Industrialized Salvation (Understanding Decisionism, Easy-Believism, and Shallow Conversion)

Industrialized Salvation

Robert Wurtz II

And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 
But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” (Acts 8:18–24 NKJV)

Simon the Sorcerer is a New Testament example of how a person can profess to believe in Jesus Christ; submit to water baptism; demonstrate a desire for the Holy Spirit; and their heart still is not right towards God. 

The Greek word for “right” in this verse is translated “straight” in the John the Baptist narrative where he is said to “make His paths straight.” This is a way of saying, “get peoples’ heart right with God.” Simon had not yet gone through this process. He never repented of his sorcery or the underlying issues that drove him to want to be a sorcerer and manipulate people. 

In fact, Simon was bound up in wickedness and in a state of perishing. “Your money perish with you…” said Peter. Clearly he never repented in such a way that his heart became “right” with God and he exercised saving faith. Yet he is continuing in fellowship with others who had repented and truly believed. This is very sobering. He was going through the motions and had almost everyone fooled. But God is never fooled. Men may have failed to see his true heart condition, but God sees all peoples’ hearts and at all times. 

If man had the power to baptize with the Holy Spirit as easy as man can baptize another man in water — Simon would have went into the church and caused untold destruction. He was baptized in water and had made a profession of some kind, but he still was a wicked man in need of forgiveness and regeneration. This reveals for all times that we must never place too much emphasis on outward things. Man looks on the outward appearance of things, but God looks on the heart. 

Unlike in Peter’s time, in the 21st century a person can actually pass into the churches under the guise of having received the Holy Spirit when in fact they have not. Sound shocking? Consider that in many full-gospel circles a person is considered to have received the Spirit if they can move in the prophetic or perform miracles. In Classical Pentecostal circles “speaking in tongues” has been made the supreme evidence for Spirit baptism. Doctrinally, they will affirm that speaking in tongues is “the initial evidence;” however, over the last 100 years it has become the evidence on a practical level. If a person gives ecstatic speech they are said to have the Holy Ghost. Holy living and the fruit of the Spirit are marginalized if not secondary in many circles. Therefore, we are wide open to “Simon the Sorcerer” types in our day. Jesus said you will know them by their fruits not “spiritual gifts,” talents, education, etc.

Because this is a blog post I kindly refer you to my book Televangelicalism by Robert Wurtz II available on amazon in paperback and Kindle for an in depth look at this topic. However I will share some useful history for your consideration. In evangelical circles in the 1900s Evangelicalism went through a time when salvation basically became industrialized. People were being brought to Christ like cars rolling off an assembly line at the first Ford Motor plant. Moreover, people started being told they were “saved” for the first time. Prior to that nobody dared using that kind of language. It was believed that that salvation and assurance was God’s domain and few if any dared intrude into it. Sadly, telling a person they are saved is as normal today as anything. This was not the case prior to Billy Sunday. 

Prior to Sunday people were said to be Hopefully Converted. This means that their conversion was “hopeful” and suggested that the person go on seeking the Lord. Today, people are told they are “saved” and generally stop seeking the Lord in any real and meaningful way. God’s dealings with the person grind to a screeching halt. Why? They already have their ticket to heaven. Why go on seeking? There are few things more dangerous than telling a person they “are saved.”

Below is an image I captured in 2009 back when Google allowed searchers to analyze the distribution of words over time. The feature placed the relevant distribution data on a nice little chart and sorted it by year. Take a close look at the distribution of the words “hopefully converted.” You will see that in early 1900 that phrase stopped being used in publications almost completely — though there was a high amount of usage since the advent of mass publication in the early 1700s. We need to ask, how and why did this happen?


    


The Inquiry Room

The use of the inquiry room became so popular, that it became necessary to provide those who labored with the anxious sinners a guide on how to conduct themselves. In 1884 George Soltau (1847-1909) of England wrote a handbook on the subject entitled, Enquiry Room: Hints for dealing with the anxious. He moves first giving basic directions:

As a company of workers desiring to engage in the solemn and important work of dealing with the anxious in the enquiry room, we all are agreed at the very outset that the Holy Spirit alone can lead a sinner to the Savior; that each of us must look to Him for the right word, the fitting text, the wise counsel; and that we are to be but the mouthpieces through whom He will speak. Our constant attitude must be one of communion with God; our memories and minds must be well stored with Scripture, that we may be ready for the Master’s use. Before entering into the details of our subject, the following general suggestions will be found worthy of consideration:

1. Do not be too eager to lead a soul into peace. In Jeremiah 6:14, and 8:11, we find the words, “They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace; when there is no peace.’” It is not desirable to use the expression, “Have you found peace?” seeing that the anxious soul needs a Person, rather than a blessing.

2. Avoid the expression, “You have only to believe, to be saved,” until you have very fully stated and explained the facts and promises to be believed; and then point out that it is a person in whom the soul’s trust is to be placed, and not your statements about Him.

3. Always read your quotations from the Bible, turning to the passage; so that the Enquirer may be able to distinguish between your statements and the Word of God. The latter has an authority that your statements can never possess.

4. Avoid telling your own experience or that of others; as the Enquirer must lean on the Word of God, and not on any one’s experience of it.

5. Do not try to apply to the need of the Enquirer any text, the truth of which you have not yourself experienced.

6. Make it clear that at conversion the Lord Jesus claims possession and control of the entire being. Show that it is not merely the salvation of the soul that is needed, but also deliverance for mind and body from all the power of sin in every direction.

7. If an enquirer baffles you with difficult questions, hand such an one over at once to a more experienced Christian.

8. As far as possible converse only with persons of your own age or younger; of your own sex and walk in life.

9. Do not tell a person he is saved. Let the Holy Spirit be the witness in the heart of the believer, telling him that he is delivered from sin and its penalty. (end of quote)

George Soltau then gives directions as to the importance of making sure the anxious person recognizes their sinfulness. He continues:

An inexperienced worker, having a few favorite texts, would probably speak to each person in this way, “You must just believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses from all sin. You know He said, ‘Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.’ Cannot you believe that ‘Now is the accepted time,’ that ‘Now is the day of salvation’? ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.’ Just kneel down, and say from your heart, ‘Take me as I am’” We would not say that none of those thus addressed would get any blessing through such treatment: but what we ought to do is to – First ascertain the cause of this blindness; and lameness; and numbness, etc.; and then by God’s help apply the right remedy.

Our first questions then should be, “What brings you into the Enquiry Room?”

“What do you think you need?” The answer may be, “I want to be saved,” or “I want to become a Christian,” or “I don’t feel I am quite right,” or, “I think I ought to turn.” In none of these replies is there any very definite statement concerning sin, or any apparent consciousness of sin. Therefore the first thing to be arrived at is to convict deeply of sin. The Gospel is not designed primarily to make people happy, and give them peace; but to deliver them from sin, its presence, power, and penalty; and to bring them into communion with a Holy God. Sin is not an accident or a misfortune, but a disease. Active in its principle, permeating every fiber and tissue of mind and body; hideous and loathsome as a foul leprosy; abominable and irremediable; not to be dealt with piece-meal, but to be attacked at this root. All the restlessness of soul, the craving for excitement, the love of the world, the dislike of holy things, the reluctance to come forward for Christ, are the effect of sin dwelling in the heart. What, then, is the state of the heart of a sinner? (end of quote)
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We will not continue to quote from this book as the reader may acquire it free since it is now in the public domain. Nevertheless, I have shown the approach to leading an anxious sinner to Christ in an inquiry room type environment as late as 1884. This method was similar to D.L. Moody, Charles H. Spurgeon, and many others. According to the Religious Intelligencer, “The inquiry room was the place for the most heavy and successful labor, because here the attention could be fixed.” Indeed it is “heavy labor” working with God to lead souls to a genuine conversion experience in Christ. There is nothing haphazard or slapdash about it. These counselors pressed the anxious to make a decision for Christ, as had been being done for almost 100 years.



Decisionism in Infancy
 
Beginning with Finney, and later D.L. Moody, we experienced an up-tick of the notion that a person just needs to make a “decision” and a down-tick of the New Covenant necessity of being born again of the Holy Spirit. As I explain in Televangelicalism, in Finney’s case this is due in part to his lack of belief in Original Sin. If a person does not agree with the diagnosis — their remedy is sure to be off. Nevertheless, these changes in approach to salvation and New Birth happened so slowly over the course of time that they would have been almost imperceptible to anyone living in that day. However, they did not go fully unnoticed. Some theologians and preachers denounced the new measures and their effect on Christianity. 

What happens? New Measures serve as inflection points, but emphasis on regeneration (new birth) steadily dies out. The emphasis was shifting totally towards man and the minister. Indeed, there is a sense in which God does the work; the Word of God does the work; the minister does the work; and the anxious does the work. When this reality is forgotten the whole process is thwarted, and the result is often a spurious conversion.


Billy Sunday

Fast forward to the ministry of Billy Sunday. Most serious-minded evangelists knew that Billy Sunday’s methods produced spurious conversions. This led to the derisive term “Sunday Convert.” A fellow student at Wheaton College kidded Torrey Johnson, founder of Youth For Christ, “Got religion, have you? I suppose it’s the Billy Sunday type. It’ll last about six months.” What an awful comment, but it was all too true. People would go through Sunday’s scheme and “backslide” in about six months. This is exactly what Finney’s contemporaries feared, and now it came to pass. Although Finney was not the originator of the measures he was rebuked for using, he popularized them and brought them to the mainstream. He made them acceptable. Once something is made acceptable by a famous figure, it is almost impossible to stop it. Finney influenced Moody who influenced Chapman, who mentored Billy Sunday. Each minister compromised the measure more than the person who taught it to them. The compromises added up until Christianity went from a repent, believe and “wait and see” to “walk this trail and you’re saved.” In fairness to Finney, he knew it was impossible to fully know who was saved. Again, upon seeing fruits of repentance, verifiable faith, and seeing a compelling change of lifestyle—Finney would consider the person hopefully converted. Unlike Billy Sunday, he never allowed people to rest in any assurance that man could give.

The End of “Hopeful Conversion” Terminology

God and His Word doesn’t change; only the definition of what it meant to be “saved” slowly changed. By 1918, a newspaper headline reported:

“CONVERTS RUSHED TO GRASP HANDS OF BILLY SUNDAY.” According to the media, “Publicly acknowledging their belief in Jesus Christ as their savior, and expressing their repentance for sin, 425 men, women and children of all ages and types, surged down the sawdust trail to the platform at the tabernacle last night to grasp the hand of Billy Sunday and to be enrolled as professing Christians.

It is almost inconceivable that 100% of the people who went forward were considered “saved” because of this “singular act” and “supposed mindset.” Lost in the frenzy was the Biblical teaching of the sovereignty of God and the born-again experience. The terminology “hopeful conversion” was lost by the end of Billy Sunday’s career. Within a 39-year span, “hopeful conversions” were replaced with “x number of people got saved.”

Living With Regret (Charlie Peace)

Living With Regret
Robert Wurtz II

For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:17)

Our passage calls to remembrance the story of Jacob and Esau, twin brothers from the book of Genesis (beginnings). Though Esau was the oldest, he unconscionably sold the precious birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of soup. At the time he didn’t think much about what he had done. In fact, he figured on getting the birthright anyway as if he had never despised it by selling it. Not so. Jacob and his mother tricked Isaac into pronouncing the blessing on Jacob — while Esau was out in the field hunting. When he returned home he was horrified to discover that his father had irrevocably pronounced the precious birthright on his brother Jacob. Hebrews 12:17 reminds us of this event, telling us that for one morsel of food (one act of eating) Esau sold his birthright. As we still say today, “it was all over but the crying.” For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. 

There are some things that forgiveness cannot undo — that tears cannot reverse. Esau probably never thought about the long-term consequences of his actions. However, his attitude towards his birthright was merely a symptom of a systemic problem. He was a profane man according to Hebrews 12:16, the previous verse. This speaks to his character. He had a tendency to treat holy things as common. This is the meaning of profane — to trod under foot as commonplace. Not everything in life is commonplace. Some things should be regarded as holy and sacred. Esau traded a unique relationship with God for a single meal. Is there any wonder we read these solemn words, Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Romans 9:13b NKJV) Theologians will argue until eternity whether or not the full force of hate is implied in this verse. Nevertheless, one thing is certain; there was a time when Esau hated Jacob for what had happened and determined to kill him. He failed to understand that it was his own attitude towards his relationship with God that was the problem, not Jacob. 

Regret

A few years ago a video clip made the usual rounds on social media entitled, “Regret.” It was comprised of a couple scenes from the war movie Saving Private Ryan. In it the medic is seen sitting in a cold abandoned house with his comrades, sharing a heart-rending story about his youth. It happens that as a teen, his mother would come to his room to check on him and say “good night” or “just talk for a minute.” Rather than responding to her at the door he pretended to be asleep. She would quietly close the door and go on to bed. Now he was overseas fighting in a war wondering how he could have done that. The video changes scenes to a firefight in which this same young man has just been shot by a high-powered rifle in the abdomen. He, being the medic, tried to instruct the men on stopping the bleeding. All they could do is give him morphine. The video ends with this young man going out into eternity crying for his mother. 

It has been said that only a fool learns from his own mistakes when he/she could have learned from someone else’s. Although it is secular, the video titled “Regret” is a sobering reminder not to do foolish things that cannot be undone. Like Esau who trod under foot his relationship with God — at the time it didn’t seem like a “big deal.” Yet all she wanted was a little conversation with her beloved son. He was passing up a precious opportunity. In the end he found no place of repentance though he too sought it diligently with tears. There was simply no way to go back and say, “mom, I’m sorry.” The time for making mends is while there is hope — not after all hope is gone. If we play the fool, we will live with the consequences. 

Charlie Peace

Charlie Peace (1832-1879) was a notorious criminal in England many decades ago. He was a vile man who murdered a police officer and even his neighbor to take his wife. He burglarized homes and eventually fled as a fugitive with 100 pounds on his head. Finally, the police caught up with him. Sentencing him to be hanged he took his last meal and headed to the gallows. He was escorted on the death-walk by the prison chaplain, who was reading aloud from The Consolations of Religion about the fires of hell. Peace burst out “Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!” This was Peace’s last chance to make peace with God and yet he voided the opportunity. 



The broken glass motif, in some ways, has come to symbolize how desperate one can be trying to accomplish an important task. Walk on broken glass to save souls? Undoubtedly he would probably walk a million miles on broken glass if he could go back and reconsider the opportunity he had to be saved from his sin. It was all talk in the moment, but now he is living with eternal regret. There is no way he can go back and change his decision. While professing a willingness to trod England bare foot on broken glass he was trodding under foot his own soul’s salvation. This is what it is to be a profane person. 

What about now? What about us? Is there something we need to do right now while we have opportunity? Before we ever trade our “birthright” for a single meal; before we ever ignore our mother as she passes by our room; before we fill a sinner’s grave we can learn from these and a million other like stories and spare ourselves a lifetime or an eternity of regret.   

Regeneration or Reprobation (Revisited)

Regeneration or Reprobation (Revisited)
Gospel Hardened
Robert Wurtz II

The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed by the fire; the founder is smelting in vain: for the wicked are not drawn off. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them (Jeremiah 6:29-30).




There are many people in the world today that are in inconceivable danger. Rebellion has taken root until it has taken their mind. The same was true of the people in the time of Jeremiah. God had turned the temperature up in the lives of these Israelites until the bellows caught fire and burned up. This is an awful picture of people that refuse to turn to God no matter what He does to arrest their attention. C.S. Lewis used to say that “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Pain is a form of distress, and it comes in many forms. Matthew Henry once said that “God is never at a loss for a means of dealing with rebellious people; His quiver is always full.” 

No matter what God does, the rebellious refuse to repent and believe. It is a sad and vexing reality. God provides the necessities of life as an expression of His goodness, and yet sinners go on pretending He has done nothing at all. An attitude of “expectation” and “entitlement” enters in, along with a general ungrateful spirit, ripening the person for total destruction. They credit anything and everything for what they are or have, except the God that provided. What happens? God’s goodness is disregarded and scoffed at — so He has to turn the temperature up; that is to say, He has to bring greater pain and distress. Contrary to the health and wealth heresy gospel, God is not in the business of giving people good and comfortable lives; He is about saving souls. Did Jesus shed His blood so men and women could be comfortable? Obviously not. God wants sons and daughters. God wants people who will agree with what is right and surrender their lives to Him. 

Many people want Heaven, they just want a heaven after their own lusts. They don’t want God to be there. They blasphemously envision partying and all kinds of sinful acts going on there. Just attend a funeral of a lost sinner, and you will hear the comments of how the dead are enjoying a Jack Daniels or some other crazy notion. I have been to funerals where the deceased were given 4 aces in their hands or a pack of smokes in their pocket as if they were headed to some Las Vegas style poker match. Horrified as I was, this is the mentality of the reprobate. They have lost all sense of rationality and right and wrong. Having heard Gospel messages perhaps hundreds of times throughout their lives — they became Gospel hardened. Their faculties have become pickled, and I wonder whether God will ever grant them repentance. 

Many are simply unwilling to be saved; that is, they are unwilling to be saved on the terms upon which God will save them. Some so-called ministers understand this, so they modify the Gospel to make it more acceptable. Paul makes a staggering statement in Acts while speaking to a massive group of soon-to-be reprobates, Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Many ministers preach as if God is asking people if they would like to repent. This is not the case at all; God is commanding all men everywhere to repent. It is a direct order from God. You and I are commanded to repent. To ignore this command for one more second is to invite a greater level of reprobation and with it a growing doubt as to whether or not you will ever be saved. 

Ask sinners whether they are willing to be saved, and they almost universally and sincerely say “yes,” but they will only be saved upon their own terms. However, when the minister offers God’s terms for salvation, they make excuses. The only terms on which they can possibly be saved, they reject. As the rich young ruler, they go away sorrowful. I think about the hundreds of people that I have ministered to over the years that have turned away from Christ just like that rich young ruler. Some went away sorrowful, not having great possessions, but have little more than the shirt on their back. You do not have to be rich to become a reprobate, all you have to do is keep resisting God and rejecting the Gospel. 

I have seen perhaps thousands of people go forward to make commitments to serve God over the years, and yet they never followed through. Was it not an insult to God to make a false commitment? The only true reason that anyone is not a Christian, is that they are unwilling to repent, turn to Christ and obey the Gospel. Many have done this until they don’t even feel God anymore; they are reprobate. The bellows are burned up from fanning the flames of adversity in their life, and yet they have only hardened and became more evil. They have treasured up wrath against the day of judgment; they have trodden under foot the blood of Christ; they have traded almost nothing for their everlasting soul. Many keep telling themselves there is time, and that they will repent in the end. They are blinded even now and are being made into vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. Like Pharaoh, they are becoming increasingly bolder in their sinning. They don’t feel conviction or their conscience. The Holy Ghost has been grieved away, and their conscience is seared with a hot iron. With each passing second, they are hardening all the more- getting farther from God and the ark of safety. 

I look at young people that are now adults and tremble. People that have heard things that many prophets and great men desired to hear and did not hear them. God has poured out His Spirit to them and shown them many signs and wonders. Nevertheless, the rebellion and the reprobation goes on. The trouble is, I have been at the bedside of the rebellious as they we passing into eternity. Many people think they will come to God on their death bed, but I have watched the blank stares when you try to share the Gospel. I have been told of the terror that the person felt knowing in a short while they were about to face God; only to never see them alive again. They lived their whole lives rebelling against God and playing games — never getting serious about their soul. Now they are in their grave. I have watched many at the end of their life struggle to receive the grace of the Gospel. Years of running and rebelling had finally caught up. 

Of the funerals and memorial services, I have presided over, I often come back to the words of Solomon. He had it all. He had everything this world wants and in super abundance. He was drowning in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He called it all vanity. Nevertheless, he ended his thoughts with these words I would like to leave in this entry to those who are following a similar path;  Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; […] Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.    

Getting Right With God (Repentance and Faith)

Getting Right With God

Robert Wurtz II

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 NKJV)

Our passage is a prophecy that is precious to all saints. Isaiah speaks of the Lord Jesus receiving the awesome punishment that each of us rightly deserves. The verse begins with the word “all” and ends with the word “all.” The word “everyone” is sandwiched in the middle to assure us that God means everyone without exception. 

First, the verse states, all we like sheep have gone astray. I’m reminded of a sheep that went lost several years back in New Zealand and was presumed dead. It made national headlines when it was found a longtime later with its wool so large and thick that it earned the name Shrek. In fact, it hid out in caves and dens until its coat weighed 60 lbs. However, Shrek is a very rare case. Most sheep who wonder off are living against the clock. It is only a matter of time before they meet an untimely death. 



Sheep are sometimes called the dumbest animals on earth. Although their I.Q. may be closer to cattle, some of their documented behaviors are so bad that they are legendary. In fact, they are not only vulnerable to predators, they have to be protected from their own risky actions. This is why they need either a shepherd or to be pinned up in a safe area. Once a sheep has gone astray there is little chance it will find its way back home. This is a picture of all people… We all, like sheep, have gone astray. We have “wandered off” from the safety of God and His precepts — whether we consciously know it or believe it. This is part of the analogy of the relationship between man and sheep. We generally see neither our own errors nor the danger those errors have put us in. 

The next part of the verse tells us; We have turned, everyone, to his own way.”  At first glance, the casual reader may respond, “Well, isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Are we not all supposed to do our own thing and live our own lives?” It seems correct to say, “Yes! Of course!” We are used to politicians and motivational speakers encouraging us to control our own destiny and achieve the American Dream. However, this is nothing more than the Devil’s self-centered philosophy. He pioneered the attitude of asserting his own corrupted will in place of God’s will. For that, he was banished from Heaven for all eternity. 

Modern western culture is about the greatness of the individual. People are made to desire stardom and wealth (fame and fortune). Nevertheless, the government of God is not a democracy, it is a kingdom. This is a radical departure from a democratic society. Seeing this tension, some people try a “hybrid” between kingdom and democracy, but it cannot work. When we breathe our last breath, everyone will realize that there is a kingdom where God rules absolutely. 

The Kingdom of God


All our lives we in the West have been used to having control of our destiny — as well as voice and vote within the government. However, this has never been the case, nor will it ever be the case within the Kingdom of God. Each one of us either is doing, or at one time did, what they wanted to do — to the exclusion of what God thought about it. In the kingdom of God the will of God is done 100% of the time. 

In the language of the time of the Judges we read, In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6, 21:5) This is the essence of all sin — me being in charge  of my own life doing what is right in my own eyes. Yet, this type of life nothing more than slavery to Sin. As Jesus said it in John 8:34; “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (NKJV) Everyone is going to serve someone or something. Nobody lives in a vacuum. The question is, what kingdom are you and I going to submit to? 

A lot is said about freedom in Christian circles. There are hundreds of books on freedom. Sermons on freedom. I recently performed a contemporary Gospel song query and found over 100 songs that contain the word “freedom.” Many people speak of freedom as the release of inhibitions in public worship. Others see it as being free from their past sin or past life and identity. Yet, freedom can be a deceptive concept. Understand that no one but God is truly “free.” The rest of us are slaves to someone else. The question is, who or what are we a slave to?

A Living Picture of Grace (Aphesis and Paresis)

A Living Picture of Grace
Robert Wurtz II

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. (1 Timothy 1:16-17)

It has been said that Paul was God’s representative of His long-suffering to a high-handed transgressor. Not that he had committed more sins than any other, but his sins were of a degree that placed him atop the list. If there had ever been a man who provoked God to wrath, it was Saul of Tarsus. In Galatians 1:13, Paul acknowledged God’s estimate of him in Acts 9:23 saying, “I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and wasted it.” 


This man was making a career out of persecuting the Church. Our verb tense shows continuous action; that is, He was relentlessly having people killed and compelling them to blaspheme Christ. Our word for “beyond measure” in Greek is huperbole, from which we get our word hyperbole. In other words, Saul moved in an exaggerated form of persecution. While in its infancy, he mercilessly attacked the Church and did everything in his power to snuff it out. This is a faithful account of the facts — worthy of all acceptance. 


Our Greek word makrothumia, translated as “long suffering” is very strong. In fact, the word thumos is an emotion stronger than anger.

“Thumos is a tumultuous welling up of the whole spirit, a mighty emotion which seizes and moves the whole inner man. The restraint implied in makrothumia is more correctly expressed by long-suffering. It is a patient holding out under trial, a long-protracted restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially that of anger.” (Weust)


God’s mercy towards Saul was not only a demonstration of His mercy in terms of forgiving a person of their sins, but of the restraining force He was moving in that was more powerful than Saul’s zeal to destroy the Church. In other words, God was moving in an exaggerated form of long-suffering as He looked over Saul acting out. Where sin was abounding — grace was super abounding. 


Given “Time” To Repent

Some might say, “Well, if God is righteous and just, why did He not strike Saul dead?” This question has a two-part answer. First, there are two primary Greek words for our English word forgiveness; aphesis and paresis. R.C. Trench gives this comment:

“These two words aphesis and paresis agree in that whether the one or the other occurs to you, no reckoning of your sins is made; they differ in that when the former is given, you never pay the penalty for your deeds, but when the latter is granted, you suffer no punishment for your deeds as long as he who has the right of chastising your transgressions decides to leave them unpunished.” 


If God were to judge people for their sins the moment they sinned, there would be no one left to save. Paul deals with this in Romans 3:25. It’s not that God is not just; it’s that His forbearance (long suffering) is giving people time to repent. This is what Paul told the people at Mar’s Hill: 


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. (Acts 17:30–31 NKJV)


Notice the word ignorance in our passage. It denotes people who simply do not know better. They were blinded because of their love of darkness (John 3:1ff); by the god of this present evil world (2 Corinthians 4:4); and by God Himself (John 12:40). Theologians refer to this technically as the noetic effects of sin.  


Paul was moving in ignorance as well. He explained this in 1 Timothy 1:13 when he wrote, “Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” This verse implies that Saul simply did not believe the claims of the Saints. This is not necessarily an obstinance in the face of the facts, but a genuine ignorance of who Christ truly is. This problem was solved on the road to Demascus. Had Saul continued to persecute after that event, his sin would no longer have been in ignorance, but would have been willfull. How we respond to Christ when He reveals Himself to us is the key. 


An End To His Blindness 


Paul was a living example of how the veil of blindness that is over the heart of many Jews is removed. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Corinthians 3:15–16 NKJV) When Saul finally “turned” to the Lord, as a consequence of the revelation of Jesus Christ on the road to Demascus, he fulfilled the requirements of Acts 3:19. He was also given the commission of duplicating that experience in the lives of others. 


For I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:16–18 KJV)


Paul (Saul) was to testify of his experience at Damascus as well as other experiences he would eventually have. This was to bring about the same effect in the people who heard the testimony as it did in him when he experienced it. A witness is a person who has seen something they can testify about. When the Holy Spirit anointed him to tell his experience, the people had Christ set forth before their eyes. If the people respond rightly their eyes will be opened and they will turn in repentance and faith. If not, they will be hardened all the more. Paul gives the progression in Acts 28:27:


For the heart of this people is grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn and I should heal them.


Wrong Response


1. Harden the heart (towards God)

2. Refuse to hear (the witness)
3. Close the eyes (to the revelation)

Right Response


1. See 

2. Hear
3. Understand
4. Turn
5. Be healed  


God’s Long Suffering


There are people in the world who hear the Gospel and struggle to believe that God could ever forgive their sins. God set forth Paul as an example of His willingness to save even the vilest of people. He has tolerated and overlooked a lot of sin as proof that He is, in fact,  a loving and long suffering God. He sets on a throne of mercy — with rainbow round about. However, the day will come when the colors merge into a searching brilliant white, and the throne will be one of justice and judgment. If every transgression and disobedience are given a just repayment, how will we escape if we neglect so great of salvation? (Hebrews 2:1)   



Paul could have easily said, “while I was yet the Chief of sinners, Christ died for me.” He turned from his former life and received eternal life. This is the force of Calvary. Nevertheless, everyone who hears Paul’s testimony must likewise “see; hear; understand; turn; and he healed.” God has demonstrated His long suffering, but it will not go on forever. 

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. (Acts 17:30)

Sycomore Tree Ministries

Sycomore Tree Ministries
Robert Wurtz II

Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. (Luke 19:2-6)

I have chosen this passage to illustrate how Christ can call a person to Himself virtually anywhere. Notice what is missing from this scene. All the things that have traditionally been believed as necessary to seeing a person come to Christ are all absent. In fact, when this man gives his testimony as to where he was when he heard the voice of Christ his shocking reply will be, “I was up in a tree.”



Many in modern times believe that God can only “call” or “save” people the way they were “called” or “saved.” It’s as if the enemy has tried to turn every way in which a person has successfully come to Christ into a measure or a ministry. Although there are no two people alike, the enemy would have us believe that God saves all similarly. It is true that all the elements must be in place (faith, repentance, etc.); however, how God accomplishes these things may vary as the sand on the sea shore. 


Measures and Ministry

It seems to be human nature to want to immortalize things. If God moved in one way or in one place, someone is bound to build three tabernacles to it. This is a tragic mentality. Soon rather than relying on the Holy Spirit to do a work, a superstitious reverence is placed on the spot where God moved. In other words, unless a person is in a church building, a stadium, camp meeting, youth camp, etc., they cannot hear from God. In fact, not only the spot, but the whole process of how God moved can be used superstitiously. That is to say, they have an unjustifiable faith in the means and the measures rather than God Himself. Anytime we put our trust in anything but God, we  are in error. 


Sycomore Tree Ministries?


Imagine Zacchaeus deciding that the way he came to Christ is the primary way God wants to save people. So he holds a meeting in a grove of Sycamore trees. He tells the people to climb up and wait for the call of God. Without question, if he had done such a thing, he would be labeled a lunatic. Why? Only because he believed he needed to employ trees as a measure in evangelism. However, the real error is in the notion that we can clone a move of God.

It is unfortunate that such ideas can actually become a stronghold in people’s minds. For example, imagine believing that the only way you can be saved is to go to a church and wait for an altar call. It would be pitiful to believe such a thing, when the truth is, a person can respond to God and be Born Again almost anywhere they are. I have known of people to be driving down the road, and God speak to their heart. Others have been saved by going out into the woods or a field to pray. The places are almost limitless. If the story of Zacchaeus teaches us anything along these lines, it is that “If God can call a man from a sycamore tree — He can call them from any place.” 

Called From Where We Are


I recall over twenty years ago God called me to Himself while I was living my daily life. He began speaking to me and drawing me to His word all during the week. I went to church on Sundays, but this was not where God dealt with me primarily. It was at home, at work, driving in the car, etc. Later, when God called me to service for Him, I was at work in a warehouse.


Think of all the different places the Lord Jesus calls people at. Some were on the fishing bank; some were collecting money; some were on His way to Galilee. The only common denominator was the call itself. They could have been anywhere; it  didn’t matter. God does not need sycamore trees to save people — though He may choose to employ them. The key thing is that when a person hears the voice of Christ that they respond rightly. 


Hiding From God

Hiding From God
Robert Wurtz II

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 NKJV)

Adam and Eve have now realized that the Serpent has deceived them. Their conscience is eating away in their minds, while their heart smites them mercilessly. The sin seemed so simple, but at present the torment won’t go away. Whereas they once looked forward to the sound of God coming to fellowship with them; now they are fleeing in terror from Him. They formerly lived in serene happiness, but that is only a memory. Now their portion is abject misery. What a horrific picture.

It is important to realize that the enemy has not stopped with Adam and Eve. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of people who succumbed to the lies of the enemy. Not always is this explained as such, but often it is inferred. What is going on? The enemy desires to destroy everyones relationship with God. Nobody is excluded. You may be a young believer or a seasoned Christian; it makes no difference. Satan desires to drive a wedge between you and God through some sin. He has many ways of doing it. He wants to get you so insnared that you will hide from God rather than running to Him.


Can God Forgive Me?

When the Prodigal Son left his father’s house for the big city (as it were), the excitement had a way of dulling his conscience to what he was actually doing. I have been told stories by people who committed terrible sins, that in the moment, didn’t seem so bad to them. However, as soon as the sin was over with their heart smote them and they began to weep. Some are still weeping, and it has been years. They struggle to believe that God will truly forgive them. You will recall that the Prodigal Son shared this mistaken notion about his father,

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. (Luke 15:17–19 KJV) 


The Prodigal Son was very unassuming. We could consider this narrative simply an expression of his humility. However, I believe there is more here. This man believed that his crimes were so great, that he would be doing well just to get back on his father’s property. Think about it. He thought his father was more like his brother who remained home. His father was nothing like his brother. In fact, his father had been faithfully watching for him. 

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 


Can you imagine how shocked this young man was to have his father react this way? It is heartbreaking to think that rather than running to God, many run from God. Some do it because they have no intention of repenting of their sins. They are not prodigal’s, they are rebel’s. Nevertheless, there are they who really come to themselves and desire forgiveness; but they struggle wondering how God will react to them. Will God forgive me? Can I ever be saved? 


Hiding Among the Trees

Perhaps you are reading this, and you are wondering, can God forgive me? Is there any hope for me? Maybe you think your sins are too great. You may even attend church, but somehow you can’t come to terms with God’s willingness to forgive, truly. You’re hiding among the trees wondering what God is going to say to you on judgment day. 

I’m not going to load you down with a lot of technical talk about Greek words for mercy and forgiveness. I simply want you to consider the story of the Prodigal Son and how the father reacted to his son coming home. Jesus told this story to put an end to the Devil’s lies once and for all. You can be forgiven. You can be restored. Open your heart to Him. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him […] the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:22–24 KJV) 


An Enemy Has Done This

An Enemy Has Done This

Robert Wurtz II


Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? (Matthew 13:24-28 KJV)

One main point

A parable is a short story meant as an allegory to teach truth. It will usually have just one main point that the teacher is conveying. He/she sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. The story is told in such a way as to leave out actual people or places so as to remove from the hearer any personal interest so they can make an objective judgment of the case. Obviously there are limits on how far we can pull concepts from a parable. This particular one in Matthew 13:24-28 contains many truths that have been the subject of whole scholarly works and books.     
  
No Supermarkets

We will need to spend some time unpacking these verses if we are to understand the seriousness of this story. Notice the theme of this parable is the great harvest of mankind that will take place at the end of the age in which the true saints of God will be separated from the imposters. The means by which this harvest will come to fruition is a process of planting and growing ‘seed’. It is very straightforward. Common sense will tell us that planting a field for food in ancient times was a life or death situation. If something goes wrong with the harvest the people will not eat. Jesus used this analogy because it had a direct bearing on the lives of the hearers. This is God’s estimate of the importance of this harvest relayed in language the people could relate to. In the first century there were no supermarkets as we know them today. No harvest- no food. It was that simple. So in order to feel the gravity of this parable we have to deliberately transport ourselves back into the context of the hearers.

Agricultural Sabotage

Understand first, that a field had been plowed and there was good seed sown. This took tremendous physical labor. This seed will produce good, edible fruit. However, in our parable- then appeared the ‘tares’ also. Tares (darnel) comes from the Greek word zizania and it refers to what is known in modern times as Lolium temulentum. This is a weed that resembles wheat, but is potentially harmful or fatal[1]. The word temulentus is Latin and means drunk. In ancient times feuding families or enemies would wait until their subjects ground was plowed and would sow darnel into their field to cause a destructive infestation. When it was harvested it would contaminate the good wheat rendering whole fields a total loss. Darnel, in this sense, was a weapon of war. Separating the darnel from the wheat at harvest was a painstaking, if not impossible task. 

Uprooting the darnel during the growth cycle of the field was almost impossible after a period of time because the roots intertwined with the good wheat. The hearers of this parable would know all-too-well the challenges of dealing with this type of agricultural sabotage. So serious was this crime that the Romans outlawed the practice of planting poisonous plants in another persons’ field.[2]   

But While Men Slept

Knowing that sabotaging a farmer’s field was morally egregious and against the law, the crime would be committed “while men slept.” This is an important detail that we must not overlook. Bear in mind also that this parable is a metaphor for “true saints” and “false saints.” The false wheat was sown into the field while men slept; this implies a lack of vigilance. In times of war food supplies have to be guarded. In Judges chapter 15 Samson tied twigs to foxes, set the twigs a fire, and turned them loose in the enemies field. That act of war provoked tremendous wrath. Why? That was their food supply set ablaze! Where were the guardians of the wheat field? They slept. And while they slept the false wheat was planted into the field; that is, false brethren were sown into the churches of God.

Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

This seemed like the logical thing to do; the problem was that the roots of the infestation were already entangled in the wheat. Jesus answered, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. This is important. The picture here is of relationships. The good wheat were in relationship with the false wheat. This made it impossible to deal with the false wheat without destroying or offending the true wheat. This allows the false wheat to grow up together in the churches of God assuming seats of authority and influence. In our times false wheat can make it all the way to top of religious organizations and the highest rated Christian television programs. Think of the implications of that.  

Known by Their Fruits

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. (Luke 6:43, 44)

This is so straightforward it is almost insulting. Of course people know the difference between good and corrupt fruit! Right? Not so fast. Relationships have a way of blinding a person. Is that not the old adage, “love is blind.” Anyone can spot corrupt fruit in their enemy or a stranger, but what about those closest to them? Are friends and loved ones viewed through the eyes of reality or are excuses made?

It is easy to get weary in modern times as it seems that standards are dropping on every front. In olden times some Christians were absolutely committed to making sure that in the churches the darnel (goats) were kept out. However, disbarring people from fellowship on the basis that they appear to be tares is not broadly permitted. It is not a matter of if they are to be dealt with, but when. With God’s permission and insistencen the tares (darnel) are allowed tp grow alongside the wheat until the harvest. It is too dangerous to pull them now – as the risks are too many. Only God has the discernment and prerogative in such things. Understanding these important facts makes sense of our Lord’s strategy in dealing with the unconverted within the churches. What was that strategy? 



Bind Them in Bundles and Burn Them

So Jesus answered again, Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30) This statement made by our Lord is a fearful one. Know that the false wheat have drank in the rain that came often upon it, just as the good wheat. Nevertheless, rather than bringing forth a fruit that was useful, it brought forth after “darnel.” It could do no other. Why? For every tree is known by his own fruit. God has already determined that plants will produce after their own kind. An apple tree cannot produce walnuts. To change the fruit you must change the root.

A Man Which Sowed Good Seed in His Field

To understand our last question we need to return back for a moment to the beginning of the parable. It is obvious that we are speaking metaphorically about the kingdom of heaven. There are two sowers if you will, a man that sowed good seed, and an enemy sowing bad seed. The first sower is none other than God Himself. The second sower is said to be His enemy (Matthew 13:25). Clearly there are those planted of God and those planted of the Devil (Satan). The one is sown in the light of the day and the other is sown under the darkness of night. This is very important.

Seed sown at night

While the men slept the false wheat was sown in the field. This aspect of the parable speaks greatly to our times. Paul speaks along a similar line in 1 Thessalonians 5:7, For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. This is interesting because you will recall that darnel is Lolium temulentum and the word temulentus is Latin and means drunk. You will know also that Paul tells us, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 KJV). The Greek word translated as ‘excess’ is asotia. Soteriology is the study of salvation and comes from the same root as asotia, except the ‘a’ is a negative participle. The word means literally ‘unsaved’ or ‘unsafe’. This may seem like a bunch of large shady exegetical steps, but the reality is these darnel are not saved and are moving in a sort of drunkenness as do all that are lost in sin. The problem is that they are often completely convinced that they are saved and are almost unchallengeable as a result. 

Accommodating Madness

The risk of pulling up the darnel is that even the wheat would be lost. Infestations in sabotaged fields made it impossible to take any steps until harvest. This does not mean that the owner of the field was ‘ok’ with the darnel. He was not. He could see how they were corrupting His field, but He had an eye on his future remedy. The reapers are the angels and the angels know those that are His. The job of separation will not be nearly as difficult for them as it would be for a man to separate a field of darnel and wheat. 

A Look Back

We need to go back a moment and ask why the men desired to pull the darnel up in the first place? Because though they were growing together they were not harmless. The men knew in time the darnel would become a problem. In the churches of God the darnel have a whole different desire than the true wheat. They are constantly interjecting ideas into the churches after their Adamic nature. They can’t relate to why the true wheat want a Bible based church or a true move of the Spirit. They move in the realm of counterfeit and compromise as a matter of course. They are instinctively carnal. Amazingly, our Lord looks past the present danger to the ultimate reality that they will be bound and burned. This is a metaphor for everlasting fire. But what about now? What are the consequences of having tares in the Temple of God as it were? Obviously they produce after their kind. They are what they are and can be no other until they respond to God in genuine salvation and are transformed into a new creation by the Holy Spirit. 


[1] The Gospel of Matthew R.T. France P. 525-526
[2] The Authenticity of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares Ramesh Khatry P. 35

The Road of No Return

The Road of No Return
Robert Wurtz II

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:38, 39)

Our passage is a sobering conclusion that leads up to Hebrews 11 where the writer gives multiple examples of people who died in faith. The faithful of Hebrews 11 pleased God. They are contrasted with those in chapter 10 who hear the Gospel and yet go on as if they never heard. God said, “My soul will have no pleasure in them.” They are unfaithful and are compared to those who died without mercy after they heard and then despised Moses’ Law. The word preached did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it. Some hear and then “draw back” unto perdition (total destruction). We are left to contemplate their fate by considering a great question: Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy of punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29 MKJV)  

They Died Without Mercy

There are many examples of people who died or were sorely punished for profaning the holy things of God. Nadab and Abihu were burned up for offering strange fire. They died for their innovation. So serious was their crime that their father, Aaron, was not allowed to mourn their death. Uzzah was another innovator. In the time of David he and his assistants placed the Ark of the Covenant on a “new” cart- as if his new idea somehow trumped God’s ancient laws. When his new idea started to fail he made the mistake of reaching up to steady the Ark. As we know, he was smitten dead for his error. Many years later King Uzziah became another innovator. Though withstood by some eighty valiant men he went into the House of God to offer incense and was smitten with leprosy. He died that way. In time Belshazzar the Babylonian ruler was another innovator. He decided to liven up his party by bringing in and drinking from the sacred cups of the Levitical priesthood that were captured when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. A hand appeared on the wall with a message that in effect he had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. He was killed that night. 

The time would fail to mention others such as Achan who decided to flagrantly disobey God by stealing the spoils that were to be set apart to God. He and his whole family perished for their sin and their bodies burned. These are the type of stories that ought to come to mind when we read the words, Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy of punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 

Profaning

To “profane” something means to trample it down as was the ground outside the door of the Tabernacle. The ground outside the door was like any other ground on earth; but when you passed the thresh hold into the House of God, you were in another world. In a figure- you just passed into the heavenlies. This was God’s domain. It was utterly sacred. To err here is to risk ones life. And yet all of these things were merely figures of the truth. Men died for treating this place as “common” and “unholy.” To tread here as if you were any place else was to be met with judgment. God was teaching us the difference between the holy and the profane.

How more worse punishment do you suppose one deserves who is trampling the Son of God? They are profaning the blood of Christ as if His death were no different than any other man’s death. Some may reverence the work of the cross with their mouth, but their rebellious and sinful actions are trodding Christ under foot. Interestingly, the same Greek word is used here for men who trod under foot salt that has lost its savor. Nobody in their right mind would think of trampling under foot the Ark of the Covenant, the blood of the sacrifices, the holy anointing oil or the other sacred objects of Temple service; nevertheless, Jesus Christ is trampled under foot on a regular basis by multitudes of people who have heard the Gospel and have not repented and turned to Him in faith. They think they are waiting to “get saved” when they are ready; but they are really trampling Christ and His shed blood under their feet. People under the Old Covenant died without mercy under two or three witnesses. What punishment do these people deserve? This is what the writer to the Hebrews is asking us to consider.

People all over the world will wake up today having heard the Gospel at some point in their life and will go on sinning as if it’s no big deal. Some are so proud and rebellious that they have heard bits and pieces and scorn the message- refusing to take time to hear the whole thing. They are their own worst enemy. Most are crazy enough to believe that what they are doing is normal and that people live in sin all the time and repent when they get ready. I have wondered all my Christian life where this notion of “I’ll get saved when I’m ready” comes from. Many ministers almost console people that reject Christ as if they are afraid they are offending them. As if what they are doing is no big deal. Truly, to reject Christ is the worst of all sins because it is a road covered with Christ and His shed blood. It is a road of no return. It is the pathway to total perdition. In the New Testament when a person rejected the Gospel Jesus said to wipe the dust off your feet as a testimony against them for the day of judgment (Mark 6:7-13). Wiping the dust off was a way of totally disassociating yourself from the person’s actions. It suggested that you are now free from the blood of that person. Your conscience is clear- even as Paul told the Ephesians when he left them for the last time. 

In modern times multitudes of people are taking a cavalier and neglectful attitude towards repentance and faith. This is the very thing that the writer to the Hebrews repeatedly warned about. He tells us four times that “today if we hear His voice we are not to harden our heart.” To continue on is to presume to trod underfoot the Son of God, His blood and the covenant that God is offering. To complete the description of the sin one is said to do “despite unto the Spirit of grace.” This is the Holy Spirit. Men resist the Holy Spirit, grieve, and vex the Holy Spirit- but here they are said to insult the Spirit. This is the meaning of Greek word. The root word huper carries the idea of acting superior to. “You are not my boss!” type of attitude. Even if a person does not say it, Hebrews says that is what they are doing when they reject repentance and faith. 

How many people believe that when they have finally sown all their wild oats they will settle down and “get saved.” That is the most dangerous thing they could possibly do. To go on refusing to repent after God has already ceased overlooking sin and ignorance is to invite judgment worse than dying without mercy. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy of punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29 MKJV) If you are doing such things you are no sowing wild oats- you are trampling down the blood of Christ. You are not having a little fun before you get old and gray- you are insulting the Holy Spirit. The only remedy is to stop it- right here and right now- turn from all your sin and turn to Christ. It is your only chance. While it is said, “Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” (Hebrews 3:15)
 
   
 

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