Rejecting The Counsel of God (God’s Will)

Rejecting The Counsel of God (God’s Will)
Robert Wurtz II

And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children. (Luke 7:29-35)

Our passage is very sobering and insightful. It reveals one of the primary reasons why multitudes of people will never enter the kingdom of God. In the KJV, the underlined portion is translated, but the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves. Simply put, they refuse to acknowledge their need of repentance. They rejected John’s baptism of repentance. God’s will was for the people to repent, confess their sin, and be baptized in water. Nevertheless, they dismissed God’s counsel by attacking the messenger’s credibility. This is the oldest trick in the book. However, they were not rejecting John the Baptist; they were rejecting the Lord God and what He was saying about their lifestyles.

Our verses reveal how some people will say anything to discredit a true minister of God. When the message is unpopular, it’s open season on the messenger. They posited John the Baptist as “demon possessed” because he lived outside the city — away from the sinners and sin dens of society. When Jesus took the opposite approach, they discredited Him by saying He was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” In fact, His own neighbors dismissed Him by saying, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” Here are effectively the two greatest men who ever lived, and both are being marginalized by any excuse the people can think up.

Where many ministers err is in trying to please people who are in rebellion against God. This is because God has given everyone a conscience that can register the truth of what is preached to them. Paul commended himself to every man’s conscience. He knew he could not reason with a person’s rebellious heart — so he targeted the conscience. In other words, in the heart rebellious people hated Paul’s message; however, their God-given conscience agreed with him. If he had preached to please their heart, the conscience would have rejected him as false. This is why it is impossible to please people who are in rebellion against God. The rebellious heart and the conscience are pleased by totally different messages. The rebellious heart wants an ear-tickling message, while the conscience wants to hear the truth.

Obviously, these people had determined already to “reject the counsel of God,” so it was a waste of time trying to conform to their standard of living. No matter what type of godly person came along — these people will reject them. The reason for this was not in the fact that one ate and the other did not; or that one lived in seclusion and the other among ” tax collectors and sinners” but because they did not like hearing God’s counsel. Simply put, they were not willing to agree with what God was saying to them through the mouth of His ministers. You will recall that in Acts 7, Stephen said that they always resisted the Holy Spirit. The primary way people do this is by rejecting the word of God as it is preached under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is why the prophets were persecuted and killed. They snuffed out that voice.

Afraid to Repent

Many people will never get into God’s will because they love keeping up appearances. God’s will for these religious leaders was to confess (acknowledge) their sins. Because they had built up a reputation for themselves as holy and righteous, they could not bring themselves to repent (especially publicly). To confess now would be “reputational suicide.” What happened? They went on playing the game. Why? Because they were slaves to peoples’ opinions about them. They were too worried about sitting in the chief seats and appearing to be righteous. This is why they were called hypocrites (stage actors). They were not concerned with being righteous — only play acting like they were. Preaching repentance pulled their masks off in front of everybody. They did not like that.

Multitudes of common people lined up to respond to the message of John the Baptist. They had nothing to lose. They did not care what people thought about them. They were concerned with what God thought. However, the Pharisees and lawyers stood afar off and thought up ways to assassinate the character of the preacher. This is a sobering fact. John the Baptist reminded them of the wrath that was to come — something they were supposed to believe in (at least doctrinally). It turns out that in practice, these Pharisees no more believed in an afterlife or the resurrection than did the Sadducees. They proved this by their opposition to the call to repentance. With judgment at the door, they were building heir own kingdoms while smearing and slamming everyone who proclaimed the word of repentance. In modern times, it would be like saying, “He’s crazy,” “he has a bad attitude,” or “he’s angry at the world.” This is because people are either out-of-touch with the times, or they do not really believe in the resurrection and final judgment. They can discern the face of the sky, but not God’s time of visitation. They can argue doctrinally issues concerning eschatology (end time events), but never act on those beliefs. In the words of Jesus, they were too busy honoring one another to take off their acting clothes and come clean before God. (John 5:44)

Desperate Times — Desperate Measures

Sometimes we forget the hour we are living. It’s easy to buy in to the propaganda that comes from lukewarm preaching if we are not vigilant. Living in what must be one of the most evil times in the history of mankind, where man shakes his fist at God in new and profound ways, what type of word do we expect should be coming to this generation? Seriously. Think about it. If the Bible is any history guide, what type of preaching or “counsel” would you expect a consistent God to be sending forth? That’s right. Repent. There may be pockets of people who need no repentance; but this is not true in the main stream.

Not only does this generation smear true ministers, they have systematically redefined the character of God. Nevertheless, they are in for a real shock. There are two statements that I believe will be the most frequently thought or said by people who exit this life. The first will be of the lost who say, “I had no idea hell would be so hot.” And the redeemed who will say, “I had no idea heaven would be so holy.” Our world is so far removed from the kingdom of God that we have no idea how bad things truly are. All we know is the relative godliness that has existed at times among God’s people. But heaven, we haven’t seen anything like heaven.

The message of John the Baptist was meant to “prepare the way of the Lord.” This is very serious business. We are all about to step foot into the very presence of God — and all we know about heaven that is trustworthy is found on the pages of the Bible. Paul said, knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men. The writer to the Hebrews said we ought to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear because “our God” is a consuming fire. Peter asks what manner of persons ought we to be knowing that God is going to destroy the world with fire and a great noise? What do we say? I’m afraid an entirely different religion has been created in modern times and stamped with the name “Christianity.”

A simple, child-like, cursory read of the New Testament reveals a much different situation than is found in most of what is termed “Christendom.” Nevertheless, it is nothing more than a different brand of the same old rejection of the will of God that the lawyers and Pharisees moved in. Any message that negatively effects a person’s self-esteem is shunned. Understand that self-esteem is a concept that has made pride fashionable and acceptable. In fact, personal pride is promoted in our times. How can you preach a message of repentance to these type of people? The whole world is telling them how great they are, while God is saying you are a sinner and you must repent! That is like two semi-trucks hitting head on on a high-speed motorway.

For the Pharisees to repent it would be reputational suicide. The Devil wants us to believe that if we preach repentance we may drive people to true suicide. That is the force of his lies. What is the common denominator here? Whether it was John and Jesus or a minister in the 21st Century, it is the counsel of God that is being rejected. Perhaps we can ask ourselves in this generation the question the Lord Jesus asked in the first century:

And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 

Televangelicalism (Book Release)

Televangelicalism (Book Release)
How We Lost the Gospel and How to Get it Back
Robert Wurtz II

Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. (Acts 26:19,20 ESV)

Our text offers precious insight into the message of Paul the Apostle. Luke records Paul’s clear declaration that he was not “disobedient to the heavenly vision,” implying that Christ has given him a mandate to preach a certain message. By implication, he is simply obeying the Lord. For those familiar with the New Testament, you will recognize the message that all men should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. This is the same Paul that wrote the book of Romans and Galatians. In fact, this event before Agrippa was roughly two-thirds through Paul’s ministry. He was on his way to Rome; nevertheless, Luke is careful to give us this last detail, lest we spend 2000 years in confusion. The careful observer of Lucan thealogy will observe that his writings are book ended with references to John the Baptist. From Jerusalem, to Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world the first word of the Gospel remains; “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but know he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30, 31 ESV)

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Paul stood before Agrippa or on Mar’s Hill. He lived before God as a shining light reflecting upon this world’s ever worsening corruption. The man and the message were not popular then–nor are they popular today. The word of repentance will arouse the conscience of people as a scorpion in their mind and heart. The knee-jerk reaction is to put the light out, immediately. Hence, it takes a special breed of man to preach the Gospel. It takes a person like John the Baptist, Peter or Paul, who has one Master alone; Not money or popularity, or anything else. At the risk of ones own life they shine forth the light of truth in a violent and wicked world. Truly, preaching the true Gospel is not for the faint of heart. 

Men search in vain for proof texts to nullify the plain reading of passages such as we find in Acts 26 and Acts 17, but that has not stopped them from looking. As a dear friend once said, “‘Hope,’ says the proverb, ‘springs eternal’ and our race has an amazing capacity to believe what it wants to believe in spite of any evidence to the contrary.” This is never truer than in the preaching of the Gospel. Nevertheless, there has always been a remnant that desired to follow God’s programmatic passages to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, in modern times, mass media has made it possible to “heap to themselves” teachers who will tickle the ears; a condition that Paul warned of just before his death in 2 Timothy 4:3. How can the remnant survive the onslaught; the perpetual deluge of compromise and false teachings that are flooding into the visible church? 

There is no new thing under the sun. The pattern in Israel was much the same, almost like a broken record that skips the looping pattern over and over again. The problem? God nails it through the prophet Hosea, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me (Hosea 4:6a). Israel was called to be a kingdom of Priests and so are the New Covenant saints. The risk we have is again, from Paul’s pen, For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Romans 11:21-23 ESV) For all of our boasting, we are no better than Israel if we fail in the grace of God. There are no privileged characters in God’s kingdom. 

Unfortunately, men over the centuries have not feared the Lord as did Paul and Peter. Knowing therefore, the terror of the Lord, they persuaded men…but not today. I tremble to say it, but we have lost the Gospel in mainstream Christianity. We lost it because of men who proclaimed God’s Word to be the final authority and then labored against the plain teachings that even plow boys can understand. For reasons known only to God and themselves, they stripped the Gospel of its primary teachings and afterwards put forward substitutes that have been around so long they have obtained the force of law. When was the last time you heard a preacher tell the people that God is demanding that they repent and turn from all of their sin to him? When was the last time you heard it preached that men should renounce questionable practices, forsake evil associations, and come out of this present evil world? How did we come to this?

Between the Reformation (ca 1500s) and Billy Sunday (ca early 1900s), the visible church made great strides towards recovering “book of Acts” style Gospel preaching. In fact, the United States was founded by people that believed in genuine conversion and right Christian living. New measures became popular just prior to Charles Finney, and he expanded them as did D.L. Moody. Finney believed the anxious bench took the place of water baptism. Unfortunately, all the well-known mainstream evangelists have followed this pattern. However, something radically changed when Billy Sunday came upon the scene. He no longer believed that there needed to be a “struggle of faith” in order to come to Christ; but that men and women can get saved “without all the fuss.” his influence is so dramatic, that we have to break evangelism down to pre-Billy Sunday and post-Billy Sunday evangelism. Salvation became as simple as walking the sawdust trail and making a handshake. No more praying through at an old-fashioned altar. He passed out a converts pledge card that contained the forerunner of what we commonly call “the sinners’ prayer.” 

A perfect storm was brewing. The Gospel was compromised about the time radio, and television were invented, taking the Billy Sunday Gospel to the nations. Today salvation is simply coming forward and praying a prayer… a pattern totally foreign to the book of Acts. Then in the 1950’s a whole new level of compromise came into popularity. The Gospel of humanism was in full swing… evolving into a message of self-help, positive thinking, and prosperity. It was signaled by a well-known televangelist named Rex Humbard, who attempted to build a 600 ft tower outside Akron, Ohio and was never able to complete it. True to Jesus words, he did not count the cost and was not able to finish. It is the mocking stock of the area. From that time until this, the Gospel is preached without the mandate to “count the cost.” Sadly, it is a message tailored to appeal to sinful man with no power to bring change. 

In my new book, Televangelicalism, I provide a sketch of how evangelism was done from the book of Acts until this very day. With some 340 pages, and with over 300 footnotes, we divide the book into two parts, “Part I, the pre-Billy sunday era” and “Part II, the post Billy Sunday era.” Available on Kindle in late September, 2013, Televangelicalism is sure to be an eye-opener for anyone concerned with how so many today name the name of Christ, but have no real heart for God. Here is our trailor for the Book:

Where the Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail

Where The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail
Robert Wurtz II
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Although many millions of people have come to true conversion over the last century, the churches mission in advancing towards “book of Acts evangelistic practices” has been a complete write-off. We lost much ground that had been gained from the Reformation up to 1900. The stage was set for the losses in the 19th century and came to fruition in the 20th. The high-speed evangelistic crusade—sinners prayer—invitational system methods were taken under tents to influence hundreds of thousands; then onto the radio to reach millions; then onto the television to influence hundreds of millions. Today if a person asks “what must I do to be saved” they are very likely to get for an answer “Just say the sinner’s prayer.” In fact, people are now being told that if they will “say this prayer” they will be saved from hell no matter how they live afterwards, as though the prayer were an eternal sacrament. These individuals say the prayer—but as is often the case, they have no intention of repenting of their sins much less submitting to water baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. 

Is there any wonder the churches are loaded with people that have no appetite for God? Is there any wonder that these same individuals need to be entertained with a mixture of Christianity and worldliness? In the absence of genuine Regeneration there can be nothing more than carnality. If we truly want to change the church; if we truly want to change America. If we truly want to change the world, we have got to get back to changing our evangelistic methods back to what Peter and Paul did in the book of Acts. There is no other way. To think differently is to fool ourselves and continue in this downward spiral.

A Proper Reference Point

The word “reference” is derived from the Middle English word referren, which is derived from the Middle French référer, which is derived from the Latin word referre. It means “to carry back” and is formed from the prefix re- and ferre, “to bear”. A large number of words derive from this root, including refer, referee, referent, referendum, etc. and they all retain the basic meaning of the original Latin as “a point, place or source of origin” in terms of which something of comparable nature can be defined. Our reference point for evangelism is not the Old Testament, nor is it the Gospels; it is the post-Pentecost portion of the Book of Acts. The objective in evangelism is to bring a person fully into the New Covenant. Paul explained in the book of Romans and in the epistles what that entails, but for our purposes we don’t need to know all the details, we only need to understand what the Apostles did in order to see individuals brought under the New Covenant. Some have used the language “full initiation” into the New Covenant to describe fulfilling all of the requisites to complete the process.
The Gospels are written too early to give us a picture of how the process works because they only contain the elements of repentance, faith, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit in germ—they do not describe how they were carried out. Also, John’s baptism of repentance was limited in scope and was not effectual once Christ appeared. We see this in Acts 19 where the people had received John’s baptism, but needed to be re-baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Although there was the change of covenant from Old to New, John the Baptist’s baptism model still serves well as a pattern in terms of repentance and confession of sins. Also, the Holy Spirit was “with” the Disciples during the narrative of the Gospels, but was “in” the Disciples after Pentecost. Unlike the unbelieving Jews that Jesus came to that “received Him not,” the Disciples did receive Christ  giving them the authority to later become the sons of God by receiving the Holy Spirit.
The epistles and the book of Revelation are written too late give insight as to the “how” of full initiation into the New Covenant. The epistles are typically written to the saints, meaning that it was assumed that the intended audience was already in the New Covenant. This is an important thing to consider when reading the epistles–they are not evangelistic writings. Even the book of Romans were written to people that were called to be saints with a faith spoken of throughout the whole world. It was written to explain the Gospel—not teach evangelism. One may proof-text a Roman’s road from the book, but this is not the pattern for evangelism that Peter, John and Paul used. Moreover, although it is not an evangelistic writing, the book of Hebrews describes a process that the readers were assumed to have gone through as a “foundational” reality:

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,  of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1, 2 NKJV)

You will notice all four elements we have been describing: 1. Repentance from dead works. 2. Faith towards God. 3. The doctrine of baptisms. 4. The laying on of hands. Added to this list are two more important subjects that are also mentioned as having been preached in the book of Acts during evangelistic endeavors: 5. The resurrection of the dead. 6. Eternal judgment. We have an example of this  with Paul at Athens in Acts 17:29-32: Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” (NKJV emphasis added)

Notice that Paul teaches in this narrative exactly why people are to repent: God is going to raise from the dead every human being that has ever lived all the way to Adam to stand before Him in judgment. The fact that Jesus came back from the grave is proof positive that we someday will likewise be raised. He will judge the world by the one that lived and died in this world. He will judge by the one that was tested in all points like as we, yet without sin. He will judge by the one that is touched by the feeling of our weaknesses. If anyone in the universe has a right reference point from which to judge the world it is Jesus Christ. He is both God and man and knows the limitation of men. Paul preached this as a warning to the hearers—alerting them that He is no longer overlooking their ignorance, but He is commanding all men everywhere to repent. The message was apparently rejected at Athens because we have no record of Paul establishing a church there. This was Paul’s approach to evangelism. It is a million miles from Bill Bright’s, “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.” Nay verily, “God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.” (Psalm 7:11, 12) Although it is true that God loved the world enough to send Christ to die for sins, to use this reality as a means of converting rebellious sinners is not only unbiblical, it is an exercise in futility that will invite the swine to trod God’s love underfoot and turn again and tear the messenger to pieces. They may not do it literally with their hands, but they will surely do it in their hearts or with their mouths. Knowing these things it seems completely unreasonable to suggest that any aspiring evangelist should ever be coached by a “crackerjack car salesman” (as Bill Bright used to help counsel his staff) or asked to read books on making a sales pitch or How To Win Friends and Influence People. The first word of the Gospel is repent and that message, especially when proclaimed to heads of state, has been time tested to loosen ones head from their body. Can you imagine John the Baptist being an advisor to Harry Truman, Richard Nixon or any of our Presidents? 

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Mark 5:13 NKJV)

Objections to the Book of Acts

True sola scriptura does not afford us the luxury of dismissing the book of Acts, as so many often do, as simply a narrative genre not meant to teach doctrine. Is that not a strange concept to begin with? Almost the entire Old Testament is narrative history. The means by which God has chosen to teach His people is salvation history. The Bible is not a compendium of all knowledge: it is a God’s eye view of events meant to tell a story the German’s theologians termed heilsgeschichte.  Events are recorded for our learning and instruction. The book of Acts is no different. The didactic nature of the epistles must not disqualify the narrative of Acts given the fact that the epistles often utilize narrative from the Old Testament to build theological conclusions and teach doctrine. 

John the Baptist in Lukan Theology

Luke was not only a historian, he was a formidable theologian with a biblical understanding of New Covenant soteriology. Luke’s Gospel as well as the book of Acts were purposefully written with theology embedded in their patterned literary structure. His treatment and detail concerning John the Baptist comes front and center as continuity is maintained from the introduction of John the Baptist (through his birth narrative) in Luke 1:13-17 to Paul’s insistence in Acts 26:20 that he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Luke’s writings are not only bookended with general references to John the Baptist’s ministry and message, but direct references to him can be found in Acts 1:5, 22; 10:37: 11:16; 13:24,25; 18:25.  Moreover, the material on John the Baptist in Luke’s Gospel is far more extensive and placed more prominently than in any of the other Gospels (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80; 3:1-20; 7:18-35). This indicates that John the Baptist’s message of repentance should be carefully understood and made front and center in our thinking as we travel through the book of Acts in search of evangelist patterns.

Peter’s Post Pentecost Directions to Sinners

Peter’s directions to sinners in Acts 2:38 contains John the Baptist’s word of repentance as the first word of the Gospel, “Repent!” as well as the first reference to Christian baptism, and the promise of the Holy Spirit–all of which are programmatic to evangelism: 

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

I have chosen to cover directions to sinners early in this chapter because there are many ways a person can be brought into a state in which they are anxious for their soul and wish to know, “What must I do to be saved?” Peter gives in Acts 2:38 the basic theology behind initiation into the New Covenant and the Kingdom of God. It cannot be improved upon. The terms employed call to remembrance in these Jews minds a battery of concepts and historical events stored up in 2000 years of history. Most recently they were given a fresh look at repentance and baptism through John the Baptists ministry. What did they see? In both Matthew and Mark’s account of the events we have these details:
Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:5 NKJV see also Matthew 3:6). 

Notice a frequently overlooked aspect of repentance and water baptism; confession of sins (plural). They were confessing their sins to God publicly while in the water. It is not known whether or not others standing by could hear these confessions (perhaps John could). An old rule of thumb is that repentance should always extend as far as the knowledge and extent of the sin. If it is between you and God: confess it to God alone. If others are privy to it confess it before them. If the whole of society knows about it—confess the sins before the whole of society. Our word “confess” means to acknowledge or admit to it. This is where a great many people stumble and cannot go forward in the New Covenant. We know from 1 John 1:9 and other Old Testament narratives (such as the matter of David and Bathsheeba) that God is ready to forgive when we confess and forsake our sins. If that certain sin in your life is God—serve it: but if not confess it and forsake it forever. How do we know king David repented? Because he never committed the sin again. If we will repent and be baptized in water then by implication we are moving in faith: we are receiving the word.

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:41 NKJV)

Trembling at the Word of God

Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (2 Cor. 5:11)

Apart from simply obeying the heavenly commandment received on the road to Demascus, Paul gives an additional impetus for persuading men to repent: Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. In the 21st century such a statement sounds almost barbaric. Two hundred years of rationalism and humanism has made such notions obsolete. Yet the concept is not new to Paul. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and correction. Paul preached in the fear of the Lord and sought to instill the fear of the Lord in the hearers of his messages. He understood the importance of having an utterly reverent and obedient attitude towards God. He is not to be trifled with. In fact, it is a similar concept to Stephen’s prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit. In Acts chapter 7 He states:

Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Has not my hand made all these things? You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:49-51)

I want to carefully make an important connection here in order to show a subtle emphasis in Lukan theology and Paul’s theology. Stephen’s statement is in reference to Isaiah 66:1,2a where God speaks, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD. You will notice from the text in Acts 7:49-51 that Stephen quotes all of the verse except the very last part. Acts 6:12 tells us that it was the elders and the scribes that he was speaking to. This is important because the scribes were expected to know thousands of verses of Old Testament scripture from memory. They were the copyists of the Torah scrolls, so they would have known the rest of the verse that Stephen leaves out. When his mouth stopped speaking they heard the rest of the verse in their minds… but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. Stephen then adds his own inspired commentary… You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you. 

The story behind Isaiah 66 begins with an awesome display of God’s majesty in Isaiah 6. This well known event came about as God’s answer to Uzziah’s, Isaiah’s king and friend’s untimely death. It was Uzziah that went brazenly into the Temple to make an offering and was withstood by the priests. Leprosy appeared on his head and he died that way. The lesson was that Uzziah, though he was a king, was to operate within the boundaries of God’s holy Word. Kings were not to function as priests—only Jesus Christ the King/Priest could do that. Uzziah did not “tremble at God’s word” and died for his error. The same God that we find in Isaiah 6 wants to live in man in Isaiah 66. That is a staggering thing to consider. But in order for that to happen the person must be broken, contrite and must tremble at God’s word. In other words, God’s word has to reign absolutely supreme. It cannot be treated like drivers often treat traffic laws. Uzziah learned this the hard way. Our first step back to regaining our Christian identity and heritage is to forsake the spirit of Uzziah and receive the word of Isaiah. 

Until John

Until John
The dawn of a better covenant
Robert Wurtz II

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Luke 3:1-3)

It is sobering to consider how many ranks of men and office that God passed over to bring the word of the Lord to John the Baptist. God didn’t speak to Tiberius, the most powerful man in the world at the time. The word of the Lord didn’t come to the governor of Judea (Pilate), the ruler of the quadrant of Galilee (Herod) or like leaders in the region. It didn’t come to Annas and Caiaphas who had been appointed by the Romans to be High Priest. The word of the Lord came to John the Baptist in the wilderness. His life was characterized by two great things, holiness and humility.

Separated to God

The word of the Lord came to John because God had appointed him to be the forerunner of Jesus. He was a Nazarite from birth, meaning he was given special prohibitions that other people did not have. The old timers used to tell their young ministers, “others can, but you cannot.” That is to say, ministers should live above the world and its pop cultural trappings. John’s Nazarite vow served to sanctify Him to the Lord in a unique way. He came out from among them and was separate from this world in an absolute sense. He lived outside the city beyond the influence of the world. Since he was not around the people, he could not come under this world’s spell. He, like the three young men and Daniel in the book of Daniel, refused to be defiled by the kings meat (Daniel 1:10ff). He ate grasshoppers (locusts) and wild honey. He was beyond the fomenting of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life that is rife in this present evil world. How can a person hear from God if they are subject to the Devil’s propaganda all the time? John understood that he must separate himself from the influence as a first thing. Can you imagine how sensitive he would have been to their sinfulness of the people after he closed off all the routes into himself that the devil uses to get peoples mind and heart? I dare say He came into the city almost as if he were from another planet. 

In the wilderness

The desert was perfect because it isolated him from the influence of the world and yet gave him a constant visual of the spiritual condition of the people. His whole life was surrounded by a fruitless death. He took this place as the platform from which he would preach. The people went out into the wilderness (desert/desolation) to hear him. With a hot dryness and dust swarming around the peoples heads and death on every hand, it must have been a foretaste of hell. He preached on sin, righteousness and judgment to come. He told the people that they must bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. They were lifeless, dead, and dry. This is life outside of God’s will. The ax is laid to the root of the tree and every tree that does not bring forth good fruit of cast into the fire. This was his message. If there is no fruit of repentance, we need not look for the fruit of the Spirit. The first fruit has to be fruit of repentance. John gives instructions. Stop the violence. Stop the coveting. Start giving away things you have that you don’t need; that is, stop hording stuff that other people that have genuine needs could use. Keep in mind that we musn’t get fruit of repentance confused with the fruit of the Spirit. We have to have fruit of repentance before we can have fruit of the Spirit. Amen. 

A new expectation

“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

When I read this passage I am deeply challenged. John the Baptist was the last Old Testament prophet and none were greater. He was no reed shaken in the wind or some worldly person living the high life. He was the most godly man the world had ever seen to this point, save Jesus Christ. But John, great though he be, shared an experience that all men and women have shared except Eve, we were all born of women. We are all born in Adam. No one born of a woman was greater than this man. This suggests that “born of woman” is a category and we are all in it by first birth. But Jesus told Nicodemas that we must be born from above; not entering in to our mother’s womb to be born of woman again, but to be born of the Spirit. This is our second category; “born of the Spirit” or “born from above.” Jesus said that though none born of women were greater than John the Baptist, the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than him. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, but it would not be until Pentecost that men and women could be baptized by one Spirit into one Body of Christ. Man needed to be buried with Christ by baptism into death, that they might be made free from Sin and alive unto God. This is a radical change of nature that John the Baptist could only look forward to.  

The danger of flippancy

I am often taken aback by what seems to be a common attitude among many Christians, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a subject that we studied a long time ago and that we have since moved past and on to more important subjects. I suggest that we treat symptoms on a wholesale level in the body of Christ because folks are not coming to Christ in the way God has prescribed. It’s like we go from step one to step five or six and never return to two through four. Simply put, the Gospel is about a whole lot more than getting sins forgiven. It is the process by which God transforms a person supernaturally from child of the devil to child of God. 

The whole attitude of “I already done that” parallels an experience in 5th grade when the music teacher from the high school dropped by our classroom to sign up students for 5th grade band. She went from desk to desk asking each child what their favorite instrument is. Of course, I said “drums”. She then asked, “Would you like to sign up to play drums?” “Oh no! I already know how to play drums.” I replied. She then asked, “How exactly do you play drums?” “Easy! You hit the cymbal three times and then the snare once, over and over again.” The music teacher looked puzzled at me and said very plainly, “Son, I think there is a whole lot more to it than that.” Needless to say I did not sign up and she moved on. It never occurred to me that I had no clue about playing drums. I could keep a simple repeating 4 note measure, and that was it. But we need more than a “4/4 Gospel”, we need the whole symphony that God has designed in this great covenant. 

Greater than John?

Man tends to preach their own experiences instead of the Bible, but if our Gospel is not creating men and women that are greater than John the Baptist then we have sold the Cross and the New Covenant down the river. The trouble is that people normally live below the experience of John the Baptist and consider it normal Christianity. It is not. God has made provision for humanity through the Cross event that makes effectual a second birth and the creation of new creatures. Not the best that “born of woman” can deliver, but what “born of the Spirit” can deliver. What did Jesus say, he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. This means that God has provided a better thing for us so that we can have the mind of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, but He must increase.” This should be our desire, but rather, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Phil. 2:5-7) The love of God can be poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that God works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. We can begin in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. But it has to begin with repentance and bringing forth the fruit of repentance. These are vital steps. The Holy Spirit has come to agree with the message of John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul and the rest of the Apostles, that reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. (Acts 24:25) 

The Forgotten Gospel

The Forgotten Gospel 
Robert Wurtz II

Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. (Acts 26:19-21)

Paul is explaining to Agrippa that Christ had appeared to him on the road to Damascus, commissioning him to preach the Gospel. His objective was to open the eyes of the Gentiles, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18) He was to turn them or convert them to Christ. He would do this by preaching sin, righteousness and judgment to come. How do we know that? Because it is the message in harmony with what the Holy Spirit is effecting in sinners. (John 16:8) If the preacher agree not with the Holy Ghost, his words are vain. The message, in the mouth of a godly minister, co-labors with the Holy Spirit to effect a ‘U’ turn in a sinner’s life so as to prepare them to take their place in the building of God. (1 Cor. 3:9) 

Everyone must begin this way. This means that all people everywhere must change their mind about sin and rebellion, and turn to God in submission and obedience. The times when God overlooked ignorance is over. (Acts 17:31) This is the sinner’s contribution, having responded in faith; not as the devil’s that believe and tremble, but as the repentant, who bring forth fruits worthy of their changed mind. They are to turn from darkness and bring forth evidence of the fact in such a way that God will believe them. Having turned, they are not to turn back. This is effectively the starting point of all relationships with God. It was the message of John the Baptist, Jesus, and as we see clearly in Acts 26:19-21 it was Paul’s message. Two thirds the way through his ministry he was still preaching a repentance that required works meet for repentance. If we side-step this fact we will fill the churches of God with goats and wolves.  

In this entry I propose,

I. To examine first the three states of unrepentant sinners.

II. To explore the methods of dealing with each ‘state’ of unrepentant sinner.

III. To explore the initial evidence of conversion

I. The three states of unrepentant sinners.

A. The Careless Sinner
B. The Awakened Sinner
C. The Convicted Sinner

A. The “careless sinner” can simply “care-less” about their soul’s salvation and need for God. They are opposed to their own salvation. Some will get hostile or even violent at the proposal of being saved. Sinners are very creative in finding ways to ignore their need for God and press Him as far back in their minds as possible. They do not like to retain God in their knowledge and prefer to sin unabated. These people are enemies of both God and themselves. Some are quite subtle and simply ignore God and believe they are ‘good people.’ Yet others may be in some form of false religion. No matter which category they fall into- they are quite careless about their souls. They are deceived by Satan and are fearlessly confident in their sinful condition. They feel no need to consider the vast number of ways in which God is trying to gain their attention. They ignore the sight of a church. They skip past Christian TV and radio when skimming channels. They ignore Christian related billboards and bumper stickers. More than that, they do always resist the Holy Ghost that is using these and many other means to arrest their attention. They surround themselves with worldly things that bolster their deception and hasten their damnation.

B. The “awakened sinner” is someone that has been shocked into at least ‘considering’ their need for God. This happens at times when tragedy strikes such as a loved one passing away or being suddenly killed. It happens when the individual themselves suffer some calamity such as being diagnosed with cancer or falling into financial crisis. It can happen at times of great distress and fear such as the events of 9-11 or the Great Tsunami Disaster. It may also happen at times when sudden danger is upon them such as a Tornado Warning. The job of the minister is to awaken sinners by the truth of the Gospel. Occasionally God sovereignly shakes a sinner from slumber with prophetic dreams (Genesis 41:8, Daniel 4:5, etc.). 

C. The “convicted sinner” is a person who after hearing a Gospel message and having been dealt with greatly by the Holy Spirit is convinced of their need for God and the Gospel. They are convinced they are a sinner and need to repent. They are convinced that they need to trust in Christ and turn everything completely over Him. To a lesser or greater degree they understand the Gospel. They are familiar more or less with God and His word- at least enough to be born again. The Holy Spirit has brought them to that place where they are trembling in awe of God and are halting between two opinions. They are at the crossroads- and must choose whom they will serve. At this time the Holy Spirit is in the role of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus dealt with the rich young ruler- the Holy Spirit, in the same fashion, is dealing with this person. He is showing them in their ‘minds-eye’ what they must submit to Him in order to be saved and “have treasure in Heaven.” This is a “one-on-one” with the Holy Ghost. This is where the great striving and wrestling happens. The Holy Spirit knows what is standing between Him and them and He is showing it to them. The convicted sinner is made to know exactly what he/she is trading for their immortal soul.

II. The method of dealing with each ‘state’ of unrepentance.

A. Careless sinners require great wisdom to deal with. Proverbs 11:30 teaches us that “He that winneth souls is wise.” Since the careless sinners are opposed to themselves, they are like dealing with someone ‘suicidal.’ Careless sinners are ready at a moment’s notice to turn on themselves and harden even further. Dealing with them requires the wisdom of God. This is why prayer and the leading of the Spirit is important. Sometimes preaching will arrest their attention. Sometimes personal witnessing will do it. Dealing with sinners is on an individual basis. Awakening them with the Gospel or waiting for an opportunity to minister to them is a matter of great wisdom and timing. Sometimes there will seem to be no real opportunity and you must witness knowing there will be great resistance or worse. 

B. Awakened sinners also require great wisdom in dealing with as not to miss the opportunity to share the Gospel when they are in an awakened state. The enemy is working double-time to stop their conversion when he sees them in this condition. He will distract them and fill their minds with all sorts of rhetoric and lies. He will give them a multitude of excuses as to why they should not listen to God and yield to the Holy Ghost. This is the time to take them through the scriptures leaving nothing out- nor selling the Gospel short of its requirements. A person needs to understand their condition and what salvation is as much as possible. Nothing is more important than this time! Spend the time required to bring them to genuine conversion. This is not a ‘drive-thru’ process; it can take hours, days or even weeks. The tragedy of our day is that we do not take time for reflection in the service and at the altar. This is a very serious and solemn time. Birth is a process. This is the time where they decide their eternal fate. Either heaven or hell will rejoice when it’s all said and done. Don’t yield to the temptation to take shortcuts for any reason. The enemy will fill your mind with thoughts such as “hurry-up” or “this is taking too long.” He will keep you looking at the time. Stay until you know for certain that their blood has been washed from your hands.

C. Convicted sinners are convinced of their sin and know they need to repent. They understand what is required of them. The Holy Spirit is showing them what ‘thing they lackest’ and they are striving with Him. DO NOT give them a place of refuge if they start rationalizing and minimizing their sins. FLUSH THEM OUT until you know why it is that they will not submit to God. Give them time and they will tell you what it is. Maybe it’s a pet sin or bitterness. Maybe they don’t want to reconcile old enmities or make restitution to those they harmed. If the Holy Ghost is telling them to do something or lay something down don’t dare tell them differently. He knows what is holding them back and so do they. What if they go away sorrowful as did the rich young ruler? Do what Christ did and let them go. Don’t fight against the Holy Ghost by comforting them. Let them feel the full weight of what they are doing; it is their only hope. Let them dwell on it. Do not give them a false assurance. The devil will use your comforting words to fortify them in their sin and eventually damn their soul. Salvation is not a process at this stage. They have been through the process and they know what they must do! They are in rebellion. Be ye not partakers of that rebellion no matter how much the Devil tempts you to do it. Lay it all -on- the line! 

III. The initial evidence of hopeful conversion

A. Once a person has fully submitted to God a relationship has begun. The person needs to go on with God. This implies a willingness to be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit. Paul’s Gospel took a person through a process of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ, water baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit without skipping any steps (though the order of water baptism and Spirit baptism may be reversed). He asked the repentant believers at Ephesus, “Have you received since you believed?” They had not. It is the receiving of the Holy Spirit that brings a person fully into the blessing of the New Covenant. If we ignore these steps we will raise up a group of individuals that name the name of Christ and yet have never begun in the Spirit. If we seek to see folks baptized in the Holy Spirit that have never repented of their sins we open them up to receive a different spirit (see 2 Cor. 11:4) that will effect a perpetual false experience in God that leaves in its wake all manor of confusion- both for them and others that encounter them.

B. Many times people will come to God unwilling to surrender all but want to know what are the ‘least requirements’ with which they might miss hell and go to heaven. God doesn’t believe them. As G.W. North has said, “God is the great unbeliever; He doesn’t believe you.” That is to say, He cannot be fooled by pretense and slapdash repentance. He knows when we have really believed and have truly repented. He knows when we lay down our rights to ourselves and give ourselves to Him. Many are content to merely ‘feel saved.’ They want assurance without repentance. They want Christianity without beginning in the Spirit. This is not the nature of real salvation. Real salvation is the surrender of your person to another person just as a man would be committed to his wife. It is an exclusive covenant relationship that holds nothing back. 

C. Before the 20th century folks that showed fruits of repentance and faith were said to be “hopefully converted.” The evangelistic crusades of the 20th century changed this so that folks could repeat a prayer and make a public display and be called “saved”. This sad turn of events has brought much confusion. A person’s assurance must come from their own relationship with God. Logical deductions and proof texts are impotent to bring a person to New Birth. They must respond to God as He takes hold of the word of repentance and the Gospel and convinces them of its truth. If they will take these steps their conversion is “hopeful” but they must go on with God. 

Repent, and Do the First Works

Repent, and Do the First Works
Robert Wurtz II

 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5 MKJV)

Our passage finds our Lord giving instruction to the church at Ephesus that had once ran well, but has now left her first love. He is walking in the midst of the lampstands as our Great High Priest observing the condition of the lamp and has noticed that it is not burning as it once had. Having established the lamps to be placed in the world as a light, it is essential that each one burn in its fullness as was designed. The job of the High Priest is to maintain these lamps by adding oil, trimming and replacing the wick, and any other thing figuratively that pertains to the burning. In the case of the church at Ephesus she had left the love she had at first for Christ and had turned aside after other things. We are not told what they are. So let us find ourselves in this passage. Here is a church that was burning for Christ, but now they are burning for something else. Their light is growing dim for God and excelling in brightness for other things. A lamp without a flame is good for nothing but to be a stumbling block in this darkened world. Jesus gives the diagnosis and the remedy. they have to choose. If they choose wisely they will return to their First Love and go on being what God has set them in this darkened world to be; if they chose foolishly He said plainly,  I will come to you quickly and will remove your lampstand out of its place. 

Remember from where you have fallen

Our Great High Priest begins by telling them to remember from where you have fallen. This means they were to go back to the very beginning of the church. Ephesus was an exceedingly pagan city built around the Temple of Artemis (Artemision). Artemis was a particularly horrid god to look upon, but people traveled from around the world to visit and work near the temple. 

It was a wealthy city because of the commerce, insomuch that the temple doubled as one of the first world banks. Fortunes were made from the sale of hand-held figurines shaped in the image of Artemis. Magic arts were practiced as well as a host of other immoralities. The Diaspora brought the first light to this darkness when the Jews were scattered here by the Assyrians and Babylonians. They set up a synagogue as a place to worship and learn about the One True God (Jehovah/ YHWH). Ephesus makes its appearance in the Book of Acts when Paul passed through with Priscilla and Aquila. Paul passed on while Priscilla and Aquila stayed behind. Around this time they met a powerful preacher from Alexandria, Egypt named Apollos who had also come to Ephesus. He was mighty in the scriptures and disputed with the Jews knowing only the baptism of John. Priscilla and Aquilla took him aside and taught him of the things that happened since John the Baptist and then he took things to a new level mightily showing that Jesus was the Christ. So we see then that at this point the scriptures had come to Ephesus through the diaspora of the Jews who set up a synagogue and now Apollos who had preached John the Baptists message of repentance. these are the first seeds of the Gospel and serve as the foundation for the church at Ephesus. 

The Baptism of John  

The purpose of John the Baptist was to prepare the way of the Lord through the preaching of genuine repentance. When I use the word ‘genuine’ I mean it in the ordinary sense of the word. If I buy a watch or ring that has 18K stamped on the side I want to know that it is ‘genuine’ 18K gold. Christ cannot build the church with shallow experiences. John preached repentance in a way that the people had to prove they had repented with works showing their repentance. Then they were baptized. This is simple enough to understand because Jesus gave us a definition of repentance. He said that Nineveh ‘repented’ at the preaching of Jonah, but a greater than Jonah is here.  (Luke 11:32) Nineveh had no Bible or instructions. They were given a hopeless message, “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” This vile people that the Bible said did not know their right hand from their left repented without any kind of direction from a minister. The king took off his robe and put on sackloth along with the rest of the people. Even the animals fasted. We need to pay attention to this story in the Book of Jonah because Jesus said that at the judgment they will be called to rise up against those that have the knowledge of Christ and yet refuse to repent. (Luke 11:32) Repentance and works worthy of repentance was Appolos’ message and it was Paul’s message even to the end of the book of Acts. (Acts 26:18-21)     

Have you received since you believed?

 Paul said to them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said to him, We did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit is. And he said to them, Then to what were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism. And Paul said, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe into Him coming after him, that is, into Jesus Christ. (Acts 19:2-4 MKJV)

These were 12 men that had thoroughly repented of their sins in the John the Baptist sense of the word. They didn’t withhold controversies with God, they laid down the weapons of their rebellion and turned fully to God. This is the key. Many people never make it past this point because they are not willing to fully surrender to God in a way He can believe them. (John 2:23-24) God cannot be fooled. the Holy Spirit is come into the world to convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. Just as Jesus pointed out the controversy between Him and the rich young ruler, so also the Holy Spirit is moving in the ministry of Jesus Christ in the earth- pointing out controversies between us and Christ. He calls us to repent of all known sin. This means that repentance must be:

1) bold and not timid 
2) total and not partial 
3) permanent and not temporary.

One reason for baptism in water is to show forth our repentance before the world. If we were bold enough to sin and rebel against God in public then we ought to be bold enough to repent and turn away from our rebellion in public. God is not looking for public sinners and private repent-ers, He is looking for people to come of their sinful life with a high-hand renouncing the powers of darkness and the vileness of their past life. The key word is renounce. Some people need to deeply renounce their sins before God- agreeing with Him that they are sins- calling them by the strongest terms we can. We are not victims called to self-pity, but we are rebels against God called to come before Him in Godly sorrow. We have sinned and we need to acknowledge it. (1 John 1:9 confess is acknowledge) Once we have done this in the genuine sense receiving the Holy Spirit will not be a fuss. 

Receiving the Holy Spirit

When these 12 received the Holy Spirit in Acts 19 the whole dynamic at Ephesus changed. They lived in the shadow of the Temple of Artemis, but were now temples of the Holy Spirit. This is more than speaking in tongues, it is a wholesale change of desire and spirit. They went from the power of Satan to the Power of God. They were in Christ and receiving all of the benefits of being in Him. They were dead to Sin and alive unto God. They were crucified with Christ nevertheless they lived. They were no longer in the flesh because they had begun in the Spirit. (They presented themselves unto God as a living sacrifice and the Fire of God fell from Heaven and consumed them while they liveth. They were burning for God in holy love – agape love. The love of God had been poured out into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). They walked in the Spirit as the true sons of God. They were enabled to bear the fruit of the Spirit. They were on-fire for God. They were reconciling with their enemies and making restitution for past sins whenever possible. No longer would they have ought against their brother or sister and try to bring a sacrifice to God- they made it right. Suddenly everyone lived in the shadow of their compassion. They wanted to see souls saved and lived changed by the power of the Spirit. 

 Returning to what they remembered 

If Ephesus were to come into revival they would have to go back and do the works they did at first. It was some 40 years or so between the birth of the church at Ephesus and the writing of Revelation 2. A lot can happen in 40 years. New generations can be born that do not know the Lord nor the works He had done in the past. (Judges 2:1ff) People can get cold in their love for God. They will have to travel the road of their fathers if they are to ever retain their lampstand.    

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