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THE GREAT AVENGER

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       The Lord has made a way of undeserved grace for all who leave the world of sin and rebellion. For those who refuse, He must act to bring justice. He is the only one qualified who can.

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          Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? [James 4:10-12]

TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE MESSIAH’S WAY 

         We all understand the concept of justice. We all understand the need for it. We all know it is not right when evil deeds go unpunished, when people get away with doing wrong, and when it appears there is no remedy for such or no means toward the bringing of justice to guilty parties.

          I can assure you, however, that justice always prevails. The Lord will see to it. For now, however, He is obviously more concerned with bringing sinners to salvation. It is why He sends His disciples into a fallen world fraught with danger severed from relationship with Him. It is why He created the Good News for whosoever will, for all those who want to be free and blessed with new life, and will pay any price within His will to gain it.

         Thus, grace. All who eventually gain eternal life will have in common the fact that they recognized their need for salvation. They know they have done wrong. They hate the memories. Their conscience reminds them every day. They exist in a broken condition and they know it. The want to be the best they can be. They want to enter into a realm of good that they know must exist but they can’t find the way.

         He is the Way. Following the Lord Jesus will lead one directly into the Life one seeks.

         But for those who love this world they cannot possibly have any love for the next world or desire for it. They are content here, or at least willing to do whatever they want or think they must to make a way for themselves. It is why mankind’s history is a sordid tale of killings and theft and sexual sin. These are the actions of lustful and desperate people who place no moral restrictions upon themselves once they decide to act in an unlawful manner to get what they want. They may be moral up to a point. But beyond that point they justify sin. They no longer apply any sense of right and wrong. They make their own choices to cross over bridges into places where they act upon their own self will to satisfy evil desires.

TRAINING CAMP

          That is in part why this temporary world is a mere proving ground. We live in the flesh in what looks like a very real and everlasting world but our individual times are actually very short. This world is very much an illusion. The Word of God states that we are given at most about seventy years and that some have more time because of strength. But not much more. And many never even get that far. But even if one lives to a hundred, what is that in terms of thousands of years or eternity?

         Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. [James 4:13-17]

        It is the devil’s job to tempt us away from God and into sin. It is the job of unregenerate flesh and its evil desires to lead us away from God and into sin. It is the job of this fallen faux construct of mankind upon this planet (the world) to distract us away from God and into sin. These are the three enemies all human beings are subjected to. There is no escape from their onslaught other than through the Lord. He knows those who want to be free. He also knows those who would rather live here than in heaven.

         And He knows justice must prevail, that all must receive their just deserts, and that He must be the Judge. I would not think that God wants the job but He knows He is the only one qualified. He must be the one to separate the sheep from the goats. He is also the only one qualified to avenge every wrong. Though the Lord may appear to be a pacifist, it is only because He desires to give everyone every chance during this Age of Grace. He is a God of love and mercy. But He also knows unrepentant sin and rebellion must be dealt with. Thus, He is not a pacifist. He is a Warrior.

         And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

         What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.”

        When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!” But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone?’ Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them. [Luke 20:9-19][1]       

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Door of Death

         The way to life is through the door of death. A seed must be planted in the soil of death in order to bring forth new life. Unless one is born again (after dying) one will never enter the Kingdom of God.

         What is this death?

         The first mention of it in the Bible is the following:

         Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” [Genesis 6:5-7]   

         The King James Version puts it this way:

         And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. [Genesis 6:6-7]

         The door of death is repentance.

         Personal repentance is therefore the part each individual plays regarding the one person he or she has full control over. When a person is convicted of personal sin through the light of the Gospel message, it is his or her opportunity to do just as God did in the above passage.

         “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” [John 12:24]

         Prior to one’s born again experience, a person is spiritually worthless. He or she is a sinful entity deserving of death, or absolute death, as the wicked people of Noah’s time were deserving of extermination.

         Imagine how gut-wrenching it must have been for God to wish He had never created human beings! He was sorry for it! He regretted it! If He had to do it all over again, He never would have created Adam and Eve. That is exactly what this passage reveals. It also reveals the absolute depravity of unrepentant humanity.

         People are inherently sinful and wicked, and God hates this sin and wickedness. He was not only sorry for creating human beings, He owned up to it and did something about it. Except for one man whom God considered righteous and the seven members of his family, God destroyed the entirety of humanity.

         And all those throughout history who have never properly repented will also be destroyed eventually.

         But by His grace He has granted each of us one chance to escape proper, otherwise inescapable judgment. The default position is hell. Every human being who has ever lived will go straight to hell. You will not pass Go. You will not collect $200.

         Unless you repent.  

         Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:1-5]

         It is therefore incumbent upon each of us to repent, to die to ourselves, to crucify our flesh, and to “lose” our life:

         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. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” [Luke 9:23-25]

         This is a very misunderstood passage of Scripture. Many nominal Christians are either not aware of it or never apply it properly. It is another one of those “all or nothing” teachings of the Lord that demands real discipleship and true repentance.

         The words “lose” and “loses” in the passage are from the Greek word apollumi, which means “to destroy.” It is the same Greek word found in the following verse, though translated directly:

         “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy (apollumi) both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28]

         This total soul and body destruction is what transpires when a human being suffers the final judgment in the lake of fire. It is the exact same destruction that must take place at repentance.

         Now, this is obviously a very strong teaching that most Christians refuse to accept. The easy-believe crowd rejects it. Fake preachers never preach it. Soft denominational Christianity has discarded it long ago.

         This is why most of those who call themselves “Christian” have never had a true born again experience:

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

         There is no new birth if there is no real repentance, no destruction of one’s former life, no wholesale turning away from the life of sin and self, or no total subjection to the Lord Jesus.

         “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose (destroy) it, and he who has lost (destroyed) his life for My sake will find it.” [Matthew 10:37-39][1]

         One will never discover one’s real life without destroying one’s sinful life.

         The way of life is through the door of death.

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 1]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Cruel To Be Kind: Destroy Your Life to Save It

         God is not so interested in how a sinful world perceives His children. It seems as though He is not so interested in our credibility. He will probably not bless our attempt to become a successful and respectable member of society. If one is already a solid secular citizen within one’s chosen social and business circle, as opposed to being a member in good standing within His kingdom, it was most likely achieved without His help.

         And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:34-38]

         The word “lose” in the above passage is from a Greek word that means to utterly destroy. In other words, to save one’s life one must destroy one’s life. One must destroy the old before the new can come forth. Demolition precedes construction. Winter precedes spring. Night precedes the dawn. One must die before one can be born again. Real repentance is as death. The second birth is a resurrection. Without a new birth, one will die in their sins and both body and soul will be destroyed in hell. [1]  

         The glorification of sinful flesh is not one of the Lord’s priorities. There are people who become very successful in this life without any of God’s help. They strive and achieve only to leave it all behind at death. Imagine the people who lost their homes and livelihoods recently in the northeastern floods and Texas fires. These are terrible tragedies. But death is often like that, in that everything a person has ever built, accumulated, and worked for remains behind within the tiny closed parameters of this physical world.

         You cannot take it with you. Wealthy people don’t have a Brink’s truck following their hearse to their gravesite. And while we are in this material realm, anything we may possess is subject to loss.

         The best way to protect your stuff is to give it to God. Let Him have control. Subject it to His authority. He may tell you to get rid of some stuff. He may tell you to keep this and that. He may instruct you to give stuff away. But one thing is certain: Whatever He may want you to keep, you will keep; at least until it is time to let it go.

         Isn’t this a better way to live? Isn’t this exactly how the Lord Jesus taught us we must live? If we can’t take it with us, why do we insist on clutching onto all our stuff and our own authority in the present?

         It is the same with our reputations. We often spend years building up reputations that later come apart in an instant, sometimes through no fault of our own. If our reputation is based on being an honest person, not much of it will be lost. But honest people tell the truth, and that means they even tell the truth about themselves. They don’t hide their faults and shortcomings. They are humble. They know they often come up short against standing societal mores and spiritual directives, but are more interested in being honest and trying to get better than securing a fake resume inflated like a hot air balloon.

         It is such false biographies and fake reputations that eventually blow up and come crashing down. All things phony bite the dust. Only the real survives. And only the real, based on God’s definition of the term, makes a successful trip into eternity. As our foundational example, consider the life of the greatest Man who ever lived:

         Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

         Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:1-8] [2]

         For the real Christian, he or she belongs to God. And that includes all our stuff. It also includes our credibility. It includes anything we may be and anything He wants us to be. In this light, it makes little spiritual sense to hoard up a bunch of stuff, whether material or not, that might in all probability be weighing us down and grounding us to this world.

         The Bible clearly states that real Christians are not of this world. The Lord Jesus is not of this world. We are supposed to be born again OUT of this world and INTO His kingdom. So who cares what anybody else may think? The Lord certainly didn’t care what others thought about Him. He was on a mission, He would not be stopped, and the world was only doing what came naturally when trying to destroy Him in any way it could. He caught it from everyone, including His own nation, friends, and family. Rather than recognizing Him as God, this is how almost everyone actually perceived Him:

         Because He drank wine, He was thought to be a common drunk. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]

         Because He ate the same food as everyone else, He was thought to be a glutton. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]

         Because He reached out to the lost, He was thought to be an associate of sinners. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]

         Because there were serious questions about His birth, He was thought to be illegitimate. [John 8:41]

          Because everyone else was stupid and dense, He was thought to be insane. [Mark 3:21]

         Because He had spiritual abilities no one else had, He was thought to be demon-possessed. [Mark 3:22, 30]

         Because He humbly downplayed who He really was, He was thought to be a nobody. [Matthew 13:54-56]

         Clearly, the Lord Jesus did not care about a worldly reputation. His focus was on doing the will of the Father and accomplishing His purpose. This should be our focus as well. When we drift from this, should we wonder why the Lord does not seem to care about the things we hold most dear? If one decides to live for God, one will be persecuted. People will think you’ve gone off the deep end. They will hate you, think you’re crazy, call you every name in the book, and run your name into the ground.

         If you consider yourself to be a real Christian and these things are not happening in your life, you better check your oil. The more a believer attacks the gates of hell to rescue the lost and reveal truth, the more the enemy will fight. If one is not in the fight, one is not with the Lord and the Lord is not with him. If one is more concerned with one’s worldly reputation or comfort level than serving the Lord, one has little spiritual reputation and is no threat to the devil.

         And though the unbelieving world hates real Christians, the adversary is well aware of his enemies. They are known in hell: The evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” [3]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Matthew 10:28

[2] 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.

[3] Acts 19:15 NKJV