Proving God’s Perfect Will (Deo volente or "DV")

Proving God’s Perfect Will
Robert Wurtz II

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2 NKJV)

God’s will is the perfect will simply because it cannot be improved upon. A wise old preacher once said that, “A good wit can dispute and distinguish about the will of God; while an honest, humble heart, that has spiritual senses exercised, and is delivered into the mold of the word (not the world), loves it, and practises it, and has the relish and savour of it.” This was the attitude of the Lord Jesus. His “meat” was to do the will of the Father. (John 4:34) In fact, He employed the food motif first when He stated categorically when talking to Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

Deo volente or “DV” (as it is commonly expressed), is a Latin term that means “God willing.” It reflects back to biblical prohibitions against the sin of presumption. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:15 NKJV) James reminds us of the central position of God’s will in the life of a Christian. We don’t even know that tomorrow will come and we must always consciously beware that God is sovereign in all things. That is to say, we acknowledge God’s right to maintain supreme rule in our lives — including matters of life and death.

Diabolic Detours 

Understand that when people are bent on doing their own will  nothing will change their mind. It is useless arguing with them. Human beings have made a life of rebelling against what they know to be God’s will. Moreover, many people (even Christians) will give lip-service to the importance to doing God’s will until that will conflicts with their own. However, the spiritual person not only seeks to prove (rightly discern and obey) God’s will, but will always encourage others to do likewise. This is what James did, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills…” A spiritual person should never (underline the word never) encourage you to disobey what you perceive to be God’s will. If what you are about to do is in compliance with God’s word, and you feel strongly that some certain thing is God’s will, you ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29) 

But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. (James 3:14–15 NKJV)

 
The carnal man generally lives for the moment and fears the future because of that. Satan exploits these traits. As a result, decisions are often made on the basis of carnal factors that are not of God. Moreover, the first question that any Christian should ask before making any decision is, “what is God’s will in this matter?” “What does God’s word teach?” “What is His Spirit leading me to do?” Jesus is pictured with seven eyes in the book of Revelation. This is perfect perception and knowledge. He knows the problem and He knows the solution. He knows the future and he knows what is the mind of God. He understands the workings of God’s will on the earth. Nothings escapes His eyes.Nothing takes Him by surprise. This is why we lean on His understanding and guidance and not our own or others.

Carnality in Decision Making   

The world makes decisions based on their emotions, lusts, pet-peeves, what’s trending, and a host of other things. No person can prove God’s perfect will making decisions on that basis. It is impossible. We cannot approve things that are holy, godly, excellent (Philippians 1:10), etc. when employing substandard criteria for decision making. Christians must be moving in an unbiased — unprejudiced judgment concerning the things of God if they are ever to prove God’s will. God often challenges conventional wisdom with His perfect will. 


Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV) Answer: yes! In fact, it is impossible to prove God’s perfect will when employing the methodology of fools. That’s what the wisdom of this world is, foolishness. When we make decisions based upon any other factor than a desire to do God’s perfect will we are moving in foolishness. And there are going to be consequences. A Craig Caster has rightly said, “Man can never improve upon God’s perfect will, only destroy it.” When man gets in the way of God’s will, leaning upon his/her own understanding, the consequence is sure to be disaster. Those who meddle in God’s business are sure to give an account to Him. If you have been guilty of this, don’t delay! Repent and go to the person(s) and confess the sin. Perchance God will forgive the sin and remedy the damage. 


For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. (1 Corinthians 3:19 KJV emphasis added)


Sometimes it’s hard to do God’s will because of the craftiness (Gk. panourgian) of people who are bent on their own self-will. The religious leaders used craftiness (panourgian) to try to trip Jesus up. He asked them, “Why do you tempt me?” (Luke 20:23) Satan is said to have used craftiness (panourgian) to deceive Eve (2 Cor. 11:2). Paul used the word once again to describe how men use “cunning craftiness” to lie in wait to deceive vulnerable believers. (Eph. 4:13) 


Satan the Scandalon



When Jesus was about to do God’s will and die on the cross for our sins, Peter took Him and rebuked him. (Matthew 16:22) But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23 NKJV) The Greek word for offense is skandalon. A better translation would be not “thou art an offense” but “thou art in my way!” (Vincent) Peter went from being a “rock” Jesus could use to build the church to Peter the stumbling stone. that is shocking! And it all related to doing or not doing God’s will and how we encourage or discourage folks in that area. He was setting a trap to cause him to miss God’s will. The voice of Satan was in Peter’s mouth at that moment. How can this be? Satan filled Ananias and Sapphira’s heart and he can fill a Christian’s mouth. The human heart can be very deceitful without any help from Satan. (Jer. 17:9) People can be deceitful. Christians can be deceitful. Leaders can be deceitful. Preachers can be deceitful. Believe it or not, even Prophets can be deceitful.

“And he said, “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. For I have been told by the word of the LORD, “You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ “He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” (He was lying to him.)”

(1 Kings 13:16–18 NKJV)

An old prophet used his influence to lie to the man of God. We are not told why. The result was the man of God obeyed the voice of the prophet rather than obeying what he knew was God’s word to him. He had direct orders from God and should have obeyed them. He believed the lie instead and was killed as a result. “The conduct of the old prophet at Bethel appears so strange, that Josephus and the Chaldeans, and most of the Rabbis and the earlier commentators both Catholic and Protestant, have regarded him as a false prophet, who tried to lay a trap for the prophet from Judah, in order to counteract the effect of his prophecy upon the king and the people. But this assumption cannot be reconciled with either the divine revelation which came to him at the table, announcing to the Judaean prophet the punishment of his transgression of the commandment of God, and was so speedily fulfilled (1 Kings 13:20-24); or with the honour which he paid to the dead man after this punishment had fallen upon him, by burying him in his own grave; and still less with his confirmation of his declaration concerning the altar at Bethel (1 Kings 13:29-32).” (Keil and Delitzsch) 

The story is written for our example and is a solemn warning. We are to obey God rather than men — no matter who that man may be. The prophet tried to use his influence just as many deceivers do in our time. Our responsibility is to obey what God has said to us or be prepared to suffer the consequences. It may not always be death by a wild beast, but we can rest assured that there will be some consequence.  

It’s not uncommon for people to withhold their true thoughts and feelings about things when they try to influence you to disobey God. Moreover, they will generally “beguile you” by craftiness — undermining what God has said to you. “Hath God really said?” You will recall that I mentioned earlier that this is what Satan did to Eve. Nor is it uncommon for men to try and manipulate situations to achieve their own will. This is what the lying prophet did. God does not tell us “why” the prophet lied because the “why” is not important. The fact is, the man of God’s first responsibility is to obey God. End of discussion. 


Some deceivers may even sound “spiritual” when they are talking to you. “I too am a prophet…” Some of these charlatans are self-deceived legends in their own minds. They have confused their deluded counsel for the counsel of God. In fact, Paul tells us that God will someday reveal the hidden counsels of the hearts. This means that God will reveal why the prophet lied to his comrade and got him killed. We never know what peoples’ real motivations are. One thing is certain, when people seek to trump God’s will with their own wisdom He will take them in their own craftiness. The sobering thing is, if you obey them rather than God you will suffer with them. And if perchance God’s will has been thwarted by the actions of men, and it seem they have avoided judgment on earth, we have this promise; For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. (Luke 8:17–18 NKJV) God is going to deal with everyone and everything that sought to frustrate His will on the earth — regardless of their motives. The fact remains that they put their will in place of God’s, and are to be held accountable for it by Him.  

If someone is challenging God’s will in your life, you are probably in a spiritual battle with the Devil who is trying to challenge God’s plans. That doesnt require special discernment; it’s common sense based on James 3:14-15. A person who is “self-seeking” will utilize earthly strategies and possibly demonic influence to thwart God’s perfect will. In an age where carnality is as rife as it is today among people who purport to be spiritual and even “prophetic”; it behooves us to have a settled attitude that we are going to obey God no matter who challenges it

Cut the people out of your life if necessary and wipe the dust off of your feet if they are bent on thwarting God’s will. Don’t miss God to please people. They are not your friend they are your enemy. I don’t care how many “earthly, sensual, and demonic” arguments they volley into your life — cut them off and obey God. The time would fail to list examples from the Bible of people who were rejected of God because they caved to the pressure of people. No person is worthy of your time who seeks to steer you away from God’s will. Deceivers will not advocate for you on the day of judgment — nor will their treacherous ways pass muster in the court of heaven. Fear the Lord — not men. That is the reasonable thing to do knowing that we are all (at best) just years from the great judgment.  

Perfunctory Preparation and Performance (October, 2011)

Perfunctory Preparation and Performance
Originally Published in October, 2011. 
Robert Wurtz II


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John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.


John 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.


This conversation with Peter was, in effect, a restoration. Jesus begins asking, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? This is a gentle rebuke for his having suggested that he loved the Lord more than the rest of the disciples. He then turns and states, in effect, if you really love me like you have said, prove it by feeding my lambs. This is an amazing revelation into the very center of the heart of God. The Lord was giving Peter a charge to keep. It would be the greatest responsibility of all. If he fails here he will prove he did not really love the Lord like he claimed. It will come down primarily to this one thing. Jesus had fed Peter with words that were spirit; now He is leaving this earth, and it’s Peter’s turn to feed His lambs. 



A Parting Charge from Christ


Our passage is frequently expounded to emphasize the use of two Greek words for love (agapao and phileo) as they change in the original text of the conversation. Nevertheless, I wish in this entry to examine a commonly overlooked emphasis on the part of our Lord. You will notice in the KJV that the word ‘feed’ is used three times. In the original Greek we have Βόσκε (bosky, feed) in verse 15 and 17 and Ποίμαινε (poimanate, tend) sandwiched in the middle in verse 16. The KJV obliterates the distinction here. The order is: feed my lambs; tend my sheep; and feed my sheep. But why? Was this just careless speech on the part of our Lord, or was He saying exactly what He meant? We know that there are no insignificant details in the scripture; however, this conversation with its shifting back from “feed” to “tend” to “feed” has puzzled many expositors over the years. We read in Trench: 


In Dean Stanley’s, Sermons and Essays on the Apostolic Age, p. 138, the answer is suggested. The lesson, in fact, which we learn from this is a most important one, and one which the Church, and all that bear rule in the Church, have need diligently to lay to heart; this namely, that whatever else of discipline and rule may be superadded thereto, still, the feeding of the flock, the finding for them of spiritual food, is the first and last; nothing else will supply the room of this, nor may be allowed to put this out of that foremost place which by right it should occupy. How often, in a false ecclesiastical system, the preaching of the Word loses its preeminence; the feeding (βόσκειν) falls into the background, is swallowed up in the “acting as shepherd” (ποιμαίνειν), which presently becomes no true shepherding, because it is not a feeding (βόσκειν) as well; but such a “shepherding” rather as God’s Word by the prophet Ezekiel has denounced (Ezekiel 34:2, 3, 8, 10; cf. Zech. 11:15-17Matt. 23.)” (Richard C. Trench; Synonyms of the New Testament). 




The Priority of Feeding


In Ezekiel 34, God denounced the “shepherds” that refused to care properly for the flock of God. They were self-serving and fleecing the flock. They shirked their responsibilities, and as a result, the people were carried off by the enemy. God came down on them with a severe judgment, and required the flock of God at the shepherds hands. That is to say, He held the shepherds accountable for the loss of sheep. 

Ezekiel 34 ought to sober even the most hardened of preachers and teachers. This abuse of the flock by the shepherds would be embedded in the psyche of all the Jews. It was a common theme that even Jesus would take up. God had given the shepherds clear responsibilities, and they had sorely abused them unto their own destruction. This is a lesson worthy of note and shines forth again in the New Testament: My brethren, be not many  masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (James 3:1) The text is in the imperative, “Do not, so many of you, become teachers because you know we will receive a greater sentence in the judgment. “ How many teachers and preachers take that seriously? If a man will give an account for every idle word they speak on the day of judgment, what do you suppose will be the fate of those who have spoken for God recklessly? 



A Wake Up Call

An elderly minister (age late 70’s early 80’s) came to speak to our local assembly one Tuesday evening, as he had done many times, about his prison ministry. He was an aging giant of a man with a solid head of white. His hearing was almost gone. I cannot recall the text he spoke from — nor the contents of any of his previous messages. However, I shall not soon forget how he told of a dream he recently had. It happens that the Holy Spirit had spoken strongly and certainly to him in the night these words, “I am tired of your perfunctory ways.” The minister stated that he had to go find a dictionary to look that word up, because he did not know the meaning. What did he find? 



Perfunctory |pərˈfəNGk tərē| adjective (of an action or gesture) Carried out with a minimum of effort or reflection: he gave a perfunctory nod. Done merely to discharge a duty; performed mechanically and as a thing done mechanically; done in a careless and superficial manner; characterized by indifference; as, perfunctory admonitions.



Perfunctory Admonitions


The minister had no reason to lie and tell on himself. I doubt a man could make such a thing up. I could tell by the way he told the story that he was dead serious. He was troubled by the dream and wanted to pass on what God had said. Here is a dear man in his late 70’s to early 80’s still being expected of God to shepherd the people in his care with concern and excellence. 

Again James writes, Many teachers become not, my brethren, having known that greater judgment we shall receive. (James 3:1 YLT) God loved this minister enough to bring his actions to his attention so he could change. A minister may be tempted to just “coast along” in his old age as if God don’t mind, or as if God understands that he is tired and worn out from years on the trail. Not so for this minister; he still had plenty of life left in him and was fully able to discharge his duties. Those who teach/preach the word of God are going to be judged with a greater judgment. Again we read in Ezekiel, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? (Ezekiel 34:2)






Feeding Themselves

I have marveled at times as I would reflect on the “Perfunctory Ways” dream as I have come to remember it. I do not say this as a criticism at all, I merely want to demonstrate a point here. The purpose of his coming was to raise funds, and rightly so, for his ongoing ministry. Ministers should live of the Gospel. This is God’s design. Ministers are not to demand their rights to payment; but rather, the churches are to insure that the ministers’ right to support is Biblically upheld to the best of their ability. What did Paul say?

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. (1 Timothy 5:17 NKJV)


Double honor is generally understood to mean double wages. It is of the Lord that “the Ox who treads out the corn also partake of that corn.” Nevertheless, if a person is going to receive wages, they ought to be upholding their end of the deal — tending and feeding the flock of God. The pattern given to Peter was feed, tend, and feed some more. Surely, God does not long pay for perfunctory feeding. This brother had been warned of God in a dream that God’s estimate of his service in ministry was that it was “perfunctory.” Nevertheless, he still desired wages for his services. Obviously, he did not realize this was happening and God pointed it out. He mended his ways and went back to faithfully discharging his ministry. Nevertheless, what about others? What about men who go on taking a perfunctory course in ministry? 


Dean Stanley (1815-1881), former Dean of Westminster, made some comments along these lines that are worthy of note; “How often, in a worldly ecclesiastical system, does the preaching of the Word lose its preeminence; the βόσκειν (feeding) falls into the background, is swallowed up in the ποιμαίνειν (service), which presently becomes no true ποιμαίνειν (service), because it is not a βόσκειν (feeding). Understand that today the emphasis is often on everything but feeding the flock of God. It is on building programs, administration, singing, etc. The enemy seems to have no small list of chores he can enlist a minister to do in the place of preparation for feeding the sheep. 

Again, neglecting God’s Word is what the prophet Ezekiel denounced (Ezekiel 34:2, 3, 8, 10; cf. Zech. 11:15-17Matt. 23.) Understand that real study is real work. If a man is successful at feeding the sheep, it is because of the great amount of laboring in the word that he is willing to do. A man may perfunctorily preach and teach, and it be little effort, but not if a man obeys God and executes the responsibility biblically. It is a tremendous effort. It is the most important thing — even more important than visiting the sheep. In fact, the same Peter that took the charge to feed the flock of God in John 21:15-17, also said this, It is not reasonable that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. (Acts 6:2)  We could fill in the “serve tables” with any other lesser thing ____________. The Devil would do almost anything to marginalize the importance of feeding the flock of God that is among them.


Able and Willing to Teach


The overseer then must be irreproachable, husband of one wife, sober, discreet, decorous, hospitable, able to teach; (1 Timothy 3:2) and again, And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, able to teach, patient (2 Timothy 2:24). Before a man ever takes up the responsibility of elder or minister they ought to observe this one qualification. God is going to hold ministers accountable. He is not looking for administrators, but feeders of His sheep. 

The job of a minister is primarily to feed the flock of God. The job of the sheep is to support the minister. God expects everyone to do their part for the successof His churches. Notice our passage does not say to feed on the flock; that is to say, they are not to be made objects of greed; but rather, we as ministers are ordained to live “of the milk” of the flock (1 Corinthians 9:7). It is a reciprocal relationship. What did Peter go on to say? Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:2,3) Our word for feed here should be translated “tend” the flock of which feeding is the primary part. 



Perfunctory Preparation 


A certain substitute teacher commented to her class that it was easy to sit for 45 minutes in front of the kids, but that her real responsibility was to sit in teachers meetings. The veteran teacher looked on and smiled as if to say, “Madam, you sure have a lot to learn!” In time the substitute would have to backtrack on the comments once she got settled in and realized that teaching full time, five days a week, was not the same as being a substitute that was called in a few times per month. Her distorted view of reality proved she had not rightly considered what she had signed up for. Her words gave her away. 

Jesus once told the disciples, For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luke 14:28) So it is with ministry. Jesus charged Peter primarily with feeding the flock; that is the primary effort employed in the building of a tower (as it were). It is serious business; life and death serious. It takes many hours of preparation to move from the perfunctory to the satisfactory. 



Summary


If you don’t like to study, you definitely have not been called to the ministry. If you think that preaching and teaching can be done with minimal effort, with little reflection, merely to discharge a duty; performed mechanically and unthinkingly; done in a careless and superficial manner, then you are on your way to being a perfunctory preacher and in the end will receive a greater judgment (sentence). God will not have it. 

A child may run the vacuum cleaner over the carpet three or four strokes, roll up the cord, put it back in the closet, and then tell mother he is finished; but that kind of perfunctory work is not fit in the Kingdom of God. Imagine the child boasting to his friends how easy it is to vacuum, while they look on in amazement because they vacuum their parents house rightly. Amazing! 


We don’t preach and teach just to discharge the duty. It is a high calling. It is to be taken as seriously as if you held a loaded gun on the people. God expects his servants to prepare and seek His face. He expects us to rightly divide the word of Truth. This takes time and energy. It takes serious reflection. It takes getting alone for hours at a time to prepare. It takes a close walk with the Lord. This is why God commanded that they that minister and labor in the word are to be supported. 


The old timers used to say that the minister carried a burden for the people. The messages they prepared were often tear-stained as they wrestled with God for a word for the sheep. The reckless shepherd leaves the sheep in weakness and frailty. Like so many of our hymns and choruses — so also the sermons. Prosperity, positive confession, and a host of other foolish doctrines masquerades as preaching today. Is that food worthy of God’s flock? Does it edify the people? God is going to hold the teachers and preachers accountable. For this cause may we that labor in the word; count the cost; and endeavor to move well beyond the perfunctory — until we can preach and hear, “well done thy good and faithful servant.”

The Sin of Uzzah

The Sin of Uzzah 
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)

We have in our text a demonstration of God’s estimate of presumption in the things of God. What is presumption biblically? It is a blatant disregard of God’s clearly defined protocol or rules. This disregard could range anywhere from willful ignorance to highhanded rebellion. In the Kingdom of God, as the name suggests, God is the king. This seems simple enough, but we must understand that the word kingdom implies subservience. We are told in scripture that we are servants to whatever we yield our members to. This tells us what kingdom we are in. What king are we following? That’s the kingdom we have chosen to be subservient to. So we see then that a kingdom is defined by those that are in submission to their king. There is the Kingdom of God and all other kingdoms.

What is in your censor? 

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor. 14:33) There are times when man gets in the way of God and tremendous confusion is the result. When it happens we know that God is not the author of it, as He is the author of peace. We have an example of how this can play out during the children of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. We read in Numbers 16:1–35 about an insurrection against Moses in the wilderness that is described as ‘the gainsaying of Korah.’ (Jude 11) These renowned men along with Korah took 250 censers, and at Moses instruction filled them with fire. He then told them to assemble with their censers with fire in them. These men suggested that they could put their own fire to the Lord without regard for God’s instructions. They acted as if they were above even bothering to ask what God’s word teaches about offerings to the Lord. This was Nadab and Abihu on a grand scale. They were trying to take over what God was doing and institute their own new mode of worship that the Lord had not commanded. What followed is one of the most dramatic sequences of events in all the Bible. 

 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
(Numbers 16:31-35)


These men were utterly destroyed and consumed by the fire of the Lord. The message here is this, you and I are responsible for what is in our censer. That is to say, you and I are responsible for the spirit in which we approach God. This is effectively what we have said in the previous entries on ‘Obstacles to the Outpouring’ {Obstacle to the Outpouring (Part 1) and Obstacle to the Outpouring (Part-2)}. This story is exemplary. It shows forever God’s estimate of approaching God with a bad spirit, recklessly and flippantly in order to take control of what He is doing in the earth. He has already said He expects unity and love among the brethren. God does not accept people that approach Him in a way that He has not prescribed. If we are moving in the earthly, soulish and demonic- even unawares, we are still responsible for how we approach God. Like dot-to-dot as a child in the coloring book, we have to go step by step doing what God has asked of us before lining up by our 250’s to move on to something else.



Prepared to submit



To function in the Kingdom of God we must be surrendered to His lordship. This means we are prepared to know God’s will and perform it.  What does this look like? We read in Matthew 6:10, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. The implication of this passage is that God wants the people of the earth to obey Him as do the angels. He wants His will carried out ‘as in heaven’. This is man willing to forsake their own agenda and follow God’s; knowing that His way, as Divine Creator, is the best way. There is simply no way to improve on God’s will and God’s ways. God’s will is perfection; anything else is imperfection. That is to say, everyone has their own ideas as to how things should be done. These ‘ideas’, if not born in heaven, will have disastrous results on earth. To place ones own will in front of God’s will is not only sin, it is the upsetting of a carefully designed creation. Sin always causes some kind of suffering. As surely as putting water in your fuel (petrol) tank, sin corrupts the machine. 


Innocent Suggestions?


Everyone has suggestions. this is common in life; but the important thing for God’s people to know is that they must receive their direction from God’s Holy Word and His Holy Spirit. We cannot presume to do anything before the Lord, we must study and pray. 




Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9)




The FIRST thing any believer should ask about any subject is, “what does God’s word teach?” It is not sufficient to dream up our own will and plans and then look for proof-texts. That is to say, we must ask what God says first and then come to our conclusions; if we start with our conclusions we will twist God’s word to fit those conclusions. This is not walking in truth. The SECOND thing a believer must do is consciously submit to what God has already said before daring to ask what He is saying. Many people want a ‘Word from God’ but don’t spend time in the word. This is not how the prophets of the Old Testament operated. We need to know this or we will presumptuously dare to speak when He has not spoken. 


The school of the prophets


 The ‘sons of the prophets’ were not biological sons of prophets, but students in the schools of the prophets, well-established institutions in Israel designed to perpetuate the Law of Moses and the Word of the Lord. (BK) We may refer to these sons of the prophets as a band or guild of prophets. The most extensive use of the expression occurs in the Elisha stories where the prophet is portrayed as the leader of the prophetic guild. In that capacity Elisha cared for the needs of a prophet’s widow (2 Kings 4:1-7), agreed to the building of a common dwelling (2 Kings 6:1-7), and presided at a common meal (2 Kings 4:38-44). The sons of the prophets functioned either as witnesses (2 Kings 2:3,5,7,15) or as agents of Elisha’s ministry (2 Kings 9:1-3). (Holman’s ‘sons of the prophets’) Amos’s famous declaration, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet” (2 Kings 7:14 NASB), is probably a declaration of independence from the prophetic guilds of his day. Similarly, Jeremiah’s claim that God made him a prophet even before conception (Jeremiah 1:5) may obliquely represent a rejection of association with the prophetic schools of Judah.  (Ibid) This point is made to demonstrate that the prophets did not just speak from their own mind; but rather, the prophesy was grounded in a thorough understanding of God’s word. This minimized the possibility for deception and falsehood. The Spirit of God and the Word of God agree. The prophets were expected to know what was of God and what was not through a clear grasp of the Law. This is how the prophets, by and large, kept themselves from presumptuous error. 


Error among the priestly function 

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)

Uzzah’s second sin is the consequence of his first sin. Error always begets error. This is insightful. God spent the entire Old Testament teaching us about the importance of following His directions. At the first it seems like such an innocent thing for Uzzah to do; to reach up and try to steady the Ark of God. After all, it was about to fall over. He was doing what comes natural. Yet, this seems to make sense only because of our distance in time and space from the Throne of God. For example, there is a way in which God’s will is carried out in Heaven and it is our responsibility to pray that God’s will will be done likewise in the earth. In Heaven there is no reckless attitude towards the Creator. God is obeyed. God’s wisdom is revered. The creatures understand the wisdom of God’s commandments. they do not believe they know better. Period. There is a reverential fear of God that sobers the minds to whom they have to do. In other words, they know who the sovereign God is. Even the devils believe and tremble. But men often move in a slapdash way towards God without even the good sense to tremble. This is a troubling reality.

The Ark of God

The Ark of God is 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. This needs to be understood ecclesiastically and practically. This is one truth that we dare not know merely academically. An electrician had best know that safety measures are there for a reason and he had best respect them. He 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. 

A Good Idea?



Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. (1 Samuel 2:12)



It was a reckless and sinful attitude among the priesthood in Israel that caused the Ark to be stolen away in the days of Eli. (1 Samuel 4:1ff) They were supposed to be the guardians of the holy things of God, but sin entered and compromise ruled the day. At once, Eli’s evil sons took the Ark of God and ran into battle with it only to have it captured. (1 Samuel 4:11) This was one of the saddest and most terrifying days in the history of Israel; the day the Glory departed. It is hard to imagine how heart wrenching this event would have been. The situation would have seemed utterly hopeless even to the vilest of sinners. 

Setting the stage for Disaster

These sons of Eli were fornicators and yet tried to use the authority of God to win a battle. They behaved in such a way that the worship of God was hated. (1 Samuel 2:17) In more modern times these type things have happened on a different, but similar level, and been recognized. Matt Redman of Soul Survivor church in Watford, England stated: 

“There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered together with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.” 

The sons of Eli never came back to the heart of worship, it was all about them even unto the end. Flagrant sin in the camp, coupled with men usurping God’s authority in refusing to deal with it, set the stage for Eli being fired (sacked) and Samuel being raised up to take his place. We should always remember that God has a replacement in the wings for anyone that thinks they can do as Eli and his wretched sons. Even as the priests of God, how could these men escape the damnation of Hell? 

Years of Reckless Presumption

I sometimes wonder how long it would have been since anything was done right in Israel by the time Uzzah was struck dead? It seemed like everyone was getting by with it and suddenly in a moment the man is struck dead. This tells me that it was never ‘OK’ to do what they had been doing. At best, God was giving them opportunity to repent of their presumption. But they carried on. In fact, although the Ark was supposed to be placed on the shoulders of the priests, the people decided to put it on a new cart and tow it exactly as the Philistines did at the counsel of their pagan diviners and priests. The Philistines believed they were doing God a favor and being respectful by making sure the cart was new, but God gave Israel specific instruction on dealing with the Ark. For them not to consult God’s word was presumption. How often do similar things happen today and because no one is struck dead it continues. Yet, we must remember that Uzzah’s death is exemplary. It shows forever God’s estimate of presumptuously moving in the things of God in disregard and neglect of His patterns and designs. 

Uzzah Dead- David Angry? 

The burning of David’s anger was not directed against God, but referred to the calamity which had befallen Uzzah, or speaking more correctly, to the cause of this calamity, which David attributed to himself or to his undertaking. As he had not only resolved upon the removal of the ark, but had also planned the way in which it should be taken to Jerusalem; he could not trace the occasion of Uzzah’s death to any other cause than his own plans. Uzzah’s offence consisted in the fact that he had touched the ark with profane feelings, although with good intentions, namely to prevent its rolling over and falling from the cart. Touching the ark, the throne of the divine glory and visible pledge of the invisible presence of the Lord, was a violation of the majesty of the holy God. “Uzzah was therefore a type of all who with good intentions, humanly speaking, yet with unsanctified minds, interfere in the affairs of the kingdom of God, from the notion that they are in danger, and with the hope of saving them” (O. V. Gerlach). On further reflection, David could not fail to discover where the cause of Uzzah’s offence, which he had atoned for with his life, really had lain, and that it had actually arisen from the fact that he (David) and those about him had decided to disregard the distinct instructions of the law with regard to the handling of the ark. 


God’s Instruction


According to Numbers 4:1ff the Ark was not only to be moved by none but Levites, but it was to be carried on their shoulders, not in a carriage; and in v. 15, even the Levites were expressly forbidden to touch it on pain of death. But instead of taking these instructions as their rule, they had followed the example of the Philistines when they sent back the Ark (1 Sam. 6:7ff.), and had placed it upon a new cart, and directed Uzzah to drive it, whilst, as his conduct on the occasion clearly shows, he had no idea of the unapproachable holiness of the Ark of God, and had to expiate his offence with his life, as a warning to all the Israelites. (Keil & Delitzsch)     

A Generation of Uzzah’s?

Ignorance was no excuse for Uzzah, because he could have known that they were doing wrong. Many do likewise and never fall dead, but this is no excuse either. God has already demonstrated His estimate of such behavior even as He smote down Adab and Abihu. No need to kill the masses, one example is sufficient to make the point. So why don’t some men that pretend to do the works of God consult with God’s instruction? Why do they consult, as it were, with the Philistine new-cart makers? Why do they look to the world to learn how to conduct the affairs of God? In part, it is because no one has been struck dead yet, at least, that we can verify. Is there a consequence for not discerning the Lord’s Body? Is there a consequence for failing to acknowledge and hold the Head? (Colossians 2:19)

Some Modern Examples 

Innovations are often nothing more than a hand to steady the Ark. We live in a generation that thinks nothing of doing their own thing wether it is approved of God’s word or not. Pragmatism rules the day and men are embolden to continue doing the service of God as if He had not spoken. It gained great momentum with Charles Finney and has continued on today. Reckless evangelism that don’t see folk truly prayed through; false synthetic feelings of the presence of God created by an ‘atmosphere’; fruitless ministry that sees almost none saved or called to service. When will we see the Ark on the Cart and come to our senses? Will God long bless rebellion? While the lamp of God goes out the arrogance just keeps rolling on. Men are here and God is in heaven. What preventeth us? 


Are we better than they?

Will God tolerate the inconsistencies such as these? Does anyone really believe they will answer to God for the madness? It’s a wonder God has not struck some people dead for such high-handed rebellion and hypocrisy. They think they are about to get a great crown and all the while they have read passages and skipped over them as if God were not talking to them; as if they had a line-item-veto on God’s Holy Word. Shadows are gathering and death beds are coming. Would it not be wise to stop handling God’s word in such a flippant way? Why not sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people and do what He has told us to do? Why not quit acting like we have a better way than God’s way? Its not working anyhow.  


Modern Uzzah-ism 

The modern sin of Uzzah is being exposed for what it is; a new-cart methodology with no regard for God’s word. They cannot be improved upon. They are designed to accomplish God’s will. When men devise manmade formulas to do supernatural things failure is assured. God has given us patterns and instructions. They are timeless. God’s word has no expiration date. There is no need to upgrade from version 10.1 to version 10.2 and so on- every few months to keep step with the world. Uzzah’s sin was that he did not consult God’s word, perhaps because he didn’t think it important. 


God’s Word Obsolete?


Many today don’t consult God’s word because they think it irrelevant or obsolete. This is insanity. For example, modern day sports games have lived through tremendous popular cultural shifts.  Teams have gotten better stadiums, equipment, etc. Games are now televised in various ways. These are all innovations. What has not changed are the basic rules of the game. A football game in 1950 could easily be identified for what it was, and so also today a game would be known for what it is if it were seen in 1950. But this is not what has happened in main stream Christianity. The rules have changed as have the emphasis, standards and mode of the game. It is sadly akin to how the Superbowl Halftime Show and all the commercials try to overshadow the Superbowl Game itself. The ‘big event’ seems to always be the craziest and most unlike the whole rest of the season. This makes the game more palatable for those that don’t like football. Is that what we have done in our gatherings? the higher the profile the higher the halftime show-ism? Is this done for those that don’t really want God? At any rate, for whatever reason, it is placing the Ark on, not just a cart, but the very newest and ‘hippest’ cart. If ever there were a bible story that speaks directly to our times, it is this one; forever wanting to carry the Gospel on some ‘new’ thing. God help us.  

Nineveh Had No Bible

Nineveh Had No Bible
Robert Wurtz II

Greek scholars over the centuries have tried to define mετανοεῖτε (repent) and similar terms. There is simply no English equivalent. Yet, what may be helpful is to understand our Lord’s use of the word. He states, The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41) To understand our Lord’s concept of repentance we would need to go back and read the book of Jonah. He used the word in a sentence so as to color our understanding. In fact, He is expecting that the Jews would have done something similar as John the Baptist had came telling the people, “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come.” But what did He find? did they react like pagan Nineveh? No, he found business as usual. The people that were entrusted with the oracles of God would not repent, but a pagan city known for its brutality did. God help the ones that follow Nineveh in the judgment. 

Works Meet For Repentance

The people of Nineveh did works meet for repentance. As we will learn later, they didn’t have sense enough to know their right hand from their left, but they had enough sense to repent. (Jonah 4:11) How did it happen? First, And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. (Jonah 3:4) This message offered no hope. It was simply a declaration;  Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. This is instructional. The result? So the people of Nineveh believed God. (Jonah 3:5a) This is essential to any persons’ repentance; they have to believe what God has said. That sounds simple enough because the word ‘believe’ gets thrown around so much and it has no real bearing on reality. The people of Nineveh believed so as to proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. This is fruits worthy of repentance.

No ‘Pointers’

You will notice that they were not given a checklist of things to repent of. They were left to themselves to sort it out. This tells me that God knows that we know what is offending Him. There is no need for ministers to stand in a pulpit and start listing off possibilities. Folks will sometimes pretend they don’t know what they need to repent of, etc.; but apparently God is not buying it and Nineveh is the example. They were a pagan society and exceedingly brutal. No Bible. No Sunday Schools. No churches on every corner. This is exceedingly sobering to consider. 

The King Vacates the Throne

We have another facet to Nineveh’s example when we read, For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (Jonah 3:6)
If you or I are ever going to repent in the biblical sense, according to the definition of Jesus, then the ‘king’ that is in my and your heart is going to have to arise from his throne and lay his robe from him. The king that has been inside you calling the shots ever since you first told your mom (mum) or dad, NO! We have to come off of the throne of our own life and utterly humble ourselves before the true King. This is the key. This is more than outward things, it is an inward change of attitude. What else did they do? Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. (Jonah 3:9) 

Turning From the Evil

We all have to TURN from our evil way. ‘Evil’ here is our own human independence, no matter how ‘good’ we may esteem our behavior. A person can do works that appear good and yet be in total rebellion against God. Notice that this king and his people did not need a list of things to repent of. Sometimes folk act like they have no idea what you are talking about. These people knew in their own hearts what they were doing wrong and they turned from it in all humility. The results? God believed them and He spared their city. (Jonah 3:1-10)


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Suggested Reading


Roberts. Repentance. 


Repentance


http://mybiblebase.com/mp3/rb/repentance.mp3

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