Mixed Up Priorities

Mixed Up Priorities
Robert Wurtz II

Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? (Galatians 4:16)

Boy Scouts announce it will likely reverse policy on gay leadership. (The Christian Post Jan 29, 2013)

Over the course of the last several years I have shared on this blog subjects as they have weighed heavy on my heart in this crisis hour that we are living. Before this blog existed I had shared many articles around the net as well, mainly with a revival and repentance type emphasis. Others have done the same so I am by no means alone. The fundamental thing is that Christianity as it is expressed in the West has to a large degree lost it’s way by mixing up the priorities of Christian life. 

In modern western Christendom the emphasis is on almost anything and everything but what it should be on. The most important issue of all is that God has called a people out of this present evil world and to Himself; having purchased them with His own blood. Simply put, He had called men and women to repent of their sins. He has called them to be baptized and to receive His Spirit. This simple plan has the effect of utterly changing a person into a New Creature with a whole different frame of moral and mental reference. God wants a people that are free from sin. 

But today, you have to look long and hard to find a people that are upholding a standard of righteousness and holiness. The world has so infiltrated many of our churches and meetings that it is almost impossible to tell the churches and Christians from the world. It is a very sad state of things. I have exposed this process as have many others and often it had made me the enemy of Christian leaders. But we are seeing at an accelerated pace that the compromise that begins in the churches slowly makes its way into the main stream. It is all coming home to roost and Christians are scratching their heads and getting angry wondering what is wrong. It’s is not because we have the wrong man in the White House, it is because our priorities are mixed up in God’s House.   

We need to get back to preaching repentance and the genuine Born Again experience. We need to come out of the world and stop imitating it. We have preached and sang to please a rebellious youth generation until the whole compromise threatens to destroy our identity as Christians. Do you want to know what the church will look like in 20 years? Walk across the street to your local youth building and see. The philosophy in the youth building in one generation will be the philosophy of the church in the next. That is where Christianity is being formed in kids minds- just like life is being formed in the class rooms of our schools. Are they preaching the Gospel and raising a standard of holiness or are they baiting the kids with worldliness? It has to stop at this fundamental level or we are lost. the enemy has moved into our schools and our youth ministries to a very large degree, and now he is moving in full force into the Boy Scouts. Someone needs to sound an alarm. But the sad thing is, all a writing like this will do is make me more enemies within professed Christianity. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? (Galatians 4:16)

 

Selected gleanings from the late G.W. North

Sayings of the late George W. North 
(1913-2003)


George Walter Govier North was born in Bethnal Green in the East End of London in 1913 and died in Blantyre in Malawi in 2003. Early in life he was led to Christ and, in due course, became a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: initially in the UK and then in many other countries. 


Photo and bio courtesy gwnorth.co.uk

1) I am come to send FIRE on the earth… He only sends FIRE.

2) If He only sends FIRE perhaps that is why so few are sent?

3) Where is the FIRE?

4) He only sends FIRE… can He safely send you?

5) Can He FIRE when ready?

6) God’s Come!

7) Solomon understood the altar!

8) I’m pointing at you… where’s the FIRE?

9) The FIRE falls when the altar is full.

10) God don’t believe you… God has got to be able to believe us!


11. God has to change you. He can’t have you breaking His heart for all eternity.

12. God is the great unbeliever… He doesn’t believe you.

13. Preaching without FIRE is spreading death.

14. He wants to consume and consume in you until there is nothing left but what is of God.

15. Were keeping the charge for Abijah- bless him!

16. Don’t you think it would be marvelous beloved to stand before the enemies of God and say, “We keep the charge of the LORD!”

17. A sweet smelling savor unto the LORD burning night and day. Is that your life?

18. Burn, Burn unto God. It’s got to go…

19. Why did the farmer sow his seed? He wants 100%

20. Tell me you believe in Christ? That’s marvelous. Tell me you believe what the bible says? now prove it to me… let me see the FIRE.

21. Jesus doesn’t care about those things… He cares about souls going to Hell because they never met a man with FIRE in his bones.

22. He doesn’t want any nice Christians He wants rugged men that have come straight from the cross.

23. Does God want some hot headed people? Yes, someone that will go straight home into the FIRE.

24. Here’s the thing… FIRE… FIRE

25. The church that doesn’t want to grow and get out is dying on its feet.

26. Your feelings are liars in this race. Get into this race and run this race.

27. I preached on being free from sin and half the congregation were down at the front and they could all speak with tongues.

28. He will give you utterance but the Holy Spirit has not come to be a tongue wagger, He has come to free you from sin.

29. It’s a straight path… NO getting off on some hobby horse there… that leads out into the wilderness.

30. It’s peace because I stopped fighting God. You would give everything you have got if only your mind was at rest.


http://youtube.com/v/ZDUqB20sxCI
I don’t know who put this together, but it introduces us to the great message by G.W. North, “The Glorious Shipwreck.”

The Power of Reconciliation (revisited)

The Power of Reconciliation (revisited)
Robert Wurtz II

 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:24)

 There is an ancient story found on an old decayed papyrus fragment, of a prodigal Egyptian boy named Antonius Longus who had quarreled with his dear widowed mother. He left from the house and embarked on a life of prodigal living. The mother longed for her son to return home for a while and even went looking for him in strange cities. You will know that in ancient times when a person was lost, it was very difficult to find them as one had to almost see them face to face in order to identify them. This mother searched and searched for her lost son longing to reestablish communication. In time she happened upon a family acqaintance named Postumus that recounted to the disappointed mother every last offense of her son that he knew, including some of the troubles he had gotten into since their estrangement. This scandal monger would call to remembrance every debt the mother had tried to forget, down to the last nickel. The two parted and she apparently went back home. Over the course of time this Postumus happened upon Antonius Longus, the prodigal son. He told him of how he had saw his mother some time ago and had reminded her of how bad a boy he really was (as it were). Perhaps Postumus rationalized that it is better in these circumstances to be mad at a person than mourning over them. But Antonius was deeply hurt by this news and angered by what this man had done. He was moved to know that his dear mother had been looking for him so desperately, but this sower of discord had driven an already deep wedge between him and his mother, almost to the point of hopelessness. It was this occasion that gave rise to this hastily written letter, “I beseech thee, mother, be reconciled with me.” He had referred to himself using his mother’s childhood endearing name for him “Longinus”. The poor boy was a bad speller, but he used the same construction Jesus used when he said, “prōton diallagēthi” (get reconciled). The sentence, “I beseech thee, mother, be reconciled (dialagēti) with me” uses a verb that denotes mutual concession after mutual hostility. The crumbling old paper ends with the words of this woman’s dear son begging, “I beseech thee… I beseech thee…”. In more modern language we would read the words, “Mother, I’m begging you… I’m begging you…!” (Light from the Ancient East, pp 187-192) 




The Starting Point 


 As a young boy I would read the words of Jesus and take them to heart, but until I had been changed into a New Creature by the power of the Holy Spirit I cannot recall one time that I ever followed through with them. I was real good at making and keeping enemies, but I never sought reconciliation unless there was something to be gained by it. Just being honest. Adam Clarke spells out the jest of this passage when he writes, “Do not attempt to bring any offering to God while thou art in a spirit of enmity against any person; or hast any difference with thy neighbor, which thou hast not used thy diligence to get adjusted.” It is our duty and interest, both to bring our gift, and offer it too; but God will not accept of any act of religious worship from us, while any enmity subsists in our hearts towards any soul of man; or while any subsists in our neighbor’s heart towards us, which we have not used the proper means to remove. A religion, the very essence of which is love, cannot suffer at its altars a heart that is revengeful and uncharitable, or which does not use its utmost endeavors to revive love in the heart of another. The original word, δωρον, which we translate gift, is used by the rabbins in Hebrew letters דורון  doron, which signifies not only a gift, but a sacrifice offered to God. See several proofs in Schoettgen.” (Adam Clarke) There is no road forward for any person that ignores this rule.


Clearing the air


Some may make excuses here as if God does not expect them to search their own hearts for names of individuals that they know they are not on good terms with; people whom in the past you and I may have had disagreements and there is need of clearing the air. Another word for this is a ‘rift’. This is a break in friendly relations. Rifts among family, rifts among believers and rifts among leaders are stifling any hope of a move of God in our times. “Leaving thy gift, go – For neither thy gift nor thy prayer will atone for thy want of love: but this will make them both an abomination before God.” (Wesley) This means everyone, but especially leaders. A river will never run down any wider than it’s source. How will the people reconcile with those to whom they know they have a controversy if the leaders will not? Nothing stinks more in the nostrils of God than when his people refuse to be reconciled to each other in a way that restores a brotherly and sisterly affection. I have heard of sinners taking grudges down into the grave even whilst the one of them begged the other to be reconciled. That is the devilish nature in fallen man; but it ought not so to be as Saints. The single greatest hindrance to any move of God within the churches of God is this refusal to be reconciled. Again, the Greek phrase is prōton diallagēthi (ingressive aorist). It is the most important thing to do in terms of priority and is to be done first.


Making the phone call or sending the letter


When I first received the Holy Spirit about 20 years ago my immediate objective was to be reconciled with my enemies. I recall writing a letter to a dear woman that I had been feuding with. I am told by women that men forgive, but women often won’t forgive or forget. I hope this is not true, because if it is there will be a disproportional amount of women in hell over men. Selah. And although this woman of whom I speak has passed from the stage of time, I will leave her unnamed. This letter I wrote out in all sincerity and love and then prayed over with a dear minister that had traveled to our church for a revival meeting. The letter was not well received at first, but it served to break the ice and the relationship we restored. But there is something I must tell you that you must prepare yourself for now. Sometimes you will seek to reconcile knowing that the other person was as much at fault in the relationship as you were, and yet they will offer no apology or admit any wrong. Some people will see your apology as an admission of guilt and then tell themselves that it was your fault, dismissing their own role in the situation. You have to be prepared to look past this and leave it in the hands of God. Your part is not to obtain an admission, but to achieve reconciliation. You may go to your grave never getting the apology you believe you deserved, but that is not for our concern. You do your part and leave the results in the hands of God.


Do I have a Grudge?


The great danger in speaking on this great subject is insensitivity to our own feelings and actions. But there is a way to flush ourselves from our hiding places, beating around every bush until we discover if we are holding grudges or ignoring estranged relationships. For example, I have known of people that are in leadership roles in the churches to harbor ill feelings towards their mother and father and they are not on speaking terms. They bring their offering every week to the meeting, but refuse to be reconciled to their parent. They believe they are justified in their anger or bitterness because of some ‘thing’ that happened to them as a child, etc. ad infinitum. Yet Jesus gave the parable of the man that owed a fortune to the king and was forgiven, but then went out and took his fellow man by the throat and throttled him demanding what he was owed. The man was cast into hell for it. Jesus closed the story with this passage, So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:35) 



I have taught my sons this throughout their lives as I speak plainly to them, but you can back a 53 foot tractor trailer of praise into a meeting and God is not hearing it if you have enmity and ill feelings in your heart towards somebody. It may as well be a 53 foot trailer of garbage. As John Wesley said, “an offering to God with ought in our hearts is an abomination to God.” Could this be why it is so difficult for folk to try to get through to God? We ought to walk in the very presence of God. We should not need to give God a 2 hour invite back every meeting. He should be mightily upon us at all times; but this requires us to live in such a way that He will dwell in us. He will not live with people long that hold grudges. Ask yourself a question, do I have ill feelings towards anyone? Don’t mask over it. Be serious with God. Do I know of anyone that has ought against me? Are there people in my life that I don’t get along with, especially fellow believers? Do bad feelings come up before me when I think of _________ or when I am around __________? Grudges are expressed in many different ways. Go down upon your knees while your conscience is as tender as it is and ask God to reveal any ought you may have against others or any that have ought against you. Your whole Christian life and ministry could depend on you doing just that.


What an offense is not.


If a person reaches out to you in reconciliation, that is enough in itself for you to lay down your grudge. Why? Because it always takes the better man or the better woman to apologize. Sometimes the issue was a matter of disagreement that went too far and we want the person to change their views about things or we will not forgive. That is the wrong attitude. What folly is it to take personally how someone else sees something? They don’t have to change their view before we forgive them. For example; if you had a spat over some issue that each of you feel strongly about, don’t expect that the apology is an admission that they were wrong about what they felt strongly about. Paul and Barnabas disagreed over John mark, but Paul never suggested that he was wrong, nor did Barnabas. They viewed the situation differently. Who was right? It doesn’t matter. Paul simply said later to ‘send John mark for he is profitable to me for the ministry.’ Just because someone disagrees with you, resists you or objects to something you and I are doing does not mean they are attacking us. Keep that clear. If we tie reconciliation to a change in the other person’s view then we may well never reconcile. Moreover, you may die harboring ill feelings towards the person. If the disagreement reaches a level that there is ought between the parties then reconciliation is in order. If it is a doctrinal issue, ecclesiastical issue (church related), music, money, etc., then we need to check ourselves to make sure our priorities are right. Zeal can kill. Make sure what you are harping on is worth losing a brother, losing your effectiveness in ministry or at worst going to hell for. Because God will not tolerate an unloving spirit.


 The glory of reconciliation


There are few things more glorious than when two parties make amends and clear the air with one another. There is a load that comes off that is akin to the one described in Pilgrims Progress. That HUGE heavy pack that was weighing us down is now gone. We can breathe again. Our relationship with God gets a shot in the arm (so it feels). Why? Because any ought we have with our neighbor is a controversy we have with God. He is offended by our ill-feelings. But when reconciliation comes, what a difference! I cannot articulate the glory of reconciliation. Where once we resisted the person and tried to hinder them in some way, now we seek to help them. We go from obstructive to constructive! We go from wanting them to ‘get theirs’ to viewing them as a soul that deserves compassion and love. No more inward desire for evil upon their head, but a desire for Shalom, the very peace and blessing of God to be there. 


Reluctant reconciliation? 


I can say without hesitation that I have reconciled many times with folks over the last 20 years and when they would rightly reciprocate it was a glorious thing. Reluctant reconciliation usually left a mundane relationship in its wake. We have to reciprocate. How? Two people speak to each other in this way, “I’m sorry- I’m sorry too. I was wrong- I was wrong too. I want to clear the air- I want to clear the air too. I forgive you- I forgive you too. I want to put this behind us and go forward- I want to put this behind us and go forward too. I wish you the very best- and I wish you the very best too.” Maybe not just like that, but you get the idea. But reluctant reconciliation only desires to air their own grievance and waits for the person to show what they perceive to be enough contrition so they will forgive. If they don’t get what they want, the air is not cleared rightly. There is a lingering stench. A direct offense deserves an apology, but even if it does not come we are still called to love and forgive. Why? It is the Spirit and mind of Christ. While we were yet sinners He loved us, and He expects us to do the same. 



The Foolish Faster Builder

The Foolish Faster Builder
Robert Wurtz II

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. (1 Corinthians 3:9-13)

Our passage relates to a problem that existed in Corinth in which the people were factioning; that is to say, they were lining up behind their favorite ministers. Paul will deal with this factioning and division by going to the foundation of the issue. He begins by reminding the people in a figure that one farmer plants, another farmer waters, but God gives the increase. It is God’s field, seed, rain, sunlight, etc., but the assisting agent in the process is the farmer (husbandman). So if there is praise to be received, it must alone belong to God. We then have a transition in our metaphor from husbandry (farming) to building (carpentry). Ye are God’s building, says Paul. We are owned by God, having been saved as a consequence of His grace. It is God’s building project and it is God’s building materials. We are the builders. As in any building project we must bear in mind that we are not the designers. As we will see Paul tells us that the foundation has been laid which is Jesus Christ. Paul followed a simple pattern as he preached the Gospel: repent and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, believe the Gospel, be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit. This was the grace of God working in Paul setting up the pattern. We are to follow God’s pattern as would a carpenter his blueprints. Keep that very clear. 


The wise master builder


This grace that brings salvation came to us, as it did the original first century readers of this epistle, through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul describes his role in this process saying, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation…” God gave Paul the tools and the direction to lay the foundation for the churches under his care. He referred to himself as a “wise master builder”. “This is the Greek word architektōn or “architect”. “Tektōn” is from tiktō, meaning to beget, and means a begetter, then a worker in wood or stone, a carpenter or mason (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). “Archi̇” is an old inseparable prefix like archaggelos (archangel), archepiscopos (archbishop), archiereus (chiefpriest).” (Robertson) Notice Paul was not just a master builder, but a wise master builder. This implies that he understood the absolute seriousness of what he was doing. He approached the work soberly and with great wisdom. Why? Because what he was building would have to support what came after. He knew that someone would build on top of what he built so it needed to be able to endure the weight. He also understood that the early pattern of the work was setting a standard and precedence.


I placed a placing


Paul said, “I laid the foundation.” This is literally, “I placed a placing.” When words are doubled in Hebrew idiom it is done for emphasis. This is the ultimate laying of a foundation, and it is Jesus Christ. Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Chief Corner Stone. This is insightful. I used to work a job where we stacked various sized and weight boxes of grocery goods on a skid for transport. If this is not done correctly the stack will topple over once the skid is being moved. The stack begins by placing the largest and heaviest items on the corners. These are your ‘cornerstones’. Going upwards one must insure that the lower boxes can support the weight of the stack. As this process went on the boxes were to be overlaid and interlocking so the stack would be “tied in”. Sort of like laying a brick wall. Everything has to overlap three dimensionally like a chimney or it will topple over. This is what Paul is saying. The cornerstone is laid as well as the foundation…


Take heed!    



In our picture above, I have tried to illustrate what Paul means when he says,  “But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” You will notice that the brick is going up uniformly and then suddenly there is an abrupt shift. Obviously we have had a shift change and there are some new builders on the project. It is as if the new crew paid no attention at all to what had been laid already, and just went off on their own thing. This is a picture of our times. There is a wholesale breaking loose from the faith of our fathers. Whereas Christ was the foundation, and many truths were added biblically, a new series of falsehoods and compromises have been introduced into the work that emphasize all manor of things other than what were foundational to our faith. Jesus Christ is foundational, genuine faith is foundational, repentance is foundational, etc. We discussed in our previous entry entitled, “Televangelicalism” how awful modern methods of “building” can become. Televangelicalism in the U.S has built upon the foundation of Billy Sunday, who built upon DL Moody, who built upon Finney. P. Reidhead discovered in the 60’s that the invitation to come to Christ had shifted to “an appeal to selfishness”. This was added to A.W. Tozer’s observation that people were coming to Christ based on logical deductions drawn from proof texts. This is a very serious problem and represents a dangerously shoddy building strategy.

The foolish faster builder

In modern times almost everything seems to be based on speed. We have forsaken quality for quantity and as a result have totally lost the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that characterized former generations. Paul called himself a “wise master builder”, inferring that there is a foolish side to building. I suggest that what we see today is “foolish faster building” in place of “wise master building.”. It is a wholesale dosage of hay, wood and stubble being built upon the firm foundations of bygone layers of godly labors. Paul said in effect, “take heed how you build upon the foundation that was passed to you.” We could drink a hundred cups of coffee and not be sobered to how serious this subject really is.

Souls at risk

 It was a Friday evening in Kansas City on July 17, 1981 when our local television program was interrupted to bring a special report. A Tea Dance was rolling at the Hyatt Regency, arguably the city’s poshest hotel; 1600 people were in attendance. News was beginning to stream in that something very terrible had happened. Two connected walkways collapsed and plunged under the weight of those standing on them and into the lobby holding the tea dance, killing 114 people and injuring 216 others. The TV then seemed to flash a “SPECIAL REPORT” and the incident had awakened our nation. It would not be until 30 years later in 2001 that the tragedy of 9/11 would surpass the loss of life in the U.S. by construction collapse. 







Concrete and steel fell killing many instantly. Others were given morphine and told they were going to die.The scene was so horrific, that it looked like a war zone. But this was not caused by an aerial or terrorist bombing attack, but by an unwise building modification that was never properly reviewed to determine the consequences of such a design change. No one responsible took the time to do the calculations to make sure that the structure could hold the additional weight of the change. As best as I know there was no one to sound an alarm. It resulted in mass loss of life, grief, post-traumatic stress, lawsuits, etc. The firm responsible lost it’s license to do architecture and the men in charged lost their engineering certifications. It is exceedingly sad to know that such a lesson would have to be learned the hard way. 

Take heed  

There is nothing that we can do about the past. It is not our job to go back and tear out things that have already been built. To do so is to put the whole project (as it were) at risk. the day shall declare it. This is similar to the idea of allowing the tares to grow with the wheat. To make changes in some areas now would only prove to be destructive. We have to take heed ourselves and build according to God word in our own lives. 

We read as Paul continues, If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:17) We can warn, but we must never wreck the churches. This is a complicated matter. Sometimes it is hard to know just what to do. Inaction can be the same as action, so each of us have to be sensitive to what God burdens us with. We need a double portion of “take heed”. Why? God’s warning is clear, “God will wreck the church wrecker.” If what we are doing is destructive, we are in danger and need to repent.

What about what Paul said to the Corinthians? He laid the foundation rightly, but what will other people do that arrive on the work site later? This is the great question. We are responsible for our work. Will others build as wise master builders or as a foolish builder that builds the walls of false teachings. Someday it will all be tested by fire.



       

 

Commercial Christianity

Commercial Christianity
The ‘selling’ of ones self
Robert Wurtz II

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3 NKJV)




 In our previous study entitled Televangelicalism, we gave an overview of the rise of mass communication as it has been employed by evangelical Christian ministers. In this entry I wish to explore some of the ways the use of modern media has been exceedingly destructive to Christianity. I wish to show that the very nature of modern television is to militate against Philippians 2:3, a state of mind essential to any Christian minister. We will first examine the root cause and some of the consequences and then we will return to our text.


Helevision


In the 1960’s and 70’s certain old-timey preachers adopted a nickname for the television; they called it helevision. Though some have disregarded their views and written them off as backwoods preachers, I doubt that there is one single thing that has been a greater source of trouble to Christians and the churches of God than the Television. It is more than we can even cope with in our times. 

Beyond the immorality and violence that exists on TV, there are mindsets that are being conveyed in every program and commercial. Understand that Television is about capturing an audience and retaining it. This is how ratings are built and commercials are valued. Programs and people have to be ‘sold’ or ‘promoted’ in order to gain a following. This means that programs can only survive if they attract the most possible viewers. There is little room for niche programming. Popularity is king. Simply put, you have to sell yourself to a viewing public. This phenomena has captivated the masses and I dare say Believers are not exempt. For over 60 years folk have been taking pointers on how to promote themselves from methods employed on TV. To find success would almost guarantee a mega ego infusion.  


Market yourself?


I believe it is impossible to calculate the negative effects of this philosophy of ‘selling’ (promoting) people and programs in this way. The strategy appeals to the pride of life and can subtly enter our thinking process almost unchecked. Why? Because pride is the most difficult of all sins to detect in our own lives. Being ‘proud’ is not just normal in this present evil world, it is greatly encouraged. 


Popularity


Popular culture is just that, “the expression of what is made popular by or within the culture”. The whole concept was popularized by Edward Bernays just after WWI. It was a huge money making scheme that we dealt with in the entry titled Chasing the Wind.  Pop culture, when allowed to influence the churches of God, leads to pop preaching and pop trends within the churches of God (if allowed to go unchecked). Soon the philosophy in the youth department of the church in one generation becomes the philosophy of the adult church in the next. 


The sad thing is that everyone living today has lived through cycles of pop-culture. It is normal to almost everyone in the West and is therefore accepted. No one questions the process. But the effect is that everything ‘old’ is ditched for the ‘new’. People actually think this is how life is supposed to work, even in the churches. It is to the point to where there is almost no continuity with the past. Old things are typically shunned as outdated. The consequence is that the masses have become “performers” that echo and imitate what they see on TV. Too much of what we do is becoming plastic Hollywood pretense devoid of any real expression of the heart. We are a culture of imitators. 



And though we can talk about the positives of modern media, I must say that we would be much better off without the influence of TV. It is hard to even know where to begin on such a vast subject, but I want to target in this second entry one area as it relates to the wholesale distribution of “love for this present evil world”. 

The primary trapping

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NASB) 

Let us first observe that if anyone is moving in the three things listed in verse 16 then they are in the cross hairs of verse 15. That is to say, if anyone is moving in the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life then the love of the Father is not in them. These three are sometimes simplified to pleasure, possessions and personal pride.This makes for a very sobering passage. The very thing that constitutes enmity with God is being pumped out of networks at a wholesale level. We cannot entertain two lovers at once; God says if a person loves the world then He and His love is effectively not in the person. This means that the person is not moving in the love of God or the leading of God, but they are moved by worldly ambitions and desires.  They may seem to have a great zeal for what they are doing, but the source of the zeal is all wrong.  

The lure of popularity

It has been said that pride is the one sin for which the devil will not make you feel guilty. It is the snare and condemnation of the devil. The New Testament speaks of ministers being lifted up with pride. We are warned to take practical measures to prevent this. Why? Because pride is the most dangerous of all sins. Once a person is in a position of popularity, they are immediately in danger. When God looked for a man to take on the task of leading His people out of Egypt, He chose Moses, the meekest man on the earth. (Numbers 12:3) He was reluctant to do it, almost to a fault. If God had lined up a thousand men and asked for a show of hands as to who wanted to be the leader of His nation, Moses would have been last to volunteer. God did not want the first volunteer, he wanted the person that could walk before Him in meekness. 


Kicking and screaming

Television has been a primary source for the lust for popularity that exists in our times. Who can deny it? We even have programs designed to make people an ‘idol’, where lines stretch for blocks with people waiting for their shot at fame. This has crossed over into modern Christendom. The great lie of our times is that we can use God as a means to our own personal fame; but God is not going to be the means to any one’s end (P. Reidhead). I believe Moses would have to be drug into a studio kicking and screaming unless he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, and with no desire for personal ambition, that it was God’s perfect will that he do it. Not today. Many have a “pass me the microphone” mentality. This is dangerous. Personal ambition has always been one of the greatest dangers to the churches of God. This is likely why Corinth was divided. It is why Paul wept and cried when he left Ephesus in Acts 20:31f. If the devil can find a person with personal ambition, he has a beachhead into the churches.

God’s perfect will

God’s perfect will for a person’s life cannot be improved upon. If we are led of the Spirit we will carry out that will; but if we are driven by personal ambition we will do all kinds of things in the name of God that had little to do with Him. Some preach Christ out of envy and strife, nevertheless Christ is preached; but we must move in the will of God. We cannot seek to “win souls for God” in a way that will get our name in lights. We are not here to lead disciples after ourselves. We are to point people to Jesus. We have to be prepared to have the mind of Christ; who being in the form of God did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself of no reputation. When John the Baptist stated, “He must increase and I must decrease” he was not mouthing soundbites. This was his heart disposition. If God calls us to minister to a small group of people for the rest of our lives, we have to truly be prepared to do that. GOD doesn’t want me to do great things for Him; He wants me to live by every word that is proceeding from His mouth. He wants me to walk in the Spirit and move in His perfect will. Doing “great things for God” can often be a cover for “making a name for myself.” God forbid.

The sin of electioneering

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3 NKJV)

Maybe it would be a good time to write sentences again to drive home the force of this truth:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit 
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit
 
Our Greek word for ‘selfish ambition’ means ‘electioneering’  or a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means” (BDAG). Paul here exhorts the church to be one in the mind of Christ not putting self forward or being selfish. James uses the same Greek word and it is translated as ‘strife’. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (James 3:14) This is a sobering warning. A.T. Robertson rendered the word meaning to “put forward to personal ends.” James 3:14 speaks against having selfishness or self-promoting in your heart. (Wayne Steury) Paul said, “Let nothing be done through it.” Rather, in lowliness of mind let us esteem others are better than ourselves. By contrast with the world’s self seeking and exaltation, we are to humiliate ourselves by comparison; not in a foolish sense, but in a lowly view of ourselves that is devoid of conceit. 

Building a name

To cut against the grain of the paradigm of this devilish age we have to radically insulate ourselves from it’s mindset. We can’t think like the world and do anything for God. We have to have the mind of Christ. Self-promotion, self-glorification, etc.have no place in the Kingdom of God. For those that are inwardly seeking such, God sees it and so does Satan. The enemy sees in the person a platform from which to influence the people of God and promote all manor of lies and ungodly practices. Once a person gets “I want to be an idol” in their blood, they are dangerous to the churches of God. 

This TV, Hollywood, celebrity, glamour, spirit is one of the most dangerous things to the churches we can discuss. Once a person gets a little fame, they often become a law unto themselves. They are legends in their own minds and their followers shout their praises. Who can reach them? As we mentioned in our previous entry, they esteem popularity as a gage of authority. This party spirit and electioneering is contrary to God and His work. It is at enmity with God and His will for the churches. Paul said it best,  But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me. (Galatians 2:6) Man may honor a person for being popular, but God does not. Keep that very clear.
              

Corrupted thinking

There is something wrong with us when we view the Kingdom of God as a multi-level career opportunity. That ‘something’ is the corruption that is flooding our minds everytime we turn on a TV or admire a celebrity. God is not looking for celebrities that will maximize their talents and abilities to build their own name and kingdom, in the name of building Christ’s kingdom. God does not anoint people to build their own little kingdoms. He anoints us to do His perfect will for our lives. It is all He expects of us. Too many Christians are discontent with what God has them doing. They want more. They want to be seen by more and heard by more. But God has certain people that He has equipped us to reach. We must be content with that knowing that God judges not on quantity of exploits, but on obedience to His will. All we can ever be are good foot-soldiers taking orders. If God chooses to use us on a grand scale, let us be like Moses and move forward reluctantly and in the fear of the Lord. We are not here to market ourselves. As Paul said plainly, Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3 NKJV) Amen




Televangelicalism

Televagelicalism (originally published August 2009)
None Now Live That Remember (Part 8)

The Rise of Televangelism and It’s Influence on the Local churches
Robert Wurtz II


For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish… So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:28-30, Luke 14:33)


Mass communication over the years has greatly challenged the historical means of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in turn, dealing with those that have heard the Gospel once a message has been given. Dwight L. Moody greatly took advantage of the press in the promotion of his meetings as well as Billy Sunday. A simple search of Google’s Newspaper Archives demonstrates how churches have utilized the press to some degree or another for a very long time. But things were about to change. The turn of the century marked a new day in evangelism practice.

Dwight L. Moody preached his last message in person on Nov. 16, 1899 at the old Convention Hall in downtown Kansas City, MO. He was a tremendous man of God that did his best to see sinners come to Christ. But we must know that this dear man exerted tremendous influence upon the churches and their evangelistic methods. As is common today, ministers that came to see him or read about him employed techniques or something similar. His influence was limited because technology was limited. But the influence of those that would come after through radio and television would far exceed what this man was capable of. Today the churches are alarmingly influenced by individuals that minister in the name of Christ. The weight of the influence is usually based upon the minister’s primarily. The results? What is said on radio and TV is soon communicated in the local churches.

Moody returned home with what is believed to have been heart failure and died on December 22, 1899. He was only 66 years old and did a great work for God, but his influence on evangelism was tremendous. We were headed in the wrong direction. We are seeing the beginnings of “mass evangelism.” 

 Then came Billy Sunday, who ministered primarily in large tent gatherings. As a young minister I was thrilled to actually preach behind a pulpit that Billy Sunday once used. But Billy was no theologian. He had a view of getting converted that was a radical departure from years past. We will not review that here, as we discussed the topic earlier in our series Part 1Part 2, Part 3.



Kansas Citians built this canvas and wood tabernacle at Admiral and Lydia, in the northeast section of Kansas City. Fifteen boxcar loads of lumber were used. The 215-by-302 foot structure (65,000 square feet) was larger than old Convention Hall. Seating capacity, 12,000 and standing room for 4,000 more. During the seven weeks of the Kansas City revival, 92 sermons were preached. A front-page story in The Star reported on the final tearful farewell, after Sunday’s last sermon, June 18, 1916 that a total of 1,356,000 persons had attended and 20,646 of them “hit the sawdust trail.” This phrase was used to express Billy Sunday’s method of having a person simply come down a sawdust covered floor between the seats and shake his hand in order to signify your conversion. Ministers of Kansas City said several thousands were “converted” in the meetings, who did not come forward. (kchistory.org) In passing I will note that the language of being “hopefully converted” as opposed to what would later come “got saved” was still being employed. This is a radical difference of wording and meaning. Mass tent meetings reached as many as 1.3 million people in seven weeks, but this method was about to give way to a whole new means of reaching the masses. 


Christian radio


If “video killed the radio star”, then “the radio star killed the newspaper touting tent meetings”. It did not happen all at once; it was slow, but sure. Up to this time thousands could be reached in a tent meeting, but in the 1920’s things were going to change. Edgar De Witt Jones in his book American Preachers of Today (intimate appraisals of 32 leaders 1971 p. 305-306) tells us that S. Parkes Cadman was the first person ever to give a religious address on radio. Surely this marked a new era for evangelicalism.




Beginning with S. Parkes Cadmon we would begin to experience a widespread influence of a hand-full of individuals upon the churches of God, rather than the Word of His grace in the midst of a local assembly. That is to say, rather than hearing what the Spirit is saying to the local church, ministers were now preaching sermons, etc. that would be regurgitated into local assemblies. If the enemy can control or influence radio and television preachers and singers he can control and influence the local assembly. Although God has placed individuals within the local assembly to be the source of feeding the flock of God, great new challenges were on the horizon starting with Christian radio. Soon they would be quoted and imitated in almost every way. We will watch slowly as the radio evangelists and the televangelists begin to dictate trends and fads within the local churches. This is very sobering.

The influence of mass communication


Let me say here that the use of means such as tents, newspapers, radio, and television is not all evil. It has been the abuse of these tools that has been evil. The solution for abuse is not non-use, but right use. However, as it has gone, I believe it is impossible to fully estimate the influence that radio and television has made upon doctrine and practice in the last 75 years. Why? Because preachers and teachers of local churches are often listening to these radio and TV ministers, and re-preaching their teachings to their congregations yielding an exponential influence over the original broadcasts. Why? Because teachers and preachers are often repeating the radio and TV teachings in local assemblies because they find it useful. But what about when popularity and coolness begins to take the place of rightly dividing the word of God? This is a staggering question. People rationalize that it must be God that is providing them the platform to speak or they would not have it. This is not necessarily true. The devil will provide a false teacher a platform as if it were a light thing. But what has happened? The local teacher and preacher suddenly has to compete for influence with what is being said on the TV or radio. The TV and radio guy or gal suddenly becomes the authority. This totally misses God’s plan for a local church in which Christ is walking in the midst and tending the lamp-stand. Christ wants to speak to the local assembly through the local people. This makes for a church modeled after the Spirit of God and not after the latest and most popular thing on Christian TV.  

The Negative Influence


This phenomena has given rise to the wholesale spread of much of the pop-Christianity and “fad” doctrines that leave in their wake everything from rife heresy at worst to a trail of outdated books that end up on bargain tables at the local used Christian book stores at best. And though we could spend time at length considering this fact, I wish to point to our passage again and consider an event that took place in the late 1950’s that I believe was a warning about the direction of modern Televangelism.

The Tower to NoWhere

 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him…

Our passage asks us to consider what would happen if a man went to build a tower and then afterwards was not able to complete it because he did not count the cost. This passage existed for over 1900 years as a valuable lesson that in itself was fully able to reveal the mind of God on the subject. And yet I believe, that in the mind of God, He knew that the day would come when just such an event would truly come to pass. God is not taken by surprise. Consider that in Akron, Ohio, the very town where A.W. Tozer was converted (just a few miles to the north of Canton) sits today a tower that is the mocking-stock of a highly popular and respected minister named Rex Humbard. It is the source of countless crude jokes and at over 400 feet tall, it is a mass concrete eye-sore scaring the skyline. He wanted a television studio in the sky, but did not count the cost and was unable to complete the job. Selah.


(Rex Humbard’s unfinished tower as it looks today)

Counting the Cost

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish… So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple…

Can you believe it is said that this massive tower sold in the 1980’s for only $30,000? It is essentially a giant cell phone tower last I checked. Some years ago I sat down with a couple from Akron that attended Rex Humbard’s church. The husband’s father worked on the project. I was told that the concrete and steel in this structure is such that to bring it down would destroy everything around it. This to me is a picture of much of modern day televangelism. Financial problems plagued the ministry in the early 70’s and they were not able to complete the tower. Attention turned elsewhere and the tower was left standing. I believe this event signaled the beginning of the “televangelical Gospel” that stripped, for the most part, an essential element of the Gospel: counting the cost. Dependent on supporters, the televangelical message became a slave to ratings and offerings.This is how “name it and claim it” came into many churches as well as the prosperity heresy.

Your ‘Television Pastor.’

Although I believe that God use Rex Humbard in many powerful ways, understand that as early as 1966 Rex Humbard was being referred to as your “television pastor”. Again, as with Finney, Moody and Billy Sunday there can be no doubt that God used Rex Humbard. But there is something terribly amiss when folk begin to look to the radio and television for a word from God. G.H. Lang in his work, The Churches of God reminds us that God designed the churches so that their influence upon one another was very limited. This would prevent one church from bringing down the rest if some disaster happened. God deals with churches on a local level and individually. Heresy and false teaching can become like the flu in this environment. How? Everyone gathers together and receives and takes the thing back and infects their own congregations with it. Sometimes, good comes from Television ministry, but it can also be a very dangerous thing. Why? Because the TV star has an exalted position in peoples minds allowing them to get by with all kinds of questionable and false teachings. If he/she is likable, people will just keep listening and even defend the person. They become like idols. I can say in my own life that as a young Christian I followed a certain healing minister to 5 U.S. cities and would defend him before man in public and before God in prayer. I recall actually trying to pray God’s judgment upon a Christian apologist for exposing some of my “idol” TV preacher’s teachings. God have mercy on me. It was the wrong spirit. 

The dark side of influence 


So what are we to think about ministries coming along that wield tremendous influence upon local churches? Soon the measure (standard) for authority was based on how many stations and listeners a particular ministry had. This all but stripped the local ministers influence. The people in the seats were often much more ready to receive what was said by the TV and radio preacher simply because they were on TV or radio. This is a horrendous way of establishing authority, but it is fully in step with the enemies constant plot to place the authority in the local churches in someone’s hands other than the Holy Spirit. What makes matters worse is that a sort of “peer pressure” often develops in which local pastors begin to emulate these men and women in both doctrine and style.

Televangelists Become ‘The’ Authority

Think of all the times you have heard a TV or radio preacher/teacher quoted? Think about how a special authority is assumed when quoting these men almost as if their very words trump anything anyone else says. In this way the TV minister begins to function with an authoritative influence like the priest or Pope in Roman Catholicism. It is not formal or stated, but the influence is no less real. Modern Christian TV and radio has wielded tremendous influence upon our whole concept of “church”. Soon the guy on TV running 5,000 on Sunday is a best seller at the local book store and may have virtually no theological training or understanding. 

All too often, lost in the process, is that precious need to come together before God as a local assembly and hear from God on that level. Much of the modern evangelical church has unwittingly exchanged a host of questionable and false teaching for that precious word of His grace that they needed for edification; that Word that is given from Christ specific to that moment and time in that churches history. What is the result?

Genuine Evangelism

As a general question, how do you suppose a person feels that wants to witness to some friends or hold and open air meeting when they just turned on the TV and hear that 2000 people were “saved” at the most recent evangelistic crusade and another 10,000 were reached by radio and television? I tell you a despair comes on many people and whether they say it or not their actions exclaim, “What’s the use?” Why am I out here trying to win souls when these guys are seeing people come to Christ by the thousands? They can handle it! I believe this unintended consequence has crippled to a large degree “one on one” evangelism and street evangelism. 

True evangelism is like childbirth, it takes time. Nobody has a baby by reciting 5 points of doctrine. The easy-believism/sinners prayer method of winning folk to Christ has worked to strip the willingness to really stay with a person in the scriptures and in prayer until they are truly converted and come into a relationship with Christ. There is also a massive confusion that has come about because of Televangelism- because most people have no idea what God is really asking of them when they come to Christ. Why? Because preaching on counting the cost can destroy your ratings if it is pressed to it’s right measure.

An Unlikely Invitation

An old theology teacher once said that God sometimes blesses a questionable reading, of an obscure text, in the minor prophets; but that is not His standard mode of operation. He expects us to rightly divide the word of truth. Although God has chosen to use men in spite of their ideologies, there is still a day of accounting for all of these ideas that are lodged in the minds of multitudes in our times. Finney’s concepts, doctrine and “new measures”, God rest his soul, have come home to roost in our times. It was not his intention at the time; but he refused to listen to good counsel and now a Pandora’s box has been opened up. For example, although Finney was a tremendous soul winner, in his time, it is shocking to realize how the new measures evolved into the sinner’s prayer and the resultant shallow idea that folks have of genuine salvation. Why does it matter? Souls are at risk. Also, a “spurious conversion” is a high maintenance and low impact addition to any assembly. It seems in our times though that often the only thing that matters is “attendance” to the meetings. Many are considered “saved” sheerly on the basis that they repeated a prayer and now attend services. Imagine what will happen when these folks learn how to play the part and then move into leadership in the churches or places of influence on radio and TV. Can you see the snowball effect?  

What is the solution. We have to begin once again to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all that entails. This means possibly praying with a person until they come through to God. To come alongside and help lead them to Christ. It means discipling folks and allowing our churches to be a place where we pray and hear from God, resisting the temptation to conform to TV and radio pop-Christianity. We have to resist all of the trappings associated with TV and the popularity it brings.  

Speaking the Truth in Love

Speaking the Truth in Love
Robert Wurtz II

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. (2 Corinthians 5:11 ESV)

In our past studies we have discussed faith, grace, and the love of God. We touched upon Christ’s call to believers to come boldly unto the Throne of Grace to obtain mercy and grace to help in the time of need (Hebrews 4:16). It is an expression or the goodness of the Lord. It is this goodness that should also lead sinful men and women to repentance (Romans 2:4). We are then told in Romans 11:22 to consider both the goodness and the severity of God. This plays out in the Revelation as we watch over the course of the book a transition taking place. In Revelation 4:2-3 John writes, At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. (Revelation 4:2-3) We observe here the throne of Grace. The rainbow signifies mercy, and the promise of God to Noah (man) that He would not destroy the earth again with water. But as we read the back of the book we find a different reality. John writes, And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Revelation 20:11-13 KJV) 

Knowing the fear of the Lord

Paul gives an explanation in our text (2 Corinthians 5:11) of what motivates him as a servant of God; Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. He then goes on to say of himself and his fellow laborers, “…what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.” This last phrase “I hope that it is known also in your conscience” is key to understanding Paul’s preaching. He preached before the conscience from a position of the fear of the Lord. He set his life out before the people to measure it against what they knew to be true conscientiously. What does that mean? We read in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2 ESV) Paul’s objective was to set truth before the conscience of the people for their consideration. It was all he could do. It was his means of persuading them. With an eye on the fact that we are all going to stand before God and give an account of our lives, he persuaded men to repent and himself to keep on preaching truth

The two sides of man

God has given to every person a conscience. This is an inward mechanism that speaks on behalf of God. Some have called it an inward smoke alarm. Some have called it an umpire as in baseball. It is an inward judge that speaks to our thoughts, attitudes, actions, etc. It also judges the behaviors of others against what it believes to be right and wrong. You can sear it or load it up with false ideas, but when working properly it is a good indicator of right and wrong. This presumes the person has been spending time rightly dividing the word of truth- before their conscience. 

There is another side of every person that constitutes the “I”. It is what “I” want. It is “my” will, “my” ambitions, “my” intentions. The “I” or the “me” in a person will either be submitted to Christ and have His mind or they will be moving to a greater or lesser degree in their own will. The old-timers would call this side of man “the heart”. It is that place that the prophet declared to be “…deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 MKJV) It is summed up in the attitude of Satan,… “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) This is an impenitent and rebellious heart. 

Preaching to the choir

“Preaching to the choir” is an expression that means that you are making your case to your supporters. Paul knew that “his supporter” in man is the conscience. Why not the heart? Because the heart of man is corrupt and useless to God until He comes in by His Holy Spirit and replaces it. (Ezekiel 18:31, Ezekiel 36:26, 2 Cor. 5:17, Galatians 6:15) This replacement heart and spirit that constitutes a “new creature in Christ” will work in the person a desire to will and to do God’s good pleasure. (Php. 2:13) Christ may have sweat as it were “great drops of blood”, but in the end He still declared “not my will but thine be done.” That is to say, the new heart will strive against sin. (Hebrews 12:4) In this way the new heart comes into agreement with God and the conscience. If the mind has wrong ideas, the new heart will search out truth and make corrections as necessary. Why? It lives by every word of God; it lives by the written word and by the very thing God is speaking to it at the present moment. 

A divided man

Paul preached to many people that were at war within themselves. They had the light of conscience that was placed within them by God at birth, as a combination of the a priori knowledge of God (the law of God written on the heart), and an unaffiliated judge (the conscience) to measure their actions by. On the opposite side of their humanity was a heart in rebellion against God. One side rejects truth and the other side embraces it. Paul understood this, so he preached to the conscience. When a person agrees with their conscience they are unified, but when they rebel against God and His word, they are divided internally. This is why we are told that in the last days men and women would have a conscience seared with a hot iron. Searing deadens the nerves; it takes the battery out of the smoke alarm. But in the process of searing the conscience, a person will still recognize truth when they hear it. When light is shed on the conscience, it will rise up once again. This may infuriate the rebellious heart, but the conscience will give its approval.  

A shaft of steel

Knowing the terror of the Lord Paul persuaded men. His mind was fastened to truth with chains that could not be broken. As the late Dr. Ken Connolly said concerning men like William Tyndale, “they had convictions that ran like shafts of steel through their bodies not allowing them to bow to pressure.” They paid with their lives. Paul was tethered by the fear of God and the love of God.( 2 Corinthians 5:14) Notice again, “he persuaded men….” The Greek word means “to convince”. Paul did not frog-march men and women into truth; he used great plainness of speech. (2 Corinthians 3:2) He set truth before their eyes in love, and that is a mighty combination. Knowing the terror of the Lord; that is to say, knowing that God is a righteous judge- Paul was constrained by the love of Christ to see men convinced of the Gospel, repent and live holy lives.   

 

    

 

 
 

 

The Love That Never Fails

The Love That Never Fails
Robert Wurtz II


Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Love survives everything; that is how you know it was love. It holds its place. It is a binding force that maintains its cohesiveness through all the ages. Like an ancient monument that has endured the weathering of a thousand generations; love remains when all else has fallen. Prophecies will fail, tongues will cease and knowledge will vanish away; but love will never fail. It is that one thing that you can always depend on. It never runs out; it never grows weak and falters. Without faith it is impossible to please God; but now abides faith, hope and love and the greatest is love. We can say with certainly that without love it is likewise impossible to please God. 


No greater love…



Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)


While Christ was on the cross suffering the worst injustice in the history of mankind, He uttered these words, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34) To the non-Christian that statement staggers the comprehension. No matter how deeply the nails were driven into His hands, or how savagely the whip dug into his tender flesh, the soldiers kept discovering love. Layer upon layer of love. Why? Love never fails. Jesus didn’t just “have” love He “is” love. This was no electroplate job, he was 100% pure love.

What about Stephen when he was being stoned to death at the hands of a merciless angry mob? And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. (Acts 7:60) How could he do it? Why didn’t he curse and swear as the pain and agony bore down upon his battered body? I submit to you that the very love of Christ that moved Him to lay down His life for His friends had been poured out into Stephen’s heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) 


What about Paul the Apostle? I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:1-3 NKJV) These are Paul’s words of absolute lamentation because of the Israelites that had rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can almost feel the grief and moaning as he utters such sadness. A few decades before, the disciples had desired to call fire down from heaven on the Samaritans, but here is Paul wishing he himself could be accursed from Christ if it would save his people.Jesus told the Disciples leaving Samaria that they “knew not what manor of spirit they were of”; but there is no mistaking what manor of spirit that the Lord Jesus, Stephen and Paul was of; it was clear and uncontested evidence that the Holy Spirit was in them manifesting His love.This is fervent, unfeigned love. Could this be the same man that was breathing out threatening and slaughter against Christians some twenty years before? What could have possibly effected such a radical change in this man? It was the Holy Spirit poured our into him. (Romans 5:5)

Cultivating love

In John 13:35– 36 the Lord Jesus states,A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Notice the phrase, “as I have loved you.” Jesus gave the parable of the prodigal son to demonstrate the love of the Father in contrast to the love of a brother. Four words could express the Father’s love to his wayward child, “I will have mercy”. This is the heart of the Father. The brother seemed to view his wayward brother as an opponent that needed to be kept down and contained, rather than lifted up and restored. He did not want the man restored to the family. Obviously, he did not love his brother; he was not a disciple of Christ. There are few things more evil than when a person refuses to be reconciled in love. It is the opposite of the heart of God. God went out-of-His-way to demonstrate His love for us and His desire to work things out, though we were the offenders. Yet we see it all the time. God stretches forth His hand all day long to a disobedient people; they take delight in the benefits of His goodness, but they still reject Him. It is the nature of Satan working on men’s hearts. 




The command in John 13:35-36 would not come without the power to carry it out. God provides the grace and the desire to love the unloveable. If we would simply obey John 13:35-36, all people would know that we were disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a powerful truth. Unfeigned love is essential to genuine Christianity. (Romans 12:92 Cor. 6:61 Peter 1:22) “Unfeigned” is an old word that means sincere, irrevocable and irreversible. We sincerely love and we don’t take it back. If Jesus commanded this type of love He expects us as His people to do it. If we refuse then we find ourselves in the same state as the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2:1ff. Jesus told them, repent and do the first works or I will remove your lampstand. Why? Because the light is the love of God manifest in a darkened world. What is the point of having a golden lampstand if there is no light? It is as worthless as salt that has lost its savor. 



The Love of the Father


Returning to the prodigal son motif to close this entry I wish to share a few thoughts from G.W. Norths personal diary as recorded in The Story of G.W. North by Judith Raistrick. Mr. North was a straightforward man of the Bible; a man of truth. His books, articles and sermons dispel any doubts. Yet, he believed we should always err on the side of love. He once quoted Dr. Smellie who stated, “Rather than let love suffer, let truth suffer.” This came in response to a question as to whether or not a repentant man should be restored to ministry. Some might say that they are “done for” once they have fallen into scandal; but not Mr. North. Some elders in one of the Fellowships were displeased with a certain preacher in their midst and were calling for discipline. Mr. North simply beseeched them, “Deal kindly with the young man for my sake” (quoting from the story of David and Absalom). Love was always on his mind – not confrontation. Some people found this frustrating. I see it as evidence of a pastor’s heart (a shepherds heart) that continually seeks to bring the people (flock) back into unity and love with one another. It is said that Mr. North sometimes quoted from the hymn:




Was there Ever Kindest Shepherd 

Was there ever kindest shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Saviour who would have us
Come and gather round His feet?
It is God; His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems:
‘Tis our Father, and His kindness
Goes out far beyond our dreams.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more that liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Saviour,
There is healing in His blood:
For the love of God is broader
Than the measures of man’s mind,
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind:
But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own,
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.
There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord. 

Amen. 

The Grace That We Need

The Grace That We Need
Robert Wurtz II

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) 

In our previous entry entitled, Living by faith” we examined the importance of waiting on the vision; that is to say, to wait on what God has said to us rather than taking matters into our own hands. We said that mixing our word with God’s word creates a mixture of God’s will and our will. It is rejected as the product of the flesh. In this entry I wish to examine his God sends His word to us for our edification and direction. We are not to live by bread alone, but by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. By implication we see that God’s Word is the true bread. In fact, this is what Jesus said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6)

The Word- full of grace and truth

In our passage in John 1:14, we see how this works. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, is full of grace and truth. This is what the passage says if for the purposes of our study we connect the phrase “And the Word was…” with the last phrase “full of grace and truth.” The Word is full of grace. This is an amazing statement. The source of God’s grace is found in Jesus Christ, the Word. God’s divine enablement proceeds forth from Christ. He is the storehouse of grace. He, as our Great High Priest, has within Himself all that we need for our edification (building up) and direction. When our Great High Priest speaks to us, His words are full of grace to help in the time of need. You will remember that the Ark of the Covenant represented the throne of God’s glory in the Old Testament and that only the High Priest could approach the throne (Holy of Holies). These were just figures of the truth that are in Heaven itself. The throne of Grace is the throne where Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, distributes His grace (Hebrews 4:16). Notice it is a “throne of grace”. This implies that the will of God and His authority are in play when grace is distributed. In other words, the grace we seek in the time of need is the grace we need to be being built up to do God’s perfect will. Keep this very clear.     

The Lamb Priest

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. (Revelation 5:6-7)

We have a picture here of the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the World, signified with seven eyes and seven horns. You will know that seven is the number of perfection. Eyes represent knowledge and horns represent power. The Lamb of God, having proven Himself worthy of all things, has perfect knowledge and perfect power. As has been noted, “Not six horns so that he didn’t possess all power, though He had all knowledge; but seven eyes and seven horns.” He is all knowing and all powerful. Moreover, He is the only one worthy to deliver revelation to the churches of God. For it is written; “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Revelation 5:2-5) When we come to the throne of Grace we are approaching the only one worthy to open the book and loose the seals thereof. Many pretenders and anti-christs would seek to speak to the churches over the centuries; but Jesus Christ alone has that prerogative. He earned the right through His death on the Cross.

Speaking to the churches

The one with seven eyes and seven horns has both the knowledge and the power to provide His people with what we need. He is on top of it as the High Priest of the Old Testament would tend the Lamp stand. He walks in the midst of the lamp stands (the churches of God) observing as-it-were with His “seven eyes” to see just exactly what is needed so that He might send the Word of His grace. The Holy Spirit is the messenger that reveals this Word in the midst of the assembly, but any number of means. the people are simply instructed; “he that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.” The Lord Jesus sends His grace filled Word to us to help in our time of need.  

The Word of the Lord –Ron Bailey May 15, 2009
 
The phrase “the Word of the Lord” is used over 250 times in the scriptures and over 50 times in Jeremiah alone. It is easy to become desensitized to phrases like this, but to pause when we read them is very challenging. When God spoke of his own diligence in sending prophets to the nation of Israel he used a lovely Hebrew idiom which is simply “He rose up early in the morning and…” The picture, apparently, is of a man loading his camel for an early start. Of course God never sleeps, but the urgency and the industry of God sending His Word is captured just the same. How faithfully He sent those messengers. Some they ignored, some they opposed, some they silenced, but “the next morning” God just loaded up another “camel” and sent another Word. Sometimes prophetic messages were simply called “the burden of the Lord”. God solemnly warned the people of Jeremiah’s day that a day would come when there would be no “daily delivery”, no burden of the Lord. Jer 23:33. (see the KJV)

The grace that we need

God is sending “the Word of the Lord” to each and every one of us daily in this crisis hour. He speaks to His people individually and in churches with the expectation that they will hear and hearken to what has been said. It is the Word of His grace that is able to build us up and give us an inheritance among those that are being sanctified (Acts 20:32). It is our daily supply of every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. Those words, that the Holy Spirit so lovingly quickens to our hearts, provide the grace we need in the moment. Sometimes God speaks long-term directives and we wait upon Him in those matters, trusting and obeying in faith; but there is a daily Mannah that comes forth from the word who is full of grace and truth.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. Amen.    
 

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