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HOW TO ENTER THE DOOR OF ABUNDANCE

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      The Lord Jesus, God Himself, the Creator of the Universe, became a human being, just like us, but knew He would have the loneliest calling of all.

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         He also knew, in order to achieve His calling and get the job done, He would have to be last in all things.

OFF THE GRID 

         Since He created everything I think it is safe to say He knows how everything works. He also knows, in the spiritual realm, that the way up is down: 

         But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” [Mark 9:34-35]   

         Now, I can tell you with no hesitation that the Lord wanted to be first. He was already first before He got here and was determined to be first again. It was not a selfish motive, however, but the opposite. No one else could do the job and the Lord knew that. He took it upon Himself to humble Himself to the nth degree and do whatever it took to rescue us even if it meant living a very difficult but perfect life and then sacrificing it all at the end. He had to be first but also had to be last to get there. No one else could have done it. No one else qualified. Here is another example:

         And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.

         “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” [Luke 14:7-11]  

         Now, consider the powerful ramifications of what the apostle Paul revealed in the following passage regarding the difficult path the Lord had chosen:

         He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. [Colossians 1:15-18]

CHOOSING TO LIVE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH CHOSEN ONES

          Rather than actually strive for personal spiritual victory, some people who believe they will never be winners like to associate with those characterized as such, if at all possible, as a way to be around winning. Believing they will never be accepted, well-liked, admired, or popular, they strive to associate with the people who are. This is why so many people fawn over the few recognized prominent and distinguished among us. It starts in childhood. It gets ramped up in high school as a manifestation of the popularity contests which thrive in that environment. If one looks better than others, is more talented, or is simply more self-assured, one will rise in the ranks and be seen as better and more worthy of whatever accolades there may be. Many of these got a head start early on and probably always had a strong support group.

         The Lord had none of this, save for Joseph and Mary. He was obscure and most likely not attractive. He had no “charisma.” He was never seen as someone destined for greatness. He had decided all of this in advance. He would arrive as a nobody and people would often treat Him that way. He would never expect any special favors. He would be last:

         Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:3-8]

         As you can see, the Lord decided He would take a totally opposite road of the so-called popular people and hupokritai. Rather than be a performing, stage-oriented glory hound seeking fame and money, He would instead strive to serve others and help them, and bless them. As a result, no one was more spiritually fruitful than the Lord Jesus. He planted Himself in death as a lonely rejected seed, the last and the only one there was.

         From such a humble beginning so long ago, the fruit of His ministry is still bringing forth a burgeoning, incessant, and abundant yield all over the planet to this day, and continues to increase. He started out last, became the Servant of all, and then gained first place in everything. This means He also became the only Door of salvation and eternal life. No one can get to heaven without Him.

         So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” [John 10:7-11] [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.

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Purification by Fire: THE FRUITS OF REPENTANCE (3)

         “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Matthew 3:10]

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         The Lord Jesus made it very clear in His teachings that fruitless discipleship is no discipleship. In other words, if there is no spiritual fruit there then there is no discipleship there. Real discipleship bears good fruit. It is impossible for it to not bear good fruit. A good tree always bears good fruit.

         As did John the Immerser, the Lord Jesus also said:

         “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:19-20]

         He was talking about false prophets. He likened false prophets to ravenous wolves. He said ravenous wolves were bad trees bearing bad fruit:

         “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” [Matthew 7:15-16]

         In comparing sheep to wolves the Lord is comparing good trees to bad trees. Wolves are ravenous. It means they are very hungry and will kill to satiate their hunger. Wolves kill sheep in order to eat sheep. False prophets do the same. They not only rip off the sheep—removing from them all their valuable externals—they will also eat up everything the sheep are composed of—everything that comprises their lives. In the best case scenario they will transform the sheep into trees bearing fruit for the sole benefit of the wolves.

         We may call these zombie sheep. They obey their voodoo masters the false prophets. They do not have any critical thinking skills. Their minds are not their own. Their minds have become religionified. They have fallen into a cult, though it may be a “respectable” denomination or world wide organization. Such sheep do not bear good fruit.

         Imagine creating such sheep. It sure makes life easy for the wolves. They do whatever the wolves tell them to do, especially when it comes to money, their primary fruit. Take away their primary fruit and they also become worthless to the wolves. They are already of no worth to the Lord. They have rejected Him and His pure Word. Therefore, they will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

         The Lord Jesus is THE Good Tree. He bears fruit, and it is always good fruit and only good fruit. It is also always available. All real disciples also bear only good fruit since they are good trees which came from THE Good Tree.

         Unreal disciples usually don’t bear any fruit, though some bear bad fruit. The Lord said any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. John said it also. This is pretty self-explanatory, but one thing remains. What, exactly, is good fruit? What is spiritually representative of grapes and figs? Here you go:

         “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…” [Matthew 3:8]

         And what is the fruit, or the proof, of repentance?

         “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to 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. Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

         And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?”

         And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”

         And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”

         Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” [Luke 3:8-14] [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.

One Fruit Two Fruit Good Fruit Bad Fruit

         “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

         “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:13-20]

         The gate to life is narrow. The Greek word for this gate is stenos. The way (road) to life is also narrow. The Greek word for this road is thlibo. The first Greek word portrays a small gate. This small, narrow gate contrasts with the wide gate that leads toward destruction. Anyone can enter the wide gate. It takes little effort. The narrow gate, however, forces a person to get real. It is the gate of the repentant, humble, disciplined, and committed. It is the gate associated with bravery and courage. It is difficult. There is opposition.

         The narrow road is also difficult. The Greek word defines it as compressed, as with pressure on all sides, as one may press grapes. It is constricted, and associated with affliction and distress. One must be very strong and valiant to walk this road. The Lord contrasts this road to life with the vast, wide way that leads to annihilation. There’s no pressure on Broadway. It’s a walk in the park on a sunny day.

         The false prophets hang out on the broad way. They are ravenous wolves disguised as sheep. The people on the broad way have no idea. To them, the false prophets are good guys. They look like sheep. They act like sheep. The people do not know they are deceived. They think they’re on the right road. They think the false prophets are real prophets. They support them. They honor them. They even love them. All is well on Broadway. There is little pressure, no affliction or opposition, and nothing to stop freedom of movement. At the end of the broad road is a cliff. At the bottom of the cliff is the lake of fire. The road to hell is comparatively easy. One needs zero courage or discipline to get there.

         The narrow road, by inference, is manned by true prophets—the ones who tell the whole truth and pay for it. Any study of Old Testament prophets reveals that they each shared very difficult lives. They were greatly opposed. Most were killed. True prophets are as spiritual sheep with absolutely no disguise or guile. They are real. They are not above suffering. They are known by their fruits. The apostle Paul describes spiritual fruit in the following passage:

         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. [Galatians 5:22-26] [1]

         From this we get a clear indication of the contrasts between the true and false prophets. And though all believers are on the way toward being perfected by God, the above is also a guide toward perceiving the difference between Real Christians and Unreal Christians. The real guys are busy fighting the good fight of faith. Their road involves pressure from all sides. They have subjected themselves to the discipline and work of God. They fight against sin, instead of submitting to it. However, because the Lord grants spiritual strength, power, ability, and gifts, the end result is the carrying of an easy yoke and light burden. It is the Lord’s intention that this be a road of joy. But the narrow way is only possible for the fully committed. Whoever looks back goes back.

          Consider the lives of the Lord Jesus, the apostles, and the early believers. Consider what they were subjected to, what they endured, and what they achieved, both in their own spiritual lives and in the world. One is known by the fruit one produces, and the Lord is the only Judge.

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

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.