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: December 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Two Spirits of Christmas

The Two Spirits of Christmas

The birth of Jesus in the city of Bethlehem was determined about BC 1300 with the marriage of the Moabite Ruth to Boaz after Ruth’s confession of faith and return to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi.  The significance of the book of Ruth in the narrative of the birth of Jesus is that of the Kinsman Redeemer typified in Boaz.  Boaz was the kinsman redeemer of Ruth.  Ruth would give birth to Obed who would father Jesse, who would father king David.  All of this took place “in Bethlehem of Judaea.”  In BC 710 the prophet Micah would proclaim God’s Words, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah {fruitfulness}, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).  Micah speaks of the preexisting eternality of the Son of God before the incarnation. 
The Saviour was born into this world about 2012 years ago, (the dates are off by about four years).  We would think that the world would be a much better place to live after thousands of years of influence by faithful Christians living out the teachings of Jesus.  Sadly, the world is possibly even more wicked now than it was then.  Christianity has not failed.  Christians have failed to be Christians.  Apostasy and false doctrine have all but consumed true biblical Christianity reducing the number of faithful believers to a small remnant.  This is very similar to the history into which Jesus was born.  Israel, God’s chosen depository for the propagation of the truths of His Inspired Scriptures, had reduced itself to a small remnant of faithful believers through false doctrine, legalism, the corruption of the priesthood of Israel, and apathy towards the commands of God to them.  This historical scenario is all summed-up in statement of Matthew 2:1. 

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him {signifies great emotions, although not all the same}. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel {from Micah 5:2}” (Matthew 2:1-6).

Although there is no break in the text, there is about a two-year span of time in between Matthew 2:6 and Matthew 2:7. 

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was {now about two years of age and no longer at Bethlehem}. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house {no longer in the manger of Bethlehem}, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way” (Matthew 2:7-12).

Jesus was most probably born closer to April than in December.  December 25th has its connections to paganism and much of the traditions of Christmas are pagan coming into Christianity through Roman Catholicism.  We certainly do not celebrate the Christ Mass.  However, we rejoice that the world remembers and celebrates the birth of our Saviour Jesus the Christ of God.  We may hate the way the celebration of Christ’s birth has been stolen by the secular business world to make profit from people’s generosity to one another.  It bothers us that the same institutions that capitalize on the celebration of the Saviour’s birth want none to mention His Name during the season of celebration.  The world is wicked!  Uniquely, this is the exact reason why the incarnation of the eternal Son of God was necessary. 
Jesus was born into a hostile and wicked world.  The historical backdrop for the birth of the Saviour was a particularly wicked time in Israel’s history.  The King of Judea was Herod the Great (47-4 BC).  He was a Gentile (Edomite or Idumean) appointed to power by Rome.  He began his political career as the governor of Galilee at the age of twenty-five.  He was appointed King of Judea because of his success in collecting taxes for Rome.  He certainly did not think he needed a Saviour. 
Matthew 2:6 says, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”  “Herod the king” greatly oppressed the children of Israel by over taxing them for his own opulent, selfish, and greedy lifestyle.  The citizens of Jerusalem were “troubled” over the news of the birth of the descendent of king David Who would be their Messiah and Deliverer.  They believed the Messiah would destroy the enemies of Israel through war and lead the nation of Israel to world dominion.  The Greek word translated “troubled” simply means agitated or stirred up.  Herod was fearful and paranoid. 

The corrupted priesthood of Israel was equally fearful and paranoid because they knew that when Messiah came, the Levitical priesthood would be terminated according to the prophecies of Malachi and Hosea.  Knowledge of these prophesies would create great anxiety for the children of Israel living in Jerusalem.  The universal principle for these people being “troubled” is that “judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Peter 4:17). 

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. 8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. 9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. 10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. 11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart” (Hosea 4:6-11).

At the time of the birth of Christ, Herod the Great was in the declining years of his reign (about 14 to 4 BC).  He imprisoned his two favorite sons (Alexander and Aristobulus) because he believed they were involved in plots to overthrow him.  They were then put to death by strangling after a trial.  Three-hundred other people were executed as well simply because Herod considered them to be the friends of his sons believing them to be complicit in the plot.  The last years of Herod’s life were lived in constant turmoil with his own sons as they attempted to overthrow him.  The two sons of Herod manifest the principal of reproduction - “Everything produces after its own kind.” 

It was into this historical turmoil of the wicked greed of Herod’s life that Jesus was born.  Herod needed a Saviour, but was so wrapped up in his own selfish greed and self-sufficiency that he was instead threatened by the One who came to save his soul.  It is usually the very things that imprison people that keep them from seeing their need of a Saviour or from wanting to be saved.  They find no lasting satisfaction in their foolish pursuits of revelry and lusts, yet they languish in the shackles they have created for themselves.  Their lives are in a downward spiral nosediving into the ground at hundreds of miles an hour while they shout “whee” all the way down into the fires of Hell.
About four-hundred years prior to the birth of Jesus, 42,360 of the most faithful of God’s chosen people returned from Babylonian captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah.  They brought with them another 7,337 servants and maids (Ezra 2:64-65) to begin rebuilding the Temple, which had been destroyed at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s captivity of Jerusalem.  One-tenth of this number were Levites. The number of qualified priest had been greatly reduced during the captivity through compromise.  We also read in Ezra 2:69 that this faithful remnant generously gave a huge amount of money and one-hundred very expensive “priests’ garments” of their own resources. 
What we learn from this is that it took less than two-hundred years before this very devote and faithful remnant had corrupted themselves practically and doctrinally.  Learn from this history lest your generations become a repeat of the same failure.  Creating another generation of faithful children will not happen without considerable effort by both parents in conjunction with a local church intent upon the same goal. 

The majority of the group of the generations of returning remnant formed the sect of the Pharisees, who continually increased the requirements of the Law to ensure that no one drifted into compromise.  The affect was just the opposite developing into Legalism.  Another group rebelled against the strict and literal interpretation of the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) forming the liberal group known as the Sadducees.  Most of the remaining children of Israel struggled within this tension.  Others had abandoned the Mosaic Priesthood, the Temple, and the now corrupted offerings because the priesthood that offered those sacrifices were politically, doctrinally, and morally corrupted.  This is the historical context of the Jewish world into which Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, was born. 
In the parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus concludes the parable with a remarkable statement in verse eight, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”  This is the second coming of Jesus at Armageddon to establish His Kingdom on Earth.  The scenario appears to be very similar to the historic time into which Jesus was born.  This defines what happens in the world when Bible doctrine is diminished, holiness is ridiculed, the preaching/teaching God’s Word is viewed as boring, and church services are reduced to music concerts.  This kind of world, and even this kind of Christianity, does not want or welcome the presence of God in human flesh. 
Shortly before Herod’s death (4 BC), the Magi came to Judea searching for the new born King of the Jews.  These “wise men from the east” carry further historical significance to Herod’s slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:16). 

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2:16-18).

The Magi were originally a hereditary priesthood who offered animal sacrifices to an un-named god.  Although occultist in their practices of divination and such, they were essentially monotheistic and many of their beliefs and their religious practices paralleled those of the Jews.  By the time these men appear on the pages of sacred history, the Magi had evolved into a powerful group.  They held leading positions in a constitutional council known as the Megistanes whose duties included the election (or deposition) of a monarch.  Therefore, they were considered by most people to be divinely appointed king-makers.
Their coming in search of this new born King of the Jews must have struck fear into the heart of the corrupt, wicked, and vile King Herod the Great who lived in constant fear of being overthrown.  They would have come with all the pomp of their position, traveling with a large armed force to protect them.  Had Herod tried to take them on, he would have risked war with Parthia.  Instead he took his usual avenue.  He just decided to eradicate the opposition by having all the children under two years old who had been born in Bethlehem slaughtered.
About two years has gone by since Herod’s initial contact with the Magi (Matthew 2:16).  That is why he had all the children two years old and under, “according to the time” he had talked with the Magi.  In Herod’s corrupt, arrogant heart lay the pride of power.  He would do anything to protect that position of power, even to the extent of having his own sons killed.  This is the spirit of Antichristism.  From Matthew 2:1-12 we see two spirits that motivate humanity.

  • We see Herod the Taker.
  • We see God the Giver.

We are all Takers as part of our corrupted nature.  This corruption defines our fallen nature.  From the degree of our corruption in this area of our character will flow the degree of our selfish demands.  The very idea that it is “more blessed to give then receive” (Acts 20:35) is foolishness to the corrupted mind of a Taker.  The spirit of God’s birth of a Saviour is giving, but that seems to degenerate more each year into a season of getting and taking.
Christmas is the time of the year we celebrate the birth of the Saviour.  We cannot separate the word Saviour from the love of God and the giving of God out of that love.  The kind of love that is God is defined by extreme selflessness and personal sacrifice.  When God commands Christians to love one another, this is the kind of love of which He speaks.  When God commands believers to minister as servants to the lost souls of this world, He expects us to love and give the way He loves and gave to us. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

          We cannot separate the word Saviour from the love of God and the provision of the free-gift of salvation to “whosoever will.”

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” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of extreme self-sacrifice (love and giving).  Self-sacrifice means giving ourselves.  The spirit of Christmas is the desire to be a blessing to someone and is about being others-minded

The Magi brought their “treasures” to baby Jesus and gave Him “gifts” (Matthew 2:11).  Before they gave their gifts to Jesus, these powerful men (who caused kings to tremble), humbled themselves (“fell down”) and “worshipped Him.”  Praise is what we say to others about God.  Worship is what we say and do in direct communicated with God.  They gave gifts merely as expressions of their worship.  They understood this little toddler Name Jesus was God’s gift to the world - a Saviour.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

It becomes the responsibility of every individual Christian to translate the things he knows and believes about the Person of Jesus Christ into practical realities of living that communicate the gift of the love of God offered to humanity.  In this venue of expression, the believer becomes the vehicle of transport of God’s love to the world.  In this venue of expression, the believer becomes a continuum of God’s love in the “work of the ministry” called evangelism and discipleship. 

Without the continuum of the “work of the ministry,” the knowledge of God’s love in the giving of His Son for the sins of the world would cease to exist after one generation.  Sadly, in most part, this describes exactly the scenario of the generations of most believers.  They may communicate the truth of the gift of salvation, but fail to communicate their love for God and appreciative worship towards God for what He has given.  This is the very thing that God said to Israel through Isaiah. 

9 Stay yourselves {continue to be stupefied}, and wonder {astonished}; cry ye out, and cry {the idea is, ‘stay blind since you choose not to see the light’}: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink {they were drunk with pride and self-trust}. 10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes {spiritual blindness happens when a person closes his eyes to what God reveals}: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered {he has covered his eyes from seeing what God is saying and doing while crying out in complaint against God for his spiritual blindness}. 11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed {they could not understand what Isaiah was saying because they refused to acknowledge the message was about them}, which men deliver to one that is learned {taking a book to someone who could read to have the book read and explained}, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: 12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned {even the educated if Israel could not understand, again because they would not see that God was speaking about them}. 13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men {having reduced God’s divine commandment to mere rules of human invention; this is what happen in the expanded interpretations of the Torah into the written traditions known as the Mishnah}” (Isaiah 29:9-12):

Isaiah 29:9-12 describes the spiritual state of the clear majority of professing Jews occupying the Promised Land at the time of Christ’s birth.  This was especially true of the priesthood of Israel.  Therefore, the angels appeared to the shepherds rather than to the leadership of Israel.  The shepherds were told they would find their Messiah all wrapped up in “swaddling clothes” and lying in a manger.

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

What a remarkable place to find the greatest gift ever given to anyone.  The eternal Son of God was not only born into a hostile world intent on His death.  He was born in humility and poverty.  The God Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and gave out of the abundance of His love was born in humility and died in humility to give us salvation and to teach us a new way of life – sacrificially giving ourselves to help others.  Once we understand this, every believer should sing at the top of our lungs from the roof tops with the chorus of “heavenly host” to the glory of God.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14).

For one small moment, a window into heaven was opened and the spiritual blindness of the shepherds was made sight.  They saw and heard with what the angels of heaven eternally occupy themselves – praising God! 

If we really understood and remembered the magnificence of the gift of God in Christ Jesus, our song services would be filled with joy and rejoicing.  We would shout out “glory to God in the highest” from the bottom of our hearts overflowing with gratitude.  The songs of praise and worship would burst forth from our hearts through our mouths directed to the glory of God.  Our lives would be like loaded cannons ready to explode with glory to God at the slightest spark of remembrance of what God has gifted us. 
Often, we sing words put to music with little praise from our hearts and even less comprehension of the wonders of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.  We must always take care that we do not slip into what God rebuke the people of Israel about in Isaiah 29:9-12 - If we really understand our dilemma without God’s gift of a Saviour, we would better understand the wonders of that gift.  This understanding is the spring from which pure worship erupts.

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

“While we were yet sinners,” prideful, hostile, God hating, takers of whatever we wanted without any consideration of the consequences, “Christ died for us.”  The little baby boy, born in a manger, was born to die for us, to be our Saviour and to be God’s gift of salvation.  In that gift are many gifts.

  • In God’s gift of salvation, the sin penalty (death) is fully paid and remitted.
  • In God’s gift of salvation, the believer is restored to a position of righteousness before God.
  • In God’s gift of salvation, the believer is “born again” of the Spirit of God, removed from the condemned family of Adam becoming a Spirit born child of God.
  • In God’s gift of salvation, He promises resurrection and glorification to all believers.

The key words here are gift and believe.  Salvation is free to anyone willing to put their faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection and acknowledge His Lordship (Romans 10:9-10).

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he {her dead brother Lazarus}shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this” (John 11:24-26)?

“Believest thou this?”  Martha was being asked to believe in what she had not seen.  Martha was being asked if she could believe the promise of the Word of God now incarnate before her.  Jesus was asking the ultimate question of faith.  God gave from His heart the most precious of gifts.  He gave His only begotten Son.  He gave because He loved us.  He gave His best.  He gave Himself.  You can be saved if you will trust in the finished, substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  “Believest thou this?”

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 47 years.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

From Darkness into the Light!


From Darkness into the Light!

So many people suffer under the false notion that somehow the world would be so much better if Jesus had not been crucified.  Perhaps that is why so many professing Christians are so enamored with the baby Jesus in the manger.  The manger scene is intended to depict the humility to which God was willing to stoop to become the Saviour of “whosoever will.”  He could never become our Saviour if He did not die a sinner’s death.  Most the Old Testament prophecies regarding the birth of Messiah involve details of His death.  Jesus was born to die on Calvary. 

16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness. 1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 8:16-9:7).
Out of the darkness of God’s pending judgment upon the backslidden nation of Israel comes the glorious light of God’s promise of the birth of Messiah.  Within this backslidden, chosen people of God there was a remnant of “disciples” (Isaiah 8:16).  The word “disciples” in Isaiah 8:16 is from the Hebrew word limmuwd (lim-mood’) referring to a group of people who were instructed in the things of God (meaning they were living translations of God’s truth).
The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Moody Press) says the word disciples “has the idea of training as well as educating.”  The idea is that through education these people became servants of the Lord using their tongues to proclaim God’s Word regardless of the costs to them personally.  Their ears were opened, ready and waiting to hear God’s message.  The promise of Messiah as the ultimate suffering Servant is always at the forefront of the mind of the “learned,” or the “disciple.”  Isaiah 50:4-6 speaks of the Messiah as one attuned to God’s voice ready to obey regardless of the personal costs. 

4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. 5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:4-6).

Obviously, the “learned,” the true “disciples” of the Lord, were not ignorant of the fact that Messiah would come as a suffering Servant.  Isaiah spoke of this more than any other prophet of God.  The “disciples” of the Lord who lived at the time of Isaiah were fully instructed regarding the coming of Messiah as the suffering Servant of Jehovah.

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:1-6).
Isaiah was not the first to reveal the suffering Servant of Jehovah.  David wrote of Him and His crucifixion in Psalm twenty-two.

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. 9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. 10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. 11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:1-18).

Psalm twenty-two describes for what Jesus was born! The message of the suffering Servant of Jehovah looks forward in time to the first advent of Messiah in Jesus Christ.  Both the first and second advents of Jesus Christ happen in times of history when the people of God are living in the greatest darkness.  The darkness in the world is not due to the wickedness of the world, but the wickedness, apathy, and carelessness of professing believers. 
Jesus came to these people who had almost memorized the Law of God, yet the darkness still overwhelmed their souls because the truths of God’s Word never got beyond their dead externalism to bring light and life into them.  Out of the darkness that encompassed the Crucifixion, we hear the thundering voice of Jesus probably using the last few ounces of strength left in His body:

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:45-46)?

We wonder at these words.  Why would Jesus ask such a question as this?  Surely, He must have known why God had forsaken Him.  Oh friends, this question is not for Him.  It was a reminder of David’s words in Psalm twenty-two to His crucifiers of Israel.  It was a reminder to Israel of the holiness of God for that was the Psalmist’s answer to the question in Psalm twenty-two.

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:1-3).

Why does God not hear the cries and pleas of the forsaken?  He does not hear because God is holy and because the forsaken are the forsaken because of sin, because of apathy, because of worldliness and because of carelessness.  The world is in darkness because all these things exist in the lives of professing believers.  God has already heard and answered the plea of the forsaken in the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son Jesus. 
The Cross of Jesus Christ was both a place of utter, stifling darkness and glorious, blinding light.  For those lost in the darkness of sin and ignorance, the darkness must have been overwhelming.  To the “disciples” of Jesus who understood the many Scripture references to the suffering Servant of Jehovah, the light of that truth must have shown so brightly that they could do nothing more but to stand in awe as they looked upon their dying Saviour. 

2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined . . .6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:2 & 6). 

Like the remnant of Israel at Christ’s first advent, we may be a people who walk in the darkness of a God hating, truth rejecting world, but we do not have to be a part of that darkness.  We can be contributors to the light rather than contributors to the darkness if we will cast off our apathy, worldliness, and carelessness and give our lives to be servants of Jehovah.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

If your life is filled with the darkness of despair and hopelessness, perhaps your need is “the life” that is “light of men.”  You can have that “life” by simple faith in Jesus Christ.  Turn away from your worldly pursuits and selfish motives in life.  Come to the Light.  It is shining in the darkness for you to find your way home.  The Light of the world is Jesus! 

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, December 6, 2016

The Birth of the Last Adam

The Birth of the Last Adam
I Corinthians chapter fifteen gives considerable details about the resurrection from the dead.  However, when reading the text, few consider the necessary birth of the “last Adam” to bring about the possibility of the resurrection from the dead into a New Genesis.  In other words, the resurrection of the believer from death is not merely to live again in a new human physical body within the curse of the cursed first creation.  Through His incarnation, Jesus opened a doorway into the New Genesis.  This doorway is opened and offered to all fallen sinners “by grace . . . through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).  This is not talking about a fire escape from Hell, although this is one of the outcomes of being “born again.”  I Corinthians chapter fifteen is detailing the transfiguration of the “born again” believer from a predominantly physical being to a predominantly spiritual being through what God calls glorification

          As we read I Corinthians chapter fifteen, we must carefully note that the resurrection and glorification of all truly “born again” believers in Jesus Christ is connected to the incarnation of the Son of God into humanity to generate a new species of humanity that is literally out of this world.  In other words, the phrase “last Adam” is a new type of generation of humanity that is both spiritual and eternal in existence.  Any resemblance to the old body is merely superficial.  This will be explained with another metaphor in I Corinthians 15:39-44. 

          It is clear in the statement of I Corinthians 15:36, that most people thought the resurrection from the dead was merely and eternal continuance of life as they now knew it.  This notion as addressed as foolish. 

35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body” (I Corinthians 15:35-38).

The questions of I Corinthians 15:35 were the subject of endless theologian debate and the positing of conjectures.  The clear majority of arguments took a naturalistic view saying the new body would be similar to the present human body, except the resurrected person would never die again.  Other arguments of the naturalistic view said the new body would be the same except it would not possess a sin nature and therefore not be tempted with sin.  All naturalistic views of the resurrection appear to be ignorant of the New Genesis and the transfiguration of the human body to live within that New Genesis in perfect, eternal fellowship with God.

The point of argument of I Corinthians 15:36-38 is that the naturalistic views of the resurrection/glorification of “born again” believers are superficial in that the naturalistic views fail to see that the Creator is supernaturally involved in a New Creation in the resurrection/glorification.  Naturally, we understand that a grain seed is planted in the earth after it dies to bring forth an increase of quantity of the same grain planted.  You plant a corn seed; a stalk of corn grows with numerous ears of corn upon that stalk.  No one expects to plant corn seed and have wheat grow from that corn.  That would be miraculous and the farmer would bring the world to see that kind of miracle.  However, I Corinthians 15:36-38 addresses a supernatural occurrence exceeding this completely.  The metaphor says that the farmer can plant a dead corn seed and it produces a completely unknown grain that is not even of this world.  Taking the metaphor one step further, the supernatural operations of God in the resurrection/glorification of “born again” believers will be varied according to God’s pleasure.
In expanding upon this variety in the resurrection/glorification of believers’ new bodies, God uses several different metaphors to explain that the resurrected/glorified believer will not receive a physical body like humanity has in this life.  The emphasis of I Corinthians 15:39-44 uses the metaphors of variety of different kinds of “flesh” in different kinds of animals and different amounts of radiance from different kinds of planetary bodies.  The implication of the I Corinthians 15:39-44 appears to be there will be a wide diversity in the appearance of the believers’ new bodies.  They will not all look alike and they will not all produce the same amount of light (glory). 

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial {above the sky} bodies, and bodies terrestrial {earthly}: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead” (I Corinthians 15:39-42).

Perhaps, these variations in resurrected bodies are rewards to eternally distinguish certain believers for the faithful quality of lives they lived within the curse.  We certainly know that rewards for faithfulness will be given to faithful believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the Kingdom Age (Matthew 25:14-30; the parable of the Talents).  The rewards for the Kingdom Age will involve the gift of positions of rule with Christ proportionate to the faithful witness of the believer during this life and the production of fruit through their lives.  The “light” with which a believer glorified God (i.e., revealed Him) in this life will be proportionate to the glory that will emanate from his new glorified body in the New Genesis. 

I Corinthians 15:42-44 lists four dramatic supernatural changes in the “born again” believer’s resurrected/glorified new body.  Again, these dramatic supernatural changes are to emphasize the radical difference between the natural views of the resurrection of the body. 

42 It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

          The point of the differences of which this text speaks refers to the differences between the two worlds (Matthew 12:32) that were created “in the beginning.”  The world in which we now live is primarily a physical or natural world.  This world was cursed of God and will eventually be “dissolved with fervent heat” (II Peter 3:12) at the end of the Kingdom Age.  The “world to come” will primarily be a spiritual world that the Bible calls a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1-8).  The word “new” used throughout Revelation 21:1-8 is translated from the Greek word kainos (kahee-nos'), not neosNeos means new of the same kindKainos means new of a different kind, or a new kind of genesis.  This is significant in that God is not going to make another world like the world created and given to Adam and Eve in the “garden of Eden.”  The “new heaven and a new earth” will be radically different.  Therefore, we should expect that the believers’ new glorified bodies will also be radically different from the bodies we presently have. 

1 And I saw a new {kainos} heaven and a new {kainos} earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new {kainos} Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new {kainos}. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 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 21:1-9).

The main difference between the natural views of the resurrection/glorification and the supernatural view is defined by the ways the supernatural will be a New Creation that is different from the original creation of “this world” and “the world to come” (Matthew 12:32).  The “this world” creation is merely a simplistic embryo of “the world to come.”  The four main differences given in I Corinthians 15:42-44 in the way the human body will be recreated during the resurrection/glorification are:

1. “It is sown in corruption {decay or ruin}; it is raised in incorruption {unending existence; never being able to be destroyed or ruined}” -
2. It is sown in dishonor {infamy, disgrace, shame, vile being totally incapable of reflecting the character and nature of God in Whose image humanity was created}; it is raised in glory {glorious or capable of reflecting the character and nature of God in Whose image humanity was created}”
3. “It is sown in weakness {morally and spiritual weak or frail thereby susceptible to deception and temptation}; it is raised in power {with miraculous power that has no susceptibility to deception and temptation}”
4. “It is sown a natural body {with all the limitations of a physical body}; it is raised a spiritual body {supernatural without all the limitations of a physical body}.” 

          There are still many unanswered questions regarding the resurrected/glorified body that will be individually created for believers by God.  God does not answer these questions in the Bible now.  We probably could not comprehend the differences now anyway. 

6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (I Corinthians 2:6-11).

          The new kind of body the believer will receive upon the resurrection/glorification is like an unopened gift.  We know God has something wondrous and incomprehensible to us as of now, but it remains unopened to our understanding until we can fully comprehend it by experiencing that new existence of that new body.  God could tell us more, but words could not explain what God will then give us.  In other words, just as God’s Word says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
However, we can certainly see that all the naturalistic positions regarding the resurrected/glorified body are eliminated.  The future resurrected/glorified bodies of all “born again” believers will be totally disconnected and removed from the world that now is and become part of the world that is to come – the New Heaven/Earth.  There will be no place for “flesh and blood” in the world to come.  This is the substance of the statement in I Corinthians 15:45-50.  Again, another clear argument against the naturalistic view of the resurrected body. 

“45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Corinthians 15:45-50).

The phrase “last Adam” is unique to I Corinthians 15:45. The phrase “last Adam” refers to the Person of Jesus as the “firstborn” of the New Genesis; particularly to the humanity of Jesus.  The point of the text is that God planned for Jesus as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) before Adam ever fell into sin bringing God’s curse upon His creation.  The birth of Jesus is the crown of humanity.  In Jesus, humanity was eternally united with the Creator through the Theanthropic union of the eternal Son of God and the humanity of Jesus through the virgin birth.  In uniting the Creator with the humanity of Jesus, then Jesus became the “last Adam” with the Divine power of both redemption and regeneration. 

This is expanded upon in Romans 5:12-19 providing a juxtaposition of generation between the first Adam and the “last Adam,” i.e. Jesus as the firstborn of the regeneration.  This is the significance of the phrase “the last Adam was made a quickening {life giving} spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45).  Again, the gift of life here is not just a new life like the old life a sinner had before he was saved from Hell and regenerated.  This is a new kind of life like the kind of life that Jesus had on earth.  Eventually this new life will be put into a new body just as Jesus was resurrected and glorified into a new body.  A new place of existence will be created for this new manner of existence “in Christ” and the Christ-life through the filling of the Holy Spirit Who indwells the believer when the believer is “born again.”

It is critically important to understand that a new resurrected/glorified body will only be given to those who have been saved from Hell and received the gift of redemption from eternal prison of death that is offered by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-21). 

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement {reconciliation}. 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:6-21).

The great transcending truth here is the substance of the Kingdom of Christ.  The Kingdom of Christ is the New Genesis that exists only “in Christ.”  In the New Genesis (“the world to come;” Matthew 12:32 or “the regeneration,” Matthew 19:28), Christ Jesus is the “firstborn” as Adam was the “firstborn” of the world that now is.  The first Adam’s sin nature was seminally transfer to all his generations through procreation and genetics.  With this sin nature comes death, which is eternal separation from God.  The “last Adam” (Jesus) gifts holiness and righteousness to all His generations through the indwelling Holy Spirit in the gift of salvation and being “born again” of the Spirit of God.  Glorification is the completion of the believers’ salvation (Romans 8:29).  In the resurrection and glorification of Jesus, He became “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:12-18).

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.