Correcting the Spirit of this Age

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

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

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

The God of Thy Fathers


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

Three Great Questions

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


1) What is church

2) What is culture
3) What is compromise

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



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


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


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

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

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

Cutting ties with the past?


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


You are serving the same God that your fathers served

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

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


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

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


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


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

Giving up ground the old timers took back 


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


A New Emphasis 


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


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

Sober and alert


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


   

Understanding the Fire of God

Understanding the Fire of God
Robert Wurtz II

I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:49-53)

Jesus gives us the strategic reason for why He came to earth to walk among men, live and then die for our sins; it was in order that He might send fire on the earth. This fire is God’s ultimate solution for man’s need at this juncture in His dealings in the earth. If He is going to send fire He has to send it into and through man. Keep that clear. In other words, we are not qualified to be sent until Christ can send us consumed with His holy fire. God wants a people that are fire hazards, that is, people that carry the fire of God and it spreads everywhere they go. But this fire could not be sent into and through man until Jesus was baptized with the baptism He experienced upon the Cross of Calvary- where He not only paid our sin debt, but broke the power of Sin by dying to it- so that all that would eventually be baptized into Him by the Spirit of God would share in that death. This reality is essential to our sanctification unto God as the Holy Temple He has called us to be. The ‘dead to Sin ones’ are readied to receive the fire of God. God will not dwell in a rebellious person. 

The Dangerous Presence 

We learn from the revelation of God in the Old Testament that God cannot dwell in his unique manifest presence where sin is rampant. When God’s presence is near- judgment is swift. If judgment does not come the presence must depart. Why? Sin and God do not dwell together. That is one of the most elementary truths in all the Bible. Some might say, well, “God is everywhere and at all times.” This is true, but it is a theological proposition. God is omnipresent and immanent. He is here at all times, always has been and always will be. David said he could make his bed in hell and lo thou art there. So God is in the sin dins right now and He is God there; but He is not God there and He is not manifest there in the way that He would like to be. Why? Because if He were He would have to utterly consume those sinning in His presence. This is a sobering reality that we must recapture in this adulterous generation. God is Holy and He will not dwell among a people that are stiff-necked, rebellious and always resisting the authority of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 7) This is why God refused to go over with Moses and the people in Exodus 33. Here we read, for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way. (Exodus 33:3b) God has not changed. He is not less holy than He used to be. If He is going to go up in the midst of a man or a woman, then He is not going to change His own holiness and standards in order to do it, He is going to change the dwelling place so that it is compatible with His fiery presence. They change is always on our end. No need waiting around for God to change. 

The Refiners Fire
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Malachi 3:2-6)

God is showing the people what has to take place before He can ‘come’. The priests had to be purified by God so that they could offer Him an offering in righteousness. If God would have came near, bypassing His own protocol for how He related Himself to sinners, the people would have simply been consumed. God is a consuming fire. As it is written, Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29) Our Greek words here for reverence and godly fear are meta eulabeias kai deous. The word deos is the apprehension of danger as in a forest. “When the voice and tread of a wild beast are distinctly heard close at hand the deos becomes phobos” (Vincent). That is to say, we need to beware that God is a consuming fire and not to be trifled with- lest we act flippantly or rebelliously towards Him. When John the Revelator saw Jesus he fell at His feet as dead (Revelation 1). This is not gentle Jesus meek and mild; it is an awesome reverence for the Judge of all of the earth. If the priests don’t fear God- and they are supposed to be near to His presence, why should the people fear the Lord? This is why Peter tells us plainly, but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear. (1Peter 3:15) If we will sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts then when the tough questions and persecutions come we will fear God and not man. Selah. This is not possible until we have been washed, sanctified and made ready for the fire of God. 

The Laver Experience

So much of Paul’s writings employ the language of priesthood. This is only right because God has called His people to be a kingdom of priests. When the Corinthians were in carnality, Paul had to remind them of what God had done for them at the first. Concerning the sexually immoral he stated, And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11) God has to break that rebellion and cleanse us from all sin before He can dwell in man with His manifest presence. This is why Paul when writing to Titus uses the familiar language of priesthood when he describes regeneration, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5) This is the laver of regeneration, a picture of the brazen laver where the priests would wash themselves before entering the presence of God. It is only after we have truly been washed- inspected and certified as clean by our Great High Priest that God can safely send the fire into you and I. Does the mean we have to perfect? No. The fire will burn out what God wants burned out. What must be dealt with is the rebellious nature of man that has always been the obstacle to God truly being among His people. Since Jesus has already accomplished what He came to do on the cross we are all able to know this great laver experience, this washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit that he has shed on us abundantly.   

Baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire

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. 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. Why? Because when the Fire comes, it will burn up everything in man that is not of God. Some people want to hang on to the world and the sin that dominates their life, so they shun the fire. People understand that burning for God means being consumed for Him. This fire is not a mere feeling that comes and goes, but is the manifest presence of a holy and loving God. Jesus came to send this fire on the earth. This is a fire that produces the fruit of the Spirit in masse. Stephen is a great example. He loved to help out serving the widows, but yet when he was being stoned to death we find him begging God to forgive the people. Why? Because he was walking in Romans 5:5. The love of God had been poured out into him. He was burning for God and no amount of persecution could put it out. He was contagious. He was a fire hazard. The only thing the rebellious leaders could do was stomp him out and put dirt on top of him. Was it just for Jesus and Stephen? No! A holy love will come in to all that will receive Him that enables the person to love like Jesus loves. This is the great standard. When a person is truly burning for God they will carry themselves like Jesus in all situations. The question we have to ask in these things is, “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 are at 98.6 degrees. Where does this energy come from? It originates with the Sun. Plants turn light, nutrients and water into 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 came 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. 


The language of 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 book of Acts believers 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 doesn’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 inside of 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.)

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. Our passage 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 continually as a sweet smelling savor, as a consequence of our placing ourselves 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. N) 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. They did not burn for God except in a dead outward sense. The sons Hophni and Phinehas burned with lust and gluttony. They didn’t burn for God. Therefore they had no real authority to carry God’s authority. This is utterly essential to understand. The ark was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests, but those priests were expected to BURN for God. What an awesome revelation. Their sin was to try to use God’s authority without burning for Him from the heart. They went though the motions as double minded men. They burned for God in religious exercise, but for sin in their hearts. Again, the Ark represented the throne or authority of God. The Fire obviously went out after they carried it into battle and lost the Ark. Later on 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. No fire- no service. They could not strike a match or rub sticks together. They could not warm up the altar for God. 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 doesn’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.


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 it. 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. (See Isaiah 66:1ff) 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.



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? 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 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


The Only Thing That Makes Sense

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)

I hope you don’t mind me saying that 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, the doctrine of salvation. He transitions 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. 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…

Language of Priesthood in Romans 12 

Solomon was the great king that built God a 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) He 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 all 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) 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 is also a picture of God’s separation (threshing) of wheat from chaff. What will you do with God’s mercy? How will you respond to grace? Will you answer the call of Paul or sin that grace may abound? The threshing floor is a place of decision. All of these things are here. This is the place where Solomon built the Temple. Keep that in mind. 

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,

This, again, is the language of priesthood. We are called to be Temples of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament is replete with examples of how not to treat the Temple and the artifacts within it. Were these things written for Israel’s sake or where they not all together a figurative lesson for us, that would have the habitation of God by the Spirit? What about Belshazzar? How did God react to the way he defiled the artifacts of the Temple? The whole story is exemplary. It gives us forever God’s estimation of abusing our bodies in sordid sin.  

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. 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. 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.


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 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.

Bought With A Price

Bought With A Price

Robert Wurtz II

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 NKJV) 
Our passage offers tremendous insight into the thought process of Christians that started out well, but now were walking as unregenerate men and women. (1 Corinthians 3:3) If we grasp what Paul is revealing here we will understand much better a great problem in many Christian lives that prevents them from going on with God. When Paul uses the phrase, “do you not know” it can generally be taken to mean that many Christians ‘do not know’. This is either because they have not considered the fact, they have forgotten or they are living in such a way that it appears that they do not know. Let us observe the fact that how and what we think has a direct effect on how we live. Many of the Corinthians were in a carnal state of mind, living as if they did not have the Spirit nor were ever born again. Paul brings them around to the point with this tremendous statement, “…you are not your own. For you were bought at a price.They had been living as if they were never redeemed and sanctified unto the Lord. Think of how horrifying it would be to hear this and yet know you had been doing sinful things with a body that actually and truly belonged to God alone. Now consider how Paul introduces again as he did earlier in 1 Corinthians the Temple motif. He had already said to them, Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:16,17 NKJV) Both the individual and the organism of the local church constitute the temple of God. I believe both are in view in this passage.
You are the temple
A cursory reading of the Old Testament beginning at Moses would reveal to a person how absolutely the things of God had been set apart for His use alone. This is why reading the Old Testament is vital to understanding the New Testament. If a person never read or were never taught about the Levitical Priesthood they would have no clue as to the seriousness of the handling and use of the holy things of God. All of the examples from Nadab and Abihu to Uzziah and a host of others that profaned the temple or its members (vessels, etc) were written for our example and learning. Over and over again we encounter this issue in the Old Testament. People like Uzzah were smote dead on the spot for their error. (2 Samuel 6:7) Even when Jesus came into the Temple and found the money changers He took up a whip and drove them out. Why? The House of God is not an ordinary house. This demonstrates how strongly God feels about keeping that which is sanctified unto Him- sanctified unto Him. If I might so say it demonstrates our Lord’s reaction to the notion of ‘progressive sanctification’. The Temple is not an ordinary place. It belonged 100% to God and they that have been bought with a price belong 100% to God. The Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple could not be rented out for weekend parties, shindigs or any of that. It was holy ground and was to be treated with godly reverence. Now we can reckon with the fact, do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
Profaning the temple? 
Now, tremble at this thought. Imagine it just dawned on the guilty person that Paul is writing to at Corinth that their bodies were God’s ideal of a Temple of the Holy Spirit in the earth and that the Wilderness Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple were only types and shadows of what God had planned. The temples made with hands were not where God wanted to dwell (Acts 7), He wanted to dwell in man. And yet these Corinthians had been treating their temple (the members of their body), that were sanctified unto the Lord at least as much as the Lamp stand, Laver, Veil, etc. was in Israel, as if they were common items. I wonder if some of them looked up on the wall to see if a hand had appeared with the words, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (Daniel 5:25b) You will know that these are the words Belshazzar saw and then his knees smote together. What was he doing? He was using the artifacts from the Temple of God that had been sanctified unto God alone for party dishes! They were holy vessels unto the Lord. Perhaps this is an area that we desperately need to revisit in this dreadful age, the difference between holy and profane. All throughout the Old Testament, especially in areas that pertained to the priesthood, man was being taught that God is holy and the things that are sanctified unto Him are to be used for Him alone and are not to be taken out for common use. Even the most pagan of societies understand the concept of sacred. The things of God were to be treated with the highest levels of respect out of reverence for God. Belshazzar did not reverence God so he profaned and desecrated the holy things of God. What God did to Belshazzar and how God responded to what Belshazzar was doing is a standout example unto all Saints as to how He feels about irreverent profanation of things sanctified to the Lord. When God sanctifies a man He does so for His service. We are made kings and priests unto God. Very sobering indeed.  
The Saint Belongs to God
When a person is truly born of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit comes in to take up residence, they become the possession of God instantly. This is an instant setting apart of ourselves to God as His unique possession. That is to say, were are at the point of transaction 100% sanctified unto God. I’m now using the word sanctified in the true biblical sense rather than the modern Evangelical sense. Modern Evangelicalism would suggest that we are being progressively set apart unto God, but this is a strange notion that has no parallel in scripture. It stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means for someone or something to be sanctified unto the Lord. Carnality blinded Corinth to this reality and it blinds today. God paid the full price to redeem the Saint and He retains 100% ownership and rights of property from the moment of transaction. God does not redeem man on an installment plan or on layaway. Let Paul ask us, Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Here ‘were bought’ is in the first aorist, meaning that the event has taken place. The consequence? You are not your own. Who do we belong to? Obviously, the purchaser. 
Temple Sanctified 
Imagine the enemies of Israel attacking the Temple mount when the shekinah glory of God was filling the house. If Nadab and Abihu could not stand before the Lord in disobedience when He glory was on the House, how could the enemies of God have ever stood? There is no reason whatsoever for a believer to be defeated by sin and Satan. The Fire of God burning in man consumes everything that is not of God. It is just unfortunate today that true sanctification has been so ignored that to discuss the subject almost feels heretical. “Because of failure in their own lives men lower the standard and tone down the message because they do not wish to preach something they are not living. When a man preaches his own experience as a substitute for the pure word of God, there is always a loss of power. This cannot be helped, because it is based on and proceeds from man. 1 Thessalonians 5:23:  “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification, by intention and provision of God, embraces the whole man. God has committed Himself to this and He is faithful to do it. God makes a man holy in a moment of time and, if that man is co-operative, will keep him holy through the successive moments of time till the Lord comes.” (G.W. North) 
Jesus not ashamed of us
One of the great challenges of our times is to get Christians to stop what they are doing and start to think about what God has purposed for them in this life. Jesus desires that we live a manor of life in which He would not be ashamed to call us His brethren. (Hebrews 2:11) Yet sadly and tragically today many folks seem to only care about having their sins forgiven and then they are ready to move on to a thousand other church related subjects from prosperity to politics, daring not to mention purity. Those that do touch the subject focus on how we are being sanctified as if we are called to live lives of sin- but ever slowly surrendering ground to God as He progressively sanctifies us. In other words, we’ll give God what is rightfully His as we get ready. As if a person is saying in their heart, “if I want to use my hands, eyes, ears, etc. as members of unrighteousness to sin, then I can do that.” Why? Because God understands that I’m being progressively sanctified, and I don’t have to concern myself with truly being one of His sons until I get ready. God forbid! What did God say, “And they delivered the burnt-offering unto him, piece by piece, and the head: and he burnt them upon the altar. (Leviticus 9:13 ASV) Paul in the language of priesthood then takes up the subject,  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:13 NKJV) Piece by piece and member by member. It not just the blessings that we should count.” (Ron Bailey)

Present Active Sanctification
Jesus is our example in all things, including sanctification. He was the Temple of the Holy Spirit while He walked the earth. (John 2:19) Just as the Wilderness Tabernacle was utterly sanctified to God as was the Temple of Solomon, Jesus Christ was sanctified unto God. He was not being progressively sanctified, He was presently being sanctified and there is a great difference. What did He say?
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:19)

Here Jesus says “I sanctify myself” where hagiazo (sanctify) is in the present active. He does this so that we “might be sanctified” where hagiazo is in the perfect passive. Keep in mind that He made this comment just prior to the cross event. He was a mature man and readied for the final trial. The context of the passage is life in this present evil world. Jesus left the sanctuary of Heaven to teach you and I through the word of truth that God could keep a holy man ‘holy’ in this present evil world. So what did Jesus mean, “I sanctify myself.” Certainly He did not mean that He was being progressively sanctified in the Evangelical sense. This is the language of priesthood, purification and holiness. He is guarding against defilement. By using hagiazo in the present tense He is teaching us that He consciously set Himself apart unto God continually and in every circumstance. “I am not of this world” was a common attitude of His. He then continued for our sakes, And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are]. Keep them what? Keep them sanctified even as Christ kept Himself sanctified. How? When Satan came to defile Him with sin He told Satan that He lived (and we all must live) by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. This is ‘right now’ revelation and grace from the Father to deal with the present circumstance so that He could go on sanctifying Himself unto God. That is to say, He kept Himself unspotted of the world. Jesus was and is perfect and He has perfected us while simultaneously sanctifying us. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are (being) sanctified. (Heb. 10:14)

 I suggest, that like Jesus we too must be being sanctified. Not in the Evangelical sense of the word, but in the same sense that Jesus used the phrase. We must consciously set ourselves apart unto God continually and in every circumstance. We have to do it the same way Jesus did it, by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. That is not to say that we will be without mistakes or errors in judgment (as Wesley would say), but that we would not willfully and knowingly go against the revealed will of God. Having been bought with a price and sanctified, we are continuing to be sanctified as we present ourselves in obedience to Him.
   

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