Daily Archives: August 23, 2017
Repentance is the action of individuals. People are saved one person at a time. It is a highly personal decision. It has always been this way.
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’” [Matthew 3:1-3]
DOWN TO THE CROSSROADS
When a person hears the real Gospel and becomes convicted in heart, standing guilty as charged before the Lord and knowing without any doubt that he is guilty, he must act. He has no choice. At this early stage, personal faith arises from within that had never arisen before. He sees himself as God sees him, as a sinner in need of salvation. But also, though shattered by the knowledge of his personal sin, he senses a concern and a brief glimpse or feeling of mercy directed toward him from some unidentifiable spiritual place beyond himself, and from that place a small hope arises. From this initial entry point one stands at a spiritual junction.
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees
Down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above for mercy, “Save me if you please”
I went down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride
Down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride
Nobody seemed to know me, everybody passed me by
Many years ago I had a friend who gave his heart to the Lord a couple of months before I met him. I had never known him before his salvation experience, one which had been quite dramatic. I remember him telling me that the night he decided on the Lord, it almost never happened in that he felt too weak to make the decision the way it must be made. He told me people had been earnestly praying for him, though seemingly unsuccessfully. He had received a very powerful witness. He wanted to get right. Spiritual war was going on for his soul but he knew little of that at the time. He did know, though, that he was in a new place he had never been in before and seemed to lack control to do anything about it. He had been prayed out of darkness temporarily and found himself down at the crossroads.
Essentially, he was in the process of being yanked out of his hell-bound status, with which there was otherwise no remedy, even by his own efforts. He had certainly made an effort, but had been so far away from God and so deep in sin it was all he could do to gain his present circumstance, powerfully aided by the prayers of others. Yet at that new and unidentifiable place, in which he could very easily fall right back in the pit from which he arose, he would have to be the final arbiter and make a choice. He told others afterward that he pictured the proverbial angel on one side and the devil on the other. He referred to the devil as a hell’s angel. They were both fighting for him. He felt himself slipping away. He saw the good angel fading out and growing farther into the blurry distance, far up above as he was sinking fast. Then, all of a sudden, the good angel reached way down and somehow grabbed him, all in an instant, and pulled him into life…
THE UNACKNOWLEDGED EFFECT OF REAL CHRISTIANITY
In reality, nations do not repent. Great Awakenings are not a “nation” awakening but a comparatively large group of individuals within and across that nation that is awakening. In this sense such occurrences are defined as national. They happen when a much larger percentage of the populace than usual turns to the Lord together in a relatively short period of time. They are not repenting and getting right with God to save their nation, however, but for God to save them, one another, and whosoever will.
All countries, nations, states, empires, etc, are temporary, as this world itself is temporary. It is only the Community of the Lord Jesus, or His kingdom, that lasts forever, and His kingdom is not and never has been an earthly kingdom.
When it happens that the majority of a country is composed of real Christians or if a minority of real Christians is very effective spiritually, that particular country becomes a comparatively better place because it means the Lord has more authority and control. It means a greater number of people show real love and obey the Golden Rule. It means there are fewer sinners. It means sin has less overall effect. It means there is greater conviction of sin. It means there is less demonic activity. When such countries begin backsliding away, it is because the real Christians are backsliding away.
But real Christians as large groups usually never devolve into blatant sin but merely get co-opted. They give in to watered-down gospels, false narratives, and throw their weight behind teachings the Lord never taught. It usually happens on the sly, over a gradual period of time. There is a sinister author but such Christians lose sight of the author. They make peace with the world. They compromise. Their lights grow dim and unless they make corrections their lights eventually go out.
Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:12-17]
Of course, John had been preaching way out in the wilderness, unconnected to the ultra-legalistic religious entities that controlled the synagogues and temple complex. He preached until the Lord was baptized and began His forty day fast. According to the Gospel accounts, it was during those forty days or shortly thereafter when John was arrested and thrown in prison. When the Lord returned from the wilderness, He also was unconnected to the religious establishment, though He began preaching in the synagogues of Galilee “and was praised by all.”
THE GREAT DIVIDE
Then He went to His hometown. The people of Nazareth initially accepted Him warmly. He spoke in the local synagogue.
What happened next is what always happens when two distinct and very different kingdoms with different agendas abruptly share the same territory, as warm moist air from the south runs into cold dry air from the north. They will clash. Thunderstorms happen. Lightning flashes. Thunder rolls. One would think the people of Nazareth would embrace Him. They did at first, until He began preaching a message contrary to their message. This created a message tornado, a spiritual cognitive dissonance whirlwind which at first confused the synagogue members and stunned them into silence. They sat there with open mouths and unblinking eyes. Then they got it. Then they went absolutely nuts.
The following passage is an eye-opening illustration of what happens when the anointed Word of God goes to war against false teaching masquerading as truth:
And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. [Luke 4:28-29]
For real Christians, this is all quite familiar. It is what happens when light shines on darkness. It’s what is supposed to happen. If it is not happening, it means truth is not being revealed. It means the real Gospel is not being preached. The devil continues to hide successfully, operate behind the scenes, and dumb-down the people he controls into dead, ineffectual religious compliance. In that darkness all manner of false doctrines germinate. The next thing you know, “Christians” act the same way those people did in that Nazareth synagogue.
This is why Great Awakenings are most often completely unconnected to compromised, establishment Christianity—that which has accepted spiritual chains in the guise of any number of replacements and the false doctrine foundations upon which they rest, most of which involve cultural conformity, coerced donations, and religious pride.
CONTENDERS AND PRETENDERS
Religious pride and personal repentance don’t get along. In fact, these two hate each other. Only one can win. The other gets destroyed. Most people choose pride. A comparative few find life, though it will cost them. The unrepentant religious pride people always attempt to throw the repentant life people off a cliff. Their pride, conviction of sin, and refusal to repent demands it. Thus, those who find life have a harder row to hoe and constitute the fewer. Not only must they dodge the cliff-throwers, they also take the time to pray for them. That’s rare. Also, staying on the path of life, due to the demands of real discipleship, sometimes causes their numbers to be reduced over time.
The Lord preached to tens of thousands during His ministry. Several thousand were following Him from place to place. He often had a hard time escaping the crowds. This even happened when He went to Jerusalem the week of His death. Many were praising Him and shouting Hosannas. Then, once the crowds found out what supporting Him would cost, they all abandoned Him. Many turned on Him. The signal was given, “Release the hounds!” You know the rest of the story. Except for one man and several women close by the place of execution, all of His friends vanished by the time they killed Him, including His own disciples.
Even after His resurrection the same dynamic played out. There were as many as five hundred who saw Him at one time. Yet, the majority of these drifted off. By the time it came to the full end which also signified a brand new beginning, only a hundred and twenty people made it to Pentecost. The tens of thousands had vanished. They all left Him except for a few. The majority could never bring itself to go all the way and put everything on the line. Heaven will thus be sparsely populated.
We are at yet another crossroads and things are taking a giant turn toward societal civil war. Those paying attention knew this would happen, could see it emerging quite a while ago, and are somewhat surprised that it took this long. I say that because the evil agenda has been in place for so long. The Great Awakening will subdue it somewhat. This emerging civil war is indeed a spiritual reaction to what the Lord is bringing forth. A great many will join up with the Lord. But until the people who have control, authority, and wealth start becoming real Christians, nothing substantial can possibly change long term because those guys have a completely different agenda and will never relinquish it.
They are helped in their pursuit by Christians who have aligned themselves with the aforesaid false gospels and cultural Christianity in which they mix two competing entities to make one powerless, low wattage entity. Christians such as this want nothing to do with the only thing that will ultimately save them and reject it because they have no frame of reference yet to how bad things may get. They therefore see real Christianity as something completely unnecessary and exaggerated, not worth the discipleship, not worth the upsetting of their lifestyles, and even overbearing within a construct of relatively good times. Their karma chickens will eventually come home to roost. They will then get a better frame of reference. Some will attempt to apply what they know that seemed to work in the past. It will have little effect. It will be too late.
Yet, for all the real Christians out there, the strong and the faithful, they know the Lord Jesus ALWAYS takes care of His own. But they also know there is a job to be done. The real Gospel must be heard. His light must shine. Darkness must be exposed. People must be set free.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. [Hebrews 12:22-25] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
 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.
PART 1: ECONOMIC CRASH AND BURN