Monday, April 3, 2017

Abiding in the Word and the Prayer of Faith

Abiding in the Word and the Prayer of Faith

God’s inspired Bible speaks often of the “just” living “by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38).  The “just” refers to those justified through faith.  Justified means God gifted to these individuals His righteous in the gift of salvation.  The gift of God-kind righteousness comes to the believer through the impartation of the Divine Nature (II Peter 1:4) in the indwelling Holy Spirit of the Godhead. 

     The redeemed are obligated to live the Christ-life in the same way they received the indwelling Christ – “by faith.”  In doing so, they release the Christ-life through their lives.  This is what God’s Word calls the spiritual life (I Corinthians 2:15, 3:1; Galatians 6:1, and I Peter 2:5), “fellowship” with God, and the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). 

          Salvation brings the believer into union with Christ (Theanthropic Union).  Practical sanctification brings the believer into unity with Christ (“unity of the Spirit,” Ephesians 4:1-3).  Practical sanctification begins with the trusting believer fully yielding his body, heart, and mind to the indwelling Christ (Romans 6:11-13).  This is a supernaturally produced sanctification accomplish through a cooperative partnership with the empowering and enabling indwelling Christ.  Jesus speaks of this spiritual unity with Him in John 15:1-8.  In this text, Jesus uses the word “abide” to communicate the imperative of spiritual unity with Him.

1 I {Jesus} 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).

The importance of what Jesus teaches in John 15:1-8 will probably never be fully realized until after we are dead, glorified, and finally standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Then we will see the outcome of all those moments of selfish inconsideration when we lived for carnal pleasures and worldly pursuits.
In John 15:4. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.”  The word “abide” is an aorist, active, imperative.  In other words, the believer is COMMANDED to abide in Christ and to insure Christ abides in the believer.  The word “abide” means to stay or remain.  To not abide in Christ is a serious act of sinful disobedience.  The context demands we understand the meaning is to do whatever is required to ensure that we live in continuous Spirit-filled fellowship with Jesus Christ.  The believer’s will must be so fully surrendered to Christ that their two wills seems as one.  This reality should be the condition of the heart before any person makes any request to God.  Such a person wants intimacy with God before He wants things from God.  This factor defines living faith.  Anything less is simply a foolish attempt to manipulate God into doing what we want Him to do.  What depth of ignorance and unbelief do such attempts manifest in the lives of those trying to do such foolishness as trying to manipulate God?
John 15:7 connects this responsibility to the blessing of answered prayer.  “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”  Notice that in John 15:7, Jesus defines that living in unbroken fellowship with Him necessitates that His “words abide in” us.  In other words, this is not some metaphysical spiritual experience without definitive parameters.  This is not the acceptance of some anything goes syncretistic religious expression.  The necessity that Jesus’ “words abide in” us defines pure Christianity; purely the Word of God. 

What is the first question you ask yourself when you do not receive answers to your prayers?  Are you FULLY surrendered?  Do you have any area of known disobedience to God’s Word in your life?  Have you sought the counsel of someone you respect spiritually?  Will you give this person permission to speak to you frankly about these questions?  What really defines the prayer of faith?  Is faith somehow disconnected from our walk with the Lord?  The redundant pattern of Scripture is that faith has more to do with the way we live our lives than it is about anything else. 
7 But the end of all things is at hand {the Church Age is the “last days”}: be ye therefore sober {of a sound mind meaning doctrinally sound; understanding the timetable of the second coming keeps believers from fretting the events and affairs of the world}, and watch {stay free from intoxicants; keep your mind clear and sober} unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:7-11).

In I Peter 4:7-11 we see several words that describe the overflow of the Spirit of God that manifest His indwelling power flowing through our lives.  There are seven ministry areas of the Christian life that are intimately and intricately connected to having a right working relationship with the Lord.

Understanding these words is critical to understanding how God releases His power through our lives in ministry to one another.

1. Sobriety: from the word sophroneo (so-fron-eh'-o), meaning sound of mind or thinking. Sound mindedness comes from thinking things through and taking into consideration all the Truths of God’s Word as they weigh upon any given subject or situation.  Sophroneo was a word that described a person who did not allow his mind to come under the influence of alcohol.  This is very much what Jesus means when He says “my words abide in you” (John 15:7).
2. Watch unto prayer: the word “watch” is from the word nepho (nay'-fo), meaning to abstain from wine drinking and connecting sobriety (right mindedness) with prayer (God-dependency) in power with God in all matters of life.  Contradistinctively, failure in nepho (abstaining from wine drinking or any similar worldly practice) would disconnect the believer from power with God. Worldly desires manifest a weak mind (the opposite of a strong or sound mind).
3. Fervent charity: literally, unceasing sacrificial love for other true believers. The idea is the willingness to make extreme sacrifices for one another, to help one another grow in grace, and to escape the shackles of our own selfishness.  The words “charity shall cover the multitude of sins” in I Peter 4:8 is a quote from Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”  The idea is that our love is not constantly stirring up the dunghill of a fellow Christian’s past failures of which he has confessed and that have been forgiven.
4. Use hospitality: from the word philoxenos (fil-ox’-en-os), it simply means being fond of guests.  Christians ought to enjoy the company of other Christians and “use hospitality” to encourage one another.  Notice this comes with the qualifier, “one to another without grudging” (grumbling or complaining about having to do it).  Remember, “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7). Hospitality costs both time and money.  If love does not cost us something, we have not loved.
5. Minister “the gift:” “gift” is from charisma and “minister” is from diakoneo (dee-ak-on-eh'-o). In other words, God did not give us the supernatural gift of spiritual enablement to consume upon ourselves.  He has gifted us with the intent we will use that “gift” and spread it as a resource to the widest possible scale of our influence “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  Notice, there is a stewardship involved.  Stewardship means we will be held accountable for this “manifold grace of God.”  This accountability defines the Dispensation (stewardship) of Grace.  Salvation is a gift of grace, but with it comes overwhelming spiritual responsibilities for which we are accountable to God.  He expects “fruit.”
6. Speech: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11).  The word “the” is not in the Greek text in front of the word “oracles.”  It should read, “Speak as oracles of God.”  The idea is like the “thus sayeth the LORD” proclamation of the Old Testament prophets.  The idea is that you are not communicating some philosophical idea or some great thought from your own mind.  There is no option for debate or dissension.  Truth is to come forth from the mouth of the prophet of God, as if God is speaking Himself.  Therefore, when you are speaking forth the Word of God, you are to do so with the authority of its Author.
7. Ministry to the glory of God: “If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11b).  We often hear the word charismatic used to describe people who can attract large crowds.  Often, these types of people are self-glorifying empire builders.  They are like fly paper.  The fly was just looking for a place to land to get something to eat and then he found himself stuck.

When God uses the word charisma, He uses it in the context of His supernatural enabling of a believer for the “work of the ministry.”  This gift of grace is never to be used for some guy to build himself an empire of loyal followers.  God’s gift of grace should be used to make followers of Jesus Christ where all that we do is intent upon bringing God glory - revealing Him in all His wondrous attributes to a blind, cursed, and dying world of sinners.  Sometimes there is a narrow line between a man building himself a kingdom or a man working to win souls and make disciples for the Kingdom of God.  That line is sometimes difficult to discern.

In I Peter 4:7-9, God gives an admonition to believers within a local church union about living during the last days.  The Church Age Dispensation will end with the death of every lost soul on the face of planet earth.  Only the lost that enter into the Tribulation and repent of sin, trust in the finished work of Christ for their redemption during the seven-year Tribulation, will enter into the Kingdom Age Dispensation alive.  Every other person who has received the mark of the Beast will be destroyed by the glory of the coming of Christ.  With this view in mind, the believer should carefully follow the admonitions of I Peter 4:7-9.

Along with what we are told in Revelation chapters four through nineteen and numerous other prophecies, this is the world view of every Christian who believes in the imminent (any moment) second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the looming dark cloud of God’s promise of His unleashed wrath in His judgment of the nations.  This is the theological foundation of the any moment pending reality to which the words: “7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Peter 4:7-9) are addressed.  Perhaps if we truly understood this any moment pending reality, we might begin to take these words seriously.

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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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