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: June 2019

Monday, June 10, 2019

Life Transformation

Why We are Failing the Great Commission
There can be No Life Transformation Until there has been Life Transference

          There is nothing more crippling to the body of Christ than to try to do “the work of the ministry” in the power of the flesh.  Spiritual work cannot be accomplished with physical strengths or will-power.  Yes, God will ALWAYS bless His Word.  Yes, God does use even the heathen to bring glory to His Name. However, God does those things DESPITE such people, not BECAUSE of them.  Fully surrendered people want God to do things ON PURPOSE and THROUGH their sanctified lives.  Seeing God’s purposes realized through their lives is the primary reason they fully surrender to the indwelling Spirit of Christ.  They want God to be known personally and accurately (glorified). 

          The transference of spiritual life to the believer, who was “dead in trespasses and sins” was done through the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ upon the moment of the believer’s salvation.  This transference of life is the gift of eternal life and the Christ-life in the indwelling Spirit. 

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:9-20).

      There is the story of a woman who took care of her catatonic invalid mother for many years.  She bathed her, dressed her, cooked for her, fed her, put her into bed and got her out of bed.  She had gotten herself into a regimented routine in the daily care of her mother.

      With great concern one day she called the doctor to come to examine her mother.  She told the doctor that for the last few days all her mother wanted to do was sleep.  She told the doctor her mother slept through her baths and refused to eat.  She had tried everything but had come to the place she just didn’t know what to do anymore.  After the doctor examined the mother, the daughter asked him what he thought the problem was.  To which the doctor replied, “The problem is your mother has been dead for three days.

          This same scenario exists within many local churches.  You cannot expect dead people to respond to commands or do what living people do.  No matter what the doctor did, he could not revive that woman’s mother.  No matter what that woman did she could not get her mother to eat or respond to her love and care.  Yet the care giver had a problem of her own.  She refused to accept the obvious symptoms.  She refused to recognize that her mother was dead. 


 It is like the pastor who asked one of his deacons why the church just couldn’t be motivated to do what God commanded.  He asked the deacon if he thought the problem was due to ignorance or apathy.  To which the deacon replied, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

          Revival is about life transformation.  You must be spiritually alive before you can be spiritually revived.  No matter how hard a person tries to breathe life into a corpse, it will do no good.  When professing Christians cannot be motivated to do what God commands and live for Christ, perhaps the real problem is they are still “dead in trespasses and sin.”

          In Colossians 1:21, the word “reconciled” is from the Greek word apokatallasso (ap-ok-at-al-las'-so).  It means to thoroughly change from one thing to another or to restore a former state of harmonyIf we are saved, we have been thoroughly changed positionally and are being continually changed practically as we work with the Holy Spirit to put off the former way we lived and begin to put on Christ.  The reality is this, if we are not being convicted of sin in our lives and compelled to repent and yield our lives to the Holy Spirit to aid us in putting off the “old man” and putting on Christ, the problem is probably not in the issue of life transformation (sanctification), but in the issue of life transference (salvation).  Simply put, DEAD PEOPLE DO NOTHING!

The first evidence that we have had life transference is that there WILL BE life transformation.  Simply stated, IF there is life transference (a salvation event), GOD EXPECTS to see life transformation (progressive growth in sanctification).  Physical growth is measured in weight and height.  Spiritual growth is measured in Biblical wisdom (knowledge, spiritual discernment, and application of God’s Word) and living the truths that are known.  No one can honestly claim to be living God’s Word if that person is not actively involved in the “ministry of reconciliation” (evangelism).  Biblical wisdom ALWAYS connects the brain to heart and then to the feet.

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” (II Corinthians 5:17-19).

          The very idea of Orthodoxy (Heterodoxy) has been abandoned within most of Evangelicalism.  Fundamentalism is not far behind this fiasco.  Preaching and teaching the Word of God has been replaced with group counseling sessions disguised as Church services.  Theological dogmatism has been replaced with opinions, “that’s your interpretation,” and no discernment at all regarding what is right and wrong in the eyes of God.  “Rightly dividing the Word of truth” is condemned as egotism and theological arrogance.  If you think Orthodoxy can be determined dogmatically from Scripture, then you will be labeled as a narrow-minded bigot.  You will be accused of being divisive.  Your dogmatic beliefs will be relegated to a cult religion, while these accusers of the brethren will readily accept those within actual cults.  Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists are all considered Evangelicals by those propagating this foolish Inclusivism.  Some so-called Evangelicals are actually promoting something called Christlam (accepting the Allah of Muslims as the God of the Bible).

God hates this nonsense and has said so repeatedly.  God describes these same things as characteristics of Israel and the world in Isaiah 5:18-24 just prior to the second coming of Jesus.  This portion of Scripture describes the theological atmosphere of Apostasy in the “last days.”  These characteristics define Apostasy!  Although Isaiah 5:18-24 primarily describes the children of Israel in apostasy, it also describes the characteristics of all apostasy in the “last days.”  Isaiah 5:18-24 tells us exactly what God will do in response to the rebellions of make it up as you go Apostasy.  This is God’s promise to those who have taken the “narrow way” and reconstructed it into the “broad way.”  The “broad way” ALWAYS leads to destruction.  

18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: 19 That say {rebelliously challenging God to act out of their own unbelief}, Let him {God} make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:18-24).

The practice of “Christ our life”

When Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4) as a spiritual reality (practice), it will be our desire to “mortify” the sin nature (Colossians 3:5). 

5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:5-17).

The word “mortify” is not talking about physical suicide.  The emphasis is putting the carnal mind (the sin nature) to death in every practical way.  Since our mind and thoughts control our bodies, the mind of which Christ is in control will control the body He possesses.  The only reason for sinful disobedience is because sinners give themselves permission to sin. 

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Corinthians 10:3-6).

In Colossians 3:5, the word “members” refers to the parts of the body as they are employed in life actions (in this case, sin).  These “members” employ themselves in four described sinful practices. 

1. “Fornication” is sexual immorality outside of the confines of a husband\wife relationship.
2. “Uncleanness” is any moral impurity resulting from the gratification of selfish desires.
3. “Inordinate affection” is described in Romans 1:26-32 - especially referring to sexual perversions.
4. “Covetousness” carries climactic force in the Greek and could actually read “especially covetousness.”  It is a category of sin that stands by itself called idolatry.  Covetousness is the greedy desire to have more than a person needs.  It is the epitome of ungratefulness.  It is the religion of the discontent - the complainer.

Our incentive to “mortify” the desires of our flesh should be the belief regarding the Judgment Seat accountability at the return of Christ (Colossians 3:4).  The Lordship of Jesus is presently not a visible sovereignty.  Unless our lives’ actions (culturally and distinctively in the areas of personal holiness) make His Lordship visible, His Lordship will remain invisible.  Jesus is personally hidden from the lost world because believers refuse to live the “life of Christ.”  When we sin, we are hiding Christ from the world He died to redeem.  It is a wonderful truth to know the all-sufficiency of Jesus, but it is a sad fact that we all too often do not manifest the all-supremacy of Jesus in our everyday living.

The problem between position (complete in Christ) and practice (Christ our life)

Positionally the believer is “risen with Christ” (Colossians 3:1), but practically we live in a tension between what Christ has already completed and what is not yet complete (our glorification, Colossians 3:4).  We are regenerated to be a colony of holiness in Christ.  God expects us to manifest His holiness to a culture of evil corruption.  We are to be as bright as a lighted city set on a hill.  

When our lives are no different from the rest of the lost world, we lose our distinctiveness as the residing place of the Shekinah Glory of God in the indwelling Holy Spirit.  As a result, those dying in the darkness of spiritual blindness cannot see the light because the sinning believer has practically hidden that light behind the darkness of his selfishness.  If you will dedicate your lives to Christ Jesus, your city may not appreciate you, it may not break down the doors of your church to get in, but they will know your church exists “to seek and save the lost.”  Those in the darkness will be able to clearly see the “city set on the hill” distinctively different, distinctively separated, and distinctively holy.

A real saving faith brings about a new creation of a living and working faith.  Before salvation God worked UPON you to bring you to saving faith.  After salvation, God works WITHIN you to bring you to living faith.  This is the supernatural fact communicated by Ephesians 2:10. 

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship {a supernaturally produced product}, created in Christ Jesus {the New Creation of which Jesus is LORD} unto good works {the central purpose of the New Creation is to enable those who were once sinners to live as saints}, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Does that mean we are saved by works?  No, Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly states that is not the case.  However, if we have the kind of faith that saves us, it will also be the kind of faith that changes the way we live.  A saving faith will become a working faith.

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead” (James 2:17-20)?

Another evidence of having been “born again” is the word “grounded” in Colossians 1:23. “Grounded” is from the Greek themelioo (them-el-ee-o'-o) and refers to stability, dependability, and to being established in something.  It is further evidence of life transference.  That does not mean saved people won’t fail, but it does mean they will become dependable people.  When they do fail, they can be depended on to repent, get their lives right with Christ, and begin to do what is right once again.  Genuine believers can be depended upon to practically add to what God has positionally completed. 

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren {idle} nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling {vocational} and election (believer priest} sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (II Peter 1:5-10).

          Another evidence that we have life transference is the word “settled” in Colossians 1:23.  “Settled” is from the Greek word hedraios (hed-rah’-yos), which means to be steadfast and unmovable.  It refers to a resolution of character that understands the truth and owns it to the point it becomes an integral part of who we are.  When that is the case, to compromise that truth in anyway would be equal to cutting off an arm or leg. 

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

The fourth evidence of life transference is that the truly born-again person will not be “moved away from the hope of the Gospel” (Colossians 1:23).  Eternal life is not some wish or a dream.  Heaven and Hell are not figments of the imagination or mythological fiction.  One day Jesus, the eternal Son of God is coming again to this earth.  All those who are genuinely born again will spend eternity with Him.  Those who are not born again will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the worm never dieth and the fire is not quenched.  Everyone is going to spend eternity somewhere and that somewhere will depend on what a person does with Jesus Christ and His gospel.  That is the reality of this life.

          We ask ourselves why 20% of the people in the church do all the work.  To be blunt, dead people don’t work.  We ask ourselves why only 10% of the people in the church are actively working at being disciples of Jesus Christ and seeking to make disciples of others.  To be blunt, dead people can’t learn or teach.

          We ask ourselves why the majority of professing Christians will not read their Bibles all week long outside of the church services.  To be blunt, dead people don’t read their Bibles.  We ask ourselves why less than 5% of the people in the church do all the work at soul winning.  To be blunt, dead people don’t win souls.  Yes, the church needs revival, but God cannot revive what is not alive.  There must be new birth before there can be new life.
          Let me ask you, is there evidence you have been born again?

1. Is there life transforming change taking place in your life?
2. Are you becoming grounded in the Truth of God’s Word?
3. Are you becoming steadfast and unmovable in your service for Christ?
4. Are you remaining in the hope of the Gospel?  Is your vision fixed beyond this life or upon eternity?

These are the things that define taking up the Cross of Christ, making that Cross ours and following Christ.  These things describe the transformation of OUR LIVES into the Christ-life!

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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.