A Fading Glory

A Fading Glory
Robert Wurtz II

For if that which fades away came through glory, how much more does that which is permanent have glory? Therefore, since we have such a hope, we speak very boldly, not like Moses, who kept covering his face with a veil to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of what was fading away. (2 Corinthians 3:11-13 ISV)

2 Corinthians 3 is a fascinating chapter where Paul is setting before the people the true evidence of the legitimacy of His calling and ministry. He tells the Corinthians in the first verses that they are his epistle (letter) of commendation. This is amazing. In the early churches of God it was sometimes necessary for a respected church leader (such as Paul or Priscilla and Aquilla) to write a “letter of commendation” to send with a person so that the churches and believers they visited would know they were legitimate. The Corinthian church knew all too well what this was, because one such letter had vouched for Apollos when he first arrived there (Acts 18:27). Paul begins this chapter by saying that when he came to them, he needed no such letter of commendation, because the believers themselves were the very proof that he was commissioned of God. The evidence of their changed life was clear for all people to see. Their behavior was as a living epistle before the eyes of all men. Paul was telling them that it was the grace that had been given to him by Christ that wrote that epistle (as it were) upon the fleshly tables of their hearts. It was this epistle in the heart that they were walking out in flesh and blood.

A heart of stone

Paul goes on in this chapter to contrast the ministry of the Old Covenant with that of the New Covenant. We learn elsewhere that the Law was spiritual, but unregenerate man is carnal and sold under sin. (Romans 7:14) The Old Covenant was tailor designed for the old Man, but the New Covenant would be tailored for the New Man (R. Bailey) Here, the heart of man comes front and center. It can do no other, because the heart of man is the central issue that must be dealt with before any lasting change can take place. Until the heart of a person is changed by God, all change is temporary. The hearts of men are found of God to be desperately wicked, and unknowable. Romans describes the hearts of men as uncircumcised, foolish, darkened (Romans 1:21, Acts 7:1-45), blind (Ephesians 4:18), obstinate, impenitent and hardened. (Romans 2:5)  The word impenitent means unrepentant. Hebrews 3:10-12 describes people that see the proof of God, and yet they still refuse to believe, as having “an evil heart of unbelief that departs from the Living God.” Peter speaks of people that train their heart as would an athlete train his body, not in godliness, but in covetousness. (2 Peter 2:14) The Revelation tells of the heart that confidently boasts in its security as if it will never see sorrow. The time would fail to tell of Satan that set his heart as the heart of God, and the very people that followed in this attitude (compare Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:2-6, Isaiah 47:4-15).

The hopeless heart

“The heart is more deceitful than anything. It is incurable. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ISV)

Though God told Israel to make themselves a new heart, the use of means by man in the Old Testament to accomplish change was only of limited effectiveness and longevity. Man has a disease of heart that we know as sin. It is mortally sick and incurable. It constantly seeks to substitute the arm of the flesh for the living God. (Meyer) Its thoughts, intents and secrets are unknowable and must be discerned by the word of God (Hebrews 4:12) and the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 14:25) With all of this vileness and corruption it becomes plainly evident that man needs a new heart, given by God supernaturally. All unrepentant men and women are as Israel, that in a figure had hearts of stone such that only 10 Commandments could be chiseled out upon them. God desires to give men and women in this Gospel dispensation a new heart that are like fleshly tables where He can put His laws into them (Jeremiah 31:33). This law of God is the full expression of the living Word; that is, the person of Jesus Christ coded within the heart and manifest in the person’s behavior. If something is to proceed from the heart other than evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, etc. (Mark 7:21-23), God must replace it and write His personality into it. Amen.

A “change of heart”

The book of Acts tells us that God opened the heart of Lydia to listen carefully to Paul’s preaching as would a man open up a folding door (Acts 16:14). This is similar to when Jesus opened the mind of the disciples to understand the scriptures in Luke 24:45. There are times of visitation when God will open mens hearts to carefully hear and understand the Gospel. This is a crucial time.

As a younger believer I recall praying with a dear man for salvation. In my prayer I asked the Lord along this line to touch his heart and perhaps give him new heart. To my surprise, he opened his eyes and stopped me. “Don’t pray for my heart, I have a good heart!” he said. I was confounded by the thought. Here is a man that had a reputation for vile sin and rebellion against God and yet he somehow believed that deep down on the inside he really had a good heart and was a good person. I have given this experience much thought over the years. You see, many people think that they have a “good heart”, but as we have seen, this is not at all what scripture teaches. People use expressions like, “I have had a change of heart”, but this is not what God means by a new heart. Repentance is a change of mind upon a matter, but this is really only a first step. Man’s idea of a “change of heart” is more like a new years resolution. It is a superficial and shallow change compared to what God means. A new heart means exactly that, a new heart. This is not a rebuilt old heart, but a new heart.  

Moses and the veil

Israel had a stoney heart as individuals and that reality was one of their primary problems. We have to keep these things well in our minds or we will not rightly understand what follows. Paul moves on to our opening passage in 2 Cor. 3:11 and gives an additional and insightful revelation about the workings of God in the life of Moses and Israel. You will know that Moses went up on the mountain for 40 days without food or water to get the commandments and to spend time before the face of the LORD. (Exodus 34:28-35) It was him and God. He was consumed with being with the Lord. Moses surely came to understand during these 40 days, as spoken of by our Lord, that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. For those 40 days Moses was dead to everything and everyone but God. What an amazing experience! When he came down from the mountain his face was shining with the residue of God’s glory as evidence that he had truly been with God. The people could see this as evidence that he was truly commissioned of God to lead them. Their reaction to his radiant face was fear. They had seen the gods of Egypt, but nothing remotely like this. The mountain was on fire and Moses face was glowing with the glory of God. Yet, they would not draw near. I would have thought they would have desired to see God’s glory and possibly even beg to go up into God themselves, but they did not. Why?

The beauty of holiness

Moses was face to face with God. We might say, he was eye to eye. This was not a feeling that was stimulated from meditation or music or anything in the soulish realm; he was truly with God and in the presence of God. Many people mistake a feeling for the presence of God; but when God comes near there is a holy reverence that accompanies Him. The mountain was on fire and Moses trembled before the people. God was revealing himself as a consuming fire as a reminder that sin has no place in the presence of God. When God is near, sinfulness and uncleanness leads to fear (see Isaiah 6). Now Moses came down with a radiant evidence of the presence of God and the people were afraid. I think it is a false idea that men will want to “be like us” and “have what we’ve got” when they see God’s glory in our lives. Many people want a feeling, but they don’t want holiness. “Holiness will command reverence; but the sense of sin makes men afraid of their friends, and even of that which really is a favour to them.” (M. Henry) 

The glory that never fades

Moses found this to be true as he watched the people reel from him as he had shown forth the radiance of God glory. Sadly, He placed a veil over his face except when he was speaking with God. This is sort of like blunting the edge of the word of God by preaching it without the accompanying evidence of the holy presence of God. Paul tells us that when he preached, he did not veil (as it were) the glory of God, but allowed the full effect of the word of God to be brought to bear upon the hearer by the power of the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12-13) This is not eloquence or volume, it is the Holy Spirit backing the words by His unction. Why? That our faith would not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5) He later told the Corinthians that we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and that knowing the fear of the Lord he persuades men. (2 Cor. 5:11)Many today regard this as a played-out motive, but not Paul.” (Robertson) When the Holy Spirit is present He will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. There was something about Paul just as there was something about Moses that brought men face to face with God when they preached. The difference is that Paul did not put a veil over the manifest glory, but set forth Christ crucified evidently among the people. (Galatians 3:1) This would have had the effect of bringing those he preached to unto their own Damascus road experience.

Transient glory

Some say Moses placed the veil on his face so the people would not see the glory fading away. Some say the glory was still evident when he died 40 years later. Obviously both of these statements cannot be true. No person over the period of 40 years could observe such a slow fade. Rather, I suggest, as Paul, that the glory on Moses face was a fading glory, just as the Old Covenant had a glory that was fading. It was only temporary and completely dependent on an outward refreshing on the mountain. When the mountain trips ended, the glory eventually faded away. The Old Covenant, as did Moses face, eventually waxed old and vanished away according to the writer to the Hebrews. It ended for good when the Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 AD and there was no more means of servicing the covenant. The fire for service (light) went out, but was superseded by the Fire (light) that fell at Pentecost. This is an inward source or refreshing. (2 Cor. 3:18) We are to be being filled with His Spirit as a perpetual reality. Not as the Samaritan woman worshipping on this mountain or that mountain, “we know not what” (John 4:22) and never being changed at all, or as Moses that experienced a transient glory (though awesome it must have been!); but continually being refreshed into the very image of God from glory to glory. For those that experienced Pentecost they no longer moved in a transient glory, but became lights in this present evil world. How? Because the very source of that glory (as manifest on the mount of transfiguration when Peter, James and John became eyewitnesses of his glory) came to live in them. Amen. Jesus Christ was not dependent on coming into the presence of the Father in order to gain a fading radiance of glory as did Moses; He was the brightness of the glory of God and the express image of His person. Now He wants to bring many sons unto glory. 

A fading glory (a testimony)

I wish to close this entry with a bit of personal testimony. I knew of God as a child by the hearing of the ear. I attended Sunday School from time to time, and would read our family Bible (usually when I was troubled). But I never really knew the Born Again experience. I believed God’s word when I read it or heard it. As a child and teenager, I answered more altar calls than I care to count. I repeated the sinners prayer over and over, but I was never changed. My heart was as corrupted and evil as ever. I must have asked God to forgive me of all my sins every night for years and years just trying to escape judgment. 

You see, I didn’t understand that when God was dealing with me about things, that I needed to submit to His Holy Spirit. I needed to be told to stop quenching the Holy Spirit and resisting the authority of the Holy Spirit. God wanted control of my life, but so did I. I would come to meetings and receive ‘something’ of the workings and glory of God, but as soon as I left the meeting the experience started to fade. Like the little glow-in-the-dark toys that used to come in the cereal box, I would be held up to the light of God’s grace, but would walk out the door with a fading glory. The longer I stayed in a meeting or the more evident God’s manifest presence seemed to be, the longer the excitement and zeal seemed to last; but by Wednesday I was already faded out again and was in a carnal mind. 

“Glow in the dark” toy when fully charged

I tremble to admit, that I knew when I got up from the altar of prayer that I was not changed. Upon reflection I can say that I was only slightly serious with God. I figured I could give God part of me, but He wanted all of me. He wanted to bring an end (death) to my former person and resurrect me in the power of His Spirit as a new creature. In time God brought me to a place where I knew it was impossible for me to serve God in my own strength and I loathed all of my sins. I knew I was wretched. My mind was often tormented by the things I had done. I got to the point where I doubted I could be forgiven. I was all undone. For several weeks my life was as Isaiah 6 when he declared “woe is me”. I had done so many sinful things knowing better. I was ashamed. I was vexed. My conscience was in me like a scorpion stinging me heart and mind over the sins of my past and present. What happened? God led me into His word to speak to me on a one on one. It was then, while reading the Bible, that I realized that I had to stop quenching the Spirit when He would deal with me about issues in my life. When He brought things before my eyes or checked me not to do things or prompted me to do certain things, I had to start obeying. So I did. And He started leading me and dealing with me. As I repented and turned from things He placed His hand on, I grew in desire to be right with Him utterly and to truly receive His Holy Spirit. God was opening my heart to hear His word and desire Him. As soon as I completely surrendered to him, it was as simple as praying and asking for His Spirit. I was in total desperation. I had laid down all of my arms. I had no back-up plans. it was under these circumstances that a man of God laid hands on me to receive the Spirit and I received the Holy Spirit for real. I knew instantly I was a changed person. 

The changer of hearts

By God’s grace it was a radical heart change. To Him alone be the glory. It reminds me of when God changed out Nebuchadnezzar’s heart in Daniel 4, only He gave me a heart after His own heart instead of the heart of a beast. It didn’t take two years or ten years, it was as swift as when God swapped out Nebuchadnezzars heart. He used to be at home in the palace and now he was at home in the field; likewise I was at home in sin, but now I am at home in the Kingdom of God. Suddenly all my desires were different. I was a different person in a moment of time. The thing that happened too is that I was no longer a “fading glory”. Christ, the Light of the world, came into me and began to consume things as it were a great fire. I didn’t need a phone call each week to make sure things were OK. A Fire had been started. This Fire God gave me a desire to feed with the good word of God and things that edified and built up. It was God that worked inside to will and to do His good pleasure. My meat was to do the will of Him that sent me.This does not mean I have not sinned and made mistakes, because I have and I have repented numerous times. It does not mean I cannot harden my heart now and backslide. But I am not the person I used to be. The gift of God in the New Covenant is the capacity to be changed into Christ’s image from glory to glory. Instead of fading, we can keep on refreshing by His Spirit; that is, if we will hear His voice and not harden ourselves. If we will leave off quenching and resisting the Holy Spirit we can be the lights that God called us to. In that way we can be as the disciples in Acts that were full of the Holy Spirit, on fire and ready for ministry on the way to the meeting… and not just fading out, like I used to do on the way home.                 

The Human Relay

The Human Relay
Robert Wurtz II

Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 KJV)

Several weeks ago I shared an article I entitled Commercial Christianity that sparked some interesting and insightful conversations on sermonindex.net. I would like to visit an important point that was brought up by bro. Mike C. that has had me thinking ever sense. He writes:

“Over 100 years ago, Samuel Morse demonstrated how long distant communication would soon become mass communication. The invention he used to anticipate mass communication was not the telegraph but the repeater. Morse’s telegraph had an upper range of less then 300 miles, and so every 200 miles the railroads would hire a man to sit in a remote outpost to receive and resend the incoming messages. It wasn’t long before they realized this repeat could be achieved just by mechanically linking the receiver coil to another sender coil, to begin a new 200 mile loop. In this way a single message was able to criss-cross a national network.

So the telegraph enabled long distant communication, but it was the invention of the relay or the repeater that opened the door to mass communication.

We human beings often overlook, or can’t see, that we can be just another type of relay or repeater in the circuitry of mass communication if we aren’t careful. I find that many people can hardly tell the different between someone else’s mind and their own.” 

The resender

While visiting a Museum in southern Missouri last week I came across a display that was a visual for M.C’s comments. 

This relay is a simple electromechanical device that resends a message identical to what was sent to it. It has no way whatsoever to discern, nor is it concerned with the accuracy or relevance of what it transmits. As the old saying goes, “good in = good out” or “garbage in = garbage out.” M.C. brings the application home in real terms, We human beings often overlook, or can’t see, that we can be just another type of relay or repeater in the circuitry of mass communication if we aren’t careful.” Certainly we don’t want to be blind repeaters. But we can be, if we are not careful. How can we be careful?
Prove all things
The solution for abuse is not “non-use” it is “right-use”. To prevent ourselves from becoming mindless repeaters of information we need to act more like a firewall. Firewall’s are intended to prevent unwanted intrusions into computers or literal fires into the passenger compartment of a car. We can‘t stop other people from being repeaters, but we can make sure the false information stops with us. Because once we resend something or repeat something we are responsible for passing it on. This is why everything needs to be tested. Paul gives us counsel, “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24) A good question to ask is “is this helpful?” Another good question to ask, “does it edify (build up).” How can we know what is helpful or edifying?
Is it true?
As Christians we need to know if what we are about to “repeat” is true. This means, true to the facts. We also want to know if what we are repeating is true Biblically. Paul told us that our loins are to be gird about with truth. This is what holds all of our armor together. Jesus told us that we are to worship in “spirit and in truth”. This is contrasted with “soul and in lies”. What we teach needs to be true. what we sing needs to be true. Our Christian example needs to be true. Why? Because someone is going to repeat them. Are they repeatable? 
Nothing is more important to our spiritual survival than our attitude towards truth. If we have a slapdash attitude towards truth we will be deceived. If we live in the realm of approximations, we are vulnerable. That is to say, if we are haphazard about how we think about things or how we divide the word of truth and measure doctrines, teachings, miracles, prophesies, etc., then we are apt to be deceived. We have to learn to think critically. Don’t just believe everything you hear and then repeat it. Some saying sound very good and tickle the ears but they are false. Some things make sense to the natural man, but they are contrary to sound doctrine. 
Standing for truth
Standing for truth means we have to be on guard against lies. We can’t even worship God unless it is in spirit and in truth. If something is discovered to have been founded on lies we are to put it away and speak only truth. Sometimes I get apologetic emails from Christian’s that passed a story on only to find out later that it was all a farce. It is good to write a retraction when we have passed on error, but what happens when a lie is discovered and it is already embedded in the hearer? 
I recall a story of a man of God that was asked to do a radio interview in a studio. As the show comes on the host employed “canned applause” as if there were an audience. He then announced the man’s name and welcomed him. The man of God stopped him. “This is all false,” he says… “There is no one here in this studio with us!” needless to say the man of God was shown the door. but we need to have an attitude towards truth like that. Away with lies and fabrications. Away with pretense. God is not interested in a show, He desires truth in the inward parts. Our culture has ruined many of Christian for truth. Will God receive service that is founded on a lie? Obviously not, because He already said we must worship in Spirit and in Truth. If we cannot take a stand for truth in the small things, we will never stand the test when the real battle comes. 
Who am I? 
I wish to close these thoughts by examining M.C.’s final comment, “I find that many people can hardly tell the difference between someone else’s mind and their own.” I recall in High School a situation in which a student was behaving very similarly to another student. My English teacher identified the behavior as “an affected personality”. I have heard of disorders like this, but she really was searching for a way to describe how the person had become a “repeater” of the other person’s mannerisms. The danger is that the person was losing their own identity while subconsciously imitating their friend.
When we constantly feed on repeated information, we allow others to do all the thinking for us. As Christians this will never do. We have to get alone with God and in our own heart allow God to speak to us. This is not to say that good teaching is not useful, but we need to prove everything that seeks to influence us and become a part of our thinking process. This is especially true for teachers. James said that teachers (masters) will receive the greater or stricter judgment. (James 3:1 KJV) We have this historical account in Acts, Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 ESV) These events were ca. 49 AD. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians that we quoted from above dates to ca. 52 AD. They were not very discerning in the beginning, but Paul exhorted them, “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Why? Because we are accountable for what we repeat. 



Bound Together By Love

Bound Together By Love
Robert Wurtz II 

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14 ESV)

“Two or more things cannot be held together without a third; they must have a bond of union. And the fairest bond is that which most completely fuses and is fused into the things which are bound.” (“Timaeus,” 31 quoted in Vincent) In Colossians 2:2 Paul speaks of the hearts of believers being “knit together” in love. If the love of God has been poured out into my heart and your heart we are fully capable of being bound together in perfect love. But we have this command to “put on” that refers back to Colossians 3:12-13 that we must touch on first. Our picture in one sense is that of layer upon layer of garments. In fact, the Greek word for “put on” means to “sink down into” like a garment. As God’s holy, chosen and beloved people we are to sink down into:

1. a compassionate heart +
2. kindness +
3. humbleness of mind +
4. gentleness +
5. restraint of passion (especially anger)/patience +
6. bearing with one another +
7. Forgiving each other as Christ forgave us

The binding garment

Our passage in Colossians 3:14 begins with the phrase, “And above all these…”. This is the final binding garment (as it were) that will anchor and tether all of these other attributes. “Above all” is a phrase that escalates love to the highest level of importance. The “these” that he is speaking of is the list in Colossians 3:13-14. As we look at this passage let us settle this once and for all in our minds. The subject of love is not secondary, or even primary, it is at the very top of our religion and faith. A thousand subjects may be spoken on within any given day withing the Body of Christ, but none excel past this one. We must settle ourselves and come to terms with this fact. We need to introspectively search our own hearts. Why? Because without the love of God, given to us through the life of God, our gatherings are nothing more than a glorified club or association.

The Binding Power of Love 

Our next phrase is “which binds everything together….” The picture here is that of a girdle that binds together all other aspects of the clothing. It was a foundational connective garment. like an over garment, love is to be “put on” over the top of everything in Colossians 2:18 in order to hold it all together. Within the range of meaning in this concept is another picture of the binding power of tendons and other connective tissues within the body. These hold the various members together as a functional unit. This is how a knee functions or an elbow. Love is that binding force that brings cohesion to all things within the body. Without love, everything within the body of Christ becomes disjointed and dissimulated.

A torn ligament or a herniated area

Our passage is a powerful picture of the essential binding force (love) necessary for the body to function. Any area of the body where love is not being rightly expressed is a place “not holding” itself together. Colossians 2:19 explains that Christ, the Head, has to be held. He has to be given His rightful place as the head and held there. (See Ephesians 4:16) If we allow Jesus Christ, the Head, to become disjointed because we are not moving in love for Him and will allow other ‘loves’ to become the head and rule our lives. Moreover, every member of the body is important and each one needs to be “held in place” by the power of love. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians:

But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (1 Corinthians 12:20-22)

 God set the members in the Body of Christ as He sees fit, but Paul tells us that love is essential to the functionality of all of those members. Non-love is to the body as a torn ligament or a herniated abdominal wall. It is a weak spot. In fact, if non-love is not dealt with soon, certain members of the Body may become disconnected or even rejected by others members of the Body. This is a particular concern in a time when scripture tells us that because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will wax cold. There is no replacement for water and there is no replacement for love.

 As we mentioned in our previous article Herod and Pilate were made friends and brought into unity, not because they loved each other, but by placing their hands on a common enemy and destroying Him. When love is not present to maintain cohesion and unity, then something will have to be substituted. Love can hold all things together in unity, but non-love can only sacrifice a victim to mend a fence and maintain connectivity.

Real life = real love

Jesus came into the world that we might have life and have it more abundantly. This is the very life of God that He pours out into us when we genuinely receive the Spirit. This is the life that empowers us to love. What does it profit to speak in tongues if we cannot love? The song writer speaks of “pouring our love on Christ”, but He has called us to also pour our holy love on one another in a binding unity.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14 ESV) What things? Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV) Love binds this list together and holds it in place. It holds each of us together in place. What are we trying to substitute for this love? It will never do. We need it above all these other things, and that is quite a list. May God quicken our minds to this reality and show us how utterly determined He is to bind us together in love. 

Manufactured Compassion or Genuine Love?

Manufactured Compassion or Genuine Love?
Robert Wurtz II 

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9 ESV)

Lifting up your brother while holding back the forces that would destroy him

There are times when sharing a terrible offense in our lives can be used of God to bring understanding and comfort to the hearer. The details should be vague enough so as not to implicate the person(s), while being true to the story and how God used the situation for his purposes. We should make it clear that we have forgiven and that it is not an occasion of bitterness now. Why? Love never seeks to destroy, but to protect. Sharing offenses anonymously and usefully is not what this article is about. I want to make that abundantly clear from the start. 

Yet, there is a vile tendency in the hearts of fallen man that repeats a matter over and over for his or her own selfish purposes, and in the process demonstrates that they are not seeking love with the offender, but are actually separating other close friends. It does not have to be close friends, it can be family members or brothers and sisters in Christ. This is non-love, because love always seeks to put the best construction on events. To repeat a matter that should be being covered, to gain an effect or some design, is a terrible and hurtful sin. It happens on so many different levels in life that it will be impossible to explore all of them here. I wish to examine just enough to help us identify the behavior when we see it, so that we do not do it ourselves, nor allow ourselves to be affected by it when someone is employing the method on us. In other words, don’t be drawn in by this stuff.

Playing the victim

How often have we seen children grow into their teen years and go into rebellion? All their life they have kept a clear record of the wrongs that their parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, etc. have committed like a diary, to be recalled when useful. Some of these stories are truly horrific, while others may be dramatized or exaggerated to gain effect. Everyone understands that sad stories draw sympathy or compassion and when no other love or attraction exists, this “compassionate love” can often be drawn-out from a person. Again, stories of offenses are many times used to draw compassion, a form of love, from the person being told of the offense. Keep this in mind. In other words, playing the role of a victim will almost always gain loves effect, even if it is only temporary. It is not real love, it is a substitute.

Recycled offenses

As Christians we are called to forgive folks and to cast their sins behind our backs, as God did our sins. As Christians we shouldn’t even have unforgiven offenses in our possession. As far as using them for selfish ends, they are illegal contraband. Can you imagine God bringing up our offenses over and over again? No. Why? Because the behavior sows discord, and that sin is an abomination to God. This is why Paul said in Ephesians; And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32) As Christians we want God to forgive our sins and not bring them up anymore. Paul is telling us to supply one another with this same type of love. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger and clamour from among you, says Paul. The word ‘clamour’ suggests a cry for attention. Recycling offenses is a sure way to get attention, but it is also a sure way to cause strife and division. All of these things grieve the Holy Spirit. What happens? Instead of covering the offenses, they get recycled over and over again into peoples ears and are never allowed to die. Why? Because they are useful to folks that employ them for their own selfish purposes.

 False love through manufactured compassion

Compassion can be manufactured by repeating offenses. It is a false temporal love. When a person falls among thieves and is beaten and robbed, we may see them and have genuine compassion. Or we may see a child starving and feel genuine compassion. Anything that touches our heart can make us feel sympathy or compassion for a person. Human beings understand this concept, though they may not be able to articulate it or identify it. Repeating offenses get a reaction. People know it and some choose to use this phenomena to their advantage and other peoples destruction.

Destroying one relationship to start or mend another

It is commonly known that married children should not repeat their marital problems to their parents. It may get the child compassion from the parents, but it destroys the other spouse in the parents eyes. The conflict may eventually be resolved, but when that spouse comes around they are treated differently by the parents. Why? Because offenses that should be being covered are being repeated and it is causing a separation. I am not talking here about genuine abuse that needs to be stopped, I am talking about a child fishing for compassion by throwing their spouse under the bus. Another similar example is when an adulterous person may seek to lure a potential ‘partner’ by spilling out all kinds of terrible things to them about how bad their spouse is. This strategy manufactures compassion and draws the adulterous couple together in a false love. There is no real cohesive bond there to begin with, so compassion is used as the initial draw. This is why you should never confide in a person of the opposite sex. Why? It leads to affairs. Then the person uses their record of wrongs to manufacture compassion in family and friends in order to justify the affair and God forbid, the eventual divorce. 

Compassion as a substitute for true love

How do you know if a person is moving in love or not? Answer; they seek to cover offenses rather than recycle them for selfish gain. This is why so many people only have one friend at a time. Person ‘A’ has a falling out with person ‘B’ and in order to reconcile they have to find a common enemy to roast together (person ‘C’). This is exactly what Herod and Pilate did. They put their hands to Jesus and sacrificed  Him together to mend their own fences. They did not love each other. Keep that clear. They would not love Jesus together and all three be friends, so they had to destroy the one to reconcile the two. I suggest that this strategy is used thousands of times a day around the world. How does it work? Find a common enemy and confess together all the offenses and bad things you can think of and stir up a compassion for one another that will bind them together because you really are not moving in love. It is false. It is temporal. What happens? The process has to be continued. To manage that type relationship a new sacrificial victim will be needed each time they come together. There is no new thing under the Sun. 

Where the problem lies

Everyone in the world has offended somebody. Everyone in the world has been offended. For Christians we are told that love does not keep score. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” These four things are utterly essential for peace and tranquility in relationships. If a person is not self-seeking they will not need their record of wrongs to be used for their selfish ends. If they are not easily angered they will not have a list to begin with. Being rude to people starts the process of an offense that can then be recycled over and over again. But people that really love one another do not need to roast someone to make mends with someone else. They can love person ‘A’ and person ‘B’ and person ‘C’ all at the same time. Not as we see so often, when person ‘B’ and ‘C’ are talking, ‘A’ is getting roasted. God forbid! We are called to love and love in reality. If a man or woman loves their spouse they will cover the offense, not tell the whole world. If they don’t love, they will tell whomever they can to manufacture the compassion they need in place of the love they don’t have. Selah.   



Diagnosed with Hate

Diagnosed with Hate
Robert Wurtz II

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:5-6)

 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:16-17)

In our previous article on this subject entitled Until John (the dawn of a better covenant) we explained that God’s dealings with man changed radically after the days of John the Baptist. God has determined from the beginning to make sons (and daughters) that are in His image and likeness. On a fundamental level, the areas are love and holiness. God is holy and God is love. Moreover, God loved the son before the foundation of the world. Going to the cross our Lord Jesus was desperate to prove one thing, … the world must know that I love the Father and do as the Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31) Hebrews tells us that He is bringing many sons unto glory. He desires that we be in his image and personality in the way that Christ is. In this way Christ would not be ashamed to call us brethren. We talked about some initial steps and surveyed in part where God was going with things.We emphasized that of men born of women, none were greater than John the baptist. Nevertheless, the least in the Kingdom of Heaven would be greater than Him. The coming of the kingdom into the earth began with a simple command, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” 

 Repentance: it’s all about turning

Repentance comes to us in two words, one meaning to change the mind and the other meaning to turn. We have covered this ground many times in the past so we will not explore deeper here. Luke 1:17 quotes the last verse of the Old Testament and applies it to John the Baptist; “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6 emphasis added) This is an alteration of the verse in Luke 1:17b as he writes, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:16-17) A.T. Robertson, the renowned Greek scholar comments here, “Paternal love had died out. This is one of the first results of conversion, the revival of love in the home.” This will require love for God being placed first and this can only happen when the disobedient children turn to the wisdom of the just. This is a picture of the children that forsook the way of wisdom as spelled out in the Proverbs for a life of foolishness and rebellion. (Titus 3:3ff) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Respect for the parents is the first commandment with promise. Love for children is a natural love that all should possess unless they are thoroughly in the bond of iniquity. 

The blame game
John the Baptist preached repentance as did Jesus and Paul. (Acts 26:19-21) Repentance is about taking personal responsibility for your actions and turning from anything that offends God – and to God. Malachi adds that when the Gospel is truly being preached it will turn the children and the fathers to each other, not on each other (as does modern psychology). Gail Burton Purath in her article, “The Blame Game” writes:

For years I was a “speck-finder”—a Pharisees who went beyond Scripture by creating impossible rules, regulations, and expectations for my parents. Modern psychology has helped us blame our parents for our insecurities, failures, weaknesses and sins. In fact, we usually get so busy evaluating, psychoanalyzing, and judging our parents that we overlook our own mistakes and sinful behavior toward our parents. (Emphasis hers) (Full Article Here) 

This is a powerful admission. The dear woman admits blaming all of her troubles on her parents. I have heard ministers suggest that David was a bad father, when the truth is, we have no idea what kind of father he truly was. Parents often get blamed for their children’s rebellion. If it’s an issue, God would point it out. Eli, according to the scripture, was a bad father. Why? Because he restrained them not from doing evil in God’s House. He is an example of a man that put his children before God and it destroyed the entire family. The ministry was stripped from his progeny. This is where balance has to exist. 

All must repent 

God intends that all parties within a family repent and turn to their rightful state with both him and their family members. If this conversion does not happen, chaos will ensue. Though this was His perfect will, He knew that another reality would come about, so He used (uses) the rebellious for His purposes. That is to say, He causes the rebellion of family members to work for good to those that belong to God. “This is why conversion of children or parents becomes rather a source of discord, embittering the unconverted. Whence our Lord says, “Think not, that I am come to send peace on the earth. I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34) This would prove to be a prophecy fulfilled continually in the early persecutions of believers; even to the extent of other words of our Lord in Matthew 10:21, “the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” (Barnes)

When lawlessness abounds 

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12 NKJV)

Our passage describes a condition and its cause. The condition is that “the love of many will grow cold” and the cause is multiplied lawlessness. This only makes sense in that the whole Law can be reduced to two things; love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. When we depart from God’s word we have departed from our instruction book on love. When people ignore God’s precepts or are ignorant of them, love starts to die. It is sad to me that many professed Christians and leaders don’t realize that it is not ‘ok’ to hate people or as the word is white-washed ‘greatly dislike’ folks. I tremble to say this, but the longer I live the more I believe that there will be more people in hell over their refusal to forgive and love people than any other thing. Many name the name of Christ and still have hate. I’m staggered by John the Revelator’s words that tell us that if we claim to love God and hate our brother we are a liar on top of being a murderer. (1 John 3:15, 1 John 4:20) As bad as idolatry is, fornication, drunkenness, etc. having hate in the heart is murderous. This is what Cain had in his heart when he murdered his own brother and is why the world was full of violence by Genesis 6.

The darkness of hate  

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:11)  

“The word here used for hate would, in this connection, include both the mere absence of love, and positive hatred. It is designed to include the whole of that state of mind where there is not love for the brethren. People that walk in the dark see nothing in detail. What they do see is colorless and indistinct. He cannot see where he/she is or where they are headed. Why? The general meaning is, that he is ignorant of the whole nature of religion; or, in other words, love to the brethren is a central virtue in religion, and when a man has not that, his mind is entirely clouded on the whole subject, and he shows that he knows nothing of its nature. There is no virtue that is designed to be made more prominent in Christianity; and there is none that will throw its influence farther over a man’s life.” (Robertson) Is there any wonder why hate must be repented of as a first order of business in repentance? A person is spiritually blind when they harbor hate.

Without natural affection?

Sadly, we live in a time where parents are without natural affection for their own flesh and blood (2 Timothy 3:3, astorgos). At the same time we have children being disobedient to parents, even cursing them and in some cases physically abusing them. (2 Timothy 3:2) Under the Old Covenant a child that cursed their parents was subject to the death penalty. (Matthew 15:4, Mark 7:10 “let them die the death”) This tells us how serious God is about this hateful sin. It is awful to admit that today these attitudes are so common-place in society that you would think they were virtues. But God has called man to repent of these and other type sins and turn from them and to Him. He has called the fathers to turn their hearts to their children and the children to turn their hearts to their parents. If there is anyone in the world that deserves our love and respect it is our children and our parents; if for no other reason than the fact that they are our own flesh and blood. If we cannot turn and love here there is no way forward. Many try to avoid all this by making excuses and as a result have to come back over and over again because their victory never lasts.   

Circumspect or Train Wreck

Circumspect or Train Wreck?
Robert Wurtz II

That the aged men be sober grave temperate sound in faith in charity in patience (Titus 2:2)

In 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:11; Titus 2:2, 2:5 and many other places we have this concept of being ‘temperate or ‘sober’. It carries the idea of abstaining from wine or any other thing that could intoxicate the mind so as to lend to recklessness and carelessness. We are to be sober and alert. This is a primary qualification for leaders within the churches of God. Our Greek word is translated as discreet, temperate and sober.

The pastoral epistles are intended to give instruction towards the leading of the flock of God within the churches of God. Sheep first and foremost need protection. This means that their shepherds have to be sober and on constant guard against threats and dangers. These passages are not merely suggestions or guidelines, they are requirements. 

Aged and Sober

The western world has an attitude of contempt for older people and their opinions, but God likes ‘old fogies’. In fact, He ordained that they be in leadership in the churches of God. The term ‘old fogie’ is derogatory and means:

“An older or elderly person, or someone younger who resembles or has the traits of an older/elderly person in thinking, actions, or demeanor.”

God actially commands the older men to be the very thing that the world despises. Why? Because our passage is in part an antidote for the barrage of ‘new’ teachings and falsehoods that Satan would level upon the churches. This was rife in the first century. Paul dealt with the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. (Acts 17:21 NKJV) 

A cursory read of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2 will go a long ways in showing us just how far many have drifted from God’s directives here in the West. The sentences almost sound like words from a different planet. But it is the consequence of neglect of Romans 12:1ff where we were told specifically not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed. There is no other way to prove the will of God. 

Pop Christianity

It is hard for us in the 21st Century to remove ourselves from the influences of popular culture. In fact, it is very difficult if not improbable that anyone could do so completely. Popular culture is based on a system devised, in part, by Edward Bernays in the early 1900’s. Things go in and out-of-style because he, and other like him, orchestrated the paradigm. Old is bad and new is good. In fact, people want the latest and greatest of everything. This keeps the cogs spinning in the economy, but it is deadly in the churches of God. God does not change like that, nor do His standards and methods. 

We are so saturated in our culture from birth to the grave, that we cannot imagine just how much change has actually taken place in the last 200 years. None now live that remember the way things used to be, and I might dare say, few even seem to care. We have broken continuity with the foundations that we passed to us and are moving father away building a new thing. None would know this unless they were to do some serious digging. In modern times we are taught that change is good and unless you are changing you are not progressing. God will do a new thing, but that new thing is always in continuity with the old thing. Jesus said that the good man brings forth from his treasury things both new and old. We have to maintain continuity with the faith of our fathers.

Understand that the Holy Spirit knew that the churches would face a barrage of so-called ‘new’ and ‘popular’ ideals that would ‘make sense’ to men at the time, but would actually cause severe long-term problems in the churches of God. He already had a means of dealing with the tendency to change. Change used to be greatly resisted, but less so in modern times. What has been the saying for decades, “Out with the old and in with the new!” Keep this in mind thinking through these things. 

Change, Not Always Good

God gave the churches a major defense mechanism against destructive change and it was that of aged men. Aged men typically have a very cautious attitude towards change. The word I’m interested in from our text is ‘sober’. The word means to be circumspect. Webster defines circumspect as, cautiouswarycarefulcharyguardedon one’s guardwatchfulalertattentiveheedfulvigilantleery. Wesley defined the word as, “Serious—Not drolling or diverting on the brink of eternity.” If one were to say to them, “Let’s change so and so…” their response is usually to be cautious, wary, i.e. Hmmm, let me pray and think on that, or I don’t know about that… let’s wait and not do that just yet, etc. This is a characteristic of a person that by nature refuses to be carried about by every wind of doctrine or some ‘new thing.’ They are greatly immune to the sleight of men and deceptive cunning craftiness. It is a disposition of their mind. They have seen a lot of things and they resist change. God gave these men to the church as a precious resource. But oh how the Devil loves to paint these men and women as rebels. It is unfortunate today that one of the first strategies in church growth is to get rid of such people and form a ‘team’ (usually a cloak for ‘yes-men’). This corporate strategy in the church is an abomination to God. On the other hand, elder men are one of God’s front-line defenses against destructive changes in His churches. Selah. 

Faith Cometh By Hearsay?

Faith Cometh By Hearsay?
Robert Wurtz II

And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. (2 Kings 5:3)

It happens that the Syrian captian of the host Naaman had taken captive a young girl of the Israelites who had knowledge of the prophet Elisha. She tells her mistress that then goes and tells Naaman. Naaman then goes and tells the king of Syria. This is fourth hand information at this point and almost qualifies as a rumor. It is an awesome example of “faith to faith”. The young girl believed in such a way that faith came to the mistress. The mistress had faith in such a way that it sparked faith in Naaman. Then Naaman’s faith sparked faith in the king so much that he believed the report and sent Naaman to the king of Israel with a letter. When a person truly exercises faith in God as He is and what He is capable of doing, that testimony of faith cometh to the hearer. What happened? And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. (2 Kings 5:6) 

Stepping out in faith

All Naaman knew was that a prophet in Israel could cure his leprosy. This implies faith in the God of the prophet. To the unbelieving, it would seem like a long-shot at best. But they believed surely enough to send a gift of ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. (2 Kings 5:5) His faith was against the odds. God had not called Naaman to come, Naaman was moving in hearsay evidence. If there were a trial based on what Naaman had heard there would not be enough evidence for a conviction. But the man moved out in faith; the revelation he was responding to was as a grain of mustard seed. Some would call it a whim and a prayer. But there was an assurance that God would do something. Many things will happen, but Naaman comes home clear of his leprosy. It all started when he stepped out on the second or third hand knowledge. 

Pressing past the initial ‘no’!

And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. (Matthew 15:22)

This woman cried at the top of her lungs (Phillips). The Greek word carries the force of a woman that cried to the point of annoyance of those hearing. She was a Canaanite Gentile, born in the Phoenician part of Syria. (Mark 7:26) This means that as was Naaman, she was also a Syrian. She had heard about Jesus and was moving in that revelation. No invitation, just mustard-seed sized revelation. Our Lord’s words? But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. (Matthew 15:23) Naaman may have felt insulted by being told to dip 7 times in a dirty river, but this Syrian is being ignored and is near to being shown the door. Jesus then speaks up for clarification, But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 15:24) He was effectively saying, that it was not time for the Gentiles to receive yet. That was reserved for another dispensation. What did she do? Did she hang her head and say, “Well too bad! Maybe next time. I’ll come back in 15 years…”? No! Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. (Matthew 15:25) No doubt the Lord’s heart was being pulled to no end desiring to help this woman, but He wanted the disciples to see her faith. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. (V. 26) Hearing these words must have stung like a scorpion. The lump in her throat must have burned like fire as she belted out the words of faith that could move a mountain;  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. (V. 27) She heard said that the Lord could heal and that He was a man of compassion. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (V. 28) 

Testing faith

Two Syrians and two great miracles. One was cleared of leprosy a type of Sin and the other was cleared of demons. Both were Gentiles and outside the covenants of promise. They were not born-again. They were not filled with the Spirit. But their faith reached out and took hold of something not originally designed for them at their time and place. Their faith allowed them to move in an overly-realised dispensation and covenant. They heard and they responded; not to the revelation of words, but the revelation of a person. They believed that God is; and whether they articulated it or not, that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. It would have been nice to have it, but they did not have a specific Word from God. In fact, all they had to go on were insults, real or perceived. The woman was catching resistance in the worst of ways. Naaman was angered and insulted. But they kept pressing in to God and received that for which they came. If a Canaanite can do it, why could not a Christian? Do you need cleared of sin? Are you vexed of devils? Press in to God in faith and see what He will do. 

Broken Beyond Healing

Broken Beyond Healing
Robert Wurtz II

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (Proverbs 29:1 ESV)

He that is often corrected, yet remains stubborn and obstinate, shall suddenly be broken. The emphasis in the passage is on suddenness. “We must think first not of actual punishment, but of chastening, reproving words; and the man to whom are spoken the reproving words is one whose conduct merits more and more severe censure, and continually receives correction from those who are concerned for his welfare. The door of repentance, to which earnest, well-meant admonition calls a man, does not always remain open. He who with stiff-necked persistence in sin and in self-delusion sets himself in opposition to all endeavours to save his soul, shall one day suddenly, and without the prospect and possibility of restoration (cf. Jeremiah 19:11), become a wreck.” (KD)

The steps to stiff-necked

Recently a young woman was brought before one of our courts on a drug charge. Rather than taking the charge and the court seriously, she behaved in a most flippant and disrespectful manor. At first she was giddy, but as the judge reproved her for her silliness she became increasingly angry, disrespectful and hateful. She seemed to be unconcerned by the fact that the judge had the power to place her in jail suddenly. At last she received a higher bond for her actions at which time she turned and gestured to the judge and cursed him at the same time. This drew a criminal contempt charge and she was given 30 days in the county jail. She went away still acting out all the more. It was this event that passed before my mind in prayer last evening that God used to speak to my heart.

Breaking the rebellion

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but rebellion is a very foolish and dangerous attitude. The Bible warns repeatedly about it and even likens it to witchcraft and adds that obstinacy is as iniquity and idolatry. It is rooted in pride, the most noxious of all sins. It is the attitude of Lucifer who exalted himself above the star’s of God and sought to be like God. It manifests at an early age and if not dealt with will grow into a monstrous, uncontrollable menace to everyone. The attitude? “I will not bow the knee! Not to authorities and not to God.” God systematically works to break this spirit (attitude) in a person. It is the very first step that we must all take towards God. Let me say plainly that the reason many people never get on with God is because they have come to Him for salvation, but have never really bowed the knee. They refuse to acknowledge Him for who He really is; choosing rather to behave as the young woman in court. They are oblivious to the fact that Jesus said, “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'” (Luke 19:27)

Turning the temperature up

 The bellows are burned, the lead is melted by the fire; the refiner melts in vain; for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver they call them, because Jehovah has rejected them. (Jeremiah 6:29-30)

Our passage deals with what is effectively an experiment that God is desperately conducting upon His people. Like a person suffering from a terminal disease and are not responding to any treatment, these people are long enduring the goodness and chastening of God who seeks to remedy their rebellion. He turns the temperature up higher and higher and still the wicked are not plucked away. There is no change. Finally, the bellows that is used to fan the flames catches fire and burns up. At that point it is realized that there is no hope. Reprobate silver they call them, because Jehovah has rejected them. (Jeremiah 6:30) They, being often reproved, remained obstinate (stiff-necked) and there was nothing left to do but reject them. It is the saddest of affairs. “The trial of the people has brought about no purification, no separation of the wicked ones. The trial is viewed under the figure of a long-continued but resultless process of smelting.” (K&D) 

A sobering question

What’s it gonna take to see some folks leave off the rebellious obstinate attitude that they go on displaying before God? He chastens and they only grow angrier and more hate-filled. They will do almost anything before they will bow the knee before their God. Time is running out. With each passing day the heart grows harder and more difficult to reach. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each one of us will give account concerning himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12) God is going to bring to light the hidden counsels of the hearts of all men and in that day there will be no cover; no hiding place. No excuses. No blaming this person or that person. No blaming our circumstances. By the time we get before the Great White Throne, God will have already thoroughly displayed the faithful who humbled themselves and persevered under similar or worse circumstances than we went through. What will it take to make a change? Men and women are as silver in the smelting pot. The fire is growing ever hotter and the lead is running out.  

65 on Ice

65 on Ice
Robert Wurtz II

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV)

Our passage is a sobering reminder that God has set before man choices. This implies that he/she has the power to choose. The power to choose is an awesome power and it comes with an awesome responsibility. It is because God has chosen to give man this power that His will is not always done. It is God’s will that we “live”, but we have to make the choice. It is simple; if we choose life we will live and if we choose not life we will not live. For this reason we must not assume that God’s will is always done. We are to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This implies that God’s will is not “automatic”. If we will understand that God in His sovereignty has set Himself to operate in cooperation with man we will understand why His will is not always done. God is not willing that any perish but that all come to repentance; but men and women have to choose life individually. We have revelation and are given a choice as to what we will do with it; beyond that God has been said to strive with man from Genesis 6 to Acts 7 and beyond. Men and women choose to resist God and in so doing open a frightful pandoras box to their future. Much of what happens to us in life is the direct consequence of our choices. Even when other peoples choices effect us, we have to choose how we will respond. Our choice is always our responsibility.

Must have been the Lord’s will?

I was riding with a dear friend one morning on the interstate after a night of freezing rain. The lanes were so slick that one could have probably ice skated in them. As we picked up speed I recall bracing myself for impact and saying to the effect, “were going to put this in a ditch.” We had approached near 65 MPH and were heading into some fairly sharp turns. My friend simply replied, “If we do (wreck), it must have been the Lord’s will!” That moment burned into my memory to the point that even after nearly 20 years I still refer to the concept as “65 on ice.” It encapsulates the notion that whatever we do in life God’s sovereignty overrides our choices, so that we can do what we will and it is “God’s will”. Think about the implications of such an idea. if I drive 65 under dangerous conditions and I have an accident, it is “God’s will” and by implication “God’s fault.”

An ancient cop-out

It’s all too convenient isn’t it? We make our own choices and then blame God for the outcome. Some things are out of our control, but many things are not. Many people suffer today, not because of strange forces or mysterious turns of events; but from the natural law of their own choices. Sinful choices have consequences. I often say that “men do not just break God’s commandments; God’s commandments break men.” Transgress God’s word and you will suffer the consequences. This is why we have to carefully and prayerfully read His word in order to know what He expects of us. Rebellion balks at God’s word or combs through it looking for another self-centered promise. When God don’t come through many are prepared to call Him a liar. Let’s keep one thing clear, “let God be true and every man a liar.” It is folly to do what is right in our own eyes and pretend it is God’s will. We have to do what is right in the eyes of God. 

God’s expectations

Some day we will all give an account of our lives to God: accountability implies expectations. We are accountable for the choices we make in light of the knowledge we have. We are accountable for what we know or what we could have and should have known. Many Christians do not understand this. This is why they rarely read their Bible. Not even Paul the apostle had access to the word of God in a way that we do. He once told Timothy to bring the books and the parchments. Today we just look up the passage on our smart phone. This is why God has high expectations for us; because we have been afforded unprecedented privilege. Sadly, in our times man has tried to turn the tables on God. They now have expectations of Him. It’s all too convenient to call it “faith”, but we need to know that we are the servant and He is the Master; not the other way around. Faith without revelation is superstition. (R. Bailey) We have to make a conscious choice as to how we respond to God and this begins with a thorough knowledge of His word. 

 The sin of presumption

 How many believers live their lives each day without consulting God’s word? Many will pray and some peradventure will praise; but who will search out His word and really get to know Him? The ancient Jewish sages used to say that study is the highest form of worship. When we don’t spend time in God’s word we must assume that we are so utterly walking in God’s will that no matter what we do He will keep things on track. Like driving blindfolded. And if He don’t keep us on track then at least we have someone to blame. I have seen it often. David asked God, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Psalms 19:13) The Hebrew word for “presumptuous” is linked to pride. The proud refuse to inquire at God’s word for direction.  

Treacherous thoughts

I tremble to type this, but I recall many years ago a dear woman saying “I knew God would give us our miracle, because He is not a liar.” The statement made me cringe. I have heard it many times since and it still makes me cringe. God, a liar? That is blasphemy. What happens to often is that folks only look to God’s word to achieve their selfish aims. This is different than going to God’s word for direction and counsel on what choices we should make. When people pull out their promise book, rather than seeking for His will, they often end up disillusioned and disappointed. Let me say lovingly that God is not Santa Claus. It is not “ok” to get angry with God when things do not go our way. We must continually remind ourselves that God is never the problem; we may be the problem, but God is never the problem. Either we do not understand His will for our lives and are putting words in His mouth or there is some other reason as to why things are the way the are. Some talk as if God is somehow falling down on the job. Would it not be better to say we don’t know why things happen as they do rather than to charge God foolishly? 

Important choices

If I am reckless enough to knowingly drive 65 MPH on ice, I am not moving in faith I am moving in presumption. It is no different than Satan asking Jesus to jump off the Temple. It is tempting the Lord. But we would not know that unless we have been reading His word. We may think the Devil’s advice makes perfect sense. No time is it more important to rightly divide God’s word than when we are looking for important answers in our lives. To ignore His word and then take the “blame God” or “it must have been God’s will” type of thinking is not only unwise, it is diabolical. We have a responsibility to discover and walk in God’s will in such a way that He can accomplish what He wants to do in our lives. 

Bad theology

Let me say lovingly, again, that if we get our theology from the latest hit on KLUV or some other weak chorus, we are doomed to destruction. Many songs today are completely carnal and self-centered; they have no Biblical basis whatsoever. Many soundbites being mouthed by famous preachers are equally unbiblical. We need to test everything by God’s word; not say were going to test it, but really dig down and test it. People can be so deceived that they cannot tell right from left. How can we make right choices if we are not moving in scripture? We need to guard our minds from everything we hear. We need to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. AND if you are inclined to make excuses for false teachers, leave off of it even now, before you become a partaker of their evil deeds. 

Lies from the pit

The story was told many years ago of a preacher that left his wife for a younger woman. He tried to place the blame on God and conjured up a false interpretation of scriptures to justify his actions. When challenged he simply replied to the effect, “my first wife was (as it were) my old covenant, but God has now moved me into my new covenant (new young wife).” Rightfully, he was defrocked and was put out of the ministry. But I have to ask, where does this mentality come from? Can you imagine what would happen if this lie of the devil was allowed to go unchecked? People would be lining up to get their “new covenant” spouse. What does the scriptures say? If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. (1 Cor. 7:12 ESV) Not, “she’s holding me back” or “she is a hindrance to my ministry” or any other foolish thing. And God will know if you have sabotaged the relationship. What sense would it be to say afterward that it was an accident or it must have been “the Lord’s will.” Life is slippery and if we are doing “65 on Ice” we will be held to account for that choice. 

Justifiable division 

God is setting before us life and death, even in our times. He has given us clear instructions as to how we are to behave in this life towards one another. If we disobey His word or are ignorant of His word and a relationship is destroyed because of it, we are accountable. How foolish would it be to act unbiblically towards a saint of God (spouse, child, friend, fellow saint, etc.) and then pretend that it was “destiny” when division or divorce came? Bus this is what happens in an evil and adulterous generation (that seeks a sign).  

Like every generation before us, we have to choose. Those that have gone before us have made their choice; now it is our turn. What will we do?  Will we seek to please God and make choices so as not to offend Him or will we make choices that would not offend the sinful or even ourselves? The new life should be very different. Paul said to Titus, For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3) Notice that this is the way we used to behave. It ought not so to be now. We are called to love one another. But what was the cause of relational issues and divisions before genuine regeneration? They were these:

1. foolishness
2. disobedience to God
3. deception
4. various lusts
5. hedonism (living for pleasure)
6. malice (to devise evil and ill-will)
7. envy (jealousy and spitefulness)
8. Hatefully hating each other (filled with hate)

Can you imagine how a person would live if their choices were based on the above influences? Would there be any wondering as to why problems would arise? How can man blame God for anything in an environment like this? If we are acting out Titus 3:3 and cause a relationship to end we cannot say it was “the Lord’s will”. Why? Because God’s will was for us to love one another in unity and if we do that we will usually have success. Unfortunately God’s will is not always done. 

Cold as ice

It is a dangerous thing to recklessly assume God’s will is always being done. Why? Because people are making a great many choices that God had nothing to do with. God’s will and God’s word always agree. He will not lead us in a way that contradicts the written word or the Spirit of the word. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV) Chose life; that is to say, chose to obey God’s word. Learn what God has already said about the subjects that we deal with in life so that we will know what God would say or not say to us. He will not contradict His word. He will never tell you to do something that contradicts His own word. Keep that very clear. Choosing life begins when we choose to rightly divide and apply God’s word to every circumstance and question of life.

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