Our success as Christians must be defined in purely spiritual terms. Such success can never be gained without pure spiritual means.
When I first came to the Lord many years ago and was filled with the Holy Spirit I immediately received an intense spiritual hunger for the Word of God. I was doing hard manual labor at the time, working in a massive warehouse distribution center. It was often the case that I would spend my lunch hour fasting and reading the Word.
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Fasting was something entirely new to my life but before my born-again experience I had already understood the need for organic food, proper vitamins, and etc. I even went so far as to become a vegetarian. That lasted about five weeks… Much new information had come forth by the 1970s regarding the chemical-laden junk food in the standard American diet, whether store bought or not, and that it was causing a multitude of health problems for a great many people, most of them unaware of the cause. I had read a lot on the subject of natural foods and still have one particular book from that time entitled Eating For Life. Such literature mentioned the benefits of periodic fasting so I was aware of the practice though had never applied it.
That changed with my new church. They believed in fasting though primarily for spiritual reasons. We were taught to fast at least one day per week, every week—a full 24 hours. I began practicing it, usually on a work day, and it became routine. We were also expected to go on a two-day fast every quarter which I also began doing. This was a bigger challenge. I noticed, however, that despite the difficulties presented the spiritual benefits were quite evident. One had better spiritual vision, clarity, and strength. The Holy Ghost within you was more pronounced since the Lord had less flesh to deal with. One’s witnessing was more empowered. Prayer was more powerful and effective. It was easier to hear from God.
Of course, the Lord fasted often and taught fasting. The original apostles and disciples fasted. It was a practice of the Early Church in the first century AD. And though there are only three men listed in Scripture who ever managed a forty day fast—Moses (twice), Elijah, and the Lord—there is no doubt the apostles and others must have done this as well.
It is not difficult to understand that fasting one day a week is a type of resting every seventh day as the Lord rested on the seventh day of Creation. Giving your system a break every seventh day is highly beneficial and allows for restoration and cleansing. We see this same practice in the Lord’s command to let the agricultural land lay fallow every seventh year. It allows the land to recharge and regenerate. It allows for a rebuilding of the nutrients in the soil. Whenever this form of land management is practiced consistently, in a natural environment, the soil never loses its ability to provide an excellent crop. It is the same for one’s physical body. Fasting is especially necessary in these days of ubiquitous toxicity in which environmental poisons have increased exponentially. But again, for the Christian, fasting is primarily for spiritual purposes.
Even though I was working hard on fast days I got used to it. When one has a regular fast day (same day each week) the body adjusts and though it can be a challenge it is simply not as difficult as one who doesn’t fast may suppose. Also, by reading the Word at the same time, one gains spiritual strength to make up the difference for a loss of physical strength. Incidentally, I was never very good at longer fasts but I have done them on several occasions. Yet, back then in the early days I worked with a guy once who was a master at it. I had become a professional carpenter by that time. A carpenter I worked and went to church with had, on one occasion, gone two weeks without food and never missed a day of work. That was impressive.
Though all new believers have a hunger for the Word of God I noticed early on that I had it to a much greater degree. It did not take me long to read through the entire Bible. I then began doing word studies. Back then, before computers, the general practice for those who wanted the fullness of study was to get a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance which had every listing of every word in the entire King James Version of the Bible. One could look up any word from any verse and find its meaning. Of course, it contained only the root words and their definitions but it was plenty for general study. A Strong’s Concordance was likely the first study book I ever purchased. It had a light green hardback cover. I still have it. I spent untold hours going through that concordance for many years getting up to speed on Biblical words and meanings.
I soon branched out to other study material but could only afford so much. I didn’t have much to spare on a working man’s salary. However, no matter how much I studied and read it was never enough. I was always pressing on. Again, this was not normal. My fellow congregants all read the Bible, of course. We attended church services four times a week. We did much outside witnessing. We were very proactive in attempting to fulfill the New Testament commands of the Lord. But when it came to reading, study, and research, I outdid everybody else, even some ministers, as I had eventually discovered. I didn’t realize I had a gift.
I didn’t find that out until I took my first spiritual gifts test about six or seven years after becoming a Christian. I had never been aware of such tests before. I was absolutely blown away at the results. Romans Chapter 12 lists seven spiritual giftings of which every real Christian has one which is dominant:
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. [Romans 12:6-8]
When I took the test I came up very high on Teaching. A close second was Prophesying. Whenever I took a test after this over the following years it always scored out the same. This explained everything. It explained why I had such a powerful desire to read and study the Word. You see, one cannot be a teacher unless he knows how and what to teach. I also discovered something else, however. Having the teaching gifting does not necessarily mean one will be a standup teacher with a class. What it actually means is that one is gifted to be as a spiritual detective to work hard at going where no one without this gift will go. The Lord gives a person this anointing and strength. The one with this gift will thus spend hour after hour studying the Word, searching out clues, and doing research not only to gain general knowledge but the hidden knowledge most Christians never gain.
Now, I am not talking about some esoteric nonsense but the “hidden” knowledge of the Word. It is not actually hidden but is effectively hidden since most Christians either don’t read the Bible enough or study it in-depth. Many Christians have a rudimentary knowledge of the Word of God but it is usually not very deep. Many ministers obviously have greater Biblical knowledge than most of their congregants but much of it usually has a denominational bias. It is therefore not so easy to be an independent Biblical researcher, which I developed into, because one eventually discovers false doctrines and bad interpretations of Scripture and has to deal with the societal implications thereof if you get my drift. One must always guard against extra-Biblical stuff masquerading as truth and such non-truth must be exposed for what it is. Otherwise the Christians taken in by the false will likely never be set free from it. They become deceived and stay that way. (When one is deceived he or she is not aware of it.) Such deception effectively cuts one off from a closer walk with God. Accordingly, false teachings are not good for one’s spiritual health for two reasons: They replace the truth the Lord taught and restrict one from gaining further truth.
As our greatest example in this area, look at what happened to God Himself when He walked this earth trying to reveal truth and expose error. The religiously brainwashed didn’t take long to resort to outright hatred against Him because He revealed them as posers. Simply by shining His light He revealed their ignorance and sinful motives. It was a severe blow to their spiritual pride. They didn’t appreciate that. They didn’t think they were posers. They believed they were highly accomplished. They thought He was a poser. See how that works? This is where Christian-on-Christian persecution comes from.
All real Christians will be persecuted, of course, but some will be especially persecuted. Again, the reason why should be obvious. Christians who are never persecuted probably need to check their oil because something isn’t adding up. Also, one must remember the Lord Jesus had all seven giftings operating at 100%. He was filled with the Holy Spirit without measure. He is God. He is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when He taught He was doing so with the highest and most pure form of spiritual light. His light would shine upon all darkness. Those fake religionists thus had no chance to hide. They managed to fool most of the people with their obtrusive costuming, smug manner, and societal standing, but the Lord performed what amounted to a spiritual X-Ray upon them which went right through their false façade and revealed to those paying attention exactly what they were.
The majority of Christian ministers do not do this. Why? Because rather than operating as an extension of the Lord Jesus they are actually doing the opposite. They cannot, therefore, shine a light on darkness because they are darkness or lack the light, though duded up to look otherwise. Many are mere Christian Pharisees. It is why they banish anyone who happens to reveal them for what they are. They are threatened by spiritual light. The only way they stay unexposed and in power, therefore, is to get rid of or silence those who would reveal them. It is the way all authoritarians stay in power.
The Christians who actually get what the New Covenant writings teach know that there is only one who must be in power and control. He is the one who has all authority in both heaven and earth. Sadly, of course, all of heaven and earth does not include many churches who are manned by counterfeits. The real Church has only one King. Everybody else in His Kingdom is not a king and are all on the same plane. When we structure our gatherings in such a way that the Lord Jesus is the only authority it eliminates the notion of a single “pastor” ruling a congregation. It supports the truth of the NT format in which a group of mature Spirit-filled elders oversee the operation from a secondary position to the Lord and in which the Lord is able to do anything He wants anytime He wants.
WE KNOW WHEN THE LORD JESUS IS IN CHARGE BECAUSE HIS GOSPEL DOINGS AND THE BOOK OF ACTS BREAKS FORTH.
Well, what self-respecting Christian minister wants that? The whole church would be in an uproar. The surrounding town or neighborhood would think he lost his mind. He would certainly lose his dignified status and pretty soon his job. He would quickly be knocked back to the Stone Age and have to start all over again (you know, like when one first comes to the Lord in real repentance). What Christian Pharisee would ever allow such a terrible outcome?
Remember, the fakers can last forever with their true identities hidden to the masses until the Light shows up. It is then when their cover is blown. Until Christians start waking up to the fact that many Christian ministers are simply not endowed by God, equipped, or gifted, and are not bringing the goods but are getting by on shallow non-spiritual blatherings that sound great but do nothing or little spiritually substantial, they will keep getting what they’ve always got: The needle won’t move and the creeping enemy will continue to take over until the local church looks exactly like the fallen world. The Lord Jesus did not give His life for that.
And such shallow Christians will also discover the biggest thing, something they REALLY don’t want: They will have to take upon themselves their own spiritual responsibilities, embrace discipleship, and do their spiritual work as the Lord commanded. It is no wonder then that most would rather maintain the status quo. The majority of the Israelites in the first century AD had the same attitude.
We must thank the Lord then, and show great gratitude and appreciation for those Israelites who saw it differently. They decided to give everything they had for the one who died to save them. Though in the minority, and though facing spiritual and cultural persecution, they didn’t hold back. They were great spiritual warriors who received the spoils of victory on a daily basis. Because of their foundational work way back then we have the opportunity today for every ability and gifting we need to do the work that must be done so that we can have the same outcome they had.
In future records, may it be written of our generation as it was for theirs:
“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” [Acts 17:6 NKJ]
© 2022 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.