Got Saved or Got Started? (Running the Race)

Got Saved or Got Started? 
Robert Wurtz II

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46–47 ESV)

It has been around a hundred years since Billy Sunday broke with the Biblical tradition of describing the significance of a person making a step towards Christ in conversion. Whereas the language of “hopefully converted” or something similar had been used, within thirty-nine years of his ministry the churches went from “X number of people were hopefully converted” to “X number of people got saved.” The significance of that change cannot possibly be over stated. Instead of thinking of salvation as a crisis event leading to a process and a future consummation; salvation was thought of from the word go as a consummation. In other words, “I got saved” suggests that the race is completed; when in reality, it has just gotten started. 

I suggest we break with Billy Sundays language all together and begin referring to the experience of new converts as “got started” instead of “got saved.” But far be it from me to arrogate to myself the authority to make such a change; however, even great Biblical scholars such as the late John Lightfoot (1602–1675) would probably agree. In fact, in commenting on Acts 2:46-47 he wrote:

“Salvation is a thing of the present, as well as of the past and future. The verb is used in all these senses in the New Testament. Thus, we were saved (not are, as A.V.), Romans 8:24; shall or shalt be saved, Romans 10:9, 13; ye are being saved, 1 Corinthians 15:2. ‘Godliness, righteousness, is life, is salvation. And it is hardly necessary to say that the divorce of morality and religion must be fostered and encouraged by failing to note this, and so laying the whole stress either on the past or on the future — on the first call, or on the final change. It is, therefore, important that the idea of salvation as a rescue from sin, through the knowledge of God in Christ, and therefore a progressive condition, a present state, should not be obscured, and we can but regret such a translation as Acts 2:47, ‘The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,’ where the Greek implies a different idea” (Lightfoot, “on a Fresh Revision of the New Testament” quoted in Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament).


The great Greek scholar A.T. Robinson comments on this verse two significant things. First, “if the Lord only always “added” those who join our churches.” He is suggesting here that there are people who are added to the churches that God did not add. Second, “those that were being saved (tous soœzomenous) is better translated as ‘those saved from time to time.’ It was a continuous revival, day by day. Soœzoœ like soœteœria is used for “save” in three senses (beginning, process, conclusion), but here repetition is clearly the point of the present tense.” The great Greek commentators John Lightfoot, Marvin Vincent, and A.T. Robertson all agree that both Greek words for salvation are used in the sense of:

1. Beginning of salvation (crisis event or “was saved”)
2. Process (are being saved in the present tense)
3. Conclusion (will be saved finally)

Since the days of Billy Sunday when the concept of salvation and the language of “got saved” began being used — people now think of salvation as something that happened in the past. To most people, it is a completed action. The best way I could illustrate this is by Paul’s use of the running motif. 

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 KJV)

“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” (1 Corinthians 9:26 KJV)

“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 5:7 KJV)

“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Philippians 2:16 KJV)

The writer to the Hebrews adds this admonition:

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV)



Every race has a beginning, process, and conclusion. If we lose sight of this or if we misrepresent what it means to be converted and regenerated then we falsely represent the nature of the race. To say, “X number of people got saved” is to imply that the race is completed. It sounds like something has been attained. When in fact, there has only been a beginning. In many cases, it is not even a Biblical beginning because Paul told the Galatians (who did run well), “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 NKJV) Paul’s idea of a beginning is beginning in the Spirit to be followed by a process of being made perfect by the Spirit (as opposed to what the false teachers at Galatia had introduced — a process of being perfected by the flesh).

In modern times races often begin when the official fires a real or electronic starter pistol. Imagine how insane it would be for someone heard the shot and was then told that they “got raced.” In a figure that is what has been happening for multitudes. It’s like they heard the sot and went over and sat down on the bench as if the race is over. But it has just begun! You didn’t “get saved” you merely “got started.” Again, “wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…” 

For the last one hundred years people have been being told they “got saved.” How much more right would it be to say that they “got started.” What if for the next hundred years ministers and evangelists reported “X number of people got started!” It would leave the convert with an impression that there is now a race to be completed. You’re not done! You just started. Therefore so run, not as uncertainly. So run, that ye may obtain.    
  

What is The Church? (Part 6)

What is The Church (Part 6)
Robert Wurtz II

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14 NKJV)

Our passage tells us that Christ gave Himself to die on the cross so that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. The us is this passage are they who are the heirs to the righteousness of God that is by faith. God started this assembly with a few individuals scattered through the book of Genesis, but then he called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees to bring about a people as numerous as the stars of Heaven or the sand by the sea shore. When we reach the book of Exodus God reiterates this objective:

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. (Exodus 19:5 KJV)

God reminded Israel in Deut. 14:2, 26:18, and Psalm 135:4 of their status as a “peculiar treasure.” When we get to the New Testament we find God’s people described similarly as in Titus 2 and again in 1 Peter 2:9. The word “peculiar” in this context does not mean they are weird (though the world may esteem them as such); but rather, they are uniquely God’s possession. The NASB renders 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you eout of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. (1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB) 


We know that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns the Universe and everything and everyone in it. Simply put, everything belongs to God. However, God wanted a people to be uniquely His own. He wanted people made in His own image. In the language of the writer to the Hebrews, He is bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10). As the Creator, God owns everybody; but He purchased with His own blood – from all humanity – an assembly of people that could be purified into a special people, with God’s desires and attitudes, committed to living by every word that is proceeding from His mouth. 


After His Kind

Jesus started out with twelve Disciples. From those twelve, hundreds of others were added at Pentecost. However, we need to make note of a principal in scripture and nature that traces its roots to the book of Genesis in order to understand this process. Here God commanded saying: Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Genesis 1:11) As with trees and grass – so with people. Apple trees bring forth apple trees. Walnut trees don’t bring forth peach trees. This is common sense. So we understand that ministers will generally bring forth after their own kind as well. So it is essential that the ones preaching the Gospel be the first partakers of the grace and power of the Gospel. Unholy men do not produce holy men. Moreover, men that do not understand God’s design and purpose in purchasing for Himself a unique possession are not qualified to handle the Gospel. God has to prepare the ministers before they are qualified to preach. Otherwise, they will gather an assembly, but it will not be what God is wanting. 

When Jesus ascended into Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to inhabit a group of followers that had committed to being His disciples. The name of the Spirit signifies His prime characteristic: holy. Without holiness no person will see God. The issue is front and center in God’s mind. We have a picture of the process of God perfecting Holiness in man in the story of Israel in Egypt. God called His “Firstborn” – His unique possession out of Egypt. Understand that Egypt is a type of this present evil world, Pharaoh was a type of Satan, and their slavery and bondage was a form of Sin and its oppressive characteristics. The Disciples heard the call to follow Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, they are “coming out from among them to be separate and to touch not the unclean things.” Figuratively, they had gone through the Passover with the blood applied and were now preparing to head out, once and for all, from their “Egypt.” This was their calling and destiny. The Holy Spirit was coming to perfect their holiness in the fear of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 7:1-2) In a word, the Holy Spirit was for the holy nation. He assists in bringing about God’s purposes in making us God’s unique treasure in the whole earth. 

The disciples had heard the teachings of the Pharisees and scribes as they tried to lead the people in their understanding of holiness. They were bringing forth after their own kind. This is why Jesus said, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 13:15 NKJV) The problem is that they were better at teaching the holiness than living it. (Matthew 23:1-7) It was hypocrisy. God wants holiness of heart. This means we are clean on the inside of our hearts and minds from things that would offend God. 

Only the Holy Spirit can convict a person of their sin – particularly their inward sins (sins of the heart). This is why the Disciples needed to come under the yoke of Christ. Only God knows what the true controversy is between Him and the individual. Men may guess, but God has a priority list of things He wants dealt with. The Holy Spirit has come to make known the mind of Christ to individuals. From now on the Disciples would take their orders from Him. Christ is their Master and Savior. The consequence of this will be a group of people unlike any on the face of the earth. They will be God’s unique people, doing His will and in agreement with Him. 

A Holy People For a Holy Calling

God’s call to individuals is a High and Heavenly Calling (Phil. 3:14; Hebrews 3:1). This is a calling from Heaven and to Heaven (Vincent). Therefore, the men and women God uses to minister this Heavenly Calling must be moving in that High Calling themselves. Unlike the Pharisees who taught the people but did not do it themselves, God’s ministers must be pressing towards the mark for the prize as they are preaching or they are not qualified to call others to the same. 


After Pentecost the disciples began fulfilling the Great Commission. Jesus commanded them saying, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 18:18) From this point forward this is what the disciples had done. Now the words will be fulfilled that were spoken Matthew 16:18, And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 

The Book of Acts Pattern

A close look at the book of Acts shows a pattern of repentance, faith, water baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit as normative for becoming a Christian (Disciple). However, as Paul was leaving Ephesus for the last time he was very concerned that things would not continued as they were designed to. Whereas Ephesus had been built with genuine disciples that had truly repented, were baptized in water, and had received the Holy Spirit, a group would arise that would move them away from the evangelistic practices that they had used at first. They left Christ, their first love. It is my estimation that this leaving of Christ can be traced back to individuals growing cold in the Lord and then replicating that coldness in making disciples. In other words, carnality gives birth to carnality. The only solution was to preach the Gospel again and allow the people to respond to God for real. This is why Jesus told them in Revelation 2 that they must “repent and do the first works.” What were the first works? They were the things that the first members of the church had done when they first believed in order to establish that church. It is beyond the scope of our study here, but a close examination of the church at Ephesus in the book of Acts is very insightful in showing how churches were established in the beginning. The lesson here is that Biblical evangelistic practices are essential to a successful church. If we marginalize this truth we are destined for disaster. 

A Pure Church

Since the beginning of the Church at Pentecost, there have been Christians who were concerned with its purity. “Too much corruption” has been the cry of those that were vexed by the unrighteousness that has existed within. Not only have corrupt forms of worship or false doctrines been of concern, but also corrupt membership. From the Apostle Paul unto this very day there have been those that sought to protect the churches from wicked persons. In the early days of the Church it was easier to keep such persons out because of the persecution associated with converting to Christianity; however, over time, as Christianity became more accepted, the ungodly have knocked at the doors. Knowing that we all are capable of sin, the doorkeepers, under the constraint of their own frailness, have often allowed all but the vilest of sinners inside. As a reaction to this practice, whole sects have popped up within Christianity in an attempt to form on earth a Church “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”


The Donatists

It would be useful at this point to point out some events that took place in the centuries following the book of Acts. In 303 AD a Roman Emperor by the name of Diocletian came to power and sorely persecuted the churches. Many Christians were put to death. Some Christians renounced Christ as a result, and some handed over names of other Christians, as well as sacred writings to be burned. These people were known as traditors (Latin meaning “to turn over”). After Diocletian’s death some of these people attempted to rejoin the Christians. One of these traditors, named Caecilian, had returned to the fold and was consecrated Bishop of Carthage in North Africa. This did not sit well with those that believed that persecution was a means of detecting who was and who was not a legitimate believer. Those who rebelled against him appointed Majorinus as a rival bishop; however, Majorinus died shortly after and Donatus took his place to continue the rejection of such compromise. The group separated from the Church and came to be known abusively as Donatists. Their actions were considered divisive and uncharitable to those that wanted to forgive and forget.


In answer to the Donatists, Augustine devised a theory of the Church, which was to guide orthodox Christian thought on the subject. There were, according to Augustine, two churches. One was the pure but invisible; it included every person living, dead, or yet to be born, whom God had predestined for salvation. The other was visible but not entirely pure; it included all living persons who professed to believe in Christianity. Since not all people that profess Christ are true believers, the “visible church” could not be without spot or wrinkle. Augustine, however, did believe that we should strive to maintain purity within the Church by excluding gross sinners until they visibly repented of their sins. Nevertheless, we were set on course for a time when churches accepted membership of individuals who had little or no testimony to the grace of God working in their lives. 


Church and church 

It is my understanding of the New Covenant that there are only two ways the word church is used. The first is “The Church.” The Church (ecclesia) is similar to how Augustine put it, it includes every person living, dead, or yet to be born, who is written in the Lambs Book of Life. The other way the word church is used is for the local church. The church that assembled at Ephesus was a local church. All of the Saints down through the ages comprise “The Church.” According to the pattern set forth by Jesus in the Revelation, He deals with  local churches ministering to their needs. As the people gather into an assembly and turn their hearts to Him – He begins to deal with the church according to its specific needs. Revelation 2 and 3 gives seven examples of how this plays out. The key is that the people must have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to them. If they hear and obey they will be rewarded, if they do not they will suffer the appropriate consequence. 

So we see then that the Church and the church are comprised of genuine saints that have been born of the Spirit. They are TRUE disciples of Christ and are bent on having Him direct their lives. This is true individually and as an assembly. The saints gather together to remember the Lord, give thanks to Him, honor and praise Him. They assemble to hear from the Lord and to be built up by His grace. These things are done to ensure that the church fulfills its calling to be God’s unique and special possession. Any alteration of the Biblical principals set forth in our study are bound to compromise the capacity of the church or the individual to move in their unique calling. 





Religio Licita (Approved Religion)

Religio Licita (Approved Religion)
Robert Wurtz II


I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (Revelation 3:15)


Religio licita is a Latin term used in ancient Christian writing to describe how Rome approved of Judaism within the Roman Empire- in contrast to Christianity that was effectively outlawed. Roman authorities, influenced by the spirit of Antichrist, violently persecuted the early Church. Christians were genuine. They repented, believed, were baptized and received the Holy Spirit. They burned for God in ways hard to imagine. Despite lethal persecution, in just one century the Gospel spread clear to Britain. Then the fire began dying down in many places. One of those was Laodicea. 

Spreading Death

G.W. North once stated that “preaching the Word without Fire is spreading death.” I think he was right. In fact, I think the enemy loves a tepid message. He loves lukewarm Christians, teachers, and preachers. Lukewarm Christianity is the Devil and the world’s “Religio licita.” They seem to approve of it all together. Nevertheless, the Lord has made clear that He will spew a lukewarm people out of His mouth. Simply stated, lukewarmness is Christianity on the fence; halting between two opinions. Our Greek word for “hot” means to boil. Jesus said, I would thou wert cold or hot. This is not “boiling” with the fire of emotionalism or some other strange fire; it is the consequence of God’s Holy Spirit being at rest in a believer. They burn and burn for Christ. 

Lukewarmness: Government Approved!

The Romans were not the only people to approve dead religion; society does it today. Liberal writers and educators love to refer to times of revival as “religious fanaticism” or some other cynical phrase. Why? The Devil and his children hate for Christians to “boil” for Christ in the Biblical sense and will provide a battery of substitutes. He works feverishly to bring the temperture down. The frenetic pace of compromising measures threatens to overwhelm the Saints. Even some highly educated Christians feel the need to tone down for the sake of appearances. Perhaps this is due in part to the wild antics of people that claimed to be having revival, but were not. In modern times, the word “revival” has been so abused and blasphemed that one is reluctant to describe anything as a “revival” lest it immediately be held in derision. The same is true for the “fire” of God.  

Romancing or Repenting?

Another enemy of a true boil is the current rage found in much of what we commonly call “evangelicalism.” This rage is based on teachings that suggest a romantic, sensual love between Christ and the Church (some call it “Bridal Paradigm”). It affects the lyrics of our songs, our concepts of God, from the radio to the satellite. It is almost certainly the consequence of unregenerate (not truly born again) people interpreting the scriptures through the only lens of love they understand; human relationships. This is why so many lyrics and sermons are anthropomorphic. If a person has never experienced Romans 5:5, they cannot write or preach about it. What do they understand? Familial and romantic love. They understand the feeling they get when they listen to their favorite love song and think about their boyfriend/girlfriend. This is what colors their understanding. Listen closely as the Christ of the book of Revelation or Isaiah 6, is profaned into one that drowns the church in grace, wraps her in His arms and gives her a sloppy wet kiss. This type profanity is so common it would be superfluous to cite more examples. Is this how they define God? Compare their definition to scripture. 

Romantic and almost sexualized concepts of worshiping Jesus are easy to accept, especially among young people, because they are longing for a sense of the romantic and sensual in their lives. People want a God like their media manufactured, idealized version of the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend; not controlling or demanding. Good looking and always making me feel good. One that will love me no matter what I do, and in my love language. One that will wait on me to find myself- for years if necessary. One that will allow me to have a night out with my friends and never judge me. 

However, burning with romance is not burning for Christ in the Biblical sense (take a look at the picture in this link). In fact, Christians and theologians of bygone eras would have labeled the thought blasphemy. Many, today, would have considered their Jesus as “an abusive husband.” Nevertheless, what we are describing at length is the “Religio Licita” of modern times and is forging the concepts of Christianity for generations to come. 

Jesus – Not a Rock Star

American Idol has single handedly made idolatry acceptable in the western world and in a large portion of evangelicalism.  In the 50s and 60s young girls would gush as “lovesick” when they attended the concerts of men like Elvis or bands like the Beatles. Some wept and screamed; some even fainted. What emotional madness was this? Young ladies by the scores used to stand outside Elvis’s mansion in Memphis shaking and holding their hands just hoping to get a glimpse of the star. This is where the guys went to “meet the girls.” 

Christian “Labels”

In modern Christianity, almost anything is OK if it has the label “Christian” attached. I sometimes wonder if there came about a “Christian marijuana” many would smoke it. Christian so-called Rock Bands enjoy nearly all of the worship that Elvis received. Parents approve and are happy that their children engage in these things because at least it is a “Christian” event. It is OK to idolize these people because they are Christians? 

“Rock and worship” is the new mass and the singers are the new priesthood. Singing about a made-up Jesus in an ocean of earthly phrases. I believe it is one of the most effective strategies to infiltrate and influence the churches that the Enemy has employed to date. Why? He learned how to tap into the closet, sensual, desires of people who were itching to give themselves over to the culture of American Idol(atry). Nevertheless, Jesus is not Justin Beiber. We do not come together to be “passionately ravished” by Him as if He were a lover. God is holy and is expected to be reverenced. At the risk of being tarred and feathered, I wonder if this is why the concert model of worship has come into vogue? The same types of emotionalism and passion that were heaped on Elvis many are trying to heap on Jesus- and in the same type of ways. 

Consider these lyrics:

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, it is intimate
I feel like moving to the rhythm of Your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place
Your love is extravagant

Spread wide in the arms of Christ is the love that covers sin
No greater love have I ever known 
You considered me a friend
Capture my heart again

Compare this to:

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace-
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Both songs speak of Christ’s love. The one is clearly earthly and sensual- the other is biblical. As one writer commented on the former song, you could take the “t” off of Christ and almost have a secular song. Try it and see. 

Religio Licita in the Kingdom of God 
   
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.(Ephesians 5:25-27)

The Bride and Bridegroom motif in scripture is certainly valid; however, in its extreme and sensual construction it is subverted. Approved religion in the Kingdom of God is a very different thing than what can be achieved by a “romantic relationship” with Jesus. In fact, a cursory look at history, as contrasted with modern history, will demonstrate a preoccupation with romance today that was virtually unknown in the main stream in centuries past. Hollywood has dramatically effected how people think of relationships. It is false enough in a marriage, much less in our relationship to Christ. If we carry this ideology into our religious expression we are doomed. 

So how did we arrive at a merger between the secular and sensual love (radio and TV idealized) – romance crazed culture of the 50s,60s,70s,80s, etc., with the Visible Church (or more narrowly evangelicalism)? How did these things we have discussed corrupt our faith? Simply stated, it is Religio licita (approved religion). The people have been given what they wanted. Like Israel when she wanted a king- a generation wanted a way to have both Jesus and their popular culture. A generation was never told in their evangelistic message that they must choose one or the other; they were allowed to keep both. What happened? They mingled them together and this is what we have. With each passing day there are fewer people on earth that even see what has happened and even less that care enough to challenge.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (Revelation 3:15)

Witchcraft or Worship?

Witchcraft or Worship?
Robert Wurtz II

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1Samuel 15:23)

At first sight these verses are stunning and sobering. God likened the rebellion of Saul, and his refusal to perform what he knew to be God’s will, as “witchcraft, iniquity, and idolatry.” You will recall the words of Jesus to the lost, “… depart from me you worker of iniquity.” So to have something we are doing be labeled as witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry is more serious than anything we could possibly imagine. Saul was rejected of God and David was raised up in his place. Why? Rebellion. Though glorified as a youthful virtue since the 1950s, rebellion is one of the most dangerous sin states a person can possibly be in. Saul was a leader of Israel, the people of God; but he was in complete defiance of God Almighty. We could put a hundred megaphones in our ears and not hear it as plainly as we ought. Simply put, rebellion is a one way ticket to eternal damnation. 

An Unholy Matrimony

When the impotent evangelistic techniques of the early 1900s joined up with the rebellious pop-cultural spirit of the 1950s and 60s, they gave birth to what we call modern Western Christendom; the Visible Church in the Western world. This is not the spotless True Church, but Christianity in the main stream. The joining of these two was the perfect match. Millions of people were made to believe they were Christians without having been born again- leaving them in a carnal state. They are not spiritual, their minds are still at enmity with God. They cannot bring their hearts and minds to agree with God about sin and rebellion. It does not make sense to them. What’s the big deal, they ask? This is why they don’t understand why Christians are barred from worldly and sinful practices. Romans 12:1-3 has almost no meaning to them. When you tell them certain things are sinful or of the devil, they just get angry. They think you are being nit-picking, etc. This is one of the tell-tale signs that these people have never been born of the Spirit. They think like the Devil and desire the things of the Devil, but they see no contradiction. They defend sin and compromise rather than righteousness and holiness. Simply stated, they are on the wrong team and don’t even realize it.

Rebellion Becomes “Cool” and “Hip”

Carnal people have generally, and historically, embraced and advocated nearly every expression of rebellion- as it was understood by the Saints of bygone generations. Rebellion is a state of the heart towards God and the things of God, but there are specific ways it has been expressed in the main stream. In fact, in the 1950s and 60s a generation arose that sought to completely break ties with the standards and lifestyle of their parents and grandparents. Standards began to fall and the very foundation of society was under attack. This is why everything from smoking to Rock and Roll was embraced by a generation. Music was shaped by the rebellious to express their spirit. That tool then began to shape them until society began to spiral into total madness. The situation became so shocking, that one famous Rock group of the mid-60s, in their rebellious rant, My Generation sneered… “I hope I die before I get old.” This is now considered to be one of the most distilled statements of youthful rebellion in rock history. Old people were lame, un-cool and un-hip, so they would rather be dead than be what they were. I have often wondered if the lead  singer, Roger Daltry still feels that way: he turns 70 in March. 

Rebellion As An Expression of Personality

Prior to the 1950s True Christians were very sensitive to compromise. The consensus is that if our grand fathers and great-grandfathers could see what mainstream Christianity has become since their death, they would roll over in their graves. Most will agree with this, but some will add that it is because those “old people back then” were ignorant, legalistic, or any other cynical adjective they can use to dismiss their convictions. The Saints of old understood that everything we do is an expression of who we are. They saw behavior as an expression of the heart. For example, in the 1950s the stereotypical Rebel Without A Cause look was a teenager with his hair slicked back, a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his t-shirt, and looking “cool.” When a person saw that they did not think of Christianity, they thought of rebellion. Like Roger Daltry, they did not mind telling you they were in rebellion. Everything they did telegraphed it. “Were in rebellion and we want the whole world to know it…”

Rebellion As An Expression of Popular Culture

In time, many things that were expressions of rebellion in the 1950s, 60s and beyond, began to shape the peoples idea of normal. Rebellion is now in style! What happens when rebellion is trending? What happens when rebellion has been around so long that it is now fused into the very fabric of society? A few years ago in Missouri, where I live, an EF5 tornado went through one of our towns totally destroying much of it. Homes, churches, were destroyed- and even the hospital (ironically named Saint John’s) was moved several inches off of its foundation. Why? Because the force of the storm was so great, everything in its path, no matter how well established, was effected. This is what has happened in society. The tornado of rebellion and godlessness is ripping through our nations leaving nothing but total devastation. Our homes are being destroyed, churches are being destroyed, and only the strongest of structures remain as they once was. When expressions of rebellion become normative, fashionable, and a matter of “taste” we are on the fast track to perdition.

Rebellion As An Expression of Faith

I was shocked to see that several “Christian” bands are traveling the country under the heading, “The Rock and Worship Tour.” How could those two words possibly fit together? Which is it? Is it Rock or is it Worship, because it cannot be both. As a teenager growing up in the 80s, I had a front row seat to all things “Rock.” In fact, I am probably one of the few people my age that has actually seen Roy Orbison in concert. I have been to the concerts. Sadly, after a steady 5-8 hour dose, I nearly OD’d on MTV. Pop music was in the malls, the department stores, on the radio, in our commercials- it was even on the jukebox in my middle school lunch room. This is why people in my generation typically cannot relate to any other form of music. They were baptized into it. 

What happened? Girls shaved their heads, painted their hair, wore huge earrings and provocative clothing. Guys began to wear earrings in the left ear (symbolizing “sophistication), rat tails, concert t-shirts with “666” and the “Number of the Beast”, chains, etc.. The anthem of many was, “Were on a highway to hell…” We knew it was rebellion. Why do you think people did it? I knew in my conscience that these things did not please God, I trembled at some of the things I saw. It is foolery to say we were just being kids or going through a “faze.” We knew what we were doing. However, on the rare occasions I did come to church, I did not expect my rebellious world to be manifest inside the four walls of the church house. With my friends? Yes. On the television? Yes. On the radio? Yes. In the school house? Yes. On our boom boxes? Yes. In the church house? Never. Not in a million years. How has a culture of rebellion changed the face of Christian expression in the last 30 years? Look around. Did any of these people take Romans 12:1-3 seriously? Obviously, they did not and here we are.

Witchcraft or Worship?

Saul started out well, but he fell into compromise. He may have figured, “this little bit of rebellion will never matter to God.” But his attitude was expressive of a generation that wanted him in power. They were rebellious and they wanted a rebellious king. They may not have said it, but God already told Samuel that the people had rejected Him (God) as being their king. This is always where compromise rests; people do not want God as King. A whole generation behaved in this way, save the elect that God had reserved.     

 It is difficult to convey the truth of what I have written in this post, because so few grasp what is at stake. The world is in a state of enmity with God. It is expressed on its TV shows, in its music, in its trends. Would to God that I could open the eyes of professors of Christ and show them that reality. But when you love something, you don’t like hearing it criticized. It angers you. So the conversation never gets any place. The Devil has deceived thousands of people into thinking they can Rock and Worship, and never see for even a second that they are using a vehicle for rebellion for the worship of God. 

Its as if a generation has junked the new cart and ordered a hearse to slide the ark into to drive it around. After all, this is cited as the impetus for the angry, frustrated, sneering example of “one of the most distilled statements of youthful rebellion in rock history” My Generation. Roger Daltry sang it, but legend is told that band member Pete Townshend, reportedly wrote the song while on a train. He is said to have been inspired by the Queen mother who is alleged to have had Townshend’s 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street because she was offended by the sight of it during her daily drive through the neighborhood. Hence, his expression of darkness and death through his music manifested also in the very car he drove. The question is, are we going to load up Christianity into the back of that spirit and carry our faith?

               

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