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: Head Knowledge: when God is Merely an Idea

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).

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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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