Small groups of Spirit-filled Christians are often more effective than traditional congregations. The New Covenant Scriptures clearly express this. Spiritually strong small groups are the Lord’s revealed model.
REAL INDIVIDUALS / REAL FELLOWSHIP
The Lord teaches us that each individual Christian matters. He did not sacrifice His life for groups or congregations but for individuals. Though it may be a difficult concept to grasp, the reality of His greatest of all sacrifices was based on a one-to-one relationship in that He died for you. And He also died, simultaneously, for each of us. We must not see His sacrifice as a one size fits all in which He gave His perfect life for a large, nameless, homogenized blob of folks congealed into what we term “the world” but for every single person who would ever live.
Each of us has a name and a story and a history and a heart. We are each attempting to find our way and survive in a fallen sinful kosmos of mankind. It is a world primarily built and influenced by sinful people after selfish gain with no real heart for the other. We learn to get along because the smart ones among us learn early on that life goes better that way. Regardless of beliefs, we know if we treat others well most will treat us well. Most will understand that we too are simply trying to live as they are, against long odds, and fraught with the burden of getting by.
The Lord told us to love one another. We know this intrinsically, as children (though there are exceptions). We naturally love others and put up no defenses. We must be taught to do the latter and it certainly becomes necessary once we understand the presence of evil people and the danger they present. But early on most of us are unaware of such dangers.
The people of earliest times learned the value of coming together in groups. These initial groups were small and family based. By coming together they lent each other protection from the wild natural world and also made their chances of survival better. Their greatest need for protection, however, was from other groups of people. I would think most of these groups had no initial evil intent but some certainly did. The evil groups made life much harder for those who were not so inclined. The good guys did not like being forced to grant a relatively large portion of their limited resources to this form of defense but knew survival depended on it just as it did against other forms of attack. Thus, these small groups learned they must develop and possess a warrior mindset or they wouldn’t be around for long.
As other groups formed and these people groups grew in size they maintained a family or clannish identity. They were not necessarily based on a single family head or generational leadership from a single clan, but on a community model which allowed for its greatest strengths to manifest, and whoever might be in possession of such was granted greater control. The community was grounded on what was best for all and allowed for each individual to develop since this process was obviously perceived as what was best for the group as a whole. This meant they valued and cherished the individual. They raised their children that way. Who knew what child might come forth to be a great positive for the group in the future?
Other groups took a different tack. What developed among them was the opposite of strength by individual. They chose instead strength by the strong man. They allowed the rise of a single powerful man which they all subjected themselves to, much as what often takes place among wild animals. These groups were convinced that a powerful alpha male would make their group stronger against others. This meant the individuals in the group accepted an increasingly lesser role and agreed to be ruled over. The strong man would gather the strongest members around himself, force them to pledge loyalty, and this was approved by the group at large. Hence, the strength of the group gravitated to the top. Soon, the large submissive subgroup had little inherent strength or power and the relatively small ruling group effectively had all of it.
Because there was no love or respect for individual rights and the God-given strength and gifting of each individual, the ruling group began to despise the weak ones who voluntarily surrendered their power and began using force to keep them under subjection. They then learned to attack other small groups and bring them under their power. In time, they massed large groups of subjected individuals and forced them to do their bidding. This made it easy to defeat even the strongest of groups. Other strong men in other areas did the same and when these large groups clashed it became a major war with even higher stakes.
THE LORD’S EXAMPLE
When He started His ministry the Lord chose a mere twelve men. This was His core. Each of these men were equal. But also, and very importantly, their individuality was greatly respected and prized. He chose each of them for a reason. He never chose a “group” but individuals. His intention was to develop each of them to the fullest. That was primary. Secondarily, He would teach them how to be strong, gifted, powerful individuals while simultaneously getting along very well with one another. They must learn to work together. This is the greatest community challenge Christians will ever face.
However, this method and model never enters the mind of the strong man. He knows all he must do is get each individual to submit to his leadership. He will then use deceptive force of some kind or another to make them get along (or else).
One should see then, that a group composed of very strong individuals is much more effective than a group of underdeveloped submitters headed by a single strong man, especially because his strength is most often a mere carnal strength and not spiritual. Whether the strong man is secular or religious, he uses the same tactics. He uses some level of force, often understated, to gain control over people. He will also do the same in gaining control of their minds. Once he convinces those under his control that his leadership works best for their lives and demonstrates it by making them believe their small undeveloped lives are better than what they could ever gain elsewhere or through any other means, the submitted choose the very little over the hope of better and greater, especially because (1) They are undeveloped, dependent, and individually weak, and (2) They are convinced this is how they were meant to be and live, because their small weak lives are much more appreciated by their rulers.
STRONG INDIVIDUALS ARE THE GREATEST THREAT
The strong man, the evil ones, absolutely hate strong, developed individuals. They greatly fear such people. They know such strong individuals are the only ones who can dethrone them. It is why they fight them at every turn. And because they are in their place unlawfully, they will not restrict themselves to lawful conduct in fighting their foes. They will use any means available to maintain their power. As soon as a strong individual with righteous intent comes forth, the strong man pools his resources against him. He does the same with the next one. But if strong individuals intent on righteousness keep rising up and coming forth, the strong man will have to apply lesser resources in overcoming each and will have a lesser chance at defeating them.
Keep this in mind when thinking of the Lord Jesus. He spent His first thirty years becoming the absolute best He could be. He was fully developed in personal strength, knowledge, and everything else. When the time came to start His official ministry, through which He revealed Himself as Messiah and Savior, He was anointed from on high with great spiritual power. He was already filled with the Spirit of God without measure. This happened at the incarnation. He was always God. Then He became a Man. But He was still God. Yet, He lived an obscure quiet life of preparation prior to His ministry and when He came forth He was fully prepared.
This is exactly how He trained His twelve original disciples. He would teach them and bring them to full preparation. Each one, other than he who chose perdition, became powerful, strong, fully developed individuals with an individual ministry. By that time they had also learned to work together and love each other. The group they composed was one of the most powerful groups of men ever assembled, if not the most. Other disciples had been added throughout the Lord’s ministry and His approach to them was the same. The only thing lacking before the official beginning of their ministries was Holy Ghost Power. The same way it happened with the Lord, in that He was baptized and anointed with great spiritual power, so were the original 120 water baptized and then filled with the Holy Spirit on that wonderful Day of Pentecost.
Thus, members of one small group of nobodies submitted themselves fully to the Lord, and through His guidance and direction became a powerful group of individual spiritual stalwarts able to take on all the evil strong men of this world, including the devil himself. And one must never forget that, relatively speaking, this was a small group! The original Christians were never a vast conglomeration of non-Spirit-filled weaklings as so many of our present congregations have become, but a collection of powerful small groups comprising a whole. In fact, Christianity in general has become the opposite of what the Lord intended. Those who defend it are doing a disservice to the Lord but also doing a disservice to themselves. Whoever submits to the strong man, whether secular or religious, has accepted another one to rule in place of the Lord Jesus. This is exactly what Adam did which resulted in the great spiritual fall of mankind.
May we all receive the revelation that each of us matters, each of us is called and gifted by God, and each of us is vitally necessary for the task at hand which grows more problematic by the day. The Lord created a body of which each of us is a vital part and we must each be about our Father’s business.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it.
But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. [1Corinthians 12:12-27]
© 2020 by R.J. 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.
Walking with the Lord Jesus will involve standing with the Lord Jesus. Standing with Him means one must engage in spiritual warfare. This requires great courage which only He can provide.
THE ARENA OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
It’s amazing what one decision will cost a person. Real Christians make such a decision. Unreal Christians never do. The latter make what they think is the right decision but have either been deceived or are only deceiving themselves. Being a Christian does not mean, and usually never does, having a storybook life. It is often the opposite. Rather than a storybook it is much more about struggle. It is a struggle because the Lord Jesus has a great many powerful enemies. When one joins up with Him, His enemies become yours also and will thus hate you as they hate Him. And this hate does not stay holed up in some ethereal world but is demonstrated three-dimensionally.
Why do the majority of Christians miss this? Why are they unaware? These simple questions are essentially rhetorical for those who are aware. They know exactly why. They know it’s because the majority of “Christians” are never in the fight. They have joined a fake form of Christianity that looks nothing like the historical original. These fake forms come in many different subforms yet it doesn’t matter what the particulars are that separate one from the other, since all are separated from the spiritual reality of His kingdom.
If unreal Christians have an inkling this may be true why do they insist on staying put? Well, for one thing, it’s more comfortable. Yet it is also the case that when nothing is ventured nothing is gained. When one agrees with the devil, the world, the culture, or anything else opposing the Lord, the Lord’s declared enemies will never be one’s own. They will never come after such a one. He or she is insulated from spiritual attack. And though it may appear that one’s good fortune is the result of God’s protection and provision, it is more likely due to simply not being a threat to evil. Imagine how many Christians there are in the world that the devil laughs at because they represent absolutely no threat to him.
The Lord’s entire existence is a threat to evil. When He showed up here as one of us, even as a mere babe, He put the devil on notice. His entry into the world was an open attack. Personified evil had always hated Him but at that point they hated Him all the more because He had the audacity to set foot on their turf. That’s how they saw it then and still do. They stole the planet from Him, in a sense. He decided to take it back. He could have simply eliminated them all whenever He felt like it, both demons and evil humans. But regarding the latter, He instead chose the path of love and vulnerability. He wanted us to know He is no threat to us. He wants us to know He actually loves us and wants to save us. Some will never accept His love but a relative few will. For those who reject Him it is their choice. At the end they can blame no one but themselves. Maybe most never understand the full implications of such a decision.
NO MIDDLE GROUND
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” [Matthew 12:30]
I remember an event in my early Christian life when I was witnessing to someone. Of course, I was witnessing to just about everybody but certain events stand out in my memory more. This was one. The young guy I was talking to was listening to me and fully understood good and evil. Though a sinner, he didn’t see himself as evil or being on the wrong side. But he also knew he was not all that righteous except in his own mind and according to the world’s culture. The people he hung around and were familiar with were basically “good.” Most people never see a problem with oneself or one’s friends until a comparison is made. They consider themselves good because they compare themselves to the dregs of society and criminals. However, when one makes the comparison to the Lord Jesus and real Christians who don’t engage in unrighteous behavior and live according to a Biblical standard, they suddenly see their lives in a different light. They may even get convicted.
This is what the guy said in answer to this: “What about a third possibility? What if one doesn’t live for the devil or for God? What if he just lives in the middle?” I quickly told him there actually is no middle. There is no middle ground. No such place actually exists in the spiritual world. One is either on the side of righteousness with the Lord or one is against Him.
If I remember right, there was a brief moment of silence while he considered what I said. I’m sure he understood the implications. He knew he never made a decision for the Lord and didn’t see the need for it. But he likely also felt he was not an evil man who supported the devil. He thought he was just a good guy living life and doing what one must do in this world to make it and would like to have some fun along the way. Most people are like this. I don’t blame them for feeling that way. Life can be rough and for some it is much rougher than it is for others.
We parted amiably. He understood my point and I think he saw for the first time that there really isn’t any middle ground. But he never changed his life in the brief time I knew him. Most people don’t. When one tries to understand this principle further, however, and gains a more mature understanding on the matter, one is forced to recognize that any middle ground between good and evil can’t possibly exist. One is on one side or the other. If one believes in a middle one is not on the side of good no matter how much he or she may be convinced otherwise.
MAKING YOUR ELECTION SURE
Not to belabor the point, but most Christians never actually make a decision for the Lord. They exist in a nether world of their own making, likely deceived by faux Christian leaders, many of whom are also deceived. It never matters what the Word of God says to these people. They will always find a reason to discount Scripture to suit their purposes. They belong to denominations which put their own teachings above those of the Lord. Or they belong to no church and largely trust their own judgments, though such are never fully based on Scripture.
I remember talking to one such Christian once and referred to the integrity of the Bible but this person quickly disparaged the veracity of the written Word, in that no one can really trust that everything written in the Bible is actually true, especially after so many centuries. Yet, strangely enough, this person was a denominational Christian of a certain sort, attended church, and absolutely fully believed in that denomination’s teachings. In other words, this person’s chosen denomination was based on the Bible but apparently did not believe what was written in it, while the denomination’s teachings based upon it were perceived as legitimate and true. Go figure. One would think a reasonably intelligent person could see this logical fallacy but many don’t.
ONE IS EITHER ALL IN OR ALL OUT
The Lord Jesus is the Cornerstone. He is the foundation. He is the ultimate appeal to authority. He never allowed, in any of His teachings, the possibility of any other authority but His own. He taught pure truth. He taught the reality of good and evil. He actually fully exposed evil. He fully exposed the devil. No one had ever done that before. He pulled back the curtain of this world and revealed everything behind it, including the plans and machination of pure evil. He showed how everyone who has ever lived is influenced by this evil and broken by it, compromised by it, deceived by it, and greatly lessened because of it. He taught that the only solution was to face it head-on and fight it, which He did.
Now, had not a few good-hearted people already tried such a thing? Had not many righteous-to-be wannabes taken on evil in some form or another prior to that time or since? And the answer, of course, is yes, and that some small victories were certainly won. But these were usually only minor nicks to great evil and evil likely struck back and won again. The moral of this story is that most are no match for the great evil in the world. How can they be? They are compromised and weakened by personal sin.
The Lord, however, has never been compromised by sin. And that’s the difference between Him and everybody else. If one has any unconfessed sin and refuses repentance then one can forget about engaging in a spiritual fight. He will lose. Every time. The only way to defeat evil, really defeat it, is to attack it from a purely righteous vantage point. The Lord Jesus grants us this vantage point. Because He has the means to take away our sin we have the means to win spiritual fights. Evil simply cannot stand up to pure righteousness. Righteousness will always defeat it. Always. This is why it is imperative to not only “follow” the Lord but stand with Him in spiritual battle. It is the only way victory can be achieved.
The gift of His indwelling Holy Spirit, which fills one with powerful courage, makes this possible.
© 2020 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.
How is it possible that this former hot-tempered don’t-mess-with-me Simon the fisherman could wax so eloquent and preach so powerfully in the face of a hostile crowd on such a momentous occasion and actually break them? This was the dynamic transformational power of the Spirit of God now dwelling within Peter in action. A short time before he was empty and emptied out. He had nothing. Then came the Upper Room experience. And then Peter became a new person and his foundational Early Church message bears that out. He continues in our next passage toward the heart of the matter.
33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”’ 
The Lord Jesus was the first to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. He was destined to be first in all things, but before then He would be essentially last. He started at the very bottom like most of us. He entered the world in humility. He subjected Himself to lies and gross mischaracterizations throughout His life and ministry. When He needed help from friends and family such help was often not there. This even happened among His own disciples and even His chosen twelve. One betrayed Him. The rest ran off in fear, abandoning Him. He was left completely alone and vulnerable to suffer disgusting attacks from evil disgusting people who possessed absolutely no inkling of spiritual awareness or the fact that they were serving the devil. With no protection He was led into a den of pompous religious bastards bound for hell intent on trashing His holy Name and inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible.
This is how low the Lord had to go—last in all things—the last Man on the planet—treated worse than anyone ever had been or ever would be—for us. And they were just getting started. Their long awaited Messiah had arrived. The great King rejected by their forefathers. The One the nation rebelled against from the start and continually snubbed and rebuffed. They were made a nation by Him, this One standing before them, and delivered by Him—repeatedly. He went through centuries of profane treatment instigated by a profane stiff-necked people devoid of gratitude and unworthy of His love. It was the door He had to go through. Things would get really bad before they got better, the latter of which was His main motivation:
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Hebrews 12:2-3]
HE MADE HIS ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET [PSALM 110]
The Creator came to His people and they nailed Him to an execution stake. They chose wrong. Because of their raging anger and hate what was left of their nation, held together by the Romans, crashed and burned and was destroyed forever, including their great city and indispensable temple. And the vast majority of those offenders responsible for the Great Revolt and destruction likely went straight to hell.
He who became last, however, CAME BACK TO LIFE. Death could not hold Him. Whatever evil they did to finish Him off had the opposite effect. He became the prophesied First Fruits on the morning of Nisan 17, the very day of First Fruits. He then traveled exponentially up the right side of the graph blasting far into the highest heaven and took His rightful place at the Right Hand of God with all authority in heaven and earth:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. [Colossians 1:15-18]
THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT
It was the Lord Jesus who “poured forth this which you both see and hear.” John the Immerser said it was the Lord Jesus who would baptize in the Spirit. If you’re still tangled in the trinity consider this:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” [John 14:26]
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” [John 15:26]
Is this just a syntactical mix-up in Scripture? On the one hand the Lord Jesus clearly states that the Father will send the Spirit. Exactly one chapter later to the very verse the Lord Jesus says He will send the Spirit. He also says the Spirit proceeds from the Father. If the Lord Jesus sends the Spirit which proceeds from the Father, is it not then obvious who the Father is?
Also, in these two verses He identifies the Spirit as “the Helper,” “the Holy Spirit,” and “the Spirit of Truth.” Then to reveal His identity even more, in John 14:18 He identifies Himself as the Spirit:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” [John 14:16-18]
OPENING THE DOOR FOR THE DOOR WHO STANDS AT THE DOOR
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” [John 10:9] 
It is incumbent for every Christian to seek out and receive this infilling of the Holy Spirit. Christians can either go forth in the anointing of His Spirit or attempt to make it without Him. The latter doesn’t work according to His original plan. Far too many Christians insist on serving God according to their own limited strength and ability and the world suffers for it. America is falling fast because of it. Great Christian counterfeits, through their money-grubbing, power-grabbing deceptive agendas, have been created in this regard which have captured the vast market share to the immense detriment of real believers. These shysters treat the Lord the same way those other guys treated Him, in that they reject the spiritual reality first experienced by the originals—those who had no care or concern for what the world thought of them but plowed ahead toward becoming the best disciples they could be, intent on having and exercising the same freely-bestowed power He possessed.
No matter how much they try, the pretenders will never create a socially-acceptable okay-with-sinners Lord Jesus, or put Him in a box, or project forth a “clean on the outside” hypocritical we-aren’t-weirdos persona without also eliminating the Power of His Presence.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”
© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Please note that the use of all caps in the NASB denotes Old Testament passages occurring in the New Testament.
 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 Lord obviously knew when He created free-will human beings that some would rebel. Some would choose a life of sin and never depart from it. This is why there must be judgment.
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” [John 16:7-11]
REJECTERS OF MESSIAH
There is a certain class of people who routinely take the Name of the Lord in vain. They use the Name of Jesus like a cuss word. They have no conviction about it whatsoever. They actually take honor in doing this. And pretty much everyone gives them a pass.
I happened to be watching television a few weeks ago when a quite egregious example of this appeared. I was not watching the show in particular but saw it while flipping through channels. A former talk show host has a show about cars. In this particular episode he had a former well-known national newscaster with him. The former newscaster was driving. All of the sudden out of nowhere he started laughing about something and then let loose with the Lord’s Name in the most incredibly disrespectful manner. The former talk show host said nothing to correct the former newscaster and even chuckled. Though we see this all the time I was truly shocked. I wondered how people could do this with absolutely no conviction whatsoever.
We also know that the Lord’s Name is fair game for utter disrespect on public television as well. No one may ever say anything even remotely disrespectful about Mohammed or Buddha or the Pope or any other religious figure. If they did they would be immediately censored for a gross violation of the PC code and made to pay. But whoever wants to trash the Name of Jesus can do it all day long with no repercussions. There is no PC police when it comes to Him. The world hates Him. It is the same in movies. When restrictions were lifted on movie content about fifty years ago all manner of vile garbage began coming forth and one thing in particular was the outright trashing of the Lord’s Name. In fact this is where it got its start in its large-scale infecting of the American populace, most of which was Christian. Things have now changed in that regard. The devil has done a great job.
Now, one must ask oneself: “What kind of people use the Lord’s Name as a cuss word and do it with no conviction whatsoever and even do it as a badge of honor, as if they are speaking of a hated enemy?” While reading an article on a news site a few years ago I was alerted to an uncensored clip available for anyone to see in which a female comedian is talking about the crucifixion and she asks herself something to the effect “Would I do that? Yes! I would crucify Him all over again!” She wasn’t smiling. But the entire audience breaks out in laughter. There is a lot of this. Those particular people make jokes about the crucifixion, They dis the Lord Jesus every chance they get and are often very bold about it. There is no doubt a level of great hatred involved. They may think they are special but when the time comes they will find themselves before the very Person they constantly trash. He will be their eternal Judge. What chance do you think they will have?
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD
For those of you who have been reading my latest posts you understand that there was no way the Lord could send the Holy Spirit unless He went away first. Part of going away was becoming the effectual sinless Sacrifice Lamb who would pay for all the sin of the world. Once that process was started He would have to die in order to take care of a few matters that no one before Him had ever been able to do, because everyone else dies as a person who has sinned. The wages of sin is death. But He had no sin. This means death could not hold Him. Even though He died physically He did not stay dead. He had to go through this process to become glorified. Once he completed this He was able to then bless whosoever will with His indwelling Holy Spirit.
“What is this statement that He said, ‘You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come?’”
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:36-39]
From this we know there is a certain mandatory type of believing that will result in being filled with the Holy Spirit. For Christians who are not filled with the Holy Spirit, it is likely because there is a problem with their “believing.” Regarding all those who outwardly reject the Lord Jesus, they have no chance whatsoever to be filled with the Holy Spirit and certainly remain in great need of salvation. As long as they reject the Lord they remain in their sins. Unless they change they will die in their sins. When they come before the Lord in judgment they will be condemned because of their unrepentant sin and rebellion.
THE CONVICTING POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As we read earlier, the Spirit of God is sent in part to convict us of sin. God is holy. He will not dwell with sinners. He has no personal relationship with sinners. If there is to be a relationship the sinner must acknowledge his or her sin and deal with it. They only way to be rid of it is to come before the Lord in repentance with a contrite heart and want to be delivered and set free. There must be great sorrow for committed sins and a powerful desire to stop. Once one is set free from past sin the indwelling Holy Spirit is made available for a person to have power over sin and no longer be subjected to its power. But this entire process starts by coming to faith in the Lord Jesus.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
“He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:8-12]
The Lord Jesus is holy and pure. Though He is the Creator of the universe and much more importantly, each one of us, He became a Man and lived among us. He never sinned. He kept the Law perfectly. We have a million proofs that He is exactly who He says He is. There is salvation in no other. There is no other way. He is the only Way.
It is only through Him that our sin can be dealt with. Through His great love and mercy, He has already paid the price. All we must do is acknowledge what He has done on our behalf, come to Him and live for Him. Receiving His Holy Spirit makes living for Him possible. It makes overcoming the power of sin possible. It makes loving everybody possible. Whoever consciously rejects Him or refuses to grant Him the highest honor, however, for any reason, has no chance. He has made it very easy to choose life. The fate of each person is thus completely in their own hands.
As you follow the latest news regarding the slow revealing of great sin and corruption, keep in mind that all that sin and corruption was always there but hidden. We may be temporarily unaware of it and most people may be completely blissfully ignorant of it and never know any better. But those who cannot help but notice the effects of corruption and begin doing research to discover its cause also eventually discover much more. This has now been happening on an ever-increasing scale for years. Much is now known. But wheels must turn. And they are turning.
Part of Great Awakenings is the exposing of sin.
We are each given the opportunity to freely confess our sins before the Lord before we are brought up on charges. In His great mercy He always allows us to tell on ourselves and repent, and thus be done with it. For many others, they refuse to repent and will eventually be exposed. Their sin will be exposed. There is no need for anyone’s sin to be exposed otherwise. It is only those who love sin, continue to sin, and refuse repentance whose sin must eventually be revealed.
There has been great corruption. The revealing of this corruption has started but we have a ways to go. As one case in point, many people associated with Hollywood were always quick to judge others who were trying to live right. Many of those who were trashed were Christians. They were made fun of. Then the big scandal hit and many of those same people were getting slammed. What goes around comes around. The same thing is happening in the government. Massive corruption will eventually be revealed. Those who got away with so much will get away with it no longer. The Lord is shining a light on everything. The perpetrators have no place to hide. Those who will be judged the most severely are those who have judged others so severely and ruined their lives. There will especially be great judgment on those who did their best to destroy morality and the rule of law, who sinned to their heart’s content and greatly violated the law and got away with it. Their actions have done great damage to the country.
This is also true of so-called Christian leaders who have led their flocks away from the Lord Jesus and refused His leadership and Holy Spirit which would otherwise convict them toward holiness. Bold Christians are rising up and coming forth to do His will regarding this. They honor their Lord.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” [Matthew 10:24-27] 
© 2018 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.
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19]
We call it the Church. This word is from the Greek word Ekklesia. The Hebrew word is Qahal. It refers to the entire worldwide congregation of the Lord Jesus. Relationally, it is a spiritual community composed of all believers working together. It was known in the beginning as “The Community of the Called-Out Ones.” It has never referred to a single denomination though some have appropriated the title.
The Church is not a building. Though we call them “churches” today that was not the case in the beginning. In fact, there were no official church buildings for THREE CENTURIES. The early believers met almost exclusively in private homes. They did not “go to church” in order to “have church.” Real Christians ARE the Church.
The best chance the enemy had at destroying the Church was destroying the Lord. If God’s enemies could manage to kill Him before He did any more damage to their kingdom they would succeed at eliminating the possibility of the Lord’s movement reaching the powerful spiritual level it was blessed with at Pentecost. The devil knew he could never allow that to happen or he would lose it all.
So the Lord had to be destroyed. They tried it several times, even at the beginning of His ministry at Nazareth, but continued to be woefully unsuccessful. No matter how hard they tried they couldn’t get Him.
They claimed He was a liar, a false prophet, and certainly a false messiah. They said He was demon-possessed. They insisted He was crazy, something even His own family considered. They also said He was a drunk and a glutton. Imagine that. After a forty-day fast? Those idiots did everything they possibly could do destroy Him and His reputation. They attempted to destroy His good Name. Many were convinced by their lies.
But those who felt compelled to believe in Him were never convinced by such falsehoods. They knew all of these false pronouncements were lies. They knew the Lord’s enemies must lie about Him and slander Him in an attempt to destroy Him so they could save their own lives and their own reputations. They had previously succeeded in convincing almost everybody that they were right, that they were legitimate, that they were in religious control legally and by divine right. This meant the entire temple complex. It meant every synagogue. The bad guys had taken control of the entire operation.
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:13-15]
They dressed very well for the part. They did anything they could to look like holy men, to look like men separated out by God for His purposes, and claimed exclusive religious authority over the people. They created a higher caste in which they deemed themselves the only worthwhile members. They relegated everyone else—the 99%—to the lowest of the low and thereby created another class, one of voiceless nobodies with no authority, and denied them a proper spiritual education, allowing them to be taught only the false doctrines and dogmas of their exclusive club. Whoever dissented was made to pay. They even violated the Law of Moses by creating their own unwritten interpretation that eventually gained more prominence than the Law itself.
“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]
When the time came for the Lord to lay down His life and fulfill His calling as the Sacrifice Lamb to buy back our freedom and rescue us from sin and death, His enemies pounced. They worked very hard for that opportunity. They could hardly believe their good fortune. They had lied about Him repeatedly and did everything they could and it finally paid off. All of their filth and innuendo and slimy lies and slander and libel finally came to fruition.
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” [Matthew 27:24-25]
After the Lord had already been beaten up to an inch of His life and was hanging on the cross those people still were not through. They had to keep pounding away verbally to get in as many shots as they could before He died.
Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. [Mark 15:29-32]
We all know the rest of the story. The Lord died. They killed Him. They released as much of their hate and vitriol as they could. For almost three days the Lord’s reputation was completely destroyed. He was just one more false prophet who met His fate. All the great things He had done in His ministry were largely forgotten. Even His own close disciples huddled in fear, knowing they could very well be next. There was no solution for this incredible miscarriage of justice. All was lost.
Then the Lord Jesus did the impossible. HE ACTUALLY RAISED HIMSELF FROM THE DEAD JUST LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD.
They did indeed destroy the Temple. The enemies of the Lord were exulting in their great success. They had eliminated the threat to their wicked and despicable kingdom. And yet, forty years later they were the ones who were destroyed forever.
“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:43-44]
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” [Luke 21:5-6]
Though they killed the Lord and killed a great many of His followers in the first major persecution wave of the early Church, He didn’t stay dead and all of His followers gained eternal life. But Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple was destroyed. Those evil people were all put out of business. And every single one of the Lord’s people thrived. No matter what anyone tried to do to them they kept going. They kept preaching. They kept teaching. They kept loving. They often suffered greatly but then just got right back up again and kept on going. They would never stop unless they were killed. Nothing anyone tried worked. If they died they went to heaven. If they stayed alive they kept doing the work of the Lord. They pulled together. They worked together. They loved each other. THEY EVANGELIZED THE ENTIRE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THEN WENT TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you are a real Christian you will certainly have enemies who will hate you and want to take you out. It all depends on the effect you are having upon those enemies. If you are a Christian in love with the world you will be safe, of course, but friendship with the world is enmity with God. Here is an example of the proper attitude of real Christians:
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. [Acts 5:34-42]
There is a Great Awakening coming to America. Christians are waking up. Many have been bound by religious garbage. But so many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. You have been attacked in the past and have been trying to recover ever since. Some of you have suffered greatly and wonder if you will ever regain the fight and spiritual vitality you once possessed. It appears as though the enemy has gained the victory and even that the Lord doesn’t much care. These are all lies. The enemy will get his. Here is my advice:
Even if you have not suffered so much but know you are not operating at top speed and full strength, you must allow the Lord to raise you back up by raising yourself up. I am not referring to some lame self-help stuff. This is a purely spiritual situation. The Lord has called each of his children to go work in the fields and no one else can do your job. You must take the time right now to begin reevaluating everything and determine to return to full strength in this coming new year. I will close with this:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. [Isaiah 40:28-31]
The Hebrew word for “wait” in this passage is qavah. It means to not just wait passively but to wait patiently, eagerly, hopefully, and expectantly. It is an active word connoting being filled to the brim in faithful anticipation of what the Lord is going to do, namely, that He will provide NEW STRENGTH and ENERGY and POWER and will overcome all of one’s weariness and tiredness, and by implication even lethargy. Then one will RUN without getting tired and WALK without getting weary. This waiting eagerly for the Lord will allow one to receive strength enough to run a spiritual Ironman Triathlon! So we must not just sit around waiting in a static sense but wait dynamically and actively and with great faith. The waiting itself is waiting in strength which we provide in anticipation of the Lord’s providence of GREAT STRENGTH that only He can provide. It could be that the more we put into the waiting, the greater the Lord’s providence will be!
Don’t ever forget that real Christianity demands impossible victories. In the Lord’s case they threw everything they had at Him and even killed Him but it did no good. They still lost. They were the biggest losers this world has ever known and so are those who attack the Lord today and His people. Such attackers are losers, and unless they repent they will prove it eternally by losing their souls. Don’t let them stop you, especially those wolves in places of authority dressed like sheep.
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to WAIT for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” [Acts 1:4-5] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
There was once a big Christian conference in a major city several years ago. It was headlined by a big name Christian evangelist from another country. Many local preachers were invited, as were their church members.
The city convention center was rented out—the place used mainly for NBA basketball games—and was nearly filled. The conference had been publicized for months.
As one who attended my share of rock concerts in my long ago youth in such large venues, it was interesting to see all the different people from all over the city come in. As an usher, it was my job to assist in finding seating for the attendees, but also to direct people to the VIP section.
The organizers of the event made sure that all the VIPs, in this case church pastors and official ministers, were ushered toward the front section, which was marked off and guarded. I was posted in the far back entrance on the main floor. Pastors came in with special credentials and I directed them to another usher far down the aisle, pointing them in the right direction. If I recall, the VIPs wore certain badges to identify themselves.
There was kind of an upbeat atmosphere but muted. In the old days one walked into a concert in such large auditoriums and saw people having a great time and looking forward to the show. The inevitable frisbees were flyin’ around, caught by someone in the crowd and flung again, several staying aloft at once.
But not at our conference. No frisbees. No beach balls, even. There was one thing, though. It was kind of weird, but then again for those who were used to it not so much. Again, I was at the head of one of the two or so main aisles in the back down which every minister had to walk to reach his seats in the front section below the stage. My friend and fellow usher was about halfway down the aisle before me.
The next thing I know a young lady of maybe twenty years of age suddenly felt like dancing. In the aisle. Close to where my partner was. She was doing one of those worship dances with large graceful movements, her eyes turned skyward in kind of a blank look, as if she was hearing music no one else could.
Okay. No problem. That’s why we’re here. Glad someone’s getting in the Spirit. It reminded me of something, though…
I remember many years before in a church I was attending there was a lady who did these kind of spur of the moment worship dances. Except hers were really weird. And they usually occurred at odd times. This was in one of those kinds of churches where such behavior was okay, and maybe even encouraged. The idea was to let people be free to worship the Lord as they felt led. The associated challenge with this approach is that you would get the occasional weird “leading.”
For example, we had a tastefully trimmed out walk-in baptistery at the far front behind the pulpit. It was located there so everyone could see the baptismal candidate emerge on the left from behind a wall and walk down the stairs of the filled tank into the water. The preacher would meet the candidate there, sometimes in waders, and do the baptizing. It was cool. Then the freshly immersed believer would rise majestically out of the water all smiles and happy. It was a celebration! People would applaud and praise God, and then the newly baptized would climb the stairs of the tank on the opposite end and exit.
Well, our particular worship dancer would sometimes find her way to the baptistery entrance in the back, unseen by all, and then suddenly emerge from behind the same wall through a narrow outlet and out onto the platform! She was thin with long limbs and would always be holding her arms outward and upward, eyes almost closed for the most part, and glide around.
During a service.
Sometimes during the preaching.
You hoped you didn’t bring a visitor on such nights.
She was ghostly and pale and wore long loose-fitting light-toned dresses. It was quite the sight. Some people were muffling laughter. Elbows were poking others in the pews good-naturedly to let them know the ghost lady was doing her thing. Most congregants acted like nothing out of the ordinary was going on which made it even funnier. For the most part everything just kept going as usual—listening to the preacher, watching the ghost lady, trying hard to be respectful, and allowing her to worship the Lord in her own unique way. Good times…
Well, back to our conference—our young lady was dancing in the main aisle completely oblivious to oncoming traffic. People going down the aisle would have to stand there and wait for a moment, looking for an opening to get past her. Finally my partner asked very nicely if it would be okay if she did not block the aisle and perhaps dance in her seat.
The next thing I know some older gentlemen sitting in the back row close by came unglued and walked quickly down the aisle, his head and shoulders thrown back, aimed directly at my friend. He began to excoriate my fellow usher who was quite taken aback at the treatment. My partner tried to explain but to no avail. The gentleman came walking back to his seat red in the face and quite steamed. “That young lady wasn’t doing anything wrong and should be allowed to dance!” We looked at one another. Everybody saw the whole thing. He sat down madder than hell.
I decided to go over to him both to stick up for my fellow usher and also attempt to diffuse the situation. I was very cool. I kind of half knelt down to make eye contact and tried to explain that she was blocking the aisle. Then he started yelling at me. “That little girl is a member of my church and I don’t appreciate this!”
It was then I realized that this little man was a preacher. Somehow or another, his credentials were messed up and someone told him he was not allowed to sit in the clergy section down front. This all happened before I took my post. He was mad enough to fight because he felt slighted. I told him I would try to fix it. He said he no longer wanted to sit up there. His behavior was familiar to me at the time since I was the father of young kids.
Again, I tried to reason with him and diffuse the situation. I stayed calm. Then he said something or another and I lost it. He remained sitting and we were face to face and I let him have it with both barrels, speaking as low as I could. His wife sitting next to him was the most embarrassed woman in the whole state, and was probably used to his antics. But the guy would not let up. I returned fire. I stood my ground and manned my post. Then he looked at me and yelled, “I’ve been preaching for thirty years and I don’t need you preaching to me!”
If he had gotten up out of his seat I could not have guaranteed that I would not have knocked him into next week. That little banty rooster preacher was a serious piece of work and was obviously used to having his way.
Maybe the preacher’s antics and our little discussion became a sideshow among the crowds in the upper sections. Maybe the whole thing played out like a ghost lady episode.
As these things go I was later questioned that night about what happened. Nothing ever came of it. The mad little preacher stayed in back the whole evening glued to his seat and later tried to make amends and laugh it off, though he refused to admit any guilt. He even mentioned something about us almost getting in a fight. As it was, the corrective of the Lord was strongly applied as it probably had never been before and if the preacher had chosen for it to be applied further it would have been.
Moral of the story? Not sure. But maybe if we didn’t have a first class section for bonafide clergyites and Pharisees, such people would not get their panties in a wad in the first place whenever they felt slighted. Their attitudes are the polar opposite of what the Lord Jesus taught. Imagine the people back in the angry little preacher’s church who revered this guy as a man of God!
The idea of spiritual VIPs is about as far from the example of the Lord Jesus as possible. He was always being disrespected and treated bad and He accepted it. It was part of the territory. He never demanded His own way or threw fits when slighted. Unlike many modern day preachers who demand honor at all times, the Founder of real Christianity took on the persona of a servant. He would have never been invited to a conference like this anyway, much less have been offered any credentials, but if He got in I’m pretty sure He’d have to sit in the back. With a perfect attitude, though, and most likely invisible.
I later thought that maybe the little hothead preacher who had been a minister for thirty years was given a chance by God to show real Christianity by taking the mistake in stride and sitting in his back seat with a smile. And what if all the preachers given official credentials had tossed them aside and purposely sat in the back or somewhere unnoticed? Would not that have been a great testimony to the Lord Jesus, to have that entire front VIP section empty?
But no. Too much pride. Too much sorry religious pride.
And there’s your main malfunction, all you Rev. Pretenders: You refuse the Lord His place and take it for yourself. This is like trading a million nuclear power plants for a flashlight battery. It’s no wonder you never see a move of God!
For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? [James 2:2-4]
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” [Luke 20:46-47]
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]
Clergy and Laity distinctions have no place in the Lord’s community. Period. We must all get with the Lord’s program. Proper humility is the order of the day. Repentance is called for. Religious pride must be destroyed. We must walk not in the strength of sinful flesh but in the power of the Lord’s Holy Spirit.
If there is one central determining factor in explaining why much of Christianity in America is long since DOA it is because the Lord Jesus has been demoted or kicked out and replaced by impotent imposters.
I’m not sure what the actual purpose of that conference was, except to see how many Christians from different churches we could gather under one roof in geographic unity. Nothing much happened. There was no great outpouring. The foreign evangelist, greatly used of God overseas, had little effect. But, you know, maybe it was a good networking opportunity.
For those interested in the real deal, though, who want the Lord Jesus to be exalted to His rightful place of honor and authority, who long for an outpouring of God’s Spirit and even a national Great Awakening, there is a clue from the ministry of John the Immerser. The forerunner of the Great One quoted Isaiah the prophet while preaching to the many seeking repentance and right standing with God. Isaiah tells us exactly what must happen should we choose to be one big happy family:
A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley;
“Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:3-5] 
Now there’s a Christian conference worth attending!
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
According to the Word of God, the default destination of every human being is hell. Though this is not a pleasant subject or a fun fact, it is true nonetheless.
And unless something is done by the individual to change the default as it relates to his personal future, the default will not change.
The Lord Jesus left no wiggle room in this equation. He stated it flatly and cleanly. Whoever wishes to repudiate His words, transform them into something more comfortable, or liquefy them with the universal solvent is obviously not concerned about truth but has both a different agenda and an ulterior motive.
The truth is clear:
“You must be born again.” [John 3:7]
If one must be born again, it proves the first birth, that from the womb, is merely a step in the process that leads to eternal life. If one chooses to stop his progress and never be born again, that is, never change the default, then one will end up living for this world as if it were the destination that matters. And once one does this, one will eventually make choices that concern only one’s life in this world, and therefore will choose to absolve himself of any pesky moral restraints that might hinder his progress, whether or not some level of human virtue is involved.
Hence, the Torah will not apply. The Law of God will be perceived as restrictive toward one’s goals. The teachings of the Lord Jesus will be seen as unworkable, untrustworthy, non-applicable to our “modern” world, and an albatross around the neck of one’s earthly goals and ambition. Compromise will be the order of the day. Justifying pet sins will become routine.
If life in the here and now is most important and if our social standing and reputation, whether secular or religious, is paramount, then whatever must be done to achieve such and maintain such will be the priority. This is why there is such a wide gulf that can never be bridged between making this world one’s priority as opposed to the next, though some attempt to do both. And sadly, since they are familiar with the Word of God, the worst offenders regarding this are “Christians.”
Again, no new birth, no change in eternal destination:
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:18]
What exactly does it mean to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God?
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:37-39]
In this passage John makes a further connection to what believing in the Lord and in His Name entails. He quotes the Lord Jesus as saying that all who believe in Him according to Scripture (not in accordance with man-made doctrines) will receive the infilling of the Spirit of God and become the repository of a living stream flowing forth.
Moreover, the Lord proclaimed these profound words on the last day of the Feast of Sukkot (or Booths). That He stated such on that particular day is both quite revealing and very significant.
Are we not traveling through this earth and through time as within a mere temporary dwelling? In other words, if you were a child of the fifties and possessed one of those old mini pedal cars in the form of a real car, or if you rode around on a “big wheel” as a child thirty years later, you certainly did not think, even as a child, that such toys were the end product. You knew they were mere representations of real vehicles. You hoped to grow up one day and get a real car. Why then would one live for this world, and try to gain as much money, as many possessions, and as much authority over other people as possible instead of living for whatever may be the will of God?
This world is merely a proving ground. It is a test. It is designed to separate the real from the unreal, and to bring forth those who love the Lord and distinguish them from those who do not. It is a celestial halfway house created to cull out the lovers of darkness from the children of light and to reveal and bring forth the sons of God.
Thus, those who live for this world as if it is the only world do not believe in the Lord or the next world. Or they believe the lie that heaven is the default destination for everyone.
Returning to the Lord’s quote, with additional teaching, we see:
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” [John 3:18-21]
Selfishness is not wrought in God. Greed is not wrought in God. Looking out for number one is not wrought in God. Living for this world is not wrought in God. Refusing to love the Lord with all of one’s heart, mind, and strength is not wrought in God. Refusing to love one’s neighbor as oneself is not wrought in God. Adultery, murder, lying, stealing, coveting—none of these is wrought in God but the majority of human beings practice such things on a daily basis—and never repent—because they have no intention of stopping—because they like it—and because they love the darkness.
And because of their lack of belief in and obedience to the Lord—the only One who has the cure for the disease of sin—there will be judgment for their sin.
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. [Jude 1:17-21] 
Jude is speaking here of certain “Christians.” Unreal Christians. Faux Bros. Tares. Wild wheat. These people are:
(2) Followers of their own ungodly lusts
(3) Those who cause divisions
(5) And last but not least, devoid of the Spirit
Items 1-4 are due to item 5: Being devoid of the Spirit of God causes one to be all of the above (and more).
But believing in the Lord according to the Word of God means one will receive the Holy Spirit and thus be transformed in heart and mind. Instead of being worldly-minded and living for this world, one will be spiritually-minded and live for the next. One will no longer strive to fulfill the lusts of one’s flesh, but crucify one’s flesh. One will chuck a dead human mind right out the door and incorporate a spiritual mind, and even possess the mind of Christ. Now that’s a big deal!
But it takes a big deal to get there.
It takes real repentance—effectively hurling oneself upon a funeral pyre.
It takes going under water in the Name above all names, in the powerful sin-destroying and devil-delivering Name of Yehoshua HaMashiach.
And it takes being filled with His Holy Spirit.
Many believers worldwide are coming into a greater understanding of these facts.
Nevertheless, this has always been far too much for the average “Christian,” and it is why the average “Christian” more closely resembles a guy in a costume or a woman at a masquerade. For these people, covering up and deceiving one another is far superior to being transparent.
Looking and acting like a “Christian” from without, frosting one’s cake with mere human virtue, and thinking salvation consists of being a nice guy and never fighting evil is attributable to pure Phariseeism (and there were many “nice” Pharisees to go along with the jerks).
In the final analysis, Unreal Christianity has constructed a false front, a Fake World, and as a point of law has rejected the Lord’s definition and method of spiritual birth and has replaced it with any number of counterfeits. Hiding one’s darkness has thus become the norm and is preferable to potentially shining one’s light (or having the Light shine upon one). At the heart of this is simple human pride—that which is much more concerned about outward perception and keeping up appearances.
But the Lord made a way to destroy such pride. He made it possible to throw off the yoke of pretense and fraud.
He traveled through this temporary life as one of us and established the means of re-creation. The Spirit of God became resident within human flesh and resulted in a perfect, sinless Human Being—the only begotten Son of God. The Son of God was then glorified, a process that had to take place to allow His Spirit to be given.
As a result, the Lord’s Holy Spirit can now dwell within “whosoever will,” just as it happened for those at Pentecost and for many millions since, and anyone can be fully born again…
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
There is a constant theme in the teachings of our Lord Jesus. He is forever telling us to stay alert, stay awake, and fight against deception. He tells us to stay prayed up, fasted up, filled up, read up, and lit up. Not only must we stay in His written Word, we must always stay close to Him, the Living Word. Living for God is impossible otherwise.
Any real believer can be deceived at any time. Our enemy is no slouch. He is a very powerful deceiver, and Christians who downplay this or do not take the Lord seriously will have no chance. The more one turns his or her Christianity into a kindergarten Sunday school class, the more likely he or she will never grow up.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’
And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” [Matthew 25:1-13]
There are false doctrines within overall Christianity that make a mockery of such teachings. The idea that one can never be lost once being saved plays right into the devil’s hands. Why in the world is the Lord ever telling us to stay alert? Sleepy time Christianity has institutionalized spiritual laziness and the rejection of sound teaching regarding one’s fight against deception. One of the worst things a believer can do is act as if the enemy has no chance against us or that one’s sin is somehow always being removed as if by magic though there be no real repentance or aggressive attention to spiritual details.
Most Christians trust their guy in the pulpit, and though there are many solid ministers, there are also many solid quacks and spiritual pansies who side with the devil more times than otherwise. Letting some hand-picked man or woman or whoever might come your way be the central arbiter of your spiritual life is not Biblical. Remaining a dunderhead while trusting a Christian guru without staying close to God is very foolish, but this is often the norm in Christian circles. Good shepherds are relatively rare and should be respected, but appeals to authority other than the Lord will not be allowed at the judgment: “But look at all I did, Lord! My pastor/priest/reverend told me to do it that way! All my friends said I was right!”
When believers let their lamp go out it is because they are living today on yesterday’s oil. The Lord alluded to new wine skins being necessary on given occasions of new growth and new spiritual output. Doing things the way we did it yesterday does not necessarily work in the here and now. It never works in the future. God changes course a lot and does new and different things all the time. Without following Him and paying attention one can never keep up. It is always sad to see so many Christians living in the past and refusing to allow themselves the refreshing renewing and change for the better that comes with truly following God.
Do the journeys of the Israelites mean anything at all? God was always doing different things. He wanted no one to come up with a formula or plan or doctrine or belief system that would somehow give all the answers and make Him predictable. As another example, when the Lord Jesus healed the blind He always did it differently.
From these simple truths we should know we can NEVER figure out God, but the reason why is not what you may think. A real living relationship with the Lord demands an ongoing newness and freshness, and such cannot be achieved or lived out by doing the same thing we did last year or last decade. Some Christians are so stuck in the mud they are still living in the wineskin of fifty years ago. As a result, they have little life. Their oil has long since run out. Their lamps serve no purpose. They give off no light. They missed the bridegroom long ago but act as if they are still waiting for Him.
It will be a long wait.
That’s why the answer is the non-answer. Living for God successfully means staying close to Him so one can hear His voice and thereby obey Him and do His will, whatever it may be. Therefore the answer is remaining in a state of real repentance, living by faith, praying always, fasting enough to get the job done, giving, and studying the Word. These are not answers so much as they are the means to the answer. These things help us to keep our lamps and oil flasks filled. We were made to be filled with the Spirit of God. We must always keep our oil supply fresh and our tanks topped off.
And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. [Acts 13:52]
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.