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Purification by Fire: SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF (4)

         “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Matthew 3:12]

         The grain kernel of wheat is composed of two parts: The inner part that we eat and the inedible outer hull. The inedible part must be separated from the edible part. There are two ways to remove the outer hull: Threshing and Winnowing.

THRESHING

         Threshing was used on grains in which the hull was attached tightly to the grain kernel. In the days of our Lord, such covered grains were either soaked in water, or were lightly milled or even pounded upon to loosen the hull in order to remove it. The latter processes often damaged the edible grain.

WINNOWING

         However, when dealing with grains in which the hull was relatively loose and light, little or no threshing was required. A winnowing fork was used instead to cast the grain into the air allowing the wind to separate the inedible hulls from the edible grain kernels. The light, papery hulls would float or fly away in the wind while the edible grain fell to the ground to be collected. These light separated inedible hulls are called chaff, a word derived from Middle English.

         In both of these methods the unfit for consumption outer hull had to be removed from the grain kernel. Once removed the hull residue (chaff) was burned.

         Keep in mind what the Lord Jesus had to go through as the new seed of all creation. He was baptized by John as our example though it was personally unnecessary. And though He had no hard outer hull He underwent the extreme process of hull removal on our behalf.

         Both John the Immerser and the Lord Jesus used the rich imagery of hull removal in their preaching as illustrative of the process of salvation. The otherwise soft, warm, and loving human heart, characterized perfectly by the happy innocent hearts of young children, becomes hardened by a life of sin and rebellion against God. In time a hard outer shell forms over the human heart and creates an entirely different human nature from the original.

HEART CIRCUMCISION

         This requires what the Lord refers to as heart circumcision:

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

         “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 4:4]

         Since human will and free choice must be involved in the process of salvation, the outer hulls of our hearts can only be removed by voluntarily submitting to the process of spiritual threshing or winnowing. For those with very hard hulls the process will be more difficult. For those with lighter papery hulls removal will be less difficult. But in either case, since all have sinned regardless of degree, ALL hearts MUST be circumcised or salvation is not possible. EVERYONE MUST undergo a new birth.

         We can see by the very clear illustration of heart circumcision (circle cut) that salvation and new birth (being born again) is actually a reverting back or returning to one’s original created condition. Though real Christians will still have to battle their old nature in this world after undergoing a new birth and receiving real salvation, the new nature takes over and regains authority over the old sin nature.

         So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! [2Corinthians 5:17 NRSV]

         He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 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 1:11-13]

         “You must be born again.” [John 3:7]

         Submitting to heart circumcision is not an easy choice but obviously the best choice anyone could ever possibly make. If we have a hard outer shell on our heart, it is not so fun to subject ourselves to light milling or necessary pounding to remove it. It is also not so fun to be thrown up in the air with a winnowing fork so our old nature can become dust in the wind.

         Keep in mind that John the Immerser was sent to soak the nation of Israel in water to loosen its national hull and thereby gain a softening of its national heart prior to the Lord’s ministry. The goal was threefold: (1) Making the national heart receptive to the Lord (2) Gaining national repentance—a wholesale turning away from sin and rebellion against God—and (3) Undergoing a national heart circumcision.

         The nation of Israel would thus be divided based on its response to John’s ministry and later the Lord’s. The first camp would include all those who honored John’s and the Lord’s ministry and complied. The second camp would be composed of all those who did not.

         The Lord referred to the first camp as being composed of sheep, wheat, and good trees with good fruit—“the blessed of My Father.”

         He referred to the second camp as made up of goats, chaff, tares, and bad trees with bad fruit—“accursed ones.”

         For all those who refuse the great opportunity of salvation and being included in those returning to the Lord’s original sinless creation, however, something must be done with them.

         If it was grain kernels with very hard and stuck fast outer hulls that refused the proper treatment toward removal, such grain would be no good for anything and would certainly not be edible. But even if it was grain with light papery hulls, if winnowing was refused it also would remain inedible.

         The only thing to be done with such bad grain that still contained an otherwise edible kernel was throw it in the pile of the inedible chaff that was removed from the good grain.

         This is what John meant when he said the following:

         “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Matthew 3:12]

         In order for the Lord to continue the process of new creation, the following verses illustrate more examples of allegorical entities which must be eliminated through the ultimate means of purification—Fire:

         “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Matthew 3:10]

         “The tares are gathered up and burned with fire.” [Matthew 13:40]

         “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire.” [Matthew 13:41-42]

         “The angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire.” [Matthew 13:49-50]

         “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones (goats), into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…” [Matthew 25:41]

         “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” [John 15:5-6] [1]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church  


[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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The Reality of God’s Relational Love: Thus Speaks the Heart (2)

         Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 2:38] [1]

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         (1) Real repentance is a type of sacrifice. It is also an apology to God. It is the means for gaining the remission of ones sins. The blood of Jesus is applied at repentance.

         It is doing a 180 degree turn-around and walking away from sin and rebellion, and toward the Lord Jesus. Through the expressing of genuine sorrow for one’s sins and especially for one’s sinning against God and one’s distance from God through one’s own willful actions, it allows the Lord to completely cleanse the heart. It allows the Lord Jesus to circumcise the heart and wash away all sin from the heart with His redeeming blood. This is the beginning of the new birth. It is wholly transformational and a complete change in soul status. Repentance is death to the old.

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         (2) New Covenant water immersion is indicative of an outer form of giving one’s self completely to the Lord Jesus and puts Him in charge of the heart. It furthers the remission of sins in the sense that it acknowledges the work achieved by the Lord on the cross, without which the forgiveness of sins would be impossible. The apostle Peter put it this way: …Baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)… [1Peter 3:21 KJV]

         In the original community of the Lord Jesus this was demonstrated outwardly in public for all to see through water immersion in His Name—the Name of Jesusthe Name above every name. Water baptism is both a burial of the old and then an outward demonstration of resurrection and new life rising and coming forth. By invoking the Lord’s Name, the candidate is demonstrating one’s allegiance to the Lord Jesus and no other. A person states one’s desire to become a disciple of the Lord Jesus and follow Him just as the original disciples did, and become a member of His community the same way they did. If one refuses this immersion and the invoking of the Name of Jesus, how can his or her heart be right toward Him?

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         (3) Once the candidate for inclusion in the Lord’s community has properly repented and has undergone full water immersion to illustrate an outward representation of an inward spiritual change and identify the Lord Jesus as one’s Master and Teacher—once the heart is cleansed and redeemed by His blood and is circumcised—the Lord is enabled to fill the cleansed heart with His Holy Spirit.

         This gift of the Holy Spirit was promised by Peter at Pentecost and is available to all who obey the Lord accordingly. He said it was for every succeeding generation until the Lord’s eventual return for His community. The infilling of the Holy Spirit enables miraculous works and signs. The New Covenant writings are clear that without the evidential miraculous works and signs, there is no actual infilling of God’s Spirit.

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         (4) By cleansing and circumcising the heart through the candidate’s surrender to His authority and power, the Lord Jesus tames the person’s tongue and one’s speech becomes cleansed (see James 3:8).

         This means that all speech flowing from the cleansed heart is as seed from a holy spiritual place rather than the prior sinful place. It is the difference demonstrated by Abel and Cain, in that since Abel was righteous he always made the proper sacrifice. All that came forth from him was spiritually good since he had a good heart toward God.

         And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

         Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” [Genesis 4:2-7]

         Cain could do nothing right spiritually and everything he tried was wrong because his heart was wrong toward God. He had no power with God. God had no regard for his offering. Cain was essentially spiritually worthless. He could never bring forth a proper sacrifice until his heart was right and he never made that choice. Because of this, he substituted dead religion and a mere form of godliness due to his refusal to obey God. This is the highest form of rebellion. Abel is a type of the real Christian. Cain is a type of the unreal Christian.

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         (5) The outward sign of receiving the Holy Spirit into a cleansed, circumcised heart is a yielded tongue—the last member of the body to surrender to the Lord Jesus and the first to demonstrate His indwelling presence.

         As a result, a person’s speech becomes a vehicle for God’s glory and ministry. One’s speech is a person’s most powerful asset and ability in the three-dimensional world. The Lord said we would be judged by every word we say. Unclean speech proves an unclean heart and also proves that the Lord Jesus is not in control. Cleansed speech proves a clean heart, but it must be emphasized that speech without bad words does not necessarily prove a clean heart or indicate the infilling of the Holy Spirit, but speech that is both clean and contains the power of God.

         The early believers were speaking forth miraculous things, such as speaking languages they had never learned, prophesying through the power of God, being used in healing by speaking the Name of Jesus, and praising Him supernaturally. Their words had a powerful effect and affected great change.

         Because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and the power of the Lord Jesus, they had God’s authority over all things spiritual. This is why they were able to take authority over the devil and demonic influence through the power of the Name of Jesus and work miracles. This power was granted to every member of the Lord’s community, not just the apostles. It remains available for anyone today who properly follows and obeys the Lord’s order and method of discipleship.

         © 2015 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.

The Image of Deception—Legacy of the Unreal

         The following is an excerpt from Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church:

         There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:4-6] [1] 

         Each of the principle foundation elements of the first Qahal were counterfeited by the Church of the Reversed. Specifically, Jesus became characterized as someone much less than God. He lost His place of total, absolute dominion. He was no longer honored as King of Kings, except possibly in name only, and there was no spiritual kingdom. Repentance became ritualized, and was replaced by the paying of homage to the new Christian Pharisees and the institution they controlled. Unreal Christian adherents no longer repented to the Lord, did a 180 degree turn toward righteousness, or changed their way of thinking to reflect their new spiritual nature (since no real change had taken place).

         The correct water baptism method employed by the first church was corrupted entirely. Candidates were no longer even required to be immersed, for example. Like counterfeit repentance, water baptism evolved into a ritual practice which had much more to do with honoring one’s particular “Christian” culture and traditions rather than honoring the Lord.

         In fact, to illustrate the true nature of the woolly wolves, the “name which is above every name”[2] was no longer invoked in baptism, but banned from the process entirely, and the doctrinal truth of the Spirit of Jesus living within believers continued only in a religious, conceptual sense, and was otherwise thoroughly denounced and disestablished. All four doctrinal points taught by the apostles on the first day of the Church morphed into ritualized practices with no spiritual meaning, and the truths from which they morphed were eventually declared heretical. The new Christian melting pot also contained the adulterated forms of fellowship, bread-breaking, and prayer which were presented as legitimate, though hidden behind each was the salivating, snarling visage of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

         In the final analysis, we discover that the unreal church possessed little more than the fossilized remains of the practices which turned the world upside down in the first century. As a result, the Lord had little authority over its powerless and non-relational members, and church life became a routine practice with little or no life-changing purpose or ability to minister beyond mere human capabilities. But as in many locations in the world today, the Lord’s persecuted church continued to function just as it had in the beginning. Like the remnant of Israel spoken of by Paul in the book of Romans,[3] Jesus has always maintained a remnant of true believers within the earth. His Qahal has never ceased to exist.

         Though only a small minority compared to the vast collection of Christian adherents in the world, its members continue to honor their Messiah as did the upper-roomers. However, since the Lord’s community has never been concerned with geopolitics, the forced subjugation of people groups, or the writing of very subjective chronicles, it has faded from historical view. Even if this knowledge cannot be satisfactorily documented for the skeptics among us, the fact of the matter is that the characteristics of the first Christian community, the prototype, remain extremely different from most of the churches and church organizations throughout history and modern times, both in practice and doctrine. Christians continue to be tied to structures promoting dual class division and institutional formats which have little to do with real Christianity. Christians have largely rejected the work of their most distant ancestors, and have lost due respect for the truths they taught, and the One who taught them.

         Will we continue to be so blind and arrogant that we place the blame for this fact on them, rather than ourselves? They are the ones who built the foundation. They are the ones who paid in blood to set the example which all successive generations were to follow. If their very immature spiritual juniors of the present continue in this vein of quiet mockery and religious complacency, the Unreal Church of the Conformed will grow even larger with greater determination against truth. In fact, the bloody persecution of real Christians will expand from the present hell-holes of this world and will soon go international. Every nation will take part. The greatest enemy of the present day community of called-out ones, however, are not modern Herods and Neros, but modern religionists intent on protecting their turf.

         And who are these chief persecutors? Who are the new Christian Pharisees? In what form do they exist today? Who are the ones influenced by the same spirit that gave Saul of Tarsus his commission to fight the Church? Such deceived ones are much closer to all of us than we think. Through their resolute and unwavering stand for their chosen form of Christianity, they have allowed themselves to become the very image of the unreal.

         Our greatest enemy wears virgin wool.

         © 2001 by RJ Dawson. Pages 64-66 Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church. 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.

[2] Philippians 2:9

[3] Romans 9:27