Monday, November 7, 2016

Calling Jesus Lord

Calling Jesus Lord
Matthew chapter five through seven and Luke chapter six give us the message of Christ that defines what it means to be a Christian.  We can be confident that this message was preached by Jesus on numerous occasions as He traveled throughout Israel preaching and teaching.  This message defines the expectations of the New Covenant and how Jesus expected His disciples to live their lives after they were “born again” of the Spirit of God.  None of the statements in Luke 6:37-46 are conditions for salvation.  The statements define a lifestyle for those already saved.  According to Luke 6:40, clearly the text is addressed to those claiming to be “disciples,” or followers of the teachings of Jesus. 

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect {complete or spiritually mature} shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye {take care of your own corruptions first because duplicity will corrupt all your ministry attempts}, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. 43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. 46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:37-46)?

The ultimate test for anyone’s hypocrisy is to answer a simple question.  “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:45)?  The responsibilities that accompany confessing Jesus to be Lord (Jehovah incarnate in human form) are significant.  God has very high expectations for the way His “born again” children live their lives before Him and before the world.  Every “born again” child of God is responsible to represent the character and nature of God to the world.  Matthew chapters five through seven and Luke chapter six define exactly how believers are to represent God to the world.  This representation defines the priesthood of all New Covenant believers.  God expects the lives of His priests to excel in the ways defined by Luke 6:37-46.  Failure in these areas was the failure of the Levitical priesthood of the Mosaic Covenant and the reason God removed them from service.  This removal is the substance of most of the book of Malachi.

6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. 8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. 9 And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts. 10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. 12 But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. 13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD. 14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful {reverential fear} among the heathen” (Malachi 1:6-14).

          This is the sobering context of the warnings of Jesus to professing disciples in Luke 6:47-49 and Matthew 7:21-27.  The context of the warning to professing disciples (professed followers of the commands and teachings of Jesus) is the subtlety of self-deception regarding the reality of genuine faith/belief in God.  Clearly, the practices of Malachi 1:6-14 reveal religious practices that do not reflect a belief that the God to which those worship practices were directed cared about the way they lived their lives.  The pitiful nature of offering the sick, blind, and lame animals for sacrifice reflected a very low worth put upon God. 
However, more significant to the warning of Jesus is the fact that such “works” actually reflected unbelief on the part of those offering such sacrifices.  Why else would someone offer such pitiful excuses for worship to the Lord of Lords and King of kings?  Would someone dare bring such pitiful excuses for an offering to any earthly king?  Certainly, not!  The earthy king would immediately be offended and have such a person punished, if not killed for such a disgraceful and disrespectful offering.  Why then would someone think he could escape God’s judgment for such wickedness?  This reveals a false faith and a false profession.  This is to where Jesus leads such a person in Luke 6:47-49 and Matthew 7:21-27. 

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:47-49).

This warning is much greater than merely warning about wasting one’s life on riotous living and worldly philosophies.  The warning is given to those that profess to be “born again” followers of Jesus Christ, but who do not give due diligence to doing what Jesus said to do.  This is not speaking of some type of sinless perfection where a person always does exactly what Jesus taught.  We are all pieces of clay with great weaknesses and cracks.  Jesus wants to see genuine effort, honesty, and transparency as we seek to live the way Jesus taught us to live.  However, when our effort, honesty, and transparency is intended only to deceive other human onlookers while thinking we are something we are not, this is the worst kind of self-deception.  This kind of self-deception will take people to the fires and torments of Hell.  We must never forget that genuinely being part of the Gospel of the Kingdom involves believing and being in subjection to the all-knowing and all-seeing King of the Kingdom. 

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:21-27).

The double declaration “Lord, Lord” is the public declaration of a subject/servant regarding the sovereign authority and protection of his declared King/Lord.  The rights of citizenship are accompanied with the obligations of citizenship to live in obedience to the dictates and commands of the Sovereign.  To declare one’s self a subject of the King without living in subjection to the King is a contradiction to such declarations.  Even more so, when one willfully makes such a declaration with no real desire to be in obedient subjection, such a contradiction could be viewed as treasonous.  This latter scenario seems to be the substance of the warning of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-27.  The important difference between the warning in Luke chapter six and the warning in Matthew chapter seven is that Jesus connects such disobedience to a false profession of faith.  This is the important transition between Ephesians 2:1-3 into 2:4-9 into the statement of Ephesians 2:10.  If we truly believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnate, omniscient, omnipresent Sovereign Lord, this reality will radically change the way we live our lives before His eyes. 
It is critical to see the transition of expectations from Ephesians 2:1-3 into the next few verses in Ephesians 2:4-10, the word “but” in Ephesians 2:4 begins a juxtaposition (placing these two contrasting statements side-by-side for comparison).  All Church Age believer/priests have many new privileges and responsibilities that are often taken for granted.  This is especially true of Gentile believers who are ignorant of the obligations of the ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the Mosaic Covenant (the Law).  The contrasts between Ephesians 2:1-3 and Ephesians 2:4-10 are radical. 

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation {practice/manner of living} in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

1. We were “dead in trespasses and sins”
2. In the past, “ye walked according to the course of this world”
3. Ye were once led by “the prince of the power of the air” (Satan)
4. Our lifestyles were exceedingly corrupted by yielding to “the lusts of our flesh”
5. We were “the children of wrath”

          As we read Ephesians 2:4-10, we see the extreme contrast in the believers’ new position “in Christ Jesus” defining extreme new expectations of all believers. By my count, Paul uses this phrase “in Christ Jesus” at least forty times in his epistles, six times in the first three chapters of Ephesians alone.  The phrase is theologically significant as it reveals the believer’s security in his new eternal position in “the regeneration” (Matthew 19:28). 

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved {perfect, passive, participle};) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace {God’s provision} are {present tense} ye saved {perfect, passive, participle} through faith {man’s response}; and that not of yourselves: {salvation} it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created {aorist, passive, participle} in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10).

          This juxtaposition begins with the answer to man’s dilemma – “but God.”  Into this horrible and devastating spiritual darkness of humanity’s fallen state bursts forth the wondrous light of the mercy of God’s grace.  All of humanity is hopelessly lost in the condemnation by the righteousness of God.  It is an overwhelming and supernatural problem that requires an overwhelming and supernatural solution.  No person can save himself.  He is “condemned already” (John 3:18).  No one can work himself out of the depth of his fallen and condemned state.  There is no ritual that can cleanse him of the filth of his sin.  There is but one hope – the grace and mercy of God.
          We would think we would find mankind’s history riddle with accounts of men pleading with God to be saved.  Instead, we find God pleading with man to receive His gift of salvation.  This is true because we are blind to our condition before God.  We are blind to the holiness of God and the perfect righteousness of God.  Only God truly understands the totality and depth of our fall into sin and condemnation.  Only God understands what is necessary to our rescue from that fallen state.  God requires a supernatural solution.  Only God can supernaturally provide that solution.  Men foolishly think that they can somehow earn God’s favor and pardon.  Men foolishly think that some ritual or sacrifice can take away our sin and cleanse us before God.  That is what apostate Israel had come to believe by the time of the prophet Isaiah and just before their captivity.  God has always had but one way to reconciliation with Him – “by grace through faith.”  The one way to reconciliation with has NEVER been through religion!  This is, and always has been, Satan’s great corruption of “the faith.”

10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:10-20).

          The sacrifices and holy days of the Mosaic Covenant were given to be reminders to Israel of the means that gifted to them their promised redemption.  The thrust of God’s rebuke of the children of Israel was that they had gradually made the sacrifices and holy days merely mechanical.  They participated in their continual worship rituals without any real thought of Who God is, what those rituals meant, or any real worship being offered to God.  Worship is the primary offering of everything a believer does.  Worship declares our view of God’s worth in our redemption and our daily life in fellowship with Him.  The rituals of worship soon replaced true worship.  God hates this nonsense. 
This is what always happens when doctrine is corrupted.  When doctrine is corrupted, people proportionately begin to become the focus of worship rather than God.  True doctrine is always God-centered (Theocentric).  The focus is always upon the worth of God in our lives.  False doctrines corrupt worship making it man-centered (anthropocentric).  It is not that man is actually worshiped.  It is that man’s needs and wants become the focus of worship. 
True worship is right doctrine that leads men to the throne of grace to humble themselves at the feet of God.  True worship exposes man for what he is in the eyes of God.  True worship brings that sinner to see and understand all that God is and then offers that sinner God’s benevolent provisions of His grace.  Then, that sinner enters true worship being offered to God.  To receive what God’s benevolent grace offers without returning worship to God is to completely corrupt worship.  This was the corruption of the Mosaic Covenant by the priesthood that God addresses in Isaiah 1:10-20. 
          Isaiah 1:10-20 has similarities to the statement in Ephesians 2:1-10.  The ultimate point of the difference between Ephesians 2:1-3 and 2:4-10 is that God’s intent in everyone’s life (“whosoever”) is to restore them to full fellowship with Him.  This begins by offering the free gift of salvation to all “by grace through faith” and continues in their progressive sanctification “by grace through faith.”  In other words, God is universally benevolent (“the world,” John 3:16).  Salvation just opens the door of opportunity for that fellowship.  God wants to bless people.  God wants to walk with us and talk with us.  God wants us to pray and He wants to answer our prayers.  If we will repent of sin and “dead works,” understand and believe the Gospel, confess Jesus to be Jehovah incarnate, and call on the Name of Jesus to save us from Hell, God will indwell us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  He will then begin a supernatural work of progressive transfiguration in our lives from within.  We are literally God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”  Wow!  If you cannot find something for which to praise God and for which to worship Him in that truth, you probably better reinvestigate the reality of your understanding of what God has done for you.  God deserves to be worshiped.  Worship should be the preoccupation of every moment of the life of a believer.
God is “rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” Ephesians 2:4.  What a remarkable statement.  Consider the infinite depth of these few words.  See if you can find a place where the riches of God’s mercy and love do not touch your life.  You will never discover such a place, because God loves us “even when we were dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5).  God loves you “even when.” 
When we correctly understand the infinite depth and breadth of God’s love, then right doctrine will also generate loving obedience.  Learning Scripture to know, and then do, God’s will become a priority in those that want to truly worship God “in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  Salvation is intended to do much more than merely give us a fire escape from Hell.  Salvation is intended to open a door to fellowship with God that is immersed in our adoration, praise, and worship of God.  Every aspect of Bible study answers the question, is God worthy of worship?  If every aspect of your Bible study does not arrive at that conclusion, your understanding is corrupted.  That is the intent of the emphasis on the word “truth” in Christ’s teaching in John 4:24. None can truly worship God until he truly understands his condemnation, the Gospel, and the overwhelming wonders of the gift of salvation.  God’s love reached into the cesspool of humanity to rescue sinners drowning in the filth of their own degradation.  We will never grasp that analogy until we grasp God’s holiness and purity along with His hatred of impurity. 
People just cannot seem to grasp the concept of what it means to take up our cross and follow Him.  The point is that the Cross of Christ fills our lives.  We must let go of everything else before we can take up that Cross.  It is a complete/total commitment that empties our lives of everything worldly and then fills our lives with everything that is important. 
“Even when we were dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5a).  Most people view sin as a mere sickness or a deadly disease.  This view of sin is completely corrupt.  When sin entered humanity through Adam, it did not make Adam sick.  Sin slayed Adam.  The words “dead in sins” portray a vivid word picture.  The word “dead” is from the Greek word nekros (nek-ros’).  The root word for this is nekus, which refers to a corpse.  Therefore, the word picture is that of a dead corpse.  In Ephesians 2:1, God tells us we were dead in trespasses and sins.  Then, He repeats Himself and tells us we were “dead in sins.”  Both the words “trespasses” and “sins” are in the locative case.  That is why we have the word “in.”  The words “trespasses” and “sins” describe the location of this dead corpse.  The word picture is more than a dead corpse in a grave.  The word picture is that of a dead corpse buried in a death of eternal separation from God in a place called Hell.  The grace of God in the gift of salvation and eternal life removes the believing sinner out of the location of being “dead in trespasses and sins.”  How can we understand all of this and call Jesus “Lord, Lord” and not do the things He says to do? 

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:11-15).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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