Prepare Your Mind

Prepare Your Mind
Robert Wurtz II

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Peter is writing to Christians at a time when they are being persecuted on every hand. In fact, it was an all too familiar theme to those who lived in the first century. Believers faced extreme hostility from almost everyone. The non-believing Jews persecuted the believing Jews. The Roman authorities persecuted and killed anyone who they found refusing to call Caesar “lord.” Christians had almost no where to turn. Indeed, serving Christ came at a very high price for believers prior to Constantine. 

Life for Christians in the first century was day to day. This is why Paul suggested to the Corinthians that they consider whether they should get married or not. Persecution was so terrible that it may be best in some cases not to have a husband or wife to worry about because they were likely to be jailed, beaten, or killed. 

Peter pens this epistle into that kind of environment. He tells them three things, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end. First, we are to gird our minds. This simply means to be ready. Focus our minds on God and His kingdom. Prepare our mind with the word of God. The mind is a battle field. Second, we are to be sober. In other words, we must be very careful what we allow to influence us. The world is always trying to influence us. It is generally so subtle that it goes unnoticed. This is why one of the definitions of “intoxicate” means “to poison.” Most people are poisoned unawares. 

You will recall that Paul told the Ephesians not to be drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Spirit. Notice the contrast. Alcohol has the ability to influence a person just as the Holy Spirit can influence a person. Alcohol clouds the judgment; hence, a person is said to sober up. This means they return to their right minds in terms of rational decision making. Peter is telling us to be being “sober” and don’t allow our minds to be influenced by anything other than the Holy Spirit. Thirdly, Peter tells us to hope to the end. This means that in spite of what we go through, we must not lose our faith. Hope has been called “faith for the long term.” We need to hope to the end and not surrender our faith. 

The Fashioning of Ourselves

If a person actually girds up the loins of their mind, is sober, and is hoping to the end, it will have a dramatic effect on the way they live. Notice Peter makes a distinction when he says, As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conduct, manner of life, and behavior. This means that our thoughts and actions are pleasing to God. How is that? Because the person refused to fashion themselves according to the former lusts in their ignorance. The word fashion in Greek is the same word translated in Romans 12:2 when Paul said, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Do not conform to your old lustful ways. Rather, be ye holy in all manner of conversation.

Few people understand that the reason why God calls us away from this present evil world and its influenced is because it is unholy. It is sinful and tainted with Satan’s antichrist spirit. God says, “Touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you and be a Father unto you…” So the reason we are to be holy is because God is holy. If we intend to be in a relationship with Him we have to be compatible with Him. God and sin are incompatible. The enemy lies to people and minimizes the importance of holiness. Yet Hebrews tells us to follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man can see the Lord. 

The first step to preparing our mind is to simply agree with God. Not just once, but make a determination to know God’s counsel on every subject and then agree with Him. Can two people walk together unless they are agreed? What use is it to argue with God about what He says in His word? If we are serious about knowing God we have to agree with Him. Sin intoxicates the mind to make it think that it can behave contrary to God and still be OK. We have to prepare our minds regularly with God’s word, and deprive it of false and godless influences. No matter what comes our way, we must resolve to keep our focus on Christ until the very end.  

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13-16)        

The Goodness and Severity of God

The Goodness and Severity of God
Robert Wurtz II

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22 NKJV)

Paul turns our attention to the state of the unbelieving Jews of which He had elected to His purposes, but they refused to admit the need of confession of sin on their part and so set aside the baptism of John. They annulled God’s purposes of grace so far as they applied to them (A.T. Robertson on Luke 7:30). As a consequence of this, instead of continuing in God’s goodness they became objects of the severity of God. The severity of God is then defined as being “cut off” as one would cut a branch off of a tree. It ceases to enjoy the precious resources of its former source, immediately dies and begins the process of drying up. 

Our passage brings the two ways in which man experiences God into view: goodness and severity. Our Greek word for goodness could just as well be translated kindness. We have this rendering of Romans 2:4 from the ESV, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” The kindly quality of God, manifested in the various graces that He provides, is intended to cause everyone to change their mind and turn to Him from sin. Nevertheless, the people presume upon God’s goodness and as an immutable consequence are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath when God will judge the human race. (see Romans 2:5)

If everyone on earth were moving in the goodness of God there would be no need for reminders such as Romans 2:4-5 and Romans 11:22. Nevertheless, the world and even many churches are loaded with people who are under the severity of God. That reality forces the hand of any loving Christian or minister to warn the people about their condition. The problem is that people want a God who is devoid of the severity quality and there is no such God. To present God without both His kindly and severity qualities is to misrepresent God and fashion an idol that fits our own desires. 

Moreover, this is why a growing number of theologies are designed to render God’s severity quality obsolete or impotent. People want to live without the threat of God’s severity looming over their heads. This is understandable. Right? I mean, who wants to live in fear all the time? In fact, this is why modern versions of Calvinism are becoming popular. They offer the promise of eternal security in spite of how sinful the person lives. In this way Calvinism is more like a soul-insurance policy that will cover me even if I backslide and renounce Christ. I don’t have to take seriously the religion of my fathers, but can scorn the standards of many generations under the soul’s shield of shelter. It becomes a modern rendition of Anne Hutchinson’s antinomian free grace theology that was condemned as heresy in the early 1600s. 

Paul tells us to consider the goodness and severity of God (emphasis on and). We do ourselves no favors by ignoring one or the other. Our Greek word for consider means to see and perceive. The KJV renders the word behold. God’s goodness (kindness) is a wonderful thing if we continue in it. If we do not then in time it will no longer apply to us — for we, as did the unbelieving Jews, will experience the severity of God. This is the simplicity of it. If we want to recreate God as a kindly God only, then we have put ourselves in danger of misunderstanding God and His expectations of us. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22 NKJV) 

When Devils Carry the Ark (The Sons of Eli)

When Devils Carry the Ark
Robert Wurtz II

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

Regardless of the fact that God had placed strict regulations on whom priests could marry, “bad seeds” still found their way into the priesthood. Long before John the Baptist denounced the notion of heriditary righteousness, we face this sobering verse, “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:12 KJV) Here were young men, born of Eli’s seed, raised to know the Lord, and yet they were devils. Making matters worse, Eli, who was supposed to stand before the Lord, was not doing his job. In fact, while Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were killed for offering strange fire, and Aaron was forbidden from mourning their death; here is Eli and his wicked sons making a mockery of the priesthood as if it were business as usual. 

The old timers used to say that “God’s presence withdrawn means judgment has been delayed.” Actually, God’s presence withdrawn is judgment in itself. Eli was more concerned about keeping his sons happy than obeying God. He was completely ignorant of the danger he, and his family were in. Even though God had specifically warned him, he kept honoring his sons above God. In fact, his sons became his gods. He served them instead of God. He falsely accused a woman of drunkenness while refusing to deal with his perverse — adulterous sons. He is the type of man who would cast out a prophet and allow a fornicator to go on ministering. Sound like modern times? The Eli’s of today have tolerated sin to the point that entire generations need to be re-taught the concept of holiness.

High Handedness 

The Ark of God was lost to the Philistines through the gross negligence and presumption of Eli’s wicked sons Hophni and Phinehas. Eli, who honored his sons more than he honored the LORD, refused to put an end to their high-handed gluttony and adultery. In time, their evil reached its apex as these sons of Belial shouldered the ark of God and ran presumptively into battle with no word from the LORD. Imagine that! Devils running down the hill with the ark over their shoulder. These were supposed to be ministers before the Lord; instead they carried the presence of God out of His own camp. As a consequence, they were killed and the ark was seized by the enemies of God. When Eli heard the news, his concern for the things of God finally surpassed his love for his sons, and in a moment of terror fell backwards and broke his neck. His daughter in law, struck by the horrific ramifications of her wicked husbands’ reckless evil, fell into labor and died; not before delivering their son and naming him Ichabod; a name that captured the reality of that day, “for the glory of Jehovah is departed.” 

In the midst of the rebellion and compromise, God raised up Samuel, who was after God’s own heart, to get the nation back on track. “After God’s own heart” is a way of saying that a person agrees with God and seeks to honor His will. After God judged the Philistines with rats and hemorrhoids, they decided it was best to give the ark back to Israel. They sent it on an ox-drawn cart with some golden hemorrhoid shaped offerings hoping their plan would put an end to their plagues. 

When it arrived at Beth-Shemesh, the children of Israel sat it on a flat stone, broke up the cart, started a fire, and cooked the oxen. They were happy and celebrating the ark’s return; for it symbolized the very Throne of God and His unique presence. Nevertheless, their party got out of hand. This is what happens when holiness is not taught and modeled. People do things they ought to know better than to do. Soon some decided to look inside the ark — while others stared at it; both of which were capital offenses (Numbers 4:20). It is important to note, that God did not spend the entire Old Covenant teaching us about His holiness just to void it all with grace. God is still as holy as He was when He struck down no less than 70 people for staring at and looking into the ark — rather than covering it up (Numbers 4:5).

Such recklessness and irreverence for the things of God are a direct consequence of not giving heed to what God has said about holy things. Moreover, evil associations corrupt good manners. When one person is reckless and irreverent, others are emboldened to behave likewise– especially if the ringleader is of reputation or position. Pretty soon the few who are left who are behaving reverently are shunned as old fashioned or some other cynical adjective. What happens? The voices that speak out against ungodly behavior are ridiculed until the masses are embolden in their evil. In fact, though God had successfully judged the Philistines so that Israel could recover the ark, it would take Samuel some twenty years, going around from town to town preaching repentance and correcting the people’s errors, to get the people right with God so the LORD could return in His unique presence. This is an important lesson for all times.

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. (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

During this twenty years the ark of God stayed with a Levite and his family. Incredibly, though they had known the ark of God for twenty years, they had no concept of how it was supposed to be handled. In fact, when David got ready to bring the ark up they put it on a cart just like the Philistines did. Their close proximity to the things of God, while refusing to educate themselves as to how they are to be handled, proved to be Uzzah, the son of the Levite’s, cause of death. Ignorance proved to be no excuse when he reached out and touched the ark. He may have had the impression that he was an expert on the ark, simply because he grew up around it. History has proven time and time again, that the opposite is often true. 

A Story for all Times

The entire story of the loss and recovery of the ark of the covenant is filled with examples of the consequences of disregarding God’s standards of holiness and righteousness. We have in our text in 2 Samuel 6:6-7 a demonstration of God’s estimate of presumption in the things of God. If He never smote another person down again, the example of Eli, his sons, the people who “gazed” into the ark, and finally Uzzah gives God’s perspective on the behavior. What is presumption? It is the blatant disregard of God’s clearly defined protocol or rules. It is to act independent of God’s counsel in innovating measures in the kingdom of God. This behavior 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 strict 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 obeying? That’s the kingdom we have chosen to be subservient to. 

How One Can Chase a Thousand

How One Can Chase a Thousand

Robert Wurtz II

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

Our passage is a continuation of the first commandment that God’s people must have no other gods before Him. The statements “choose you this day whom ye will serve” and “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” are often quoted independent of the full context of the verse. When taken together we all have a timeless choice to make, whether we will serve the One True God, or the gods of the land. 

It would be superfluous to list all the passages from both Old and New Testament scripture that warn us against idols and idolatry. In fact, a cursory reading of the Bible will demonstrate how frequently God warned His people about it. Perhaps the most sobering warning of all was given in Judges 2 after the people refused to hearken to Joshua’s warning in Joshua 23. Here we read:

Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, “I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’ ” So it was, when the Angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept. (Judges 2:1–4 NKJV)

Under Joshua the people had been careful to put away all the idols and false gods from their midst. Just before he died he commanded them to “cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.” (Joshua 23:8) In fact, so profound was their devotion to God that he drove some of their enemies out of the land with hornets. They didn’t even have to fight. Nevertheless, with Joshua gone they were going to face challenges. You will notice in Judges 1:1 that the people seemed to inquire of the Lord concerning who would go up first to take the land. However, they did not seek the Lord for details as would be characteristic of their fathers. By the time we get to the last verse of chapter 1, the whole thing is in a compromised mess. A close read reveals how God simply took His hand off of them and they started losing the battles. This led to more compromise until they were in near total disobedience. This is  what gave rise to our passage above in Judges chapter 2

Transition To Compromise

How did the children of Israel chase a thousand with one man or less and now they can’t even fulfill the commission that God had given them? The answer is clear. When the children of Israel obeyed God and “clung to Him” they prospered. While they made God their only God — He would fight their battles. In other words, the battle belonged to the Lord. However, as they disobeyed and allowed other gods to creep in — or they risked allowing them in by allowing the people to stay around — the battle became theirs. Why? God told them. But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, “I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” This is an awesomely sobering truth. They broke their covenant with God, therefore, He did not follow through with His benefits.

When we arrive in the New Testament we have the fulfillment of all of the types and shadows of the Old Testament. Some things never change. God is always faithful, but people fall into compromise. They do well when a strong leader is around, but when put to the test they often falter. This was Paul’s fear when he was leaving Ephesus. He commended the elders to God and the word of His grace. (Acts 20:32) That is to say, just as when Joshua died, the church was to gather together and inquire of the Lord for direction. Though he warned them night and day for three years with tears, he knew that when he left, grievous wolves and politicians would come in to destroy the flock. 

Just as with Joshua, heretofore the Ephesians had thrown down the idols. In time they would move away from their first love (Revelation 2:1ff). The Lord Jesus commanded them to go back and do the works they had done at first; that is, to repent and get rid of all the “idols.” They were taking the love that belonged to God and giving it to other things. This is the essence of all idolatry; to take the love that belongs to God and give it to something else. Paul also dealt with this at Corinth. He wrote:   

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:16–18 KJV)

This reads like the book of Joshua and the rest of the Old Covenant in terms of exclusivity with God. There is an ongoing danger of becoming involved with this world and the people of this world in such a way that we adopt their gods as our own. This does not necessarily mean we bow down to carved wood, stone, or gold. It means we allow other things or people to have God’s place in our affections. Covetousness is idolatry; our belly (stomach) can become our god. In fact, any number of things that we find our fulfillment in — other than the One True God. Anything or anyone who we respond to rather than God has become our idol.

What would the consequences be for allowing idolatry into a church? Surely we can learn from the example of Israel who no longer had God driving out their enemy. Understand that Israel had befriended the enemies of God and as a consequence He would not drive them out of the land. He allowed them to become thorns in the side of the people. This is the risk in any church. As idolatry increases God’s power decreases. 

Modern Idolatry

It is disturbing to know that we live in a time when idolatry is marginalized or even celebrated. This is even true in the western world. The time would fail to list all the places where idolatry can be found. Nevertheless, we must be keenly aware of the consequences of idolizing people or anything else. We risk causing God’s presence to depart from the churches and our individual lives. If left unrepentant, we risk our own souls. 

Just because the world worships “it” or “them” doesn’t mean the Saints can do it. Israel chased a thousand with one man when they did two things: 

1. Lived separated to God and away from idolatry.

2. Inquired of the Lord for direction in life.

So long as Israel sought the Lord, He made them prosper. When they decided to compromise He refused to drive their enemies out from before them. For Christians this means we risk forfeiting the finger of God on our lives. No presence of God. No unction. No conviction. No revelation. No direction. No healing. No miracles. No casting out devils. No “anything” spiritual. It was a problem in Israel. It was a problem in the 1st Century. It is a problem today. May we take the words of John the Revelator to heart in this crisis hour and retain all that is so precious to us. 

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. 

(1 John 5:21 KJV)

What is The Church? (Part 6)

What is The Church (Part 6)
Robert Wurtz II

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14 NKJV)

Our passage tells us that Christ gave Himself to die on the cross so that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. The us is this passage are they who are the heirs to the righteousness of God that is by faith. God started this assembly with a few individuals scattered through the book of Genesis, but then he called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees to bring about a people as numerous as the stars of Heaven or the sand by the sea shore. When we reach the book of Exodus God reiterates this objective:

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. (Exodus 19:5 KJV)

God reminded Israel in Deut. 14:2, 26:18, and Psalm 135:4 of their status as a “peculiar treasure.” When we get to the New Testament we find God’s people described similarly as in Titus 2 and again in 1 Peter 2:9. The word “peculiar” in this context does not mean they are weird (though the world may esteem them as such); but rather, they are uniquely God’s possession. The NASB renders 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you eout of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. (1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB) 

We know that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns the Universe and everything and everyone in it. Simply put, everything belongs to God. However, God wanted a people to be uniquely His own. He wanted people made in His own image. In the language of the writer to the Hebrews, He is bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10). As the Creator, God owns everybody; but He purchased with His own blood – from all humanity – an assembly of people that could be purified into a special people, with God’s desires and attitudes, committed to living by every word that is proceeding from His mouth. 

After His Kind

Jesus started out with twelve Disciples. From those twelve, hundreds of others were added at Pentecost. However, we need to make note of a principal in scripture and nature that traces its roots to the book of Genesis in order to understand this process. Here God commanded saying: Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Genesis 1:11) As with trees and grass – so with people. Apple trees bring forth apple trees. Walnut trees don’t bring forth peach trees. This is common sense. So we understand that ministers will generally bring forth after their own kind as well. So it is essential that the ones preaching the Gospel be the first partakers of the grace and power of the Gospel. Unholy men do not produce holy men. Moreover, men that do not understand God’s design and purpose in purchasing for Himself a unique possession are not qualified to handle the Gospel. God has to prepare the ministers before they are qualified to preach. Otherwise, they will gather an assembly, but it will not be what God is wanting. 

When Jesus ascended into Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to inhabit a group of followers that had committed to being His disciples. The name of the Spirit signifies His prime characteristic: holy. Without holiness no person will see God. The issue is front and center in God’s mind. We have a picture of the process of God perfecting Holiness in man in the story of Israel in Egypt. God called His “Firstborn” – His unique possession out of Egypt. Understand that Egypt is a type of this present evil world, Pharaoh was a type of Satan, and their slavery and bondage was a form of Sin and its oppressive characteristics. The Disciples heard the call to follow Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, they are “coming out from among them to be separate and to touch not the unclean things.” Figuratively, they had gone through the Passover with the blood applied and were now preparing to head out, once and for all, from their “Egypt.” This was their calling and destiny. The Holy Spirit was coming to perfect their holiness in the fear of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 7:1-2) In a word, the Holy Spirit was for the holy nation. He assists in bringing about God’s purposes in making us God’s unique treasure in the whole earth. 

The disciples had heard the teachings of the Pharisees and scribes as they tried to lead the people in their understanding of holiness. They were bringing forth after their own kind. This is why Jesus said, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 13:15 NKJV) The problem is that they were better at teaching the holiness than living it. (Matthew 23:1-7) It was hypocrisy. God wants holiness of heart. This means we are clean on the inside of our hearts and minds from things that would offend God. 

Only the Holy Spirit can convict a person of their sin – particularly their inward sins (sins of the heart). This is why the Disciples needed to come under the yoke of Christ. Only God knows what the true controversy is between Him and the individual. Men may guess, but God has a priority list of things He wants dealt with. The Holy Spirit has come to make known the mind of Christ to individuals. From now on the Disciples would take their orders from Him. Christ is their Master and Savior. The consequence of this will be a group of people unlike any on the face of the earth. They will be God’s unique people, doing His will and in agreement with Him. 

A Holy People For a Holy Calling

God’s call to individuals is a High and Heavenly Calling (Phil. 3:14; Hebrews 3:1). This is a calling from Heaven and to Heaven (Vincent). Therefore, the men and women God uses to minister this Heavenly Calling must be moving in that High Calling themselves. Unlike the Pharisees who taught the people but did not do it themselves, God’s ministers must be pressing towards the mark for the prize as they are preaching or they are not qualified to call others to the same. 

After Pentecost the disciples began fulfilling the Great Commission. Jesus commanded them saying, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 18:18) From this point forward this is what the disciples had done. Now the words will be fulfilled that were spoken Matthew 16:18, And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 

The Book of Acts Pattern

A close look at the book of Acts shows a pattern of repentance, faith, water baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit as normative for becoming a Christian (Disciple). However, as Paul was leaving Ephesus for the last time he was very concerned that things would not continued as they were designed to. Whereas Ephesus had been built with genuine disciples that had truly repented, were baptized in water, and had received the Holy Spirit, a group would arise that would move them away from the evangelistic practices that they had used at first. They left Christ, their first love. It is my estimation that this leaving of Christ can be traced back to individuals growing cold in the Lord and then replicating that coldness in making disciples. In other words, carnality gives birth to carnality. The only solution was to preach the Gospel again and allow the people to respond to God for real. This is why Jesus told them in Revelation 2 that they must “repent and do the first works.” What were the first works? They were the things that the first members of the church had done when they first believed in order to establish that church. It is beyond the scope of our study here, but a close examination of the church at Ephesus in the book of Acts is very insightful in showing how churches were established in the beginning. The lesson here is that Biblical evangelistic practices are essential to a successful church. If we marginalize this truth we are destined for disaster. 

A Pure Church

Since the beginning of the Church at Pentecost, there have been Christians who were concerned with its purity. “Too much corruption” has been the cry of those that were vexed by the unrighteousness that has existed within. Not only have corrupt forms of worship or false doctrines been of concern, but also corrupt membership. From the Apostle Paul unto this very day there have been those that sought to protect the churches from wicked persons. In the early days of the Church it was easier to keep such persons out because of the persecution associated with converting to Christianity; however, over time, as Christianity became more accepted, the ungodly have knocked at the doors. Knowing that we all are capable of sin, the doorkeepers, under the constraint of their own frailness, have often allowed all but the vilest of sinners inside. As a reaction to this practice, whole sects have popped up within Christianity in an attempt to form on earth a Church “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”

The Donatists

It would be useful at this point to point out some events that took place in the centuries following the book of Acts. In 303 AD a Roman Emperor by the name of Diocletian came to power and sorely persecuted the churches. Many Christians were put to death. Some Christians renounced Christ as a result, and some handed over names of other Christians, as well as sacred writings to be burned. These people were known as traditors (Latin meaning “to turn over”). After Diocletian’s death some of these people attempted to rejoin the Christians. One of these traditors, named Caecilian, had returned to the fold and was consecrated Bishop of Carthage in North Africa. This did not sit well with those that believed that persecution was a means of detecting who was and who was not a legitimate believer. Those who rebelled against him appointed Majorinus as a rival bishop; however, Majorinus died shortly after and Donatus took his place to continue the rejection of such compromise. The group separated from the Church and came to be known abusively as Donatists. Their actions were considered divisive and uncharitable to those that wanted to forgive and forget.

In answer to the Donatists, Augustine devised a theory of the Church, which was to guide orthodox Christian thought on the subject. There were, according to Augustine, two churches. One was the pure but invisible; it included every person living, dead, or yet to be born, whom God had predestined for salvation. The other was visible but not entirely pure; it included all living persons who professed to believe in Christianity. Since not all people that profess Christ are true believers, the “visible church” could not be without spot or wrinkle. Augustine, however, did believe that we should strive to maintain purity within the Church by excluding gross sinners until they visibly repented of their sins. Nevertheless, we were set on course for a time when churches accepted membership of individuals who had little or no testimony to the grace of God working in their lives. 

Church and church 

It is my understanding of the New Covenant that there are only two ways the word church is used. The first is “The Church.” The Church (ecclesia) is similar to how Augustine put it, it includes every person living, dead, or yet to be born, who is written in the Lambs Book of Life. The other way the word church is used is for the local church. The church that assembled at Ephesus was a local church. All of the Saints down through the ages comprise “The Church.” According to the pattern set forth by Jesus in the Revelation, He deals with  local churches ministering to their needs. As the people gather into an assembly and turn their hearts to Him – He begins to deal with the church according to its specific needs. Revelation 2 and 3 gives seven examples of how this plays out. The key is that the people must have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to them. If they hear and obey they will be rewarded, if they do not they will suffer the appropriate consequence. 

So we see then that the Church and the church are comprised of genuine saints that have been born of the Spirit. They are TRUE disciples of Christ and are bent on having Him direct their lives. This is true individually and as an assembly. The saints gather together to remember the Lord, give thanks to Him, honor and praise Him. They assemble to hear from the Lord and to be built up by His grace. These things are done to ensure that the church fulfills its calling to be God’s unique and special possession. Any alteration of the Biblical principals set forth in our study are bound to compromise the capacity of the church or the individual to move in their unique calling. 

Stones Folly and a Dangerous Mixture

Stones Folly and a Dangerous Mixture
Robert Wurtz II

…having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2Timothy 3:5)

Our passage is taken from a familiar context towards the end of Paul’s last letter to Timothy. Here he gives a long list of sins similar to Romans 1:29-31, but adds this aspect “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” That is to say, having the outward form of a godly life but devoid of the inward reality. In this state a person effectively denies the power or virtue embodied in a life of holiness. They may give lip service to holy living, but deny it in any practical way. It is all theoretical to them. They agree with holy living in principal, but deny it in practical (practicable) ways.

Azusa Street

 Recently I made a pilgrimage of sorts to three important sites related to the modern day Pentecostal Movement. I began at what was once the old warehouse where the Azusa Street Revival took place in the early 1900s. Today the building is long gone and all that is left is a sign strapped to a light pole marking the spot. 

It was on this spot that holiness preacher William J. Seymour (1870-1922), a dear black minister blind in one eye, started meetings that became what we know today as the Azusa Street Revival. Most modern Pentecostal Denominations and Charismatic Movements trace their history to this spot. However, there is more to the story. 

William J. Seymour

William Seymour was born to former slaves in Louisiana. Around 1905 he moved to Houston, Texas and attended a Bible College led by Charles Parham. It was here that he learned the doctrines of the Holiness Movement as well as the belief that speaking in tongues (glossolalia) was the initial evidence of having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Although he had not experienced this phenomena, Seymour and a small group of followers relocated to the home of Richard and Ruth Asberry at 214 North Bonnie Brae Street in Los Angeles, California. Even white and Hispanic families from local holiness churches began to attend these house church meetings. This group would gather together regularly and pray to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The Bonnie Brae House, as it came to be known, is the place where holiness preacher William J. Seymour received the Holy spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. It is said that many received the Holy Spirit in this house, shouting for joy until the foundation nearly caved in. people would stand on the porch trying to see what was going on in the house. Revival had broken out. However, there is more to the story. 
Charles Parham and Stones Folly
Charles Parham was one of the five sons of William and Ann Parham. He was born in Iowa in 1873 and moved with his family to Cheney, Kansas at the age of ten years by covered wagon. His father William Parham was successful in business, but his mother died in 1885 when he was around twelve years old. The next year his father married Harriet Miller, the daughter of a Methodist circuit rider. This fact is important because of the holiness teachings of the Methodists as preached by John and Charles Wesley. Circuit riders were rugged tough men that traveled from church to church on horseback preaching to churches that had no pastor. many died young from the brutal beating this ministry caused on their bodies. Nevertheless, Charles Parham adopted holiness views and was a holiness preacher from the age of fifteen years old. 
In 1897 Parham and a family member fell sick. Attributing their healing to Divine miracle, he began preaching healing and praying for the sick in addition to holiness. Some say he renounced secular medicine all together. He lived by faith and refused to ask for money, only believing that the Lord would provide for his needs. This would be the basis upon which he started Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas in the months following. Some forty families forsook all and joined the College that once existed at 17th and Stone street. Today a Catholic church occupies the spot.

It was on this property that the old Stones Folly Victorian Mansion once stood. It burned down just months after Charles Parham moved out in 1901. Nevertheless, this is where Agnes Ozman at the age of roughly thirty years old received the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues on January 1, 1901. From here Parham developed the doctrine of what Pentecostals know as “Initial Evidence.” He was a holiness preacher that had added healing and baptism in the Holy Spirit to his doctrine. 
A Dangerous Mixture
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since January 1, 1901. In fact, the churches of God would live to see whole healing “ministries” come about in the next forty years. Tongues would be emphasized, the gifts of the Spirit, Apostolic faith, you name it. everything except one foundational teaching. You might have guessed what it is? Holiness. The very holiness movement, built on the doctrine of the Methodist’s John and
Charles Wesley’s teachings, which gave birth to what is today the Modern Pentecostal Movement, has been largely if not completely abandoned in the main stream. What does that mean?
It means that there was a time when holiness of life was the norm and people that operated under the gifts of the Spirit were sanctified to the Lord. Today the emphasis is on grace to the point that people believe they can live in rife sin and still move in the gifts. People can prophesy and if they “miss it” ask God to forgive them as if it were any other sin. Not that God cannot forgive these things, but there is a recklessness going on in many circles that is the result of merging “Baptist” notions of Eternal Security with Pentecostal operations of the gifts of the Spirit. This would not fly with old time Pentecostals. These men believed you must live a holy life in order to be used of God. They believed a person needed to truly be born of the Spirit in order to be a Christian.
A Change in Emphasis

I must admit that once the Pentecostal churches adopted the “Billy Graham method” of salvation (sinners prayer, etc.) the door flew open to multitudes of people coming into the churches that were born of a decision and not of the Spirit. Christians began trying to operate under the gifts that were not even born again. What happened? The old timers were maligned and marginalized as “legalists” and “strict” in their doctrines and methods. Cynical remarks were made to throw people off from asking for the old paths. Soon almost nobody preaching on holiness in the main stream. Thousands of ministries based on healing. Thousands based on personal prophesy. Thousands based on prosperity. Where is the emphasis on holiness? Where are the preachers of righteousness? Or are we living in an era of …having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2Timothy 3:5)



Have We Lost Christianity?

Have We Lost Christianity? 
Robert Wurtz II

Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it. (Jeremiah 6:16)

I shall never forget how disturbed I was several years ago attending a very large youth meeting where the so-called worship team broke into a full-blown secular song and fed it to the people. We had been flirting with using secular stuff in worship, in circles I moved in, but then God began to move in revival and sobered most of our minds up. Nevertheless, I asked a highly respected minister what was going on in this youth meeting. He said that they tell us (the older ministers) “This is our time…” that is to say, “It’s our day, and it’s our turn to do this Christianity thing…” Clearly they have determined to out last the old folks and cut themselves a new path all together- free from the starchiness of the older generation. 

The Fear of the Puritans Realized

For me, the cause of this problem is as simple as anything. The Puritans and Pilgrims sailed to the New World over 400 years ago to establish a “City on a Hill” a place where everyone in society was a genuine Christian. They had been through the difficult transitions that took place during the reformation when Saint and sinner alike were swept wholesale into the churches. The New World was not supposed to be that way. So, for the next 300 years, this dream of a people existing as the true Church on earth made a lot of headway. But, slowly over time the notion of the church being comprised of true Christians was lost and Saint and sinner alike were swept into the churches through the high speed evangelistic efforts of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The sinners’ prayer, the prosperity gospel and an inordinate emphasis on grace and eternal security has realized the fears of the Puritans. I have dealt with this matter in detail in my latest book TelevangelicalismClick here to get the book on Kindle or paperback.

Ask For The Old Paths?

We have noticed a couple of things over the last few years. First, there is a weariness setting in among many who have been calling the churches to repentance and genuine New Covenant living. The voices are growing fewer and fainter. Many of the old-timers are dying off or getting up in years. It won’t be long, and they will all have passed away. Secondly, as I have spoken out against everything from the sinners’ prayer to Rock and Roll worship, I have been de-friended and in a few cases blocked in social media. It is clear to me that many a hand on the rudder of the church has no interest in a call to the old paths. They are foremen on the road crew blazing a new path to try and lead the churches into hell itself. In the words of Jeremiah, But they said, ‘We will not walk in it. Or in the words of Paul at Ephesus, For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:29)

Stand in the Way and See

Savage wolves have no interest in seeing the right paths, their only interest is to devour the sheep for their own gain. But, as we raise the clarion call to repentance, perchance some of the true saints will be sobered to the path that we are on right now. God said it to Israel, “Stand in the ways and see…” If you have ears to hear, zoom out and see where we are right now. Ask God to lift you up for an aerial view of where we are heading. You will see the well-worn paths of many generations and then a completely new path blazing through the wilderness of this present evil world. And it is growing wider and wider merging with the broad road to destruction. “Stand in the ways and see…” 

Ask For The Old Paths

Where is the good way? This is the question we need to be asking. By implication the other path(s) are the bad way. The deception is found in the fact that as these forces pioneer this rebellious path, every other song they write contains references to “freedom.” What is it? They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.  (2 Peter 2:19 ESV) The old saints hear the word freedom and think of freedom from sin and this world; the new generation uses the word freedom to sever ties with the past and the former generation of Christians who believed in holiness and modesty. They want to be free from any standards or expectations. Anything goes. They cast off restraint to the point to where they lust for things, and advocate actions, which only the vilest of sinners in bygone generations would have participated in. 

Have We Lost Christianity?

As backslidden and unregenerate ministers pretended to reach youth with worldly measures we raised up a generation that had no clue as to what true Christianity is. The reason this happened was because the expectation of people genuinely repenting and being born of the Spirit was lost in the main stream by as early as the 1950s. A person could say the sinners prayer wait a few years and enter the ministry. Contrast that with the fact that in the early founding of America, a person could not be a member of their local church in certain of the Colonies, unless they could give a convincing testimony as to how they were born again. If they could not, they couldn’t even join the church– much less become a preacher or leader. But, that’s an old path. They were expected to live a life as becometh saints. But that’s an old path, too. We have the solution here: Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. Have we lost Christianity in the main stream? As long as a generation continues to say, ‘We will not walk in it. (Jeremiah 6:16b), I’m afraid the answer can only be yes, we have.   


A Substitutionary (Python) Spirit

A Substitutionary (Python) Spirit 
Robert Wurtz II

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. (Acts 16:16)

We have the familiar story of Paul the Apostle encountering a woman that was possessed with a demon. A spirit of divination is the Greek pneuma puthoœna. Hesychius defines it as daimonion manikon (a spirit of divination). The etymology of the word is not clearly known (Robertson). Vincent suggests a Python. Python, in Greek mythology, was the serpent which guarded Delphi. According to the legend, as related in the Homeric hymn, Apollo descended from Olympus in order to select a site for his shrine and oracle. Having fixed upon a spot on the southern side of Mount Parnassus, he found it guarded by a vast and terrific serpent, which he slew with an arrow, and suffered its body to rot (puqei√n) in the sun. Hence the name of the serpent Python perhaps means “rotting”; Pytho, the name of the place, and the epithet Pythian, applied to Apollo. The name Python was subsequently used to denote a prophetic demon, and was also used of soothsayers who practiced ventriloquism, or speaking from the bellyBengel suggests puthesthai from punthanomai, to inquire. Certainly Luke does not mean to credit Apollo with a real existence (1 Cor. 8:4). Plutarch (A.D. 50-100) also says that the term puthoœnes was applied to ventriloquists (eggastrimuthoi). In the LXX those with familiar spirits are called by this word ventriloquists (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27, including the witch of Endor 1 Sam. 28:7). (see Vincent, A.T. Robertson)

False Inspiration

It is possible that this slave girl had this gift of prophecy “by soothsaying” (manteuomeneœ). Present middle participle of manteuomai, old heathen word (in contrast with propheœteuoœ) for acting the seer (mantis) and this kin to mainomai, to be mad, like the howling Dervishes of later times. Dervishes were Muslim’s first appeared in the 12th century; they were noted for their wild or ecstatic rituals and were known as dancing, whirling, or howling dervishes according to the practice of their order. (Webster) This young woman was moving in a demonic spirit that was substituting itself for an operation that can only justly and rightly be occupied by the Holy Spirit of God. The demon that possessed this woman was an unholy spirit, in an unholy person, speaking true statements. 

The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. (Acts 16:17, 18b) 

Paul’s reaction? He was grieved after listening many days. Vincent suggests rather, worn out. Both grieved at the sad condition of the woman, and thoroughly annoyed and indignant at the continued demonstrations of the evil spirit which possessed her. It is not fully known why Paul waited to cast this demon out. Certainly it verifies the testimony of the demon that attacked the sons of Sceva, “Paul I know and Jesus I know, but who are you?” The demons knew who Paul was. Paul did not need the affirmation of demons. It was of no benefit to the preaching of the Gospel. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be carried not under the inspiritation of unclean spirits, but by the inspiritation of the Holy Spirit of God. 

Deceiving the People

At some point in this woman’s life, she became possessed by this demon. That is common sense. She obviously opened herself up to it by being continually subjected to its influence. Every human being on the face of the earth is a temple: the question is, they are a temple of what or who? Not all people are demon possessed that do not know Christ, but they are still indwelt by the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2). Those that are demon possessed have obviously underestimated the spiritual nature of the world we live in. Some have gone far enough to invite the demon to possess them. This is why it is foolish and dangerous to subject yourself to the influence and working of demonic spirits that operate in this present evil age. Multitudes come under demonic influences as they subject themselves to secular activities that move upon the people. The Holy Spirit strives with man, but so do demon spirits. 


Paul spoke of the Corinthians being “carried away” unto dumb idols. Music has the ability to “carry one along.” This is why the Israelites danced and carried on before the Golden Calf. Their is a spiritual dynamic to these things, just as there is a Spiritual dynamic when believers sing praises unto God. The Psalmist spoke of God “inhabiting” the prises of the people: do we not understand that the enemy desires to “inhabit” the places where men are being lifted up? The time would fail to give example after example of Rock star, Rap singer, and other genres that admit to having “sold their soul to the devil” or “made a pact with the devil” in order to be successful. Rock bands speak of “feeding off of the energy” that they draw from the crowds as they play. Any desire to venture a guess where this energy comes from? Unclean spirits? This is how the enemy substitutes a spiritual need to worship – with a counterfeit of himself. People “feel” something and it is often more than soulish, it is spiritual (demonic). It is earthly, sensual or demonic or it is earthly+sensual+demonic. In either case, Christians should be vexed by it, even as Paul was. 


All demonic spirits are “pythonian” in nature. That is to say, they want to influence you away from God, to distract you, to squeeze you, until you have no desire for God and His Spirit. He wants to create a scenario where God is not welcome so he can come in and influence in His place. This is the great danger. Once it starts happening the people begin to resent the entire notion of holiness. They have subjected themselves to the demonic until they are in agreement with that demons rebellion against God. That is the simplest way to say it. Any person that resists holiness is under the influence of the demonic whether they know it or not. it does not matter that they cry day and night “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” The Holy Spirit will always lead us to separate ourselves from these type of things. He cleansed Heaven of them and as Temples of the Holy Spirit He wants us cleansed of them as well. What folly is it that a Christian would want to subject themselves to the spirit that was cast out of heaven? It is because they are under its influence and stand in need of repentance and deliverance. If the desire for God is leaving or is gone; if the desire for holiness and righteousness is gone; if there is a general desire to live in the world and agree with it – there is a demonic influence that has taken hold. Renounce all behavior leading up to this effect! Renounce it forever. God is well able to deliver, but one must not be fooled into believing they can eat at the table and drink of the cup of devils and serve God at the same time. Hell will be full of such people. 

Does Time Sanctify?

Does Time Sanctify?
Originally Published July, 2011
Robert Wurtz II

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (1 Corinthians 10:20)

We live in an age where almost everything is being redefined; good is being called evil and evil is being called good. Indeed, three hundred years of Christian influence in the West is fading fast. Full-on paganism is resulting. This means that things that were obvious just 40 years ago are no longer obvious. The 1950’s and 60’s ushered in a rebellion that threatens to overthrow any semblance of good and right. That was over 50 years ago now.

Paying attention to the demonic

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Timothy 4:1)

There are many ways this passage can be applied in the circumstances of life and history. Yet, as time goes on this passage rings more and more true. ‘Some’ indeed are departing from the faith and others are fellowshipping with devils. You may ask, “What are you talking about?” The only reason you would ask that is because society has become so dark that many Christians can’t even tell the difference between the things of God and the earthly, sensual, and demonic. They have been seduced by devils into entertaining evil things until they can no longer make distinction between what is good and what is evil. They may carry all the same tags, “Christian, ‘Spirit-filled’, believer, leader, disciple, pastor, teacher, Pentecostal, etc.” and not even have the ability to discern when something or someone comes of evil. They are seduced and being seduced. In fact, they may have become a host for the propagation of more evil, diabolic doctrines and ideas. Evil spirits are animating these false teachers adding to their power to deceive.

Time Sanctifies Sin and Satan?

The world is under the influence of Satan. The Kingdom of God is a place where the people are under the influence of Jesus Christ. These kingdoms are mutually exclusive and not compatible. That seems like common sense, but obviously it is not. The enemy has used subtle means to infiltrate Christian culture (if there is such a thing). Main stream Christian radio today in the United States is so secular sounding that I struggle to tell the difference between it and its songs and it and the world. Its as if the masses are so duped, that they will swallow down almost anything that the devil puts the label ‘Christian’ on. If its says ‘Christian’ it is suddenly sanctified, no matter how worldly or diabolic it was before. In fact, the things we were taught as children were evil are now in vogue. It is in vogue to dress like a prostitute, for example. All it took was about 30 years for the props, figures, and means of identity to become sterilized by time itself (I guess). I mean, does time sanctify a thing? Time seems to have sanctified Rock and Roll and all manor of secular music. Time seems to have sanctified worldly and diabolic TV and movies. Time sanctified the Ouija board and vampirism. Just give it time and hell itself will be sanctified I suppose. And no one dare say anything! Can time sanctify? If it was evil 50 years ago it is STILL evil. Time sanctifies nothing.

Expressing Affection for the World

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)

The first thing we have to do is get the leaders and influences in the mainstream right with God. How can a local guy preach separation and holiness when so much of the so-called Christian mainstream emulates the world at almost every turn? Seriously. Do we somehow think that because such and such Christian band or such and such ministry is doing a thing that God is letting us off the hook? Would you jump off a cliff if someone else was doing it? But today the AUTHORITY is in the POPULARITY. This diabolic mentality runs contrary to everything in the scripture from Genesis to Revelation. But you have to read the bible to know that. You have to detox from all things secular, get alone with God and recalibrate your spiritual senses. The more nonsense my comments are to you- the more influenced you probably are by the secular world. You are under their spell man. Snap out-of-it! Are we to follow a multitude to do evil and then mock the lone voices of descent? Shadows are gathering and deathbeds are coming. We will answer to God for what we allow in to our sphere of influence.

From Preaching Against it to a Ministry Tool?

How on earth could something that was not allowed in the life of a believer 50 years ago suddenly become commonplace in ministry? Why in the world have we allowed our time and tested Christian hymns that were based on the scriptures be replaced with Rock and Roll, or watered down sensual atmospheric music? Why in the world would we make our worship services look like a rock stage? Have we gone mad? Seriously. Could you imagine Ozzy Osbourne dressing his concert stage up like a church? There is no way unless he did it to mock us. What diabolic influence has came in to make us think this stuff is sterile and can be used to worship a holy God? Nadab and Abihu would be horrified, and yet this madness goes on like its free. Where is the shame? Then we wonder why kids are leaving the churches in droves. Stop giving them the world with a Christian label stuck to it. Turn the lights back on and act like children of light. Preach the truth to them. Do what we did 10 years ago. Have we gone to hell in a hand-basket in 10 short years? Sober up and get that devilish stuff out of the churches while you still have breath in your lungs. Repent of this wickedness.

I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils

People do not offer blood sacrifices to the devil today- they offer their bodies as living sacrifices to him. they mark themselves up and dress themselves up and then fill themselves up with every possible evil thing that will identify them with anything and everything except Jesus Christ. They are living sacrifices for the world. They worship through the giving of their bodies. This is as plain as anything. To do similarly, no matter what our profession, is to have fellowship with devils. To engage in this type of worship, through the identification of ones person and the submission of ones affections is effectively devil worship no matter how it is sterilized. The result is full-blown enmity with God. The solution? And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4) The world is headed for total destruction. Why would we want to partake of and entertain these type of things on any level? A line of demarcation has already been drawn. The time to sober up and get on the right side is now. Away with demonic influences that confuse the mind. Away with conformity with this world. If you conform to this world (Romans 12:1) you will not offer your body to Christ as a living sacrifice- you will offer it to this world and the devil. You are going to offer it to someone. We all have to burn for something. Would to God that a clarion call to come out from among this world unto a place of separation to God would be sounded from the housetops while the churches of God still have a distinct identity and the world can still tell a difference betwixt us and them.

No Light

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:20, 21 ESV)

Light hurts the eyes of those that are used to darkness; this is commonly known. The light exposes or manifests the reality of what things are. Darkness conceals reality. Ephesians tells us that whatsoever does make manifest is light. It only stands to reason that a person that is not willing to deal with their evil behavior will avoid ‘light’ being cast upon them. They will not acknowledge their sin so that it may be reproved. They hide it, make excuses for it, justify it, etc. In this state he/she will not read the Bible, will not come to church where Holy Spirit conviction can be felt, and they will not pray in a meaningful way so as to touch God. The Holy Spirit will not always strive with man in reproving and convicting. (John 8:46; John 16:8). This is a fearful consideration. The Spirit of God will utilize the Word of God to bring conviction of sin and drive home the reality of a future judgment. This disturbs the person’s personal peace; that is to say, it disturbs the scheme they have set up within themselves to ignore their consciousness of their estate before a holy God. They build a fortress of self-deception designed to keep God from disturbing them in their selfish life. Light breaks in upon this scheme as the rising sun through the window of a sleeping man. To escape this unpleasant intrusion and exposure, the evil person cuts out the light of Christ. In effect, they pull the shade.

Pulling the Shades

We discovered that the reason why individuals don’t want any form of light is because their deeds are evil and they plan on remaining evil. Simply put, they don’t want God dealing with them. This is a dangerous state to be in. They avoid light. So what are we to make of Christians that want to always tone down the light supply (as it were) that is cast upon the churches of God and replace it with some lesser thing? Based on our passage, we can only conclude that they are hiding something. They are not wanting the full light of Christ to illuminate, lest they be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. The scheme that men use to protect themselves from the light of Christ suddenly begins to influence the light in the meetings of the churches of God. Leaders hold more influence over the amount of light in a meeting than anyone. If the leaders are backslid, you can forget God moving in most situations. We would see a wholesale change in many circles if the leadership would simply get right with God and repent of their thirst for evil. Seriously. It is a sad day when those being led have to rebuke the leaders for their compromise. Where are the leaders that would challenge the people to rise higher in God? Where are the leaders calling the people to a higher level of righteousness and holiness? Where are the leaders raising the standard and leading the people as salt and light into this present darkened world? Judgment has to start with the house of God and in the House of God it has to start with those that are in the lead. That is as simple as anything.

Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard. (Proverbs 13:15)
It only stands to reason that compromise and ministry do not mix. Imagine this, all the cares of the ministry added to the hard-way of being a transgressor. That would amount to a stress no one can handle for long. The true peace that comes with knowing things are right is invaluable. A leader in compromise is surely a pitiful case.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

In the Kingdom of God, Christ did not choose a half-in, half-baked, half-backslidden group to preach the Gospel to the then known world. Sure, they may have failed Christ miserably early on, but a case can be made that they really loved Christ and when given opportunity were restored and filled with the Spirit of God. They became new creatures FULL of the Holy Spirit and Fire. You could tell it in their speech. They overflowed with the wonderful works of God. Their minds were bent on God. Serving Christ was not a hobby. Christ was not the result of a brainstorm in the formation of a new social club. He was not an excuse to get together and flirt with some of the opposite sex, rub elbows with young people, or ‘hang-out’ and have fun. He was the very CENTER of all that was going on. He was not the hole in the donut. In fact, these men and women were the ‘real deal’ and because they were the ‘real deal’ they got real results. God moved powerfully among them. When they rose up they spoke of Christ and when they did lie down they spoke of Him. The whole ministry was Christocentric (Christ-centered).

I recall as a young person getting together with a bunch of youth and young adults for a cook out. Being the ignorant young christian I was, I actually brought my bible. Someone says to me in effect,’ look, the spiritual guy- he brought his bible.’ I came there ignorantly thinking we were gathering together in the name of Christ for a Christ-centered gathering. I figured the food and fun would be peripheral things, and God would be the main subject. I was terribly wrong. When I left a bible discussion did break out I’m told and it ended up in an argument. I say God deliver us from this type of lame Christianity. That could have scarred me for life. But fortunately I was stoking my own fire as the old-timers used to say.

Everyone who does wicked things hates the light

It is a sad day when a Christian is in bad reputation for always taking their Christian walk too far. But there it is. Can there be such a thing? Or rather, is the life of one that genuinely desires to serve God too much light shed upon the corruption of the lukewarm and backslidden? Just asking. I mean, why on earth would a Christian ever be criticized for trying to do and teach what is right and good? If I didn’t have any better sense I would think the people with this attitude are double-agents. Why not? Could you imagine Paul or Peter telling a young brother to tone down his love for Christ and step up and get a little fun-loving self-desire going? That is insanity. As if Jesus Christ is not worthy to be burned for and we need to relegate some of that fire to some worldly thing. But this is rife in young adult and youth ministry today. It is a bible-less, ramped-up, hyped-up, noisy mess in many cases. Seriously. Its as if a generation that loved this world and the devil has found a way to morph together serving God and serving the devil until they do all the same things sinners do, except they direct them towards the object of Jesus Christ or ‘God’ instead of this world and the devil. This satisfies their inward desire for worship, but it is a pseudo spirituality. It is emptiness. Vanity. It is a devilish mixture.

Identification With the World

Much of what is called contemporary ministry today is nothing more than worldliness with a christian label slapped on it. I remember the day when our beloved 88.5 FM changed formats to compete, apparently, with K-LOVE. Out went the wholesome music that we all grew up with that are older than 40 years. Out went the hymns. Out went most anything until even Keith Green was too radical for mainstream programming. They must have been losing market share. What did they exchange for? “Positive and encouraging.” Notice a key word missing- edifying. The litmus test for all we do in the churches of God needs to be two things; 1) does it truly glorify God 2) does it edify the churches (the people). People may testify that they feel ‘up-lifted’ but this is a temporary fix for a long term need. Its like a sugar fix when you need complex carbs and a balanced diet. You need spiritual sustenance that builds you up.

I kid you not, I have done this exercise several times. I have turned on the radio in my car and asked my teenaged kids if they could tell me ‘Christian’ or ‘Secular’ as I flipped through the dial. They were often wrong. The sad thing is, it was almost impossible to tell the difference in many cases. But there it is. Soon the whole city was without a means of having wholesome singing. In fact I have had exercises with brethren where we pulled out the hymnal and just read the lyrics to compare them with ‘contemporary Christian music’ so-called. It was a shocking disgrace. It’s was like grape juice compared to watered down Kool-Aid. For real. May as well admit it. We had lost our way and are at risk of losing Christianity.

“The Heaven Function Not the Presence of God”

At the risk of being labeled a heretic I must add that ‘strings’ or the so-called ‘heaven’ function on a keyboard is NOT the presence of God. Often these things are akin to New Age Meditational music, masquerading as God’s presence. When the Holy Spirit truly comes He convinces the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. He don’t come to bring nice fuzzy feelings that don’t challenge our lifestyle. I recall meeting New Agers traveling to be in Benny Hinn’s meetings in 1993 because they had a ‘spiritual feel’ or a ‘mystical feel’ to them. That is not to paint all things of this kind as evil, but we need to know what the presence of God is and is not. If the power goes off and the ‘feeling’ goes away it was not the presence of God. Period. End of discussion. Our God does not need strings to make Himself known. He don’t need a keyboard. You might say, “David played a harp and demons would leave.” This is true, however, David was a man after God’s own heart and it was the worship of the man that drove off the demons. It was God in David, not the instrument. Keep that clear.

Getting Back?

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:12-14)

I’m sure that some people think that because I reject what is going on today that I’m just some morose spirited guy that is just looking for a reason to gripe. They see me walk in the meetings and walk back out. They hear my comments and say, “There he goes again.” Or better yet, “Don’t mind him, that’s just how he is.” But I want to ask you the reader to consider this passage. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness. If you knew you would stand before Jesus Christ in the next 3 seconds would you want to be found in a high state of expectation or in some place of compromise? Do you really know who it is that you will stand before some day? I know we focus a lot on love these days, and maybe even to a fault. But consider the Divine revelation that John saw; And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11) The heavens and the earth are going to flee from the face of God into oblivion; because the truth is they can flee but they cannot hide. All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. This is not Bambi Jesus. This is the Lamb of God as it had been slain ready to tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God Almighty. If you had and I had a revelation of God as He is we would play far less games than we do, I’m certain of it. We would take this Christian life a lot more seriously. Even as the Rich Man in hell wanted to warn his family, but was told that those on earth have the Word of God- let them hear that. One second into eternity and we hear with our own ears the doorposts tremble, as the Cherubim cry HOLY HOLY HOLY, and our minds are going to sober up as if we drank down an ocean of coffee in a moment of time. Gone will be the foolish ramblings and the cynical attitudes. I’m asking those mine accusers to find me ASAP when we all get before the throne and tell me then that I took Christianity too far. Tell me then that I should have taught young people to have more fun. Tell me then that all this reading the bible and prayer was unnecessary.

The night is far spent, that is to say, shadows are gather and death beds are coming, they are coming for you and for me. This is a picture of the Sun about to arise on this wicked world. No one can stop it just like no one can stop the sun coming up in the morning. We should live as if the Sun were already up and we were already before the Throne of God. The old hymn asks, “why should we linger and heed not His mercy, mercy for you and for me.” We need to put away the watered down Kool-Aid, friends, and get some hymns and sermons with some meat on them. We need to get what we need that will compel us to cast-off the darkness that so many are in love with. It’s Time. It is high time to awake out of sleep- for now our salvation or damnation (which ever we choose) is nearer than we think.

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