In Times of Shaking (Christians Being Tested)

In Times of Shaking
Robert Wurtz II

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25–29 NKJV)


The book of Hebrews was written at a time when Israel was about to go through the greatest shaking in its history. Everything the Jews had known was about to be shaken; their religion, their way of life, their security, their personal peace, their occupations, etc. In fact, the Romans were about to destroy Jerusalem completely. Not even the Temple, the place where Jews journeyed from around the world to worship God will be spared. Moreover, the Romans carved a menorah into one of their gates as a reminder of how they completely annihilated Herod’s Temple. Once they threw it down, and burned everything that was flammable, the soldiers plowed the Temple Mount like a farmer tills his field. 

The Romans will leave no continuity between the Jews former way of life and their future life. We know this event as the first Jewish revolt of 70 A.D. For most Jews their lives were already in a state of flux. Jesus Christ came on the scene around 30 A.D. challenging the Jews sincerely held religious beliefs. Prior to that time, a new order within Judaism known as the Zealots began terrorizing the Romans and strong-arming the people. They held to the “sold rule of God” doctrine. While trying to throw off Roman rule, they caused so much trouble that Vespasian was ordered to Jerusalem to handle the problem. When the people refused to cooperate, the Romans besieged the city as we have already discussed.

I have often wondered how the believing Jews went forward in their faith. Everything was changing (shaking), to the point that many lost everything (family, friends, possessions, careers, reputation, etc.). When it was all said and done, some Christians fell away. These times tested peoples’ faith and experience in God. Some frauds were discovered. They went out from the assembly because they were not of the assembly. This is what John tells us. They went out that it might be revealed that they were not all of us.

A Modern Shaking 

In the 21st century we are experiencing shaking as well. We have it on a global, national, and local level. Families are being shaken; churches are being shaken; and Christians are being shaken. Moreover, relationships are being shaken. Life events are also shaking us. Why? That the things which cannot be shaken may remain. The shaking reveals what cannot be shaken. It is a test. It seems that God is determined to destroy everything within our lives and within the kingdom of God that is not of Him. Only the things that God establishes cannot be moved. The works of men are to be shaken off as unprofitable and unholy. 

Sometimes we try to hold things together that God is trying to take apart. Nostalgia, sentimentality, tradition, all have a way of causing us to hold on to things that God may be “shaking off.” We prop things up because we like them, but many things have no place in the kingdom. God shakes our lives until we are willing to let them go. A wise man once said, “Sometimes when we won’t move — God will move us.” 



Winds of Change

People generally resist change unless it is something related to popular culture (pop culture). Some change comes, and we have no say in the matter. For example, in 2015 four people passed away that regularly attended our outreach church services. Six people passed who at one time or another attended an advanced Bible class I taught. Those are ten people who I will never get to minister to again — this side of heaven. I lost my mother to cancer; an uncle to diabetes; a former co-worker to a gun shot; and several other family members and friends. All total, seventeen people I know passed away this year. That is a gaping hole in my life. That is radical change. That is significant shaking. 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.

The time would fail to tell of everything that was shaken this year. Nevertheless, grace is the one thing that we cannot afford to live without. The writer tells us, let us have grace. When the world is changing, and terrorists seem to be running rampant everywhere; let us have grace. When politics threaten to undermine the foundations of the government and the churches; let us have grace. When we look up and seventeen friends and family have passed away; let us have grace. When our lives are changed to the point that we don’t recognize them anymore; let us have grace. 

 Serving Acceptably During the Shaking

We need grace if we are to ever serve God acceptably under conditions that we never expected to be in. Some Christians have watched their whole lives turn upside down. If we are depending on something or someone that’s now gone, what can we do? Let us have grace. Only God can empower us to continue in His will in a way that is well pleasing to Him — when everything around us seems to have shaken apart. God has a very special grace that is tailor made for our situation. 






When Sin Forces Our Hand

When Sin Forces Our Hand
Robert Wurtz II

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25-29 NKJV)

“Forcing someones hand” is an expression defined as “bringing about a situation which necessitates an agent to act, often causing a plan to be executed prematurely.” In the kingdom we have this promise that God is going to shake all creation. Why? So that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 

Most people have an aversion to testing. Nevertheless, God is a God of testing. Jesus Christ was tested and we are going to be tested. This life is the “testing grounds” of our faithfulness. Are we going to be faithful to God? Will we pass the test? Or will the test reveal what God already knew — our allegiances lie elsewhere than with Him. 

Recently Ron Bailey wrote a statement that has real significance to our subject. We read:

 “Loyalty is usually thought of as a virtue but it can be a vice. When our Bibles use the word ‘loyal’ in the OT it is usually translating the Hebrew word ‘chesed’. ‘Chesed’ is a wonderful word but it doesn’t mean slavish loyalty to one tribe or another; it is ‘Covenant love’ or ‘faithful dealing’. Sometimes to be ‘faithful’ doesn’t mean you ‘back’ someone irrespective of the issue, “my country first, right or wrong”. It means ‘speaking the truth in love’ no matter whose mouth God used to speak it. Loyalty can be just another name for bigotry.

As Paul expressed it “Test all things. Hold on to the things that are true”. That’s the difference between “loyalty” and “faithfulness”. First “test it” and then “hold on to what is true” no matter whose mouth it is coming from.”

This is a powerful exhortation and full of wisdom. It applies to all areas of our life, not just to our country. Ron states, “Loyalty is usually thought of as a virtue but it can be a vice.” Why? When we are ‘loyal’ to someone or something in such a way that we run cross with God’s revealed word — we are in sin. For example; every day people are faced with how to react to a friend or a family member that has chosen a life of sin. This could be anything from false religion, a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, hedonism etc., to full blown sexual immorality (pornea). This can be everything from sexual relations outside of marriage, whoredom, homosexuality, beastiality, etc. As a Christian, what should we do? This is where the battle is. Are we going to honor God or are we going to honor our friend or family member? The world not only wants us to love the person (which a Christian should always do), but they want us to “sign off” on the sinful behavior or pretend that it’s not sin. It is right to love them, but the enemy wants us to love them more than we love God. He wants us to compromise our commitment to God by agreeing with their sin. We cannot do this without compromising our faithfulness to God. Moreover, if we have the mind of Christ, why would we want to? 

The Example of Eli

Loyalty is when a person stands by and supports a person or thing no matter how wrong or right they are or it is. Faithfulness is when you stand for truth no matter who it affects. Eli is a good example of a person whose loyalty to family got in the way of their faithfulness to God. 
God’s reaction was exemplary. He and his family were put off of the high priestly line. 

Understand that these type challenges are ancient. We all have to face them. Will we be faithful to God? Will we be loyal to friends and family?

They Went Out…

This is where a lot of Christians are being “shaken” today. We must never allow the lifestyle of the people we love to alter our theology or Biblical standards. If we do, all we have proven is that we were unfaithful. As John has said, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 John 2:19 NKJV) God knew it all along; but circumstances brought it out. This is very sobering.   

Not Worthy of Me

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Matthew 10:37)

Friends and family members will force us to choose what side we are on. This is the plain implication of the text. Every minute of the day someone in the world is forced to choose between Christ and a friend or family member. Imagine being in a Muslim nation where Christianity is persecuted. Other parts of the world are equally hostile to Christianity. To become a Christian is to abandon your friends and family. We are only now experiencing this in the West. We may have to watch family and friends walk away because of the stand we take for God and His Word. Everything is going to be shaken. The question is; who will you and I be agreeing with when the shaking stops? Will we agree with God or will we agree with our friends and family? Will we be loyal to family and friends or will we be faithful to God? This is the great question… and we will all sooner or later answer it. 


How to Prove Something

How To Prove Something
Robert Wurtz II

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

In this entry I wish to examine the Divine imperative to prove all things and hold fast to what is proven to be good. By implication, we are to reject and discard that which is not good. Our text uses the Greek word dokima¿zete (dechomai) and it means to test as one would metals. Mounce gives the renderings: “to test, assay metals; to prove, try, examine, scrutinize; to put to the proof, tempt; to approve after trial, judge worthy, choose; to decide upon after examination, judge of, distinguish, discern: approve; discern; test.” The verb is in the present active imperative, meaning that it must be done and done continually. Secondly, we have the Greek word pa¿nta (panta), meaning “all” or “every.” The word “things” is added by the translators. We are to “test all.” If we test all and find that which is good, we are to hold fast to it.

The process of proving

The process of proving something in the kingdom of God is one of guarded suspicion. Things are not added and then if they are found to be “not good” they are removed later. They must be proven to be good before they can be “held fast.” We live in a fallen world that is under the sovereignty of God, but also under the general control of the Prince of the Power of the Air (Satan). Things of this world are not to be blindly trusted. Prophesies are not to be blindly trusted. Methods are not to be blindly trusted. 

Prove thyself before proving the thing

We have an important instruction given to us by Paul in Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Notice the phrase, “that you may…” This suggests that our ability to prove is conditioned upon the previous requirement, be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. If we allow the world to conform us to its manner and mode of thinking, we are dead in the water to prove anything to be “good, acceptable, and perfect.” So our first step is to prove our own way of life and ask if our mind is in agreement with God’s mind. Is it more in agreement with the world’s collective mind? Notice also that this is something that we must do, “Be not conformed…” It will not happen by chance, it must be deliberate. Until this is done, it is meaningless to read on.

Important questions in Paul’s theology

There are two basic questions that Paul typically moves in when judging things:

1. Does it glorify God?

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

2. Does it edify the born again. 

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.  (1 Cor. 14:26) 

Does it glorify God?

This is a general question: “does the ________ glorify God or does it glorify___________. In order to answer this question in the affirmative God has to be in view as the overwhelming recipient of glory. Many things have the potential of dividing the worship of God by placing the emphasis on the _________. Does the thing draw attention to God as the almighty sovereign God of all creation or does it bring God down from His lofty place. Is Christ exalted or is man exalted in the exercise or utilization of __________? 

There is a common saying that the “message is sacred, the method is not.” It probably originated with Charles Finney as he began introducing new measures into the churches and defended against folk that had concerns about them. If the method contradicts the message then we are in error. For example: if someone sought to utilize the vehicle of mixed martial arts to promote non-violence most rational people would say that the method contradicted the message. Likewise, God is not going to bless any method that simultaneously militates against His word. This is common sense. God is glorified when the method is in harmony with His purposes.

Does it edify the born again?

You will notice that I have italicized born again for emphasis. People that are unconverted are built up by partaking of carnal things. They are repulsed by spiritual things. This is why there is often a mixture of carnal/spiritual in certain circles. They are trying to suit both groups. Paul asked in effect, “does it edify?” Does _________ build up believers in their most holy faith? Does it promote true godliness and holiness? Does it contribute to their spiritual growth in the Lord? Does it equip them to be salt and light or does it corrupt the salt and shade the light? Does it build the person up to walk in the Holy Spirit? This is a different question than asking if someone “likes” _______ or is “entertained” by __________. 


The essential nature of testing

Radio altimeters are used to determine the distance between the plane and the ground. Without such an instrument, a pilot will not know how high of low he/she is flying and may crash into the ground. These instruments are electronic and subjected to rigorous testing. They are powered up and tested in extreme environments. Extreme heat and cold are but one phase of the testing. If the meter fails, it must be repaired before it can be fitted to the plane. No need to ask if we are glad these meters are strictly tested. To slapdash a test of this kind could cost hundreds of lives. So too in the churches of God, everything that is implemented into the service of God has to pass the test. It must be proven. It must be proven to effect the intended purpose of glorifying God and edifying the born again or it is to be rejected. 

Summary

We have briefly demonstrated the Divine imperative to proves all things holding fast only to that which is good. We have said that all things must either glorify God or edify the born again (or both). This agrees with Paul’s admonition to “take heed” how we build upon the foundation that has already been laid (Christ). Methods cannot contradict the message; if they do, they must be rejected. 




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