New Feet On An Old Path

New Feet On An Old Path
Robert Wurtz II


Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before. (Joshua 3:4)

The children of Israel were preparing to cross over, with much anticipation, into the Promised Land. The people have their concepts of what this new life means, but the reality of the matter is that they have not passed this way before. Their forefathers wasted away and died in the wilderness until only Joshua and Caleb were left to lead. Rebellion springing from evil hearts of unbelief had so plagued the people that they did not enter into His promised rest. God having put all the unbelievers out, He was preparing to lead His people into a place that they could not now conceive of – a place where God would be present in such a way that He would carry all of his enemies before Him. 

Sanctify Yourselves

When God comes near our attention must be arrested and all preconceived notions of God must be cast down – to make way for the God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It was not time to think of God in a way they had thought of Him before or they had seen their rebellious forefathers think of Him: it was time to sanctify themselves and prepare for His arrival. For had God been with them He had driven their enemies out from before them – but rather the devil ran wild among them even as he does in our day. What shall we do Joshua? “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Why Joshua? Because you have not passed this way before. You have been a lot of ways, but you have not passed this way. You have tried a lot of gimmicks, but you have not passed this way before. 

By This Shall You Know


And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. (Joshus 3:10, 11)

God was about to drive the enemies out from before the Israelites. All He needed was to come – just to show up – in His manifest presence and the enemy would flee. Perhaps you’re already thinking of the passage: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7, 8) This has always been the pattern of it. When we are finally prepared to submit ourselves to God, we will know the manifest presence of God. But He must be exalted in our eyes. He must be sanctified in our hearts. We cannot think of Him as anything man-made, for He is the only “only one.” There is none like unto Him. Their forefathers perished  having concocted a “god” after their own lusts and imaginations that they might “play” before it. Jehovah (YHWH) was not a demon, whom they were dancing and playing around as if it were the lord. He is the majestic exalted One that holds all power in His hands. When He moves none can ask Him, What doest thou? You will know what the One True God is among you, because He will drive the enemy out from before Him. 

Jesus the True Joshua

When Jesus came into the world and began His ministry he was moving in an authority that was carrying all principality and power before it. Demons would fall at His feet and beg him not to destroy them or torment them before “the time.” Even the Disciples struggled and could not cast a demon out of one dear child that threw him into the fire and the water. Jesus was not happy. He referred to them as a twisted and faithless generation and demanded that the child be brought to Him. Jesus rebuked the demon and the child was healed instantly. (Matthew 17:15-18) Later they asked him why they could not do it – He said because the type of demon vexing the boy came out only by prayer and fasting. It took an extraordinary walk with God to deal with it. We need an extraordinary walk with God in this crisis hour. 

New Feet on an Old Path

The Disciples were often content in those days to allow Jesus to do the fasting and praying. They allowed Him to spend the time in communion with the Father. But as with Joshua so too with the Disciples, they will need to sanctify themselves and prepare for the coming of the Lord (inward and into man). He was not coming this time to take up residence in a building, but in the very Bodies of the people. Sanctify yourself Peter! Sanctify yourself John! For you have not passed this way before. You have walk with the Lord Jesus and you have healed the sick, but you have not passed this way heretofore. When God came in the book of Acts a history broke out upon the human race never before seen in human history. God was among the people carrying all before Him. Sometimes we forget how dreadful these times were. They watched Jesus ascend into Heaven after He had been raised from the dead. There is nothing like unto that in all of the scriptures. The Spirit was poured out and a transformation took place so complete, that it ushered 120 people into the Kingdom of God at once. They were moving in a reality no human being save the Lord Jesus Christ had known to this point. Sanctify yourselves you 120! Prepare the way of the Lord!… for you have not passed this way heretofore. The Lord Jesus had walked in this reality and now the 120 would take it up. Stunning things happened. Fearful things.

When God Comes

 By the time we get to Acts 5 two people had been smitten dead by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. Herod made the dreadful error of exalting himself in the presence of God and was was struck dead where he stood and worms ate him. (Acts 12:23) In the next chapter a pretender named Barjesus decides to act out in the midst of a move of God and the hand of the Lord came upon him – blinding him for a season until he could get some sense. Consider these verses to get a feel for what it must have been like to have lived the “book of Acts experience”:

“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43 KJV) 


“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.” (Acts 5:5 KJV)



“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” (Acts 5:11 KJV)


“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” (Acts 19:17 KJV)

Chapter to chapter there are signs and wonders being performed, even demons being cast out. God was near and He was driving out His enemies before Him. The only limitation to this reality is when the people decide it is no longer necessary to sanctify themselves before the Lord. For Joshua and those that came across the Jordon they refused to throw down the gods and altars that littered the landscape. God warned them in Judges 1 and 2 that he would no longer drive their enemies out. Why? because the people were trying to entertain the very thing God wanted thrust out. So He left the enemies in the land to be thorns in their sides. God has often given the people what they demonstrate by their conduct that they want. 



God Came and God Went

The majority of people in Israel did not want God. That is why they died in the Wilderness. Had they wanted God, He would have never allowed them to die there. They wanted their sin and they longed to return to Egypt. They took a look at God on Mount Sinai and wanted no part of “that God.” So they fabricated one themselves to play around. This will be the pattern of the people over the centuries. Finally God is preparing to roll-out again. As bad as He wanted to stay – He cannot live in the filth of sin. The more the prophets called them back to the covenant the angrier and more high-handed the people became. Alas God laid it on the line in Jeremiah 6 when he stated emphatically:

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BA)”>
    who have eyes<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BB)”> but do not see,
    who have ears but do not hear:<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BC)”>
22 Should you not fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BD)”> me?” declares the Lord.
    “Should you not tremble<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BE)”> in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BF)”>
    an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
    they may roar,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BG)”> but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BH)”> hearts;
    they have turned aside<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BI)”> and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
    ‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BK)”> in season,
    who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BL)”>
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
 your sins have deprived you of good. (NIV)

It might as well read as a newspaper headline. people are committing sin in such high-handed ways that our forefathers would turn over in their graves. Nobody is asking “where is the Lord?” They are dancing around the golden calf of the man-made gods of much of modern Christian TV and radio. When was the last time you turned on the TV and trembled because He and not men were being exalted? When was the last time a mainline minister – ministered a sermon that so exalted Christ that it made you tremble before a holy God? They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God. 

Passing this Way

There is a way we need to pass that does not travel through the well trodden paths of the lusts of men; but a path like unto Israel walked when it followed behind the Ark of God or when the Church was born in the book of Acts. We cannot look back to a reference point and say “we will do this” or “we will do that” because you have not passed this way before. You have passed a lot of places and you have heard a lot of things, but you have not passed this way before. The way of separation and holiness. The way of set apart unto God – ness. A place of fasting and prayer. A place where the demons will know who Christians are unlike the bygone years of, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) There are no reference points outside of the book of Acts or moves of God like unto that – that we can look to. God has moved in book of acts power in times past, but for the overwhelming majority of us you have not passed this way before. May the Lord lead us into that place of absolute separation and faith that we may do his will in this desperate time. May the Lord speak to us words of direction that we might follow him as they did in the book of Acts. Not falling behind and not getting ahead. May the Lord gives us ears to hear once again what the Spirit is saying unto the churches. 




  

Correcting the Spirit of this Age

Survival of the Revival (Revisited)
Part 2 Correcting the spirit of this age
Robert Wurtz II

 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (Acts 17:6-7)

There is a common view that if the church is to be effective they will need to get in step with the spirit of this age; but God sent the Holy Spirit into this world to correct the spirit of this age. (D.L. Burch) In the words of Acts 17:6, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also. This is an interesting statement that is challenging to translate. It carries the idea that the people had revolutionized Roman society. They were agents of change. This is what happens when the Kingdom of God breaks into the kingdoms of this world. The work of God sets out to correct the error and rebellion that dominates this age and sets back the advancement of sin and rebellion. 

The God of Thy Fathers


 I want to challenge you to an exercise. Try to do your best to imagine what life was like in the Western world 40 years ago. Do the same for the churches of God. How different are things now? I am particularly sensitive to the changes because one of my ministries is to the elderly and they are locked in a different time. Ministering to the elderly is a totally different thing than anything else I experience in the churches of God that I move in. There is almost no continuity. Yet in Genesis 28 God speaks to Jacob and says; And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; (Genesis 28:13 KJV) Notice that God makes sure that Jacob understands that he is connected to the previous generation. Although this is a fresh start for him and the people of God; in another sense it is a stated continuation of what had begun elsewhere and earlier. It is vital that we understand this. Sometimes we use the word ‘new generation’ in a sense that gives the impression that they are at liberty to break ties with previous generations of believers that have gone before. This is not only false, it is diabolical. God never intended for Jacob to break continuity with Abraham and Isaac. This plays out all through the history of Israel. When God got ready to speak to Moses He introduced Himself saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. (Acts 7:33) If Moses as the leader of Israel did not maintain continuity with the past he would have been starting a new religion. It would have been false. God always builds on the previous generations. If we break continuity with them we have started a false religion. If we are starting a new religion we are not turning the world upside down, we are turning our forefathers over in their graves. 

Three Great Questions

The world has made so many advancements into the churches of God that we are left to answer three great questions in this crisis hour:


1) What is church

2) What is culture
3) What is compromise

Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand (Matthew 12:25b)



As a former youth pastor I believe categorically that the separation between the youth and the adults that goes on in many circles has been the direct cause of the greatest split in the churches of God since the Reformation. I personally believe it is the single greatest crisis we face as the churches today. Why? Because it has divided the house. Young people have their own culture and the older folks have a different culture. This polarization cannot continue. It started in the 1940’s when society invented the ‘Teen Age’ demographic. Today, many youth don’t even meet in the same buildings or attend the same meetings as the adults. Typically the older folks try to walk in the footsteps of their fathers, while many young believers have completely broken ties with the past. They are reinventing Christianity as it was known for 2000 years. They believe they have started a ‘new’ thing. As time goes on a greater split will result from this phenomena. Because the old-timers will hold their ground and refuse to compromise the gap will grow until whole denominations will split down the middle between the older people and the younger people. The older people will die off and their buildings will be sold to make room for a new Quicktrip or some other secular facility. The younger generation will gut and remodel their churches and practices until they have the feel of a dancehall or the corner bar. Why? Because this generation does not care about what our forefathers would or would not approve of. They are a law unto themselves. 


In 2005 Ron Bailey made this shocking observation that is prophetic in our times:


“In a genuine ‘house of God’ the word will not pretend to uniqueness or novelty; it will arise out of what God has already said to others before us. The circumstances will be different, but something will be the same. The old voices will echo in the new building. The wise householder was said to bring forth out of his treasure things new and old; “Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52 KJV) What is genuinely ‘new’ and from God will always draw with it the ‘old’.

Much of the western church over the last 100 years has failed to see the difference between the new and the novel. There is never any need for the novel in a ‘house of God’, but there will be a constant need for the ‘new’- a ‘new’ that has an unbroken fellowship with the ‘old’. The ‘novel’ will produce independence and pride; the ‘new’ will produce interdependence and humility.”

Forty years ago and before we did not have the division that we have today. Why is that? Popular culture divides people into age groups and generations. In the Kingdom of God we are one generation, the Generation of Jesus Christ. How are we standing up against the culture? Are the churches of God influencing and correcting the culture that says young and old must be divided or has the culture affected us? Have we allowed compromise to influence the church and called it culture? Any move of God within the churches was to reestablished the moral standards within broader society. God is pressing the ‘reset’ button. 

Cutting ties with the past?


God wanted Moses to know that he was serving the same God that his fathers served. Maybe it would help if we write that 100X on a blackboard someplace: 


You are serving the same God that your fathers served

You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served
You are serving the same God that your fathers served

What does that mean? It means that God does not change. So if we are changing the standards it is not because God has changed it is because we have changed. How do we know? Because we are serving the same God our fathers served. Shame on a generation that is so haughty that they marginalize their elders and dismiss almost every way that they expressed their faith. They threw away their modesty, their holiness, their separation from the world, their sermon emphasis, their hymns, the decor of the sanctuary, their personal dress codes, etc. Many view themselves as youth in the spirit of David, but they move in a counsel like unto the young men that counseled Solomon’s son Rehoboam- leading to the split between the Northern and Southern kingdoms in Israel. The older folks are typically sober-minded and resistive of allowing change, especially compromise into the churches of God. This is one of the qualifications for leadership in the pastoral epistles. 


If our forefathers would not do it- why would we? If our forefathers would all in unison rebuke and reject the things going on today- what makes us think we are right and they are wrong? This question needs to be deeply pondered. The youth seek to distance themselves from that voice of reason so they can make-over the churches of God after their own lusts unabated. It’s almost as lamentable as the woman who was tired of her husband never coming home from the tavern at nights, so she came up with a plan and set it to music:

She said: ‘I’m gonna’ hire a wino to decorate our home, So you’ll feel more at ease here, and you won’t have to roam. We’ll take out the dining room table, and put a bar along that wall. And a neon sign, to point the way, to our bathroom down the hall.”


What happened? She decided that to lure her man to the house she would decorate it like a Tavern. Is that not what has happened? Folks waited for the old timers to die off so they could turn our churches into clubs and the men and women could dress like they were out on a Saturday night? I must ask, ‘Is it really time to get our groove on?’ I mean, really. We are within a hairs breadth of being plunged into fire and blood and folks still refuse to adorn themselves modestly. Not ‘modest’ by the World’s standards that has the morals of an alley-cat, but of Jesus Christ that has already said. “I change not!” He said that Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. What did they do? One of the first things was to put on sackloth as a sign of self-humiliation. Selah. 


Think of some names of old timer men and women that you know and then ask yourself if they would participate in what is often being sanctified as ‘holy’ in this evil and adulterous generation? Has God changed? Certainly not. Is that how we correct the spirit of this age? Certainly not. What is going on then? Have we gone plumb crazy? It’s a disgrace. 

Giving up ground the old timers took back 


How can a generation be advancing to the rear and still claim to be ‘free’ and have ‘victory’, etc.? We have surrendered more ground in 40 years than probably any generation in the history of the modern churches. This is why we desperately need revival. At the pace we are moving anything and everything will be sanctifyable in the next 40 years no matter how sinful or demonic. That is always the problem with compromise; typically everybody does it. But God wants to CORRECT this mindset. This is what happened with the moves of God during the years of Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Finney, etc. We are only just now as a society falling back into the immoral, pagan practices of bygone eras. The reason the Western world experienced a few hundred years of greater moral sensibilities was directly related to the preaching and teaching of men and women of God that help up the standard of God’s holiness and righteousness. The churches in many cases sought to distance themselves from the trappings and practices of this present evil world. The preaching carried the theme of righteousness and holiness, as well as the hymns. People came to expect Christians to live differently than sinners. There was a separation between the churches and the world.   


A New Emphasis 


America has been visited of God several times over the last 250 years. Unfortunately, in the late 1950’s the emphasis changed dramatically towards signs and wonders; especially Divine Healing.  Since the time of Oral Roberts, many ‘ministries’ have came online that emphasized healing. As a person who has been healed of God I find this emphasis to be misguided. I have prayed and fasted for the healing of my wife who was dying with congestive heart failure in the year 2000 and has lived through kidney disease and two bouts with thyroid cancer. I have seen God heal twisted limbs and other diseases. That is not the question. When the emphasis within Pentecostalism becomes Divine Healing or miracles rather than holiness, righteousness, unity and evangelism we have totally left our roots and are headed for destruction. 


Modern Pentecostalism was born within the Wesleyian holiness revivals, not the things that we see happening today. We have watched neo-Pentecostalism rise in numbers across the world to staggering heights, but it is rare these days to find a preacher of righteousness like Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, etc. The emphasis today is on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, whereas in the New Testament the emphasis is on the preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The cross must be front and center. The primary function of the Holy Spirit is to glorify and exalt Jesus Christ. He is also come to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. The evidence of the presence of God is not a “feeling of a presence”, but the manifestation of the Fruit of the Spirit in the behavior of the people being made subject to His presence. The people exhibit love, joy, peace, gentleness, temperance, meekness, faith, etc. and that reality fills the atmosphere. They desire to be separated unto God. 

Sober and alert


Growing up in the 1980’s I learned a lot about what we sometimes call an ‘atmosphere’. I tremble now to say this, but when I was a teen I attended church services from time to time. I would listen to the latest music all the way to the meeting. But when I got out of my car and came into the church I walked into a totally different world. I was immediately sobered to the reality that this is not just any place, this is the gate of Heaven. The reverential fear of God would come over me. I was challenged and convicted by the lyrics of the songs being sung. I fear that a generation walks into our churches seeking the Lord and see a totally different place that they grew up in. The very things that they grew up hearing was sin is now being openly practiced among the people. Feeling disillusioned, I fear many just walk back out. We need to be sober. We need to pray to God until He takes the blinders off and softens the hearts that keep wanting to fall a lusting after some new worldly thing that the church is trying to sanctify. We don’t need a revival of miracles, we need a revival of Holy Ghost conviction that is so strong that men and women would tremble in terror before they dared to divide the worship in the house of God by being immodest or exalting themselves in some way. The way we know the Spirit is gone is because Holy Ghost conviction is gone. The same God that convicted our forefathers will convict us if we will diligently seek His face. We are not a new generation of privileged characters; we are a generation that cannot endure sound doctrine but rather heaps to itself teachers that tickle the ears. We are a generation that the Lord may ask, “When I return shall I find faith on the earth?” We need to reckon with it and pray accordingly.  


   

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