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: Dealing with Confused Confessions

Monday, April 22, 2019

Dealing with Confused Confessions

Why We are Failing the Great Commission
What Must I Do to be Saved?
Dealing with Confused Confessions

          My family recently attended a musical presentation that was very well presented and professionally done.  Although the musical was presented in a Baptist church building, it was obvious that the participating musicians and singers in the choir came from a very wide diversity of Christian beliefs and backgrounds.  Intermittent within the musical presentation was an explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by a Baptist pastor.  Although the Gospel was accurately presented, there was NO EXPLANATION of how a person MUST Biblically respond to the Gospel to be “born again.”  This is a common problem in modern ecumenical Christianity. 

          One of the first rules of Biblical evangelism and preaching is: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!  If a preacher knows he is speaking to people who believe in Baptismal Regeneration (i.e., that a person receives the Spirit of God and is “born again” by being ritually baptized), the preacher is responsible to speak to and correct that false belief.  If a preacher knows he is speaking to people who believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, but also think they must contribute something to achieve salvation, the preacher is responsible to speak to and correct that false belief.  If a preacher knows he is speaking to people who believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, but have reduced a Biblical response to receive the gift of salvation to only believing, only praying, or any number of reductions, the preacher is responsible to speak to and correct those false beliefs. 

Most Evangelicals, and now most modern Fundamentalists, have no real understanding of what it means to be “born again” or what the Bible requires to receive the “gift” of salvation offered to sinners in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  The five objective faith responses detailed in Romans 10:1-13 have become so convoluted that to correct the problem is like going wading in theological quicksand.

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 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 14:1-6).

          In John 14:6, Jesus speaks to his confused disciples about Him being the one and only “way” to be “born again.”  “The way” of which Christ speaks is the pathway to the event of salvation and being “born again” offered to sinners “by grace” and “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  There are five verbs (actions) that define a faith decision to be “born again” and receive the gift of salvation offered to all sinners in the Gospel of Jesus Christ: repent, believe, confess, call, and receive. 

          To understand being “born again” spiritually, we must understand that in physical birth we are born out of somewhere and born into somewhere.  When physically born, a person is born out of his mother’s womb and born into this cursed world.  There is a radical change in existence after a person is physically born.  The physically born person begins to physically grow in the physical world. 

When a person is spiritually “born again,” he/she is born out of this cursed creation and born into the New Creation.  The spiritually “born again” person becomes part of a radical new spiritual existence “in Christ.”  Being “born again” is a spiritual birth because it is invisible until a person finally is glorified and receives a new body.  The spiritually “born again” person begins to spiritually grow as a “new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17) in this “New Creation” into which he/she is born.  This “born again” person is said to be saved.  He/she is saved from what he/she is born out of, the curse, and saved into the New Creation “in Christ.”

          Clearly from the historical precepts established and exemplified by Scripture evidences, the faith-way to be “born again,” totally apart from the “works of the Law,” is the ONLY WAY acceptable by God.  That is what Jesus was saying in John 14:1-6.  This message is the same as what Peter said in Acts 4:12.  Corrupting, reducing, or confusing the faith-way to be “born again” has been Satan’s methodology since Cain killed his brother Abel.  We must not forget that Cain killed Abel because Cain was jealous because God accepted Abel’s faith-way sacrifice portraying the substitute sacrifice in the promised Messiah.  Cain was jealous because God rejected Cain’s offering of the work of his own hands (the works-way).  Every works-way is a “false way” that God hates. 

“Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104).

          The Psalmist declares by the inspiration of the Spirit of God that “every false way” is to be hated, for “every false way” is a betrayal of the grace of God and blasphemy against the character, nature, and justice of God.  Satan has been corrupting and eroding what defines the faith-way of salvation from the beginning of time and the first generation of humanity.  Corruptions have developed by adding different types of works to the faith-way of salvation.  Erosions have developed by subtracting the verbs that define the faith-way in a biblical response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

          There is absolutely no merit in perfectly understanding what Jesus accomplished through His incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and glorification if the FAITH-WAY of a Biblical response to that Gospel is corrupted by adding “works” (good deeds, moralism, animal sacrifices, or participation in some sacrament). 

There is absolutely no merit in perfectly understanding what Jesus accomplished through His incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and glorification if the FAITH-WAY of a Biblical response to that Gospel is reduced by taking away one of the five verbs that define a faith response.  

Biblically defining and explaining a FAITH-WAY response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what Paul is doing in Romans 10:1-13.  It is a text with the most clarity because all five verbs defining a faith response are either implied in this text or emphatically stated. 

In Romans 10: 1-8, Paul explicitly defines the necessity for repentance of any form of performance based or achieved salvation (eternal life in the New Creation).  Salvation is a gift received, not a reward achieved.  Any person thinking that he deserves salvation because of any WORK he has done is a lost person on his way to Hell.  That person must repent of the very idea of such an abominable notion

1 Brethren {speaking to mostly Gentile Christian’s at Rome}, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness {God-kind righteousness necessary to salvation and only available as a gift from God in justification through faith}, and going about to establish their own righteousness {the false idea of being able to achieve the necessary righteousness through keeping the Mosaic Covenant}, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God {offered as a gift ‘by grace . . . through faith,’ i.e., the Abrahamic Covenant}. 4 For Christ is the end of {telos, a point aimed at} the law for righteousness {the whole point of the Law was that righteousness was necessary, but no one could meet the standard the Law established and were therefore guilty of sin; Romans 3:19-23} to every one that believeth {if you believe the testimony of the Mosaic Covenant it says, ‘Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.’ - Romans 3:19}” (Romans 10:1-4).

Preparing the heart to receive the “seed” is perhaps the greatest essential to a genuine conversion experience.  Therefore, the Apostle Paul uses almost three full chapters of his Epistle to the Romans to explain the doctrine of condemnation BEFORE he begins to explain the doctrine of salvation.  This is preparing the “soil” of the heart for conversion.  The sinner must understand the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin.  Preparing the heart is picking up the rocks that hardened a person to their sin and harden a person to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Preparing the heart is clearing away the thorns and thistles of worldly ambitions that will grow and choke away any possibility for new life to generate to fruition in the heart.  All these issues are matters that begin with and are outcomes of repentance.

Preparing the heart to receive the “seed” is what Biblical repentance is all about.  Many have come to think that repentance is merely an intellect change of the mind about sin, worldliness, and false doctrine.  Genuine repentance effects the mind (how we think about sin, worldliness, and false doctrine), the emotions (how we feel about sin, worldliness, and false doctrine), and practice (how we live what we know or believe). 

The primary issue of repentance, as it relates to salvation, is repentance of trust in the “works of the law” to attain or achieve righteousness thereby gaining the right of entrance into the Kingdom of God.  This was the false teaching that “justification” could be achieved by keeping the Commandments, sacrifices, and Holy Days of the Mosaic Covenant.  “[F]or by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). 

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 {who has achieved or earned salvation}? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) {the point is that the incarnation clearly established grace and faith.  The incarnation did not take place because of the will of man or human merit.  Salvation NECESSITATED a PERFECT, SINLESS, HUMAN, SUBSTITUTE SACRIFICE}7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep {who deserves to go to Hell because of individual failures}? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) {The point here again is that the resurrection of Jesus was a once for all event received by grace through faith.  Christ was not resurrected again and again for every individual failure in the breach of the Law.} 8 But what saith it {what does the Law say regarding how to be saved}? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;” (Romans 10: 5-8; compare I John 2:2).

          The next two verbs of a faith decision to be “born again” out of the cursed creation and into the New Creation are found in Romans 10:9-10 – CONFESS and BELIEVE.  These two verbs are further explained in Romans 10:10.

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart {not head, but the totality of one’s being} that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness {gifted in the indwelling Spirit of God in the gift of justification}; and with the mouth confession {of Jesus as Jehovah/Sovereign} is made unto salvation {being ‘born again’ into the New Creation of which Jesus is ‘Lord of lords and King of kings’}” (Romans 10:9-10).

          Confessing “with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” is NOT confessing we are sinners.  Confessing “with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” is NOT confessing our sins to God for forgiveness of those sins to be saved.  The whole idea of confessing sins as a condition to be saved is the outcome of a misinterpretation and misapplication of I John 1:9.  I John 1:9 is NOT a salvation text.  I John 1:9 is for people who are ALREADY believers.  In fact, I John 1:9 is ONLY for saved believers.  The text does not apply to lost people in any sense of what is said.  I John 1:9 is about restoring “fellowship” with God that is broken due to a believer sinning.  This misinterpretation and misapplication of I John 1:9 has resulted in all kinds of false terminology involved in what defines a salvation decision.

          The Gospel of Jesus is defined by what the death, burial, and resurrection/glorification of Jesus accomplishes for humanity first God-ward and then man-ward.  God-ward is the doctrine of propitiation, i.e., the wrath of God upon the sinner’s sins is judicially satisfied by the substitutionary death (in the sinner’s place) of the LORD JESUS CHRIST.  A sinner cannot believe/rest in the accomplishments of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if he does not UNDERSTAND what those accomplishments are.  Therefore, to understand the accomplishment of Jesus in the Gospel is to understand that God HAS BEEN perfectly and once-for-all-forever propitiated by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ offering the gift of His righteousness, justification, to believing sinners in the Peron of His indwelling Holy Spirit.

          It is a gross, irresponsible, reduction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for any believer attempting to evangelize someone to fail to explain the propitiation of God and how the sinner is justified by Jesus Christ.  This kind of stuff is just lazy, careless nonsense justified by pseudo-evangelism.  People tell me, “These words are too hard for children to understand.”  No, it isn’t!  Children understand it more easily and more often than adults.  Any person that understands these things can explain them to a child. 

It is delusional to think a sinner can believe/rest in facts he does not know or understand.  Although salvation is a gift of the righteousness of Jesus in the indwelling Holy Spirit, a sinner is merely confused if he does not understand HOW Jesus can offer that gift without compromising the holiness and justice of God.  That understanding comes from understanding the propitiation of God’s wrath upon sin in the substitutionary death of Jesus to pay “the wages of sin” for all humanity. 

To “confess with the mouth” that Jesus is “Lord” is to publicly proclaim faith in the deity of Jehovah incarnate in the Person of Jesus.  The perfect sacrifice for sin is a sinless sacrifice because the humanity and deity of Jesus are perfectly merged into one perfect, sinless, new being.  The glorified Jesus is the eternal merging of God and man.  Therefore, believing “that God hath raised him {the God/man} from the dead” is essential to a faith decision to be “born again.” 

When Jesus was resurrected and glorified, He was then able to release His Holy Spirit to indwell believing sinners thereby Spirit baptizing those believers into His New Creation.  This is what it means to be “born again.”  The indwelling of believing sinners is the gift of justification, or the impartation of the righteousness of Jesus to the believing sinner in the Person of His Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:4). 

          However, facts do not save us.  Jesus saves sinners.  Believing rests in the facts understood.  Publicly confessing Jesus to be Jehovah incarnate is to identify with a new Sovereign/Lord over your life, Who alone can rescue your wretched soul from Hell and eternal separation from a Holy God.  The central focus of being “born again” is not upon OUT OF what you are “born,” but INTO what you are “born.”  A “born again” person is “born” into the New Genesis “in Christ” – a whole new existence that is unfolding in time destine for a new Heaven/Earth.

Yet, one more verb is required before a sinner can be “born again.”  That sinner ,who has already repented of sin and “dead works,” already “confessed Jesus as Lord,” and already believed/rested in the accomplishments of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, must ALSO “call upon the name of the Lord” to be saved from Hell.  His Name is Jesus!  It is the essence of Who Jesus is in His glorification that provides sinners entrance into the New Creation.

11 For {because; assigning a reason or explanation} the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him {Jesus, Who has propitiated God and Who can justified the believing sinner} shall not be ashamed {The Jews that rejected Jesus as their Messiah were ashamed of Him because He was powerless to deliver Himself from Roman crucifixion, because they did not UNDERSTAND the necessity of His death to propitiate the wrath of God and gift righteousness to believing sinners.}. 12 For {because; assigning a reason or explanation} there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him {referring to being gifted a new existence in the New Creation}. 13 For {because; assigning a reason or explanation} whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved {meaning ‘born again’ into the Kingdom of God or the New Creation ‘in Christ’}” (Romans 10:11-13).

          The last of the five verbs defining a faith decision to be “born again” is the word RECEIVE.  To “receive” the Lord Jesus Christ is to receive His indwelling presence in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  Confessing Jesus to be the LORD (Jehovah) dictates the way, or manner, in which we receive Him.  Confessing Jesus to be the LORD has more to do with a public announcement or proclamation than it does with a mere assent to Who He is.  This was a common practice in ancient times.  It was also commonly practiced in certain social circles of yesteryear. 

For instance, when guests were invited to a ball or large affair, they would enter, hand their invitation with their name and station in life to the servant at the entrance, and their name and station in life would be announced to everyone present.  This was to ensure that everyone present knew who they were and that they were to be properly received and treated with the respect and dignity due to their social status in life.  In the courts of kings, when a dignitary or royalty from another nation or kingdom came as his entourage passed through the crowds, a town crier would publicly announce who it was and what position in life the person held.  This is the historical context of what it means to receive Christ.  The emphasis is upon Who is being received and the subjection of those receiving Him.  He is THE LORD JESUS!

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born {again}, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

          Receiving Christ as Lord is receiving His indwelling Presence and righteousness in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  The emphasis upon receiving Jesus is about understanding Who we are receiving more than merely receiving Him.  Since Jesus is God, and His Spirit is God’s Spirit, the believer receiving Christ is receiving the Shekinah presence of God into His body making the believer’s body the “temple of the living God.”  To receive Christ is to live constantly in His holy presence and He in yours.  SELAH! 

16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (I Corinthians 3:16-17).

The Holy Spirit is God’s seal upon the believer’s body, soul, and spirit unto the “day of redemption” (glorification).  The Holy Spirit of God will never leave nor forsake the “born again” believer (Hebrews 13:5). 

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). 

If the believer is “born again,” he should understand that a unique spiritual union with the Godhead has taken place (Theanthropic Union).  Therefore, once the believer receives Christ as Lord, that believer should understand that he is responsibile to bring himself (body, soul, and spirit) into unity with the will of the indwelling Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-7); “Endeavouring {make every effort} to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).  Clearly, the context of this unity extends vocationally into the priesthood of all believers (Ephesians 4:1), but the primary focus is upon unity with the Godhead in unbroken fellowship and filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).  Although these responsibilities do not contribute to a person’s salvation in any way, they should certainly be part of understanding the responsibilities of that spiritual union with Christ.

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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.

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