I wish to open up for discussion a topic that is close to my heart and it is that of men in controversy with God. Jesus told the rich young ruler to go and sell 'all' that he had and give to the poor. He did not tell Peter that or James or me for that matter. But this young ruler had a CONTROVERSY with God. There was something that God was putting His finger on that was standing in the way. What is it betwixt [i]you[/i] and God? What is it betwixt [i]me[/i] and God? Folk simply never grow past the controversy they refuse to deal with. I hope here to revisit some thoughts I put together a few years ago along this line. Whether Sinner or Saint- the controversy has to be dealt with.[b]THE GENUINE BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE[/b]TEXT. [i]Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.[/i] (John 3:3 KJV)Salvation is the process by which a person is gloriously transformed from being a child of disobedience to a child of God. The children of disobedience are lost and are under the [i]spirit[/i] of disobedience. They live according to the ways of this world and according to the Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2). Those who have been born of water [u]only[/u] are fleshly (carnal); but those who have been born of the Holy Spirit are [i]spiritual[/i]. Unless a person is born again of the Spirit they cannot [u]see[/u] the Kingdom of God, neither in this world or the world to come. In this lesson I propose,I. To examine first the three states of unrepentant sinners. II. To explore the methods of dealing with each state of unrepentant sinner.III. To explore the initial evidence of the born again experience.I. The three states of unrepentant sinners.A. The Careless SinnerB. The Awakened SinnerC. The Convicted SinnerA. The [u]careless sinner[/u] can simply care-less about their souls salvation and need for God. They are opposed to their own salvation. They are their own worst enemy. Some will get hostile or even violent at the proposal of being saved. Sinners are very creative in finding ways to ignore their need for God and press Him as far back in their minds as possible. They don't like to retain God in their knowledge and prefer to sin unabated. These people are enemies of both God and themselves. Some are often quite subtle and simply ignore God and believe they are good people. Yet others may be in some form of false religion. No matter which category they fall into- they are quite [i]careless[/i] about their souls. There are two things that man has come to ignore of the highest importance; their [i]health[/i] and their immortal [i]soul[/i]. You wish to anger a man? Quiz him about his health or his soul. Men are careless most about what matters most. Men will often [i]sacrifice[/i] to destroy themselves- but will not lift a finger to save their own life. They will spend grocery money on drugs and drink- but will not sacrifice for real needs. What is it in the hearts of men that make them so against themselves? Why would a person drink alcohol who knew their liver was failing? Why would a person continue to smoke while on oxygen? All of this is evidence of their own enmity against God and themselves. They are caught in the struggle between self-preservation and self-destruction. Almost as if they are saying, "If I should die- may it be by mine own hand." In effect saying, "I died and went to hell- but I did it MY way!" This is man asserting his own autonomy even if it destroys himself.They are deceived by Satan and are fearlessly confident in their sinful condition. They feel no need to consider the vast number of ways in which God is trying to gain their attention at every moment and at every turn. They ignore the sight of a church. They skip past Christian TV and radio when skimming channels. They ignore Christian related billboards and bumperstickers. They change the subject when a friend brings God up. More than that, they [i]do always resist the Holy Ghost[/i] that is using these and many other means to arrest their attention. They surround themselves with worldly things that bolster their deception and hasten their damnation. Their life is a huge stronghold in which they feel safe and comfortable. It will take powerful preaching to flush them from their fortress of deception. B. The [u]awakened sinner[/u] is someone that has somehow been shocked into at least considering their need for God. This happens at times when tragedy strikes such as a loved one passing away or being suddenly killed. It happens when the individual themselves suffer some calamity such as being diagnosed with cancer or falling into financial crisis. It can happen at times of great distress and fear such as the events of 9-11. It may also happen at times when sudden danger is upon them such as a Tornado Warning or an Earthquake. It will also happen when the Holy Spirit is present. Jacob and Isaiah had such moments. When men come into a conscious awareness of the presence of God they declare "WOE is me! For I am undone!" Likewise, the job of the minister is to awaken sinners by the truth of the Gospel. They must preach with power that God is manifest in the preaching and the people see themselves and say, in effect as did Eli, "IT IS THE LORD!" Occasionally God sovereignly shakes a sinner from slumber with prophetic dreams (Genesis 41:8, Daniel 4:5, etc.). But generally He has chosen preaching, albeit what the world may call- the foolishness of preaching- to reach the lost. C. The [u]convicted sinner[/u] is a person who after hearing a Gospel message and having been dealt with greatly by the Holy Spirit is convinced of their need for God and the Gospel. They are convinced they are a sinner and need to repent. They are convinced that they need to trust in Christ and turn everything completely over Him. To a lesser or greater degree they understand the Gospel. They are familiar more or less with God and His word- at least enough to be born again. The Holy Spirit has brought them to that place where they are trembling in awe of God and are halting between two opinions. They are at the [i]crossroads[/i]- and must choose whom they will serve. At this time the Holy Spirit is in the role of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus dealt with the rich young ruler- the Holy Spirit, in the same fashion, is dealing with this person. He is showing them in their minds-eye what they must submit to Him in order to be saved and have treasure in Heaven. This is a one-on-one with the Holy Ghost. This is where the great striving and wrestling happens. The Holy Spirit knows what is standing between Him and them and He is showing it to them. The convicted sinner is made to know exactly what he/she is trading for their immortal soul.No one walks away from God not knowing what it was that they are trading for their immortal soul. When folk get truly serious with God He will begin to deal. These are the first demands on the Lordship that He requires. God will put His finger on something and in effect say to our hearts, "If I am the Lord- be done with this." Folk used to tarry at the altar often in strong crying and tears wresting with God. Today they don't often even make it this far. They repeat a prayer and are told they are 'saved'. But where is the dealing of the Holy Ghost? Where is the transformation? Where is the JOY of the Lord that floods in to replace the conviction of sin that had bought them low? Many have no JOY because they never submitted to God. The same Holy Ghost that brings conviction of sin will bring the JOY of the Lord- but the key is the [i]controversy[/i]. Have you dealt with what God keeps putting His finger on? You will go no farther until you do. Some get up from the altar sowwowful- pretending to have made things right with God. they fool the preacher and they fool the family- but deep in their heart that finger is still pointing at the controversy. We have to deal with the controversy. There is no way around it.
_________________Robert Wurtz II
I. The three states of unrepentant sinners.A. The Careless SinnerB. The Awakened SinnerC. The Convicted Sinner
Finney also addresses these three conditions in his Revival Lectures. Just thought it interesting.