Monday, May 23, 2016

Repentance is the Seed for Change


Repentance is the Seed for Change

All the Old Testament prophets were used of God to call the children of Israel to repentance.  However, few of the Jews repented and fewer still were those that actually separated themselves from the licentious practices of worldly paganism and idolatry.  In our present time, we are seeing an almost exact repetition of this in modern Christianity and the worldly practices of the Emergent Church and most of Evangelical Christianity.  There is really little that is held sacred in the Post-Modern Christianity. 

There is very little that resembles the holy separation demanded in the epistles of the New Testament.  We are seeing the rapid replacement of the Judeo-Christian heritage of our nation replaced with New Paganism.  The world is rapidly turning Secular Humanism and new cultural absolutes that are completely contrary to the Word of God.  In most cases, these new cultural absolutes are anti-Christ in every way. 

Repentance is a forgotten word and a forgotten doctrine in Post-Modern Christianity.  Anyone preaching against sin these days is labeled as a judgmental legalist!  What nonsense!  There will be few who take the attitude of Habakkuk in Habakkuk 3:2.  Most will follow the way of Cain until they taste the wrath of God’s judgment.  Very few will do what is necessary to bring about the much needed revival within the Church.  Revival is for local churches, not nations.  Nations and communities will never become serious about holiness until local churches become serious about holiness. 

“O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2). 

As Christians, we watch almost helplessly as our nation moves farther and farther away from the foundations upon which it was built.  We think, if only we could somehow stop abortion, or make homosexuality illegal, God would return His blessing on our nation.
         
Revival always begins in the heart of one individual wanting to be a blessing to God more than he wants God’s blessings.  Such a person understands that the primary attribute of God is holiness.  The revived person will want holiness in his life more than any other passion.  Revival is returning believers to love the Lord with a zealousness for serving Him and living to His glory. 

Jesus sent an epistle to the church at Ephesus through the Apostle John.  This epistle is recorded in Revelation 2:1-7.  In that epistle, Jesus said, “4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” 
         
It is critically important to see the difference between leaving our “first love” and losing our “first love.”  The Church at Ephesus had a very serious problem.  They were wrongly motivated.  They had “left” their “first love.”  Serving in love had been reduced to a service of duty.  As a result, Christ viewed this Church as “fallen.”  They were not fallen in doctrine or in works, but in their love for Him.  This scenario creates a subtle form of hypocrisy.  Jesus spoke of this as recorded by Matthew:

“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).

It is obvious that the first criterion for acceptable Christian service is a heart right with God and one that is filled with love for Him.  To remedy this failure at Ephesus, Christ gave them two steps.  They are told to (1) “remember, therefore from whence thou art fallen” and (2) “repent and do the first works.”  They were to stop and remember where they should be, change the way they were presently doing things, and go back to the original.  This was all done internally (in the heart) in order to get the external (walk or actions) doing things the way they should be done.
         
When we speak of revival, we are speaking of a rekindling of a fire inside of us that has waned and no longer burns the way it once burned.  Psalm fifty-one is the Psalm of David’s repentance after his adultery, lies, and manslaughter.  The historical context of the Psalm is given to us by David, the author of the Psalm.  In other words, David is not hiding his sin.  He publicly proclaims the historical context in his Psalm of repentance.  “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba” (Psalms 51:1).

“7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psalms 51:7-13).

The first step to the restoration of a nation is when God’s faithful remnant humble themselves before the Lord and begin to fulfill their responsibilities to Him. Even though a nation may never turn to God, the faithful remnant’s responsibility is to be right with God under any and all circumstances of life, even under the administration of immoral and amoral governments.  Revival always begins with the passion of the faithful for the will of God to be done no matter what.  This is the substance of Habakkuk’s prayer, “O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known” (Habakkuk 3:2).
         
As was often the case with prophecies of pending judgment spoken by the prophet to the people in rebellion, the prophets were ridiculed by the unbelieving of the children of Israel.  If these people had believed in God and His commandments, they would not have been involved in the worldly practices that brought God’s chastisement upon the nation.  The phrase “in the midst of years” refers to the days of the fulfillment of the prophecies given to Habakkuk to communicate to the nation of Israel coming near and the evidence of the captivity becoming an apparent reality.  Habakkuk’s prayer is that these people that once professed to believe in God would repent and return to a living, obedient faith once they felt the fire of God’s chastisement. 
         
People of real faith hear God’s warnings and they immediately act upon those warnings by faith.  In other words, believers expect that what God says will happen will happen and they begin to pray.  Believers begin to prepare for what God says will happen. 

Unbelievers are empirical.  Unbelievers must see some evidence before they act.  Unbelievers must feel the fire of God’s wrath before they are moved.  However, by the time they feel the fire, it is too late to do much about it but be burned.  By the time unbelievers feel the fire they have no defense against it.  A prayer for revival can be difficult when we know that the touch of the hand of God upon the unrepentant will often leave those people physically crippled and with scars that they will bear for their lifetimes.  When the fire of God’s chastisement is released upon the unrepentant, that chastisement can be brutal. 
         
Ezekiel chapter eight reveals the heart of the hypocrisy of contradiction between belief in God and the occupation with the forbidden wickedness offered by the satanic forces of worldliness.  The vision God gives to Ezekiel is what God sees in the secrets that men harbor in their hearts.  Externally we worship God and speak of righteousness, but internally, in our hearts, we lust for the things and practices of this pagan idolatrous world.  Though we may not have actual idols erected in our homes, we have a secret room in our hearts and minds where we fantasize about the pornographic and licentious practices of the pagans.  The contradiction of duplicity is that the vision given to Ezekiel reveals that Israel’s priesthood was hypocritical because they did have some form of belief in God or they would have been doing publicly what God revealed was going on in their hearts. 

“7 And he {God} brought me to the door of the court {the inner court of the priests and Levites, which were the private chambers of the ministering priests}; and when I looked, behold a hole {the crevice of a serpent} in the wall. 8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall {secret places}: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door {the discovery that men create a secret access providing admission and permission to what God has forbidden}. 9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here” (Ezekiel 8:7-9).

If men would only recognize the wickedness of our own hearts and all the images we have looked upon that are stored away there.  At the weakest moments of our flesh, Satan projects those stored images of the idols of the lusts of our hearts and minds that become so vivid it is as if we are reliving the moment.  Just because, for a brief moment, we caught the glimpse of some wicked thing that we allowed before our eyes, Satan will haunt us with that image a thousand times a thousand.  We think it but a small thing before God.  It is not!  This is what the whole text of Ezekiel chapter eight is about.  Ezekiel chapter eight gives us a glimpse into what God sees when He looks upon our hearts.  As Ezekiel 8:10 says, those corrupting images are carved into our minds and hearts like the Egyptians carved their pagan hieroglyphic images into stone.  A life of faith and repentance refuses to allow any more corrupting images to be carved into our psyche.  A life of faith and repentance hates those images already carved there.  The unrepentant person spends a great deal of time engraving forbidden images upon his psyche. 

“10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about {similar to the Egyptian hieroglyphics engraved in the temples and tombs of Egypt}” (Ezekiel 8:10).

The “idols of the heart” will be spoken of again in Ezekiel chapter fourteen.  In this text, the “idols of the heart” are willfully “set up.”  The issue of idolatry has very little to do with the idol itself.  The issue of idolatry is about the vile practices involved in the worship of an idol.  Some of these practices are too vile and morally filthy to even discuss among civilized and cultured people.  Some involved human sacrifices and the sacrifice of little children and babies.  We would think ourselves too cultured to sacrifice babies to some idol these days.  However, this is exactly what modern Feminism does in the abortion industry so that women can have sexual freedom to live sexually promiscuous lifestyles, pursue their careers in the worship of Mammonism, and be free from the shackles of social bondage to men.  This is an idol of the heart that is as real and corrupting as any Old Testament idol (Ezekiel 14:1-8).

“1 Then came certain of the elders {patriarchal leaders} of Israel unto me, and sat before me {the prophet Ezekiel}. 2 And the word of the LORD came unto me {right at that very moment}, saying, 3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? 4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; 5 That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. 6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. 7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: 8 And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 14:1-8).

“11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery {in their fantasy thought life}? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth. 13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. 14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. 15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. 16 And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. 17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. 18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them” (Ezekiel 8:11-18).

Much of the corrupted priesthood of Israel had taught the children that as long as they offered the appropriate sacrifices, they could practice the pornographic and licentious wickedness of idolatry as well.  In other words, they taught that God understood that we are all just sinners and that the various sacrifices were just the means for us to communicate our recognition of our failures to Him.  This is the corrupted message of the corruption of the doctrine of grace that abounds in Evangelicalism and New Evangelicalism.  This falsity of grace enabling is nothing more than ancient Antinomianism reborn. 

The first essential element for revival is humility before the Lord.  C.S Lewis wisely said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”  Pride is the opposite of humility and demands preeminence in every situation of life.  Preeminence wants the first consideration in every decision of life.  Only God deserves such consideration.  Humility understands this and therefore does not expect, nor does it want, first consideration in the decisions of life. 

Humility is an attitude.  The first evidence of humility is the desire to obey from the heart everything that God commands.  Humility is always manifested by a submissive spirit.  Humility knows and lives in a reality where we understand we can always do better than what we are doing or we can do what we are doing better.  The humble person knows that he can always learn something from everyone and any one.  The humble person understands that regardless of how menial our position in life, we have more than what we deserve.  Humility is not about being self-deprecating.  Humility is an honest and healthy perspective of ourselves. 

In II Chronicles 7:14, God states a prerequisite to His forgiveness and removal of chastisement upon the disobedient children of Israel.  The statement is made during a highlight in the history of the nation of Israel right after the completion and dedication of Solomon’s Temple built for the dwelling place of God.  There is a sobering reality revealed in the statement in that God knows the future and God knows that the children of Israel will be led into the pornographic practices of idolatry and paganism by the very king Solomon who had just provided the grandiose ceremony of dedication of the Temple in II Chronicles chapter six. 

Humility is always preceded by the honest evaluation of ourselves and our character compared to God and His expectations of us as His children.  The reason humility is preceded by such a comparison is because only such a comparison will create the right opinion of ourselves from God’s perspective. 

“12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place” (II Chronicles 7:12-15).

Solomon spent seven years building the Temple of God.  Then, Solomon spent the next thirteen years building an even more extravagant palace for himself and the many wives he began to acquire.  This extravagance led Solomon into a life of decadence and perversion of everything that is holy.  In fact, we should see the book of Ecclesiastes as a thorough confessional of Solomon’s decadent lifestyle that led the nation of Israel to forget God. 

“3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. 4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. 5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet” (Habakkuk 3:3-5).

Fear of the future and the pending judgment of God can be a crippling thing to live with.  Yet they are effective tools of God to prompt believers to pray and turn to Him in faith.  For many people, prayer means bargaining with God. They are in some dilemma of life out of which they cannot escape (if they could, they wouldn’t need God).  They come into God’s presence saying, “God, I am not perfect, but I try harder than so and so.  You should listen to me.  I work hard for you.  I have attended church faithfully for most of my life.  I have given much.”  This type of person is bargaining with God.  Even worse than that, he is praying in his own name.
         
Habakkuk had learned what every effective prayer warrior needs to learn.  He learned what it means to pray in Jesus’ Name.  To pray in Jesus’ Name is an attitude.

“Lord. I am a sinner.  I do not deserve anything from you.  I don’t even know how to pray or for what to pray.  I wouldn’t even pray if your Spirit had not prompted me to do so.  I come because you have invited me to come.  I come solely on the merit of what I am in Christ and with no merit of my own.  Father, on the basis of what Christ has done for me and the position that is mine before you because of salvation, I bring my petition to you requesting that you answer according to your will and not mine.”

This type of prayer exemplifies praying in Jesus’ Name.  Excellent prayer comes from excelling faith.  Excelling faith looks to an omnipotent and victorious God.  That is what we see Habakkuk doing in Habakkuk 3:3-19.  In these few verses, we see excelling faith confronting crippling fear (Habakkuk 3:16 and 3:18-19).

“When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops” (Habakkuk 3:16)

“18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.  To the chief singer on my stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).


Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
 Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, May 16, 2016

“In Wrath Remember Mercy”



“In Wrath Remember Mercy”
 
Christians are saved solely “by grace” . . . “through faith” according to Ephesians 2:8 (and numerous other Scriptures).  This means God continues to extend His loving offer of redemption to the lost souls of this world.  People need to simply trust in what God has done through the Cross-work of Jesus Christ.  However, God’s undeserved supernatural operations (grace) do not end with the salvation of our souls.  God continues to be merciful and longsuffering even though we continue to fail and sin against Him.  Nonetheless, we remain in a cursed creation and God’s mercy and longsuffering will one day come to its end.  This is where Habakkuk is at in Habakkuk 3:2 where he says to God, “in wrath remember mercy.” 
         
If any of us were to hear the voice of God speak to us out of the blue, we would fall on our faces trembling in fear at the mere thought of being in His presence.  We often speak of God’s omnipresence as something that has no tangible realities.  Yet, we know that He has spoken to us by the inspiration of His Scriptures.  Why then do we not fall down in awe each time His Book is opened or His Word preached to us?  Why is it that we can come into the congregation of meeting of a local church assemble with little or no thought that we will be in the very presence of our Creator in a very special way.

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name {Jesus}, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).  After speaking with God in Habakkuk chapters one and two, Habakkuk shows us what the faithful should be doing when faced with God’s pending judgment. 

“1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. 2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:1-2).

For over two centuries now, the United States has enjoyed the blessings of being somewhat a Christian nation.  The foundations of this nation were carved out of rock with the sweat and courage of a people willing to risk their lives for one simple thing that we often take for granted.  We forget that people fled Europe to escape religious persecution in order to enjoy the freedom to worship God the way they believed was right without fear of persecution or death.  Once on the continent of North America, there were many struggles to establish that freedom even here.  Baptists were persecuted, beaten, and jailed for preaching without a license from the State denominations.  Many fled to Rhode Island where so many Baptist resided that some considered making Baptist the Rhode Island state denomination.  Vote to do so was soundly defeated by Baptist leaders who wanted liberty of conscience for all.  We know this doctrine today as individual soul liberty.  This was the foundation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in what we know as the Bill of Rights. 
         
Most people are almost completely ignorant of the role early Baptists played in the struggle for separation of Church and State, which essentially was intended to keep the new country from adopting a state religion and keeping the government from interfering in the internal affairs of churches.  

As a result of ignorance of those early struggles, Christians have allowed the reinterpretation of the words separation of church and state.  The original meaning was that the government should be neutral regarding the establishment of either a state or national denomination of Christianity.  The meaning of the words separation of church and state have evolved to mean the government is to be free from being religiously influenced regarding policy and establishment of laws.  Of course, this whole premise is both ridiculous and contradictory to historic documents that state just the opposite.

Laws governing people are based on values established through religious and moral principles.  Satan has used the same tactics that he used with king Balak in Numbers chapter twenty-two in getting God to chastise the children of Israel.  Knowing God would not remove His blessing upon them while they remained faithful, the corrupt prophet Baalim instructed king Balak to simply tempt them with the pagan women until they were living in sin and God’s blessing would be withdrawn.
         
What we are seeing in our nation today is the result of a national segregation policy towards Christians and their influence in government.  This nation’s Judeo/Christian heritage has been attacked at its very roots.  Every year another generation of young people graduate from government schools having been indoctrinated into increasing degrees of neo-neutralism regarding their Christian beliefs.  They have been told that if they must have religious beliefs, they must keep them to themselves.
         
Discussion and the free exchange of religious ideas and beliefs are now taboo. Religious beliefs have been relegated to basements and backrooms, but certainly not welcome as part of public debate on matters of policy and law.  “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do” (Psalm 11:3)?  This is the question answered by Habakkuk chapter three.  What should Christians do knowing the religious foundations of our nation have been destroyed, God’s blessing is being withdrawn, and His judgment is eminent?
         
Habakkuk chapter three is a psalm intended to be sung by the faithful remnant during the coming captivity of the pending Chaldean curse.  The Hebrew word Shiggayonah (shig-gaw-yo-naw’) is understood by some to mean a wandering song that details the errors of Israel that brought them to the predicament of God’s chastisement.  As we face the pending judgment of God upon this nation and the present withdrawal of His blessing, as Christians we need to be a constant reminder of why we are where we are and a continuing testimony of faith to a world quickly losing hope.
         
A Shagionoth psalm intricately weaves together the elements of the fear of God and faith in God.  We must honestly learn to fear God for what is going to happen to this world.  This demands that we must be willing to make some extreme sacrifices to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ.  If we are not willing to make those sacrifices, we cannot honestly say we believe the Word of God and fear the Lord for the judgements He is about to release upon them.

A Shigionoth (shig-gaw-yo-naw’) psalm is both a song of prayer (faith) and a song of lamentation.

A lamentation is a remembrance of what brought a people to their present dilemma resulting in deep sorrow and remorse.  A lamentation is a spirit of broken repentance before God while understanding why He must deal so harshly with people who call themselves His children, but live as if He does not exist.  Yet, throughout this lamentation, there is the continual permeation of both praise and confidence in God.  In other words, the psalmist excepts God’s chastisement upon the nation as a necessity intending to trust in Him through whatever happens.

The purpose of this lamentation psalm was that it was to be incorporated into the regular part of the Temple worship as a continuing reminder to the faithful remnant (only the faithful remnant continued to frequent and participate in Temple worship).

The emphasis of Habakkuk chapter three is the redemptive power of God.

When a believer thinks redemptively, his mind escapes the temporal existence and transcends this present world with all its trials and difficulties.  This psalm leads the believer outside of this world in his thinking.  When the faithful remnant learns to think redemptively, they learn to praise God for their salvation and for the relationship they have with Him.  Therefore, the psalm becomes a psalm of praise even while facing pending calamity.  Habakkuk chapter three is the present conditions of a society under God’s chastising judgment written on the backdrop of their past failures regarding preserving the Mosaic Covenant (cause and effect).

Habakkuk 3:1 tells us this is a musical prayer of faith and trust.

When the foundations of a society seem to be crumbling and falling away at your feet, people need faith in something or Someone beyond themselves.  The purpose of God’s chastisement is to bring the thoughts of believers back to the holiness and righteousness of God in repentance.  God wants faithful people to look to Him, to know Him, and return to following His commands.  We have no control over the unfaithful, but we can deal with our own thoughts. 

Therefore, as God’s faithful remnant, true Christians should learn to praise God as He destroys the sources of corruption in a corrupt society.  Picking up the pieces of broken lives is an opportunity that never would have existed in a society pre-occupied with chasing an elusive dream of happiness in materialism and hedonism.  The character of this song of prayer in Habakkuk chapter three is more than a petition to God.  It includes many elements of prayer such as praise, thanksgiving, remembrance, repentance, and adoration.  The very idea of petitioning God for mercy while in the midst of His wrath upon the nation of Israel reflects these attitudes that should be part of the prayers of the faithful in connection to national judgment.

Great prayers warriors are those who have learned to frequently make statements of faith reminding themselves of what God has done in the past.  They learn to increase their faith by basing their faith on the history of God’s past dealings with His children and the world.  Rehearsing what God has done causes to reflect upon what God can do and might do. 

We live in a culture much like Habakkuk’s and under similar circumstances.  Many faithful Christians are asking questions similar to those of Habakkuk.  Why does God allow some societal practices to go unjudged?  How can God tolerate the continuing murder of millions of innocent babies each year?  How can God allow a society that endorses and promotes perversions like homosexuality to continue?  How can God allow the blasphemy and heresy continually being preached by apostates?  Why doesn’t God revive His Church?

There is one essential truth necessary to establishing a national and world view that is the answer to all of these questions: God must always purge before He blesses.

The attitudes of prayer essential to the purging of sin from a society

First, the believing and faithful remnant must humble themselves before God (Habakkuk 3:2).  This is the humble recognition that a society deserves what it is about to receive at the hands of God and accepts what God is going to do knowing you are a part of that society.  In this attitude of prayer, there is no petition to God that He reverse His judgment, but rather there is a recognition that God is absolutely just and that the judgment is deserved and necessary before revival can take place.  We see this principle in Leviticus twenty-six.  As we read this text, we must remember that this statement is connected to the covenant promises of God to national Israel and not specifically to any other nation.  Therefore, we have no certainty that these conditions are applicable to any other nation.  However, the underlying principles are sound doctrine.

“40 If they {the present generation of the children of Israel under God’s chastisement} shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; 41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them {chastisement}, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: 42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land {promises}. 43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. 44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. 45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD. 46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses” (Leviticus 26:40-46).

Leviticus 26:41 gives three requisites before God would return blessings to the nation of Israel.  They must:

1. Repent
2. Humble themselves by recognizing they will get what they deserve
3. Accept whatever punishment God determines necessary 

These three things are essential attitudes of prayer in that they take our eyes off of the problem and from ourselves and puts our focus upon the justice of God necessary to set things in order.  When this takes place, we return our minds to focus upon the realm of spiritual truth and the holiness and righteousness of God.  Without this humbling of ourselves before God, we continue to see sociological problems only in relation to ourselves.  In so doing, we tend to put ourselves on a pedestal of rightness with God separating ourselves from responsibility for the existing conditions of our society.

The reality is that this society is in the condition it is in because Christians have failed to fulfill the Great Commission.  Christians have become apathetic towards the lost and contemptuous towards sinners.  Our society is not in the condition it is in because Christians have failed in their responsibilities of citizens of this nation, but because they have failed in their responsibilities as citizens of Heaven and servants of the living God.

Abortion is not the issue in the fall of our society.  Neither is pornography, homosexuality, divorce, or any one of a hundred other things on which people place blame.  These are all just symptoms of a deeper corruption of men’s minds and hearts.  The fall of our society is due to the fact we are a nation that has forgotten the God of the Bible.

“11 Can the rush {bulrush or papyrus} grow up without mire {swamp}? can the flag {marsh grass} grow without water? 12 Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. 13 So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish: 14 Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider’s web. 15 He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure” (Job 8:11-15).

The point of Job 8:11 is that the faithful require immersion in spiritual truth in order to even survive spiritually.  Without large quantities of spiritual nourishment, even the greatest of believers will soon wither away.  We need to be immersed in the Word of God lest we forget the part God plays in our daily lives and spiritual growth.  If we do not immerse ourselves in the Word of God in order to know the God of the Word, we will be relegated to similarities of the spider that is dependent upon snaring an occasional careless morsel in his web (Job 8:14). 
         
If we want to return this nation to a place of blessing, there is only one way to do that.  We must return people to knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ. Regardless of what happens to our society, our responsibility remains the same.  We must bring people to salvation and disciple them to be followers of Jesus Christ.  If we are not doing that, we are part of the problem not part of the solution.
         
As Christians, we watch almost helplessly as our nation moves further and further away from the foundations upon which it was built. We think if only we could somehow stop abortion, or make homosexuality illegal, God would return His blessing on our nation.  These things are but symptoms of the dearth of spirituality and power with God.  Christians have lost their influence because they have lost their peculiarity. 
         
Take a dirty, filthy bum off the street.  Wash him up spotlessly clean.  Get him a haircut and a shave.  Buy him a new suit, a new shirt, new shoes, new socks and underwear.  You can even get him a good job.  If his inner problems are not corrected, what will you have again in 30 days?  That is right, you will have the same dirty, filthy bum.  He will have traded his new suit for a bottle of cheap wine or a hit of crack cocaine.  There is only one way to change this type of person.  You must introduce him to Jesus Christ.  When he gets saved, God will change his heart.  When he gets a new heart, he will want a new head.  He will begin to study God’s Word and get his life cleaned up by the “washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Once God has the heart and the head, the body will follow.   

The first step to the restoration of a nation is when God’s faithful remnant humble themselves before the Lord and begin to fulfill their responsibilities to Him. Even though a nation may never turn to God, the faithful remnant’s responsibility is to be right with God under any and all circumstances of life, even immoral and amoral governments.  Revival always begins with the faithful. The first essential element for that revival is humility before the Lord.

“12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:12-15).

The second essential element for revival is a reverential fear of the Lord (Habakkuk 3:2). “O Lord, I have heard thy speech and was afraid.”  The word “afraid” is translated from the Hebrew word yare' {yaw-ray'}, which means to revere, to stand in awe of, to inspire reverence or godly fear.  It does not mean that Habakkuk was afraid about what was going to happen to his nation.

Habakkuk was in reverential awe of God and His ways.  This is the natural result when anyone fully realizes the awesome power and holiness of God.  When a believer comes to finally realize the power of God, that realization will completely change his outlook on life.  Even more than that, it will completely change his outlook on prayer.
         
God has not changed from the Old to the New Testament!  Hebrews 12:25-29 emphasizes the consistency of God throughout Scripture.  An essential element of faith, and therefore an essential element of prayer, is the fact that God is consistent and unchanging.  God is a constant in the universe where the corruption of sin seeks to distort every truth in every imaginable manner.  The Word of God constantly calls those who have been led astray back to the attribute of God’s constancy.   

“25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:25-29).  

The very concept of God’s chastisement upon unfaithful believers, or His judgment upon the Antichristism of a Christ rejecting world, seems to be a concept foreign to most people these days.  Unbelievers hate the very idea of a God that hates sin and who judges sinners.  However, these facts are highly resisted by many in the circles of evangelism as well.  Most seem to have lost the Biblical doctrine that humanity exists within the longsuffering grace of God.  If it were not for God’s longsuffering grace humanity would have been consumed by His judgment long ago. 

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

We can only understand how the world will so easy welcome the Antichrist when we understand that the majority of the humanity is already anti-Christ.  They are just waiting for a leader who will lead them to conquer the world and form an anti-Christ one world governance.  The natural cause and effect of theological Liberalism is rejection of Biblical absolutes and the complete opposition of all that is holy and righteous in the world because of faith in God’s Word. 

Another essential of the prayer of faith is the faith-ability to see the power of God in respect to the impossibility of our problems.  Faith sees worldly problems in the light of God omnipotent presence.  When the problems of the world and the problems of our lives are compared to God’s power, these problems are brought into a spiritual perspective.

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)

Before God will do what we ask, we must ask.  Petition is another essential element of prayer.  Do you think there was ever something that was not done simply because you did not ask for it to be done?  Petition is more than telling God what you want.  Petition is joining your will with God’s will.  Petition is joining your wants with God’s wants in a particular matter of need.  This is what it means to pray “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

Notice Habakkuk does not ask for deliverance from the pending judgment.  He does not ask that Jerusalem and the Temple be spared from the pending devastation of God’s chastisement. Why?  Habakkuk understood things from God’s perspective.  Because of that, Habakkuk understood that the coming judgment was inevitable, well deserved, and necessary for Israel to return to the Lord.  Therefore, Habakkuk does not pray for God to change His plan.

There is a similar example in the book of Acts 4:23-31 after Peter addressed the Sanhedrin and was forbidden to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ under the threat of public scourging and possible execution.  Notice the Apostles did not pray that the trial or difficulty be removed.  They prayed for boldness in the difficulty.

“23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:23-31)

The person of faith as a prayer warrior is not primarily concerned with his own physical well-being.  His burden is to see God’s cause fulfilled.  His burden is to see God’s purpose accomplished.  His burden is to see God’s work done so that God’s plans for Israel and the world can be realized.

When Habakkuk prays “revive they work,” we know revival was a central concern of Habakkuk because he knew revival is always a central concern of God.  Christians do not pray for revival because they are afraid of the methods God might employ to bring it about.  Christians do not pray for revival because they are unwilling to make the personal sacrifices necessary to see it take place.  Christians are the very people who are the greatest hindrance to revival because they pray that God will stop what He is doing because it is bringing them some discomfort.  When they do so, they are praying against God.

The first concern of a faithful believer should not be that he is protected and pampered, but that the cause of Christ goes forward regardless of what it might cost him personally.  What is the chief concern of Christians facing pending judgment such as that of the book of Habakkuk?  Their chief concern is usually if the conditions of sin and degradation continue in a society, God will judge that society and since they are part of it, they will lose their freedoms, wealth, and the comforts they enjoy.  The reality is it is those selfish concerns coupled with our indifference to the holiness of God that has brought our society to where it is in the first place.
         
The primary meaning of the Hebrew word chayah (khaw-yaw'), translated “revive” is to preserve.  Revival is like a person with a piece of food stuck in their throat and are dying.  The only way to revive them is to first remove the obstructive so they can breathe freely again.  There must be a purging before there can be revival.  Most Christians are unwilling to pay the price purging might cost them.
         
What price are you willing to pay to see God’s purpose accomplished?  What personal sacrifice are you willing to make?  Are you willing to join yourself with the plan of God regardless of what that plan might cost you personally?
         
Our nation will be judged of God.  His blessing is being removed.  There will be Christians who will lose their businesses and jobs.  Pain and suffering may become a part of the Christian life in a way not seen in this nation for hundreds of years.
         
Or, in any twinkling of your eye, you might find yourself removed from this world and translated into the Kingdom of heaven at the rapture of the Church.  In the moment of your translation, will there be a regret that you never got around to doing that something you promised to God? Will there be a moment of regret for that person with which you were always going to share your faith in Christ, but never could seem to find the time?
         
Time is all you have that matters.  When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time will be no more, what will you have accomplished that will last for eternity or share eternity with you?  When the things of this world are being consumed at the final day of the consuming fire of God’s wrath, what will you have rescued from the flames?

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 18, 2016

God’s Governments



God’s Governments

Human Government is the third Dispensation that began with Noah after the Great Flood.  From the beginning of the Dispensation of Human Government, human government has evolved and corrupted itself and more so with every generation.  Much of this corruption has been through various levels of influence in the development of paganism and idolatry.  The foundation of Human Government is found in Genesis 9:1-6 in the Noahic Covenant.  There are a number of aspects of the Dispensation of Human Government and the Noahic Covenant that continue into all later Dispensations and covenants.  There are a number of things that are addressed in the Noahic Covenant that did not exist in previous Dispensations.  All the changes defined in the Noahic Covenant will continue until the Kingdom Age where Human Government will cease and a pure Theocratic Government will begin, which will be administrated by glorified believers from the Church Age directly under the authority of the reigning King Jesus.

“1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life {a soul} thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 7And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein” (Genesis 9:1-7).

The emphasis of Human Government is that there are numerous levels of government within and under God’s sovereign rule.  Each level is ordained, or ordered, by God for specific purposes.  Every level of human government is ultimately accountable to God.  Therefore, obedience to God’s Word ALWAYS carries the ultimate authority over all other levels of government.  There is an inner spiritual governance of God over the human body, soul, and spirit that is always our first and primary level of government.  All other forms of government are various levels of external and physical government.  Paul addresses all these different kinds and levels of human government in the first verse of Romans chapter thirteen.  Paul then expands upon the issue of human accountability to these various levels of these numerous kinds of human government throughout Romans chapter thirteen. 

“1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake” (Romans 13:1-5).

Romans 13:1 establishes various levels of jurisdiction directly under God’s supreme jurisdiction, which transposes into various levels of adjudication.  Adjudication means the righteous enforcement and execution of the penalties of broken laws. Adjudication refers to the whole judicial process regarding criminal and civil actions against people.  Adjudication is defined in detail in the Mosaic Law.  However, the extreme example of this is the never ending and expanding Case Law system in most governments governed by the Rule of Law, which opposed the divine right of Kings to rule sovereignly (meaning absolute civil and judicial authority). 

The primary sovereignty over all governments is stated in Acts 5:29.  The Apostles had just been commanded by the Jewish Sanhedrin to no longer teach in Jesus’ Name.  The Sanhedrin was the highest court under Jewish authority in Israel.  The Apostles refused the order of the Sanhedrin because they were under the direct order of Jesus to teach in His Name.  God’s commands overrule the commands of men regardless of how high their positions in human governments. 

“26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:26-28).

The governments to which Romans 13:1 refer by the words, “Let every soul be subject {be subordinate or under obedience} unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God,” are civil governments.  Whenever the laws of civil governments do not contradict God’s commands, believers are commanded to be in subordination to those civil governments.  The first priority of believers is to know God’s commands so that they be discerning regarding the priorities of the moral responsibilities.  Civil disobedience is appropriate when civil government laws contradict God’s commandments and moral code of ethics. 

Civil government is external government, which rules only over the body.  God’s sovereign government is spiritual government and has superior rule in that it rules over the heart and the mind.  God commands the believer to bring his thought life and emotions under the control of the Spirit under the sovereignty of God in II Corinthians 10:3-6.  The thought life and the heart life are intended to control and dominate the body.

“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)?

The most difficult of all governance is self-governance.  Governing the desires of the heart and guarding against the fantasies that fill the mind are constant battlefronts against carnality.  This warfare takes place inside our bodies.  Most, if not all disobedience, originates in our minds (thought life) and in our hearts (our emotional life).  Keeping the carnality of our hearts and minds in abeyance is difficult because the fallen nature is alienated against God and rebels against being subject to God.  The fallen character of humanity is by nature anarchistic and rebellious against the will of God, or any government for that matter.  Anarchism is the Devil’s ultimate goal because through Anarchism he will always rule through evil.  Anarchism always begins in the heart and is the natural outcome of rebellion against God.  In every society governed by the rule of moral Law, Anarchists will fill the prisons until they overwhelm the culture and dominate it. 

“5 Now the end {the ultimate point aimed at or the goal/purpose} of the commandment {referring to a biblical mandate} is charity {sacrificial benevolence} out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (I Timothy 1:5-11).

Until the believer learns to govern the heart and the mind by the Word of God and the empowering of the indwelling Spirit of God, he will never be successful in being “subject to the higher powers” (Romans 13:1) ordained by God in the numerous levels of civil governments under which he lives.  There are numerous levels of subjection to government defined in the Word of God.  Ephesians chapter five is a text that gives numerous levels of government to which all believers are responsible. It is critically important to see that every level of human government comes with God ordained commandments of human responsibilities. 

1. The ultimate example of subjection and submission to the governance of the will of God is the sacrificial love exhibited by Christ.

“1 Be {present imperative} ye therefore followers {imitators} of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in {sacrificial} love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

2. Then, the believer is commanded to be in submission “one to another in the fear of God” within the context of the local church.  The idea is that of servanthood to one another as opposed to lordship.  Each of the following areas of submission, or subjection, requires the filling of the Spirit, which requires volitional yielding, or submission, to the will of God in the Person of the indwelling Spirit. 

“18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:18-21).

3. The next level of submission is within the home as wives are commanded to be in submission “unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).  This submission again is under the sovereignty of God.  Therefore, the wife need only be in submission to her husband when her husband’s decisions are in alignment with the Word of God.  She need not submit to him in any form of ungodliness.

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Ephesians 5:22-24).

4. Perhaps the greatest moral responsibility given to anyone is given to the husband in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  The example is sacrificial love that is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in giving his life for his wife.  The details of this extreme sacrificial love anchors its purpose to what is said in Ephesians 5:26-33 regarding the practical sanctification of the husband’s wife.  The example of Christ to the husband is that the husband should love his wife in detailed consideration of her holiness before God.  It is the primary occupation of the husband to love his wife in that he is to “nourisheth and cherisheth” his wife’s spiritual growth in holiness before the Lord. 

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).

5. The next level in God’s chain of command of human government is given to children regarding their relationship to their parents.  This command is found in Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”  We notice in Ephesians 6:4 that fathers are warned against abusing their authority over their children.  Angry outbursts are a contradiction against gentleness of nurturing and cherishing love that is to exemplify the husband’s/father’s life. 

“1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour {to give value or reverence; respect} thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

6. The last level of human government for believers is given to servants/employees in relationship to their masters/employers in Ephesians 6:5-9.  There are key phrases that detail culpable moral responsibilities that are seldom considered by believers as they do their jobs each day.  There is also a similar warning to believing “masters” in Ephesians 6:9 as was given to “fathers” in Ephesians 6:4. “Masters” who abuse their “servants” will answer to God for that abuse and mistreatment. 

“5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:5-9).

Romans 13:6-14 detail the believer’s responsibility to civil governments.  Some of these civil governments may not be sympathetic to the beliefs and moral values of Christians.  Regardless of what type or form of civil government under which believers might live, they must try to live in “peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14). 

Civil government defines a culture by the laws the government enacts and enforces.  In most civil governments, laws governing morals have dissolved away into obscurity.  Regardless of how immoral a culture becomes, the believer is commanded to obey the laws that do not contradict God’s commands.  Even though the civil government may not restrict human behavior by establishing laws against that behavior, God’s laws still govern the believer (Romans 13:9-10).  These commandments are individualized by the repeated use of the word “thou” in Romans 13:9 even if civil governments do not outlaw these immoral behaviors.

“6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:6-10).

Living within a culture where just about everything and everyone contradicts the principle of holiness and godliness can be very difficult.  However, that is the cultural and social construct of just about every generation of Christianity since the beginning of the Age of Grace.  The “perfection of the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12) is to spiritually equip believers to function within ungodly cultures so that these cultures can be evangelized and souls can be harvested out of them.  Local churches are grown by winning the souls people who are living upon the dung hills of social corruption. 

The mission of local churches and individual Christians is not Kingdom Constructionism (Theonomy).  The mission of every local church is evangelism centered on making followers of Jesus (discipleship) intent upon creating local churches wherever a nucleus of believers can be formed.  These local churches are intended to be godly countercultures within the corrupt cultures usually formed by corrupt civil governments.  The darker a culture becomes by its own corruptions the brighter will shine the light of God’s children as these live in holiness within the counter cultures created by sound local churches.  This exposes the oxymoron of local churches trying to become like the world to win the world.  Here is where the warning of Christ aptly applies.  “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:23)!

As Romans 13:6 says, the purpose of taxes is for government to enforce laws that remove dangerous people from society; “for he beareth not the sword in vain.”  God has ordained civil government to execute capital punishment against those that commit capital crimes.  Capital crimes are crimes deserving a death sentence under the Law of God.  Such crimes were murder, kidnapping, smiting one of your parents, giving a purposeful false witness in a capital crime, rape, incest, adultery/fornication, child molestation, homosexuality, and bestiality to name a few.  Civil governments were ordained of God to put to death those found guilty of such crimes against their fellow man.  Corrupt governments become unjust and refuse to carry out the execution of such offenses against God or to simply not enforce such laws if they exist.  The degree by which this corruption of civil government exists is the degree by which the whole culture will be corrupted. 

The grave difficulty within this growing scenario of the corruption of civil governments is the corruption of local churches in what those local churches begin to accept.  This is where Romans 13:9-14 intercedes.  Each use of the word “thou” defines aspects of moral government that should not be allowed within the lives of individual Christians, within the Christian home, or within the local church.  Although the individual, the Christian home, and the local church do not have authority to execute people for these crimes, they have the responsibility to seek justice in these matters from civil government.  The local church has the moral responsibility to excommunicate unrepentant members guilty of any issue of moral turpitude. 

“11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time {ho’-rah; an hour or short amount of time left} to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11-14).

The emphasis of the statement “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” in Romans 13:11 refers to the “day is at hand” of the believer’s appearance before the Judgment Seat of Christ at the believer’s resurrection/glorification.  Each day of the Church Age brings us one day closer to that “day.”  Romans 13:11 is both a reminder and a warning.  The Christian lives each day within the context of the imminency (any moment) of our Lord’s coming.  This should be a sobering thought that governs all that we do each moment of each day of this life in that any moment might be our last moment on this earth. 
         
One of the most difficult things for busy people to do is to wait.  Perhaps that is why they call people going to the doctor and waiting in the waiting rooms patients.  There is a danger when we wait for a long time.  We get bored and we begin to get weary.  Then we fall asleep.  This scenario is not to be part of the Christian’s life as he waits upon the Lord’s return.  This is very similar to what Paul says to believers in the church as Thessalonica in I Thessalonians chapter five. 

“1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness {of ignorance}, that that day {second coming of Jesus} should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep {the sleep of ignorance}, as do others; but let us watch and be sober {the responsibility of knowledge}. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (I Thessalonians 5:1-10).
         
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12) has a twofold application.  The darkness of human corruption due to the fall of humanity into sin is far along and about to come to an end.  The “day” of the Lord is very near.  The comparison is the end of the night to the dawning of the Son of God in the second coming of Jesus.  The words “cast off the works of darkness” and “put on the armament of light” means to be prepared for the transition from living within the curse of the corruption of human government to living in the blessing of glorification under the divine theocratic rule of King Jesus.  The believer, although still living in the Church Age, is commanded to “walk honestly, as in the day” (Romans 10:13).  The point being to live as if we are already in the Kingdom Age where King Jesus and the faithful believer/priests of the Church Age shall “rule with a rod of iron.” 
         
The “armour of light” in Romans 13:12 is the same as “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” in Romans 13:14.  To “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” is to be dressed by the supernatural enabling grace of God with the character and passion of Jesus Christ defined elsewhere as the “fruit of the Spirit.”  Only through this clothing of grace can the believer be light in the midst of darkness.  It is this grace that protects the believer from the pressures of the world to conform to its ever growing aberrations of spiritual corruption.  The believer that does not understand how the Devil works will not be the person who will “make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 10:14).  The person who does not understand the absolute necessity of the enabling grace of God to overcome the pressures of the world will very gradually, but progressively, be conformed to the world and the “works of darkness.” 

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 11, 2016

Is Seduction an Appropriate Evangelical Methodology?



Is Seduction an Appropriate Evangelical Methodology?

Evangelicalism divides itself more each year as various streams and methodologies are constantly evolving into extremes of bizarre mutations of biblical Christianity.  These extreme mutations are often referred to as the Worship Wars or Music Wars.  These mutations of true Christianity present themselves as spiritual warfare for the souls of men.  This pseudo-spiritual warfare is nothing but a worldly carnival trying to attract worldly people to come to some bizarre corruption of Church by using worldly entertainment.  The common thread mantra for all of this is to be as little like traditional worship as possible. 
         
Those doing this are false teachers trying to build themselves personal empires that are presented to their communities as mega ministries.  These men have created spiritual monstrosities built upon the crumbling foundations of the latest social crazes.  We must not forget that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word craze as to make insane or as if insane.  What is evolving in the Worship Wars is spiritual insanity
         
The term Worship Wars is used to describe the arguments being used by people using these carnal methodologies to grow the numbers of people attending their church services.  These arguments are unscriptural and rational Pragmatism (“look at the results we are getting”) used to justify the obvious insane and carnal methodologies.  Building a Church of perfected saints (Ephesians 4:12) cannot possibly be compared to just gathering a crowd of unregenerate people in order to give them some mutation of the Gospel and some form of watered down biblical mass counseling disguised as preaching. 

It is easy to be critical of all this nonsense.  However, it is also painful to watch this fiasco because the Word of God clearly exposes all of this as a farce and sham of the real thing.  It is especially painful if you sincerely love people and want them to get the real help they need to escape the snares of the devil and the clutches of entrapment by the world.  It is even more painful when we understand that these false teachers are preying on individuals who have seen the spiritual deadness in the liturgical churches and want no more of that. 

Instead of providing these people with the real thing, they manufacture some euphoric religious experience by using contemporary Southern Gospel and Christian Rock music all developed by the entertainment industry and masquerading itself as Christian.  Church platforms have become low quality and amateurish copies of the American Idol TV show where worldly music and worldly singing is Christianized.  The fiasco lays in the fact that these methodologies cannot be Christianized.  This is Christianity being Paganized through the incorporation of Hedonism (“lovers of pleasure,” II Timothy 3:4).  The term “lovers of pleasure” is very descriptive of this mutation of Christian worship from its intended edification that raises God-consciousness in people to a false worship that just entertains and helps people feel good about themselves because they have just attended Church. 

People leave these carnivals having a semblance of a religious experience because they have been told that what they just experienced was religious.  They have just been seduced! This is not evangelism.  This is seduction using worldly enticements.
         
In II Timothy 3:13, Paul says that “in the last days,” “. . . evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”  This will happen when religious leaders (we dare not call them pastors) will try to create a religious movement that will be tailored to fit the kind of people Paul describes in II Timothy 3:1-9.  When the world is desperate for the real thing, we can be sure Satan will raise up many of those he has corrupted to provide counterfeits of the real thing.  

“1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was” (II Timothy 3:1-9).

The word “perilous” in II Timothy 3:1 is from the Greek word chalepos (khal-ep-os’).  This word is a derivative of the Greek word chalao (khal-ah’-o), which means to lower or to let down.  The meaning of Greek word chalepos (khal-ep-os’) translated “perilous” is to reduce the strength thereby creating a very dangerous situation.  It would be similar to having men work underneath a heavy platform with inadequate supports.  These “perilous times shall come” in the “last days” just before the second coming of Jesus and the catching away of His true Church.  The “perilous times shall come” of the “last days” will be created by the dominant carnal characteristics of people of the world listed in II Timothy 3:1-9.  The peril under which they live is the pending judgment of God. 

The predominant characteristic of this carnal culture is communicated by the words “men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).  When it comes to the so called Worship Wars and what is acceptable, this phrase translates into what I like or what I want.  When people are asked about the appropriateness of certain music styles for worship, they often reply with, I like it.  This phrase really translates into – I do not care what you think of this music style.  I like it and that is all that is important to me.  Most people do not care enough to ask the questions – Does God like it? 

Two other important questions must be asked.  Is this music common and worldly? Or, is this music distinctively sacred and spiritual?  When the question, what do I like? becomes the qualifying decision for worship music, “perilous times” will follow shortly thereafter!  We have arrived at a point of transition in Christianity.  Almost every local church in the world today has someone asking this inappropriate, defining and deciding question about what worship music they will use -What do I like?   
         
Another qualifying statement is found in II Timothy 3:5 – “having a form of godliness.”  The word “form” is from the Greek word morphosis (mor’-fo-sis).  The word means a semblance in appearance.  The point is the semblance is a fa├žade and pretense.  The semblance looks like “godliness” but it is not “godliness.”  It is counterfeit, a farce, and artificial.  “

Godliness” cannot be manufactured.  “Godliness” is pure holiness that is completely separated from worldliness.  Holiness and worldliness are antithetical terms.  When someone makes a decision about what worship music to used based mostly upon I like it, he will never take into consideration if God likes it.  The person that loves the things of the world will love the music of this world.  Yet God commands believers against such an oxymoron in worship that incorporates worldly music into worship under the guise of “godliness.”

“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).

Can you imagine the angels of Heaven’s choir singing any of the common contemporary rock worship songs being used these days?  Do you see God setting upon His throne rocking out to this music as the angels of the Throne cry out, “holy, holy, holy Lord God almighty” (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8)? 
         
Worship context defines what will be become part of worship practices. 

If worship context is primarily intent upon what is attractive to God, that context will predominantly be defined by holiness, sacrosanctity, and the absence of all things worldly.  If worship context is primarily intent upon gathering/attracting a crowd of unregenerate people, who are by their very nature worldly, the context will predominantly be intent upon providing things that are attractive to them. 

The false idea that worship is primarily intent upon gathering/attracting a crowd of unregenerate people will also be governed by the necessary absence of anything that might be unattractive or offensive to these unregenerate people.  In this mindset, certain practices or subjects must be avoided lest the carnal be offended by such things.  However, the absence of certain talking points is counterproductive to a genuine conviction of sin that will produce repentance and conversion of the heart.  Therefore, this superficial context fails to produce a soil that is spiritually fertile enough to be able to generate life because the Spirit of God does not work in a vacuum void of spiritual truths necessary to understanding and conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  Since a genuine salvation decision must begin with a person’s understanding of his condemnation before God, there must be an explanation of what sin is and what defines various aspects of unbelief.  Most of what is being passed off as Ecumenical Evangelicalism today propagates a watered-down substitution for the Gospel without power to save anyone (Romans 1:16). 
         
Since the second epistle to Timothy is a pastoral epistle. Therefore, we must understand that the context addresses people coming into the church in “the last days.”  II Timothy 3:1-10 describes the characteristics of the culture of “the last days.”  The characteristics of the culture are to be corrected by the Church.  These characteristics are not to be catered to by the Church.  The fact that Paul refers to these people as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5) means that the characteristics of this culture has invaded and become dominant in the local churches of the “last days.”  
         
Everything described in II Timothy 3:1-9 is a contradiction against biblical Christianity.  The purpose of the statement is to confront these characteristics with the truths of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps the failure to confront these corrupted characteristics in a culture and in the Church is why they have development to become so dominant in society.  Hedonism (the worship of pleasure) and the need for the instant gratification of desires has led this generation to be the most self-indulged generation since that generation which preceded the fall of the Roman Empire where debauchery became the norm.  Perhaps this is the very reason the Roman culture hated Christians seeking to annihilate them.  Christians would not minimize the definition of sin or talk around wickedness in order to be accepted by their culture.  However, people do not like to have their sins pointed out to them!

“14 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philips wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly” (Mark 6:14-20).

We are rapidly moving into a similar period of history for true Christians.  It has been quite obvious for some time that the Gay/Lesbian agenda has very little to do with their rights to marry one another.  Their hidden agenda has always been to criminalize Bible believing Christianity and annihilate true Christians.  The solution to the corrupted characters of humanity described in II Timothy 3:1-9 will never be addressed by the new religions of humanistic psychiatry and their new priesthood of psychiatrists whose New Absolutism looks upon the Bible with disgust and disdain. 

True Christians believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible as God’s holy Word and the dictates of His will for humanity.  However, there are many in the wide chasm of corruption known by various categories of Evangelicalism who give lip service to the inspiration of the Bible.  The reason it is mere lip service is because they do not see the preaching/teaching of “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), beginning with the Gospel and salvation, as the solution to the abnormalities listed in II Timothy 3:1-9. 
         
Historically, there have been three governing principles regarding what should be allowed as worship in the Church, by which is meant collective local churches.

1. The Inventive Principle, which allows for the episcopal hierarchy of the Church (Biblically there is no such thing) to evolve, develop, and invent various worship practices, styles, or use items such as statues, pictures, or building structures to aid in worship.
2. The Normative Principle, which is simply an extension of a weak position on Sola Scriptura – whatever the Bible does not disallow, we allow.  Simply stated, what is not forbidden is permitted.  Therefore, if the Bible is silent on certain practices, these practices should be permitted.  This is the argument used to justify various music styles in worship music.
3. The Regulative Principle, which is a much stricter view of Sola Scriptura – what is not commanded is forbidden.  In other words, if the Bible does not give clear instructions on something, do not do it. 

The dogma of the Regulative Principle for worship is to eliminate the anything goes argument simply because the Bible may be silent on something.  Chapter I of the 1689 London Baptist Confession[1], although a Reformed Baptist Confession, makes two clear statements regarding the Regulative Principle of which most Bible believers would affirm and agree.

“Paragraph 1: The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diversified manners to reveal Himself, and to declare (that) His will unto His church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now completed. (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29,31; Eph. 2:20; Rom. 1:19-21, 2:14, 15; Psalm 19:1-3; Heb. 1:1; Prov. 22:19-21; Rom. 15:4; 2 Pet. 1:19, 20)”

“Paragraph 6: The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.  Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Gal. 1:8, 9; John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9-12; 1 Cor. 11:13,14; 1 Cor. 14:26, 40)”

The “whole counsel of God” is essentially the Regulative Principle for preaching and worship.  Without the people knowing the “whole counsel of God,” it would be very easy to manipulate their ignorance into worship practices abhorrent to God.  The cultural foundations for what is described in II Timothy 3:1-9 began to move away from the Regulative Principle within Evangelical Christianity in 1965.  This corruption of the Regulative Principle has come to be known as Positivism.  Positivism is a radical philosophy integrating rationalistic psychology into the presentation of Bible truth. 

The approach of Positivism understands that people psychologically resist negative statements and even statements that they view as being critical.  In other words, people tend to avoid discussions that make them uncomfortable.  Therefore, this psychological approach to Church Growth philosophies taught preachers to simply avoid or deemphasize any Scriptures or teaching that might carry a negative or critical connotation.  It was not long before people were mentally (psychologically) conditioned to view any negative comments or critical teaching as offensive and judgmental.  As a result of this psychological conditioning, people immediately closed their spirits to anything that was being said in that their mindset categorized that preacher as a radical who did not deserve to be heard or considered.  This is from where the word preachy evolved. 
         
As we apply the Regulative Principle, the first question that we must ask ourselves is if this psychological approach known as Positivism a justifiable approach to biblical evangelism and Church Growth methodologies?  Can we find a pattern for such an approach ANYWHERE in Scripture or any example of such a philosophy or practice by any of God’s ordained prophets, Apostles, or even the Lord Jesus Himself?  If we cannot find such a practice, it ought to be clear to anyone that it is not a biblical approach to the presentation of truth.  What is the Scriptural pattern for the pastor to follow in his teaching/preaching ministry?  We find a detailed explanation of this biblical pattern for teaching/preaching in Acts 20:26-31.

“26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:26-31).

In Acts 20:28, the first Pastoral responsibility is to “feed the church of God.” 

We notice in Acts 20:20, that Paul says, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you.”  Paul taught them “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We also see that Paul did not withhold truths that might be offensive or bring about conviction of sin and guilt of sin.  “26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” 
         
In most Bible believing, Bible preaching churches, we would take these three areas of teaching for granted.  We would expect a faithful pastor to teach people about turning from sin.  We would expect a faithful pastor to “declare” (preach and teach dogmatically) all that the Word of God says.  However, this is not true in progressive evangelical churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism. 

To be able to discern those who are practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism, a person must learn to listen for what they do not say.  That is a very difficult thing to do for those who do not have solid theological foundations already established (which is true of the vast majority of professing Christians).  Most Christians have never been discipled. 
         
Although churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism may preach against sin, they do so as a generality.  They often avoid preaching against specific sins such as adultery, fornication, worldliness, or alcohol use.  For those churches practicing the psychological manipulation of Positivism, those who do preach against specific sins and use a strict, literal interpretation of Scripture are usually labeled as Legalists. 
         
There is so much Political Correctness (neo-absolutes of Moral Relativism) in these types of churches that only those sins that are part of the social concern of that particular moment in history are mentioned.  This is true because they are more concerned about social relevancy (how society views them) than they are about how God views them.  This is due to their view of God as being predominantly loving and forgiving while deemphasizing the fact that God is also a God of wrath, justice, and holiness.  The practice of the psychological manipulation of Positivism reveals a much distorted view of God and His holiness. 

These types of churches do not want to appear preachy or judgmental They preach the unconditional love of God (which is true), but without the balanced teaching that God expects those who believe in Him to repent of all that His Word condemns and to begin to make radical changes in their lives that will reflect the image of Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

“13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).

In Acts 20:31, the Shepherd is instructed, in his third main responsibility, to “warn” the Lord’s sheep.

He is to warn about both false teachers and false teachings that will continue to arise periodically so as to keep his people from being led astray.  The word “warn” is from the Greek word noutheteo (noo-thet-eh'-o).  It means to fill the mind.  The idea is to confront and expose false doctrine so thoroughly that the sheep will flee from it.  There is not much warning going on when Ecumenicism becomes the defining factor for what is said or not said. 
         
How does this practice of the psychological manipulation of Positivism impact Christianity and how people think and receive truth?  People become so accustomed and conditioned to never having specific sins preached against that anytime they hear someone do so, they are repulsed by it and they condemn that preacher as judgmental.  Any proclamation of absolute truth regarding moral issues or doctrinal truth is immediately viewed as abstract and radical.  Most people have become so accustomed to attending churches where the preaching is soft on sin and so light on doctrine that when they do attend a church where someone preaches hard on sin and presents the “meat” of God’s Word, they almost choke to death on it.  They are so uncomfortable under the guilt of their own softness towards Christ and their own tolerance of sin that they flee from that kind of preaching intent upon never attending again. 
         
Secondly, people are so accustomed to the minimization of doctrine by the Pluralists and Ecumenicists that permeates and saturates most of evangelicalism today, that when they hear someone pointing out false doctrine, they are conditioned to condemn that kind of preaching as divisive, critical, and even cultic.  The person conditioned by the psychological manipulation of Positivism becomes closed minded and hardhearted to anything other than Positivism. 
         
The effectiveness of preaching, by which God has ordained to warn against false doctrine, false teachers, and satanic deception, has been compromised by the psychological manipulation of Positivism.  Positivism has proven itself to be one of the most effective tools of satanic deception in the twenty-first century.  Yet most people are almost completely unaware that they have been psychologically programmed by Positivism.  People under this type of preaching have been covertly deceived, enticed, and seduced. 

“10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 3:10-17).

According to II Timothy 3:10-11, Paul puts the persecutions of his own life forward to exemplify the sincerity and commitment necessary to confronting false doctrine and those that oppose right doctrine.  In II Timothy 3:12, Paul states that every person seeking to fight for “the faith” should expect similar persecution.  Jude says every believer must be willing to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). 
         
Corrupters of the truth will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13).  The point is that the cycle of corruption will never end while the curse remains.  Notice as well that corruption is ALWAYS connected to those who have been deceived.  The deceived become deceivers and the army of deception grows with every generation.  Those corrupted are described by the characteristics of II Timothy 3:1-9.
         
Paul’s solution to Timothy, his son in the faith, is simple: “. . . continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:14-15).  The simple solution to deception and false doctrine is to return to the Scriptures – the theological anchors for faith.  II Timothy 3:16-17 is God’s Regulative Principle. 

The words “inspiration of God” in II Timothy 3:16a are translated from one Greek word - theopneustos (theh-op’-nyoo-stos).  God breathed out ALL the Words of Scripture and God breathed spiritual life into ALL those Words.  Therefore, the very notion of minimalism regarding our understanding of God’s will from Scripture is ridiculous. 
         
II Timothy 3:16 tells us that God’s Regulative Principle is “profitable” for four purposes.  “Profitable” is from the Greek word ophelimos (o-fel’-ee-mos), which is a derivative of the Greek word ophello.  The meaning of ophello is to heap up or accumulate.  The accumulation makes the person possessing what is accumulated advantaged.  The meaning of ophelimos (o-fel’-ee-mos) is advantageous.  “Profitable” is an excellent translation. 

Profitable for doctrine
         
The simplest meaning of this statement is to heap up to one’s self the treasures of the knowledge of God’s will about how to live.  “Doctrine” is from the Greek didaskalia (did-as-kal-ee'-ah), which simply means instruction or teaching.  However, the higher meaning is the function or purpose of that teaching.  Since “all Scripture” is of divine origin, all teaching from of the Bible is of divine origin. 

Profitable for reproof
         
The simplest meaning of this statement is to heap up to one’s self the treasures of the knowledge of God’s Scriptural proofs for refuting error.  Christians must thoroughly know the Scriptures and what the Scriptures teach in order to recognize error or false doctrine.  The vast majority of the New Testament epistles are for the purpose of correcting false doctrines that had crept into local churches.  This is also true of Jesus’s seven epistles to the seven local churches in Revelation chapters two and three. 

Profitable for correction
         
The word “correction” is translated from the Greek word epanorthosis (ep-an-or’-tho-sis), which means to straighten up, rectify, or set in order.  The point is to take something that has gotten out of place and put it back in its proper place.  All believers are to heap up to their selves the treasures of the knowledge of God’s Scriptural truths in order to recognize when practices are out of order or distorted and give the necessary instruction to correct the fault or failure. 

Profitable for instruction in righteousness
         
The word “instruction” is from the Greek word paideia (pahee-di’-ah), which means to educate or train.  The intent is to train someone in the disciplines of what God defines as righteousness.  To discipline is to train someone to be disciplined in choices and practices that are righteous in the eyes of God.  The Greek word translated “righteousness” is dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo-nay), which actually means to be equitable.  The idea is a fully matured and holy character that is able to be fair/just in decisions “that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”  The point is that the Word of God should change our thoughts and actions in life.  This is why II Timothy 3:16-17 is referred to as the Regulative Principle.

[1] http://www.1689.com/confession.html#Ch.%201

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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.