In my last post I said repentance means to change one’s mind. That is the actual definition of the Greek root word metanoia. In our culture this means something far less…
IT COST THE LORD JESUS EVERYTHING
It is the same for every real Christian. The Lord Jesus, the Man who is God manifest in the flesh and Immanuel—God with us—gave everything He had to purchase our salvation. He did everything He possibly could. He left nothing undone. At the end, right before He died on the cross, He said, “It is finished!” He absolutely completed His course and thereby made everything readily available regarding abundant life:
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. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” [John 10:7-15]
Yet, why is it and how is it that so many Christians, a likely majority, fail to recognize this? How did it come to pass that so many Christians seem to take the Lord’s suffering and death in stride? It appears as if most take His death for granted. It doesn’t register as it should. There is a disconnect from the reality of Calvary and the understanding of many believers: These people were apparently never told they must also give all, or were told to do so in some rudimentary sense that has no spiritual impact, or maybe they simply chose to never do their part in full so as to apply it. For these, it means the Blood Covenant has never actually gone into effect in their lives. For a replacement, something to assuage their conscience, they may have given mental assent to the covenant or merely acknowledged it without giving their heart.
In my last post I said repentance means to change one’s mind. That is the actual definition of the Greek root word metanoia. In our culture this means something far less, as merely changing how we may think about something in particular. If we take the word literally, however, which is how it was presented in Scripture, it means to change one’s mind in total—to transform it. This process must have a starting point, of course, and is something in general generated from without. This is because one most often cannot convict himself of sin. One’s conscience can convict which may result in changing certain behaviors, but after years of such conviction the work of one’s conscience is usually only acknowledged without the person doing anything substantial to change overall behavior.
When the Word of God is properly applied, however, there is a much different scenario. The Word of God, especially when delivered by an anointed minister of the Gospel, flashes like a bright laser light show within one’s mind and exposes everything in it and puts it on full display so the person can actually see what is resident there the way God does. It’s like living for years in a very dark house with heavy dark drapes and next to no interior light while wearing dark sunglasses and never doing any cleaning and simply losing track of actual conditions and everything resident there and not being aware of just how bad it has become and then suddenly have the brightest LIGHTS on the planet shining full bore in every room at the same instant. Yikes. This can be quite unnerving (understatement alert) and quite motivating. After the initial shock. Any sane person would want to immediately start a floor to ceiling whole house deep clean and not stop until everything was spic and span.
Such cleaning is accomplished through the application of the Blood of Jesus.
This is what the Word of God means by repentance. It involves commitment. It demands a real changing of one’s mind and a complete change of heart as well.
THE BLOOD COVENANT
For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:17-22]
Therefore, if one is to answer one’s half in the Blood Covenant he or she must also shed blood as the Lord did. This is not literal, of course, but real repentance does invoke the Old Testament Tabernacle Bronze Altar where the animals were sacrificed. Repentance essentially also means throwing oneself upon the altar of sacrifice and destroying the old life in order to save the new life. It is the end of the old mind, the mind containing the stain of sin, rebellion, and disobedience to God. It is the beginning of the new mind, the changed mind. John the Immerser said:
“Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance…” [Luke 3:8]
Real repentance is the initial act causing spiritual fruit to grow where it never grew before. The changed mind born of repentance and given to God, devoid of sin, is fertile ground for good fruit. The good fruit proves real repentance. It is the first step of the Blood Covenant. It proves one has laid down his life as the Lord did His. This good fruit is spiritual fruit and not mere works of the flesh disguised thereof. For illustration, Adam and Eve’s son Abel had properly repented and continued on to become mature in the Lord. He offered the correct sacrifices that God required. Cain, on the other hand, never repented and merely offered fruit from the ground which was indicative of the works of the flesh. Many Christians perform such “good deeds” as Cain did but do not please God. Abel understood what God required.
I wrote the following in my book Real Christianity:
To start with, there was a guy named Abel. He refused to do anything which didn’t show absolute respect for God. Because of his pure stand on this central issue of life, his brother killed him in a jealous rage. Abel was not like his mom and dad, and he was certainly not like his brother. He was thus the minority. His brother killed him because he couldn’t stomach the fact that Abel was blessed by God due to his righteousness which came as a direct result of obedience. Many Christians “kill” their brothers today for the same reason. Their sacrifice to God is not acceptable by God because their Christian service is not done in obedience to God but in obedience to man. Modern day Abels, therefore, are hated by the religious Cains who are envious of their brothers’ walks with God.
Abel was going to do the will of God even if it cost him his physical life. Contrary to prevailing popular opinion expressed through the worldly attitude of Cain, Abel understood that God required a pure sacrifice—a sacrifice represented by the ultimate in giving, with no strings attached. Cain, on the other hand, merely offered the fruit of a cursed earth.
In spiritual terms, Abel gave of his spirit, while Cain gave of his flesh. In order to relate this to the present, we must see Abel as the very first type of Christ. We must also see the true followers of Christ as those who are set on doing His will regardless of the costs involved. Abel’s sacrifice, therefore, relates in the present sense to recognizing the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, followed by the giving of ourselves—a sacrifice which must come before any other we might make and which must be complete. This is what real repentance is. If we understand this and apply it to ourselves, there is no need to make Abel prove his case. Instead, the burden of proof should fall squarely on Cain, an Old Testament type of the religious Christian whose alternative sacrifice has not been accepted by God. 
© 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.
 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Christians of today believe they are living in the “Last Days.” Christians in the first century believed they were living in the “Last Days.” Both cannot be correct.
In Part 2 I listed every passage of Scripture in the New Testament that referred to “This Generation.” Each passage referred to the same generation. That generation was obviously the generation that existed in the first century AD. That generation began with the birth of the Lord Jesus. It ended in 70AD with the complete destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and what was left of the nation of Israel. Israel was thus no more, exactly as the Lord Jesus had prophesied forty years before.
The Lord Jesus said that last generation of Israel would see the fulfillment of all the prophecies made about that time, which was referred to by New Testament writers as the “Last Days.” Why were they the “Last Days?” –Because they were the last days of Israel. “This Generation” was the final generation.
THE NATION OF ISRAEL
The nation of Israel had begun with the call of Abraham. This took place in approximately 1876 BC when Abraham was 70 years old. It was birthed with the miraculous birth of Abraham’s son Isaac in 1846 BC, which represented the first generation. The nation was birthed in great joy, as Isaac’s name means at root, “to laugh,” or “laughter,” or “he laughs.” Isaac was a very happy child! One pictures little Isaac as a happy, smiling, joyous, laughing baby and little boy.
Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” [Genesis 21:6]
Isaac grew up and was blessed with a loving wife. Rebekah gave birth to the first-born twins Esau and Jacob in 1786 BC. Though Esau was born first he had no heart for God. God thus chose Jacob as the new heir. Later, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.
Jacob/Israel had twelve sons. His sons married and began having children. Some of these children grew up and had children. Ten years after the great Patriarch Isaac died, when the young four-generational family group of Jacob consisted of seventy-plus persons, they left the land of Canaan in approximately 1656 BC and went to live in the Goshen area of Egypt. This was made possible by Jacob’s son Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers when he was seventeen years old and ended up in Egypt, preparing the way for his family’s future salvation. Joseph rose to become the second-most powerful man in Egypt by the time he was thirty. This family group of seventy-plus persons consisting of generations two, three, four, and five was the original nation of Israel.
All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob’s sons, were sixty-six persons in all, and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy. Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. [Genesis 46:26-28]
Untold multiple generations later we arrive at the time of the last generation of the nation, initially characterized by great joy and laughter once again with the miraculous birth of the long hoped-for promised Redeemer and Messiah. A Great Light had come into a land of darkness. When the Lord Jesus was thirty years old His forerunner, John the Immerser, prophesied about Him and the nation of Israel in the following:
Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Luke 3:15-17]
This verse has been misinterpreted often yet is actually quite clear. John is speaking in terms anyone there could understand: The wheat will undergo a harvest. The Messiah, winnowing fork in hand on His threshing floor, will do the work of separating the edible grains from the useless chaff. He will gather the wheat (the saved and redeemed of Israel, the sheep, the righteous) into His barn. But He will burn up the chaff (the unsaved and unredeemed of the nation, the goats, the unrighteous) with unquenchable fire.
He will thus baptize (immerse) the redeemed of Israel with His Holy Spirit, but will baptize the unredeemed with fire.
We see these two fates of the nation again in the following illustration of John:
“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.” [Luke 3:9]
In both of these prophetic pronouncements of John we see that the final generation (“this generation”) of the nation of Israel is under pressure to get right with God and produce good fruit. We see that the axe of judgment is already poised against the nation. The axe is about to drop. But before the end comes, as the nation will be divided by those who will either become wheat or chaff, so will the nation be divided by those who will be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit of God to produce good fruit and those who will do the opposite. Again, the nation of Israel will be divided into two distinct parts during the final generation.
On that great Day of Pentecost at the beginning of the final thirty-eight years of the nation and continuing until the end, the Holy Spirit will be given to all those who properly repent and are cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb. This large group of the redeemed within the overall nation of several million, most likely the smaller of the two groups by percentage, will honor their Messiah and prove themselves with consistent discipleship and as trees bearing good fruit. At the conclusion of the final thirty-eight years the end will come when the besieged city of Jerusalem and the great Temple will be burned by unrelenting fire in a great conflagration just as both John the Immerser and the Lord Jesus had prophesied roughly forty years before. The end of Israel arrived in 70 AD.
THE “LAST DAYS”
Thus we see that what was referred to as the “Last Days” were actually the last days of Israel which took place almost two thousand years ago in the first century AD. Though referred to with other terminology, the following are the five Scriptural occurrences when the exact term “Last Days” is referred to in the New Testament by at least three if not four different writers, which greatly adds to its credibility (dates approximate):
ONE / 32 AD
15 “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.’” [Acts 2:15-18]
TWO / 64 AD
1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. [2Timothy 3:1-5]
THREE / 63 AD
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. [Hebrews 1:1-2]
FOUR / 50-60 AD
1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! [James 5:1-3]
FIVE / 65 AD
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. [2Peter 3:3-7] 
We can see that four of the above five works were written just as the nation of Israel was coming to a close, in the twilight hour so to speak. They served collectively as a latter bookend to the former bookend at Pentecost. Each is filled with dire language describing very well the final times. Since Pauline authorship of the Book of Hebrews has never reached a consensus it could very well be that these were four different men using the exact “Last Days” terminology at a time when the end was extremely close and they could feel it in their spirit. The great Jewish Revolt against Rome began in mid-summer of 66 AD. Vespasian’s siege barricades began being constructed around Jerusalem in the spring of 67 AD. This was one of the signs of warning the Lord gave to His people dwelling there concerning when they should depart.
Only those who honored Him, who had treasure in heaven, would heed His words.
© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]
 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.
Today’s Lesson is about New Covenant water baptism. There is only one legitimate form and formula. The apostle Peter proclaimed this in no uncertain terms, and Early Church history confirms it.
38 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. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
The Lord Jesus made water baptism an extremely important and vital component of His teachings and ministry. It has never been optional. Also, His original method has never been subjected to change by Him. Nevertheless, to this present point in Christian history, we have had about as many water baptism forms and formulas as we have had pretty much everything else that has divided Christianity. And there is no excuse for it. The Book of Acts makes it very clear that there was only one original New Covenant water baptism and it was intended to stay if effect throughout the Church Age.
The word baptism comes from a word that means to immerse totally or overwhelm. All ancient Jewish ritual immersion methods were just that—total immersion. John the Immerser obviously followed this practice. His was a baptism of repentance. His calling was to prepare the nation for the coming King and his kingdom. But he also prophesied the complete destruction of the nation. He knew only a believing Remnant would accept and obey the Messiah and properly repent. These would prove it by bringing forth the fruit or evidence of repentance in their lives. John only used one form of water baptism.
THREE NATIONAL BAPTISMS
There were only three national water baptisms of the nation of Israel throughout its history. Each involved the authority of a prominent spiritual personage representing (1) the Law, (2) the Prophets, and (3) Truth and Grace. The first two were mandatory, as is the third.
The very first baptism was at the Exodus. It is associated with the Red Sea. It took place upon the birth of a new nation just released from Egyptian bondage. It was a baptism unto Moses upon his authority:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. [1Corinthians 10:1-4]
The second national water baptism was for repentance. It is associated with the Jordan River. It was also for the purpose of manifesting the Lord Jesus to Israel and separating those who recognized and accepted their Messiah from those who did not, and to prepare each group for their ultimate fate. It was a baptism unto John upon his authority:
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’” Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. [Matthew 3:1-6]
The third national water baptism, in conjunction with repentance, was for the total remission of sin and as preparation for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit as the 120 did in the Upper Room. It is associated with Living Water. It was an opportunity to get spiritually clean, appeal to God for a good conscience, release the hounding burden of one’s sinful and rebellious actions against the Lord Jesus, and gain a personal, reconciled relationship with Him. Whoever may have a casual attitude toward water baptism has likely never fully considered the great cost of purchasing our salvation. Greater love has no one else. He gave His life on our behalf. He did it through His own shed blood.
The third baptism was unto the Lord Jesus, upon His authority, using His Name:
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” [Mark 16:15-16]
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:45-47]
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] 
New Covenant water baptism is a perfect illustration of the virgin Bride taking the Name of the Bridegroom.
© 2020 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.
Pentecost was an either-or option. Though most were not aware of this and many refused to acknowledge the possibility, the nation would either get right with God or suffer complete destruction.
3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
This was the event prophesied by John the Immerser four years before. He also made a second prophecy that worked in tandem with the first. This was not unlike what the prophet Moses had proclaimed in the early days of the nation. In essence, Moses said that obedience to God equaled blessing and disobedience the opposite. He told the people exactly what would happen to them if they honored the Lord or dishonored Him. The latter was not good.
It may sound as if God was making unfair ultimatums or unreasonable demands, or that He somehow must force people to respect Him. The reality is that God is holy and perfect. He is the Creator. And He knew their hearts. He knows everybody’s heart. He knows those who strive for His morality and righteousness and those who couldn’t care less. The following, as spoken by Moses, is an example of the either-or option:
“All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country…” [Deuteronomy 28:2-3]
“But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country…” [Deuteronomy 28:15-16]
The apostle Paul said the Law acted as a disciplinarian or schoolmaster before faith came (Gal. 3:24-25). Those who strove to keep the Law in the times of Moses and Joshua were not necessarily gaining salvation through such, since that could only come through faith, but their personal life and society was certainly superior compared to those who did not.
John the Immerser echoed Moses in this regard in that he presented the nation of Israel an either-or choice. Though the Jews had always seen fire as a symbol of the Divine Presence of God, and though it in a sense acts as a purifying agent, fire is primarily presented in the New Testament Scriptures as an agent of destruction. John said this fire was coming soon and would consume entire forests and remaining grain stalks:
“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. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 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 3:10-12]
The Day of Pentecost began this process. Over the next forty years an Israelite Remnant would submit to the Lord Jesus and be saved. The rest would reject Him and choose the same fate as the city of Jerusalem itself—the fiery destruction of their souls.
The Upper Room was a wheat barn.
© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
In the first century AD, the Israelites continued to be obsessed with the restoration of their kingdom. Other than brief independence under the Hasmonean Dynasty (c142-37 BC), they had been ruled by foreign powers since the Babylonian Captivity six centuries before.
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
The Lord continued attempting to patiently explain to his disciples that His was a spiritual kingdom. In His Olivet Prophecy, as recorded in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, He warned them that great tribulation was coming and what was left of the nation of Israel would cease to exist within a generation.
Then He shifted His answer to the immediate future when they would be endowed with a power giving them greater ability to understand. He told them they would become dynamic witnesses of the Gospel message. The Greek word is dunamis and is defined as “strength, ability, inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth.” This would be an entirely different ballgame. The powerful OT prophets and John the Baptist had the spiritual power of God upon them, but they were not indwelt by the Spirit of the Lord. In fact, the Lord said:
11 “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [Matthew 11:11]
How is this possible? John was obviously a great and fearless preacher, the forerunner of the Lord. He had what would otherwise be an impossible objective—to prepare the collective heart of the nation for a soon arriving future. For many, if not most, it would be a future of growing tribulation and destruction. The independence and freedom sought by the Jews would continually diminish just as John had prophesied:
7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “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. 9 “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.” [Luke 3:7-9] 
A smaller percentage of the people did repent, though not enough to save the nation, and it was the Community of this repentant Remnant composed entirely of Israelites that the Lord initially gathered as a spiritual people for a spiritual kingdom. For this, they would have to be like Him and receive His power. They must each be filled with the Holy Spirit.
© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
4/3/2020: According to the official Hebrew calendar, Nisan 10 begins tonight at sunset, meaning the anniversary of the Jordan River Crossing is tomorrow, April 4. In reality, however, according to the lunar cycle, it is today. See the above link for historical content.
The Gospel of Luke is the only one which sets the scene regarding the Lord’s last morning before ascending to heaven. He adds more detail in the opening of Acts. We now continue with the narrative:
4 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; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Many Christians are familiar with the incident in which the Lord appeared to two men on a road west of Jerusalem on the day of His resurrection. That afternoon they were heading to the small village of Emmaus, about seven miles away, when the Lord Jesus approached and began walking with them. Luke is the sole gospel writer to record the full story, though it is also briefly mentioned in Mark 16:12. After an eventful evening the two men quickly returned to Jerusalem and met with the apostles and the others, excitedly telling them what happened. While there the Lord again appeared to all of them and began His final instructions. It was then that we have the only occurrence in the gospels of “the promise” as mentioned above:
49 “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” [Luke 24:49]
In both books Luke records the Lord’s commandment that His disciples remain in Jerusalem to await the big event. It will happen in a matter of days. Before they can be His witnesses they must receive His power and anointing. He called it an immersion in the Holy Spirit (from the Greek baptizo, meaning “to submerge or overwhelm”). Though the specific terminology “promise/Father” is recorded nowhere else but these two verses to this point, there are several other gospel references. The first time Luke mentions it is in the following when he also pairs the two baptisms:
15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, 16 John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” [Luke 3:15-16]
One of the most profound events referencing the baptism in the Holy Spirit is recorded in the Gospel of John. It is in Jerusalem at the temple on the final day of the feast of Sukkot in the fall of the year. From it we can gain a greater understanding of the significance and timing of the baptism:
37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:37-39]
© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
They killed the Lord Jesus but He didn’t stay dead. It was a nice effort although a failure. Every other effort to destroy His living legacy also failed. All present and future efforts will end in failure as well.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” [John 10:10]
It was the Lord Himself who was the initial target. Herod tried to get Him in the very beginning. There were probably pre-ministry attempts on His life that Scripture does not record. After stepping into open destiny He was under constant threat. The following are four historical instances of such murder attempts from each gospel to illustrate what He faced on a daily basis:
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. [Matthew 2:16]
The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching. [Mark 11:18]
Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” [Luke 13:31]
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. [John 5:18]
We can gather from the preceding accounts that the Lord had many enemies, both civil and religious. We also know the Lord never committed a single sin, never violated the Torah, and never broke any legitimate civil law. He was accused of violations, but interestingly, only by the actual violators.
It reminds one of Catholics and Protestants taking turns burning each other at the stake. Catholics killed some people representing a threat who did not believe and practice the Catholic religion properly. Protestants killed some people representing a threat who did not believe and practice whatever Protestant religion properly. Protestants killed non-Catholics. Catholics killed non-Protestants. Why all the killing? Why were these crazy religionists so threatened?
We know why the Pharisees were threatened. They didn’t spend two centuries formulating their perfect religion only to have the Lord reveal it for what it really was. There were no prophets during the time the Pharisees created their belief system, loosely based on the Law of Moses, but heavily dependent on oral commentaries and connections to Babylon. Because there were no prophets in the land no one had the spiritual anointing to object and expose them. It wasn’t until John the Immerser came forth that a true prophet was once again in the land of Israel/Judea. After him, of course, came forth the greatest Prophet of all time. These two revealed Phariseeism for the sham it was and its connection to the devil. It was just another thing prophets were sent to do on a routine basis. Prophets kept the land clean from false beliefs and interpretations. They stood only for the real Word of God.
This same dynamic invaded Christianity in that new denominations were only based on the New Testament. Additions were made. Subtractions were made. Commentaries were added. This is what the New Testament really means, they said. The new denominations, of course, must have a priesthood or clergy to denote the real and rail against the unreal. But they were only defending their own man-made belief systems and not the actual New Covenant Scriptures. Hence, when they gained enough power, they forced people to believe what they advocated and installed strong penalties for those who refused, including, of course, the death penalty.
All this within a religion of peace? Right.
Regardless of all the initial attacks against the Lord, His men, and the early believers by unbelieving Jews, the Lord’s Community not only survived but thrived. Try as they might they could not destroy it. Keep this in mind when trying to differentiate among various Christian denominations and their early histories. The Lord NEVER operated this way, never would, and never will. If you chose not to follow Him or believe His teachings He would still love you. The early Community of the Lord never advocated for such a thing. But false religions know they can be destroyed without using every tool at their disposal including the death penalty. Real Christians know the Lord is eternal, His Word is eternal, the Gospel is eternal, and nothing will ever eliminate Him or them.
This means New Covenant Truth is an ever-present threat against the forces of evil. Unreal Christianity is an enemy of the truth. Whatever religion or belief system is anti-Lord Jesus or antichrist is an enemy of the truth. One either honors the Lord and the fullness of His teachings or one does not. But if one does not, he or she is okay to believe whatever he or she wants to believe without being under threat by the Lord. The Lord threatens no one. He never stoops to such lowlife tactics as do the false religionists.
He does warn us, however, that sin is a killer, and unless one does something about it one will pay. One will lose one’s soul. He paid the price for sin with His life. He can remove sin from a person. He can clean us up. He will remove the power of sin in a person’s life. Only He can cure us of the sin disease. This requires repentance on our part. If one refuses the Lord’s free gift then one stands in opposition to Him by his or her own choice. Unlike false religions, including the Christian variety, the Lord never forces conversion. Forced conversions are false conversions.
Those who oppose New Covenant Truth are the enemies of God. Those who create false religions and belief systems espousing this and defending them to the point of taking lives are the worst offenders.
And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” [Luke 9:20-24] 
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Christian Zionists must believe the Gospel does not apply to everyone, are embarrassed by it, and would rather not mention it in certain circles.
They must think unsaved Jews are saved by osmosis through their “chosen people” status and connection claim to the ancient patriarchs, even though John the Immerser called out their forebears on this false claim two thousand years ago:
“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. 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 3:8-10]
John warned them that the nation was about to go up in flames but some paid him no heed. The destruction of what was left of the nation from its glories of a millennium past was still forty years off. Nevertheless, the axe was already laid at the root of the trees and about to strike. This forty year period was the exact time frame we see throughout the book of Judges when the Lord was continually bringing judgment upon His wayward people who refused His leadership and preferred the rebellion of sin.
THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH
John was the first Hebrew prophet in over four hundred years. For over four centuries there was no prophetic voice in the land of Judea. In one sense then, the people thereof and especially the religious leaders thereof cannot be blamed for being completely clueless of the prophetic word. By that time they had built up their own version of the way things ought to be without the help, guidance, or direction of God, and indeed did so in actual rebellion against Him. The things of God and the ways of God became absolutely foreign to them in that interim.
As a result, when John the Immerser suddenly burst forth upon the scene he looked nothing like what they were familiar with. He appeared strange and different, and his incredibly powerful voice and manner was unlike anything they had ever heard or seen. They had no frame of reference. To that point, they had been like know-it-all ignorant teenagers devoid of real living experiences from which to base their rebellious beliefs, and instinctively felt that total rejection was in order, which is what the majority did. Most of the Jewish religious leaders rejected John outright and no doubt had a behind-the-scenes hand in his death. Even though they were great recognized religious leaders, their status meant nothing in spiritual terms. He demanded that they must repent:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…” [Matthew 3:7-8]
Why do Christian Zionists seemingly never tell unsaved Jews to repent? Why do Christian Zionists often accept unsaved Jews exactly as they are? Why do they even esteem them highly and insist they are “God’s chosen people” when the New Covenant Scriptures say no such thing? Why do they believe unsaved Jews need not convert to Messiah? Is this how they show the love of God?
MESSIAH JESUS: THE BÊTE NOIRE OF ORTHODOX JUDAISM
All Christians are commanded by the Lord to know the Gospel and teach the Gospel, and there is nothing in the Gospel that says one can be saved from sin through righteous works or making ancestral claims. Such beliefs are actually revolting in the eyes of a holy God and show a complete contempt for the great price the Lord made on our behalf. If people can be saved without the Lord’s great suffering and death on the cross then why did He have to die? Is there a double standard at work here? Can some be saved without His sacrifice? Whoever makes their personal salvation contingent not on the Blood of the Lamb but on righteous works will eventually have a very rude awakening.
Until that day, however, many unbelievers double down on their hatred and rejection of the Lord, blaming Him for exposing them for what they are. The combination of their great conviction of sin juxtaposing with their own high-minded and prideful perception of themselves causes a maelstrom of contrary stubbornness and results in an inability to change. It is the act of a person clutching on to his claim to fame and faux right standing, and refusing to surrender to someone whom he insists is inferior and an imposter. The inevitable outcome is that one sees himself as better and greater than the Lord Jesus, which can only result in self-worship.
PAUL TELLS IT LIKE IT IS
Christian Zionists are seemingly clueless regarding the teachings of the apostle Paul on this subject, who paid a great price to tell his countrymen the truth. Everywhere he went in the beginning years of his ministry he attempted to reach them first. Some Jews were overjoyed to hear him lay out all the prophetic scriptures before them and prove his case that the Lord Jesus is without doubt the Messiah they had all been waiting for. They accepted this truth with open arms. They repented of their sins, just like those three thousand Jews back on that great day of Pentecost. They were baptized in the name of Messiah Jesus and were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were still Jews. Paul was still a Jew.
But those Jews who rejected Paul’s teachings, as their associates had rejected John the Immerser and the Lord Himself, were Paul’s greatest enemies. They put out a contract on him early on. Their only answer was murder. There were no greater persecutors than unsaved Jews. But unlike many Christian Zionists, John, the Lord, Paul, and so many others continually showed the great love of God by always trying to reach them. Jesus died for them. What more could He give? Paul was willing to lose his soul for them:
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel… [Romans 9:1-6]
Thus, many Christian Zionists have failed in showing the love of God by refusing to preach repentance for unsaved Jews, some of whom would readily accept salvation as they always have. The only reason for this must be a different agenda than the one true Gospel of the Lord. It is this different agenda, like so many others, that has “crept in unnoticed” and become surreptitiously established:
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. [Jude 1:4-5]
Jude wrote the above not too long before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. He goes on to remind his readers of what was soon coming by speaking of other fiery judgments of the past and refers to similar equivalents to that which has occurred in Christian Zionism. He then exhorts his readers to follow the real Gospel and not be deceived by those with an alternative agenda:
…They speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. [Jude 1:12-13;16-21]
THE TENDER MERCY OF OUR GOD
Eternal life cannot be earned. None of us is worthy through our own efforts. Until we are born again we remain unregenerate spiritually, regardless of any high standing or great achievements. It is only the grace of the Lord that saves us activated by our faith. Without the shed blood of our Savior there is no salvation. Our salvation then, whether we are Jew or Gentile, is solely an act of undeserved mercy from a compassionate God driven by His great love for all. There is no substitute. There is no other Way.
It’s time that Christian Zionists return to the heart of the Gospel and make a greater effort at evangelizing the unsaved Jews they claim to care so much about.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. [Hebrews 2:2-4] 
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Christians say they want a Great Awakening but most don’t want to change. That’s why the Lord almost always has to go outside to find the right people to drive it.
The status quo likes things the way things are in general and their status quo status is proved by their willingness to go only so far toward necessary change, and it is not very far.
This is why we rarely get anywhere and why those on the edge of truth who are trying to bring it forth always get slammed by those holding back. But the Lord Jesus will not be denied. He is bringing this, and will bring it, and if He has to He will leave all nominal and unwilling Christians behind.
HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF
He has done this countless times before. He will never allow the intransigence of His own supposed people to hold Him back. There are many, many more people who want Him and love Him with ALL their hearts and are willing to do anything He says, even though most of these do not qualify as “Christians” by those who set themselves up as judges. These relative outcasts have paid a great price to be in that place of closeness to the Lord and have suffered greatly for it. For many, their lives have been destroyed in the process of staying on the path but they don’t care about the price that must be paid.
They want God. They want reality. They are tired of playing games and believing promises that never come true. They are tired of people never keeping their promises or coming through for the Lord. They see clearly that all of these so-called spiritual heavyweights in control and all their sycophant often clueless congregants have actually sold out and really don’t want any change unless it brings further personal benefit to themselves.
Beware any religious leader who looks good and sounds good but never has any real desire to get out of Egypt or makes peace with living in the Sinai.
WE WERE MADE TO BE IN THE PROMISED LAND, just as it was way back then, except now it is obviously not geographical but spiritual, and if God needs to leave an entire generation behind, believe me, HE WILL DO IT.
But for all real Christians it is time to go forward. It is time to let go of all the idols and false doctrines and compromise and things that keep Christians from embracing the full will of God. The Lord is trying to do something absolutely great and spiritually unprecedented in America, and the majority of Christians continue to reject it. This is a terrible turn of events but it is the foreseen reaction to this great move of God by those who study Awakenings and revivals. There is always a very strong and evil reaction to such great moves in the early going by those who claim to be holding the fort but are actually only clutching onto their own personal benefits and standing. They have given in to both personal pride and spiritual pride and would rather sit on their tuffets in comfort back home than engage the enemy on the field of battle.
I will close with this very profound food for thought:
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.” [Matthew 21:28-32] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“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 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.
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.
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] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
“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]
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] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
FROM PART 1: Much more importantly, most people are walking around in sin, with sin attached to them, with sin stamped on their minds, with sinful souls, and with much sin on their account. But they don’t know it. The sin is not acknowledged. It is unknown to them. The possibility of its presence is refused. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t there…
We live at a time in which people are highly encouraged to have frequent medical checkups. There are also many new checkup procedures not available in the past and instrumentation that is much more sophisticated toward discovering health problems or potential problems. Within certain industries and corporations, medical examinations are required for employment and periodic health screening is required to stay employed.
I just read an article about aging former NBA basketball players. The greatest professional basketball player who ever lived, regarding not only incredible playing ability but also work ethic, hustle, and heart, and a huge contribution toward winning, was, in my studied opinion, Larry Bird.
His impact was such that without him his team would not only not have won, they would have been largely mediocre. He had great teammates. Some are in the Hall of Fame. But there is no question he was always by far the best, and they all knew it. He did everything to win while also playing completely within the rules, including the unwritten rules. He respected the game. He was a winner who often willed his team to win. He always gave the fans their money’s worth.
That is why the following is all the more remarkable. It was discovered through medical testing after his playing career that he had a heart problem. He had the problem most of his life but never talked about it. He had spells that he kept to himself. He came close to buying the farm, apparently, on several occasions.
I prayed for Larry Bird today. He just turned 59 years old. There have been several ex-NBA players who have died around his age, some recently. Some have died much earlier. It has often been due to heart attacks. Larry Bird believes that the former players who are most susceptible are big men like himself (he’s 6’ 9”), who have worked and hustled the hardest. He believes all the very hard work at such an incredible level of play, in addition to great size that makes the heart work harder, greatly increases the chances of a shorter life. That’s why, he says, you don’t see many old big men. Even very tall non-basketball players will die on average sooner simply because of their size. Short men, in reality, will have a decided tendency to live longer.
OUR TOP PRIORITY
I say all this to say that there is a correlation toward today’s overt universal mandatory medical screening and pretty much zero spiritual screening, which means we also live at a time when a person’s physical condition is treated in the opposite manner of one’s spiritual condition.
The same authority figures who desire and demand proper health screening as a top priority generally have no desire whatsoever for proper spiritual screening. This can only be due to placing this life and this realm above the next life, and for many it is because they do not believe in an afterlife. Most people certainly do not respect the Gospel.
This life is so very temporary. The next life is eternal. Living for this life at the expense of the next life will cost a person his soul. Our top priority must always be getting right with God. To that end we must all undergo spiritual checkups beginning with initial repentance. We must deal with our sin and be rid of it. We must stop sinning. The Lord Jesus has given us a way to do this.
Stay tuned. I will break down the following in our next lesson:
“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.
“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
“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 3:10-12] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
There was a vacation house out in the woods pretty far from the nearest town. It was located in the middle of a 1200 acre section of private land. There were no restrictions upon its building site or construction, though it was well built. The owner chose the site for its natural settings and views, but he didn’t pay much attention to the topography. He lived a thousand miles away and there were no close neighbors.
One day it began to rain in those woods and the rain didn’t let up for several weeks. The locals had never seen anything like it. Unbeknownst to the vacation house owner, he built his little hideaway in a very old flood plain.
At the height of the rains the flood waters had risen to four feet in the house and remained standing for a few days before slowly receding. The house was knocked slightly off its pier and beam foundation in the beginning which also damaged the framing in several places. This in turn damaged the roof’s integrity and several large leaks had developed allowing rain to pour in.
By the time the owner managed to check on his house several weeks later he was shocked at the damage. It was inundated by black mold. The wood framing had started to rot. Every insect and bug known to man had taken up residence in the house as well as a vast array of critters, including rodents, and even small mammals. The house was still filled with drying mud.
When the man started repairs he discovered that the mold had reached the tops of the walls in places. Even after removing all the wallboard and insulation he saw that the entire structure was affected. The critters had also taken up residence in the attic. Everywhere was mold, rot, and the byproduct of two months of small animals. The odor was overwhelming. It was an absolute mess.
He had no insurance. He checked with his lawyer on local laws. The next day he cleared out a break around the perimeter of the structure and made ready a few hoses from the well. After waiting for a day that had no wind, he set the house on fire and burned it to the ground.
“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. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 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 3:10-12] 
Today’s lesson begins with a simple truth: Fire removes the disgusting filth of corruption.
Corruption, of course, comes in many forms. There is the actual physical tangible filth that adversely affects the five senses, but there is also intangible corruption. For example, sin is intangible. You cannot see it. But you can certainly see its effects.
Picture a very clean mansion beautifully decorated in which everything is in perfect condition and every appearance, even the clothing of the inhabitants, is perfectly tailored and pleasing to the eye. Then picture the intangible sinful condition of the inhabitants. Picture their evil hearts and machinations, and the gross behavior they engage in behind the scenes.
The Lord Jesus says the intangible is much more real than that which is seen. If one could actually see the unseen corruption in the midst of the perfect and beautiful setting clearly seen with the naked eye, one’s opinion would change.
But most people never see this. Most people simply do not have spiritual eyes. They are very easily swayed by the illusory perception of their five senses.
Please see the following chart and look it over: Electromagnetic Spectrum
As I’ve taught before, the visible light portion of the Electromagnetic Spectrum is an extremely small part of the overall Spectrum. There is much more light that is unseen rather than the very little that is seen. 95% of the entire Universe cannot be perceived by the five senses.
Therefore, whoever bases their beliefs on mere sensory data cannot possibly have the full picture since the vast majority is completely unknown.
To bring this home and make it more visceral, there are people walking around right now with problems in their bodies and they don’t even know it. They go about their daily business as if the problem isn’t there. They cannot see inside their bodies. Imagine that. Something so close to us and so much a part of us and we don’t even know.
Much more importantly, most people are walking around in sin, with sin attached to them, with sin stamped on their minds, with sinful souls, and with much sin on their account. But they don’t know it. The sin is not acknowledged. It is unknown to them. The possibility of its presence is often refused. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t there…
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” [John 11:40-43]
I have been telling all who will listen for five years now that we are in the early stages of a national Great Awakening in America. I knew many years before then that it was on the way.
Five years ago nobody I talked to believed it and the discussion included veteran spiritual leaders and long time believers.
Since that time, however, I have received more positive reviews. Many have come to believe it. Many are seeing it now.
The Awakening keeps revealing itself in various places but the one place it is continually held back is within institutional Christianity. We see the evidence of it primarily in the political sphere, because that is where most of the press coverage is centered.
What does it tells us? It tells us that people in both major political parties are seeking a change in the status quo. We see it especially in the Republican Party.
Why? Because the Christians in America who take the Word of God seriously are much more likely to be found there. The problem with this is that the Republican Party establishment has no care or concern for American Christians who take the Word of God seriously and have traditionally only used such people toward their own ends.
This acceptance of support for votes and money for Republican candidates and office holders, however, has NEVER translated into any meaningful reciprocal actions for such Christians. Such Christians are merely used, deceived, and lied to continually.
A growing number of such Christians are finally starting to get it and do something about it. Many like-minded voters in the political sense are also getting it. I wrote about this growing anger and resentment in a recent post. People are fed up. They want real change. They are tired of being lied to.
Why has America been sleeping for so long and to what can we trace this apathetic attitude?
Again, to cut to the heart of the matter, the issue that is driving the Awakening is one that can only be found among serious Christians. Most American “Christians” are not serious about the Lord Jesus and never have been. Republicans talk the talk but never walk the walk. They always promise to end abortion, for example, but never do.
The latest abortion videos which discuss the most hard-hearted, disgusting, hateful, and horrendous acts perpetrated upon living, defenseless babies reveal as clearly as possible both the revolting truth of the uncaring murderous process but also the absolutely empty hearts of those involved in the murders. Those people simply do not care. They are all hell-bound. Judgment is upon them.
Part of it is because they have all invested in the process and false belief system to the point that they cannot disinvest themselves without essentially destroying their lives. Pro-baby killing office holders, almost entirely Democrats, refuse to even watch the videos. Do they think they might get convicted? Could it possibly mean they actually do have a heart?
I don’t think so. It simply means they built their political lives on issues, including abortion, that the Word of God disagrees with. They still, however, try to have it both ways, but this attitude, again, is what is making America angry.
When sane people see a truth that has previously been hidden from them they immediately accept it. They will admit they were wrong. They may say they didn’t know any better. So what does it tell us when those in power actually do the devil’s work instead of God’s work? And what does it tell us when those in power who promised to do God’s work never do it once they gain power?
Are they insane? Their actions are certainly insane, on both sides of the aisle. And this is why Republican voters are especially incensed. Democrats don’t seem to mind if they have liars, cheats, and baby killers in power as long as they give them what they want. Bush was excoriated by the left for some of the things he did, but when Obama did exactly the same thing you never heard a peep. Obama gets excoriated by the right but the right is strangely silent when Republicans do the same things Obama does.
America in general has always known that politicians in general are liars. And when America was prosperous no one cared all that much. However, when Americans are continually being backed against a wall, ripped off, lied to, and spied upon 24 hours a day while they are struggling to survive they have a tendency to care quite a bit more.
American Christians have also been conditioned for many decades to never expect any real change in their churches. They have been conditioned to go through rote practices and be led by non-passionate pinheads who lack any fortitude or gumption to act even if they wanted to. And when a great people are led by pansies they eventually become pansies themselves and those who refuse to be pansies vacate the premises before they become so.
Think John the Immerser…
America is angry. But real Christians in America have not wasted their time on merely being angry or believing that tripping around the Sinai forever will actually bring change. It won’t. Mere church attendance and support for all things churchy never does. It just makes people think it does. People feel good about the process and believe it makes a difference. For a few, maybe. But the majority of real believers have long since left the building. Some, sadly, have even quit on God as a result of the abject hypocrisy.
I could tell you stories of some of the most despicable things I have seen done by church leaders. But so could many of you. Yet, most people never do anything about it. Just like most Americans never do anything about the state of the country and the immoral condition of our leaders.
There is a different dynamic with real Christians, however. They are actually in league with the Lord Jesus. The Lord does not mess around. He means business. He is serious. So serious that He willingly subjected Himself to the cross for our sins. He both expects and demands that His real followers act accordingly in that they don’t just talk the talk (this has become an epidemic in Christianity), but also walk the walk.
Not easy. But it’s the only way. And it works. Nothing else does, as millions are finding out.
A FULL LUNAR ECLIPSE BEGINS EXACTLY ON SUKKOT
Regarding signs in the sky, without doubt a Biblical concept, a lunar eclipse begins tonight at exactly the start of the seven-day Feast of Sukkot. There is a very strong Scriptural indication that the Lord Jesus was born on this day. When a total lunar eclipse seen fully by the complete eastern half of America is on the Lord’s birthday, it means something very powerful indeed.
This is especially so after the devil has just pulled out all the stops with a religious-political diversionary tactic right before it that began on Yom Kippur.
In case you’re wondering, the Pope will be finished with his diversionary religious charade-parade an hour after Sukkot begins at sunset and will be back on a plane for Rome. However, he will be gone before the beginning of the eclipse. The Penumbral Eclipse begins about 12 minutes after he is scheduled to leave. Good timing. On your way, Pope. This is not about you.
NOT ABOUT ISRAEL
For all of you who have been deceived that the four lunar eclipses since April 2014, the tetrad, is strictly about the state of Israel, wrong again. All four of these so-called blood moons have been about the coming forth of a dead Lazarus, especially in America. They are also about the rise in Christian persecution in America. The headlines reveal this. I also know this for an experiential fact, as persecution against this site began with a flourish with the first eclipse a year and a half ago.
THE GLORY OF GOD
The American Great Awakening is bringing forth the glory of God. You will not, however, find this glory in what may be termed the usual places. The Lord Jesus, for example, was a complete unknown before He began His ministry. He remained inconspicuous to most people for a good part of His ministry. He was certainly not all that well-known and certainly not popular at His death. Most of His great work became manifest after His death starting with His RESURRECTION. This is what is happening at present.
Therefore, be encouraged! Your work matters! It just takes a while to get things up and running. There is a timing issue. God is faithful. He sees your work and will bless it accordingly. When we get with the Lord and do things His way we get awesome results and a great return on our investment.
Quit investing in a dead Lazarus.
Start investing and believing for the risen Lazarus.
When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”
The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.
Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” [John 11:43-44] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Nothing shuts people off from greater truth than religion. The religions most notorious for this diabolical practice are the various forms of Unreal Christianity.
The devil started the practice of preaching disbelief in God and His Word in the very beginning, when he put doubt in the heart of Eve by questioning the legitimacy of God’s true intentions. Indeed, satan’s question to Eve, “Has God Said?” (Genesis 3:1) has been the devil’s mantra ever since.
He flat out lied to a gullible Eve who had professed evil intentions in her heart. Though she knew exactly what God really said, what He taught, and what He commanded, her desire was to explore the limits of sin and visit the very place and the only place God commanded must never be visited. Her desire to explore evil was cleverly disguised as an attempt to become “spiritually aware,” to become authoritative and strong, and even to become like God Himself. She decided she must break out of what she perceived as limitations curtailing her freedom.
I AM WOMAN. HEAR ME ROAR.
Though Eve incorrectly perceived herself to be boxed in, a box certainly existed. It was actually Pandora’s Box. And when she opened it, thinking she was opening some great Christmas present that would usher her into a wonderful world of spiritual knowledge and freedom, she discovered that God had never limited her at all, but was trying to protect her. The commandment to never partake of the evil tree was actually God’s protective shield of her soul and life. She had incorrectly believed that God was obstructing her from a higher, better place.
People must be allowed to choose. It is why God never forces anyone’s will. And that is why this world has become an ever-growing, festering, gigantic trash dump and manure pile of sin.
It all resulted from the incorrect actions of Eve, who, though greatly deceived by the devil, made it all possible through her own rebellious and manipulative desire to be like God, on her terms, through pride and because of pride, with no perception whatsoever of the real DOOR.
Religion is not that door. Unreal Christianity is not that door. The purveyors of false religions tell us to do anything and everything other than the only thing and the real thing that will allow us to meet the Lord, and they draw the line and bar the door at that one thing: Real Repentance.
Why is real repentance so important? It is when the Blood of Jesus is applied to the cleansing of one’s soul.
False Christian religions do not preach repentance. If they did, everyone who walked into a service on any given day would hear all about it, every service, in a clear and understanding manner. To hell with people getting saved, set free, and delivered from sin, they say. They refuse to be disciples of the Lord and do what it takes to be used in that way. All they really want is religious power, money, and converts. They want a religious social club. Most preachers/priests/reverends are far too concerned with the things that benefit themselves and their religious enterprises. They are anti-examples.
The example of John the Immerser, however, is a perfect example. The reason he preached far out in the wilderness is because God wanted him to have nothing to do with the established false religions of the Jews.
The Sadducees did not even believe in spiritual practices or the resurrection. They were sold out to this world and were in bed with money, power, and the Roman government, and it benefitted them greatly. They were evil. There are many present examples of large bodies with false mindsets within overall Unreal Christianity who believe and practice exactly as did the Sadducees.
And exactly like still more forms of present Unreal Christianity, the Pharisees thought they were perfect, and believed they were perfectly teaching the real Word of God. The Lord Jesus even implied that they were, except they never practiced it. They made up a plethora of their own unwritten rules and extra-Biblical beliefs, exactly as the many forms of false Christianity later did, and continue to do today. The Lord Jesus said the Pharisees were children of the devil. He would say the same thing about Unreal Christianity.
John had to be set apart from all that diabolical religious nonsense. He had one message—REPENT. He commanded all who came to hear him to repent, to stop sinning, to get right with God, and to break free from corrupt religious practices that did the opposite of what they preached. God chose him as a perfect vessel for the process, “the greatest man ever born of a woman” (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28).
John was a prophet. He was the last Old Testament prophet. He had the anointing of Elijah. He HAD to be out in the wilderness away from all the corruption of false religion or he would have never achieved his calling. And he did achieve it. He did exactly as the Lord commanded him and did an excellent job.
Where are the John the Immersers of today?
The Lord Jesus also preached the message of repentance, of course. Everywhere He went He commanded repentance as the door to THE DOOR. Eve rejected repentance and chose spiritual and personal pride, which amounted to religious pride. It was the exact thing the Pharisees did. The devil became Eve’s father that day, and Adam, like a complete idiot, not wanting to lose Eve, chose the devil as well.
The apostles all preached repentance. “REPENT” WAS THE VERY FIRST WORD PETER USED WHEN GIVING THE ANSWER ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.
In the vast majority of “Christian” church services, one never hears the word repent. It’s just not a nice thing to say. People will get mad. It would create a hassle. Who needs that? Substitutes and counterfeits are put forth instead. Why do the purveyors of Unreal Christianity do this? Why do they deny to the people the one thing that will begin the process of eliminating their sin and bring them closer to God?
It is for the same reason the Pharisees did what they did. They wanted people to honor them, not God. What a strange twist—John told it exactly right but was out in the middle of nowhere looking and acting and speaking like the complete opposite of a clergyite and got great results. His ministry turned around the heart of an entire nation!
Where are the John the Immersers of today?
AN ALTERNATIVE AGENDA
The majority of “Christian” adherents have closed their minds to God’s reality. Exactly like Eve and the Pharisees, they have desired the opposite of that which God commands. They do it for personal pride and advancement, and standing within this world’s culture. They even ascribe to and mix in as leaven the worldly cultural practices and beliefs of a fallen world in order to gain the benefits of the culture. Their desire is for wealth and power in this world through the practice of their religion, and will listen to nothing that hinders that desire and pursuit.
The fruit of this garbage is all around us. For the most part, “Christianity” is indeed DEAD.
Real Christianity, however, is advancing powerfully.
By refusing to succumb to the devil’s lies and false diabolical doctrines, the disciples of real Christianity understand repentance for the door it is. Their minds are open to the things of God and they do not care about any personal inconvenience or rejection by others. As a result, they have entered THE DOOR and are filled with the Spirit of God, and they have the evidence to prove it, unlike the fakers who claim the same but are deficient of proof.
The Lord is against dead religion that cuts people off from THE TRUTH, especially that of the “Christian” variety. It is up to each of us as individuals to choose correctly and break free from Unreal Christianity, all false doctrines, and fake preachers/priests/reverends, strangers all, who refuse the ministry of repentance from sin, notably religious sin—spiritual pride, the first sin—and obey and follow the Lord Jesus unto LIFE in Him:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
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.” [John 10:1-10]
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
In the Gospel accounts, the Lord Jesus often talks about giving money to the poor.
Does He ever talk about giving money to ministers?
Real ministers of the real Gospel never demand pay for the work they do. They never demand the attachment of a donation to the word they teach. They never associate preaching the Gospel as a means to making a living. They never coerce people into giving, manipulate hearts toward that goal, or summon the specter of guilt to fall upon the undecided in yet another effort to extract their money.
Those who do will have hell to pay, because they have allowed themselves by their own lust for the funding of their enterprises to be deceived into believing they are more worthy than the people whose hard-earned money they covet.
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. [2Corinthians 9:7] 
One will notice when reading the Gospels that the Lord Jesus knew how to stretch a denarius. He got a lot of bang for His buck. There was never anything wasted. There was no extravagance. There was, however, sleeping on the ground, traveling far from home, and being thankful for the good will of others whenever such good will was given. Whatever the case, however, whether the Lord had any money or not, nothing stopped Him from His purpose. He had a job to do, a duty to accomplish, and was, as some say, on a mission.
He was and remains the greatest individual of all time with the greatest amount of willpower. Like anyone else, He learned it. He earned it. He is the only actual unstoppable Irresistible Force. He is also the only actual Immovable Object and spiritual Rock. By way of illustration, the entire Universe will surrender and cease to function and will admit defeat and give up while the Lord Jesus continues being resolute, determined, and on task.
He is driven by love for us all. He fights for His people.
This is the real King, the real God, the one real Christians follow. He is not for the soft, the easily intimidated or swayed, or those who refuse the rigors of real discipleship.
He has an iron will.
Thus, one will never find the Lord Jesus stopped or stymied for a mere lack of funding, or see Him stoop to demanding payment for spiritual services rendered as a means of funding. If anything, and if all money avenues are dried up and blocked and no one helps Him whatsoever, He’ll just go to work with His hands and earn His own dough. He calls His followers to do the same.
EARNING HIS OWN SUPPORT
In fact, that’s exactly what He did His entire life before beginning His ministry. He worked very hard for many years with His own hands, quietly and unknown. He blended in with society to the point of complete obscurity, never giving any hint to the outside world of His future mission. Until He went public at age thirty, the Gospel accounts only speak of Him as a baby, a very small child, a twelve year-old, and then nothing more for eighteen years.
And the outside world who knew Him as a nobody was pretty much everybody beyond Joseph and Mary. The parents of John the Immerser, Zacharias and Elizabeth, also knew in the relatively brief time they were still alive at and shortly after the birth of both John and the Lord. The latter couple were advanced in years and even more mystery surrounds the life of their son before his ministry. These were about the only people aware of whom the Son of Joseph and Mary really was and they knew there was no sense talking to anyone about it.
Though traditionally, the Lord was thought to be a carpenter, a man who works primarily with wood, He was more accurately both a carpenter and a builder, in that He constructed things using a variety of materials. He provided not only for Himself, of course, but also for His mother and siblings, especially after the death of Joseph, since He was the first born. He did all this while also preparing for future ministry.
But as importantly, He spent these years building up the necessary funding He would need for His earthly ministry. And unlike the modern day paid located minister who subsists from the wallets of his congregants, the Lord Jesus did the exact opposite. He did something most ministers see as impossible and completely uncalled for:
He set the proper example by also providing for the needs of His twelve chosen ones and their families.
One never hears this fact preached probably because it is far too convicting for those who demand money from those they preach to. There is no way the Lord would tell those twelve men to quit their livelihoods and the means to provide for their families and come follow Him, thus leaving their wives and children in the lurch, without also paying their way. Such a demand upon His disciples and their families would be 100% asinine, and the Lord never did it. But many “Christian ministers” would have no problem doing it, just as most ministers prefer congregants with money. And this gives us a direct clue into the main differences between real ministries and unreal ministries:
Real ministries and spiritual communities are led by the Lord Jesus, are empowered by His Holy Spirit, and are unified by adherence to His teachings and love for Him and one another.
Lacking the above, unreal ministries must be led by someone other than the Lord, must be empowered by something else, usually money, and must be unified by religious control and belief systems other than the pure Word of God.
The twelve original apostles needed to be with the Lord Jesus 24 hours a day to learn all He must teach them. He was their Rabbi. Thus, they had to quit their jobs. Thus, they had no money coming in. Thus, the Lord had to provide for them.
There is no other plausible method of financial support if one must build a foundational ministry team destined the change the world, especially one composed of hard-working blue collar tradesman and societal misfits without any savings. These men also greatly respected the Lord because they all knew He was a real Man like they were, but so much more, and could outwork any of them any day of the week.
On the flip side, unreal Christianity has transformed the real Lord Jesus into the image of a sissy. Tell me, why would all those hard-working hard-living guys give up their lives to follow a sissy? Maybe the false sissy image of the Lord is actually a reflection of the unreal ministers who created it. The fakers obviously cannot handle the real Lord Jesus and thus want no part of Him. They could never stand up to the required discipleship and they thus reject Him outright. His missing presence perfectly explains dead churches.
So imagine the Lord Jesus working with His hands all those years to build up enough funding to provide not only for Himself but also however much money it would take to provide for perhaps as many as sixty people for a period of three and a half years or so (counting an average of three children per apostle).
Add to that the Lord also providing, after the death of Joseph, for His mother and probably as many as seven or eight younger brothers and sisters (we know He had at least four brothers). That’s about seventy people all together. That’s the same amount of people comprising Jacob’s extended family when they all moved to Egypt during the famine to live with Joseph. Coincidence?
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 1 of 3)
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? First of all, one must distinguish between the Old and New Covenants.
We picture Old Covenant prophets becoming suddenly anointed of God. We see them grow strong and bold, and begin making powerful pronouncements regarding the will and desires of the Lord. Indeed, those men were God’s spokesmen. They were the Lord’s chosen, anointed, and discipled vessels who paid a tremendous price—a very high personal cost to engage in their calling.
It was often them against the world, and just as often one man against the nation of Israel. It is a sad thing but an obvious historical fact that the prophets were usually hated, rejected, and thought to be complete morons and idiots who refused to just go along to get along. They made people feel uncomfortable.
And that is exactly how the Lord wanted it.
It was God who was speaking through them, and God often had a lot to say about the evil practices and very sinful nature adopted by His chosen people. He refused to let them go without letting them know how wrong they were. And because His people could not get back at Him personally they took it out on His prophets.
We often relate John the Immerser, the one the Lord Jesus referred to as the greatest man ever born of a woman, to the New Covenant. But John was actually the last Old Covenant prophet. Further, he bridged the gap between covenants in a sense, being the Lord’s forerunner and preparer of the people’s hearts:
As they were leaving, Yeshua began speaking about Yochanan to the crowds: “What did you go out to the desert to see? Reeds swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? Someone who was well dressed? Well-dressed people live in kings’ palaces.
“Nu, so why did you go out? To see a prophet! Yes! And I tell you he’s much more than a prophet. This is the one about whom the Tanakh says, ‘See, I am sending out my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.’
“Yes! I tell you that among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser! Yet the one who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he!” [Matthew 11:7-11] 
Imagine that. Some may think that because they are a Christian they are somehow greater than John the Immerser, though such a thing obviously does not compute. John moved an entire nation!
Therefore, there must be something more that nominal Christians do not partake of, since there is often absolutely no evidence of anything spiritually powerful in their lives that would indicate they are residents of the Lord’s Kingdom.
Most Christians do well to occupy a place in a pew, and are made to do it by usually not well-meaning reverends who would rather have firm control and regimented order for their congregants than liberty and maturity in the Spirit, and the free-flowing ministry of the Lord Jesus in charge. And church-goers are forced to think this is the right thing to do.
But most Christians have little or no power with God and look like nothing even close to John the Immerser. And it is never kosher to simply make a weak mental assent to a supposed but unexplainable “fact”—(“I, a Christian, am greater than John the Immerser”)—without some serious evidence to prove it.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Jewish New Testament. Copyright © 1989 by David H. Stern.
The ministry of John the Immerser was to prepare the way for the ministry of Messiah.
Part of the preparation was preparing hearts.
Part of it was to prepare the spiritual eyes and ears of the people who possessed them, though all were most likely affected by the general blindness of the nation at that time.
“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
“In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” [Matthew 13:13-16]
One may wonder why most of the people could not see and hear, and why only a few did. The above passage reveals the answer:
“The heart of this people has become dull.”
The word “dull” is translated from the Greek word pachuno, which is translated into English as “to make thick, to make fat,” and metaphorically, “to make stupid (rendering the soul dull or callous).”
The Hebrew word from the Isaiah passage regarding this sad heart adjective is shaman, and means, “to be fat, make fat, grow fat, or become fat; to show fatness.”
It is variously translated as fat, dull, gross, sluggish, and insensitive, the latter of which appears to be the modern PC definition, which segues from identifying Christians who can’t understand squat no matter how hard one may try to fix their sub-Forrest Gump spiritual IQ with words right on target but extremely offensive—to a nice word which renders such individuals as merely somewhat out of touch with God with no harm done to one’s religious or church social status (or preaching credentials).
The Lord, however, pulled no punches, as did prophets before Him. For whoever may care, it is extremely serious to claim to be a Christian without knowing or wanting God. Just as the Lord said that blind people leading blind people will result in multiple AAA calls to rescue from ditches, so is it the case when preachers with fat hearts lead people with fat hearts. The whole congregation, church building and all, falls into a proverbial ditch, lists to one side, and remains there as a spiritual testament to fat hearts out of touch with God everywhere, while attendance continues by people who make downward adjustments and learn to walk on a slant.
These people cannot see or hear, though they have eyes and ears, and cannot understand, though possessing a mind. It must be noted that their blindness and deafness is, quite strangely, willing. They have closed their eyes and ears by choice. They have also closed their minds. They have willingly chosen to become spiritual dullards with heavy eyelids, sound-deadening headphones, and minds the Lord could not squeeze truth into with the assistance of compressed air or pneumatic tools. Imagine an entire nation of people like this before John the Immerser appeared, topped off with fat-hearted religious leaders who wouldn’t know God if he became a Man and looked them in the face.
It is often the case that our brains are less than lightening fast, but we enjoy those moments when trying to grab hold of something intellectually difficult and actually succeeding, and having a happy “Aha” moment when the tumblers all come together in the correct order and we finally “get it.” Christians with fat hearts never get it, so they build mathematical and verbal formulas they do get, such 1+1=2 (I think) and c-a-t, and then proceed to build their entire religious super structure around such kindergarten principles and easy to understand concepts, thus dumbing-down future generations within that particular Christian culture if said foundational and structural concepts become fully accepted and remain.
This is exactly what the nation of Israel did. The Hebrew prophets, who could see, hear, and understand extremely well (and paid the price for it—both in getting there and staying there), and had the spiritual equivalent of world-class athlete’s hearts, lean and strong with no blockages or cholesterol problems but expressing the epitome of perfect working order with all chambers, valves, and parts pumping and opening and closing like that well-oiled machine we hear so much about with the express result of KNOWING God first and speaking forth His Word second, that all could hear from the Lord On High and thus subvert the devil’s deadening process on the understanding of sinful human beings racked with the ongoing consequence of spiritual disease.
Don’t blame the prophet for having a heart for God,
And for being strong and anointed and doing his job.
The prophets were the cure for blindness and deafness among God’s people, but when the Hebrew priests finally succeeded in killing them off, finishing the job started by the Hebrew kings, principally Solomon, Mr. Fat Heart himself, and took over—priests who had no prophetic abilities and did not know God—the cure ceased to exist for four centuries and the anti-cure did anti-work on the hearts of the people.
Therefore, the nation of Israel did not just become spiritually stupid as by some generational downward drift due to laziness or whatever, but by and through the leading and teaching of those who had no business leading and teaching and were never called by God for that service.
The Pharisees were the later evolutionary product of those Hebrew priests and the very blind men leading the blind people they created that the Lord Jesus was talking about.
Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”
But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” [Matthew 15:12-14]
The same, exact, and what should be obvious parallel is playing out today, in that so many Christians over so many decades and even centuries have been led around by the blind though they neither realize nor acknowledge they are blind and refuse to admit their ears simply do not work and their hearts look like a giant sack of potatoes rolling down a hill.
The Greatest Prophet is the cure but the cure is deemed too strong, too powerful, too mean even, and completely inappropriate for our traditional Christian comfort levels and far too much to deal with when one is thoroughly ensconced in a fleshly anti-world of illusion and preoccupied with pride and money and uncrucified flesh and religious standing and social cred that would all and must all dissolve in an encounter with the King—Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1).
The Lord did not mince words in the Matthew 13 passage and expressed perfectly and clearly the fate of the dull at heart.
One can almost hear the prophet Nancy singing, with the end notes heading down the stairs,
These hearts are made for burning
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these hearts
Are gonna burn all over (Gehenna)…
Why did John the Immerser say the following to the nation of Israel?
“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
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.” [Luke 3:7-9]
Fat hearts cannot produce good fruit.
Good fruit results from the process of repentance.
Repentance allows for closeness to God.
Closeness to God creates lean, athletic, and pure hearts.
Pure hearts break the power of the Delusion Illusion.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” [Matthew 5:8] 
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
There are professional sports in which it is fairly obvious that the proceedings are a farce. It’s not real. It may look real to some, but it’s actually all a set-up.
Then there are sports in which people swear up and down it can’t possibly be fixed and that everything must be on the up and up.
Maybe some of this attitude comes from the idea that most people may be honest, or that they are simply too ignorant or naïve to understand such sinister possibilities. We may call this being naïve to the point of being willing dupes. If so, it is a fatal naiveté. And by fatal I mean that people have bought into the proceedings to the degree that they can never find their way back out. They have not only been deceived, they have been captured.
Minds can be captured quite easily. Sometimes people suspect they are being played but turn from the idea quickly because the thought is too scary. If such things were true it would mean their life is based in part on falsehood. But shouldn’t they be more scared that it is, and want to do something about it?
Professional boxing has always had a reputation for subterfuge. Organized crime was involved in the sport seemingly from the get-go. It does not mean that all fights were fixed. It would be too obvious. But many were. There was way too much money involved. Good fighters were paid relatively well. Big gates were consistently produced. Promoters knew exactly what to do to get the best crowds. Boxing became an art of deception. To the common man it was just a fight that people paid to see. To promoters, however, it was a way to make some serious money, to separate as many people as possible from the money in their wallets by promising a great event well worth the price of admission.
Whenever money is involved, greed happens. And in the case of sports, it is always much more about entertainment than honesty.
Sports other than boxing et al are seen as impossible to fix. But here’s something to think about: How many sports have rules and officials? And how many of those rules are interpreted by the officials? How many judgment calls are made? When a basketball referee calls a foul is the call always consistent with all calls made by all basketball referees?
One of the most obvious cases of judgment in officiating in which an official is granted much power to interpret the rules involves balls and strikes in baseball. Though some may think all umpires call the same game behind the plate nothing can be farther from the truth. Each umpire has a different strike zone though the rules only allow for one strike zone. The players must learn all the different strike zones possessed by all the different umpires, the same way they must learn all the pitchers and the different pitches they throw. Some umpires call a lower zone and more hitters are called out by strikes a tad below the knee on good days, and sometimes far below the knees. The players are okay with it as long as the ump is consistent. Other umps have a higher zone. Sometimes umpires will give a pitcher a strike though the pitch is off the plate. Veteran pitchers often get calls that rookie pitchers never get and must earn.
What does any of this have to do with game fixing? Simply the fact that a whole lot of interpretation is going on, and when games are called (interpreted), the written rules take a backseat.
Boxing has traditionally had three scorers to call a fight—the referee in the ring and two ringside judges. They award each round to the fighter whom they think did better. If there is no knockout, as is often the case, a boxer wins or loses by the decision of the judges and referee. These judgments are purely interpretative. It is sometimes the case that all three scores are fairly close. Often, though, there are wide discrepancies, which result in split decisions, which mean one judge thought fighter A won, while the other two thought it was fighter B. In the early days, draws were fairly commonplace, meaning neither fighter won.
It would be better that someone was knocked out, because then a clear winner could be declared. But then, are knockouts actually obvious? Of course not. Fighters were often paid to take a dive. Fighters learned early on that if you wanted to make a living you better play by the rules, but I’m referring to the rules behind the rules. Rule number one was to obey whoever was getting you the money.
Most fighters never had a chance at any big paydays or championship fights. Those that did had much more say in the proceedings. There were certainly honest fighters. Not everyone was corrupt. But there was also such a thing as institutional corruption. There was and remains such a thing as business as usual. It becomes traditional. People accept it. They like particular sports enough to look the other way. And the promoters of sports know exactly what the people want and they know exactly how to get the paying customer to fork over the cash.
They know how to jazz up the proceedings. They know how to get peripheral people on board. It used to be that only men and very few women appreciated watching organized sports. The promoters then worked on methods to gain the confidence of the female fan. Sports began being marketed as female friendly and then family friendly. When baseball was the undeniable American pastime, it was certainly family friendly to an extent, but it remained rare in the early days for regular fans to attend games, simply because they often didn’t have the money or the time.
Radio and then television changed all that. In fact, television changed everything.
One would think that entire games and matches being televised and put on film would make it far less likely that arranging outcomes could be possible. Actually though, it is easier to deceive people by putting the show right in front of them than in keeping it hidden. This is the very nature of showmanship. The show has never been reality, but the secret of good showmanship is to make it appear that way.
Movies started out as poor methods of entertainment, but people were so struck by the medium they were not very discriminating. In a relatively short time though, moving pictures or “movies” became so artful and the technology so professional that it was very easy to impress the paying public to pay up to see the show. In reality, movies are a very deceptive exercise in not only giving people what they want but causing them to pay great amounts of cash for the privilege. After a century of moving pictures, next to no one understands what’s really going on in the process, or how whole populations are swayed and deceived by the art and content of the “entertainment.”
In politics, how many times have we heard about the “smoke-filled rooms” in which powerful movers and shakers make decisions that will affect an entire populace? And how many people actually care? The fact of the matter is that political decisions are always decided behind the scenes with the perpetrators knowing they can manipulate the process after the fact, especially by rigging the vote.
Now, at this point many people leave the discussion because they cannot handle the possibility that elections may be fraudulent. However, we certainly know that many elections have been, and some were presidential elections. But these were only the ones later discovered. How many fraudulent elections have never been discovered?
After a while, one begins to notice that much of what is portrayed as legitimate is not legitimate at all, but since people lack total proof or the ability to do anything about it they accept it. Thus, the manipulators behind the scenes continue to get away with their manipulations and even outright lies, since the public at large is either duped, apathetic, or powerless to act. Every now and then, however, someone not only figures it out, but speaks out about it.
And now you know why God made prophets…
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel. [Luke 1:76-80] 
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
It is the first day of spring.
Regardless of the many New Year celebrations that occur on various calendar dates, this is the actual beginning of the New Year in the northern hemisphere.
It has been a long winter, and a very difficult winter for many. Today marks the time to look forward to the inevitable thaw and the bursting forth of new life.
Officially, spring arrived three minutes before noon CDT, almost 1 o’clock on the east coast and 9:57am on the west. The planet leveled out at that exact time. Scientifically speaking, it is the Vernal Equinox, a time when planet Earth completes its tilt back from the southern hemisphere, which just completed summer.
It is a time of perfect balance when the sun shines directly on the equator, and when the southern hemisphere experiences the beginning of autumn. This balancing event thus only happens twice a year, and that briefly.
God created seasons for a reason. The planet tilts on its axis to give the entire planet its fair share of sun and warmth. He does the same with His people in a spiritual sense. Though I am concerned with sounding trite, life actually does consist of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, and the spaces in-between. There are times things for some are going good, while things for others are not so good. For real Christians, it is an opportunity for their good times to be shared with others who may be going through a rough stretch.
A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. [Isaiah 40:3-8]
John the Immerser quoted these words in part when teaching about the ways of the Lord and about that particular point in history. We are currently at the same kind of historical juncture. The idea of equinox is presently before us in the spiritual realm as well. Let us learn the lesson that we all indeed are our brother’s keeper and act according.
…The word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. EVERY RAVINE WILL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL WILL BE BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED WILL BECOME STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH; AND ALL FLESH WILL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.’”
So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 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.”
Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
“His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Luke 3:2-17] 
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
“But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!
“But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
“This is the one about whom it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’” [Matthew 11:7-10]
As Christianity in America goes, so goes the country.
But instead of changing anything at the source, the majority of Christians in America will remain glued to pews, and blame anything and anyone other than their dead institutions and compromised behavior.
That’s why the only way to do anything and get anything done is by leaving the institutional, traditional, the-same-way-we’ve-always-done-it-formats and silly belief systems that teach contrary, lifeless gospels in direct opposition to what the Lord taught.
Ted Williams was a baseball player, an all-time great. He stated early in his career that his goal in life was to have people say, “There’s goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.” That might sound arrogant, but it wasn’t. It was simply a high goal. And by the end of his career half a century ago and even until today, he is without doubt one of the top three hitters of all time, and arguably the greatest. He set a seemingly impossible goal and actually achieved it.
The Lord gave us an example of who He called the greatest man who ever lived. This man is pretty much the opposite of what a traditional Christian would see as great: He never went to church. He never wore a clergy outfit. He never manned a pulpit. He never went to seminary. He never had any earthly honors.
Instead, he stayed out in the wilderness far from society. He wore animal skins. He stayed alive eating “locusts and wild honey.” He preached and prayed all the live long day. If one would visit, one would have to go far out of his way and be extremely inconvenienced.
But the man had crowds all around him. He was flooded with humanity night and day. People went out there and camped out, staying with him and around him for days on end.
It was simply because in the words of John the Immerser, they were hearing something powerful, strong, direct, clear, and devoid of religious garbage. He preached a pure message with ONE purpose in mind—he was there to obey God and please only Him.
The majority of Christian ministers do the opposite. There is a long list of people they must honor and please and the Lord Jesus is nowhere near the top.
John probably set no high goals, but he was without doubt 100% determined to obey God, regardless of all the hate and obstacles thrown his way. Again, the Lord Jesus, God in flesh, called him the greatest up to that time:
“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” [Matthew 11:11a]
Something tells me that professional churchmen have a different opinion, simply because most are the direct opposite of John.
Imagine the scene. All those people, fed up with the usual synagogue garbage that had no answer whatsoever for the yearning of their hearts and souls, going out to hear John. He gave them something they could get nowhere else. They had been doing everything they were told for years, year after year, and it did not satisfy. What did satisfy?
John told them the truth! HE CONTINUALLY PREACHED TO EACH AND EVERY ONE THAT THEY WERE IN NEED OF REPENTANCE. Repentance and the release that followed was what they lacked. They knew they were sinners, though constant church-goers. They knew they prescribed to all they were taught, but none of it touched their hearts. They wanted someone to tell them the truth, that they were messed up, incomplete, fearful, and weak, and what to do about it. They were not happy with the status quo!
Why did they care so much? BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO BE GREAT! They wanted to please God! And they knew they could not please God according to the traditional manner they were taught.
This is much of the reason why a giant exodus from traditional Christianity has taken place over the last few decades. The end result is that traditional Christianity is by and large left with the remainder, those who do NOT have a passion to please God, but to cower at the feet of men. That’s why traditional Christianity in America is a watered-down mess filled with people-pleasers. No one wants to offend. At best, everyone wants to be the nice guy. The end result has become disastrous.
Why was John the greatest? Why was he greater than Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and all the prior prophets? What was so special about John?
For starters, there is nothing in the Biblical record that says John suffered from the same foibles as those other men, great as they were. Noah got drunk. Abraham was chicken and lied about his wife. Moses killed a man. Trumping Moses, David killed a man and stole his wife! These men were no less great for the accomplishments they achieved, but they did not measure up to the standard set by John.
AND JOHN DID IT WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT. The anointing of God rested upon him as it did on many others prior to him, but the indwelling of God’s Spirit would not take place until Pentecost. The Lord Jesus stated this clearly:
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:37-39]
Unreal Christianity, however, does not care to receive. For the most part, there is no place for the actual life-changing infilling of the Spirit of the Lord among traditional, institutional Christians for the same reason that all the traditionalists during the Lord’s time really wanted nothing to do with John.
That’s why God put him out in the wilderness. He didn’t want him or his message watered down and compromised. Like Abraham and Moses and other desert dwellers, John the Immerser was out in the wilderness alone with God receiving and preaching a very powerful and clear message. He was sent as a forerunner TO PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD.
The idiot Pharisees were there, conversely, to fight against and obstruct the way of the Lord.
They took lifeless religious vows—John took a lifelong Nazirite vow.
They appeared on the cover of Clergyman’s Quarterly—John looked like a Caveman.
And those Pharisees and Sadducees bore a striking resemblance to modern day religious Christianity peopled with those who oppose and obstruct the Lord, and are much more intent on protecting their religious turf than obeying God.
Their goal is not to be the greatest. Their goal is not to be like John. And their goal is CERTAINLY not to be like the Lord. Their goal, at best, is to be the greatest Tee Ball players who ever lived.
But for those who are passionate for God, there is more to the story—THERE IS A WAY ANYONE CAN BE GREATER THAN JOHN:
“Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [John 11:11b]
Please don’t skim over this. The Lord is stating that His people must not only be more righteous than the Pharisees, they must be greater than John the Immerser! Each and every one!
Since this generally blows the minds of religious Christians, they immediately blow it off as an impossibility, or apply some other such nonsense to the idea. In other words, most preachers have it as their goal to not be the greatest, but to make sure they make a living, and if they can, to make a great living. And regardless of what the Lord thinks or that their methods don’t work in any effective spiritual sense as taught by the Lord, religious Christians are stubbornly intent on maintaining their traditional, institutional, dead formats and applications.
“And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” [Matthew 15:3]
“And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” [Matthew 15:6]
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” [Mark 7:8]
“You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” [Mark 7:9]
“…Thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” [Mark 7:13]
THIS is why John attracted crowds out in the wilderness, despite the fact that he had none of the creature comforts religious people must have. There was no shelter unless people brought their own. There was no giant air-conditioned auditorium with padded seats. There was little or no food. There was water, though, good for drinking and staying alive but mostly great for immersing. There was nothing out there that a religious Christian would find tasteful or desirable.
Yet, for those who wanted GOD, it was the jackpot! It was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! And it truly was somewhere over the rainbow, “where skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” John’s disciples discovered this, and it began the mass exodus away from dead religion in the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and toward the new life ushered in by the Lord.
This is exactly what is happening at this writing in America. Again, it began in America several decades ago, but it is now beginning to come forth. As long as American Christians were comfortable and happy with the status quo it could never happen, and for those in such a state it won’t happen. But for those who want the BEST and to be the GREATEST and to pay any price, it is becoming a reality.
I don’t know how Ted Williams ultimately fared with God. But I know he was the main influence in starting “The Jimmy Fund,” a well-known charity that has since raised about $800 million. He was very often helping child patients, paying their bills, and visiting as anonymously as possible, wanting no publicity. I also know he pretty much achieved his goal of becoming the greatest hitter who ever lived. He did this despite the fact that he lost almost five full seasons while serving in the military during WWII and Korea, and parts of others due to injuries. Had he had those years he would surely have achieved his goal statistically, which already rank among the best.
John the Immerser achieved greatness, and was in fact the greatest. He did exactly as he was called to do in preparing for and announcing the arrival of the long hoped-for Messiah. There was not the slightest bit of compromise in the man, and the evidence of his success, extremely difficult to attain, is obvious. Imagine preparing an entire nation for the Great Light after it had fallen into such darkness…
The Lord Jesus, though, was the absolute greatest of all, no contest, hands down. HE WAS THE GREATEST MAN WHO EVER LIVED. No one else comes remotely close. But guess what? Because He said we could be filled with His very Spirit—
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
“I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU AS ORPHANS; I WILL COME TO YOU.” [John 14:12-18] 
The infilling of the Holy Spirit—the Helper—the Spirit of Truth—the Spirit of the Lord Jesus—is the difference maker. It is what allows an otherwise dead, traditional, institutional Christian to become great like the Lord is great. It is what allows a spiritual Ted Williams to become the greatest in the world at whatever the Lord has called that person to do. It is how Peter the fisherman went from being a fearful wimpy man at the Lord’s trial to the great preacher at Pentecost and great apostle for decades after.
For most, the Spirit-filled life is far over the rainbow and it may take a tornado to get there. It is OUT IN THE WILDERNESS. It is in a different place altogether.
A powerful call of REPENTANCE has gone forth, and such an anointing is always the forerunner of such powerful events and new life. Millions have repented, have rejected dead tradition, have journeyed to uncharted territory, and discovered this place where dreams come true—the Miracle Realm—the Kingdom of God on earth, where the Lord Jesus is King and the only King of hearts.
As a result—
WE ARE IN THE EARLY STAGES OF A NATIONAL GREAT AWAKENING.
To the Wilderness!
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
There was once a big Christian conference in a major city several years ago. It was headlined by a big name Christian evangelist from another country. Many local preachers were invited, as were their church members.
The city convention center was rented out—the place used mainly for NBA basketball games—and was nearly filled. The conference had been publicized for months.
As one who attended my share of rock concerts in my long ago youth in such large venues, it was interesting to see all the different people from all over the city come in. As an usher, it was my job to assist in finding seating for the attendees, but also to direct people to the VIP section.
The organizers of the event made sure that all the VIPs, in this case church pastors and official ministers, were ushered toward the front section, which was marked off and guarded. I was posted in the far back entrance on the main floor. Pastors came in with special credentials and I directed them to another usher far down the aisle, pointing them in the right direction. If I recall, the VIPs wore certain badges to identify themselves.
There was kind of an upbeat atmosphere but muted. In the old days one walked into a concert in such large auditoriums and saw people having a great time and looking forward to the show. The inevitable frisbees were flyin’ around, caught by someone in the crowd and flung again, several staying aloft at once.
But not at our conference. No frisbees. No beach balls, even. There was one thing, though. It was kind of weird, but then again for those who were used to it not so much. Again, I was at the head of one of the two or so main aisles in the back down which every minister had to walk to reach his seats in the front section below the stage. My friend and fellow usher was about halfway down the aisle before me.
The next thing I know a young lady of maybe twenty years of age suddenly felt like dancing. In the aisle. Close to where my partner was. She was doing one of those worship dances with large graceful movements, her eyes turned skyward in kind of a blank look, as if she was hearing music no one else could.
Okay. No problem. That’s why we’re here. Glad someone’s getting in the Spirit. It reminded me of something, though…
I remember many years before in a church I was attending there was a lady who did these kind of spur of the moment worship dances. Except hers were really weird. And they usually occurred at odd times. This was in one of those kinds of churches where such behavior was okay, and maybe even encouraged. The idea was to let people be free to worship the Lord as they felt led. The associated challenge with this approach is that you would get the occasional weird “leading.”
For example, we had a tastefully trimmed out walk-in baptistery at the far front behind the pulpit. It was located there so everyone could see the baptismal candidate emerge on the left from behind a wall and walk down the stairs of the filled tank into the water. The preacher would meet the candidate there, sometimes in waders, and do the baptizing. It was cool. Then the freshly immersed believer would rise majestically out of the water all smiles and happy. It was a celebration! People would applaud and praise God, and then the newly baptized would climb the stairs of the tank on the opposite end and exit.
Well, our particular worship dancer would sometimes find her way to the baptistery entrance in the back, unseen by all, and then suddenly emerge from behind the same wall through a narrow outlet and out onto the platform! She was thin with long limbs and would always be holding her arms outward and upward, eyes almost closed for the most part, and glide around.
During a service.
Sometimes during the preaching.
You hoped you didn’t bring a visitor on such nights.
She was ghostly and pale and wore long loose-fitting light-toned dresses. It was quite the sight. Some people were muffling laughter. Elbows were poking others in the pews good-naturedly to let them know the ghost lady was doing her thing. Most congregants acted like nothing out of the ordinary was going on which made it even funnier. For the most part everything just kept going as usual—listening to the preacher, watching the ghost lady, trying hard to be respectful, and allowing her to worship the Lord in her own unique way. Good times…
Well, back to our conference—our young lady was dancing in the main aisle completely oblivious to oncoming traffic. People going down the aisle would have to stand there and wait for a moment, looking for an opening to get past her. Finally my partner asked very nicely if it would be okay if she did not block the aisle and perhaps dance in her seat.
The next thing I know some older gentlemen sitting in the back row close by came unglued and walked quickly down the aisle, his head and shoulders thrown back, aimed directly at my friend. He began to excoriate my fellow usher who was quite taken aback at the treatment. My partner tried to explain but to no avail. The gentleman came walking back to his seat red in the face and quite steamed. “That young lady wasn’t doing anything wrong and should be allowed to dance!” We looked at one another. Everybody saw the whole thing. He sat down madder than hell.
I decided to go over to him both to stick up for my fellow usher and also attempt to diffuse the situation. I was very cool. I kind of half knelt down to make eye contact and tried to explain that she was blocking the aisle. Then he started yelling at me. “That little girl is a member of my church and I don’t appreciate this!”
It was then I realized that this little man was a preacher. Somehow or another, his credentials were messed up and someone told him he was not allowed to sit in the clergy section down front. This all happened before I took my post. He was mad enough to fight because he felt slighted. I told him I would try to fix it. He said he no longer wanted to sit up there. His behavior was familiar to me at the time since I was the father of young kids.
Again, I tried to reason with him and diffuse the situation. I stayed calm. Then he said something or another and I lost it. He remained sitting and we were face to face and I let him have it with both barrels, speaking as low as I could. His wife sitting next to him was the most embarrassed woman in the whole state, and was probably used to his antics. But the guy would not let up. I returned fire. I stood my ground and manned my post. Then he looked at me and yelled, “I’ve been preaching for thirty years and I don’t need you preaching to me!”
If he had gotten up out of his seat I could not have guaranteed that I would not have knocked him into next week. That little banty rooster preacher was a serious piece of work and was obviously used to having his way.
Maybe the preacher’s antics and our little discussion became a sideshow among the crowds in the upper sections. Maybe the whole thing played out like a ghost lady episode.
As these things go I was later questioned that night about what happened. Nothing ever came of it. The mad little preacher stayed in back the whole evening glued to his seat and later tried to make amends and laugh it off, though he refused to admit any guilt. He even mentioned something about us almost getting in a fight. As it was, the corrective of the Lord was strongly applied as it probably had never been before and if the preacher had chosen for it to be applied further it would have been.
Moral of the story? Not sure. But maybe if we didn’t have a first class section for bonafide clergyites and Pharisees, such people would not get their panties in a wad in the first place whenever they felt slighted. Their attitudes are the polar opposite of what the Lord Jesus taught. Imagine the people back in the angry little preacher’s church who revered this guy as a man of God!
The idea of spiritual VIPs is about as far from the example of the Lord Jesus as possible. He was always being disrespected and treated bad and He accepted it. It was part of the territory. He never demanded His own way or threw fits when slighted. Unlike many modern day preachers who demand honor at all times, the Founder of real Christianity took on the persona of a servant. He would have never been invited to a conference like this anyway, much less have been offered any credentials, but if He got in I’m pretty sure He’d have to sit in the back. With a perfect attitude, though, and most likely invisible.
I later thought that maybe the little hothead preacher who had been a minister for thirty years was given a chance by God to show real Christianity by taking the mistake in stride and sitting in his back seat with a smile. And what if all the preachers given official credentials had tossed them aside and purposely sat in the back or somewhere unnoticed? Would not that have been a great testimony to the Lord Jesus, to have that entire front VIP section empty?
But no. Too much pride. Too much sorry religious pride.
And there’s your main malfunction, all you Rev. Pretenders: You refuse the Lord His place and take it for yourself. This is like trading a million nuclear power plants for a flashlight battery. It’s no wonder you never see a move of God!
For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? [James 2:2-4]
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” [Luke 20:46-47]
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. [Galatians 3:26-28]
Clergy and Laity distinctions have no place in the Lord’s community. Period. We must all get with the Lord’s program. Proper humility is the order of the day. Repentance is called for. Religious pride must be destroyed. We must walk not in the strength of sinful flesh but in the power of the Lord’s Holy Spirit.
If there is one central determining factor in explaining why much of Christianity in America is long since DOA it is because the Lord Jesus has been demoted or kicked out and replaced by impotent imposters.
I’m not sure what the actual purpose of that conference was, except to see how many Christians from different churches we could gather under one roof in geographic unity. Nothing much happened. There was no great outpouring. The foreign evangelist, greatly used of God overseas, had little effect. But, you know, maybe it was a good networking opportunity.
For those interested in the real deal, though, who want the Lord Jesus to be exalted to His rightful place of honor and authority, who long for an outpouring of God’s Spirit and even a national Great Awakening, there is a clue from the ministry of John the Immerser. The forerunner of the Great One quoted Isaiah the prophet while preaching to the many seeking repentance and right standing with God. Isaiah tells us exactly what must happen should we choose to be one big happy family:
A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley;
“Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:3-5] 
Now there’s a Christian conference worth attending!
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.