For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son… [Colossians 1:13]
The apostle Paul spoke of first-hand experience. He knew well what had actually happened to him out on that dusty Damascus road. He knew it was a rescue.
“But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me…” [Acts 22:6]
Think about this. Paul was apparently not seeking God. He did not appear to be on a search for truth. He had a very strong attitude about what his religion was, what it entailed, and what was required. And he was hell bent on not only performing all the rites and believing all the beliefs of his religion but would do all in his power to force others to do the same. Whoever did not believe as he did would be made to pay.
He was determined to get them. It was part of his religion to get them. They were nothing but evil heretic Jews who defied the universal synagogue as defined by the Pharisees. Other Jewish sects were recognized by the Pharisees, of course, especially the Sadducees who controlled the temple and ran Jerusalem, and who were also tied into the great wealth of this world and politically aligned with the Romans. But for any up-and-coming offshoot Jewish sect which did not abide by the dictates of the master cult, these must be stomped on and eradicated using any method possible. This was Paul’s attitude as it was with the majority of the cult, though perhaps no one of these had as strong a conviction as he did or were as willing and able and energized to do serious damage.
THE PRESENCE OF THE DEVIL
It was the work of the evil one. The cult had fought the Lord Jesus every step of the way. It was absolutely opposed to Him and never gave an inch. The Lord knew where those guys were heading. He knew their future. He knew they had already crossed a line of no return and that there was nothing He could do to stop them. They were determined to fight it out to the end and would eventually destroy themselves and their nation forever. Some of them did not know they had been terribly deceived. Most of them bought into the devil’s program because that’s exactly what they wanted and would do it a thousand times over. They were comfortable in the domain of darkness. They loved it. They loved all the sin and vileness, all the corruption and robbery, and all the power and sense of personal pride it brought them.
What the Lord had started as good, beginning with Abraham and continued later with Moses, they had transformed into something evil with the mere appearance of good. As long as no one ever challenged them they were able to maintain their exterior benevolent facade. But they obviously were not benevolent at all. It was only a front, a pretense, with an ulterior agenda. They had joined a very dark force to gain their power but never or rarely acknowledged this openly. Again, some of them were deceived. They thought they were doing right.
Some were not deceived, however, in that they had come to see the cult for what it was but were too frightened to reveal this. To protect themselves and their families, they never said a word.
I have seen this exact phenomenon in Christianity. It is obvious for all to behold once one studies Christian history. The exact pattern always emerges. Some strong personality starts a new faction or belief system, or simply reveals more spiritual truth. Some of these have been given actual spiritual light and revelation. Eventually, however, standard operating procedure takes over and transforms the new effort into an organized cult built upon a personality or specific doctrines that differ from others. A few of these manage to outlast smaller versions and grow to become official Christian denominations only because of the numbers of people involved. The large numbers are what give the denomination its perceived legitimacy.
Of course, each of these, simply because they were not Roman Catholic, were collected into the obverse pool of Christian bodies referred to as “Protestant.” These were the ones known specifically as protesters against Roman Catholicism. Why would they protest? What was there to protest against? Incidentally, regardless of any new “reforms” within Catholicism since the Protestant Reformation, Catholicism is still pretty much as it ever was. It really has not changed all that much. One might focus on a minor change here or there and perceive it as major but this is only a matter of perspective. Overall, and effectually, the Catholicism of today is essentially the same as the Catholicism of then. So whatever the Protestants protested against then they could certainly do the same today.
And the Catholics could certainly fight back. In its history, the Roman Catholic Church has had the same attitude of the ancient Pharisees in that it worked overtime to stomp out any and all dissent or mere perceived dissent. This is one of the main planks it used to gain and maintain power. They would never have become a worldwide religious monolith otherwise. It had used the same methods as its namesake to gain converts and take territory. Many if not most Catholics simply do not know this or they reject it. The Catholicism they possess in their heads is not the Catholicism of reality and history.
The same is true for Protestants. They have rewritten their histories to reflect a kinder and gentler account, both because their present members for the most part no longer believe as their progenitors did and also because they want to eliminate anything that does not reflect present cultural values. I always find it quite interesting that Christian groups refuse to acknowledge that which gave them power and put them on the map in the beginning, as if they were embarrassed about it. Perhaps they don’t feel comfortable attempting to answer the harder questions. They do not like their origins and past but insist on maintaining their organizations.
GOD NEVER PROMISED US A PLATFORM THRONE
Both Catholics and Protestants killed a lot of people only because they differed in beliefs and mostly because those killed believed in the real Gospel and were determined to serve the Lord Jesus rather than whatever faux lord was thrust upon them. I have thought, for example, about the ridiculous level of hubris and arrogance it took for some dumb human obsessed with self importance to sit his fat backside on a religious throne and accept completely undeserved honor as some kind of religious potentate. We see this, obviously, with Catholic popes, but we also see it just as obviously with Protestant leaders, though their thrones are not as ornate or evident. We also see it, strangely enough, in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Nondenominational world.
I don’t know who first invented these ubiquitous large and often ornate chairs or platform thrones but whoever it was needs to be spanked. First of all, there should not be a platform (a stage). If the platform was not there then the platform throne would not be there. Yet we still see to this day some religious pride guy and his minions squatted in giant chairs up on high to make sure everyone on the premises knows full well who is in charge. If you want to check this against spiritual reality, just imagine the Lord Jesus insisting on His disciples carrying around a very large and decorated throne chair that He could sit in all the time everywhere He taught and preached (and maybe be carried around in.)
His great humility and example thus destroys all these stupid unrepentant religious lamebrains and all their prideful and arrogant attitudes. The tables will turn one day. They will get theirs. The first will be last. These ever-present departures into darkness, whether it is the tendency to kill rather than discuss or the desire to indulge one’s flesh instead of crucifying it, will be dealt with by the Lord in His way and in His time. He is very patient that we come to our senses. He intercedes for us. He does His best. He even gave His life. But it is apparent that His perfect example and attitude have not been accepted or emulated by most of what is termed Christianity.
As it was with the false Jewish sects of the first century which refused the Lord and eventually killed Him, the same has happened among great numbers of supposed Christian believers. The LIGHT has come but most still prefer the domain of darkness.
Like Paul, many Christians need to be rescued.
© 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.