The Greatest Pink Elephant of All

The Greatest Pink Elephant of All
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. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. (Acts 26:19–21 NKJV)

“Elephant in the room” or “Elephant in the living room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first recorded use of the phrase, as a simile, as The New York Times on June 20, 1959: “Financing schools has become a problem about equal to having an elephant in the living room. It’s so big you just can’t ignore it.” (wiki) Nevertheless, for over 100 years the reality of Acts 26:19-21 has been largely, if not completely, ignored. When it’s not being ignored the passage is being wrested by those who cannot handle its implications. Why did Paul preach John the Baptist “type” repentance? Stephen gives the answer in Acts 7 when he concluded his sermon with, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51 NKJV)



When we read Stephen’s word ” resist ” it is natural to conclude that this is a simple non-compliance. However, this is not the case. Stephen employs a rare Greek word (antipiptō) used once in the New Testament. It means to “run against” or “to fall upon.” This is an allusion to Numbers 23 and Isaiah 63 in which God had done everything in His power to bring about His purposes for His people — nevertheless; they  provoked (vexedHis Holy Spirit — who is not easily provoked (1 Cor. 13:5). This phenomenon could also be seen in the fact that the prophets’ words could not be resisted, but the prophets themselves could be, so they “ran upon” them as they soon did with Stephen. 

Repentance is vital to the Gospel because it addresses the issues of resisting the Holy Spirit head-on. There is no way to get by on some lesser thing. The resistance and rebellion against God must be brought to an end and the person come into a right attitude towards their Creator. The old timers used to say that people need to “get right with God.” This language is from Acts 8 when Peter told Simon that his heart was not “right” with the Lord. Nevertheless, multitudes of ministers and Christians search for ways to avoid this. In fact, the subject is rarely even brought up in discussion it is so detested. However, it is folly to invent doctrines and theologies that sidestep this need. The tragedy is that theologians and Bible teachers are often better at teaching people what a verse does not mean than what it truly means. In modern times clever theologians have tried to reduce repentance to a mere change of mind towards sin; but in practice the teaching is a dead forgery. Their is no expectation that the person with actually demonstrate a change of mind. The strategy is to address the passages in question so as to appear theologically correct; however, the verses are made of no effect. This is what happens when men become theologians who themselves are resisting the Holy Spirit.


It is interesting to consider just how long man has been actively resisting God’s authority. Our passage in Genesis 6:3 is a subtle commentary on the days of Noah; this would have been roughly 2800 BC, or nearly 5000 years ago. When we arrive at Acts 7:51 we have the same diagnoses, You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. In the 21st Century we have the same pattern of behavior. God is trying to establish His authority in the hearts of men and women and they do always “strive” or “resist.” I suggest that “always resisting the Holy Spirit” is the single greatest problem in mankind, and summarizes the relationship between God and unbelievers. Unfortunately, it is also the case in the lives of many professed believers.

In Genesis 6:3 we have the word “strive.” The context is found with Noah a preacher of righteousness, bringing forth a message of salvation. This is God striving with people outwardly. In this way, God had used men as His means of striving with man since the prophet Abel in Genesis 4:8 (compare Luke 11:50-51). Just as Cain rose up to snuff-out his witness to the truth of obedience to God, the response of the masses has rarely altered course. Inwardly, the people would feel the sting of their conscience, and the many strong impressions made upon them by the Spirit of God. The scripture is replete with men who quenched, grieved, resisted, vexed, and even blasphemed God’s Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:101 Thess. 5:19Ephesians 4:30Matthew 12:24-32). This is the message of Stephen to the religious leaders, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51 NKJV

The very people who prided themselves as instructors of the foolish, and teachers of babes — men who had the form of knowledge and truth in the law (Romans 2:20 NKJV) — did always resist the Holy Spirit. In fact, Stephen added, as your fathers did, so do you. It had been a tradition in families for generations. Stephen went on to ask them which of the prophets did their fathers not persecute? He then went on to show that Jesus Christ, the anti type of all who had gone before Him, was given the most hideous treatment of all. The one who was the greatest representation of God was the one most persecuted by the rebellious. The treatment of a man was proportional to His capacity to represent God in striving with men. In other words, the more godly he or she was, the worse they were treated. This is the record. 


Pink Elephant



I once attended a meeting where several men were speaking on the topic of the end-times. One man took the pulpit and opened his address with this unforgettable question, “How are we going to talk about 666 when we can’t even turn off HBO?” It was his way of saying that we love to speak about all kinds of topics that divert our attention away from unpleasant issues. In the late 19th and early 20th century a methodology for “getting saved” was invented that allowed people to continue to resist the Holy Spirit and anyone who preached a “book of Acts” type Gospel and still call themselves “saved.” This is the pink elephant in modern evangelicalism. A person can be actively resisting the Holy Spirit and be told “you are saved and don’t let the devil lie to you and tell you anything different!” And if they go on and try to receive the Holy Spirit they can say a few unintelligible sentences and be told “You got it! You got the Holy Ghost!” Wow. A thousand times, wow! 

If obstetricians were as reckless with childbirth as many ministers are with new birth we would have an infant mortality rate in the land that is unprecedented in world history. People have to be born of the Spirit and there is a right way to preach in order to see that reality come about. Becoming a Christian means we align ourselves with God and His holy word.The Holy Spirit and the word of God agree. If a person does not agree with God’s word — in reality — they are resisting Him no matter what they profess. Jesus asked the simple question , “and why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things I say?” As if He would ask, “why do you make my word of no effect by your traditions? Why do you keep doing things that are contrary to God’s word, just as your fathers did?” Answer, because once someone is bold enough to trample on a precept others are emboldened to follow. Soon everyone is doing it (well, not everyone). This is how we have veered off course so bad in the last 100 years. None now live that even remember how repentance and receiving the Holy Spirit is supposed to be.



Ours is the generation that can change all this. A person may have preached a soft Gospel for 75 years, but if they are sensitive to God they can still change. Others will go to their graves doing the same old thing that is not working. Meanwhile the churches fill up with people who have no real desire to comply with God’s will. it’s as if a whole new religion has been created to serve the people who never stopped resisting the Holy Spirit. Environments use music to forge the presence of God while the people keep on resisting. These and many type elixirs numb the conscience enabling people to read their bible and just skip past the verses they don’t like or agree with. This is the tragedy of our times. Nevertheless, there is hope for anyone who will hear the voice of God and truly repent. They can leave of resisting the Holy Spirit and finally receive the Holy Spirit in the genuine article. They can become the real thing — not a forgery. They can begin in the Spirit and live a life that agrees with God and longs to do His will. 

Fighting With God

Fighting With God
Robert Wurtz II

And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3 NKJV)

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:51 NKJV)

It is interesting to consider just how long man has been actively resisting God’s authority. Our passage in Genesis 6:3 is a subtle commentary on the days of Noah; this would have been roughly 2800 BC, or nearly 5000 years ago. When we arrive at Acts 7:51 we have the same diagnoses, You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. In the 21st Century we have the same pattern of behavior. God is trying to establish His authority in the hearts of men and women and they do always “strive” or “resist.” I suggest that “always resisting the Holy Spirit” is the single greatest problem in mankind, and summarizes the relationship between God and unbelievers.  

In Genesis 6:3 we have the word “strive.” The context is found with Noah a preacher of righteousness, bringing forth a message of salvation. This is God striving with people outwardly. In this way, God had used men as His means of striving with man since the prophet Abel in Genesis 4:8 (compare Luke 11:50-51). Just as Cain rose up to snuff-out his witness to the truth of obedience to God, the response of the masses has rarely altered course. 

Inwardly, the people would feel the sting of their conscience, and the many strong impressions made upon them by the Spirit of God. The scripture is replete with men who quenched, grieved, resisted, vexed, and even blasphemed God’s Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10, 1 Thess. 5:19, Ephesians 4:30, Matthew 12:24-32). This is the message of Stephen to the religious leaders, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51 NKJV) 

The very people who prided themselves as instructors of the foolish, and teachers of babes — men who had the form of knowledge and truth in the law (Romans 2:20 NKJV) — did always resist the Holy Spirit. In fact, Stephen added, as your fathers did, so do you. It had been a tradition in families for generations. Stephen went on to ask them which of the prophets did their fathers not persecute? He then went on to show that Jesus Christ, the anti type of all who had gone before Him, was given the most hideous treatment of all. The one who was the greatest representation of God was the one most persecuted by the rebellious. The treatment of a man was proportional to His capacity to represent God in striving with men. In other words, the more godly he or she was, the worse they were treated. This is the record. 



Fighting God?

When we read Stephen’s word ” resist ” it is natural to conclude that this is a simple non-compliance. However, this is not the case. Stephen employs a rare Greek word (antipiptō) used once in the New Testament. It means to “run against” or “to fall upon.” This is an allusion to Numbers 23 and Isaiah 63 in which God had done everything in His power to bring about His purposes for His people — nevertheless; they  provoked (vexed) His Holy Spirit — who is not easily provoked (1 Cor. 13:5). This phenomenon could also be seen in the fact that the prophets’ words could not be resisted, but the prophets themselves could be, so they “ran upon” them as they soon did with Stephen. 

Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. Acts 7:57–58 NKJV) 

We may call to mind the words of God to Samuel at this juncture, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (1 Samuel 8:7b) This is the final fact of the case. People do not want God to reign over them. This is the essence of the struggle. The sobering end to it all is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:26–27 KJV) This is the finality of those who go on resisting the Holy Spirit. In the end there is only going to be one kingdom and Jesus Christ is going to reign in it. The people who continually resist His will, and are bent on serving self and sin, will meet this horrible fate. 

Fortunately, there was one man who broke ranks with the fathers and the Pharisees and left-off resisting the Holy Spirit.  After a lifetime of religious service in the absence of God, Paul could not resist and receive the Holy Spirit at the same time. Many people want an experience in God, but they have no intention on submitting to His authority. This is how demonic activity can invade a person or a church. We simply must stop resisting if we are to receive. We must be willing to set aside the religious facade and get real with God. We have to respond rightly to even the most subtle dealings. Though multitudes without number have resisted and striven with the Holy Spirit, we can make a conscious choice to stop that pattern right now. We hear a lot about unconditional love, but not much about unconditional surrender. While there is still breath in our lungs we can lay down our weapons and surrender unconditionally to Him. 





  
      

Where God’s Presence Resides

Where God’s Presence Resides
Robert Wurtz II

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Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will you build for me? says the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? (Acts 7:49)


It is hard to imagine a question as profound as the one Stephen quoted in Acts 7:49b — given by God — in Isaiah 66:1b, what [is] the place of my rest? The verse implies that God is at rest in some places, and He is not at rest in others. Perhaps we could use the language “at home” to describe what He means by “at rest.” Where is the place where God is “at home”?  Where will God come to take up residence? This is the subject I wish to address in this important entry. 


A Sermon For The Ages


In Acts 7 Stephen preaches to a wide variety of synagogue worshipers and leaders what is certainly one of the greatest expositions of scripture and the mind of God ever delivered. He recounted every major step that God took in the Old Testament to draw near and dwell among His people. In fact, God embarked on a process of reconciliation as soon as Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. He wanted to draw near and tabernacle with man. Nevertheless, though He would strive with man; man was always resisting Him.



God always desired a place of rest here on earth. However, since the Garden of Eden, man has not made God welcome. From Genesis 3 to Genesis 6 men were on the fast-track to absolute destruction. The people were so against God, that they would not retain Him in their mind (Romans 1:28). That is to say, they did not factor God into their decision-making process. Moreover, they did not seek after God. In fact, they fled from Him and resisted Him on every hand. In Genesis 6:3, God said that His Spirit would not always strive with man, but that his days would be 120 years. A few people began to call on the name of the Lord; nevertheless, by the time of Noah, there were only eight people that would listen to and obey His voice. Eventually the world was destroyed by water, and Noah’s family began to replenish the earth. However, over time, man drifted away from God again until there were only remnants of people who feared the Lord. 

God Returning Among Men

In spite of the stubborness of the masses, the eyes of the LORD ran to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart was perfect toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9). God found such a man in Abram (Abraham) and called him out of Ur of the Chaldees into the land that He swore unto him. God appeared to Abraham and started a process by which He would slowly bring man back into fellowship with Himself. God had to deal with man’s sin debt on the one hand, and a rebellious nature on the other. 


People typically want to be left alone to do their own will unthwarted. Nevertheless, God went forth searching until He found someone He could reveal Himself to. Abraham was that person. When God began to speak to him, he built altars and became a praying man. He sought the face of God in the mountain and from place to place. It was his desire to please God and do what was right. When God spoke, Abraham responded in obedience and became the heir to the righteousness of God that is by faith.


Conversely, Abraham’s nephew Lot, travelled with him as he lived by faith. In time it became necessary for the two families to separate. Abraham gave Lot a choice of the land, so he pitched his tent towards Sodom. This was the most evil city on the face of the earth. In fact, they were on the brink of being destroyed by God for their wickedness. These people hated God utterly. When the children of Israel came into the promised land they pitched their tents towards the Tabernacle; where God dwelled. When they stepped out of their tents at night the first thing they saw was the fire of God — the manifest presence. During the day they could step out and be met with the cloud. Nevertheless, all that Lot saw, who had pitched his tent towards Sodom, was the madness of sin. 


While Abraham was walking with God, Lot moved into the city to walk with those who hated God. He could not help but weary his heart and mind with the vexing torments of other people’s sins. It goes without saying that God could never be at rest in such a person’s life. As a result, Lot never knew the closeness of fellowship with God that Abraham knew. He wanted compromise in his life, and God could not walk with him, as a friend, as He did with Abraham. Lot could have chosen the path Abraham took. He could have shared in his altar experiences. Nevertheless, Lot seemed to want just enough of God to keep Him on retainer. He would never experience a close relationship with Him as did Abraham. Lot’s life ended in disaster beyond words. The consequence of his compromise would be felt for thousands of years. Each of these men had to come to their own personal decision to serve God. 

These Are Our Examples…

Over time Abraham would have a promised son named Isaac and Isaac would have Jacob (Israel). Israel had twelve sons who became the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Most of these sons bore many children and did not walk in the way of their father Jacob, but Joseph feared the LORD and God showed Himself strong through him. The Twelve Tribes of Israel were slaves in Egypt 400 years, and multiplied into the hundreds of thousands. Being sorely vexed of the Egyptians, they remembered the God of their fathers and cried out to Him. God raised up a deliverer in Moses. With a mighty outstretched arm God delivered all of the children of Israel from Pharaoh and Egypt. At first they seemed to be happy to go, but soon they began to grumble and complain.

God cannot rest in an environment of unthankfulness. God’s presence and sin do not mix. When He was near He He either brought swift judgment or He departed. One of the two has to go; God or sin. They cannot abide together. If He stays he has to judge the sin. Simply put, if He does not deal with the sin then His unique presence has to leave. God drew very near to Israel when Moses went up on the mountain. He came down and his face was glowing with the radiance of God’s glory. This was their opportunity. Did the people line up to see Moses’ face? Did they long to look upon him with awe and wonder savoring every glimpse of God’s majesty? Did they ask Moses’ what it was like to be with God or perhaps they could get permission from God to come up? No on all counts. In fact, they tried to cover his face to shield themselves from any remembrance of God. The would accept the book (covenant), but they did not want God near.

When Moses came, many people found out that they did not really want their God. Nevertheless God gave instructions to Moses to build a mobile tabernacle where He could reside among the people. In time that tabernacle passed away and a Temple was built in Jerusalem by Solomon the king. It was glorious! God manifested Himself in powerful ways. However, as the people sinned God left again and the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. Seventy years later they rebuilt the temple that would eventually become “Herod’s Temple.” God was never present there in the way He had been with the Wilderness Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. In fact, it didn’t even have the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. 



Albeit, as Stephen pointed out, God was not really interested in inhabiting a building. The entire 7th chapter of Acts sets forth God’s efforts in drawing near and establishing a covenant that would make this process of restoring relationship and tabernacling among men possible. Nevertheless, the people generally rejected God’s presence. At the very least they were content to leave God dwelling in the building while they went home to their own lives. Is there any wonder that most wanted nothing to do with the New Covenant that made people the temple of the Holy Spirit? it was all many could handle simply having God in the Land, much less Him moving in to their body. Having set forth God’s purposes to the people, line upon line, precept upon precept, Stephen gives God’s estimate of it all Acts 7:51; You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye.


God in a Building?

Stephen was never allowed to finish his sermon. They stoned him first. In fact, he only quoted a portion of Isaiah 66 to them. Undoubtedly, many knew the rest of the passage and understood the implications of what he was saying. Consider the full context of the passage.

Thus says the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things have my hand made, and all those things have been, says the LORD: but to this one will I look, even to they who are of a poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:12).

Although God appeared to man at different times and places, even moving among them in the Wilderness Tabernacle and Temple, He ultimately intended to make His dwelling place in people. Not a building or a structure. Not a spot on a map, but to this “one” (person) will I look. God was looking to live inside men and women all along. Everything He had done to this point was merely a series of steps leading to this ultimate destination. 

The first man that God tabernacled in was Jesus Christ. Many have been filled with the Spirit, but Jesus was the Temple of the Living God when He walked the earth. (John 2:19) He is quoted as making this statement in Mark 14:58; I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. They totally missed the point. Another temple made without hands? Herod’s Temple (made with hands) was on borrowed time. Forty years to be exact until the Roman conqueror Titus would annihilate it. However, the Temple of the Body of Christ (made without hands) was made possible by His death and resurrection.


Whether or not these religious leaders misquoted Jesus in Mark 15:48 is beside the point, because the theology of what they said was spot on. Jesus Christ intended to pitch a Temple that was not the works of men’s hands, but the working of the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 8:1ff) After Pentecost God began once again to walk with man in sweet fellowship and communion — only this time the Garden of Eden was in the Temple of men and women’s bodies. He desired to be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth and made that desire possible once He ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to baptize those that truly believe into His One Body. 

The Place of God’s Rest

To this one will I look, even to they who are of a poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:2b)


This verse contains what God is looking for in a residence. He is at rest in a person who is humble and that trembles at His word. This is two things. Pride is a stench in the nostrils of God unlike anything else. In fact, it was the snare and condemnation of Satan. Jesus Christ, the first living temple of God, was meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29). Paul goes into great detail in Philippians showing the extent of His humility.


Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6–8 ESV)



The second characteristic of God’s residence is one who  trembles at my word. Sometimes God would address a group by saying, “Hear, you that tremble at my word!” God was talking to people who took His word absolutely seriously. They don’t scoff at obedience. Their attitude is that God’s word must be obeyed and swiftly. Again, this was the attitude of the first living temple. 

It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

(Matthew 4:4 NKJV)

Satan has a characteristic that helped get him cast out of Heaven. He undermines God’s word and entices other to disobey. Is there any wonder he was cast out and ultimately down to hell? Jesus confronted him with Matthew 4:4. This was His attitude towards God’s word. It is more vital to us than our necessary food. When we take on this attitude in sincerity, God can rest in us. 

Summary  


In modern times it seems that people will do almost anything to get God’s presence to come. They employ Old Testament techniques thinking that if they sing the right song or play the right tune God will come and “inhabit their praises.” However,  under the New Covenant the saints sing because God has already come and His presence is already in them. We sing from the fullness of the joy of the Lord. We don’t strike up the band and wait for God to come. 

I suggest that the prime reason why so many revert to Old Testament thinking is that they have not considered what Stephen preached. If one wants to be a place where God resides, they have to follow His requirements. There is no side-stepping them. Otherwise, we risk going without His presence and even entertaining counterfeits. For the ages Stephen preached it. It has not changed since. This is the way for us to consider and walk in. As if the world wants to know, what [is] the place of my rest?” God tells us plainly. To this one will I look, even to they who are of a poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.  


  

What is Conviction? (Part 3)

Seven Great Questions
(Part 3) What is Conviction?
Robert Wurtz II

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11 NKJV)

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 KJV)



Since the fall of man the Holy Spirit has been striving with man. In Genesis 6:3 God tells us that man had given themselves over to the flesh and that His Spirit would not continue seeking to enforce His rule over them. If man continues to rebel, God, at His own discretion, will leave the person(s) to their own devices. There can be no more dreadful state than this, that God would remove the restraining influence of his Holy Spirit from them as a consequence of their continued rebellion.

We have a picture of what it is like to be “under conviction” from David in the Psalms. It happens that he had taken the wife of Uriah the Hitite and tried to cover it up. At first he tried to get Uriah to lay with her so he could shift the blame to the husband; but when that failed he sent a letter with Uriah to the leader of the army to abandon Uriah in the heat of the battle so he would be killed. David would eventually be confronted by Nathan the prophet, but in between the act and the confrontation he was in a state of denial. He went on with life doing what he called, “keeping silent.” We read, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah” (Psalms 32:3-4 NKJV) David was under tremendous conviction, but he still refused to acknowledge what he had done. Silence is the oldest trick in the book. People figure that if they don’t tell on themselves they can never be prosecuted. Denial is the Devil’s strategy for keeping a person from repentance. Pride enters in until a person’s vitality is all but gone. They become a shell of who they once were. The only solution is to stop resisting and allow God to “pour in the oil and the wine.”
 

Many centuries later, in Acts 7, Stephen is contending with the religious leaders in Israel. They had called him to the carpet to answer for his beliefs. After giving his sermon, he concludes with this statement, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51 NKJV) He puts his hand on the pulse of the problem; not merely among the Jews who refused to believe, but among Gentiles as well. Simply stated God’s message to unrepentant man is, “You do always resist the Holy Spirit.”


Some time later Saul (who was present for Stephen’s sermon) was traveling along to Damascus persecuting Christians when suddenly he is confronted by the LORD. Blinded, falling to the ground and stunned, Saul hears these words, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (Act 9:4-5) Pricks were goads that farmers used to keep their animals plowing in a straight line. Some would “kick” against the goads only to suffer the pain of being gouged by the person in charge of keeping the animal going the right direction. It was uncomfortable. It was “hard” for them. Jesus uses this metaphor to describe what Saul was doing. Saul was kicking against the strong dealings of the Holy Spirit. The Greeks and Romans used this same metaphor to denote a mortal man fighting against their pagan gods (Vincent). 

 
Saul repented, was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. From that time forward he was taught of Christ and taught Christ to the people. In Romans he makes this statement that summarizes the examples we have given above, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.’ ” (Romans 2:4-6 NKJV) To resist God’s dealings is to store up (as in a treasury) not wealth, but wrath. God deals with people in a longsuffering, gracious manor. He provides for their needs. In fact, every good thing that we experience in our lives is a call from God to turn to Him in repentance and faith. Every breath we take and every bite of food we eat contains God’s fingerprint of grace. There is an eternal consequence, above the rest of our sins, for resisting God’s dealings. 
 

Convincing The World 


While Jesus walked the earth He dealt with individuals and groups according to their need. He met them right where they were. This is why we find Him dealing gently with some and sternly with others. He was gentle with the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, and Zacchaeus; but He was stern with most of the scribes and pharisees. His dealings fit their heart condition. In fact, when Jesus spoke with the rich young ruler He put His hand on the controversy that existed between God and him. It was his wealth. Jesus gave Him specific direction as to what to do to remedy the controversy. The rich young ruler went away sorrowful. He would not obey what God was telling him and could go no farther until he did. 


As a man Jesus was limited on the scope of His earthly ministry. This is why He stated, Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. The Helper is the Holy Spirit. He would be sent into the earth in a way not known before to do three specific things; And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The Holy Spirit was coming to bring to bear individually the reality of who Christ is and the sinful condition the person is in. 

First, God wants all people to know that they are indicted for their sins. We are charged with a life of sinning against the Holy God. We have sinned and God expects us first to acknowledge our sins. This is not shifting blame or “staying silent” as did David at the first. No excuses. Moreover, if we refuse to believe on Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross we will die in our sins. There is no other path to forgiveness than through the shed blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit convinces us of this reality. Once we have truly repented and believed (repented and believed in a way that God can ‘amen’ our repentance and faith) the Holy Spirit will apply the blood of Christ to our conscience – purging it from dead works to serve the Living God. Conviction is replaced with God’s Joy, Love and Peace, etc.. 

Second, God establishes authority in the life of a person by the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus has ascended, the Holy Spirit takes on His role pointing out the controversies we have with God. The Holy Spirit convicts us of righteousness. He will lead us or goad us (depending on our heart state and need) to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into all righteousness. He will lead us and teach us as surely as Jesus led and taught the disciples when He walked the earth. This is why Paul could say to the Ephesians, “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” (see Ephesians 4:20ff) The Holy Spirit speaks the things of Christ. It is through the Holy Spirit that Christ speaks the will of Christ to the churches (Revelation 2-3). When we “hear” what the Spirit is saying to the churches we are hearing what “Christ” is saying to the churches.   

Third, the Holy Spirit will convince us that there is coming a great judgment day. Satan’s judgment is sealed as evidenced by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Jesus Christ overcame the world – dashing all hopes the Devil could have had of prevailing in his schemes. There is nothing preventing judgment of every person alive but the mercy and grace of God alone. When the Holy Spirit comes to deal with us, He will make that plain. Paul took up this line in agreement with the Holy Spirit in Acts; “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.” (Act 17:30-31 NKJV) 


Summary 


The Holy Spirit has come into the world to convince (convict) the world of the truth of God’s claims. He will bring these things to bear upon us with a view to seeing us agree with God, turn from our evil ways, and allow Christ to be Savior and Lord. As ministers we must be conscious of the Holy Spirit’s function in the earth today. He has come to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. He has come to lead us into all righteousness. He has come to convey to the Saints the will of Christ and to lead us or goad us into fulfilling that will.   

 

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