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 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

I.False Faith and Self-Deception

I.False Faith and Self-Deception

In the time of the early prophecies of Jeremiah, the nation of Israel is in its first years of recovery from the consequences of King Manasseh and then his son Amon.  These two kings were wicked idolaters following the apostasy of king Solomon before he repented.  Many of the children of Israel were living in the pornographic, licentious culture of paganism during the week while still maintaining a farcical involvement with the Temple.  Their worship of Jehovah was pure hypocrisy.  Their faith in God was corrupted with the merging and blending of paganism at almost every level.  They were offering sacrifices to Jehovah while sacrificing their children to the pagan god Moloch.  Every high place or grove of trees was a worship center and gathering place for the pornographic practices of pagan worship. 

          Jeremiah begins to prophesy about sixty years after Isaiah’s death.  Jeremiah is contemporary with Zephaniah and Habakkuk in his early years, thereby joining them in calling Israel to repent while warning of the pending judgment of God in the Babylonian captivity.  Jeremiah would live long enough to be a contemporary of Daniel in the captivity of which Jeremiah forewarns. 

          King Josiah, the boy king who began to reign at eight years of age under the tutelage of his godly mother Jedidah (II Kings 22:1), was in his thirteenth year (Jeremiah 1:2) as king when Jeremiah comes on the scene of biblical history.  (PIC) Josiah declared war on paganism and idolatry.  He had the pagan idols crushed to dust and scattered the cursed dust upon the graves of those who worshiped the pagan idols.  Yet most of the children of Israel continued their pagan practices in secret while dualistically and publicly practicing the duplicity of Jehovah worship.

          The spiritual condition of Israel at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecies was very similar to modern Christianity.  The practice of “the faith” defined by the Law and the prophets was almost completely corrupted and liberalized.  The Word of God was no longer being read with few people having access to the Scriptures.  In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, five years after Jeremiah begins to prophecy, Josiah has the priests of Israel repairing and cleaning out the Temple, which had fallen into disrepair due to neglect.  During that house cleaning, they discovered the original Book of the Law (the Pentateuch) from Moses.

     The High Priest Hilkiah had Shaphan the scribe read the Book of the Law to king Josiah (II Kings 22:8-9).  Upon hearing the Word of the Lord, Josiah is brought under deep conviction of the failures of the nation of Israel.  Josiah rents his garment and repents in heartbroken tears before God.  The transition in Josiah’s faith is from the words of his godly mother, in that she knew that paganism was sin, to the very Words of God in the Scriptures.  Josiah’s solution is to personally read the discovered book of the Law to the children of Israel (II Kings 23:2). 

          Jeremiah chapter seven takes place in about B.C. 600, ten years after king Josiah’s reign ends.  Although Josiah waged war against the integration of paganism and idolatry in with the worship of Jehovah, the war was not won.  Paganism and idolatry continued to be practiced in secret and dark recesses of human depravity by most the children of Israel (described in Ezekiel chapter eight).  Although the false faith and pagan debauchery practiced by most of the children of Israel could be hidden from the priests and the prophets, it was not hidden from God.  Jeremiah continues to expose what God sees.  This is ALWAYS the ministry of the responsible faithful. 

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. 3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. 5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; 6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. 8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? 11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 7:1-11).

          God is visible only through the realities of His operations within His creation.  He blesses the faithful and chastises the unfaithful.  Unless we generate considerable effort to keep God and our relationship with Him at the forefront of our minds, it will not be long before our Christianity slips into dead externalism where church is what we do a few hours on Sundays and neo-paganism is what we do the rest of the week.   The consistent warning of Scripture is: Don’t take God and your faith in Him for granted.
          It is work to maintain a faithful relationship with God.  The work it takes to maintain a relationship increases proportionately to the intimacy we want (or need) in that relationship.  The difficulty is that most of us want a level of intimacy while being unwilling to invest the time necessary to generate that intimacy.  This is also true of husband/wife relationships and parent/children relationships.

    However, it is the truest of our relationship with God.  We need intimacy with God, but usually are unwilling to invest the time necessary to get to know Him or to know what He expects from us in that relationship.  Studying Scripture is often not a priority of the lives of most believers. 

          There are two Greek words used for knowledge in the Bible.  One is gnosis (gno’-sis) and the other epignosis (ep-ig’-no-sis).  There is considerable difference between these two kinds of knowledge.  For instance, gnosis knowledge of the piano can discern between good and poor piano playing.  Epignosis knowledge of the piano can produce good piano music from a piano.  What is it that makes the difference between these two kinds of knowledge of the piano?  The latter requires that a person spend hours and hours and hours and hours with that piano learning to play it.  This latter person has cultivated an intimacy with the piano the hearer can only appreciate, but not necessarily understand.

          One thing we should all know for sure, God wants intimacy with His children and is doing everything He can to bring us to the place where we will begin working on what we need to do to have that intimacy.  True worship of God naturally flows from intimacy with God.

     The difficulty is that we deceive ourselves into thinking we have an intimate relationship with God when we really do not.  We think because we go to church regularly and pray before our meals that all is well in Godville.  We think because we give money to the church and read our Bibles that we are doing what we need to do to have intimacy with God.

          This is the way many men think about their families.  They think they have a loving relationship with them because they work hard to provide a home for them, clothing for them, and food to fill their bellies.  Certainly, this manifests a faithfulness to some degree to one’s family.  There certainly is some sacrifice on the father’s part and it certainly is an exhibition of love.  It can also just be an exhibition of duty or responsibility.  Duty and responsibility do not translate into intimacy with his family.  In fact, he can be doing all that is mentioned and providing abundantly and still not have an intimate, loving relationship with his wife or with his children.  Yet, like most men, they wonder why their family do not appreciate all that they do for them.  The reality is they presume on an intimacy that does not exist.  They fall into the trap of self-deception by thinking externally.  Mothers naturally cultivate intimacy with their children because they naturally understand the difference.  Fathers naturally presume on intimacy and do not work at cultivating intimacy with people, even their children. 

          We have a horrendous propensity for thinking externally and God hates it.  External thinking focuses on external obedience and intellectual knowledge rather than upon the strengths and weaknesses of people.  External thinking people do not have intimate conversations with other people seeking to know their desires and ambitions.  External thinking people are not involved in the lives of people in a way that cultivates intimate relationships to create an environment for positive spiritual influence.  Getting to intimately know people and allowing them to intimately know you creates a fertile ground for genuinely ministering one to another in such a way as to impact lives for generations.  The “work of the ministry” is hard word.

What motivates us to do what we do is what determines if we are externalists or not.  Church-going, Bible reading, prayer, soul winning, ministry are all just minor parts of intimacy with God.  This is not to say such things are unimportant.  We can be doing all these things in abundance, but without joy in the doing because they are all being done out of a sense of duty in the “flesh” apart from an intimacy with God.  When our focus is upon the doing and not upon for Whom we do it, we will miss the most significant aspect of faith – working together in fellowship with God.  There is a dangerous and slippery slope in this of which we all are very susceptible - religion without relationship.

          Externalism comes in all kinds of forms and in many degrees.  The nation of Israel at the time of Jeremiah was guilty of almost every form of externalism.  Rules without relationship always degenerate into externalism.  Religion without relationship is equally as deadly.  That is what God is saying in Jeremiah 7:4. “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.”  The people of Israel had deceived themselves into thinking that everything in their lives was right with God if their Temple practices were in order; in other words, they were going to Church.  What a debilitating form of self-deception.

       Religion without relationship tends to generate worship of form and practice that lacks in any real heart motivation for real ministry and any real concern for souls and lives.  This may be the reason why change is so resisted in these kinds of local churches.  People do not want to change the way they do things because they have come to worship the form and practice of their religion.  God need not even show up.  The worship of form and practice degenerates any ministry into a substitute for (or is misinterpreted as) a real relationship with God.  Form and practice become little more than another kind of idolatry.  This is what happened to the Samaritans in Northern Israel in the intermingling of paganism with the worship of Jehovah.  Form and practice became substitutes for God.  This is a subtle but debilitating kind of self-deception because there is an appearance of worship.  However, when worship is commingled with false doctrine and unacceptable worship practices, the leaven of this corruption regardless of how insignificant it appears to be, leavens the whole and it becomes nothing more than religion.  

22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22-24).

         Forms and practices as substitutes for a genuine relationship with God do not demand transparency in our own lives, genuine heartfelt concern for people, or a desire for intimacy with God.  Yet form and practice easily mislead us into thinking all is well in Godville when our forms and practices generate a stench that reaches to the throne of God.

       One hundred and thirty years before the inspired record of the admonition given by Jeremiah, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah with words that communicate God’s heart regarding the stench of religion without relationship.  It is a message that is as timely and true in the “lukewarm” Laodicean period of Church history (Revelation 3:14-22) as it was it the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah.

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me {referring to sacrifices unaccompanied with a right heart relationship and a desire for a righteous life}? saith the LORD: I am full {weary} of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts {the rejection is the result of doing the ritual without the accompanying heart relationship and desire to please God}? 13 Bring no more vain {desolating, evil; rituals, prayer, the observance special holy days to show respect and reverence for God were all evil in the sight of God without really loving Him and desiring to live to His glory} oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands {signifying they had offered all the appropriate sacrifices and observed all the holy days thereby seeing themselves in a right relationship with God}, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:11-17; compare Amos 5:21-24).

          God’s solution to this fiasco of superficiality is simple.  God’s solution takes two directions.  First, in Isaiah 1:16, God directs His children to clean up their lives.  They were to separate themselves from the carnal, worldliness that preoccupied their lives and consumed their time.  They were integrating paganism into their lives and culture so gradually that it was done almost unnoticed.  This is the way worldly gradualism works.  Worldliness is like quicksand.  A person slowly sinks into it until he is imprisoned by it.  The children of Israel, professing believers, were commanded to “cease” doing evil.  Here is where rules without relationship become a problem.  Why were the lives of the children of Israel consumed with selfish priorities and worldliness?  Why do Christians struggle with and argue about practices that are clearly worldly?  Their ignorance of the God of the Bible allows them to create a god who allows their worldliness.  They do not get Truth from God’s Word. 

        This results in them having religion without a personal, intimate relationship with the God of Truth generating dead externalism in their lives.  This is not real faith.  Therefore, they view God’s commandments as intrusions upon their lives and restrictions upon the things they find pleasure in.  They think temporally.  They live temporally.  Their religion is simply a means to manipulate God into providing them with the things they need and want.  They do not approach God in worship in open transparency, seeking intimacy with Him.  The deeper they sink into worldliness, the more shallow and artificial their faith becomes.  Those of Jeremiah’s day knew this.  The prophets exposed it to them.  They knew it was true, but they loved the worldliness!  The great tragedy is that this self-deception manifests a false faith and a false hope in a false salvation.  The Apostle John warned Christians about the same thing in I John chapters two and three.

12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 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 2:12-17).

      Secondly, God instructs His children to begin to do what was right (“learn to do well,” Isaiah 1:17).  We think that we will start ministering to people once we get a burden for people.  That will never happen and that is the reason ministry never begins in many people’s lives.  We get a burden for people when we begin to get involved in their lives.  Why does God want His children to minister?  God wants His children to minister because that is where God’s heart is.  God wants us to be concerned about people the way He is.

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.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Two Great Eternal Victories

Two Great Eternal Victories

It seems apparent that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday (possibly Thursday) and then resurrected on Sunday morning.  The significance of the importance of the days is merely the fact that they fulfill specific prophecies regarding the timing between His death and resurrection.  Therefore, although the timing of things has biblical significance, the greatest significance is the spiritual accomplishments of the death, burial, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus. 

Although the Blood offering of Jesus at Calvary is essential to the body of the doctrine of salvation, the resurrection and glorification of Jesus is the crown upon the Head of that body.  The significance and spiritual ramifications of these accomplished realities pertain to the wondrous gift of salvation provided “by grace through faith” to the repentant believing sinner.  I Corinthians chapter fifteen is the substance of the lengthiest explanation of the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible.  Here, Paul begins with a basic explanation of the Gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4) going into considerable detail about the ramifications of what the death, burial, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus provides to the believing sinner in the gift of salvation going far beyond mere eternal life.  Here Paul explains a completely new and perhaps unfathomable new spiritual existence extending into a radically different kind of new body.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written {Isaiah 25:8}, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:51-58).

          The fifty-eight verses of Scripture in I Corinthians chapter fifteen fully define and describe the scope of the doctrine of redemption through the Blood of Jesus Christ.  All of this was already settled in the mind of God before God ever spoke time and matter into existence.  The believer’s pathway to the surety of this new existence began before the foundation of the world in God’s plan and promise of His own incarnation to substitutionally die to pay His own penalty for the sin nature of humanity introduced into Creation through Adam’s sin.  God’s plan for humanity was a new spiritual/physical eternal existence lived in harmony and fellowship with Him.


          Sin entered the Creation first through the fall of Satan due to pride.  After God created Adam, God gave to humanity, represented in Adam, sovereignty over God’s Creation.  This included sovereignty over the angels, which are also created beings.  God had decreed that the angels were to be the servants of humanity.  Satan rebelled against God’s sovereign decree due to pride.  The prophet Isaiah gives us the details of the fall of Satan.

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

Sin entered Creation in the “I will” declaration of Satan’s heart already fallen in the sin of pride.  It was in the heart also where Adam failed.  Satan created a situation through the deception of Eve and Adam’s love for Eve where Adam put his desires above God’s desires.  Adam put his will above God’s will.  Satan’s sting of sin was the sting of pride and it brought God’s curse upon the whole of God’s creation. 

Sin, any sin, is the infection of death.  Death is more than mere physical death.  Death is eternal separation from God.  The lost of this world do not understand the depth to which sin has infected their souls.  Sin has spiritually ruined every person descending from Adam. 

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed {seminally} 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 5:12-21)
Herein lays the necessity of the statement of Jesus to Dr. Nicodemus – “ye must be born again” (John 3:7).  The fallen nature of all humanity is infected with eternal death, which means eternal separation from God and eternal life.  That infection complete and cannot be healed.  The infection cannot be stopped.  The corrupted sinner needs a new nature that is available only through regeneration, or being spiritually “born again.”  The sinner needs to become a new creation

“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 (the New Genesis).  This is the significance of the phrase “the last Adam was made a quickening {life giving} spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45).  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).


          What does this phrase mean?  The point is that God is perfectly holy and righteous.  The Law defines sin and pronounces all men guilty as sinners.  The Law of God is the righteousness of God shining upon our lives revealing us for what we are in the sight of God.  The wrath of God’s eternal judgment on sin MUST be satisfied (propitiated).  God cannot be righteous if the penalty of the curse is not satisfied.  Therefore, the binding power of sin is the righteousness of God manifested in the Law.  The Law cannot redeem.  In fact, it has no desire to redeem.  The Law demands adjudication of the penalties prescribed by breaching its commands from God.  There can be NO pardon apart from propitiation.  The Law merely reveals to the sinner that he is ALREADY bound and imprisoned awaiting the day of God’s Great White Throne judgment where he will be cast into eternal Hell.  This cursed world is nothing more than a prison cell for the lost until the Great White Throne.

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. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20).

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” (Romans 3:10-18).

          No sinner can truly be grateful to God until he realizes just how lost he really is.  No sinner will ever truly worship God until he understands the miracle of the grace of God that rescued his wretched, depraved, and sin soaked soul from a deserved destiny of eternal torment.  Paul makes the exclamation of his understanding of his own depravity in Romans chapter seven as he teaches on the warfare of the believer for practical sanctification against his own carnal nature.  This spiritual war with our own carnal nature will not end until the day of our resurrection/glorification.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).


          Complete victory over sin and over the binding power of condemnation and death was once for all won upon the death and resurrection of Jesus.  This victory was such a surety that the victory march was held a week earlier on what we commonly call Palm Sunday. 

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:51-57).

The Truth communicated to us in this simple text is so overwhelming and comprehensive it almost unfathomable to the human mind.  In Matthew 26:39, Jesus said, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  Jesus was speaking of substitutionally drinking the poison of humanity’s death and condemnation to satisfy (propitiate) the wrath of God’s judgment upon sin.  Jesus took our sin penalty in His body (I Peter 2:24) that “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).  What wondrous, marvelous grace!

10 By the which will we are sanctified {perfect, passive, participle; refers to positional sanctification} through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected {perfect, active, indicative} for ever them that are sanctified {of vs. 10}. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:10-18).

These few verses of Scripture in Hebrews 10:10-18 are an explanation and expansion upon the simple declaration of Christ in His last Words on the Cross of Calvary; “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison {‘Abraham’s bosom’ or ‘paradise’}; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism {with the Spirit into the New Genesis in the body of Christ} doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ {Jesus is the ‘firstborn’ of the regeneration}: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (I Peter 3:18-22).


          Although God has not unconditionally chosen anyone to be saved, everyone that chooses to receive the God’s gift of salvation is predestined to be resurrected/glorified.  The “blessed hope” is a surety- a sure thing! 

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

“Foreknow” in Romans 8:29 is an aorist, active indicative.  The word “predestinate” in both verses 29 and 30 is also in the aorist, active indicative as well as the words “called,” “justified,” and “glorified” in verse 30.  What this all means is that these events in believer’s lives refer to something God incorporated into His eternal plan of redemption in eternity past (before time; before the “foundation of the world”) that are being fulfilled in time (actually) or will be fulfilled in the future (actually).  George Bryson says:

“Paul tells us what is destined to be true for those whom God foreknows.  Inevitably they will be called, justified, and glorified.  Moreover they will be called according to His purpose.  What is His purpose for those He foreknows?  It is that ultimately and inevitably they will be glorified.  Justification represents the predestined work of God in time while glorification represents the predestined work of God in eternity.  From a temporal perspective justification must come first.  From an eternal perspective if a person is justified in time, that person is also predestined to be glorified when time meets eternity for the believer.[1]”  (Bolding added)

There is a divine order to the unfolding nature of “the regeneration” as defined by Romans chapter eight.  The central idea of the chapter is the absolute surety of God bringing the promise of “the regeneration” into a complete fulfillment.  Although the price of redemption has been fully paid and accepted by God (God is propitiated), the full benefits of redemption are not yet fully realized.

          Part of the “revelation of Jesus Christ” in His glorified state is His revelation as the last Adam and the restored Federal Head over the fallen creation.  This is the same “creation” referred to in Romans 8:19 that watches and waits for this historical event.  Included in the second coming, is the revelation of “the sons of God” who are “joint heirs with Christ.”

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2-3).

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Anchor2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Anchor3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Anchor4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-3).

          Paul’s further expansion on his argument for giving believer’s motivation for looking beyond the “sufferings of this present time” is found in Romans 8:20-21 in his personification of “the creation.”  “20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  Literally it reads, “the creation became subordinate (hupotasso, hoop-ot-as'-so) to uselessness (mataiotes, mat-ah-yot'-ace).”  After the fall, the creation became subservient to depravity and could no longer bring glory to God, although not voluntarily (“willingly”).  God initiated this subjection intent upon a higher and nobler outcome; i.e., “hope.” 

          The word “hope” in Romans 8:24 is translated from the Greek word elpis (el-pece') and refers to the confident anticipation or expectation of something good or pleasant.  The creation could then look forward in confident expectation to the time God would deliver the “creation itself . . . from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty [Thayer: “liberty of glory”] of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21); referring to “the regeneration” or the creation of the new Heaven/Earth.  When the “children of God” by regeneration are finally glorified, they will be fully and finally liberated from the subservience to the depravity of the fallen creation and once again be able to fully glorify God.  This will not happen until the “redemption of the body” (Romans 8:23; resurrection/translation/glorification).  Although this has not yet taken place historically, the believer can be sure that it will.  The “redemption of the body” is what is predestinated.  Because Jesus has been resurrected/glorified, we can be sure of the same happening to us in the reality of the miraculous unfolding of God’s redemptive plan.

[1] George Bryson; The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinist Caste System; Calvary Chapel Publishing, 2004; Page 209

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.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Abiding in the Word and the Prayer of Faith

Abiding in the Word and the Prayer of Faith

God’s inspired Bible speaks often of the “just” living “by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38).  The “just” refers to those justified through faith.  Justified means God gifted to these individuals His righteous in the gift of salvation.  The gift of God-kind righteousness comes to the believer through the impartation of the Divine Nature (II Peter 1:4) in the indwelling Holy Spirit of the Godhead. 

     The redeemed are obligated to live the Christ-life in the same way they received the indwelling Christ – “by faith.”  In doing so, they release the Christ-life through their lives.  This is what God’s Word calls the spiritual life (I Corinthians 2:15, 3:1; Galatians 6:1, and I Peter 2:5), “fellowship” with God, and the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). 

          Salvation brings the believer into union with Christ (Theanthropic Union).  Practical sanctification brings the believer into unity with Christ (“unity of the Spirit,” Ephesians 4:1-3).  Practical sanctification begins with the trusting believer fully yielding his body, heart, and mind to the indwelling Christ (Romans 6:11-13).  This is a supernaturally produced sanctification accomplish through a cooperative partnership with the empowering and enabling indwelling Christ.  Jesus speaks of this spiritual unity with Him in John 15:1-8.  In this text, Jesus uses the word “abide” to communicate the imperative of spiritual unity with Him.

1 I {Jesus} am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:1-8).

The importance of what Jesus teaches in John 15:1-8 will probably never be fully realized until after we are dead, glorified, and finally standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Then we will see the outcome of all those moments of selfish inconsideration when we lived for carnal pleasures and worldly pursuits.
In John 15:4. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.”  The word “abide” is an aorist, active, imperative.  In other words, the believer is COMMANDED to abide in Christ and to insure Christ abides in the believer.  The word “abide” means to stay or remain.  To not abide in Christ is a serious act of sinful disobedience.  The context demands we understand the meaning is to do whatever is required to ensure that we live in continuous Spirit-filled fellowship with Jesus Christ.  The believer’s will must be so fully surrendered to Christ that their two wills seems as one.  This reality should be the condition of the heart before any person makes any request to God.  Such a person wants intimacy with God before He wants things from God.  This factor defines living faith.  Anything less is simply a foolish attempt to manipulate God into doing what we want Him to do.  What depth of ignorance and unbelief do such attempts manifest in the lives of those trying to do such foolishness as trying to manipulate God?
John 15:7 connects this responsibility to the blessing of answered prayer.  “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”  Notice that in John 15:7, Jesus defines that living in unbroken fellowship with Him necessitates that His “words abide in” us.  In other words, this is not some metaphysical spiritual experience without definitive parameters.  This is not the acceptance of some anything goes syncretistic religious expression.  The necessity that Jesus’ “words abide in” us defines pure Christianity; purely the Word of God. 

What is the first question you ask yourself when you do not receive answers to your prayers?  Are you FULLY surrendered?  Do you have any area of known disobedience to God’s Word in your life?  Have you sought the counsel of someone you respect spiritually?  Will you give this person permission to speak to you frankly about these questions?  What really defines the prayer of faith?  Is faith somehow disconnected from our walk with the Lord?  The redundant pattern of Scripture is that faith has more to do with the way we live our lives than it is about anything else. 
7 But the end of all things is at hand {the Church Age is the “last days”}: be ye therefore sober {of a sound mind meaning doctrinally sound; understanding the timetable of the second coming keeps believers from fretting the events and affairs of the world}, and watch {stay free from intoxicants; keep your mind clear and sober} unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:7-11).

In I Peter 4:7-11 we see several words that describe the overflow of the Spirit of God that manifest His indwelling power flowing through our lives.  There are seven ministry areas of the Christian life that are intimately and intricately connected to having a right working relationship with the Lord.

Understanding these words is critical to understanding how God releases His power through our lives in ministry to one another.

1. Sobriety: from the word sophroneo (so-fron-eh'-o), meaning sound of mind or thinking. Sound mindedness comes from thinking things through and taking into consideration all the Truths of God’s Word as they weigh upon any given subject or situation.  Sophroneo was a word that described a person who did not allow his mind to come under the influence of alcohol.  This is very much what Jesus means when He says “my words abide in you” (John 15:7).
2. Watch unto prayer: the word “watch” is from the word nepho (nay'-fo), meaning to abstain from wine drinking and connecting sobriety (right mindedness) with prayer (God-dependency) in power with God in all matters of life.  Contradistinctively, failure in nepho (abstaining from wine drinking or any similar worldly practice) would disconnect the believer from power with God. Worldly desires manifest a weak mind (the opposite of a strong or sound mind).
3. Fervent charity: literally, unceasing sacrificial love for other true believers. The idea is the willingness to make extreme sacrifices for one another, to help one another grow in grace, and to escape the shackles of our own selfishness.  The words “charity shall cover the multitude of sins” in I Peter 4:8 is a quote from Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”  The idea is that our love is not constantly stirring up the dunghill of a fellow Christian’s past failures of which he has confessed and that have been forgiven.
4. Use hospitality: from the word philoxenos (fil-ox’-en-os), it simply means being fond of guests.  Christians ought to enjoy the company of other Christians and “use hospitality” to encourage one another.  Notice this comes with the qualifier, “one to another without grudging” (grumbling or complaining about having to do it).  Remember, “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7). Hospitality costs both time and money.  If love does not cost us something, we have not loved.
5. Minister “the gift:” “gift” is from charisma and “minister” is from diakoneo (dee-ak-on-eh'-o). In other words, God did not give us the supernatural gift of spiritual enablement to consume upon ourselves.  He has gifted us with the intent we will use that “gift” and spread it as a resource to the widest possible scale of our influence “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  Notice, there is a stewardship involved.  Stewardship means we will be held accountable for this “manifold grace of God.”  This accountability defines the Dispensation (stewardship) of Grace.  Salvation is a gift of grace, but with it comes overwhelming spiritual responsibilities for which we are accountable to God.  He expects “fruit.”
6. Speech: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11).  The word “the” is not in the Greek text in front of the word “oracles.”  It should read, “Speak as oracles of God.”  The idea is like the “thus sayeth the LORD” proclamation of the Old Testament prophets.  The idea is that you are not communicating some philosophical idea or some great thought from your own mind.  There is no option for debate or dissension.  Truth is to come forth from the mouth of the prophet of God, as if God is speaking Himself.  Therefore, when you are speaking forth the Word of God, you are to do so with the authority of its Author.
7. Ministry to the glory of God: “If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11b).  We often hear the word charismatic used to describe people who can attract large crowds.  Often, these types of people are self-glorifying empire builders.  They are like fly paper.  The fly was just looking for a place to land to get something to eat and then he found himself stuck.

When God uses the word charisma, He uses it in the context of His supernatural enabling of a believer for the “work of the ministry.”  This gift of grace is never to be used for some guy to build himself an empire of loyal followers.  God’s gift of grace should be used to make followers of Jesus Christ where all that we do is intent upon bringing God glory - revealing Him in all His wondrous attributes to a blind, cursed, and dying world of sinners.  Sometimes there is a narrow line between a man building himself a kingdom or a man working to win souls and make disciples for the Kingdom of God.  That line is sometimes difficult to discern.

In I Peter 4:7-9, God gives an admonition to believers within a local church union about living during the last days.  The Church Age Dispensation will end with the death of every lost soul on the face of planet earth.  Only the lost that enter into the Tribulation and repent of sin, trust in the finished work of Christ for their redemption during the seven-year Tribulation, will enter into the Kingdom Age Dispensation alive.  Every other person who has received the mark of the Beast will be destroyed by the glory of the coming of Christ.  With this view in mind, the believer should carefully follow the admonitions of I Peter 4:7-9.

Along with what we are told in Revelation chapters four through nineteen and numerous other prophecies, this is the world view of every Christian who believes in the imminent (any moment) second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the looming dark cloud of God’s promise of His unleashed wrath in His judgment of the nations.  This is the theological foundation of the any moment pending reality to which the words: “7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Peter 4:7-9) are addressed.  Perhaps if we truly understood this any moment pending reality, we might begin to take these words seriously.

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.