A Modern Reformation (Part 2)
Robert Wurtz II
The key to going on with God is right response to His personal dealings and His revelation of truth. That is as simple of thing as can be stated. Multitudes upon multitudes are living in wrong response to His revelation and dealings- dead in their trespasses and sins. They want it that way. This is a hard saying, but it is true. If they would but respond rightly to what God has revealed He would give them more revelation. But why should God give more revelation to those that are not faithful with the revelation that they do have? Hosea 4:6a offers a glimpse into God’s reaction to mans rejection of revelation, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee. The book of Romans also makes clear that the problem between God and man is on man’s end, not God’s. God has revealed Himself many times since the beginning of time in what the writer to the Hebrews called ‘diverse manners’ (Hebrews 1:1ff). That is to say, He gave forth a progressive revelation of Himself through those that He chose for the purpose. To this revelation was added the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In John 3:1ff Jesus reveals to us that the problem is not that there is no light, but that men reject the Light that has come into the world. Why? Because their deeds are evil.
That Which May Be Known About God
It is impossible to know more about God than what He has chosen to reveal. We are completely reliant on Him to reveal information about Himself. Indeed, there are many things about God that are ‘knowable’; these are the things we must bring into focus. Rebellious lost men and women love to point to the ‘mysterious’ and ‘unknowable’ things of God as excuse for their refusal to respond rightly to that which He has clearly made known to them. Some try to fabricate lies that paint God totally out of the picture. God preempts this attitude of men saying, Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. (Romans 1:19) This is God’s declaration of the facts in the case. Men will be judged at the Great White Throne, not for what they could not have known, but for what they knew or should have known. God, who is truth and cannot lie has said in effect, “I have shown myself to them.” Yet, multitudes have provoked Him to wrath, not merely by not responding rightly to this fact, but by denying He has shown Himself at all. It is a sham. To further aggravate their crimes they go the next step and suppress the truth; that is to say, the truth of God is out in the open, but wicked men, so to speak, put it under a bushel and “hold it down in unrighteousness.” They seek to conceal the open truth of God from themselves and other men. To further provoke their Creator they will use all their faculties to fabricate and believe some falsehood against God that calls into question His existence or authority. They employ their God given talents and abilities to war against the Almighty with tongue and pen. They use the powers of their mind to hate their Creator as opposed to loving Him with their mind. This is a sad fact to ponder.
Problem not on God’s end
The time would fail to speak of all the ways God has revealed Himself. Simply put, HE IS and we all know HE IS. Not only can man clearly see the truth of God through His infinitely marvelous creation, apprehending that there indeed must be a Divine Creator, but He has also shown Himself in them so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20) He has deposited the truth of Himself clearly in their heart and conscience. With all of these revelations of Himself at work, He adds the fact that He strives with man personally. This goes on until some point known only to Him, He will at last leave off from them (Genesis 6:3). What a horrifying judgment that God would leave man to himself.
The Holy Spirit has been sent into the world to convince (convict) the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. (John 16:8) He deals with man (in the language He used to Saul of Tarsus) so as to goad him/her onto the straight and narrow way. (See Acts 9:5) This has gone on since the beginning. Even as the Psalmist David expresses God’s personal dealings after he had sinned with Bathsheeba, For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah (Psalms 32:3-4) The hand of the Lord was ‘heavy’ on David. He likely could not sleep and was preoccupied with what he had done. God deals with man in this way and many others.
God meets with all men and women right where they are. He seeks to draw men unto Christ. The absolute key to success in this is found in how we respond to Him. If we continue to strive with the Spirit, that is to say, to always resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), there will come a point when He will no longer strive. This is a most fearful fact. When God is dealing it is time to turn to Him in repentance and faith. While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. The voice of God is calling out to man. May we not provoke Him and grieve Him as did the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. (Hebrews 3:15ff) We must ‘hear’ and ‘hearken’. We must respond rightly to Him and His truth in faith believing.
Agreeing With God
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:9-10)
Here we find an essential element in responding rightly to what God has revealed to us. We must agree with Him. This is the great challenge. What God calls sin we must call sin. It is not an ‘oopsy’ or a ‘boo-boo’. He wants us to come to terms with what we have done and will make sure that we do sooner or later. John tells us, If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. This is a person that refuses to agree with what God has said. We have to take responsibility for the way we have been living. The enemy says we are just as good as the next person. God says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What do you want to believe? This is the ancient question. Will you let God be true or will you seek to justify your own actions and in turn make yourself be true? This is the key question.
Denial leads to damnation, it is a hard saying but utterly true. Denial is a refusal to acknowledge the facts in the case. We are sinners. We deserve damnation. God has asked us to acknowledge what He has said about our condition as absolute truth and we have to decide whether we will acknowledge or deny. Adam chose to believe the lies of the Serpent and in turn plunged the human race into slavery to Sin. He passed the buck to Eve and she passed it to the Serpent. But the buck stops with each of us. We have to take possession of our own actions and acknowledge them before God. We are slaves to sin itself. We have to acknowledge this reality. Paul stated emphatically, Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16) Who can deny this fact? Satan offers his lies that suggest less than a full admission. Who will you respond to? Will you respond in the affirmative to the lies of Satan or to the truth of God? In other words, who will you place your faith and trust in? Will you agree with Satan or God? If you confess or ‘acknowledge’ your sins He is faith and just to forgive. Why? Because the price is already paid. The ‘IF’ has to do with ‘IF’ we will acknowledge our sins ‘THEN’ He is faithful and just to forgive… (1 John 1:9)
Full Submission that God can Believe
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25 ESV)
God has got to be able to believe us when we respond to Him. God knows all things. He is inside of our hearts and minds weighing our thoughts. In our passage Jesus did not have faith in their belief. Why? Because He knew what was in them. He could see the basis on which they were believing and He did not trust it. The same Greek word is used for their ‘belief’(pisteuo) and His ‘entrust’ (pisteuo). Simply put, He did not believe their belief. He did not believe them. If you would have asked the people if they believed they would have probably said ‘yes’. In fact, they might have said it with some level of conviction; but their belief was faulty because it was based on Jesus doing miracles, etc. rather than on a belief that He was the Sovereign Creator of all things and is to be made Lord and King. It was a ‘faith’ but not a faith that would crown Him.
Faith that Warrants a New Creature
Once a person has fully submitted to God in a way He can believe (pisteuo) a transformation will take place in which the person will pass from death unto life and from the power of Satan to the Power of God. They will become a new creature. This is more than a doctrine; it is an experience. Yet, one cannot receive from God and resist Him at the same time. People try to do it all the time. He deals with them and they resist Him, then they try to ‘receive’ the Holy Spirit. It is impossible. We have to surrender to God in a way that is believable. The result? A New Creation.
Life comes in
It has been said that Jesus came to make dead men live. This is true. When the life of God comes in the person is ‘alive to God’ in a way they used to be ‘alive to sin’. This person will not need a call on Sunday to make sure they are ‘still saved’. This is a changed person. God has taken them out of Adam and baptized them into the Body of Christ. How can we know? Well, that is a loaded question. We can say for one thing that a New Creature is self-announcing. Everyone will know there has been a change. The sin has moved out and the Holy Spirit has moved in. The heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Our new Spirit will begin to cry out to God- ABBA Father! (Romans 8:14; Galatians 4:6) Our spirit bears witness with the Holy Spirit that we are the children of God. This is known as the witness of the Spirit.
A Whole New Desire
Moreover, as newborn babes in Christ we will desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby. (I Peter 2:2) We want to know what the will of their Heavenly Father is so they might please Him. This is what the Eunuch experienced when he was saved in the book of Acts. Phillip speaks of baptism and his response was one of desire to obey God. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? (Acts 8:36)
Initial Evidence of Being Born from Above
When a person turns in repentance, acknowledging their sin and truly believes, the Holy Spirit will leave off striving, goading, convicting, etc. and He will pour in love (Romans 5:5) and the other fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Joy comes in place of the ‘heavy hand of the Lord’. A whole new desire and sense of fulfillment will come in. It is a total reversal of paradigm. Sin used to please and now it vexes. Righteousness used to vex and now it pleases. Very simple. Our ‘meat’ or ‘food’ is to do God’s will, just as it was Jesus’ ‘meat’ to do the will of Him that sent Him. That is to say, we are satisfied and fulfilled by doing HIS will in the way that we are satisfied when we are full after a great meal. Sin never satisfied, but the chase was all it could deliver. Where once we attempted to be ‘fulfilled’ by sin- now we are contented by being a hearer and a doer of the works of God. Contentment is what man craves and needs. Oh that man would know the sense that Christ is enough! This is what we as believers live for! Knowing and serving Him is what brings joy and contentment!
There is a deep craving for God that New Born believers have that cannot be quenched any differently than quenching a new born babies need for a bottle. We give them the milk of God’s word and they walk in the truth of it, just like a mother feeds her newborn baby. Newborn babes in Christ are filled with zeal for the Lord. They desire to share their new life with others. They seem to eat, sleep, and breathe God. They want to know when the next Church service is or when the next prayer meeting will be. They are NEW LIFE to the Church! They are often unlearned about God, but they are sincere and full of desire. They may make mistakes but God knows their heart. John writes; My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29) Notice this simple progression, Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him and that He gives them eternal life. This is one of the great evidences of the born again experience- they hear and follow Jesus Christ. Their eyes and ears are open and ready to follow. They will never again feel at home in sin. The world is not their habitat any longer. Amen.