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: April 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

God’s Governments

God’s Governments

Human Government is the third Dispensation that began with Noah after the Great Flood.  From the beginning of the Dispensation of Human Government, human government has evolved and corrupted itself and more so with every generation.  Much of this corruption has been through various levels of influence in the development of paganism and idolatry.  The foundation of Human Government is found in Genesis 9:1-6 in the Noahic Covenant.  There are a number of aspects of the Dispensation of Human Government and the Noahic Covenant that continue into all later Dispensations and covenants.  There are a number of things that are addressed in the Noahic Covenant that did not exist in previous Dispensations.  All the changes defined in the Noahic Covenant will continue until the Kingdom Age where Human Government will cease and a pure Theocratic Government will begin, which will be administrated by glorified believers from the Church Age directly under the authority of the reigning King Jesus.

“1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life {a soul} thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 7And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein” (Genesis 9:1-7).

The emphasis of Human Government is that there are numerous levels of government within and under God’s sovereign rule.  Each level is ordained, or ordered, by God for specific purposes.  Every level of human government is ultimately accountable to God.  Therefore, obedience to God’s Word ALWAYS carries the ultimate authority over all other levels of government.  There is an inner spiritual governance of God over the human body, soul, and spirit that is always our first and primary level of government.  All other forms of government are various levels of external and physical government.  Paul addresses all these different kinds and levels of human government in the first verse of Romans chapter thirteen.  Paul then expands upon the issue of human accountability to these various levels of these numerous kinds of human government throughout Romans chapter thirteen. 

“1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake” (Romans 13:1-5).

Romans 13:1 establishes various levels of jurisdiction directly under God’s supreme jurisdiction, which transposes into various levels of adjudication.  Adjudication means the righteous enforcement and execution of the penalties of broken laws. Adjudication refers to the whole judicial process regarding criminal and civil actions against people.  Adjudication is defined in detail in the Mosaic Law.  However, the extreme example of this is the never ending and expanding Case Law system in most governments governed by the Rule of Law, which opposed the divine right of Kings to rule sovereignly (meaning absolute civil and judicial authority). 

The primary sovereignty over all governments is stated in Acts 5:29.  The Apostles had just been commanded by the Jewish Sanhedrin to no longer teach in Jesus’ Name.  The Sanhedrin was the highest court under Jewish authority in Israel.  The Apostles refused the order of the Sanhedrin because they were under the direct order of Jesus to teach in His Name.  God’s commands overrule the commands of men regardless of how high their positions in human governments. 

“26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:26-28).

The governments to which Romans 13:1 refer by the words, “Let every soul be subject {be subordinate or under obedience} unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God,” are civil governments.  Whenever the laws of civil governments do not contradict God’s commands, believers are commanded to be in subordination to those civil governments.  The first priority of believers is to know God’s commands so that they be discerning regarding the priorities of the moral responsibilities.  Civil disobedience is appropriate when civil government laws contradict God’s commandments and moral code of ethics. 

Civil government is external government, which rules only over the body.  God’s sovereign government is spiritual government and has superior rule in that it rules over the heart and the mind.  God commands the believer to bring his thought life and emotions under the control of the Spirit under the sovereignty of God in II Corinthians 10:3-6.  The thought life and the heart life are intended to control and dominate the body.

“3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Corinthians 10:3-6)?

The most difficult of all governance is self-governance.  Governing the desires of the heart and guarding against the fantasies that fill the mind are constant battlefronts against carnality.  This warfare takes place inside our bodies.  Most, if not all disobedience, originates in our minds (thought life) and in our hearts (our emotional life).  Keeping the carnality of our hearts and minds in abeyance is difficult because the fallen nature is alienated against God and rebels against being subject to God.  The fallen character of humanity is by nature anarchistic and rebellious against the will of God, or any government for that matter.  Anarchism is the Devil’s ultimate goal because through Anarchism he will always rule through evil.  Anarchism always begins in the heart and is the natural outcome of rebellion against God.  In every society governed by the rule of moral Law, Anarchists will fill the prisons until they overwhelm the culture and dominate it. 

“5 Now the end {the ultimate point aimed at or the goal/purpose} of the commandment {referring to a biblical mandate} is charity {sacrificial benevolence} out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (I Timothy 1:5-11).

Until the believer learns to govern the heart and the mind by the Word of God and the empowering of the indwelling Spirit of God, he will never be successful in being “subject to the higher powers” (Romans 13:1) ordained by God in the numerous levels of civil governments under which he lives.  There are numerous levels of subjection to government defined in the Word of God.  Ephesians chapter five is a text that gives numerous levels of government to which all believers are responsible. It is critically important to see that every level of human government comes with God ordained commandments of human responsibilities. 

1. The ultimate example of subjection and submission to the governance of the will of God is the sacrificial love exhibited by Christ.

“1 Be {present imperative} ye therefore followers {imitators} of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in {sacrificial} love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

2. Then, the believer is commanded to be in submission “one to another in the fear of God” within the context of the local church.  The idea is that of servanthood to one another as opposed to lordship.  Each of the following areas of submission, or subjection, requires the filling of the Spirit, which requires volitional yielding, or submission, to the will of God in the Person of the indwelling Spirit. 

“18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:18-21).

3. The next level of submission is within the home as wives are commanded to be in submission “unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).  This submission again is under the sovereignty of God.  Therefore, the wife need only be in submission to her husband when her husband’s decisions are in alignment with the Word of God.  She need not submit to him in any form of ungodliness.

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Ephesians 5:22-24).

4. Perhaps the greatest moral responsibility given to anyone is given to the husband in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  The example is sacrificial love that is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in giving his life for his wife.  The details of this extreme sacrificial love anchors its purpose to what is said in Ephesians 5:26-33 regarding the practical sanctification of the husband’s wife.  The example of Christ to the husband is that the husband should love his wife in detailed consideration of her holiness before God.  It is the primary occupation of the husband to love his wife in that he is to “nourisheth and cherisheth” his wife’s spiritual growth in holiness before the Lord. 

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).

5. The next level in God’s chain of command of human government is given to children regarding their relationship to their parents.  This command is found in Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”  We notice in Ephesians 6:4 that fathers are warned against abusing their authority over their children.  Angry outbursts are a contradiction against gentleness of nurturing and cherishing love that is to exemplify the husband’s/father’s life. 

“1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour {to give value or reverence; respect} thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

6. The last level of human government for believers is given to servants/employees in relationship to their masters/employers in Ephesians 6:5-9.  There are key phrases that detail culpable moral responsibilities that are seldom considered by believers as they do their jobs each day.  There is also a similar warning to believing “masters” in Ephesians 6:9 as was given to “fathers” in Ephesians 6:4. “Masters” who abuse their “servants” will answer to God for that abuse and mistreatment. 

“5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:5-9).

Romans 13:6-14 detail the believer’s responsibility to civil governments.  Some of these civil governments may not be sympathetic to the beliefs and moral values of Christians.  Regardless of what type or form of civil government under which believers might live, they must try to live in “peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14). 

Civil government defines a culture by the laws the government enacts and enforces.  In most civil governments, laws governing morals have dissolved away into obscurity.  Regardless of how immoral a culture becomes, the believer is commanded to obey the laws that do not contradict God’s commands.  Even though the civil government may not restrict human behavior by establishing laws against that behavior, God’s laws still govern the believer (Romans 13:9-10).  These commandments are individualized by the repeated use of the word “thou” in Romans 13:9 even if civil governments do not outlaw these immoral behaviors.

“6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:6-10).

Living within a culture where just about everything and everyone contradicts the principle of holiness and godliness can be very difficult.  However, that is the cultural and social construct of just about every generation of Christianity since the beginning of the Age of Grace.  The “perfection of the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12) is to spiritually equip believers to function within ungodly cultures so that these cultures can be evangelized and souls can be harvested out of them.  Local churches are grown by winning the souls people who are living upon the dung hills of social corruption. 

The mission of local churches and individual Christians is not Kingdom Constructionism (Theonomy).  The mission of every local church is evangelism centered on making followers of Jesus (discipleship) intent upon creating local churches wherever a nucleus of believers can be formed.  These local churches are intended to be godly countercultures within the corrupt cultures usually formed by corrupt civil governments.  The darker a culture becomes by its own corruptions the brighter will shine the light of God’s children as these live in holiness within the counter cultures created by sound local churches.  This exposes the oxymoron of local churches trying to become like the world to win the world.  Here is where the warning of Christ aptly applies.  “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:23)!

As Romans 13:6 says, the purpose of taxes is for government to enforce laws that remove dangerous people from society; “for he beareth not the sword in vain.”  God has ordained civil government to execute capital punishment against those that commit capital crimes.  Capital crimes are crimes deserving a death sentence under the Law of God.  Such crimes were murder, kidnapping, smiting one of your parents, giving a purposeful false witness in a capital crime, rape, incest, adultery/fornication, child molestation, homosexuality, and bestiality to name a few.  Civil governments were ordained of God to put to death those found guilty of such crimes against their fellow man.  Corrupt governments become unjust and refuse to carry out the execution of such offenses against God or to simply not enforce such laws if they exist.  The degree by which this corruption of civil government exists is the degree by which the whole culture will be corrupted. 

The grave difficulty within this growing scenario of the corruption of civil governments is the corruption of local churches in what those local churches begin to accept.  This is where Romans 13:9-14 intercedes.  Each use of the word “thou” defines aspects of moral government that should not be allowed within the lives of individual Christians, within the Christian home, or within the local church.  Although the individual, the Christian home, and the local church do not have authority to execute people for these crimes, they have the responsibility to seek justice in these matters from civil government.  The local church has the moral responsibility to excommunicate unrepentant members guilty of any issue of moral turpitude. 

“11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time {ho’-rah; an hour or short amount of time left} to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11-14).

The emphasis of the statement “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” in Romans 13:11 refers to the “day is at hand” of the believer’s appearance before the Judgment Seat of Christ at the believer’s resurrection/glorification.  Each day of the Church Age brings us one day closer to that “day.”  Romans 13:11 is both a reminder and a warning.  The Christian lives each day within the context of the imminency (any moment) of our Lord’s coming.  This should be a sobering thought that governs all that we do each moment of each day of this life in that any moment might be our last moment on this earth. 
One of the most difficult things for busy people to do is to wait.  Perhaps that is why they call people going to the doctor and waiting in the waiting rooms patients.  There is a danger when we wait for a long time.  We get bored and we begin to get weary.  Then we fall asleep.  This scenario is not to be part of the Christian’s life as he waits upon the Lord’s return.  This is very similar to what Paul says to believers in the church as Thessalonica in I Thessalonians chapter five. 

“1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness {of ignorance}, that that day {second coming of Jesus} should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep {the sleep of ignorance}, as do others; but let us watch and be sober {the responsibility of knowledge}. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (I Thessalonians 5:1-10).
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12) has a twofold application.  The darkness of human corruption due to the fall of humanity into sin is far along and about to come to an end.  The “day” of the Lord is very near.  The comparison is the end of the night to the dawning of the Son of God in the second coming of Jesus.  The words “cast off the works of darkness” and “put on the armament of light” means to be prepared for the transition from living within the curse of the corruption of human government to living in the blessing of glorification under the divine theocratic rule of King Jesus.  The believer, although still living in the Church Age, is commanded to “walk honestly, as in the day” (Romans 10:13).  The point being to live as if we are already in the Kingdom Age where King Jesus and the faithful believer/priests of the Church Age shall “rule with a rod of iron.” 
The “armour of light” in Romans 13:12 is the same as “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” in Romans 13:14.  To “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” is to be dressed by the supernatural enabling grace of God with the character and passion of Jesus Christ defined elsewhere as the “fruit of the Spirit.”  Only through this clothing of grace can the believer be light in the midst of darkness.  It is this grace that protects the believer from the pressures of the world to conform to its ever growing aberrations of spiritual corruption.  The believer that does not understand how the Devil works will not be the person who will “make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 10:14).  The person who does not understand the absolute necessity of the enabling grace of God to overcome the pressures of the world will very gradually, but progressively, be conformed to the world and the “works of darkness.” 

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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.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Is Seduction an Appropriate Evangelical Methodology?

Is Seduction an Appropriate Evangelical Methodology?

Evangelicalism divides itself more each year as various streams and methodologies are constantly evolving into extremes of bizarre mutations of biblical Christianity.  These extreme mutations are often referred to as the Worship Wars or Music Wars.  These mutations of true Christianity present themselves as spiritual warfare for the souls of men.  This pseudo-spiritual warfare is nothing but a worldly carnival trying to attract worldly people to come to some bizarre corruption of Church by using worldly entertainment.  The common thread mantra for all of this is to be as little like traditional worship as possible. 
Those doing this are false teachers trying to build themselves personal empires that are presented to their communities as mega ministries.  These men have created spiritual monstrosities built upon the crumbling foundations of the latest social crazes.  We must not forget that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word craze as to make insane or as if insane.  What is evolving in the Worship Wars is spiritual insanity
The term Worship Wars is used to describe the arguments being used by people using these carnal methodologies to grow the numbers of people attending their church services.  These arguments are unscriptural and rational Pragmatism (“look at the results we are getting”) used to justify the obvious insane and carnal methodologies.  Building a Church of perfected saints (Ephesians 4:12) cannot possibly be compared to just gathering a crowd of unregenerate people in order to give them some mutation of the Gospel and some form of watered down biblical mass counseling disguised as preaching. 

It is easy to be critical of all this nonsense.  However, it is also painful to watch this fiasco because the Word of God clearly exposes all of this as a farce and sham of the real thing.  It is especially painful if you sincerely love people and want them to get the real help they need to escape the snares of the devil and the clutches of entrapment by the world.  It is even more painful when we understand that these false teachers are preying on individuals who have seen the spiritual deadness in the liturgical churches and want no more of that. 

Instead of providing these people with the real thing, they manufacture some euphoric religious experience by using contemporary Southern Gospel and Christian Rock music all developed by the entertainment industry and masquerading itself as Christian.  Church platforms have become low quality and amateurish copies of the American Idol TV show where worldly music and worldly singing is Christianized.  The fiasco lays in the fact that these methodologies cannot be Christianized.  This is Christianity being Paganized through the incorporation of Hedonism (“lovers of pleasure,” II Timothy 3:4).  The term “lovers of pleasure” is very descriptive of this mutation of Christian worship from its intended edification that raises God-consciousness in people to a false worship that just entertains and helps people feel good about themselves because they have just attended Church. 

People leave these carnivals having a semblance of a religious experience because they have been told that what they just experienced was religious.  They have just been seduced! This is not evangelism.  This is seduction using worldly enticements.
In II Timothy 3:13, Paul says that “in the last days,” “. . . evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”  This will happen when religious leaders (we dare not call them pastors) will try to create a religious movement that will be tailored to fit the kind of people Paul describes in II Timothy 3:1-9.  When the world is desperate for the real thing, we can be sure Satan will raise up many of those he has corrupted to provide counterfeits of the real thing.  

“1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was” (II Timothy 3:1-9).

The word “perilous” in II Timothy 3:1 is from the Greek word chalepos (khal-ep-os’).  This word is a derivative of the Greek word chalao (khal-ah’-o), which means to lower or to let down.  The meaning of Greek word chalepos (khal-ep-os’) translated “perilous” is to reduce the strength thereby creating a very dangerous situation.  It would be similar to having men work underneath a heavy platform with inadequate supports.  These “perilous times shall come” in the “last days” just before the second coming of Jesus and the catching away of His true Church.  The “perilous times shall come” of the “last days” will be created by the dominant carnal characteristics of people of the world listed in II Timothy 3:1-9.  The peril under which they live is the pending judgment of God. 

The predominant characteristic of this carnal culture is communicated by the words “men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).  When it comes to the so called Worship Wars and what is acceptable, this phrase translates into what I like or what I want.  When people are asked about the appropriateness of certain music styles for worship, they often reply with, I like it.  This phrase really translates into – I do not care what you think of this music style.  I like it and that is all that is important to me.  Most people do not care enough to ask the questions – Does God like it? 

Two other important questions must be asked.  Is this music common and worldly? Or, is this music distinctively sacred and spiritual?  When the question, what do I like? becomes the qualifying decision for worship music, “perilous times” will follow shortly thereafter!  We have arrived at a point of transition in Christianity.  Almost every local church in the world today has someone asking this inappropriate, defining and deciding question about what worship music they will use -What do I like?   
Another qualifying statement is found in II Timothy 3:5 – “having a form of godliness.”  The word “form” is from the Greek word morphosis (mor’-fo-sis).  The word means a semblance in appearance.  The point is the semblance is a fa├žade and pretense.  The semblance looks like “godliness” but it is not “godliness.”  It is counterfeit, a farce, and artificial.  “

Godliness” cannot be manufactured.  “Godliness” is pure holiness that is completely separated from worldliness.  Holiness and worldliness are antithetical terms.  When someone makes a decision about what worship music to used based mostly upon I like it, he will never take into consideration if God likes it.  The person that loves the things of the world will love the music of this world.  Yet God commands believers against such an oxymoron in worship that incorporates worldly music into worship under the guise of “godliness.”

“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).

Can you imagine the angels of Heaven’s choir singing any of the common contemporary rock worship songs being used these days?  Do you see God setting upon His throne rocking out to this music as the angels of the Throne cry out, “holy, holy, holy Lord God almighty” (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8)? 
Worship context defines what will be become part of worship practices. 

If worship context is primarily intent upon what is attractive to God, that context will predominantly be defined by holiness, sacrosanctity, and the absence of all things worldly.  If worship context is primarily intent upon gathering/attracting a crowd of unregenerate people, who are by their very nature worldly, the context will predominantly be intent upon providing things that are attractive to them. 

The false idea that worship is primarily intent upon gathering/attracting a crowd of unregenerate people will also be governed by the necessary absence of anything that might be unattractive or offensive to these unregenerate people.  In this mindset, certain practices or subjects must be avoided lest the carnal be offended by such things.  However, the absence of certain talking points is counterproductive to a genuine conviction of sin that will produce repentance and conversion of the heart.  Therefore, this superficial context fails to produce a soil that is spiritually fertile enough to be able to generate life because the Spirit of God does not work in a vacuum void of spiritual truths necessary to understanding and conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  Since a genuine salvation decision must begin with a person’s understanding of his condemnation before God, there must be an explanation of what sin is and what defines various aspects of unbelief.  Most of what is being passed off as Ecumenical Evangelicalism today propagates a watered-down substitution for the Gospel without power to save anyone (Romans 1:16). 
Since the second epistle to Timothy is a pastoral epistle. Therefore, we must understand that the context addresses people coming into the church in “the last days.”  II Timothy 3:1-10 describes the characteristics of the culture of “the last days.”  The characteristics of the culture are to be corrected by the Church.  These characteristics are not to be catered to by the Church.  The fact that Paul refers to these people as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5) means that the characteristics of this culture has invaded and become dominant in the local churches of the “last days.”  
Everything described in II Timothy 3:1-9 is a contradiction against biblical Christianity.  The purpose of the statement is to confront these characteristics with the truths of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps the failure to confront these corrupted characteristics in a culture and in the Church is why they have development to become so dominant in society.  Hedonism (the worship of pleasure) and the need for the instant gratification of desires has led this generation to be the most self-indulged generation since that generation which preceded the fall of the Roman Empire where debauchery became the norm.  Perhaps this is the very reason the Roman culture hated Christians seeking to annihilate them.  Christians would not minimize the definition of sin or talk around wickedness in order to be accepted by their culture.  However, people do not like to have their sins pointed out to them!

“14 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philips wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly” (Mark 6:14-20).

We are rapidly moving into a similar period of history for true Christians.  It has been quite obvious for some time that the Gay/Lesbian agenda has very little to do with their rights to marry one another.  Their hidden agenda has always been to criminalize Bible believing Christianity and annihilate true Christians.  The solution to the corrupted characters of humanity described in II Timothy 3:1-9 will never be addressed by the new religions of humanistic psychiatry and their new priesthood of psychiatrists whose New Absolutism looks upon the Bible with disgust and disdain. 

True Christians believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible as God’s holy Word and the dictates of His will for humanity.  However, there are many in the wide chasm of corruption known by various categories of Evangelicalism who give lip service to the inspiration of the Bible.  The reason it is mere lip service is because they do not see the preaching/teaching of “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), beginning with the Gospel and salvation, as the solution to the abnormalities listed in II Timothy 3:1-9. 
Historically, there have been three governing principles regarding what should be allowed as worship in the Church, by which is meant collective local churches.

1. The Inventive Principle, which allows for the episcopal hierarchy of the Church (Biblically there is no such thing) to evolve, develop, and invent various worship practices, styles, or use items such as statues, pictures, or building structures to aid in worship.
2. The Normative Principle, which is simply an extension of a weak position on Sola Scriptura – whatever the Bible does not disallow, we allow.  Simply stated, what is not forbidden is permitted.  Therefore, if the Bible is silent on certain practices, these practices should be permitted.  This is the argument used to justify various music styles in worship music.
3. The Regulative Principle, which is a much stricter view of Sola Scriptura – what is not commanded is forbidden.  In other words, if the Bible does not give clear instructions on something, do not do it. 

The dogma of the Regulative Principle for worship is to eliminate the anything goes argument simply because the Bible may be silent on something.  Chapter I of the 1689 London Baptist Confession[1], although a Reformed Baptist Confession, makes two clear statements regarding the Regulative Principle of which most Bible believers would affirm and agree.

“Paragraph 1: The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diversified manners to reveal Himself, and to declare (that) His will unto His church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now completed. (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29,31; Eph. 2:20; Rom. 1:19-21, 2:14, 15; Psalm 19:1-3; Heb. 1:1; Prov. 22:19-21; Rom. 15:4; 2 Pet. 1:19, 20)”

“Paragraph 6: The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.  Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Gal. 1:8, 9; John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9-12; 1 Cor. 11:13,14; 1 Cor. 14:26, 40)”

The “whole counsel of God” is essentially the Regulative Principle for preaching and worship.  Without the people knowing the “whole counsel of God,” it would be very easy to manipulate their ignorance into worship practices abhorrent to God.  The cultural foundations for what is described in II Timothy 3:1-9 began to move away from the Regulative Principle within Evangelical Christianity in 1965.  This corruption of the Regulative Principle has come to be known as Positivism.  Positivism is a radical philosophy integrating rationalistic psychology into the presentation of Bible truth. 

The approach of Positivism understands that people psychologically resist negative statements and even statements that they view as being critical.  In other words, people tend to avoid discussions that make them uncomfortable.  Therefore, this psychological approach to Church Growth philosophies taught preachers to simply avoid or deemphasize any Scriptures or teaching that might carry a negative or critical connotation.  It was not long before people were mentally (psychologically) conditioned to view any negative comments or critical teaching as offensive and judgmental.  As a result of this psychological conditioning, people immediately closed their spirits to anything that was being said in that their mindset categorized that preacher as a radical who did not deserve to be heard or considered.  This is from where the word preachy evolved. 
As we apply the Regulative Principle, the first question that we must ask ourselves is if this psychological approach known as Positivism a justifiable approach to biblical evangelism and Church Growth methodologies?  Can we find a pattern for such an approach ANYWHERE in Scripture or any example of such a philosophy or practice by any of God’s ordained prophets, Apostles, or even the Lord Jesus Himself?  If we cannot find such a practice, it ought to be clear to anyone that it is not a biblical approach to the presentation of truth.  What is the Scriptural pattern for the pastor to follow in his teaching/preaching ministry?  We find a detailed explanation of this biblical pattern for teaching/preaching in Acts 20:26-31.

“26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:26-31).

In Acts 20:28, the first Pastoral responsibility is to “feed the church of God.” 

We notice in Acts 20:20, that Paul says, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you.”  Paul taught them “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We also see that Paul did not withhold truths that might be offensive or bring about conviction of sin and guilt of sin.  “26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” 
In most Bible believing, Bible preaching churches, we would take these three areas of teaching for granted.  We would expect a faithful pastor to teach people about turning from sin.  We would expect a faithful pastor to “declare” (preach and teach dogmatically) all that the Word of God says.  However, this is not true in progressive evangelical churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism. 

To be able to discern those who are practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism, a person must learn to listen for what they do not say.  That is a very difficult thing to do for those who do not have solid theological foundations already established (which is true of the vast majority of professing Christians).  Most Christians have never been discipled. 
Although churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism may preach against sin, they do so as a generality.  They often avoid preaching against specific sins such as adultery, fornication, worldliness, or alcohol use.  For those churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism, those who do preach against specific sins and use a strict, literal interpretation of Scripture are usually labeled as Legalists. 
There is so much Political Correctness (neo-absolutes of Moral Relativism) in these types of churches that only those sins that are part of the social concern of that particular moment in history are mentioned.  This is true because they are more concerned about social relevancy (how society views them) than they are about how God views them.  This is due to their view of God as being predominantly loving and forgiving while deemphasizing the fact that God is also a God of wrath, justice, and holiness.  The practice of the psychological manipulation of Positivism reveals a much distorted view of God and His holiness. 

These types of churches do not want to appear preachy or judgmental They preach the unconditional love of God (which is true), but without the balanced teaching that God expects those who believe in Him to repent of all that His Word condemns and to begin to make radical changes in their lives that will reflect the image of Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

“13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).

In Acts 20:31, the Shepherd is instructed, in his third main responsibility, to “warn” the Lord’s sheep.

He is to warn about both false teachers and false teachings that will continue to arise periodically so as to keep his people from being led astray.  The word “warn” is from the Greek word noutheteo (noo-thet-eh'-o).  It means to fill the mind.  The idea is to confront and expose false doctrine so thoroughly that the sheep will flee from it.  There is not much warning going on when Ecumenicism becomes the defining factor for what is said or not said. 
How does this practice of the psychological manipulation of Positivism impact Christianity and how people think and receive truth?  People become so accustomed and conditioned to never having specific sins preached against that anytime they hear someone do so, they are repulsed by it and they condemn that preacher as judgmental.  Any proclamation of absolute truth regarding moral issues or doctrinal truth is immediately viewed as abstract and radical.  Most people have become so accustomed to attending churches where the preaching is soft on sin and so light on doctrine that when they do attend a church where someone preaches hard on sin and presents the “meat” of God’s Word, they almost choke to death on it.  They are so uncomfortable under the guilt of their own softness towards Christ and their own tolerance of sin that they flee from that kind of preaching intent upon never attending again. 
Secondly, people are so accustomed to the minimization of doctrine by the Pluralists and Ecumenicists that permeates and saturates most of evangelicalism today, that when they hear someone pointing out false doctrine, they are conditioned to condemn that kind of preaching as divisive, critical, and even cultic.  The person conditioned by the psychological manipulation of Positivism becomes closed minded and hardhearted to anything other than Positivism. 
The effectiveness of preaching, by which God has ordained to warn against false doctrine, false teachers, and satanic deception, has been compromised by the psychological manipulation of Positivism.  Positivism has proven itself to be one of the most effective tools of satanic deception in the twenty-first century.  Yet most people are almost completely unaware that they have been psychologically programmed by Positivism.  People under this type of preaching have been covertly deceived, enticed, and seduced. 

“10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:10-17).

According to II Timothy 3:10-11, Paul puts the persecutions of his own life forward to exemplify the sincerity and commitment necessary to confronting false doctrine and those that oppose right doctrine.  In II Timothy 3:12, Paul states that every person seeking to fight for “the faith” should expect similar persecution.  Jude says every believer must be willing to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). 
Corrupters of the truth will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13).  The point is that the cycle of corruption will never end while the curse remains.  Notice as well that corruption is ALWAYS connected to those who have been deceived.  The deceived become deceivers and the army of deception grows with every generation.  Those corrupted are described by the characteristics of II Timothy 3:1-9.
Paul’s solution to Timothy, his son in the faith, is simple: “. . . continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:14-15).  The simple solution to deception and false doctrine is to return to the Scriptures – the theological anchors for faith.  II Timothy 3:16-17 is God’s Regulative Principle. 

The words “inspiration of God” in II Timothy 3:16a are translated from one Greek word - theopneustos (theh-op’-nyoo-stos).  God breathed out ALL the Words of Scripture and God breathed spiritual life into ALL those Words.  Therefore, the very notion of minimalism regarding our understanding of God’s will from Scripture is ridiculous. 
II Timothy 3:16 tells us that God’s Regulative Principle is “profitable” for four purposes.  “Profitable” is from the Greek word ophelimos (o-fel’-ee-mos), which is a derivative of the Greek word ophello.  The meaning of ophello is to heap up or accumulate.  The accumulation makes the person possessing what is accumulated advantaged.  The meaning of ophelimos (o-fel’-ee-mos) is advantageous.  “Profitable” is an excellent translation. 

Profitable for doctrine
The simplest meaning of this statement is to heap up to one’s self the treasures of the knowledge of God’s will about how to live.  “Doctrine” is from the Greek didaskalia (did-as-kal-ee'-ah), which simply means instruction or teaching.  However, the higher meaning is the function or purpose of that teaching.  Since “all Scripture” is of divine origin, all teaching from of the Bible is of divine origin. 

Profitable for reproof
The simplest meaning of this statement is to heap up to one’s self the treasures of the knowledge of God’s Scriptural proofs for refuting error.  Christians must thoroughly know the Scriptures and what the Scriptures teach in order to recognize error or false doctrine.  The vast majority of the New Testament epistles are for the purpose of correcting false doctrines that had crept into local churches.  This is also true of Jesus’s seven epistles to the seven local churches in Revelation chapters two and three. 

Profitable for correction
The word “correction” is translated from the Greek word epanorthosis (ep-an-or’-tho-sis), which means to straighten up, rectify, or set in order.  The point is to take something that has gotten out of place and put it back in its proper place.  All believers are to heap up to their selves the treasures of the knowledge of God’s Scriptural truths in order to recognize when practices are out of order or distorted and give the necessary instruction to correct the fault or failure. 

Profitable for instruction in righteousness
The word “instruction” is from the Greek word paideia (pahee-di’-ah), which means to educate or train.  The intent is to train someone in the disciplines of what God defines as righteousness.  To discipline is to train someone to be disciplined in choices and practices that are righteous in the eyes of God.  The Greek word translated “righteousness” is dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo-nay), which actually means to be equitable.  The idea is a fully matured and holy character that is able to be fair/just in decisions “that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”  The point is that the Word of God should change our thoughts and actions in life.  This is why II Timothy 3:16-17 is referred to as the Regulative Principle.

[1] http://www.1689.com/confession.html#Ch.%201

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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.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Consummation

The Consummation
The events that will take place when Satan is loosed from the pit

Although the Millennial Kingdom will have very remarkable beginnings accompanied by miraculous changes in the Earth’s ecology and topology, these things will be nothing more than history lessons for those born into the Kingdom of King Jesus.  Those born into the Kingdom Age will have very little knowledge of aspects of the curse such as sickness, aging, and death.  The vast majority will live throughout the whole thousand years of the Kingdom of King Jesus.

“7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7-10).

During the Kingdom Age, millions (probably billions) will be born to those who enter it after surviving the Tribulation in their natural (non-glorified) bodies.  This number of people does not include any of those that were resurrection from the dead and glorified.  The survivors of the Tribulation will still possess a sin nature and will produce children with sin natures.  Those raptured (translated without dying) and those resurrected out from the dead will be given glorified bodies.  These two groups of people will co-exist during the Kingdom Age.
Tragically, at the end of the Kingdom Age and the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth, Satan will be loosed from the Abyss and will deceive many of these people born into the Kingdom Age.  The tragedy is that so many will be deceived and follow him.  These people will follow Satan in rebellion against Christ.  These individuals only emphasize the depravity of the fallen nature.  Living in an almost perfect and moral society, they rebel for want of sin.  As these rebels surround the “Camp of the saints” and the “beloved city” from where Christ reigns, as they shake their fists of “enmity against God” and His righteousness for one last time, the consuming fire of God descends upon them from heaven and devours them alive.  Here, prophecy gives us a vision of the end of the world and the dissolution of the first creation.

“3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (II Peter 3:3-7).

There will be “scoffers” in every age, including the Kingdom Age.  There will be those born during the Kingdom Age who will have no experiential knowledge of the horrors of the Tribulation judgments.  These people will begin to think of the then historical devastation of the Earth only as myths and fairy-tale stories of old people.  Even in a world occupied and governed by the incarnate Jehovah (King Jesus) and where false doctrine and false worship practices will not be tolerated; even in this, environment unbelief will grow due to the fallen nature of humanity.  Even with those born into the Kingdom Age dwelling alongside resurrected and glorified believers, unbelief will continue.  In the hard-heartedness of lost and fallen beings to the truths of God’s Word, the spiritual realities of death and condemnation will be ridiculed while rejecting the gift of God’s grace.  Peter then reassures believers with a simple truth.  God operates outside of our time/space/matter continuum.

“8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Peter 3:8).  

Although this text teaches that God does not operate according to our time-table, the reference to the fact that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” is actually referring to the Day of the Lord.  The Day of the Lord began at the beginning of the Tribulation and extends through the Kingdom Age. The Kingdom Age is the one-thousand-year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on Earth.

The understanding of natural, unregenerate people is to see what appears to be God’s inactivity as God’s absence.  What they interpret as God’s inactivity is actually God’s long-suffering.  Then, in the next leap of unregenerate logic, they see God’s inactivity as God’s non-existence.  These people will know nothing outside of the scope of their own sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing (I Corinthians 2:9).  The point is that having known no other existence than the one in which they live, they think the way it is to them then is the way it has always been.  Even though they will have the glorified Jesus Christ and glorified believers from all ages as their neighbors, they will not believe or understand the supernatural nature of the existence in which they live.

We really are no different.  We say we believe, but we do not live and pray as if the spiritual existence that God describes in the Bible exists.  If we really believed, we would live differently and we would pray differently.  The point of all of this is that even though people can profess to believe in God and believe the Bible, they can also live in a type of spiritual limbo that never really connects them to the supernatural existence into which they have been “born again” of the Spirit of God.  If we were to be honest, we would understand that this describes most of us that call ourselves believers.  Though we believe in God, we do not live to really gain the heart of God and the mind of God in our living.  The potential for what Christ said in John 14:12-14 has been seldom realized during the Church Age.  There is a faith disconnect to the potential of which Christ speaks in this text.

“12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).

Faith is intended to connect our minds and our lives to the spiritual existence of God and His will for us.  To understand and believe that God is our Creator is to understand and believe He has sovereign authority over our lives.  In other words, God has the authority, the right, to tell us how He expects us to live under His sovereignty.  He expects us to want to obey EVERYTHING He says and live as His subjects.  His grace offers to provide us both the choice and the power for both.  Faith is a choice.  However, faith is more than a mere choice to believe. 

Faith is a choice to believe in the God of the Bible that is accompanied with seeking to live for Him, worship Him, and seeking to please Him in all we think, say, feel, and do.  To believe God is different than believing in God.  To actually believe God connects the person believing in God to another dimension of existence that is supernatural.  To believe God is to believe that God will do all that He says He will do and the things God says He will do can be considered promises.  To live within those promises as if they might happen at any moment is the life of faith.

“9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:9-10).

The idea that God forgets His promises and His prophecies, because it seems to take so long for many of these prophecies to be fulfilled, is foolishness.  What is a thousand years compared to eternity?  “The day of the Lord will come”!  This is a reality for which every Christian should live every moment of his life.  If we are consciously aware of the fact that we live within a doomed and cursed creation, it should govern the way we live our lives before the eyes of the Lord.  The point of II Peter 3:9-10 is that what we know now only by our five senses will all culminate in accountability before the Lord Who created it all.

If we can conceive of, and believe in, an existence outside of the time/space/matter continuum we presently know, we then MUST live in a manner that is governed by principles far beyond the simplistic principles of our present corrupt civilizations.  II Peter 3:11 speaks of “holy conversation and godliness.”  In other words, we need to begin to think in terms of being like God.  Most people, including most Christians, just cannot seem to grasp God’s expectations regarding the way we live our lives.  II Peter 3:11-18 defines God’s expectations very thoroughly.

“11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:11-18).

Throughout the Kingdom Age, the faithful Church Age believers will live and rule with Christ in their glorified bodies.  Uniquely, they will be the Priesthood of Christ that will rule the Kingdom Age as kings and priests judging the world according to the righteousness of God.  This judgment is referred to in Scripture as a “rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27).  Paul speaks of this judgment in I Corinthians chapter six as he rebukes the church at Corinth for seeking judgments upon other brothers from the civil courts rather than bringing these matters to be decided by the Church.  This certainly silences the argument of the judge me not Christians of our present days.

“1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren” (I Corinthians 6:1-5)?

At the end of the Kingdom Age, the “devil” is immediately cast into the “lake of fire and brimstone” where the “beast” and the “false prophet” are, having already spent a thousand years there in torment.  Then God will call every lost rebel from among humanity before His Great White Throne to be eternally judged.

“36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father {the new Heaven/Earth}. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:36-43).

“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Malachi 4:1).

The passing away of heaven and earth will begin at this same time and is what is referred to in Malachi 4:1.  This is defined in the following Scriptures:

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11).

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).
“26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved {the new Heaven/Earth}, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:26-29).

“10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:10-13).

The dissolving of the first creation, the “heaven” and the planets, all begins in Revelation 20:9.  From our perspective of time today, this cannot take place for at least one-thousand and seven years.  This includes the seven years of the Tribulation and the one-thousand-year Kingdom Age.  The end of the world is NOT Armageddon.  Those who speak of Armageddon as the end of the world simply expose their ignorance of Bible prophecy.

“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them” (Revelation 20:9).

At the end of the Kingdom Age and as the consuming fire of God’s glory devours the rebels that follow Satan in his final insurrection against God, the fire will spread from Jerusalem throughout the earth, into the solar system, and finally into all the universe.  The whole of God’s temporal creation (time and space) will be destroyed.  It will not exist any longer.  It will have passed away.
The only things that will still remain from that first creation will be the souls of mankind.  Every one of these souls are eternal.  Some will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8).  Sheol is part of this creation and will no longer exist after the consummation of God’s final act of judgment in the Curse.  The Redeemed (Revelation 21:7) will spend eternity with their God in a newly created heaven and earth.  “New” does not necessarily mean that it will be the same in form or physics as the former.  Just as the human body must be changed and glorified (I Corinthians 15:50) to live in the presence of God in the spiritual realm of His existence, the earth and heavens must be re-created so that God can live with the redeemed (Revelation 21:3).  This will be the Kingdom of God.  Of course, the eternal Word of God will also remain and become living in every one of God’s redeemed.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Some suggest a difference between the Great White Throne and the first Throne in Revelation chapter four.  There is no difference between these two Thrones.  The subject matter is not the Throne itself, but what will be done by God while upon that Throne.  God will judge every individual in perfect righteousness according to His revealed will (the Word of God or the “book . . . of life”).
At the completion of the second resurrection, all these individuals, already “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), will stand before the Throne of God.  Although we are not informed of this, the redeemed of the Kingdom Age will be translated into glorified bodies.  This Throne will be the Great White Throne because of what will take place there.  These are all those resurrected out from the realm of the dead (fallen creation).  Some will have died physically.  Others will have lived through the Kingdom Age.  All the “works” of these individuals will be judged, just as the works of the saints of the Church age are judged at the “Judgment seat of Christ.”
There are “books” and a “book . . . of life.”  The “books” most probably refer to records of the works (good and bad) of the lives of these individuals.  The idea is one of individual accountability for the eternal consequences of each individual life.  The “book . . . of life” is later revealed in Revelation 21:27 as the “Lamb’s book of life.”  It is the record of every individual who ever put trust in the finished work of redemption of Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Those recorded in the “book . . . of life” will be all the saved of all ages.  These individuals will live in the New Heaven\Earth.
In Revelation 20:13, “hell” is from the Greek word hadesHades refers to the holding place of the lost from the beginning of time to the end of the world (Revelation 20:9).  The final judgment is recorded in Revelation 20:15. The final judgment is expanded upon in Revelation 21:8-27.  The ultimate judgment is the judgment of condemnation.

“But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things” (Romans 2:2).

“Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6).

“For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11).

“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:16).

“10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:10-19).

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).

After the consummation of the fallen and cursed first creation, only the redeemed will enter the final New Creation and the New Jerusalem.  These are those who have their names recorded by the Lamb in the “Lambs book of life.”  The balance will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire prepared for Satan and his angels.
The two divisions of Revelation chapter twenty-one are verses 1-8 and 9-27.  The first eight verses introduce the New Jerusalem, while the rest of the chapter expands upon this and gives a more thorough description and examination.  This follows in the chronology beginning in Revelation 19:11 with numbers of “and I saw” statements that began at the second coming of Jesus and go through to the consummation.

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11).

“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God” (Revelation 19:17).

“And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (Revelation 19:19).

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand” (Revelation 20:1).

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11).

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12).

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).

Why will there be no more sea in the new earth?

There will be no need for separation in the New Heaven/Earth.  The New Heaven/Earth will not be like the old heavens and earth. We will all be one people (Revelation 21:3), united by one Lord, one faith, and part of the New Creation through one baptism.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

The next event after the White Throne Judgment will be the creation of a new Heaven and New Earth.  The previous heaven and earth has been consumed by the judgment fire of God.  The New Heaven\Earth will not be a re-creation of the old.  It will be “new” (kainos, kahee-nos') in kind.  The details of this new, but different Heaven\Earth are given in Revelation chapters twenty-one and twenty-two.
According to Revelation 21:3, what makes Heaven a Heaven?  Heaven is Heaven because God dwells there.  Everything else is just extensions and blessings of His presence.  The fullness of the Godhead will dwell in the glorified Body of Jesus Christ.  Notice that the Godhead will be unified in Christ.  This proves that God is not three individual Gods (Tri-theism), but one God in three parts (Personages).  He is a Tri-unity.  In the New Heaven (when we see God), we will see Him in the Person of Jesus Christ “the Lamb” (Revelation 21:5-7; Revelation 21:22-23; and Revelation 22:1 and 3).
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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.