Every one of you reading this is the result of a single WINNING race contestant who let nothing stop him from achieving his one and only goal: Being first to reach the egg!
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. [1Corinthians 9:24]
In traditional churches this is represented as winning the contest to become the one who controls everything at the very top—becoming the one who commands the bridge and inhabits the one and only pulpit, while everyone else sits back in silence giving full credit and obedience to the worthy one who won the summit.
This, of course, is a complete reversal of that which the Lord Jesus created. Rather than all the spoils going to a single man at the top of the mountain, whether it is a small mountain with a dozen or a massive Everest with tens of thousands over which the single winning contestant rules, the Lord has instead created a process in which every single one of His children can succeed and reach their full potential as a fully developed disciple instead of a mere silent spectator.
We can call these spectator churches. Only one person is allowed to speak. However, I would like to bring your attention to a much different paradigm straight out the Gospels:
Have you ever noticed just how many regular everyday people actually spoke to the Lord? It can easily be argued that the Lord allowed such freedom of speech and the right to question only for the reason of creating a spiritual opportunity for growth and teaching. Really. Go read the gospels and see if this is not true. There was always someone somewhere coming up to Him and asking for His help or asking a question, even His enemies. He never denied them. He always allowed them to approach Him and speak up.
NEWS FLASH: THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN IN MOST CHURCHES.
You are a non-entity. Your presence rarely matters. The service would be the same whether you were there or not. You will be the same whether being there or not. You spend your time tucked away on a bench and are refused any participation except for group-oriented pre-planned participation. Your heart remains the same. It has no outlet.
During the Lord’s ministry, though, you could actually go talk to Him. Your freedom of speech would be restored. He would treat you with respect and honor your input. And from that YOU WOULD GROW AND DEVELOP.
This is His intention. There is no possible way you would ever make it to the egg otherwise and the egg would remain unfertilized and all the greatness the Lord put within you would be wasted and come to nothing simply because you were never allowed to speak up and be who the Lord created you to be.
This is why so many churches are so boring. Ninety-nine percent of all God’s resources (YOU!) are not being utilized. God has created a great world of incredible diversity and action but the faux lords of Christianity are determined to tamp everything down, organize creativity out of existence, and form a strictly controlled unit of virtual automatons who merely parrot what they are told and exist zombie-like in a vast sea of silence occupying mere pews or folding chairs. This is NOT the picture of lively anointed believers dedicated to excellence. This misuse and non-use of God’s greatest resources must stop.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. [Romans 12:1-8] 
We must each continue to strive to achieve our ministry callings. There is an egg somewhere depending on you to get there.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 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.
All real Christians have God-given talents and gifts, and are called into some form of ministry. Our purpose is to fulfill our callings. Here is how the Lord provides for us in that process:
A VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION:
The spiritual harvest brought forth by our work for the Lord is not the same as our personal compensation.
Real Christians are noteworthy for putting the work of God first regardless of any recompense they may or may not receive at the time. They know the Lord will always provide but they don’t necessarily wait around for the provision when there is work to be done.
Now, this must be explained a tad. The Lord Jesus never calls anyone into His work without taking caring of him or her. He always provides for His disciples. As I have written about on this site several times, when the Lord called His original twelve to leave all and join His ministry it also involved leaving their present means of making a living. He told those who were fishermen, for example, to drop their nets and follow Him. There is no way He would do this unless He had the wherewithal to provide for them through an alternative means, and this is key.
YOKED TOGETHER WITH THE LORD OUR PROVIDER
For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. [1Corinthians 9:9-10]
The Lord will always do His part. He will always provide His portion. Consider it this way: A real Christian is in covenant with the Lord. The two share the same yoke. The yoke will fit only two people [See my post: The Yoke’s On You].
When two oxen are yoked together there must be time for these two massive and powerful animals to learn to work together. They are each independent with strong wills. The person who is plowing never wants to diminish the power of his oxen or emasculate them in any way for the sake of making them work together, as this only defeats the purpose. He does not want their strength reduced but if anything, he wants to maximize it. That is the entire point of attempting to yoke them together.
The Lord Jesus does the same with each of us. Rather than regiment us and remove our personal power, strength, individual gifts, talents, personality, and independence (all of which He gave us when He made us) for the sake of conforming us to a very low common denominator, which causes us to become essentially spiritually worthless within a mass homogenized group (sound familiar?), He attempts instead to redirect us and put us in a place where all that we are may be utilized fully and where we can be fully developed and fulfilled.
But in the beginning, before salvation, He knows each of us is otherwise hopelessly lost in sin and thoroughly compromised, so He first seeks to bring us to repentance, bless us with a new birth, wash away our sins, fill us with His Spirit and strength, and welcome us to His kingdom. This must start with our own personal hunger. We must seek Him. We must begin manifesting faith in Him. Of course, He is already seeking us and in fact sacrificed His very life for us, but unless we do our part anything He wants to do for us is rendered impossible.
This is why each of us must also sacrifice our life for Him. This dynamic connects two lives sacrificed for the other, yoked together as a team, which makes possible the coming forth of great spiritual production and fruitfulness.
Here is a simple way to see it: The Lord will always do His 50%. He is ever faithful. We must also be faithful and do our 50%. When a disciple does his or her 50%, which is something vitally necessary but often overlooked, then great and powerful things happen. We see then, that the reason such great and powerful things do not happen is because we are simply not doing our 50%. Consider the establishment of the 100% as that which brings forth the fruit of covenant.
SOWING SPIRITUAL THINGS FIRST
If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. [1Corinthians 9:11-15]
I’m going to stop here and reveal the aforementioned distinction further. There are many ministers of the Gospel who consider themselves professionals. In other words, they see ministry as a career. They see it as a job. They will not perform their jobs without a paycheck. They also do their level best to cover themselves within society as legitimate members of society. They do not want to be seen as persons without standing. This is part of why they demand a salary and position. These people, which make up the majority of ministers, would never last a day working with Paul (he’d run ‘em off), which probably means they would last less than a day working with the Lord. Real ministers of the Gospel know they came into the world with nothing (that they had anything to do with), that they came into the kingdom the same way, and that they are incredibly fortunate to have any blessing beyond that.
Real ministry is rigorous. It is not for those who make selfish demands. We are called as babes but must become spiritual adults ASAP or we will get wiped out in battle. Therefore, we must be fully trained by the Lord. The New Covenant writings explain very well what this training looks like. We are bought with a price. The Lord Jesus has purchased us with His own blood.
Once we sign up we not only gain the benefits of living for God but we primarily gain the opportunity to work for Him and with Him according to His will and not our own. In other words, real ministry is not like going off to college and choosing a major or deciding on our own what job we want. The Lord has already decided those things. Our job is to say “YES SIR” and do what He says in accordance with the way He made us, and with respect for our individual giftings and callings. This is in part why Paul relays the following very hard but incredibly fruitful truth:
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. [1Corinthians 9:16-24] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 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.
The closer one gets to the truth the more the world will hate you. This includes the religious world. And sadly, it includes Unreal Christianity.
During Paul’s travels he continually learned firsthand the terror arising from those opposed to the Lord Jesus. The worst offenders were those who claimed to know God. They were the ones far away from the reality of Truth who insisted they had it right. Paul did his best to convince them they were not right. He had the same fight the Lord had.
If a Christian takes the time to think about all the opposition the Lord faced and why, he or she might begin to understand what this world is really all about. But again I must reiterate that the world itself, though fallen from God and unaware of the truth, and in opposition to Him as a result of its blindness, does not necessarily have an inborn hatred of Him.
A DIFFERENT GOSPEL
This is only exhibited by those who are also fallen far from Him but insist they are not. How did these religious people gain control? We have major Christian denominations that continue to sink farther away from the Lord’s Truth though many were founded in great spiritual strength. How is it that such great numbers of “Christians” insist that the New Covenant is wrong and they are right? Why do they react adversely to New Covenant Truth while insisting their version is the correct one?
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. [2 Corinthians 11:3-4] 
They can’t back it up. They are in opposition to the New Covenant. If Paul came traveling their way they would reject him as soon as he started teaching. His teachings, which he learned directly from the Lord, are not their teachings. We continue to have major figures rise in the Christian world in America and gain great followings while preaching a Christianity opposed to the Lord. Their teachings, their manner, their chosen man-made doctrines, and their non-New Covenant formats are all different from that which the Lord brought forth in the beginning. Indeed, the history of Christianity in general is a continual falling away from the Lord’s original. Though there has always been a Remnant in the world illustrating the full Light of the Lord, His Light for most grows less and less. For many it has gone out completely.
TEST AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS RIGHT
One can test this. All one need do is check on how much of the New Covenant Scriptures are preached and taught in these fake assemblies. There is much of the Lord’s teachings they never touch. According to their standard much of the New Covenant writings including the teachings of the Lord in the Gospels is never heard. Such teachings are not conducive to their false agenda. They have another purpose in mind and it does not involve the full Truth. The great bulk is never mentioned. We never hear the Lord’s insightful teachings with regard to repentance and reform, for example, and the great battle we must each engage in to bring forth His Kingdom in all its fullness.
The only thing this false preaching does is coddle sinful flesh. It tells people they are right when they are wrong. The agenda for most is thus not to reveal error and promote Truth, but to allow people to remain far away from God in a continually unborn again condition. This may work in the here and now but I really don’t know how these people can live with themselves.
Here is the truth: Every Christian will have to stand before the Lord one day all alone and give an account of his or her life. Wouldn’t it be better to do it now and every day instead of waiting until that day?
I want to thank all of you for your support. Many of you have been loyal for years. You are all a blessing. I have had many former loyal readers, however, who reached a point in which they felt they must reject this site. They never or rarely give any explanation. The truths I am offering here are rarely challenged and when they are we have good discussions. This must be our course. This is what the early believers did. There were so many things the Lord called on them to do that did not look right or feel right but in the end they rejected their own reservations and embraced the Lord. They obeyed Him. It was very difficult and it often cost them greatly but there was no higher reward.
For those of you who like to pray or who may be intercessors I would appreciate your prayers at this time. Thank you.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 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.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:34-35]
How does one identify a real Christian Pharisee? Like their spiritual forebears of the first century, a Christian Pharisee is initially known primarily by one thing. And this one thing is both an indicator of such a person’s heart, as it is at the core of his or her being, but is also on the immediate surface, and often boils forward to said surface in a rapid flash which defies any possibility of impulse control.
The first indicator of a real Christian Pharisee is therefore no secret whatsoever in that it reveals itself without restraint in all its unchecked fleshly power as it rises quickly for the kill in response to any perceived sleight or lack of absolute respect demanded by such a one for otherwise arbitrary reasons.
Here it is: CHRISTIAN PHARISEES ARE EXTREMELY AND VERY EASILY OFFENDED AND ARE WILLING TO FIGHT ANYONE ANYTIME ANYWHERE AT THE DROP OF A HAT TO PROTECT AND HONOR THEMSELVES AND THE BELIEFS AND TRADITIONS THEY HAVE BOUGHT INTO AND SOLD OUT TO WITH NO REGARD WHATSOEVER FOR THE GOLDEN RULE OR HONORING THE LORD JESUS.
They refuse to engage in any rational dialogue in the sense of arriving at greater truth because they believe they already possess all truth. They refuse and deflect any form of possible persecution by always beating the other person to said persecution and thus becoming the epitome of the persecutor. Their method is one of insistence that they are right, have always been right, and will always be right, and insist that anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe can just as soon go straight to hell.
They believe with all their hearts that they have captured and possess the very top of the pyramid, that they are superior to all, and that all others must comply with their religion or belief system and every part of it, both in dogma and practice, or be remanded to a state of total rejection.
They then project this attitude upon the “god” of their choosing and insist that “god”, their god, is absolutely on their side and only on their side and is also against the same people they are against. They will go to any lengths to destroy anyone who even slightly touches their massive sacred cows and golden calves as if simple murder is nowhere close to being good enough and doesn’t do proper justice to the immense offense perpetrated upon them.
This very thing happened to the real God, the only God, the God of all Creation, when He showed up here as one of us, as a human being, to save us and set us free. Of course, they couldn’t touch Him until He willingly laid down His life on our behalf. Once He made Himself vulnerable, however, His enemies wasted no time in inflicting upon Him the very worst they could offer and if they had the opportunity they would have tortured Him and murdered Him many times over.
It’s right there in your Gospels. It’s all over the New Testament. It’s infused throughout Christian history. It is why the real saints of the Lord always took it on the chin while doing the real work of the Lord and teaching the real Gospel. The incredible and completely unjustified persecution against them identified them as real disciples who acted out of love and for the truth, and it also perfectly identified the haters who would always rather gossip, slander, libel, and defame, and even murder, maim, destroy, and generally go stark raving nuts in defense of their evil hearts and ungodly agendas.
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” [Matthew 23:33] 
LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails… [1Corinthians 13:4-8]
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. [Romans 13:8-10]
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.” [John 10:11-13]
THE PETER PRINCIPLE
According to Laurence J. Peter in his best-selling book, The Peter Principle, “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
This management principle has proven to be absolutely true. It explains everything. It illustrates why we have so many incompetent people in the upper levels of power. It contrasts the real world of cause and effect, risk and reward, and survival of the fittest with the fake world of herds without predators.
Two hunters deep in the woods are suddenly surprised by a very angry bear. They both take off running for their lives, the bear right behind them. One hunter yells to the other, “Do you think we can outrun him?” The other hunter says, “I don’t need to outrun him. I only need to outrun you.”
This is the real world. It is why God created predators. Predators are the eliminators of incompetence in the natural world. Unless you stay sharp and at the top of your game the bear will get you.
This is why incompetent people don’t survive long in real world applications. Many meet a quick end. There is simply no place for ongoing laziness, lack of ability, foolishness, stupidity, and bad decisions. The natural world teaches this. Incompetence is never rewarded or allowed. Natural selection means survival of only the fittest.
In fake world situations, however, the opposite takes place. Rules are written to protect incompetence. Instead of rightfully being killed and eaten by angry bears, incompetent people not only survive, they thrive. Their bad behavior is rewarded. Everybody gets a trophy.
THE BACKYARD WARRIORS PRINCIPLE
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. [1 Corinthians 9:24]
I remember when I was about eleven years old I had a birthday party at my house. We lived in a well-kept suburban working class neighborhood. As part of the birthday fun I set up an intricate obstacle course in the backyard. You had to run around the perimeter of the yard as fast as you could under and through this and over and around that—just a bunch of stuff I found laying around that I transformed into world class athletic equipment. Not bad for a kid. It was pretty cool. I had an old army tarp tied to the chain-link fence at a 45 degree angle that you had to crawl under. There was stuff to jump over, like a strategically located metal trash can. Things like that. You had to run the course while being timed. Whoever completed the course correctly and the fastest was the winner. We probably had some small prize.
The rules were the same for everyone. I invited a bunch of friends over from school and the neighborhood. But someone also invited my young cousin, who was probably about seven or eight. If that wasn’t bad enough I also had an older sister hanging around who was sixteen or so at the time. She had an inordinate desire to lend what amounted to overwhelming assistance to those such as my young cousin who she thought were in great need, as a way to even the playing field. I had a different perspective. I have always been competitive. My concerns about her ruining the competition were soon realized.
Some of us had already run the course. We gave it everything we had. When a kid was out there running around he was completely on his own. It was sink or swim. Figure it out. Don’t miss anything. Show respect for the process. Everybody else was watching making sure he did it right.
Then it was my little cousin’s turn. And what does my older sister do? She starts running the course with him! He appeared to have no clue what to do but probably would have done okay if allowed to run by himself. I still have this mental picture of her leaning over slightly and running off with him with her arm on his shoulder guiding him around. He quickly yielded to her lead. She then decided he only needed to run less than half the layout! And here they come, cutting right through my well constructed obstacle course across the middle of the yard making a total mockery of the game! She’s still right there with her arm on his shoulder, leaning over, telling him what to do while running him back to the start.
We did not appreciate this. Neither I nor my friends said anything. It was an era when kids showed more respect. She meant well. But what a joke. She almost ruined the whole day with that pathetic display.
This is exactly how incompetence thrives.
THE JEREMIAH JOHNSON PRINCIPLE
Again, in the real world only the strongest and wisest survive. America was founded by such people. So was Texas. The few incompetent people out on the frontier were soon dead if they didn’t manage to get back to civilization post haste.
I am reminded of Robert Redford’s character in the movie Jeremiah Johnson, set in the mid 1800s. There was an early scene when he was way up in the frozen Rocky Mountains trying to catch fish by hand in an icy stream. He was soon in the water. There he was in the deep snow and ice splashing around doing his best to catch a fish to stay alive. The scene then switched to an Indian on horseback silently watching. Later in the movie when the same Indian recognized him in a different setting, he told another, “He fishes poorly.”
But Jeremiah Johnson survived and then thrived. He figured out how to stay alive in a killer environment. Though he met friends, nobody held his hand. He overcame all obstacles, including some personal losses that ripped his heart apart. That movie was about the real world and survival.
It is quite the contrast to our present world. Since that time America has largely become a vast, neurotic, socialist nanny state ruled over by bureaucratic incompetents and enablers with selfish agendas in which everybody, regardless of any achievement, gets a little trophy. Many would never be in their positions of authority without some big sister brotherhood opening doors, scripting their work, showing them the way, and refusing to let them stand on their own. It is the complete opposite of survival of the fittest. Because of the ridiculous policy of allowing incompetent idiots to become our “experts” America is going down fast.
Now, before you think I’m stumping for a certain presidential candidate, I’m not. I’ve been saying this for decades. (That dude stole my thunder.) I have watched this contrary agenda develop over several decades. Of course, many people know what’s going on but almost everybody feels powerless to do anything about it. When some charismatic person comes along who says all the right things and claims to have the answers he gains an immediate following.
But it rarely or never works. It’s always just words. Those that actually gain power never follow through. The only thing that does work in such cases is following the lead of someone who actually knows what to do and has a proven track record. Such good guys, however, are currently very few and far between, and are becoming extinct. The bad guys have taken over. The paradigm shift of rewarding evil and eliminating the good is almost complete. It’s why Biblical prophecy says the world would succeed in blowing itself up without the Lord’s end-time intervention. Corrupt doofuses in places of authority are the sole cause.
THE LORD JESUS PRINCIPLE
There is only one Leader who can fix this mess. The reason America is cratering is due only to the rejecting of His leadership. There is no possible way to remove the preserving agent without falling into gross corruption. The more He has been rejected over the last several decades the worse things have become. Though few acknowledge Him, He is the one who holds everything together.
Also, though the Lord Jesus is the best Father, He never spoils His children. Though He is our Shepherd, He is never the enabler of stupidity, laziness, or incompetence. He only rewards those who give it their all. Whoever will do things His way must be absolutely dedicated and must also be in it for the long haul. One will discover that following His lead allows one to grow stronger and wiser, and possess greater ability to overcome and thrive. He prepares us to be the best. His discipleship methods always work. He is a maker of champions.
THE UNREAL CHRISTIANITY PRINCIPLE
The reason the Peter Principle has become a burgeoning reality is because the people in power have rejected the Lord’s proper authority and correct management principles. They have replaced them with bulky, unresponsive, impersonal hierarchies and shallow methodologies that reward morons and punish the strong, independent, honest, and righteous.
GUESS WHAT? THE EXACT THING HAS HAPPENED WITHIN TRADITIONAL AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY.
Pious pinheads and parading shysters have taken over the outward institutional format and are now the tenured cloth men. We know the majority of these guys have no clue how to right our wayward course or have any desire to, largely because they’re the ones who caused it. They’re invested in it. It serves them very well. These sold-out fakers only exist because foolish people keep throwing money in their coffers, which only enables them and their incompetence. Every time the Lord tries to correct them their supporters reward them. These power-tripping Christian “experts” eventually cold shoulder any real Christians in their vicinity, refuse to support them, and badmouth them, in the sinister effort to eliminate those who would rightfully take their job.
But this has always been true. Thus, all real Christians must first learn to survive in this fallen world, then learn to fight, overcome, and thrive within it, AND THEN TAKE OVER. It’s how the Lord does things. It’s exactly how He did it. When He was crucified He looked like the greatest loser that ever lived. Three days later He became the greatest winner of all time. If we would be successful we must follow His lead, trust Him, and do things His way.
This is why the Lord Jesus never coddles His children. He has no use for perpetual babies and whiners. He never hands out participant trophies. He requires us to run the race well without constant enabling. He calls us to follow Him even through the worst spiritual environments that will test us to the nth degree.
THE PAUL PRINCIPLE
For correct spiritual perspective with respect to real discipleship, consider the fact that the apostle Paul once found himself dead under a pile of rocks. He suffered this fate doing exactly what he was called to do. The Lord Jesus did nothing to stop the brutal attack against him—He let Paul get stoned by a bunch of Jewish religious idiots.
But He did bless him with a preview of heaven:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. [2Corinthians 12:2-4]
That’s pretty cool. And He did bring him back to earth. And He did give Paul supportive friends after he was dragged out of Lystra for dead who stood around him when he suddenly got up:
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. [Acts 14:19-20]
Therefore, it is not that we don’t need help and support from time to time. We obviously should help one another. But such help is usually designed to get us on track or back on track. Both of these should be very few and far between events after our initial discipleship training. After that it’s a matter of running the race well without being hindered or enabled, both of which restrict our mission.
If the Lord has given you honest and competent authority figures at present, be thankful. We need the wisdom of those who have gone before us who have gained the Lord’s wisdom. But in order to be the spiritual success the Lord needs you to be, you must work at becoming a spiritual adult.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity… [Hebrews 5:13-6:1] 
Live the adventure.
Climb the Rockies.
But watch out for rocks.
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
It makes no sense. Unless one is really into religion.
America remains saturated with dysfunctional churches and non-functioning “pastors,” and 90% of everyone in the pew is completely oblivious to the problem.
The few “Christians” who actually read the Bible, and study it, and do it with an open mind, know that there is a huge ginormous incredible one-end-of-the-Universe-to-the-other disconnect between what the Word of God actually says and what most churches believe and practice.
If one cannot see the devil in this then one is deceived.
Why did the Lord Jesus receive such a hard time from religious people, especially religious leaders? And why do most Christians think the opposite would happen if He visited their own particular church? They really think He would find most of what transpires on refrigerator row perfectly fine and dandy and would respond with several “Good job’s” and handshakes all around. I’m not saying this would not or could not happen. I’m only saying the odds of it happening are astronomical.
For the few Christians who study the Word, they know there was a weird dynamic always playing out in the Old Testament. The Lord would hear the cries and moans and incessant caterwauling of His people because they screwed up yet again, just like they did a million times before, and He would answer their prayers and send them relief in the form of prophets who at great personal risk and possessing an extremely uncomfortable lifestyle would tell the people exactly what they needed to do to fix things.
The people would listen, change their sorry tune, get right with God, and lo and behold good things would start happening! Then they would begin descending into chaos again and the cycle would have to start all over. Oh, and they would, of course, usually kill the prophets. You know, par for the course.
But how do the majority of American churches, ministries, “pastors,” “Christian” television personalities, and any other standard ministry set-up respond to even the slightest corrective voice sent by God as a blessing to fix things?
They show him or her the door. They disfellowship in a heartbeat not because someone is lost in sin and disobedience but because THEY are lost in sin and disobedience. Anyone who is not on board with their unbiblical stuff is seen as an enemy.
What happens as a result is that these “leaders” go that much further off the deep end precisely because they have successfully eliminated the corrective voice of God.
Just in case someone doesn’t know the following, I must state it here for all of us to hopefully get the big idea: GOD WORKS THROUGH PEOPLE.
And you know what else? THE PEOPLE GOD WORKS THROUGH ARE HUMBLE, SELF-EFFACING, AND NON-SPOTLIGHT-ORIENTED.
Just like their Master.
Even though most “Christians” think the Lord Jesus would love their spiritual enterprises if He ever visited, the reality is that most want no part of the Lord Jesus and would never allow Him full authority in their churches, and usually allow Him no authority.
How do we know this? Again, because American “Christians” are largely Biblically illiterate. Why? Because they hire some guy to do all that stuff for them so they can assuage their conscience by going through an hour or two of rote and ritual on Sunday mornings. The problem here is that, since they have little or no spiritual experience or actual Biblical knowledge, they can never serve as a check against whoever they allow in the pulpit. How do they know the dude is right?
(Other than that he explicitly obeys their denominational beliefs and does everything the same exact way the Episcobapterians and Universal churchites did it a million years ago because religious spirits must be appeased.)
This is why the vast majority of churches would NEVER allow the Lord Jesus absolute full authority if He ever visited.
News flash: The Lord Jesus is still here in the form of His Holy Spirit but has already long since been proven unwanted by most churches simply because what most “Christians” do looks nothing whatsoever like what He and His disciples did.
And whenever someone brings this up he or she gets the cold shoulder, the gossip, the bad looks, and the silent treatment.
Of course, most “Christians” think all that is deserved because the people in question are idiots and are deserving of disfellowship.
They believe this because they simply cannot make the connection to the disfellowship the Lord Jesus suffered, and He suffered disfellowship more than any man in history, and still suffers disfellowship to this day.
The same with His original disciples. And the early community of believers. And the underground church in China that is currently blowing the doors off to the tune of millions and millions even though they still suffer great persecution. Those people won’t stop until they fix the whole country! All this while America continues going downhill fast because higher-ups have made a deal with the devil and the majority looks the other way.
Quick question: Have you ever noticed that Great Awakenings and great persecution always go together, and that if there is no persecution it is an obvious sign of dead Christianity?
And have you noticed how it follows then that the one’s being persecuted in churches are being persecuted simply because they are pointing out this deadness and lack of familiarity with the Lord’s ministry and teachings?
Kind of exactly like the Old Testament prophets.
Well, the Lord Jesus was and remains the greatest of all prophets and He got the same thing they got and to a much greater degree.
When’s the last time you saw an American “pastor” dragged out of His church and executed? No? Okay then, how about something less? No? Of course, real shepherds are victims of persecution but such guys are few and far between and you probably don’t hear much about them.
Maybe because they are obscure and non-flashy and don’t particularly care for religious titles and clergyesque appearances and spiritual circlespeak.
You know, kind of like the Lord?
Most “pastors” call the cops and use lawyers to protect themselves and depend on their bodyguards and private surveillance personnel, and are willing to sue at the drop of a hat to protect their image and enterprise and as a result ARE ALSO PROTECTED FROM GOD.
God cannot get to them in any loving and understanding way because these people bar the door against anyone or anything they see as potential enemies.
As a result of their self-imposed and bought-with-good-money security shield they cut themselves off from God’s corrective voice and by their own doing build their own giant and slippery slide into the heart of hell. They have it great in the here and now but unless they repent will suffer in the long term.
Worse than that, however, is all the people they will take with them. But their followers have no excuse because none of them speak any corrective to the gross dysfunction, partly because they know what happened to those who did.
This is why the majority of American Christianity is hopelessly dysfunctional.
It refuses correction.
This is the opposite of repentance.
IT IS NOTHING MORE THAN PURE UNADULTERATED SPIRITUAL PRIDE.
Real Christians, however, know all about repentance. They’ve hit the deck more than a million lousy boxers. THEY KNOW THAT HUMILITY IS A DOOR INTO GREAT SPIRITUAL SUCCESS. They have taken the cue from their Master who taught them how bewitching religious pride is, the worst of all forms of pride, and they know they are merely a hop, skip, and jump from ending up deceived and requisitely hell bound.
If one wants sin to take root and grow like muck in a swamp as ancient Israel did so many times, all one must do is murder God’s humble unpretentious messengers (murder comes in many forms). In this way, dysfunction as usual proceeds accordingly and those in power enjoying all the perks stay in power and also stay in power over their people as they continue to deceive them and take their money.
One last thing: All of the Lord’s spiritual giants spent much, much time all alone with God, usually in a desert, and learned everything they knew directly from Him.
Everyone is responsible for their own walk with God and whoever puts anyone between himself and the Lord Jesus will be deceived and suffer spiritually for it. Honor the message of those God has sent but never, ever honor them above the Lord or even yourself. Otherwise, you can never become a real spiritual giant but will forever remain under their thumb.
We all must mature but we will never mature by submitting to middlemen and imposters.
What follows is some scriptural food for thought on the subject, spoken by a former religion addict who formerly thought murdering those unlike himself was infinitely greater than loving them but got knocked on his butt by a loving God determined to correct the man’s extreme dysfunction.
Once receiving correction, the man received great revelation, and became a spiritual giant. Think about it.
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me;
But I went away to Arabia… [Galatians 1:11-17] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul clearly places special emphasis regarding spiritual gifts on the gift of prophecy.
It is as if he thinks it is most important. On the face of it, this makes little sense. All of the gifts are obviously important and necessary.
Perhaps this is one of those teachings of Paul that some so-called Christians like to put in a separate category. You know, the ones they have a problem with because they’re either unwilling to understand or too rebellious to accept.
Let’s review the verse in question:
Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. [1 Corinthians 14:1]
Paul certainly has the priorities right. Love must always come first or the ministry process will not work. This has everything to do with putting the Lord first in all things, but also because the Lord is Love, and love never fails.
The second thing he tells the Corinthians is to desire earnestly spiritual gifts. These are actually spirituals, or “spiritual things,” since the word “gifts” does not appear in the original Greek. The Greek word is pneumatikos and is defined as that which is spiritual, or pertaining to the spirit. These pneumatikos are referenced in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians:
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
(1) For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit,
(2) and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
(3) to another faith by the same Spirit,
(4) and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
(5) and to another the effecting of miracles,
(6) and to another prophecy,
(7) and to another the distinguishing of spirits,
(8) to another various kinds of tongues,
(9) and to another the interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. [1Corinthians 12:1-11]
The nine spirituals listed above are directly connected to the Spirit immersion of Acts Chapter 2. In fact, they are the result, or effect of the Spirit of God working through believers.
In 1 Corinthians 12:6, the Greek word energema is translated in the NASV as “effects,” and in other versions as “operations, working, or activities,” and is explained as spiritual things energized by God for His purposes.
Many people have discounted this direct association primarily as a way to discount the Acts 2 experience since they personally oppose it. But this is grossly incorrect. I say this so people will no longer be deceived by false teaching. Pneumatikos are given by the Lord Jesus to His people for service in the kingdom. One of these is prophecy, and without prophesying, the Prophetic Word would be absent.
The third directive Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 14:1 is to pursue especially the gift of prophesy. I use the term “prophesying” because spiritual energema have to do with function. If they are not being used, they effectively do not exist.
There is the potential for spiritual pride within individuals who believe they possess gifts and are thus worthy of greater honor, and consequently appropriating titles for themselves based on what they think is a resident gift.
However, the gift shows itself by our use of it, or its functionality, not because it is added as a title to a man-made spiritual resume. It is much more correct to state that a person functions in the gift of prophesying rather than that he is a prophet. Yet, it does not mean that a believer cannot be characterized as such if it is obvious that he functions on a regular basis in that particular place of service. This point is more important than one might think due to the desire of so many false prophets within Christianity who are more concerned with their standing among men than before God. They like the high places and open doors that come with titles. They also very much like the money than can be derived from their position.
Real prophets, however, like real apostles, know that serving God according to their calling means that they will be treated the opposite of the false prophets. Paul states several times the perils of true apostolic ministry. It appears oftentimes that the Lord has thrown them into an evil world without much concern for their welfare. The apostles and prophets of the first century suffered greatly in their walk with God though they were very close to Him, leading us to surmise that the “initial” ministries are subject to often greater persecution, just as pioneers have it the hardest compared to later generations. False prophets, particularly those of the present, cannot relate to this and reject the entire idea. The apostles and prophets of the first century often did not know where their next meal was coming from, and that is the way God wanted it.
For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.
To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. [1Corinthians 4:9-13]
Does this look like any ministers you know? (They would never allow Paul in most pulpits in America and certainly not on Christian television.)
We must never forget as real disciples that the Lord has chosen for us a walk of faith and obedience. This is characterized as “Go here, do this.” What about the next step, one may wonder? The Lord almost always reveals the next step after a person has completed the prior step. Therefore, being a “prophet” cannot possibly be a static, entitled position associated with high standing among the Christian elite and with popularity among people in general, but one of obedience to God (not man) and functionality.
Again, since there are nine energema, or effects of the Spirit, why would Paul single out prophesying as seemingly the most important?
We must look at the context. He was referring to what was taking place in meetings of believers in first century Corinth. He was simply trying to explain that in open meetings it is better to speak in an understandable way, so that proper communication takes place.
Speaking in tongues is all fine, good, necessary, and scriptural in individual prayer or prayer meetings, or in an open meeting if an interpreter is present (Paul himself wrote in verse eighteen, “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all.”) Otherwise, it is largely a waste of time for the group as a whole in community meetings when people need to hear from God.
Prophesying, on the other hand, is a Word from God spoken in the language of all, or pretty much all, and subsequently edifies the entire group. Thus, the Prophetic Word is that which is spoken by the inspiration of God and by the power of his Spirit to benefit another, and oftentimes many others.
Moreover, groups of real believers usually contain more than one person who functions in the gift of prophecy, or should, and should thus take turns, though in polite order (see 14:29-32).
The reason for all of this is to allow the Lord to speak to His people. If it is attempted through a way contrary to this model, or if another method is formulated which is actually in opposition to it, it generally means that the Lord Jesus is no longer in charge and has been subverted by false believers who have circumvented His authority. And if the group allows this, they are also guilty partakers.
It should not be difficult, then, for an objective observer to note that traditional Christian church practice, regardless of denomination, is usually much different from that of first-century believers.
This is why, for those who violate Scripture, the Prophetic Word has ceased.
Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. [1 Corinthians 14:39] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Why did the Lord Jesus continually warn us about being deceived? Why did He continually command His disciples that if they would be His disciples they must stay very, very close to Him? Why did He command His followers to obey Him, and Him only, and no one else?
The obvious answer, though only obvious to a few, is that the devil is a lying deceiver and hater of the first caliber, and that the only antidote to his lies is Truth, and Truth only comes from the Man who called Himself the Truth.
In other words, without the Truth, you’re on your own.
And since the devil has no need to fight those not against him (the majority of the world), he concentrates his attacks on Christians.
Why is this the case? Simply because the devil won’t waste his time with peripheral people and issues that do not directly affect his central modus operandi—to stop his one and only mortal enemy by attempting to corrupt and hoodwink those who claim to be His followers.
As the Lord Jesus Himself was tempted by the devil, and in a very major way, every Christian will also be tempted by the devil.
But not all Christians will pass the test.
It should be obvious when researching general Christian history that most Christians fail the test. They fail the test the same way Adam and Eve failed the test. They end up serving the devil whether they know it or not. The Lord said you will know them by their fruits. This is why unreal Christians are included among the deceived.
The devil is essentially a keystone predator. He has no natural enemy that can touch him or do him any harm whatsoever, except for one. The devil runs roughshod over this world doing whatever he wants to do, destroying, stealing, and murdering. He was here before we were. He knows the landscape. The apostle Paul called him “the god of this world:”
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. [2Corinthians 4:3-4]
Consider that statement—the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving.
Why? How? And how does he have this power?
It must somehow be according to the will and plan of God.
But consider how far-reaching that power is, that the devil has the ability to blind the minds of EVERYONE who does not believe, including unbelieving “Christians.”
What constitutes an unbeliever?
An unbeliever, from the New Covenant perspective and writings, is anyone who does not honor, trust, and obey the Lord Jesus as one’s sole Master, Rabbi, Shepherd, and Savior. And if one wants a pure description and illustration of real New Covenant believers in action, one must read the Book of Acts.
It is there where one will discover the evidence that constitutes a real believer, the dividing line between believer and unbeliever, and deduce the presence of unbelievers who masquerade as believers, whose minds have been blinded by the god of this world.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. [Galatians 6:7-8] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The Lord Jesus will return again soon. He will set everything aright.
He brings everything to pass precisely at its time; He also puts eternity in their mind, but without man ever guessing, from first to last, all the things that God brings to pass. [Ecclesiastes 3:11 JPST]
We sometimes find ourselves in the middle of an impossible challenge. Yet, many of us also know that, with God, all things are possible.
Here is the test of our faith:
The Lord God is righteous. He created everything. Mankind has rebelled against God and sinned. Mankind has brought gross corruption to this planet. The corruption continues to grow exponentially. God has never left the planet, but has been outvoted. It does not mean that He does not remain all-powerful or that He cannot act. It merely means that one must choose. One must develop eyes to see. One must know that God cares and has solutions.
But one must also know that because of the extreme interconnectivity of everything on the planet, anything done affects other things unseen, and as is often the case, the “solutions” of sinful rebellious humanity only make things worse.
The people ruling this planet making the biggest decisions affecting the most people are not righteous whatsoever, and are indeed the opposite of righteous. They are in league with the devil. They have agreed with a diabolical covenant that has as its foundation two basic tenets:
(1) The devil is the god of this world and everyone had better recognize it and obey him, and
(2) Those who surrender to him and honor him the most receive the greater benefits.
Hence, if a person is sold on this world instead of the Kingdom of God, if one loves mammon, if one loves imbibing the lusts of sinful flesh, and if one cares little or nothing for a God-given conscience that warns one of illicit behavior and the certain eventual results thereof, then one will end up falling directly into the devil’s trap.
However, because of the nature of the devil’s sly and deceptive game, a person on the wrong path never knows the full extent of a trap being set or that he or she is heading directly for it. It is only afterwards, after one has been trapped and is beset with the terrible effects of the imprisonment thereof, that one recognizes one has been deceived.
It should be obvious, therefore, that the best, most influential, and most successful human agents of the devil are those which appear as the very opposite and are in positions of well-accepted authority. Looking up to them, listening to them, obeying them, and even following them leads one to the very trap we have thus discussed.
You will know these people because they never acknowledge the absolute authority of the Lord Jesus. Never. Not even the so-called Christian religious authorities.
This should open a few eyes but such is a rare event. If the Lord had to actually appear in all His powerful radiance to the murderous, hateful, ultra-religious Phariaical Saul to get his attention, even to the point of knocking the little weasel off his horse and on his backside, what makes everyone else so special? The fact is that the Lord most often has to do the same thing to every one of us to gain our attention and eventual salvation.
Of course, there is no possibility of being deceived by the fake shining agents of the devil if one follows the Lord Jesus, who is God and has revealed Himself as God. Yet, strangely enough, He is not perceived as God, as the one supreme leader of the Universe, even by most Christians, because of the devil’s deceiving influence, and this is why most people never really submit to and exclusively follow the Lord.
It is the rejection of the Lord Jesus that causes the acceptance of false leaders and their false agendas. It is the acceptance of the Lord Jesus as the Master and sole authority of one’s life that causes complete rejection of anyone and everyone else who would stand in His place, especially those within the religious realm, and especially those within the “Christian” religious realm.
Most Christians fail and their lives never come to full fruition simply because they have accepted other leaders as the sole authorities in their lives rather than the Lord.
Those who never fully accept the Lord Jesus do so at their own peril. Until the trap is sprung they never see it coming.
As the apostle Paul recounted his first meeting with the Lord to King Agrippa, he included some incredible words of the Lord Jesus which explain perfectly our world situation and why so many are in absolute darkness, including himself prior to that eventful first meeting:
“While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.
“And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
“And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,
‘To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’” [Acts 26:12-18] 
If a person has never experienced a great trap-freeing experience as the apostle Paul did—if one has never been born again spiritually—then one remains in the trap, otherwise known as the dominion of Satan.
And one remains deceived by some very influential people who have actually embraced the dominion of Satan because of the earthly benefits they have been granted. For most people, of course, there are few benefits or none at all.
And this explains everything.
In Part 2 we will look further into how the Lord Jesus can fix things, rearrange things, and set things aright in order to bring blessing to His children.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
It must be mentioned that the Lord certainly accepted donations. He denied that possibility to no one if their heart was right. He obviously knew the BEST ground was His ministry, and it still is. But He never put Himself in a place where He was dependent on the giving of others.
Many “ministers” don’t know what it is to work, but they know a lot about taking up offerings. They all made straight A’s in that course in Bible school or seminary. Taking up offerings is Biblical, of course, but it must be in accordance with the way the Lord did it and by His direction, and for the proper purpose.
But many preachers refuse to preach the real Gospel, are not Spirit-filled, and are thus not capable of engaging in the required spiritual work necessary for all real ministries.
Thus, they have no choice but to be beggars since they have no other means and certainly no spiritual power, and many also refuse to work. They end up calling what they do their job so as to appear to work. Would that we could all have such a “job.” I don’t say this to belittle real ministers who work all the time at whatever is required, but toward those who will only work under their conditions.
Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do when we needed money was take up an offering? A mere handful of people are apparently afforded this pleasure but 99.99% of all Christians must get their money the hard way—they must earn it.
And we all know when some preachers need their tithes and offerings they will let everyone know it post haste. They cannot make their enterprises work if the congregation does not work at earning what they need.
Why does it appear as if the Lord Jesus blesses those few who don’t earn it and not the vast majority of His children who do? Why are those few so special? Why is it okay for them to operate in violation of the way He operated and yet be blessed anyway?
The answer is simple. These people have done an end around and bypassed the required mandatory hard work and dispensed with doing their half, and convinced other people to do their half for them. Instead of earning money the way the Lord did they tax their congregations for it, and that’s what the tithe has become in most places—a TAX. It is a coerced tax with a different name. And it is taught (insisted upon) that if one does not PAY THE TAX the Lord will not bless them. They even scare the hell out of people by telling them God will get them, ruin their lives, and even destroy them if they don’t pay.
“Just give us the money and no one gets hurt.”
These guys have turned tithing into a racket, putting the squeeze on people and threatening to destroy them if they don’t fork over the protection money.
“If youse don’t do what we say and pay us we’ll sick the Angel Vinnie on youse.”
I understand the scriptural truth of the principle of tithing, and I have certainly been blessed. But the real blessing only comes if the tithe is GIVEN, not paid, because the tithe is not a tax, and it must be given to the Lord Jesus, meaning He must direct it. It IS His money, by the way.
Many preachers cannot preach that, however, for fear of donations drying up and hence losing their jobs. Yet, all real ministry only works if gifts are given free of charge with a good heart expecting nothing in return, and that includes giving tithes and offerings, or any monetary gift.
So, if you want to bless someone monetarily or materially, clear it with the Lord first and then bless that person, ministry, or organization. But if one has to be forced into forking over their cash there is no blessing whatsoever. (This explains in part why so many tithers never receive any increase.)
But concerning the ones doing the forcing—those “legally” allowed to take up donations—they can apparently be blessed to their heart’s content. It only depends on how much they are willing to do to rip people off in the guise of legal “donations.”
And if you’re wondering how particular people manage to do this with a straight face and with absolutely no reservations, it can be summed up in the following principle:
Being pretentious and being dishonest ALWAYS go together. In other words, for the sake of this particular discussion, all religious posers are rip-off artists. Every single one. And the more a clergyite has to dress up to fake you out the more he will corrupt the correct giving process to rip you off.
So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness.
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.”
Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.
Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! [2Corinthians 9:5-15] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 3 of 3)
The Lord Jesus did not get all the money He would need by asking other people for it. It started with gifts from the Magi when He was a child, which was obviously used properly. He likely never took up offerings before His ministry began. He did not use telethons. He did not strong arm good-hearted Christians to bless Him.
Instead, He went out and worked quietly for many years with his own hands and His own strong back, sweating through the days doing hard labor building stuff.
This is something ninety sum-odd percent of all pastors, priests, denominational higher-ups, religious hierarchy high hats, and ministers, especially the television variety, never do. They must all consider earning their money in such a way to be beneath them. One thing is for sure, however:
There is a spiritual theorem in effect that essentially illustrates a clear connection between a certain type of person’s lack of desire to gain funding the Lord’s way with a great desire to shamelessly demand donations their way. These people have mastered the craft of manipulating others to give and thus, have no need of earning money like everyone else. And with so many Christians conditioned to give unconditionally, getting donations is a piece of cake if one possesses the “proper” credentials.
They used to call these guys confidence men. They’re actually con men on steroids.
This is one more clue toward differentiating between the real and the fake, especially in light of Paul’s statement in light of the Lord’s statement:
“You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” [Acts 20:34-35]
Paul said the strong must financially support the weak. The Lord Jesus said we must give to the poor. Could it be we’re giving way too much money to the wrong people? Could it be that there are many honest and gifted ministers of the Gospel who must work full time jobs earning money because they are seen as non-ministers? While the fakes taking most of the money are seen as real?
Some ministers do earn money, however, to support the ministries to which they are called. They have no choice. They will never quit on God. I have one particular friend who served for many years as a pastor and builder who did both. He worked a full time job in construction and also worked full time in ministry as a pastor. It can be done, and often must be done.
The Lord Jesus set the right example, though what He did is not necessarily applied to all. Some people are called into ministry without much of anything, but only a few understand what a real calling entails. It does not mean one begins by subsisting on donations right off the bat.
When the Lord calls His people into ministry, AND HE CALLS EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS CHILDREN TO SOME FORM OF MINISTRY, it is only the beginning. It took Him three and a half years to train His own men. There is the initial call, but there is also a preparation period that often lasts many years. Real Christian ministers know this. There is a price to be paid. He expects us to understand that we must do our part to provide for said ministry.
In general terms this works out to a fifty-fifty proposition. He will not provide any more for us than what He already has until we first provide for Him. He began the process by giving His entire heart and life to us free of charge. It continues with each of us doing the same for Him. This giving of hearts is what makes for an actual blood covenant—the New Covenant.
Christians who never do this are not real Christians.
Concerning earthly material needs, the Lord Jesus has already started the process for us by providing each of us with a human body within which we can be housed and from which we can operate. These bodies are given by God free of charge. Their creation is miraculous. People plant the seeds and carry the babies, and carrying a precious baby to term is not at all easy though extremely rewarding.
Yet human beings cannot create human beings without the miraculous power and ability of God. We can only do our part, and both parts—God’s and ours—are required. God has His role and we have ours. And He will certainly help with parenting if we want His help and guidance.
Regarding all the things we need in this life, God also blesses us with the initial seed to get started as well as the strength to gain more. He arranged things in such a way that His many gifts can be combined with our own to produce blessing.
It is the same with ministry. We do our half, God does His half. God provides what we can never provide and we provide something God can never provide without us. He cannot do our work and He won’t try to do our work for us. It is OUR work. He gave it to us. It is a gift. Ministers who understand this understand that they must first give their half toward the process, without which God’s half—His gift (seed)—can never be effective.
In the beginning, a new minister shows good faith and a good heart by thus not asking God to provide any more than He has already provided and by not asking others to provide, but by first providing for God and others his own gift (seed), just as the Lord did. By this one proves their heart for God.
Giving is what starts the process just as planting a seed starts the process.
And speaking of seed, the best seed to give with the highest yield is seed we have created ourselves with God’s help through the process of earning it doing our own labor with our own hands. If one plants this seed according the Lord’s direction, which obviously requires giving it to Him first, one will receive a high return. This process is achieved by utilizing God’s granted portion as well as our own, and by giving this seed with no strings attached.
Though we cannot help but mentally acknowledge the fact that we will receive a good return, selfish raison d’être cannot be our motivation. If we plant good seed in good ground and nurture production, just as a farmer does when he plants a crop, we will see a good ministry result. But the proper motivation is to minister to others by giving freely and cheerfully. The Lord taught this.
“Freely you received, freely give.” [Matthew 10:8]
How do we give to God?
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” [Matthew 25:37-40] 
One must remember that all of the above needs are not only practical needs but also spiritual needs. The Lord’s real community gives both.
So, unlike the plague of prima donnas who think they’re better than everyone else and deserving of coerced money—those who have no problem at all putting the pressure on anyone but themselves for funding—the Lord Jesus never put pressure upon anyone to render His living, whether it was His close disciples or general followers.
He began by putting pressure on Himself. This is also how all real ministers of the Gospel operate. They put the pressure on themselves to make it work, and once they have achieved something in God’s eyes, He will also give toward the goal doing His part.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 2 of 3)
Currently, in such tough times for so many believers, we must all know that our Lord Jesus is still in charge.
For those who are filled with His Spirit, there is a goodness and brightness in their being, though unacknowledged by many.
The presence of the Lord within them which they experience at present is what the apostle Paul called the earnest of their inheritance.
It is the witness, the pledge, the sign, the guarantee, and even what may be termed the first installment or down payment of His Holy Spirit.
Just as our Lord was the First Fruits, so is His Holy Spirit within real Christians on this planet the first fruits for them of what is to come.
The exact experience of Pentecost is currently available to all, and many millions all across this world have and are experiencing His presence, and it gives them strength and joy and hope until the full arrival of the purchased possession.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. [Romans 8:22-23] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
In Part 2 of this series I raised the prospect of spiritual deafness and blindness arising from an obstinate attitude toward new revelation. As I wrote in Real Christianity,
As strange as it may seem, what we have to show for two millennia of church history is an overwhelming preponderance of completely unique and separate Christian cultures. Stranger still, most of these are simultaneously and mysteriously united under the umbrella of a single proviso. Though not in fellowship with the other and though each claims to be under the Lord’s dominion, they are actually joined as one in their opposition to His complete rule. In reality, their actions give them the demeanor of the legendary roving bands of the ancient world, seeking pastures for their flocks, fighting those who threaten their turf, ever wondering and searching for greater power and influence, but all the while refusing to be fully obedient to the Lord. Stiff-necked, stubborn, arrogant, clutching their religious robes about them, they set their feet in the concrete of human frailty and fear, unable to trust the God of all creation whose truth could set them free.
[Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.]
As I’ve stated before on many occasions, if you want to get the Lord Jesus angry at you, be religiously stiff-necked. Act as if you know everything. Act as if the truth you possess is all the truth there is. Reject the truth the Lord is trying to reveal because it simply does not fit in with your current belief-system. Obey your religious and denominational leaders first, and consider the Lord further down the list. Act as if your church or denomination is already doctrinally and culturally exactly the way God wants it, or is certainly better than all others. Claim to have God’s truth though completely lacking God’s real love and power.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. [2 Timothy 3:1-7]
Keep in mind that a big part of the Lord’s curriculum is correcting us when we are wrong. He does this by teaching us the truth, even it means showing us the error of our ways. The religiously stiff-necked will always reject such teaching, however. Why? Because it involves conviction. Unreal Christians hate conviction. They don’t want to be convicted. Conviction hurts. It puts one off-balance. It reveals that one is wrong. And it thus demands correction from the one who is wrong.
The Lord Jesus always attempts to do this at first with much grace and love, but that does not deaden the impact. In fact, it sometimes makes it worse. A heart that is circumcised, however, will be able to handle the pain. A tender heart can accept proper rebuke, though tears may well up in one’s eyes and fall, and though one may feel so vulnerable he or she feels there is no cure for such brokenness.
But this is part of washing one’s heart with the Blood of Jesus. It is the process of conforming such a heart to His heart. He created a loving, tender-hearted family. There is only one way to do this. The early believers had this love and were like the Lord. Their love and joy was palpable and honest and forthright. They understood well, however, that the making of a good heart involved pain.
Why otherwise do we think the Lord used circumcision as an exact description of what must take place to one’s heart? Imagine His people long, long ago when they first got word that God required physical circumcision as a vital prerequisite of being right with Him and in fellowship with Him.
And if you think heart circumcision is somehow an easy road and not that big of a deal, believe me, your heart has never been circumcised. Imagine the fact that Abraham was so in love with God and that he so honored God he circumcised himself! That’s pretty high up there on the commitment scale.
Most Christians do not have that kind of commitment. But most Christians are certainly committed to other things that bypass heart circumcision and will be extremely obstinate about it when presented with something that challenges their beliefs.
What did the Lord do when challenged about His beliefs? He simply proved who He was by not only demonstrating great love, forgiveness, and mercy toward all, but also demonstrated that He had spiritual power for good that no one else had. His credentials proved themselves.
The apostle Paul also did this. He agreed with his detractors that he was not much to behold and could not talk so well. Like the Lord Jesus, he was the opposite of what we may call a charismatic figure. He attracted no one to himself by his looks or speaking ability. If one tried to fit him for an expensive tailored suit he would still look pretty bad and probably even more so (“Hey Paul, that suit’s wearin’ you, man.”).
But Paul had a clean heart, a circumcised heart. He had love flowing out of him for others. And for his ultimate credentials, he had the power of God, something the fakers don’t have:
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. [1 Corinthians 2:1-5]
Most Christian pastors/priests/reverends are not like this. This means their hearts have never been circumcised. It means they are not filled with the Spirit of God. It means they are the Christian equivalent of the stiff-necked people God was so incensed against in the Old Testament writings. And this anger of God presented itself yet again in its fullest expression ever when the God of the Old Testament became one of us:
“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. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” [Matthew 23:13-15]
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:23-28]
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” [Matthew 23:33-39] 
We all know what happened forty years after these pronouncements were made. What was left of the country God founded ceased to exist forever. The same thing will happen to any person, any church congregation, or even any country that formerly believed the truth and followed the Lord Jesus if they stray into rebellious territory.
But one must always remember that BEFORE the final judgment of Jerusalem/Judea in 66-70 AD, great Life and Light invaded that place. A Great Awakening happened in that place. A tremendous spiritual outpouring took place in that place.
In the exact formerly free location where idiot stiff-necked religionists had gained control and demanded the people conform to religious slavery and a false, dead code, the Life-giving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Messiah blasted upon the scene and hundreds of thousands and perhaps more of Abraham’s descendants received that Life, long before any Gentiles ever did, and it was enough to turn Jerusalem and Judea on its ear.
But that first Great Awakening never stopped the stiff-necked from fighting it or disbelieving it, no matter how obvious was the manifestation of God’s love and power. Why?
Their religion told them it was wrong.
As a terrible historical example and what should be a very frightening possibility for us all, those people went down with the phony evil ship they created unrepentant and hard-hearted to the end.
This is the exact destiny of Unreal Christianity.
So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. [Galatians 4:31]
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
WE ARE IN THE EARLY STAGES OF A NATIONAL GREAT AWAKENING.
It is a sad fact that most professing Christians do not relate to the New Testament, do not really know the Lord, and do not understand their place in this world or what this world actually is.
But they know church. And they know their denomination. And they know their pastor/priest/reverend, but often from as afar and by an idealized portrait that must be honored to maintain both proper standing within one’s congregation and also within the religious simulation created by the controllers of such establishments.
Regardless of what the majority of professing Christians may think, it is a fact that most of that which is passed off as proper Christianity in this world is actually an imitation and false mock-up merely based on real Christianity but certainly not the real thing.
And even though one may try hard to explain and reveal such facts, the purveyors of Unreal Christianity always act quickly to denounce such a one and such facts, especially because it appears to be an attack on the faux status quo and the robe-clutching religionists in charge. These people have certainly programmed their charges to think and act in such a way, whether it is Catholics protecting things Catholic, or Protestants protecting things Protestant, or Pentecostals protecting things Pentecostal.
Most Christians have been taught and urged by their leadership to honor and protect their religious heritage even though most have no clue what it is they are honoring and protecting. It is exactly the same dynamic that played out upon the factual though heart-rending pronouncements of the Hebrew prophets upon their own for violating the Lord’s way and creating false substitutes.
In these days of false chemical additives and other junk that make up the majority of our fake food supply and the millions of unhealthy overweight people such fake food has created with all manner of diseases rising forth exponentially and our desire to get back to the real food that God created and having an honest and healthy food supply and healthy living, why is it that most professing Christians refuse to honor the spiritual truth that will burn off all the fakery and heal so many of so many spiritual diseases?
GOD IS NOT MOCKED! HE WILL JUDGE THOSE WHO CREATE FALSE GOSPELS AND FORCE COMPLIANCE TO SUCH!
It angers God that He has made a Way to Life but most professing religion-bound Christians absolutely refuse to dishonor their fake cultures but dishonor the Lord and His blood-bought Way to Life all day long!
Why does one think the apostle Paul was so angry when he wrote Galatians? He simply could hardly believe what he was seeing!
You foolish Galatians (insert name of denomination, church, or religious culture here), who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? [Galatians 3:1-5]
Of course, due to the fact that most Christians have never ever experienced any of the above it is no wonder they do not understand, which just happens to go hand in hand with being bewitched.
Bewitched? Are most Christians bewitched? What ever did Paul mean? What was he driving at? And why do most Christians think he was referring to other Christians and never, ever apply this to themselves?
There is the very clear idea that people walk around in a fog though do not know it, that they walk in darkness but have been convinced the darkness is light or that there is no light. They are lost in false perceptions and do not realize they have been hoodwinked and deny it always.
If anyone should know this, Christians should know it. Why? Because the very Lord they claim to serve had this happen to Him continually as a matter of course. He is the Great Light but most of His very own people could not even see Him! It is no different with fake Christians who have accepted a fake gospel and fake light, which is not a light, and why so many are in deception and bondage and don’t even know it, even though some had previously walked in the Light.
You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. [Galatians 5:7-10]
The more we study Paul’s writings on this subject the more we catch a glimpse of exactly what he was writing about. But if we are unwilling to apply any of this to ourselves and our own religious cultures we won’t get it. But why are so many unwilling? Isn’t it precisely because they were taught to be unwilling? And isn’t this exactly why the Lord was so incensed with OT Israel to the point of calling them the following?
And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!” [Exodus 32:9 NKJV]
Therefore understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people. [Deuteronomy 9:6 NKJV]
And then on the other side of the Lord’s life and resurrection, Stephen said this:
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” [Acts 7:51 NKJV]
To bring this home, there is simply no doubt whatsoever that these prophetic pronouncements must be applied to unreal Christians and Unreal Christianity just as much as it was applied to the House of Israel, if not much more so. Most professing Christians have been resisting the Holy Spirit for centuries and have institutionalized the practice. And this is what Paul was driving at in Galatians. He could hardly believe that a people set free could return so readily to religious slavery.
However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? [Galatians 4:8-9] 
Such a thing MUST be construed as a demonic bewitching and enchantment at the hands of false religious leaders much more concerned about enslaving God’s people for their own purposes, wealth, and standing. And it MUST be up to individual believers to figure this out and see it with the eyes God gave them.
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The following is my response to an excellent comment made by a reader and follower of this blog, which can be found after my previous article, The Cost of Grace. I have reprinted it here, as my response has become a post:
“One of my most frequently-used counseling themes is Galatians 2:20, being crucified with Christ, in combination with Galatians 5:16-end of chapter. If we walk in the spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. It’s such a powerful passage, and we are without excuse if we really believe that walking in the Spirit will be a walk in the park.
“I’m thinking of doing Galatians next, after I finish Matthew, but I’m almost afraid to dig into it. I KNOW I’ll be convicted and humbled!”
Thanks for the comment! Right you are.
As a possible microcosm of the entire NT, Galatians is like that. As another way to express being crucified with Christ, it is the idea that we learn the right way to do things—HIS way—and then proceed to do the right thing, no matter the cost.
The Lord Jesus is unique among all teachers of all time in that He not only taught the truth and proper behavior, but demonstrated it as well regardless of cost.
One may wonder, “Why must there be such a cost?” The answer to that is complex but boils down to the idea of what may be termed a global multi-perspective mindset in which there exists multiple belief systems and methods of “right” living that are often so engrained most people will never depart from them, even after being presented with the real Gospel.
Hence, the Lord comes along teaching and demonstrating truth and it instantly reveals all the false renditions of truth for what they are. This makes people who hold traditional false viewpoints uncomfortable, convicted, and edgy, but not necessarily so much to do anything about it until a certain mob mentality forms which they can blend into and then strike back.
When such things are institutionalized and culturalized, it’s attending groupthink attacks the purveyors of truth, often small groups and mere individuals, and perceives them as malcontents and deviants. No one was and is perceived this way more than the Lord Jesus, who is Truth incarnate and also the greatest Prophet who ever lived.
Being crucified with Christ means in part that a real Christian will willingly suffer attack and persecution just as the Lord did by adopting, believing in, and standing up for His truth against all the various forms of untruth on the planet, but primarily by standing up for Him, loving Him, and being loyal to Him.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” [Galatians 2:20-21] 
If this can be said about the Law of Moses by a believer and practitioner of the Law of Moses (the apostle Paul), then it can and must certainly be said of all religions and belief systems which oppose the teachings of Jesus, and most especially false forms of Christianity.
Also, it must be noted that it is impossible to be a real Christian without receiving the actual living presence of the Lord Jesus. This is not some spacey mystical nonsense or religious quackery, as so many unreal Christians prescribe to, but the Lord Himself dwelling within one’s earthly tabernacle in actual spiritual form. Without His presence there will be an impossible row to hoe and it is sad that so many faux believers believe they can live the life commanded by God without God, but instead through religious principles and practices which make one nothing more than a bigger fake than before one’s “conversion.”
And as always, there is great comfort in numbers. But part of the testing that takes place for real believers will be spending time alone to both defend the truth and stand for it without the benefit of an emboldening surrounding group. Most want no part of such a test and therefore have no way of passing it. The Lord, Paul, and all the early believers were thought to be fools in the eyes of the world. They spent time alone with no apparent defense often betrayed and rejected.
This does and must go with the territory. If we are to truly stand with the Lord and live according to His Word, He must remove all false props except that which appears as a counter-intuitive prop—the cross.
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Paul continues here in Chapters 4-6 of Galatians explaining sonship. It is especially gratifying that the Lord Jesus chose a man of Paul’s stature—a spiritual giant though most likely standing under five feet tall—to explain and teach this topic, since he was not only up to the task but brilliant in his knowledge and approach.
There is still much of this subject that flies over our heads but it is not due to Paul’s teaching; rather, it is due to the overlaid and muddled teachings of subsequent imposters very unclear on the concept—those who have shrouded the simplicity of such a deep subject as expressed here. Others have discounted Paul’s teachings completely. As in so many other areas within the Lord’s pure curriculum that express pure truth, a teaching on this subject cannot possibly please everyone, though some make the attempt and seriously muddy the waters in the process.
The Lord shines a light on darkness and reveals truth, which puts darkness and untruth in a very uncomfortable place. The Gospel is offensive. Some will run to the Light, others will insist on darkness and remained unmoved. As mentioned in a recent post The Fix Is In: Delusion Illusion (Part 2), the heart of non-disciples is described as being “fat,” and an uncircumcised heart is precisely that.
A spiritual circumcision of the heart removes the hardened, callous fatty tissue (representing the sinful flesh), and the heart becomes lean, healthy, honest, upright, and without guile. Just as those who undergo corrective heart surgery may feel new life and energy afterwards, so does a new disciple feel the removal of an enormous weight, becoming light on his feet and filled with joy.
This illustration of salvation through the application of the death of the Sacrifice Lamb explains well the before and after heart condition of new disciples. The Lord Jesus offered a perfect sacrifice. He lived a sinless life. He obviously also kept the Law of Moses, fulfilling it completely, something no one had ever done. But His focus was not necessarily on keeping an external law or properly completing a religious checklist. However, His focus was certainly on the spirit of the two great commandments. As the Son of God, He loved the Father with all of His heart, mind, soul, and strength, and He loved His neighbor as Himself.
This proper focus was what Paul explained in Galatians. As shown by the following verses from two other epistles, it is the difference between the spirit and letter of the law:
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. [Romans 2:28-29]
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. [Romans 7:5-6]
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. [2 Corinthians 3:1-9]
Please read these verses in context and become fully familiar with Paul’s teachings on this subject.
Now, regarding the keeping of the Law of Moses according to the letter, if the Pharisees represented the best at doing this, one can see what happens when people with unrepentant, uncircumcised hearts trust in their religious works and commandment-keeping as their saving grace. It’s not a pretty picture. One can never be saved from sin through these things because such efforts never address the heart of the matter and never remove the underlying cause.
It is the attempt to treat a disease that has no cure, since the actual cure has been rejected, and then believing in and exalting the faux treatment of the disease, and deceiving oneself and others as to the treatment’s effectiveness, which only makes the disease worse. The Pharisees were actually violating the Torah by lying about its effectiveness as a cure for sin, when the Law expressly states it is a violation of the Law to lie and deceive!
Prior to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, throughout “Old Testament times,” salvation was gained through an acknowledgement of one’s sin, followed by great repentance, and then followed by pure faith and trust in God and obedience toward Him. This resulted in an actual relationship with God, and the fruit of that relationship showed up through the outflow of one’s heart. It is what Abraham did, and an excellent example of this took place in the life of King David.
Therefore, those who had such faith were made righteous (characterized as the faith of Abraham), in that a sacrifice would be made for them at a future date, a sacrifice they believed in and looked forward to. This is why the sacrifice of the pure and sinless Lamb of God applied to the furthest points of both the past and the future, and is why Abraham could be saved from the power of sin almost 2,000 years prior to Calvary and why we in the present can be saved as well 2,000 years since.
Regarding sonship, Paul also explains in Galatians what it takes to be a real child of God and defines the actual “Sons of Abraham.” Recall that John the Immerser told members of the nation of Israel that they could not make the claim to be sons of God simply by being descendants of Abraham:
“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” [Matthew 3:8-9]
The apostle further explains that our Lord Jesus was born under the Law in order to redeem those under the Law to receive the adoption as sons who become sons through God and heirs along with Abraham, who was made righteous by faith, not by keeping the Law, which did not even exist at that time.
Read on as Paul explains to the Galatian Gentiles about Abraham’s two sons and what each represents, and even what the city of Jerusalem represents. And always remember—our Lord Jesus died to give us freedom, to make us free, and to remain forever free. Beware of the ever-bewitching yoke of religious bondage and slavery.
Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.
Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you.
My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
For it is written, “REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR; FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”
And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.
But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.”
So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.
But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.
The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. 
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
RECOMMENDED MUST READS:
Brother Paul, the one who would not be stopped, the one who insisted on the truth, the one who was revered and respected by all and whose discipleship set a bright glaring standard for the early community of the Lord, had his first go at epistle-writing with his extraordinary, incisive, and revelatory letter to the Galatians.
He wrote it somewhere in the vicinity of 48-52 AD, probably around the year 49. It had only been about a decade and a half since the Lord’s resurrection and Pentecost, and Paul was already having to apply major corrections to the believers in Galatia and Christians in general.
They had been subjected to Judaizers, up from Jerusalem (See Acts 15), who insisted upon the adoption of long-held Jewish religious traditions and practices as mandatory for salvation. Though believers in the Lord, they had yet to see the full light of the Gospel and the liberty all followers of the Lord had been called to.
Paul applied a strong corrective with this first letter to make the rounds, and explained it not only from a Gentile point of view, but from a strong Jewish perspective as well, since he, as a Jew and former Pharisee, was at least the equal of those who were adamant about circumcision et al, and most likely far superior.
Consider the newness of the times then, all that was being sorted out, and the powerful spiritual warfare taking place with reference to the doctrinal realm and the truth of the Lord’s teachings. And then, apply this short masterwork to today, and consider its full implications concerning the need to return to first principles, the simplicity of the Gospel, and the power of truth to set us free from false doctrine and dead religion.
I’ve divided the book into two parts—Chapters 1-3 in Part 1, and Chapters 4-6 in Part 2. Be blessed.
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)
Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they were glorifying God because of me.
Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one.
Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. 
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
RECOMMENDED MUST READS:
“So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire…” [Deuteronomy 4:23-24]
The problem with mankind’s religions in general is that they have historically been instruments used not for correct and proper spiritual purposes, but as controlling mechanisms of one kind or another in an effort to create a false coerced unity among a homogenized mass.
Religious abuse is a terrible thing, and it stems from the idea that a particular discovered “truth” must be mandated for all whether or not people understand such a “truth” or buy into it. Religious conversions are forced by the rulers of said religions, and such religious-based rule has been on the planet from the beginning.
In other words, the statement “This is what we believe here and you will either believe it or you will leave,” is the pro forma underlying credo for all religious establishments. Though often unspoken, it will certainly raise its ugly head when a perceived challenge is made.
Real Christian love is unconditional. It does not force people into compliance. Yes, the Lord’s teachings are pure and foundational, and must be learned and adhered to if one is to be a good and effective disciple and follower of the Lord. But He loves us. He doesn’t force us. Religion uses force, not love, and this will always result in various levels of abuse.
The saddest thing about this subject involves the creation of false forms of Christianity and the resultant use of the same evil religious force and control, and the hatred of those who are not members thereof. Fake Christians have mastered the use of a smiling face and gentle manner to mask their true objectives. The Lord Jesus loves and teaches us to love and follows up His love with whatever may be necessary to bring sin-ravaged people into His fold that they may no longer be the victims of false religious conformity and slaves to mere rote and ritual.
False religionists, including and especially those of the Christian variety, do not possess God’s love. They merely use and abuse people toward their own ends and enrichment.
A friend reminds us that within the story of the burning bush Moses is told to remove His shoes:
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”
When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” [Exodus 3:1-5]
Moses is told he is standing on holy ground. What this means is that Moses has entered into a place where God is in charge, and that the “land” belongs to God. He owns it. And He is in authority of whatever happens there. Moses shows his deference to God by removing his shoes, which is a sign of honor and respect toward the rightful owner.
Which brings us to something I’ve touched on before. In a previous post I asked the question: “What would happen if every single Christian “church,” ministry, denomination, and etc were asked to sign over all authority to the Lord Jesus?” How many would actually comply? How many would give up all authority to the Lord and allow Him to be the sole authority, arbiter, and teacher of all that goes on there? The few people I have talked to about this are in agreement that the answer would be very few.
And as it stands, the answer IS very few. As a case in point, almost all “churches,” ministries, etc have a senior pastor or executive director. The name of this person is on the literature and is often displayed prominently on exterior signage, such as ABC Church, Pastor John Doe. This fact alone tells us the Lord Jesus is not in charge.
Yet, we know this anyway because the ministry of the Lord Jesus is not present in most of these places—there are generally no signs, wonders, miracles, divine healings, or Book of Acts experiences. There is nothing to suggest in these places the anointing of New Covenant apostles, prophets, and teachers. Nothing looks like the ministries of Joseph, Moses, Elijah, or even John the Immerser.
In a nutshell, there is no dunamis, or the spiritual power indicative of the Lord’s authority and freedom to act and minister. This means the Lord has been shut out. And this means He is not the owner of such places. The executive leadership wears the shoes and forces the Lord to go barefoot.
What could ever dis the Lord more? This is why He made such statements as:
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” [Luke 6:46]
“And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’” [Matthew 15:6-9]
On the other hand, this is what happens when the Lord IS in charge:
“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” [Mark 16:17-18]
We see these accompanying signs throughout the Book of Acts testifying of the authority of the Lord. He has passed on the power of His Name and the infilling of His Spirit to His disciples and they are now doing as He did, in that He is working through them to accomplish the same miracles He did during His ministry as put forth in the Gospels.
Most ministries never cross the bridge from the Gospels to Acts. They honor the Lord with their lips but refuse to honor Him with the authority He needs to act through them. As a result, most places with a Christian name of some sort are no different than any other worldly establishment in that they possess no spiritual power for effective change. They claim Christianity but do not perform it.
We know He still performs miracles as He did in the beginning. Testimonies abound. But for the person who does not believe, such testimonies and eye-witness accounts are worthless. They will find a way to explain it away. Those without eyes to see and ears to hear cannot consider the likelihood that the Lord still works as He did in the beginning simply because they cannot see and hear. They are blind and deaf. Until they see and hear there is no sense trying to reveal to them what they will not see or hear.
Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word,
“The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”’
“Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves. [Acts 28:24-29] 
The Gentiles did indeed listen, but soon after the same dispute began taking place among such Gentile Christians and continued for the next 2000 years, and it has resulted in roughly a million and a half Christian denominations and offshoots.
The disputing Jews in the above verse were a mere harbinger of the later mass numbers of disputing Christians so screwed up in their various theologies they wouldn’t know the Lord if He showed up in their living rooms and broke bread. Moreover, they would argue with Him over His weird teachings and strange methods and demand that He get with the program.
And you can bet that few would ever remove their shoes.
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The apostle Paul was told his fate. After appearing before the man Nero left as a representative, Paul was told he lost his case. He knew what that meant. But he had already known anyway, because the Lord revealed it to him beforehand in the spirit. He was happy that his day had come to see the Lord…
But he was also greatly saddened because he wanted to keep working. He wanted to minister to others, and to continue revealing the light of the Gospel message and blessing whoever he might. He wanted to continue being used as a vessel for God’s glory regardless of the sacrifice and pain.
He was a scrapper!
And so are so many believers the world over who continue smiling as they face great discomfort, neglect, and rejection for knowing and loving their Creator and Savior. And this is their great victory—they can smile! They want to smile, and they cannot help but smile and express their joy, even though at times it may be in their spirit and not visible to others.
The great hero’s of the faith are those who soldier on regardless of the cost. Like Paul, they are determined to finish their course. Imagine what Paul was thinking as he laid his head down for the last time on this side of eternity. He must have thought about how blessed he was, how he gave it his all, and how he was so fortunate to love and be loved by so many people…
Then, in his final seconds, he probably thought about how blessed he was in that he was also given the awesome opportunity to present his body as a living sacrifice one final time to honor and glorify his King. He had been doing just that during his entire ministry, and he had the many scars to prove it.
The reality is that Paul would have never stopped living and working for God. He would have continued until his body simply quit functioning, even though he was most likely racked with pain every day due to all of his injuries and suffering. He knew at the end how short life really is and how much more he wanted to do, but also that his time of departure was not his decision.
Unless the Lord reveals it, no one knows his or her future. Some who thought they would live long did not. And some who thought their passing was eminent lived on for many more years. We’ll all be checking out at some point, either young or old. We know that. But let it be in God’s timing. And in the meantime, we will do our work for God with courage and dedication, with a heart of love and gratitude, continuing to be thankful for our many blessings.
Paul gave everything he had in life, and in the end gave everything he had in death, always in surrender and obedience. With nothing more to do or give, his very last thought was probably associated with the following:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:6-8]
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Philippians 1:21]
There is no sense in arguing with a man with an experience. Paul not only walked with the Lord on a daily basis, the Lord actually made it a tad easier at times by circumventing the usual convention and showing up in 3D:
And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.
But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” [Acts 23:9-11] 
Paul understood the stark reality of life on this planet. He knew there was a God. He knew God by name. He knew this world was a temporary place. He knew there was a constant battle going on, and he knew the more he witnessed for the Lord the more the battle would break out around him and upon him. For “Christians” who experience no battle of this kind, it is obvious they are doing little or nothing for God.
Real Christians understand this is a fallen world and that the human inhabitants of this world are spiritually blind until a legitimate spiritual new birth takes place. When that happens the blind think the unblind are nuts, simply because the ones who see claim the reality of the spiritual world.
And they reveal truth.
And they expose the devil.
And as a result they experience a backlash from evil forces otherwise known as persecution.
For some, Christianity is only cultural. For others it is merely a ritualistic religion. But for Paul, it was life and death. It was warfare. Due to the nature of his calling and anointing, trouble seemed to follow him wherever he went. He was a wanted man. The devil hated him and repeatedly tried to take his life. But as it was with the Lord, the devil failed on each and every occasion. When the time came for Paul’s retirement, though, it was the Lord Jesus who made the decision. And it must be noted that real retirement for the real Christian is physical death.
Paul died the same way John the Immerser died. It was relatively quick and painless. And the next thing he knew he was at his retirement party in heaven welcomed with applause and hugs all around. They probably all sported miniature funny hats and had a big cake. And at one end of the group was the Lord, with a big smile.
Good job, Paul.
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
In reality, a probable majority of real Christian ministers in the world are broke and taking it on the chin every day. They are beat up and thrown in jail and tortured and murdered. THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.
And most are having a very hard time staying alive to minister because next to no one gives them a dime.
TV ministry and traditional Christian churches can be a good thing, but these entities would go a whole lot farther if they portrayed the real Lord Jesus instead of the false caricatures we have of Him. And it would be much better if the world saw real ministers instead of the false caricatures thereof: Perfect pulpiteers, denominational cultists, and fancy pants blowhards who pass themselves off not only as the real thing but the only ones worthy of respect.
It would be good to see real Christians and hear their stories instead of the same old Christian celebrities droning on and on. Many of these guys are nothing but a false made-up image of something real and are masters at deception. They know what works to keep the money flowing and never deviate from it. Money makes them what they are, not the Spirit of God, and this makes many of them glorified well-to-do cult leaders leading millions around by the nose.
They are the antithesis of the rejected and broken tragic figures like the Lord Jesus and His men who valiantly rose above all the hate thrown their way to get the Gospel to the relative few who wanted it. These men were the most courageous men who ever lived because they were willing to take whatever evil threw at them without retaliating in kind and did take it, and took it repeatedly, and kept pressing on into the wicked wind in their faces to get the job done.
Does this look anything like a well-to-do preacher filled with worldly credentials and high standing above men with servants at his beck and call? Or a glowing smile meister motivational speaker more interested in the accoutrements of this world than the vagaries and insults of real spiritual battle?
I don’t think so.
And if you want the final proof, what they do simply does not work according to the Acts model. America is still going down the drain regardless of millions of churches and ministries and billions of dollars. Many of these entities are having little impact whatsoever on their communities, cities, states, and the country itself. Instead, they have joined the world and are as worldly as the day is long.
But they will insist on their status and they will insist that they be paid, while 99% of real Christians have to struggle on their own and support their individual God-called ministries by their own labor and sweat, fighting on the front lines, suffering abuse and extreme prejudice, much of it coming from “Christians!”
So if one’s big guy head honcho ain’t having to man up the way the Lord Jesus and His men did, one has every right to wonder why. On the other hand, when the Lord Jesus is in charge through real Christians,
GOOD STUFF HAPPENS!
THINGS GET DONE!
THE DEVIL GETS RUN OUT OF TOWN!
MILLIONS GET SAVED!
THE ROMAN EMPIRE GETS TURNED ON ITS LEFT EAR!
The real problem in America is that we have met the enemy and it is US. Fake preachers and fake Christians have taken over, just like the money-grubbing traitors in DC, and as a result the country is ever closer to slip-sliding away.
But millions of real Christians as dedicated as the apostle Paul are on the rise! They are led by the Lord Jesus and WILL NOT BACK DOWN. They are willing to suffer any insult and have, and continue to fight on to get the job done.
And the job is getting done. Though in the early stages, the real Great Awakening is coming forth. As for unreal “Christian” cults, the Lord has their number, and He’s coming after the Christian Pharisees and Great Pretenders the same way He came after the original Pharisees, with the Word of Truth.
The fast and spurious are being exposed.
Their masquerading veil of deception is coming down.
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 3 of 3]
I’ve been reading an otherwise very good Christian study book recently. It has its merits. But it is like so many other Christian books in that it contains a thread of man’s tradition overwritten upon the truths of God’s Word.
In particular, the author portrays modern ministry formats as synonymous with that of the early Church. He also suffers under the delusion that only a particular kind of minister/ministry is worthy of receiving funding. Of course, he counts his ministry worthy—he accepts huge sums for his ministry work—millions and millions of dollars.
This is not necessarily a bad thing at all, but after a while, many people in his position no longer see straight and begin to see only themselves and people like themselves worthy of the hard-earned money that Christians give in support. And because of this they see most other Christians as completely unworthy of receiving a dime.
And they even compare themselves to the apostle Paul.
Well, this is interesting. When was the last time you saw one of these big shots taken out and stoned? Most professional Christian “ministers” look nothing like Paul or the original apostles. Many TV preachers and their TV wives look great on TV, all happy and smiling and made up and looking good. Some of them even sport the silly putty effects of halfway decent plastic surgery (others not so much).
But if we saw Paul on TV it would scare the hell out of us. We would see this greatly disfigured man with facial injuries and a broken, stooped-over body limping around the studio set like Quasimodo, likely bandaged up and probably bleeding from new wounds or old ones that won’t heal. Then, however, we would see the brightness of the Spirit of God shining forth from his smiling face, a face filled with the peace that passes all understanding. And we would gaze upon a man of great character regardless of his bleak outer appearance.
Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so;
in far more labors,
in far more imprisonments,
beaten times without number,
often in danger of death.
Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
Three times I was beaten with rods,
once I was stoned,
three times I was shipwrecked,
a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
I have been on frequent journeys,
in dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers,
dangers from my countrymen,
dangers from the Gentiles,
dangers in the city,
dangers in the wilderness,
dangers on the sea,
dangers among false brethren;
I have been in labor and hardship,
through many sleepless nights,
in hunger and thirst,
often without food,
in cold and exposure.
Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. [2 Corinthians 11:23-28]
Now, I’m not saying all TV preachers and church pastors don’t have a place and I’m not saying they’re all fakers, but many must be mere children by comparison—a bunch of little boys playing with new toys shoving their weight around and demanding that everyone serve them.
And Christians have learned to serve them without a word because they have been conditioned to do so (or God will get them post haste or wreck their lives or send them to hell). So they serve them without question due to an entrenched traditional intimidation factor. This makes it easy for the little boy ministers who insist on having their way even though they possess no scars anywhere to show forth the true marks of their supposed callings.
ALL OF THE ORIGINAL APOSTLES SUFFERED GREATLY DURING THEIR LIVES AND EVERY ONE EXCEPT JOHN DIED A GRUESOME, HORRIBLE MARTYR’S DEATH, JUST LIKE THEIR FATHER BEFORE THEM.
But the majority of modern ministers in America does not know and will never know this kind of suffering. Many live in nice homes with nice marriages and have plenty of money. Just like Paul, right? Just like the Lord, right? And they think themselves the only worthy ones to receive donations!
Now, of course, the Lord blesses us with nice things and that’s great, but I do believe He shows no partiality with whom He blesses.
So why are only a handful of professionals worthy of respect and financial support to the detriment of everyone else? Is it because they’re “official ministers?” Can anything be a bigger cult red flag? One dude or a small group of controllers at the top of a pyramid with all the authority and money?
ALL REAL CHRISTIANS ARE MINISTERS. THE LORD JESUS DID NOT CREATE A CLERGY AND A LAITY. SUCH IS MAN’S INVENTION. THE LORD CREATED A BODY OF WHICH EVERY REAL BELIEVER IS A MEMBER. HE CREATED A COMMUNITY ENGAGED IN MUTUAL MINISTERIAL SHARING, OR KOINONIA, IN WHICH EACH AND EVERY MEMBER PARTICIPATES. HE DID NOT CREATE A CULT. [See 1 Corinthians 12!]
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:26-28] 
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 2 of 3]
Christians in general have a generally incorrect concept regarding cults:
They’re looking in the wrong place.
In the consensus view, a cult is composed of a small band of nitwits spouting crazy weird stuff led by a powerful pinhead leader so far off base he’s in the center field bleachers. This extremist view of culthood is quite convenient since it equates “mainstream” Christianity as the model of sensible people doing sensible things.
Kind of like paying lip service to the Lord Jesus in church while preaching about all His great exploits but never, ever doing likewise.
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” [Luke 6:46]
That means no 100% commitments to the Lord and His work, and all it entails. No 180’s. No far-reaching lifestyle changes as the product of extreme heart changes. And no getting the heck out of Egypt and the Sinai, but feeling all warm and fuzzy fully ensconced within the dead cultures of a fallen world.
It means no raising the dead. No spiritual resurrections. No divine healing. No miracles. No casting out demons. No Book of Acts experiences. No infilling of the Spirit of God. No prophetic utterances. No speaking in other languages never learned. No joy unspeakable.
It means no real discipleship or fellowship or spiritual authority over evil forces. No real love or compassion for one another. Little mercy or understanding or the willingness or ability to do anything whatsoever for another and each other in order to build a strong spiritual community.
“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” [Mark 16:17-18] 
Many churches and ministers are filled to the gills with error and false doctrine and don’t even know it. They act like real Christians but have no power or love to perform like real Christians. And because they are satisfied with such a wimpy and unbiblical status quo and refuse to actually obey the Lord’s commands they are not Christian at all, but something else…
So, what was that about cults again?
Do churches and ministries usually have one head honcho who sits atop the entire operation “lovingly” dictating church/ministry functions? And is everyone in the congregation expected to go along with the pastor’s “vision” or be seen as a rebellious deviant from the norm?
Instead of a strong community composed of strong spiritual disciples one and all, as in the Acts model per the Lord’s teachings, are not most churches composed of a relatively few young good-hearted Christians (regardless of physical age) who simply don’t know any better (yet) and a majority of pew-sitting traditionalist clergy lovers still stuck in spiritual elementary school after umpteen years? People who wouldn’t scare in the least the least level demon on the planet? People who by their choice are destined to be the nicest people in hell?
Single “pastors” ruling churches is simply not the Biblical model. Many “Christians” regardless of denomination conditionally obey their voodoo masters in the pulpit instead of the Lord Jesus, and as a result their places of worship are in no way communities of believers but something else entirely.
They are cults. The real deal. That’s how thick the deception is within institutional Christianity. Many churches, large or small, are cults. Many big time preachers have formed personality cults built around themselves. But to call it that breaks all the rules and they attribute such truth-telling to the devil. Yet, these so-called pastors are the ones making mindless robots of their members and almost never strong disciples of the Lord, something we have clearly been commanded to do.
As a perfect case in point, the Lord Jesus, in order to keep the apostle Paul from being transformed into a celebrity with a false cult built upon and around him, allowed Paul to suffer great, great things.
He could not allow Paul to become a religious figurehead like some duded up TV preacher, or mega church pastor, or gilded pope. So he must allow Paul to appear as a mere mortal man often with no one to rescue him from great suffering and attack.
For his part, Paul in turn had to show his stature in the Lord by accepting this place and position in the spirit, weather the violent storm, and be the brunt of vile attacks upon his character and body.
And when people saw that they could “get” Paul, they lost the respect they would otherwise have for him and perceived him as a mere unprotected everyman, not as some great “man of God” high and lifted up with a big fat wallet in a big fat pulpit on a big fat platform with a big fat “godly” reputation, way above what all other mortals must suffer and far above their congregations and the zombie minions within them.
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 1 of 3]
God is not so interested in how a sinful world perceives His children. It seems as though He is not so interested in our credibility. He will probably not bless our attempt to become a successful and respectable member of society. If one is already a solid secular citizen within one’s chosen social and business circle, as opposed to being a member in good standing within His kingdom, it was most likely achieved without His help.
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:34-38]
The word “lose” in the above passage is from a Greek word that means to utterly destroy. In other words, to save one’s life one must destroy one’s life. One must destroy the old before the new can come forth. Demolition precedes construction. Winter precedes spring. Night precedes the dawn. One must die before one can be born again. Real repentance is as death. The second birth is a resurrection. Without a new birth, one will die in their sins and both body and soul will be destroyed in hell. 
The glorification of sinful flesh is not one of the Lord’s priorities. There are people who become very successful in this life without any of God’s help. They strive and achieve only to leave it all behind at death. Imagine the people who lost their homes and livelihoods recently in the northeastern floods and Texas fires. These are terrible tragedies. But death is often like that, in that everything a person has ever built, accumulated, and worked for remains behind within the tiny closed parameters of this physical world.
You cannot take it with you. Wealthy people don’t have a Brink’s truck following their hearse to their gravesite. And while we are in this material realm, anything we may possess is subject to loss.
The best way to protect your stuff is to give it to God. Let Him have control. Subject it to His authority. He may tell you to get rid of some stuff. He may tell you to keep this and that. He may instruct you to give stuff away. But one thing is certain: Whatever He may want you to keep, you will keep; at least until it is time to let it go.
Isn’t this a better way to live? Isn’t this exactly how the Lord Jesus taught us we must live? If we can’t take it with us, why do we insist on clutching onto all our stuff and our own authority in the present?
It is the same with our reputations. We often spend years building up reputations that later come apart in an instant, sometimes through no fault of our own. If our reputation is based on being an honest person, not much of it will be lost. But honest people tell the truth, and that means they even tell the truth about themselves. They don’t hide their faults and shortcomings. They are humble. They know they often come up short against standing societal mores and spiritual directives, but are more interested in being honest and trying to get better than securing a fake resume inflated like a hot air balloon.
It is such false biographies and fake reputations that eventually blow up and come crashing down. All things phony bite the dust. Only the real survives. And only the real, based on God’s definition of the term, makes a successful trip into eternity. As our foundational example, consider the life of the greatest Man who ever lived:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:1-8] 
For the real Christian, he or she belongs to God. And that includes all our stuff. It also includes our credibility. It includes anything we may be and anything He wants us to be. In this light, it makes little spiritual sense to hoard up a bunch of stuff, whether material or not, that might in all probability be weighing us down and grounding us to this world.
The Bible clearly states that real Christians are not of this world. The Lord Jesus is not of this world. We are supposed to be born again OUT of this world and INTO His kingdom. So who cares what anybody else may think? The Lord certainly didn’t care what others thought about Him. He was on a mission, He would not be stopped, and the world was only doing what came naturally when trying to destroy Him in any way it could. He caught it from everyone, including His own nation, friends, and family. Rather than recognizing Him as God, this is how almost everyone actually perceived Him:
Because He drank wine, He was thought to be a common drunk. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because He ate the same food as everyone else, He was thought to be a glutton. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because He reached out to the lost, He was thought to be an associate of sinners. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because there were serious questions about His birth, He was thought to be illegitimate. [John 8:41]
Because everyone else was stupid and dense, He was thought to be insane. [Mark 3:21]
Because He had spiritual abilities no one else had, He was thought to be demon-possessed. [Mark 3:22, 30]
Because He humbly downplayed who He really was, He was thought to be a nobody. [Matthew 13:54-56]
Clearly, the Lord Jesus did not care about a worldly reputation. His focus was on doing the will of the Father and accomplishing His purpose. This should be our focus as well. When we drift from this, should we wonder why the Lord does not seem to care about the things we hold most dear? If one decides to live for God, one will be persecuted. People will think you’ve gone off the deep end. They will hate you, think you’re crazy, call you every name in the book, and run your name into the ground.
If you consider yourself to be a real Christian and these things are not happening in your life, you better check your oil. The more a believer attacks the gates of hell to rescue the lost and reveal truth, the more the enemy will fight. If one is not in the fight, one is not with the Lord and the Lord is not with him. If one is more concerned with one’s worldly reputation or comfort level than serving the Lord, one has little spiritual reputation and is no threat to the devil.
And though the unbelieving world hates real Christians, the adversary is well aware of his enemies. They are known in hell: The evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Matthew 10:28
 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.
 Acts 19:15 NKJV