This is a teaching I gave Saturday evening, 4/4/15 at Delaware Christian Fellowship.
Regeneration or Reprobation (Revisited)
Robert Wurtz II
The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed by the fire; the founder is smelting in vain: for the wicked are not drawn off. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them (Jeremiah 6:29-30).
There are many people in the world today that are in inconceivable danger. Rebellion has taken root until it has taken their mind. The same was true of the people in the time of Jeremiah. God had turned the temperature up in the lives of these Israelites until the bellows caught fire and burned up. This is an awful picture of people that refuse to turn to God no matter what He does to arrest their attention. C.S. Lewis used to say that “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Pain is a form of distress, and it comes in many forms. Matthew Henry once said that “God is never at a loss for a means of dealing with rebellious people; His quiver is always full.”
No matter what God does, the rebellious refuse to repent and believe. It is a sad and vexing reality. God provides the necessities of life as an expression of His goodness, and yet sinners go on pretending He has done nothing at all. An attitude of “expectation” and “entitlement” enters in, along with a general ungrateful spirit, ripening the person for total destruction. They credit anything and everything for what they are or have, except the God that provided. What happens? God’s goodness is disregarded and scoffed at — so He has to turn the temperature up; that is to say, He has to bring greater pain and distress. Contrary to the health and wealth heresy gospel, God is not in the business of giving people good and comfortable lives; He is about saving souls. Did Jesus shed His blood so men and women could be comfortable? Obviously not. God wants sons and daughters. God wants people who will agree with what is right and surrender their lives to Him.
Many people want Heaven, they just want a heaven after their own lusts. They don’t want God to be there. They blasphemously envision partying and all kinds of sinful acts going on there. Just attend a funeral of a lost sinner, and you will hear the comments of how the dead are enjoying a Jack Daniels or some other crazy notion. I have been to funerals where the deceased were given 4 aces in their hands or a pack of smokes in their pocket as if they were headed to some Las Vegas style poker match. Horrified as I was, this is the mentality of the reprobate. They have lost all sense of rationality and right and wrong. Having heard Gospel messages perhaps hundreds of times throughout their lives — they became Gospel hardened. Their faculties have become pickled, and I wonder whether God will ever grant them repentance.
Many are simply unwilling to be saved; that is, they are unwilling to be saved on the terms upon which God will save them. Some so-called ministers understand this, so they modify the Gospel to make it more acceptable. Paul makes a staggering statement in Acts while speaking to a massive group of soon-to-be reprobates, Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Many ministers preach as if God is asking people if they would like to repent. This is not the case at all; God is commanding all men everywhere to repent. It is a direct order from God. You and I are commanded to repent. To ignore this command for one more second is to invite a greater level of reprobation and with it a growing doubt as to whether or not you will ever be saved.
Ask sinners whether they are willing to be saved, and they almost universally and sincerely say “yes,” but they will only be saved upon their own terms. However, when the minister offers God’s terms for salvation, they make excuses. The only terms on which they can possibly be saved, they reject. As the rich young ruler, they go away sorrowful. I think about the hundreds of people that I have ministered to over the years that have turned away from Christ just like that rich young ruler. Some went away sorrowful, not having great possessions, but have little more than the shirt on their back. You do not have to be rich to become a reprobate, all you have to do is keep resisting God and rejecting the Gospel.
I have seen perhaps thousands of people go forward to make commitments to serve God over the years, and yet they never followed through. Was it not an insult to God to make a false commitment? The only true reason that anyone is not a Christian, is that they are unwilling to repent, turn to Christ and obey the Gospel. Many have done this until they don’t even feel God anymore; they are reprobate. The bellows are burned up from fanning the flames of adversity in their life, and yet they have only hardened and became more evil. They have treasured up wrath against the day of judgment; they have trodden under foot the blood of Christ; they have traded almost nothing for their everlasting soul. Many keep telling themselves there is time, and that they will repent in the end. They are blinded even now and are being made into vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. Like Pharaoh, they are becoming increasingly bolder in their sinning. They don’t feel conviction or their conscience. The Holy Ghost has been grieved away, and their conscience is seared with a hot iron. With each passing second, they are hardening all the more- getting farther from God and the ark of safety.
I look at young people that are now adults and tremble. People that have heard things that many prophets and great men desired to hear and did not hear them. God has poured out His Spirit to them and shown them many signs and wonders. Nevertheless, the rebellion and the reprobation goes on. The trouble is, I have been at the bedside of the rebellious as they we passing into eternity. Many people think they will come to God on their death bed, but I have watched the blank stares when you try to share the Gospel. I have been told of the terror that the person felt knowing in a short while they were about to face God; only to never see them alive again. They lived their whole lives rebelling against God and playing games — never getting serious about their soul. Now they are in their grave. I have watched many at the end of their life struggle to receive the grace of the Gospel. Years of running and rebelling had finally caught up.
Of the funerals and memorial services, I have presided over, I often come back to the words of Solomon. He had it all. He had everything this world wants and in super abundance. He was drowning in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He called it all vanity. Nevertheless, he ended his thoughts with these words I would like to leave in this entry to those who are following a similar path; Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; […] Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:18-21)
What was the message Paul brought first as he traveled? It was a very simple, but highly unpopular message. In fact, it is one that historians would love to scratch out of the history books. Nevertheless, we have the biblical record. It has been almost 2000 years now. The message has not changed. However, turn on the Christian Television or the radio and try to find this simple message. After all, most claim they are “reaching the world for Jesus” or “taking the Gospel to the far flung corners of the globe.” What has been done with, “Repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance”?
Prepared to Preach
Although early Pentecostalism was born in the fires of the Wesleyian Holiness Revivals, in modern times, we have a wholesale “Corinthian” phenomenon going on in Full Gospel realms. We have multitudes who have skipped over repentance and holiness, and moved directly to faith and the gifts of the Spirit. We ought to pause and give that some serious thought. There is a proud Corinthian self-centeredness that glorifies the individual and their “giftings” rather than focusing on the Body of Christ as a unit. I have come up with a word for this by combining Charismatic and Corinthian to get “Corismatic.” A Corismatic is a person who never truly repented of the sins, brought forth fruits worthy of repentance, but went straight for the gifts of the Spirit. This is why so much of the Corinthian money grubbing, proud politics, alcoholism, and sexual scandal has plagued many full gospel ministries in the last 60 years. We received direct orders from Heaven through Paul, but the message of repentance is MIA.
The Message of Mar’s Hill
A lot has been said about Mar’s Hill. Ministries named after Mar’s Hill. What was Mar’s Hill really all about? Perhaps we can close this entry by simply allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us. This is the message that we desperately need in this crisis hour. Once we get this right, we can move on to the next thing; but not until then. Again, what did God, through the mouth of Paul tell the people at Mar’s Hill?
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31 NKJV)
The Road to Armageddon
Robert Wurtz II
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14-16)
In the early 1900s Sigmund Freud put forward what many believed was a new theory about human nature. Through his experiments in Psychoanalysis, he had discovered that human beings have aggressive, violent and sexual forces that are lying just below man’s consciousness — waiting to be unleashed. Through his examination of dreams and free association, he came to believe that man was a violent creature. In fact he wrote:
“Men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus [man is wolf to man]. Who in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion? As a rule this cruel aggressiveness waits for some provocation or puts itself at the service of some other purpose, whose goal might also have been reached by milder measures. In circumstances that are favorable to it, when the mental counter-forces which ordinarily inhibit it are out of action, it also manifests itself spontaneously and reveals man as a savage beast to whom consideration towards his own kind is something alien.” (Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, trans. and ed., James Strachey; New York: W. W. Norton, 1961, p. 58)
Had we lived contemporary with Freud, we may have congratulated him on his discovery of the Adamic nature. He is late to the party by several thousand years, but better late than never. As the old time preacher would have said it, “he was slow but worth waiting on.” Nevertheless, Jesus had a more succinct description of man in his fallen state, You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44) This is the real situation fallen man must reckon with. The primitive aggressive forces under the surface are actually the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3).
A Temporary “Fix”
In the early 1900s democratic governments sought for a way to control what they called “the dangerous crowd.” That is, people that assemble to act violently and destructively — putting the stability and safety of the whole society at risk. Totalitarian governments rule with an iron fist typically, and squash such uprisings by force. But how can these people be dealt with in democratic governments where the people have the right to assemble, right to protest, etc. when they get out of control? Hence, a slogan came to be used that we must “make the world safe for democracy.” How would they do it?
A strategy was devised that would channel man’s aggressiveness towards something non-destructive. Many inventions were being developed; manufacturing techniques were improving; and money was made available through fractional lending. So, we entered the era of consumptionism. People spent their energy working to buy the latest clothes, the newest car, the larger home and the coolest gadgets. Many people found their identity in this “competition” and status was the goal of life. Exalt yourself by the things you possess. From a Biblical standpoint, the powers that be learned to exploit the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life in order to keep man happy and docile. By creating an atmosphere of “discontentment” people would work their whole lives chasing the wind. This served to keep them from rioting in the streets. This is an oversimplification of the subject, but this is a blog entry so we must digress.
The First Box of Cigars
Edward Bernays was front and center in this process. He is the father of public relations and to a large degree popular culture (POP Culture). His uncle was Sigmund Freud. Bernays sent Freud a box of Havanna cigars in exchange for a copy of his book on Psychoanalysis. He then employed Freud’s findings to help corporations transform our culture from “needs” based to “desires” based. People began buying products they did not need. The poor began behaving like the wealthy. This worked for the government, because they were working to “make the world safe for democracy.” People were too busy to riot and vandalize.
The Failure of Selfish Discontent
For nearly a hundred years this man made scheme has been somewhat effective. We have had wars to contend with, but our streets have been relatively calm (with the exception of a few race riots over the years). However, when the economy plunged in 2008 and the handheld device became the primary focus of young peoples’ lives, the door started coming open again. Few young people aspire to the things their parents and grandparents did. Their values are different. The crowd is growing more and more dangerous everyday. Therefore, I came up with some statements to describe this phenomena:
When Edward Bernays worked to help manufacture a state of discontentment within society, it only served as a temporary distraction. In fact, it only ever worked on people who bought into the system and were willing and able to put forth the efforts to experience it. That leaves out a great many people in the 21st century. Theirs is a mind of worldliness + contentment, a dangerous combination. That is not to say that worldliness + discontentment is the right thing. It is not. It is simply what has been used to a decent effect for controlling mass violence within society.
A Second Box of Cigars
At the time of this writing the Missouri National Guard has been called in to handle rioting in Furgason, MO. An 18 year old African American man was shot multiple times by a police officer. This set off multiple rounds of both peaceful and violent riots. The situation appears to be deteriorating. The irony of this situation is that the young man was alleged to have strong arm robbed a convenience store owner of a box of cigars before his confrontation with police. A thousand nay-sayers will probably break out in a chorus of hilarious laughter and scorn; but could it be that this event in Furgason has signaled the end of man’s attempt to “make the world safe for Democracy” by manufacturing a state of discontent within society? Governments are losing control of the people. Police are arming themselves with military style equipment. It seems we are on the brink of Armageddon.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Godliness + contentment = great gain
As we have seen, contentment alone will do nothing more than undo man’s scheme to control society. We must have godliness with contentment. This can only be accomplished by being born again of the Holy Spirit. When people have the nature of God — there are no “aggressive violent and sexual forces that are lying just below man’s consciousness — waiting to be unleashed.” The cross deals with them when we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into Jesus Christ (the last Adam). We become partakers of the Divine nature. Our personality yields the fruit of love, joy, and peace. We are moved by compassion and in gentleness. This is our only hope. We are living in the last days. May we ever be faithful to point to the true solution for this crisis hour.
When “Something” is Worse Than “Nothing At All”
Robert Wurtz II
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6–9 KJV)
How often have we heard the saying, “Well, it’s better than nothing?” What about the sibling notion, “Well, at least they are doing something.” From a Biblical perspective one might say, “Well, nevertheless, Christ is preached.” These sayings are certainly valid in proper contexts; however, what are we to make of them when it’s the Gospel itself that is in view and at risk?
Galatians is the only epistle that Paul wrote with his own hand. Typically he employed an amanuensis to do the writing — as he did the dictating. Men like Tertius (Romans 16:22), Tichicus or Onesimus (Colossians 4:18) wrote the epistles, and Paul would write the salutation at the beginning and end (see 1 Corinthians 16:21, 2 Thess. 3:17). However, in Galatians 6:11 we don’t have the signature of an amanuensis; we have the words, “See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!” Undoubtedly Paul’s eyesight did not allow him to write in normal sized characters. It must have looked like a first grader had written those words. Why the sudden change of process? Why no amanuensis?
The situation at Galatia was too urgent. He had to get the letter off to the people and right now. When they beheld his writing they must have been horrified. What could possibly be so serious that a man half-blind would take the time to write out with his own hand a letter such as this. Their alarm would not have been unfounded. They had hardly passed the salutation when they were confronted by the sentence, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. The word accursed comes from the Greek anathema and means Divine disfavor. It is the opposite of grace and peace. Paul uses the word again in 1 Corinthians 16:22 where we read, If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! (NKJV) These sayings strike most Christians as harsh, but that is more of the result of the world’s influence on them than anything else. God is who He is and His word is what it is — not as He is or His word is as seen through the lens of God’s enemies. Comprehending Paul’s use of anathema will go a long way in restoring a proper reverence to God and the Gospel. Otherwise, the offenders will be accursed.
A Gospel of the Flesh
The enemy doesn’t seem to care what kind of fleshly means he uses, so long as he can get Christians to employ the flesh instead of continuing in the Spirit. What did Paul say? “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 NKJV) This is any means of perfection and maturity in Christ other than walking in the Spirit. Some prefer coming under the Law to walking in the Spirit. It is the flesh. Others are living in sin and abusing grace (trying to) and that is also flesh. Flesh is flesh is flesh is flesh; and it comes in many flavors. Again, the enemy doesn’t care what version of flesh you choose — so long as he can stop you beginning in and continuing in the Spirit.
The consequence for those who teach these type of things is that they are accursed. Whether they realize it now or not — they… are… accursed. It will be evident in the Judgment if they don’t turn from their ways. Why? Because people who take it upon themselves to pervert the Gospel deserve to be without grace. If they didn’t, God would not have inspired Paul to pronounce a curse on them. Are we nicer than God? Paul said it, “Let them be accursed.” The word let in the Greek is in the present imperative.
It would seem to me that ministers and teachers would examine what they are preaching and teaching against what Paul has preached to make sure they are not cursed. None are exempt from the possibility of cursing. Not even angels. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Paul preached repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ until the end of his ministry. They who would pervert the Gospel and turn grace into lasciviousness will not admit this. However, we have it in Paul’s own words. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:20 emphasis added) From here folks were to be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit. This “receiving of the Holy Spirit” is what Paul describes as “having begun in the Spirit…”
Let us keep our minds on what Paul said, “If anyone preaches any other Gospel than what we have preached to you — let them be accursed.” I can’t feel safe preaching the Gospel according to Martin Luther, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Bill Bright, Billy Graham, Joel Osteen or (insert favorite preacher here ________): I have to preach the Gospel that Paul preached; that is, if I am to avoid the curse pronounced in Galatians 1. We cannot look to men, we must look to God’s word. Nevertheless, multitudes are willing to risk being cursed and all the while proclaiming to be blessed. How many today are preaching grace, but are really under a curse? Any Gospel that does not result in a Christian receiving the Spirit by the hearing of faith and continuing on walking in that Spirit that they began in… is not Paul’s Gospel. There are a great many names we can apply, but Paul’s would not be one of them.
Going back under the Mosiac Law is a curse waiting to happen. Bringing in the world’s hair-brained schemes to supplement the Gospel is as much madness as when Sarah tried to help God by giving her husband Abraham an Egyptian slave woman to have relations with. Paul called Ishmael a child born after the flesh. The Gospel is being preached “after the flesh” every time someone tries to freshen it up with worldly – secular – God-hating contributions. What fellowship has light with darkness? Certainly it was serious enough for Paul to rush off a letter written with his own handwriting. I suppose if that didn’t get their attention — nothing would.
What is Compromise?
Robert Wurtz II
You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:18b-21)
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26, 27)
The word “therefore” signals the end of Paul’s sojourn in and around Ephesus. He is leaving the area, but before he goes he reminds the leaders a second time that he has faithfully declared to them the whole counsel of God. He says, “I kept back nothing” and then “I have not shunned” to declare everything you needed to know about the Gospel. Both phrases are translated from the Greek root hupostello. You will remember this word from the pair of uses in Hebrews 10:38, 39 where the writer states, “the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him…” The word means to furl the sails or to shrink back out of fear. When the winds were carrying a ship in a direction repulsive to the navigator, he may order to “furl the sail” (hupostello) to slow the ship down. In other words, Paul means to say that he suppressed nothing of the truth through fear of giving offense. He did not compromise the Gospel.
This is significant because the history of the church at Ephesus is recorded from its conception — through to its appearance in Revelation chapter 2. When we think of Ephesus we should think of a church that was planted and cultivated rightly. Nothing was held back. Ephesus became one of the premier churches of the first century. There can be no doubt that the details recorded in Acts chapters 18-20 are intended to instruct us in the basics of establishing a church. People may change and cultures will differ, but the basic call to repentance and the establishment of that church under the head of Christ is worthy of all acceptation.
Reading the account of Paul’s work at Ephesus, and contrasting that with modern day evangelistic practices and church growth strategies, I am brought to understand his use of the phrase “I beseech thee.” Paul would beg people to do what God’s word says to do. He was prepared to take a beating or even lose friends in order to protect the authentic Gospel. He wanted the truth of the Gospel to continue on. The feeling back of the words “I beseech thee” goads us to feel the seriousness of such matters. Paul begged and wept over these things. We ought to follow his lead and do likewise.
Free From the Blood of All Men
It is because Paul refused to shrink back, but went ahead and declared the full counsel of God, that he could declare, “I am innocent of the blood of all men.” The inverse of this would have been that he refused to declare the full counsel of God and was guilty of the blood of all that heard his Gospel. This is a clear allusion to Ezekiel 33:1-6. In Paul’s theology, the Old Testament passage was still in play. This makes Ezekiel 33:1-6 axiomatic and applicable to all who know and preach the truth of the Gospel. Is God a respecter of persons? Or is God telling us in the clearest of terms that He expects that His Gospel not be compromised?
What does it mean to be guilty of the blood of a man? Clearly it means that there is a sense in which the one who was supposed to properly warn the sinner shares in that sinner’s ruin. Just as Isaiah cried out “woe is me” in Isaiah 6; Paul said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16b) Taken together Paul’s attitude of life was simple; “Woe is me, if I do not declare the full counsel of God — and cleanse myself from the blood of all men!” He knew he had to discharge his role as a steward of the Gospel. He had to fulfill his calling. This meant communicating the facts of the Gospel no matter who they offended.
Compromise and Its Children
The greatest compromise of all is the compromise of the Gospel. Compromise begets more compromise; it brings forth after its own kind. It is foolish for men to think that compromising the Gospel and its core message of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus will not bring about the ultimate compromise of all that is called Christianity. I’m asked on an almost regular basis; “What is going on today with people that call themselves Christians? Why do they condone everything from flagrant worldliness to homosexuality?” My answer is always the same. I ask the person if they really want to know the answer. Because you are not going to like my answer. The reason why things are going down the tubes is because we are failing in our evangelism of the lost. We have been failing for over 100 years when Billy Sunday put away the need to inquire with sinners individually and pray them through to a real experience in God. We started manufacturing Christians like Ford motor company manufacturers automobiles.
Some ministers do well to bring people into a state where they know they are lost and that God is dealing with them. The failure is when the person is told to say a little prayer and made to believe that the prayer means they have “repented of their sins.” Repentance is not something you merely say (such as “I repent!”); it is something you do. The Greek word means to change your mind about your sin. It is not a feeling. Paul said that Godly sorrow works repentance, but it is not repentance itself. Godly sorrow is a sorrow God-wards. It is distress for our realizing what we have done to God. That sorrow or grief can work a change of mind that we will not regret. We will be glad we changed our mind. In other words, we don’t look back with regret and wish we would have kept on in sin. When we realize that we have offended God, we are able to call upon Him in a way that is meaningful.
As soon as a person says the salvation prayer they almost always stop seeking God. A sense of relief comes over them. The whole process of Godly sorrow and repentance ends. Why? Because they are made to believe they have done what is expected of them. It is totally mechanical.
By way of illustration, imagine you are in court and have been convicted of ten felony offenses and are facing the death penalty. You have heard the charges and you understand what you deserve. Now imagine that your lawyer tells you to come forward and stand before the judge as a sign of surrender. He then asks you to repeat after him; “Dear judge, … I have committed these terrible crimes… and I ask you to forgive me… etc.” Who could do such a thing in good conscience? Do you think the judge would believe him? Who would actually believe the judge is going to pardon this man? I dare say not 1 in 10,000 people would think that would work. Yet it goes on every day in evangelistic circles. The whole spectacle was fabricated by the lawyer to get the guilty man to say what he believes the judge wants to hear. Do you believe such a practice would be effectual? And if it were, do you think the guilty man would cease committing crimes? I trow not on all accounts. And if a judge, fallible as he be, would reject such a thing as a fabrication — how much more would the Judge of all the earth who searches the hearts and knows the thoughts and intentions?
People are being made to believe they can “get saved” without counting the cost, forsaking their sin, and following Christ with all of their might. The consequence? No real regeneration. No miracle of salvation. No born again experience. No new heart. No new birth. No mind of Christ. No new creature. The old is still around, and the new has not come. Nevertheless, because they repeated the prayer they are told they are saved. Believing they are saved they begin attending church meetings. They aspire to ministry and learn how to be a Christian by watching others. They get bolder and bolder and begin challenging Biblical practices and doctrines. They advocate what God hates and hate what God loves. Why? Because they are still in the carnal mind and few if any are willing to admit that it is because they were never properly born into the Kingdom. They prayed a prayer and were made to believe they were all that God has done in Christ.
If we fail to make known the full counsel of God, and leave people in a false state of salvation, or in a false hope of assurance, we have done more damage than had we spoken nothing at all. We will have have made people believe that they can “be saved” without changing their mind about their sins and turning to the Savior for forgiveness and freedom. The prayer ended the process. “I did it” … “I’ve done what you said” and they are unchanged. There are exceptions to this, but they are few and far between and must never be allowed to serve as a defense of such a failed practice.
Understand that the duty of a lost sinner is not to come forward in a meeting or to pray a prayer forged in the mind of someone else; but they are to comprehend the facts of the Gospel and call upon the name of the Lord on the basis of what they understand to be their condition. If the prayer is not of their own heart, it is not genuine — no matter how many times we encourage them to be sincere when they say it. Even the thief on the cross cried out to Christ from his own heart. This is what must take place. This is the beginning of the end of the great compromise of the last 100+ years. If we will get back to Paul’s attitude of preaching until he was clear of the blood of all men we will see this thing turn around. If not we will plunge into oblivion and our whole identity will be lost.
The Battle For The Gospel
Robert Wurtz II
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 NKJV)
Jude wrote this epistle with a Holy Spirit inspired urgency. He states, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you…” The Saints were in danger; the Gospel was being threatened. This is a picture of our times. The same enemy keeps on with his tactics. The Saints have to position themselves to guard him step for step and block him blow for blow.
I once heard a minister say that we are just one generation away from losing our heritage as Christians. All it takes is for one generation to believe a different gospel, and the faith of our fathers is in jeopardy. Many are even now waiting it out hoping the old timers will die off so they can fully implement their plans. The progressive ideas of philosophy and politics have infiltrated Christendom – leading to the notion that we must abandon the old ways and embrace a new day. Nevertheless, its the same old dog with a new name. Satan has been trying to overthrow the common faith since the day of Pentecost.
Earnestly Contend for the Faith
As Weust has pointed out, “The faith here is not faith as exercised by the individual, but Christianity itself in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation.” The book of Acts would have been the historical account of the faith being once and for all committed to the Saints. So it is “that faith” that we have to earnestly contend for. Not the watered down forms of the last 120 years, but the faith as Peter, Phillip and Paul preached it. To understand what is meant, one needs to make a fresh study of the book of Acts. Romans explains the Gospel, but in Acts we see the preaching of it playing out in real life. Not the theoretical, but the practical. men and women are called to repent and believe the Gospel. That is, change your mind about your sinful life and turn from it. Renounce it and confess it. Then, believe the Gospel. This means our complete faith and trust in Christ alone for our salvation. It means being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit.
Earnestly Contend for the Faith
“Earnestly contend” is the Greek word epagonisomai, and it is a hapax legomenon (meaning it is found only here in the New Testament). The verb was used of athletes preparing for and contending in athletic games. It speaks of a vigorous, intense, determined struggle to defeat the opposition (Wuest). We get our English word “agony” from the noun form of this word. This means that the ancient Greek athletes exerted themselves to the point of agony trying to compete and win in the games. This implies great determination and discipline. Simply put, it was very difficult to compete in the games and it is very difficult to earnestly contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered unto the Saints. This type of approach (akin to the athletic discipline and intensive effort) is what Jude says the Saints must employ in defending “The Faith” (i.e., the New Covenant).
God is never taken off guard by the enemies antics. in fact, it was prophesied hundreds of years before the writing of Jude’s epistle that this would happen. He writes, For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Long ago God called out these deceivers. You will notice that the second half of the sentence uses Lord twice, and it is two different Greek words. The emphasis here is on the Lordship and supreme authority of Christ. This is in opposition to those who preach grace as lewdness (unbridled lust). In other words, one can be saved without having to be crucified with Christ and come under God’s absolute authority. Many people today “made a decision” for Christ, but never truly repented of their sins and placed their complete trust in Christ. They never knew godly sorrow for their sins such as brings about a repentance that remains.
We must earnestly contend for the faith of the New Testament. The world is infiltrating with a paradigm that says, “Its a new day and its all up for grabs.” Nay verily. We must contend- step for step and blow for blow. We must battle to the point of agony if necessary. Souls are at risk and the soul of the churches are at risk. If we ignore our duty and fail in our mission, we will reap a ruin incomprehensible within the churches. We have the orders to carry out and we have the grace to get it done. This is a crisis hour and as Jude put it, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
How Shall They Hear?
Robert Wurtz II
For “WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” (Romans 10:13-16 NKJV)
I have quoted this passage at length in order to focus on the importance of “hearing” the Gospel. Certainly, there is a sense in which all people everywhere ought to know that there is a Creator. We know that the world is filled with people that should acknowledge the light that they have, but they suppress it. In fact, God has written His laws in the hearts of men and women, so that from birth, we all have a basic sense of right from wrong. Nevertheless, unless people are challenged in some way they will go on suppressing these realities. Paul reminds us that some are so hardened in heart that they do it and approve of others that do it as well. How will they hear? God’s method of challenging these sinners is through what Paul called, “the foolishness of preaching.” Not that preaching is foolish, but rather people (especially those who consider themselves educated) often view preaching as a foolish thing to do. Nevertheless, this is God’s method.
Unless They Are Sent
It stands to reason that there are realities that must be true before a person can be sent to preach. Saul of Tarsus is an example. Until his Demascus Road experience, he was not qualified- nor did he desire to preach the Gospel. In fact, he was at odds with God’s revealed Gospel in mind and in practice. To a lesser or greater degree, all unbelievers (the unregenerate) are in a state of disagreement with God when it comes to the Gospel. Saul went so far as to persecute those who believed and would have stamped out the preaching of the Gospel if he could have. However, when Saul was converted and became (as it were) Paul (as a new creation in Christ) he satisfied the first requirement for preaching the Gospel.
Until Paul was truly born of the Spirit he was not in agreement with God from the heart and could never preach the Gospel. This is because the carnal mind is at enmity with God and cannot be made subject to His law. Bear in mind that I am speaking of the Gospel as it is known in the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament and not the post-tent crusade, man-centered gospel as it has been known now for roughly a century. The unregenerate can preach the “modern gospel,” but they could never preach the Gospel of the book of Acts. So we have to make the distinction between the preacher of the modern gospel and the Preacher that Paul is speaking of when he says, “And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?”
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” (Romans 10:16)
Paul, referencing Isaiah, calls the Gospel message “our report.” The first aspect of the message is the revelation of the sinfulness of all men and women. This is argued extensively in the early chapters of Romans and was preached regularly in the book of Acts. It typically produced one of two responses: anger or trembling. When Stephen preached, the people got angry and stoned him. When Paul preached to Felix, he trembled. Paul heard Stephen’s message and later repented. We have no record of Felix repenting. So we see then that it is not enough to tremble at the notion that we have offended God and are accountable to him in the great Judgment. We have to repent (change our mind) and turn to Christ. We have to agree with what God has said about our sinful behavior and our sinful condition.
Roman’s 10:16 equates obedience with believing the report (message). If a person does not believe they will not obey. This is an act of the will- not a matter of being convinced. God Himself has shown man the truth. Many people have received far more “light” than they should have ever needed to believe, but they go on in disobedience. The religious leaders even saw Lazarus raised from the dead; and rather than believing- they sought to kill him again. Amazing. But this is how obstinate man can be. This is how hostile to the truth of the Gospel some people are.
A God and A Gospel that Sinners Will Accept
Israel was loaded with false prophets that told the people what they wanted to hear. How could these wolves in sheep clothing ever bring Israel to a place of repentance? They were too busy telling the people about peace and safety. The same is true today. Men and women have fabricated a “god” that will accept their sinfulness and be available at their beckon call. Grace has become a synonym for license to sin. Some people will go to their grave worshiping this god- because the process answers their inward need to worship their Creator. It is a placebo. It is false.
Paul was greatly challenged by Jews that believed they were the elect and could not possibly be at enmity with God. They saw no need to repent under the deceptive religion they believed. We get the impression in Romans that many believed themselves above the common people because they were teachers of the law and of “babes.” In their mind this made them exempt from the very things they taught. They were born and raised Jews and therefore were God’s people by divine right. Paul thoroughly challenged this belief.
In modern times we have a similar dilemma. Many people are born into Christian homes, and like the Jews, believe that this is what makes them a Christian. They would never admit this, but we have to account for the fact that historically the many children of true Christians are likely to have never undergone a true conversion experience. The Puritans experienced this in the 16th and 17th century in America and had to make compromises in church procedures to accommodate them within the churches. Paul would have challenged these peoples’ assurance-just as John the Baptist had done. God is able of stones to raise up children in Christian homes; nevertheless, this does not make the person a true child of God.
We can train up a child in a way he or she should go, but this does not make them believers. This was Paul’s message in Romans. We all, no matter our upbringing, have to come to a place of Godly sorrow and true repentance. We have to acknowledge our sins just like everyone else. We have to repent of many of the sins that run rampant within churches and go completely unchallenged. In fact, we have to begin to see how many churches have established their rules of conduct in such a way that it allows children raised in church to fly under the radar. There are a lot more sins in the world than drunkenness and homosexuality (sexual immorality). Hypocrisy, greed, lying, gluttony, pride, and a host of other like things are often the very sins that answer to sinners rebellion. This is what the Pharisees and religious leaders (who thought they were elect) we often guilty of. When these go unchallenged-many people never see their sinfulness and therefore will never repent. Stephen was the type of preacher that could look at Saul (Paul) who was “blameless as touching the law,” and declare “you stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did – so do you.”
How Shall They Hear?
If there is any question that I dwell on more than any other it is this, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Until we get some people truly born of the Spirit and called of God- there is no hope in our lands. We have “ministers” a dime a dozen- but where are the preachers like Paul and Stephen that will call the people to repent and believe the Gospel? How long must we go on wearying ourselves as did Israel with false prophet after false prophet? The only hope we have is for the preachers that are truly born again to preach the Gospel as it is supposed to be. Not ear-tickling, and not abusing the people, but ministering the “report.” I have no doubt that if men will do this God will back the words and we will begin to see real change in our lands.