acknowledge sins of commission such as adultery, fornication, stealing, or lying.  Yet, they refuse to acknowledge the sins of omission such as being unforgiving, harboring bitterness, of being unloving, failing to be actively involved in bringing souls to Christ, and making disciples of those saved.  The sins of omission are easily omitted in our times of self-examination.  Obedience is a two-lane pathway.  There is the sin-lane upon which we are not to walk.  Then there is the obedience-lane defined by the things which we are commanded to do.  

1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 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 2:1-6).

          There are usually two groups of fools in most local churches - Pharisees and Prodigals.  The Pharisees believe they have achieved some degree of sinlessness and look in contempt on everyone else.  Everyone is constantly being scrutinized and ridiculed by the Pharisee.  The Prodigals have given themselves permission to live any way they want.  They dismiss their sin without consideration of their offense against a holy God.  The Prodigals ridicule those desiring holiness in their lives labeling them as legalists.  You escape either of these groups of fools when you come to see yourself the way God sees you and you become a beggar at His throne of grace.
In the parable of the two sons (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus is addressing two groups of lost people (Luke 15:1-2):

1. Publicans and sinners, the latter referring to those uneducated in Law keeping (the holiness of God) and therefore not involved in trying to obey
2. Pharisees, whose claim to eternal life was on the merit of their own self-righteousness

I believe the intent of the parable is to reveal which of the two types of individuals will be the most difficult to convict of sin and to bring to see his need of Christ.  What Jesus begins to teach regarding these issues in Luke 15:1 continues through Luke 17:10.  The purposes of these five lessons are as follows:

Luke 15:3-10 – the lost sheep, lost sinner, and lost coin.  The three examples are merely to establish that everyone seeks to find what they have lost if it is valuable to them.  Their rejoicing will be commensurate to the value of that which was lost and is now found.  This reveals God’s attitude about the value of the human soul.
Luke 15:11-32 – the parable of the two sons.  The Pharisee wants condemnation and rejection, while not seeing that of which he needs to repent – self-righteousness.  The prodigal son manifests genuine repentance acknowledging he deserves nothing while coming to the father as a beggar willing to receive whatever the father is willing to gift him.  Which of these two will be the most difficult to be saved?
Luke 16:1-13 – the parable of the covetous steward.  “Mammon” represents the idol of Materialism.  Few fail to see that Materialism has control of them rather than they control of it.  The Jews view wealth as a blessing of God and therefore God’s approval upon the lifestyle of the person with such blessings.  Many still take that view today.  Such belief is known as Pragmatism.  Men consider material wealth the ultimate measure of God’s blessings.  Christ responded to this false belief by saying, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that {material wealth} which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
Luke 16:19-30 – the historical account (not a parable) of the “rich man” and Lazarus.  This account gives an historical example of two men.  Lazarus was a beggar and would have been considered a great sinner by the Pharisees because of the lack of God’s physical and material blessings upon his life.  The “rich man” is the example of the Pharisees.  The intent of the parable is to establish a different paradigm to measure the blessings of God apart from the foolishness of Pragmatism.  The rich man’s wealth kept him from repentance of sin because he viewed himself blessed of God and therefore righteous in God’s eyes.  In fact, he was only righteous in his own eyes and in the eyes of other Pragmatists.  He was actually a lost man.  Lazarus is the example of a man who realized his spiritual bankruptcy and represents those who come to God with nothing in their hands.  Only those who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy before God come to him with the proper attitude.  We are all beggars when it comes to salvation!
Luke 17:1-10 – is about object lessons defining real faith.  The intent of the lessons regarding faith is to establish the difference between quality and quantity.  Most people think of faith in terms of quantity, just like people measure Materialism.  They think God blesses or moves based upon the quantity of our faith.  The fact of the matter is that God is moved by the quality of our faith.  A simple measurement is taking into account how our actions are viewed and interpreted by a child.  Children learn primarily by what we do, not by what we tell them to do.  Christ reflects on two duplicities that will “offend” (trap or trip up) children in the practice (quality) of their faith.  The first is unforgiveness.  The second is expecting blessings from God because we do what we are obligated to do as Christians.  It is a blessing to be the Master’s servant.  That by itself should suffice us.  He will provide our every need and we should want no more.  The servant of the King eats what the King eats, sleeps in the King’s housing, and lives under the king’s protection.  Children need to be taught this principle through understanding their father’s provisions for them.  The point of these examples is that failure in either of these object lessons is sin.  The quality of that person’s faith is greatly corrupted. 

The Christian, who understands who and what he is, understands he has nothing produced from himself that he can offer to God.  What can the creature bring to the Creator that He cannot create for Himself?  The only thing of value that the Christian can give to God is his life as a living sacrifice lived to the glory of God.  There is no one on planet earth who is anything but a beggar when it comes to righteousness.  Any possession you have is one given you by God.  Why hoard that which is so freely given us?  Why compare your shopping cart full of accumulated treasures to another beggar’s shopping cart full of treasures?  One of our greatest treasures is God’s forgiveness and love.  Why would we hoard such treasures and not freely give them to others?  Such hoarding is wicked in the eyes of God. 
The greatest of preachers are those who share what they have heard from God regarding their own search for a righteous walk with Him.  It is out of our weaknesses we reach for God’s strength and out of our conviction of sin we reach for God’s cleansing.  A walk with God will be as joyful as it is convicting.  No man who walks with God will come away from it without a deep conviction of his own uncleanness!
The intent of John’s statement in I John 2:1 is to address believers as infant spiritual children.  Therefore, there is tenderness in John’s appeal rather than an approach intended to generate obedience out of fear.  It is always best to try to cultivate love obedience rather than fear obedience.  Fear obedience is the way of the Law.  love obedience is the way of grace.  That does not mean fear obedience should be completely abandoned.  It simply means that fear obedience should be part of our last resorts.  I rejoice in the fact that God allows me a new beginning at any moment in my life.  I do not have to wait for a new year for a new beginning.  A new beginning is ALWAYS just a prayer away!
The previous chapter of John’s first epistle was intended to cultivate a desire in the heart of the believer that so wants fellowship with God that such a believer wants to live in God’s way ‘“in order that ye may not sin at all’ (the Greek aorist, implying the absence not only of the habit, but of single acts of sin [ALFORD]).”[1]  The fact that no one will ever achieve this goal does not mean that he should not make the attempt out of his love for God.  Such a “sin not at all” attitude is what every true Christian should possess.  When such a Christian fails, he simply confesses his failure and begins again within his new cleansing. 
God has given every one of His “born again” children two Advocates or Paracletes. 

1. We have been given an earthly Paraclete in the Person of the Holy Spirit living within us to plead with us about sin, righteousness, and judgment. 
2. We are given a heavenly Paraclete in the Person of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ, who pleads with the Father on our behalf based upon His vicarious righteous life, His vicarious death and shed blood for the remission of our penalty of sin, and His resurrection as proof of His victory over death’s hold upon our souls. 

These two Paracletes work in unity, or fellowship, in our practical sanctification before God.  Every believer unites himself with this “fellowship” between these two Paracletes when he yields himself to God’s will and to the indwelling Spirit of God (Romans 6:11-13).  This brings the believer into fellowship with the triune Godhead.  The preclusive attitude for the spiritual dynamic of this fellowship with the Godhead is the desire to “sin not at all” (I John 2:1).
The ground of Jesus’ advocacy for the believer with the Father is the ground of His righteousness.  However, the spiritual significance of “Jesus Christ, the righteous” is the second aspect of the earthly Paraclete in the indwelling Holy Spirit.  In giving the Holy Spirit to indwell all “born again” believers, Jesus has imparted His righteousness to them.  This is different than the pre-Pentecost believers, who only had God’s righteousness imputed to them.  The Person of the Holy Spirit is the Personification of the righteousness of Christ now in us. 

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).

Secondly, the ground of Jesus’ advocacy for the believer with the Father is the ground of the propitiation of the wrath of the Father by the vicarious life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the incarnate Son of God (I John 2:2).  You have no sins (past, present, or future) that have not ALREADY been paid for and for which God is not propitiated.  I John 1:9 is not possible apart from the universal propitiation of God for the “sins of the whole world.” 
The word “propitiation in I John 2:2 is from the Greek word hilasmos (hil-as-mos’), meaning that which propitiates.  The lid of the Ark of the Covenant was known as the Mercy Seat.  In Hebrews 9:5, the word “mercyseat” is translated from hilasterion (hil-as-tay’-ree-on), or the place of propitiation (also Romans 3:25 for this word).  Jesus is BOTH that which propitiates and the place of propitiation. 

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (I Peter 1:18-21).

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (I Peter 2:21-25).

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (I Peter 3:18).

This fact, that Jesus is BOTH that which propitiates and the place of propitiation, is the basis of His advocacy with the Father on the believer’s behalf. 

1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; 4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. 6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation {straightening things out or setting things right}. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:1-12).

The advocacy of Jesus exists on the basis of Him being BOTH that which propitiates and the place of propitiation.  This is the basis for why the believer prays in the Name of Jesus and serves in the Name of Jesus.  The basis of the acceptability/receiving of a believer’s service, or answers to prayer, is ONLY in the fellowship a believer has with the Father/Son/Holy Spirit through our relationship with the Son. 
We cannot pray in the Name of Jesus or serve in the Name of Jesus apart from fellowship with God.  All blessings of God flow through the believer’s right relationship with Jesus Christ.  When a believer prays in Jesus’ Name, he comes before the Father claiming a right relationship with Jesus Christ, and therefore also claiming a right relationship with the Father. 
When Jesus instructs the believer to pray in His Name or serve in His Name, He is not merely saying we are tack “in Jesus’ Name” onto the end of a prayer.  The believer priest ministers in the place and on behalf of his High Priest Jesus Christ.  Therefore, fellowship with Jesus Christ is the essential reality to any hope of God’s blessing upon answered prayer or blessed ministry.  This understanding gives theological foundations for the meaning and importance of doing everything in the Name of Jesus. 

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name {meaning in fellowship with Jesus, our glorified High Priest}, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:15-20).

Jesus teaches a similar truth in John 15:1-17.  In the first eight verses of I John chapter fifteen, Jesus establishes that fellowship with Him (abiding in the Vine) is essential to God’s blessings and fruit bearing.  In John 15:9-17, Jesus speaks of abiding in His love.  This refers to loving what Jesus loves.  We should not deceive ourselves into thinking we are in fellowship with Jesus if we are not involved in ministry that manifests we love what Jesus loves.

9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you {vocationally}, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name {meaning in fellowship with Jesus, our glorified High Priest}, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:9-17).

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).

          From the foundation of the reality of having been genuinely “born again” of the Holy Spirit, AND having the indwelling Christ in the Person of the Holy Spirit, there SHOULD be empirical evidences of that reality.  These verses will join with a number of other verses that test the reality of a testimony of having been “born again” of the Spirit of God.  This is the primary purpose of this first epistle of John - “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him” (I John 3:19). 
          The Greek words (en touto) translated “hereby” are used eight different times in I John to offer empirical evidences of the reality of having been “born again” of the Spirit of God (I John 2:3, 5, 3:16, 19, 24, 4:2, 13, and 5:2 – translated “by this”).  The intent of each of these texts is that a profession of an inward change of heart should result in an outward change in the way we live.  This outward change in the way we live is what Paul refers to as walking “in the newness of life.”  In other words, if a person has genuinely become a “new creation,” that person ought to walk and live respective to that “new creation.”

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” (Romans 6:1-6).

          The intent of Paul’s statement here, and John’s statements in I John, is intended to reflect a reality of a new life in Christ.  The reality of this new life in Christ is manifested in real changes in what we do, what we love, and what our time is preoccupied with.  Most professing Christians do not like to look at these realities because they reveal one of two things about their professed Christianity:

1. These realities reveal they have deceived themselves about having been “born again”
2. These realities reveal the extreme shallowness of their Christianity and there ongoing refusal to be separate from worldliness

          Most Christians have a pie in the sky view of eternal life and salvation.  Most of those people have been either completely misinformed about the spiritual dynamic into which they have been “born again,” or they are in denial and self-deception about the reality of their faith in Christ.  There should be manifestations of real change in the way a real Christian lives if their salvation is genuine. 

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, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life {right now} through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:17-23).

          In I John 2:3, John challenges Christians with the difference between a mere intellectual knowledge of Christ and an experiential knowledge of Christ.  True fellowship with Christ in the work of the ministry will be evident.  There will be evidence of a walk that flows naturally from a new “born again” life.  The word “keep” in I John 2:3 is a present, active, subjunctive.  Therefore the intent of the phrase “hereby we do know that we know him” is about looking for the manifestation of both the desire and practice whereby that believer is going to “keep on keeping His commandments.”  This not referring to the mere outward conformity to Christ’s teaching.  The intent is that Christ’s teachings supernaturally flow from a the inward man who is truly “born again” of the Spirit of God and indwelled by the Spirit of Christ.

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39).

          Each of the eight uses of the word “hereby” (I John 2:3, 5, 3:16, 19, 24, 4:2, 13, and 5:2) is intended to reflect the realities of “fellowship” with Christ.  As already established, “fellowship” with Christ is a working partnership between the true yielded believer and the indwelling Christ.  If that “fellowship” really exists, it should manifest itself in real outcomes.  The spiritual dynamic in producing these outcomes are detailed beginning with I John 2:3 extending through I John 5:21.  The eight uses of the word “hereby” (I John 2:3, 5, 3:16, 19, 24, 4:2, 13, and 5:2) are critical to the purpose of determining if the believer is living in “fellowship” with God and manifesting the spiritual outcomes of that “fellowship.” 

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (I John 2:3).

“But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (I John 2:5).

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I John 3:16).

“And hereby {loving the brethren} we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him” (I John 3:19).

“And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him {Jesus}, and he {Jesus} in him {the believer}. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (I John 3:24).

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:” (I John 4:2).

“{because} his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  (I John 4:13).

“By this {hereby} we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” (I John 5:2).

          Clearly, the intent of the epistle of I John is for the believer to assure his heart that he has ample evidence that Christ is living in him.  He does so by looking for the evidence of Christ living through him.  Therefore, the intent of seeing the evidence of progressive sanctification (spiritual growth) in a believer’s life is not so that he can complete his salvation.  What John is referring to is the out-working of the in-living Christ.  This is what Paul refers to as working out your salvation.

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

          I John 2:4 is intended to confront the person professing to “know” Christ while regularly living in disobedience to His “commandments” - His teachings.  The emphasis of the verse would read something like this – “He who keeps on saying: ‘I know Christ’ {either in a salvation way or a fellowship way} and continues in not keeping his commandments {do what He taught} is a liar.”  In other words, such a person is lying about either his salvation or about his living in fellowship with Christ.  Most probably, since I John 3:19 is the intent of the epistle (to “assure our hearts before him”), the emphasis is lying to one’s self.  Therefore, the emphasis is on self-deception. 

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).

However, pointing out such a contradiction in order to help a person living the contradiction so that he might question the reality of his relationship with Christ is certainly applicable.  This is the purpose of the text.  The intent of the text is the confrontation of individuals professing to know Christ while living in infidelity to Christ by living in continuing disobedience to His teachings.  The obvious summation of such practices must be that, in fact, such a person does not know Christ.  Such a person’s profession is in fact a false profession.  “The truth is not in them” (I John 2:4b).
          The word “know” in I John 2:4 is in the perfect tense.  Such a person is claiming to have full knowledge of Christ in either the salvational sense of the fellowship sense.  The intent of the verse in confronting the contradiction is that neither can be true.  In fact, the accusation is that such a profession is a lie.  Therefore, it is a silly notion that proposes that no one should ever question another professing believer’s salvation or fellowship with Christ.  We have numerous Scriptural examples doing just that in the epistle of I John. 
          I John chapter one clearly establishes that fellowship with God is readily available.  The first chapter then details the exclusive condition necessary to that fellowship, which is walking “in the light as He is in the light.”  I John chapters two through five provide numerous challenges to a false profession resulting in false claims of salvation and fellowship with God.  Obviously, fellowship with Christ is only available to those who have been “born again.”  Salvation is the ultimate criterion for fellowship.  One cannot be filled with the Spirit if one is not indwelled by the Spirit. 
          The issue before us in I John 2:4 is that of fidelity (faithfulness) to professed beliefs.  The challenge is that a genuine profession of belief should result in a genuine walk of faithfulness to that belief.  In other words, orthodoxy must result in orthopraxy before any professed orthodoxy can be considered genuine.  Allowing a person to continue living in such a contradiction as that defined by I John 2:4 is extremely dangerous, unloving, and careless.  There is moral culpability in failing to question those living in such a contradiction.
          The word “but” beginning I John 2:5 offers another juxtaposition regarding the statement in I John 2:4.  This juxtaposition continues through verse six – “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.”  These two verses are critically important because they detail a divine expectation of those professing to know Christ.  We might go so far as to say that these two verses detail a consummate expectation of those professing to know Christ.  This consummate expectation defines the continuing idea of repentance of sin and “dead works” that began in our profession of knowing Christ.  In other words, these verses detail that the idea of repentance extends beyond a mere change in thinking or a mind change about sin and “dead works.”  That which has a beginning in faith must have a continuation in faithfulness (fidelity). 
          It is critically important to make a distinction in this discussion.  No one with a sin nature can produce the kind of lifestyle to which I John 1:5-10 refers apart from the supernatural operations of the indwelling Spirit of God.  Therefore, there are no requirements of righteous living necessary to salvation.  God does not expect of man what He knows to be impossible.  Salvation is a free gift offered ‘by grace” and received “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).  However, once a person is “born again,” God does expect supernaturally produced righteous living in that person’s life.  Secondly, there is a difference between man-kind righteousness produced through externalism and God-kind righteousness supernaturally produced through fellowship with God (the filling of the Spirit).  This latter is to what Paul refers in Ephesians 2:10.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

          The word “keepeth” in I John 2:5 is a present, active, subjunctive.  The subjunctive mood speaks of potential or possibility.  The present tense of the verb would render this as “keeps on keeping.” 
The word “verily” in I John 2:5 is from the Greek word alethos (al-ay-thoce’).  The word means truly, surely, and indeed.  In other words, the person who “keeps on keeping” God’s Word (the commandments/teachings of Jesus) with assuredly also see the God’s love perfected” in his life (living).  The word “perfected” is perfect tense, passive voice, and indicative mood (a statement of fact).  The perfect tense and passive voice of this verb is important because this reveals the supernatural operations of God in the believer’s partnership (fellowship) with God when, in that partnership, the believer seeks to keep on keeping the Word of God.  The word “keepeth” is from the Greek word tereo (tay-reh’-o), which means to watch in the sense of guarding.
There is a great promise to the genuine believer in I John 2:5-6.  God promises the believer, who is willing to carefully observe, obey, and live His Word in fellowship with Him, that He will perfect His love in that believer’s life.  God’s love will be fully matured in that believer’s life to conform to the image of the life of Christ during His incarnation.  Therefore, this statement is also empirical regarding the reality of a person’s profession to having been “born again.”  Simply stated the person who professes to be saved and living for Jesus ought to see consistent growth towards perfection in God’s love being released through his life. 
Then John reminds us once again in I John 2:6 about walking “in the light as He is in the light” (I John 1:7) as an obligation of fellowship with Jesus – “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6).  This simple verse of Scripture defines what it means to be a Christian. 
A Christian is a person who consistently abides in Christ.  Abiding in Christ is living in habitual fellowship with Christ.  This is the outcome of full surrender (Romans 6:11-13) and the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).  We have many people who call themselves Christians, but who do not fit the description of I John 2:6.  Proclaiming one’s self to be a Christian cannot be taken seriously if that person regularly lives in disobedience to Christ’s teachings.  Obedience is inclusive.  Being saved and being a disciple are not the same.  In other words, a person must be obedient to all of Christ’s teachings to be considered a Christian.  A Christian is a disciple of Jesus.  The term disciple means follower.  The word Christian is just another word for a true disciple of Jesus.  This does not mean he might not be saved, but rather that such a profession of faith “ought” to be consistently manifested in his daily living.  The contradiction is that his “walk,” or living, does not correspond with his talk.  Sometimes, even his talk does not correspond with a testimony of being a Christian. 
The word “walk” is a present, active, infinitive.  The infinitive mood adds the word “to” as a prefix.  The present tense implies continuation – keep on walking.”  The word “walk” is from the Greek word peripateo (per-ee-pat-eh’-o).  It refers to living or to something with which a person’s life is preoccupied.  The point is that the person professing to live in consistent fellowship with Christ ought to live like Jesus lived.  This is described in Acts 11:19-25.  As you read the text, notice that it was at Antioch that the outside world began to call the followers of Jesus “Christians.” 

19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch {about 340 miles North of Jerusalem}, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:19-26).

Up until the dispersal of the Jews that were saved at Jerusalem, the vast majority of believers were Jews.  After Stephen was martyred by the Christ rejecting Jews, a large number of these saved Jews headed North into Phoenicia, Syria, and to the island of Cyprus.  It was at Antioch that these saved Jews began to preach about Jesus and salvation to the “Grecians.”  Most commentators believe “Grecians” simply refers to Hellenized Jews (Greek speaking Jews) as opposed to Jews that spoke Aramaic or Hebrew.  The point is that these saved people lived such Spirit-filled lives as true followers of Jesus Christ that the unbelieving world coined a word to describe them – Christians.  This term is bantered around today with little concern for its original meaning.  The word Christian is defined by the example of Stephen (Acts 11:19). 

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel” (Acts 6:8-15).

The events of Acts chapters six and seven, including the stoning of Stephen for preaching Christ, took place in A.D. 33.  The events in Acts chapter eleven took place eight years later in A.D. 41.  According to Acts chapter eight, during the next year, Saul and his death squads would persecute believers around Jerusalem to the extent they were willing to leave their homes and property and flee to other areas of the world where they might live in peace.

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

It is important to note the statement of Acts 8:4.  Although these Christians fled from the overwhelming persecution of the Jewish death squads, they did not flee in silence.  Everywhere they went they preached the Gospel and made disciples of those that were saved.  Their voices were not silenced by persecution.  Persecution was simply the means God used to send these believers into the uttermost parts of the world.  What will God need to bring into your life to get you to go into the entire world if He cannot even get you to go to your neighbor? 
Christians must always be ready to exclude the person who professes to be a Christian while habitually living in some form moral turpitude.  According to I John 2:3-6, making such a discernment would be appropriate.  Such a person must be considered an imposter and must be removed from the formal membership of a local church.  The first qualification for local church membership is a testimony of having been “born again.”  The second qualification for local church membership is a commitment to abandon a life of carnality to “walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:5).  However, such a commitment in water baptism must be followed by the evident expression of that commitment by actually walking “in the newness of life.”  Local churches, through congregational polity, must take these matters very seriously.  They must do so, because to remove an unrepentant professing believer is to literally put a death sentence upon him.
The issue in removing an unrepentant sinner from local church membership is to maintain the purity of the local church and the communion they enjoy as followers of Christ.  The point in separating such a person from local church membership is because his professing to be a Christian does not line up with his testimony of living. 

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Corinthians 5:1-6)?

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole” teaches us that one person’s unrepentant lifestyle corrupts the whole body of believers to which he is joined.  Such a local church would be considered unclean in the eyes of God.  Such a local church would be considered defiled before God and the church itself would bring reproach on the Name of Jesus.  The Name of Jesus embodies all that Jesus is and what He represents.  This truth is absolutely critical in that the promise of Christ’s presence and blessing upon any local church is upon the reality of their gathering in His Name.  This is the context of the statement of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20.  The practical application of what we see in I John 2:3-6 is that not only should the individual be looking for what these few verses describe, but congregations should be looking for these things in the lives of each of its formal members. 

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:15-20).

[1] Jamieson, Robert. Fausset, A.R. and Brown, David. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary. SwordSearcher Software 6.1, 1871.

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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.