The Final Option

The Final Option
Robert Wurtz II
“And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:17–21 NKJV)

With each passing day Revelation chapters 9 and 16 make more sense to me. As I child I would read of the wrath of God being poured out — only to be stunned by the proclamation, “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands.” Obviously the judgments and plagues spoken of in Revelation are akin to that which was poured out upon Pharaoh in Egypt. They are foretastes of Hell itself. The events are in a sense a repeat of what happened to the Egyptians just prior to the Exodus. Sadly, the results are all too familiar. Rather than responding rightly to the plagues the people went from bad to worse. When we reach Revelation 16 the unrepentant not only refuse to turn from their evil, but are blaspheming God. Never underestimate what a person is capable of who is bent on rebelling against God.

The writer to the Hebrews warned us saying, “Take heed brethren lest there be in any of you and evil heart of unbelief in departing from the Living God.” An evil heart is one that refuses to acknowledge God. The process of how this plays out can be examined in Romans chapter 1 and 2. People simply refuse to acknowledge God as God. In the time of Jesus the chief priests (who didn’t believe in the resurrection) witnessed everything including a resurrection and they still refused to repent (change their mind). In fact, they plotted to kill Lazarus again after Jesus had raised him from the dead (John 12:10). They would rather destroy the evidence than repent. This is one example of an evil heart of unbelief and what it is capable of.

At some future time God is going to pour out His wrath on this earth. In Revelation 9 the people are subject to nightmarish judgments and they still refuse to repent. Imagine a third of all mankind dying and still the people refuse to change. In modern times that would be over 1.5 billion people. After 1/3 are dead they still will not repent. This tells me that God has reached “the final option” trying to deal with mankind. His goodness has been trampled under foot for centuries. All the “gentle Jesus meek and mild” preaching has utterly failed. Now it is time to face the judgment. God gave the inhabitants of the earth a space to repent and yet the people have not repented — but rather blasphemed God instead.

Again, this foretaste of Hell will be similar to what Pharaoh experienced in Egypt only 1000X worse. He was a “type” of Satan and Egypt was a “type” of the world. In Revelation 9 God is pouring out judgments on the world that have not been seen in the dreams of the most fevered minds. What do the millions or billions do? They harden their hearts in unity against God just like Pharaoh. Notice the list of sins that the people refuse to repent of.

But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:17–21 NKJV)

1. Demon worship
2. Murder
3. Sorcery (mind altering drugs)
4. Sexual immorality (illicit sexual activity)
5. Thefts (Gk. klepto)

These behaviors all relate to idolatry. They are being systematically legalized almost worldwide. To persist in these and other like behaviors is an affront on God in the worst of ways. God is here identifying the controversies that He has with the unrepentant. He tells us what He is trying to get the people to repent of. When repentance does not take place, God simply steps up the temperature (so to speak). Rather than change, the people grow angrier and more hateful towards God. Rather we know it or not, we are at an early stage of this hardening process right now. The crazy ideas and flagrant sin that goes on today is but an introduction to what fallen man is capable of. If society stays on this trajectory, sin is about to go to levels that have not been seen since the days of Noah. Thirty years ago no one would believe where we are today. Thirty years from now, should the Lord tarry, sin will be off the charts in ways we cannot now comprehend or imagine. We have a verse in Jeremiah that relates to these times…

“The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.” (Jeremiah 6:29 KJV)

God turned the temperature up on the Jews to the point that he burnt up the smelting bellows (figuratively speaking)! Still, there was no repentance. The people refused to agree with God, change their mind, and turn from their sin. In modern times, the world is being hardened and prepared for the fiery wrath of God. At the current trajectory, a showdown is on the horizon between God and this present evil world. It will be too late to spend time worrying about what Christians are saying about God judging high-handed sin. Whether He is doing it now or not only He knows. But one thing is certain; if the good book is to be believed — He is going to. The nice preachers can correct Him if they want to, but if they are wise they will stay out of His way and leave their comments about being disappointed to themselves.

This generation needs a baptism in the facts of the book of Revelation. God will not always tolerate the highhandedness of our times. Let the blasphemers — blaspheme. Let the false prophets — prophesy falsely. In the words of Revelation 22, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11 NKJV) They have Moses and the prophets… if they will not hear God’s word there is no other recourse to help them other than to pour out wrath. It is the final option before this present evil world passes into eternity.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19 KJV)

I have been fortunate enough to see enormous and spectacular double rainbows at a close distance. Being near them have caused me much fear and trembling. For I realize that even now a rainbow surrounds the throne in heaven — as a symbol of God’s mercy on the earth. In modern times that same rainbow has been twisted into a symbol for abominable sins. That is how depraved and flagrantly evil this generation is. The hostility towards God is gaining momentum. Yet a host of Christians are worried about fornicators being “judged.” Is there any wonder we read verses like, “ (…) that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Romans 3:19b KJV) When all humanity is in line to stand before the throne of God I doubt there will be much foolish talking that implies that God is somehow at fault and rebellious sinners ought to be defended. We need to be careful that we remember whose side we are on. Let God be true — not rebellious sinners.

“They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.” (Revelation 16:11, 21 NKJV)

The willingness of mortal men to all but spit in the face of God is accelerating. These unrepentant people talk tough and will continue to do so even to the very end. They are in for bad times — but the masses will refuse to be changed. They may even kill off all the true Christians employing the most dastardly means; but when God pours out His wrath they are going to beg for the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of God. The days of gentle Jesus meek and mild will be over. The rainbow will be gone and the Great White Throne will be revealed. Mercy will be gone forever. Is there any wonder the writer pleads with us, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Hebrews 3:7–14 KJV)

When God Departed

I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. (Hos 5:15)

If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 Jn 1:9-10)

Sometime in the 1980’s the late Leonard Ravenhill quoted a Christian professor who predicted that by the year 2000, “Christianity will be a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism.” If we were surrounded in 2000, in 2016 they launched a full-scale attack! Every moral standard is under attack. I’m reminded of the language of the prophet Daniel, “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.” (Daniel 7:25 NKJV) One may change right and wrong around so that good is evil and evil is good, but this does not alter God’s attitude towards sin. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence (…). When God departs there is nothing left to do but entertain the people.

I have chosen two passages from both the Old and New Testament to capture the essence of our times. We live in a nation of people who refuse to acknowledge sin as SIN. In the last 24 months we have seen an acceleration of “normalizing” behaviors that God’s word ranks as damnable sin. That is to say, sins that unless repented of will deprive the practitioner of entering heaven. Paul put it more directly:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NKJV)
Although multitudes would like to treat the bible like liberals treat the US Constitution (a “living document”), nobody has the authority to alter God’s position on sin. People may do it, but it carries absolutely no authority. God’s unalterable word is the authority and it is from this word that we will be ultimately judged — not by man, but by God Himself. In another place Paul went on to tell the people that he has “told them before” about this fact.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21 NKJV)
Paul must have sounded like a broken record warning the people over and over again about the danger of practicing these sins. Nevertheless, he kept telling them no matter who was offended. Why? The same reason God gave Israel the law. As it is written, “He came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people (…).” (Deuteronomy 33:2–3a KJV) Sin is incompatible with the nature of God and His nature cannot change. God simply is not going to change to agree with man. The only hope is for man to change his  mind and agree with God. Otherwise, there will eventually be a final and eternal separation and judgment.

Normalizing Damnable Sins
The worlds strategy is to wait out the opposition (people who stand for truth) until they get tired of resisting and then slowly insert the compromise as if it were normal. Politicians know that as time passes resistance to immorality cools. They know they have stacked the school system with educators influenced by devils, with only a hand-full of faithful believers sprinkled in the mix. The largest generation in history is growing up with a Godless and immoral secular education and few of them are attending Sunday schools — learning God’s word. Beloved, we are on the road to Sodom and Gomorrah.

The first step to getting right with God is to agree with God. No people who excuse their sin can find redemption or forgiveness. 1 John tells us that “If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” We must acknowledge our sins.

When a person marginalizes and condones sin, their is no hope for them. Why? It is the oldest attitude in the book. God spoke to Israel thousands of years ago through the prophet with these responding words, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense…” God and man can’t even talk about a way forward until man acknowledges his offenses. It is the first step. Can two walk together who are not in agreement.

In this crisis hour we have to be willing to let God be true and every man a liar — no matter who it is. We have to say the same thing that God says about sin. It is the key to forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 tells us, If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The key word in this verse is “if”. It is conditional. Our Greek word for acknowledge (confess in the KJV) is homologeo. This is two words: homo and logos and means literally “same word.” We have to say the same thing about sin that God says about sin. Until we do, God will “return to His place.”

Selective Love and Fellowship

Selective Love and Fellowship
Robert Wurtz II

“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
(Matthew 5:23–24 NKJV)

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NKJV)

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20 NKJV)

I often find it deeply disturbing to find Christians busying themselves in a myriad of ways “doing a work for the Lord” while simultaneously ignoring the most important thing to God. It’s hard to get away from. Where can I go to escape the vexing grief? From the politicking pastors and ministers who believe that God wants them to move up the ranks — to the local churches who hold all kinds of events trying to grow their congregations — a great many Christians are laboring biblically (lawfully) and unbiblically (unlawfully) trying to please God with little consciousness of His heartbeat. Add to that the number of people who attend churches every week, raise their hands to a Holy God, and sing with the worship band (all the while living in a perpetual state of conflict with their fellow brothers and sisters), and one wonders what on earth is going on. Do they not see what they are doing? Is there anyone after God’s own heart these days? That is to say, is there a person whose heart beats in step with God’s?

A Timeless Message

I have chosen three passages from three New Testament time periods in order to illustrate how serious God is about His people loving one another. His message is an extension of His person. As John has told us, “He that does not love does not know God — for God is love.” Matthew 5:23-24 is from the Sermon on the Mount (one of the Lord’s Jesus’ first teachings). The second is from Paul’s writings to Corinth; whose saints having spent a year and a half with him, fell into gross carnality — treating each other in horrible ways. Most sobering is 1 John 4:20. This verse was written around 95 CE and is among the last writings in the New Testament. As if God was making sure that this fundamental truth was still at the forefront of the Christian mind; and for us… that it would be in the mind of Christians forever. Having inspired the words of Christ and Paul on the great topic of love He cots to the chase and declares as bluntly as our sensitive ears can handle; “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”

 

Sad Senior Man

 

I am confident that God is ten-times more concerned about how we love our fellow man than He is what we “do” for Him. In fact, He will not accept anything from us if we are feuding with people (especially our brothers and sisters in Christ). For anyone who has ever read the New Testament it is common knowledge. What good does it do to teach deep truths of the New Testament if the people are carnal (sarkikos), hate-filled, and living like unsaved men? Why raise our hands and pretend to love God when He sees merely a liar? At least, that’s the clear conclusion we arrive at in view of 1 John 4:20. What if a congregation was singing along telling God how much they love Him and a voice from heaven (bath kol) answered back, “liars! Do you not know that where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there?” (James 3:16 NKJV) We may never hear it audibly and God may never speak so direct to us; but if lovelessness were our reality Matthew 5:23-24; 1 Corinthians 13:3; and 1 John 4:20 should shout from our consciences.

God’s Concern

How are we to accept with good-will the proclamation of ministers who have a “word from the Lord” and there is rarely an attempt to deal with the hatred, strife, and division that openly exists among so many Christians. All too often “words” are given more as an unconscious (or conscious) attempt to stump for the next vote in the next election than to speak of the well defined concerns of God. Men are building their own kingdoms and do what pleases them. Many have completely lost touch with the principals of the kingdom of God. Moreover, the world cannot identify us either. Jesus left us with an unalterable truth soon before His crucifixion; “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34–35 KJV)

How can a church have compassion for souls if it can’t love it’s own present and past members? Is there any wonder the Lord, our Great High Priest threatened to remove the lamp stand at Ephesus? What good is a church that has lost it’s love? However, modern church-growth coaches encourage pastors to just “let them go.” It was Mark Driscoll who used the phrase “blessed subtraction.” He famously boasted against and laughed at the “pile of bodies behind the Mars Hill bus” (his church) who were “stiff-necked, stubborn and obstinate” rejectors of his “vision.” He went on to suggest that he hoped God’s grace would “make it a mountain by the time he was done” or people who either “got on the bus or got run over by the bus.” This compassion-less attitude is no reflection of God’s attitude, but Satan’s. Getting people to see that in an atmosphere of carnality is almost impossible. Why? The “run them over” approach makes sense to their carnal mind.

Go and Learn

What happens when Christians refuse to do what Jesus told the religious leaders, “Go learn what this means, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice’?” Answer: The carnal mind behaves with the spirit of the sons of Zebedee, “…. shall we call fire down from heaven?” Mercy and grace are handed out discriminately (to friends and family)… while sinners are never allowed to get up and get on with their lives. This is what happens when compassion for souls (real souls) is gone. Indeed, many have compassion on that nameless sinner who lives in a distant land and never harmed us. But what about the drug pusher who sold dope to your family member? What about the thief that broke into your house? What about the sexual predator who assaulted your friend or family member?

Undoubtedly, many Christians who lived in the first century had run-ins with Saul before he was Paul. What did they do? What about Stephen’s family or someone else who was persecuted and compelled to blaspheme by him? Paul was the chief of sinners — meaning, he had offended a lot of people. What did they do? Were they happy when he repented and turned to Christ? Or did they wait until after he was through giving his testimony to come up and say, “You know, I hear you talking and all, but I just can’t get past the way you treated me and my family! Some of them couldn’t even come today to hear you testify because they are so bitter!”

I suggest that if that were going on in Paul’s day the whole of Christianity would have been labeled a farce and came to nothing. Imagine that Jesus forgave the people who were crucifying Him; but His brethren, children of His Father, were vessels of hate and biterness? God forbid! The reason the story of Paul’s life works is that the saints forgave him and acknowledged the work that God performed in his heart. Otherwise, how could Paul declare, “For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” (1 Timothy 1:16 NKJV)

Conclusion

When Christians refuse to love their own brothers and sisters in Christ, how can they love God? How can they love the unlovable? What hope is there for a lost and dying world under the imminent threat of a Devil’s hell have any hope? Not sinners who have no names in places no one has ever been. Real people. Real names. Real faces. What hope is there for the murderer, rapist, terrorist, or socialist when Christians have no love for them? In the twenty-first century hating sinners has been normalized. Beloved, this ought not so to be and is the greatest evidence of all that carnality is rife and that the love of many has waxed cold.

In these last days with mockers and scoffers by the score and carnal minded Christians threatening to overtake the visible church; let us heed the words of Jude who exhorted us, “Keep yourselves in the love of God (…)” (Jude 1:21 KJV) Just as the angels left their first estate we are at risk of leaving or forsaking the love of God. To “keep ourselves” implies effort. We have to do it. This is the great calling of the churches. If we don’t: we may as well lock the gates and close the doors.

Normalized Carnality

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)

Carnality is the great enemy of Christianity. Carnality exists when Christians conduct themselves in a way devoid of basic brotherly-love. It is hard to fathom how a group of saints could basically be arguing over who was “the most spiritual” and yet act as carnal as did the Corinthians.

Paul told the Thessalonians, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9 KJV) Although the Corinthians were taught of the Spirit of God to express brotherly-love, they completely misunderstood the true nature of being spiritual. To be truly spiritual is to be Christ-like. That is to say, to do what Christ would do if He were you. It is to love your neighbor as yourself.

“I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, etc.,” were just a few of their symptoms of 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 disaster that threatened to make a total mockery of Christ. These people were behaving as bad or worse than full-blown sinners and they needed to be dealt with.

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. Getting carnal people to see that they are carnal can be difficult; especially if they don’t handle correction or advice well. Carnal simply means “fleshly.” They act in discord of God’s will and word. They are behaving contrary to what we are taught by 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 as he would use with sinful men.
Had Paul not written 1 Corinthians the church at Corinth may have normalized bad behavior. Paul knew that he could not allow this to happen. The way some of the saints were treating each other was utterly unacceptable. Imagine being in an environment where cliques had formed that excluded other members of the church from their circle of love — as if doing so was an acceptable Christian behavior. They had defrauded each other of the love they owed one another. (Romans 13:8). This kind of high-handed carnality had to be dealt with swiftly.
Sadly, there are people who exist within the churches who withhold love as if it’s their right. They selectively fellowship with the saints. For example, they will walk past three people they don’t like in a meeting — to go greet one of their friends… and may even snub their friend’s spouse because they don’t like them either. Having rejected the plea to be perfectly joined together in the same mind, these type people have divided whole families by loving the one and not the other… by embracing one and rejecting the other. They are carnal agents of the enemy meant to bring total chaos and division within the churches and families.
One of the main reasons people leave churches is because of cliques. What happens? The pastor and leaders wonder why the church seems to be dead and not growing — or why there seems to be so much drama. Could it be that behind the scenes there are people causing offenses and are running people off? That simply means causing them to feel unloved, unwanted, or unwelcome. It could be a hateful grudge or anything causing it, but the results are the same… a division takes place and usually the offended leaves or moves one step closer to the door.
In some cases everyone knows who the trouble-makers are, but they are either silent or will defend them. Amazing! Understand that not everyone wants to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. They don’t care that what they are doing is sinful. They have their excuses for doing it. Usually that excuse deals with something the person has done in the past or they simply don’t like their looks. They dislike a person and don’t even know why. this ought never to be found in the churches of God. Sadly, it is all too common.
If we were talking about junior high school that would be one matter; but we’re not. Behavior such as children exhibit in school has no place in the kingdom of God. 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 (…). Paul put the Corinthians on notice. He revealed their carnal behaviors and attitudes towards one another and expected them to repent.
Unity Begins with the Word of Repentance
Until the carnal mind is dealt with there can be no unity. Unity must be gained through a call to return to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in all walks of our lives. Jesus said we are to love one another and to even love our enemies. He leaves no room or excuse for treating one person with love and another person with neglect or contempt. God’s will is that we love one another with a pure heart fervently. He wants it to be genuine love. This is the only hope. The alternative is complete discord and chaos. We can keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of perfectness; but we must determine we are going to live spiritual lives and avoid the carnalattitudes that put the church at Corinth at risk.

Touching the Ark

Robert Wurtz II
And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:6, 7)
 
The Ark of God was symbolic of the throne of God. The Wilderness Tabernacle was effectively a mobile palace that was set up in the midst of the children of Israel. In that palace was a throne; the Ark of God. The Throne of God is the place from which God reigns.
To touch the Ark of God was expressly forbidden; because to touch the Ark was to touch upon God’s Divine prerogative; His sovereign authority. Men must not intrude into this area that is expressly God’s.
An electrician rebels against the fundamentals of electricity at his own peril. So it is with the sovereignty of God. Man must not touch the Divine prerogatives. When we consider the governance of the churches of God and related subjects, we ought to do so with great fear and trepidation, and move only after tremendous consultation with God’s word in prayer and fasting. Why fasting? Because when we approach the prerogatives of God we need to have our own flesh in subjection. We must have our own will completely on the altar.
There are times when (like the children of Israel) the things of God are being carried along on a “new cart.” I have written along this line in the past so we will not trod that ground here. However, there is a lesson that we must learn from the story of Uzzah. Although it was wrong to carry the Ark on a new cart, it was equally wrong to touch the Ark. As the old saying goes, “two wrongs do not make a right.”
There is always a temptation to want to correct things or “steady the Ark” (as it were). But these things are God’s prerogative alone. We cannot with fleshly minds, fleshly hands, and fleshly measures correct the wrongs that go on in the churches of God. We cannot take it upon ourselves to correct spiritual problems by putting our hands to them. We must not “touch the Ark.”
Ark of the Covenant
Would to God that there had been a man to come to the men who drove the cart to speak a word of instruction to them from God’s Holy Word. He may have said, “Beloved, I see that you have the Ark on a cart; but we read here in the book of Exodus that it must be carried on the shoulders of the priests.” Let us be zealous to follow the Lord’s instruction. Moreover, he must have determined in his own mind that no matter what happened he (the messenger) would not put forth his own hand to steady the Ark — even if it should fall to the ground.” We must not sin trying to bring correction in the things of God.
There have been occasions when I might admit that I have put forth my hand to steady the Ark; that is to say, to try with human efforts to correct things that I perceived were wrong in the churches. My experience is that it has always caused death of some kind. It always caused more problems than it corrected. The things that I perceived to be “problems” were not corrected, and on top of it — were the consequences of “touching the Ark.” Moreover, the “touching the Ark” part seemed to be the worst part of it.
I have learned that man cannot with fleshly efforts bring correction to the House of God. Just because something is not being done right does not mean I can reach up and steady the Ark if it starts to fall. You cannot break one law in order to enforce another one. We can’t break a law out of concern that bad things are going to happen if we don’t do something “now.”
Flesh cannot correct flesh. We must not take matters into our own hands. The temptation is to “do something” (like Uzzah did) — when the something we need to do is to declare God’s word, fast, and pray. That is the extent of our ability. If those measures do not bring the correction we believe needs to take place then we must not presume to “touch the Ark.” At the end of the day, the Church is God’s prerogative. Christ walks in the midst of the Lampstands and He knows what the churches need. Flesh cannot speak to the churches. Flesh cannot bring a word from the Lord. The High Priest will bring correction. Maybe not in our timing and maybe not what we think ought to be done… but He will do the work that He sees fit. He will go on building His Church.

Receiving The Holy Spirit

Receiving the Holy Spirit

Robert Wurtz II

Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. (Acts 26:19–21 NKJV)

There is a reason why Paul preached the Gospel the way he did. Even though the Jews seized him in the temple and tried to kill him, Paul would not back down. He understood what was at stake. He wasn’t trying to be mean to people — he simply took seriously Jesus’ words, “Verily, verily I say unto you, you must be born again!” (John 3:3) The born again experience is essential to our Lord building a Church that the gates of hell will not prevail against. If we forsake this reality we will lose Christianity. Just as we are born naturally into the natural world — we must be reborn spiritually if we are to see the kingdom of God.  

For over 100 years the reality of Acts 26:19-21 has been largely, if not completely, ignored. When it’s not being ignored, the passage is being twisted by those who cannot handle its implications. In modern times most preachers (who do preach repentance) believe it simply means asking God for forgiveness. Some believe it means to “say you are sorry” or to “be sorry” for your sins. However, true repentance involves a change of mind so profound that it changes the direction of a persons’ life. In fact, repentance is when we come into agreement with all that God has to say. We confess our sins and turn from them. This means that we stop resisting the Holy Spirit in every area of our lives.

Why did Paul preach “John the Baptist type” repentance? Stephen gives the answer in Acts 7 when he concluded his sermon with, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51 NKJV) When we read Stephen’s word ” resist ” it is natural to conclude that this is a simple non-compliance. However, this is not the case. Stephen employs a rare Greek word (antipiptō) used once in the New Testament. It means to “run against” or “to fall upon.” This is an allusion to Numbers 23 and Isaiah 63 in which God had done everything in His power to bring about His purposes for His people — nevertheless; they provoked (vexed) His Holy Spirit — who is not easily provoked (1 Cor. 13:5). This phenomenon could also be seen in the fact that the prophets words could not be resisted, but the prophets themselves could be, so they killed them. This is what happened to Stephen.

Repentance is vital to the Gospel because it addresses the issue of resisting the Holy Spirit head-on. There is no way to get by on something less than repentance. It is the starting point. Half-way repentance is a half-way beginning that is guaranteed to result in a half-way Christian life. Resisting the Holy Spirit and rebellion against God must be brought to an end. Everyone must have a right attitude towards their Creator. This means we agree with what His word teaches. If the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin — we must agree with that. If it teaches that drunkenness is sin — we must agree with that too. If we have areas where we disagree with God and His word we are resisting the Holy Spirit. The Spirit and the word agree. Until we agree with the Spirit and the word we cannot receive the Holy Spirit. 

The old timers used to say that people need to “get right with God.” This language is from Acts 8 when Peter told Simon that his heart was not “right” with the Lord. He had believed and had been baptized but was still perishing in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. Simon needed “John the Baptist style” repentance. He needed to turn from all known sin and forsake the evil that he entertained. What is true for Simon is true for everyone. God is no respecter of persons’. Nevertheless, multitudes of ministers and Christians search for ways to avoid true repentance. In fact, the subject is rarely even brought up in discussion. The topic is detested.

New mindset new results motivational phrase sign

It is folly to invent doctrines and theologies that sidestep people’s’ need to repent. The tragedy is that theologians and Bible teachers are often better at teaching people what a verse does not mean than what it truly means. In modern times clever theologians have reduced repentance to a mere change of mind towards sin; but in practice the teaching is a dead forgery. They neither teach or preach an expectation that all people must demonstrate a change of mind by changing their behavior. Verses on genuine repentance are made of no effect. This is what happens when men become theologians who themselves have never repented and are in fact resisting the Holy Spirit.

It is interesting to consider just how long man has been actively resisting God’s authority. Our passage in Genesis 6:3 is a subtle commentary on the days of Noah; this would have been roughly 2800 BC, or nearly 5000 years ago. When we arrive at Acts 7:51 we have the same diagnoses, You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. In the 21st Century we have the same pattern of behavior. God is trying to establish His authority in the hearts of men and women and they do always “strive” or “resist.” I suggest that “always resisting the Holy Spirit” is the single greatest problem in mankind, and summarizes the relationship between God and unbelievers. Unfortunately, it is also the case in the lives of many professed believers.

In Genesis 6:3 we have the word “strive.” The context is found with Noah a preacher of righteousness, bringing forth a message of salvation. This is God striving with people outwardly. In this way, God had used men as His means of striving with man since the prophet Abel in Genesis 4:8 (compare Luke 11:50-51). Just as Cain rose up to snuff-out his witness to the truth of obedience to God, the response of the masses has rarely altered course. Inwardly, the people would feel the sting of their conscience, and the many strong impressions made upon them by the Spirit of God. The scripture is replete with men who quenched, grieved, resisted, vexed, and even blasphemed God’s Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10, 1 Thess. 5:19, Ephesians 4:30, Matthew 12:24-32). This is the message of Stephen to the religious leaders, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51 NKJV)

The very people who prided themselves as instructors of the foolish, and teachers of babes — men who had the form of knowledge and truth in the law (Romans 2:20 NKJV) — did always resist the Holy Spirit. In fact, Stephen added, as your fathers did, so do you. It had been a tradition in families for generations! Stephen went on to ask them which of the prophets did their fathers not persecute? He then went on to show that Jesus Christ, the anti type of all who had gone before Him, was given the most hideous treatment of all. The one who was the greatest representation of God was the one most persecuted by the rebellious. The treatment of a man was proportional to His capacity to represent God in striving with men. In other words, the more godly he or she was, the worse they were treated. This is the record.
I once attended a meeting where several men were speaking on the topic of the end-times. One man took the pulpit and opened his address with this unforgettable question, “How are we going to talk about 666 when we can’t even turn off HBO?” It was his way of saying that we love to speak about all kinds of topics that divert our attention away from unpleasant issues. In the late 19th and early 20th century a methodology for “getting saved” was invented that allowed people to continue to resist the Holy Spirit and anyone who preached a “book of Acts” type Gospel and still call themselves “saved.” A person can be actively resisting the Holy Spirit and be told “you are saved and don’t let the devil lie to you and tell you anything different!” And if they go on and try to receive the Holy Spirit they can say a few unintelligible sentences and be told “You got it! You got the Holy Ghost!” Meanwhile, there is no real change. The person still lives in the carnal mind.

New Birth or Stillbirth

There is nothing more tragic than a stillborn child. What is even more tragic is a stillbirth that could have been prevented. The same is true in the spiritual realm. It has been said that, “If obstetricians were as reckless with childbirth as many ministers are with new birth we would have an infant mortality rate in the land that is unprecedented in world history.” People have to be born of the Spirit and there is a right way to preach in order to see that reality come about. It doesn’t just “happen” whether the Gospel is properly preached or not. Far too often ministers cite examples of people “getting saved” in ways different from the New Testament prescribes. These examples become the pretext for everything from the sinners prayer to not praying through at all. Ministers become entrenched in false ideas about salvation and new birth — filling the churches with people who have not been regenerated by God. They were merely told they were.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7 KJV)

Becoming a Christian means we align ourselves with God and His holy word. All of it. Not just the things that suit our desires. Moreover, the Holy Spirit and the word of God agree. If a person does not agree with God’s word — in reality — they are resisting Him no matter what they profess. And you cannot receive and resist the Holy Spirit at the same time. Jesus asked the simple question , “… and why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things I say?” As if He would ask, “why do you make my word of no effect by your traditions? Why do you keep doing things that are contrary to God’s word, just as your fathers did?” Answer, because once someone is bold enough to trample on a precept others are emboldened to follow. Soon everyone is doing it (well, not everyone). This is how we have veered off course so bad in the last 100 years. None now live who even remember how repentance and receiving the Holy Spirit is supposed to be.

The consequence of modern-day evangelistic techniques is that the churches have filled up with people who are unregenerate. This simply means that God has not changed them by what Jesus called being born again (John 3:3). Unregenerate people are no different from sinners — except they may start coming to church and “trying” to live the Christian life. They still have a unregenerated carnal mind and heart. They have a mind that is still at enmity with God. For example, many denominations, including the United Methodist Church, are debating the issue of homosexual marriage and transgender identity. There are people “high up” in authority that cannot agree with God about the subject. Why? Because either they were never born again to begin with or they are now thinking and living like carnal men (sinners). Can you see why it is so important to make sure that the people who we call Christians are actually born again of the Spirit? We risk filling the churches with people who are no more spiritual in mind and heart than the average sinner… and they move up into places of authority and start making decisions for the churches. Can anyone say, “The devil is in the house!?”

Many have repeated a prayer similar to a Catholic Hail Mary. In football, a “hail mary” is when a quarterback tries to throw the ball from one end of the field to the other in a last-ditch attempt to score a winning touchdown. The idea is to go from one end of the field to the other in one pass. This is what the sinners prayer is. It is a last ditch effort to save a person who is a million miles from God with a simple “up in the air” pass. How often do they actually connect? Not often. Imagine if a quarterback decided that from the beginning of the game every play would be a “hail mary.” That would be called “throwing the game” because it would not work. Similarly, people believe that by repeating the prayer it means they have repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ — in one motion. However, repenting is not telling God you repent… it means changing your mind and turning from the behavior. You may tell God you have repented, but it is only true if you have actually done it. Words and actions have to match.
Ours is the generation that can change a hundred years of substandard evangelism. We must make the change or it is going to be too late. We are losing whole denominations to sin and compromise. People are asking, “why is this happening?” I explained it in this article. Carnal minds that have not changed by the power of the Spirit will remain carnal. They will remain in a state of enmity with God even though they start going to church and become active in ministry.

If something does not change fast the churches will be full of carnal people who have no interest in obeying God’s word. It is already happening. Many “Christians” see nothing wrong with all kinds of sins and then wonder why they have not received the Holy Spirit. Others received a spirit that was not of God and are moving in false spiritual gifts wreaking havoc in churches. In time the carnal will take over if we don’t get back to the true Gospel.

A minister may have preached a soft Gospel for 75 years, but if they are sensitive to God they can change course. It’s not too late. Lay down the excuses — recognize what is happening — and get back to New Testament evangelism (repentance, faith, water baptism, and receiving the Holy Spirit). No more excuses. Sadly, I’m convinced that other will go to their graves doing the same old thing that is not working. When I say “not working” I don not mean that you ask a person if they are “saved” after they pray the sinners’ prayer. I mean you can testify that the person is radically changed and are now on a truly spiritual path. There is fruit in their life. You know for a fact that the person has been radically changed by God. They are a new creature and everyone can tell.

Meanwhile the churches go on filling up with people who have no real desire to comply with God’s will. The face of Christianity has changed radically in the last 70 years. It’s as if a whole new religion has been created to serve the people who never stopped resisting the Holy Spirit. Do the research and see how much the churches have changed. And there is no end in sight. Environments use music to forge the presence of God while the people keep on resisting His Spirit. These and many similar elixirs numb the conscience — enabling people who actually do read their bible and just skip past the verses they don’t like or agree with. They resist the word but want to entertain the “Spirit.” This is the tragedy of our times. Nevertheless, there is hope for anyone who will hear the voice of God and truly repent. They can leave of resisting the Holy Spirit and finally receive the Holy Spirit in the genuine article. Genuine regeneration. Genuinely born again. A new heart and a new spirit. They can become the real thing — not a forgery. They can begin in the Spirit and live a life that agrees with God and longs to do His will. With that we can recover ourselves, as the churches, from this carnal tract that we are on. If not, just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac — the carnal church attendees will begin persecuting the children of the promise. It is only a matter of time.

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