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.  


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