Seven Great Questions (Part 1 Satisfied or Edified?)

Seven Great Questions
Satisfied or Edified? (Part 1)
Robert Wurtz II

For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. (1 Cor. 3:9 KJV)


We live in a day where almost everything is being redefined. In less than fifteen years we have watched as the definition of marriage, parenthood and even gender has completely changed. This is the enemies business: redefine commonly used terms. It is going on in the world on a wholesale level, but what about the churches of God?

The enemy is not content to spoil the definition of the family; he wants to corrupt everything that God is working to establish. He militantly attacks our words and violently defends his redefinitions. He is a master at it. He can change terms so proficiently that anyone that reverts back to the former meanings is an idiot or a bigot. This is why Christians need to be students of their own history; all 2000 years of it. 

Popular culture has successfully taught the masses to shun and detest the past. We are infected with the “Chronological Snobbery” that C.S. Lewis warned us about. And it was no accident. Yes, Satan is behind it all. He is a liar and the father of it. So we can rightly expect that he is hard at work corrupting the meaning of words that have heretofore been plainly understood in the churches of God.

Seven Great Questions



There are seven great questions that the Saints must endeavor to answer rightly if Christianity is to survive the onslaught that threatens to breach its walls on a daily basis:  

What is Christianity?
What is Conviction?
What is Conversion?
What is Consecration?
What is Church?
What is Culture?
What is Compromise?

Unless we rightly answer the above questions we cannot understand God’s purposes in establishing the Church and therefore cannot possibly understand what it means to build that Church. Our definitions must be taken from the scriptures alone. We dare not invent our own religion with its own system of expression. We dare not assume that the enemy has not succeeded in infiltrating our understanding of these great topics. We must earnestly contend, not for the faith that was handed to us by the previous generation; but for the faith that was once delivered unto the Saints.  

Build Means Edify

The motto of the successful marketing schemes of our times is built around the whims of the consumer, “Satisfaction guaranteed!” However, just because a person is satisfied (pleased) does not mean they have been edified. For example, children are satisfied by sweets, but they are not edified by them. Growing boys and girls need more than sweets. That is not to say sweets have no place in our lives, but they must be balanced with profitable foods in order to grow up healthy. This is common sense. 

When we talk about building up a believer or building up the body, what do we mean? We are speaking of two different things, really: the individual believer and the corporate Body of Christ. Perhaps we need to begin by stating again that ye (as an individual and as a Body) are God’s building. Ye is the old KJV English, but it points the finger directly at the individual. Point your finger at your chest and say “ye” are God’s building project. This is more than saying we are God’s unique possession, we are also the consequence of His working. It began when we drew us to Himself through the preaching of the Word and the accompanying Holy Ghost conviction. The essence of the initial call is to “come out” of the world and come into the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom all of the objectives are different. This is why the ways of the world and the ways of the Kingdom are mutually exclusive. 

God’s Building

When God was ready to dwell among His people, He gave Moses explicit instructions on how His building (the wilderness Tabernacle) was to be built and how the service was to be conducted – down to the most minor of details. In fact, God anointed the craftsman to do the physical work. This means He have them the supernatural ability to accomplish the work. This was not haphazard. because this was God’s building and not man’s, there was no room for opinions about the details. God was very particular that His work be built according to His specifications. This is why we don’t read about folk adding to or taking from God’s blue prints. This approach was programmatic for the future. Paul told the churches, “Ye are God’s building.” 


All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. (1 Cor. 10:23)  

When we lose sight of God’s purposes in building the Church, we are bound to introduce things into our lives and into the churches that do not edify us as the Saints. In other words, they do not build according to God’s will and purposes. Our contributions must come from God – they must originate in Heaven. Men are not to live by bread alone, but by every Word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. This is not a figure of speech, it is to be our motto. The world says “Your satisfaction guaranteed!” The Saints reply, “Not my will, but Thine be done!” 

This means we must endeavor to achieve our own edification and not our satisfaction. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. It was true for the Lord Jesus, and it is true for us. Our natural tendency is to seek the pleasant and the comfortable. The average person in America today lives a more plush and comfortable life than Solomon. He may have had five slaves to stroke his headache, but we can take two pills and it leave all together. We have no concept of how plush we live in contrast to the kings and even pharaohs of ancient history.    

Pleasing Ourselves

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. (Romans 15:1-2)
 

Spiritual people want Spiritual things. Carnal people want carnal things. This is as simple as it can be. Spiritual people want a “Bible based” spiritual diet. They are not edified by carnality and compromise. Carnal people want a carnal diet. They partake of things that do not edify the Saints. Carnal people walk in the vanity of their mind. They cannot relate to what God is trying to accomplish in the Saints. 

This is why we have to start at the beginning and define our terms once again. 

What is Christianity?
What is Conviction?
What is Conversion?
What is Consecration?
What is Church?
What is Culture?
What is Compromise?


Stuck In The Eye

Stuck In The Eye
Robert Wurtz II

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Our passage is a solemn reminder that sometimes people have a tendency to gaze upon the faults of others, while looking past greater faults in their own lives. Jesus defines the behavior as hypocrisy. This is a particular danger in our times for a number of reasons. In the body of Christ there are some sins that are viewed as heinous, while other equally or more serious sins are often marginalized. In the world there is a huge emphasis on self-esteem that does not allow some people to be introspective. they would think about their shortcomings, but that would make them feel bad about themselves, so they avoid the practice. 

From time to time I think to write upon a particular subject and the Holy Spirit will bring this verse before my mind. Perhaps some behavior or action I have done has been displeasing to God and He wants it dealt with – long before I speak on a topic. You may ask, why is that? Three reasons: first, it is hypocritical to want to help others correct issues in their lives while we have glaring ones that we have not dealt with. Secondly, we cannot see clearly to be of any real help. Our perceptive faculties are encumbered by that which is “in our eye.” Thirdly, we may tend to emphasize other peoples faults and sins in order to minimize the seriousness of our own. This is a subtle, but deadly mind game.  


On three separate occasions in my life I have had metal removed from my eye. Few things are more painful than having a foreign object scraping against your eyeball. I suppose God designed us that way. We need to be able to see clearly, so we need our eyes in tip top shape. Our natural response is to get that thing out of there! Now! Not later; right this second! We can’t have our eyes destroyed by foreign objects. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine the pain of having a beam in my eye. Small beam (pencil), medium beam (broom stick), or a large beam (floor joist) – they are all dreadful to me. If such were the case, we would undoubtedly be blind in that eye. Obviously this passage is intended to be metaphorical, but we can easily see the difficulty here. A person with a speck in their eye may be rubbing it or flushing it with water, but a person with a beam ought to be screaming in pain. 

However, sometimes, rather than scream with pain, we may take it upon ourselves to focus on someones splinter as if they needed more help than us. This is hypocrisy. We will never get anywhere in the Kingdom of God while we focus on someone different’s shortcomings and marginalize our own. Moreover, we can’t possibly see their problem correctly and are liable to make it worse. Notice Jesus’ words, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly…” When we have compromise, disobedience or sin in our lives, our spiritual and moral vision is clouded at best and blocked at worst. We are simply in no shape to help anyone. 

Our first step is to take our focus off of others and get it on ourselves. Allow God’s Word to do its work and acknowledge that we have a plank in our own eye (if so be that we have one). Acknowledge that it is there in the strongest of terms. We can’t use strong terms for other peoples sins – use euphemisms for ours and avoid the charge of hypocrisy. We have to call it what it is and repent. What good is it to go on focusing on somebody else?

Perhaps even while reading this you may be thinking, “I know someone that does that!” You are already falling into the trap. Our passage applies to all of us. As if we locked ourselves in a room alone with God and this passage – we need to let God do a work in us. We need to allow Him to turn our attention back upon our own spiritual condition. Not our enemy; not our rivals, not the church, not the TV preacher, etc., but me. Me, me, me! A thousand times, me!    

The First Commandment With Promise

The First Commandment With Promise
Robert Wurtz II

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)


There are passages in the scriptures that invariably draw the ire of someone when they read them. Our passage above is one example. Take a son or a daughter that has been neglected or abused (truly abused and not abused in the frivolous sense); he/she will read this passage and inwardly rebel against it and will feel justified in doing so. Honor your father and mother is anathema to them. A chorus of a thousand reasons will flood the mind in an attempt to dismiss the commandment. Society encourages children to rebel against the authority of their parents. Many things we could say along this line, but I must digress. Nevertheless, their is a specific consequence built in to disobeying this passage. 


 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:22–25 KJV)


This is another passage that draws the ire of many who read it. Multitudes have been indoctrinated against it – often with similar strategies to those who rebel against Ephesians 6:1-3. The traditional model of the family has been overthrown in society by a systematic misrepresentation of the roles that fathers and mothers are designed to play within the family unit. 


In the first half of the 20th Century Hollywood portrayed men typically as masculine and women as feminine. This went on until Rebel Without A Cause came out – depicting the wife as domineering, the father as weak, and the son as rebellious. It was almost prophetic. It demonstrated the chaos that ensues when the historical patterns are revamped.

Connecting The Dots


In 1996 the British Journal of Criminology pubished an article that explored some of the consequences of the modern Western family model. The findings were very insightful:


“Traditional working class patriarchy has been thrown into crisis by the restructuring of the global economy and the expansion of women’s rights. Unable to replicate the rural-based models of masculinity and family structure of their grandfathers’ generation, a growing cohort of marginalized men in the de-industrialized urban economy takes refuge in the drug economy and celebrates a misogynist, predatory street culture that normalizes gang rape, sexual conquest, and paternal abandonment. Marginalized men lash out against the women and children they can no longer support economically nor control patriarchally.”  (PHILIPPE BOURGOIS) IN SEARCH OF MASCULINITY: Violence, Respect and Sexuality among Puerto Rican Crack Dealers in East Harlem. 


If Rebel Without A Cause demonstrated the chaos that ensues when the historical patterns are revamped, The BJC has shed much light on the breakdown of urban communities in America. Men and women are designed to function in a particular family model; if that model is altered, people will find alternate means of expressing their natural tendencies and instincts. Some may argue that this is an over simplification of the problems that exist within our culture: however, it is very enlightening to ponder just how the breakdown in the Biblical family plays out in the streets.  


Honor Thy Father and Mother


For over a hundred years, Christians have struggled to hold back the forces within western culture that are destroying the Biblical family. Hollywood has glorified feminism to the point that June Cleaver is now viewed as a throwback to the days we have courageously forsaken. Fathers and men in general are depicted as incapable idiots in the movies and sitcoms. If I had a dollar for every time a woman was made a sex object or a man was made the but of a joke I could probably retire. 


What is more disturbing is how society has shaped the thinking of Christians until many struggle to honor both father and mother without demeaning or degrading the other one. “And” is a big word in Ephesians 6:2. As a conjunction it connects father and mother inseparably. Both are to be honored. Not the one at the expense of the other or the one more than the other. Honor thy father and mother is a call to honor our parents as a unit.


What I mean is, people struggle today to build up one person without in some way putting another person down or in some way marginalizing or mocking them. You cannot honor your mother by dishonoring your father: nevertheless, this is often the modus operandi. Stories are told that seek to exalt moms or dads, but often by relaying negative information about the other parent. We need a moratorium on the practice of slamming one parent to build up the other. 



If the British Journal of Criminology has an ounce of truth it is this; when the family was altered, it set up both fathers and mothers for failure. It opened the door to a lot of dishonorable behaviors on both sides. Some men became drug addicts, alcoholics, dead beats or abusive. They ran around on their wives and families causing untold sorrow. It could be a million different awful things. In like manor, some women went into the work place and ended up in affairs. It was all a diabolical strategy. Their guiding light was the soaps they followed for years as stay-at-home moms and then many acted out what they programmed in their minds when their kids got in school and they finally got a job. Husbands working their tail-end off at work while the wife is being seduced into wanting a man like the TV guy. Children felt alienated because they came home from school day after day to empty homes. The list could go on ad infinitum. Let’s get one thing straight, this was all the Devil’s business. 




A family can be no greater than the relationship that exists between the husband and the wife. It is foundational. If they dishonor or betray one another or undermine one another the family will suffer. If husbands and wives will rightly honor one another their children are more likely to honor them. I may be a sentimentalist, but I think it is a travesty for husbands and wives to mock one another or to make one another the butt of their laughter and scorn; even if they think it is all in good fun. This is what the world and the devil have created and I have no interest in furthering it or celebrating it. I don’t find it funny. These are things that have the power to completely annihilate the true intimacy that married people enjoy. I think it is awful for a man to think of his wife as the ole’ hag or a woman to roll her eyes contemptuously and condescendingly at her husband. They should never speak evil of one another to others. 


Many people find it hard to honor more than one person at a time without making them rivals. They have to make one a winner and the other a loser. Rarely can people honor two or more people together without comparing and contrasting them. This type of comparitive honor may work for professional athletes or music stars, but it can never work when it comes to honoring our parents. They are to be honored together and not at each others expense. So this year I have decided that I will no longer participate in any activity that does not honor parents together and equally according to Ephesians 6:2. Away with how mean your mother was so you honor your father at her expense. Away with how bad dad was, but mom stuck by him, etc. The fact is, none of our parents were perfect and we need to find ways of honoring them without always bringing out the negative or rehashing the past of the other parent. We need to consciously return to the Biblical pattern of the family that allows male and female to follow their instincts in a Biblical way. In this way we can get back to putting the “and” in Honor thy father and mother.   

Swept Under The Blood

Swept Under The Blood
Robert Wurtz II

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV)

There is often a flippancy that exists in our times towards the Biblical doctrine of forgiveness that dishonors God and corrupts the churches. In fact, “get it under the blood” has become almost a catch phrase for blanket forgiveness whether genuine repentance is evident or not. At the risk of sacrilege, I wish to combine the phrase with a commonly known idiom in English, “swept under the rug.” In other words, we live in a time when many want to try and hide sin or keep sin secret instead of dealing with it.



Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 5:11, that some sins cannot simply be “swept under the blood of Christ,” they have to be repented of or there can be no forgiveness. In fact, to drive this point fully home Paul forbids Christians from having social contact with any professed believer that practices such sins. These are:

1. Sexual immorality
2. Covetousness 
3. Idolatry
4. Reviling (abusive slandering)
5. Drunkenness
6. Extorting (taking things that do not belong to you)

We live in a time when people are confused about the difference between sin the fruit and sin the root. Sins (the fruit) can be forgiven, but Sin the dynamic (the root) has to be dealt with by repentance and faith – leading to the New Birth. You simply cannot forgive the root – it has to be changed. When the root changes the fruit will change with it. Perpetual sinning as listed above is evidence of a sinful root. 

Sometimes a professed believer will commit one or more of the sins listed above and a chorus of people will rush to forgive the person without making sure they have stopped the sin. When we don’t join in, we are often labeled as “unforgiving” or some other slanderous adjective. However, obviously this is very serious business or Paul would not have issued this directive. You cant sweep the sins listed above under the blood. They have to be repented of and forsaken or we are not to fellowship with the person. 

A professed believer cannot resume fellowship with Christians so long as they continue in the sins listed above. It is not a matter of forgiving the person, it is a matter of their abandoning the sinful behavior. Some will say that the person ought to be forgiven and that everyone ought to receive them into fellowship; however, only if they have left off the sins listed above. If the same tell-tale signs exist that were present when they were found out, there is no reason to believe their has been change sufficient to suspend 1 Cor. 5:11. Paul goes on to explain why in 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NKJV)

Clearly Paul issued the directive in 1 Cor. 5:11 by inspiration of the Holy Spirit because of the truth revealed in 1 Cor. 6:9-11. If a person continues in these sins they will not inherit the kingdom of God. To continue in fellowship with them is to give your sign of approval of their sinful actions. Can two walk together except they be agreed? If you go on socializing with a person who is unrepentant you risk granting approval to their actions by your mere presence in their life. Paul said, And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Notice he did not say, and such are some of you. He said, some were some of you. This is the power of the full Gospel. Their sin was not swept under the blood, but they were washed in the blood, sanctified and justified. Their has been a radical change of nature. And for them it is safe to forgive them and restore fellowship because their sinful fruit is no longer growing from a sinful root. 

Again, we live in a time when many want to try and hide sin or keep sin secret instead of dealing with it. This has never been God’s way. It allows the deadly sins listed above to destroy the churches while softly suggesting to the sinner that they are “OK” and have nothing to worry about – when they are in danger of missing the kingdom of God. In that way, reckless forgiveness when their is no repentance makes the one fellowshipping an “enabler.” In other words, your presence gives the person a green light to keep sinning. 

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV)




The Necessity of God’s Wisdom

The Necessity of God’s Wisdom
Robert Wurtz II

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (James 3:13-17)

The book of James in many respects is a book about wisdom. It teaches us that we can lack wisdom during the great trials of our lives and if we do we can ask God for it, who gives it liberally and without reprimanding those who ask. Moreover, it teaches us that there are two types of wisdom: earthly/sensual/demonic and the wisdom of God. We can string together sentences that make sense and seem to convey intelligence; but the source can be ungodly. The devil can impart “wisdom” that will advise according to his objectives. God imparts wisdom in order to advise according to His objectives. The challenge to God’s will is often one of two things: compromise or competition. We know what compromise is, but what about competition?

God gives wisdom to those who are determined to know and convey the truth. This requires sincere introspection. We need to understand what is motivating us before we can begin to examine situations and determine a wise solution. For example, James reminds us, But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. The envy James speaks of is perhaps understood by the English word rivalry. This is an “us against them” state of the heart. It seeks to compete with others for the vanities of the world within the House of God. and among the people of God. James characterizes the behavior as “lying against the truth.” That is to say, it betrays all the truth for which a Christian – yea – a minister of the Gospel purports to stand for.

When two parties are in a state of competition, they cannot rightly love one another. Their wisdom cannot be pure, for it is corrupted by the displeasure of the blessings that attend their rival. Their wisdom cannot be peaceable for it flows from the fountain of enmity and opposition. It cannot be gentle, for it springs from an attitude of antagonism. In this condition, one must understand that they are likely moving in the “wisdom” that is earthly/sensual/demonic. They are receptive to thoughts that further the competitiveness and strife between the parties. Bitter envy is a beachhead from which the enemy can launch devastating attacks against Christians. 

If we have bitter envy, we must repent. Clear your mind and heart of all ill-will and antagonism. Renounce hostility and resentment. Sometimes compromise can create conflict that results in competition. In fact, in some cases one party may wage war to end compromise of various kinds, while the other side sees the conflict as a competition. They are battling, but for different reasons. Situations like this are almost never resolved because the parties are generally unaware that each side has different objectives. This is where the introspection comes in. We have to allow God and others whom God may use, to point out things that we need to be aware of so we can see the situation clearly. 

I have observed over the years both in business and in ministry that when a person of little or no authority questions or voices concerns to authority figures (managers or ministers, etc.) the person in authority almost always takes it personally as a personal attack. There are few people who are meek enough to take the concerns of their subordinates (or sheep) seriously without jumping to conclusions about motive. This is particularly true where nepotism (friends and family: see footnote) is involved or believed to be involved. It is human nature to want to protect friends and family. Everyone knows this, so it is often assumed that favortism is in play; especially if there are questionable decisions being made that portend to nepotism. This can greatly complicate a situation, especially when a friend or family member is in the wrong and the authority figure will not acknowledge the fact or don’t believe it. What complicates the situation even more is when there is a mixture of real concerns plus bitter envy and strife. Real concerns + real envy = a real mess. These are situations that, in the words of James, “try our faith” and require the wisdom of God. 




Once we have settled the matter of motivations and have purified our hearts before the Lord, we are ready to ask for wisdom. Some situations demand the wisdom of God; especially situations where there has been a lot of earthly/sensual/demonic wisdom being spoken. The enemy can build a castle of falsehood and misconceptions until people are misled completely from the truth. They believe things that are false. These falsehoods are being used as part of their rationale for their position of subjects. Few things are worse than building a perspective from a bunch of lies and half-truths. Exaggeration of minor details and the marginalizing of important ones are only the beginnings of deception.

Solomon had a way of getting to the truth. He once suggested cutting a baby in half to share it between two feuding mothers who each claimed the child was theirs. The real mother declined and Solomon recognized her from her attitude towards the child. We must likewise pray that God will give us wisdom to get to the bottom of things. We need to pray for wisdom to deal with irrationality. We must pray for wisdom to counter the earthly/sensual/demonic. 

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
(James 3:17–18 NKJV)  



When God’s wisdom comes it will not be with human hostility, but with Divine generosity. We must be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. This is the practical side of Christianity. When we can listen and hold our peace without getting angry, we are in position to hear, speak, and employ God’s wisdom. One of the key uses of wisdom is making peace. Anyone can stir something up, but it takes the wisdom of God to clear a matter. We must check ourselves and then pray God for the wisdom to handle the “divers” temptations and trials of life. 


____

Footnotes:

nepotism |ˈnepəˌtizəm|nounthe practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, esp. by giving them jobs.DERIVATIVESnepotist noun.nepotistic |ˌnepəˈtistikadjectiveORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from French népotismefrom Italian nepotismofrom nipote nephew (with reference to privileges bestowed on the “nephews” of popes, who were in many cases their illegitimate sons).



  

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