We Must Begin With Born Again

We Must Begin With Born Again
Robert Wurtz II

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? (Galatians 3:2–4 NKJV)

The book of Galatians is unique among Paul’s epistles as the only one written in his own handwriting. In his other epistles, he employed an amanuensis to do the writing — book ending the text with a greeting at the front and a closing salutation at the end. For Paul to take up the pen, and write himself, we know this signaled a very serious urgency. Teachers had come into the church preaching a different Gospel. 

Ministers generally preach their own experiences. If they struggle with sin, they preach that Christians struggle with sin. Few have the mind to let God be true in spite of their personal experience. This was likely the case at Galatia. The born again experience was not working in these ministers, so they were teaching and preaching the people back under the Old Covenant system of laws. They did not understand that “one cannot do with institutional law was can only be accomplished by a constitutional change of ones’ nature.” (R. Bailey) 

In our passage above, Paul appeals to the experience of the Galatians. He knew that these saints had been truly born again. They repented, believed and received the Holy Spirit. This is not salvation by logical deductions and proof texts as is often the case today; Paul knew they had truly believed and received. Regardless of what these new teachers were saying, the Galatians had an experience far beyond what they were being taught. 

Did You Receive?

Paul asked the Ephesians if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Paul asked the Galatians if they received the Holy Spirit by the works of the Law or by the hearing if faith. In both cases, receiving the Holy Spirit is in view. Receiving the Holy Spirit is essential to new Covenant Christianity. How the Spirit is received is the question Paul asks the Galatians. This is important because they already received the Holy Spirit in the beginning; now they are being taught that they need to come under the law. Why? So they can continue to be filled with the Spirit? It could never happen. The two approaches to receiving the Spirit are incompatible. One is either in the flesh and under the Law, or they are in the Spirit and not under the Law. (Galatians 5:18) 

Having Begun In the Spirit

Coming under the Law cannot facilitate Spirit filled living. However, this may not have been the teaching at all. They could have been told that receiving the Holy Spirit gets things started, but afterward we come to perfection by keeping the Law of Moses (or some legalistic system). This is completely false. Nevertheless, it is often how Christians live and teach. I suggest it happens most often because the teacher has not received the Spirit in the genuine article and are struggling to live a life as outlined in the New Testament. Many doctrines have been invented to compensate for an inadequate Born Again experience. 



The late Leonard Ravenhill, author of Why Revival Tarries,  stated in his final interview in ca. 1988, “I guarantee that not five percent of people in America and England are genuinely born again of the Spirit. They are born again of a decision. They give up a few lousy habits some of them and some of them don’t. They go right back.” This is a sobering comment. He had lived long enough to see a transition in how people are brought along into Christ. Decisionism, as it is sometimes called, has left us with a multitude of people that have “believed on Christ” and show no fruit afterwards. 

Since roughly the time of D.L. Moody, the emphasis in preaching has been on getting sins forgiven. This has morphed into a humanistic “gospel” that leaves multitudes believing they are saved, but they have not truly repented, believed, or received the Holy Spirit. In other words, they have not been Born Again. Everything is done from proof texts and logical deductions. The dealing of the Holy Spirit is left out. The churches are loaded with these type people. Sins forgiven is essential, obviously; however, this is only a portion of the starting point. 

The End Before the Beginning

I wish to end this entry with a provoking thought that summarizes the whole of our subject: 

The old must end before the new can begin. 

Paul asked the Galatians, Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Because the Galatians had obviously been living many years before beginning in the Spirit, the implication is that the old life had to come to an abrupt end. Paul said it this way, I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I  live. Crucifixion implies death. I died, but nevertheless, I live. This is the effect of repenting, believing, and receiving the Holy Spirit. God baptized us into Jesus Christ so we can share in His death on the cross — bringing an end, to “I” or “me.” We cannot begin a life in the Spirit until our life in the flesh is ended. This is the force of Calvary — it brings an end to a person. 

Many people want to be a Christian, but they don’t want to be crucified (with Christ). They believe they can get on with something less than the death of them. They want reformation or a few changes here and there. They are even willing to go under a system of rules, so long as they don’t have to be crucified (with Christ). This is why Paul spoke to the Galatians of the things they suffered. He was concerned that they were about to undo all that God had done in their lives making the sufferings they went through in the beginning all in vain. 

Some of those people were so radically changed that they were not recognizable to friends and family. For Paul, his transformation resulted in the loss of everything. Some people have lost mothers and fathers, wives or husbands, or even children to the alienation experienced when others will not accept their having been changed. Paul reminded these people at Galatia of their ” beginning ” as if to say, “are these new teachers promoting an experience at that level? Or are they preaching something so inferior that you might as well have lost everything for nothing. Because what you’re doing right now — the substandard pretentious forgery of a Christian life — doesn’t have the power to offend anybody like that.” In other words, if you had begun the way you are trying to continue — you would not have lost any family or friends. 

God wants to bring an end to the old that He can make all things new. We have to be willing. We can’t be joined to the Spirit and the flesh at the same time. We cannot be married to both the Law and Christ. We have to die to the Law and the flesh, so we can be raised in Christ to live in the Spirit. These are light-years beyond the imposition of laws and rules. The Law was tailored for the man of the flesh. Nevertheless, when we truly begin in the Spirit, we walk in a changed constitutional nature that no man in the flesh following a Law could ever rise to. This is the reality of truly having begun the road to perfection in the Spirit. 




A House Divided

A House Divided
Robert Wurtz II

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. (Exodus 4:24-25)


  
Our passage is an insightful account of a situation in the life of Moses that put in jeopardy all the plans that God had for him. It teaches us that no matter who we are, or what great things God may call us to do, we still have to obey Him personally. This is the key thing. What good would it be to go tell Pharaoh and the Egyptians that they must obey God and then neglect to enforce that rule in his own house? Obedience must begin with the messenger. Nevertheless, Moses was dealing with a serious threat to his life and ministry right within his own family.

Enemies Unawares 


It is hard to read this passage without the words of our Lord coming to mind, “And a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36 NKJV) It is hard to imagine how people who are dsigned to be close to us and have our best interest at heart could actually be our enemy. Leonard Ravenhill once stated that “anything we put before Jesus Christ is an idol, I don’t care what it is.” Certainly his quote would include people. For Moses to hearken to the voice of his wife instead of God would be to establish her as god of his life. Whether she was conscious that she was doing it or not — she was challenging God Himself. 


Moses’ wife Zipporah was a Midianite, and apparently refused to allow her son to be circumcised. The Midianites already had a history with the people of God at this juncture. You will remember that it was the Midianites that sold Joseph into Egypt in the first place. (Genesis 37:36) Understand that time did not change these people. In the centuries to come they will serve as Israel’s enemies. 


Relentlessly Evil


It was the Midianites, along with Moab, that hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. (Numbers 22:4-7) When Moab gave up, Balaam, a man who loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15), hung around with the Midianites as an adviser for evil. (Numbers 31:16) This is the same man that tried to curse Israel against the counsel of God and met at angel in the doorway to waiting to kill him too. This is relentless evil. Peter comments on this incessant wickedness when he writes, “but he (Balaam) was rebuked for his own lawlessness: a dumb donkey speaking with the voice of a man restrained the madness of the prophet.” (2 Peter 2:16) The Lord Jesus in Revelation 2:14 tells us that Balaam taught the people to commit idolatry and fornication. Historically we know that this combination idolatry/fornication was of a terrible sort. His point was that there were people doing this very same thing in the church at Pergamos. Peter tells us that these are the type of men that promise freedom, but are themselves servants of corruption. The darkness of hell has been reserved for such. (2 Peter 2:17) This was the Midianite way. 


Called to obedience

“If Moses was to carry out the divine commission with success, he must first of all prove himself to be a faithful servant of Jehovah in his own house.” (Keil Delitzsch) The key words here, “…in his own house.” Moses had two sons and only the older one had been circumcised. Obviously Zipporah did not like the practice and it was an area of strong contention in the home. The apparent attitude was, “We circumcised my firstborn; were not doing that to this son!” The penalty for not circumcising was death, but since this was a child the responsibility fell to the father. Moses, as the head of the household, was responsible before God to follow the commandment. He defied God by obeying the voice of his wife. 
We have a comment centuries later when Paul gave commandment concerning elders in the churches; One that leads well his own house, having his children in subjection with all submission; (For if a man know not how to manage his own house, how shall he maintain the church of God?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5) 

A Source of Division

Moses obeyed his wife instead of God and it nearly cost him his life. God had big plans for Moses; nevertheless, there was a great danger here. Sometimes a person can mistake God’s ongoing dealings with them as His Divine approval of how they are living. I don’t want to put words in Moses’ mouth, but I wonder if he figured, “Well, God speaks to me and He didn’t say anything about my disobedience. It must be OK. He must not care, otherwise He would have said something.” Whether Moses thought this or not we will never know. It is a deadly mentality. Visiting with God should have brought the issue up before his own mind. Why should God have to keep telling a person to do something they already know they should do? 


What happened? And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Some might say, “You mean God was really going to kill Moses.” That’s right. But what about his calling? What about the plans to lead the people out? I am convinced that had Moses not followed through with circumcising his son — God would have killed him and replaced him. Why? Because God is going to be glorified in our lives one way or the other. He will either be glorified by our obedience or he will be glorified by the demonstration of the consequences of our disobedience. God cannot use a person that obeys others in front of Him. Fortunately, Zipporah recognized that God meant business and had the good sense to change her mind; though she did it reluctantly and grudgingly. 

The God of Thy Fathers 

There is another point that needs to be made here that is very relevant to our times. Moses was prepared to allow his wife to pressure him into compromising God’s word (standard) when it came to his children. This is where a great many people go wrong. Either the husband or the wife is not in agreement with God’s standards of righteousness and holiness and the children are put at risk. Can you hear the voice of Zipporah? No telling how many excuses the devil planted in her mind to mouthe to Moses in order to get him to back-off. Nevertheless, God does not have a lesser standard than He had for us and our forefathers. 



When God got ready to speak to Moses He introduced Himself saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. (Acts 7:33) They had followed a pattern of life in circumcising their sons in each generation. If Moses, as the leader of Israel, did not maintain continuity with the past he would have been starting a new religion. It would have been false. He was expected to walk in the steps of the faith and obedience of his forefathers. God does not change. Moses was to serve God according to the revelation given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This means that God had given Moses the same commandment concerning circumcision that He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was the sign of the covenant. He was expected to maintain the same level of obedience that they had exhibited. 


Moses was expected to utterly obey God. Here is a man that in the years to come will speak “thus saith the LORD” and over a million people will hear and obey. As this great leader he had to utterly obey God. Long before Jezebel and Ahab ever existed that same spirit was trying to work in Moses’ own home. He had to come to terms with the fact that the enemy of obedience was in his own household. 



The Deceitfulness of Sin


Men and women sin when they perceive there will be no consequences, or if they perceive the consequences will be well into the future. If Moses had gotten by with disobeying God, he would have never rightly reverenced God. Sin is deceitful when God’s judgment is not swift. Solomon said it this way, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) David said it a little differently, “The transgression of the wicked says within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Psalms 36:1b) In other words, when I see people continue in sin and compromise, it is evident that they are devoid of the fear of the Lord. Because judgment is not instant, people carry on like God will never bring them into judgment. Nevertheless, the day is coming — it is just not yet. 

Lifelong Struggle

Moses dealt with the Midianites at the beginning of his calling and at the end of his life. They were constantly trying to bring the people of God down. From Zipporah his wife — to Balaam the prophet. Moses sent warriors out and utterly routed the Midianites. For a few centuries there was  rest from their antics. Then some 250 years after the Midianites had regained their ancient power, and in confederation with the Amalekites and the “children of the east” they made war against the the Israelites, whom for seven years they oppressed and held in subjection. They were at length assailed by Gideon in that ever-memorable battle in the great plain of Esdraelon, and utterly destroyed (Judges 6:1-7). Frequent allusions are afterwards made to this great victory (Psalm 83:10, Psalm 83:12; Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:6). They now wholly pass away from the page of history both sacred and profane. (Easton) God finally dealt Midian it’s death blow, and He did it through total obedience to Him. 


We all have to deal with the voice of the Midianites in our lives. There will always be someone used of the Devil to get us to disobey God. They will have an excuse for everything. Nevertheless, better to hear a thousand snide comments like “a bloody husband art thou to me” than to compromise our faithfulness to God. 


The Endangered Fire

The Endangered Fire
Robert Wurtz II

You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. (Exodus 27:20 ESV)

Mark 4:21 And he said unto them, Is a lamp brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a lampstand?


And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” (Matthew 25:8–9 NKJV)

The burning lamp motif is found all throughout both Old an New Testament. Although there was an earthly use for lamps, there is also a spiritual reality to be understood. In Exodus 27 God commanded Moses to place the lampstand in the Wilderness Tabernacle. The High Priest was ultimately responsible for making sure this lampstand was properly serviced. It was the responsibility of the children of Israel to bring pure oil to the priests for use in the lamps on the lampstand (Exodus 27:20). 


The lamp stand had seven lamps with three on each side of a center lamp (The Western lamp). The center lamp inclined towards the Holy of Holies and the six other lamps, were slightly bent towards the center lamp. When the lamps were serviced, the old oil was dumped and fresh pure oil, and a new wick were installed. The freshly serviced lamp was then lit from one of the other lamps. The center lamp could not be relit except with fire directly from the burning altar. The altar burned with the sacred fire that fell from Heaven. Nadab and Abihu learned the hard way that God does not tolerate common fire in His service.   


Fire as Light



We find the lamp motif again when Jesus asks, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a lampstand?” A lamp is a light source. It contains four essential parts: the lamp, the wick, the oil, and the fire. These things are figurative. First, the Lord Jesus stated, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5 NKJV) While Jesus walked the earth, He was the lamp that lighted the world. Second, He also told the Disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14 NKJV) If I might so say, He was the center lamp (The Western lamp) lighted from the Fire sent down from Heaven. From Him the rest of the lamps are lit. 

The implication of Mark 4:21 is that the lamp is introduced to illuminate what would otherwise be in darkness. The fact that it is ” brought ” (lit cometh) implies that God intends to do something about the darkness of this present evil world. The lamp was sent and therefor ” cometh ” to bring light. John writes, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19 NKJV) The lamp has motion — it is deliberately moving into an area of darkness. Jesus was the first lamp and from Him, other lamps are lit and sent. If the sent lamps do their job, very well; if they do not do their job, they are as worthless as salt that has lost its savor. It has the same value as a flashlight with dead batteries during a power outage. In fact, when this rule is applied to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, the Lampstand is endangered of being removed. Why? Because a lamp (church) with no fire is a stumbling block in a darkened world as surely as a blackened-out, lightless lamp stand is a trip-hazard in a darkened room.   



Our passage in Mark 4:21 assumes that the lamp is indeed lit. We know there are dangers to this lit lamp and they both relate to attempts to reduce the “candle power” of the light. That is to say, a burning believer is a shining light who does not flow with a crowd. Many people cannot handle the contrast between them and the world so they try to tone things down a bit. Almost like a dimmer switch in a dining hall at a dinner party that lowers the lights to create an atmosphere, but is still bright enough to barely see. Nevertheless, no one would place a burning lamp under a bushel or under a bed. Keep in mind that a bushel was not a wooden basket. The NIV more accurately reads “bowl” in place of “bushel.” This was very likely a metal pan as the one pictured below called in the Latin a modius (this is the word Mark used in the Greek). This modius would be around 9 liters in volume (about 4.5 two liters or over 2 one gallon milk jugs). 



In Roman times these items could be highly decorated. Obviously if this modius was placed over the lamp the light would be blocked and the fire would soon go out from lack of oxygen. If the lamp was placed under the “bed” the fire would sooner or later spread to the bed itself endangering the very life of the person and the house. Clearly this explains why our Lord asks the rhetorical question to begin with. In real life no person would do either of these suggestions. 

Lights in the World

No reasonable person would hide a lamp under his bed, under a bowl or in a “secret place.” If person has sense enough not to do such a thing — we know God would never do it. Burning for God is not a private affair. He intends that the lighted ones go out and be a light in a darkened world. Countless Christians have allowed their fire to go out because they tried to cover it up or would not move out when sent. Christians try to bring their fire to places like Christian internet discussion forums and end up nearly burning the place down. This is no different than placing the fire under your bed. Fire is real good at a reasonable distance, but if you touch it directly to something or someone it will burn them. This is the common sense side of Mark 4:21. Our love for God can become a burning zeal that takes no prisoners in the wrong environment. 


Our Oil — Our Responsibility




Our final passage deals with the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins. 
As with every good parable, the message is applicable in any number of related circumstances. (Mounce. NIBC). The primary aspect I wish to point out is that we are responsible for our own oil. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” The idea of “buying” idea is akin to the admonition of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 3:18 when He counseled the Laodiceans to “buy” of him gold tried in the fire. 

The gifts of God are freely given — but they do not come without a cost. We must spend our most precious resource to gain them: time. We have to go to Him in prayer and in study and allow Him to give us the oil for our lamp. In fact, oil is derived from crushing the olive. Sometimes our devotions are like that. God speaks to us in our circumstances by His Holy Spirit and through His word and it becomes oil to us. Noone else can do it for us. We have to do it ourselves. That is not to say that Christ cannot use our oil when He calls for it to be a blessing to others — He can; however, our own oil must be our own responsibility. We have to “buy” of Him. This requires renunciation of self and of the world. (Vincent) It requires a willingness to take responsibility for working out our own salvation. My lamp — my oil. I will either be wise about it or foolish about it. I will either get about procuring my own oil or I will procastinate until it is too late and the door is shut.  

Fire for This Present World


God intends to send Fire on the earth, that is, the LIGHT of the revelation of Himself. He desires to use His children as instruments of illumination, as they let their light shine before men. He intends His children to fulfill their calling as priests unto God and burn for Him. The fire fell when the Holy Spirit was received, and in our devotional life, the pure oil is flowing. We have a commission. The lamp is burning — now Christ can send us. These are the true “sent” ones. Would to God that men and women would simply move out on fire for Him burning as lights in the world. Fire is what it is and can be no other. It cannot help but bring light. But it is an endangered fire — always at the mercy of those who would neglect their oil, employ their bushel or place it under their bed.



 

The Making of a Headless — Fingerless god

The Making of a Headless — Fingerless god 

Robert Wurtz II

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18 NKJV)


Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Colossians 2:18–19 NKJV)


There have always been deceptions coming along to lure the saints away from our primary focus. For the Church in the first century, it was legalistic Judaism and dualistic Gnosticism; in the western world, it seems to be shallow decisionism and radical denominationalism. Anything that disconnects the churches of God from the Head of the Body (Jesus Christ) is usurping Christ’s preeminence. No amount of explanations or excuses can change this fact.  

Removing The Finger


It should be superfluous for me to say that decisions made in the Body of Christ must originate in the Head, Christ Jesus. Nevertheless, many churches have undergone a similar transformation of what the Jews suffered under the Rabbis. Soon after the Temple was destroyed in 70AD, a radical group of Pharisees created a religion that had almost no continuity with the Judaism prior to that time; we know it as Rabbinic Judaism. The goal of the religion was to usurp God’s authority by granting the Rabbi’s authority to snuff-out the prophetic voice of God. To use Rabbinic Judaism scholar Daniel Gruber’s characterization; the radical Pharisees turned rabbis had broken-off the Finger of God. 


By the time they were finished, a Rabbi could overrule a Prophet, an audible voice from Heaven (Bath-kol), and had authority to interpret all dreams. They effectively eliminated God from their religion. They would not admit as much, but that is what it boiled down to. The Rabbis have the Law of Moses and assumed the authority to interpret it. In fact, they believe they can over-rule God Himself. 

Removing The Head

Many Evangelicals do the exact same thing, but are more subtle about it. Like the Rabbis, Bible interpretation (hermeneutics) has replaced the voice of God. This ought not so to be. Good hermeneutics has always been an essential part of biblical instruction and revelation, but this did not negate the prophetic voice of God. In fact, the two were always complementary. The written word of God has always been the standard against which prophetic revelation was judged. Unfortunately, as with the Rabbis, many would rather stifle God’s voice than hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. This is a very serious problem of mortal consequence. It is all just another way of not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 

Pathetic or Prophetic? 

Another group came along in the 20th century who claimed to believe in the prophetic voice of God, but corrupted it to the point that many can no longer take it seriously. Wolves dressed in sheep clothing used “prophetic words” to gain everything from filthy lucre and sexual encounters — to popularity and political clout. This is not far from the Corinthians who were calling Jesus accursed in their so-called operations of the Spirit. These abuses became so profound that many people distrust anything remotely labled as “prophetic.” Exaserbating the problem was the diabolic teaching “touch not the Lord’s anointed” and the stage was set to sever the Head from the Body under the pretense of speaking for God. So-called prophets riding in private jets and limousines to conferences. The time would fail to go into all the disgusting things that have gone on in the name of prophetic. Nevertheless, the solution for abuse was never non-use, it was right use. 



Seven or Severed?

All too often the connection between the Head (Christ Jesus) and His Body (the churches of God) is severed, and there is no real communication at all. This is catastrophic. We are told seven times in the Revelation to, “…hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.” Paul wept and wept in Acts 20:32 because he knew men would come in to sever the Body from the Head (Christ Jesus). This is what has happened in modern times. Many have commended themselves to men, systems, programs, organizations… anything but the Head. We are to commend ourselves to God and not to men; to the Word of His grace and not to the strategies of man. This is what Paul did with the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:32 — he commended them to God. The word commend is the same as is used by Jesus when he stated, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” We must as individuals and as the churches of God set ourselves before the Lord and allow Him to deal with us in a real way. 

Hearing From the Head

We must hear from the Head if we are to function as a Body. This requires that we come together in a Spiritual frame — not to strategize, but to wait upon the Lord until we ascertain what is the mind of the Spirit. God is not an absentee landlord. He is walking in the midst of the lamp stands (churches). He is watching and He is listening. He sees all and knows all. We ought to tremble to think we could operate independent of Christ’s absolute Divine direction. In Acts 15 the saints came together until they could say with conviction, “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” If a modern democratic denominational approach would have been taken in Acts 15, the gates of Hell would have prevailed against the Church. Those Godly men came together and talked through the issue under the superintendence and guidance of the Holy Spirit — until there was unanimity. Then they declared, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements” (Acts 15:28 ESV)

The Only Hope

We need to hear from God in this crisis hour. The only hope for this present evil world; the only hope for the churches; the only hope for the Christian is to ascertain the mind of God. We must hear what the Spirit is saying unto the churches. Then, and only then, will we begin to see the Church turn the world upside down. God is calling us to lay down, as it were, the books of Babylon and the plans for a Tower, and pick-up prophetically the God breathed book — with absolute conviction that it contains the Blueprint for this desperate hour. We cannot continue on our own orders — we need to hear from our Heavenly Head Quarters. There is no other hope.

A Headless and Fingerless god

A Headless — Fingerless god 

Robert Wurtz II

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18 NKJV)


Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Colossians 2:18–19 NKJV)


There have always been deceptions coming along to lure the saints away from our primary focus. For the Church in the first century, it was legalistic Judaism and dualistic Gnosticism; in the western world, it seems to be shallow decisionism and radical denominationalism. Anything that disconnects the churches of God from the Head of the Body (Jesus Christ) is usurping Christ’s preeminence. No amount of explanations or excuses can change this fact.  

Removing The Finger


It should be superfluous for me to say that decisions made in the Body of Christ must originate in the Head, Christ Jesus. Nevertheless, many churches have undergone a similar transformation of what the Jews suffered under the Rabbis. Soon after the Temple was destroyed in 70AD, a radical group of Pharisees created a religion that had almost no continuity with the Judaism prior to that time; we know it as Rabbinic Judaism. The goal of the religion was to usurp God’s authority by granting the Rabbi’s authority to snuff-out the prophetic voice of God. To use Rabbinic Judaism scholar Daniel Gruber’s characterization; the radical Pharisees turned rabbis had broken-off the Finger of God. 



By the time they were finished, a Rabbi could overrule a Prophet, an audible voice from Heaven (Bath-kol), and had authority to interpret all dreams. They effectively eliminated God from their religion. They would not admit as much, but that is what it boiled down to. The Rabbis have the Law of Moses and assumed the authority to interpret it. In fact, they believe they can over-rule God Himself. 

Removing The Head

Many Evangelicals do the exact same thing, but are more subtle about it. Like the Rabbis, Bible interpretation (hermeneutics) has replaced the voice of God. This ought not so to be. Good hermeneutics has always been an essential part of biblical instruction and revelation, but this did not negate the prophetic voice of God. In fact, the two were always complementary. The written word of God has always been the standard against which prophetic revelation was judged. Unfortunately, as with the Rabbis, many would rather stifle God’s voice than hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. This is a very serious problem of mortal consequence. It is all just another way of not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 

Pathetic of Prophetic? 

Another group came along in the 20th century who claimed to believe in the prophetic voice of God, but corrupted it to the point that many can no longer take it seriously. Wolves dressed in sheep clothing used “prophetic words” to gain everything from filthy lucre and sexual encounters — to popularity and political clout. This is not far from the Corinthians who were calling Jesus accursed in their so-called operations of the Spirit. These abuses became so profound that many people distrust anything remotely labled as “prophetic.” Exaserbating the problem was the diabolic teaching “touch not the Lord’s anointed” and the stage was set to sever the Head from the Body under the pretense of speaking for God. So-called prophets riding in private jets and limousines to conferences. The time would fail to go into all the disgusting things that have gone on in the name of prophetic. Nevertheless, the solution for abuse was never non-use, it was right use. 


Seven or Severed?

All too often the connection between the Head (Christ Jesus) and His Body (the churches of God) is severed, and there is no real communication at all. This is catastrophic. We are told seven times in the Revelation to, “…hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.” Paul wept and wept in Acts 20:32 because he knew men would come in to sever the Body from the Head (Christ Jesus). This is what has happened in modern times. Many have commended themselves to men, systems, programs, organizations… anything but the Head. We are to commend ourselves to God and not to men; to the Word of His grace and not to the strategies of man. This is what Paul did with the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:32 — he commended them to God. The word commend is the same as is used by Jesus when he stated, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” We must as individuals and as the churches of God set ourselves before the Lord and allow Him to deal with us in a real way. 

Hearing From the Head

We must hear from the Head if we are to function as a Body. This requires that we come together in a Spiritual frame — not to strategize, but to wait upon the Lord until we ascertain what is the mind of the Spirit. God is not an absentee landlord. He is walking in the midst of the lamp stands (churches). He is watching and He is listening. He sees all and knows all. We ought to tremble to think we could operate independent of Christ’s absolute Divine direction. In Acts 15 the saints came together until they could say with conviction, “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” If a modern democratic denominational approach would have been taken in Acts 15, the gates of Hell would have prevailed against the Church. Those Godly men came together and talked through the issue under the superintendence and guidance of the Holy Spirit — until there was unanimity. Then they declared, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements” (Acts 15:28 ESV)

The Only Hope

We need to hear from God in this crisis hour. The only hope for this present evil world; the only hope for the churches; the only hope for the Christian is to ascertain the mind of God. We must hear what the Spirit is saying unto the churches. Then, and only then, will we begin to see the Church turn the world upside down. God is calling us to lay down, as it were, the books of Babylon and the plans for a Tower, and pick-up prophetically the God breathed book — with absolute conviction that it contains the Blueprint for this desperate hour. We cannot continue on our own orders — we need to hear from our Heavenly Head Quarters. There is no other hope.

The Only Thing That Makes Sense

The Only Thing That Makes Sense
Robert Wurtz II 


Press play for audio reading. 
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1)

By the time we reach Romans 12:1, Paul has thoroughly preached the Gospel. He has probed its mysteries as it were, and sets before us what is known more technically as soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. Here God’s wisdom has been set forth in redeeming mankind; both Jew and Non-Jew. It is and was the plan of the ages. Enraptured by the majesty of God Paul closes chapter eleven with this praise:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36 NKJV)


He transitions from these verses with a simple phrase, I beseech you thereforeTo some bible students it will be cliche, but when you see the word therefore you need to stop and ask what it is there for. It is a term that means “consequently.” Therefore (Gk. oun) is an inferential participle that gathers up all the great argument of chapters 1-11 and places it before us. It’s as if Paul is asking us, “What say you? What is your response to what you have heard?” It staggers the mind to consider the manifold wisdom of God. Now Paul turns to exhortation (parakalō), “I beseech you.” 

I Beseech You

Our Greek word for beseech is Παρακαλῶ (parakalō) and it means “to call alongside.” Para is “side” and kalo is “call.” It carries the idea of urging someone earnestly to do something. It could be translated “to beg.” To give a sense of the strength of the word we have some examples of its use throughout the New Testament. Urgent appeals (parakalō) to Christ for healing are made in Matthew 8:514:36Mark 1:405:238:22. Paul “pleads with” (parakalō) God for the removal of his thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:8. Demons “beg” (parakalō) Christ to send them into a herd of swine in Matthew 8:31ff. In Acts 2:40 and 2 Corinthians 5:20, people are “urged” (parakalō) to be reconciled to God. 

Therefore by the Mercies of God

Paul has effectively came alongside us to beg, urge, beseech us by the mercies of God. That is to say, all that Paul described from chapter 1-11 was a clinic on God’s great mercy. The Gentiles are brought into view as well when Paul described how God has grafted in the wild olive branches into the cultivated olive tree. In other words, the promise of a New Covenant was to the House of Judah and the House of Israel; however, God had already intended to include the Gentiles all along. It had been kept secret (covered) to be revealed in the fullness of time. The Gentiles are not an afterthought or plan B; it was all part of God’s original plan. God has shown mercy to both Jew and Gentile.

It is helpful to stop and consider where we would all be without mercy and grace. One of the challenges of our Christian walk is that we not forget that we were once purged from our old sins. If it were not for God’s great love wherewith He loved us, dying for us while we were yet sinners, there would be no hope. Without mercy, we would face the wrath of God without mixture unendingly. Think of passages as we find in the Revelation that read “… and the smoke of their torment ascended up before God forever and ever.” (Revelation 14:11) That’s what we deserve. The mercy of God is not something we should accept and then wipe our mouths as if we have done no evil. The sheer magnitude of our crimes; heightened by the light that we have sinned in; aggravated by a life of resisting the Holy Spirit; would paralyze one with fear if they had any mind at all. Nevertheless, God has chosen to cast our sins behind His back — never to be remembered against us again. Praise His name forever. Paul then pleads, I beseech  you therefore,  brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice. 

The Language of Priesthood  

In order to comprehend what Paul is saying in Romans 12:1, we need to look briefly at the Old Testament. You will recall that Solomon was the great king who built God a semi-permanent house. He built it on the mount of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite — where the angel had stayed his hand in slaying thousands after David numbered Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-18) It was here that God could have wiped Israel off the face of the earth, and been justified in doing it. Nevertheless, God showed kindness and grace to Israel. David remembered this mercy of God, knowing that He could have slew everyone down to the last man. What happened? The execution of judgment stopped at Araunah’s threshing floor. 

In response to God’s goodness, David wanted to build an altar in remembrance of God’s mercy on the very place where the judgment of God was stayed. Araunah tried to give the property to David for free. Nevertheless, king David said, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost. (1 Chrononicles 21:1ff) Here are two initial pictures; one of the mercy of God and the other a right response of a grateful heart. You will notice a connection between “a grateful heart” and “a burnt offering.” Keep this picture in mind as it is the theme of Romans 12:1. A grateful hearts gives a burnt offering that costs the full price. The threshing floor is a place of decision. All of these things are here. This is the location where Solomon built the Temple. From this time forward the children of Israel will have this as part of their history. God’s mercy stopped at Araunah’s threshing floor and this will be the place of remembrance for that mercy. 

A Picture of a ‘Right’ Response to God

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13)


Solomon is dedicating the Temple built on Araunah’s threshing floor. The first response of the people was to give thanks to God for His mercy in returning to the people with His authority and presence. They didn’t deserve God. They deserved abandonment and judgment. In another place, it is stated that they “spoke as one” as the Ark of the Covenant came in. They sang and shouted with lifted up voices in such a way that God saw fit to fill the house with His glory. This was the initial step. The people utterly recognized God’s mercy and desire for reconciliation and they responded to Him in tremendous excitement and thanksgiving. The LORD, then being well pleased, filled the house with His glory. So great was the glory of God that the priests were not able to stand to minister. God believed the people as they praised and offered thanksgiving and He responded by filling the house with His glory. What an awesome picture. 

Holy and Acceptable

…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,

This, again, is the language of priesthood. We are called to be both temples of the Holy Spirit and living sacrifices. What does this mean? All other dwelling places for God were temporary. Nevertheless, God was teaching us important truth about God’s dwelling place. For example, the Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the Temple and the artifacts within it. I suggest that these stories and laws were a figurative lesson for us. The Wilderness Tabernacle, the First Temple (Solomon’s Temple), and the Second Temple, were “types” of our bodies. Consider Paul’s writings about being the temple of the Holy Spirit to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) and compare them to the story of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1-30). How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? The whole story is exemplary and didactic. It gives us for all times God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin. We are to present our bodies as holy, acceptable unto God.   

Reasonable Sacrifice

Solomon built and dedicated the temple to God. It had one primary purpose in Israel; to be a place where the people could encounter God and offer up sacrifices to Him (temple cultus). Over 120,000 burnt sacrifices were inspected for purity and acceptability, and then offered on the day of dedication. Solomon understood that until the altar was full of a holy and acceptable sacrifice, the Fire of God would not fall and the dedication would be incomplete. To some, it may have seemed very reckless to bring, as it were, a river of blood upon such a beautiful place; however, to Solomon, it was only reasonable to make such an offering to God in light of the mercy He had shown. When the altar was full and Solomon prayed — the Fire of God fell. This dedication was a ” picture ” of Acts 2 and the Day of Pentecost. It is also an ongoing picture of New Testament life.  As the old hymn puts it:

But we never can prove the delights of His love 

Until all on the altar we lay. 
For the favor He shows and the joy He bestows 
Are for them who will trust and obey 

Jesus came to send Fire on the earth and He would do so by baptizing His people with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. Men and women’s bodies would become temples of the Holy Spirit; while at the same time becoming living sacrifices unto the Lord. 




A Living Burnt Offering

Romans 12:1 is the beginning of all evangelistic efforts. Paul, having explained the reality of what God has done in bringing salvation and reconciliation to man, says, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God…” He ten makes the statement which is your reasonable service. The phrase “reasonable service” is the Greek logiken latraien and means “to be in harmony with the highest reason.” We get our word logic from logike meaning “the art of reason.” It could be translated “rational.” Thinking of all that God has done; “therefore” present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your logical (the consequence of rational thinking and attitudes) service. In other words, to hear the Gospel and not respond in this way would be irrational

Summary


We are to present ourselves to our Great High Priest for inspection and acceptance that He might baptize us in the Fire of God. From there we go on presenting and the Fire continues to burn. Our life becomes a sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of God. Is this not to be preferred to Revelation 14:11? This is our reasonable worship. It’s the only response that makes sense in light of all that God has done. It is what God wants first and foremost. Without this process little else matters. It all begins here with a recognition of what God has done in Christ, and our responding reasonably to what we realize. Our lives are to be a perpetual living burnt offering for Him. Again, it is the only thing that makes sense.

Nominated For Best Actor

Nominated For Best Actor (or Actress)
Robert Wurtz II

And why do you stare 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 7:4-6)

Notice how our Lord uses the eye ball in this illustration. The eye is the most sensitive part of our body. Few things hurt as bad as getting poked in the eye or getting a scratch on the eye ball itself. If someone is going to work on our eyes, they need several things:


1. A knowledge of how to remove foreign objects from eyes
2. Clear vision to see what they are doing
3. A steady hand to do the work with precision
4. A compassion for the one suffering

The writer has had metal removed from his eyes on three separate occasions. The preferred prerequisite is that the doctor has had objects removed from their onw eyes and understands how it feels. A callous person has no place in optometry — nor in the ministry. 

Blind to One’s Own Sin  

It should be no surprise to us that if a person focuses both of their eyes on the faults of others, they will have none left to see their own. This is the plight of the hypocrite. For while they gaze upon the overgrown fields of other people’s lives, they overlook the weeds that have decimated their’s. This is why some have charged the hypocrite with enjoying three mile-long  prayers while offering others a half-mile of   grace. When a person is falsifying Christianity, they are devoid of the compassion that flows from a true experience of God’s grace; hence, they have no basis upon which to show mercy to others. 

Putting On The Mask



Of all the titles that a professed Christian would hope to be associated with their name — hypocrite is near the last. Few words have the power to bring one into derision as swiftly and completely as this one. The Lord Jesus used it on several occasions to describe behaviors that He clearly detested. The word commonly means an “actor on a stage” or an “impersonator.” 

Before we continue on it is important to establish why hypocrisy is such an egregious sin. Imagine for a moment the seriousness of impersonating a police officer. Once a person has assumed the identity of law enforcement they are afforded the privilege of police officers. This is extremely dangerous and is a threat to society unlike most other crimes. If a person believes that an impostor is really an officer they can be taken advantage of in a multitude of ways. The time would fail to discuss how the enemy infiltrates God’s people by falsifying his identity. From the serpent in the Garden, to the angel of light, to the wolf in sheep clothing; false impersonation is a serious issue in the churches of God. Jesus thoroughly explained what a hypocrite is and it is the subject of this entry. 


Mixed Up Priorities 

First, Hypocrites have grossly mixed-up priorities. For example, Jesus healed a woman in Luke 13 who had been oppressed of Satan for eighteen years. Rather than rejoicing, the leader of the synagogue went through the crowd indignantly telling the people that there were six days in a week to be healed, and the Sabbath was not one of them. Jesus exposed his hypocrisy by pointing out his willingness to break the Sabbath when he loosed his donkey from the stall to go water it. This statement exposed the man as a fraud. He only pretended to care about Sabbath breaking; that is, it was acceptable for him to do it for an animal, but not for Jesus to do it for a child of God. Amazing.

There is another concern we must take up, and it is that of “playing the hypocrite.” This is more of a one-off act rather than a state of being. One can behave as a hypocrite under duress, whereas that is not their normal state. One way this happens is when a person changes their convictions depending on present company. This is what Peter and some of the other believers did in Galatians 2. They took a stand for the Gospel while around the Gentiles, but when the believing Jews came around they altered their stance based on what the Jews expected. Paul would have none of it, and confronted Peter about it. Having a different set of beliefs depending on who you are around is an awful sin. It leaves people not knowing what to believe. 


True hypocrites do pious things in order to appear spiritual and godly. They use their position and status to exalt themselves. If there were no self-glory in the thing, they will not do it. Jesus described the hypocrisy of those who pray, fast, or give money publicly, so people will see it. (Matthew 6:2ff) For Hypocrites, the term “brother” or “sister” is not enough; they expect to be called by titles like Rabbi or some other modern rendition. They figure they have “earned the right” to assume. Others are more pious suggesting they only want respect for the “position.” Nonsense. Imagine the madness of a person who will say Jesus, Paul, Peter or John, when referring to them; but themselves expect to be called apostle, prophet, pastor or deacon. Jesus was forever deflecting self-exalting titles. A good dosage of Philippians 2:3-8 is well in order as the antidote for such proud hypocrisy.

In Mark 7:6 Jesus describes a hypocrite as a person who honors Him with their mouth, but their heart is far from Him. This is a key definition. David was a man after God’s own heart — meaning that his heart was set on the things God’s heart is set on. This was not always true, but generally it was. He loved what God loves and hated what God hates. He wanted to please God in all things. A hypocrite says things to give the impression that they are men or women after God’s own heart, but it is a fraud. They really don’t agree with God and His word in the way they present themselves. They twist things to suit their own will while at the same time saying all the right things for the sake of appearances. Their words and actions do not match.


Finally, we are told by the Lord Jesus that hypocrites will have their place in the Lake of Fire. In Matthew 23:13-29, He gave a long succession of “woes” directed at hypocrites. They hinder people from entering the kingdom. They clean the outside of the cup, but not the inside. They work hard a making a proselyte, and when successful, train them to be more evil than they are. They are big on tithing and small on judging right from wrong; kindness to the afflicted, and a faithful conviction to uphold God’s word. The passage is well worth reading, studying, and pondering. Our Lord then states in Matthew 24:

The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:50-51)

Summary

A hypocrite is often so self-deceived that they live their whole lives not realizing they are one. They can’t see that their whole Christian life is an act. They are performing for the people they have told they are a Christian. Jesus tried desperately to show the hypocrites of His time the error of their ways. Most simply got angry at Him. Nevertheless, we have to come to reality. It is too easy to just “put it on” for some people. They have an idea of how Christians are to behave, so they impersonate what they have watched. It is impossible to state how dangerous this type of behavior is. 


After a while, a hypocrite becomes one with the Christian they are pretending to be. They can live their entire lives in a state of double-mindedness. It would be akin to Marion Morrison forgetting that he was not really John Wayne. How long would it take before the person identified themselves with the character they were playing? Once this happens it can be near impossible to see a person come to genuine repentance and faith. Nevertheless, Hollywood may give out awards for best actor or best actress; but in the kingdom of God, stage actors are sentenced to hell as stated in Matthew 24:50-51. This is a very sobering thing to consider. 

Christ In The Crisis

Christ In The Crisis
Robert Wurtz II


And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. (John 4:39-42)

There is no telling how long the Samaritan woman had lived knowing she had missed God’s will for her life. One husband, then another; and another; and another; and another. If this had been in Egypt or Sodom and Gomorrah, the facts may not have stung quite as bad; however, this was Israel — the land where God’s word had formed the very conscience of society. Here she is living with a man who is not her husband at all. There is simply no way to put into words the feeling of knowing you failed  God and everyone else at this level. She was shipwrecked, and she knew it. With a mere life preserver of grace keeping her head above water she risked going under for the last time. In the midst of her destruction, she heard a voice... “Give me to drink.” She had sat under the voice of many men in her life, but this was no ordinary man. When our lives are in an extraordinary mess, we need an extraordinary visitation. 




Fast-forward to our passage and we find that she characterized our Lord’s words saying, “He told me all that ever I did. She was not upset about it. She received the word that He said to her. In fact, she couldn’t wait to tell someone what He said. It’s easy to listen to someone tell us all we ever did, and even did wrong, if we know the person loves us and has the solution. Some would say she received a ” fresh word from God. ” When we’re in a crisis, the last thing we need is criticism. Christ met this woman at her  crossroad and began to speak life towards her. Great joy comes to the hearts of individuals when God singles them out to speak to their situation. There is nothing like a heart to heart with God. 



I heard a dear woman say once, at a desperate time in her life, that God has to heal someone in order to break through into other peoples lives. Everyone is dead in sin, so someone has to be healed in order to become a vessel that God can use to reach others. God needs a beachhead from which he can land in the lives of broken humanity. This Samaritan woman was her peoples’ beachhead. She was that vessel God used to bring life to the rest. There was life in this woman’s testimony that had the power to bring faith to others that heard her. Consider how this one woman’s encounter with God blessed an entire community. Some would call this blessing the beginnings of “revival.”


When God Speaks


There are times in our lives when we need God alone to speak to us. We need a message devoid of commentary and human criticism. As Job well understood, sometimes men only darken counsel with their words without knowledge. Such treacherous advice will never do. We need to hear from the Mighty Counselor. This is what this Samaritan woman received. Sometimes just realizing that God is paying attention to us and is willing to make Himself known is a great encouragement. 


You will recall that early in our Lord’s ministry, He called a man by name, to which Nathanael said unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee. (John 1:48) Nathanael then declared Jesus to be the Son of God. This is the response of men when they come into contact with the Living God that sees and knows all — and yet in seeing and knowing, still looks on people with compassion and a willingness to call men and women to Himself. 


Tainted Waters


When God gets ready to use a person for His glory — He needs someone who will look upon people as He looks on them — with great compassion. This is not to say that God would compromise His holiness or condone sin — but God looks on sinners with a desire to save them. As sinners saved by grace, we ought always to view others with compassion. This Samaritan woman was a prime example of how this plays out. Having heard the word of the Lord, she did not exalt herself — but she humbled herself. She agreed with God’s analysis. Coming back into town and testifying like she did, was paramount to admitting she was a sinner. She found salvation and wanted others to find it.  


Hearing For Ourselves


The Samaritan woman gave her testimony and got out of God’s way. The people began to seek the Lord for themselves. Once they had heard how Christ and His word came to this dear woman, faith arose in their hearts as well. This was wonderful! God wants to speak to our hearts in a language we understand so we come away knowing that it was God who had spoken. It is undeniable; it is personal; and it is meaningful. 


There is a certain comfort in knowing that God is watching, and He sees and knows. Many prescriptions are being written to meet the challenges of our times — but what each of us really needs is a fresh word from God. We desperately need the word of His grace that brings the healing necessary to meet us where we are. And when we receive that grace and are changed, we become eye-witnesses who have had an experience worth talking about and listening to. God desires that each one of us becomes that vessel He can use to pour Himself out upon this lost and dying world. He needs a beachhead that He can land His grace upon that He might establish faith among the people. 

And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Accepting the Diagnosis

Accepting the Diagnosis
Robert Wurtz II


Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Ephesians 2:3)



As Germany was near to falling during WWII, POW Lieutenant general Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben was compelled to watch a video documentary of Nazi war crimes. General Eisenhower was filmed seeing with his own eyes the atrocities at Nazi Germany prison camps after they were captured by the allied forces. Eisenhower ordered German civilians to come and view the shocking evidence for themselves. Among the civilians was a Nazi officer who was a commander of one of the death camps. Having witnessed this officer being forced to look over the ghastly sight of death and distress, Schlieben made this comment, “That’s the only thing about the ‘thousand year Reich’ which will last for a thousand years.” Fellow POW VonFelbert added to the statement, “Yes, we are disgraced for all time.”


This is one of many examples of inhumanity that could be cited in this entry, not the least of which was the mass death of Native Indians in the Americas in the 18th an 19th century. There have many “trails of tears” throughout the ages and all have occurred under the watchful eye of God almighty. Nothing escapes His piercing gaze. Surely He will avenge all of these things in His own time. Nevertheless, multitudes have asked how human beings could be capable of acting in such an inhumane — even diabolical ways. The answer to that question is the subject of this entry. 

Born Into Sin

One of the fundamental elements of the subject of man’s sin and salvation (soteriology) biblically is what came to be known as “Original Sin.” There are various ways this doctrine is described, but typically it is understood to mean that men and women are born into this life as sinners’ with a sinful nature. People are not sinners because they sin — they sin because they are constitutionally sinful as a consequence of Adam’s fall. When we speak of Original Sin we are dealing with what is sometimes known as original guilt and original pollution. As David said, “…in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) Some more radical ideas suggest that the will of man is in complete bondage to the sinful nature. Simply put this is known as Total Depravity. This essentially means that man in his fallen state cannot rightly obey God. Some suggest that men and women are dead in trespasses and sins in such a way that they cannot respond to God without God’s direct intervention. These subjects have been the cause of much debate in the churches over the centuries. The sad thing is that folks that discuss these topics typically straw-man the other sides views until there is little fruit in the conversation. I hope to help change that in this entry. 


Constitutional Sin


I affirm that though man is born constituted a sinner (because of the choice of Adam), this by no means relieves man of his free choice. (Joshua 24:15) Sin reigns in the heart of a sinner, but not in such a way that he or she cannot do otherwise. In a matter of saying, men are not “sin possessed.” They are bent towards sinning, but not in such a way that Sin is in complete control. Moreover, God is just in condemning man for his sin because man could have chosen not to sin. (Romans 2:1) This is the essential message of Romans chapters 1-3. 


However, we must bear in mind that Romans goes on to tell us that man has been constituted a sinner in Adam. (Romans 5:19 YLT) The KJV uses the phrase “were made sinners.” Notice we were not created sinners, we were “made” sinners as a consequence of Adam’s transgression. Paul goes on to say that by the obedience of one many will be made righteous. That “one” is Jesus Christ, the last Adam. Keep your eye on the word “made.” As an aside, Finney and neo-Finney-ites balk at the notion of imputed righteousness; nevertheless, there is only one other way to see this passage. It has to mean that we are made righteous in Christ, positionally or actually (or both). If we say actually then it proves the need for genuine regeneration. 


God made man good and upright; however, by the one man Adam the Sin (the dynamic) entered the world and the Death (the dynamic) by the Sin. This is not sin the fruit (deeds) this is Sin (the root or the dynamic). It should go without saying that all people everywhere have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one. There is none that seeks after God and there is none that does good- no not one, etc. People generally know they are sinners; albeit, the have to be reminded of it. We were all born into this world constituted sinners. Only God can heal this problem. However, getting people to understand and to accept the diagnosis is the hardest thing of all. 





Jesus told Nicodemas that he must be born from above. He mildly chided him for being a teacher in Israel and not knowing this basic fact. Why did he not believe it or teach it? Because the diagnosis is far beyond the realm of most peoples’ ability to accept it. Consider what John says about man’s condition.

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:8-10)

This is the diagnosis. A person who lives in sin is a child of the Devil. Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil. This simply means that Jesus came to provide a new birth for those who receive Him. understand that a person cannot become a child of God simply by turning over a new leaf or getting rid of a few lousy habits (as L. Ravenhill would say). A person must be born of God. This is the John 3:3 reality that Nicodemas, the teacher in Israel, had no clue about. It is a supernatural transformation of the person that takes place when they are Baptized into Jesus Christ by the Holy spirit. 



Look around in the world. What is the pattern of most peoples’ lives? Do you see people sinning and hating one another? Or do you see people living righteously and loving one another? Some would dismiss these passages or explain them away and say, “It is their choice,” etc. and this is true. It is their choice, but it is also their nature. It’s what they do in the same sense that producing thorns is what a thorn bush does. Notice John did not call the sinners “disciples of the Devil.” He did not call them “followers of the Devil.” He called them children of the Devil. Why? Because the Devil is their father. A father does not make followers and disciples; a father makes sons and daughters. This is one of the oldest truths in the Bible — living things bring forth fruit after their own kind. Look at the fruit and you will know the parent.  

Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3)
The answer to James’ question is a resounding no, it cannot. If you are going to change the fruit of something you have to change its essential nature. Moreover, we have this Old Testament question; Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23) This motif continues to play out when we read in Hebrews:

For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:7-8) 
Notice there is no such thing in this passage as a fruitless or thornless tree — a tree is one or the other. Trees are used figuratively in scripture for men. God is pouring out grace by His Spirit; nevertheless, many people continue to yield thorns and briars. The axe is laid to the root of the trees and those that do not bring forth good fruit are cast into the fire. However, a thorn tree cannot arbitrarily decide one day it will bring forth fruit. People try it all the time. Many try (as it were) to cut the thorns off of their limbs and hang the fruit of the Spirit on like Christmas ornaments. When the trial comes the real nature of the tree comes out again. In other words, give it time and you will know if the person is really changed. A thorn tree will always be a thorn tree until God changes it’s essential nature. This is the finger of God effecting regeneration (palengenesis). What did Jesus say?

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:4-5) 
If there is no fruit, then the person is not In Christ. It doesn’t matter how many times they said the sinners prayer or signed a card. The test is in the fruit. 


Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:16-21)

If a person is not bearing fruit — they are not partaking of the Holy Spirit. This is because they are not grafted into the vine. This is what Paul was talking about when he told the Gentiles not to boast against the branches. They had been “grafted in” to the olive tree (Christ). Let’s turn this around. What is a person ‘grafted in to’ that bears thorns, briers, thistles, etc.? Why do they have to be burned? Because they are bringing forth from their essential nature that is drawing from a totally different spirit. Nobody on earth lives without drawing from some well — either of Satan or of God. This is not a casual dropping by to get some advice from the Devil; it is a drawing forth of the very life (death) of Satan himself. Jesus told them, “You are of your father the devil.” The fruit of the life demonstrates the source of their strength. Paul said it plainly in Ephesians:

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; (Ephesians 2:1-5)



So we were dead towards God and alive (quickened) towards the Prince of the Power of the Air — walking in the Spirit of Disobedience — and were by nature children of wrath. This is almost parallel to walking in the Holy Spirit (born of the Spirit) except it is the spirit of the Devil himself. As surely as a thorn tree is naturally such, a sinner is a sinner by nature. I know it sounds simple, but this is why John had to keep coming back to the subject over and over again. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:8-10) 

There is no middle ground where people are just neutral. Some live their whole lives in denial that this is their true condition. This is a horrific truth given the fact that God has the power to regenerate us. No need to fear the Dr. report when yours is the Great Physician. He can heal our sin problem.  


Summary


One is either a child of God or a child of the devil. They are either in Adam or in Christ. They are either grafted into Christ bearing the fruit of His vine — or they are grafted into the Prince of the Power of the Air and moving in the spirit of disobedience yielding thorns and briers. If a person wants to switch from being a thorn yielding child of the Devil, they have to agree with God in what He has said about them and their condition. You must be born from Above. (John 3:3) It is a simple statement of fact. We must be transformed into new creatures. We must have God as our Father. 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: