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NEW COVENANT REALITY VS. RELIGIOUS IDEOLOGY

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       Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2Corinthians 5:17]   

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         For the early believers, salvation included an experience. It constituted a complete change—an actual spiritual circumcision of the heart. Their lives were entirely transformed and the transformation was undeniable. Each individual had become a new creation. It happened through a prescribed course of action. It did not happen by osmosis. They had to make a conscious decision to leave the old and become the new:  

         …That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. [Ephesians 4:22-24]  

      As the centuries passed, however, Christianity became ideological. It became philosophical. It became led by men who never had such an experience. Converts who had never fulfilled the New Covenant requirements of the new birth were accepted into the Christian fold. Indeed, many if not most of these conversions were coerced.    

         They created a counterfeit construct. Their agenda was diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Lord in this context, in that they rejected the call for spiritual transformation and instead created mass groupings of cultural Christians, or what may be termed Christians in Name Only. They manipulated their constituents, those unaware of the spurious nature of the dogmatic belief system thrust upon them, to follow it without question and instituted penalties for those who did not, and greater penalties for those who failed to honor their leaders properly.

         Consequently, those subjected to the fable generators obeyed them without hesitation, even against their own conscience and ethical beliefs, thinking their superiors were wise above measure and in possession of a higher truth they could personally never master or fully understand. Their surrender was such that they feared the repercussions of not honoring their respective religious ideologies more than they feared not standing up for the Lord Jesus, as if His judgment of their eternal status was inferior to their present societal status within their chosen religious cultures.

         As time passed, future generations of these people took cultural pride in their faux Christian constructs and the leaders thereof, not wishing to even consider the possibility of other alternatives, including the only correct one.

         For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. [2Timothy 4:3-4]

MOCKING THE NEW BIRTH

         But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [John 1:12-13]

         The majority of those who call themselves Christians have never had a true born again experience. Though the experience is fully documented in the New Covenant writings, excuses ad infinitum have come forth over the years toward rejecting it and even mocking it. It is clear the people who do this are either unaware of Scripture or have been taught one of these excuses as a point of doctrine. It must be acknowledged that unregenerate flesh hates the idea of being spiritually crucified and it is therefore no wonder it will always fight for self preservation, even if said preservation destroys any chance of spiritual preservation.

         Most Christians understand the concept of sin but have also accepted varying definitions of it. There is, of course, from a New Covenant perspective, only one definition. From the Greek word hamartia, it is defined as “missing the mark,” “to err,” and even “to be without a share.” That is, whoever is in sin or is in possession of unconfessed sin misses God’s requirements for inclusion within His Community. If someone wants to create another community, however, and call it Christian, and does not acknowledge this definition or fails to require the only cure for sin, then its members are off the hook and will receive no conviction from peers or even from their own conscience, though the latter will take some time.

         Thus, justifying sin is in league with justifying the rejection of the new birth. Both of these protect resident sin and unregenerate flesh, and the acceptors of such a non-New Covenant belief system will receive no power over sin and one will thus be subjected to its ravages.

         The Lord Jesus went through great personal expense to buy our freedom and we, by comparison, even through a full born again experience, pay nowhere near the same price, but any price we pay is a bargain. To be rid of sin is the goal. To be filled with His Spirit is the further goal. Yet both are also Christianity 101 and prerequisite to anything further. The apostles began this way. Mary, the Lord’s mother, began this way. The 120 began this way. Prior to Acts 2 they were essentially no different than they had ever been on a spiritual level. The new birth awaited. The circumcision of their hearts had yet to take place. Such could never happen without the Spirit of the Lord.

         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] [1]

         So they waited. They went to the Upper Room and prepared themselves. They paid the price. Some likely dropped out and never made it to the day of the great event. By giving it their all the 120 made themselves worthy. They never substituted mere religious ideology for spiritual reality. They wanted the real thing and nothing would stop them from their goal.

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

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REJECTING THE TRUTH (When It Hits Too Close To Home)

        At first the prophets were respected. Then their pronouncements caused discomfort. Then the people got angry. Then the prophets were rejected.

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         This is the way it always goes. The message of the prophets never changed. The only thing that changed was the reaction to the message. The reaction was worse in relation to the prophet’s closeness to home. Rejecting truth caused unrepentant people to turn inward, ingrown, and interbred. They eliminated the possibility of receiving the seed of God which always came from without. They became anti-fruitful, grew spiritually lazy and sluggish, and wanted an easy time of things. God would have nothing of it.

         The Lord Jesus spoke nothing but Truth. The Truth inevitably caused a bad reaction. The bad reaction denoted the place the reaction came from in that the hearts of such people had grown far away from God though they all considered themselves just fine with God.

THANK YOU LORD THAT WE ARE NOT LIKE OTHER RELIGIONS

          Christianity in general likes itself and sees no problem. This is the problem. The Lord is fixing the problem. That’s why we are in the early stages of a national Great Awakening. But the Awakening is still being opposed by the very people who should be supporting it. They oppose it because they like things the way they are. They are resistant to change. This is not new. They take the correcting and reforming words of the Lord as an offense.

          I wrote the following 16 months ago: Americans Deciding with Their Feet: The Ongoing Exodus from Traditional Christianity. It speaks of the fast-approaching future, ready or not, some of which has already arrived, which demands TC get its act together or face complete irrelevance.

         I have written hundreds of well-researched articles like this reflecting the exact scenario regarding the closed hearts and minds of so many so-called Christians who oppose the Lord while claiming to support Him. The evidence for this should be obvious to any nominal believer by the very lack of evidence among the unreal believers of actually obeying the Lord and carrying out His plan.

         “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” [Acts 7:51] 

         Their hearts are not right. They resist. They oppose. None of it surprises the Lord. He has a bit of experience in this area. The same spiritual dynamic always happens and it always happens the same way. For a refresher course, it goes like this:

(1) An obscure nobody suddenly speaks forth something so profound and so different that the first reaction from the entrenched religious traditionalist status-quo is silent shock (“What did He just say?”).

(2) They try to throw Him off a cliff.

IDOL O’ PROTOCOL

         This is exactly what they attempted. Only it was not, as one may suppose, the actions of some strange evil street protesters who advocate for killing everyone who doesn’t believe exactly everything they believe. But wait. It kind of was. But before they assumed that form they were nice church-law-abiding pew-sitting go-along-with-the-program types who somehow found great spiritual nourishment in silently watching the pros perform while making sure such pros performed in exactly the way they were accustomed. They had no hankering for anyone even thinking of doing anything even the slightest bit different or break in any way from the correct time-honored protocol.

         Then the Lord Jesus broke protocol. Actually, on His very first visit to His home town church after beginning His ministry when asked to read He proceeded to the front, turned and faced the crowd, and read a very familiar passage. Then he said some other things from right out of the very Scriptures those people supposedly honored but never, ever mentioned. About this time and in that process He let everybody know that things would be different from now on and demonstrated it by very calmly picking up the dead carcass of religious protocol in His strong and mighty construction-worked hands and slamming it against the nearest wall splintering it into a thousand pieces. It was pretty cool. The church people were not happy. Here is the narrative:

         And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

         “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”

         And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

         And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”

         And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.”

         “But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

         And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. [Luke 4:16-29] [1]

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.  


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

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

         See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

         For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ… [Colossians 2:8-11]

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THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT       

         Circumcision is a circle cut which removes the foreskin. It was a vital and necessary part of the Abrahamic Covenant. It was a type of heart circumcision in human flesh.

         “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations…” [Genesis 17:12]

         Eight is the Biblical number of resurrection and regeneration.

THE NEW COVENANT

         It is the same with spiritual (heart) circumcision. Heart circumcision is a spiritual cut around the human heart (spirit) removing the natural, sinful flesh (foreskin). It is a vital and necessary part of the New Covenant instituted by the Lord Jesus—the Blood Covenant. It is the new birth. There is no new birth without a spiritual circumcision of the heart.

         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 2:29]

THE NEW SPIRITUAL MIND

         Scripture tells us that this heart “circle cut” also removes the lower human mind and renews it with a  new spiritual mind. All real Christians (real disciples of the Lord Jesus) have this mind. It goes along with the new spiritual heart. The renewed mind brings forth renewed thinking. An entirely brand new thinking process develops. It is a thought pattern based on the pure Word of God. It is in agreement with the thought pattern of the Lord Jesus.

         Prior to an actual new spiritual birth, the human thought process is in clear opposition to God. It is a thought process based on the selfish desires of human flesh. It is impossible for this thought process to bring forth anything of spiritual worth or good. This lower human nature is the result of the original rebellion of Adam and Eve. There is nothing to do about this lower nature—there is no escape from it—there is no higher nature to be achieved—unless one is born again from above as taught by the Lord Jesus.

THE ONE WAY TO LIFE

         There is only one new birth. There is only one way to God. There is only one way to the Father.

         The Lord Jesus is the Father.

         He is also the Way to the Father. It is through the humanity of the Lord Jesus that a person finds his or her way to God.

         This is why God—YHWH—the one God of the Hebrews, became a human being. He came among us as one of us to show us the Way to Life. As part of His great love it required a perfect blood sacrifice from within humanity to pay for the sin of mankind. Only one Man qualified. This perfect sacrifice could only have taken place through a perfect, sinless, and spotless human being. This is what and who the Lord Jesus was and is. He is Immanuel—God with us. He is also the Sacrifice Lamb. He became one of us as a Son in whom dwelt the Father (YHWH).

COUNTER CIRCUMCISION: THE MENTAL MARK

         The devil’s answer for the powerful new birth which creates millions of Holy Spirit-filled sons of God is to counterfeit the process. The only option he has is to capture minds. Once he captures minds he changes the thought process even beyond that of generic human rebellion against God and spiritual purity. He creates his own disciples.

         He brands a “mark” upon such minds which serves as more than a stronghold within it. His mark changes a person’s thinking and thought process to one in agreement with the devil’s thinking and thought process. It is a thought process of hate in the guise of love.

         Of course, every individual who undergoes this process is deceived by it. The majority of the devil’s disciples do not know they are serving him. Though they have become haters they are convinced they are lovers. They are blinded to spiritual reality. They have willingly accepted this mark, or branding. Their mind becomes controlled by evil in the guise of good.

         Paul described the devil’s circumcision of the human mind and one’s elimination of it as thus:

         …With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. [2Timothy 2:25-26]

         Paul also speaks of Christians who quit on the Lord (apostasy) and give themselves over to counterfeit forms of Christianity:

         But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron… [1Timothy 4:1-2]

         Thus, we can see that no person without the Lord is immune from the great deception of demonic forces. The only chance one has to be freed from deception is through the Lord Jesus, and this is done by repenting of sin and surrendering to Him so He can begin the process of the new birth. He can deliver the captives from spiritual death and free their minds from the devil’s control.

WHAT IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST?

         The word “mark” is found seven times in the Book of Revelation. It is translated into English from the Greek word charagma. It is defined as a stamp or impress, or imprinted mark. This particular mark has to do with the economic system of who the Book of Revelation refers to as the Beast.

         The Beast of Revelation is described as a bestial man—brutal, savage, and ferocious. Merriam-Webster defines the word bestial as “marked by base or inhuman instincts or desires.” This lines up perfectly with one who has taken the devil’s mark upon his mind.

         The Beast is the epitome of the aforesaid evil human being in total opposition and rebellion toward God. He is a man of brute force, epitomized by all the brutal dictators of history who had no care or concern for human beings, but used all and abused all to their own ends. His economic system will demand that everyone participate by first buying into the system entirely. Whoever does not will be excluded entirely. Such a system is further implied to be purely demonic and will be used as the method to gain souls through the selling of their souls. People will be forced to choose between God and mammon, one or the other, and nothing in-between.

         For those who choose the Mark of the Beast, it will be a furthering of the existing circumcised mark upon their minds, and will prove one’s total worship of the Beast and his kingdom from which retreat will be impossible.

         Do not be deceived. All who take the mark will do so because they have rejected the Lord Jesus and accepted the Beast. All of these will be unable to see him for who he really is and will love the Beast and believe him to be the greatest and most wonderful leader in history. Externally, he will possess an extremely likeable and charismatic personality. He will look good, dress good, sound good, and seemingly have an answer for every human heart.

         As a leader, he will satisfy every desire of every person on the planet, except, however, for real Christians, who will perceive him clearly, not hindered by the massive fog of deception made possible by a purely exterior masquerade. Only those born of the Spirit of God will see through the sham.

         In order to stay above the fray of dismay we must be born again. Our entire thought process must be renewed by the Spirit of God.

         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. [Romans 12:2]

THE MIND OF CHRIST

         …But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

         For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

         Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

         But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.

         For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. [1Corinthians 2:7-16] [1]

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

Galatians Relations—Dismiss the Bris: Abraham’s Real Descendants (Part 2)

         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.

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GALATIANS

Chapter Four:

         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.

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Chapter Five:

         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.

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Chapter Six:

         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. [1]

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

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RECOMMENDED MUST READS:

REAL CIRCUMCISION: HEARTS SEWN UP WITH BLUE (Part 1)

REAL CIRCUMCISION: HEARTS SEWN UP WITH BLUE (Part 2)

Galatians Relations—Dismiss the Bris: Abraham’s Real Descendants (Part 1)

         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.

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GALATIANS

Chapter One:

         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.

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Chapter Two:

         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.”

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Chapter Three:

         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. [1]

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]


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

RECOMMENDED MUST READS:

REAL CIRCUMCISION: HEARTS SEWN UP WITH BLUE (Part 1)

REAL CIRCUMCISION: HEARTS SEWN UP WITH BLUE (Part 2)

Real Circumcision: Hearts Sewn Up With Blue (Part 2)

         For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor 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 2:25-29]   

         In writing such things, it is no wonder that Paul was a hunted man. The unbelieving Jews hated him for seemingly making of little consequence the distinguishing mark of ancient Jewish belief. Yet the truth of a circumcised heart was obviously revealed by God, and it relates just as directly to all unbelieving Christians who make their religious service or quasi-Christian beliefs their saving grace. Paul was, of course, a Jew in very good standing. He saw the issue from both sides, first as an unbeliever and later as a disciple of the Lord. The believing Jews, who comprised the great bulk of early disciples, understood what he was saying, as did believing Gentiles, and applied the truth accordingly. They saw that one’s heart must change for the better, and a person must become a new creation.

         See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. [Colossians 2:8-12]   

         In spiritual New Covenant terms, physical circumcision is a non-issue:

         Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. [1 Corinthians 7:19]

         For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. [Galatians 5:6]

         For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. [Galatians 6:15]

         It is the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit of God that really matters. It brings forth:

  • The keeping of the commandments of God
  • Faith working through love
  • A new creation

         From the Jewish perspective, that which Paul was stating was akin to blasphemy. To say that circumcision meant nothing violated the very covenant that God made with Abraham and the entire nation of Israel! Something had changed. For the unbelieving Jews, it was that the original covenant had been violated anyway, since it had become a mere ritual. For the believing Jews, they understood it was about the heart.

         We are warned, therefore, to watch out for the counterfeit. There are many people preaching and believing false gospels. Paul was not the least bit shy, through speaking and writing by the anointing of God, in attacking the enemies of the Lord and those who persisted in bringing forth false teachings. Many in his day claimed to be the real thing. Many others stood up for truth and for the correct teachings of the Lord, regardless of the cost. False believers of today are no different from those of yesteryear.  

         Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh… [Philippians 3:2-3]

         The Lord has made a way to not only perform very necessary surgery on unregenerate hearts, but also established a method of remembrance upon them in keeping with an Old Testament type as put forth in the following passage: 

         The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.” [Numbers 15:37-41] [1]

         Regardless of suffering and persecution, real Christians serve the Lord Jesus because they love Him. They give their lives as a burnt offering, are washed in His Name, are raised to new life, submit completely to a holy God, and their new circumcised hearts are sewn up with a thread of blue. [Part 2 of 2] 

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

Real Circumcision: Hearts Sewn Up With Blue (Part 1)

Brit Milah

Image via Wikipedia

         It is said that the greatest pain known to humanity is childbirth. Or breaking a femur. Yet, I must say for all the males among us that circumcision must rank right up there, though the majority of us partook of the round cut as tiny tots, and blessedly have no memory of the event. Based on this, a spiritual circumcision of the heart can’t be a walk in the park either, or the apostle Paul would not have used such a descriptive illustration.  

         Though there are many good things associated with physical circumcision, especially in the realm of health, God used it to distinguish the ancient Hebrews from heathen nations. It was a mark in flesh denoting the particular people of God. It signified the later New Covenant circumcision of the heart, in that all seed proceeding from a cleansed heart is pure and holy, and takes place by the Spirit of God. It was a viable part of the Mosaic code, and no man who would keep the Law was exempt. Becoming a real covenant man of God thus required serious commitment.

         God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” [Genesis 17:9-14]

         Is there any doubt that Abraham wondered if he heard right? “Uh, you want me to do WHAT?” Here was a serious test. Though there were several reasons for God’s command in this area, the greatest was obedience. The next was the understanding that covenant with God would cost, would separate, would distinguish, and would weed out all pretenders. There is no way His people could adopt this practice without a full heart commitment.

         As opposed to most of our current sappy and wrongheaded Christianity, this was serious business. Yet, even circumcision became a mere rite over time. Like so many Christian things we presently do, many have become mere rituals with no heart involvement. It got so bad that the Lord had to make the following statements in the days of Moses:

         “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” [Deuteronomy 10:16]

         “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” [Deuteronomy 30:6]

         Though the Lord established an outward sign in the flesh, He kept trying to make the point that it was meant to also be a sign of an inward change of one’s heart. In a passage that echoes of the future Parable of the Sower, Jeremiah touched on this very topic in his time, speaking to a very wayward Israel:

         “For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.’” [Jeremiah 4:3-4] [1]

         The keeping of external regulations is worthless if the heart remains unregenerate. Unreal Christians with uncircumcised hearts have mastered the process of acting out their chosen religious forms while turning a deaf ear to God. They violate and rip to shreds the commandment against idolatry. They create a God to suit themselves. With very stiff necks, they obey a false depiction of God and refuse to bend their knee, honor the Name, and give their hearts to the real Lord Jesus. [Part 1 of 2]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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