Monday, August 7, 2017

Faith and the Gift of Forgiveness



Faith and the Gift of Forgiveness

          There is really no Truth about God that impacts the lives of sinners that is more significant to us than God’s merciful and gracious forgiveness of our sins.  We know about forgiveness only through faith in God’s Word.  There is no empirical way we can know that our sins are forgiven and that the penalty of those sin are remitted except by reading the promises of God in His Word.  We accept this wondrous Truth about forgiveness of sin with very little comprehension of the magnitude of the gift.  In fact, the gift is most often just taken for granted and even more often abused. 
         
Forgiveness of sin is a supreme example of the grace of God to sinners.  God gives forgiveness freely to all that repent as often as they repent. 

        The abuses of God’s gracious gift of forgiveness are those false teachings that are contrary to what God promises.  There is an attitude permeating modern Christianity that radically cheapens the grace of God in the forgiveness of sin.  This abuse manufactures a false god that is passive about all sin.  In other words, in this false view of forgiveness, God understands that we are all sinners and that we really cannot help ourselves when we sin.  This is theological nonsense.  The fact is such an attitude about sin and God’s forgiveness of sin will not get forgiveness from God.  This attitude is akin to the thief asking forgiveness of his victim while he continues his larceny and felonious assault upon his victim. 

          People actually think they will receive forgiveness from God for such things as fornication and adultery while they continue in the very acts for which they think they are being forgiven.  These people are not pursuing holiness in the eyes of God.  These people are not hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  They just want to keep on lying, stealing, fornicating, hating, and manipulating thinking that as long as God is forgiving sin, all is well in Godville.  They have no conviction regarding their sin and no remorse.  This corruption is much more significant than just bad theology.  This is blatant unbelief!

1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones {bad examples to children}. 3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. 5And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:1-5).

          There are those that will argue that in Matthew 18:21-35, Christ did not mention repentance as necessary to giving forgiveness.  They then deduce that Matthew 18:21-35 over-rules Luke 17:1-5.  This is a deductive methodology and very poor Biblical exegesis.  The fact is, Luke 17:1-5 gives us the additional requirement that must be added to Matthew 18:21-35.  This is an inductive methodology and is proper Biblical exegesis. 

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven {Millennial Kingdom where Christ will reign as King} likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:21-35).

          As Matthew 18:35 details, true forgiveness is from the heart.  In other words, true forgiveness requires full effort and total commitment.  To get an understanding of the scope of the unforgiving man’s debt to the king, we must understand that a common day’s wages at this point in history was one penny.  A person could sustain himself for one day on that wage.  A talent of silver is seven-hundred and fifty ounces worth one-hundred and eleven pennies each ounce.  Therefore, each talent he owed the King was worth 8,250 days of labor (or twenty-two years).  The total ten-thousand talent debt would require just over 220,000 years to repay.  Obviously, the intent is that the servant’s debt was far beyond his ability to ever resolve. 

          The intent of the parable is to show the way most people are unwilling to forgive others even when they have been forgiven an overwhelming and unreconcilable debt of sin.  Although no one can forgive sin but God, we can forgive others for the consequences their sins bring into our lives.  When people fail God, they also fail hundreds of other peripheral people with whom their lives intersect. 

          When God’s forgiveness is misrepresented in a way contrary to the inductive teachings of the Word of God, God’s character and nature is also misrepresented in very destructive ways.  One of these misrepresentations of God’s forgiveness is that God will forgive the unrepentant.  Verses like Christ’s prayer while He was being crucified are quoted to support this view; “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

    The “them” here is national Israel.  This prayer of Christ while being crucified by apostate Israel is the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12. Israel’s gross sin of having an innocent man, their own promised Messiah, framed and murdered was the last straw, yet God kept His promise to Abraham and did not completely cast them away as His chosen people (Romans 11:1-2). 

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

          Therefore, Christ’s prayer, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), is neither a prayer for the forgiveness of the remission of the sin penalty for salvation or the forgiveness for sins to restore a believer to fellowship with God.  Christ was praying for God to have mercy on the nation of Israel like Habakkuk’s prayer in Habakkuk 3:2; “in wrath remember mercy.”  God’s judgment was going to come on national Israel for what they did by crucifying the Messiah, just as it did in the book of Habakkuk. 

Can we even imagine the wrath of God upon this brutal, abusive treatment of His “only begotten Son”?  From a human standpoint, we can understand how wrath can overwhelm all other emotions or appeals to rationality.  Christ’s crucifixion appeal is an appeal from the Son to His Father simply for mercy in the midst of His wrath.  God’s wrath upon national Israel would extend throughout the time of the Gentiles to the second coming of King Jesus at the end of the seven-year Great Tribulation on Earth.  This prayer of Christ is answered in the thousands of Jews saved on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts chapter two, as well as thousands of others down through the centuries.  Even in God’s wrath upon national Israel, God mercifully retained a remnant of saved Jews (Romans 11:1-5), while the vast majority of Jews went the pathway of reprobation and willful, unrepentant rejection of their Messiah.
 
Asking for forgiveness presumes the acknowledgment and admission of wrongdoing.  To ask someone to give the gift of forgiveness should include a frank and full confession of the wrongdoing including the sin committed.  This communication should reflect an understanding of the pain the wrongdoing has inflicted upon the numerous individuals involved, beginning with grieving God.  Sin, any sin, grieves the Holy Spirit of God.  Confession acknowledges this fact.

Confession should include some degree of communication reflecting the pain the wrongdoing has caused to others as well.  Although we can only sin against God, those sins do impact many other people in our lives.  To fail to understand this is gross carelessness, or at least gross ignorance.
 
Ephesians chapter four is one of the strongest texts in the Bible teaching how God expects Christians to live their lives before God and in fellowship with Him and with one another.  The context is the vocational calling of all believers living as servant/priests before God (Ephesians 4:1-2).  In Ephesians 4:3, believers are told, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  It might also be interpreted as, “Make every possible effort to guard the oneness {doctrine, purpose, practice of the faith} of the Spirit {unity with the Godhead} in the union {joint tie or ligament} of peace {reconciliation with God that is part of being sealed with the Spirit of God unto the day of redemption; Ephesians 4:30).

20 But ye have not so learned Christ {in contrast to the life of paganism where the lusts of the flesh are fanned and cultivated to their fullest expression}; 21 If so be {the hypothetical, or condition, is if the knowledge of Christ is real in a person’s life} that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation {manner of living in pagan lasciviousness} the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt {rotten, worthless} communication {primarily is referring to obscene conversing about perverse things} proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying {things that build others up in faith and holiness}, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:20-32).

The “I Am Sorry” Fiasco

The “I am sorry” fiasco often is a mere expression of no real conviction that the failure just committed is actually sin.  We often here such nonsense as, “Johnny Goodchristian (or Jane) does it, therefore it must be acceptable.”  What you are hearing is a person proclaiming, “I have no convictions of my own.  I am living by the convictions (or lack thereof) of Johnny (or Jane) Goodchristian.”  This is justification of sin terminology.  It is not communicating a heart about what is righteous or any Biblical support.  The proper communication is, “I failed.  Please forgive me.” 

The word sorry means to feel sorrow, regret, remorse, to be mournful, or sad.  Yet, most of the time the “I am sorry” words do not reflect any of these things in any meaningful or practical way.  When this is the case, the expression “I am sorry” are just empty, meaningless words.  Some questions to such a person are required:

1. You say you are sorry, where are the tears?
2. Tell me, for what exactly are you sorry and what does that mean to you?
3. How did what you did (or failed to do) affect the lives of the people to which you are expressing your sorrow?
4. Have you asked the person to which you are expressing your sorrow how your failure has affected his life so that you can better understand the consequences of what you have done? 
5. Detail the consequences of your wrongdoing.
6. What are you willing to do to right the wrong you have created?
7. Are you just saying you are sorry or are you also asking for forgiveness?
8. What are you expecting if you are given the gift of forgiveness?

          Forgiveness is just as equally and as often misunderstood as it is taken for granted.  The remission of the death penalty upon sin is once and is for all sin, which in this context is general forgiveness; “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).  This is the kind of forgiveness of sin involved in redemption.  Redemption is to pay the price of sin and buy the sinner from the bondage of sin, which is death.  Death is eternal separation from God.
 
          There are two different main Greek words translated “forgive” in the New Testament books.  First, there the Greek word aphesis (af’-es-is).  This Greek word is also translated “remission” on numerous occasions.  “Remission” is the better translation in that it is more consistent with the idea of redemption through the payment of sin by the Substitute.  In this use, relating to salvation, “forgiveness” refers to the release from bondage, imprisonment, or punishment.  It sets the guilty party free and treats him as if he has never committed the crime completely remitting the penalty.  Remission of the penalty is the primary focus of this word and remission should be the translation of the Greek word aphesis (af'-es-is) on every occasion.

          The second Greek word translated “forgive” is the word aphiemi (af-ee’-ay-mee).  It is always used for SAVED PEOPLE already within the covenant and relates to restoration to fellowship.  This is the kind of forgiveness that is the focus of this study.  Fellowship with God is what connects the believer’s life to God’s fount of blessing.  It is what the Bible refers to as “walking in the light” or walking “in truth.”  God can only bless our lives when we are in fellowship with Him. 

We forgive people to restore fellowship with them.  In other words, forgiveness is a personal commitment involving restoring broken fellowship with someone to once again be able to work together in harmony and unity for the cause of Christ.  Therefore, recognition of the failure and genuine repentance of the failure is essential to restore fellowship for a trusting working relationship between people.  Although forgiveness does not immediately restore trust, forgiveness does give the gift of a degree of trust intent upon increasing trust as the individual’s repentance is proven genuine.
 
          Christians talk a lot about forgiveness.  They expect God to forgive them without question and often without them repenting of the sins they have committed.  Many other times, they expect God to give to them the forgiveness that they are unwilling to give to others.  Unforgiveness of the trespasses of others against us is a sin that shuts the windows of heaven to God’s forgiveness of our trespasses against Him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Anchor10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Anchor11 Give us this day our daily bread. Anchor12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Anchor13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Anchor14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: Anchor15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:9-15).

In understanding the gift of forgiveness, it is extremely important to understand what we are gifting to a person when we agree to forgive.  What does giving forgiveness involve?

Ø  Forgiveness is the commitment to yourself and the offender, not to dwell on the offense which is forgiven.
Ø  Forgiveness is the promise not to raise the issue again to the offender, to others, nor to yourself.
Ø  Forgiveness is the desire to deal with the offense as past history; not as a present condition.
Ø  Forgiveness is the promise to avoid holding the offense over the offender’s head.
Ø  Forgiveness understands the need to work at forgetting the offense.
Ø  Forgiveness is something granted, not felt.

If a person understands forgiveness, he understands he is making an extreme commitment to the person being gifted forgiveness.  The person receiving the gift of forgiveness should also understand that the gift he is receiving in one of the greatest gifts he could ever receive from another person.  Forgiveness is grace exemplified!

Forgiving Yourself?

          This is terminology that comes out of the psychobabble of modern Psychology.  There is no such thought ever expressed anywhere in the Bible.  People should continue to have remorse and guilt for the sins they have committed because the consequences of their failure continue to be borne by those they love long after the sin is forgiven.  These feelings of remorse and guilt are spiritually healthy.  These feelings of remorse and guilt are continuing reminders that no man is an island unto himself.  The choices of our lives impact the lives of others and often so in very negative ways. 

The “Forgive them in your heart” fiasco

          Here is more psychobabble of modern Psychology.  This is not Biblical terminology.  This is just another way of justifying giving the gift of forgiveness to unrepentant people.  The obedient, compassionate Christian should WANT to give forgiveness because he has been forgiven so much so often by God.  However, even God does not gift forgiveness to the unrepentant.

Biblical terminology is found in the admonitions of Scripture about not being hateful or wanting revenge.  The spiritual Christian should petition the Spirit of God to help with feelings that stir the sludge pit of the cesspool of unrighteous emotions towards those who have hurt us or greatly offended us.  If these feeling are not dealt with Biblically, at the very moment they arise in our hearts, they will soon begin to fester and pollute every aspect of our souls.  Bitterness, wrath, and hatred will begin to eat at the inner man like cancer in the soul.  Therefore, God commands us in Ephesians 4:31 to, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”  These things listed are the enemies of everything righteous and good.  When a believer gives them opportunity to reside in the heart, he is giving “place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).  Every believer must be overly cautious about his soul becoming the soil for the “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15).

Receiving forgiveness from God is an expression of faith.  In other words, we know by faith that God gives the gift of forgiveness because He promises that He will do so (I John 1:9).  However, simply because God forgives the sin, that does not mean that all the consequences and influences of that sin will be removed from history.  Like polluted water flowing downstream, the sin will continue to defile and corrupt even though it has been forgiven by God. 

This is the substance of the history of Solomon’s numerous failures recorded by him in whole book of Ecclesiastes.  Living with knowledge of the spiritual consequences of our numerous failures in life upon the lives of those we love will be one of the greatest burdens of eternity.  Only those that truly understand this reality can truly appreciate Revelation 21:4. Then, we will finally see the full ramifications of God’s gift of forgiveness!

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

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, July 17, 2017

Truths for which I would Die!

 

Truths for which I would Die!
  
When we think of a militant Christianity, we must think of it in terms of self-sacrifice.  That is what defines a believer’s love for God.  What are we willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ?  Early Christianity was willing to sacrifice their lives rather than compromise the truth of the Gospel of grace or the purity of their worship to God alone.  This was how Jesus defined loving Him.  He defined loving Him by what He did to redeem our souls from Hell on the Cross of Calvary.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

The Gospel is the details of what Jesus has done to save our souls from condemnation AND what the believing sinner MUST do to receive the gift of that salvation.  Keeping these objective facts pure from corruption and distortion is the primary militant responsibility of all believers. 

          Even from the very beginnings of Christianity, there has been an endless battle to maintain the purity of the Gospel of grace and the purity of worship distinct from the influences of worldliness.  The real test of a militant Christianity is simple.  For what are you willing to stick out your neck out?  For what are you willing to put your life on the line?  In Acts chapter fifteen, this is what these men were doing as they stood militantly for the purity of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  The primary marker defining a militant faith is the willingness to separate from those preaching “another gospel, which is not another” (Galatians 1:6b-7a).  Galatians chapter one is a shouting condemnation against the corrupting influences of Ecumenicism and its acceptance of an anything goes Gospel

          In addressing this issue as Bible believing Christians, it is important to understand that almost every sect of Christianity believes that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was bodily resurrected from the dead, and was bodily glorified by God.  Liberalism, Deism, and Arianism (denied the Deity of Jesus) all corrupt the Gospel by corrupting the virgin birth of Jesus and the supernatural aspects of the Bible by replacing miracles with Naturalism (explaining away the miracles of the Bible, and the denial of the Deity of Jesus Christ.  Believing in their corrupted Jesus cannot save anyone’s soul. 

However, the broadest and most acceptable form of the corruption of the doctrine of salvation came in the form of JudaismJudaism was corrupted with Legalism, which made salvation a process of achievement by “works of the Law” (Galatians 2:16; 3:2 - Moralism and Sacerdotalism).  Under Judaism, salvation was a work achieved rather than a gift received.  Salvation was a lifelong process not a momentary event.  Salvation as a process dominates most of professing Christianity.
 
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

          Galatians 2:16 is a clear and concise Bible condemnation of “works of the law” and process salvation.  This idea had become a serious problem for early Christianity.  Had it been allowed to continue; the Gospel would have been totally corrupted within the first fifty years of the Church Age.  Militant, fundamental Christians continue to fight against this same type of corruption today. 

1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. 12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:1-18).

          This is the record of the first church split in history.  This was a very difficult time for the church at Jerusalem.  What defined a Biblical response to the Gospel was being challenged that threatened to split this church and all of Christianity from that day forward even to today.  Christianity would be divided into two factions. 

1. A religion of salvation by participation in religious rituals and ceremonialism (human accomplishment or process salvation)
2. A relationship with God begun with God gifting salvation to the believing sinner by grace through faith in the finished, substitutionary work of Christ (Divine accomplishment or event salvation)

Fighting for Truths for which we are willing to die (Acts 15:1 and 5)

          The issue of the purity of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is a Truth for which a militant Christian must be willing to die.  Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is essential truth in that only the true Gospel of Jesus “is the power of God unto salvation.”

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from {saving} faith to {living} faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

     There is a rapidly growing movement among professing evangelical Christians to become inclusivistic and tolerant about what a person needs to trust in to be “born again.”  Ecumenicism and new evangelicalism have created a broad and sweeping tolerance of many false and unscriptural gospels and many evangelicals are getting on board the Good Ship Tolerance.  The Apostle Paul clearly addressed this tendency towards tolerance in his epistle to the Galatians.  Paul condemns it, understanding the motivation of Peter and Barnabas for tolerance was to “please men” and to maintain peace and unity at the sacrifice of doctrinal purity. 

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).

          Historically, Christians (especially Baptists) have been willing to die very gruesome and horrible deaths rather than deny the true faith in the true Gospel by refusing to accept infant baptism (Pedo-baptism), baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and all other such nonsense.

          Many pages of Baptist history have been written with the blood of faithful martyrs who were tortured and murdered simply because they refused to believe in anything else but salvation as a gift of God’s grace received through faith in the finished work of Christ and totally apart from any good works by the individual and totally apart from any religious ceremony or ritual.  Apart from the supernatural preservation of the Word of God, it has been God’s grace manifested through the lives and testimonies of the faith of such remarkable individuals that the truth of the purity of the Gospel has been preserved for all these centuries.
 
          There is not one recorded historical incidence where a Baptist ever persecuted or killed anyone because someone did not believe the way he believed.  Yet throughout the centuries, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Congregationalist, and even the Puritans sought the annihilation of individual Baptists and Baptist congregations over the issue of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  The Baptists chose imprisonment and often death over compromise.

     The questions we must ask ourselves are simple.  Do we have the kind of militancy that is willing to die rather than compromise God’s message of salvation (the Gospel)?  Would we be willing to be tortured and murdered rather than accept a manmade way of salvation?  The test of our militancy is the price we are willing to pay to maintain a pure testimony of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  If we are not willing to die to maintain that testimony, we have abandoned the Apostolic faith.

6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you {local churches meeting in households}, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed {do not seek to encourage in any way}: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker {koinoneo; working partner} of his evil deeds” (II John 1:6-11).

          The word “doctrine” used in II John 1:9 and 10 is from the Greek word didache (did-akh-ay’), meaning teaching or instruction.  “Doctrine” is the Bible word for God’s content of teaching the Word of God to make disciples (followers of the teachings of Jesus; Ephesians 4:12).  The intent of the statement is a warning to Christians (“look to yourselves”) about being very cautious about being deceived into following false teachers.  The intent is that to follow the false teaching of false teachers makes a person a false disciple in that such a person is not following the teachings of Jesus.
 
“Whosoever” (II John 1:9) not governing his life and living his life according to all the teachings of Jesus, “hath not God.”  In other words, he “is not saved.”  One cannot accept Jesus and then reject any of His teachings.  To reject His teaching is to reject Who and What He is.  Secondly, anyone teaching contrary to this is not to be welcomed into the Church fellowship (II John 1:10-11).  The is a command for separation from those that minimize or reduce the commandments of Christ (liberalism or neo-evangelicalism).

          The fact that people believe Jesus is the Messiah is not sufficient evidence to the reality of their salvation.  Here is a primary dividing line of truth between true Christianity and apostate Christianity.  The dividing line is that apostate Christianity believes that Jesus is the Messiah of God and they believe He died on the Cross, but they do not understand what He accomplished on the Cross for them (the propitiation of God and the gift of the justification of sinners).  The word Christian became another word for a person who was a follower/practitioner of the teachings of Jesus.  The word Christian was given to disciples of Jesus because they were willing to sacrifice their lives rather than compromise the teachings of Jesus. 

       Many people, especially Jews, believed in Jesus, but rejected the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  Acts 15:5 says this “sect of the Pharisees. . . believed.”  That means they believed Jesus was their historical and promised Messiah.  However, the facts in the rest of Acts 15:5 reveal to us they did not understand the Gospel and therefore continued to rely upon their religious ceremonies and rituals to be saved.  They continued to believe that religious rituals (such as circumcision) were necessary to salvation.  This is clear evidence they did not understand the Gospel and therefore could not, by faith, rest in the truths of the Gospel. 

The Epistle to the Hebrews addressed this false kind of faith.  The Epistle to the Hebrews was written about 64 A.D., six years before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Roman Empire.  Many professing Jews were being persuaded to return to offering sacrifices at the Temple and the necessity of keeping all the holy days of the Jewish liturgical calendar.  They were being told they still needed to circumcise their sons and pay tithes to the Temple priesthood.  All of this was a contradiction of the teachings of Jesus in the abrogation of the Mosaic Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant of the Church Age.  The Epistle to the Hebrews confronts this false teaching and equates it with the unbelief at Kadesh-Barnea where Israel’s unbelief brought them into a thirty-eight-year funeral procession where every Jews over the age of twenty (except Caleb and Joshua) died in the wilderness.  Therefore, corruption of faith is a serious failure with eternal consequences.
 
7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day {a new opportunity to be faithful} if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation {the children of Israel persisted in provoking God to anger and wrath with unbelief over want of bread, water, meat instead of manna, golden calf worship, and finally at Kadesh where they believed the enemies who occupied the Promised Land were more powerful than God} in the day of temptation {a test to prove the reality or genuineness of something} in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God {in returning to Mosaic Covenant practices thereby denying a finished work of redemption}. 13 But exhort one another daily {plead with one another}, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief’ (Hebrews 3:7-19).

          It is also clear that the leadership of Israel, in their corrupted priesthood, had very selfish reasons in seeking the death of Jesus.  They would rather kill this innocent man then risk a revolution against Rome thinking the followers of Jesus would make Him King.  It would seem they understood the prophesies regarding the death of Messiah, but completely misunderstood what Jesus’ death was intended to accomplish.

49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death” (John 11:49-53).

“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1).

         This false gospel of surgical salvation was soon replaced by salvation by ritual purgation (baptismal purging of sin).  This initially made ritual baptism the means of the purging of sin, but would degenerate into other false doctrines to aid in the purging of sin over the centuries.  The Cross of Christ is the only acceptable purging place of sin and the only place of purging (Purgatory) mentioned in the Bible.  That purging is a finished spiritual reality.  This is a truth every true Christian should be willing to die rather than compromise.

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

          The whole premise of salvation by ritual purgation of sin is a denial of the finished work of Christ, blasphemy against God, and an insult against the grace of God, which reaches out in love to save us.  The person who rejects the once for all sacrifice of Christ at Calvary, by looking to religious rituals for purging of sins committed before or after he professes to trust in Christ, must understand “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”  Baptismal cleansing of sin is a horrendous lie against which every true Christian should fight to opposed with his last breath. 

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy {common} thing, and hath done despite {an insult} unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31).

          Secondly (Acts 15:1 and 5), these propagators of the “another gospel which is not another,” not only wanted tolerance for their false gospel, they wanted their false means of salvation to become the requirement for all.  It always amazes me that those who seek tolerance of their false doctrines are the most intolerant of those who are unwilling to compromise truth for false unity.  It was these “false brethren” who were intolerant.  They were willing to accept anyone into their circle of compromise, but they have historically sought to annihilate anyone who was not willing to compromise to accept them.

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:3-5).

          Before God can revive His Church and bless the way He wants to bless, that local church must determine it will die rather than compromise the Gospel, die rather than become tolerant of false doctrine, and die rather than join hands in partnership (“fellowship”) with those preaching salvation by ritual purgation in any form.  That is the challenge of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:1-9.

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law {false faith}; ye are {already} fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven {the smallest amount of trust in the ‘works of the law’} leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:1-9).

          “Stand fast” in Galatians 5:1 is from the Greek word steko (stay'-ko) meaning to persist.  The idea is to be uncompromising regarding the true way of salvation.  “Persuasion” in Galatians 5:8 is from the Greek word peismone (pice-mon-ay'), which can mean a treacherous or deceptive persuasion.  People will go to Hell for eternity if we do not boldly stand against this “persuasion” of corruption.
   
          The “little leaven” of Galatians 5:9 refers to allowing the acceptance of any kind ritual conference of grace to be saved or cleansed from sin.  To allow this or tolerate this corruption is to compromise the purity of the Gospel of grace, regardless of how insignificant it might seem.  Allow any amount to be part of this corruption to be part of your faith and you leaven the whole of your faith with false doctrine making your profession of faith false and unprofitable (Galatians 5:2). 

          The introduction of surgical purgation of sin (circumcision) or salvation by ritual purgation of sin (water baptism) into Christianity are tragic heresies that continue to deceive people into a false hope of eternal life.  Salvation by the works of the Law (regardless of how insignificant these “works” appear) is an insult against the grace of God.  Whatever a person trusts in, besides the finished work of Calvary, is what keeps that person from wholly trusting in Christ.  If he is ever going to be saved, he must turn away (repent) of that “dead” work (Hebrews 6:1) and trust solely and wholly in the Person of Jesus Christ and His finished work of the Cross (Acts 4:12 & John 14:6).  This is a truth for which a real faith will be willing fight and die.

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, July 3, 2017

The Militancy of Faith



The Militancy of Faith

         
This world is steeping in a brew of evil growing ever stronger each moment it continues to steep.  We have seen the kind of evil of which humanity is ready to heap upon one another already written on the pages of historical infamy.  Humanity would be as evil as Satan himself if we were left to our own devices unrestrained by a conscience that works because of restraining faith knowledge of God. 

We are approaching another historical epoch like Genesis 6:5 where God said, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  In Genesis 6:3, God said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.”  The Great Flood is historical testimony that God’s longsuffering eventually comes to an end.  Satan has historically done everything in his power to mock, eradicate, and eclipse the testimony of God’s judgment in the Great Flood.  Christians must fight to keep these testimonies alive. 

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Timothy 6:6-12).

          The Word of God is redundant with militant terms.  These terms are used to describe the struggle of the Christian life; terms like “war a good warfare” (I Timothy 1:18), “fight the good fight” (I Timothy 6:12), “so fight I” (I Corinthians 9:26).  In Ephesians 6:11, believers are commanded: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  Understanding the Bible’s teaching on a life of faith is to understand that believers will be at war against evil and its influences until the creation of the new Heaven/Earth. 

The struggle of a life of faith involves every believer in a spiritual war that began with the insurrection of an angel of God called Lucifer, who rebelled against God’s sovereignty and usurped His authority by the deception of Eve.  In this war, casualties are more severe than in other wars in that these casualties involve the loss of souls, lost for all eternity, and the loss of lives wasted in the pursuit of sinful pleasures that lead men and women to live their lives in ways unimaginable.

          For the Christian, this is a battle about recovery.  Although the Christian’s soul has been redeemed and eternally secured by the Cross-work of Jesus Christ “by grace through faith,” every Christian must fight the fight of faith in the recovery of this temporal life from the dominion of sin -SANCTIFICATION.  It is a life-long battle with no intermissions or rest periods.  Like swimming upstream in a strong current, stop the struggle for one moment and you are carried downstream.  It will be a constant struggle to maintain every inch of spiritual ground that is gained.

          In II Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul talks about not warring “after the flesh,” “the weapons of our warfare” not being “carnal” weapons, and about the enemies against which we fight; “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.”  The battleground involves temptations from without, perverse desires from within.  This is a battle with humanity’s corrupted, un-Biblical, extra-Biblical, and perverted knowledge of God.  Simply because believers still possess a Sin Nature does not mean their Sin Natures must possess them.  All believers can be enabled to live righteously by the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace {enabling of the Holy Spirit} be with thee. Amen” (I Timothy 6:20-21).

In Ephesians chapter 6:10-18, Paul talks about the warfare “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  He goes on to talk about the believer’s spiritual armament, commanding believers to “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Of course, standing in these verses refers to standing in battle against the influences of evil as opposed to retreating in defeat.  He uses a similar analogy to describe the struggle of the faith in I Thessalonians 5:8-9.

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 {to acquire the end of} salvation {used here in the sense of the final victory over the flesh in the believer’s glorification and reign with Christ in the Kingdom Age} by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:8-9). 

In I Thessalonians 5-8, the emphasis of the battle against the forces of evil is the guaranteed victory “by our Lord Jesus Christ” at His second coming.  The emphasis of the warfare of the believer is simply to be faithful in the battle, which is already won.  Why then fight if the victory is already won?  As we battle by faith for the faith, those fighting against us, who are under the influences of evil, are won to Christ and are joined with us through their faith in Christ in the guaranteed victory.  Evangelism in sanctification is part of the battle. 

In II Timothy 2:1-4, Paul uses similar military terminology to describe the spiritual struggles of men in the pastorate. 

1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace {the enabling of the indwelling Spirit} that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Timothy 2:1-4).

As long as we live in this body of flesh, the Christian life will be an unending warfare.  There can be no allowance for compromise in any form, for the enemy takes no prisoners.  He is described as the “deceiver” and the “destroyer.”  He is described as a “lion” that devours his prey bite by bite.  He destroys lives by getting people addicted to self-destructive, sinful practices, and perversions of theology.  His tactics are ancient, perfected in their use, and well developed in their application.  These tactics are always aimed at our faith in that they almost always question God’s wisdom or what God has said, seeking to pervert our understanding of both.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden (Genesis 3:1)?

The militant struggle for a pure faith involves every Christian in a spiritual war fought on two fronts.  Every Christian must involve himself in the fight by faith and the fight for the faith.  Although these two fronts are not the same, they are dynamically connected.  Our knowledge of the Word of God, our living the Word of God, and our use of the Word of God to bring the lost to saving faith in Christ is what it means to fight by faith.  The battle against the corruption of Bible doctrine by the never-ending sedition of the worldly influences of various levels of evil is what it means to fight for the faith

The fight of faith involves the believer with three enemies of a living faith.  Those three enemies are the trinity of the fall; Sin, Self and Satan.  Satan is the tempter, the liar, and the deceiver.  He tempts with sin.  Sin is anything that defiles the believer before God and breaks “fellowship.”  Sin is anything that the believer is forbidden to do. Sin is also a failure to doing anything God commands to be done.

The paradox is that, in the fall of mankind, all of us received a sin nature (Self) that wants to sin.  The Bible words for Self (the Sin Nature) are words like the “old man,” the “flesh,” or simply “sin.”  The point is that all men and women, believers and unbelievers alike, have a serious Wanter problem when it comes to sin.  We all have an insatiable appetite for sin.  The Bible word for this is “lust.”  Therefore, the believer in his fight by faith for the faith fights even against his own evil influences upon the world. 

There are three main avenues of sin into our lives.  The wise believer understand that he must keep vigilant guard upon these three doorways for sin to enter his life.  He must build reinforced gates against them with the understanding that his own desires will want to leave them wide open and unrestrained.  These three main avenues of sin into our lives are defined for us in Satan’s deception of Eve in the Garden of Eden and they are described by the Apostle John.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).

“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” (I John 2:16).

Every believer must learn to meticulously guard these three doorways of sin into his life.  Just as it only took one sin to bring God’s curse upon all of humanity, one sin is all it will take to defile the believer before God making him “unclean.”  Once this happens, restoration to “fellowship” with God must be restored through repentance, confession, and cleansing (I John 1:7-9) before God can bless the believer’s works or answer his prayers.  The central purpose of the forgiveness of sins is not the removal of guilt from the believer’s heart, but it is about the restoration of “fellowship” with God so that a working relationship can once again take place.

The struggle of a militant faith is about living the truth in unbroken “fellowship” with God.  This is a critical truth to the Christian life.  It is the heart and soul of the doctrine of grace in the New Covenant.  This word “fellowship” is so often misunderstood and misapplied.  It is often only defined as relationship without the emphasis upon the purpose of that relationship.  The purpose of “fellowship” is a working partnership with God in the fight by faith for the faith in bringing lost souls to receive the gift of salvation and to be “born again.” 

The word “fellowship” in the Bible is usually translated from the Greek word koinonia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah).  Its usual meaning is a communion of joint participation in something.  In other words, it is a word describing a working relationship of two or more people joining their energies and resources to achieve a common goal or purpose.

Therefore, “fellowship” with God involves the believer in, and with, supernatural forces and resources.  In this “fellowship,” the power of the Divine is united with the yielded and believing human.  Therefore, a critical aspect of “fellowship” with God and the fight of faith is about this “unity” with God in living the truth.  Paul talks about this “unity” in Ephesians chapter four.  Notice the emphasis on two areas in the fight by faith and the fight for the faith as these two arenas of struggle are discussed under the doctrine of grace (God’s divine enabling through His Holy Spirit).

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation {the priesthood of all believers} 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 {believer priests} is given grace {God’s enabling} according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts {listed in verse eleven} unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting {equipping, maturing, thing Basic Training for warfare} of the saints, for the work of the ministry {spiritual warfare to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples of Jesus Christ}, for the edifying {building up and strengthening of the structure of the Church} of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:1-13).

The critical part of a living faith is that “fellowship” with God cannot exist apart from a life separated from sin (holiness) and separated unto God (sanctification).  These two arenas of Christian responsibility are the arenas in which the fight of faith and the fight for the faith are fought.  This is what Christian growth is about and how it is measured (progressive sanctification). 

The purpose of the “perfecting of the saints” is for “fellowship” with God to be achieved so that the “work of the ministry” can be supernaturally actuated.  The “work of the ministry” is spiritual work demanding supernatural forces and resources.  Christ refers to the critical spiritual dynamic of this “fellowship” in John chapter 15 in His use of the words “abide in him” involving the requirement of being “clean.”

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

Being a disciple of Jesus involves a believer in following Jesus in His warfare against the forces of evil.  Disciples understand their own frailties when it comes to battling against powers far greater than we can imagine.  The believer’s abiding in Christ and Christ’s abiding in the believer is the only possible way the believer can win occasional victories in warring for the salvation of lost souls and their discipleship after their salvation.  Therefore, do not miss the connection of the warfare by faith for the faith – winning lost souls to Christ and making disciples.  You are the connecting link!  Your saved soul and sanctified life is the means through which Christ wages His war for lost souls.  Your personal compromises regarding any issue of sin or false doctrine keeps Christ from being able to do what you have been saved for Him to do through you. 

When this spiritual warfare vision of reality is a part of a person’s everyday life, fighting the fight of faith will become a priority.  Without this vision of reality, there really is no reality of personal faith and therefore the battles by faith for the faith are never fought.  Without abiding in Christ and Christ’s abiding in the believer, these battles certainly cannot be won.  It is in this arena that a missional vision must find its foundation, for, apart from this spiritual dynamic of holiness (separation from the world) and sanctification (separation unto God), missions (the “work of the ministry”) is nothing but an operation in futility. 

When we think in the reality of the spiritual and eternal, we are immediately transported into another real existence where miracles are commonplace, where there is no such thing as the impossible, and where the grace of God overwhelms any problem or difficulty that Satan might throw at us to get us off track. When we think spiritually and eternally, we move into a real realm of existence where the Creator of Heaven and earth lives and reigns; a Kingdom of light and life; a place where power is unlimited and dreams always become realities. Even though we must continue to live in this present, wicked, temporal world, we must work to keep our thinking and desires fixed on the spiritual and eternal.


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.