Called, but Almost Killed

Called, but Almost Killed
Robert Wurtz II

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband artthou to me. (Exodus 4:24-25)

Moses’ wife Zipporah was a Midianite and apparently refused to allow her son to be circumcised. The Midianites already had a history with the people of God at this juncture. You will remember that it was the Midianites that sold Joseph into Egypt in the first place. (Genesis 37:36) Time will not change these people. In the centuries to come they will serve as Israel’s enemies. It was the Midianites, along with Moab, that hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.(Numbers 22:4-7) When Moab gave up, Balaam, a man who loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15), hung around with the Midianites as an adviser for evil. (Numbers 31:16) This is the same man that tried to go and curse Israel against the counsel of God and met at angel in the doorway to waiting to kill him too. Peter comments on this as well, “but he was rebuked for his own lawlessness: a dumb donkey speaking with the voice of a man restrained the madness of the prophet.” (2 Peter 2:16) The Lord Jesus in Revelation 2:14 tells us that Balaam taught the people to commit idolatry and fornication. Historically we know that this combination idolatry/fornication was of a terrible sort. His point was that there were people doing this very same thing in the church at Pergamos. Peter tells us that these are the type of men that promise freedom, but are themselves servants of corruption. The darkness of hell has been reserved for such. (2 Peter 2:17) This is the Midianite way.
 Called to obedience

“If Moses was to carry out the divine commission with success, he must first of all prove himself to be a faithful servant of Jehovah in his own house.” (K&D) The key words here, “…in his own house.” Moses had two sons and only the older one had been circumcised. Obviously Zipporah did not like the practice and it was an area of strong contention in the home. As if she would say, “We circumcised my firstborn; were not doing that to this son!” The penalty for not circumcising was death, but since this was a child the responsibility fell to the father. Moses, as the head of the household, was responsible before God to follow the commandment. He defied God by obeying the voice of his wife. We have a comment some centuries years later when Paul gave commandment concerning elders in the churches; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5) 
A divided house
Moses obeyed his wife over God and it nearly cost him his life. God had big plans for Moses. Maybe Moses figured, “Well, God was just speaking to me and He didn’t say anything about it. It must be OK. He must not care.” Yet visiting with God should have brought the issue up before his own mind. Why should God have to keep telling a person to do something they already know they should do? What happened? And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Some might say, “You mean God was really going to kill Moses.” That’s right. But what about his calling? What about the plans to lead the people out? I am convinced that had Moses not followed through with circumcising his son God would have killed him. Why? Because God is going to be glorified by our lives one way or the other. He will either be glorified by our obedience or he will be glorified by the demonstration of the consequences of disobedience. God cannot use a person that obeys others in front of Him. Fortunately, Zipporah recognized that God meant business and had the good sense to change her mind; though she did it reluctantly and grudgingly.
The God of Thy Fathers
 When God got ready to speak to Moses He introduced Himself saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. (Acts 7:33) If Moses, as the leader of Israel, did not maintain continuity with the past he would have been starting a new religion. It would have been false. He was expected to walk in the steps of the faith and obedience of his forefathers. God does not change, so Moses was to serve God according to the revelation given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This means that God had given Moses the same commandment concerning circumcision that He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was the sign of the covenant. He was expected to maintain the same level of obedience that they had exhibited. There are no privileged characters in the program of God. Moses was expected to utterly obey God. Here is a man that in the years to come will give a command to step forward and over a million people will take a step. As the leader he had to utterly obey God. He found that the enemy of obedience was in his own household.

The deceitfulness of sin

If Moses had gotten by with disobeying God he would have never reverenced God. Sin is deceitful when God’s judgment is not swift. Solomon said it this way, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) Men and women sin when they perceive there will be no consequences or if they perceive the consequences will be well into the future. David said it a little differently, “The transgression of the wicked says within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Psalms 36:1b) In other words, when I see people in sin and compromise it is evident that they are devoid of the fear of the Lord. Because judgment is not instant, people carry on like God will never bring them into judgment. But the day is coming. It is just not yet. 
Lifelong struggle
Moses dealt with the Midianites at the beginning of his calling and at the end of his life. They were constantly trying to bring the people of God down. From Zipporah the wife to Balaam the prophet. Moses sent warriors out and utterly routed the Midianites. For a few centuries their was rest from their antics. Then some two hundred and fifty years after this the Midianites had regained their ancient power, and in confederation with the Amalekites and the “children of the east” they made war against the the Israelites, whom for seven years they oppressed and held in subjection. They were at length assailed by Gideon in that ever-memorable battle in the great plain of Esdraelon, and utterly destroyed (Judges 6:1-7). Frequent allusions are afterwards made to this great victory (Psalm 83:10, Psalm 83:12; Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:6). They now wholly pass away from the page of history both sacred and profane. (Easton) God finally dealt Midian it’s death blow and He did it through total obedience to Him.

Correcting the Spirit of this Age

Survival of the Revival (Revisited)
Part 2 Correcting the spirit of this age
Robert Wurtz II

 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (Acts 17:6-7)

There is a common view that if the church is to be effective they will need to get in step with the spirit of this age; but God sent the Holy Spirit into this world to correct the spirit of this age. (D.L. Burch) In the words of Acts 17:6, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also. This is an interesting statement that is challenging to translate. It carries the idea that the people had revolutionized Roman society. They were agents of change. This is what happens when the Kingdom of God breaks into the kingdoms of this world. The work of God sets out to correct the error and rebellion that dominates this age and sets back the advancement of sin and rebellion. 

The God of Thy Fathers

 I want to challenge you to an exercise. Try to do your best to imagine what life was like in the Western world 40 years ago. Do the same for the churches of God. How different are things now? I am particularly sensitive to the changes because one of my ministries is to the elderly and they are locked in a different time. Ministering to the elderly is a totally different thing than anything else I experience in the churches of God that I move in. There is almost no continuity. Yet in Genesis 28 God speaks to Jacob and says; And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; (Genesis 28:13 KJV) Notice that God makes sure that Jacob understands that he is connected to the previous generation. Although this is a fresh start for him and the people of God; in another sense it is a stated continuation of what had begun elsewhere and earlier. It is vital that we understand this. Sometimes we use the word ‘new generation’ in a sense that gives the impression that they are at liberty to break ties with previous generations of believers that have gone before. This is not only false, it is diabolical. God never intended for Jacob to break continuity with Abraham and Isaac. This plays out all through the history of Israel. When God got ready to speak to Moses He introduced Himself saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. (Acts 7:33) If Moses as the leader of Israel did not maintain continuity with the past he would have been starting a new religion. It would have been false. God always builds on the previous generations. If we break continuity with them we have started a false religion. If we are starting a new religion we are not turning the world upside down, we are turning our forefathers over in their graves. 

Three Great Questions

The world has made so many advancements into the churches of God that we are left to answer three great questions in this crisis hour:

1) What is church

2) What is culture
3) What is compromise

Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand (Matthew 12:25b)

As a former youth pastor I believe categorically that the separation between the youth and the adults that goes on in many circles has been the direct cause of the greatest split in the churches of God since the Reformation. I personally believe it is the single greatest crisis we face as the churches today. Why? Because it has divided the house. Young people have their own culture and the older folks have a different culture. This polarization cannot continue. It started in the 1940’s when society invented the ‘Teen Age’ demographic. Today, many youth don’t even meet in the same buildings or attend the same meetings as the adults. Typically the older folks try to walk in the footsteps of their fathers, while many young believers have completely broken ties with the past. They are reinventing Christianity as it was known for 2000 years. They believe they have started a ‘new’ thing. As time goes on a greater split will result from this phenomena. Because the old-timers will hold their ground and refuse to compromise the gap will grow until whole denominations will split down the middle between the older people and the younger people. The older people will die off and their buildings will be sold to make room for a new Quicktrip or some other secular facility. The younger generation will gut and remodel their churches and practices until they have the feel of a dancehall or the corner bar. Why? Because this generation does not care about what our forefathers would or would not approve of. They are a law unto themselves. 

In 2005 Ron Bailey made this shocking observation that is prophetic in our times:

“In a genuine ‘house of God’ the word will not pretend to uniqueness or novelty; it will arise out of what God has already said to others before us. The circumstances will be different, but something will be the same. The old voices will echo in the new building. The wise householder was said to bring forth out of his treasure things new and old; “Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52 KJV) What is genuinely ‘new’ and from God will always draw with it the ‘old’.

Much of the western church over the last 100 years has failed to see the difference between the new and the novel. There is never any need for the novel in a ‘house of God’, but there will be a constant need for the ‘new’- a ‘new’ that has an unbroken fellowship with the ‘old’. The ‘novel’ will produce independence and pride; the ‘new’ will produce interdependence and humility.”

Forty years ago and before we did not have the division that we have today. Why is that? Popular culture divides people into age groups and generations. In the Kingdom of God we are one generation, the Generation of Jesus Christ. How are we standing up against the culture? Are the churches of God influencing and correcting the culture that says young and old must be divided or has the culture affected us? Have we allowed compromise to influence the church and called it culture? Any move of God within the churches was to reestablished the moral standards within broader society. God is pressing the ‘reset’ button. 

Cutting ties with the past?

God wanted Moses to know that he was serving the same God that his fathers served. Maybe it would help if we write that 100X on a blackboard someplace: 

You are serving the same God that your fathers served

You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served

What does that mean? It means that God does not change. So if we are changing the standards it is not because God has changed it is because we have changed. How do we know? Because we are serving the same God our fathers served. Shame on a generation that is so haughty that they marginalize their elders and dismiss almost every way that they expressed their faith. They threw away their modesty, their holiness, their separation from the world, their sermon emphasis, their hymns, the decor of the sanctuary, their personal dress codes, etc. Many view themselves as youth in the spirit of David, but they move in a counsel like unto the young men that counseled Solomon’s son Rehoboam- leading to the split between the Northern and Southern kingdoms in Israel. The older folks are typically sober-minded and resistive of allowing change, especially compromise into the churches of God. This is one of the qualifications for leadership in the pastoral epistles. 

If our forefathers would not do it- why would we? If our forefathers would all in unison rebuke and reject the things going on today- what makes us think we are right and they are wrong? This question needs to be deeply pondered. The youth seek to distance themselves from that voice of reason so they can make-over the churches of God after their own lusts unabated. It’s almost as lamentable as the woman who was tired of her husband never coming home from the tavern at nights, so she came up with a plan and set it to music:

She said: ‘I’m gonna’ hire a wino to decorate our home, So you’ll feel more at ease here, and you won’t have to roam. We’ll take out the dining room table, and put a bar along that wall. And a neon sign, to point the way, to our bathroom down the hall.”

What happened? She decided that to lure her man to the house she would decorate it like a Tavern. Is that not what has happened? Folks waited for the old timers to die off so they could turn our churches into clubs and the men and women could dress like they were out on a Saturday night? I must ask, ‘Is it really time to get our groove on?’ I mean, really. We are within a hairs breadth of being plunged into fire and blood and folks still refuse to adorn themselves modestly. Not ‘modest’ by the World’s standards that has the morals of an alley-cat, but of Jesus Christ that has already said. “I change not!” He said that Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. What did they do? One of the first things was to put on sackloth as a sign of self-humiliation. Selah. 

Think of some names of old timer men and women that you know and then ask yourself if they would participate in what is often being sanctified as ‘holy’ in this evil and adulterous generation? Has God changed? Certainly not. Is that how we correct the spirit of this age? Certainly not. What is going on then? Have we gone plumb crazy? It’s a disgrace. 

Giving up ground the old timers took back 

How can a generation be advancing to the rear and still claim to be ‘free’ and have ‘victory’, etc.? We have surrendered more ground in 40 years than probably any generation in the history of the modern churches. This is why we desperately need revival. At the pace we are moving anything and everything will be sanctifyable in the next 40 years no matter how sinful or demonic. That is always the problem with compromise; typically everybody does it. But God wants to CORRECT this mindset. This is what happened with the moves of God during the years of Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Finney, etc. We are only just now as a society falling back into the immoral, pagan practices of bygone eras. The reason the Western world experienced a few hundred years of greater moral sensibilities was directly related to the preaching and teaching of men and women of God that help up the standard of God’s holiness and righteousness. The churches in many cases sought to distance themselves from the trappings and practices of this present evil world. The preaching carried the theme of righteousness and holiness, as well as the hymns. People came to expect Christians to live differently than sinners. There was a separation between the churches and the world.   

A New Emphasis 

America has been visited of God several times over the last 250 years. Unfortunately, in the late 1950’s the emphasis changed dramatically towards signs and wonders; especially Divine Healing.  Since the time of Oral Roberts, many ‘ministries’ have came online that emphasized healing. As a person who has been healed of God I find this emphasis to be misguided. I have prayed and fasted for the healing of my wife who was dying with congestive heart failure in the year 2000 and has lived through kidney disease and two bouts with thyroid cancer. I have seen God heal twisted limbs and other diseases. That is not the question. When the emphasis within Pentecostalism becomes Divine Healing or miracles rather than holiness, righteousness, unity and evangelism we have totally left our roots and are headed for destruction. 

Modern Pentecostalism was born within the Wesleyian holiness revivals, not the things that we see happening today. We have watched neo-Pentecostalism rise in numbers across the world to staggering heights, but it is rare these days to find a preacher of righteousness like Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, etc. The emphasis today is on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, whereas in the New Testament the emphasis is on the preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The cross must be front and center. The primary function of the Holy Spirit is to glorify and exalt Jesus Christ. He is also come to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. The evidence of the presence of God is not a “feeling of a presence”, but the manifestation of the Fruit of the Spirit in the behavior of the people being made subject to His presence. The people exhibit love, joy, peace, gentleness, temperance, meekness, faith, etc. and that reality fills the atmosphere. They desire to be separated unto God. 

Sober and alert

Growing up in the 1980’s I learned a lot about what we sometimes call an ‘atmosphere’. I tremble now to say this, but when I was a teen I attended church services from time to time. I would listen to the latest music all the way to the meeting. But when I got out of my car and came into the church I walked into a totally different world. I was immediately sobered to the reality that this is not just any place, this is the gate of Heaven. The reverential fear of God would come over me. I was challenged and convicted by the lyrics of the songs being sung. I fear that a generation walks into our churches seeking the Lord and see a totally different place that they grew up in. The very things that they grew up hearing was sin is now being openly practiced among the people. Feeling disillusioned, I fear many just walk back out. We need to be sober. We need to pray to God until He takes the blinders off and softens the hearts that keep wanting to fall a lusting after some new worldly thing that the church is trying to sanctify. We don’t need a revival of miracles, we need a revival of Holy Ghost conviction that is so strong that men and women would tremble in terror before they dared to divide the worship in the house of God by being immodest or exalting themselves in some way. The way we know the Spirit is gone is because Holy Ghost conviction is gone. The same God that convicted our forefathers will convict us if we will diligently seek His face. We are not a new generation of privileged characters; we are a generation that cannot endure sound doctrine but rather heaps to itself teachers that tickle the ears. We are a generation that the Lord may ask, “When I return shall I find faith on the earth?” We need to reckon with it and pray accordingly.  


Survival of the Revival (Revisited)

Survival of the Revival (Revisited)
Robert Wurtz II

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)

In 2004 I preached a series of messages to our Adult Bible Class concerning the subject of repentance and revival. Our church had been visited of God in a marvelous way giving rise to numerous rededications to the Lord and over 30 water baptisms. There was an urgency among many that danger was on the horizon. Not just danger of judgment, but the very real danger that the churches would backslide into a deeper hardness and worldliness than they already had. Although I never heard God say it, it was almost as if we were facing the same fate of the church at Ephesus, “Repent and do your first works, lest I remove thy lamp stand out of its place.” Snow storms had forced church closings in an unprecedented way that winter. Each cancellation caused the urgency to grow stronger. Many were getting the message loud and clear. The prophet said it this way, “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid…” One translator put it, “I have heard Thy report.” The prophet is alarmed. There is a great urgency. His prayer? O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

As God was moving…

 One of the great challenges of that time was that so many people had their own definition of revival. At that time we were still in the shadow of the so-called ‘holy laughter’ of Tortonto, the ‘Holy Ghost Bartender’ blasphemy and a host of other weird manifestation infestations among works that very well may have started off well. Eventually men like Todd Bentley would be kicking people in the face with their biker boot and calling it ‘Holy Ghost direction.’ A few people claim to be healed and delivered and suddenly everything that happened in these meetings was validated. The people cast discernment to the wind and the Church received another hefty black-eye for the nonsense. It happened as Derek Prince, one of the most respected figures in the Charismatic Movement, warned some years before when he wrote:

“Now, the Bible speaks about signs and wonders. It says some things about them that are good, and some that are very frightening. I want to turn to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and read a few verses there, beginning at verse 9. The coming of the lawless one [that is the title of the Antichrist] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

So, Paul says here there are such things as lying signs and wonders. There are true signs and there are lying signs. True signs attest the truth. Lying signs attest lies. Satan is fully capable of supernatural signs and wonders. Unfortunately, many in the Charismatic movement have the attitude that if something is supernatural, it must be from God. There is no scriptural basis for that assumption. Satan is perfectly capable of producing powerful signs and wonders to attest his lies, and the reason such people are deceived is because they did not receive the love of the truth. On such people God will send strong delusion. That is one of the most frightening statements in the Bible. If God sends you strong delusion, you will be deluded. I think that is one of the most severe judgments of God recorded in Scripture, sending these people strong delusion. They will be condemned, these people, because they did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”(D.P. Protection from Deception 1996)

Notice how he stated that the Charismatic movement is particularly vulnerable to deception because they think that everything that happens supernatural is of God. It is not. It was not until Todd Bentley was caught in adultery that many people left off believing he was legit. Even then some wanted a ‘quick restoration’ so he could get back in his ‘ministry’. It is madness. How do things like this happen? It happens when the supernatural becomes front and center in the churches. When people start following signs and wonders instead of signs and wonders following them, they are ripe for deception. 

The Danger of ‘Spiritual Experiences’      

Things have changed a lot in the last 8 years. A whole generation of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians have entered Christendom that express their faith primarily with music. Notice I did not say praise and worship, but music. Many believe that the presence of the Lord is the strange feeling they feel when the electric piano is set to strings or when the tempo carries the people off into a frenzy. They think that the presence of the Lord comes and goes as they worship and praise. This is simply false. When the cloud and fire sat over the Tabernacle it was there day and night. The only thing that ever caused the presence of the Lord to depart was sin and compromise. This is played out in Ezekiel chapter 8 and following. Emotions come and go- but the presence of the Lord will remain so long as He is made welcome. (Isaiah 66:1ff, Acts 7:1ff, Ephesians 5:18, etc.). Paul told the Corinthians:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The Corinthians apparently did not know that the Holy Spirit ‘dwelled’ in them. ‘Dwelleth’ is a present reality. We spend a lot of time asking God to come to a place where He already is. What many are really saying is that they want a deeper spiritual experience. But when we say that we have to ask what we mean by that. Are we saying we want a close consciousness of God? Are we asking for a double-portion of Holy Spirit conviction? Because when the Spirit is come He will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. When the Holy Spirit is near the fear of the Lord is upon the people. When John saw Jesus He fell at His feet as dead. Paul was knocked clean off his mule and was blinded when he saw Jesus. Is this what we are asking for? Do we want an Isaiah 6 experience where we cry out woe is me for I am undone? This is an important question to ask. Once our desire turns towards a quest for an inward experience of some kind of Spirit manifestation we are moving in dangerous territory. Emotional people desire emotional experiences. The Holy Spirit must not be confused with an emotion that accompanies His presence; otherwise anything that can create a similar feeling may be confused with the Holy Spirit. Derek Prince continues his warning:

“I do not want to appear critical, but I have to say, to my understanding, most of what is called worship in the Charismatic movement is not worship at all. Often it is very self-centered: “God heal me. God bless me. God, make me feel good. God do this and God do that.” It is ego-centric; it is soulish. Only the spirit can focus directly on God. Much of the music that we have in church today appeals to the soul, stimulates the soul, It is very much the same kind of music as is used in the world to stimulate the soul. I am no expert in music, absolutely not at all. I cannot sing a note in tune. But I have a certain sensitivity to the impact of music. Having lived five years in Africa, I am aware that certain repetitive themes and rhythms can deaden your sensitivity. If you sit under that long enough, especially when it is very loud, you lose the capacity to discern. And in Africa those rhythms are used to call up demons.” (D.P. Protection from Deception 1996)

Hanging around too long…

During the Revival in 2004 I published and preached these words, “This is where many revivals blow up. People start seeking a “deeper experience” in the Lord in some mystical way and end up ready for the funny farm. Instead of allowing the Spirit of God to empower them for service they keep seeking more and more and more “spiritual blessing” until they just flat lose it all together! The pressure and drive to minister becomes so volatile that they nearly explode like an atomic reaction from the pressure. Anyone seeking an experience with Christ apart from knowing Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings- being made conformable until His death- is headed for flakesville”. Why? Because the anointing of God is for service. It is not for our entertainment. An experience with God that is genuine causes us to want to share the faith with others and conform to pure religion. A lot of things have been blamed on the Holy Ghost that were not God at all! People don’t bark in the Holy Ghost. They don’t contort their bodies like epileptics or any other demonic thing. When people don’t use their anointing to minister and they keep seeking more and more and more power and blessing—they open themselves up to devils.” (Survival of the Revival, courtesy 2004) As Andrew Strom said preaching in Kansas City during this same time of revival, “revival is not the top blowing off of the church- it is the bottom falling out.”

Protecting the Ground God has Given Us

So what does it mean to be revived? Simply means we come into a place where we are full of the Holy Spirit. What does that look like? A good example is found in the life of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. I have a few thoughts along this line:

1) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and not desire greatly to minister to the lost (Acts 4:31).

2) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and continually struggle with sin (John 16; Mark 16, Romans 6:2, etc.). 

3) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and not love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself (1 John 4:8). 

4) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and be speaking by the Holy Ghost and speak of Christ irreverently. Jesus said in John 16:14 that when the Spirit is come “He will glorify Me.” (see also 1 Cor. 12:3) The Holy Ghost exalts Christ to the highest place of all. 

5) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Spirit of grace and not deny ungodliness and worldly desires. The Spirit of grace teaches us to be sober, righteous and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11- 12)     

When God sends revival into our lives and into our church serious changes take place in our priorities. People begin to feel the heart of God. God’s concerns become their concerns. The fear of the Lord comes over the churches so as to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people. Christ must be exalted, not in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 

Help Them Up

Help Them Up
Robert Wurtz II

Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11) 

Demas having forsaken Paul, he now longs to have Mark, the young man that he once rejected (Acts 15:37ff) brought to him. John Mark had once forsaken Paul and Barnabas (son of encouragement) as he went back while on a mission. Barnabas determined to take John Mark again, but Paul refused. They both stood their ground and ended up dividing asunder from one another. Barnabas went his way and took John Mark. Paul went another way and took Silas. John Mark deserved to be rejected in this situation because he was not proven for such a difficult mission. Rejection is a terrible feeling. Do you recall a time when maybe you wanted to go somewhere with your parents and they left you behind? That feeling of rejection never improves. Perhaps we could say that Barnabas was also right to give John Mark a break as well. In my view, both Paul and Barnabas were right from each point of view. John Mark was ‘down’, but will Paul keep him down? 

A helping hand

I shall never forget as a child seeing a younger boy slipping into the river- near to be swept away by the rushing water. The look on his face is forever etched into my mind. He was in desperate need of help. The other boy that was with us just laughed as if it were funny. At once we pulled him to safety. I have reflected on this very picture from time to time. Imagine a brother or sister almost swallowed up in some sin or scandal and that desperate look of hopelessness and fear is on their face (as it were). And the only thing standing between them and certain destruction is the mercy of their fellow man. Will we toss them a life preserver or will we throw them the anchor? How would we want to be treated?  

Not Let Up

Have you ever known of a person to make a mistake or suffer some failure and people (in a general sense) just won’t let them live it down? They make a mistake at school and suddenly they are identified with that one mistake or failure for the rest of their lives. Forget the fact that they have lived and accomplished all sorts of things; they have a failure and now they are marked for life. Convicted felons deal with this phenomena every day of their life. Having paid their debt to society, often society is not satisfied. Professional athletes make one mistake and suddenly they are identified with that mistake. It is obscene. But there it is. Fallen man loves to get a person down and then refuse to let them up. Perhaps it gives a sense of greatness to the one looking down at their fallen neighbor. Whatever the reasoning one thing is sure, we always offer a hand up to the people we love. 

A Changed Opinion

Sometimes when ministers teach or preach on the life of John Mark we are left with the impression that it was not until 2 Timothy 4:11 that Paul finally saw some usefulness in John Mark. But this is not the case at all. Paul had long ago changed his opinion of John Mark as we see in Colossians 4:10. Acts 15 took place circa 50-54 CE and the writing of Colossians took place ca. 60-64 CE. 

Apparently Mark had matured and made good in his ministry. We have this description by Marvin Vincent, “John Mark is mentioned in Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24 and 1 Peter 5:13. Probably the same John Mark as in Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37. He is called the “cousin of Barnabas” (Colossians 4:10). The first mention of him since the separation from Paul in Acts 15:39 occurs in Colossians and Philemon. He is commended to the church at Colossae. In 1Peter 5:13 he sends salutations to Asia (Marcus ‘my son’). In both Colossians and Philemon his name appears along with that of Demas. In Colossians he is named shortly before Luke and along with Aristarchus. He (Mark) is about to come to Asia where 2nd Timothy finds him. The appearance in Colossians of Aristarchus with Mark and of Demas with Luke is probably the point of connection with the representation in 2 Timothy.” These occurrences leave little doubt that John Mark had been fully restored to the ministry by both Peter and Paul by 60-64 CE. This means his hiatus was no longer than 10 years and could be as short as 7 years (if not shorter).

Profitable for the Ministry 

Profitable for the ministry is euchreston diakonian (εὔχρηστος εἰς διακονίαν). Εὔχρηστος (euchreston) means profitable and is found here, chapter 2:21 and Philemon 1:11. (A.T. Robinson) This is the same word as is used when Paul writes Philemon concerning the runaway slave Onesimus; Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me (Philemon 11). Here we have Paul pleading with Philemon to restore the man. This was the established pattern of Paul’s life. In fact, in the case of Onesimus Paul told his slave holder that if Onesimus had caused any financial loss he (Paul) would repay it. This is how convinced Paul was of change in the man, and how willing he was to restore when he identified the change. 

Modern Attitudes Contrasted

Christians today may remember John Mark as the young guy that abandoned Paul and Barnabas, but by the time his life ran its course it is plausible that the people didn’t care anymore. They took their eyes off the past failure and placed it on a present reality. It is the world’s business to get people down and hold them down (as the masses laugh and jeer). Its what they do. They love to laugh at and mock people. But it ought not so to be in the churches of God. We need to let them up. Not ‘just’ let them up, but help them up. We need to let people get past their past. We need to forget those things which are behind; not just our own failures, but the failures of others. The Golden Rule is in play. None of us would like to be remembered for something that happened 1, 5, 10, 20, 30 years ago. We ought to convey to others the same mercy we would want for ourselves.    

Captive, but Coming to Your Senses

Captive, but Coming to Your Senses
Robert Wurtz II

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chronicles 6:36-39)

Solomon is making his great prayer upon the brazen scaffold he had made. knelt down upon the 7×7 by 5 foot high platform, He cries out to God with this prayer. What would follow would by God descending into His resting place, the earthly Temple that Solomon had made. The Fire fell and the Glory filled the House. Solomon had filled the altar because he understood the need for a full altar. What did God say? And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. (2 Chronicles 7:12) This would be the place where the priests wait upon the Lord and burn the sacrifices, lamp stand and incense to the Lord. The house of sacrifice is a house of burning. Albeit, it was not the Lord’s will to go on dwelling in such a place, for He said in Isaiah:

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)

Stephen takes up this great passage in Acts 7 and preaches men as the very temple(s) of the Living God. Jesus Christ turned the cross into an altar and we must also do the same. For He has said, And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27) Yet the cry of the world has never changed, for He has also said that the disciple would be no different than his Master. What said they unto our Master? Save thyself, and come down from the cross. (Mark 15:30) Come off the altar Jesus! Or in the very words of Satan himself, Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee. (Matthew 16:22b YLT) Pity thyself, is what Satan had said to Jesus through the mouth of Peter. Yet the reality of the cross has never been ‘pity thyself’ it has been ‘deny thyself’. If I pity myself I will follow me, but If I deny myself I will follow Thee. Come off the altar! says Satan. Get on the altar! says God. For He will not be a God to a people that refuse to live on the altar. It was on the altar that the Fire of God fell. 

I will destroy this place

 But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? (2 Chronicles 7:19-21)

In other words, if the children of Israel begin to burn for other things than for Me, then I will remove the place of My burning from among the people. He promised to destroy the place. We know historically that the children of Israel, sadly beginning with Solomon, eventually departed from the Lord and served other God’s. They even burned their children to Molech. What happened? Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s Temple and several centuries later Vespasian and the Titus destroyed the second Temple that had been upgraded to become ‘Herod’s Temple.’ Not one stone was left on another, according to the prophecy of Jesus. To this day the only thing left is the Wailing Wall. It is not as it was designed for the Romans threw every stone down and now some of the oldest stones of the wall are at the top and the Roman stones are nearer the bottom. But between the outpouring in Solomon’s day and the final destruction of the Temple were many opportunities to totally turn back to God, all of which for the most part were squandered. God described the situation succinctly saying,  But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:16)

In the land of Captivity

For all of Israel’s sin there was always a road back. God is a merciful God. But every time, time was allowed to run out and they met Him in the judgment in this world and in the world to come. What did Solomon pray? Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive. If they will come to themselves in their personal and national hog-pen then… This is the great obstacle. The words ‘bethink themselves’ could be translated, “If thy fear return to their hearts.” It is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. If while in their captivity to the enemy, they come to themselves in the fear of the Lord, there is hope. This is what the Prodigal Son had done. In the land of his captivity, living like an animal, he came to himself. Solomon continues, Saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly. Is this not the confession of the Prodigal Son? The second step after coming to ourselves we have to acknowledge our sins. Notice that while this is all going on the people are still captive to their enemies. For Solomon continues, If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives. Many want freedom but they don’t want to come to themselves and acknowledge their sin. They don’t want to return to the fear of the Lord. They want freedom from the oppressive hand of the enemy, but do not want the altar where God has called them to be a living sacrifice and to burn as did the priests in the Tabernacle and Temple. No one is truly free until they are burning for God. They hearken to the voice of the enemy, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. (Mark 15:30) Come off the altar ______! Or they hear the very words of Satan himself, Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee. (Matthew 16:22b YLT) But it’s in the land of our captivity that we have opportunity to come to ourselves and get up out of the miry pit.

With all of the heart and soul

If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul… This is a huge IF. “God is the great Unbeliever. He doesn’t believe you. God has got to be able to believe us.” (G.W. North) We can’t fool God. For Solomon had already said, render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:) (2 Chronicles 6:30b) When a person turns to God in such a way that He can believe them, He will respond to their cry. Anything else is pretense and sham deliverance. It is temporary at best and non-existent at worst. We may fool the man of God, but we cannot fool God. God answered Solomon’s prayer with His own words, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14) 

Are you captive to the enemy? Are you in bondage unto him? Come to your senses and return to the Lord with all of your heart and soul- while there is still hope. For truly the day will come when He will destroy your temple even as He has done in Israel. Shadows are gathering and death beds are coming. It is not too late. Turn back with all of your heart and soul today and receive mercy and freedom from the enemy that takes you captive at his will. (2 Timothy 2:26) 

Passing the Test

Passing the Test
Robert Wurtz II

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?  But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. (2 Cor. 5-7 NASB)

I have chosen the NASB for this text because it maintains continuity in the use of the word test to translate dokimazo and adokimos. Dokimazo means ‘to test’ and adokimos means ‘to fail the test.’ We are first told to ‘test ourselves.’ This is utterly important. The reason being is that too often as Christians we can see everyone’s faults but our own. The tendency is to assume we are right with God and have no need of repentance, when the fact is it could be that years of hardness have numbed us to some behavior that does not please the Lord. One of the great errors of the children of Israel was that they were forever trying to bring God offerings, etc., that He was not accepting because they refused to stop and listen to Him when He showed them their error. It is folly to try to praise our way through rebellion. As important as it is to worship and praise God, He is more concerned about how we treat one another than how many hours we sing to Him and praise Him. We are to get right with what He is putting His hand on and then bring our offering. Perhaps if we write this 100X as sentences we will realize God is serious about dealing with sin before we move on to offerings: 

“Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24).  

Seared Conscience?

I was recently in a conversation where a young girl was surprised to hear that ‘sleeping around’ is wrong and that homosexuality is wrong. The question then became, how could that be? I suggest it is because the law of God written in our hearts from birth, that gives every human being a basic sense of right and wrong, had been ignored over and over again. As the conscience brought the sinful behavior into question, rather than the person stopping what they are doing they just seared their conscience. From now on until that behavior is challenged with the truth of God’s word the person will keep on as if it was not sin. A hot-iron of sorts has been applied to the conscience in that area. This is the consequence of ignoring God’s built in smokealarm (as some have called it) that alerts us to the wrongfulness of our actions. 

Another example is in relationships with family and friends. A person can be in the habit of speaking sharply to their spouse until they feel no pain of conscience when they do it. Children at a young age may back talk their parents and then curse them as adults because they seared their conscience in that area. Relationship attitudes that form in childhood also carry over into adulthood that are the result of a seared conscience. One of the most frequent search phrases that link to this blog is ‘one friend at a time’. The behavior is such that apparently in distress people want to know why they deal with people in their life that seem to behave as if they can be your friend one day and then next week act as strangers. It is easy to diagnose. As a child the person probably did this type of thing all the time and their parents didn’t correct them. Why? Because parents are often times the child’s worst teacher. Some teach their kids to curse and swear or drink alcohol and smoke. Others are taught less obviously scandalous actions such as we find in school kids (one friend at a time)- especially school girls. Men teach their sons to fight and be bullies – not knowing that when they get older they will likely curse one another and treat each other like animals. What needs to happen? In all of these cases and a million more of varying variety, someone has to take up God’s word and AWAKEN the conscience again in that area. otherwise they will meet God in the judgment thinking they had no sin- looking for the splinters in their brother and sister’s eyes, not seeing the beam that was in their own eye all along.        

Test Yourselves

What if there are no ministers touching these subjects? What if everyone’s conscience is seared in these areas? We have to take the word of God and allow God to probe into our hearts and minds to make sure we are not long in the tooth with some sinful behaviors. Just because it appears men seem to be getting by with it does not mean it is OK. God will overlook ignorance for a little while, but then He calls men everywhere to repent. When we are in the faith we are walking according to the revelation God has shown us. 

Many times people try to seek deliverance for things they need to renounce and repent of. Paul said that he brought his body into subjection lest when he had preached to others he himself would fail the test. We need to make sure that we pass the test and do whatever it takes in our response to God and His grace to indeed pass the test. This is what Paul himself did according to 1 Corinthians 9:27. This implies some sort of policy of standards and testing. We have this in the secular world. Many things that we buy or come in contact with on any given day have been ‘tested’ based on approved standards and procedures. If we did not test things we would have no idea if they were working as designed. Yet Paul says, ‘test yourselves whether you be in the faith. 

A Failed Test
I recall as a young boy going to youth camp with our church. As is typical of many children, the older boys treated the younger boys terribly. When the leaders were not looking they harassed us and made us feel like animals. Then they would smile to the leaders, or even mommy and daddy as if they were not the criminals that they were. They may have even gotten a pat on the back “great job, SON!” But we knew better. We were the victims of there devilish actions. So when a prayer meeting broke out in the young boys dorm the older boys campground across the came to see that was going on. I happened to be there to stop them at the door. “Hold it there boys, remember earlier today when you ran us out of your area? You can just head back to your own dorm!” At the ripe old age of 9 years this seemed like justice to me. An elder man looked at me and said, “That’s not brotherly love.” The words cut to the heart. I repented and allowed them in. But I have often wondered if these boys ever repented of their own actions towards us or if they grew up entertaining that dastardly behavior even in the work place? Getting people in trouble at work or God-forbid they became managers and would fire people just because they didn’t like their looks? Were in tall corn now, but we need to keep it real. Away with the fake and in with reality. 

Were they ever really saved?

I know they prayed a prayer, but did they really come into the faith? Only in the last 100 years have people been told they are saved by ministers. They used to be told their conversion was ‘hopeful’. But now we live in an age where modern Christendom can something be declared to be true before a real test can be made. For example, prior to the evangelistic crusades of Billy Sunday, people were said to be ‘hopefully converted’ or that they ‘found comfort in prayer’ etc., but today folks are said to be ‘saved’ if they simply say a little prayer or make some sort-of doctrinal confession. What is more insane is that a system of logical deductions drawn from proof texts is used to say that people ‘have’ the Spirit of God- rather than being as Paul and asking the people. (Acts 19:1ff) Does anyone look for fruit anymore? As Pentecostals we are often no better. When was the last time a person was declared with certainty to have received the Holy Spirit because they went back and apologized for the way they treated people in relationships? When was the last time you heard a message on the fruit of the Spirit? Many speak in tongues and have ought in their hearts. Why? Their conscience is seared and because ministers are often jesters we have few that are qualified to search consciences as they so desperately need to be searched. 

Closing Thoughts

It’s almost as if all caution has been thrown to the wind and men fall on top of each other trying to declare that if a person makes a profession of faith, then they must by default ‘be saved’ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. But this is a strange way of assessing things. Jesus said that you will know them by their fruits. Where is the test that we are told to perform? It strains reason to say that a person has the Holy Spirit that does not yield any kind of fruitful evidence to support the statement. Furthermore, we risk maligning the Holy Spirit by saying certain people ‘have‘ the Holy Spirit that act nearly like devils. But all caution is thrown to the wind in this crisis era, and a madness is in play that will stop at nothing to pronounce the Holy Spirit being in people that show no fruitful evidence of the fact. TEST yourself whether you be in the faith. Do your own actions line up? Do you love all, even your enemies from the heart? Are you truly loving your neighbor as yourself? These are sobering questions we need to visit in this evil and adulterous generation where the love of many has waxed so cold that they feel no pain of conscience when they mistreat their neighbor. 

Renouncing the Hidden Things

Renouncing the Hidden Things
Robert Wurtz II

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor. 4:2 NKJV)

Our passage contextually is dealing in part with the unbelieving Jews specifically and pretentious in-name-only ‘Christians’ more broadly, that are still in want of turning to the Lord that the vail that is upon their heart may be removed and the Lord grant them genuine repentance. (2 Cor. 3:15-16) Paul then turns his thoughts to the matter of being changed into the image of Christ from glory to glory. (2 Cor. 3:18) Knowing that he has been given this ministry, he has renounced the hidden things of shame. A.T. Robertson the great Greek scholar of the 19th century tells us that our word for ‘renounced’ means, “to speak forth, to speak off or away from. It is a common verb in the active, but rare in middle and only here in N.T.” This is something that they have done, but the reality is still in effect. What have the renounced? The hidden things of shame (ta krupta tēs aischunēs). These are temptations and sins that attack the minister and the Christian. Robertson goes on to say, “His only safety is in instant and courageous defiance to all the powers of darkness. It is a terrible thing to see a preacher caught in the toils of the tempter.” This implies that one has submitted themselves unto God so that they are in a position to resist the Devil so that he will flee. 

Renouncing sin 

A dear preacher once said, “God cannot change the person you are pretending to be.” We have to come to God as the real ‘men’ and not a pretend person that does not really exist except when were putting on a show. Paul said that he renounced the hidden things of shame. Tyndale rendered the text, “We have cast from ourselves the cloaks of dishonesty.” Unlike the Pharisees that pretended to be something they were not, carrying themselves as if they had no sin, Paul said we renounced that type of fakeness from ourselves. This does not mean he let everybody know he was a mere sinner trying to preach, but he had cast-off the very compromise that would have made him a hypocrite. Renouncing is a powerful word. Webster gives this definition:

renounce |riˈnouns|verb [ with obj. ]formally declare one’s abandonment of (a claim, right, or possession): Isabella offered to renounce her son’s claim to the French crown.• refuse to recognize or abide by any longer: these agreements were renounced after the fall of the czarist regime.• declare that one will no longer engage in or support: they renounced the armed struggle.• reject and stop using or consuming: he renounced drugs and alcohol completely.

Sometimes sin and compromise are so entrenched in a person’s life that they need to renounce the behavior all together in the strongest of terms. From the very depth of their being they need to renounce it- calling it it’s most vile word. We can get alone with God if there are issues in our life that He has freed us from and we have returned to and repent- renouncing the behavior; that is to say, casting it from us as if we were abandoning it for dead.   

Understanding the Fire of God

Understanding the Fire of God
Robert Wurtz II

I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:49-53)

Jesus gives us the strategic reason for why He came to earth to walk among men, live and then die for our sins; it was in order that He might send fire on the earth. This fire is God’s ultimate solution for man’s need at this juncture in His dealings in the earth. If He is going to send fire He has to send it into and through man. Keep that clear. In other words, we are not qualified to be sent until Christ can send us consumed with His holy fire. God wants a people that are fire hazards, that is, people that carry the fire of God and it spreads everywhere they go. But this fire could not be sent into and through man until Jesus was baptized with the baptism He experienced upon the Cross of Calvary- where He not only paid our sin debt, but broke the power of Sin by dying to it- so that all that would eventually be baptized into Him by the Spirit of God would share in that death. This reality is essential to our sanctification unto God as the Holy Temple He has called us to be. The ‘dead to Sin ones’ are readied to receive the fire of God. God will not dwell in a rebellious person. 

The Dangerous Presence 

We learn from the revelation of God in the Old Testament that God cannot dwell in his unique manifest presence where sin is rampant. When God’s presence is near- judgment is swift. If judgment does not come the presence must depart. Why? Sin and God do not dwell together. That is one of the most elementary truths in all the Bible. Some might say, well, “God is everywhere and at all times.” This is true, but it is a theological proposition. God is omnipresent and immanent. He is here at all times, always has been and always will be. David said he could make his bed in hell and lo thou art there. So God is in the sin dins right now and He is God there; but He is not God there and He is not manifest there in the way that He would like to be. Why? Because if He were He would have to utterly consume those sinning in His presence. This is a sobering reality that we must recapture in this adulterous generation. God is Holy and He will not dwell among a people that are stiff-necked, rebellious and always resisting the authority of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 7) This is why God refused to go over with Moses and the people in Exodus 33. Here we read, for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way. (Exodus 33:3b) God has not changed. He is not less holy than He used to be. If He is going to go up in the midst of a man or a woman, then He is not going to change His own holiness and standards in order to do it, He is going to change the dwelling place so that it is compatible with His fiery presence. They change is always on our end. No need waiting around for God to change. 

The Refiners Fire
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Malachi 3:2-6)

God is showing the people what has to take place before He can ‘come’. The priests had to be purified by God so that they could offer Him an offering in righteousness. If God would have came near, bypassing His own protocol for how He related Himself to sinners, the people would have simply been consumed. God is a consuming fire. As it is written, Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29) Our Greek words here for reverence and godly fear are meta eulabeias kai deous. The word deos is the apprehension of danger as in a forest. “When the voice and tread of a wild beast are distinctly heard close at hand the deos becomes phobos” (Vincent). That is to say, we need to beware that God is a consuming fire and not to be trifled with- lest we act flippantly or rebelliously towards Him. When John the Revelator saw Jesus he fell at His feet as dead (Revelation 1). This is not gentle Jesus meek and mild; it is an awesome reverence for the Judge of all of the earth. If the priests don’t fear God- and they are supposed to be near to His presence, why should the people fear the Lord? This is why Peter tells us plainly, but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear. (1Peter 3:15) If we will sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts then when the tough questions and persecutions come we will fear God and not man. Selah. This is not possible until we have been washed, sanctified and made ready for the fire of God. 

The Laver Experience

So much of Paul’s writings employ the language of priesthood. This is only right because God has called His people to be a kingdom of priests. When the Corinthians were in carnality, Paul had to remind them of what God had done for them at the first. Concerning the sexually immoral he stated, And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11) God has to break that rebellion and cleanse us from all sin before He can dwell in man with His manifest presence. This is why Paul when writing to Titus uses the familiar language of priesthood when he describes regeneration, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5) This is the laver of regeneration, a picture of the brazen laver where the priests would wash themselves before entering the presence of God. It is only after we have truly been washed- inspected and certified as clean by our Great High Priest that God can safely send the fire into you and I. Does the mean we have to perfect? No. The fire will burn out what God wants burned out. What must be dealt with is the rebellious nature of man that has always been the obstacle to God truly being among His people. Since Jesus has already accomplished what He came to do on the cross we are all able to know this great laver experience, this washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit that he has shed on us abundantly.   

Baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11)

It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) The context reveals that this Fire was going to cause great division in the earth; between those that want the Fire and those that do not (Luke 12:50-52). This is of the greatest importance. Why? Because when the Fire comes, it will burn up everything in man that is not of God. Some people want to hang on to the world and the sin that dominates their life, so they shun the fire. People understand that burning for God means being consumed for Him. This fire is not a mere feeling that comes and goes, but is the manifest presence of a holy and loving God. Jesus came to send this fire on the earth. This is a fire that produces the fruit of the Spirit in masse. Stephen is a great example. He loved to help out serving the widows, but yet when he was being stoned to death we find him begging God to forgive the people. Why? Because he was walking in Romans 5:5. The love of God had been poured out into him. He was burning for God and no amount of persecution could put it out. He was contagious. He was a fire hazard. The only thing the rebellious leaders could do was stomp him out and put dirt on top of him. Was it just for Jesus and Stephen? No! A holy love will come in to all that will receive Him that enables the person to love like Jesus loves. This is the great standard. When a person is truly burning for God they will carry themselves like Jesus in all situations. The question we have to ask in these things is, “Wilt thou be made whole?” If so, you will need the Fire of God. 

Burning for God

We are told in Hebrews 12:29 that God is a consuming Fire. He created creatures that are burning fires such as the Seraphim. We as human beings are consuming fires; this is why we are at 98.6 degrees. Where does this energy come from? It originates with the Sun. Plants turn light, nutrients and water into carbohydrates. There is a furnace characteristic in man where the carbohydrates are burned in us as a source of energy. The energy you are using to read this text came originated with the Sun. But there is also a spiritual side of man that serves as the driving force behind all that he/she does. Adam Clarke comments on Matthew 3:11;

This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of it alone; therefore he is represented here under the similitude of fire, because he was to illuminate and invigorate (to give strength or energy) to the soul, penetrate every part, and assimilate the whole to the image of the God of glory. 

The language of priesthood

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:5, 6)

The book of Acts believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit and with Fire. This event made them into the Temple of the Living God as an assembly and as individuals (1 Corinthians 3:16). On that day the believers were made priests unto God. This is a staggering truth. It was God’s design from the beginning. He had been working to this end all along. This is the jest of the message of Stephen in Acts 7:1ff. God doesn’t desire to dwell in temples made with hands; He desires to live in man. It is impossible to understand the bible unless you realize this great truth. God wants to live in you. He wants to be who He is; a consuming Fire inside of you and me. 

The burning bush and the burning man

When God got ready to reveal Himself to Moses He revealed Himself as an unconsuming fire; And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. (Exodus 3:2) He then revealed Himself as a consuming fire as in the case of Nadab, Abihu, Korah, Dathan and Abiram. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. (Deut 4:24.) God is a God of Fire. The picture of Fire as a symbol of the flesh-consuming presence of God is replete through the Old Testament. 

Fire on the altar

All of the services that were to be performed in the Wilderness Tabernacle and later the Temple were to be done with the FIRE of God. It was impossible to light the lampstand, burn incense, or offer burnt offerings unto the Lord without the Fire that God kindled and was continually kept. Without the Fire of God the Wilderness Tabernacle was an empty tent.  

The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. (Leviticus 6:13)

Fire was to be kept constantly burning upon the altar without going out, not in order that the heavenly fire, which proceeded from Jehovah when Aaron and his sons first entered upon the service of the altar after their consecration, and consumed the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, might never be extinguished (see at Lev. 9:24); but that the burnt-offering might never go out, because this was the divinely appointed symbol and visible sign of the uninterrupted worship of Jehovah, which the covenant nation could never suspend either day or night, without being unfaithful to its calling. (Keil & D.)

Indeed the priests were not allowed to let the heavenly Fire go out; this was common sense. But this is not specifically in view here. They could do nothing without the Fire of God. Our passage deals with the continual burnt offering of flesh unto God like unto Romans 12:1, 2. We are to be continually on Fire for God burning continually as a sweet smelling savor, as a consequence of our placing ourselves continually on the altar as a living sacrifice. “God will not dwell with people that will not burn upon the altar. He wants to live will the altar is.” (G.W. N) What use to God is a man or a woman that will not burn for Him? 

The God that answers by Fire

When Eli and his sons were derelict in the service of God they lost the Ark to the enemy. They did not burn for God except in a dead outward sense. The sons Hophni and Phinehas burned with lust and gluttony. They didn’t burn for God. Therefore they had no real authority to carry God’s authority. This is utterly essential to understand. The ark was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests, but those priests were expected to BURN for God. What an awesome revelation. Their sin was to try to use God’s authority without burning for Him from the heart. They went though the motions as double minded men. They burned for God in religious exercise, but for sin in their hearts. Again, the Ark represented the throne or authority of God. The Fire obviously went out after they carried it into battle and lost the Ark. Later on David desired to build God a House, but to do so would require the Fire of God to fall from heaven to provide the priesthood with that essential element. No fire- no service. They could not strike a match or rub sticks together. They could not warm up the altar for God. Nadab and Abihu learned the hard way that you don’t presumptuously offer God anything; especially false or common fire. Their death was God’s estimate of the behavior. It is shocking to me how today some move in such a cavalier attitude (dismissive attitude) towards something so serious. Without the Fire of God all that we do stinks and is useless to God.

You are dead without Fire

When our breath goes out, our body immediately starts to go cold. If the Fire of God goes out we become lukewarm and worth but to be vomited out of the mouth of Christ. Why? No burning. No Fire. If there is no Fire there is sin in our lives. God doesn’t answer your sacrifice with Fire. Why? because it is not holy and acceptable to Him. Solomon understood the altar. He brought so much flesh they needed an alternate location to house it all. It was an extreme sacrifice. Solomon knew the altar had to be FULL. It had to be holy and acceptable. When he prayed the Fire of God came down and reinstated the priesthood providing them with the means of doing their service again.

Obviously by the time of Jesus this Fire had gone out and the Ark was gone again. The priests must have tossed the blood on the floor behind the veil in Herod’s Temple and performed the services with common fire. God was not there. God was in Christ. For He said, destroy this Temple (speaking of His own body) and I will raise it again in 3 days. He called the place the Father’s house and His house (Matthew 21:13, John 2:16), but at last He revealed to them that it was ‘their house’ that had been left unto them desolate. (Luke 13:35) Why? No Fire. No Ark. No way to do the service of God and no desire to have it. When the Fire came in Christ; they didn’t want it or Him. They had no desire to burn for God or to be temples of the Living God. (See Isaiah 66:1ff) They wanted to keep God under control in the temples made with hands. This is a constant temptation for anyone that has known the Lord; but God desires to live IN man and not in a building.

Keeping the charge   

And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also [set they in order] upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. (2 Chronicles 13:11)

It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. How can priests unto God do the service of God with no Fire? Yet substitutes are put in place that spread death and wreak of unconsumed flesh. Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) We are responsible to keep the Fire stoked in our lives as surely as were the Levites. We are to keep presenting ourselves to God holy and acceptable. What is acceptable? Simply put- And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:32) Do you have a desire to obey God? Do you want God to rule and reign in you? Have you filled the altar? Those that have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire- is the Fire still burning? Are you keeping the charge as did Abijah and his priests? This was the basis on which Abijah knew he would win the battle. “If you keep the charge of God you will be the devil’s master.” (GWN) 

The Curse of Firelessness 

The greatest judgment that ever came to Israel was that the Fire of God went out. God withdrew His presence and they were eventually evicted from the land. When the lamp of the Lord goes out there is no way to keep the flesh in subjection- because the only way to walk upright in this fallen world is to keep on burning. The Seraphim burn, so must we. God is a consuming Fire- so are we. Are we content to allow this world to go on lamenting void of men and women of Fire- having never seen a true believer in the book of Acts sense? If the Fire be burning in us- we have confidence towards God. He must come. We must make ready. We must invite Him in an attitude of desire to obey. We have to present ourselves holy and acceptable. It is our reasonable service. If we sing to God with no Fire; it cannot be rightly said to be worship in Spirit. The incense does not rise to God unless there is Fire. Not the fire of hype and instrumentality. Not something worked up, but a Fire sent down from God. We must make ready. He has come to send Fire on the earth. Will we be the one? Will He be able to send us

The Only Thing That Makes Sense

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1)

I hope you don’t mind me saying that when I read the book of Romans there is an imaginary line splitting Romans 11:36 and Romans 12:1. I draw this line because I believe Paul draws this line. For eleven chapters he gives us the closest thing we have to a systematic theology. He probes the mysteries of the Gospel and sets before us soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. He transitions with a simple phrase, I beseech you thereforeTo some bible students it will be cliche, but when you see the word therefore you need to stop and ask what it is there for. It is a term that means ‘consequently’. Therefore (Gk. oun) is an inferential participle that gathers up all the great argument of chapters 1-11 and places it before us. We have to reckon with it. What say you? It staggers the mind to consider the manifold wisdom of God. Now Paul turns to exhortation (parakalō), “I beseech you.”

I Beseech You

Our Greek word for beseech is Παρακαλῶ (parakalō) and it means to call alongside. Para is ‘side’ and kalo is ‘call’. It carries the idea of urging someone earnestly to do something. It could be translated ‘to beg’. To give a sense of the strength of the word we have some examples of its use throughout the New Testament. Urgent appeals (parakalō) to Christ for healing are made in Matthew 8:5; 14:36; Mark 1:40; 5:23; 8:22. Paul “pleads with” (parakalō) God for the removal of his “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:8. Demons “beg” (parakalō) Christ to send them into a herd of swine in Matthew 8:31ff. In Acts 2:40 and 2 Corinthians 5:20, people are “urged” (parakalō) to be reconciled to God. 

Therefore by the Mercies of God

Paul has effectively came alongside us to beg, urge, beseech us by the mercies of God. That is to say, all that Paul described from chapter 1-11 was a clinic on God’s great mercy. Consider where we would be without grace. We would have no hope and would of all men be most miserable. Eternity without propitiation would be to face the wrath of God without mixture never-endingly. Consider the smoke of a sinners torment ascending up before God forever and ever. That’s what we deserved. This is not something we should accept and then wipe our mouths as if we have done no evil. The sheer magnitude of our crimes, heightened by the light that we have sinned in, aggravated by a life of resisting the Holy Spirit, would paralyze one with fear if they had any sense at all. Yet God has chosen to cast our sins behind His back- never to be remembered against us again. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…

Language of Priesthood in Romans 12 

Solomon was the great king that built God a house. He built it on the mount of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite- where the angel had stayed his hand in slaying thousands after David numbered Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-18) He could have wiped Israel off the face of the earth and been justified in doing it. But, God showed kindness and grace to Israel. David remembered the mercy of God as He could have slew all down to the last man, but stopped at Araunah’s threshing floor. David responded by buying the property with his own money. Araunah tried to give it for free to David. King David said, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost. (1 Chrononicles 21:1ff) Here are two initial pictures; one of the mercy of God and the other a right response of a grateful heart; a burnt offering that ‘costs’ the full price. It is also a picture of God’s separation (threshing) of wheat from chaff. What will you do with God’s mercy? How will you respond to grace? Will you answer the call of Paul or sin that grace may abound? The threshing floor is a place of decision. All of these things are here. This is the place where Solomon built the Temple. Keep that in mind. 

A Picture of a ‘Right’ Response to God

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13)

You will notice that their first response to God was to give thanks for His mercy in returning to the people with His authority and presence. They didn’t deserve God. They deserved abandonment. In another place it is stated that they spoke as one as the Ark of the Covenant came in. They sang and shouted with lifted up voices in such a way that God saw fit to fill the house with His glory. This was the initial step. The people utterly recognized God’s mercy and desire for reconciliation and they responded to Him in tremendous excitement and thanksgiving. The LORD, then being well pleased, FILLED the house with His glory. So great was the glory of God that the priests were not able to stand to minister. God believed the people as they praised and offered thanksgiving and He responded by filling the house with His glory.

Holy and Acceptable

…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,

This, again, is the language of priesthood. We are called to be Temples of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the Temple and the artifacts within it. Were these things written for Israel’s sake or where they not all together a figurative lesson for us, that would have the habitation of God by the Spirit? What about Belshazzar? How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? The whole story is exemplary. It gives us forever God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin.  

Reasonable Sacrifice

Solomon built and dedicated the Temple to God. It had one primary purpose in Israel; to be a place where the people could encounter God and offer up sacrifices to Him (temple cultus). Over 120,000 burnt sacrifices were inspected for purity and acceptability and then offered on the day of dedication. Solomon understood that until the altar was full of a holy and acceptable sacrifice the Fire of God would not fall and the dedication would be incomplete. After all, Moses already told of how empty it would be to exist as God’s people without God being present. To some it may have seemed very reckless to bring a river of blood upon such a beautiful place; but to Solomon it was only reasonable to make such an offering to God in light of the mercy He had shown. When the altar was full and Solomon prayed- the Fire of God fell. This dedication was a ‘picture’ of New Testament life. Jesus came to send Fire on the earth and He would do so by baptizing His people with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. Men and women’s bodies would become temples of the Holy Spirit.

A Living Burnt Offering

Romans 12:1 is the beginning of all evangelistic efforts. Paul having explained the reality of what God has done in bringing salvation and reconciliation to man, says, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God…” Thinking of all that God has done; ‘therefore’ present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your logical (the consequence of his well-reasoned arguments) worship. This presenting of ourselves to our Great High Priest for inspection and acceptance that He might baptize us in the Fire is our reasonable worship. It’s the only response that makes sense in light of all that God has done. It is what God wants first and foremost. Without this process little else matters. It all begins here with a recognition of what God has done in Christ, and our responding reasonably to what we realize. Our lives are to be a perpetual living burnt offering for Him. It is the only thing that makes sense.

Walking in the Fear of the Lord

Walking in the Fear of the Lord
Robert Wurtz II

Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. (Acts 9:31)

Our passage in context gives revelation of the state of the churches immediately following the conversion of Saul, who had vexed the people of God persecuting them until they had no rest. Four things can be said about the churches at this juncture:

1. They were edified (built up)

2. They were walking in the fear of the Lord
3. They were walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit
4. They were being multiplied

The reaction to the radical change of Saul to Paul was so great that the people once again were walking in the fear of the Lord. This one reality stands out in the list because it came about as a spontaneous reaction to the awesome wonder of the transformation of this man Saul, but is also dependent upon individuals to fully acknowledge what God had done. This was nothing short of the marvel that captivated the people of the city when they saw Legion clothed and in his right mind after a lifetime of nakedness and self-mutilation. They knew that the Finger of God was in their midst. For only God in all of His regal power and authority could have changed the Chief of Sinners into a Chief Apostle in an instant of time. Selah. 

Unity attained and maintained

In our last three entries (Obstacle to the Outpouring, Obstacle to the Outpouring (Part 2), and The Sin of Uzzah) we explored the teachings of Christ as He prepared the disciples and the people for the outpouring of His Holy Spirit. We emphasized the utter importance of unity and forgiveness from the heart. The disciples were held together by the Prince of Peace whilst upon the earth, but when Christ ascended they would need to hearken to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in order to maintain that same unity. If the disciples would have had a falling out we would have never read a ‘book of Acts’. They were men of different perspectives that were at times at total odds with one another. A great example of this was Matthew the Publican and Simon the Zealot. Simon would have hated publicans and likewise publicans probably hated Zealots. Why? Because their political and religious views made them mortal enemies. It was nothing for a Zealot to desire to kill a publican, but when Jesus was near the men did not strive. They forfeited their mind and agenda and adopted Christ’s. In an environment like this it’s not about who is ‘right’ or who is ‘wrong’ it’s about endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

When God came near the reaction was fear

The fear of the Lord is a most unpopular subject, but a cursory study of the Book of Acts reveals that the people were many times brought to fear the Lord because He was near. Sometimes people think, ‘that was all in the Old Testament and we live in the dispensation of grace, etc.’ That is not what the folks in the book of Acts believed. Beginning in Acts 2:43 we read, And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. The Greek verb for ‘came’ is egineto and it is in the imperfect middle voice, meaning that fear kept on coming upon every soul. Waves of the fear of the Lord kept sweeping over everybody. This kept the people in check. There was no place for flippancy. Nobody built a golden calf after this move of God; but they did have a Nadab and Abihu moment when Ananias and Sapphira were smote dead back to back in Acts 5. The result? And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. (Acts 5:11) The renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson added this comment to the verse, “The whole body of believers in Jerusalem and all who heard of the fate of Ananias and Sapphira (beautiful, her name means) were in awe and dread. It was already a dangerous thing to be a follower of Christ unless one was willing to walk straight.” (RWP) Then we have the dreaded event in Acts 12:23 where Herod had set himself against the churches as if he were a god. And although Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula (also known as Gaius), Claudius, and Nero were acting out doing the same things or worse in Rome, presuming themselves to be as gods, the Holy Spirit had not been out-poured in Rome and God’s presence was not near. When God comes near judgment is swift. 

And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
(Acts 12:21-23)

If tradition is to be believed Herod lived 5 days after he was smitten, as his flesh produced worms leading up to his death. (Josephus Antiquities 19.8.2) Why? He gave not God the glory. We have a key statement that helps us understand this event in 1 Cor. 1:29 when we are told that God suffers no flesh to glory in His presence. The key here is ‘in His presence’. Men may covet their own glory and boast of their own achievements, but when God is near He moves swiftly upon those, to whom like Satan, exalt their throne above the stars of God. The very fact that people keep on acting out in our times must surely be evidence that God is not near as He was in the book of Acts. Men do not fear Him as they once did. The focus is on almost everything ‘but’ the fear of the Lord. All evidence of the times we are living.

Fear when near

When God is truly near, that is to say, when a person is filled with His Holy Spirit in the genuine article they will greatly fear the Lord. And fear is not too strong of a word. It doesn’t need to be qualified or balanced. It needs to stand once and for all on its own feet. We try to balance these things with words like love and grace and mercy and end up making the concept of the fear of the Lord of none effect. God doesn’t need us to balance or qualify His concepts. This is an important thing to say because believers often cannot entertain two equal truths such as the love of God and the fear of God at the same time. One is usually preached at the expense of the other. This ought not so to be. 

The people in Acts 2 experienced an ongoing flood of the fear of God upon them. It effected how they thought and how they lived. One problem we do not have today is people paralyzed with the fear of God. No need to straw-man a concept and do service to the Devil. Fear has often been replaced with arrogance and flippancy; the very things that God spent some 1500 years teaching us not to be in his presence. And ‘in His presence’ for a Christian does not mean ‘in the meeting’; it means 24 hours a day and 7 days a week as we are the very temples of the Holy Spirit. This is why it is said of them in Acts 2 they were walking in the fear of the Lord. It was their manor of life. It is the beginning of wisdom.

The Danger of Jesting 

This entry would not be complete unless we made an application to show what is meant by the fear of the Lord. An old time preacher from the 1800’s one stated that “God never uses a jester to search consciences.” A jester is a person that makes jokes about things they should never joke about. Let me quote a passage from Ephesians to demonstrate.

 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. (Ephesians 5:1-7)

The first part of our passage summarizes the first 3 blog entries I linked to in the beginning of this article. We are then given a list of several sins that are not to be named among us either “one time after we have become saints” or “once we have become saints.” In either translation, we need to reverence as we read these words as these things are unbecoming of saints. The list is as follows:

1. fornication (sexual immorality)

2. uncleanness (impurity)
3. covetousness (lusting for _____)
4. filthiness (obscenity)
5. foolish talking (corrupt communication that does not edify. speaking as a fool)
6. jesting (immoderate talk to make a joke)

To show that God is in view in these passages as the offended party Paul adds, but rather giving of thanks. Who deserves our thanks? God. Who is listening to our words? God. We must never joke about God or the things of God or speak of Him in an irreverent way. God is not a man. Solomon the great man who built the Temple and witnessed the Glory and Fire of God stated, Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2) Solomon went on to say in the very end that Fearing God and keeping His word are the whole duty of man. God is the Judge of all the earth. God will not always move in spite of foolishness. He demonstrated this in Israel. He will bring judgment in some way- the worst of which is to depart all together. 

The sin of irreverence

The world has a concept that says the solution for polution is dilution, but in the Kingdom of God one cannot speak of God irreverently and then dilute it with hours of praise. It is a total contradiction. Moses did not sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people and as a result was disqualified from taking the people into the land. He gave the people the impression that God was as a man that can be trifled with. God said it plainly to him:

And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. (Numbers 20:12)

Moses disobeyed God before the eyes of the people. This situation is exemplary. A man was raised up to fulfill a purpose and after 120 years of God working with Moses, had to disqualify him. Why? He defied a direct order from God and it sent the wrong message to the people. Jesus said in one place, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Why? Because Lot’s wife defied God as judgment was falling over her head. Peter told us to sanctify the Lord always in our hearts. (1 Peter 3:15a) This means that God is exalted into His rightful place in our heart- separate and other from anything and anyone else. If we fear the Lord we will be prepared to face men giving an answer for what we believe with meekness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15b). Reverence begins in the deep recesses of our own hearts. 

Irreverence is a terrible sin and one to be feared as one would fear being a fornicator or an idolater. Just because God is among a people does not mean He is approving all that is going on. When The Lord truly comes His people will walk in the fear of the Lord. They will sanctify the Lord in their own hearts FIRST and then sanctify Him before the eyes of the people second. Flippancy and irreverence is like a dead fly in a bottle of priceless ointment. May the Lord once again come upon His people to the place to where they experience a reverential fear like those of Acts 2:43, Acts 9:41 or even an Acts 19:17 that we might rightly exalt Him in this evil and adulterous generation. Amen. 



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