The Fiftieth Day

The Fiftieth Day
Robert Wurtz II


And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

Pentecost Sunday is known in Christian circles as the birth of the Church (Ecclesia). Pentecost is the Greek rendering of the Jewish festival known as Shavuot. It is a Hebrew word meaning “weeks”. In one sense it was the celebration of the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. It is said that from Passover to the giving of the Law was 7 weeks so that on the Fiftieth Day a celebration was to take place. Shavuot is also connected to the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Jer. 5:24, Deut. 16:9-11, Isa. 9:2). It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. For the disciples, they had experienced the reality of what Passover intended to convey in the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross. From now on, Christ would be our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). At first the Disciples did not understand what was going on and were in a terrible confusion. But Jesus met with them and explained to them all passages of the Old Testament the things pertaining to Himself. He then concludes with these words:


Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:47-49)

Up to this point the Disciples had not only misunderstood the mission of Christ, but they were in no wise of the right spirit to minister the Gospel. James and John had desired to call fire from Heaven on the Samaritans and Peter had cursed and swore with a loud oath when confronted about Jesus. They were trying, but they just were not there. Human effort simply cannot make a man or a woman into a child of God. It would take regeneration. Not a simple infusion of grace to believe, but a total transformation of the person in which they pass from death unto life and from the power of Satan unto the power of God. We have a truncated pattern here in Luke 24: 

1. repentance and remission of sins must be preached
2. believers must be endued with power from on high

The Holy Spirit in relation to the Temple

It is important to take a moment and explain the significance of the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost. We can use Solomon’s Temple as our Template. Solomon built a Temple for the Lord. Up until the time the Temple was dedicated it knew only a general sense of the presence of the Lord. God manifests Himself where He is welcome, but He is present at all places and at all times. This is a theological proposition we sometimes call omnipresence or immanence. He is in the pubs, gambling dens, sin houses and even hell itself (Psalm 139:8); but He is not there in the way that He wants to be. During construction of the Temple, we could argue that God was made more welcome than He was in Egypt, for example. God has determined the bounds of our habitation that we might feel after Him, for He is not far from any one of us. That is the experience of the careless sinner. However, Israel was a God-fearing nation and people of the covenant. God was certainly more at work in their midst than He was in Egypt. Yet, the Holy Spirit wasn’t any more present at the Temple site than He was down the road until the day when the Temple was dedicated, the altar was filled, and the Fire of God fell. The glory of God filled the House until the priests were not able to stand to minister. In time the Holy Spirit departed from the Temple and it was destroyed. Yet, the artifacts in the Temple remained the possession of Jehovah (YHWH). We know this because of how Belshazzar was judged when he took the sacred dishes into his party (Daniel 5). 

The Holy Spirit in relation to men

When a person is in a careless state, even as the idolators of Athens, God is not far from them (Acts 17:27). The Disciples left their careers and followed Christ coming under His Lordship. In this condition, prior to His death, resurrection and ascension, we have this saying from our Lord, If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:15-17) Here the Holy Spirit is said to be “among” the Disciples and that they “knew” Him; yet He was not yet “in” them as the Holy Spirit had not been given because Christ had not yet been glorified (John 7:39). The glorification of Christ took place in the death, burial and resurrection. So we see a contrast between the careless sinner and the follower of Christ. Yet there is another level still. We read of this hope, reform ye (repent), therefore, and turn back (be converted), for your sins being blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19 YLT comments added). The Disciples had had their Pentecost and now they are preaching the full Gospel.

Temples of the Holy Spirit

As soon as we turn our lives to Christ we are bought with a price, becoming the sole possession of God. Our bodies and our spirits are God’s possession and we are to glorify Him with them (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We are temples of the Holy Spirit, not because He dwells in us, but because we have been purchased of God with the blood of Christ in order to be made dwelling places of God. When a person turns to Christ in repentance and conversion, they have the promise of the times of refreshing coming by the presence of the Lord. They are the purchase of God. Receiving the Holy Spirit comes as a result of our submission to Him as He deals with us convincing and convicting of sin. We must respond rightly to the Holy Spirit by ceasing to resist Him. One cannot resist and receive at the same time. Many rebellious people have made a profession of Christ and believe they have the Holy Spirit, but we are not known by a simple prayer or a profession, but by the fruit we bare. I am sorry it has to be that way, but this is the clear teaching of scripture. Receiving the Spirit is something that takes place consciously and is not a process that takes place by logical deductions. A person has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them when it can be seen that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in their life. 

Baptized into One Body

At Pentecost the Body of Christ was formed through the one great baptism that Paul spoke of in Ephesians. At that moment everyone that the Spirit fell upon was baptized into His Body and became partakers of all that He had accomplished upon the cross. They had lived for 3 years among Christ, dwelling with Christ, but now they are “In Christ” as new creatures. The mean spirit that wanted to call fire from Heaven was dispelled and the Holy Spirit poured out the love of God into their hearts (Romans 5:5). Their propensity to Sin was replaced with God working in them to will and to do His good pleasure. They were dead to Sin and dead and crucified with Christ. Before this great baptism none of them could say that. They were made sons of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is more than a profession and more than self-help. It is a new creature. They were enabled at that moment to function as a body through the gifts that had been given to men after He ascended on high. These gifts are essential to the edification and increase of the Body of Christ. Each person fitly framed and joined together in love. 



Paul’s Gospel in Biblical Terms

Paul’s Gospel in Biblical Terms
Robert Wurtz II


“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” (Acts 26:19, 20.)


Strong churches are comprised of strong Christians. Spiritual churches are made up of spiritual believers. To gain strong, spiritual Christians we need a genuine Gospel defined in Biblical terms. We don’t have to look far. If we read the scriptures carefully we can develop working definitions of all the terms associated with the Gospel such as repentance, faith, baptism in water, baptism in the Holy Spirit (receiving the Holy Spirit), etc. Bible words have histories and these histories existed in the consciousness of the people that John the Baptist, Jesus and the Apostles preached to. When preaching to the Jews they could refer to an event or a person and suddenly an entire context would come to mind. When the Gospel went to the Gentiles more explaining was required, but the message remained the same and the terms carried the same meaning. If we define Gospel terms Biblically and refuse to succumb to some lesser thing we are enabled to have Christians and churches that are strong and spiritual. If we pour other meanings into these words and settle for lesser standards we will fill the churches of God with goats, tares and chaff. 

What Exactly Did Paul Preach?



What did Paul preach? We have the record in his own words. About twelve years (or two-thirds) into his ministry, Paul went before King Agrippa to give an account of himself. He had been persecuted by Jew and Gentile alike and now has been taken before the authorities. What Paul tells the king is a summary of his ministry up until this time. Paul testified, “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” (Acts 26:19, 20. emphasis added) This is an amazing revelation. No more need to wonder what he was preaching in the beginning at Corinth, Demascus, or any other place. Understand that Paul preached essentially the same message to everyone. Therefore, if he says it to Corinth it is likely he has said the same things everywhere. It was a universal message. Some hearers may have been at varying levels of understanding to begin with, but in time they would all be taught the full revelation of all of the issues involved that we piece together in Paul’s writings. Did you notice that what Paul preached everywhere according to Acts 26:19, 20 is essentially the message of John the Baptist? For all that is said about Paul’s preaching, few ever make note of this one fact. Paul preached repentance everywhere he went in the John the Baptist sense of the word. 

Repentance not in vogue



In modern times repentance is marginalized to the extent that if one never read their Bible and only listened to TV and radio preaching, you may get the idea that Paul and the other Apostles only preached a so-called ‘easy-believism’. That is to say, if a person agrees to certain facts about the Gospel (‘believes’) they are said to be ‘justified by faith’. Some say repentance is somehow an outdated concept that only applied to the Jews of the 1st Century and not to Gentiles, or they suggest some other dismissive theology that widens the narrow gate. I have personally been told that repentance is not necessary for the Gentiles. Promoters of such ideas are contrary to Christ and the Gospel. A.T. Robertson commented on Acts 26:19, 20 saying, “Paul, the greatest of theologians, was an interesting practical preacher.” That is a way of saying that Paul, the greatest theologian, preached that all men should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. If thou wilt be as Paul, do likewise!

Genuine Faith  



When Jesus got ready to give an example of repentance He spoke of Nineveh, that repented at the preaching of Jonah. (Matthew 12:41) Though these people knew very little about God, they believed the message of impending doom (Jonah 3:4) and responded rightly by humbling themselves and mending their ways. Likewise when God got ready to give an example of genuine faith he gave us a long list of names in Hebrews 11. When Paul addresses justification by faith he uses one of those names, Abraham, a man like the people of Nineveh, that knew very little about God. God called Abraham out of the pagan city of Ur of the Chaldees and he obeyed. That is to say, he responded rightly to what God had said. This is genuine faith. Not ‘saying’ he believed and then his actions didn’t match. Each new revelation was met with a new step of faith. Then we come to these words, And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) This passage is quoted some three times in the New Testament and all in relation to justifying faith (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23). If we want to understand justifying faith we have to look at Abraham. He is archetype of genuine faith. It was not a one off assent of the mind or will: faith for Abraham was a lifestyle. He made a life of responding rightly to the things God revealed to him. Repentance and Faith are essential to the universal message of the Gospel. Two thousand years have not changed that fact. 

Building Upon Obedience



If a person refuses to believe how can they go on with God? Without faith it is impossible to please God, for they that come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. If a person refuses to repent how can they go on with God? God used to overlook ignorance, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. Remember that we defined repentance as what the people of Nineveh did. Some may ask, who needs to repent? Why should men repent? Because Peter tells us that the Holy Spirit is given to those that obey God (Acts 5:32). This is a sobering truth. Going on with God is like walking through a series of doors, each of which requires that we exercise faith in obedience. If we do not believe the message of repentance we will not obey. This means the process is stopped. Sadly, some people want to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and have no desire or intention of repenting. What happens? They seek being ‘filled’ while resisting the Holy Spirit. This is a dangerous thing to do. I’m reminded of Paul, For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Cor. 11:4) The true Jesus demanded repentance and faith, what does the Jesus you preach or have heard preached demand? And if we are moving in a Gospel that does not require repentance and faith, what spirit can we expect to have received as a result? Apparently there is the possibility that, “…if ye receive another spirit.” At the risk of shocking you even more, I submit that when a person seeks to be filled with the Spirit and are still in flagrant rebellion they open themselves up to all kinds of wierd stuff. You can’t receive and resist the Holy Spirit at the same time, but apparently, accoring to Paul, we can resist the Holy Spirit and receive ‘another spirit’ that would not have been received by Paul. Going on with God means obedience. 

Filled But Rebellious?

When a person is truly repentant in the John the Baptist/Nineveh sense of the word and they are moving in the steps of the faith of Abraham (Romans 4:12), being baptized in water will not be a fuss. A person that is converted in this way is eager to obey God. This is the mindset necessary to receive the Holy Spirit. It can happen instantly or it can take a little time, but the ingredients have to be there. Some want to go on living worldly and like the sons of Sceva think they can receive the Spirit and move in the supernatural. There is no new thing under the sun. If a person is seeking the Spirit for a manifestation of power only they are in the same category with Simon in Acts 8 that thought the power of laying on of hands could be bought with money. Peter’s answer? Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:22, 23 NKJV) This is an insightful and instructive passage. 

Water Baptism 

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)



This is the key to right response to God and going on with God, “…gladly receiving the word.” 


Take Phillip for example. He is ministering to the Ethiopian eunuch apparently along these lines. After a time of sharing the Gospel we read, And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Acts 8:36, 38). This man wanted to follow through immediately with his faith. He truly believed, and as a result, water baptism was not a fuss; in fact, the man seemed to nearly run to the water. This is proof that he was legit. No begging. No arguing. No looking up proof texts for excuses. He joyfully obeyed. What’s stopping me right now?! This is how the disciples reacted to Paul at Ephesus, when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Again, this is a sign of true conversion. Jesus told Satan that man was to live by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. It was His desire and it will be the desire of those that truly are changed. When we are moving in truth we receive with gladness the word of God.  


Another Gospel or Paul’s Gospel
   


Recently a former US district prosecutor and his wife were building a home in an upscale neighborhood on Long Island, NY near the beach. They set the plans out and wanted the thing exactly as the plans read. When they discovered it would not fit on the property, they tore it down wood framing, foundation and all and started over. It was a $150,000 loss. The botched home construction reminds me of our times. We think that somehow God will allow us to alter the plans or flub the measurements and details and then He comes along and has to tear the thing down and start over again. We cannot improve upon God design for the churches of God. We have to employ the same things as did the Apostles, 1. repentance 2. faith 3. baptism in water 4. baptism in the Holy Spirit and all of them in the genuine article. If we remove any of these things we have no sure foundation. If we don’t have a sure foundation there is no reason to continue to build. There is no telling how many problems that we deal with every day in the churches of God could be greatly reduced if we would simply get back to this most basic message and stick with it. 



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