Conforming to the Culture (Edward Bernays, Popular Culture, and Christian Worldliness)

Conforming to the Culture
Robert Wurtz II

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2 NKJV)



Our Greek word for “conformed” is syschēmatizō and it is in the present passive imperative with meœ, meaning “stop being fashioned or do not have the habit of being fashioned.” (A. T. Robertson) To fashion something is to make it after a similar pattern. In modern times we might say, don’t be a copy or a clone of this present evil world. Peter also wrote along this line, Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. (1 Peter 1:13–15 KJV) The Greek word for “fashioning” in this passage is the same word translated as “conformed” in Romans 12:2. An easy deduction from this text is that obedient children do not fashion themselves like the world. Rather, we are called to be holy and to do that means we have to “stop being fashioned or do not have the habit of being fashioned” like this present evil world. In fact, it is the destiny of the saints to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29b NKJV)

Evidence of False Regeneration

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15–17 NKJV)

A person who loves the world is devoid of the love of God as the ruling principal of their life (Vincent). Therefore, one canot have had the love of God poured out into their heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) if they are still loving this present evil world. One cannot be motivated by the love of God and love for the world at the same time. They are as different as light and darkness. Loving the world will accomplish the aims of the god of this present evil world. (2 Cor. 4:4) The love of God will compel us to do the will of the One True God. (2 Cor. 5:14) Again, this is what Paul said, 
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. A person who conforms to this present evil world is proving the will of Satan — not God. This is common sense.

Contemporary Expressions of an Ancient World System

Every culture, past or present, no matter how uniquely it is expressed, is still an expression of the spirit of this age (the spirit of antichrist). From the many splendorous cultures of India and China to the Native American Indians or the Muslim’s in Sudan. From Ancient Egypt and Babylon to modern New York City and Dubai. Each culture is a microcosm of this present evil world — no matter how differently it expresses itself from the rest. They are moving in the same spirit of antichrist. The primary difference rests on each cultures ability to pursue the triune vanities John listed in 1 John 2:15-17 (power/popularity, pleasure, and possessions). Some cultures are very poor and lack the means to fill to the full the will of the god of this present evil world. Some cultures struggle for mere survival; but even there the world exists however it may appear to be diminished.


The god of Popular Culture     

If we were to travel back 100 years we would be shocked at how different things were compared to today. I believe that if we could transport some men of God from the time of John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody or Charles Spurgeon to observe our culture (and how many professing Christians are conforming to it) they would be mortified. And the problem is growing by the day. Many professing Christians have no higher standards than the average sinner. Keep in mind that many of the common behaviors and deeds of people today would get a person locked up 60 years ago. It won’t be long and Marijuana will be legal in all 50 states. Then other drugs will follow. And we have only begun to loosen standards on sexual immorality. I suggest that behaviors that are a crime today will be celebrated in 20 years. 


If you or I are the type of person who adjusts their standards of holiness to whatever popular culture is doing there is a strong chance that we are not saved. There is no sense in lying about it. Things are way too far off course to put the blinders on. Worldly people need to be told they are not serving the One True God — they are serving the god of this world. We need the clear-cut language of John the Apostle: If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. If you or I love the world we will share this present evil world’s fate. If you are telling yourself you are right with God because you come to a meeting, raise your hands, sing a song and feel goosebumps — those bumps are 99.9% probably not the Holy Spirit. They are a spirit, just not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not at home in the life of a person who is in love with this present evil world. The devil is expert at manufacturing goosebumps.  


For the vast majority of people living in the Western World, theirs is a culture containing within itself a “popular culture.” This system is such a finely tuned machine that it makes 1 John 2:15-17 sound almost like a prophecy. In fact, I believe it is a faithful saying that the culture that America experiences today is the greatest expression of this present evil world to date. In other words, “the world has never been as “worldly” as it is at this present hour.” There has never been a time, at least since the biblical flood, that the world has had the resources and technology to express it’s rebellion against God as it does today. Our modern culture is an exaggerated version of anything the world has ever produced. Again, our culture is so radically different than it was just 100 years ago that the people of 1800s could not relate to the 2000s. 

Today all kinds of things that were considerd illegal or taboo in previous generations have been normalized. In the 21st century there is so much money to be made on sin that the only thing that seems to be taboo today is to speak against the compromise going on. Think of how just 50 years ago it was illegal to gamble in most cities except “sin city” (Las Vegas). Ultimate fighting was a crime relegated to to empty warehouses — much like dog fighting and cock fighting is today. Abortion was illegal 60 years ago, now abortionists are selling whole dead babies to researchers for profit. Fornication used to be taboo — now it’s practically a sport! 

A soon to be reality show lauds a woman going to lose her virginity on TV. Forty years ago tattoos were taboo in so much that mainly soldiers, bikers, and convicted felons had them. Now parents will sign for their teen-aged children to have them. In fact, there was a time when it was taboo for women to smoke. Now they die of smoking at about the same rate as men. Same with the taboo of women and tattoos. That taboo was broken in the last 20 years and women have them as often as men nearly. Just as teens used to smoke in the boys room — now they permanently mark up their bodies. The time would fail to list all the examples. We must digress. Yet how did the world succeed in breaking all these taboos? How has the world normalized so… much… sin? How could this happen? You really want to know? Keep reading. 

Sin as an Industry


When the industrial revolution came about, the world became mechanized. Companies learned how to produce goods and mine resources on an industrial scale. At the same time bankers and economists were figuring out ways to finance the purchase of all these goods we were producing. Soon there were plenty of products and a means to borrow money, but there was no demand. The reason for this is that our culture in the late 1800s was a needs based culture. The average worker only bought things they had to have for survival. The rich bought all kinds of luxury goods, but “John Q Citizen” did not. Products were even advertised in newspapers on the basis of need. The emphasis was on quality. “Goods like shoes, stockings, even cars were promoted in functional terms, for their durability. The aim of the advertisements were simply to show people the products practical virtues, nothing more.” (A. Curtis)


A Radical Cultural Shift

Corporations wanted to sell good and bankers wanted to lend money. What happened? “One leading Wall Street banker, Paul Mazer of Leahman Brothers was clear about what was necessary. e must shift America, he wrote, from a needs, to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs. And the man who would be at the center of changing that mentality for the corporations, was Edward Bernays.” (A. Curtis) 

Over 100 years ago men like Edward Bernay’s began employing psychoanalysts and public relations experts to change the mentality of the American consumer. He also began using focus groups to figure out how to break through peoples’ inhibitions. In a short period of time they figured out how to exploit the lust of the flesh (possessions), the lust of the eyes (pleasures), and the pride of life (power and popularity) until living for selfish ambition and pleasure came to dominate our culture. In fact, these things became peoples primary reason for being and reason for living. This is the culture we live in. It is the fullest expression of man’s attempt to marginalize and replace the Creator to date.

The consumerist machine pumps out propaganda and products at a dizzying pace — sapping up every sale it can get. the world says, “Covet, and get possessions; lust, and indulge in immoral acts; envy, and climb the ladder of popularity and power!” This is the message of our times. This is the mind of the average citizen. In fact, these things are so entrenched into our culture and paradigm that it takes God’s word through the Holy Spirit to point out their influence in our lives. The whole essence of our culture militates against the God. Leonard Ravenhill once said, Paul says that’s what the world is to me; It’s a system of corruption and rottenness and vileness. It’s anti-Christ from the word go!… Is the world crucified to you tonight? Or does is fascinate you?” In Paul’s own words:

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.   And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NKJV) 

Paul was dead to the world and the world was dead to him. Dead people don’t respond to stimulus. They don’t respond to anything. He was moved and compelled by the love of God — not love for this present evil world. 

The Only Thing That Makes Sense

The Only Thing That Makes Sense
Robert Wurtz II 


Press play for audio reading. 
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1)

By the time we reach Romans 12:1, Paul has thoroughly preached the Gospel. He has probed its mysteries as it were, and sets before us what is known more technically as soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. Here God’s wisdom has been set forth in redeeming mankind; both Jew and Non-Jew. It is and was the plan of the ages. Enraptured by the majesty of God Paul closes chapter eleven with this praise:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36 NKJV)


He transitions from these verses with a simple phrase, I beseech you thereforeTo some bible students it will be cliche, but when you see the word therefore you need to stop and ask what it is there for. It is a term that means “consequently.” Therefore (Gk. oun) is an inferential participle that gathers up all the great argument of chapters 1-11 and places it before us. It’s as if Paul is asking us, “What say you? What is your response to what you have heard?” It staggers the mind to consider the manifold wisdom of God. Now Paul turns to exhortation (parakalō), “I beseech you.” 

I Beseech You

Our Greek word for beseech is Παρακαλῶ (parakalō) and it means “to call alongside.” Para is “side” and kalo is “call.” It carries the idea of urging someone earnestly to do something. It could be translated “to beg.” To give a sense of the strength of the word we have some examples of its use throughout the New Testament. Urgent appeals (parakalō) to Christ for healing are made in Matthew 8:514:36Mark 1:405:238:22. Paul “pleads with” (parakalō) God for the removal of his thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:8. Demons “beg” (parakalō) Christ to send them into a herd of swine in Matthew 8:31ff. In Acts 2:40 and 2 Corinthians 5:20, people are “urged” (parakalō) to be reconciled to God. 

Therefore by the Mercies of God

Paul has effectively came alongside us to beg, urge, beseech us by the mercies of God. That is to say, all that Paul described from chapter 1-11 was a clinic on God’s great mercy. The Gentiles are brought into view as well when Paul described how God has grafted in the wild olive branches into the cultivated olive tree. In other words, the promise of a New Covenant was to the House of Judah and the House of Israel; however, God had already intended to include the Gentiles all along. It had been kept secret (covered) to be revealed in the fullness of time. The Gentiles are not an afterthought or plan B; it was all part of God’s original plan. God has shown mercy to both Jew and Gentile.

It is helpful to stop and consider where we would all be without mercy and grace. One of the challenges of our Christian walk is that we not forget that we were once purged from our old sins. If it were not for God’s great love wherewith He loved us, dying for us while we were yet sinners, there would be no hope. Without mercy, we would face the wrath of God without mixture unendingly. Think of passages as we find in the Revelation that read “… and the smoke of their torment ascended up before God forever and ever.” (Revelation 14:11) That’s what we deserve. The mercy of God is not something we should accept and then wipe our mouths as if we have done no evil. The sheer magnitude of our crimes; heightened by the light that we have sinned in; aggravated by a life of resisting the Holy Spirit; would paralyze one with fear if they had any mind at all. Nevertheless, God has chosen to cast our sins behind His back — never to be remembered against us again. Praise His name forever. Paul then pleads, I beseech  you therefore,  brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice. 

The Language of Priesthood  

In order to comprehend what Paul is saying in Romans 12:1, we need to look briefly at the Old Testament. You will recall that Solomon was the great king who built God a semi-permanent house. He built it on the mount of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite — where the angel had stayed his hand in slaying thousands after David numbered Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-18) It was here that God could have wiped Israel off the face of the earth, and been justified in doing it. Nevertheless, God showed kindness and grace to Israel. David remembered this mercy of God, knowing that He could have slew everyone down to the last man. What happened? The execution of judgment stopped at Araunah’s threshing floor. 

In response to God’s goodness, David wanted to build an altar in remembrance of God’s mercy on the very place where the judgment of God was stayed. Araunah tried to give the property to David for free. Nevertheless, king David said, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost. (1 Chrononicles 21:1ff) Here are two initial pictures; one of the mercy of God and the other a right response of a grateful heart. You will notice a connection between “a grateful heart” and “a burnt offering.” Keep this picture in mind as it is the theme of Romans 12:1. A grateful hearts gives a burnt offering that costs the full price. The threshing floor is a place of decision. All of these things are here. This is the location where Solomon built the Temple. From this time forward the children of Israel will have this as part of their history. God’s mercy stopped at Araunah’s threshing floor and this will be the place of remembrance for that mercy. 

A Picture of a ‘Right’ Response to God

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13)


Solomon is dedicating the Temple built on Araunah’s threshing floor. The first response of the people was to give thanks to God for His mercy in returning to the people with His authority and presence. They didn’t deserve God. They deserved abandonment and judgment. In another place, it is stated that they “spoke as one” as the Ark of the Covenant came in. They sang and shouted with lifted up voices in such a way that God saw fit to fill the house with His glory. This was the initial step. The people utterly recognized God’s mercy and desire for reconciliation and they responded to Him in tremendous excitement and thanksgiving. The LORD, then being well pleased, filled the house with His glory. So great was the glory of God that the priests were not able to stand to minister. God believed the people as they praised and offered thanksgiving and He responded by filling the house with His glory. What an awesome picture. 

Holy and Acceptable

…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,

This, again, is the language of priesthood. We are called to be both temples of the Holy Spirit and living sacrifices. What does this mean? All other dwelling places for God were temporary. Nevertheless, God was teaching us important truth about God’s dwelling place. For example, the Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the Temple and the artifacts within it. I suggest that these stories and laws were a figurative lesson for us. The Wilderness Tabernacle, the First Temple (Solomon’s Temple), and the Second Temple, were “types” of our bodies. Consider Paul’s writings about being the temple of the Holy Spirit to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) and compare them to the story of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1-30). How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? The whole story is exemplary and didactic. It gives us for all times God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin. We are to present our bodies as holy, acceptable unto God.   

Reasonable Sacrifice

Solomon built and dedicated the temple to God. It had one primary purpose in Israel; to be a place where the people could encounter God and offer up sacrifices to Him (temple cultus). Over 120,000 burnt sacrifices were inspected for purity and acceptability, and then offered on the day of dedication. Solomon understood that until the altar was full of a holy and acceptable sacrifice, the Fire of God would not fall and the dedication would be incomplete. To some, it may have seemed very reckless to bring, as it were, a river of blood upon such a beautiful place; however, to Solomon, it was only reasonable to make such an offering to God in light of the mercy He had shown. When the altar was full and Solomon prayed — the Fire of God fell. This dedication was a ” picture ” of Acts 2 and the Day of Pentecost. It is also an ongoing picture of New Testament life.  As the old hymn puts it:

But we never can prove the delights of His love 

Until all on the altar we lay. 
For the favor He shows and the joy He bestows 
Are for them who will trust and obey 

Jesus came to send Fire on the earth and He would do so by baptizing His people with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. Men and women’s bodies would become temples of the Holy Spirit; while at the same time becoming living sacrifices unto the Lord. 




A Living Burnt Offering

Romans 12:1 is the beginning of all evangelistic efforts. Paul, having explained the reality of what God has done in bringing salvation and reconciliation to man, says, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God…” He ten makes the statement which is your reasonable service. The phrase “reasonable service” is the Greek logiken latraien and means “to be in harmony with the highest reason.” We get our word logic from logike meaning “the art of reason.” It could be translated “rational.” Thinking of all that God has done; “therefore” present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your logical (the consequence of rational thinking and attitudes) service. In other words, to hear the Gospel and not respond in this way would be irrational

Summary


We are to present ourselves to our Great High Priest for inspection and acceptance that He might baptize us in the Fire of God. From there we go on presenting and the Fire continues to burn. Our life becomes a sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of God. Is this not to be preferred to Revelation 14:11? This is our reasonable worship. It’s the only response that makes sense in light of all that God has done. It is what God wants first and foremost. Without this process little else matters. It all begins here with a recognition of what God has done in Christ, and our responding reasonably to what we realize. Our lives are to be a perpetual living burnt offering for Him. Again, it is the only thing that makes sense.

I AM COME TO SEND FIRE

I AM COME TO SEND FIRE
Robert Wurtz II

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11)


In our previous study entitled, THE THRONE IN THE MIDST we discussed the symbolism of the Ark of the Covenant. We stated that the Ark was a symbol of the presence of God; but more pointedly it represented the very throne of God. When the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies they were figuratively walking into the throne room of God. The Jews will sometimes say that the High Priest had a sense that he was ascending up to God as he walked forward. In other words, He was ascending up to God’s throne room where his will is carried out in an absolute sense. The Tabernacle was like a ladder reaching up into Heaven. 

Israel was a theocracy wherein the priests were to communicate God’s will to the people. They were called to be a kingdom under God’s authority. YHWH (Jehovah) was the King and He ruled from the Mercy Seat in the Holiest of All. It was not until Israel had backslidden far from God that He would accept their request for a “king”, so they could live like the rest of the nations. The sobering response of God is recorded in 1 Samuel 8:7f; And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” They wanted a king that would fight their battles and in whom they could place their trust. This is why God wanted a king after His own heart. He still wanted to rule the people, but He would have to do this through a man. You will note that from this point forward Israel will have her ups and downs; but the trajectory of the nation was downward until finally they were led into captivity. Some kings hearkened to God and others did not. The king over the people was “the Lord’s anointed”. The people were warned not to “touch this king”. Today the Lord’s Anointed is Jesus Christ. He is the King over His people the Church. Man may call themselves, “the Lord’s anointed” and expect to speak for Him and be protected as Him, but there is only one king among God’s people; that king is Christ.

Why the Fire went out

Eli’s sons made the cardinal error of thinking that the Ark of God could be used in some superstitious way to scare the enemy or bring good luck in the battle. Imagine a group of infidels trying to carry the Ark into battle. The Ark of God represents God’s authority. When that authority is being abused and the people are living in rife disobedience, God had already said that He will not drive their enemies out (Judges 2:2-3). They should have known this. They were living in compromise and sin and trying to operate in the supernatural. Keep this fact in mind. Priests are called to be wholly sanctified unto the Lord. To whom much is given, much is required. Otherwise, the enemy will have a platform to use a compromiser to influence His people. They may not even know it is happening. Eli’s sons should have recused themselves knowing they were living in sin. They did not. How could they have not viewed everything they thought they heard from God with suspicion, knowing they were living in disobedience? But, they kept on ministering in this pivotal role. This is a very dangerous situation.   

Eli’s sons were trusted with being obedient to God’s precepts and order while doing service inside the Tabernacle, where none of the people could come and see. If they decided not to keep the charge, that is to say, to carry out their responsibility to change out the shewbread daily or if they only lit one instead of all seven of the lamps on the lamp stand, the only ones that would know would be them and God. These things were all symbolic of true realities that would one day exist in the churches of God. The bread was “The bread of the presence” (לחם הפנים lechem haPānīm). It symbolized the fact that priests are to labor together with God daily, to set before the Lord and the people the fresh bread of God’s word. Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. It is the job of the priests to be the living link between God and man. They were to receive from the Lord directives that He had for the people. This is how He ruled. But Eli’s sons did whatever they wanted to. The people were trusting them to be obeying God in the secret place, but they refused to keep the charge. The results? The Fire of God went out, the Ark was lost and Eli and his sons were dead.



Regaining the Fire    

Nothing can be done in the service of God without the Fire of God. You can’t just strike a match, that would be strange fire (common fire). The only way the Fire of God could return was for the AUTHORITY of God to return. The people, beginning with the High Priest and the Levites, had to get their houses in order. They had to repent and determine to come under God’s authority in an absolute sense) and keep His charge. To initiate this process David sent for the Ark to be brought up to the city. They brought it in on a new cart (the machinery of man’s devices). The Philistines had the Ark sent back on a new cart and the people continued with it. The Ark was as an empty throne. It belonged to God, but He had departed from it because of Israel’s sin. As the throne was returning back in Israel, God was drawing near to it again and preparing to exercise His authority. Uzzah was killed as a first sign that God was coming back to rule and things would not be as they were before. 

The lesson here is that God’s presence, authority, glory and Fire cannot be mechanized by men. In Africa witch doctors use drum beats to drum up spirits. God cannot be ushered in this way. It has to come about as the result of the priests carrying the burden of God’s directive leading. When the Egyptians carried Pharaoh on their shoulders, Pharaoh was giving the commands that set the direction for the processions. Likewise, the priests (the sons of God) are to hearken to the voice of God as He leads them (and subsequently this present evil world) in the direction He wants them to go. The churches of God should be filled with a Royal Priesthood that follows God in such a way that the world can have a sense of God’s direction. Man cannot manufacture this with his equipment. 

When Uzzah reached up to steady the Ark He was touching God’s throne. Think about the awesomeness of that. He put His hand to God’s prerogative. They were manufacturing the process of moving God around as if He could be drug around on a trailer any ole’ way by man’s whims. “We’ll just drag God along with us where ever we want Him to go.” God forbid! He became an accessory to what the people wanted to do. They wanted a song, dance and a shout, but were not willing to do things God’s way. This whole story is exemplary and we do well to give heed. David got very angry because Uzzah was killed (2 Samuel 6:8). In the next verse he feared the Lord. It was a serious attitude adjustment. Likewise, people today get very angry when they are told that God cannot be ushered in with man’s machinery; the same machinery used by the world to drum up demon spirits or work up a crowd in a concert. It is a new cart. God simply cannot be trailered around like that. People try it, but it always ends up in something false; sooner or later. 

If you think about it, what David had done was little different than what Eli’s sons had done, though it was well intended. They were dragging God around where they wanted Him to be, not bothering to inquire as to the right way. A whole generation was in place that had no idea the way it was supposed to be done. So, they get angry when they are challenged. They believed they were right and had God not slew a man they probably would have never put the Ark back on the shoulders of the priests. They would have always transported the Ark on the new cart. Someone may have jumped in front of the procession and said, “Stop! this is all wrong! This is not the way it is supposed to be done!” And rather than listen, they would have viewed the man as an obstructionist and a bad spirit. Some may have went as far as to discern he had a demon spirit. So God had to kill a man. As sad as it is that is probably the greatest lesson of all in the story. The people were so hard headed in thinking they were right that God had to strike a man dead to sober their minds. David got hostile at first, but then he feared the Lord. Maybe it will have to happen in our times?

The Danger of the New (novel)

The Philistines provided Israel with a ‘new’ (novel) way of handling the Ark. But decades of passing time did not change God’s instructions as to how things are to be done. In modern times the ‘Philistines’ do the same thing and few people even notice it. The world offers the churches of God a means of carrying God’s authority with a worldly means. I say authority because God’s Shekinah presence and His Fire would not be manifest until the Temple was completed and Solomon had dedicated it. Keep this clear. We are talking about God’s Throne and how it is being carried. When man reaches up and touches God’s authority in a person’s life, as they wrongly attempt to lead them along with the machinery of this world, they are committing a sin that is worthy of death (please read that sentence a second time). This is God’s prerogative authority in a person’s life and people are not to be manipulated on that deep level. This is God’s domain, not man’s. The danger we have in this evil generation is that men would manufacture a sense of God’s presence and then start touching the Ark in peoples lives by purporting to be speaking to them prophetically to direct their decisions. God never works this way. He always deals with the person Himself; any other word they may be given of Him by other individuals will simply be to confirm what God has already said to them. Keep that clear. 

Forcing God’s hand

A lot of messages have been preached over the years on “touching the Ark.” They are a dime a dozen. The problem is that the messages are obscure and in the abstract and have no real meaning. They never really touch upon the real issues. For example; people are told that God is calling them to the Mission field and God has not really spoken. A story is commonly told of a man that was called to one country and his wife to another country by the same prophet! It is madness. God does not call people this way. He speaks to them in the secret place of the sanctuary of their own heart where only He is in authority. To intrude into this place is to touch the throne in their life. To do so could destroy the person and bring upon the offender a remedial judgment of God like unto what Uzzah received. Over the last 20 years I have known on more than one occasion for a person to be given a so-called “word from the Lord” in an attempt to steer them out of an intimate relationship. It usually goes something like this, “thus says the Lord, that person you are dating is not for you.” Putting words in God’s mouth, for any reason, is a serious offense. Some people think they know God’s will for other peoples lives and it is the epitome of pride and arrogance. They are so sure that they will do a “thus saith the Lord…” when God is not saying anything. I have seen this type thing destroy people. God’s hand cannot be forced in this way. They who practice such things are in desperate need of repentance. 

Long term consequences 

About 20 years ago I had a front row seat to a terrible situation where the Ark was touched” in a man and woman’s life. Early one year there was a move of God and a great excitement. This sometimes gives rise to a host of people wanting to “prophesy” and “give folks a word” (as if prophesying were a normal thing to do). A family had been struggling, so an individual gave the wife a word that she needed to pray for her husband. Upon hearing this the wife became distraught. It happens that she had been praying and interceding for her husband on a daily basis for some time. After the meeting the family went to the man and asked what was meant. He simply replied to the effect, “I’m sorry. I’m new at this.” It was evidence of the error of giving people directive instructions as if it is God speaking. Later in the year a popular TV evangelist came to town that this family attended. During the offering he gave a general word to the effect that God will multiply your offering if you will be obedient. This family gave a certain amount and waited. They were struggling financially and rested hope on the evangelists words. When they returned home from the meeting their car had been broken into and thieves stole several hundred dollars in merchandise. The “multiplied blessing” word never came to pass either. Not surprisingly, every person in this story suffered long term. The family viewed the evangelist as a false prophet from then on. The evangelist some years later was caught in scandal. The other person left the ministry. Solution? Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:3) Our Hebrew word for “foolish” here is nabal that means “to wilt”. It’s the sons of Sceva all over again with a different twist. They had the bizarre notion that they could move in the power of God, speaking for God, not realizing that what they were doing was a solemn business. They follow their own spirit and not the Holy Spirit. That is, they rely on their own reasoning to speak for God. They have knowledge of a situation and pretty soon a concoction of words comes into their mind and they speak it with a “thus saith the Lord” in front. it is a prophet with a recklessness of the sons of Eli; they went running into battle with God’s authority. God’s authority and glory departed.

The Ark in Place      

When God is ruling within man as He desires to, it is akin to the Ark being moved into the Holy of Holies. The High Priest alone was allowed in this place (Hebrews 9:7). Our Great High Priest is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14). It is up to the individual to have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to them. Once the temple (person) is cleansed by the Blood of Christ and God’s authority is established (the Great High Priest is living within); then the person is a candidate for the Fire and Glory of God. Solomon dedicated the Temple by bringing a tremendous sacrifice. The people sang and the glory filled the house; having totally filled the altar he prayed and the Fire fell. It was this very Fire that the priests were to use, under the guidance of the High Priest to do the service of God. So far we have learned two great things: 1. We must have the Fire of God to do His service 2. God alone has the prerogative to lead a person in His perfect will. Disobedience in either area has shown to result inn God’s remedial judgment, both with Nadab and Abihu and later Uzzah. 

Replacing the Fire

We cannot with our machinery drum something up; God has to send something down. This is utterly important. We cannot manufacture a move of God; He has to come in His very presence. Not in a feeling, but in a life altering presence that transports a person from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of His dear Son. When we fill the altar God will send the Fire. This is what Romans 12:1ff is about. 

Losing the Ark


Obviously by the time of Jesus this Fire had gone out and the Ark was gone again. The priests must have tossed the blood on the floor behind the veil in Herod’s Temple and performed the services with common fire. What a reckless mess. God was not there. God was in Christ. For He said, destroy this Temple (speaking of His own body) and I will raise it again in 3 days. He called the place the Father’s house and His house (Matthew 21:13John 2:16), but at last He revealed to them that it was ‘their house’ that had been left unto them desolate. (Luke 13:35) Why? No Fire. No Ark. God’s authority was gone. No way to do the service of God and no desire to have it. When the Fire came in Christ; they didn’t want it or Him. They and no desire to burn for God or to be temples of the Living God. (See Isaiah 66:1ff) They wanted to keep God under control in the temples made with hands. They wanted to lead Him around on a cart and dictate in peoples lives. Today the Rabbi’s usurp God’s authority in the lives of the people. They reserve the right to give the people direction in the place of God. For almost 2000 years they have had their hands on the Ark. 

Keeping the charge   

And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also [set they in order] upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. (2 Chronicles 13:11)

It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the authority and Fire of God. How can priests unto God do the service of God unless they are under His authority. When a priest got under the stave to lift the ark they were coming under God’s authority. How could they see clearly with no Fire? Yet substitutes are put in place that spread death and wreak of unconsumed flesh. Jesus said, I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49We are responsible to keep the Fire stoked in our lives as surely as were the Levites. We are to keep presenting ourselves to God holy and acceptable. What is acceptable? Simply put- And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:32) Do you have a desire to obey God? Do you want God to rule and reign in you? Have you filled the altar? Those that have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire- is the Fire still burning? Are you keeping the charge as did Abijah and his priests? This was the basis on which Abijah knew he would win the battle. “If you keep the charge of God you will be the devil’s master.” (GWN) 


Popularity and Priesthood

Popularity and Priesthood
Robert Wurtz II

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)


I wish to focus in this entry on a seldom discussed aspect our our Christian lives and it is that of acceptability with God. Peter understands, just as Paul understood, that offerings of any kind must be acceptable with God (Romans 12:1ff, 15:16, etc.). Peter is concerned that as a holy priesthood, we would offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable with God by Jesus Christ. This points our attention again to the relationship between the Old Testament priesthood and New Testament church life. Understand that the Old Testament is an account of God’s dealings with man and His systematic movement closer and closer to man through the nation of Israel. Once Adam was put out of the Garden of Eden and from the presence of the Lord, God was working on moving His way into man. 


If God is going to eventually live in man then man will need to understand that God is holy and He is to be utterly reverenced and obeyed. This meant that God would have to teach man His ways through revelation, both by precept and by demonstration. Man had to learn about the God that was approaching. He is not like other gods that accept any ole thing, He is a holy God that is to be served with absolute obedience. When God was upon the holy mount the people witnessed an awesome and fearful sight, but this was necessary in order for them to comprehend the God that was near. They witnessed the God that judges sin. The wisdom of this theophanic demonstration is understood in our times, as the masses speak of God as if He were their elderly grandfather that lets the grandkids do as they will. Many have no comprehension of what they are saying when they speak of God being their judge. It is reflected in their flippant attitude towards sin. God revealed Himself to Israel in a way that sobered the peoples mind about sin and judgment. 

The Levitical Example



God met Moses at the burning bush and set Israel on a path of having God be their God. This was an awesome privilege and responsibility. This means He would rule as King in their midst as He rules in Heaven. This is the subject of our Lord’s prayer; thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as is it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). Kingdom implies the King and His ruling authority. In God’s Kingdom there is a willful submission and desire to fulfill the will of the King. The elect angels obey His voice willingly; the others are rebellious and obey by constraint. In time there will be a separation and the rebellious angels will be cast into Hell that has been prepared for them. As God’s Kingdom came near to Israel they had to obey the voice of God in a way characteristic of the Kingdom of God. 

Covenant and the Kingdom



The relationship was governed by a covenant. There were terms of an agreement for fellowship. This covenant had to be serviced to deal with the people’s disobedience. This is what the offering of sacrifices for sins was about. The blood of bulls and goats was a picture of the blood of Christ. The priests, and especially the high priest were the closest people to God as they performed their service in the Tabernacle. The high priest alone was allowed to go into the most Holy Place once per year to do service to God. He was supposed to be the supreme picture of obedience to the will of God. Aaron failed grossly in this area while Moses was on the mount. Many high priest’s tried their hand at attaining God’s ideal for this role, but only Jesus Christ came to do God’s will in a way that rightly represents members in the Kingdom of God. He loved righteousness and hated iniquity and as a consequence was anointed above all other priests (Hebrews 1:9). 


Of all places on the face of the earth, the Wilderness Tabernacle had to function virtually like Heaven itself. The Tabernacle was God’s mobile palace with the most holy place being (as it were) the Throne Room of God. The Ark of the Covenant represented His seat of authority. When that authority was challenged in disobedience blood had to be sprinkled on it as a propitiation for the offense. This removed the offense, or as some have said ‘pushed it back’ until Christ offered His own blood in the True Tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1ff). Inside this building, that was modeled after the pattern of Heaven shown to Moses on the holy mount, God was to be King in the absolute sense. This was not the place for the funny-business that accompanied the service of God in Israel’s later years. In fact, things had gotten so flippant by the time we get to Isaiah that God had to give the prophet, as He did Moses, a first-hand look at what the true Throne Room in Heaven was like just so he could recognize the God he was dealing with. We read this in Isaiah 6. This was a revelation to Isaiah that utterly transformed his life and prepared him to be the great Prophet that he became.

Bad Examples



The priests were to be a Kingdom example to the people to sanctify the Lord in their eyes. This sounds like an odd concept perhaps, but God wanted the people He created to reverence Him as their Creator and to view Him in the way the elect angels view Him. Understand that the elect angels obey God’s every word. Even the demons believe and tremble, we are told. So how ought man to view his Creator that is lesser than the angels in power and might? God wanted Moses and Aaron and their associates (the Levites) to put on a life demonstration. They were called to be a revelation of the Kingdom of God. This is why when Moses was dying God said to him, For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that [is] the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. (Numbers 27:14) Moses was a great man of God like few others, but he was expected to obey the voice of God to the letter. This is perfection and God expects it. By Moses’ disobedience he left the people with the notion that they could disobey God under certain conditions. At a critical moment he had been a bad example and God cannot tolerate it. The time would fail to tell of Nadab and Abihu or Eli and his wicked sons derelict example. They were terrible examples of obeying the voice of God and how they ought to conduct themselves when dealing with God. What happened? Nadab and Abihu were burned to death with the Fire of God when they offered common fire to God and Aaron was not allowed to mourn their death (even though they were his sons). Many years later God Judged Eli and his sons and terminated the priestly designation in Eli’s family. This is what happens when men are called to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people and they refuse to do it.

Presumptuous Sins



The psalmist makes an interesting plea to God in Psalm 19:13, Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Our word for ‘presumptuous’ is typically translated as ‘proud’. Pride is the condemnation of the Devil. It is what brought him down and is the cause of God resisting any man. The psalmist apparently did not want to behave towards God in a proud and presumptuous way. He was not an innovator, he wanted to know the counsel of God so that he could perform it. The proud presumptuous man is moving in his own self-will and innovating as he sees fit. How could this ever sanctify the Lord in the eyes of this evil rebellious world? The Old Testament is loaded with story after story of the benefits of seeking God’s will and obeying it. This could be summed up in the life of a king in Israel that had a terrible fall; And he (Uzziah) sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper (2 Chronicles 26:5 emphasis added). However, when he got proud he attempted as a king to enter into the Temple and offer up to God as if he were a priest. This presumptive act resulted in him being immediately smitten with leprosy (an O.T. symbol of sin) and he died a leper. This set the stage for the events I mentioned earlier when Isaiah saw a revelation of God’s Throne Room. Note the beginning of the text, In the year king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord…” (Isaiah 6:1ff) God had to correct the presumption and restore reverence for Himself through Isaiah that was enabled through this revelation to rightly sanctify the Lord before the eyes of the people. 

Kingdom of Priests

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6)   

God always wanted a kingdom of priests. This is a kingdom of obedient ones. This is what Israel was supposed to be. Yet in order to be this we have to have a right disposition towards God. We have to have been born again in true regeneration. The ‘washing of regeneration’ in Titus 3:5 is laver of regeneration in the Greek, the place where the priests washed themselves before going into the presence of God. No one can be a member of the Kingdom that has not been regenerated. Jesus offered Himself as the Lamb of God and in resurrection became our Great High Priest. We offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1ff) and in regeneration, with the coming of the Spirit and Fire, we are enabled to be priests unto God. We are changed and equipped for the service of God. This is why Peter could say, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5) But as in Israel, so also today men refuse to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people and be a representation of the Kingdom of God on the earth. They want to identify themselves in their own personality. They move in a presumption that disqualifies them. What is worse is that they refuse correction.    

Pyrophobic Christianity

Pyrophobic Christianity
Robert Wurtz II
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God (2 Chronicles 5:13).
Here Solomon is dedicating the Temple after it had been newly built and the Ark had been recovered and placed in the Holy of Holies. You will notice that their first response to God was to give thanks for His mercy in returning to the people with His authority and presence. They didn’t deserve God- they deserved abandonment. Eli the High Priest had failed to keep his sons in order and between his apathy and their whoredoms and wickedness they led the children of Israel into a path of destruction. The sons took the Ark into battle and lost it. This is the backdrop of these events. At Pentecost Jesus Christ became our Great High and it will be His objective to ‘keep His sons in order’ so that the authority of God is never lost from the churches.  


In another place it is stated that they spoke as one as the Ark of the Covenant came in. They sang and shouted with lifted up voices in such a way that God saw fit to fill the house with His glory. This was the initial step. The people utterly recognized God’s mercy and desire for reconciliation and they responded to Him in tremendous excitement and thanksgiving. The LORD, then being well pleased, FILLED the house with His glory. So great was the glory of God that the priests were not able to stand to minister. God believed the people as they praised and offered thanksgiving and He responded by filling the house with His glory. This is a foretaste of Pentecost as we read about in Acts chapter 2. 
Holy and Acceptable
…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,
Romans 12:1ff is a turning point in Paul’s explaination of salvation. We are brought fase to face with another priestly aspect of our experience. We are to present our bodies unto our Great High Priest. Here we have ‘holy, acceptable…’ This again, is the language of priesthood. Understand that we cannot offer our bodies as an offering for sin. God the Father in offering His Son Jesus Christ has already paid that price. Our holy offering is an act of worship and service. You will know that we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is holy and we must be holy. We have in Paul’s theology a figure of our bodies being both the temple of the Holy Spirit and a living sacrifice.
Under the Old Covenant sacrificial system, it was the responsibility of the High Priest to examine the sacrifice for blemishes, etc. God is perfect and is looking for perfection. This is what Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest does under the New Covenant. He examines our individual lives for things that offend God. This is what the old-timers called, ‘controversies’ with God. These controversies are made known to us by the Holy Spirit as He puts His hand on areas of our lives that need repentance. You will recall the rich young ruler coming to Jesus and how Jesus told him that he lacked one thing, to go and sell all that he had. God put His hand on the controversy between Him and the rich young ruler. It was his possessions. They were his god. Jesus continues in this same role in our lives from the moment we come to Him for salvation until we leave this earth. We are continually subject to His priestly inspection for blemishes or spots that need addressing in order that we might be holy and without blame before Him in love. He prepares us to offer ourselves unto God holy and acceptable.
Details in the Service of God
A cursory read of the Old Covenant reveals tremendous numbers of laws and directives that govern the service of God. There was no room for man’s innovations and novel ideas. God is utterly holy and utterly sovereign. Everything associated with the service of God has to be dealt with on God’s terms. This is a very important thing to grasp, as the concept is foreign to us in the 21st century. Today there is an almost ‘make it up on the fly and offer it to God’ type of attitude. People want to mix all kinds of worldly things into the service of God not knowing that God spent the entire Old Testament warning Israel not to do such things. Many do not read their Bible or even consider it authoritative. In many ways we have lost the sense of holy and sacred. Yet, the Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the holy temple of God and the artifacts within it. The service of God was serious business. If a person were to touch the Ark of the Covenant they could be smitten dead, for example. Offering strange fire could result in being burned to death by the Fire of God. Has God changed His mind about these things? We should ask, were these things written for Israel’s sake alone or where they not all together a figurative lesson for us that would experience the habitation of God by the Spirit? All those things were merely a figure of the truth. We that are baptized in the Holy Spirit have the reality of what they longed for. We are holy and are serving a holy God. The world has never appreciated this nor has the mixed-multitude type that always had one foot in Israel and the other in Egypt or Babylon. Yet, what can we learn about Belshazzar’s treatment of the holy vessels that we read about in Daniel’s writings? How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? He told him that he was weighed in the balance and found wanting.  The whole story is exemplary. It reveals God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin. Is there any wonder Paul spoke so strongly about fornication? From the Nadab and Abihu types to the profaners like unto Babylon, this generation needs a crash course in the holiness of God. He will not dwell with people that don’t reverence Him and are not willing to serve Him in ways He has prescribed.
Reasonable Sacrifice
Solomon built and dedicated the Temple to God. It had one primary purpose in Israel; to be a place where the people could encounter God and offer up sacrifices to Him (temple cultus). Here the Old Covenant was serviced to keep the agreement in play when it had been broken. When Solomon originally dedicated it there were over 120,000 burnt sacrifices inspected for purity and acceptability and then offered. Solomon understood that until the altar was full with a holy and acceptable sacrifice, the Fire of God would not fall and the dedication would be incomplete. When the Fire finally fell the people knew that God had come. When the glory filled the Temple they knew he had manifest Himself. Was this important? It was to the ones that truly loved God. Moses already told of how empty it would be to exist as God’s people without God being present. To some it may have seemed very reckless for Solomon to order the people and the priests to bring a river of blood upon such a beautiful place; but to Solomon it was only reasonable to make such an offering to God in light of the mercy He had shown the people. This is a picture of how we should bring ourselves to God. When your friends and family complain that your sacrifice is too great, keep bringing yourself to Christ, holy and acceptable. It is your reasonable service.

Full = Fire!
When the altar was full and Solomon prayed- the Fire of God fell. This dedication was a ‘picture’ of New Testament life. Jesus came to send Fire on the earth and He would do so by baptizing His people with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. This is what John the Baptist told the people. For the first disciples at Ephesus, as today, it is the often neglected aspect of John the Baptist’s message. God’s will all along since before the foundation of the world was that men and women’s bodies would be temples of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t just want to dwell with man He wanted to dwell in man and He spent over 1000 years teaching man about Himself that we would be prepared for His ultimate will.
A Living Burnt Offering
Men and women that are on Fire for God are the ones most qualified to be sent into the world to win the lost. The prophet Jeremiah, that also prophesied the New Covenant, had a foretaste of this when he wrote, Then I said, I will not mention Him, nor speak in His name any more. But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with holding in, and I could not stop. (Jeremiah 20:9 MKJV) Therefore, Romans 12:1 is the beginning of all evangelistic efforts. Paul having explained the reality of what God has done in bringing salvation and reconciliation to man, says, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God…” Thinking of all that God has done; ‘therefore’ present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your logical (the consequence of his well reasoned arguments) worship. This presenting of ourselves to our Great High Priest for inspection and acceptance that He might baptize us in the Fire of the Spirit is our reasonable worship. It’s the only response that makes sense in light of all that God has done. It is what God wants first and foremost. Without this process little else matters. It all begins here with a recognition of what God has done in Christ, and our responding reasonably to what we realize. Our lives are to be a perpetual living burnt offering for Him. It is the only thing that makes sense. 
The Fire of God
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matthew 3:11).
It is unfortunate that so many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. In fact, this is no new situation; for Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) The context reveals that this Fire was going to cause great division in the earth; between those that want the Fire and those that do not (Luke 12:50-52). This is of the greatest importance. To speak of Christianity without speaking of Fire is like speaking of swimming without water. Nevertheless, the Fire of God continues to be a most unpopular subject. Speak on grace and a multitude will amen. Speak on hell and peradventure some in the crowd will amen. Speak on the Fire of God and the voices fall almost silent. Why? Because when the Fire comes, it will burn up everything in a person that is not of God and I dare say many wish to retain yet a measure of themselves even making excuses for their lack of godliness. They want to keep their options open. Many are caught up in sin and compromise, but refuse to come to God for help. As the old timers have said, the answer to our spiritual problems is almost always the Fire of God. A person on fire for God is not having trouble loving their neighbor or going to the sin dens. A person on Fire for God is not needing a phone call or an email to make sure they are assembling with the saints and walking with God. It’s because we have no Fire that we need a phone call in the first place. Folks want to offer God a spotted and lame living sacrifice of themselves and God is not accepting it. This is why there is no Fire in their life. For others there is a sort of holy pyro-phobia. They know when the true Fire comes, that the nonsense will have to go! God’s holy love burns all unholy loves for worldly things and sinful pleasures until we are utterly consumed with Him. But if there is something in us that refuses to let go of ungodly desires and controversies with Him, we will never know the Fire of God. We can’t fool God. And if we take that route we will need some plastic substitute such as emotionalism or soulishness with which to counterfeit the true Fire. The question we have to ask in these things is the question of Jesus, “Wilt thou be made whole?” If so, you will need the Fire of God. 

Burning for God
We are told in Hebrews 12:29 that God is a consuming Fire. He created creatures that are burning fires such as the Seraphim. We as human beings are consuming fires as well. This is why we burn at 98.6 degrees. Where does this energy come from? It originates with the burning fire of the Sun. Plants turn sunlight, nutrients and water into carbohydrates. We eat the carbohydrates. There is a furnace characteristic in man where the carbohydrates are burned in us as a source of energy. In summary, the energy you are using to read this text originated with the Sun. But there is also a spiritual side of man that serves as the driving force behind all that he/she does. God is a Fire and Satan is a fallen Burning One (Seraphim or Cherubim)[1]. Although by comparison he is almost nothing before the Lord, He used to walk up and down in the midst of the stones of Fire. Though merely a fallen angel, Satan is still a formidable energy source. His is the spirit that is not working in the children of disobedience.
So we know that God’s intelligent creations are all burning in some sense. The questions are, what are we burning with and what are we burning for? We are all living sacrifices for something or someone. If we are living for sin and Satan we are no different than the pagans of old that offered sacrifice to false gods or caused their children to walk through the fire to Molech.
Feeding the Fire
What is the energy source of the things we feed ourselves? Do they originate in God? If there were two fields yielding fruit with one having Christ as the light source and the other with Satan as the light source (darkness), which field should we partake of? Would we want to feed ourselves and the people we minister to something that did not have its source in God? The fields of Egypt were not like unto the fields of provision in the Promised Land. God wanted to be Israel’s source of provision and He wants to be the sole source of our provision. If we as ministers of the Gospel glean in the Egyptian fields as it were, we will edify men and women in carnality. If we get our crops from Heaven we will edify ourselves and others in true spirituality. This is the key to what fire burns in our lives. Adam Clarke comments on Matthew 3:11; “This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of it alone; therefore he is represented here under the similitude of fire, because he was to illuminate and invigorate (to give strength or energy) to the soul, penetrate every part, and assimilate the whole to the image of the God of glory.” 
Priesthood
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:5, 6).
The believers at Ephesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit and with Fire. This event made them into living stones in the Temple of the Living God as an assembly and as individuals (1 Corinthians 3:16). On that day the believers were made priests unto God. This is a staggering truth. It was God’s design from the beginning. The Old Testament priests used the Fire of God, not ‘strange’ or ‘common’ fire to do the service of God. We as a kingdom of priests unto God must also be burning with the Fire of God that we might rightly serve as a living link between god and this lost world. God had been working to this end all along. This is the jest of the message of Stephen in Acts 7:1ff. God does not desire to dwell in temples made with hands or church buildings; He desires to live in man. It is impossible to understand the Bible unless you realize this great truth. God wants to live in you. He wants to be who He is; a consuming Fire inside of you and me. He wants it to be said of us as it was of Christ, “For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” God wants to be in us reconciling the world unto Himself.  


[1] See Ezekiel 28:14. Root Hebrew word is seraph meaning to burn.

The Key to the Fire of God

The Key to the Fire of God

Robert Wurtz II

W
hen we truly understand what God has done in Christ we are awed. To think that God could have given up on this sin-sick world and yet had a plan of redemption from the beginning. It was a mystery that had been hid from before the world began. (Romans 16:25) Can we comprehend such things? Do we long to understand them that we might love God rightly so as to fully give ourselves to Him? Paul brings us to this great question in Romans 12:1.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1)
Romans 12:1 is the altar-call if you will of the book of Romans. Both passages remind us of what the old Bible teachers used to say; ‘when you see a therefore (wherefore) you need to stop and see what it is there for.’ The ‘therefore’ in  Romans 12:1 turns our attention to 11 chapters of salvation theology (soteriology). Paul has described the great work of salvation bringing sinners back into relationship with Himself by faith and setting them free from sin. This is line upon line and precept upon precept. He calls us to bring all of what he has said to that point before our minds for consideration. He then says, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.
An Imaginary Line
When I read the book of Romans there is an imaginary line splitting Romans 11:36 and Romans 12:1. I draw this line because I believe Paul draws this line. For eleven chapters he gives us the closest thing we have to a systematic theology. He probes the mysteries of the Gospel and sets before us soteriology. He transitions with a simple phrase, I beseech you therefore. It is a term that means ‘consequently.’ Therefore (Gk. oun) is an inferential participle that gathers up all the great argument of chapters 1-11 and places it before us. We have to reckon with it. What say you? It staggers the mind to consider the manifold wisdom of God. Now Paul turns to exhortation (parakalō), “I beseech you.”
I Beseech You
Our Greek word for beseech is Παρακαλῶ (parakalō) and it means to call alongside. Para is ‘side’ and kalo is ‘call’. It carries the idea of urging someone earnestly to do something. It could be translated ‘to beg.’ To give a sense of the strength of the word we have some examples of its use throughout the New Testament. Urgent appeals (parakalō) to Christ for healing are made in Matthew 8:5; 14:36; Mark 1:40; 5:23; 8:22. Paul “pleads with” (parakalō) God for the removal of his “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:8. Demons “beg” (parakalō) Christ to send them into a herd of swine in Matthew 8:31ff. In Acts 2:40 and 2 Corinthians 5:20, people are “urged” (parakalō) to be reconciled to God. 

Therefore by the Mercies of God
Paul has effectively came alongside us to beg, urge, beseech us by the mercies of God. That is to say, all that Paul described from chapter 1-11 was a clinic on God’s great mercy. Consider where we would be without grace. We would have no hope and would of all men be most miserable. Eternity without propitiation would be to face the wrath of God without mixture never-endingly. Consider the smoke of a sinners torment ascending up before God forever and ever. That’s what we deserved. This is not something we should accept and then wipe our mouths as if we have done no evil. The sheer magnitude of our crimes, heightened by the light that we have sinned in, aggravated by a life of resisting the Holy Spirit, would paralyze one with fear if they had any sense at all. Yet God has chosen to cast our sins behind His back- never to be remembered against us again. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…
The Language of Priesthood
Words and concepts in the Bible have powerful histories. When a word is used in the New Testament we often can benefit by going back and understanding how that word was used in the Old Testament, beginning with its first use. To understand Romans 12:1 we need to recognize that Paul is using the language of priesthood when he speaks of offering our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God. Solomon was the great king that built God a house (temple) where the priestly service could be performed in Judaea. Israel had sinned and lost the Ark of the Covenant in battle. It had been retrieved and brought back into the area by David the king. This event so excited David, that he danced before the Lord with all of his might. He wanted to build a house for the Lord, but God told him he could not because he was a man of blood. The project came to Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheeba. He built it on the mount of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite- where the angel had stayed his hand in slaying thousands after David numbered Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-18) This is instructive. God could have wiped Israel off the face of the earth and been justified in doing it; but God showed kindness and grace to Israel. David remembered the mercy of God as He could have slew everyone down to the last man, but stopped at Araunah’s threshing floor. David responded by buying the property with his own money. Araunah tried to give it for free to David. King David said, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.(1 Chrononicles 21:1ff) This event will be etched into Israel’s consciousness as a people so that when they think of this mount they will remember what took place. Here are two initial pictures; one of the mercy of God and the other a right response of a grateful heart; a burnt offering that ‘costs’ the full price. It can also be viewed as a picture of God’s separation (threshing) of wheat from chaff. When we consider this event we have to ask ourselves, what will I do with God’s mercy? How will I respond to grace? We have David as a pattern. All of these questions are here. This is the place where Solomon built the Temple. We will need to keep that in mind as we think of Romans 12:1. 
A Picture of a ‘Right’ Response to God
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13)
You will notice that their first response to God was to give thanks for His mercy in returning to the people with His authority and presence. They didn’t deserve God. They deserved abandonment. In another place it is stated that they spoke as one as the Ark of the Covenant came in. They sang and shouted with lifted up voices in such a way that God saw fit to fill the house with His glory. This was the initial step. The people utterly recognized God’s mercy and desire for reconciliation and they responded to Him in tremendous excitement and thanksgiving. The LORD, then being well pleased, FILLED the house with His glory. So great was the glory of God that the priests were not able to stand to minister. God believed the people as they praised and offered thanksgiving and He responded by filling the house with His glory.
Holy and Acceptable
…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,
Here we have ‘holy, acceptable…’ This, again, is the language of priesthood. Understand that we cannot offer our bodies as an offering for sin. God the Father in offering His Son Jesus Christ has already paid that price. Our holy offering is an act of worship and service. You will know that we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is holy and we must be holy. We have here in a figure our bodies being both the temple and the sacrifice. The High Priest would examine the sacrifice for blemishes, etc. Moreover, the Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the holy temple of God and the artifacts within it. We should ask, were these things written for Israel’s sake alone or where they not all together a figurative lesson for us, that would have the habitation of God by the Spirit? All those things were merely a figure of the truth. What can we learn about Belshazzar’s treatment of the holy vessels? How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? The whole story is exemplary. It reveals God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin. We are called to be holy.  

Reasonable Sacrifice
Solomon built and dedicated the Temple to God. It had one primary purpose in Israel; to be a place where the people could encounter God and offer up sacrifices to Him (temple cultus). Here the Old Covenant was serviced to keep that agreement in play when it had been broken. When Solomon originally dedicated it there were over 120,000 burnt sacrifices inspected for purity and acceptability and then offered. Solomon understood that until the altar was full of a holy and acceptable sacrifice the Fire of God would not fall and the dedication would be incomplete. After all, Moses already told of how empty it would be to exist as God’s people without God being present. To some it may have seemed very reckless to bring a river of blood upon such a beautiful place; but to Solomon it was only reasonable to make such an offering to God in light of the mercy He had shown the people. When the altar was full and Solomon prayed- the Fire of God fell. This dedication was a ‘picture’ of New Testament life. Jesus came to send Fire on the earth and He would do so by baptizing His people with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. Men and women’s bodies would become temples of the Holy Spirit. We will need to revisit this crucial facet of the Christian life in our next chapter.
A Living Burnt Offering
Romans 12:1 is the beginning of all evangelistic efforts. Paul having explained the reality of what God has done in bringing salvation and reconciliation to man, says, “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God…” Thinking of all that God has done; ‘therefore’ present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your logical (the consequence of his well reasoned arguments) worship. This presenting of ourselves to our Great High Priest for inspection and acceptance that He might baptize us in the Fire of the Spirit is our reasonable worship. It’s the only response that makes sense in light of all that God has done. It is what God wants first and foremost. Without this process little else matters. It all begins here with a recognition of what God has done in Christ, and our responding reasonably to what we realize. Our lives are to be a perpetual living burnt offering for Him. It is the only thing that makes sense. 
The Fire of God
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)
It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. In fact, this is no new situation; for Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) The context reveals that this Fire was going to cause great division in the earth; between those that want the Fire and those that do not (Luke 12:50-52). This is of the greatest importance. To speak of Christianity without speaking of Fire is like speaking of swimming without water. Nevertheless, the Fire of God continues to be a most unpopular subject. Speak on grace and a multitude will amen. Speak on hell and peradventure some in the crowd will amen. Speak on the fire of God and the voices fall almost silent. Why? Because when the Fire comes, it will burn up everything in a person that is not of God and I dare say many wish to retain yet a measure of themselves even making excuses for their lack of godliness. Many are caught up in sin and compromise, but refuse to come to God for help. As the old timers have said, the answer to our spiritual problems is almost always the Fire of God. A person on fire for God is not having trouble loving their neighbor or going to the sin dens. God’s holy love burns all of that out until we are consumed with Him. The question we have to ask in these things is the question of Jesus, “Wilt thou be made whole?” If so, you will need the Fire of God. 

Burning for God
We are told in Hebrews 12:29 that God is a consuming Fire. He created creatures that are burning fires such as the Seraphim. We as human beings are consuming fires. This is why we burn at 98.6 degrees. Where does this energy come from? It originates with the burning fire of the Sun. Plants turn this light, nutrients and water into carbohydrates. We eat the carbohydrates. There is a furnace characteristic in man where the carbohydrates are burned in us as a source of energy. The energy you are using to read this text originated with the Sun. But there is also a spiritual side of man that serves as the driving force behind all that he/she does. Adam Clarke comments on Matthew 3:11; “This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of it alone; therefore he is represented here under the similitude of fire, because he was to illuminate and invigorate (to give strength or energy) to the soul, penetrate every part, and assimilate the whole to the image of the God of glory.” 

Priesthood
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:5, 6)
The believers at Ephesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit and with Fire. This event made them into the Temple of the Living God as an assembly and as individuals (1 Corinthians 3:16). On that day the believers were made priests unto God. This is a staggering truth. It was God’s design from the beginning. He had been working to this end all along. This is the jest of the message of Stephen in Acts 7:1ff. God don’t desire to dwell in temples made with hands; He desires to live in man. It is impossible to understand the Bible unless you realize this great truth. God wants to live in you. He wants to be who He is; a consuming Fire insideof you and me. 
The burning bush and the burning man
When God got ready to reveal Himself to Moses He revealed Himself as an unconsuming fire; And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. (Exodus 3:2) He then revealed Himself as a consuming fire as in the case of Nadab, Abihu, Korah, Dathan and Abiram. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. (Deut 4:24.) God is a God of Fire. The picture of Fire as a symbol of the flesh-consuming presence of God is replete through the Old Testament. 
Fire on the altar
All of the services that were to be performed in the Wilderness Tabernacle and later the Temple were to be done with the FIRE of God. It was impossible to light the lampstand, burn incense, or offer burnt offerings unto the Lord without the Fire that God kindled and was continually kept. Without the Fire of God the Wilderness Tabernacle was an empty tent. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. (Leviticus 6:13)Fire was to be kept constantly burning upon the altar without going out, not in order that the heavenly fire, which proceeded from Jehovah when Aaron and his sons first entered upon the service of the altar after their consecration, and consumed the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, might never be extinguished (see at Lev. 9:24); but that the burnt-offering might never go out, because this was the divinely appointed symbol and visible sign of the uninterrupted worship of Jehovah, which the covenant nation could never suspend either day or night, without being unfaithful to its calling.” (Keil & D.)

Continually Burning
Indeed the priests were not allowed to let the heavenly Fire go out; this was common sense. But this is not specifically in view here. They could do nothing without the Fire of God. If that fire went out they could not strike a match, rub sticks together, or any other thing. God’s Fire was His sacred Fire. Leviticus 6:13 deals with the continual burnt offering of flesh unto God like unto Romans 12:1, 2. We are to be continually on Fire for God burning as a sweet smelling savor, as a consequence of our placing ourselves wholly, holy, and continually on the altar as a living sacrifice. “God will not dwell with people that will not burn upon the altar. He wants to live will the altar is.” (G.W. North) What use to God is a man or a woman that will not burn for Him? 
The God that answers by Fire
When Eli and his sons were derelict in the service of God they lost the Ark to the enemy. That Ark represented the throne or authority of God. The Fire obviously went out. David desired to build God a House, but to do so would require the Fire of God to fall from heaven to provide the priesthood with that essential element. They could not use a striker or a lighter. Nadab and Abihu learned the hard way that you don’t presumptuously offer God anything; especially false or common fire. Their death was God’s estimate of the behavior. It is shocking to me how today some move in such a cavalier attitude (dismissive attitude) towards something so serious. Without the Fire of God all that we do stinks and is useless to God.
You are dead without Fire
When our breath goes out, our body immediately starts to go cold. If the Fire of God goes out we become lukewarm and worth but to be vomited out of the mouth of Christ. Why? No burning. No Fire. If there is no Fire there is sin in our lives. God don’t answer your sacrifice with Fire. Why? because it is not holy and acceptable to Him. Solomon understood the altar. He brought so much flesh they needed an alternate location to house it all. It was an extreme sacrifice. Solomon knew the altar had to be FULL. It had to be holy and acceptable. When he prayed the Fire of God came down and reinstated the priesthood providing them with the means of doing their service again, FIRE.
No Fire
Obviously by the time of Jesus this Fire had gone out and the Ark was gone again. The priests must have tossed the blood on the floor behind the veil in Herod’s Temple and performed the services with common fire. God was not there. God was in Christ. For He said, destroy this Temple (speaking of His own body) and I will raise it again in 3 days. He called the place the Father’s house and His house (Matthew 21:13, John 2:16), but at last He revealed to them that it was ‘their house’ that had been left unto them desolate. (Luke 13:35) Why? No Fire. No Ark. No way to do the service of God and no desire to have Him. When the Fire came in Christ; they didn’t want it or Him. They had no desire to burn for God or to be temples of the Living God. They wanted to keep God under control in the temples made with hands. This is a constant temptation for anyone that has known the Lord; but God desires to live IN man and not in a building. Again, we will take this up in the next chapter.

Keeping the charge
And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also [set they in order] upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. (2 Chronicles 13:11)
It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the Fire of God. How can priests unto God do the service of God with no Fire? Jesus told Ephesus, Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5 ESV) What good is a lampstand if there is no fire? What good is a church that is not burning for God? The question becomes, ‘what do you and I burn for?’ What do we love in such a way that we are burning for it? Maybe it is a person? Everyone is burning for something or someone. In the churches of God we must be burning for Christ. Yet substitutes are put in place that spread death and wreak of unconsumed flesh. Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) We are responsible to keep the Fire stoked in our lives as surely as were the Levites. We are to keep presenting ourselves to God holy and acceptable. What is acceptable? Simply put- And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:32) Do you have a desire to obey God? Do you want God to rule and reign in you? Have you filled the altar? Those that have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire- is the Fire still burning? Are you keeping the charge as did Abijah and his priests? This was the basis on which Abijah knew he would win the battle. “If you keep the charge of God, that is to say, if you will burn for God you will be the devil’s master.” (GWN) 

The Curse of Firelessness
The greatest judgment that ever came to Israel was that the Fire of God went out. God withdrew His presence and they were eventually evicted from the land. When the lamp of the Lord goes out there is no way to keep the flesh in subjection- because the only way to walk upright in this fallen world is to keep on burning. The Seraphim burn, so must we. God is a consuming Fire- so are we. Are we content to allow this world to go on lamenting void of men and women of Fire- having never seen a true believer in the book of Acts sense? If the Fire be burning in us- we have confidence towards God. He must come. We must make ready. We must invite Him in an attitude of desire to obey. We have to present ourselves holy and acceptable. It is our reasonable service. If we sing to God with no Fire; it cannot be rightly said to be worship in Spirit. The incense does not rise to God unless there is Fire. Not the fire of hype and instrumentality. Not something worked up, but a Fire sent down from God. We must make ready. He has come to send Fire on the earth. Will we be the one? Will He be able to send us?