People Who Must Be Avoided

People Who Must Be Avoided
Robert Wurtz II

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses (stumbling blocks) contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18 KJV/ESV)

Paul’s abrupt warning about trouble makers within the church is both swift and stern. Having in the previous verse told the saints to greet one another with a holy kiss of charity, he then states plainly, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses (stumbling blocks) contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Clearly, the people Paul has in view are enemies of the love and unity that Christ seeks to establish among the saints. The late renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson tells us that these people are to be marked, which is the Greek word skopeo and means “to keep an eye on so as to avoid.” These people are agents of division and sources of stumbling, which is the Greek word skandalon. This means a person could actually fall in the faith because of these people’s actions. Those who cause division rather than unity and stumbling rather than helping are to be marked out and avoided. This is the plain reading of the text. 

Another late renowned Greek scholar Marvin Vincent tells us that these people are known for causing disturbances within the churches. He adds an explanation of the word “avoid” when he writes, “Avoid is the Greek word ekklinate and is better translated as turn aside. Not only keep out of their way, but remove from them if you fall in with them.” (Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament) Sometimes we end up getting mixed up with professing Christians that we don’t realize are truly evil people until God’s removes the blinders from our eyes. Sometimes we feel an inward conviction that we need to remove from these people and can’t figure out why. It can be a very confusing thing when it happens. However, the Holy Spirit knows what they are doing behind the scenes and He is driving us to mark out and turn aside from them. 

Only after being away from their influence do we start to see some of the things they have a pattern of doing. For example, they will drop pieces of information about people (usually their rival) that is intended to undermine the person or cause you to lose confidence in them. They will flatter you and then undermine the person they are attacking. These divisionists’ strive to be “in the know” because this is how they get the precious information they use to cause strife and division. They surround themselves with people who “know where all the bodies are buried” (to use a 20th century political expression). These people think they are their friends, but in reality they are accomplices who are just being used for the information they possess or can acquire. Information is an asset to troublemakers in the churches; especially secret information (confidential). They will use it against their rivals or to gain and destroy influence.

I once knew a so-called Christian to boast that he could, “pick up the phone and call ____ and the person he called would never speak to their Christian brother again.” Sound unbelievable? Believe it. Not even Hollywood could make this kind of stuff up. This is the level of evil that some so-called Christians and ministers are moving in. They are actually boasting that they are proficient at sowing discord among brethren — a sin that God considers an abomination on the level with homosexuality (Proverbs 6:19). I have known of a so-called pastor to boast that he could use his influence to destroy other peoples’ influence in ministry and that from the pulpit. What happened? I was naive and could not see the evil that was going on. This was why the Spirit will move us to mark and avoid people in this way. Sometimes we are deluded and can’t see something that should be totally obvious.



If you know a person, no matter what their title (pastor, prophet, preacher, teacher, bishop, clergy, brother, sister, deacon, etc.), who is known to cause disturbances within the churches; who cause division among saints and churches; and who cause the saints to stumble (skandalon) because of their actions, you as a Christian have a God given mandate to mark that person and avoid them. If you are in company with that person(s) you are to remove yourself from them no matter who they are. 

Damnable Carnality

The Greek word for divisions (dichostasias) is found in two other verses in the New Testament:

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Cor. 3:3)

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (Galatians 5:20 KJV) 

The church at Corinth (who also abused the gifts of the Holy Spirit), was rife with the effects of people who were causing the very thing Paul warned the Romans about (divisions). They too needed to mark off and avoid these type of people. Keep in mind that the word “divisions” is translated “seditions” in Galatians 5. In other words, they are moving in the realm of the flesh in the name of ministry and are in danger of damnation themselves (Galatians 5:20-21). Do not fall in with them or bid them God-speed lest you partake of their evil deeds. There is no need to pray and ask God if you should hang around. He will not tell you in prayer to disobey His clearly enunciated word. 

Their Motivation?

Paul tells us plainly that such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. This is clear from the fact that they are unconcerned with what Christ is concerned about. They are serving their own “belly.” A.T. Robertson tells us that this can be more literal than figurative (Phil. 3:19). Like the sons of Eli they fleece the people for everything they can get until the very worship of God is despised (1 Samuel 2-14-17). In other words, they are so self-indulgent that people who watch them don’t want to serve God anymore. This is how devastating to the cause of God their self-indulgent ways are. They think the church owes them a lavish living. Whereas, had they been concerned about the kingdom of God they would orient their lives so as to make great sacrifices for God and His kingdom. Rather than always wanting to turn a profit on the ministry, they seek to be profitable for the ministry. Big difference.     

 Their Method of Operation

 They pull off their destruction by smooth talk and flattery (and) they deceive the hearts of the naive. Christians who put the best construction on peoples’ actions are the most susceptible to these characters. People who don’t believe that Christians are capable of such things simply watch them smile and shake hands with people… listen to their smooth talk and flattery… and are like sheep to a slaughter. it’s not until they are an object of their behavior that they say, “I would have never believed they were like that.” They are now the prime victims and were once their biggest fans.

“Smooth-talk” or “good-words” is from the single Greek word Chrestologias. A simple definition is that they use a smooth and plausible address which simulates goodness. Key word is “simulates.” It is false. We all know what a smooth-talker is. In fact, some who have never read these verses can identify these type people as smooth talkers and not trust them. They know a smooth talker when they see one. Others don’t see it. 

Notice what the effect is, they deceive the hearts of the naive. Our word translated naive is the Greek akakos and it means unsuspecting and innocent (Vines). These people are not naive in the sense of lacking experience and judgment, they simply have a Christ-like tendency to be guileless. This is how the deceivers gain such a foothold and is why they must be marked and avoided. They are extremely dangerous to the kingdom of God because the kingdom is filled with people trying to do the right thing. These deceivers come in and take full advantage of this Christian characteristic. To mark and avoid these people cuts against the grain of their desire for love and unity. But you cannot befriend such a snake. You have to mark and avoid them no matter how uncomfortable it is. 

Paul’s Final Appeal

“For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” (Romans 16:19–20 KJV)

Paul trusts that the Roman’s propensity to obey God will outstrip their propensity to be trusting and welcoming. He adds an encouragement, I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Our word simple here refers back to the people being “naive” or “harmless.” He wants them to have that character trait, but it must be tempered with the wisdom necessary to identify and avoid destructive and divisive people when we encounter them.        

Lawful or Awful?

All Things Are Lawful? 
Robert Wurtz II

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NKJV)

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.”
(1 Corinthians 10:23 NKJV)

In our first passage, Paul is not suggesting that literally all things are lawful for him. He has already described behaviors that we might call mortal sins. What he is referring to are things that God has allowed for us to do legally, but we are at risk of abusing. In 1 Cor. 6:12 we have sexual relations and eating in view. Both of these stem from good and natural desires. However, Paul was determined not to be a slave to anything that is good in itself. Eating is good and food is for the body. However, there is more to life than eating. A person’s belly (stomach) can become their god if they are not careful (Phil. 3:19). The same holds true for seeking fulfillment in sexual relations. Things that are lawful are apt to become awful if we don’t keep them in check. 

Paul was warning about the negative effects of abusing that which in itself is good. He says plainly, I will not be brought under the power of any. In other words, he was not going to allow a good and natural desire to control him. Satan tried to use the need for food to get Jesus off track when he tested Him in the wilderness. Our Lord’s answer? Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. Man should find fulfillment not in the exercise of his/her natural physical desires, but in doing God’s will. Jesus added to this when He stated, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34b NKJV)

The common concern between both 1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23 is that not all things are helpful. This is a Greek word that means “what is best for you.” We could translate the sentence, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are what’s best for me. In other words, it may be lawful to do but it is not in your best interest. You would be better off not doing _____. This is often difficult to persuade people of because they think in terms of immediate gratification. They simply can’t see how their behavior now is simply not what is best for them or the people they hope to influence. Being sensitive to God and having a willingness to listen to those who care most will help us discover whether something in our life is helpful or not.  


Paul then expands on this proverb, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful…” by shifting the focus from the negative to the positive. He states, “…all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” This is Paul’s main concern for Christians; does what you are doing edify you? Does what you are doing edify the Body of Christ? The word edify is the Greek oikodomio and it means to build. Usually the context involves a structures like the Temple, tombs, barns, cities, houses, or towers. Sometimes it involves building an entity like the Church. “…all things are lawful for me, but not all things build.” 

Taken together these passages offered the carnal Corinthians an opportunity to evaluate their priorities as Christians. If an athlete wants to be successful, he/she will not do things that impede their progress. For example, it may be legal to indulge in sweets and unhealthy foods, but an athlete will discipline themselves to do only what “builds them up.” They are unwilling to sacrifice their overall health by indulging in something that may compromise their performance. Moreover, if they intend to be a role model in their field they will not do things that give the impression that others can do it too. Likewise, as Christians, we have to be careful what we allow or do not allow into our lives. 

Some will say, “I have liberty and I can do ____ if I wish to.” This may be true. However, is it what is best for you? Does it build you or the Body of Christ? Paul answered this question best perhaps in Romans 14:22 when he simply asked, “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
(Romans 14:22 NKJV)   

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)        

Self-Inflicted Suffering and Setbacks

Self-Inflicted Suffering and Setbacks
Robert Wurtz II

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (Matthew 5:10–11 NKJV)

For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. (1 Peter 2:20 NKJV)

There is a principal in these verses that I wish to consider that deals with the difference between what I might term “general suffering” and what we will call “self-inflicted suffering.” The same can be said for setbacks; there are “general setbacks” and there are “self-inflicted setbacks.”

Matthew 5:10-11 illustrates a group of people who by inference were persecuted for their own unrighteous behavior and who had been reviled, persecuted, and spoken evil of “rightly” and perhaps “deservedly.” These were the opposite of blessed. In other words, some might say concerning the reviling and persecution that they had it coming. These people stand in contrast to the “blessed” who were reviled, persecuted, and spoken evil of falsely for the Lord’s sake.

Peter takes it another step and states, For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? If you have a “beating” coming, then it is of no credit before God. However, when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. In other words, there is a sense in which the godly response is a spiritual sacrifice to God (1 Peter 2:5). In Peter’s language, it is a “gracious thing.”

Self-Inflicted Disaster

God makes it clear that there are times when He sympathizes with our afflictions and other times when He does not. It does not mean He does not love us, it simply means that the laws of sowing and reaping are in play. God is not mocked. Nevertheless, there are people in the world who are blind to the fact that their suffering and setbacks are self-inflicted. They may even assume that God feels sorry for them in their condition. Peter tells us plainly, For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? It is no credit at all. Take your stripes and learn from them. It was your fault. You take responsibility.

Self-inflicted injuries are just that; they are self inflicted. However, bad things are happening all around the person and they blame everyone but themselves — including the Devil. They are blind to their own actions. The secular English speaking world has an idiom for this phenomena: shooting oneself in the foot. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the expression as meaning “to do or say something that causes problems for you.” Emphasis on “you.” Another idiom says that some people are, “their own worst enemy.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines this expression as meaning, “doing things yourself that prevent you from being liked or successful.” Emphasis on yourself and you.

Sometimes we are not liked or successful because we take a stand for what is right. Sometimes what we think is right is not right at all; but that doesn’t stop us from patting ourselves on the back as if we have suffered for Christ. In other words, we must distinguish between truth and our idea of truth. If a person is moving in error and suffering for it — it is still self-inflicted rather they think they are in the right or not. They end up being disliked for reasons very different than what they think they are disliked for. This is a form of self-deception. We have to be willing to allow God to show us whether or not we are being “buffeted for our own faults” (as it were) or if it is actually “for Christ’s sake” that we are suffering.


Sometimes God has to put His finger in our chest — sort of like Nathan the Prophet did David the King and exclaim, “Thou art the man!” There is no hope for a person who “blindly shoots themselves in the foot” unless they take the blinders off and employ some basic common sense to their situation. What can we do if we see that we are self-destructing? The first step is to take personal responsibility for our own actions. Stop making excuses and stop blaming other people. Don’t “pass the buck” — another idiom meaning “to pass the blame (to someone else); to give the responsibility (to someone else).” You might have heard it said,  “Don’t try to pass the buck! It’s your fault, and everybody knows it. Some people try to pass the buck whenever they can.” (ibid) When we finally realize that we are the problem we can finally get down to making needed change and seeing progress. Otherwise we just go on in a sick sort of self indulgent pity — playing the victim when in reality we victimized ourselves.

 

The Age of AntiChrist

The Age of AntiChrist
Robert Wurtz II

“And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” (1 John 4:3 NKJV)

“The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.”
(Daniel 7:24–25 NKJV)

“Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.””(Daniel 12:3–4 NKJV)

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” (2 Timothy 3:12–14 KJV)

“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1 Corinthians 14:37–38 KJV)

“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11 KJV)

I generally refrain from writing or teaching about what is sometimes called eschatology or the study of end time events. The reason is simple; the topic typically degenerates into an endless round of speculations in which everyone weighs in to show their knowledge of prophecy and the conversation grinds to an abysmal and unedifying argument. So in this entry we will not be discussing who Jezebel’s husband will be in the resurrection or any other such nonsense.

What I do wish to focus on is how dreadfully those who have speculated in the past have already missed the mark in their own predictions of eschatological events. Having heard countless sermons and read many books on the end times — not one predicted the state that we are in in 2016. Their emphasis was all wrong and we are paying a terrible price for it right now. I will say it is true categorically until someone proves me wrong. I mean, who in 1975 was preaching that the day would come when men marry men and if you don’t participate when asked you can be sued and your life destroyed? Who predicted in 1957 (or even 1987 for that matter) that society would be so delusional that a grown man can walk into a women’s restroom or locker room (so long as he claims to be transgender) and stand in a stall next to an elderly woman or a 6 year old little girl? And if you don’t like it you are labeled an intolerant nut and can be fired from your job as was a former professional baseball player from ESPN last week. 

As far as I am concerned every book on prophecy written in the last 50 years needs to be taken out and burned. They missed it. It was a total waste of time and money. No need to build their sepulchers. They failed to prepare us for the times we are living. That’s what prophets are supposed to do and if a person is an expert in prophecy they should be preparing us. Rather, most of them told us for decades we would be “out of here” by now. In fact, many preachers of these eras didn’t even participate in Social Security because they believed we would be “out of here.” Well, here we are and the moral situation is getting wildly out of hand to say the least. Christians are at the point of a gun right now and most don’t even realize it. You can’t even take a stand on a matter of basic common sense such as what bathroom a person ought to use without repercussions. Are you kidding me? Who cares what is happening with Israel when my wife can’t even go to a public bathroom anymore without fear that a strange man could be lurking in the stall beside her. 

Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth. (Proverbs 17:24)

It is a sad thing to consider, but if you are reading this you are still here and things are what they are. So lets put down our favorite eschatological speculator and lets pick up the Bible before it’s too late. “And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” (1 John 4:3 NKJV) John tells us that the AntiChrist is coming, but the spirit of AntiChrist is actually already in the world. This spirit rules in the hearts of the ungodly who are marching this world towards unconscionable evil that smarts the sensibilities on a daily basis. There is not a day that goes by that something morally outrageous does not happen. We are already in the realm of uncharted evil and sin. We are experiencing a moral Armageddon right this moment. The flow of society is so utterly AntiChrist that the average person seems to prefer Shariah Law to Christ’s Law. Think about that for a moment. They would rather defend people who disregard women’s rights at best and cut off the heads of infidels at worst. And  yet the Muslims get more tolerance than a born again Christian. What does that tell you? The whole of society is under the direct influence of the spirit of AntiChrist.



A Pompous Generation

It seems that at some point the AntiChrist will appear, but in the meanwhile we go on dealing daily with the spirit of AntiChrist. What is this spirit like? It is like the “He” in this verse. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.”
(Daniel 7:24–25 NKJV) The key thing in this verse that stands out against 3000 years of world history since these words were penned is…And shall intend to change times and law.” 

The powers that are leading society right now have completely re-written millennia of established human laws of conduct. We are experiencing the “de-civilization” of civilized society… and it is happening to the glorious applause of the masses. America a Christian nation? Who are we fooling? Would a Christian abort a baby at 6 month? Would a Christian promote moral decadence the likes of which have not been seen since the days of Sodom? And that is no longer a figure of speech. It is reality. We are not even a civilized nation much less a Christian nation. We may have been founded on Christian principals but we are a million miles from that today. People are doing whatever they want to do with no moral restraints whatsoever. Soon drugs will be legal in all fifty states. Mark it down. There was a time when people went to Vegas (so-called Sin City) to do their sins. Today, nearly every city in America has all the trappings of Las Vegas. 

“Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.””(Daniel 12:3–4 NKJV)

Travel and an increase in knowledge are the realities of our day. This is not a prophecy about the AntiChrist — it is a signpost to let us know the hour we are living. The Internet and the hand held device have made it possible to know almost anything within reason within a few seconds. This is so utterly unprecedented that we cannot possibly understand it unless we had lived in 1000 BC for a while and then split-screened that reality with our times. We would know that now is that time. 

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” (2 Timothy 3:12–14 KJV)

The only hope for Christians is to take their doctrine directly from the scriptures with the leading of the Holy Spirit. There is so much compromise in our times and so many false teachers that we do well to greatly limit the influence we allow modern ministers to have on our lives. 

“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1 Corinthians 14:37–38 KJV)


This verse has always been challenging. There are many people who are bent on being ignorant of God’s word. They make their doctrines independent of the clear teachings of scripture. The is additional evidence of the spirit of AntiChrist being in the land. Satan is the ultimate deceiver. He twists God’s word to say the opposite of what it means. People who are bent on evil cannot be taught the things of God. No sense in arguing with them. Shake the dust from your feet and spare yourself the vexation of observing them in their spiritually obtuse state. This is one way the spirit of AntiChrist wears out the saints. Endless arguments with people who hate God or are willfully deceived. 

When God Closes the Door

“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11 KJV)

There is one eschatological fact that we can get right every time. No need for speculation. Jesus Christ will return one day and all who hear His voice will be resurrected to stand before Him in judgment. From the least to the greatest. The door to Christ will be closed forever. Everyone will be eternally ratified in the state in which they died. If you died in rebellion you will live for eternity as a rebel. If you died in faith you will be perfected into the image of Christ. Everyone has made their choice at this point. There can be no going back. 

Can you imagine that a day will come and all the great names in the history books are going to stand before God. All the Hollywood stars and politicians of our day. People, who under the influence of the spirit of Anti Christ have spoken pompous words against the Most High will bow the knee before Christ. Names like Pilate, Nero, Alexander the Great, the many pharaohs, prophets, priests and kings. What about names like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, John Wayne, and Stephen King? What about presidents such as Washington, Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama? Stalin, Hitler, and a host of other diabolical leaders. What about the many Popes who stood in the place of Christ or Rabbis’ who usurped the authority of God alone. Where will a man like Rabbi Akiba appear who was instrumental in locking the Jews up in Rabbinical Judaism? What about Judas Iscariot. What about you and I?

What a terrible and awesome day that will be. All the false teachers who were made rich — defrauding the saints of their money, time, and attention will be cast into the Lake of Fire to burn forever and ever. All the American presidents who looked big behind the presidential seal will cower before the Lord. Most of all, Satan Himself. 

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:12–17 KJV)






  


Days of Deception

Days of Deception
Robert Wurtz II

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2-5 KJV)

Paul had already warned Timothy earlier in the epistle of people who would be, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (…) as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” (2 Timothy 3:7–8 KJV) Disobedience is almost always the cause of people “ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Nevertheless, Paul issued a solemn charge to Timothy that he was to go on preaching the Gospel that was once and for all delivered unto the saints no matter if it were in season or out of season.

Paul inserts into this charge a prophecy about a type of people who are characterized by three things:

1. They will not endure sound doctrine; i.e., reproving, rebuking, and exhorting.
2. They will heap to themselves teachers that tickle their ears and fuel their lusts.
3. They will refuse to hear the truth, but will turn to fables (stories and myths).



This prophecy is given as a future reality as the verbs are future tense. There was a season coming in which Timothy would have to deal with these people. I suggest that these people would arise as a consequence of Paul being dead. This is akin to the warning Paul gave to the Ephesians that after his departure savage wolves would enter in — not sparing the sheep. In the absence of sound preaching, the lusts of men and women come to the fore and a band of so-called ministers rise to feed them. 

After Their Own Lusts

Markets are driven by demand. This is true in all walks of life. When demand for something dries up — the supply chain for it dries up. Flow is created by pressure; and in this case the pressure is lust. The Greek word for lust is the standard word for strong desire (epithumia). These people are not driven by God’s will or His word — but their own strong desires. Whereas the Kingdom of God is designed around God’s desires, these have traded God’s desires for their own desires. Nevertheless, they chose to remain in the churches. This creates a very serious challenge for preachers. Feed the peoples lusts; or preach for the glory of God?

Heaping to Themselves

The very fact that Paul told Timothy that people will heap teachers to themselves that tickle their ears suggests that Timothy is going to be woefully outnumbered if he carries out Paul’s charge. It suggests that even in the first century there was a serious disparity between the number of true preachers and ear ticklers. Just as in our times, compromisers are able to vote out truth by majority. In other words, majority rules. “They” are deceived into thinking that the more people agree with their lusts the more likely “they” are to be right. Add to that the false idea that popularity equals authority and you have a recipe for wholesale deception.

In our times heaping can be done on an exponential basis. The television and Christian networks are loaded with speakers who have carved their niche in meeting the lusts of men. Between hyper grace preachers and prosperity merchants the masses are made to believe they can drive a Rolls Royce into heaven laden with sin. What has happened? Simply put, they tell people what they want to hear. They almost never serve up news that would agitate their base. Therefore, their TV audience, radio listeners, and Internet mailing lists keep growing. Obviously, not all are in this category, but clearly the majority are. In Timothy’s day “they” could heap a handful of preachers to tickle their ears– today the sky is the limit with so much access to various speakers. One could feed themselves deception 24/7/365.

An Encouragement to Timothy

Paul was telling Timothy what “they” were going to do and what their speakers were going to tell them. Fables. Falsehoods. Twisted notions. All sorts of things that distract them from the truth. Typically, these notions seek to bless “they”, that is, the very people God is wanting reproved or rebuked. It means that Timothy would have to live with what Leonard Ravenhill called, “rejection.” Paul dealt with it too –even among professors of Christ. 

The time came when Timothy got up to preach and could expect a house of reluctant hearers who seemed to merely endure and tolerate his preaching; but then came the “ear tickler” and the house was full and the people anxious and attentive. He would have seen it and it would have grieved and vexed his soul. From people who taught that the resurrection had already passed, to others who promoted the damnable teachings of the Judaizers (see Galatians 1) — Paul was in a constant battle. Paul’s words would come to mind:

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Almost as if Paul shot down all the arguments from the beginning. “They” are thronging the ear tickling preachers you say? ” But watch thou in all things. I know what “they” are doing but “thou” are to watch in all things. The word for “watch” here could be translated sober. “They” may be drunk on the elixir of this world and stagger at the lusts that are heaped up, but be thou sober in all things. “They” might be doing it, but thou must not. You fill to the full your ministry and leave “they” and their speakers to God. Let them be ignorant still. No matter how insignificant you may think your contribution is — keep preaching the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 

Prophets, Preachers, and Politicians

Prophets, Preachers, and Politicians
Robert Wurtz II

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Galatians 5:14-15)


Our passage contains the dreadful consequence of a “party spirit” (politics) operating in the churches of God. Ignoring this passage has brought many Christians, relationships, ministries, and moves of God, to an abrupt and pitiful end over the last 2000 years. It is impossible to overstate how dangerous a “party spirit” or politics are to God’s people. This is why Jesus commanded the disciples not to organize their ministry into a Gentile power structure in Matthew 20:25-26, Mark 10:42-43, and Luke 22:25-26. Multitudes cry to Heaven “Lord, Lord” and then go right out and disobey these clear verses. Simply put, Jesus warned us not to set up a corporate type hierarchy (pecking order, ranking, chain of command) in the churches. 



Despite this clear command being repeated in all the synoptic Gospels, churches and organizations are typically set up like a corporation. In a corporate hierarchy, we might say that “Pete is about six levels below the CEO;” however, this is not the way churches and Christian organizations are to be established. It is nothing more than Israel crying for a king rather than allowing God to rule over them. As with Israel, so too with the churches, this Gentile, worldly, Egyptian, or whatever adjective we want to employ, “power structure” has grave consequences.  


Moving Up The Ranks?



Any place that you find a ranking system, you have sin being committed. Disobeying God in Matthew 20:25-26, Mark 10:42-43, and Luke 22:25-26 is no different than any place else. Moreover, ranking systems breed sin and offenses. They can do no other. Why? Because when there is a political element involved, people don’t feel obligated to treat their brother or sister in Christ as they would want to be treated. They generally lose their minds and forget they are supposed to be Christians. 


What happens? Older ministers fear that some young person is “gunning for their job” so they do everything in their power to suppress all potential “threats” to their position. They are not allowed to do anything that may get the people taking a liking to them. Some ministers are afraid to go out-of-town lest when they come back, someone is trying to take their job. Moreover, some younger ministers undermine the people in high position, so they can eventually be “voted in to their job.” They obstruct, refuse to support, point out their shortcomings, etc. ad nauseam. It becomes a very tense “us against them” abomination to God and man. This is worldliness at its finest. Naturally, if you ask them, they all do these things for “spiritual” reasons. The carnal Corinthians thought they were “spiritual” too, because they were moving in the gifts of the Spirit; however, some were fornicating, suing one another, and splitting the church into political parties backing “Paul, Appollos, Cephas and Jesus.”

In the Old Testament, when the people were really off track, God would use the prophets to bring a strong message of correction. Nobody “votes in” a prophet, so God has to raise one up to confront the people. They often employed radical language or tactics to accomplish the job. Similarly, Paul used a morbid statement to the Galatians, But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! What happens? When someone bites, the natural response is to bite back. This process continues until all parties involved are consumed (destroyed). What begins as behavior becoming toddlers — erupts into a savage warfare between people acting like wild animals. The renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, in commenting on these verses, tells the sobering story of two snakes who each swallowed the other by the tail. 


If there is one thing that most parents of toddlers detest — it is biting. The fastest way to receive a spanking when I was a  child was to bite somebody. Emotions would run so high that some parents would say to the victim, “Just bite him back! Show him how it feels.” It would not be unusual for parents to come to blows nearly when they looked at their child’s arm and there was a bite mark. “Why did he bite you?!” The parent asks. “Because I was playing with his toy.” Then the parents get into an argument. One backs their child’s right to territory, and the other wants an apology for biting. In modern times, I suspect parents are more civilized than this, but I’m not holding my breath. 

Toddlers are not the only people who “bite” when they don’t get their way. Adults do it too. This is what Paul said, But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Galatians 5:15) This is much more serious and destructive than the behavior of toddlers. It is more serious because toddlers are supposed to be selfish; that is to say, they have to be taught to be friendly and loving. Christian adults should know better. It is more destructive because there is so much more at stake. When a toddler bites and is then bitten back, both have bite marks. Each tells how the other bit them. The same holds true with adults. Of course, we are not speaking of literal teeth marks; we are dealing with malicious actions against one another. 

Scorched Earth Tactics

When adults grow up in carnality they don’t fight over toys, they fight over territory. They fight over positions at work or at church. Most of the time the parties fight each other until neither of them have a reputation left. In fact, people will even sabotage one another in hopes they can “get their job.” This is part of what is often called, “office politics.” Whole books have been written about the subject. What happens? Life becomes a perpetual replay of age 2-20. Everything we had to endure from pre-school to High School becomes our daily lot. Boys fist-fighting in the halls; girls quarreling and fussing. I realize the fists are not usually literal in adulthood, but the attitude back of those behaviors is just as real. The stress on daily life for some becomes almost unbearable. 

These things ought not so to be in the churches of God; but unfortunately they are. There is nothing new under the sun. Nepotism is just as rife in many churches as it is in the world. Ministries become dynasties all the way from the corner church to the largest Christian TV Networks. Father and son feuds develop imitating the madness and hate of family based reality shows like Orange County Choppers. Moreover, politics are often exaggerated in churches. Factions develop that split churches and organizations into two or more opposing camps. Again, usually there is a real spiritual reason for doing it, just like there was a real good reason for the toddler to bite the other one. Really? 

The First Politician


Satan was the very first politician. He led a rebellion in Heaven and drew a third of the Stars with him. Then he shows up in the Garden of Eden spouting propaganda to win over the whole human race into his camp. First politician. First liar. Hmmm. See the connection? Satan misrepresented God because he wanted his place on the throne. Nearly all politicians misrepresent their opponent or withhold information about them that would sway the people into liking them. “Make the opponent look bad” is the modus operandi (m.o.). Imagine what happens when a Christian environment becomes “politicized.” Who do you think is behind it all? God wants the churches to be a place of heaven on earth. Satan does too. He comes in to use people to do on earth what he had done in Heaven. He divided it by campaigning for God’s throne. All the while blinding everyone to what he is doing. What happens? He causes so much strife that every action gets interpreted. Motivations get questioned. A spirit of suspicion prevails. 

Most of the time people are just trying to serve God, but sometimes they are not. People know when they are intentionally being divisive. Whereas love puts the best construction on events, politics puts the worst construction on them. Ministers have been known to hire private detectives to bring one another down. It happened in the 80’s and early 90’s in mainstream evangelicalism. The name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles. There is no new thing under the sun. Pride has often destroyed the works of God’s hands. How is God going to handle those who do such things? It’s a sad thing to work in the kingdom for decades only to have those labors destroyed by a bunch of crooked politics. 

Pride and Politics


Pride has been known to completely destroy ministries. Men have turned and fought against the very thing they prayed into existence. In America we have what some have called a “peaceful transfer of power” when new presidents and governors are elected. Harry Truman had the right attitude when it came to leaders leaving their political office. For example, he was asked during the Cuban Missile crisis if he had called the sitting president to offer advice. His answer was compelling, “If the president wants my opinion he will ask for it. And when he does I won’t be telling you about it. If the president wants it known he can tell you.” This is humility talking. This is a man who was able to “let go” and go home. He wanted the nation to prosper, even though he handed the presidency over to a Republican rival. Understand that Truman is considered to be one of the greatest presidents in American history, and yet was not offended by the fact that he may not have been consulted by the sitting president, even in a crisis. Is this the attitude of politics in ministry? Not generally. If you don’t keep everyone feeling important, they are liable to start biting and devouring. Is there any wonder Jesus commanded the churches not to set up in a worldly construct? Politics has no place in the Kingdom of God; it is the outworking of democracy, not kingdom. 

Matthew Henry commented on these verses, “But, says he, if instead of serving one another in love, and therein fulfilling the law of God, you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another. If, instead of acting like men and Christians, they would behave themselves more like brute beasts, in tearing and rending one another, they could expect nothing as the consequence of it, but that they would be consumed one of another; and therefore they had the greatest reason not to indulge themselves in such quarrels and animosities. Note, Mutual strifes among brethren, if persisted in, are likely to prove a common ruin; those that devour one another are in a fair way to be consumed one of another. Christian churches cannot be ruined but by their own hands; but if Christians, who should be helps to one another and a joy one to another, be as brute beasts, biting and devouring each other, what can be expected but that the God of love should deny his grace to them, and the Spirit of love should depart from them, and that the evil spirit, who seeks the destruction of them all, should prevail?”

What’s the use of so much prayer, when politics are destroying our prayers? Why fast? Everything in the kingdom of God is put at risk where politics are involved. How can we have a revival if people are jockeying for the credit and glory for what transpires? I have seen revivals destroyed because of rivalry. What happens? Christians are disillusioned and near to giving up because of the politics that go in behind the scenes. This is where repentance has to begin. Not in the pew; not with the drug addict; not with the sinners around the world. We cannot go forward until men and women lay down their ambitions and all that is involved in them. There must be a humble repentance of the secular approach to ministry that prevails in our times. There must be a wholesale repentance of lovelessness and hate wherever it exists among leaders in the churches of God. 

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Galatians 5:14-15)

The Sin of Self-Deception

The Sin of Self-Deception
Robert Wurtz II

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

C.S. Lewis in his classic book, The Screwtape Letters, explains a primary strategy of the enemy in destroying people. He suggests that Satan and his followers work on professing Christians to, “Aggravate the most useful human characteristics, the horror and neglect of the obvious.” Lewis believed that demons work to bring people to a condition in which he/she can practice self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself/herself that are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with the person or worked in the same office.

Lewis’ “neglect of the obvious” is very useful to Satan. Why? Because he uses it to keep the “neglector” blind to their own behavior — while aggravating others who have to tolerate them. For example, a person makes a post on Facebook about others who need to do something (usually in the area of forsaking some sin or stopping some behavior) and yet it’s obvious to everyone reading the post that the one posting the remark needs to heed their own advice. I have seen cases when the very person posting was the most flagrant violator of what they posted that I knew. Yet they simply don’t see it. They seem to be sensitive to others doing “something” and blind to themselves doing the “same thing.”

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)


It is impossible to overstate how offensive such behavior is to God. Matthew 7:3 asks a riveting question. Why? Why do you look at the sins of others while ignoring your own sins that are worse than theirs? In fact, Jesus uses a word that is considered His strongest of all to denounce these actions; that word is “hypocrite.” You and I may be many things, but may we never be viewed by God as a hypocrite. Jesus tells us plainly that the final sentence (executed judgment) for being a hypocrite is to be cut in two and sent where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51). We commonly know this place as hell. 


The English word hypocrite is translated from an old Greek noun that means actor, interpreter, and one who personates another. Jesus uses it of people who are forever doing something to look “pious” (godly), while they are inwardly full of dead men’s bones. They can’t give without “sounding the trumpet” or pray without making a show of it (just for starters). But their prime characteristic is that they look at the speck in their brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in their own eye. The late renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson stated that “‘hypocrite’ (hoi hupokritai) is the hardest word that Jesus has for any class of people and he employs it for these “pious pretenders who pose as perfect.” They have received their reward (apechousin ton misthon autoœn). This verb is common in the papyri for receiving a receipt, “they have their receipt in full,” all the reward that they will get, this public notoriety. They can sign the receipt of their reward (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 229. Also Light from the Ancient East, pp. 110f. Apocheœ means “receipt.” Quoted in Word Pictures on Matthew 6:2)

Understanding Hypocrisy

Our passage in Matthew 7:3-5 adds to our understanding of a hypocrite as a person who gazes upon the faults of others (sawdust), while overlooking greater faults of their own (planks or logs). They are forever meddling in other peoples’ business when they should be attending to their own first. They emphasize other peoples’ faults and sins and minimize the seriousness of their own sins. A hypocrite is the type of person who would cast the first stone—knowing they have done similar or worse things. 




It was said of the late president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) that he kept people around him, such as American reporter Louis Howe (1871-1936), who “knew where all the bodies were buried.” The Howes of the world are useful to the politician types who can use elicit information to their political advantage. I suggest that some hypocrites keep good records of other peoples’ sins  so they can use them later to their advantage. This is what the Pharisees did when they took the woman caught in adultery to Jesus. 

On the contrary, spiritual people remember that they were once purged from their own sins and as a result add to their faith virtue, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity (2 Peter 1:7-9). Not hypocrites. They have “publican love” — a love that loves who they want to love and shuns all the rest (Matthew 5:46). Hypocrites devise clever ways of making exceptions for their own sins. Generally, this is along the lines of “my sin was many years ago” or “God forgave me of my sins.” In other words, God forgives their sins, but not other peoples’ sins. They may not say this explicitly, but this is what their attitude and behavior amounts to. 

Blinded By Sin

Jesus spoke about hypocrites no less than twenty times in the Gospels. Why did He come down on them so hard? Why would He use the strongest of terms to denounce them? Clearly, it is because they are some of the most evil people around. What did Paul tell the Romans?


Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (Romans 2:1 NKJV)

Everyone has had something in their eye and knows how painful it is. I suppose God designed us that way. We need to be able to see clearly, so we need our eyes in tip-top shape. This is why it hurts so bad when something is in there. Our natural response is to get that thing out of there! Now! Not later; right this second! Nevertheless, (in keeping with the hyperbole the Lord Jesus used) imagine the doctor entering the room with a small beam (pencil), medium beam (broom stick), or a large beam (floor joist) protruding from their eyes. If such were the case, it would undoubtedly blind their eyes. How are they going to help someone fix their eye when they are completely blind? This is common sense, but it often does not stop people from the behavior. 

Obviously, Matthew 7:3-5 is intended to be metaphorical, but we can easily see the difficulty here. A person with a speck in their eye may be rubbing it or flushing it with water, but a person with a beam ought to be screaming in pain. But they are not. How can this be? They apparently don’t see or feel it. In other words, everyone can see the hypocrites issues but the hypocrite. Remember what C.S. Lewis said, “
bring people to a condition in which he/she can practice self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself/herself that are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with the person or worked in the same office.” This is very sobering. Notice Jesus’ words, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly (…)” A hypocrite is in no shape to help anyone. They are in 100X worse condition than the people they are criticizing or “trying to help.”

Right Response to Hypocrisy

If we fit this picture, our first step is to take our focus off of others and get it on ourselves. Allow God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to do their work and acknowledge that we have a plank in our own eye (if so be that we have one). Acknowledge it in the plainest of terms. We can’t use strong terms for other peoples’ sins and use euphemisms for ours (and avoid the charge of hypocrisy). We have to call it what it is and repent. 


Got Saved or Got Started? (Running the Race)

Got Saved or Got Started? 
Robert Wurtz II

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46–47 ESV)

It has been around a hundred years since Billy Sunday broke with the Biblical tradition of describing the significance of a person making a step towards Christ in conversion. Whereas the language of “hopefully converted” or something similar had been used, within thirty-nine years of his ministry the churches went from “X number of people were hopefully converted” to “X number of people got saved.” The significance of that change cannot possibly be over stated. Instead of thinking of salvation as a crisis event leading to a process and a future consummation; salvation was thought of from the word go as a consummation. In other words, “I got saved” suggests that the race is completed; when in reality, it has just gotten started. 

I suggest we break with Billy Sundays language all together and begin referring to the experience of new converts as “got started” instead of “got saved.” But far be it from me to arrogate to myself the authority to make such a change; however, even great Biblical scholars such as the late John Lightfoot (1602–1675) would probably agree. In fact, in commenting on Acts 2:46-47 he wrote:

“Salvation is a thing of the present, as well as of the past and future. The verb is used in all these senses in the New Testament. Thus, we were saved (not are, as A.V.), Romans 8:24; shall or shalt be saved, Romans 10:9, 13; ye are being saved, 1 Corinthians 15:2. ‘Godliness, righteousness, is life, is salvation. And it is hardly necessary to say that the divorce of morality and religion must be fostered and encouraged by failing to note this, and so laying the whole stress either on the past or on the future — on the first call, or on the final change. It is, therefore, important that the idea of salvation as a rescue from sin, through the knowledge of God in Christ, and therefore a progressive condition, a present state, should not be obscured, and we can but regret such a translation as Acts 2:47, ‘The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,’ where the Greek implies a different idea” (Lightfoot, “on a Fresh Revision of the New Testament” quoted in Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament).


The great Greek scholar A.T. Robinson comments on this verse two significant things. First, “if the Lord only always “added” those who join our churches.” He is suggesting here that there are people who are added to the churches that God did not add. Second, “those that were being saved (tous soœzomenous) is better translated as ‘those saved from time to time.’ It was a continuous revival, day by day. Soœzoœ like soœteœria is used for “save” in three senses (beginning, process, conclusion), but here repetition is clearly the point of the present tense.” The great Greek commentators John Lightfoot, Marvin Vincent, and A.T. Robertson all agree that both Greek words for salvation are used in the sense of:

1. Beginning of salvation (crisis event or “was saved”)
2. Process (are being saved in the present tense)
3. Conclusion (will be saved finally)

Since the days of Billy Sunday when the concept of salvation and the language of “got saved” began being used — people now think of salvation as something that happened in the past. To most people, it is a completed action. The best way I could illustrate this is by Paul’s use of the running motif. 

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 KJV)

“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” (1 Corinthians 9:26 KJV)

“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 5:7 KJV)

“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Philippians 2:16 KJV)

The writer to the Hebrews adds this admonition:

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV)



Every race has a beginning, process, and conclusion. If we lose sight of this or if we misrepresent what it means to be converted and regenerated then we falsely represent the nature of the race. To say, “X number of people got saved” is to imply that the race is completed. It sounds like something has been attained. When in fact, there has only been a beginning. In many cases, it is not even a Biblical beginning because Paul told the Galatians (who did run well), “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 NKJV) Paul’s idea of a beginning is beginning in the Spirit to be followed by a process of being made perfect by the Spirit (as opposed to what the false teachers at Galatia had introduced — a process of being perfected by the flesh).

In modern times races often begin when the official fires a real or electronic starter pistol. Imagine how insane it would be for someone heard the shot and was then told that they “got raced.” In a figure that is what has been happening for multitudes. It’s like they heard the sot and went over and sat down on the bench as if the race is over. But it has just begun! You didn’t “get saved” you merely “got started.” Again, “wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…” 

For the last one hundred years people have been being told they “got saved.” How much more right would it be to say that they “got started.” What if for the next hundred years ministers and evangelists reported “X number of people got started!” It would leave the convert with an impression that there is now a race to be completed. You’re not done! You just started. Therefore so run, not as uncertainly. So run, that ye may obtain.    
  

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