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 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

How Jews Become Biblical Zionists

Biblical Zionism
How Jews Become Biblical Zionists

As already established from Romans chapter nine, not every Jew is personally connected to the Kingdom Age promises of God regarding national Israel, although most THINK THEY ARE.  Most Jews have rejected the gift of salvation offered “by grace” and received “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Most Jews have rejected Jesus as Jehovah incarnate and have rejected His Sovereign Lordship over their lives and existence.  Most Jews will never even see the Kingdom Age.  This was Jesus’ sobering proclamation to Dr. Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for {the Jews of national} Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them {the Jews of national Israel} record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they {the Jews of national Israel} being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it {‘it,’ the righteousness that comes ‘by grace through faith’}? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach {as follows}; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:1-11).

          There are two kinds of righteousness spoken of in the Bible.  There is man-kind, or Law-kind righteousness, and there is God-kind righteousness.  Man-kind righteousness can be achieved.  This was the “righteousness which is of the Law” (Romans 10:5; Mosaic Covenant).  The “righteousness which is of the Law” could not save anyone’s soul.  Law-kind righteousness had to do with practical sanctification before God and the salvation of the life of an already “born again” person.  Law-kind righteousness was external and never was intended to be salvational. 

God-kind righteousness is essential to the salvation of the soul.  God-kind righteousness cannot be achieved.  God-kind righteousness must be imputed or imparted.  Imparted God-kind righteousness is necessary to enter God’s presence.  The issue of imputed and imparted righteousness cannot be understood apart from understanding dispensational transitions.  A dispensational transition took place at the end of the Mosaic Covenant at the beginning of the New Covenant (referring to the already, not yet position of Dispensationalism regarding the New Covenant).  The New Covenant began to unfold on the Day of Pentecost fifty days after the Passover and Crucifixion of Jesus. 

          As is the case with most of Covenant (Replacement) Theology and Reformed Theology, they continued to propagate the heresy of process salvation through practical sanctification.  Process salvation includes those that believe in the cleansing of sin through sacramentalism (the conference of God’s grace through the hands of ordained clergymen or priests in the ritual sacraments through which the clergymen/priests conferred the grace of God to penitent participants). 

          Adding these things to the understanding of these issues in what modern day professing Christianity believes regarding very similar problems of the doctrine of salvation about which Paul addressed to national Israel, helps us understand why much of Christianity has the same failure as national Israel and why Romans chapter ten is equally applicable to sacramental process salvationists as it was/is to the Jews. 

          Because the Priesthood of national Israel failed as the depositors of truth and keepers of the Law, the Gospel in the Law (Mosaic Covenant) had been completely perverted and distorted.  There was not one single aspect of the Mosaic Covenant that was intended to provide salvation to those who kept the conditions of that covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant was a sanctificational covenant with national Israel and was a blessing and a curse covenant. 

I do not believe we can truly understand what Paul is saying to national Israel in Romans chapter ten until we understand the details of God’s intent in giving the Mosaic Covenant within the Abrahamic Covenant to them as a nation.  The Mosaic Covenant is detailed in its fullest sense in Deuteronomy chapter eleven. 

Notice that Deuteronomy chapter eleven does not once mention salvation; because these are not conditions for salvation.  The Levitical Priesthood evolved into the “scribes and the Pharisees” who corrupted the sanctificational nature of the Mosaic Covenant making the conditions for God’s blessing salvational conditions.  The Mosaic Covenant was given as a stewardship/dispensation of truth to be administrated over the nation of Israel by the Priesthood of Israel as a Theocracy in Sacerdotalism (Theocracy: God ruling over Israel through truth through chosen/elected Representatives of the people). 

1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and {as an expression of loving the LORD} keep {observe, preserve, and/or reserve} his charge {custody with the idea of preservation}, and his statutes {ordinance or legal, governing, decree of Law}, and his judgments {various judicially decreed sentences for breaking God’s individual ordinances}, and his commandments {used collectively of the Law as a whole}, always {from one sunset to the next; i.e., continuously} 2 And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, 3 And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; 4 And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day; 5 And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place; 6 And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel: 7 But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did {only the males over the age of twenty years living at the time of the failure in faith at Kadesh-Barnea were cursed to die in the Wilderness.  ‘No males under twenty years of age, no females, and none of the tribe of Levi, were objects of the denunciation.’[1]} 8 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, {so} that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; 9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: 11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: 12 A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. 13 And it shall come to pass, if {conditioned upon doing what verse 1 says} ye {the Jews of national Israel} shall hearken diligently unto my commandments {the whole Law corporately} which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 That I will give you {the blessing of} the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. 15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. 16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; 17 And then the LORD’S wrath {the curse} be kindled against you {the Jews of national Israel}, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you. 18 Therefore shall ye lay up {treasure} these my words {the blessing and curse instructions regarding the Mosaic Covenant} in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: 21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. 22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him; 23 Then {conditional blessing} will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. 24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. 25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you. 26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known. 29 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal. 30 Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh? 31 For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein. 32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day” (Deuteronomy 11:1-32).

          Clearly, we can see that the “righteousness which is of the law” (Romans 10:5) refers to the national righteousness of national Israel as they fulfilled the conditions of the Mosaic Covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant (the Law) was never intended to be an avenue for individual salvific righteousness.  The righteousness of salvific justification could never be achieved by any means.  Nor was Law keeping ever intended to be a means for justification; i.e. the imputation or impartation of God-kind righteousness to the believing sinner (depending upon the point in history before or after the Day of Pentecost).  

If individuals within the nation of Israel broke the Law, the leaders of national Israel were required to administrate justice according to the “judgments” for various failures as detailed within the Law.  If the leadership of Israel failed to administrate justice, God’s “curse” would come against the nation of Israel.  If the leadership of Israel faithfully administrated the “judgments” of the Law, God’s blessings would remain upon the nation of Israel.  This is the context of God’s promise to Solomon in II Chronicles 7:14 after the prayer of dedication of the new Temple in Jerusalem.

12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:12-14).

          Clearly, individual salvation of every Jew in the nation of Israel was not part of God’s blessing promise should the leadership of Israel administrate justice as defined by the Mosaic Covenant (the Law).  This was never God’s intent in giving the Law to national Israel.  Nevertheless, this is what most of Israel’s leadership had come to believe and had been teaching the Jewish people for centuries.  Therefore, most of the Jews had “2b a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:2b-3).  This is the context with which we begin in Romans chapter ten.

          There is little doubt that Romans chapter ten is directed to Jews within national Israel who had been misled by the Mosaic Covenant Priesthood into misplacing their faith in keeping the Mosaic Covenant (Moralism and Ritualism) to be saved.  Because the objective facts of their faith were misdirected, the actions of their faith and the purpose for those actions were wrong and heretical.  Although they had both “zeal for God” and faith in God, both their zeal and their faith were based on their ignorance of the necessity of God-kind righteousness.  Therefore, they remained lost in their sins.
          It is not enough to merely believe in God.  People need to believe the correct things about God, about themselves, and they need to understand what God has done to deliver them from the condemnation of sin before they can respond to the Gospel according to God’s directions.  We can find a straight-line pattern in Romans 10:1-13 of God’s expectations (responses) to an understanding of the details of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1. Understanding their ignorance of the necessity of God-kind righteousness and understanding they could never attain or achieve that kind of righteousness through Moralism or Ritualism, they needed to repent of their “dead works” (Hebrews 6:1) and the sin of achieved self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-7).
2. They need to understand that salvation could not come through any form of human accomplishment, but only “by grace through faith” in the sinless life, the finished propitiatory Cross-work of the death of Jesus Christ, His burial, and His resurrection/glorification (Romans 10:8).
3. They need to act upon these understood and believed details of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by:

A. Confessing Jesus to be Jehovah incarnate (Romans 10:9-10)
B. Believing with their hearts every detail of the Gospel and resting their eternal souls in the Person of Jesus and His preserving care (Romans 10:9-10)
C. Confessing Jesus to be Jehovah, the sinner is then directed to call on the Name of Jesus to save him (Romans 10:13)

          Obviously, Romans 10:1-13 is dealing with salvation, defining and detailing a Biblical response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (“believe”), and a biblical response to the Person of Jesus Christ (“confess . . .as LORD”).  Yet, there is still a fundamental perpetuation of ignorance today within most of professing Christianity regarding the difference between the righteousness that comes by man’s doing and the righteousness that comes “by grace through faith” in God’s doing (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ). 

“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD {Jehovah} shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32a).

11 For the scripture saith {in Joel 2:32a}, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:11-13).

          The words receive and confess are very much interrelated.  They are not the same as believing as the Soteriological Reductionists would have us think.  Neither is receiving Christ equal to confessing Christ as LORD.  The important truth regarding receiving and confessing is Who we are receiving and confessing.  Understanding the Person that we are receiving and confessing gives considerable depth to what we are doing as these two terms interrelate with believing.  This understanding then connects us deeply, intimately, and intricately to the spiritual convictions that turned our hearts from sin to “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21) that must precede receiving and confessing Jesus as LORD.  

          As we have seen, all these individual responses to the Gospel message are individual and different responses.  Yet, they are very much interrelated.  If one’s faith response truly exists, it must lead us to the next response.  Believing that Jesus is a holy, righteous, and just Person, and that we are sinners before Him, necessitates that we will respond in humility before Him in repentance.  If repentance is not the response of this understanding, we do not really understand Who Jesus is or the consequences of our sinfulness before Him.  He is the just Judge and we are already condemned and guilty sinners before Him (John 3:18). 

16 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:16-20).

          It is important that we connect all these terms (repent, receive, believe, and confess) to the next interrelated word, which is call.  Romans 10:13 is a quote from Joel 2:32.  Although the truth and application is relevant to all sinners (the intent of the word “whosever”), Paul’s instruction in Romans 10:13 is directed primarily in this text to the Jews of national Israel (Romans 10:1) of which the vast majority needed to be saved in order to become part of true Israel (“born again” Israel).  Our understanding of Romans 10:13 must come from our understanding of Joel 2:32. Our understanding of these two texts cannot be contradictory.  Our understanding of these two texts must be complimentary. 

          The word “call” from Joel 2:32 is translated from the Hebrew word qara' (kaw-raw').  Although the primary meaning of the word simply means to address someone by their name, the context of Joel 2:32 gives us a much deeper meaning by the implication of the circumstances that surround the instruction.  The context of Joel chapter two is the restoration of national Israel from God’s national judgment due to national Israel’s failure to keep the conditions of the Mosaic Covenant. 
          The Mosaic Covenant was a “blessing and a curse” covenant for national Israel.  Because the leadership of national Israel failed to enforce the requirements of the Mosaic Covenant, God judged national Israel with the Times of the Gentiles (the 70 weeks of years or 70 Heptads of Daniel; Dan. 9:24).  Sixty-nine of those weeks have already been fulfilled in history.  The seventieth week of years (Heptad) is the Seven Year Tribulation of God’s promised judgment of the nations.  After this seventieth week, God will restore national Israel to world dominion under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

          God’s judgment upon national Israel during the Times of the Gentiles has taken the form of various captivities and persecutions.  Although individual Jews could repent, believe, and be saved at any time during the Times of the Gentiles, God required national repentance for the restoration of national Israel.  This national repentance will take place during the Seven Year Tribulation in God’s judgment of the nations. 
There were numerous movements that sought to lead the nation of Israel into repentance down through the years of the Times of the Gentiles.  The last movement was at the time of Jesus Christ from a group known as the Baptists (“Sons of Righteousness” or Zadok).  At the time of Christ, the spokesman for this group was a prophet and preacher named John the Baptist.  We cannot separate his ministry from the message of God regarding God’s continued desire to restore repentant national Israel.  However, the leadership of Israel refused to repent.

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).

          Understanding this historical and prophetic context, we can understand the statements of Joel 2:32a and Romans 10:13.  God was allowing individual deliverance and salvation to “whosoever” was willing to repent, believe, and call unto Jehovah for salvation.  These saved individuals could then expect to be part of God’s Zion promises to Israel.  In Romans 10:13, the Word of God is telling us that Jehovah’s Name is now Jesus.  Any individual, either Jew or Gentile, could call upon the Name of Jesus recognizing Him as LORD and be saved from God’s judgment and damnation.  This message was part of Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two and Peter’s second message to the rulers and leaders of Israel in Acts chapter four.

“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. 5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:1-12).

          We cannot separate the mission of the Church corporate and every local church of Jesus Christ from the mission of proclaiming the message of the Gospel to the “Jew first.” 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:4-11).

          A unity of a group of people from all nations, cultures, and ethnicities is created when individuals from all these nations, cultures, and ethnicities recognize through faith the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  That unity is called “the regeneration” (the again genesis).  Anyone can enter “the regeneration” by being “born again” of the Spirit of God.  Being “born again” of the Spirit of God does not come by keeping the Commandments (Moralism) or through participation in some religious ritual (Ritualism).  Being “born again” of the Spirit of God is a supernatural regeneration of a sinner into a saint in the eyes of God in the instant that sinner repents of sin, believes the objective facts of the “finished” work of Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection, confesses Jesus to be Jehovah God in human flesh, receives Him as the Lord of their lives, and calls on Him to save their souls.  There is no other Name and no other Way.

“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, both theirs and ours” (I Corinthians 1:2).

5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:5-6).

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

[1] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, SwordSearcher Software 4.8

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Five Crown Rewards for Grace-living (the Christ-life)

The Five Crown Rewards for Grace-living (the Christ-life)

The believer’s sins and failures are judged in this world through chastisement.  No sins will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  The believer’s works will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Perhaps one of the greatest misnomers of Christianity is that Christians will receive rewards in the Kingdom Age for having merely been good little boys and girls (because they do not live in sin).  The fact is, Christians will receive rewards for fruit produced (souls won, and disciples made) to the glory of God because they yielded their bodies to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, who then creates the Christ-life in their fully surrendered lives. This is to what the Apostle Paul referred in Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:11-13, and Romans 12:1-2.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break {luo loo'-o; literally loosen; the idea is to teach a more relaxed, broader, more liberal interpretation} one of these least {in size or importance; i.e.; seemingly insignificant} commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case {double negative in Greek text; not at all or not by any means} enter into the kingdom of heaven {this is not referring to the final eternal state of existence, but is referring to the Kingdom Age because God-kind righteousness is required; i.e., justification ‘by grace through faith’}” (Matthew 5:17-20).

Notice, in Matthew 5:19-20, that there are three divisions of people divided according to their proper understanding and application of the union of Law and Grace; “19 Whosoever therefore shall break {lessen/loosen} one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

1. He who will be “least” in the Kingdom Age (vs. 19a, the unfaithful is the spiritual legalist and anyone lessening/loosening God’s standards of righteousness)
2. He who will be “great” in the Kingdom Age (vs. 19b) is the faithful believer who lives in the supernatural enabling of the Spirit and produces “fruit” to God’s glory.
3. Those who will not even “enter into the” the Kingdom Age (vs. 20, the lost)

The “kingdom of heaven” is the Kingdom Age, not the final eternal state of existence.  The final eternal state of existence is called the Kingdom of God in the Word of God.  There is a difference between these two kingdoms.  The “kingdom of heaven,” or the one-thousand-year Kingdom Age, will still be part of the first and fallen creation.  Dominion will be restored to humanity through the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Rewards will determine the positions that glorified Church Age believers will hold for these one-thousand years of Christ’s rule on Earth.  The parable of the “talents” in Matthew 25:14-30 explains that these positions will be determined solely based on the fruit (or gain) that the yielding of our lives (full surrender) to Christ produces and the indwelling Spirit of God creates the Christ-life through us.  Christ precedes His teaching on the parable of the “talents” with His parable of the Ten Virgins (five “wise” and five “foolish”) in Matthew 25:1-13. Which group of “five” do you believe REALLY believed that the Bridegroom was coming for them?

Secondly, the “kingdom of heaven” will last one millennium, or one-thousand years.  It has events defining its beginning and events defining its ending. Part of the events defining its beginning is the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ where Christ will evaluate/judge the ministry/service/works of believers during the Church Age.  The faithful will be given “crowns” for various areas of faithful service.  These rewards will also translate into varying degrees of responsibility of positions in the Kingdom Age as they rule and reign with Christ as His kings and priests.  Matthew 5:19-20 is addressing these faithful individuals from the Church Age, their positions, and how the degrees of power or greatness of those positions will be determined. 

The Word of God speaks of five different “crowns” given to faithful believers as rewards. All five crowns are determined by how faithfully a believer lives the Grace-life (Christ-life) in the enabling power of the indwelling Christ.

The Crown of Life

“Blessed is the man that endureth {faithfully continues under} temptation {the trying or testing of the reality of faith; James 1:2}: for when he is tried {dokimos ginomai, i.e., proven to be a regenerated person by his faithfulness to his love for the Lord} he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The “crown of life” is NOT salvation.  Salvation is not a reward for faithful service to Christ.  Salvation is the salvation of our souls “by grace through faith.” The “crown of life” is the crown for living the Christ-life or the Spirit -filled life.  The “crown of life” is Christ’s reward to the believer for being “salt” and “light,” by living the Christ-life “by grace through faith,” and by yielding his/her body to the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Therefore the “crown of life” is the Crown of the Christ-life habitually lived through the life of the yielded believer as described in Galatians 2:20.  The “crown of life” is Christ’s reward to the faithful believer for the salvation of our lives (not our souls) by yielding our ambitions, abilities, and resources to the cause of Christ in evangelizing the world and in bringing glory to God.

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20).

The “crown of life” (the Christ-life) is given as a reward to the believer who truly lives out the testimony of his/her water baptism in the death to self and the commitment to live life in the resurrection power of the indwelling Christ.

Failing to keep the promise that was made in water baptism of daily dying to Self (the Sin Nature) and being filled with the Spirit (putting on the Christ-life) will result in the loss of this reward and the position of ruling “over cities” that comes with the reward (Luke 19:11-17).  Those who are not faithful in living the grace-life/Christ-life during the Church Age will hold a position of the castaway in shame during the Kingdom Age.  The degree of rewards (greatness in positions of rule) during the Kingdom Age for glorified Church Age saints will be determined solely because of the spiritual fruit produced by the Holy Spirit through our lives habitually yielded/surrendered to Him.

The Incorruptible Crown

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway {adókimos -unapproved or rejected regarding rewards for service}” (I Corinthians 9:24-27).

The crowns awarded at the Greek Olympic Games were laurel wreaths. They would quickly wilt, turn brown, and crumble into dust.  They were intended to be very temporal because they represented the champion in an event at that moment.  On another day, another competitor may win that crown.  However, the “incorruptible crown” is an eternal crown because it is not given for one contest.  The “incorruptible crown” is given to a Christian based upon Christ’s evaluation of a believer’s whole life.  The key to this reward is the words “temperate in all things” (I Corinthians 9:25).
The word “temperate” is from the Greek word egkrateuomai (eng-krat-yoo'-om-ahee) and refers to the self-control of human appetites, carnal lusts, and/or worldly desires or ambitions.  There are six things that God “hates.” Either the seventh, or having all seven, is an “abomination” (disgusting or abhorrent) to Him.

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Sin is like a spider web. Seldom is there but one strand.  One sin connects to another that connects to another that connects to another.  For instance, in David’s sin with Bathsheba, we see all seven of these abominations referred to in Proverbs 6:16-19.  Pride led to lying that led to cover-up that created a situation of urgency that plotted to do evil that led to murder that brought God’s chastisement upon David, his family, and ultimately upon the nation of Israel.  By David’s sin, he gave his children permission to do the same and the seed of spiritual discord was sown. 

God does not leave us guessing about what constitutes intemperance or the failure in the self-control of the “flesh.”  In Galatians chapter five, God tells us exactly how intemperance will manifest itself through a person’s life.

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do {present, active, participle; i.e. are doing as the regular practice of their life} such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:13-21).

The “kingdom of God” is the final eternal state of existence provided only to those “born again” into God’s family “by grace through faith.” The “kingdom of God” is NOT the same as the “kingdom of heaven.” All true believers receive the inheritance of the “kingdom of God.”  Therefore, the issue of unrepentant, habitual living in the “flesh” is also a manifestation of still being lost even though there may be a profession of faith in Christ.

The third Crown reward for living the Christ-life, or the Spirit-filled life, builds upon the previous two.  We cannot earn the third Crown reward apart from having earned the first two in that producing a true disciple of Jesus Christ must be done in the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.  Discipleship is a supernatural work involving progressive transfiguration (Romans 12:2).

The Crown of Joy or Rejoicing (the Disciple Maker’s Crown)

17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy” (I Thessalonians 2:17-20).

This “crown” is often referred to as the Soul Winner’s Crown.  However, I like to refer to it as the Disciple Maker’s Crown because there are three phases in the evangelization of a soul.  These three phases (or steps, because they must follow in order or succession to one another) of evangelism are detailed in the Great Commission given by Christ to His Church (all “born again” believers).

1. The first phase of evangelism is preaching the Gospel and leading a soul to a faith decision to be “born again.”
2. The second phase of evangelism is leading a “born again” believer to become a disciple of Jesus in daily dying to the “old man” and yielding himself to the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The beginning of this second phase of evangelism is leading a person to be water baptized, which is a physical/outward portrayal of this spiritual/inward commitment.  Water baptism is intricately connected to formal local membership and accountability to other members of the local body in living the Christ-life.  There is no such thing in Scripture as a Lone Ranger Christian outside of formal membership to a local body of believers.  Scripturally, such a person would be considered an anomaly and to be living contrary to the commands of God.
3. The third phase is teaching the “born again” believer, now committed to live the Christ-life, the Word of God and how to become a “doer of the Word” and not just a “hearer only.” The emphasis in the words “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” in Matthew 28:20 is upon the word “observe.” The idea of the word “observe” is to preserve or guard. The natural tendency is to lower or lessen God’s expectations. The believer is to live in such a way as to never let this happen. The high expectations of righteousness (and therefore righteous living) must be carefully guarded and passed on from one generation of Christians to the next with exacting specificity. This involves teaching the specificity of Bible doctrine and living the specificity of what we know.

This three-fold mission is what defines the ministry/purpose of the Christ-life and is what should define the life of the believer who hopes for the “crown of rejoicing.” Christ died for this purpose. This Crown of Rejoicing is the reward of rejoicing for the souls won to Christ and made disciples through YOUR “work of the ministry.” In His resurrection and ascension to the Father, Jesus sowed the Seed of the Holy Spirit of God into the bodies of every “born again” believer with the hope they each would begin to live His purpose; i.e., God-kind righteousness being miraculously produced through the lives of “born again” sinners. This same purpose must become the Disciple Maker’s sole purpose for living. When this spiritual “fruit of the Spirit” is produced inwardly in the believer, it will produce the fruit of souls won to Christ and disciples made of Christ to the glory of God. This Crown is the actual believers who are saved and discipled through your ministry.

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy” (I Thessalonians 2:19-20).

4. The Crown of Righteousness (the Crown for Keeping “the Faith”)

The local church (made up of individual believers saved by “grace through faith,” discipled, and perfected for the work of the ministry) is the “pillar and ground of the Truth.” Every local church and every individual believer will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ according to two criteria regarding how we kept “the faith.”
The effort we put into learning the Word of God and the effort we made to teach the Word of God to others.  The effort we made to translate the Word of God into the language of living (“be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only”).

          The Crown of Righteousness is for learning, living, and teaching the Word of God to others so that they might do the same (creating a continuum of “the faith”). Living the Word of God cannot be separated from teaching the doctrine of Grace, because no one can live the Word of God (be righteous) apart from the supernatural inner workings of the indwelling Spirit of God.

The Crown of Righteousness is the reward for yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who then produces God-kind righteousness through our lives. Apart from this work of Grace, the believer can never be anything but a sinner. The Spirit of God is the inner source of “living water” (God-kind righteousness).

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

II Corinthians 5:21 refers to practical God-kind righteousness supernaturally produced by the Spirit of God through the regenerated believer. Christ having been “made . . . sin for us” opens the spiritual door for the Spirit of God to indwell the believer. “Made” in II Corinthians 5:21 is from the Greek word ginomai (ghin'-om-ahee). The idea is to become. I believe this goes beyond the imputation of righteousness “in Christ” to the potential of practical God-kind righteousness supernaturally produced through the believer’s life by the indwelling Spirit of God. This is exactly what Paul is saying in Romans 8:4; “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This was never even a possibility prior to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the Age of Grace. “Now . . .in Christ Jesus” the fulfillment of “the righteousness of the law” is a possibility in the regenerated believer’s life if that believer will “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This, of course, refers back to what Paul has already said in Romans 6:11-13.

5. The Crown of Glory (the Faithful Pastor’s Crown)

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Peter 5:1-4).

The Crown of Glory is possibly the highest-ranking crown of all. Rewards are given for faithfulness according to levels of responsibility in ministry that are given to people by the Lord. We must remember that pastor’s will be held accountable for all lives under their ministry if they have not taught people properly and/or administrated the local church under their charge according to the directives given to us in the Word by the Chief Shepherd.

7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. 10 We have an altar {the Lord’s Supper}, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:7-17).

All Five Crowns are referred to as “full reward”

7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 1:7-9).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.