Destroying God’s Temple (Church Wrecking or Church Wrecker)

Destroying God’s Temple
Robert Wurtz II

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16–17 ESV)

In the 1100s AD, a church was erected in the city of London that came to be known as St Mary of Aldenbury. After a few expansions, the church was gutted in the great fire of 1666. It was after this event that the great architect Christopher Wren (the same man who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral) redesigned the church, and it was rebuilt once again. The building stood and functioned as a church — even serving as residence for certain Puritans for over 200 years. 



However, in 1940 Adolph Hitler, drunk on ambition, hate, and demonic influence, had his war machine in high gear. Having turned his sights towards England Hitler bombed London for 57 consecutive nights. it was during these raids that St Mary of Aldenbury church was burned to the ground with an incendiary bomb (fire bomb). This church, having stood for centuries, was destroyed by a demonized man bent on expanding his power. He played on the feelings of the people until he gathered around himself a host of faithful characters who were willing to live and die with him. Before it was over tens of millions of people were killed and countless lives were devastated. In the midst of such ruin, this little church at Aldenbury remained standing as a charred shell of its former beauty. 

In the early 1960s it was decided by a small group at Westminster College in Missouri to bring the church to America stone by stone and restore it to what Christopher Wren had intended before Hitler, in his madness, destroyed it. This was done to commemorate the “Iron Curtain Speech” that took place at the college in 1946. Several thousand stoned were numbered and shipped to Westminster and laid out over acres of ground. This jigsaw puzzle for the ages took about five years to put back together. Today the church stands as pictured below.




Destroying the Assembly of God


The events related to the church at Aldenbury provide a metaphor for what I wish to briefly discuss in this present time. Paul asked the Corinthians, who seemed to be indifferent and ignorant to the fact that their carnality was threatening to destroy that church, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Had he not intervened these people would have destroyed the work that God had started many years before. This is not a light thing; because God is not concerned about the building — He is concerned about His people. This is not man’s building (assembly) it belongs to God. To destroy a church by either negligence, malice, or ambition is all the same. The fact is, if it gets destroyed then the destroyer is responsible. 

Paul adds these sobering words, If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. The late great Greek scholar A.T. Robinson comments, “The outward temple is merely the symbol of God’s presence, the Shechinah (the Glory). God makes his home in the hearts of his people or the church in any given place like Corinth. It is a terrible thing to tear down ruthlessly a church or temple of God like an earthquake that shatters a building in ruins. This old verb phtheiroœ means to corrupt, to deprave, to destroy. It is a gross sin to be a church-wrecker. There are actually a few preachers who leave behind them ruin like a tornado in their path. Him shall God destroy (phtherei touton ho theos).”  

Paul had built and left the church at Corinth in the hands of its leaders and now they threatened to destroy the thing until nothing was left. They viewed themselves as “spiritual” because they moved in the gifts of the Spirit, but Paul called them carnal. In fact, these spiritual folks were in danger of committing acts that would have endangered their souls. They were destroying the works of Paul’s hands, yes; but it was truly the work of God. Paul warns them in the strongest of terms… If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. A.T. Robertson continues, There is a solemn repetition of the same verb in the future active indicative. The condition is the first class and is assumed to be true. Then the punishment is certain and equally effective. The church-wrecker God will wreck. What does Paul mean by “will destroy”? Does he mean punishment here or hereafter? May it not be both? Certainly he does not mean annihilation of the man’s soul, though it may well include eternal punishment. There is warning enough here to make every pastor pause before he tears a church to pieces in order to vindicate himself.” (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament).

  


Where All Roads Are Leading (The Great White Throne Judgment)

Where All Roads Are Leading
Robert Wurtz II

Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:29–31 NKJV)

We are all, without exception, from the least unto the greatest, on our way to a great appointment with God. Saints and sinners alike are going to face God to give an account of every one of their deeds. (Romans 14:12, 1 Cor. 4:5, 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Peter 4:17) Leonard Ravenhill was once visited by the young Keith Green, who asked him, in effect, “Where do all roads lead?” Most people would follow the ancient cliche by answering, “All roads lead to Rome.” To Ravenhill’s pleasant surprise Green answered, ” All roads lead to the Judgment Seat. ” Nothing is truer than that fact. No matter what road any of us are traveling it will someday dead-end   at the Judgment Seat. It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. The wise King Solomon warned his readers that God will someday judge every secret thing — whether it is good or evil. If that doesn’t sober a person’s mind — nothing will. 




Paul was travelling through what is now Greece when he arrived at Athens, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. There he found a city of people who were worshipping all kinds of gods. He gained their attention by pointing to an altar to an “Unknown God.” Paul uses the occasion to discuss with them the Creator of all things and the Judge of all men. He tells them clearly that God has been overlooking their sin, but now He commands repentance. In fact, Paul informs them of a day of reckoning when Jesus Christ will be Judge and will issue a final judgment of all people.


Let none ever suggest that God is not merciful; for He had overlooked the sins of multitudes leading up to the advent of Jesus Christ. He sent them rain in an attempt to express His goodness with a view to their repentance. Once the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has come, that period of “overlooking” is over and the standing command is to repent. The revealed meaning of this word “repent” is described by Jesus who used the wicked city of Nineveh as his archetype “repentance” city. Having no Bible or means of knowing how to respond to the message of Jonah they proclaimed a fast for everyone including the animals. Everyone was commanded to turn away from their evil ways and mourn their past actions in sackcloth and ashes. The programmatic message of the repentance of the city of Nineveh is available to all of us; therefore, Jesus said that they, the Ninevites, will rise up in judgment against all who hear the word of Christ and refuse to repent and believe. (Matthew 12:41; Luke 11:42) Why? Because the people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, but now an infinitely greater messenger than Jonah has come. 


Just Sinners to Be Judged?  

Moreover, we have also to consider the fact that the Lord is going to judge His people; and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. (Hebrews 10:27-31) We have to ask ourselves what Christ will do with those people who have been left in charge of His “vineyard” or “flock” and yet are treating those things as if they were their own and not the Lord’s. (Matthew 25:14-30, Matthew 7:21-24) We have many warnings in the Gospels along these lines. Nevertheless, those warnings are typically made of none effect by clever theologies that try and insulate believers from those words. Common sense should tell us that if Jesus is speaking about eschatological events they are sealed and true future events and are immune to clever men and their vain theologies. When Jesus said that people will say to Him, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name […] only to be told “depart from me you worker of iniquity for I never knew you” — that is actually going to happen (Matthew 7:22). It is a sealed reality and we will someday see it come to pass. 

Dealing With Trouble

At the end of Paul’s life he spoke of a man who had done him “much evil” by the name of Alexander the Coppersmith. Nothing ever changed this vile man. He even delivered him to Satan to teach him not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:20) Paul simply stated, “the Lord reward him according to his works.” This was the right approach to take. Paul knew to allow God to deal with him. Having admonished him a few times Paul’s approach was to reject the person as a heretic (a sower of strife and division) because they are subverted and sinning. As Paul stated, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10–11 ESV) 

There is an old Christian line that says, “we will understand it better by and by.” Many things are happening now that are hard to understand. This will all change when the Lord brings to light the hidden counsels of hearts at the end of the age. There is always “the other side” of the story; and that other side will be revealed on the other side. It will be God’s perspective of the actions and idle words that men and women have spoken.  We have this awesome verse in Matthew 24:

But if that evil servant says in his heart, “My master is delaying his coming,’and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48–51 NKJV)


Cut Him in two? So much for gentle Jesus meek and mild. Though people think God is delaying Christ’s return, Paul said God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.” And the Lord Jesus said, There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Not “maybe” or “possibly” but there shall be. Why? Because some people will grow arrogant and confident as the Lord “appears” to tarry. The servant who is wicked is the one who is led to believe that the master will be away for a long time and therefore seizes the opportunity to bully fellow servants and spend time carousing with drunkards. (Robert H. Mounce, NIBC, 1991) Bullying among Christian leaders is almost a sport in some circles. They use their powers to beat their fellow servants. The Greek word for “beat” in this passage is tupto and could be translated “to wound” like in 1 Cor. 8:12. Surely these are the type of things Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:48ff. 


Dangerous Split Personalities


The most dangerous people on earth are they who can smile and act cordial (friendly) in public, but are all together different in “back room” situations. This is why Jesus adds the phrase, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. hupokrites (hypocrite) is a person who does things to be seen or to give the appearance of being something that they truly are not. They are by practice a “play actor.” They are always putting on a show for the audience. So there is a public personality and then there is the real behind-the-scenes person. These are they “bullies” who treat people in ways that Jesus said warrants the judgment of Hell fire. When called out they make excuses and therefore almost never apologize to their victims. Typically they perfume their bad behavior with “spiritual sounding reasons.” They lure the sheep in with their charm and then justify their bullying. This is an all-too-often problem in these last days when many leaders have lost sight of the coming judgment. 


From saint to sinner God is going to judge everyone on earth. This is why He was called by Abraham, “The Judge of All the Earth.” And He is going to judge the world in Righteousness. (Psalm 8:6) He is going to judge the world by the revealed word of God. The hidden counsels of the hearts are going to be made known. The secret motivations are going to be exposed. The evidence will be brought forward from the all-seeing eye of an omniscient God. Heart motivations are going to be revealed. The facts will be laid out on the table and a judgment is going to be made. What a sobering thing to consider. This is why it is pointless to pass judgment on one another. Someday God is going to put all of these things right. Multitudes will stand in awe. 


Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. (Romans 14:13 KJV) 




Why would Paul have to write something like this? It is because people don’t always have sense enough to know they can cause a person to stumble and fall in the faith by their actions. This is why the bully will be judged so harshly. Their hypocritical actions will have caused untold numbers of people to stumble or nearly stumble. Nevertheless, let us not therefore judge one another any more. God is going to sort it all out and make it right soon enough. We can rest confidently in that fact when we are tempted to act out when stumbled or wounded. As Paul said it, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 KJV) We must do our best to act Biblically and lovingly in these last days where false teachers and false brethren brought in are making havoc of the churches.    

Agents of Grace

Agents of Grace
Robert Wurtz II

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
(2 Corinthians 7:5–6 NKJV)

There are times when it seems that trouble is a relentless stalker of the saints. Paul encountered it on every side; from the “beasts” at Ephesus (As he called them. People who were bent on destroying the work of God); to carnal believers who left  the Corinthian church in a terrible state. Indeed, Satan was waging war on the two fronts of body and mind. The accumulated impact was tremendous. 


Paul used the plural pronouns “we,” “our,” and “us” indicating it was affecting him and the saints who were with him. They were “downcast” — a word that in the Greek (tapeinosmeans to be depressed or brought low because of grief or circumstances. It could be translated as “humiliated” since the verb form of the word means to exploit, oppress, or to break the spirit of a person. (TDNT) 




We generally think of Paul as a giant of a man who never had any weaknesses. What then do we do with these sobering words, “Our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” Later in the epistle he adds, Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians 11:29 NKJV) For those who think of Paul as a biblical super-hero these passages are a bit disillusioning. Paul felt fear and he felt indignation. There is no sin in these emotions in their proper context. 


God Sees 


It’s easy to think of God as one who looks on in heaven observing all of our sins and mistakes. However, God is a compassionate Father who is watching us bowed down under the load of difficult times. He runs to the cry of His beloved children. Sometimes through a spiritual touch, sometimes through a special word from Him, and other times in the form of a faithful fellow believer. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.


Agents of Grace


Sometimes we need an inward touch. Sometimes we need a fresh word from God. Yet in particularly difficult times we often need that human touch… a person who comes to us, as the old-timers used to say, “on business for the King.” God’s ambassadors clothed in flesh and blood. God had seen Paul and his friends’ situation and circumstances from eternity past and arranged events in such a way that comfort came at the appointed time. Praise God. Bless His holy name. Just when we may be at a breaking point God graces us with a brother or sister in the Lord. Paul recognized the coming of Titus — not as a coincidence — but as Divine providence. No doubt his heart was lifted at the sight of this dear brother… knowing that he didn’t just show up, but had been sent. What an awesome thing to consider and appreciate in the moment.  





  



The Enemy of Unity

The Enemy of Unity
Robert Wurtz II

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 NKJV)


It is hard to fathom how a group of saints could argue over who was the most spiritual and yet act as carnal as did the Corinthians. “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, etc.” were just a few of their symptoms of profound carnality. Add to that misuse of the gifts of the Spirit; taking each other to court, and fornication not even seen among sinners, and there was a recipe for a feud that threatened to make a total mockery of Christ. 




Sin is the enemy of unity in the churches of God and carnality is its partner. Paul used the strongest of terms to plead with the Corinthians for unity of mind and of judgment. A cursory reading of the epistle demonstrates that though they believed they were spiritual, they were actually carnal. Carnal simply means “fleshly.” They act in discord of God’s will and word. They are moving in a different revelation than what we are taught of Christ. In fact, the Corinthians had backslidden to the point that Paul could not speak to them as spiritual people. (1 Cor. 3:1) He had to use carnal (non-spiritual) illustrations. 

Sheep and Goats


Since a plea for unity was one of the first orders of business, it is essential that we understand why many churches will never be in unity. First, there can be no unity between sheep and goats or sheep and wolves. This is common sense. Can two walk together if they are not agreed? This is one of the greatest issues we face in modern times. Too many people who name the name of Christ are not truly born of God. They are still “in Adam” and are not “in Christ.” They are old creatures in which the old has not passed away. They are unregenerate and of their father the devil. 

God’s children and Satan’s children simply do not see eye to eye. This means that they were never brought into a Spritual state to begin with. Many simply said a little prayer and were never changed. They are goats who believe they are sheep. They challenge the sheep’s perspective on issues bringing disunity of mind and judgment.

They who are still in Adam are operating under a different head than they who are in Christ. They walk according to the course of the world, according to the prince of the power of the air — with a spirit that wills and works disobedience to God. (Ephesians 2:2) They who have been born from above have had an experience in which they have been baptized into Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 12:13) The Holy Spirit works in them both to will and do what pleases God. This is why the scripture uses the qualifier “if” when it says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” The individual must have been born of the Spirit (John 3:3) or they are still in Adam and are subject to the carnal mind that is at enmity with God. Their heart must have been replaced and a new Spirit given to them or they are not a new creature. (Ezekiel 36:26) If they have not this experience they are not a “son” or “daughter” from which the Spirit cries within them ABBA Father. (Romans 8:15)

Sheep and Goats

The scripture uses many metaphors to demonstrate this transition from being ‘in’ Adam to being ‘in’ Christ. An important example is that of being ‘sheep’. Jesus stated, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27) This is not a Christian psychic. This is a person who does God’s will. They listen to the words of Christ and obey them. That is, they “hearken” (hear and obey) unto the voice of the Lord. It is ‘normal’ to them. This means that they are in subjection to His will and that subjection takes precedence over their own desires. Goats are not so. They do their own will. 


By contrast we can say that the sheep are ‘in’ Christ and the goats are ‘in’ Adam. Those who are His sheep are they who respond rightly to God’s voice in genuine faith. Those that died in faith prior to Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3) responded to God as He drew them near to Himself according to the measure of the covenant possibilities that applied to them. The goats spent their lives resisting the Holy Ghost and living according to their own will. Taking these things into consideration we start to understand that sheep and goats can never truly be in unity. They may come into one accord in certain areas, but the core of their nature is different. They are dancing to different drummers.

Having Begun in the Spirit

It is important to understand that when we talk about unity among professors of Christ that the unity we desire is the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3). This is important. It is impossible to gather together two or more individuals and have them come into unity unless there is a common basis of that unity. All individuals must be submitted to God and His will or there will be division. 


A basic point to make is that the Holy Spirit and the word of God agree. When that same Spirit dwells in us causing us to will and to do God’s good pleasure we are enabled to come into unity. But this can never happen if the individuals involved do not have the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:19) If a person does not have the Holy Spirit they by default have the spirit of the world. (1 Cor. 2:12) If they have the Holy Spirit God works in them both to will and to do His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) This is essential. Paul uses the language of having begun in the Spirit… (Galatians 3:3) That is the beginning point. If an individual has not begun in the Spirit then they are operating under the spirit of disobedience and can never be spiritual while in that state. This makes any kind of unity between them and the children of God almost impossible. They are going in totally different directions.

That they May Be One

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are[…]” (John 17:20-21)

God is a plural unity. The Jews learned this in the Shema. Deut. 6:4 reads literally, Shmai Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Echad. That translated means, Hear O’ Israel the Lord your God is ONE. The Hebrew language has two words that can be translated “ONE”: echad and yachid. Whereas yachid (yah-keed) refers to the number one (i.e., absolute one), echad (ek-kawd) refers to a composite or a plural unity (like the Trinity). God is three persons and one substance. Jesus teaches us that His desire is that believers be as the Hebrew term ‘echad’ (plural unity) even as He and the Father are ‘one’ (plural unity).

In the prayer of John 17, Jesus prayed. . . “that they may be one, as thou Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me.”(vs. 21) This is an awesome consideration. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are in absolute unity of mind and purpose. Each one must contain an identical nature. Each one must be holy, righteous, just, love, etc. If not, unity would be impossible. So as we consider this we can understand that to be one with each other we must walk in the Spirit in absolute submission to God and His will. To do this we must walk in the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.

Carnality is the Enemy of Unity

It is ‘possible’ for those who are truly in Christ to live in a ‘state’ of carnality and bring disunity to a congregation. If we allow ourselves to be pressed into this world’s way of thinking we can function as if we were carnal (as mere men Romans 12:2, I Cor. 3:3). This is when division begins. Yet the cure is always the same — repentance. God has big plans for His churches. These plans must be born in heaven and revealed in the earth. Each individual must be sold out to God’s plan and purposes. 


There is no place for self-seeking in the Kingdom of God. Self-seeking will cause division. Anything that does not promote the unity of the Spirit is a source of division. One may find a means of bringing a group of fully carnal men and women into unity and yet we may know that a group of Spirit filled men and women may be in unity- but it is impossible to bring a mixture of carnal and spiritual men and women into genuine unity. They are operating under different spirits. The two cannot walk together because they are not agreed. (Amos 3:3) This is why any two must gather together ‘in His name.’ If they gather together in their own name there cannot be a unity of the Spirit and Christ will not be present. But any place where there exists a conscious dependence on Christ and a willingness to surrender to His absolute headship- unity is possible.

Unity Begins with the Word of Repentance

Until the carnal mind is dealt with there can be no unity. So unity must be regained through a call to return to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in all walks of our lives. This is the only hope. The alternative is complete discord. As men gather together in the name of Christ may they consciously lay aside all for His will. Until men and women get in step with the Spirit they are nothing more than a lose bands of individuals. They are an orchestra or choir with no director — each playing and singing their own tune in their own key. But as we fully surrender to Him — those who have begun in the Spirit are enabled to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of perfectness.

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