The Spirit of Ahimaaz

The Spirit of Ahimaaz
Robert Wurtz II

And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. (2 Samuel 18:5 KJV)

Then Joab said, “I cannot linger with you.” And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree. And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him. So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.” (2 Samuel 18:14–17 NKJV)

The king said, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about. (2 Samuel 18:29 NKJV)

Our times are similar to a story found during king David’s reign over Israel. When David’s rebellious son Absalom was killed, there were two messengers who went to bring the news. The man who left first was a Cushite and he went with both the good news and the bad news. The second man was Ahimaaz, a friend of David’s who begged Joab to allow him to run as well. Joab’s words are insightful, “Why do you want to run, my son, since that you will have no reward for the news?” Ahimaaz said, “Come what may, I want to run.” So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite (2 Samuel 18:22b, 23). 

As we read on in the text, we see that Ahimaaz out ran the Cushite in order to be the first to bring good news. In fact, when he reached ear-shot of David he shouted out, “All is well!” (2 Samuel 18:28 NKJV) This is the Hebrew “Shalom!” He then went on to tell David that the battle had been won. The trouble was, David was most concerned about the fate of his beloved son, Absalom. In other words, he was concerned with with all the news not just the good news. His son had been killed, but Ahimaaz did not have the heart to share that bad news with his friend. He left the job half finished and the king with the impression that “All is well!” Nevertheless, the Cushite was more direct and told the whole story – bad news and all.

Matthew Henry comments saying,  “Ahimaaz soon discerned, what Joab intimated to him, that the death of the king’s son would make the tidings of the day very unwelcome, and therefore in his report left that matter doubtful; and, though he gave occasion to suspect how it was, yet, that the thunderclap might not come too suddenly upon the poor perplexed king, he refers him to the next messenger, whom they saw coming, for a more particular account of it.” Amihaaz thought he would win a reward for the news, but he soon found out that once the bad news is told along with the good news… it would not be well received. I think it more reasonable to say that Ahimaaz message, void of the vital truth the king needed to hear, was in fact a lie. 

Sadly, the mentality of Ahimaaz seems to dominate our times. It is akin to the days of Jeremiah when he twice wrote these words, “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11 NKJV) Today there is an unwillingness to tell people that they are sinners and separated from God. There is an unwillingness to make the people know the extent of their “wound” so that the good news of the Gospel will make sense to them. Rather than tell the bad news many ministers and Christians proclaim with a shout as soon as they can… “Shalom! Shalom!” when there is no shalom. The people are in a carnal state that is at enmity with God. Many are ushered into the churches and the enmity remains. 

 Here in the United States we are in an election year. Just a few days ago Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. Many Christians are thinking in terms of getting a God-fearing man into the Presidency and the Supreme Court. However, this will not save America. We will continue down this downhill slide until Christians, who preach in the “spirit” of Ahimaaz, repent and proclaim the Gospel — bad news and all. We need a Bible-based Gospel that will fully heal the peoples’ sin problem. Until that happens, the churches will continue to fill up with canal minded people who are in a heart state of enmity with God; and America will go on without the true Spiritual leadership that it desperately needs.  We need God to raise up some real preachers who will proclaim His message if we are ever to have a hope in this land. 

"In Church" or "In Christ"? (

In Church or In Christ? (Lessons from John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience)
Robert Wurtz II

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)

The renowned Evangelical theologian J.I. Packer, in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, reminds us that “Aspiration, resolution, and religiosity are no substitutes for faith. Martin Luther and John Wesley had all these long before they had faith.” This is a sobering consideration, but a true one.  

One of the primary strategies of evangelists in the era leading up to the 20th century was to call into question the hearer’s assurance of salvation. We do not hear preaching like this in the main stream, so it is necessary to experience it for ourselves in order to understand the effect it would have on the hearer. George Whitefield (1714-1770) began his soul-searching sermon with this standard type of enquiry:

And, I think, if I know anything of mine own heart, my heart’s desire, as well as my prayer to God, for you all, is, that I may see you sitting down in the kingdom of our heavenly Father. But then, though we all hope to go to heaven when we die, yet, if we may judge by people’s lives, and our Lord says, “that by their fruits we may know them,” I am afraid it will be found, that thousands, and ten thousands, who hope to go to this blessed place after death, are not now in the way to it while they live. Though we call ourselves Christians, and would consider it as an affront put upon us for anyone to doubt whether we were Christians or not; yet there are a great many, who bear the name of Christ, that yet do not so much as know what real Christianity is. Hence it is, that if you ask a great many, upon what their hopes of heaven are founded, they will tell you that they belong to this, or that, or the other denomination, and part of Christians, into which Christendom is now unhappily divided. If you ask others, upon what foundation they have built their hope of heaven, they will tell you, that they have been baptized, that their fathers and mothers, presented them to the Lord Jesus Christ in their infancy; and though, instead of fighting under Christ’s banner, they have been fighting against Him, almost ever since they were baptized, yet because they have been admitted to church, and their names are in the register book of the parish, therefore they will make us believe, that their names are also written in the book of life. But a great many, who will not build their hopes of salvation upon such a sorry rotten foundation as this, yet if they are, what we generally call, negatively good people; if they live so as their neighbors cannot say that they do anybody harm, they do not doubt but they shall be happy when they die; nay, I have found many such die, as the Scripture speaks, “without any hands in their death.” And if a person is what the world calls an honest moral man, if he does justly, and, what the world calls, love a little mercy, is now and then good-natured, reaches out his hand to the poor, receives the sacrament once or twice a year, and is outwardly sober and honest; the world looks upon such an one as a Christian indeed, and doubtless we are to judge charitably of every such person. There are many likewise, who go on in a round of duties, a model of performances, that think they shall go to heaven; but if you examine them, though they have a Christ in their heads, they have no Christ in their hearts.

This opening statement was designed to call to question whether or not one was truly converted. It asks the question, “On what is your hope built?” This was akin to John the Baptist saying, “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now the axe is laid to the root of the tree; every tree that does not bring forth good fruit will be hewn down and cast into the fire.” It matters not your affiliation or pedigree, but whether or not you have truly repented and trusted Christ. Have you begun in the Spirit? Does your life yield the fruit of the Holy Spirit? This is the true evidence that one has passed from death unto life.[1]

John Wesley

            George Whitefield had a dear friend named John Wesley (1703-1791). As a child Wesley had been saved from a fiery building and true to form he was indeed a man “plucked from the burning.” He became an Anglican priest in England that had studied at Christ Church, Oxford. There he helped found the “Holy Club” along with his brother Charles and George Whitefield. This was the beginning of the Methodists. He traveled to the Colonies to do a work for God, only to realize on the ship and in a raging storm that he was not truly converted himself. As shocking as that may seem, this man at the age of 35, that was raised to know the Word of God at his mother’s knee, had all his life trusted in his own righteousness for salvation. He wrote in his journal:

All the time I was at Savannah, Georgia I was thus beating the air. Being ignorant of the righteousness of Christ, which by a living faith in him brings salvation “to everyone that believeth,” I sought to establish my own righteousness, and so labored in the fire all my days. I was now, properly under the Law; I knew that the Law of God was spiritual; I consented to it, that it was good. Yea, I delighted in it, after the inner man. Yet was I carnal, sold under sin. Every day was I constrained to cry out, “What I do, I allow not; for what I would, I do not; but what I hate, that I do. To will is indeed present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good which I would, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do.[2]

He admitted that he was neither freed from sin, nor did he have the witness of the Holy Spirit. His own diagnosis was that he had sought these things by the works of the Law and not the hearing of faith. All the while, the ministry went on. He wrote, “And I continued preaching and following after and trusting in that righteousness, whereby no flesh can be justified.” Returning home, he diligently sought the Lord. He renounced his own righteousness. He added:

During this whole struggle between nature and grace, (which had now continued above ten years,) I had many remarkable returns to prayer; especially when I was in trouble. I had many sensible comforts, which are indeed no other than short anticipations of the life of faith. But I was still under the law, not under grace: (the state most who are called Christians are content to live and die in).[3]

Wesley struggled for a while coming to a place of complete trust in the finished work of Christ. Herein is the Reformers position of man’s estate before God validated—in that man is helpless in his own strength to reform himself sufficiently to become a child of God. Repentance? Wesley had much of it. Sorrow for sin? Wesley had it in superabundance. A desire to do what was right in the sight of the Lord? Indeed, Wesley burned with a desire for righteousness but he was going about it his own way. God had to arrest his attention and bring a great light upon the subject. It was on that ship somewhere in the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean that God brought him into reality. As the Roman soldiers and prisoners in Acts 27, Wesley experienced the fear of imminent death by drowning in darkness. The whole experience must have been a foretaste of hell. He didn’t want to die like this—in fear rather than faith. As the Moravians prayed and sang peacefully in the ship Wesley’s nerves were frayed like no other time. All of his life he had done as the shipmaster in Acts 27, doing everything he could to get rid of things that offend. He bolstered his “ship” with all kinds of earthly disciplines, but in the midst of the sea, the chords that held his soul secure were melted before this flame. When it seemed that all of his life was destined for one massive shipwreck, he arrived in the place where God could really save him. John Wesley continues his testimony:

God prepared Peter Border for me as soon as I came to London, affirmed of true faith in Christ, (which is but one,) that it had those two fruits inseparably attending it, “Do minion over sin, and constant peace from a sense of forgiveness.” I was quite amazed and looked upon it as a new Gospel. If this was so, it was clear, I did not have faith. But I was not willing to be convinced of this. Therefore I disputed with all my might and labored to prove that faith might be where these were not; especially where the sense of forgiveness was not: for all the Scriptures relating to this I had been long since taught to construe away and to call all “Presbyterians” who spoke otherwise. Besides, I well saw, no one could (in the nature of things) have such a sense of forgiveness, and not feel it. But I felt it not. If then there was no faith without this, all my pretensions to faith dropped at once.[4](emphasis added)

One morning Wesley woke up and opened his Bible to the passage, There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that you should be partakers of the divine nature(2 Peter 1:4). Returning later he opened to another verse, you are not far from the Kingdom of God. In the evening, he went to hear a message. The experience he describes would mark a radical change in his life:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change that God works in the heart through faith in Christ, 1 felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart.[5]

This marked John Wesley’s conversion. It is commonly referred to as his Aldersgate experience. He was 35 years old. It is instructional for those who may have been involved in Christianity all of their lives and yet have not truly been born of the Spirit. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)

[1]The Apostle John deals with this subject in 1 John 3. Here we have a list of qualities that we may “know” if we are passed from death to life or not. The means by which we pass from death to live are given in John 5:24. The question becomes, have you believed in such a way that you have passed from death unto life? This is not a mental assent to doctrinal points but the placing of ones faith in trust completely in Christ in such a way that He can believe us.  
[2]John Wesley, The Journal of the Rev. John Wesley Volume I, January, 1738, 1827, P. 94-96 See also Romans 7. 
[3]Ibid, Wesley.
[4]Ibid, Wesley.
[5]Ibid, Wesley, P.98

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)

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