In this post I will identify the first of the three types. For those of you who have been faithfully following this series you have likely deduced the three types by now…
On the surface, the original Pharisees didn’t look so bad. They were dedicated (one may say ultra-dedicated) to their belief system. Outwardly, it looked as though they were faithfully following the Word of God. They overtly held the Word of God in high honor. But this must be qualified. Their emphasis was not actually on the entire Word. As many Christians today, they had their prejudices and were quite selective regarding Scripture, though they convinced themselves otherwise. Regarding this practice, and how they made their supposed application thereof, the Hebrew Scriptures of that time (the OT) had a different format than that which we have today in our “Christian” Bibles. Their Scriptures consisted of three main divisions:
(1) The Law (Torah, or “Teaching”), which comprised the Pentateuch, the first five books of the OT
(2) The Prophets, which included not only the individual accounts of the Major and Minor Prophets but also the earlier historical books of Joshua, Judges, Kings, and Samuel
(3) The Writings (the remainder of the OT, primarily the Psalms, which the Lord referred to often)
The Pharisees were specifically very high on The Law. They emphasized the teachings of Moses. And though Moses was certainly a prophet, they didn’t necessarily see him that way nor do most Christians. They saw Moses as the great lawgiver and ostensible head of the nation in that he revealed all the particulars of how they should live.
Moses (1526-1406BC) predated the kings of Israel and the many prophets, both the well-known and the not so much, which arose several centuries later. The Pharisees certainly had respect for Abraham (1946-1771BC), but focused primarily on the Law and neglected (often spurned) The Prophets.
The latter is due in part because the Pharisees (Separated Ones) originated at a time which was already far into the “Silent Years” in which the prophetic voice was entirely absent from the nation. Regarding a specific date of their founding, some say it coincided with the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt in 167BC. However, there had likely already been a loose organization by that time which may have existed for a few decades which rapidly coalesced in response to the attack and desecrations of Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
The last Hebrew prophet was Malachi in approximately 450-420BC. Therefore, since there were no longer any prophets or prophetic voice speaking to the nation in what remained of Israel (primarily Judea) after that date, the entire focus shifted to The Law, since this was the area of expertise of the Tribe of Levi, along with the temple and its ceremonies, rites, etc. The Levites were the only ones remaining in authority in charge of anything “spiritual,” so to speak. Lacking the very necessary prophetic Word and the highly anointed Prophets to balance them out, correct them, and keep them in line (theses two camps often clashed), it is not difficult to see how the nation drifted away from the heart of God and proceeded to emphasized dogma, laws, rites, externals, liturgies, and unbridled religious authority from an ecclesiastical caste which superseded the heart of the Lord as characterized through the prophetic writings.
Which made it all the more strange that the Pharisees and their precursors effectively dishonored the Law. How did they do this? First of all, one may recall the apostle Paul’s admonitions about the letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law:
But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. [Romans 7:6]
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. [2Corinthians 3:4-6]
Those who look at The Law from a strictly legal perspective have a problem with it covertly though they may honor it overtly. The problem? It is not specific enough. Though it contains a great many laws (613), including the ceremonial directives, it correspondingly contains behavioral commands about what to do and what not to do and lists many “for instance” particulars which are very specific. It also defines sin. Yet it cannot possibly list all the sins known to man and could not possibly list all the possible “for instances” that might occur. So even though it appears to be a comprehensive collection of all conceivable thou shalts and shalt nots that would satisfy the strictest Torah teachers and certainly everyone else, who would otherwise think it to be much too extensive and far-reaching (and extremely difficult to follow and obey), there were some who thought it to be quite limited.
Why? Because they could conjure up other specific particulars that Moses never addressed. In their defense, they likely experienced such particulars or heard of such and knew as lawyers they must address every possible occurrence. So while God was giving specific laws through Moses these laws were seen as somewhat general laws and needed to be further parsed out. This is why the Torah teachers, over several centuries, began adding greater specificity to the original Torah so as to have an answer for pretty much any eventuality. All these additional “laws” were collected over time and became quite extensive. And because they could never write all these additional laws down and thereby give them the same legitimacy as the Torah, their vast collection became known as the Oral Law. It was passed down orally over the centuries and collected greater weight and honor along the way.
But this large collection of specific oral additions to the written Law of Moses caused a problem. By attempting to be too fine, the Oral Law had a tendency to lessen the impact of the original. After a while, those guys went even further in their attempt to add to the Law by adding much additional fine tuning to their initial fine tuning. For example, if the Law stated plainly “Don’t Do This,” they would break down all the possibles of what that single command entailed so as to have every possibility covered. One may see this as a good thing in that it merely added greater clarity to the issue, especially since there were penalties involved in breaking such a law, sometimes severe.
But as I alluded to previously, a very strange thing happened. Within the list of further particulars and possibles contained in the Oral Law was the possibility of some particulars which seemed to get one off the hook. In delving into all such possibilities an even stranger occurrence took place. The Torah teachers actually started making laws designed to do that very thing. They eventually created a massive system of statutes that only they were privy to and they learned exactly how to implement them to gain a particular outcome.
Therefore, is it surprising that the Oral Law tended to favor its most loyal supporters, those who actually created it? Is it not a phenomenon in this world that laws are often written to favor those in charge and do damage to perceived political enemies? This was the inherent danger in adding to the Word of God, whether one was sincere or not. Mixing religious prejudicial renderings from the hand of man causes the Word of God to lose its impartial and holy nature.
Remember, this was the “Oral Law.” It was never written down before 70AD when the nation ceased to be. The only way to learn it and know it was by being taught by the few who did, and the only way that could happen was by being an ultra-dedicated student who would honor their Torah teachers (lawyers) exclusively and never question them or their teachings.
Though it may seem obvious to people from without (or should), those people who created, passed on, and taught the Oral Law had actually created an elite Secret Society with its own precise rules and regulations in which only the top members knew what their Oral Law actually stated in total. Most Israelites were apparently completely unaware of these sinister goings-on. Maybe they never noticed because the internal goings-on were always done essentially in secret though in appearance in the open. (There existed a superficial front of legitimacy hiding the actual unspoken agenda.) In other words, the few candidates to become members of the next generation of Oral Law teachers learned their craft in schools which only they attended. The people at large had no idea what went on in such places but were conditioned over time to believe that the Torah schools (in which the Oral Law predominated) were a great and holy enterprise created and supported by God. They learned to never question anything that went on there.
Now, while this was true for the majority of Israelites, whether some actually believed in the institution fully or not but went along with it anyway, there were a few who disagreed. And some of those who disagreed and saw through the false façade of the Oral Law institution and its teachers were strongly opposed. Yet, not having a voice and being appropriately wary of crossing powerful people who had tricked the general public into supporting them and gaining their trust, few ever spoke out. But the time came when the centuries of silence finally ceased. The blessed day arrived when God’s voice returned.
THE AGE-OLD CLASH SUDDENLY REIGNITED
It was the coming of John the Immerser that blew the lid off and exposed them. A Great Awakening had begun. God was intent on exposing this secret society and all others like it which had gained illicit control over the nation and its people to their detriment. We have seen the same thing happen throughout our current Age of Grace which has existed from that time. There have been many occurrences when great corruption was exposed within Christianity in general. We are now living in one of those times.
Never forget that corruption always thrives in secret. John had to be completely and absolutely disconnected from society at large in order to be incorruptible and effective. He did an excellent job. May real Christians in the present be as effective.
It is always the case that a lack of proper accountability results in eventual corruption. When the ability to correct is removed, especially from those who lead and have great power, their corruption will spread throughout whatever it is that they control. When the corrupt controllers have the ability to threaten, coerce, and make demands upon the people they rule over and have the law and the means on their side to carry out their threats, there is no remedy or ability to counteract them outside the Kingdom of God. It is why countries, societies, and yes, religious organizations, should never allow the establishment of a tyrannical government, secret society, ruling class, or religious clergy group to take control because once they do, freedom will be the first casualty. And they will twist everything around for their own benefit.
It is why America, in its original form post Revolution, was the greatest country and form of government ever created. And while America now has an ever increasing amount of domestic enemies, some in very high places, who hate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and never have any problem ripping apart the Founders and their hope of a place in this world where individual freedom may reign, they never address any better alternative in the world. Even in its present degraded condition, America arguably remains the best country on the planet in the eyes of a likely majority, though freedom is under severe attack and will not last much longer without a powerful corrective.
However, one must know that the necessary corrective will never come from this first type of Christian in America which I identify here. Their political equivalent in the 1770s were the American Tories who continually betrayed the cause of freedom and independence by staunchly siding with the English Crown and Parliament. These people comprised about one third of the American Colonists. Many if not most of them were directly connected economically to the higher money interests in England and Europe which essentially controlled the government of England since the Bank of England was created in 1694. For the Tories, then, it was a power and money issue. Why should they fight against the very hand that feeds them? Why should they sacrifice their comfortable position in American society or allow it to be threatened for a mere political cause?
There are Christian denominations that still exist which were identified as Tory at the time of the American Revolution. They opposed the relatively smaller Protestant denominations who stood for freedom, those who actually had ministers of the Gospel who took up arms and fought for the cause. One particular well known large denomination which still exists today, though a mere shell of what it once was and almost thoroughly taken over by the sinful culture, was so against the American Revolution that many members left the country or went into hiding. They supported the English money-controlled tyrants absolutely. Those that remained refused to fight. And then when the War was over and their side lost, the many members of this denomination suddenly came back out of the woodwork and began evangelizing in America again, taking full advantage of the new religious freedom won in the War. Talk about your blazing hypocrites!
In essence, those who believe in high church, who cannot exist without customary church structures and a ruling clergy, who must be told what to believe and do, who have no desire to do their own research into the written Word, who refuse to put the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus first and always, and who revert to the beliefs of their denomination or church or pastor though such beliefs often clash and disagree with the New Testament, are identified as this first type of Christian. They will stand by as real Christians who honor the Lord Jesus are persecuted. They are the equivalent of the religious acolytes who refuse to get their hands dirty by helping the unfortunate victims of assaulting robbers left dying on the side of the road. They are as the rich man Dives who neglected a destitute Lazarus asking for mere scraps to stay alive and viable. They will rarely do anything which may threaten or sacrifice their standing in church society or as members of a higher group. Their money, salaries, prestige, and success are always more important. They place a high premium on their social status and are mortified if people see them as something other than legitimately mainline.
They are opposed to the total authority of the Lord Jesus, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and the free exercise of spiritual gifts. They are against the spiritual love and close fellowship as characterized by the originals and their unity in the Spirit. They insist that Christian unity can only exist through an authoritative establishment which must include institutional church structures just as the unbelieving Israelites insisted on the physical temple and its priesthood instead of the Lord’s new spiritual Temple comprised of every single believer as a priest thereof.
They gag at independent Christian home groups or Bible studies. They will only support whatever their church or leaders sanction and nothing else. They cannot see that church as we know it is much different than it was in the beginning. They don’t care about the beginning. They don’t care about Biblical Truth. They much prefer their own respective “Christian” interpretation which is more comfortable, socially acceptable, and not threatening to the devil. They love playing church. No matter how much someone may point out that so much of what they hold dear has no precedent or support in Scripture, they will continually insist they are perfectly satisfied with their interpretations, doctrines, and church formats to the point of actually holding Scripture in contempt. They hate it when Scripture proves them wrong. Even five hundred years after the Protestant Reformation we still have a great many Christians who insist on putting clergyites and church governments on the throne and allow their oppositional pronouncements and beliefs to counteract and overcome the Word of God.
These people are best defined as Christian Pharisees. They are perfectly described by the Lord Jesus in the following passage as He reveals the fallacy of the Pharisees’ vaunted Oral Law (the tradition of the elders), which Unreal Christianity has their own many examples of (extra-Biblical church doctrines, traditions, bylaws, statements of faith, confessions, catechisms, specific denominational beliefs, etc.) which render the Word of God of none effect:
The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” [Mark 7:5-13]
© 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.
“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” [John 20:21-22]
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Our author Luke characterized the loud sound from heaven that morning as a strong and driving wind, a bearing breeze “bringing forth.” But rather than the prevalent word for wind he used another—pnoe—which primarily means “breath” or “breath of life.” It had a purpose and destination: It was the holy breath of God.
The first thing we must recall is this:
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. [Genesis 2:7]
Adam had been formed—created from the element-rich dry soil of the earth—though was in an inanimate condition. He was the highest life form of Creation and made in God’s own image. This is beyond profound. For such a being there could only be one animating force possible. It must be the breath of God.
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]
Though this verse is well known, it is also otherwise well known for containing a subpar translation. In the New Testament, there are a total of thirty-one occurrences of the Greek word for wind—anemos. As in Acts 2:2, this is not one of them. The word “wind” in this verse is from the Greek word pneuma which is translated as “Spirit” in every other instance of its use in the passage. Thus, the Lord never said, “The wind blows where it wishes,” but more like “The Spirit goes where it will.”
Now, let’s try this verse again and see how closely it matches up with Acts 2:2:
“The Spirit goes where it will and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]
And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. [Acts 2:2]
The 120 people in the Upper Room were about to be born again, or born of the Spirit, just as Adam was once literally born of the Spirit, or the breath of God. The Lord specifically told Nicodemus that no one could see (perceive, discern, discover) or enter into the kingdom of God unless he was born again.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” [John 3:6-7]
No one of us remembers our physical birth. Not so with our mothers. It goes without saying, of course, but human birth is a powerful process and unforgettable experience. So is the new birth. It denotes a completely new life and a total transformation. After all, it is the Spirit of God we are referring to here. He is like a rushing mighty wind. There was a sound, a noise. He filled the Upper Room and the entire house with His presence. He would soon fill each person with His Holy Spirit.
He would breathe new life into them just as He did with Adam.
© 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.
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.
 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.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. [John 3:19-21]
We live in a perverse, rebellious, bizarre, and fallen world. It is a planet teeming with mutinous lovers of sin, like maggots on rotting meat.
Why do I have such an opinion? It’s very simple: Look what it did to the Creator of the Universe.
He showed up here in human form. But it wasn’t just “form.” He was an actual human being. And He remains an actual human being, though in a glorified state. And this world did everything it possibly could to destroy Him, and had actually thought at that time that it did destroy Him.
He loved everybody. He forgave everybody. He went about doing good. He never did anything wrong. He never committed a single sin. He honored the Torah and kept every part of the Torah and never, ever violated a single commandment. He was as innocent as innocent could be, yet most people still hated Him.
For not even His brothers were believing in Him. So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” [John 7:5-7]
After all the good He did and the love He expressed, the hateful people of this evil world savagely beat Him up, nailed Him to a rough wooden cross, and raised it up with Him attached like a trophy so all could see and behold its dirty, dirty deed.
“Look what we did to God, man! Who’s the boss?!
Not only did the people of this rotten world kill Him, they wanted the whole world to see that they killed Him. If such rotten people that currently breathe air murdered Him they would instantly broadcast it on international television and plaster it all over the internet. They would want everyone to know what they did. Two thousand years ago the idiots were very, very proud of what they did and every generation since has been proud of what they did and supported what they did.
How do I know?
Isn’t it obvious?
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” [Matthew 4:8-9]
We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. [1 John 5:19]
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [2 Timothy 3:13]
As evil as the world was then, it has grown increasingly more evil since. The world is presently more evil than it has ever been. How many people actually know or care that more people were murdered in the last century, for example, than had ever been killed in a single century before?
The numbers are staggering. War, disease, genocide, and the most sinister of all sins perpetrated by humans—the outright butchering of defenseless, innocent babies by the multi-millions—made the twentieth century the Century of Death with somewhere in the vicinity of 200 million casualties. Stalin killed 30 million. Mao killed 40 million. The United States of America has killed over 50 million… babies.
But most do not care. Most do not know. Most do not recognize the gross sin in this place or even their own sin. If God wanted to He would be absolutely justified in destroying this entire planet in a onetime big bang for what the corrupt and rotten race of humans have brought into an otherwise pure universe.
Instead, because He is a Person of love and peace, He came for a visit to help show us the way and get us back on track. Though some think He’s a big meanie for being forced to clean the place up once before, His purpose was to rid the planet of vermin before the vermin destroyed it all. We thanked Him for His love and peace and concern and hope and belief in us by killing Him in perhaps the worst way possible.
Thank you very much, God. And don’t let the screen door hit you on your hinder parts when you leave. And if you ever come back you’ll get more of the same. You hear!? This is our world now!
Thank the Lord that He didn’t listen to such vile idiots. He did leave, of course, but not because of their threats. And it was only for a short time. He said the Holy Spirit would never come unless He first departed. Why does it seem that the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus could not be here at the same time? It reminds me of one of those movies when one actor is playing dual parts and always has to leave the scene as one character in order to return as the second. The answer is alluded to by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians:
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. [1 Corinthians 15:35-37]
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” [John 16:7]
So the Lord had to leave. But He promised to return. For all of those who have been taught that the Lord left this world 2,000 years ago, has been gone since, and will return to it one day in the future, you have been taught wrong. The Second Coming (not a Biblical term) is not necessarily a future event only. In Hellenistic Greek, the word parousia is the general term used to denote the event, but in common secular terms of that time, it often meant the arrival of a ruler at a place. In other words, when the Lord returns, it is to take charge.
The first “Second Coming” took place ten days after the Lord ascended to heaven:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. [Acts 2:1-4]
It was the extraordinary return of the Lord Jesus in the form of His Holy Spirit.
“…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 14:17-18]
And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [Mark 16:20]
My intention is not to split theological hairs here but shed some light on the fact that the Lord Jesus did not retire to “heaven” awaiting a day centuries in the future to return to earth. Besides that, “heaven” is usually a place defined by our own imaginations. And thirdly, how did the Lord return to His disciples, not leaving them “as orphans” without a Father or guardian, and work with them doing miracles while also retiring to heaven for two thousand plus years?
Of course, there will definitely be a Second Coming regarding the Lord Jesus returning to this planet in physical form also, and that is a future event. But until then, He not only resides “at the right hand of God,” but also right here with His people, as He has taken charge in the hearts of willing real believers, the exact same way He entered into the hearts of the 120 on the original Day of Pentecost.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” [Revelation 3:20]
But if nobody on this planet wanted Him He would not have returned even then.
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. [1 Peter 3:18-20]
Only a mere 8 people on the entire planet wanted Him then, which gives perfect perspective to what this article is about, and reveals exactly what a sorry, rotten place this planet has become because of its evil human occupants.
Only 120 wanted Him on the Day of Pentecost. Of all the tens of thousands who had heard Him teach and saw Him perform miracles, only 120 waited for His return in the upper room.
This remains the same with the vast majority of Christian groups today, in that only a mere minor percentage wants anything to do with Pentecost or is willing to pay the price to “wait in the upper room.” Most Christians will fight against anything Pentecost or Book of Acts related until their dying day. They don’t want their perfect little Christian country clubs messed up with the actual presence of Jesus. They all put on a good show, but when push comes to shove most always shout, “Hell no!” They don’t want Him in charge. They want to be in charge.
They have reputations to be concerned about and money to be made and social climbing to do and everyone knows you can’t have a good rep or make any money or climb the ranks in social circles if the people in your community think you’re a religious nut. It would be interesting to hear all the contorted explanations of those who denied the actual presence and authority of Jesus in their “churches” when they stand before Him at the judgment. All such people will have no chance at that point to fix what they did with their lives. It will be too late. But for anyone still breathing, there is still a chance to get it right.
The following is a general list of dire warnings and prophetic statements (great preaching) spoken by the Lord Himself that all believers should keep in mind and apply when applicable:
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” [Revelation 2:4-5]
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” [Revelation 2:10]
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” [Revelation 2:14-16]
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” [Revelation 2:20-23]
“I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” [Revelation 3:1-3]
“I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” [Revelation 3:11]
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” [Revelation 3:15-19]
The above statements prove this world is an evil place. It is fallen in sin. It is a world of deception and illusion. Temptation and wickedness are all around, as is the specter of death. And all these things can invade the hearts of those in the Lord’s community.
It is why the Lord constantly teaches His people to stay awake, to remain alert, to get strong and remain strong, to adhere to His teachings, to stay close to Him, to attend to our callings, to give no quarter to the enemy, to not allow any place for evil or sin or unforgiveness in our hearts, to repent and be cleansed if we fall, to be a powerful offensive force against the devil and his evil kingdom, to give it everything we have lest we grow weak and be deceived, and to always walk in the light and constantly believe in the “all things are possible with God” credo. Real Christians are behind enemy lines and are greatly outnumbered.
But God’s kingdom is also here, as is the King of that kingdom. It exists wherever we allow and desire the Lord Jesus to be in charge. It starts in our hearts as individuals, and it grows as such individuals are knit together in true spiritual community.
This community has stretched all over the planet in the last two thousand years and continues to expand. It is not dead, dull, boring, fake, and wimpy like counterfeit Christian communities, but, like the Lord, is ALIVE and VIBRANT and VERY POWERFUL, so powerful “the evil one” gets his butt kicked. It has the exact characteristics it did in the first century when it all began, and is still all about “RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE and JOY in the HOLY SPIRIT.” [Romans 14:17] 
And as it is today, there was too much of the above for the taste of some, apparently, on that first Day of Pentecost:
“They are full of new wine!” [Acts 2:13]
On a Sunday morning?
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Real Life is the one thing lacking in the Christian experience of most, and it is the reason so many Christians are stacked up against the outside of the entry door to the Kingdom. Milling around without, not wanting to venture inside, they have set up transitory venues like so many crude wooden market booths constructed hastily against the outer walls. The door remains in their midst and every so often someone has the temerity to not only ask about it but want to proceed through it.
“We can’t have that!” the vendors all cry. Denominational Christianity always winces when someone wants to go deeper into a closer walk with God. They are all well aware of the real Spirit-filled experiences of others but have been so conditioned by their own reluctance and weakness, and also their cultural underpinnings to shun all things “Pentecostal,” that they successfully remain outside. The Lord continues to beckon all to the door however, as He always has. Large numbers of “I don’t think so’s” will not sway Him from His mission. The door of death has become persona non grata and down-to-earth Christians recoil at what would happen to their social standing if they followed the Lord through it.
The people on that original Day of Pentecost had the same concerns at some early point in their walks with God but had quickly cast off the doubts. They instead manned-up and courageously took a stand for God and the truth. They realized that something optimum must happen, that something very powerful and new awaited them on the other side, and that they must obey the Lord.
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 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.” [Acts 1:4-8]
We all know what happened next. If only the Lord had arranged some other way that did not involve such boisterous expression and (crud!) speaking in tongues. What a terrible way to start the Church! Well, at least we can all be glad that it was over long ago, right? That it doesn’t happen anymore. That God has thankfully done away with it. That…
Well, the above is true, of course, for those who reject it and build church communities without it, and remove any and all people from their midst who actually do it. And there are other things behind that door of death, you know. The people outside hear stories of miraculous healings and strong manifestations of the very Spirit of God that never take place outside in the normal world. Some are always curious but are very concerned about breaking any social conventions and losing their standing among their fellows. I mean, what would people think, right? “Can’t do it, no sir. I’m stayin’ out here. Those people inside that door are freaks…”
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [Titus 3:3-7]
There’s a Holy Ghost experience waiting inside the Kingdom. The Door of Death is always open. Real repentance removes our sin and all things that hinder, and prepares us for real Life. The 120 knew something incredible was going to happen, but no one could have imagined just how incredible.
Of the tens of thousands who followed the Lord during His ministry, only 120 followed Him all the way to the Upper Room. It was a command, of course, but not everyone obeyed. The majority never obeyed. You can be sure that at least a few hundred had severe second thoughts when the Day of Pentecost arrived. They had been the reluctant ones. The Lord had appeared to over five hundred at one time in His glorified state, but most of these experienced Pentecost outside the initial Upper Room experience. They refused to enter the Door of Death and thus did not understand that it was also The Door of Life. They stayed back and some even watched what was happening. They missed it! But many of them found their way to the streets below the Upper Room as Peter preached that initial message of the entire Church Age. They ran through the door and were a part of that original class of three thousand that turned Jerusalem upside down.
The moral of the story is that only a few are willing to be pioneers, leave all, and do all that the Lord requires, including entering the Door. They must experience real Life. They must show succeeding generations the Way.
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 2 of 2]
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” [Luke 12:15]
Even if a person has an abundance, his real life has nothing to do with his possessions. This also means that any amount of possessions one may possess does not define one’s life.
The life the Lord Jesus is referring to is something beyond mere possessions. If a real believer has only the clothes on his or her back, he or she has life.
Consider having the bare minimum to sustain oneself. It is obvious that we need shelter, food, and clothing. But have you ever noticed all these things are only for the physical body? Our soul and spirit have no need of such things. The more we pare down our possessions, the more we realize we did not actually need all that much. And the more we have, the more we have to pay for what we have, and the more we have to earn money to pay for what we have, and the more time we must spend working to earn money to pay for what we have, and the more our possessions and the pursuit of more possessions subtract from our spiritual life.
Do Christians in general spend the majority of their time doing secular work of some kind or another to earn money to pay for possessions that they don’t actually need and thereby neglect the needs of their spiritual responsibilities?
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” [Luke 12:16-21]
Boy Howdy, that’s a bad scene, man…
And it appears to be the scene of many Christians in first-world countries.
Just what are true riches? Can we glean from the teachings, lifestyle, and example of the Lord Jesus what it means to be “rich toward God?”
We know He worked very hard. We also know He didn’t have much stuff. He kept telling people to sell their possessions and give to the poor, which means He must have already done the same, if He ever had much to begin with.
What did He do with His money?
Here’s something to consider: For the most part, modern missionaries have to pay their own way. They must plan their trips to foreign countries and raise their own funding, unless they have some cushy ministry job that rarely makes a difference. The best ministers are indigenous. They know the language and customs. They need little funding.
The Bible states that all real believers are called to some form of ministry, but ninety-nine percent of all real believers support themselves. Only the very, very few derive their living from ministry work, and must consider themselves extremely blessed. Some ministers are very, very wealthy. Others have zip.
What did Jesus have?
He had no retirement. Our God required a borrowed tomb at His death, and it was only “borrowed” because He would only need it for about three days. He required support from others in His ministry, as is perfectly illustrated in the following:
Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. [Luke 8:1-3]
It is obvious that these women supported the Lord and His ministry because He saved them from gross evil and demonic attack. They would have ended up in hell without Him. They were forgiven much and they loved much as a result. They knew His ministry worked. They knew He had the goods to set people free because they had been set free.
They were rich toward God.
Regardless of how much pain and disillusionment it may cost, the facts are very clear that the greater percentage of Christian ministries and ministers do not have the goods to set people free. Therefore, those who support them are not rich toward God. They are a bad investment. The money going to them should go to real ministers of the gospel and real ministries.
What does a real minister on the cutting edge of real ministry with the power and authority of God look like? What is his lifestyle? What does he possess? What is his passion?
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. [2 Corinthians 4:7-18] 
The apostle Paul and all the real believers of the first century were rich toward God.
They gave it all.
As a result, the early church grew closer together in true community and love. That which the Lord began building then has continued to be built throughout the twenty centuries since. It is an invisible kingdom growing toward a completion point that only those within it perceive. It is all around us every day.
The devil’s kingdom is going in the opposite direction because it is inhabited and supported by people who are not rich toward God.
It’s fixin’ to blow up real good.
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 3 of 3]