The Roman Road Back to Rome (How Jack Hyles Changed Evangelism)

The Roman Road Back to Rome
Robert Wurtz II

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (Exodus 19:5 NKJV)

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20 KJV)


In the middle part of the 20th century discerning preachers and writers sounded an alarm that evangelical Christianity was being assaulted by a combination of humanism and what we now know as decisionism. Humanism is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Decisionism in Christianity is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion. (Theopedia) Decisionism is sometimes referred to as Sandemanianism (Robert Sandeman (1718-1781)  Proponents of this doctrine suggest that justifying faith is a simple assent to the divine testimony concerning Jesus Christ, differing in no way in its character from belief in any ordinary testimony.

Paris Reidhead (1919-1992) pointed out that humanism had basically married decisionism to give us modern day Evangelicalism. A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), who some have called a prophet to his generation, made similar observations that people were making decisions for Christ based on logical deductions drawn from proof texts. This observation was made in the 1960s. Fast forward to 2015. We have untold numbers of people who claim the name of Christ and have very little understanding or interest in what Jesus talked about in Matthew 28:19-20 where He commanded us to teach all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Not a few verses from Romans; not enough passages and sad stories to secure a “decision;” but  all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

When God got ready to make a covenant agreement with the children of Israel He had the words of the law read to the Israelites no less than three times to insure they were prepared to agree to what God had said. Think about that. Nobody came into that covenant using the methods of what Bill Bright’s wife called a “crackerjack used car salesman.” That’s who Bright used to help train his soul-winners to give a “pitch.” Evangelists are not sales people. When they function and think like sales people they error. God does not want a quick “sign on the bottom line” before you change your mind. God deals with His people little by little just as plays out in the synoptic Gospels. By the end of three years everyone knew if they wanted to be a member of the kingdom of God or not. Jesus never treated anyone as if He had to hurry up and get them saved lest they drop dead unexpectedly. This false notion is one of the reasons why we have so many shallow decisions. Christians think they can make disciples microwave oven style. It doesn’t work and until we get back doing what Jesus told us to do we are going to have almost exclusively carnal, shallow, goats that believe they are sheep.  

God wants His “prospective people” to know what they are getting into. I say prospective because everyone should take time to know the agreement (covenant) before agreeing to it. God is not interested in people agreeing to a few verses, believing their sins are forgiven, and going about their way. God wants His will to be carried out in the lives of His people as His will is carried out in Heaven. Sadly, a man-centered “gospel” has been being preached for over 100 years. The Gospel is all about the happiness of man. Make man happy while he is alive and keep on making him happy in heaven. As Reidhead has so rightly said, this is an appeal to man’s selfishness and it is sin. 

The greatest of all miracles is the new birth, which comes through a supernatural experience. Yet how can people rightly value something they don’t understand? Moreover, how can people understand what they refuse to study? Thanks to a shift in evangelistic emphasis in the second half of the 1800s, multitudes of people grew more concerned with having their sins forgiven than with a true born-again experience. This trend accelerated in the tent revivals of the early 1900s, largely as a consequence of high-speed evangelistic techniques. This is a million miles from go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. 


The Roman Road That Leads Back to Rome



Take the so-called “Roman Road to Salvation” for example. The unsuspecting Christian will receive this teaching as if it was used by Peter and Paul to wins souls. After taking a college level evangelism class, and completing the Billy Graham evangelistic training, I was completely shocked to begin finding out how unbiblical such an approach is. In fact, with each passing day I see the error and destruction of it more clearly. 

America took shape as a nation in the fires of the First Great Awakening, which swept the colonies in the 1730s and ’40s, thanks to the preaching of men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and John Wesley (all theologians). Those helping to shape modern evangelism included Charles Finney (a lawyer), Dwight L. Moody (a shoe salesman), and Billy Sunday (a professional baseball player). Ignorance of the New Covenant especially came into vogue through Sunday, who loved to exclaim, “I don’t know any more about theology than a jack-rabbit does about ping-pong, but I’m on the way to glory.” This attitude came to a head in 1948, when east Texas pastor Jack Hyles devised the “Roman Road to Salvation.” Hyles simplified salvation by reducing the entire book of Romans to five verses, teaching generations to come how to “lead someone to faith in Christ through a simple system of proof texts.” 
It is sobering to say, but if obstetricians were as reckless with childbirth as many ministers have been with the new birth, we would likely see unprecedented infant mortality rates. People must be born of the Spirit; there is a right way to preach in order to see that reality take place. Spiritual stillbirth is the primary reason why many supposed believers in Christ have no appetite for the Word of God. They remain in a carnal, or unregenerate, state. To paraphrase Paul, spiritual things remain foolishness to them (see 1 Cor. 2:14). What is the solution? Two verses come to mind:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (Exodus 19:5 NKJV)

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20 KJV)
_______________________
footnotes

Jack Hyles, Let’s Go Soul Winning (Mufreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Foundation, 1962), 32. In Mr. Hyles’ own words, 
“By the way, you folks who don’t come on Wednesday
night don’t know this, but about twenty-two years ago, in
a little East Texas Church, I came up with a little plan of presenting the plan of salvation called ‘The Roman Road’ whereby you take Verses contained in Romans and show people how to be saved using Romans 3:10, and Romans 3:23, and Romans 5:12, and Romans 5:8, and on and on. I termed it, ‘The Roman Road,’ and from the ‘Roman Road’
I wrote the little book, ‘Let’s Go Soul Winning.’ Over one hundred and thirty-five thousand copies of that book have been printed. It has been translated into several foreign lan- guages: Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, French, and others, and has literally gone around the world.” From Jack Hyles, 
“There Remaineth Yet Very Much Land to Be Possessed,” http://www.jackhyles.com/muchland.htm (accessed July 18, 2015). 

  

False Evangelism (Decisionism)

False Evangelism (Decisionism)
Robert Wurtz II

Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:19–20 KJV)

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11)

If I were to make a list of the most important words in Christian vocabulary repentance and regeneration would be at the top of the list. If I had to make another list of Christian words that Satan has attacked the most I would list repentance and regeneration at the top of that list. In fact, these two words have been so thoroughly blasphemed that we have almost lost biblical Christianity all together in the West. Indeed, the blind are leading the blind by the millions and multitudes are falling into the ditch.  



Today, if you ask a believer what repentance means they will generally say it means, “to ask Jesus to forgive your sins.” However, this is not repentance. In fact, it is not even the beginning of repentance because it does not contain a confession or acknowledgment of sins. Repentance is what Paul preached; and what Paul preached is what John the Baptist and Jesus preached. I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Paul gave this testimony on his way to die under Nero in Rome. What does it mean? He preached that people are to change their mind about sin and turn from it in such a way that there is verifiable evidence that you have forsaken it. When was the last time you heard someone preach that? And that is why we are losing Christianity and replacing it with some cheap counterfeit. 

It has been so long since repentance and regeneration was understood that I dare say that the vast majority of preachers have no idea how to do what Paul did in Acts 26:19-20. To most preachers salvation is an exercise in getting your sins forgiven. That’s all. Then the person is sometimes put through a new converts program to teach them how to be a Christian. This is utterly false and blasphemes the faith. True repentance leads to true regeneration in which a person is born of God. This means they have responded to the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin and have surrendered to Christ as Lord and King in a real way. This is not lip service. This is actuality. The pattern is simple: repent; believe on Christ; be baptized in water; and receive the Holy Spirit. Baptism in water is not sprinkling or something that happens in infancy. It is total submersion in water. Receiving the Holy Spirit is not “automatic” either. Nor is it the uttering of some unintelligable words or sentences. It is when God truly and I mean truly comes in to you. When these things happen the result is a new creature. If this is not your experience you are not born again no matter what some preacher or Christian may have told you.     

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11) It is an awful thing to pronounce a matter finished when it has only begun. To claim that a person is “healed,” when, in fact,  they are not, is to end their pursuit of the remedy. This is the  danger in our text. The people were in a state of perpetual backsliding. Their ongoing iniquity was like a festering leprous sore — designed to kill them. In fact, they were so hardened in their sins that they were unable to blush. They were past feeling. All the while, from the prophet to the priest — they were all given to covetousness. All they could think about was more money and more stuff. They lusted after all kinds of things. From these backslidden hearts issued the words, “Peace, peace!” However, it was a cruel pitiless lie. 

False Prognosis

God told them that they had preached, literally, “shalom, shalom.” In Hebrew, words are doubled-up for emphasis. This is “absolute peace.” Keep in mind that the word shalom means more than an absence of conflict, it denotes well being. This answers to the Hebrew word for wound. In other words, they are being told “it is utterly well” with them when in fact, there is no wellness at all. Their words had only “slightly” healed their festering wound. This word slightly in Hebrew denotes a flippancy towards the seriousness of the problem. 

Modern Application

In modern times, we often have a similar situation as played out in Israel. Because so many who preach the Gospel are given to covetousness, or are only interested in “building their ministry” (church attendees, TV viewers, email lists, etc.) they are unwilling to preach a message that will bring true healing to peoples’ sin-problem. Why? Because repentance does not sell. The so-called “sinners prayer” has become a sacrement in Protestant circles similar to the Catholic signing of the cross or praying the rosary. There is no power in it. 


Sadly, it is all most people know. They can’t even envision what Paul was talking about in Acts 26 because very few preachers follow Paul’s pattern. They behave as though they have a “better way” but they don’t. They are fooling themselves. In fact, they are so intrenched in their ways that they are unchallengable and unteachable in this area. The practice is going to die with them. What did they do? Why is it dangerous? Because people are often asked to repeat it who have not even come under genuine conviction of sin or godly sorrow. If Martin Luther were alive today and nailed a 95 part thesis to the wall of Evangelicalism, it would not look much diferent than the first one. Consider number one through three from his 95 Thesis:

  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. 
  2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy. 
  3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.


What happens? As Jeremiah said, they heal the wound “slightly” by preaching messages that do little more than serve as a numbing agent to stop the “pain” (conviction). Consider Luther’s last three points:

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14) 

93. Hail, hail be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross! 

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell. 

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).


In place of repentance and faith, their message is more along the lines of (you are) “well, well;” “healed, healed;” or “forgiven, forgiven.” Nothing is said about the deadly wound that is ready to destroy the soul. In fact, people are made to feel good about their condition, when God is trying to bring conviction and Godly sorrow. 

An Inadequate Beginning

God’s unaltering plan is to bring many sons (and daughters) unto glory. (Hebrews 2:10) To accomplish this, people have to be born of God. (John 3:31 John 3:91 John 4:7) This is not a “slight” healing: it is a radical change of the inward man. In fact, the change is so thorough and profound that afterwards Christ is not ashamed to call us brethren. (Hebrews 2:11) This is a new creature in Christ. The old passes away and all becomes new. God gives us a new heart and a new spirit with all new desires. Nevertheless, multitudes are coming to Christ who were never born again. Ministers led them in a prayer or had them sign a church membership card; but they were never genuinely changed.




Most Christians are hostile to the teachings of Darwinian Evolution; however, the doctrine itself is thoroughly embeded in their thinking process. When most Christians think of Christianity, they think of a person starting out with a simple confession of faith and then slowly evolving into a child of God. In other words, with each passing month or year, they become more like Christ and less like the Devil. This is false.

True Christianity begins with a crisis event in which a person passes from death unto life — from the power of Satan to the power of God. This crisis event is known theologically as regeneration. The person is ” born ” of the Spirit (See the illustration above). Once they are ” born ” again, they can begin growing in grace. This is what Jesus was referring to in John 3:3 when He said, “You must be born again.” This is a transformation by the Holy Spirit that renders a person a child of God. They were of their father the devil — performing his lusts; however, now they are born from above and God is working in them both to will and to do His good pleasure. Anything less than this result and we are back in Jeremiah 8:11 having been “healed slightly.”


Another Tragic Mindset

Sometimes false teachings go together like cause and effect. We get one thing wrong and generally some other error is close by. In addition to our subject “Evolutionistic Evangelism,”  we also have to deal with “Industrial Innovations.” That is, we have many innovations that have come into evangelism since the industrial revolution that place the emphasis on speed and quantity, rather than birth and quality. 

What is the goal of an assembly line? Speed. Obviously, there is a desire to maintain a standard, but 
everything is systematic. This is light years from, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NKJV) For over a hundred years society has been conditioned to want to speed things up. Nevertheless, we can’t speed up New Birth.

Since so few are willing to preach a message that will bring about New Birth; and even fewer are willing to pray patiently with people to see them pass from death to life; we have a deficiency in new births and an abundance of folks that are trying to “evolve” into being a child of God. It is impossible.

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11)

The Greatest Pink Elephant of All

The Greatest Pink Elephant of All
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)

“Elephant in the room” or “Elephant in the living room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first recorded use of the phrase, as a simile, as The New York Times on June 20, 1959: “Financing schools has become a problem about equal to having an elephant in the living room. It’s so big you just can’t ignore it.” (wiki) Nevertheless, 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 wrested by those who cannot handle its implications. 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 (vexedHis 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 “ran upon” them as they soon did with Stephen. 

Repentance is vital to the Gospel because it addresses the issues of resisting the Holy Spirit head-on. There is no way to get by on some lesser thing. The resistance and rebellion against God must be brought to an end and the person come into a right attitude towards their Creator. 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. Nevertheless, multitudes of ministers and Christians search for ways to avoid this. In fact, the subject is rarely even brought up in discussion it is so detested. However, it is folly to invent doctrines and theologies that sidestep this need. 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 tried to reduce repentance to a mere change of mind towards sin; but in practice the teaching is a dead forgery. Their is no expectation that the person with actually demonstrate a change of mind. The strategy is to address the passages in question so as to appear theologically correct; however, the verses are made of no effect. This is what happens when men become theologians who themselves are 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 63:101 Thess. 5:19Ephesians 4:30Matthew 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. 


Pink Elephant



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.” This is the pink elephant in modern evangelicalism. 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!” Wow. A thousand times, wow! 

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. Becoming a Christian means we align ourselves with God and His holy word.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. 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 that even remember how repentance and receiving the Holy Spirit is supposed to be.



Ours is the generation that can change all this. A person may have preached a soft Gospel for 75 years, but if they are sensitive to God they can still change. Others will go to their graves doing the same old thing that is not working. Meanwhile the churches fill up with people who have no real desire to comply with God’s will. it’s as if a whole new religion has been created to serve the people who never stopped resisting the Holy Spirit. Environments use music to forge the presence of God while the people keep on resisting. These and many type elixirs numb the conscience enabling people to read their bible and just skip past the verses they don’t like or agree with. 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. 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. 

A Prayer That Must Be Prayed

A Prayer That Must Be Prayed
Robert Wurtz II

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

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


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

An Abundant Harvest

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

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

Thrust Them In 



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


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

Not Just for Preachers

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

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

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

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

Why God Sends Revival

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

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

What is Compromise?

What is Compromise?
Robert Wurtz II

You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:18b-21)

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26, 27)

The word “therefore” signals the end of Paul’s sojourn in and around Ephesus. He is leaving the area, but before he goes he reminds the leaders a second time that he has faithfully declared to them the whole counsel of God. He says, “I kept back nothing” and then “I have not shunned” to declare everything you needed to know about the Gospel. Both phrases are translated from the Greek root hupostello. You will remember this word from the pair of uses in Hebrews 10:38, 39 where the writer states, “the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him…” The word means to furl the sails or to shrink back out of fear. When the winds were carrying a ship in a direction repulsive to the navigator, he may order to “furl the sail” (hupostello) to slow the ship down. In other words, Paul means to say that he suppressed nothing of the truth through fear of giving offense. He did not compromise the Gospel.

This is significant because the history of the church at Ephesus is recorded from its conception — through to its appearance in Revelation chapter 2. When we think of Ephesus we should think of a church that was planted and cultivated rightly. Nothing was held back. Ephesus became one of the premier churches of the first century. There can be no doubt that the details recorded in Acts chapters 18-20 are intended to instruct us in the basics of establishing a church. People may change and cultures will differ, but the basic call to repentance and the establishment of that church under the head of Christ is worthy of all acceptation.

Reading the account of Paul’s work at Ephesus, and contrasting that with modern day evangelistic practices and church growth strategies, I am brought to understand his use of the phrase “I beseech thee.” Paul would beg people to do what God’s word says to do. He was prepared to take a beating or even lose friends in order to protect the authentic Gospel. He wanted the truth of the Gospel to continue on. The feeling back of the words “I beseech thee” goads us to feel the seriousness of such matters. Paul begged and wept over these things. We ought to follow his lead and do likewise. 

Free From the Blood of All Men

It is because Paul refused to shrink back, but went ahead and declared the full counsel of God, that he could declare, I am innocent of the blood of all men.” The inverse of this would have been that he refused to declare the full counsel of God and was guilty of the blood of all that heard his Gospel. This is a clear allusion to Ezekiel 33:1-6. In Paul’s theology, the Old Testament passage was still in play. This makes Ezekiel 33:1-6 axiomatic and applicable to all who know and preach the truth of the Gospel. Is God a respecter of persons? Or is God telling us in the clearest of terms that He expects that His Gospel not be compromised?

What does it mean to be guilty of the blood of a man? Clearly it means that there is a sense in which the one who was supposed to properly warn the sinner shares in that sinner’s ruin. Just as Isaiah cried out “woe is me” in Isaiah 6; Paul said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16b) Taken together Paul’s attitude of life was simple; “Woe is me, if I do not declare the full counsel of God — and cleanse myself from the blood of all men!” He knew he had to discharge his role as a steward of the Gospel. He had to fulfill his calling. This meant communicating the facts of the Gospel no matter who they offended. 

Compromise and Its Children

The greatest compromise of all is the compromise of the Gospel. Compromise begets more compromise; it brings forth after its own kind. It is foolish for men to think that compromising the Gospel and its core message of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus will not bring about the ultimate compromise of all that is called Christianity. I’m asked on an almost regular basis; “What is going on today with people that call themselves Christians? Why do they condone everything from flagrant worldliness to homosexuality?” My answer is always the same. I ask the person if they really want to know the answer. Because you are not going to like my answer. The reason why things are going down the tubes is because we are failing in our evangelism of the lost. We have been failing for over 100 years when Billy Sunday put away the need to inquire with sinners individually and pray them through to a real experience in God. We started manufacturing Christians like Ford motor company manufacturers automobiles. 

Some ministers do well to bring people into a state where they know they are lost and that God is dealing with them. The failure is when the person is told to say a little prayer and made to believe that the prayer means they have “repented of their sins.” Repentance is not something you merely say (such as “I repent!”); it is something you do. The Greek word means to change your mind about your sin. It is not a feeling. Paul said that Godly sorrow works repentance, but it is not repentance itself. Godly sorrow is a sorrow God-wards. It is distress for our realizing what we have done to God. That sorrow or grief can work a change of mind that we will not regret. We will be glad we changed our mind. In other words, we don’t look back with regret and wish we would have kept on in sin. When we realize that we have offended God, we are able to call upon Him in a way that is meaningful.     

Modern Evangelism

As soon as a person says the salvation prayer they almost always stop seeking God. A sense of relief comes over them. The whole process of Godly sorrow and repentance ends. Why? Because they are made to believe they have done what is expected of them. It is totally mechanical. 



By way of illustration, imagine you are in court and have been convicted of ten felony offenses and are facing the death penalty. You have heard the charges and you understand what you deserve. Now imagine that your lawyer tells you to come forward and stand before the judge as a sign of surrender. He then asks you to repeat after him; “Dear judge, … I have committed these terrible crimes… and I ask you to forgive me… etc.” Who could do such a thing in good conscience? Do you think the judge would believe him? Who would actually believe the judge is going to pardon this man? I dare say not 1 in 10,000 people would think that would work. Yet it goes on every day in evangelistic circles. The whole spectacle was fabricated by the lawyer to get the guilty man to say what he believes the judge wants to hear. Do you believe such a practice would be effectual? And if it were, do you think the guilty man would cease committing crimes? I trow not on all accounts. And if a judge, fallible as he be, would reject such a thing as a fabrication — how much more would the Judge of all the earth who searches the hearts and knows the thoughts and intentions?  

 People are being made to believe they can “get saved” without counting the cost, forsaking their sin, and following Christ with all of their might. The consequence? No real regeneration. No miracle of salvation. No born again experience. No new heart. No new birth. No mind of Christ. No new creature. The old is still around, and the new has not come. Nevertheless, because they repeated the prayer they are told they are saved. Believing they are saved they begin attending church meetings. They aspire to ministry and learn how to be a Christian by watching others. They get bolder and bolder and begin challenging Biblical practices and doctrines. They advocate what God hates and hate what God loves. Why? Because they are still in the carnal mind and few if any are willing to admit that it is because they were never properly born into the Kingdom. They prayed a prayer and were made to believe they were all that God has done in Christ.

Paul’s Concern

If we fail to make known the full counsel of God, and leave people in a false state of salvation, or in a false hope of assurance, we have done more damage than had we spoken nothing at all. We will have have made people believe that they can “be saved” without changing their mind about their sins and turning to the Savior for forgiveness and freedom. The prayer ended the process. “I did it” … “I’ve done what you said” and they are unchanged. There are exceptions to this, but they are few and far between and must never be allowed to serve as a defense of such a failed practice.

Understand that the duty of a lost sinner is not to come forward in a meeting or to pray a prayer forged in the mind of someone else; but they are to comprehend the facts of the Gospel and call upon the name of the Lord on the basis of what they understand to be their condition. If the prayer is not of their own heart, it is not genuine — no matter how many times we encourage them to be sincere when they say it. Even the thief on the cross cried out to Christ from his own heart. This is what must take place. This is the beginning of the end of the great compromise of the last 100+ years. If we will get back to Paul’s attitude of preaching until he was clear of the blood of all men we will see this thing turn around. If not we will plunge into oblivion and our whole identity will be lost.  









Dying to get the Message

Dying to get the Message
Robert Wurtz II

So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the LORD’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. (2 Samuel 6:3-8)


Perhaps you are wondering why God would take the time to make sure passages such as we read above are contained in the Bible. After all, once something is written into the sacred text it would have to be meticulously and painstakingly copied every time a new copy of the scriptures were made. This was very hard work, so we can rest assured that everything contained in the scriptures is important. Paul reminds us that it is written for our instruction and in some cases as a warning to us. In other places we read that it is profitable for instruction. With this in mind may we approach this sacred text and find ourselves in it.

It happens that one hundred years prior to the events recorded above, the evil sons of Eli had fornicated with the women that came to the Temple and took of the meat offerings with such profanity that the people despised the worship of God. God warned Eli, but he honored his sons more than he honored God and would not reign them in. He even called-out Samuel’s mother suggesting she was drunk and needed to lay off the wine (though she was not drunk at all but was crying to the Lord for a son), but did not have the will to check his sons (I’m thinking of checking hockey style). The trouble is that men will honor their family, friends or anyone else that may serve their purposes. This is a frightful thing to consider. Nobody should have such a hold on us that we would dishonor God in order to please them.   

God sent Samuel in to begin clearing the mess, but before he could come of age and start getting things turned around, the evil sons of Eli took the ark and went running into the Philistine camp with it. They had no respect for the things of God. They wanted to use it almost like a good luck charm or something. More pointedly; they being evil tried to move in the reality of the righteous. God had led His people with the Ark in the past, but that was when they were walking in His ways. Now they would put their sin and filth stained hands to it. The Ark was lost and the evil sons were killed. When Eli heard of it he fell over dead and his daughter in law fell into labor and named the son Ichabod, for the glory of the Lord had departed. 

David was only the second king ever in Israel. One hundred years passed and David wanted to bring the Ark back up. In order to make sure the kings of Israel could rule according to God’s will and ways the king had to make for himself a personal copy of the Law. In Deuteronomy 17:18 we read, “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests.” God did not want a king in Israel, but He knew the day would come so He gave instructions for that eventuality. Contained in the copy of the Law that David made for himself were the instructions on how to handle the Ark. In fact, it contained the same instruction that you and I can read today. nevertheless, something had happened. A hundred years of living without the manifest presence of God had left the new generation devoid of the urgency and reverence necessary to move in the things of God. None now lived that remembered the way things were supposed to be done. Most had probably never heard many of the stories such as that of Nadab and Abihu that recorded the consequences of recklessness while handling the things of God. 

God never leaves Himself without a witness to the truth. It was in their writings. It was undoubtedly in the minds of some of the Levites. Somebody had to know. Either they didn’t say anything or their voices were drowned out or marginalized. What did they do? So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. What happened? They tried to praise their way through their disobedience. They had forgotten the lesson recently learned by Saul, that to obey is better than to sacrifice. 

The sons of Eli were profaners of the holy things; the Philistines profaned them; the house of Abinidab profaned them. In fact, only the Levites were to handle the Ark of God. It represented His authority and was to be attended by holy men only. Nevertheless, When they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. 

It is sobering to know that this man had to die before the people would listen. Why not just do what God has said? Why keep testing Him? The instruction manual was readily available for their consideration. Some commentators have argued that the scriptures were expensive and rare and few people had them. Well, we know that David had a copy and so did the Levites. I find David’s reaction interesting; And David became angry because of the LORD’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. (NKJV) Why did God tell us that? Did we really need to know that David was angry because of what happened? Who was he angry at? God? Himself? Uzzah? I don’t know. I only know that somebody died that day and that that death was exemplary. It showed us for all times God’s estimate of mishandling the holy things of God, and specifically His authority. From this point forward things changed and during David’s reign the people took God and His word seriously again.

What about 2014? Where are we in these great things? We don’t have the Ark and all the vessels of the ministry as did Israel in 1000 BC. Those things were only figures of the truth. The Church has known these things in their reality since the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The question is how are we handling them? Are there any parallels to our story in 2 Samuel 6? 

I’m afraid there are. Around 100 years ago our evangelistic methods radically changed and instead of bringing people into the Kingdom discipled to Jesus Christ, multitudes have been brought in by repeat type prayers that had no power to effect change. Repentance and water baptism were replaced by man-made measures just like the Levites were replaced by the machinery of a cart and a couple of oxen. Moving the Ark became a mechanized ordeal – just like the machinery of mass evangelism is today. You simply can’t move the authority of God (Ark) into the heart and life of a person on a man-made cart. It will never do. And as we read with Uzzah, God wouldn’t have it. Not then and not now. But before the people would listen, a man had to be smitten dead. It was not until then that we read these words, David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9)
  

The evidences of 100 years of failed evangelism are all around us. As if a thousand Eli’s and his sons have crept in to profane everything we once held sacred. Every man does what is right in his own eyes. David’s question, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” is answered by a chorus of carnal men and women who have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Some actually believe God will come when we strike up the band. Some think He will come if we decorate our sanctuaries like the world. Few even care that we are watching our very heritage as Christians being profaned before our very eyes and are offending God in the process. We are losing our identity and purpose for being. We are supposed to be a Holy people unlike any on the face of the earth. 

The Ark is on a cart – the band is playing – and nobody seems to care. The lonely voices that are crying for the instruction manual can only wait for that fateful day when somebody finally gets struck dead. Who knows? Will there be another Ananias and Sapphira or Herod as in Acts 12:23? Will some people have to be smitten blind as with Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13? I don’t know what God is going to do to get the attention and reverence of a generation that has decided to do everything their own way: evangelism, denominationalism, praise, worship, holiness standards, et al. What are we to make of a generation on the verge of dying to get the message? 

  

The Battle For The Gospel

The Battle For The Gospel
Robert Wurtz II

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 NKJV)


Jude wrote this epistle with a Holy Spirit inspired urgency. He states, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you…” The Saints were in danger; the Gospel was being threatened. This is a picture of our times. The same enemy keeps on with his tactics. The Saints have to position themselves to guard him step for step and block him blow for blow. 

I once heard a minister say that we are just one generation away from losing our heritage as Christians. All it takes is for one generation to believe a different gospel, and the faith of our fathers is in jeopardy. Many are even now waiting it out hoping the old timers will die off so they can fully implement their plans. The progressive ideas of philosophy and politics have infiltrated Christendom – leading to the notion that we must abandon the old ways and embrace a new day. Nevertheless, its the same old dog with a new name. Satan has been trying to overthrow the common faith since the day of Pentecost. 

Earnestly Contend for the Faith

As Weust has pointed out, “The faith here is not faith as exercised by the individual, but Christianity itself in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation.” The book of Acts would have been the historical account of the faith being once and for all committed to the Saints. So it is “that faith” that we have to earnestly contend for. Not the watered down forms of the last 120 years, but the faith as Peter, Phillip and Paul preached it. To understand what is meant, one needs to make a fresh study of the book of Acts. Romans explains the Gospel, but in Acts we see the preaching of it playing out in real life. Not the theoretical, but the practical. men and women are called to repent and believe the Gospel. That is, change your mind about your sinful life and turn from it. Renounce it and confess it. Then, believe the Gospel. This means our complete faith and trust in Christ alone for our salvation. It means being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit.

Earnestly Contend for the Faith
 
“Earnestly contend” is the Greek word epagonisomai, and it is a hapax legomenon (meaning it is found only here in the New Testament). The verb was used of athletes preparing for and contending in athletic games. It speaks of a vigorous, intense, determined struggle to defeat the opposition (Wuest). We get our English word “agony” from the noun form of this word. This means that the ancient Greek athletes exerted themselves to the point of agony trying to compete and win in the games. This implies great determination and discipline. Simply put, it was very difficult to compete in the games and it is very difficult to earnestly contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered unto the Saints. This type of approach (akin to the athletic discipline and  intensive effort) is what Jude says the Saints must employ in defending “The Faith” (i.e., the New Covenant). 

Prophetic Foresight

God is never taken off guard by the enemies antics. in fact, it was prophesied hundreds of years before the writing of Jude’s epistle that this would happen. He writes, For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Long ago God called out these deceivers. You will notice that the second half of the sentence uses Lord twice, and it is two different Greek words. The emphasis here is on the Lordship and supreme authority of Christ. This is in opposition to those who preach grace as lewdness (unbridled lust). In other words, one can be saved without having to be crucified with Christ and come under God’s absolute authority. Many people today “made a decision” for Christ, but never truly repented of their sins and placed their complete trust in Christ. They never knew godly sorrow for their sins such as brings about a repentance that remains. 

We must earnestly contend for the faith of the New Testament. The world is infiltrating with a paradigm that says, “Its a new day and its all up for grabs.” Nay verily. We must contend- step for step and blow for blow. We must battle to the point of agony if necessary. Souls are at risk and the soul of the churches are at risk. If we ignore our duty and fail in our mission, we will reap a ruin incomprehensible within the churches. We have the orders to carry out and we have the grace to get it done. This is a crisis hour and as Jude put it, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

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