Many years ago several members of our church were returning from a service on the other side of town. There were maybe eight or ten of us, all young adults.
It was kind of funny because we were in one of those standard yellow school buses that had a former life transporting kids all over creation and we could probably fit our entire congregation within its cavernous confines. It was an old bus. Someone had probably bought it for a song after it was retired and then donated it. Most of us were brand new born again believers.
Anyway, here we were, fresh from praising the Lord in a small black Pentecostal church that never failed to be a blessing. We visited many such churches back then and it was always a great experience. My first time in one of those churches allowed me to see two things immediately—those believers didn’t mess around. When it came to praising the Lord they gave it everything they had. The preacher, the singers, even the worshipers in the pews—no one held back. The second thing was that we all had the same intentions and love for the Lord. When you meet another real Christian for the first time, even if on the other side of a very large city or cultural divide, you instantly meet another brother or sister. Such divides do not matter. Having the Lord Jesus in common and loving Him with all your heart does that. We are all part of His family.
We were almost back to our church that night. Then our fun time in our big yellow school bus that became a church bus suddenly stopped. The engine died. It wouldn’t start. Now, though I was in my early twenties, I had already been completely immersed in the practical side of life and had many an untold number of such experiences with cars. I was used to having a car break down and was also used to finding a way to get it back on the road. If that didn’t work you dragged it off to a garage somewhere to get it fixed.
It’s funny how I look back at those times now. We couldn’t afford wreckers. That was far too much a luxury. If your car broke down, you and a friend got a towing chain and set off on an adventure. If you didn’t have a chain you used a rope. It was not at all as easy as it may sound. A LOT could go wrong when you’re out on the road or a highway linked together like that. But it was cheap. In fact it was free. And that was a good thing, of course, because any other alternative meant doing nothing since it involved too much money already dedicated to other things.
I say all that to set the scene for what was about to happen. Again, I was very familiar with the right way to go about doing whatever must be done to get a dead bus back on the road. But that night was different. It was different because I was different. I had recently become a born again believer and was fired up. I had just been in a powerful church service where the place was rocking. The preacher wasn’t some laid back drone going through the motions like you see in some churches, but an anointed minister of the Gospel who took the Lord seriously and believed in the miraculous. (You know, like a baby being born in a manger who happens to be God.)
So when the engine died and my natural inclination to go help fix what was wrong was supposed to kick in it didn’t kick in. I had a completely different mindset. I thought it was wrong to immediately respond in a practical manner with no regard for a spiritual effort. I felt it was time to be serious about the Lord! Didn’t He tell us to seek Him? I told the others we needed to pray about it. We needed to pray right away and ask the Lord to fix whatever was wrong. Silence… Crickets… Nobody said anything. I think they all knew they had to honor the sentiment of what I was expressing. They knew I was right but they also knew they better get out there and find the problem. I was having none of it. We were going to pray and the Lord was going to fix the old bus!
It never happened. What I said was acknowledged somewhat but then ignored. A couple of guys quietly went outside to raise the hood. I couldn’t believe it. I got really angry. I got off the bus and began walking away. In the growing distance I heard it start up. They got the old yellow church bus running again pretty quickly. Maybe the Lord actually did do something. But by that time I was walking home. I wasn’t waiting for a ride back with my friend. While I’m out there not too far away on the highway still as angry as I could be my friend drove by to pick me up. I said forget it. Then he got angry. He drove on and I was left to my thoughts on a long walk back to my apartment. What in the world was I thinking? It’s pretty funny as I reflect back on it. I think the Lord enjoyed it all and probably got a good laugh. He understood, and He knew this was all part of the discipleship learning curve. I also think He was proud of me for thinking of Him first and taking a stand though the application left much to be desired.
My behavior obviously was not the greatest, but I was serious about my new found faith. We see that same kind of behavior among the Lord’s own chosen ones in the gospels. It’s hilarious when it seems Peter wanted to fight everybody, for example. Those guys were always letting their unbridled masculinity run free. The cool thing about it all was that the Lord supported it. He made them that way. Sure, we must learn to channel it all correctly and He did jump their case on occasion, but Christian men should never allow for even a second the slightest effort toward religious emasculation. And if you want to know the one giant problem with organized Christianity, that’s it.
I certainly could have helped find the problem with that bus. You learn to do a lot regarding the fixing of cars when you’re young and you don’t have a lot of money. There are some of you reading this right now who have a practical need but no money to fix it. I understand. Sometimes, even though we are all so incredibly blessed as children of the Lord, we don’t have all that we need and must improvise or simply do without. But if we really believe in the Lord and what He can do, is there really a problem?
Miracles are not practical. They also don’t happen automatically. They require faith. We must be serious. The Lord says this repeatedly in His Word and demonstrates it for us and proves it to be true. With Him, ALL things are possible. This is just fact. As a young man I was all gung ho for the Lord. I wanted us to pray about that old bus. I wanted to give the Lord the first opportunity to fix it. I knew He could. It would have been a great spiritual ending to a great spiritual night. But even though everybody there believed just as I did, no one agreed with what I felt we should do.
Why is that? Why didn’t anyone else agree with me that we should at least pray first? I think we all know the answer. We must be practical when it is called for. There are times, though, when practical knowledge won’t work. Though we may be great at fixing things, there are times when it is beyond our ability and know-how to fix something. None of us are Superman. But the Lord is. And if the only way any particular follower of the Lord will actually engage in spiritual things is when all other practical possibilities are exhausted, I guess that’s okay. But wouldn’t it be best to be wise and seek Him first?
This is the time of year when Christians the world over return to the beginning of the greatest story ever told—the one historical event that changes the spiritual direction and eternal destination of any person anywhere. The Lord Jesus can do anything. Anytime, anywhere, any place, under any conditions—there is nothing He cannot do. He has achieved mythological proportions for those few who actually see His life for what it is, yet most Christians can’t quite get there. This nonsense must stop. There is no such thing as practical-only Christianity. Real Christianity always requires the miraculous. The Lord will often put us in impossible situations just to prove it. Maybe you messed up or maybe someone else messed up or maybe no one messed up. Maybe it is simply the case that the Lord wants to bless you with a miracle. If you have a great need this Christmas and have no other way to make it happen, He can make it happen for you.
It’s who He is. It’s what He does.
And the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. [Matthew 2:9-11] 
© 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.
I once had a pastor who didn’t care for doing any counseling. He stated this from the pulpit. He didn’t like sitting down with people from his church and going over the usual problems. He once stated that the devil “can only get you in so many ways,” meaning, of course, that the devil had a limited repertoire of mayhem-causing temptations. In this regard, we often hear preachers list the same relatively few things we, as Christians, must deal with, and they, as pastors, must attend to with counsel, and they say this because it’s pretty much all they ever hear. The short tabulation usually involves the following:
(1) Money problems
(2) Relationship problems
(3) Health problems
I don’t fault that former pastor. I am pretty sure one of the reasons he cared little for counseling is because many people do not respond to it in a positive way. There are often solutions to the above three legitimate and often overwhelming difficulties put forth in Scripture that are rarely applied and this can frustrate a counselor, in that they give good advice designed to assist but the advice is not taken. It is not respected. Counselors know that much of the time people only want to talk. They need someone to talk to. That’s what they really want. They don’t necessarily want to do the work to eliminate the problem.
The Lord is the greatest of counselors. Isaiah called Him a Wonderful Counselor. But even the Lord probably gets somewhat tired of hearing prayers when He knows we will not apply the solutions. So, in that light, I am going to dedicate the rest of this post to those of you who want to do whatever it takes to fix whatever the problem is.
A MIRACLE WAITING TO HAPPEN
I stated at the end of my last post the very words of the Lord Jesus when He said that with God, all things are possible. This is obviously a true statement. The truth of the matter, however, is that there is a whole lot of stuff between the problem and His relatively straightforward solution. It should not be this way. I think we often make it far too complicated, which messes up the process.
For example, in the case of Scriptural miracles, our eyes may glaze over as soon as someone brings them up, because we have heard them countless times and they do not appear applicable whatsoever to what we may be dealing with at the moment. But at that time the solution was clear-cut:
There was Peter and John seeing a lame man who had been there for decades. Thousands and thousands had seen this man there over his lifetime. He always asked for money. Some would give him money. Most probably ignored him. He had a great problem and had it since birth and people were tired of seeing him. What could they do about it anyway?
Well, in the case of Peter and John, they had just been gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit. They were charged up with the power and authority of the Lord. With their new status came a ton of spiritual boldness. So the next time they saw that man Peter had a completely different attitude. He suddenly had a solution to the lame man’s problem. He didn’t simply look at the man as usual and think, “Sorry. I feel bad for you but have no answer. Later.” Instead, this is the way it went down:
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.
But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”
And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. [Acts 3:1-8]
HOW IT WAS DONE
First of all, Peter would be the first to say he was nobody special and that the Lord did the work. In fact, he did say that. But let us not forget that Peter experienced Pentecost. He was one of the 120 gloriously filled with the Spirit of the Lord. So that is the main condition here. But the infilling was not limited to the apostles or the 120. It was limited to no one. It is still not limited to anyone, provided one fulfills the conditions of Acts 2.
Second, Peter demanded the man look at him. He demanded the man’s full attention.
Third, Peter used the powerful Name of Jesus, the Name above every name, and the Name with full authority over all things, including an otherwise impossible-to-cure medical condition.
Fourth, Peter reached down, physically grabbed the man’s hand, and pulled the man up! Peter was fully confident in everything he did because he had plenty of faith and confidence in the Lord, His Name, and His spiritual power.
But what about the lame man? He also had conditions to fulfill. He had to respond to counseling correctly. He had to obey Peter’s counseling or the miracle would never have happened.
First, when Peter demanded his full attention the lame man looked directly at him and shut everything else out.
Second, the lame man did not object to the use of the Lord’s Name.
Third, when Peter took hold of his hand and began pulling him up, the lame man never fought against him, but allowed Peter to do all he did with no opposition of any kind.
From this we know that miracles are always the result of a collaborative effort.
The Lord does His part, which He is always faithful to do, and the recipient does his or her part. This is why a person acting properly on faith and correctly obeying the Lord’s counseling completes the circuit.
ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE
The Lord put the healing of the lame man miracle right there in the very beginning so anyone and everyone all through the centuries could look back at it and see that all things truly ARE possible with the Lord. It was also a great miracle at the time for the members of the early Church to look back on to build their faith and act on their faith. They saw that the Lord’s miracles could be worked through them and not only by the Lord exclusively, as in the gospels, or through a chosen few, such as the apostles. This is extremely important. As a result, greater numbers of people had their prayers answered and more life-changing miracles were performed by the Lord working through countless Spirit-filled believers the world over. This expanding dynamic continued as well by involving onlookers as witnesses, which further spread the news of the miracles and produced faith in the Lord, salvation, and more disciples.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. [Acts 3:9-10] 
© 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.
The Lord Jesus is available. He has never stopped being available. All things are possible with God.
THE FAUX BROS
The faux brethren are preaching a different Gospel. It brings no honor to the Lord. But it does bring them a living, and that is what they desire the most.
“Christianity” is very different behind the scenes. Once a Christian performer leaves the stage he or she can be seen for what they really are. I remember very well the early days when idealism gave way to reality. While the reality of the Lord was always the same the Lord showed me how the faux brethren change when away from the spotlight. I wondered then, just how a Christian performer is supposed to represent himself in public. There is obviously no way he can maintain the same persona and attitude as the one presented onstage.
Again, these were the very early days of my new Christian experience. Everything was brand new, holy, and pure. I had no reason to doubt anything presented as spiritual reality. The preaching I became associated with was powerful and convicting. It was obviously inspired and anointed.
But I began to realize that I never saw that kind of preaching outside a church venue, unless it was a larger church venue transported to a rented auditorium or something similar. Why did I never see that kind of incredible preaching out on the street in a non-official setting?
THOSE BRUTAL ROMANS
This is how the early believers did it. They had no church buildings. There were in fact no church buildings for almost three centuries and yet those powerful early believers turned the Roman Empire on its ear. One must keep in mind that the Romans were brutal. That is probably the best one word description of their entire culture. They perfected crucifixion, for example. Gladiators fought to the death as entertainment. Massive crowds came to the many entertainment venues to see human beings suffer and die. Once the early believers became more numerous and were seen as a threat, they too were sentenced to die in entertainment venues, often ripped apart by wild beasts. Imagine being one of those early stalwarts of the faith.
Despite all the persecution and barbaric brutality, the early believers actually brought the Roman Empire to its knees. They did it with love. They did it by making themselves vulnerable. They were never two-faced. What you saw was what you got whether they were behind closed doors, in small settings, or out in the public on the street. They learned all of this from the Lord Jesus. It is exactly the way He was and the way He did things. He was always the same and He is still the same.
Official Christianity, however, has been transformed into a stage production. Preaching has become an art form. Yet, such is not close to being new. The Lord called the Pharisees and those like them hypocrites. Though the word has a different connotation now, hypocrites were stage performers. They were actors. The Lord called the Pharisees actors. They were merely acting out a part. Their outward performance was never how they really were. Off the stage and out of their religious costumes, they were the opposite. They were as fake as the day is long.
It should be obvious that without church buildings and professional preachers most Christians would have no clue what to do. Yet again, the early Church never “went to church.” They had no “church” to go to. Today, most Christians go to church in order to have church. Back then, real Christians were the Church. They couldn’t hide once they were out of the spotlight because they didn’t want to hide and the “spotlight” was a 24 hour a day proposition.
There are still Christians that are like this. They are always the same. They can do the will of God wherever they are. However, they are not professionals. They can’t be fake. It is simply not in them. Because of this they usually don’t have an easy time collecting donations. People are so used to having only one out a thousand presenting themselves as worthy “official” ministers that they are conditioned to support them, even though the great bulk of Christian work—99%—is being done by non-supported nobodies who must work closely with the Lord to gain a necessary living doing whatever they must. These are the real Christians. There are a few real Christians on stage and before cameras but are very, very few. You will know they are real because they do not perform. What they are in public is the same as what they would be in your living room or on the street.
It is largely why most of the early Great Awakening is not visible—it is not happening in official venues in churches, on stage, or on television. The controllers of those venues do not want a Great Awakening. They oppose it. It is too threatening to their cushy status quo. Almost all of it is happening out there among the nobodies, the forgotten Christians, the rejected Christians—the ones who never have and never will make the grade to be prime-time players. They are all lousy actors. They can’t make a living that way. But they are real— just like the Lord.
OUR LOVING FATHER
And the Lord Jesus is with them. He is always available. He takes care of them all because they have each presented themselves to Him as a living sacrifice to be used in whatever way He wants. These are true disciples. The one thing they have in common is their pure love and desire to help. Part of that involves believing the Lord for a miracle when a miracle is called for. They KNOW the Lord will always take care of them and one another and they have experienced the Lord’s miracles to that end. The Lord does miracles for them out of love and concern, however. He never does it as part of some twisted religious stage show. He blesses us in this way because He loves us and cares about us and because He can. He wants to meet our needs and if we let Him and obey Him and trust Him He can and He always will.
And sometimes He blesses us with a miracle not because there is a dire need but simply because He just wants to bless our socks off. He’s in love with us. He sometimes just can’t help Himself.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire…” [Deuteronomy 4:23-24]
The problem with mankind’s religions in general is that they have historically been instruments used not for correct and proper spiritual purposes, but as controlling mechanisms of one kind or another in an effort to create a false coerced unity among a homogenized mass.
Religious abuse is a terrible thing, and it stems from the idea that a particular discovered “truth” must be mandated for all whether or not people understand such a “truth” or buy into it. Religious conversions are forced by the rulers of said religions, and such religious-based rule has been on the planet from the beginning.
In other words, the statement “This is what we believe here and you will either believe it or you will leave,” is the pro forma underlying credo for all religious establishments. Though often unspoken, it will certainly raise its ugly head when a perceived challenge is made.
Real Christian love is unconditional. It does not force people into compliance. Yes, the Lord’s teachings are pure and foundational, and must be learned and adhered to if one is to be a good and effective disciple and follower of the Lord. But He loves us. He doesn’t force us. Religion uses force, not love, and this will always result in various levels of abuse.
The saddest thing about this subject involves the creation of false forms of Christianity and the resultant use of the same evil religious force and control, and the hatred of those who are not members thereof. Fake Christians have mastered the use of a smiling face and gentle manner to mask their true objectives. The Lord Jesus loves and teaches us to love and follows up His love with whatever may be necessary to bring sin-ravaged people into His fold that they may no longer be the victims of false religious conformity and slaves to mere rote and ritual.
False religionists, including and especially those of the Christian variety, do not possess God’s love. They merely use and abuse people toward their own ends and enrichment.
A friend reminds us that within the story of the burning bush Moses is told to remove His shoes:
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”
When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” [Exodus 3:1-5]
Moses is told he is standing on holy ground. What this means is that Moses has entered into a place where God is in charge, and that the “land” belongs to God. He owns it. And He is in authority of whatever happens there. Moses shows his deference to God by removing his shoes, which is a sign of honor and respect toward the rightful owner.
Which brings us to something I’ve touched on before. In a previous post I asked the question: “What would happen if every single Christian “church,” ministry, denomination, and etc were asked to sign over all authority to the Lord Jesus?” How many would actually comply? How many would give up all authority to the Lord and allow Him to be the sole authority, arbiter, and teacher of all that goes on there? The few people I have talked to about this are in agreement that the answer would be very few.
And as it stands, the answer IS very few. As a case in point, almost all “churches,” ministries, etc have a senior pastor or executive director. The name of this person is on the literature and is often displayed prominently on exterior signage, such as ABC Church, Pastor John Doe. This fact alone tells us the Lord Jesus is not in charge.
Yet, we know this anyway because the ministry of the Lord Jesus is not present in most of these places—there are generally no signs, wonders, miracles, divine healings, or Book of Acts experiences. There is nothing to suggest in these places the anointing of New Covenant apostles, prophets, and teachers. Nothing looks like the ministries of Joseph, Moses, Elijah, or even John the Immerser.
In a nutshell, there is no dunamis, or the spiritual power indicative of the Lord’s authority and freedom to act and minister. This means the Lord has been shut out. And this means He is not the owner of such places. The executive leadership wears the shoes and forces the Lord to go barefoot.
What could ever dis the Lord more? This is why He made such statements as:
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” [Luke 6:46]
“And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘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.’” [Matthew 15:6-9]
On the other hand, this is what happens when the Lord IS in charge:
“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” [Mark 16:17-18]
We see these accompanying signs throughout the Book of Acts testifying of the authority of the Lord. He has passed on the power of His Name and the infilling of His Spirit to His disciples and they are now doing as He did, in that He is working through them to accomplish the same miracles He did during His ministry as put forth in the Gospels.
Most ministries never cross the bridge from the Gospels to Acts. They honor the Lord with their lips but refuse to honor Him with the authority He needs to act through them. As a result, most places with a Christian name of some sort are no different than any other worldly establishment in that they possess no spiritual power for effective change. They claim Christianity but do not perform it.
We know He still performs miracles as He did in the beginning. Testimonies abound. But for the person who does not believe, such testimonies and eye-witness accounts are worthless. They will find a way to explain it away. Those without eyes to see and ears to hear cannot consider the likelihood that the Lord still works as He did in the beginning simply because they cannot see and hear. They are blind and deaf. Until they see and hear there is no sense trying to reveal to them what they will not see or hear.
Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word,
“The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”’
“Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves. [Acts 28:24-29] 
The Gentiles did indeed listen, but soon after the same dispute began taking place among such Gentile Christians and continued for the next 2000 years, and it has resulted in roughly a million and a half Christian denominations and offshoots.
The disputing Jews in the above verse were a mere harbinger of the later mass numbers of disputing Christians so screwed up in their various theologies they wouldn’t know the Lord if He showed up in their living rooms and broke bread. Moreover, they would argue with Him over His weird teachings and strange methods and demand that He get with the program.
And you can bet that few would ever remove their shoes.
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. [Acts 19:11-17]
Here we have a case where the password to the Kingdom of God became known to non-believers. They attempted to use it the way Paul did but with much different results.
Imagine an evil spirit so powerful it could work through one man to beat the hell out of seven religious pretenders. These clowns were not merely defeated. They were abused, humiliated, and literally ripped-off.
Though the Name of Jesus is the password to the kingdom of God, its proper use is restricted to those who have made a wholesale commitment to the owner of the Name. Unless one’s heart is fully circumcised unto the Lord, the password will not work, though it may appear otherwise in some circumstances. If one’s faith is weak, the password will not work. If one’s motive is wrong, the password will not work. If one has unrepentant sin, the password will not work. If there’s any flesh involved, the password will not work.
The seven sons of Sceva had apparently had some success in exorcising demons. There are certain Christian sects that have historically practiced exorcism and continue practicing it today.
But the Lord Jesus never practiced exorcism. He quite simply but most powerfully used His authority and commanded evil spirits to obey Him. No need for silly formulas and little wooden crosses. The Lord merely said, “Get out!” and they scrammed. His disciples had been given the use of His powerful Name and also ran off any number of demons through the same authority. Demons were often scared enough to stay away from those filled with the Spirit of God. They knew they’d get their backsides kicked. They certainly knew who the Lord Jesus was, that He was a Warrior on the warpath shining a great Light into their dark little hovels.
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. [James 2:19]
The proponents of Unreal Christianity have not been granted the authority of the Name since they have never fully committed to the Lord Jesus. This is obvious by the way they dishonor and disrespect Him. (“Oh, those things don’t happen anymore!” “We don’t believe in that stuff!” You’re a fruitcake and those things are of the devil!” “It makes me feel so uncomfortable…”) Dead churches are dead because they lack the power of God. They have no access to it. They claim to have authority to use the Name but one never sees much demonstration of the Lord’s Spirit in such places.
Other people counterfeit it. The devil is using them and they don’t even know it.
But one thing is sure: There is great power and authority in the Name of Jesus but one must be qualified to use it or nothing good will happen.
Ask the sons of Sceva. They never, ever made that mistake again. The evil spirit punted their rears halfway across Ephesus.
Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing. [Acts 19:18-20]
This is the real gospel in action.
But why did the Lord direct Paul to go to Ephesus in the first place? Once again, it had to do with the power of His Name. It seems there were certain followers of John the Immerser there who had never heard of Pentecost. Note what happens after Paul discovers the way they were baptized:
It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?”
And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men. [Acts 19:1-7] 
Why did Paul connect the infilling of the Holy Spirit with water baptism? Was it for the simple reason that the password to the kingdom of God is directly associated with water baptism? Was it because water baptism in the Name of Jesus is a major part of the heart-circumcision process toward total submission to the Messiah and gaining proper authority to use His Name?
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 8 of 10]