Monthly Archives: June 2012

Choose For Yourselves This Day Whom You Will Serve

         The invisible war rages. There are two competing kingdoms. Real Christians know the real fight is between the Lord Jesus and Satan. These two are the only leaders of the only two kingdoms that exist on the planet.

         Thus, the fight is not between this country and that. It is not a fight between Christians and Muslims. It is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats. And it is not a fight between Catholics and Protestants.

         The devil has authority over the entire world of unregenerate sinful mankind:

         And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]   

         The Lord Jesus is the King of His kingdom:

         I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. [1 Timothy 6:13-16]  

         The devil offered the Lord all the kingdoms of the world as his second in command, which means the devil controls all the kingdoms, nations, and countries of the world, or he could not have made the offer. This means he even controlled and sat atop the powerful Roman Empire.

         If one purports to honor and believe the Word of God, one must believe this. Therefore, if a person wants life and real freedom, he must at some point leave the devil’s kingdom and join the Lord’s. Otherwise, do nothing. The Lord Jesus is only in authority over those who have confessed His Name and bowed before Him. He is the Father of those who have accepted His sacrifice on their behalf and have been released from their bondage to sin.

         According to His teachings, everyone else is under the authority of Satan.

         Thus, the devil creates sub-battles within his kingdom to deceive the lost and even Christian believers about the real battle. He divides us through political parties, culture, race, denominations, and a myriad of other subsets in order to take our focus off of him.

         This is why the only real change takes place when the Lord Jesus is able to rule in an area where the devil had previously ruled.

         In the present battle, Jesus gains authority through the submission of a human being to Him. It is the only way He gains authority. And it must be through a person’s free will and love for Him, and not by coercion. He has only ONE kingdom. He has only ONE community of believers. And He is the ONE leader of His community. Everyone else within it is on equal footing with one another. He created no hierarchies or clergy-laity divisions. He created no men ruling other men within His kingdom. He is the only Ruler.

         It is the same in Satan’s kingdom. Though it appears on the surface to be ruled by many different and disconnected leaders, rulers, presidents, dictators, financial kingpins, and religious quacks around the world, all of these are under his command whether they know it or not. If one has not submitted to the Lord Jesus, then one does not belong to Him and one does not have salvation. Such a one remains in His sins regardless of his station in life and receives his or her motivational feed from the original Beastie Boy.

         If sin rules a person’s life (and it will unless the Lord is allowed to remove it and its power), then one is prone to powerful deception. Sin is blinding, and those who live in sin are subject to it, controlled by it, and are easily deceived by the devil into believing any number of lies.

         And the devil is a master liar.

         When one submits to the authority of the Lord Jesus and accepts His only payment for sin, then one is released from the power of sin and the blinders come off. This is a very, very powerful event, and one becomes an entirely new creation. Old desires pass away and new desires come forth to serve God and live a holy life. This is why the Lord referred to a true conversion experience as being “born again.”

         This does not happen by merely converting to some branch of “Christianity.” It does not happen by merely joining a church or submitting to it and its particular doctrines. It happens only by submitting oneself to the Lord Jesus with one’s whole heart. He is the only One who can set a person free from the disease of sin, and give a person power over sin.

         In fact, His Name means that very thing: YHWH-Salvation, or YeHoshua. The real meaning of salvation is being set free. It is the granting of freedom. Everyone wants to be free, but sin is the one thing endemic to mankind that one will never be set free of without the Lord. He lived a perfect sinless life and thus gained power over sin, and shares that power with whoever will join Him. There is no salvation without Jesus. He is the only One who can bestow spiritual life.

         Yet, the devil has a field day dividing up Christians. It was not the Lord who created a million different Christian denominations. It is not the Lord who advocates hating one president and loving another, or siding with one political party and hating the other, or fighting for one Christian denomination and hating all others. The Lord’s community is in perfect unity, and is composed of all those who have bowed the knee to Him and no other.

         If the Lord Jesus could be president, then real Christians would vote for Him. Otherwise we should vote for a real Christian. If neither candidate is a real Christian then it doesn’t matter which one is elected, since both belong to the kingdom of the other guy and nothing significant will change.

         When the Lord Jesus is in charge there is liberty and blessing. When He is not in charge there is very little liberty and blessing. It should be obvious to Christians, since they supposedly know God’s written Word, that when the Lord is honored, the land of the people who honor Him is blessed. When the land is otherwise cursed, then…

         Ask yourself if America is presently in good shape. Does it look like the Lord Jesus has been given governing control of Washington D.C.? Does it appear that He has been given governing control of the fifty states?

         Some states are certainly in better shape than others, but most have very serious problems. People have been warning for decades that America is going in the tank, that the nation is filled with sin and murder, and that things are regressing ever faster. Yet, what do we do? We think a particular non-real Christian candidate is better than another? We think sinful human beings will somehow make the necessary gargantuan changes that are required?

         We need to look at the big picture. Look back at the last 100 years and one will see a steady downhill slide that keeps accelerating. Yet we do nothing to actually change it. We engage in a bunch of cosmetic garbage that has no effect. The Word of God even predicts that things will continue to grow darker:

         Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [2 Timothy 3:12-13]

         But there is a reason for this. It is not set in stone. It is because most people refuse to give themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord. We as a nation refuse to repent and submit to His authority so He can fix things.

         And why is this surprising? The majority of churches don’t want Jesus in charge!

         Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. [Psalm 127:1] [1]  

         So, with all the constant drivel on the airwaves and the ongoing political process, Americans are fools if they think anything other than our submission to the Lord Jesus will change things substantially for the better.

         Until then, the devil is in control of all those who refuse to bow the knee to the Lord, and if such people are in high office, the devil has that much more control.

         At the end of the day, whether we like it or not or understand it or not, each of us will either serve the devil or serve the Lord Jesus. There is no in-between. There is no third party.

         It may be the devil

         Or it may be the Lord

         But you’re gonna have to serve somebody [2]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

        

         WATCH VIDEO: Gotta Serve Somebody [Won Grammy Award in 1980]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

[2] Bob Dylan, Gotta Serve Somebody, from the album Slow Train Coming 1979.

The Great Pretenders

         At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.

         And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.

         But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. [Acts 5:12-18]

         And this is how it always happens. The clergyites in control will always fight against the Spirit of God until they get off their high horses and get on their faces before Him.

         Why have we not seen revival? Why are most church services so dead they might as well be funerals? Most churches are so cold you could ice skate down the main aisle.

         The Sudducees in the above verses had their own version of “The First Church of the Refrigerator” and were so incensed on losing control to the Spirit of God they threw His guys in jail. Modern religionists in America don’t do this anymore. They just treat believers with supreme indifference, keep them out of their “private clubs,” and never allow them to come close to expressing their hearts and revealing truth. These are religious control freaks one and all, and the majority of churches in America remain under the control of such fleshly fruitcakes who fight revival and the manifestation of God’s Spirit.

         And that’s the main reason we as believers find ourselves in such a predicament. There always has to be certain people who are so in love with themselves and their power they will always stifle any possible move of God.

         When there are no Book of Acts manifestations you can be sure humanity is in control.

         I mentioned in a previous post that if a poll was conducted among church leaders to sign a pledge allowing the Lord Jesus to have absolute total control in their churches that very, very few would ever sign it.

         And the reason why is simple—they would lose control. Life would become a challenge. They would likely lose their perks, and most of all, they would lose their high horse reputations. God would fix it so no one would henceforth want to kiss their “hand” and bow down to them anymore. As it is, most believers worship their preachers and reverends and priests and church buildings and non-Biblical doctrines and all the other stuff the Pharisees and Sadducees were guilty of, instead of worshipping the Lord Jesus in Spirit and truth.

         Prayer is the answer—long, hard times of prayer—intense prayer, intercessory prayer, and prayer of no pretense that rightfully moves the heart of God.

         Repentance is the answer—solid, heart-rending, sobbing, snot-dripping repentance that proves one is seeing straight, knows one is nothing without God, and desires to do anything to have all of God and His direction.

         The Lord, however, is truly a Gentleman and will never force His way upon us. That’s why He waits for us to get down to spiritual business. There are so many saints of God with pure hearts who remain under the control of some fleshly, proud, I’m-better-than-you-and-deserve-my-place-in-the-spotlight pinhead who will fight the Lord all day long in the guise of serving Him. Until someone challenges these people they will always remain in control.

         This is what the Lord said about these future Christian pretenders:

         “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” [Matthew 23:13]

         “Woe to you lawyers![1] For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.” [Luke 11:52]

         In other words, if your fearless leader refuses the full Spirit-filled kingdom of heaven and key of knowledge attained by the apostles and first century believers, then so too will you, who have bowed the knee not to God but to a fellow human being in the form of God. The apostles were very humble men and suffered greatly for their faith. But they were also great stalwarts in that they learned to live in hardship and carry the banner of the Lord courageously despite their loss of social standing, monetary gain, and religious position.

         Unlike the highly vaunted religious leaders they suffered the loss of all things but WALKED WITH GOD AND POSSESSED THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. They shook the devil’s kingdom to the core instead of joining it like so many unreal Christians and Christian leaders do so today.

         Instead of living as the apostles did, however, we treat them like disconnected museum pieces to admire from afar but never think or desire to have what they had.

         There are actually millions of such real Christians on the planet today who have learned to live for God and will always live for God regardless of powerful persecution and indifference toward them. They will fight any God-directed battle for the spiritual freedom of humanity regardless of dire circumstances, and reject anything that compromises their walk.

         You will know the Lord Jesus is in charge when you see everyone in the vicinity taking a backseat and hitting the deck, especially the high and holy ones who previously thought it would all fall apart if they did not keep their grip on control. Anything not of God will be burned up, of course, and good riddance. But real leaders understand fully that they are nothing and that the Lord Jesus is everything, and every part of the spotlight belongs to Him and Him only.

         Let the Spirit of the Lord be in charge!

         Let Him do what He wants!

         Get the heck out of the way!

         Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,

Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God;

And not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;

Nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

         And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

         You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

         Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

         To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. [1 Peter 5:1-11] [2]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   


[1] Greek—Nomikos: Relating to law, learned in the law, experts in the Mosaic Law. Torah teachers. Those consumed with the letter of the Law but completely missing and neglecting the Spirit of the Law.

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

He Steadfastly Set His Face To Go To Jerusalem

Mount Everest from Kalapatthar.

Mount Everest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         There are times in our lives when we have to make tough decisions.

         We must decide to obey God.

         I remember hearing a relatively well known preacher several years ago make a statement regarding such tough decisions. In all honesty he said, “I’ve rebuked the Holy Ghost so many times…”

         What he meant, of course, is that there was no way what he was hearing was from God. It was too hard. Too difficult. Impossible, even. No way could it be God. He would never ask (command) me to do such a thing.

         But, of course,  it actually WAS the voice of God…

         Not only does the Lord have “hard sayings,” He also has very hard things for us to do at times. And this portends the theme of this article, that God, in all His grace and love, commands us to do impossible things that put our lives in peril and sometimes destroy our comfort zones.

         A lazy, lolling river suddenly becomes fast and filled with white water and giant boulders. But instead of simply getting over to the bank ASAP, the Lord directs us to enter headlong into the churning, violent rapids and commands us to ride the wave of the future.

         Right.

         These are some of the stepping off points in one’s walk with God. How many Christians are there in this world who are no longer real Christians because they refused such commands? How many are merely playing games, fooling themselves and almost everyone else in an attempt to live for God in disobedience?

         It can’t happen, you know. Would that you were hot or cold…

         You get the picture. Refusing God’s commands while claiming to be right makes one a veritable dab of spit at best and pool of vomit at worst.

         Yes, the Word of God actually says that. As Yogi Berra would say, “You could look it up.”

         The title of this post illustrates such tough obedient choices. The Lord knew all along He would make that fateful trip to Jerusalem one day and enter into the mouth of the dragon. He would drop His defenses, lose all protection, and become the object of not only the wrath of mankind, but the wrath of God.

         But how is that possible? Jesus IS God.

         And again, that’s the point. The strong must support the weak. The strong must do very difficult things on behalf of the weak. The strong must carry the day.

         Now, in English, the phrase Set His Face To Go makes no sense. We think it makes sense but only because we have discovered what it means. This phrase is an obvious example of a Hebrew idiom that found its way into the literal translation. It comes to us from the KJV translators and is over 400 years old. However, it is based on the earlier English translation of William Tyndale which is going on 500 years old. I do not think those people had any clear understanding of Hebrew idioms. Later translations give a clearer understanding in English. The following is from the NASV:

         He was determined to go to Jerusalem… [1] 

         Young’s Literal Translation states, that he fixed his face to go on to Jerusalem.

         The Hebrew idiom, from an original Hebrew Gospel, means that the Lord Jesus could not possibly be swayed from facing His fate. He was resolutely determined to complete His mission. He set His face like a flinty rock to enter the belly of the beast. This was not only sheer determination and willpower to do the job He was called to do; it was also the determination to face the greatest physical, emotional, and mental torture ever suffered by anyone in taking on the massive burden of our sins, and actually become sin on our behalf.

         He had every reason, in the natural, to reject such a trip. How could it be God’s will for me to face such a horrible fate? Anyone else would have found a way out, and would have justified his disobedient behavior.

         But not the Lord Jesus.

         He wasn’t thinking of Himself.

         He was thinking of you.

         So, we must set our minds at ease in that whatever difficult circumstances He is commanding us to undertake, He will never ask us to go to the cross the way He went to the cross.

         But we must go to the cross. We must be crucified. We must destroy our sinful and selfish human nature through real repentance and allow His life to course through our born again veins and arteries, and allow our hearts of stone to be transformed into living hearts of spiritual love and mercy.

         He made it relatively easy for us, you know. There is a place in each of us reserved for His Holy Living Spirit. The key to being like Christ, therefore, is not to engage in some ascetic attempt to be “holy” and Christlike through our own power and religious methods, but to unlock the door of our hearts, open the door wide, greet the Lord who waits patiently on our doorstep with a gracious smile and a loving hug, invite Him in, and give Him the best room in the house.

         Whatever price we must pay to get us to the point of accepting such a visitation is worth it, don’t you think? And so is anything else He asks us to do, no matter how scary or difficult.

         We must all Set Our Face to do the will of God. We must go to our own version of Jerusalem. We must swim across the ocean and ford every stream and climb every mountain (including Everest) and dream the impossible dream.

         We must sacrifice our lives in the greatest act of giving for the sake of His abundant life.

         It’s what people do when they’re in love.

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.