Monday, November 14, 2016

Ministering in Grace

Studies in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Ministering in Grace

In Romans 1:7, the Apostle Paul says, “Grace to you.” This phrase is directly and practically connected to all those “called to be saints” at Rome.  No Christian can live a sanctified life apart from God’s enabling grace.  The statement “grace to you” is an introductory statement that is much more than an empty salutation like good morning.  The word grace speaks to the position of the person living under the divine authority and empowerment of the sovereign Creator of heaven and earth.  The person living under that authority and empowered by God has the power of the Creator at His disposal through prayer and ministry.  Perhaps there is no doctrine more misunderstood and more abused by professing Christians than the doctrine of the grace of God.   

There is a Universal Calling upon All Believer-priests to Minister in “grace”

5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints {the main occupation of the priesthood of all believers is to cultivate holiness in our own lives and in the lives of other believers}: Grace {the supernatural enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit} to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:5-7).

There is a common misnomer regarding the doctrine of God’s enabling grace.  That mistake is seeing the enabling Power of God as some impersonal force available to the sanctified believer.  Nothing could be more incorrect.  The enabling Power is the Person of Christ Jesus in the Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.  Only when a believer is Spirit-filled is that believer empowered.  This filling/empowering produces the Christ-life through a believer’s life.  Titus 2:11 clearly teaches us that “the grace of God” was manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ.  The same text (Titus 2:11-15) goes on to explain specific and remarkable expectations of the “teaching” of Jesus as the incarnate “grace of God.” 

11 For the grace of God {the incarnate Son 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).

All “born again” believers receive grace to accomplish their “apostleship” calling in Christ (Romans 1:5).  Grace refers to God’s supernatural enabling power.  Without enabling grace, the believer cannot accomplish anything for Christ.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. . . 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:4-5 and 26).

          With enabling grace, the believer can accomplish anything that is in the will of God.  It is important here that we understand that this enabling grace is potentially available to all believers but it is practically conditioned upon full surrender to Christ in obedience to the teachings of Jesus throughout the Bible.  We often here Christians quote Philippians 4:13 to claim Christ’s strengthening through some difficulty when they are obviously living in disobedience to Christ’s teachings. 

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (I Peter 1:10-12).

Salvation offered as a gift of grace and received by simple faith has been the same since Adam and Eve.  This is NOT the difficulty the prophets were having regarding “salvation.”  They knew salvation was in the coming Messiah and His work of redemption.  Their enquiry was who would the Messiah be, who could be saved, when would He come, and who would cause His vicarious suffering for the sins of the people.  Jesus answered all of these questions very early in His ministry in John 1:5-13.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many {whosoever} as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:5-13).

          Although there is still a bit of a mystery in answering all the questions the prophets had regarding the Messiah, all of them are answered embryonically in their prophecies.  Christ takes away most of this mystery by His statement in John 1:5-13.

1. “The Light” that “shineth in darkness” (John 1:5) is the eternal Son of God as the Creator.  “He is referred to as “the Light” in that the essence of the spiritual Being that is God is only visible through His radiant holiness, known as His glory, now hidden by the darkness due to spiritual blindness caused by sin and the fall of humanity into sin.  This darkness is a cover protecting the first creation from immediate destruction, which would happen as soon as sin is exposed to the glory of God (Revelation 20:9).
2. Who can be saved is answered in John 1:7 by the words “that all men through him might believe.”  The who can be saved is expanded upon in John 1:12 also.
3. The who question, regarding who would cause the Savior Messiah to suffer, is answered in John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”  The priesthood of God of the people known as the Jews, who were called out of the world by God and entrusted with the holy Scriptures, would be the people who would apostatize and murder their promised Messiah. 

          I Peter 1:10 tells us the prophets “inquired” and “searched” regarding these questions.  The Greek word translated “inquired” is ekzeteo (ek-zay-the’-o).  They knew that the only place they would find the answers to their inquiry would be in the Scriptures.  In other words, they did not go searching in all the pagan writings and philosophies of men for their answers.  This is the common methodology known as Pluralism
Religious Pluralism is the false philosophy that the truth will be discovered within the teachings of all religious beliefs.  Religious Pluralism teaches that all religions have some merit and all should be accepted in that all contain some truth or degrees of truth.  To some degree this is true.  Some of the things Buddha said are true and helpful.  Some of the things Confucius said are true and helpful.  Almost all the pagan religions have some historical reference to Creation and the Great Flood.  However, religious Pluralism is a false and corrupting idea.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day.  Nonetheless, no one would look to that broken clock to find a trustworthy representation of the correct time. 
The Greek word translated by the two words “searched diligently” is exereunao (ex-er-yoo-nah’-o).  The meaning of this word is compared to the gold prospector who searches the mountains to find a few nuggets if gold.  This is known as an inductive methodology.  Obviously, no one can begin with a full and complete knowledge of what God has said unless he is God in the first place.  We all begin in ignorance and work towards knowledge.  That knowledge can and never will be complete.  The more details we know of the parts, the surer we can be of our understanding of the whole.  Therefore, the exacting science of biblical hermeneutics (interpretation of Scripture) must be about details. 
        The prophets also did not understand the things that had been “prophesied of the grace that should come unto you” (I Peter 1:10).  They understood there would be a change in the way God would empower believers, but they did not understand how this was going to happen.  This is still something very much misunderstood by most within professing Christianity.  Again, Jesus explained this change just prior to His crucifixion in John 14:15-24 regarding a radically different way the Spirit of God would operate in the lives of those “born again” of the Spirit after the Day of Pentecost.

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Fathers which sent me” (John 14:15-24).

          What Jesus speaks of in this text is known as Theanthropic Union – God living within His redeemed.  In the Old Covenant, God lived with His redeemed and externally empowered them to live for Him.  In the New Covenant, God would live within His redeemed and internally empower them to live for Him as they yield their wills to the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Peter explains this further in II Peter 1:1-4.

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied {grace was already added in the indwelling; the expression here is to increase as does the planted seed expand exponentially in the fruit it produces} unto you through the knowledge {epignosis; relational and intimate} of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given {perfect, passive} unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge {epignosis} of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given {perfect, passive} unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers {koinonos; sharer or partner} of the divine nature {germination trough the indwelling Holy Spirit thereby producing a new genesis of humanity}, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:1-4).

There are several terms used in the Bible to communicate this newly available enabling grace of God.  These terms are the filling of the Spirit, fellowship (or partnership) with God, and transformed.  God’s enabling grace is released is by the action of the verbs yield, repent, and confess.  Paul explains this new spiritual dynamic of the inward enabling grace of the indwelling Spirit of God in Romans 6:5-16 and Romans 12:1-8.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin {the word sin in this text refers to the sin nature or the ‘old man’}. 7 For he that is dead is freed {perfect, passive} from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Romans 6:5-16)?

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed {lit. transfigured -present, passive, imperative} by the renewing {to renovate or overhaul} of your mind, that ye may prove {put to the test and find out what is genuine} what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-3).

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18).

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:7-9).

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 . . .” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit {the Spirit-filled life}, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:16-17).

          The purpose of enabling grace is for “obedience to the faith among all nations” (Romans 1:5).  God has a purpose in everything He does.  This refers specifically to the spread of Christianity by obedience to the Great Commission.  The purpose of grace is to enable the believer to obey his calling in Jesus Christ.  “The faith” refers to the whole body of Christian doctrine that is to be lived out in the believer’s life.

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Ephesians 4:1-7).

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

          All believers have an “apostleship.”  They are sent into the world with a high calling and a Great Commission.  Every believer has received the indwelling Holy Spirit Who will empower him to do whatever God asks him to do once that believer fully surrenders to the will of God.  Every believer will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ without excuse for the things they either failed to do, or the things they attempted, but did in the flesh.  What we do, we do to exalt and glorify the Name of Jesus.  To be successful, we must do it by the enabling of His indwelling Spirit.  What does fully surrendered look like?

12 Put on therefore {middle voice, imperative mood}, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:12-17).

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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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