Ready for His Appearing (The Day of the Lord)

Ready for His Appearing
Robert Wurtz II

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless (2 Peter 3:9–14 NKJV).

One of the most mysterious things of the last 100 years is how the enemy has managed to stigmatize teachings and sermons that could be derived from our passage above as “gloom and doom” or some other cynical description. No minister today wants to be labeled a “hell-fire and brimstone” preacher. Yet, Peter warns us earlier in the passage that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation”(2 Peter 3:3–4 ESV). This means that this very blog post is apt to be scoffed at by someone who reads it. It also means that someone will be faithful to declare the warning of the coming of Christ and judgment until the end of the age. Otherwise, who and what would the scoffers be scoffing at? 

Ancient Irreverence 
Scoffing is an ancient reaction to warnings about God’s judgment. You will recall the story of Sodom when God was about to rain fire and brimstone upon them, And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law (Genesis 19:14 KJV). One translation renders the text, “…but he seemed to his sons in laws to be jesting.” I can almost see Lot’s wicked sons in laws rolling on the ground laughing at the prospect that God was going to judge that city. Truly, “Fools make a mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor (Proverbs 14:9 KJV). They paid for their folly with a baptism of fire on the earth that swept them into the eternal fires of hell. That is the sobering reality of what happened that day. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:9 NKJV). The sons in laws of Lot are still in hell awaiting judgment. All the while Lot escaped from the people who were living in error (2 Peter 2:6-8).

The Example of Noah  

Peter is trying to “stir up our sober minds” by reminding us that we should keep the warnings of the Old Testament prophets in mind. These warnings inform us that God is going to eventually destroy this earth with a fire so hot that it will change the physical characteristics of this planet. They are going to “melt with fervent heat.” He also tells us that people are “willingly ignorant” of the fact that God has already destroyed this planet with water once before. His bow (rainbow) is in the cloud as a reminder that He will not use water for this purpose again. 

What happened in Noah’s day? He preached to the people and warned them of a coming flood. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37–39 NKJV). Although Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), was warning them that judgment was coming — even backing up his claims by building a giant ark right before their eyes — they continued on living “business as usual.” Whether they scoffed and mocked is not  known. Nevertheless, their flagrant disregard of the warning was bad enough. In time God will also flood this world with fire in a way our minds cannot now imagine. Hollywood is inept at capturing what God means when He says, But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7 NKJV)

Our Response

 As Peter reminds us of these things with a view to keeping them before us — he asks a pointed question, Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? I have to admit that I am sorely vexed by the way many professed Christians have “Christianized” all kinds of things that were once considered sin. The old cliche “you can hardly tell the church from the world” has never been more accurate. Obviously, this is not referring to the true Church, but the visible church as Augustine referred to it. We have never been closer to the judgment that Peter warns us about and we have never had a more worldly version of Christianity. We are drifting towards all the trappings of Romanism mixed with the paganism and wickedness of ancient Sodom. Church denominations (so-called) are ordaining homosexuals and welcoming same-sex couples into their assemblies. Every preacher worth their salt all the way back to the book of Acts must be rolling over in their graves right now.

I find it shocking that one of the most evil generations in world history also laud God’s mercy and love more than the rest. As a student of Church History I can say categorically that no generation has been as unbalanced towards God’s love and grace as is this generation. There has never been a time when people needed to hear the word of repentance like they do today, and yet all we hear is love, love, love and more love. If it’s not love, it’s grace. If it’s not grace, it’s the health and wealth Gospel. So much preaching today is only contributing to the delinquency of sinners. Ministers have made a habit so as to preach each week without converting anybody. 

I believe that an average liberal preacher from the 1800s would blast this generation. Peter exhorts us to remember what the ancient prophets have said. What would Elijah say? What about Ezekiel or John the Baptist say? What about Jeremiah? He asked concerning his generation, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 6:15 KJV) Sound like today? 

We can’t control what the masses are doing, but we can make our own calling and election sure. We can give heed to the words of Peter, Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. Is Peter suggesting that we should be without spot and blameless? Most preachers today would rebuke Peter for preaching a works based righteousness. Why? The Reformation, though necessary to restore vital truths to the historic Christian faith, has now morphed into a deformation. Repentance is optional today. Holy living is optional. People have so twisted Paul’s teachings that deal with God’s mercy and grace that they live however they wish and still believe they are saved. Sola Fide and Sola Gratia have become the prime elements of a wholesale license to sin in our times. To challenge these practitioners is to invite anathema. 

Nevertheless, we have these faithful words from Peter, “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17–18 NKJV) Don’t believe wicked teachers who tickle the ears with promises based on twisted verses. Beware of those who label teachings such as this blog as “works based righteousness” or “gloom and doom preaching.” They are designed of the enemy to stumble you from your own steadfastness. And rather than viewing grace as a modern version of a Catholic indulgence, view it as God’s unmerited enabling to be everything you need to be in order to be ready for His appearing.     

Avoiding "Lying Love" (An Examination of Unfeigned Love)

Avoiding “Lying Love” (An Examination of Unfeigned Love)
Robert Wurtz II

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection.
(Romans 12:9–10 ESV)

I have often said that Romans 12 is the “altar call” of the book of Romans. it is the chapter where the reader is brought to a decision. As if Paul had written for eleven chapters and then turned to us and said, “How will you respond to this Gospel?” 

Self-Sacrifice and Christian Morals

In verse 1 he pleads with us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice — holy and acceptable unto God. In verse 2 he exhorts us not to be conformed to this world and its way of thinking. In verse 3 he stresses the importance of personal humility of mind; we ought to have the mind of Christ who made Himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:6-7). In verses 5-8 he reminds us that we are all important members of the Body of Christ and should honor others above ourselves. We should be kind, generous, and hospitable; that is, we should make people feel welcome in our homes and churches. These teachings all lead to our passage in Romans 12:9-10:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. (Romans 12:9–10 ESV)

Genuine Love

Paul begins with the greatest of all Christian attributes exhorting, Let love be genuine. This is literally, “Let love be without hypocrisy” or less technically, “Let love be honest.” The word hypocrite was a terrible word used by Jesus. It means to hide what one is and to pretend to be what one is not. He first used the word in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; 7:5). He returns to it in Matthew 15:7 and 22:18. In Hebrew thought, repetition is done for emphasis; hence, we have at least six woes pronounced upon hypocrites in a single chapter (Matthew 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29). The Greek verb in the active (hupokrinoœ) meant to separate slowly or slightly subject to gradual inquiry. Then the middle was to make answer, to take up a part on the stage, to act a part. It was an easy step to mean to feign, to pretend, to wear a mask, to act the hypocrite, to play a part. The great late Greek scholar A.T. Robertson suggests it is one of the hardest words to come from the lips of Jesus and it fell on those who were the religious leaders of the Jews (Scribes and Pharisees). 

It is a terrible sin to “feign love.” That is to say, what could be more evil than to pretend that you love a person when deep down you really hate them? An example of this would be to tell a person (or others) that you love them and then undermine them behind their back. What should be done? Treat the person with real love; the kind of love you want for yourself and your close family and friends. In other words, if you wouldn’t do it to your own loved ones, don’t do it to anyone else. Let love be genuine. 

Love Good and Hate Evil  

Leads to our second thought, Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. A healthy vehemence against evil and resolute clinging to good is essential to the noblest forms of Christian love.” (Alexander Maclaren) Love has a tendency to weaken the condemnation of wrong. This is especially true when our loved ones do evil. However, evil is to be loathed, and good to be clung to no matter who we find them in.

Brotherly Affection

We come to our last point, love one another with brotherly affection. This passage is added as a matter of course. There is nothing new here. In fact, when writing to the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9 NKJV) This can only mean that if we are devoid of brotherly love we have a very serious spiritual problem. They are resisting the Holy Spirit who endeavors to express His love through us.  

The NKJV gives a better sense of the Greek text. We read, Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.” (Romans 12:10 NKJV) The word translated as kindly affectionate is philostorgoi and is a compound of philo and storgos. These are two Greek words for love made into one. What is Paul saying? “’Love the brethren in the faith as though they were brethren in blood’ (Farrar). The RSV renders the text, ‘be tenderly affectioned’; but the A.V., in the word kindly gives the real sense, since kind is originally kinned; and kindly affectioned is having the affection of kindred.” (Vincent)

Rejecting Revival (Why We Don’t Have Revival)

Rejecting Revival
Robert Wurtz II

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 55:6–8 KJV)

The old timers used to say, “Be careful that you don’t miss God!” It was a way of reminding people that God moves in His own timing, and we must be sensitive to His dealings. He is a sovereign God; which is a way of saying that He is all-powerful and can perform His will at will. He doesn’t need permission from anyone — though He often moves in response to prayer.     

Our passage in Isaiah 55 has a clear context wherein God is dealing with His people by His grace to bring about His purposes with them. However, there is a timeless truth here that we do well to grasp. Isaiah admonishes us to seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. The repeated key word is “while.” The implication is that God draws near at unique times bringing opportunity to restore or establish a meaningful and experiential relationship with Him. People become, “God conscious.” Some simply say that there is an “awareness of God.” This means we are suddenly aware that God is near and dealing with us.  

Once we know that God is near, we must respond to His dealings. He has created us in such a way that we know (on the inside) when this is happening. Theologians sometimes call this faculty an “a priori” knowledge of God. When God comes near we become conscious of our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness. There are a number of times when God was moving in the book of Acts, and it was said that “fear” came upon the people and that they walked “in the fear of God.” When the Holy Spirit healed and delivered people it was said that “great joy” was in that city. When God is near both the fear of the Lord, and the joy of the Lord can coexist without contradiction. 

God works to change our minds to agree with Him and His ways. God and man cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. (Amos 3:3) This is axiomatic.  Individuals must turn away from their wicked and unrighteous ways and acknowledge their sins. In other words, they must return unto the LORD. If a person is willing to do these things’ God will have mercy upon him (…) for He will abundantly pardon. 

Missing the Day of Visitation

There are times when God visits people sovereignly. We have to be ready to respond to God when He decides to move… not the other way around. Notice again, Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. God initiates contact. There may have been many prayers going up to ask for God to come near, but it is always God’s sovereign choice to move.

For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:43–44 NKJV)

The destruction of Jerusalem came roughly 40 years after this prophecy as the terrible consequence of the unbelieving Jews rejecting Jesus. He came for a “visitation” — from the Greek episkopos meaning “to look over” or “examine.” John the Baptist came to make straight the path for Jesus through the preaching of repentance. Most refused to cooperate with what God was doing; that is, to repent and turn to Christ.  

It is one thing to recognize what happened to Jerusalem, but it is quite another to see ourselves in Luke 19:43-44. When God decides to come near, who can say whether He will move in that way again? The book of Hebrews warns us that if we hear His voice, we must not harden our hearts. We cannot risk passing up an opportunity to seek the Lord during the times of His unique visitation. 

This is not to say that we cannot go on preaching the Gospel and God will honor His word; but there are unique times when God visits people with what some have called “revival” and they must respond. 

Danger During Revival

Sometimes God moves on an individual level, or He will move among churches. He may even bring revival to an entire nation. The time would fail to tell of the first and second great awakening when God moved wonderfully. Every moving of God has a purpose. Only God knows all the reasons why He sends revival. However, we can rest assured that if we miss God’s visitation, there will be serious consequences. This is true for nations and for churches. For example, some suggest that John Wesley’s preaching and the revival that came to England in those days helped avert the revolution that took place in France. What if England had missed her visitation? 

For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. (Isaiah 48:11 KJV)

When God begins to move, the enemy springs into action. He uses all kinds of means to stop a revival. This is a primary reason why we see so little revival in our times. Either men are worried about who is going to “get the credit” for what God is doing; or they try to use revival to promote themselves or “their ministry.” That is how utterly corrupt things are in our times. What did God say? For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it.   

Carnal people are a great hindrance to revival. Pastors fear how their congregations will respond if God chose to use some other person other than them to speak to the people. Church members sometimes view revival as God’s approval of a minister and may seek to replace the former pastor. These are the types of reasons why God and churches are often at an impasse. Politics is one of the primary reasons churches have lost out with God in modern times. Leaders and carnal church members simply refuse to get out of God’s way.

Sometimes the church members seek God in repentance… but the leaders remain in carnality. In fact, “spiritual leaders” are often the last people on earth to repent. They are determined to keep up appearances (to make things look all right whether they are or not). Again, this is often because of politics. No minister wants to give people ammunition that can be used against them at election time — so they cover their sins and carnality. This is quite different than men like Daniel who would cry out to God on behalf of the people and number himself among those who need revival. 

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. (Daniel 9:4-6)

If we only had Daniel for an example. we would conclude that ministers ought to be the first in line to repent when God visits His people. The very desire to seek the Lord comes from God. It is Him initiating a visitation. This is different than people who attempt to manufacture revivals. What is worse is that we have suffered a complete “redefining” of revival. What happens? People are keen on prophecy and healing revivals… and if a few people repent it is called success. The healing revival emphasis has been going on in America since the 1950s. None now live who know what a “book of Acts” revival looks like. Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994), author of Why Revival Tarries, often lamented the absence of genuine revival in the English-speaking world.   

Eugene Bartlett, author of the Gospel hymn, Victory in Jesus, penned the famous line: 

“I heard about His healing… 
of His cleaning power revealing… 
how He made the lame to walk again 
and caused the blind to see. 
Then I cried dear Jesus 
come and heal my broken spirit… 
and somehow Jesus came and brought 
to me the victory.” 

At the time of this writing Bartlett was paralyzed over half his body from the stroke that would soon take his life. I have to ask, with our nation going down the toilet; with our churches cold and carnal; do we really need a healing revival? Do we really need a personal prophesy revival? Do we need a prosperity revival? What did God say? Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. This is what God is after. Unfortunately, for Israel, they rejected God’s dealings until there was no hope. I’m reminded of the sobering passage:

Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:14-16)

What happened? The leadership and the people continued on in their sin — making excuses — listening to the ones who “healed the wound of the daughter of my people slightly” — mocking the ministers and prophets who had the voice of God truly in their mouths. The crowd would celebrate the compromisers, but reject people who preached the truth. Sound like today? Indeed, it does. Nevertheless, who can say what God will do? If perchance He moves again to grace us with revival, may we be swift to respond, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 

In Times of Shaking (Christians Being Tested)

In Times of Shaking
Robert Wurtz II

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25–29 NKJV)

The book of Hebrews was written at a time when Israel was about to go through the greatest shaking in its history. Everything the Jews had known was about to be shaken; their religion, their way of life, their security, their personal peace, their occupations, etc. In fact, the Romans were about to destroy Jerusalem completely. Not even the Temple, the place where Jews journeyed from around the world to worship God will be spared. Moreover, the Romans carved a menorah into one of their gates as a reminder of how they completely annihilated Herod’s Temple. Once they threw it down, and burned everything that was flammable, the soldiers plowed the Temple Mount like a farmer tills his field. 

The Romans will leave no continuity between the Jews former way of life and their future life. We know this event as the first Jewish revolt of 70 A.D. For most Jews their lives were already in a state of flux. Jesus Christ came on the scene around 30 A.D. challenging the Jews sincerely held religious beliefs. Prior to that time, a new order within Judaism known as the Zealots began terrorizing the Romans and strong-arming the people. They held to the “sold rule of God” doctrine. While trying to throw off Roman rule, they caused so much trouble that Vespasian was ordered to Jerusalem to handle the problem. When the people refused to cooperate, the Romans besieged the city as we have already discussed.

I have often wondered how the believing Jews went forward in their faith. Everything was changing (shaking), to the point that many lost everything (family, friends, possessions, careers, reputation, etc.). When it was all said and done, some Christians fell away. These times tested peoples’ faith and experience in God. Some frauds were discovered. They went out from the assembly because they were not of the assembly. This is what John tells us. They went out that it might be revealed that they were not all of us.

A Modern Shaking 

In the 21st century we are experiencing shaking as well. We have it on a global, national, and local level. Families are being shaken; churches are being shaken; and Christians are being shaken. Moreover, relationships are being shaken. Life events are also shaking us. Why? That the things which cannot be shaken may remain. The shaking reveals what cannot be shaken. It is a test. It seems that God is determined to destroy everything within our lives and within the kingdom of God that is not of Him. Only the things that God establishes cannot be moved. The works of men are to be shaken off as unprofitable and unholy. 

Sometimes we try to hold things together that God is trying to take apart. Nostalgia, sentimentality, tradition, all have a way of causing us to hold on to things that God may be “shaking off.” We prop things up because we like them, but many things have no place in the kingdom. God shakes our lives until we are willing to let them go. A wise man once said, “Sometimes when we won’t move — God will move us.” 

Winds of Change

People generally resist change unless it is something related to popular culture (pop culture). Some change comes, and we have no say in the matter. For example, in 2015 four people passed away that regularly attended our outreach church services. Six people passed who at one time or another attended an advanced Bible class I taught. Those are ten people who I will never get to minister to again — this side of heaven. I lost my mother to cancer; an uncle to diabetes; a former co-worker to a gun shot; and several other family members and friends. All total, seventeen people I know passed away this year. That is a gaping hole in my life. That is radical change. That is significant shaking. 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.

The time would fail to tell of everything that was shaken this year. Nevertheless, grace is the one thing that we cannot afford to live without. The writer tells us, let us have grace. When the world is changing, and terrorists seem to be running rampant everywhere; let us have grace. When politics threaten to undermine the foundations of the government and the churches; let us have grace. When we look up and seventeen friends and family have passed away; let us have grace. When our lives are changed to the point that we don’t recognize them anymore; let us have grace. 

 Serving Acceptably During the Shaking

We need grace if we are to ever serve God acceptably under conditions that we never expected to be in. Some Christians have watched their whole lives turn upside down. If we are depending on something or someone that’s now gone, what can we do? Let us have grace. Only God can empower us to continue in His will in a way that is well pleasing to Him — when everything around us seems to have shaken apart. God has a very special grace that is tailor made for our situation. 

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