Monday, January 9, 2017

The Just Shall Live by Faith

The Just Shall Live by Faith

II Timothy 3:16-17 is a foundational biblical statement for both faith and Epistemology.  Faith is not a gift.  Faith is a choice.  If a person cannot accept by faith what the Bible says, he has no foundation upon which to rest his eternal hope.  It is from out of the darkness of spiritual ignorance and blindness that God speaks to us. 
In Exodus chapter three, God reveals Himself to Moses in a burning bush that is not consumed by the apparent flames.  God’s voice speaks to Moses out of that burning bush.  Moses had grown up in the household of the Pharaoh of Egypt with numerous pagan idols of their many pagan gods.  It is most likely that it is out of this hodgepodge of Moses’ knowledge of the multiplicity of Egypt’s gods that Moses’ inquiry comes regarding the Name of the God Who spoke with him.  God’s response to Moses’ inquiry is very illuminating.  God said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14).  By using the words “I AM THAT I AM,” God is essentially explaining, or defining, the Name Jehovah that He first used of Himself in Genesis 2:4 and later to Abraham in Genesis 15:7.  The phrase reveals God as the eternal self-existing One and only God Who is the source of all life and existenceThis truth is foundational to faith!

In Exodus 6:3, when Moses was focusing upon going up against the most powerful man on earth at that time, God redirected Moses’ focus upon a much greater power – “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty {El Shadday}, but by my name JEHOVAH {eternal self-existent One} was I not known to them” (Exodus 6:3).  Although Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew God as the Almighty, and heard Him refer to Himself as JEHOVAH, they were ignorant of the significance of His Name JEHOVAH meaning the eternal self-existing One and the only One Who is the source of all life and existenceThis truth is foundational to faith!
The Bible is the ultimate source of absolute Truth.  Apart from faith in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible and what it says, all religions must be considered equally viable.  In other words, no one can be sure which religion is correct.  This is the satanic goal of Liberalism as it attacks the very foundation of absolute Truth in the trustworthiness of God’s Word.  When Satan and his emissaries within Liberalism attack the trustworthiness of God’s Word, they are attacking the Church, the family, justice, and righteousness on hundreds of different fronts of attack.  Denying the Bible as God’s source of revelatory Truth is the foundation of Theological Liberalism.  Denying that the Bible is God’s main source of revelatory Truth is also the foundation Ecumenicism, which is an offspring of Theological Liberalism.  Accepting the Bible by faith as God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word is known as Autopisticism. 

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

Autopisticism begins with faith and means a person chooses to accept what God reveals in the Bible as perfectly accurate and absolute Truth.  God will eventually prove His Word to be true, but faith accepts the Bible as true before it is proven true.  Autopisticism has been the norm of Judaism and biblical Christianity until the beginnings of Theological Liberalism, which began to be introduced into true Christianity through German Rationalism in the forms of Higher Criticism and Lower Criticism.  Christians need to understand these two forms of attack against the trustworthiness of God’s Word because the outcomes of Higher Criticism and Lower Criticism have infected and corrupted the faith of most professing Postmodern Christians.

Postmodernism is simply an attitude of skepticism and distrust toward organized religion often denying the existence of fact-based realities and absolute Truth, especially the trustworthiness of the Bible as absolute Truth.  The effects of Postmodernism result in skeptically questioning the values and moral ethic of almost everything preceding generations have believed and practiced. 

The Baby Boomer Generation (1946-1964) was essentially cautious and silent conformists with a strong potential for passive rebellion against biblical mores.  The Baby Buster Generation X (1965-1979) became open Amoral nonconformists.  The Millennials (Generation Y; 1980-2000) are the radicalized generation who are obvious Postmodernists.  Generation Z (also known as the iGeneration; 2001 to present) are known for their extreme Narcissism (II Timothy 3:1-9).  The Millennial Generation predominantly rejected biblical absolutism while the iGeneration predominantly mocks faith in the Bible.  The predominant characteristic of this present generation is that it is an almost completely faithless generation.  All this digression can be directly connected to the Liberalism conceived from the corrupting influences of Higher and Lower Criticism (developed during the 19th and 20th Centuries; also now known as Historical Criticism and Textual Criticism respectively). 

  • Higher Criticism (what lies above the text)

Higher Criticism (also known as Historical Criticism) seeks to put the Bible text into the historical context in which it is derived.  Fundamentalists would have no objection to this if this is all Higher Criticism did.  Very early in the development of Higher Criticism, the methodology was captured by the liberals of German Rationalism.  These individuals began by questioning the inspiration of the Scriptures.  Such questioning always begins with doubt and ends with unbelief.  They questioned the authorship of each book of the Bible, the historical accuracy of the Bible, and anything that seemed miraculous.  Their conclusions, which began with doubt and unbelief, were that much of the Bible was simply myths and exaggerations. 

Beginning with unbelief in inspiration of the Bible, the critics involved in Higher Criticism began to attempt to destroy faith in the accuracy of history recorded in the Bible and the accuracy of the science recorded in the Bible.  These corruptions of Higher Criticism have become the acceptable views of most of professing Christianity in the twenty-first century – or LIBERALISM!

  • Lower Criticism (what lies below the text)

In most part, Higher Criticism was completely rejected by Bible believing Christianity (Fundamentalism).  However, Lower Criticism was not equally cast aside.  Thus, many within the more conservative of Evangelicals and even many Fundamentalists gave ear to the arguments of Lower Criticism.  Many began to accept Textual Reconstructionism and resultantly new translations that flowed from the never-ending changes within the reconstructed Greek texts.  Lower Criticism quickly morphed itself into Eclectic Textual Criticism, which is another animal altogether. 

Lower Criticism originally looked at the extant manuscript copies of the Bible available at a point of time in history and sought to establish the accuracy of those apographs (copies) based upon certain principles of evaluation.  The most basic premise of Lower Criticism is that because there are copyist errors in the apographs (copies), therefore they assumed God has not preserved His Words in any manuscript. 

Axiopisticism means faith grows only through proving every statement of the Bible to be true and accurate often using the Scientific MethodAxiopisticism begins with doubt regarding the inspiration of the Bible, the preservation of the Bible, the inerrancy of the Bible, the historical accuracy of the Bible, and the supernatural events recorded in the Bible.  Axiopisticism normally seeks to explain the supernatural events of the Bible initiated by God as mere naturally occurring events and then saying that those events are merely interpreted by men as having come from God. 

Axiopisticism seeks to prove the Bible to be the Word of God through Apologetics.  The goal of Apologetics is to confirm a person in faith that the Bible is God’s inspired Words.  The strength of a person’s faith developed through Axiopisticism and Apologetics is only as strong as the ability of the teacher/evangelist to prove the Bible to be true.  The ultimate goal of both biblical Axiopisticism and biblical Apologetics is to bring a person to accept that the whole Bible is authored by God (Autopisticism). 

Apologetics - a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity”

Theological Liberalism is a satanic attack against faith in the trustworthiness of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible as the ultimate source of all Truth.  Theological Liberalism has morphed into Political Liberalism.  The attack against the trustworthiness of the Bible as a source of Truth is fought on hundreds of different fronts, or levels of attack.  The major front of attack is the complete denial of the Bible as being authored by God.  Hundreds of other fronts of attack are intent upon merely undermining faith in various degrees in the Bible’s trustworthiness. 

Every form of the historical and satanic corruption of faith has begun with the question, “Hath God said” (Genesis 3:1)?  From that question evolves every bend, distortion, doubtful disputation, and degree of unbelief that a person can possibly imagine.  Pilate ridiculed Jesus’ statement that Jesus came into the world to “bear witness unto the truth” with the mocking question “what is truth” (John 18:37).  When the Bible is rejected as the infallible proof that God exists and is the Author of all infallible Truth, the outcome is endless debate that is destined to end with this mocking question, “what is truth”?  The Baby Boomer Generation (1946-1964) have witnessed this devolution to the mockery of the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Words of God by the majority of the iGeneration (2001 to present) just in our own short lifespans. 

God’s interaction with His children is directly connected to the reality of our faith in Him and in His inspired Word.  This is especially important when people of faith understand that the primary way God communicates with His children is through the reading, teaching, and preaching of His Word.  This is especially important when people of faith understand that God only honors and blesses communication with Him coming through the medium of our faith. 

In James 1:7-8, God reveals to believers just how important to Him pure/true faith is in our communication with Him.  In James 1:5, God addresses the issue of the need of “wisdom” to deal with the onslaught of satanic influence towards worldliness and the obfuscation of all the good that God seeks to do in our lives through His inspired Word.  Wisdom is the heart and mind of God operating through the life of the believer as the believer by faith yields his will to God’s will.  God’s will is revealed through the Word of God.  This spiritual dynamic will never happen in a believer’s life if that believer does not understand the necessity of maintaining his faith relationship with God. 

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

Godly wisdom is defined as understanding resulting in discernment regarding the spiritual dangers posed to people living within the realm of God’s curse upon Satan and this world.  Those that possess this gift of wisdom, that comes through faith, understand that most of life’s worldly temptations exist within a satanic mine field that we explode because we are not discerning and because we do not heed God’s warnings and commandments.  This is like the foolish man who is amazed that the swing set he just put together for his children falls apart after a few minutes because he refused to read the directions. 

The issue of “wavering” is simply the individual that lives in the middle between believing what God says and the momentary pleasures that the satanic temptations of this world so bountifully offer.  The Waverer is “double minded” because he cannot faithfully surrender to what God reveals to him in the Bible.  Thereby the Waverer really is not a person who lives by faith.  Worldly temptations will be a constant source of a multitude of small and large explosions in such a person’s life.  Such a person’s life, and those around him, will bear the pock-marked scars of continual failures just because he cannot decide to fully surrender and separate himself from worldliness. 
Humanities’ fall into sin plunged this creation into spiritual “darkness” and “blindness.”  Humanity lost its ability to see God or see purely spiritual beings like angels except by them manifesting themselves in some physical form.  This is equally true of the many temptations that come mainly because we are not able to understand the dangers that worldliness poses to people.  Most of the trials and difficulties in life are self-inflicted wounds.  These wounds could have been avoided if we would have heeded the numerous warning signs given us in the Word of God.  Wisdom reads and heeds the warning signs and gives a wide birth to the temptations. 
The second generation of human-kind was born without any experiential/empirical knowledge of God.  Their only knowledge of God was through the instruction of their parents, Adam and Eve.  The necessity of faith for knowledge and understanding of Who and What God is began with the first child of Adam and Eve.  Like most people who know the dangers that accompany flirting with worldliness, such people try to put up fences and boundaries so the unsuspecting will not wander into Satan’s minefields of destruction.  Adam and Eve surely did this with their children.  Putting up fences and boundaries does not mean that people will heed them, especially if they do not understand the dangers.  The spiritual weakling does not have the understanding or discernment to even think of the dangers that are laid out to destroy him.  Like an infant that loves his rattle, the ignorant and undiscerning child sees the rattlesnake as just another plaything. 
A serious and ongoing problem in the life of faith is the tendency to drift into treating God as merely a persona (a character in a play or a book) rather than a Person.  When this happens, the believer begins to live in such a way where God is not a Person Who sees, hears, feels, and understands all that we are and do as individuals.  In such a drift, the believer simply acts within the scenario of life without seeing himself as really interacting with the Person of God.  The Christian then takes on a life of a Christian persona (play-acts being a Christian).  When this happens, the Christian life is reduced to nothing more than cause and effect

A real life of faith sees God interacting within our lives in real and tangible ways in answer to prayer, illumination of His Word, conviction of sin, chastisement for failures, and giving us leadership and direction for life choices through His Word. 

In fact, it is very easy for the Christian life to drift into treating God as merely a persona rather than a Person Who interacts with us and is involved in the details of our lives.  Every Christian will regularly drift into treating God as merely a persona if he does not maintain a deep devotional life and maintain a conscious awareness of the continual presence of the Person of God even though God cannot be seen, touched, or felt.  Without this, a person’s faith with rapidly degenerate into practical unbelief. 
God refers to His “born again” children in the Bible as “the just.”  The term relates specifically to those who have been gifted God-kind righteousness as part of the gift of their salvation.  The point of the phrase “the just” is that such people received God’s grace gift of salvation “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).  The point is that the door through which they entered into the New Genesis (“new creation; II Corinthians 5:17) was through faith in the finished sacrifice of Jesus Christ, those same people must learn to live “by faith.”  In other words, these people need to learn to live within the eternal, spiritual reality of which they have been made part, known only “by faith.”  Romans 1:17 refers to the transition from saving faith to living faith with the words “from faith to faith.”  The spiritual depth of the significance of the statement “from faith to faith” as it relates to the believer’s understanding of a life lived within the realm of faith is really crucial truth. 

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 faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:16-21).

God’s righteousness is revealed in the Gospel “from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17).  It was by the faithfulness (“faith”) of Jesus Christ in obedience to the will of God that reveals to us a God so righteous He would send His Own Son to the Cross of Calvary to pay the wages of sin rather than compromise His righteousness in any way.  “From faith to faith” deals with the impartation of God’s righteous to the person who trusts in Christ.  This is the first “faith” in the phrase “from faith to faith.”  The second “faith” in the phrase “from faith to faith” is living according to the teaching of Jesus “by faith” in the operations of the enabling of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.  This is expanded upon in Romans 3:22.

“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22).

“By faith of Jesus Christ” means by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was faithful in doing what He was sent to do.  Therefore, God was propitiated and the believing sinner can be justified and freed from the condemnation of sin.  The believing sinner is also declared righteous in Jesus Christ.  Through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to the will of God and the substitutionary death of the Cross, He made available “unto all and upon all them that believe” the righteousness of God which justifies the believing sinner. 

“From {saving} faith to {living} faith” is a summary statement of the gift of salvation in the gift of God-kind righteousness to the believing sinner to the enabling of the yielded “born again” believer to live a life of righteousness produced by the filling of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.  It is upon the statement of “from {saving} faith to {living} faith” in Romans 1:17 that every truth of the rest of the epistle to the Romans builds.  Almost every statement Paul makes in this epistle from this point forward relates back to the statement of “from {saving} faith to {living} faith” in Romans 1:17. This statement is foundational to living by faith
“The just {justified} shall live by faith {in the supernatural enabling of the indwelling Spirit of Christ}” (Romans 1:17).  This statement is quoted from Habakkuk 2:4. We need to understand its meaning from that context.

“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

The word translated “just” used in Habakkuk 2:4 is from the Hebrew word tsaddiyq (tsad-deek’) referring to a righteous person because he has been justified and vindicated by God.  The word translated “faith” in Habakkuk 2:4 is from the Hebrew word 'emuwnah (em-oo-naw’) and refers to a person’s fidelity to truth and steadfastness in it.  We would have no knowledge of the potential available to the believer if it was not for the teaching of the Word of God in such texts as Romans chapters six and twelve, Ephesians chapters four, five, and six, and Galatians chapters three through five.  Therefore, the only way we can know of this potential for the Christ-life being produced through our lives by the indwelling Spirit of Christ is through the belief, study, and knowledge of the Word of God. 
The intent of the statement “the just shall live by faith” is that a person saved and justified by faith in Messiah and His propitiatory work is obligated to live a life of faithfulness.  A person is not saved by living righteously, but if he is saved he is obligated to live according to the principles and precepts of the Word of God.  The “just” are obligated to live righteously in that they are declared righteous in Jesus Christ.  This is the same context in which the phrase “the just shall live by faith” is used in Galatians 3:11.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:10-13). 

This spiritual potential of producing the Christ-life by grace through faith through our lives is also detailed in II Peter 2:1-4.

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 unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers {koinonos; sharer, associate, or partner} of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 2:1-4).

          Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  This means faith is the foundation stone of all knowledge of existence beyond this life and human senses.  The word “substance” is from the Greek word hupostasis (hoop-os’-tas-is), referring to a foundational substructure.  It refers to that which is steadfast and gives confidence to the stability of the structure.  Therefore, faith in the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible is the epistemological foundation for the discovery and confidence in all that is certain and absolute Truth. 
The word “evidence” in Hebrews 11:1 is from the Greek word elegchos (el’-eng-khos) and refers to a proof of the reality of something that results in the conviction of the existence of that reality to the degree that the person with that conviction (faith) acts upon that reality.  This means, in simple terms, if we really believe that God is, we will live in this physical reality knowing that this physical existence is nothing but a tiny bubble that is enveloped within the gargantuan infinite existence in which God dwells and controls through both His omnipotence, omniscience, and His omnipresence.  Understanding and believing this Truth is foundational to a life of faith. 

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary,, 1/4/2017.

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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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