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: May 2019

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Evidence of Chastisement

Why We are Failing the Great Commission
The Evidence of Chastisement

Legalism in the Bible is to believe that observing (keeping) the Laws of the Mosaic Covenant will aid you in achieving salvation (Galatians 1:6-9).  The second misconception of Legalism is that spirituality (practical sanctification) can be achieved by the external observances of the Mosaic Covenant (Galatians 3:1-5).  Paul corrects these two major deviant misconceptions regarding salvation and sanctification in Galatians up through Galatians 3:5.

Paul then begins to explain the Abrahamic Covenant and salvation as a gift of grace through faith in the Promised Seed.  Paul also explains the corrupted priesthood’s view of the Mosaic Covenant as the means of keeping the salvation that is gifted in the Abrahamic Covenant promise and procuring sanctification before God.  The priesthood of Israel, of which Paul had been a major contributor, had radically confused the purposes of the Mosaic Covenant.  This was the origins of salvation by grace plus works (salvation offered as a gift by grace and received through faith plus works of the Law thereby making salvation a never-ending process).

The Jews who lived “under the Law,” and who observed the “statutes and judgments of the Law, were BLESSED.  The Jews who lived “under the Law,” but did not observe the “statutes and judgments of the Law, were “cursed,” or CHASTISED.  Blessings for obedience and chastisement for disobedience is a UNIVERSAL principal throughout Scripture for children of God.  This universal principal is fruit bearing for the obedient and barrenness for the disobedient.  Although there are natural consequences for living in sin and chaos, God only chastises His children.  God does not chastise lost people.  God judges lost people.  There are also universal principles of life in God’s Word that apply both to the lost and to the redeemed.  “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1).  “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:” (Matthew 7:26).  There is great difference between the judgment of God and the chastisement of God.

1. Judgment passes a punitive sentence and is judicial and retributional in nature.  The judgment (retributional sentence/penalty) must be satisfied or justice is compromised.  For any judgment to be just (fair or righteous), it must be universally applied without respect of persons. 
2. Chastisement corrects a failure and is intent upon turning a believer from a pathway of sin to a pathway of righteousness.  Chastisement comes by degrees according to the maturity of a believer and according to the degree of rebellion against God. 

Job chapter five is an important text in that it teaches us the differences between judgment and chastisement.  Eliphaz is speaking and his conversation is historically recorded for us by inspiration of the Spirit of God.  Eliphaz gives us the historical point of view of the judgment of upon sinners and God’s chastisement of believers.  When Eliphaz was on his way to comfort Job, along with his two companions Bildad and Zophar, Eliphaz received a vision in the night (Job 4:12-21).  A spirit-being passed before Eliphaz.  The spirit-being took on some “form” and created some kind of “image” to Eliphaz, but the “form” and “image” were indiscernible (Job 4:16). 

The message from this spirit-being is accurate in its facts, but subtle in its purpose.  Therefore, I believe this spirit-being was demonic.  God had sent these three men to encourage and comfort Job in this trying of his faith.  The subtilty of this message from this spirit-being is that this message transposed Job’s comforters into being Job’s accusers.  These trials of Job’s faith were not God’s chastisement upon Job for some hidden sin or spiritual failure in his life (although we can be sure he had both).  Nonetheless, it is never fair to accuse God of being unfair. 

This was the dilemma created for the three comforters.  They could only see two dimensionally: either Job was sinning, and these difficulties were God’s chastisement, or God was just being mean to Job.  These comforters were blind to the higher purpose of God in proving the integrity of all humanity by testing one of his most faithful servants against the unjust and evil accusations of the Accuser (Job 2:3; “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”). 

The accurate and truthful statement of Job 4:17-21 only proves the ability of evil to use the truth against humanity in very subtle ways.  The statement is intended to be used against Job in his defense of not having done anything to deserve what was happening to him. 

17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? 18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: 19 How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? 20 They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding it. 21 Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom” (Job 4:17-21). 

Confusing the issues of judgment and chastisement creates all kinds of confusions regarding the reality of the security of a believer’s salvation.  Eliphaz answers Job with universally known principles of judgment upon the fool who lives in rebellious unbelief in Job 5:1-7, concluding with the normal and communal consequences of all people born into the curse.  Job 5:2 addresses natural consequences of living like the “foolish man” and the “silly” man.  Both types of men are eventually destroyed by their uncontrolled passions or unbiblical choices. 

1 Call {to cry out or call out; i.e., for help} now {from the difficulties of your situation}, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn? 2 For wrath killeth {imperfect; implying a process} the foolish man, and envy slayeth {imperfect; implying a process} the silly one {This is not God that does the killing or the slaying.  The perverse man allows himself to be provoked to wrath, which progressively kills him.  The simple and easily deluded man will be progressively slain by the stress of his own fretful jealousies.}. 3 I have seen the foolish {perverse} taking root {spread out in prosperity}: but suddenly {in a moment God judges the perverse man and he is brought to ruin and poverty} I {Eliphaz had witnessed this principle himself} cursed his habitation. 4 {no security for the evil man, his household, or family once God decides to act in judgment} His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them. 5 Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance. 6 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground {it should be known that God is sovereign in these things}; 7 Yet man is born unto trouble {with God}, as the sparks fly upward {the fire of judgment has already been kindled, therefore we should not be surprised to see the rising sparks flying upward into the darkness}” (Job 5:1-7).

Eliphaz defines these universally known principles (Job 5:1-7) and then comforts Job with universal truths known about God (Job 5:8-27).  The presumption of Eliphaz is that Job’s difficulties are due to God’s chastisement for some failure (Job 5:17).  The comfort is that God’s chastisement is for the believer’s benefit.  Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (Job 5:17).  However, sometimes God has even a higher purpose for what He allows. 

God Himself will personally convict and chastise His children living in any manner contrary to the New Creation “in Christ.”  When a genuinely “born again” child of God begins to wander into worldliness, the Holy Spirit of God is activated as a shock collar on that believer’s life.  When a genuinely “born again” believer willfully sins against God’s commands, that believer will feel the deep sense of guilt and emptiness of his soul.  There will be a loneliness even in the middle of crowds.  This is the outcome of broken “fellowship” with God.  When a genuinely “born again” child of God willfully disobeys God’s commands, he will know that chastisement is on its way and recognize it as chastisement from God when it arrives. 

However, the only person who will know that “fellowship” with God is broken is the person who has experienced true “fellowship” with God.  In Post-Modern Christianity, the doctrines of holiness and practical sanctification have been so dumbed-down, many professing Christians have never experience true “fellowship” with God because they have never fully surrendered.  Therefore, they cannot sense the loss of something they have never experienced. 

Hebrews 12:4-10 is a very strong statement about a professing believer who sees no chastisement in his life.  The text is expanding upon and further explaining what is said in Proverbs 3:11-12.  The point of these two texts is that God ONLY chastises His own children.  If you do not have God’s chastisement (correction of failures) you are NOT HIS CHILD.

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence {the idea is humbly received correction and repented of inappropriate actions or attitudes}: shall we not much rather be in subjection {to put one’s self in subjection and obedience} unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:4-10).

Spiritual growth mirrors physical growth.  There are two other obvious physical evidences that a child has been born into this world: physical growth and hunger/thirst.  A hungry or thirsty baby will let that need be known in no uncertain terms.  Food and drink are not physical options.  Food and drink are physical necessities.  Without regularly input of both food and drink, a person will quickly wither away and die physically.  Secondly, without regularly input of both food and drink a child cannot growth.  Physical growth is conditioned upon the regular intake of healthy food and plenty of liquids to drink. 

Everything in the physical world mirrors everything in the spiritual world.  There are two spiritual existences: the cursed spiritual existence that God calls “the world,” and the place of spiritual blessing that God calls the “New Creation,” or “the regeneration.”  Every descendant of Adam is born into the cursed “world” destined for the “second death” and the “lake of fire.”  The only escape from this dire situation is to be “born again” out of this cursed “world” and into the “New Creation.”  There is no potential for God’s blessings within the curse except for God’s longsuffering in His delay in the final “white throne” judgment.  There is also a blessing within God’s longsuffering that gives lost people TIME to be “born again” out of the curse. 

1. If you have God’s judgment upon your life, then you are lost and need to be “born again” -GET SAVED!
2. If you have God’s chastisement upon your life, REPENT and praise Him because He loves you and cares enough to correct you.
3. If you are in the midst of a trial of your faith, PRAISE God because He TRUSTS you.  God believes in you.  God believes that your faith is strong enough to be victorious in your trial!

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, May 6, 2019

Head Knowledge: when God is Merely an Idea

Head Knowledge: when God is Merely an Idea

Apart from faith, most people do not understand the spiritual realm of God’s existence.  We cannot grasp what we cannot see, touch, taste or smell (I Corinthians 2:9).  For most people God is little more than an idea.  Most people believe in God as an idea in some form, but they do not believe in the Person of God.  When someone believes in God as an idea rather than the Person of God, that individual never has a personal relationship with God, because no one can have a relationship with an idea.  Ideas do not interact with us or impact our lives except through intellectual and emotional influences along with the peer pressure of others with whom we share a belief in the idea. 

Intellectual faith comprehends to some degree the Person of God with Whom we can speak and communicate through prayer.  Intellectual faith comprehends the Person of God Who speaks to us through His inspired Scriptures thereby revealing His will and the parameters and perimeters of a personal relationship with Him.  For “born again” believers, we intellectually know from Scripture that God indwells us in the Person of His Spirit.  Intellectually we can know that this indwelling of God’s Spirit creates the most intimate relationship between two beings that is possible.  However, only real faith can comprehend this real union transcending the believer into another real existence that is only available to the person who understands the very real spiritual Person of God rather than merely the intellectual idea of God. 

          Because of the many corruptions of the objective and definitive faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as given in Romans 10:1-13, local churches are filled with people who never have been truly “born again.”  These lost people require their lives to be externally controlled by micro-managing everything they do.  Unfortunately, we have many pastors who think they are up to the task of micro-managing the lives of hundreds of people.  If these pastors were honest, they would admit they are not even able to micro-manage their own lives. 

These micro-managers do not even grasp the fact that they are dealing with people who merely believe in God the idea rather than God the Person.  The tragic truth of the micro-management of people who merely believe in God the idea, is that these micro-managers then become these people’s god.  If you would do something in the secret of your private life that you would never do before your pastor or another faithful Christian, you have been converted to God as an idea, not to God as a Person.  Unfortunately, your so-called intellectual belief is intellectual just unbelief!  Why is this a fact? This is a fact, because God is not just an intellectual idea that you can understand and grasp intellectually.  GOD IS A PERSON!

          It is in the reality of genuine faith and understanding of the personal relationship that the “born again” believer has with God the Person (Colossians 2:4-12) that the true believer understands the personal responsibility to the most intimate of relationships ever generated.  Scripture constantly, habitually, and redundantly reminds the believer believing in the Person of God that a relationship with Him comes with personal responsibilities for which that believer will be held individually accountable by the Person of God. 

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

          “If” a believer truly understands the New Existence and relationship into which he is “born again,” his understanding of God, and his relationship with God, radically changes.  He no longer sees God like someone looking at and describing an inanimate beautiful painting hanging on the wall of an art gallery.  The believer that sees God as merely an idea describes Him only in theological terms.  Even when that description is accurate, it lacks most of the aspects of relationship interaction and personality. 

The believer that sees God as merely an idea thinks in descriptive terms, but not in relational terms.  For instance, such a person intellectually knows that “God is love,” but does not think in the interactive understanding of all the problems and difficulties that accompanies a perfect Being loving an imperfect being.  The believer that sees God as merely an idea does not see God as being angered, having joy, sorrow, grief, laughing, weeping, and longing to see His children grow and to love Him as He loves them.  Believers who see God as merely an idea do not understand the reality of the hurts that they cause Him by unfaithfulness, unbelief, inappropriate language, and wasting the moments of their lives on carnal foolishness. 

Although God joys in His children’s joys and laughter, like any parent, He wants to see lasting and permanent character development along with choices that will produce spiritual qualities and spiritual maturity.  This is all part of what Paul means in the transitional statement from the knowledge of our new existence “in Christ” (Colossians 2:4-12) to living within the realities of that new existence to which he speaks in Colossians 3:1-2; “1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  This describes the difference between believing in the idea of God and the reality of an intimate relationship with the Person of God.  This describes a real and living faith interacting with a real and living eternal Being called GOD.

          Most people do not begin to grasp the relationship a perfect God has with imperfect people until they have a child.  For nine months parents long for the birth of their perfect little bundle of joy.  Then, they provide a nice crib, warm cuddly clothing and the most nourishing food available.  This wonderful nourishment goes in one end and a foul and smelly mess comes out the other end at the most inopportune moments possible. 

Parents begin to learn that parenting BEGINS with micromanaging the messes created by their little bundle of joy and teaching that little bundle of joy something called personal responsibility (as quickly as possible).  This is necessary because parents quickly learn that omnipresence and omnipotence are not part of their skillset.  They learn quickly that children cannot be micromanaged, and even more importantly, they learn that children WILL NOT be micromanaged.  Children are smart.  By that, I mean children are cunning. 

However, the problem of the continued production of inopportune messes by children for their parents is that children are carnally cunning until that issue is addressed and corrected inwardly.  Parents can surrender to following their children around for the rest of their lives with a broom, scoop-shovel, and water hose or can teach children to have their own values and governing life principals (convictions).  This is detailed, intimate, time consuming hard work.  This describes God’s working in our lives!  This is what describes God having an intimate personal relationship with believing sinners.  God would not do this if He did not love us! 

Although every relationship that begins with completely irresponsible and immature people begins with micromanaging those people, no one wants that existence to be a lifetime experience.  This should also be true of God’s relationship with us and our relationship with God.  Every true believer should be proactive in his own spiritual growth to the point of spiritual maturity.  Spiritual maturity is a place where the matured believer begins to be more of a contributor to the “work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12) than the immature believer that uses the time and resources of those ministering. 

This is how MINISTRY GROWS!  Ministry grows when more people are spiritually mature enough to be ministering.  Spiritually mature people BEGIN TO MINISTER.  This defines the very nature of MATURE RESPONSIBILITY.  Spiritually mature people who never step-up to minister are simply not spiritually mature people, for it is the nature of spiritual maturity to see a need and fill it.  The very essence of the nature of spiritual maturity demands personal involvement.  There is no such thing as an I don’t want to get involved attitude with spiritual maturity.  Most people want the privileges that come with maturity, but few are willing to accept the responsibilities that come with maturity.  Those unwilling to accept the responsibilities that come with maturity are just manifesting the reality of their immaturity.  The spiritually mature believer knows ministry is mundane, obscure, and taken for granted and does not expect to be thanked for changing diapers.  Yet, it will become obvious when the diapers are not changed!

The strange teaching that practical sanctification was not necessary for fellowship (a working partnership in spiritually mature ministry) with God arose by A.D. 60 and the writing of Paul’s Epistle to Romans.  This silly notion, known as Antinomianism (meaning against law; Christian Libertarianism), should be as bizarre to Bible believing Christians today as it was at the time of the writing of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.  However, this bizarre teaching now dominates Evangelical Christianity through Easy Believism and cheap grace forgiveness i.e., “Just tell God and He will forgive you even without repentance.”  Romans 6:1-6 defines the believer’s new “born again” relationship with God in the New Existence, known as the New Creation, with terms of personal responsibility.  “By whom {Jesus Christ} also we have access by faith into this {supernatural enabling} grace wherein we stand” (Romans 5:2).

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? {If justification were in ANY manner dependent upon something a believer does or has done, these questions would be unnecessary.} 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  {Once a person is gifted justification, there can be NO justification for living in sin.} 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ {the baptism with the Spirit into the New Creation; i.e., ‘born again’} were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him {positionally} by {Spirit} baptism into death: that like as {water baptism as a physical picture of the already accomplished reality of Spirit baptism} Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together {association or union} in the likeness of his death {thereby expressing our understanding of this in water baptism}, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection {thereby expressing our understanding of this in water baptism}: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin {the ‘old man’}” (Romans 6:1-6).

Paul rebukes the foolishness of Antinomianism in Romans 6:1-2.  Then Paul gives simple instructions in Romans 6:11-18 about how to live a sanctified, spiritually mature life in habitual “fellowship” with God.  The spiritually mature believer understands he must know the Truth before he can live the Truth.  The spiritually mature believer understands he cannot live the Truth apart from the filling of the Spirit of God.  The spiritually mature believer understands that he must live the Truth before anyone will take his testimony seriously. 

          Christ spoke to believers in Matthew 5:13-16 about His expectation that they righteously influence the world in which they live.  The point of Matthew 5:13-16 is that believers who do not righteously influence their world are an anomaly to genuine Christianity.  Yet, this is a major reason why churches are failing the Great Commission.  Selfish Christians are savorless salt and hidden lights. 

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his {not ‘its’} savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

          Obviously, Matthew 5:13-16 is addressed to “born again” believers.  It is also obvious that the words “salt” and “light” are used metaphorically for the interaction and influence of these “born again” believers within the world of lost sinners.  Being “salt” and “light” are influences upon lost people in the world.  “Salt” offering no “savour” (that is not salty) is worthless and powerless to make any difference upon what it is applied.  Hidden “light” is worthless to counter and combat the influences of darkness.  We hide “light” by silence and isolation. 

Spiritually mature believers should not need to be micromanaged.  If a person is spiritually mature, he should be enabled to manage his own life and the lives of immature believers still being discipled and perfected (Ephesians 4:12).  Mature the immature while you have an open heart and listening ears. There will come a time when people are spiritually hardened to Truth if they are not discipled properly in their early growth years.  This is of what Paul warns in II Timothy 4:2-4.

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears {preaching what is popular}; 4 And they {the false teachers who want to preach what is popular or the latest theological fad} shall turn away their ears from the truth {stop their ears from listening to truthers}, and shall be turned unto fables {willing to listen to almost any myth, or human presuppositions or opinions}” (II Timothy 4:2-4).

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.