Monday, June 5, 2017

The Living Oracles of Faith Language




The Living Oracles of Faith Language

Real faith speaks loudly and clearly through the language of a transformed life. 

Faith is not merely lip service to a list of professed beliefs.  Faith is living those professed beliefs within the context of all types of trials and under all types of duress and persecution for our attempts to bring the world to saving faith in the finished work of redemption through faith in Christ.  The unbelieving world mocks at the hypocrisy of professed beliefs that are not lived or that are easily compromised at the first moment of difficulty or trial of life.  

      Living according to the commands of God will never be easy in this life.  We can see this difficulty even within local churches where believers are supposed to agree about how they live.  The closer a believer seeks to walk with Jesus, the more abstract his life will appear to the unbelieving world.  Perhaps the greatest difficulty in living our faith is to try to “walk in the light” without presenting a persona of being holier than thou.  Being real and genuine about what we believe is a tough job description.

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 {perfect tense, passive voice} unto us {with the intent of causing} all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him {full or complete knowledge of God; the idea is having a thorough understanding of the Character and Nature of God and one’s own relationship to the Person of God} that hath called us to glory {restored dignity} and virtue {restored excellence; the idea is courage to fight for what is right and righteous}: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be {potentially become, not automatically} partakers {an associate or partner} of the divine nature {through the New Birth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit}, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this {for the purpose of escaping ‘the corruption that is in the world through lust’}, giving all diligence, add {imperative verb} to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge {full or complete knowledge of God; the idea is having a thorough understanding of the Character and Nature of God and one’s own relationship to the Person of God} of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:1-8).

          Christ considered a Christian or local church that did not win souls and make disciples an anomaly that was wasting His blood investment in the redemption of their souls.  Some type of fruit bearing is expected of all true believers!

6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down” (Luke 13:6-9).

          Within the text of II Peter 1:1-8, we find a trinity for fruit production This trinity comes all wrapped up for us in the word “faith” in II Peter 1:1.  This trinity rapidly unfolds in the next seven verses in the key words “grace,” “peace,” “knowledge,” and “divine power” ultimately ending in fruitfulness (fruit bearing).  This trinity involves three spiritual dynamics.

The Tripartite of Spiritual Power

1. Knowledge (illumination) of God’s will through His Word
2. The supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit of God in the illumination and the application of God’s Word
3. Translating the Word of God into the language of living (becoming “doers of the Word”)

Training in these three areas is really what defines discipleship; “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).  Herein is where most local churches fail so often in their discipleship (“perfecting”) ministry.  This is also what makes preaching different than teaching.  Teaching primarily appeals to the head while preaching primarily appeals to the heart.  Preaching is the dogmatic presentation of the truths of God’s Word in the power of the Spirit of God (“unction”) resulting in the confrontation of our Will Gates with the intent of bringing our living into harmony with the Word of God (living/doing faith).

Knowing faith is not the same as living faith.  Successful discipleship is measured in the realm of living faith, not mere knowing faith.  We see very few real life changing decisions today in our invitations after preaching services.  The lack of these decisions is even more evident in the reality of the lack of any real change in how people live out their professed faith in the everyday living of their lives.  If spiritual decisions are genuine, that genuineness will manifest itself by these people engaging their corporate ethic with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is almost as if people think they can live the Christian life (living faith) covertly.  This kind of thinking must be confronted and eradicated before true living faith can become a reality. 

Living faith is a public faith that stands on the highest ground of a person’s corporate and individual influence with a living testimony of a life that points to Jesus Christ.

25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Anchor26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. Anchor27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Anchor28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:25-28).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

          Orthodoxy should always result in orthopraxy.  Orthodoxy involves knowing correct doctrine.  Orthopraxy is accurately living correct doctrine (Truth) to the degree that it reflects and restores the image of Who God is in our lives resulting in manifesting His communicable attributes to the world.  This is known as bringing God glory.  Glorifying God (manifesting who He is through the way we live) is the primary purpose of Bible study and the pursuit of orthodoxy.  Without orthodoxy, we can never achieve orthopraxy and we can never truly glorify the Lord.  The focal purpose of orthodoxy is always doxological or it is not orthodoxy. 

Obtaining “Like Precious Faith”

          The word “faith” is used of both saving faith and living faith in the Word of God.  The context of use must determine too which of these two meanings are being referred.  These two meanings of faith can be found together in Romans 1:17.

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. Anchor17 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).

 The context of II Peter is referring to Christian service (ministry).  Therefore, the meaning of the word “faith” here is living faith.  In this context, the word “faith” refers to putting some muscle upon the theological bones of Bible doctrine. 

It is not that the believer puts life to the Word of God (God’s Word is inherently living).  The idea is that the indwelling Holy Spirit of God puts life to our bodies, dead in trespasses and sin and still possessing a sin nature, through the transforming, cleansing power of the Living Word of God.  This happens when the believer yields to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and begins to live the Truths of God’s Word through the Spirit’s supernatural enabling (grace).

          However, the miraculous work of the indwelling Spirit does not take place until a believer yields to the indwelling Spirit AND begins to live the Word of God (living faith).

          Biblical faith is not merely what we choose to believe.  Biblical faith is Sola Scriptura.  Sola Scriptura means our beliefs are what the Word of God teaches; nothing more and nothing less.  This is what the Word of God means when God speaks of “like precious faith” and “the faith.”  Biblical faith is not about man’s opinions, traditions, or philosophies.  Biblical faith is not about our observations of human behavior patterns (psychology).  Biblical faith is not discovered by rationalism or human logic.  Biblical faith comes by the supernatural illumination of Sola Scriptura.  This is an absolute necessity in the spiritual dynamic of faith building in both the life of the preacher/teacher and in the life of the disciple.

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Anchor2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2).

          Therefore, the second aspect of the Tripartite of Spiritual Power necessary to fruit bearing is the fact that Theology (knowing who God is) is intricately connected to Pneumatology (knowing who the Spirit of God is and what He is doing in our lives).  This is the connecting link in II Peter 1:1-8 between saving faith and living faith.  This is communicated in this text by the words “grace,” “divine power,” and “partakers of the divine nature.”  If we miss this truth, we miss the primary distinctive characteristic of what defines the Age of Grace or the Church Age. 


  The third aspect of the trinity necessary to fruit bearing is that Pneumatology (knowing who the Spirit of God is and what He is doing in our lives) is the connecting link to translating the Word of God into the language of living (becoming “doers of the Word and not hears only”).  Anything less than living supernaturally enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God will be nothing more than carnal legalism.

1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Anchor2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Anchor3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Anchor4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. Anchor5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5)?

          The Christian life (living faith) is supernaturally produced.  Apart from the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit of God, the Christian life is completely beyond our realization.  The Spirit of God produces the Christian-life (the Christ-life) in us when we yield our will gate to Him as He reveals His will to us through the illumination of the Word of God. 

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Anchor2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Anchor3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; Anchor4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Anchor5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:1-5).

          In II Peter 1:5-8, the Christian life is described by seven tangible, evidentiary realities that are added to faith through incremental decisions intended to make a believer’s life fertile soil for fruit bearing to the glory of God.  The word “add” is from the Greek word epichoregeo (ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o).  It literally means to nourish or to aid.  The context would imply that the seven attributes listed bring faith to its fullest potential; i.e. fruit bearing.  As these seven qualities are built one upon another (the word “to” should be translated upon) and are connected one to the other, they will nourish faith to its fullest stature and potential.  Living faith is defined by adding these virtues one upon the other.

1. Virtue: from arete (ar-et'-ay), manliness or valor and probably refers to moral strength of character
2. Knowledge: from gnosis (gno'-sis), most commentators agree that the context implies this to mean applied knowledge for discerning the will of God and therefore knowing the will of God with assurance dogmatically
3. Temperance: from egkrateia (eng-krat'-i-ah), self-control or self-restraint; refers to holding in the corrupted desires of the flesh
4. Patience: from hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay'), meaning constancy; enduring under trials or difficulties
5. Godliness: from eusebeia (yoo-seb'-i-ah), holiness or separation from worldliness and unto ministry (loving self-sacrifice)
6. Brotherly kindness: philadelphia (fil-ad-el-fee'-ah), kindness and generosity to other believers
7. Charity: agape (ag-ah'-pay), sacrificial benevolence to the benefit of others.  This kind of love does not happen apart from GIVING of self sacrificially.  It is the kind of love that God is. 

 These seven character qualities added to our faith are the essentials of grace to produce fruit through the empowering of the indwelling Holy Spirit and a transformed life.  In other words, there are some very tangible aspects of Christian character that we must possess before the power of the indwelling Spirit of God can be fully released through our lives.  The Word of God does not tell us to what extent we must have these added qualities, but I would surmise that the more of these qualities we possess the more eternal fruit will be produced through our ministry by the Holy Spirit.  These are the attributes of a living faith forged in the foundry of spiritual growth intent upon production of eternal fruit. 

          These attributes forge a chain that connects the supernatural existence of God to the temporal existence of mankind.  The believer with these qualities added to his/her faith becomes that connecting link.  The outcome of that supernatural connection is that “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:8).

          Central to a local church’s failure in fulfilling the Great Commission is the failure of people who have not forged a real-world faith in their lives and who are not living in the Tripartite of Spiritual Power.  Wilderness Christians remain in the barren wilderness of fruitlessness because they have a superficial knowledge of God, a superficial knowledge of the ministry of His indwelling Spirit, and a superficial faith that never connects them to the spiritual warfare that living in the Promised Land necessitates.  Peter spoke of this living faith in his first epistle as well. 

1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead {when Christ descended into Abraham’s Bosom; i.e. paradise}, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh {at the Judgment Seat of Christ}, but live according to God in the spirit.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. 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 4:1-11).

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 who enter alive into the Tribulation and who repent of sin and 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 in 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.

          The word “end” in I Peter 4:7 is from the Greek word telos (tel'-os).  This word refers to the point aimed at as a limit or the point of termination.  The Church Age Dispensation is the next to the last age of God’s longsuffering grace upon this fallen creation.  Then comes the “day of wrath” that Paul speaks of in Romans 2:5: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. . .”  This is the future horizon of which all Church Age believers must be constantly reminded.  We must keep this prophecy as part of today’s possible realities. 

          In I Peter 4:7-11, we see many words that describe the overflow of the Spirit of God that manifests 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.
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 (parenting kind of) 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 free 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 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.  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 supernatural enabling (grace) is never to be used for someone 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. To glorify God means 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. 

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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.