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: ATTITUDES FOR REVIVAL

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Why We are Failing the Great Commission
Chapter Twenty-eight

Scenario: two children of the same age are caught doing something completely wrong.  One of these children was raised in a Christian household where he was taught the Word of God and was a believer clearly understanding the boundaries between right and wrong.  The other child grew up in a moral vacuum absent of any moral ethic having never taught the child what was right and what was wrong.  From which of those two children would you expect righteousness and whose failure was the most heinous?  This scenario is to what Peter speaks in I Peter 4:17; “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”  God expects MORE from His children than He does from the lost and ignorant children of the world.  THIS IS NORMAL!

Revival is the supernatural working (blessing) of God upon and through the life of a consecrated and sanctified believer-priest who seeks to do the will of God as revealed by the Word of God with the passion and love of Christ intent upon solely glorifying God. 

           The portion of Scripture called the Sermon on The Mount is probably the single portion of Scripture that best establishes the New Testament theology of revival and the criteria necessary for any real revival to ever take place.  Revival is quenched by BAD ATTITUDES and activated through repentance.

Many local churches have experienced revival at various times in their history to varying degrees.  Oftentimes revival on smaller scales is not even recognized as revival, but the reality is that any act of God’s blessing on a life is to some degree revival.  Revival is God’s life (the Shekinah; glory) shining out of the darkness of sin and corruption through a believer’s life.  Every sunrise reminds us of the way things ought to be!  The longer that light shines, the more evident is the revival.  If this statement is true, then Christ’s statement in Matthew 5:16 is a command for revival in the lives of all believers. 

           Our theology of revival (what we believe God’s Word teaches about the matter) will determine how we seek revival and how we interpret the events surrounding revival.  We could spend much time discussing inaccurate theology regarding revival and therefore the misinterpretation of those times when revival was evident on large scales or we can simply try to establish a Biblical theology regarding revival and re-interpret those times of revival according to that theology.  I choose to do the latter.  I do not argue with the historical fact of those times of revival.  However, I do disagree with the establishment of a theology of revival based upon the interpretation of the events of revival.  The opposite should be true.  We should establish a theology of revival and then interpret the events of revival from that theology.

The Lord uses the word “blessed” nine times in Matthew 5:1-12.  Therefore, we must conclude its meaning to be very significant to the purpose of His teaching.  It is from the Greek word makarios (mak-ar'-ee-os).  The simplest dictionary definition would be happy or joyful, but that does not give the whole meaning behind the word.  The real emphasis is not on the joy as much as it is on the source of that joy.  The joy is the result of the supernatural working of God in one’s life because a person has become what God wants him to become.  Being blessed is the result of being right with God.  Being right with God results in doing what God says to do and God supernaturally working through that doing.  

Theologically, blessedness is a state of existence within the realm of God’s “working all things together for good” (Romans 8:28).  The nine uses of “blessed” in Matthew 5:1-12 define the conditions necessary for a believer to enter into God’s realm of blessedness and are the details of what God means by the qualifier of “all things work together for good to them that love God” in Romans 8:28.  The nine uses of “blessed” define what loving God means.  The first step towards revival is when believers get their hearts right with God.  Getting our hearts right with God is what the nine “blessed” of Matthew 5:1-16 are about.  Revival ALWAYS begins with repentance in the mind and heart and then moves to the feet. 

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him {inner circle truth for ‘born again’ believers only}: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 13 {now begins the outcomes of being ‘salt’ and ‘light’ because a ‘born again’ believer maintains these attitudes of repentance} Ye are {present indicative; a fact of your present state of existence in the realm of blessedness} the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour {the distinctions necessary to blessedness} , wherewith shall it {‘the earth’} be salted? it {the ‘salt’} is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are {present indicative; a fact of your present state of existence in the realm of blessedness} 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 {the distinctions necessary to blessedness} so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:1-16).

           The first essential to a theology of revival is to differentiate between the blessings upon the children of Israel in the Old Testament (Mosaic Covenant) and what happens in the New Testament (the New Covenant; a dispensational hermeneutic).  On the Day of Pentecost, a new dispensation began with a New Covenant governance.  The Day of Pentecost came fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  On that day, God’s Spirit came into the world in a unique way.  This is a critical truth to a New Testament theology of revival and blessedness.  All the covenants that God makes are made with believers.  They are always sanctificational in nature and define conditions necessary for believers to be blessed of God and live in “fellowship” with God. 

           Salvation brings the sinner into the potential for blessedness from God but does not automatically give those blessing to the believer.  This is a major difference between the gift of eternal life in salvation and that eternal life issuing from the saved believer’s body through the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit.  Practical sanctification is essential to blessedness from God.  Each of the nine uses of “blessed” in Matthew 5:1-11 define attitudes (be-attitudes that lead to actions) necessary to practical sanctification.  

           In the Old Testament, the Shekinah glory of God descended upon the Tabernacle to give a visible evidence of God’s presence to the children of Israel.  However, before the Shekinah glory of God descended on the Tabernacle, every other item of service of the tabernacle had to be put in order (Exodus 40:1-38).  All those various elements that made up the whole of the Tabernacle complex were essential elements for the children of Israel to live in fellowship with their Redeemer and to have His blessing upon them.  Although each aspect of the Tabernacle was only typical of a spiritual reality, each was an essential element for maintaining fellowship with God.  This is the substance of the Sermon on the Mount!

           Living in fellowship with God, the “blessing” aspect of the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant beatitudes, is the essential and common truth to both New Testament revival and Old Testament revival.  The difference between how that fellowship is achieved and maintained in these two different periods of history (dispensations) is fundamentally different.  It is evident that maintaining fellowship with God in the Old Testament was very complex.  On the Day of Pentecost all of that changed.  A new dispensation of grace began.  The Shekinah glory of God descended upon the Tabernacle of God just as in the Old Testament, but that Tabernacle was now the body of a believer individually and corporately (the “body of Christ”).

           We sometimes hear this new doctrine of the Spirit without really taking into consideration the overwhelming and broad ramifications of the responsibilities it relates to the believer.  Let me try to illustrate it for you. 

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be . . . : and there was. . .” (Genesis 1:1-3).

           When the Word of God says He “created,” it means He brought something into existence that did not exist before and He made it out of nothing.  It is said that a group of scientists one day came before God and told Him that they were so advanced in their knowledge that they did not need Him any longer.  So, God told them to show Him their progress.  They proposed a contest to God.  They and God would each create a man.  The best one would win the contest.  God agreed and the scientist reached down and grabbed a handful of dirt to create his man to which God immediately said, “Oh no, you need to get your own dirt.” 

           When God created the heaven and the earth, it required power beyond human comprehension, let alone ability.  In the creation, God simply released some of What He is to generate His thoughts into a physical reality.  Something was not created from nothing.  Something was created from the will of the power of God.  

           When God’s glory descended upon the Old Testament Tabernacle, that visible reality was evidence to God’s redeemed that the power of God was present with them.  That power of God was and is the Person of the Holy Spirit.  That power of God made evident in the Shekinah glory was the same power of God that spoke the heaven and earth into existence.  

On the Day of Pentecost, it was that same Shekinah glory that descended upon all believers indwelling them and immersing them into the spiritual living temple of “lively stones” to which the Bible refers as the “body” of Christ making each of believer part of the New Creation “in Christ.”  SELAH

           Stop right there for a moment and think about that truth.  The dispensation of grace (enabling power) centers on the reality of the indwelling presence of the infinite power of God in the body of every believer.  The power of God is the Person of the Holy Spirit that spoke the heavens and earth into existence now resides in the body of every person who has been “born again” of the Spirit of God (regenerated).  That means, if you have been saved, you are part of the New Creation “in Christ” and the Shekinah glory of God lives in you.

           The simplicity of New Testament revival is that when your life is lived in fellowship with God, beginning with the nine be-attitudes, the Shekinah glory will begin to shine through you.  Deciding to generate the nine be-attitudes is where the command to “let your light so shine before men” BEGINS.  That is what Christ means in Matthew 5:16 when He says, “Let your light so shine before men. . .”  We shine when our lives are right with God (Matthew 5:3-12) and the indwelling presence of the Shekinah glory of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit reveals Himself in the “fruit of the Spirit” through our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

           It seems apparent that early Christians understood the singular importance of living in habitual fellowship with God.  The importance of living in habitual fellowship with God is communicated in John chapter fifteen by the word “abide” and it is directly connected to the blessing of God upon the production of “fruit” through the believer’s life.  All historical revival is marked by a return to holiness, prayer dependency on God, and a right relationship with God.  This always resulted in many people coming to trust in Christ.  Anytime people start getting saved, revival is happening at some level in a person’s life.

           Anytime people get saved it is the result of revival in a believer’s life.  A person getting saved is the “fruit” of revival and should not be confused with the act of revival.  Revival is when a person brings his mind, his heart, and his very soul into harmony with God and His Word (the nine be-attitudes).  The focus of revival must be on a right relationship with God beginning with a complete change of attitudes about God and sin.  The right relationship with God is the focus of the change of attitudes (repentance), not the “fruit.” 

Three realities must exist in a believer’s life before revival can happen.

1. The believer must know the truth.  God’s truth reveals what sin is.  God truth reveals how God wants us to live.  We cannot do what is right until we know what is right.  God’s purpose in teaching us truth is to restore the image of Him distorted by the fall so that we might once again have proper worship of Him (doxologically) and a relationship with Him in holiness (deontologically).

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

2. The believer must translate known truth into doing (obedience from the heart, James 1:22-25).  No matter how much truth you know, unless you put flesh on that truth by doing it, nothing is accomplished through that truth.  No one will ever get saved by you knowing the Gospel.  People get saved by hearing and heeding the teaching and preaching of the Gospel.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25).

3. The believer must be right with God through the confession and repentance of sin and yielded to a cooperative partnership with the indwelling Holy Spirit (I John 1:3-9).  “Fellowship” is the Bible word for this cooperative partnership with the indwelling Holy Spirit.  When a group of believers come together in this cooperative “fellowship” a synergy is created and their combined “light . . . cannot be hid.”

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If {every ‘if’ relates to a necessary condition of reality} we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:3-9).

           Understanding this trilogy for revival helps us understand why revival is a rare commodity in many churches.  It is rare in many churches because this trilogy rarely exists consistently in the lives of believers.  Knowing truth will not produce “fruit” until the believer lives known truth and he cannot live that truth until he is right with God and allowing the indwelling Holy Spirit to live through his body (Romans 6:11-13).

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:11-13).

           This trilogy of spiritual essentials is the subject matter of John 15:1-13.  It is also the subject matter of the Sermon on the Mount.

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:1-8).

           The struggle to make this spiritual trilogy for revival a consistent reality of our life is the struggle for the Christian life.  In most part, it is a struggle within us and our corrupted thinking and attitudes due to our fallen natures.  That is why Christ leads off His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five with the be-attitudes.  It is a difficult struggle.  It is a struggle to possess and process the “heart” of God through our lives.

           This struggle is what defines the “warfare” of the Christian life.  This struggle is what produces true spiritual growth in our lives.  Some individuals grow to live such consistent lives that they produce many disciples for Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul was one such individual.  We can see his understanding of this struggle by reading Romans chapters six, seven, and eight as well Ephesians 5:1-18 and 6:10-18.  This struggle for the be-attitudes was a priority to Paul.

           Most Christians do not gain the discipline of a consistent life lived in this trilogy.  We have occasional bursts of light like a flashbulb going off and some “fruit” is produced.  However, if we want to be spiritual lighthouses producing “much fruit,” we need to learn to habitually “hunger and thirst after righteousness.”  

           Seeking the face of God and living in fellowship with Him must become the central motivating force in our lives.  When the Bible speaks of the believer being “filled” with the Holy Spirit, God is not talking about “filling” the believer to the maximum capacity of that believer’s body.  When the believer is “filled” with the Holy Spirit, the believer is “filled” with the infinite power of the Creator God.  When the believer is “filled” with the Holy Spirit, the infinite creative power of God begins to overflow in his life in all three areas of the trilogy of revival.  Truth is understood and lived.  Fellowship with God is evident in everything that believer does and says.  “Fruit” is produced.  Souls come to Christ when that believer tells others of Christ.  The “fruit” of the Spirit is evident.  Regeneration of the lost and transformation of the saved take place.

           When the Holy Spirit of God controls every aspect of our lives, the Shekinah glory of God within us will burst forth as “light” into the darkness of this world.  The believer’s life will be a bright light shining in the darkness guiding men to find Christ and His wonderful gift of salvation bringing glory to God the Father.  Letting our light shine means getting our selfish desires, attitudes and practices of life out of God’s way.  Carnality and/or doctrinal compromise, to any degree, stops the overflow of His transforming power that God’s wants to flow into and through our lives.  

           Why did God create billions of stars and thousands of galaxies of stars and planets?  God created these majestic lights in the heavens simply for humanity to look up and see them and wonder at the majesty of the Being that put them there.  You are intended to be a up-close light of His majesty.  The Spirit of Christ is the “true Light” that “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).  

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

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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 50 years.

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