Monday, May 1, 2017

II. False Faith and Self-Deception

 

II. False Faith and Self-Deception
 
         
After God’s confrontation through the prophet Jeremiah of the corrupted nation of Israel recorded in Jeremiah 7:1-15, God tells Jeremiah not to even pray for those to whom he was to preach (Jeremiah 7:16).  Although God was telling the children of Israel where they had failed and was calling them to repent, He knew their hearts were hardened in unbelief.  We cannot even imagine the despair of Jeremiah when God told him to preach anyway knowing the children of Israel would not even listen to what God had to say.  Here are some of the saddest words in the Bible:

Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee (Jeremiah 7:27).

          It has been said that Psalm one-hundred and nineteen is like a field of millions of acres of wisdom ripe and ready to be harvested.  The focus of those one-hundred and seventy-six verses is upon loving, reading, and knowing the Word of God.  To love the Word of God is to love the God of the Bible.

     Contradistinctively, to love the God of the Bible is to “hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104 and 128) because God hates “every false way.”  If such an attitude towards false doctrine and the pagan intrusions of corruption into sanctification are not part of a professing believer’s life practices, his faith is false by that same degree.  Within this corrupt attitude towards God’s Word is the seed for the potential of apostasy.  Some of these false ways may be sanctification issues.  These things will keep a person from being used of God or from having prayer answered.  Other kinds of false ways may be salvation issues and reveal that a person’s salvational faith is false because the repentance foundation of that salvation in corrupted. 

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Worldliness is a perspective of life diabolically opposed to what God wants for us.  Worldliness is a basic first level manifestation of corrupted faith.  Although worldliness involves practices, it is embodied in an attitude more than anything else.  Worldliness focuses our attention and consumes our time on ventures that provide no lasting, eternal benefit other than fluffing our egos and puffing ourselves up.  Worldliness wants to be entertained.  This attitude is a foundational characteristic of worldliness.  When this attitude becomes dominant, it can potentially corrupt every choice in a person’s life. 

Worldliness does not necessarily involve a person in issues of moral turpitude.  In most cases, worldliness can be simply about appearances such as “a proud look” and wanting to be accepted by a culture that is worldlyWorldliness can also involve immoral practices that have come to be acceptable by most cultures and societies while being completely unacceptable to God, such as “a lying tongue.”  The worldly person is more concerned about what his peers think about him than what God thinks about him.  Such a person will twist the truth to accomplish that goal.  Although he may talk about his concerns about God’s will, such talk is really hypocrisy.  He will walk as close to the world as his religious peers allow, seeking to give himself at least a fa├žade of acceptability with God.  This is false faith!

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).

     Worldliness is being defined subjectively and narrowly within Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in present day Christianity.  This corrupted definition of worldliness creates a pseudo-Christianity.  When John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” what exactly does he mean?  It is an important question to answer because to “love the world” reveals that God’s love “is not in” that person.  There is godly love and worldly love.  Worldly love is any emotion that is fed by the corruption of the “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16). 

“The world” that we are commanded not to love is a very broad and encompassing term.  The word “world” is translated from the Greek word kosmos (kos’-mos).  The context defines the meaning as all the satanic influences within the corruptions of religion, politics, and economics.  These influences have varied through the millennia while maintaining certain consistencies within the variations.  Religions have evolved and thousands of false religions have developed over the millennia.  Within these false religions, there is a commonality in varying degrees of paganism, syncretism, and idolatry.  Understanding these three influences helps us understand the term worldly

Paganism

Paganism is the corruption of human sexuality in numerous ways and in varying degrees.  Modern day paganism has corrupted human sexuality in degrees equal to the worst that has ever been known in the world through the corruption of our children and the inculcation of a culture that is practically given over to the pornographic.  The word “fornication” in the Bible is usually translated from the Greek word porneia (por-ni'-ah), which includes harlotry, incest, adultery, and any other corruption of human sexuality outside the marriage relationship.  
The most severe inculcation of worldly influence is the constant barrage and instruction that corrupts children into accepting these corruptions of human sexuality at the earliest ages possible.  These corruptions are taking enormous strides in the last days prior to the second coming of Christ and are characteristic of the end times.  During the last days, even the apostate churches of apostate Christianity will condone these “fornication” corruptions (Revelation 2:21 and 9:21). 

Syncretism

Syncretism is the merging, blending, and integrating of false beliefs about God into religious practices.  Syncretism is the corruption of Bible doctrine by degree through integrating false notions about God and what is acceptable and unacceptable to Him.  Syncretism is the corruption of the worship of God by introducing worldliness and commonality into the worship.  Any worldly or common practice defiles both the worshiper and the worship. 
Syncretism begins with the corruption of the Gospel and what defines a biblical faith response to the Gospel to be saved.  The span of this corruption has extended to degrees one would have thought impossible.  Yet, the span of corruption continues to expand daily.  Syncretism results in Ecumenicism and Pluralism.  Toleration is the banner under which Syncretism thrives and growths like a field of weeds strangling truth with its very contact.

Idolatry

Idolatry is exalting anyone or anything above the one true God in worship or in worship practices.  Idolatry does not need the presence of a stone, wood, or metal god to exist in the hearts of humans.  Idolatry exists when entertaining people or even catering to their fleshly desires enters into deciding what will be included in worshiping God.  Idolatry is any form of corruption of the sanctity of worship.  Idolatry steals worship from God to put it upon man.  Idolatry puts other things than God at the focus of ministry.  Idolatry accepts any form of worship and thereby extricates God from worship because God’s presence is always in the midst of holiness.  This world and all that is in it is corrupted by sin and cursed of God.  Therefore, God accepts only that which is purified of worldliness to be used in worshiping Him.
 
          In the simplest terms, worldliness is anything that caters to the carnal “flesh” of humanity.  Idolatry feeds the carnal “flesh” in worship practices.  This is what draws people to these types of religions and churches.  False teachers learn quickly that they cannot draw large crowds preaching about the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sinners.  They learn quickly to cater to human desires and to give people what they want.  They learn to make a carnival appear like a church substituting cotton candy platitudes and puppy dog moments for “thus sayeth the Lord.”  They are doomed to constantly needing to invent new carnal ways to appeal to the carnal crowd.

          There is no doubt that the majority of children of Israel were living in open rebellion against the Words of God given them in the Mosaic Covenant by which their forefathers had agreed to live.  About four hundred years before Jeremiah comes onto the scene, Samuel had prophesied God’s warning to Saul about his wicked rebellion against God.  God had commanded king Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, descendants of Esau.  Saul, in rebellion against God, spared Amalekite king Agag.  Samuel confronts the lying hypocrisy of Saul with the words “13 …Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. 14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear” (I Samuel 15-13-14)?  Then, Samuel rebukes king Saul with words that echo through the great halls of historic failures of false faith:

22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king (I Samuel 15:22-23).

The great lesson of God’s many messages through the prophets to the rebels of Israel teach us a simple truth.  Since God has given humanity a free will, when humans are in rebellion, there is no power in the world that can force their wills into obedience.  The only thing anyone can do to keep the rebel from destroying everything right and good is to restrain his rebellion.  This eventually means some form of prison or early death for the rebel.  This is always the eventual destiny of the rebel – CAPTIVITY!  Hell is the ultimate captivity for false faith. 

One need only read Paul’s epistle to the Galatian churches to see how God is contrary to this whole nonsense of the so-called Church Growth Movement.  It would be difficult to even imagine one of these crowd gathering churches ever honestly dealing with any of the substance of the context of the rebuke given in the epistle to the Galatians.  In Galatians, God calls rebellion “the works of the flesh” and describes its many forms.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do {prasso; or habitually practice} such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Carnality is rebellion against God!  The words “the works of the flesh are manifest” are intended to confront all that is contrary to supernaturally produced spiritual life of the truly “born again” believer.  These few verses are simply saying, this is what carnality looks like.  Any one of these practices or attitudes reveal that the carnal nature, the “flesh,” is in control.  Look at these words carefully, because your toleration or condoning of any one of these manifestations of carnality is where your spirituality ends and your false faith begins. 

          These are the things of which God was calling Israel to repent.  We can have very little comprehension of the long-suffering of God until we read His warnings through the hundreds of years of recorded history through His prophets calling Israel to repentance.  Isaiah was given God’s message to preach to Israel to repent and returned to Him (Isaiah 1:11-17) in about B.C. 760.  Jeremiah was given God’s message to preach to Israel to repent and returned to Him in about B.C. 629.  Amos was given God’s message in about B.C. 787 to preach to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom to repent and returned to Him even earlier than Isaiah.  The Southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin had been a faithful remnant in Israel for centuries.  Faithful believers from other tribes had relocated to the south to join with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin along with the faithful priests.  This left the ten Northern tribes without any faithful priests while living under corrupted pagan Jewish kings and priests totally given over unto idolatry and the horrible practices that were part of this wickedness. 

21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. 22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. 25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves {during the wilderness wanderings under Moses, many of the children of Israel secretly maintained a portable shrine/tabernacle for their pagan Moloch the star or fire god}. 27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts” (Amos 5:21-24).

          James said almost the same thing as Isaiah regarding what defines “pure religion.”  True Christianity, the pure practice of the faith, must translate itself into a genuine compassion for people or it is “dead” faith.  “Dead” faith means artificial, lifeless faith.  “Dead” faith is the same as false faith. 

26 If any man among you seem to be religious {the external appearance or exercise of the faith}, and bridleth {controls} not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion {his external exercise of the faith} is vain {empty, profitless, like idolatry}. 27 Pure religion {exercise of the faith} and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction {be concerned about the needs of orphans and widows in the church}, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27). 

          James is dealing with religious externalism as an manifestation of false, dead faith.  Externalism will never look at a drunkard or a drug addict with a broken heart for his soul, but you can be sure that is the way God sees him.  Externalism and self-righteousness see through the eyes of contempt, not compassion.   Externalism will never see a lost child the way God sees him.  Externalism will never see that lost kid with compassion for his soul.  Externalism will never be willing to reach out and touch his life with a consistent investment of love, time, and effort to bring him to Christ and disciple him so as to help him escape the prison of the degradation of the life patterns his parents have been building into him.  Externalism will never try to bring the life-transforming message of the Gospel into his home to try to reach his family.  Because of that, his soul will slip through the cracks of God’s hand in this world (local churches) to fall limp, broken and wasted on the hopeless and helpless heap of sin soaked, Hell bound souls. 

          God speaks to this externalism and its results in Jeremiah 2:13. This verse speaks clearly to this issue.  It speaks specifically to the false faith of religion without relationship. 

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

          In this verse, God speaks of two evils generated in the false faith within the lives of people who are more concerned with duties for God than they are about relationship with God.  The first is that they have the order backwards.  When they cultivate intimacy with God, the duties God expects will flow from that fountain of intimacy like living waters.  God is the “fountain of living waters.”  The only way for those “living waters” to flow through our lives is when we are connected to the Godhead by a living, loving, and holy relationship of intimacy to which the Bible refers as “fellowship.”  This is the Spirit-filled life.
 
          Most Christians are like a rubber garden hose that lays out in the Sun for days and days, but never gets connected to the water supply.  As a result, they end up all dried out and cracked, because they never get connected to the source of supply of “living waters.”  We forsake the potential of those “living waters” flowing through our lives when we forsake our relationship with God.  The Spirit-filled life of “fellowship” with God is the connecting link to the Christ-life flowing through us.

          The second evil of false faith was that they created their own man-made sources of fulfillment to sustain them spiritually (whatever form this takes, it is idolatry).  These were man-made sources for personal fulfillment or happiness.  This is what God calls “broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”  In other words, these man-made inventions will never be able to accomplish what people create them to do.  They are superficial and self-deceiving. 

          This is to what God is referring in Jeremiah 7:4 and 8 when He says, “ye trust in lying words.”  He is talking about this self-deception of false faith.  We are lying to ourselves when we have religion, the practice of the faith, without relationship.  Externalism is idolatry.  The works of externalism become the externalist’s god and idol.  Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 in Matthew 15:8 and applies it to the Pharisees.  How accurately this describes all religion (a word used to describe ministry) without relationship.

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8).

          How can we escape this deadly deception that generates such a facade and sham of Christianity?  The only way to escape it is by being brutally honest with ourselves and to God.  We need to take three basic steps.  Each step takes us away from the world and closer to God.  Each step involves the believer in communicating with God and allowing God to communicate directly to that yielded believer’s heart. This is the pathway out of externalistic religion.
 
          The first step towards intimacy with God begins with prayer.  Our prayer life must be willing to communicate with God about every integral aspect of our lives.  Be sure of this, you will never shock God or surprise Him with what is going on in your life.  He already knows and is working to help you get victory.  Getting that victory begins by coming to Him and talking with Him about everything that is going on in your life.  If you do not learn to communicate with God about the intimate details of your thought life, the details of your so-called secret sin life, and the details of your struggles with temptation, do not expect intimacy with Him.

          The second step towards intimacy with God involves your devotional life.  We have devotions to cultivate being devoted to God.  Being devoted to God will not happen by accident.  Cultivation of devotion to God comes when we are driven by a genuine desire to know Him.  The Bible expresses that concept by the words hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).  God’s promise to those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” is that “they shall be filled.”  Devotions are not about just reading your Bible and praying every day.  Devotions are about being consumed with knowing God intimately, personally, and seeking the intimacy of being able to look into His face.

          Lastly, when these previous two things become a reality in your life, you will naturally involve yourself in the “work of the ministry.”  If we have cultivated a love relationship with God, we will gain His heart.  His heart is burdened to reach the lost.  His heart is burdened for the recovery of sinners and their deliverance from the bondage of sin in their lives.  If we are not driven by a concern about the things God is concerned about, our Christianity and our professed faith is nothing more than dead religious externalism.  Fruitful ministry will naturally flow from a life through which God overflows (John 15:1-8).  When God finally gets a hold on your heart and you get a hold on His, He will overflow (“fruit of the Spirit”).

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

          If flowing rivers of living water is what you want to see in your life, you are going to have to seriously evaluate your priorities.  The flow of that “living water” will begin when your heart and God’s heart are one.  It will not be just a trickle.  It will be a flood.  However, first be sure your faith is real.  If you are not “born again” of the Spirit of God, there is nothing you can do to produce spiritual life from your spiritually dead carcass.

One cannot even imagine the many facets of worldliness.  Most pastors recognize worldliness as easily as one might see a painted red face in the midst of a crowd.  Worldliness is apparent in one’s mannerisms.  Worldliness is apparent in conversations, occupations, and even one’s recreation.  Worldliness is apparent in the way we dress and even in our countenance.  Worldliness is apparent by what we love and what we do not love.  Worldliness is apparent by what we do and what we do not do.  In most cases, there is very little difference between professing Christians and the lost in all of these things.  A Christian cannot love the world and love God at the same time.  Yet many worldly Christians have deceived themselves about their worldliness and about their love of God.
 
Over the years, it has been my responsibility to speak to many parents about the warning signs of worldliness apparent in the lives of their children.  In many cases, parents took offense when approached about apparent signs of worldliness in their children.  In almost every case, when warnings went unheeded, those children later abandoned church attendance, went off into the world, married unbelievers, and evidenced a reality completely foreign to that of a “born again” individual.  What are some of the signs of worldliness in the lives of the children of believing parents? 

1. They constantly bicker with their siblings. 
2. They come to church, but do not listen or hear what is being said. 
3. They have no burden for holiness in their own lives and they have no burden for the lost with which they come in contact.  They have no real ministry in life that is motivated by their love for God. 
4. They love what the world loves and have secret, hidden lives known only by them.  Their friends know nothing of their professed Christianity.  They do not want their friends to know because they are ashamed of Christ. 
5. They have no real interest in spiritual things, in building a relationship with Christ, and no thoughts of ministering to anyone.  They have no fear of God (Romans 3:18).

As a pastor, the lack of parental concern about worldliness in children troubles me greatly.  Worldly children grow to be worldly adults.  Sadly, many Christian homes are fertile greenhouses seemingly intent upon nurturing worldliness.  Our local churches and godly homes must focus attention upon the abrogation of worldliness.  Pagan and materialistic cultures cultivate worldliness.  We are bombarded with worldliness at every turn in life.  Our Hedonistic cultures teach worldliness through frequent repetitions and admonitions.  The answer is not isolation, but education.  We must warn of the subtle influences of worldliness.  We must teach that the only solution to worldliness is complete repentance that then seeks to live in fellowship with Jesus.
 
It is important that we understand that worldliness must be replaced with the kind of spirituality that expresses itself through ministry.  Worldliness expresses itself through carnality and selfishness.  Spirituality always expresses itself through compassion, self-sacrifice, and ministering the truths of the Word of God to others.  Replacing worldliness with spirituality is difficult in that spirituality can come forth in an artificial form of worldliness known as self-righteousness.  This expresses itself through contempt towards those that do not measure up.  All these artificial means for self-fulfillment must be replaced with genuine, compassionate ministry.  This is known as the Replacement Phenomena

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind {empty of knowing God and His will}, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling {corrupted conscience} have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:17-32).          

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, April 24, 2017

I.False Faith and Self-Deception



I.False Faith and Self-Deception

         
In the time of the early prophecies of Jeremiah, the nation of Israel is in its first years of recovery from the consequences of King Manasseh and then his son Amon.  These two kings were wicked idolaters following the apostasy of king Solomon before he repented.  Many of the children of Israel were living in the pornographic, licentious culture of paganism during the week while still maintaining a farcical involvement with the Temple.  Their worship of Jehovah was pure hypocrisy.  Their faith in God was corrupted with the merging and blending of paganism at almost every level.  They were offering sacrifices to Jehovah while sacrificing their children to the pagan god Moloch.  Every high place or grove of trees was a worship center and gathering place for the pornographic practices of pagan worship. 

          Jeremiah begins to prophesy about sixty years after Isaiah’s death.  Jeremiah is contemporary with Zephaniah and Habakkuk in his early years, thereby joining them in calling Israel to repent while warning of the pending judgment of God in the Babylonian captivity.  Jeremiah would live long enough to be a contemporary of Daniel in the captivity of which Jeremiah forewarns. 

          King Josiah, the boy king who began to reign at eight years of age under the tutelage of his godly mother Jedidah (II Kings 22:1), was in his thirteenth year (Jeremiah 1:2) as king when Jeremiah comes on the scene of biblical history.  (PIC) Josiah declared war on paganism and idolatry.  He had the pagan idols crushed to dust and scattered the cursed dust upon the graves of those who worshiped the pagan idols.  Yet most of the children of Israel continued their pagan practices in secret while dualistically and publicly practicing the duplicity of Jehovah worship.

          The spiritual condition of Israel at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecies was very similar to modern Christianity.  The practice of “the faith” defined by the Law and the prophets was almost completely corrupted and liberalized.  The Word of God was no longer being read with few people having access to the Scriptures.  In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, five years after Jeremiah begins to prophecy, Josiah has the priests of Israel repairing and cleaning out the Temple, which had fallen into disrepair due to neglect.  During that house cleaning, they discovered the original Book of the Law (the Pentateuch) from Moses.

     The High Priest Hilkiah had Shaphan the scribe read the Book of the Law to king Josiah (II Kings 22:8-9).  Upon hearing the Word of the Lord, Josiah is brought under deep conviction of the failures of the nation of Israel.  Josiah rents his garment and repents in heartbroken tears before God.  The transition in Josiah’s faith is from the words of his godly mother, in that she knew that paganism was sin, to the very Words of God in the Scriptures.  Josiah’s solution is to personally read the discovered book of the Law to the children of Israel (II Kings 23:2). 

          Jeremiah chapter seven takes place in about B.C. 600, ten years after king Josiah’s reign ends.  Although Josiah waged war against the integration of paganism and idolatry in with the worship of Jehovah, the war was not won.  Paganism and idolatry continued to be practiced in secret and dark recesses of human depravity by most the children of Israel (described in Ezekiel chapter eight).  Although the false faith and pagan debauchery practiced by most of the children of Israel could be hidden from the priests and the prophets, it was not hidden from God.  Jeremiah continues to expose what God sees.  This is ALWAYS the ministry of the responsible faithful. 

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. 3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. 5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; 6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. 8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? 11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 7:1-11).

          God is visible only through the realities of His operations within His creation.  He blesses the faithful and chastises the unfaithful.  Unless we generate considerable effort to keep God and our relationship with Him at the forefront of our minds, it will not be long before our Christianity slips into dead externalism where church is what we do a few hours on Sundays and neo-paganism is what we do the rest of the week.   The consistent warning of Scripture is: Don’t take God and your faith in Him for granted.
 
          It is work to maintain a faithful relationship with God.  The work it takes to maintain a relationship increases proportionately to the intimacy we want (or need) in that relationship.  The difficulty is that most of us want a level of intimacy while being unwilling to invest the time necessary to generate that intimacy.  This is also true of husband/wife relationships and parent/children relationships.

    However, it is the truest of our relationship with God.  We need intimacy with God, but usually are unwilling to invest the time necessary to get to know Him or to know what He expects from us in that relationship.  Studying Scripture is often not a priority of the lives of most believers. 

          There are two Greek words used for knowledge in the Bible.  One is gnosis (gno’-sis) and the other epignosis (ep-ig’-no-sis).  There is considerable difference between these two kinds of knowledge.  For instance, gnosis knowledge of the piano can discern between good and poor piano playing.  Epignosis knowledge of the piano can produce good piano music from a piano.  What is it that makes the difference between these two kinds of knowledge of the piano?  The latter requires that a person spend hours and hours and hours and hours with that piano learning to play it.  This latter person has cultivated an intimacy with the piano the hearer can only appreciate, but not necessarily understand.

          One thing we should all know for sure, God wants intimacy with His children and is doing everything He can to bring us to the place where we will begin working on what we need to do to have that intimacy.  True worship of God naturally flows from intimacy with God.

     The difficulty is that we deceive ourselves into thinking we have an intimate relationship with God when we really do not.  We think because we go to church regularly and pray before our meals that all is well in Godville.  We think because we give money to the church and read our Bibles that we are doing what we need to do to have intimacy with God.

          This is the way many men think about their families.  They think they have a loving relationship with them because they work hard to provide a home for them, clothing for them, and food to fill their bellies.  Certainly, this manifests a faithfulness to some degree to one’s family.  There certainly is some sacrifice on the father’s part and it certainly is an exhibition of love.  It can also just be an exhibition of duty or responsibility.  Duty and responsibility do not translate into intimacy with his family.  In fact, he can be doing all that is mentioned and providing abundantly and still not have an intimate, loving relationship with his wife or with his children.  Yet, like most men, they wonder why their family do not appreciate all that they do for them.  The reality is they presume on an intimacy that does not exist.  They fall into the trap of self-deception by thinking externally.  Mothers naturally cultivate intimacy with their children because they naturally understand the difference.  Fathers naturally presume on intimacy and do not work at cultivating intimacy with people, even their children. 

          We have a horrendous propensity for thinking externally and God hates it.  External thinking focuses on external obedience and intellectual knowledge rather than upon the strengths and weaknesses of people.  External thinking people do not have intimate conversations with other people seeking to know their desires and ambitions.  External thinking people are not involved in the lives of people in a way that cultivates intimate relationships to create an environment for positive spiritual influence.  Getting to intimately know people and allowing them to intimately know you creates a fertile ground for genuinely ministering one to another in such a way as to impact lives for generations.  The “work of the ministry” is hard word.

What motivates us to do what we do is what determines if we are externalists or not.  Church-going, Bible reading, prayer, soul winning, ministry are all just minor parts of intimacy with God.  This is not to say such things are unimportant.  We can be doing all these things in abundance, but without joy in the doing because they are all being done out of a sense of duty in the “flesh” apart from an intimacy with God.  When our focus is upon the doing and not upon for Whom we do it, we will miss the most significant aspect of faith – working together in fellowship with God.  There is a dangerous and slippery slope in this of which we all are very susceptible - religion without relationship.

          Externalism comes in all kinds of forms and in many degrees.  The nation of Israel at the time of Jeremiah was guilty of almost every form of externalism.  Rules without relationship always degenerate into externalism.  Religion without relationship is equally as deadly.  That is what God is saying in Jeremiah 7:4. “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.”  The people of Israel had deceived themselves into thinking that everything in their lives was right with God if their Temple practices were in order; in other words, they were going to Church.  What a debilitating form of self-deception.

       Religion without relationship tends to generate worship of form and practice that lacks in any real heart motivation for real ministry and any real concern for souls and lives.  This may be the reason why change is so resisted in these kinds of local churches.  People do not want to change the way they do things because they have come to worship the form and practice of their religion.  God need not even show up.  The worship of form and practice degenerates any ministry into a substitute for (or is misinterpreted as) a real relationship with God.  Form and practice become little more than another kind of idolatry.  This is what happened to the Samaritans in Northern Israel in the intermingling of paganism with the worship of Jehovah.  Form and practice became substitutes for God.  This is a subtle but debilitating kind of self-deception because there is an appearance of worship.  However, when worship is commingled with false doctrine and unacceptable worship practices, the leaven of this corruption regardless of how insignificant it appears to be, leavens the whole and it becomes nothing more than religion.  

22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22-24).

         Forms and practices as substitutes for a genuine relationship with God do not demand transparency in our own lives, genuine heartfelt concern for people, or a desire for intimacy with God.  Yet form and practice easily mislead us into thinking all is well in Godville when our forms and practices generate a stench that reaches to the throne of God.

       One hundred and thirty years before the inspired record of the admonition given by Jeremiah, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah with words that communicate God’s heart regarding the stench of religion without relationship.  It is a message that is as timely and true in the “lukewarm” Laodicean period of Church history (Revelation 3:14-22) as it was it the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah.

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me {referring to sacrifices unaccompanied with a right heart relationship and a desire for a righteous life}? saith the LORD: I am full {weary} of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts {the rejection is the result of doing the ritual without the accompanying heart relationship and desire to please God}? 13 Bring no more vain {desolating, evil; rituals, prayer, the observance special holy days to show respect and reverence for God were all evil in the sight of God without really loving Him and desiring to live to His glory} oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands {signifying they had offered all the appropriate sacrifices and observed all the holy days thereby seeing themselves in a right relationship with God}, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:11-17; compare Amos 5:21-24).

          God’s solution to this fiasco of superficiality is simple.  God’s solution takes two directions.  First, in Isaiah 1:16, God directs His children to clean up their lives.  They were to separate themselves from the carnal, worldliness that preoccupied their lives and consumed their time.  They were integrating paganism into their lives and culture so gradually that it was done almost unnoticed.  This is the way worldly gradualism works.  Worldliness is like quicksand.  A person slowly sinks into it until he is imprisoned by it.  The children of Israel, professing believers, were commanded to “cease” doing evil.  Here is where rules without relationship become a problem.  Why were the lives of the children of Israel consumed with selfish priorities and worldliness?  Why do Christians struggle with and argue about practices that are clearly worldly?  Their ignorance of the God of the Bible allows them to create a god who allows their worldliness.  They do not get Truth from God’s Word. 

        This results in them having religion without a personal, intimate relationship with the God of Truth generating dead externalism in their lives.  This is not real faith.  Therefore, they view God’s commandments as intrusions upon their lives and restrictions upon the things they find pleasure in.  They think temporally.  They live temporally.  Their religion is simply a means to manipulate God into providing them with the things they need and want.  They do not approach God in worship in open transparency, seeking intimacy with Him.  The deeper they sink into worldliness, the more shallow and artificial their faith becomes.  Those of Jeremiah’s day knew this.  The prophets exposed it to them.  They knew it was true, but they loved the worldliness!  The great tragedy is that this self-deception manifests a false faith and a false hope in a false salvation.  The Apostle John warned Christians about the same thing in I John chapters two and three.

12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:12-17).

      Secondly, God instructs His children to begin to do what was right (“learn to do well,” Isaiah 1:17).  We think that we will start ministering to people once we get a burden for people.  That will never happen and that is the reason ministry never begins in many people’s lives.  We get a burden for people when we begin to get involved in their lives.  Why does God want His children to minister?  God wants His children to minister because that is where God’s heart is.  God wants us to be concerned about people the way He is.

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, April 17, 2017

Two Great Eternal Victories


Two Great Eternal Victories


         
It seems apparent that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday (possibly Thursday) and then resurrected on Sunday morning.  The significance of the importance of the days is merely the fact that they fulfill specific prophecies regarding the timing between His death and resurrection.  Therefore, although the timing of things has biblical significance, the greatest significance is the spiritual accomplishments of the death, burial, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus. 

Although the Blood offering of Jesus at Calvary is essential to the body of the doctrine of salvation, the resurrection and glorification of Jesus is the crown upon the Head of that body.  The significance and spiritual ramifications of these accomplished realities pertain to the wondrous gift of salvation provided “by grace through faith” to the repentant believing sinner.  I Corinthians chapter fifteen is the substance of the lengthiest explanation of the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible.  Here, Paul begins with a basic explanation of the Gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4) going into considerable detail about the ramifications of what the death, burial, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus provides to the believing sinner in the gift of salvation going far beyond mere eternal life.  Here Paul explains a completely new and perhaps unfathomable new spiritual existence extending into a radically different kind of new body.

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 {Isaiah 25:8}, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, 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 fifty-eight verses of Scripture in I Corinthians chapter fifteen fully define and describe the scope of the doctrine of redemption through the Blood of Jesus Christ.  All of this was already settled in the mind of God before God ever spoke time and matter into existence.  The believer’s pathway to the surety of this new existence began before the foundation of the world in God’s plan and promise of His own incarnation to substitutionally die to pay His own penalty for the sin nature of humanity introduced into Creation through Adam’s sin.  God’s plan for humanity was a new spiritual/physical eternal existence lived in harmony and fellowship with Him.

THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN

          Sin entered the Creation first through the fall of Satan due to pride.  After God created Adam, God gave to humanity, represented in Adam, sovereignty over God’s Creation.  This included sovereignty over the angels, which are also created beings.  God had decreed that the angels were to be the servants of humanity.  Satan rebelled against God’s sovereign decree due to pride.  The prophet Isaiah gives us the details of the fall of Satan.

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

Sin entered Creation in the “I will” declaration of Satan’s heart already fallen in the sin of pride.  It was in the heart also where Adam failed.  Satan created a situation through the deception of Eve and Adam’s love for Eve where Adam put his desires above God’s desires.  Adam put his will above God’s will.  Satan’s sting of sin was the sting of pride and it brought God’s curse upon the whole of God’s creation. 

Sin, any sin, is the infection of death.  Death is more than mere physical death.  Death is eternal separation from God.  The lost of this world do not understand the depth to which sin has infected their souls.  Sin has spiritually ruined every person descending from Adam. 

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed {seminally} upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:12-21)
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Herein lays the necessity of the statement of Jesus to Dr. Nicodemus – “ye must be born again” (John 3:7).  The fallen nature of all humanity is infected with eternal death, which means eternal separation from God and eternal life.  That infection complete and cannot be healed.  The infection cannot be stopped.  The corrupted sinner needs a new nature that is available only through regeneration, or being spiritually “born again.”  The sinner needs to become a new creation

“45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Corinthians 15:45-50).

The phrase “last Adam” is unique to I Corinthians 15:45. The phrase “last Adam” refers to the Person of Jesus as the “firstborn” of the New Genesis; particularly to the humanity of Jesus.  The point of the text is that God planned for Jesus as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) before Adam ever fell into sin bringing God’s curse upon His creation.  The birth of Jesus is the crown of humanity.  In Jesus, humanity was eternally united with the Creator through the Theanthropic union of the eternal Son of God and the humanity of Jesus through the virgin birth.  In uniting the Creator with the humanity of Jesus, then Jesus became the “last Adam” with the Divine power of both redemption and regeneration. 

This is expanded upon in Romans 5:12-19 providing a juxtaposition of generation between the first Adam and the “last Adam,” i.e. Jesus as the firstborn of the regeneration (the New Genesis).  This is the significance of the phrase “the last Adam was made a quickening {life giving} spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45).  The gift of life here is not just a new life like the old life a sinner had before he was saved from Hell and regenerated.  This is a new kind of life like the kind of life that Jesus had on earth.  Eventually this new life will be put into a new body just as Jesus was resurrected and glorified into a new body.  A new place of existence will be created for this new manner of existence “in Christ” and the Christ-life through the filling of the Holy Spirit Who indwells the believer when the believer is “born again.”

It is critically important to understand that a new resurrected/glorified body will only be given to those who have been saved from Hell and received the gift of redemption from eternal prison of death that is offered by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-21).

THE STRENGTH OF SIN IS THE LAW

          What does this phrase mean?  The point is that God is perfectly holy and righteous.  The Law defines sin and pronounces all men guilty as sinners.  The Law of God is the righteousness of God shining upon our lives revealing us for what we are in the sight of God.  The wrath of God’s eternal judgment on sin MUST be satisfied (propitiated).  God cannot be righteous if the penalty of the curse is not satisfied.  Therefore, the binding power of sin is the righteousness of God manifested in the Law.  The Law cannot redeem.  In fact, it has no desire to redeem.  The Law demands adjudication of the penalties prescribed by breaching its commands from God.  There can be NO pardon apart from propitiation.  The Law merely reveals to the sinner that he is ALREADY bound and imprisoned awaiting the day of God’s Great White Throne judgment where he will be cast into eternal Hell.  This cursed world is nothing more than a prison cell for the lost until the Great White Throne.

19 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. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20).

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18).

          No sinner can truly be grateful to God until he realizes just how lost he really is.  No sinner will ever truly worship God until he understands the miracle of the grace of God that rescued his wretched, depraved, and sin soaked soul from a deserved destiny of eternal torment.  Paul makes the exclamation of his understanding of his own depravity in Romans chapter seven as he teaches on the warfare of the believer for practical sanctification against his own carnal nature.  This spiritual war with our own carnal nature will not end until the day of our resurrection/glorification.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).

THE GOSPEL = GOOD NEWS
THE VICTORY IS ALREADY WON AND POSSESSED BY THE REDEEMED!

          Complete victory over sin and over the binding power of condemnation and death was once for all won upon the death and resurrection of Jesus.  This victory was such a surety that the victory march was held a week earlier on what we commonly call Palm Sunday. 

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, 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” (I Corinthians 15:51-57).

The Truth communicated to us in this simple text is so overwhelming and comprehensive it almost unfathomable to the human mind.  In Matthew 26:39, Jesus said, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  Jesus was speaking of substitutionally drinking the poison of humanity’s death and condemnation to satisfy (propitiate) the wrath of God’s judgment upon sin.  Jesus took our sin penalty in His body (I Peter 2:24) that “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).  What wondrous, marvelous grace!

10 By the which will we are sanctified {perfect, passive, participle; refers to positional sanctification} through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected {perfect, active, indicative} for ever them that are sanctified {of vs. 10}. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:10-18).

These few verses of Scripture in Hebrews 10:10-18 are an explanation and expansion upon the simple declaration of Christ in His last Words on the Cross of Calvary; “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison {‘Abraham’s bosom’ or ‘paradise’}; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism {with the Spirit into the New Genesis in the body of Christ} doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ {Jesus is the ‘firstborn’ of the regeneration}: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (I Peter 3:18-22).

THE BELIEVER’S RESURRECTION AND GLORIFICATION ARE SURE!

          Although God has not unconditionally chosen anyone to be saved, everyone that chooses to receive the God’s gift of salvation is predestined to be resurrected/glorified.  The “blessed hope” is a surety- a sure thing! 

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

“Foreknow” in Romans 8:29 is an aorist, active indicative.  The word “predestinate” in both verses 29 and 30 is also in the aorist, active indicative as well as the words “called,” “justified,” and “glorified” in verse 30.  What this all means is that these events in believer’s lives refer to something God incorporated into His eternal plan of redemption in eternity past (before time; before the “foundation of the world”) that are being fulfilled in time (actually) or will be fulfilled in the future (actually).  George Bryson says:

“Paul tells us what is destined to be true for those whom God foreknows.  Inevitably they will be called, justified, and glorified.  Moreover they will be called according to His purpose.  What is His purpose for those He foreknows?  It is that ultimately and inevitably they will be glorified.  Justification represents the predestined work of God in time while glorification represents the predestined work of God in eternity.  From a temporal perspective justification must come first.  From an eternal perspective if a person is justified in time, that person is also predestined to be glorified when time meets eternity for the believer.[1]”  (Bolding added)

There is a divine order to the unfolding nature of “the regeneration” as defined by Romans chapter eight.  The central idea of the chapter is the absolute surety of God bringing the promise of “the regeneration” into a complete fulfillment.  Although the price of redemption has been fully paid and accepted by God (God is propitiated), the full benefits of redemption are not yet fully realized.

          Part of the “revelation of Jesus Christ” in His glorified state is His revelation as the last Adam and the restored Federal Head over the fallen creation.  This is the same “creation” referred to in Romans 8:19 that watches and waits for this historical event.  Included in the second coming, is the revelation of “the sons of God” who are “joint heirs with Christ.”

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2-3).

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Anchor2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Anchor3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Anchor4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-3).

          Paul’s further expansion on his argument for giving believer’s motivation for looking beyond the “sufferings of this present time” is found in Romans 8:20-21 in his personification of “the creation.”  “20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  Literally it reads, “the creation became subordinate (hupotasso, hoop-ot-as'-so) to uselessness (mataiotes, mat-ah-yot'-ace).”  After the fall, the creation became subservient to depravity and could no longer bring glory to God, although not voluntarily (“willingly”).  God initiated this subjection intent upon a higher and nobler outcome; i.e., “hope.” 

          The word “hope” in Romans 8:24 is translated from the Greek word elpis (el-pece') and refers to the confident anticipation or expectation of something good or pleasant.  The creation could then look forward in confident expectation to the time God would deliver the “creation itself . . . from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty [Thayer: “liberty of glory”] of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21); referring to “the regeneration” or the creation of the new Heaven/Earth.  When the “children of God” by regeneration are finally glorified, they will be fully and finally liberated from the subservience to the depravity of the fallen creation and once again be able to fully glorify God.  This will not happen until the “redemption of the body” (Romans 8:23; resurrection/translation/glorification).  Although this has not yet taken place historically, the believer can be sure that it will.  The “redemption of the body” is what is predestinated.  Because Jesus has been resurrected/glorified, we can be sure of the same happening to us in the reality of the miraculous unfolding of God’s redemptive plan.

[1] George Bryson; The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinist Caste System; Calvary Chapel Publishing, 2004; Page 209

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.