The House of the Heavenly Perspective

The House of the Heavenly Perspective
Robert Wurtz II

Is God Truly Glorified?

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 6:1-5)

Our passage is a tremendous revelation that brings Isaiah into what we may refer to as a heavenly perspective. Knowing the context is vital. The opening portion of the passage gives a clue, In the year that king Uzziah died. Uzziah was a great king over Judah that began reigning at age 16. The scripture tells us he did what was right in the sight of the Lord. King Uzziah sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. (2 Chronicles 26:5) Indeed, as a young teenager Uzziah wanted to know God’s will, that he might lead the nation of Israel rightly. As was customary, He would have hand-copied the Law of Moses from beginning to end. (Deuteronomy 17:18) Knowing this, there can be no doubt that Uzziah knew God’s Law. This knowledge allowed him to test any instruction he may have received from the prophets. However, we read the words, “as long as he sought the Lord.” This is both insightful and dreadful. It is wonderful to know that He sought the Lord, but there is the added implication that there came a time when Uzziah no longer sought the Lord. He began doing what was right in his own eyes. 

Pride- the Enemy of True Prosperity 

But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. (2 Chronicles 26:16-18)

There is something about being around the things of God for long periods of time. The old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” comes to mind. Uzziah was 68 years old when he died. He was 16 when he began to reign. At some point in those 52 “in between” years, he started to behave presumptuously. In Psalm 19:13, the Psalmist asks the Lord to keep him back from presumptuous sins; that is to say, a wilfull flouting of God’s word. When Uzziah was a young man, he seemed to want everything done according to God’s word. He wanted to know God’s present will as well. Nevertheless, something happened. 

Understand that we never get so great that we are exempted from obeying God. We never grow too wise or too experienced to need to inquire of the Lord. We must never lean to our own understanding; especially in things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. No matter what makes sense to us or what we wish to do, we must obey what God has said. If we ignore this rule, there may come a time in our lives when we somehow think we have a better way than God’s way. Pride will embolden us to intrude into God’s domain and begin innovating in the things of God, contrary to what God has said. Perhaps the Psalmist’s prayer ought to be ours as well; especially as we progress in years. “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.” (Psalms 19:13 NKJV)

When He Was Strong

Notice our text from 2 Chronicles 26, “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to destruction.” Strength comes in many forms. Typically, the strength is more an estimation of oneself than reality. God had helped him and made him great. Uzziah’s circumstance was the same as Israel’s first king, Saul. When he was “small in his own eyes” he behaved one way towards the things of God; nevertheless, when he was “strong in his own eyes” he behaved another. Obedience somehow became optional. 

Uzziah arrogated to himself authority that was not his. He behaved as the Pagan Canaanites of the day who viewed themselves as demigods. The Levites said to him, go out of the sanctuary; for you have trespassed; neither shall it be for your honor from the LORD God. In other words, God is not going to praise you for doing this. The best we can ever hope to do is simply obey God. We cannot improve on simple obedience. 

Again, when Uzziah was strong, He no longer sought the Lord; He moved in presumption. This is what the Psalmist prayed God would keep him from so that he would not be guilty of the “great transgression” (Psalm 19:13). The word presumption means failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate. Uzziah was moving in the non-permitted and the inappropriate. What was his response to being withstood by the priests? 

Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land. (2 Chronicles 26:20, 21)

Rather than listening to reason, the man got angry. Surely the voice of God was in the mouth of these men. There were over 80 of them, and they were valiant men. He could have come to his senses, but kept on until leprosy appeared on him. At that point he wanted to get out of there; nevertheless, it was too late. This is insightful and serves as yet another Old Testament example of God’s estimate of innovation in His Kingdom. Uzziah’s flippancy and reckless treatment of the things of God came at a high price. Not only was he driven from the temple, but as a leper, he was segregated from ordinary interaction with people. 

An Answered Question

(The King Uzziah Stricken  Rembrandt 1635)

No doubt Isaiah and the rest of Judah wondered why God had smitten a man who had been such a great king. The question itself would suggest an earthbound — worldly perspective. A cursory read of the writings of Moses are enough to show us that God expects things to be done according to His will; and when innovation is attempted, disaster ensues. Nevertheless, this remains a temptation even in modern times. In fact, we have the same type of scenario happening today as Bible based teachers seek to do ministry according to God’s word. As with the reaction of Uzziah, there is an anger at any real attempt to bring correction. We desperately need a revelation of God’s heavenly perspective in our times. Why? Because if the enemy can prevail in getting the Saints to presume upon God’s methodologies and designs in areas like evangelism, worship, etc., he has the battle well on the way to being won. 

The enemy is forever working to make Christians into Uzziah’s. He wants them in a worldly mindset devoid of a heavenly perspective. Isaiah learned a terrible lesson once he encountered God. He didn’t need to ask why Uzziah had been stricken like he was. God is thrice holy (holy, holy, holy) and to be in His genuine presence is to become utterly aware of our feebleness and sinfulness. This is why coming into the presence of the Lord in prayer and spending time reading through the scriptures over and over is so essential. We must protect the heavenly perspective in all that we do. If we start thinking like the world, then we will become presumptuous; failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate.


Hiding From God

Hiding From God
Robert Wurtz II

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 NKJV)

Adam and Eve have now realized that the Serpent has deceived them. Their conscience is eating away in their minds, while their heart smites them mercilessly. The sin seemed so simple, but at present the torment won’t go away. Whereas they once looked forward to the sound of God coming to fellowship with them; now they are fleeing in terror from Him. They formerly lived in serene happiness, but that is only a memory. Now their portion is abject misery. What a horrific picture.

It is important to realize that the enemy has not stopped with Adam and Eve. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of people who succumbed to the lies of the enemy. Not always is this explained as such, but often it is inferred. What is going on? The enemy desires to destroy everyones relationship with God. Nobody is excluded. You may be a young believer or a seasoned Christian; it makes no difference. Satan desires to drive a wedge between you and God through some sin. He has many ways of doing it. He wants to get you so insnared that you will hide from God rather than running to Him.

Can God Forgive Me?

When the Prodigal Son left his father’s house for the big city (as it were), the excitement had a way of dulling his conscience to what he was actually doing. I have been told stories by people who committed terrible sins, that in the moment, didn’t seem so bad to them. However, as soon as the sin was over with their heart smote them and they began to weep. Some are still weeping, and it has been years. They struggle to believe that God will truly forgive them. You will recall that the Prodigal Son shared this mistaken notion about his father,

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. (Luke 15:17–19 KJV) 

The Prodigal Son was very unassuming. We could consider this narrative simply an expression of his humility. However, I believe there is more here. This man believed that his crimes were so great, that he would be doing well just to get back on his father’s property. Think about it. He thought his father was more like his brother who remained home. His father was nothing like his brother. In fact, his father had been faithfully watching for him. 

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 

Can you imagine how shocked this young man was to have his father react this way? It is heartbreaking to think that rather than running to God, many run from God. Some do it because they have no intention of repenting of their sins. They are not prodigal’s, they are rebel’s. Nevertheless, there are they who really come to themselves and desire forgiveness; but they struggle wondering how God will react to them. Will God forgive me? Can I ever be saved? 

Hiding Among the Trees

Perhaps you are reading this, and you are wondering, can God forgive me? Is there any hope for me? Maybe you think your sins are too great. You may even attend church, but somehow you can’t come to terms with God’s willingness to forgive, truly. You’re hiding among the trees wondering what God is going to say to you on judgment day. 

I’m not going to load you down with a lot of technical talk about Greek words for mercy and forgiveness. I simply want you to consider the story of the Prodigal Son and how the father reacted to his son coming home. Jesus told this story to put an end to the Devil’s lies once and for all. You can be forgiven. You can be restored. Open your heart to Him. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him […] the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:22–24 KJV) 

A Prayer That Must Be Prayed

A Prayer That Must Be Prayed
Robert Wurtz II

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
(Luke 10:1-2)

Our passage contains an urgent command from our Lord: therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. It is pressing because souls are at risk, and time is running out. It is commanded because many who are called into the work are not answering the call. Imagine having a secular job and there is a massive task to be performed. When you arrive on site you see the work that needs to be done; and yet, there are very few laborers to perform it. What would you do? That’s right; you would get on the phone to the management and insist on getting more workers.  

The Harvest is a metaphor for the vast amount of people who are ready to hear the Gospel, and “be reaped into the Kingdom.” This great (plentiful and abundant) harvest is brought into the Kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As with any harvesting, the process involves labor and dedication. You will notice that our Lord gives instruction to those who were witnessing the vastness of the harvest firsthand. As if He were asking them, “Do you see all of these people? There are so many of them, but so few of us.” This is the basis upon which we are to pray that the Lord of the Harvest (The Father) would send forth His laborers into His harvest. The idea is not that the Lord of the harvest would create new laborers, but exercise His authority in sending forth the laborers He has already raised up to be in His service. He has been working on these workers since birth — preparing them for His work. All of his or her life experiences will serve as training for the particular field that He calls them to. Unfortunately, many feel the call, but have no urgency to get about the work. This is where our prayers come in.

An Abundant Harvest

The prophet Jonah is an example of a person who was called to do a work for God, but ran away from it. He had his reasons. The Assyrians were among the meanest and most merciless people on earth at the time. One of their capitol cities was Nineveh. The King’s palace was adorned with murals depicting their war conquests and its accompanying brutality. Jonah didn’t want these people to have mercy, but God did. 

It is sometimes believed that their are few who desire to repent and believe in our times, but this is clearly not the case. The harvest is always ripe, and there are many who would believe, but there are few who desire to labor in preaching. Ministering the Gospel is work, but more than work. It is a dangerous proposition when done properly. The Lord will say later, “I send you as sheep among wolves.” (Luke 10:3) Read that slowly. Sheep among wolves? That sounds dangerous; even a bloodbath. Nevertheless, ministry in the Lord’s Harvest requires that we set aside ourselves to perform God’s will. 

Thrust Them In 

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)

Our English translation does not rightly capture the urgency of the situation when it translates the Greek word ekballo as “send forth”. The word literally means to eject, drive out, cast forth, etc. It comes from a root that means to throw. It is the same root word used to describe how Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness and in numerous places to describe casting out devils or casting a person into hell. I don’t think it an imposition on the text to say that we are to pray that the Lord would order the laborers out into the fields as would a manager or an owner order his workers to do a job. This is not a slapdash request, but a direct order. Souls are at risk. Harvests must be reaped in a timely way, or they can be lost. Storms can come and ruin a harvest. This is lost opportunity. There is no time for delay. We are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to drive His workers forth into the fields. 

Not Just for Preachers

It goes without saying that God has called all of His people to labor in the fields in some capacity. Nevertheless, we sometimes suffer from a mental block here. We live in a time where everything seems to be left up to the “professionals.” That is to say, the mentality is often to hire a professional plumber or electrician. Hire a professional mechanic or clean-up person. This may be appropriate to work on things that are technically beyond our ability, but in the Kingdom of God, there is no such thing as a “professional minister” in this sense. We are all called to minister the Gospel. What says the scripture:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
(1 Peter 3:15)
Full of Grace and Power

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (Acts 6:8-10)

Here is a man who was waiting tables and doing miracles. He set his heart to do whatever God called him to do, and before he knew what happened, he had the full attention of the Devil. Obviously, he was ministering the Gospel to the people, and God was confirming what he was saying with signs and wonders following. He didn’t have a platform or a microphone. He was just sharing what he understood to be true. He was no theologian, scribe, or Pharisee. He was a common man, full of the Spirit and faith. He was willing to be used of God. In fact, he was so full of the Holy Spirit that ministry was natural to him. His ministry was the overflow of his relationship with God. As the Prophet once stated, “It was like fire shut up in his bones” and he could not hold his peace.

Why God Sends Revival

When the Lord Jesus spoke of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1, He said “and you shall be witnesses unto Me.” Many times over the centuries God has poured out His Holy Spirit. He has done this, for one reason, as one minister put it, to reset the moral default settings in society. However, God also intends that His outpouring have the effect of thrusting His laborers into the Harvest Field. In my relatively short life I have seen many outpourings of the Spirit. After a while, I began to notice something; if the people did not get about the Harvest, the move of God would die down to nothing. In time, I came up with a theology about it that demonstrates God’s desire to make His people “witnesses” by pouring His Spirit upon them. Is this not what He has always done to prepare a person for His service? 

Nevertheless, many receive the Spirit or a touch of God and do nothing with it that is meaningful. It is just another “spiritual experience” for them. Sometimes I think folks would do almost anything but go out in the fields to work. In fact, we do a lot of things that we think are spiritual; but the truth is, God is interested in getting His Harvest in. His focus is on building the Kingdom of God. Heaven rejoices as we reap down the fields. If we continue to major on the minors, we dishonor God and put His Harvest at risk. In this evil generation, we suffer from serious priority issues. Jesus died so that people can be born again. Think about it. What is the book of Acts about? Did they spend all of their energy on conferences, meetings, and concerts? No. The book of Acts is about men and women who went into His Harvest, filled with the Holy Spirit, and did their part. This is the Holy Spirit’s primary goal. Everything else is secondary. 

Mending Fences

Mending Fences
Robert Wurtz II

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:22–24 KJV)

When we look at the world, there are major points of distinction between it and the kingdom of God. Forgiveness and love are in short supply in the world. A cursory look at the daily headlines reveals this. The devil fathered this world system and its philosophy, and there is no place for love or forgiveness in him (John 8:44). The ungodly work desperately to push Jesus Christ out of society; nevertheless, as the old saying goes, “be careful what you wish for.” 

Worldly relationships live and die on loyalty, and in a world with behaviors that keep people at each other’s throat constantly, forgiveness is a necessity. Strange it is, many want unconditional loyalty, and yet are disloyal themselves. People want love, and yet refuse to give it. They want respect, but act disrespectful. C.S. Lewis once pointed out that man is greatly unable to see his or her own faults that are clear to everyone else. People rarely see their personal contradictions. Therefor, they fall into the trap of unforgiveness and “broken fences.” The self-centeredness of the average mind leaves no road back to reconciliation. Denial typically blinds the parties involved; and blocks any hope of restoration.

The world is generally a merciless place. When someone fails they will live with that failure forever. The world will typically make your failure your identity. No matter how long ago the event took place; the person is never allowed to get past it. This is what happens in an environment of unforgiveness. Moreover, the marring of relationships is often permanent. Friends break apart and never reconcile; families break up and don’t speak for 30 years- if ever. Enemies become enemies and remain enemies. The root of bitterness and hatred runs deeper by the day. Priceless relationships can end over a few dollars; nevertheless, no amount of money could mend them. 

When Left To Themselves

The depravity of man was first revealed when Abel was killed by his own brother (Genesis 4). Abel served as an ever-present reminder to Cain’s conscience that he had disobeyed God. Cain was an evil and devilish sinner and apparently didn’t like being reminded of it (I John 3:12). He abandoned his relationship with God through blatant disobedience, and despised his relationship with his brother. Cain wasn’t “into” relationships — obviously. He was devoid of a certain type of familial love known in the Greek as stergo. He lacked what the KJV translators defined as “natural affection” (Romans 1:31). Cain had discarded the natural love that God planted in the hearts of men, that they should love their own flesh and blood (family). This spirit of hatred and revenge has followed mankind since that time and will continue to flourish in these last days (2 Timothy 3:3). 

The spirit of this evil age will culminate with the same situation that existed in Noah’s day. People were full of violence. Noah’s preaching fell on deaf ears. It had no effect. This ought to alarm us. Today the masses are inclined to offend Saints, but offer tolerance to sinners. The “spirit” of Cain is in the land. Romans 1:28-31 describes these people whom when left to themselves through reprobation, were capable of anything. Paul writes, And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful. This passage reads like the daily newspaper. 

A Reformation of Relationships

A stroll through the Old Testament reveals that the Gentiles were so wicked and violent, that they were often a threat to the very existence of mankind. People committed unconscionable acts. The pagan idol worshippers at Tophet, for example, would beat drums as they threw their babies into the sacrificial fires to drown out their screams. Pagans in North America would bag up their babies and offer them to their false gods in many cultures. Just a few miles from Furgason, MO. where rioting and violence have broken out, sits Cahokia where native Indians practiced human sacrifice like the Azteks. (click HERE)  Where do you suppose those demonic spirits went after the indians died off? As an aside, perhaps you may wonder why there is so much bloodshed in Mexico among the drug wars? Wonder no more. The same demons who led men and women to human sacrifice are still around. At the end of the day these are the things we are dealing with. 

This is why whole cultures had to be eliminated in the Old Testament. God simply could not allow that contagious and deplorable behavior to spread and fester, until every man and woman was reprobate. These people had no trace of natural affection left in them. Nevertheless, when Jesus came onto the scene, a whole new paradigm began to take root within society that has changed the course of humanity. Had Jesus not come we had already destroyed ourselves, as did the pagans of Noah’s day. Violence would be the law of the land, and forgiveness would be a word of ancient folklore. Jesus and His teachings had turned the tide of evil and cast a different light on man’s relationship with each other. Even the Jews had a lot to learn when it came to relationships; and they were the most Godly of all peoples. Cruelty in the Ancient World was the norm, but mercy would redefine the standards from which we relate to one another. 

Father Forgive Them for They Know Not What They Do

Never before had such a dichotomy of innocence and torture met on earth. Jesus, who personifies love and forgiveness, put to silence the tortuous revenge and hate when He cried out for His executioners’ forgiveness (Luke 23:34). In a figure, his blood speaks better things than that of Abel. Who ever heard of such forgiveness prior to this? So great was the influence of Jesus in those who received His Holy Spirit, that men like Stephen would emulate this attitude, crying out for mercy for his killers at his stoning in Acts 7:60. Mercy was simply unheard of at that level. The Spirit of Christ brought it to earth. So great was the impact of these events that over the centuries, people came to Christ as a consequence of the witness of these persecuted or dying saints. 

The Teachings of Jesus

The teachings of Christ have had 2000 years to extract the devil’s cruelty from society; and wherever true Christianity prevails — mercy and grace are found. Jesus taught us to love one another and to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). These were strange concepts in His day, and in many ways they still are. John the Revelator went as far as to say “he that loveth not knoweth not God- for God is love” (I John 4:8). Love comes to us in four primary forms: eros (lust), phileo (friendship), stergo (family), and agape (God’s type of love). 

The closest word we have for agape is compassion. Compassion is an undeserved love that results in tender mercy (splagchnon eleos). That is precisely what we need in this world today. We need a world where retaliation is left to God alone and where justice is meeted out – out of love. We need society to embrace the message of mercy and reconciliation. We need to return to the clear instruction of Jesus and show love to one another out of a pure heart fervently (1 Peter 1:22). We need to lay aside our corrupt hearts, prejudices, bitterness, and jealousies and begin to influence the world with the person of Jesus Christ. 

Angry Without a Cause

Some people can’t get along and they don’t know why. You ask them and they might say “I don’t like their looks!” Delving into the core of how these feelings come to be is a mystery too great for us; but one thing is certain, acting on these feelings and harboring them is unacceptable among the Saints. The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s long since forgot why they were feuding; as have the Crip’s and the Blood’s. Nevertheless, these type feelings live on in this present evil world. They are even found in families. Bitterness is boiling under the surface. This is dangerous. People are filled with hate and don’t even realize the danger they are in (Matthew 5:22). “Anger without cause” is an attitude that emperils the soul. 

The Holy Spirit will expose ill feelings and challenge them as a first point in His dealings. Sinners must stop resisting the Holy Spirit when He reveals this behavior. If it exists in a Saint, it is grieving to Him (Ephesians 4:30). We must submit to the Holy Spirit’s dealings immediately. We cannot allow the sun to go down day after day on ill feelings, until they become a permanent part of our personality (Ephesians 4:26). 

Making Reconciliation

Some people wait until it’s too late to try to get things right. They stand over the graves of friends and family teary-eyed wishing they had said they were sorry or made an attempt to reconcile. Their grief is their just reward for quenching the Spirit for years as He prompted them to make amends (Romans 1:27). Now they live with themselves. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can lay aside the stubbornness and uproot the bitterness that is poisoning our souls and souring our spirit. We can make that call or send that letter; we can find a way to break the ice. No matter whose fault it was — it is the Spiritual person who must move to restore the relationship (Galatians 6:1). God will prepare the hearts as we pray and God will give us the courage. We are not guaranteed success; nevertheless, we must make an effort.

Reconciliation is a very powerful thing. It is proof that God is at work in our lives. Anyone can stay angry and make excuses — but a true child of God will seek to reconcile broken relationships. We have to love one another. And if so be that the person will not cooperate, their blood is on their own head; that is, if we moved in unfeigned love and sincerity. Some people are not rejecting us — they are really rejecting God. Nevertheless, God has used reconciliation to transform people’s relationship with Him. He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Could God say that of us? God was in _____ (your name here) reconciling the world to Himself? Do we have a heart of compassion and love that wants to end the strife and operate in Christian love? Can we lay aside the past? Can we put aside our emotions? Can we part with our record of wrongs? Can we heal some broken relationship? Can we mend some fences?  

How To Worship the god of Money

How To Worship the god of Money
Robert Wurtz II

But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. (Matthew 18:26-29)

Our story is a familiar one that is typically used to demonstrate the evil of unforgiveness. However, in this entry I would like to take a more direct approach and examine this portion dealing with money itself. Here is a man who had been forgiven 10,000 talents (monetary debt). He then goes out and finds a fellow servant that owed him 100 denarii. By contrast, it takes 5000 denarii to equal 1 talent. A denarii, as the word is used in the Gospels, represents a days wage. We gain more insight when we recall that the Disciples suggested that it would cost 200 denarii to feed the 5000. In other words, 100 denarii could by food to feed 2500 men (plus women and children). So the man in Matthew 18:26-29 was owed a significant amount of money.

In Roman times it was legal to take a person by the throat, choking and leading them to court, if they owed you money and refused to pay. In fact, some creditors were so brutal that they would twist a person’s neck until blood flowed from the mouth and nostrils. (Pelobout, P. 325; see also Vincent) This seems to be what is in view here. The man, not sure how much he was owed, throttled his fellow servant and demanded an account of where his money was.

This passage is made to sting all the more for those who are familiar with our Lord’s teachings on money. Consider how Luke 6:34-35 would apply to this wicked man:

And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

In other words, don’t get worked up when people borrow and cannot or do not repay. Some will say, “The wicked borrow and do not repay.” (Psalm 37:21) This may be, but it does not give you or I the right to treat a person in an unloving and unpeacable way, just because they are somehow indebted to us. In fact, if you don’t expect it back, as the passage says, you won’t be disappointed in the first place. What did Jesus say? Do you want to be like God? Do you really? Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

Money and Insanity

Are you under the impression that this man in Matthew 18:26-29 is a rare case? He is not. There is something about money that alters some peoples’ thinking patterns to begin acting unloving and even cruel. Christians (so-called) can be as bad if not worse. They can be praising the Lord one minute and then the subject of money comes up. Suddenly, they are right in the cross hairs of James 1:8, A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. As if the subject of money anoints a person to act foolishly and contrary to their normal Christian life. What is worse is the belief that “spiritual” and “business” are different compartments of our Christian life. They are not. Let me see how you behave when it comes to money, and I’ll show you how spiritual you really are. 

The Stewards of God

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16-9-11)

When a person is in a double-minded state, they will make this passage say the exact opposite of what it says. Notice it begins by saying, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon.” What does that mean? Brow beat people and cause a fuss over money? Drag them before the authorities until blood runs from their mouth and nose? God forbid! Some Christians do the exact opposite of what Jesus is saying to do. They don’t use money to “make friends” their obsessive attitude towards money “makes enemies.” You can cause people to hate you and despise you by exalting money; especially when you call them on the carpet over a debt and they have no way to pay. On the contrary, we can use money as an expression of our Christian love for others. This is what it is to be a “good steward.” We give when there is a need. We lend, not expecting it back. We have a cheerful attitude towards money rather than an overbearing attitude. We don’t ascribe to money an undue importance or significance. A faithful steward is one that distributes the “unrighteous money” in a way God would if He were you. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 

How To Worship The god of Money

And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:11–13 NKJV)

You want to worship the god of money? Go ahead. Just keep mistreating people for money’s sake. Keep causing a fuss every chance you get. You want to bow down to that almighty dollar? Just keep on making enemies because of the obsessive way in which you approach money. God has offered us an opportunity to use money for the furtherance of His purposes — through the expression of true Christian love. When a Christian says “I love you” with their mouth, but won’t back it up with their pocketbook, they defraud themselves from capacity to love “in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18) In fact, it only reveals what God already knew about us. We shut up the bowels of our compassion as an expression of our non-love. 

You want to serve god AND mammon? Keep praying for folks that God would meet their need, when you know in your own heart you have the means of helping them yourself. What does it profit to tell the person “be ye warmed and filled?” It only serves to expose us and who we really worship. Selah.
Jesus once said that many will say on that day, “Lord, Lord, in thy name have we not cast out devils and done many wonderful works?” Only to hear, “Depart from me, you who work lawlessness.” I suggest this can never be truer than when it comes to money. The reason is that so many Christians have an unloving attitude when it comes to money, because they idolize money. That is a clear breech of both of the great commandments. We are supposed to love our neighbor, but when it comes to “money” and “business” many think they have a green light to behave badly. As if someone waved a wand over their faces, and their eyes began swirling in a trance-like state when money was the subject. What are they doing? They are trying to serve God and mammon (money). Not knowing that it is impossible. They end up being loyal to their money and then trying to find a theology for their behavior. Usually, again, it is something to do with stewardship. However, we have already demonstrated that Biblical stewardship is the process by which money is used to “make friends,” that is to say, to express Christian love. 

There are people in the world who try to serve God and money, but they can’t do it. Covetousness is idolatry, and no idolater has eternal life abiding in him. At the end of the day, the loyalty generally goes to money, and God is despised. These people are known Biblically as Philarguroi an old Greek word made up of philos and arguros (a lover or friend of silver). We can’t love money. We have to love God and people. We cannot love all three. We have to make a choice. That is the plain reading of Luke 16:11-13. No one can serve money and God at the same time


Caught in a Web

Caught in a Web
Some thoughts on Dr. Steven Lambert’s, Charismatic Captivation  
Robert Wurtz II

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Luke 22:24–26 KJV See also Matthew 20:25–28; Mark 10:41–45)

It is worth noting from the beginning, that this event is recorded in all three synoptic Gospels. The Disciples were up-in-arms about who was going to be the greatest. Our Lord settles the dispute by redefining greatness in the kingdom of God. The unsaved understand greatness as it relates to one person’s ability to control people. That is to say, the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they who exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. The essence of control is not necessarily ordering every aspect of a person’s life. Control becomes enslavement when a person is not allowed to be released from the control. In other words, when submission moves from voluntary to some form of coercion, we are “exercising dominion” and thus behaving like unbelievers. 

What the Lord Jesus is talking about is common among unbelievers. From the workplace to inner-city gangs, “rulers” refuse to surrender lordship over people that were once a part of them. For example, I have worked for companies that absolutely refused to allow an employee to leave on good terms. As soon as they indicate they have other prospects, the employee is derided and sometimes fired on the spot. At the very least it has been my experience that people who leave certain companies are not allowed to leave on peaceful terms. The employer does everything in their power to destroy the person or mean-mouth them in some way. If you find an employer that is “happy for you” and “wishes you the best” you have found a rare thing. Typically they view your leaving as an act of betrayal. I could list countless examples of people who worked hard for their company for many years, and when it came time to leave they hardly received a good-bye. It is pathetic how some employers treat people that want to leave their company. 

Inner-city gangs are even worse. Some gangs are impossible to leave without being beaten-up or killed. I have read stories of gang members that committed felonies just to get sent to prison so they could escape the gang life. Why? They were allowed to join, but they were not allowed to leave. This is the essence of slavery. You can’t leave when you get ready. This is what shackles were designed for; to restrict a person’s freedom. 

Bondage At Corinth

Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. To our shame I say that we were too weak for that!” (2 Corinthians 11:18–21a NKJV)

Paul seems to be describing a slave-driver, not a shepherd. The people were being brought into bondage and even struck in the face (as it were). You will remember that a large percentage of people living in the Roman Empire in those days were slaves. The people understood very well what Paul was saying. Some of them may have been slaves themselves and experienced this treatment. Nevertheless, he told them in effect, “We were too weak to treat you that way!” We didn’t order you around and control you. We didn’t treat you like you just joined the Mafia or something. For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! They were wise in their own eyes and could not see the bondage they were in. They were being treated like animals by their leaders. I don’t know who they thought they were, but Paul referred to them as “fools.” (Gk. apron) 

Modern Examples

Not everyone “suffers fools gladly.” I have been reading a book entitled, Charismatic Captivation, by Dr. Stephen Lambert. He is obviously hostile to much that goes on today within the churches of God. Nevertheless, he brings to the table many valid points that are worth considering. His concern is for people who are trapped in a manipulative environment. The horror stories abound. Some people have come under such stress in these environments that they had nervous breakdowns. Others have quit church all together to flee from these type abuses. It has given rise to some degree to what has come to be known as “The Out of Church Christians” movement. Some people just cannot take the psychological and spiritual abuse. In Paul’s words, they can’t take another strike on the face.   

When men build their own kingdoms to rule in, they don’t take too well to giving up their subjects. Jesus told us in advance, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so. In other words, don’t get it in your head that you’re going to get a position in the kingdom of God so you can control people. You are not the Lord’s over God’s heritage. 

Sadly, in modern times, whole books have been written trying to break this cycle that has crept into some churches. For example, sometimes people feel the Lord leading them to leave and work in a different part of the field — only to have the leadership act just like the head of an inner-city gang. They may not kill them literally, but they kill them emotionally and spiritually. “We’ll let them leave, but not until we get through destroying their credibility and causing a big fuss.” No, they never say that. They just do it. How? Make them feel like they are missing God’s will by leaving. Understand I am not referring to people who are angry and are leaving on a whim. I am referring to people believing they are hearing from God and leaving to work in another field. They should get the right hand of fellowship — but instead they get a backhand. What is wrong? Men are building their own kingdoms; and when God puts in for a transfer these heavy handed shepherds try to block it. Selah. 

Caught in a Web

I recall as a young child going on a field trip to the local museum. Since it was close to the school, the class lined up and the teacher led us on foot down the sidewalk. On the way home we passed by an old garage near the road. Strung across the front was a giant web with a large garden spider in the center. Lord only knows how many victims it has captured that day before my Vietnamese classmate pulled out his black glove and placed the spider in a little box. I have often thought of that spider; hanging there waiting for an unsuspecting victim. Well, not anymore.

As deadly as that garden spider was to those creatures that flew into his web, so too is a spirit within the churches of God that behaves in the way Jesus described in Luke 22:24–26; Matthew 20:25–28, and Mark 10:41–45. The people at Corinth may have suffered fools gladly, but God does not. Lording over God’s heritage, control mongering, and a host of other adjectives and adverbs cannot do justice to the destructiveness of such behavior. The only solution is to cast off such attitudes and repent. Pray that God will heal the people who have been hurt by it. 


Wolves and Their Worshippers

Wolves and Their Worshippers
Robert Wurtz II

But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and you did not receive me: if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and do not seek the honor that comes from God only? (John 5:42–44)

Our passage is one of the most sobering in the entire New Testament. The Lord Jesus is telling the people that they do not have the love of God in them and then follows it up with the reason why. Understand that the love of God spoken of here is not the love of God as defined by an evil and adulterous generation; but the true love of God that seeks God’s glory and His will for the people. So if they are not motivated by the true love of God; what is motivating them? We will explore that question in this entry.

Earlier in John 5:34, Jesus said that He did not receive the testimony of men. The very works He was doing, in His Father’s name, and by His Father’s leading, testified of Him. He was sent by the Father to do His will. In fact, Jesus mentions being sent three times in John 5 alone. He was the sent one (if you will). He did not send Himself. He did not come with His own agenda. In the words of the writer to the Hebrews, Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God. (Hebrews 10:7 emphasis added). In this way, Jesus Christ will serve as the model template for all future “sent ones.” In a different figure, the Father is the Lord of the Harvest, and He sends forth His laborers into His harvest. Jesus was the first and many will follow. 

In John 5:41, Jesus tells us about something else he does not receive; honor from men. That is to say, He was not looking for man’s approval — nor was He concerned about their opinions. He was not ambitious. His desire was to accomplish the will of the Father. He was not like the religious leaders who loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:43) They were forever doing something to be seen so that men would praise them. (Matthew 6:1-5) This was not Jesus. His whole state of mind was different than these ambitious men. What a pity that man would feign religion for their own selfish ambitions.

How Can The Ambitious Believe? 

Have you ever been talking to someone trying to explain something that to you is very obvious, and yet they are not getting it? You look into their face, and their eyes just seem to glaze over. They hear you talking, but they are not hearing you. This is challenging enough when speaking of carnal subjects; but what are we to make of it when we speak of Spiritual things? I often speak with people of the things of God, and it is as if they weigh what I am saying against their own agenda to determine if they will receive it or not. More often than not, the Biblical counsel is rejected. This would seem to be a mystery except the Lord had told us why this happens. It happened to Him, and it will happen to us. Observe from John 5:42-44:

The passage reveals two issues that are obstacles to a genuine belief in Christ and His words:

1. People desire to give the glory that belongs to God alone to those who come in their own name.

2. People cannot believe Christ because they are more concerned about receiving glory from men (that belongs to God alone) than receiving the glory that comes from God.

In other words, men seek to give and receive the glory that belongs exclusively to God. That is a very sobering thing to ponder. Once a person has charted a course for receiving glory from men, they cut themselves off from receiving the teachings of Jesus Christ. Why? Because one cannot build ones own kingdom and Christ’s Kingdom at the same time. To seek the glory of men is to fall in the ditch with a multitude of names who have disgraced God and the people of God over the centuries. It is a sure evidence that the spirit of Satan is at work in the person. 

Idol Manufacturers

It is embedded in fallen human nature to want to idolize people. In the 21st century, we have television shows that manufacture human idols. People worship talent as if it were an attribute of deity. Think of all the young girls that have been filmed screaming, weeping, and fainting as their favorite celebrity passed by them. The stage is the place where man is worshiped. Crowds in the thousands spend good money to throng at a chance to pay homage to another man or woman. This is what the religious leaders were doing in Israel. This is what the people were doing at Ephesus in Acts 20. People want to serve the Lord for the glory of a Rock Star. In modern times the basic temptation is the same — only the circumstances are different. 

The True Sent Ones

Human nature desires to be popular. Few people enjoy being an outcast. People like praise, acceptance, and affirmation. Some will do almost anything to draw attention to themselves; they want their five minutes of fame. This principal in man, if left undealt with in a professor of Christ, becomes a major obstacle to the program of God. This is why Paul wept when he was leaving Ephesus. He knew that men would come drawing disciples after themselves. A band of “self-sent” people were about to rise up and challenge the truly sent ones. One group tried to follow in the footsteps of Christ — doing the Father’s will. Another group inserted themselves into the Father’s harvest doing their own thing. What a sad state of affairs! Here was Paul, who had spent several years pointing the people to Jesus Christ, and now this other group will have their opportunity. Even as he was leaving the area he commended them to God and not to man. He reminded them of how he conducted himself so they could contrast it with the self-serving, dangerous leaders that were rising up. 

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:27–29 KJV)

We need not be theologians to understand what Paul is saying here. He reminds the people that he did not shrink back in declaring the WHOLE counsel of God to these Ephesians. In fact, he preached to them until their blood was no longer on his hands. Nevertheless, as soon as he left the whole paradigm was going to change. Men would solicit their own followings and take the peoples attention off of Christ and lay it on themselves. They would do this by preaching a Gospel that tickles the peoples ears; that made them feel good about themselves. (Romans 16:18; 1 Thess. 2:5) This is a diabolic strategy that makes the people codependent on the leader to build what we call today “self-esteem” (another word for pride). (Matthew 7:15; 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Peter 2:1; Mark 13:22; Jude 4; et al.) 

How should we characterize these type people? Paul called them wolves that will show no mercy on the flock. They allure the people away from Christ with niceness. They stand in the place of God and affirm and reaffirm the people — never challenging them to consciously respond to the dealings of the Holy Spirit. They stand in the assembly as if they are the Head — rather than Christ. The whole ministry becomes “man based.” Slowly the people die from a lack of genuine edification. They are fed a substitute for the sustenance which comes from Christ alone (His word). Why? Because the man wanted the attention on him. Why? Because the people would rather give glory to man than to God. Yea rather, they give glory to man in the name of giving it to God.  

More Hope For An Atheist

How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and do not seek the honor that comes from God only? 

I am persuaded that there is more hope for an atheist than for a man or woman who seeks honor from men rather than God alone. Jesus asked, How can you believe?” What is implied? They are not believing. This question ought to give us pause and make us tremble. If something is impossible from Christ’s perspective; what hope on earth is there? Certainly, none while the person continues to receive honor one of another, and will not seek the honor that comes from God only. Who do we want to please? Paul asked the Galatians, Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10) That’s right. He would be the servant of men. 

Whose approval is more valuable? Whose friendship is more important? If a chorus of a trillion men shouted our praises from cradle to grave it would not carry the weight of simply hearing, “Well done thou good and faithful servant” from the one mouth of God.  

Some people are never going to “get it” until they stop basing their lives and beliefs on the opinions of men. We cannot seek to receive glory from God and man at the same time. It will be one or the other. No man can serve two masters. 

Who Am I? Who Are You?

Who Am I? Who Are You?
Robert Wurtz II

For before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. (Galatians 2:12)

Our passage is the familiar account of Peter being confronted by Paul for withdrawing from the Gentiles when associates of James came to town. In those days, some Jewish Christians found it hard to leave behind old ideas. Peter knew God had accepted the Gentiles because God Himself told him. He was up on the roof at Cornelius’ house when he received the revelation. Nevertheless, although Peter knew for a fact that Gentiles were accepted of God, the pressure to “shrink back” when the pressure came was enormous. 

Our Greek word for “withdrew” is the familiar hupostello. It means to “furl the sail.” The idea is that when the wind is carrying the ship in a direction contrary to what the ship master desires, he can order the sails “furled” to slow or stop the ship. It is a powerful picture of avoiding unpleasantness. Peter “furled the sail” when the Circumcision came around. In spite of what God said, the dear brother yielded to the pressure.

This did not mean that God stopped loving Peter. It meant that he needed to be challenged. Paul was the man for the job. He had formerly been a Pharisee among Pharisees. He tried to outdo all of them. He was as radical as they came. Nevertheless, once Paul was converted and God revealed the truth to him, he abandoned the old ways. It didn’t take years for Paul. He turned on a dime when God spoke. With Peter it was different. He argued with God even while being told the truth. Can you imagine that? God is saying, “Rise Peter slay and eat!” Peter says, “No, Lord!” He is the only man I know of that ever openly told God “No!” However, he came around after a bit. So what happened?

Who Are You?

If we had been sitting at a table and had the boldness, we may have asked, “Peter, who are you? I see you acting one way around one group, and a totally different way around this other group. We just need to know; Who are you? Are you the person that shrinks back when certain come from James or are you the man who sits down and eats with the Gentiles? We’re confused. We don’t know what to believe now. We used to know what was right and wrong, but now we’re confused. What is it? It can’t be both ways.” 

We all face situations like Peter did. People come around that challenge the very things that we know are right. Sometimes they are men of renowned, like James. I’m sure Peter didn’t want to be a hypocrite or anything — he just wanted to please everyone. He didn’t want to offend the associates of James and have word of it get back to Jerusalem (headquarters if you will). 

The danger Peter put himself in was not knowing himself who he was. The more he compromised to please these men the more he lost his own identity. Had Paul not come along and confronted him — no telling what may have happened. Instead of having to deal with James, he had to deal with Paul instead. 

Undoubtedly, Peter regretted this event. Nevertheless, it was a great learning experience. I sometimes wonder how many times Peter had to explain himself. “Why did you do that Peter? I thought you said God told you that He had cleansed the Gentiles?” He would have to explain that he shrank back out of fear or trying to keep the peace. Nevertheless, his actions put his own integrity at risk along with the Gospel itself. It was a compromise; and compromise comes in a lot of different packages. 

Who Am I?

Galatians 2 is one of those passages where we face ourselves. It is a perpetual temptation to put the Gospel at risk in order to keep the peace with someone. Nevertheless, we have to establish our own identity and consistently stand by it. We don’t flip sides depending on present company. Talk about confusion. Pretty soon we don’t even know who we are. We look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Who am I?” Do I have any personal convictions? Had God spoken anything to me? Has He revealed a truth to me that I need to take a stand for? God can speak to us face to face making a truth known but that does not insure we will stand for it. It has to come from a willingness to let God be true — no matter what others may think of us. Should we please God or should we please men? We all have to decide. 

The Road to Armageddon

The Road to Armageddon
Robert Wurtz II

For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14-16)

In the early 1900s Sigmund Freud put forward what many believed was a new theory about human nature. Through his experiments in Psychoanalysis, he had discovered that human beings have aggressive, violent and sexual forces that are lying just below man’s consciousness — waiting to be unleashed. Through his examination of dreams and free association, he came to believe that man was a violent creature. In fact he wrote:

“Men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus [man is wolf to man]. Who in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion? As a rule this cruel aggressiveness waits for some provocation or puts itself at the service of some other purpose, whose goal might also have been reached by milder measures. In circumstances that are favorable to it, when the mental counter-forces which ordinarily inhibit it are out of action, it also manifests itself spontaneously  and reveals man as a savage beast to whom consideration towards his own kind is something alien.” (Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, trans. and ed., James Strachey; New York: W. W. Norton, 1961, p. 58)

Had we lived contemporary with Freud, we may have congratulated him on his discovery of the Adamic nature. He is late to the party by several thousand years, but better late than never. As the old time preacher would have said it, “he was slow but worth waiting on.” Nevertheless, Jesus had a more succinct description of man in his fallen state, You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44) This is the real situation fallen man must reckon with. The primitive aggressive forces under the surface are actually the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3). 

A Temporary “Fix”

In the early 1900s democratic governments sought for a way to control what they called “the dangerous crowd.” That is, people that assemble to act violently and destructively — putting the stability and safety of the whole society at risk. Totalitarian governments rule with an iron fist typically, and squash such uprisings by force. But how can these people be dealt with in democratic governments where the people have the right to assemble, right to protest, etc. when they get out of control? Hence, a slogan came to be used that we must “make the world safe for democracy.” How would they do it?

A strategy was devised that would channel man’s aggressiveness towards something non-destructive. Many inventions were being developed; manufacturing techniques were improving; and money was made available through fractional lending. So, we entered the era of consumptionism. People spent their energy working to buy the latest clothes, the newest car, the larger home and the coolest gadgets. Many people found their identity in this “competition” and status was the goal of life. Exalt yourself by the things you possess. From a Biblical standpoint, the powers that be learned to exploit the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life in order to keep man happy and docile. By creating an atmosphere of “discontentment” people would work their whole lives chasing the wind. This served to keep them from rioting in the streets. This is an oversimplification of the subject, but this is a blog entry so we must digress. 

The First Box of Cigars

Edward Bernays was front and center in this process. He is the father of public relations and to a large degree popular culture (POP Culture). His uncle was Sigmund Freud. Bernays sent Freud a box of Havanna cigars in exchange for a copy of his book on Psychoanalysis. He then employed Freud’s findings to help corporations transform our culture from “needs” based to “desires” based. People began buying products they did not need. The poor began behaving like the wealthy. This worked for the government, because they were working to “make the world safe for democracy.” People were too busy to riot and vandalize. 

The Failure of Selfish Discontent

For nearly a hundred years this man made scheme has been somewhat effective. We have had wars to contend with, but our streets have been relatively calm (with the exception of a few race riots over the years). However, when the economy plunged in 2008 and the handheld device became the primary focus of young peoples’ lives, the door started coming open again. Few young people aspire to the things their parents and grandparents did. Their values are different.  The crowd is growing more and more dangerous everyday. Therefore, I came up with some statements to describe this phenomena:

Worldliness + dis-contentment = docile

Worldliness + contentment = a dangerous crowd

When Edward Bernays worked to help manufacture a state of discontentment within society, it only served as a temporary distraction. In fact, it only ever worked on people who bought into the system and were willing and able to put forth the efforts to experience it. That leaves out a great many people in the 21st century. Theirs is a mind of worldliness + contentment, a dangerous combination. That is not to say that worldliness + discontentment is the right thing. It is not. It is simply what has been used to a decent effect for controlling mass violence within society. 

A Second Box of Cigars

At the time of this writing the Missouri National Guard has been called in to handle rioting in Furgason, MO. An 18 year old African American man was shot multiple times by a police officer. This set off multiple rounds of both peaceful and violent riots. The situation appears to be deteriorating. The irony of this situation is that the young man was alleged to have strong arm robbed a convenience store owner of a box of cigars before his confrontation with police. A thousand nay-sayers will probably break out in a chorus of hilarious laughter and scorn; but could it be that this event in Furgason has signaled the end of man’s attempt to “make the world safe for Democracy” by manufacturing a state of discontent within society? Governments are losing control of the people. Police are arming themselves with military style equipment. It seems we are on the brink of Armageddon. 

God’s Solution

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Godliness + contentment = great gain  

As we have seen, contentment alone will do nothing more than undo man’s scheme to control society. We must have godliness with contentment. This can only be accomplished by being born again of the Holy Spirit. When people have the nature of God — there are no “aggressive violent and sexual forces that are lying just below man’s consciousness — waiting to be unleashed.” The cross deals with them when we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into Jesus Christ (the last Adam). We become partakers of the Divine nature. Our personality yields the fruit of love, joy, and peace. We are moved by compassion and in gentleness. This is our only hope. We are living in the last days. May we ever be faithful to point to the true solution for this crisis hour. 


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