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         For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

         Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

         For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

         And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. [Romans 1:1-32] [1]

         In these wonderful modern times of bright enlightenment and the disavowing of outdated Christian moral standards, it is good to know we have a record, almost two-thousand years old, which tells us the more things change, the more they stay the same.

         The preceding passage from Paul’s letter to the believers at Rome was most likely written in the city of Corinth in early AD 58. Writing in Corinth certainly inspired him with regard to the lack of morals in the place. Corinth was one of the most depraved cities of first century times, if not the most. Laden heavily with sexual immorality, blatant idolatry, and paganism, its sins even invaded the churches in a profound manner, causing Paul to write strong instructions in his letters to the Corinthians and serious rebukes regarding the behavior of some. Can ancient Corinth be compared to modern America? To American “Christians” in general?

         Morals are plunging fast. A complete reversal of realities has taken place. The filth of immoral idiots is broadcast all over the airwaves. Our own government has been taken over by money-hungry traitors who have essentially sold their souls to the devil for profit and prestige.

         Modern American Christianity has also sold out to the money god, and grows farther away from the teachings of the Lord as each day passes. They refuse to honor Him in heart, and restrict their praise to lip service. They also refuse the reality of the Gospel message, with all its power, strength, and light. The Book of Acts is not seen as a how-to manual, but a mere dusty history book, dead to the reality of the present.

         Christians should not bother reading the Book of Acts if they refuse to practice it.

         The real community of the Lord still has the answers and power to do anything, face anything, overcome anything, and be victorious over any foe. The hitch for most faux Christians is that it will cost—it will cost you everything. And such a price is far too high.

         It’s okay for Messiah Jesus to go to the cross. It’s okay if He is beaten almost beyond recognition. It’s okay if His blood is spilled in preaching the Gospel. It’s okay if Stephen was stoned, if Paul was stoned, if the apostles went through hell, and if foreign believers are currently being persecuted all over the world. But no one may dare to even think about telling American Christians we must possibly go through the same.

         We have a corrupt government growing more corrupt every day, and corrupt sell-out churches and ministers who exist to glorify and enrich themselves. American Christianity in general has grown just as material, controlling, and money-grubbing as the world it supposedly seeks to save.

         Despite all this, however, there is Good News. Persecution is coming to America. The real Gospel is coming forth. Real Christians are coming forth like we have not seen in a long time. A powerful, mature, unified spiritual effort in the works for decades is about to explode on the scene.

         Watch what happens. All those who refuse to obey God will be left behind in their staid, comfortable, sleepy-time, cold-hearted, controlled, regimented, disobedient, material, boring, lifeless, and snooty versions of Christianity. But all those who hear God and obey will continue to experience greater life, truth, miracle power, spiritual joy, and strength. And they will be fought against like never before. Yet, these real believers will not be stopped or denied because they are with the Lord, doing the will of the Lord, have given their whole hearts to the Lord, and will follow Him and obey His commands whatever the cost. They have not only passed through the Red Sea, they have crossed the Jordan River.

         The Great Awakening is happening.

         The following text is an excerpt from Real Christianity, written way back in the go-go 1990s and published before 9/11, before the Patriot Act, before the disastrous American foreign policy of the last decade, before the dissolution of Fourth Amendment rights, before smart phones, before the exponential rise in our surveillance society, before roughly another 20 million butchered babies in the ongoing and unchallenged slaughter of American innocents, before the crash of 2008 and the devastation of the American economy, before multi-trillions in debt, before the groping madness of the TSA, and before Christians used their right to vote to help elect the very people responsible for all of the above with no apparent remorse:

SLOW TRAIN COMING

         When was the last time you saw somebody murdered for Jesus? When was the last time somebody was dragged out of your congregation and executed? When was the last time you saw somebody whose obedience to the Lord caused him to risk his very life rather than submit to the wishes of the enemy? Too radical? Then how does one explain the killing of so many Old Testament prophets, or the violent deaths of the apostles, or the violent persecutions of the early church? Where is the violent persecution of today’s church? Where are followers of Jesus being maimed and murdered today?

         Not in America. And why? Is it because America is the land of the free and the home of the brave? Is it because Christians have such firm control of the goings-on in this country that violent, physical persecution could never take place here? Look again. The fact of the matter is that persecution campaigns will come, as a matter of course, when the church in America, like the prophets of old, reaches a pre-determined level of strength, maturity, unity, and spiritual power. It is a given. It is a law. This principle cannot be circumvented, nor should it be. The Church is not only supposed to be loving, kind, and gentle, but also able to kick the corpulent posteriors of demons and take their names. When the church in any geographic area reaches this point of maturity and commitment, the human instrumentalities of the devil will strike back in defense of their turf with violent, bloody persecution.

         The church in America has become much too timid and confused about its role in this area. Even those who claim to have prophetic ministries appear somewhat squeamish about upsetting any apple carts (or money-changers’ tables). For the most part, we go to church and are nice and mind our business. We hear the news about the moral strength of America going down the drain and shrug our collective shoulders. As a majority of the population, far too many of those who call themselves Christians in this country are still running around in diapers.

         There is, however, a group of Christians on the rise—a group that has grown weary of the toddler section, a group that has long since left the nursery to which they were assigned. A dead church structure is still an impediment, but no longer a jail. These individuals are so committed to Jesus that, like the prophet, they have overcome their fear and apathy and laid everything on the line. They have risen to such spiritual heights that they can see right through the feeble attempts and various losing methods which the business-like old guard uses in an awkward effort at ruling both Christians and Christianity.

         The community of saints which Jesus is presently raising up is not independent but fully under His authority. Its members are not nonconformists but merely mature in the Lord. They are fully committed and dedicated to His agenda. Their banner is love, their love is for truth, and their righteousness is a precious blood-bought gift. These are included in the ones who will stand in the gap, who will be hated by all nations for His name’s sake, and who will be misunderstood, reviled, and rejected by the “brethren.” As long as the great silent masses of Christians in America think they can get by without attracting violent, bodily persecution, they will likely do everything in their power to do so. But the Word of the Lord is plain concerning this Laodicean attitude. Those who are neither hot nor cold will be spewed out of the mouth of God. [2]

         © 2012 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.

[2] Pages 99-100 Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Give me more darkness said the blind man,

Give me more folly said the fool,

Give me stone silence said the deaf man,

I didn’t believe Sunday School.

Take it away said the hungry man,

Although I’m starving I’ll get by.

Take it away said the thirsty man,

I’ll find a drink before I die.

I’ve got plenty of time to think of Heaven,

But right now there’s too much on my mind.

And I’ve had enough of that religious stuff

And besides I can’t relate to your kind.

© 1980 by Phil Keaggy  

Keep Your Lamp Filled With Oil

           There is a constant theme in the teachings of our Lord Jesus. He is forever telling us to stay alert, stay awake, and fight against deception. He tells us to stay prayed up, fasted up, filled up, read up, and lit up. Not only must we stay in His written Word, we must always stay close to Him, the Living Word. Living for God is impossible otherwise.

         Any real believer can be deceived at any time. Our enemy is no slouch. He is a very powerful deceiver, and Christians who downplay this or do not take the Lord seriously will have no chance. The more one turns his or her Christianity into a kindergarten Sunday school class, the more likely he or she will never grow up.

         “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.

         Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

         And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” [Matthew 25:1-13]

         There are false doctrines within overall Christianity that make a mockery of such teachings. The idea that one can never be lost once being saved plays right into the devil’s hands. Why in the world is the Lord ever telling us to stay alert? Sleepy time Christianity has institutionalized spiritual laziness and the rejection of sound teaching regarding one’s fight against deception. One of the worst things a believer can do is act as if the enemy has no chance against us or that one’s sin is somehow always being removed as if by magic though there be no real repentance or aggressive attention to spiritual details.

         Most Christians trust their guy in the pulpit, and though there are many solid ministers, there are also many solid quacks and spiritual pansies who side with the devil more times than otherwise. Letting some hand-picked man or woman or whoever might come your way be the central arbiter of your spiritual life is not Biblical. Remaining a dunderhead while trusting a Christian guru without staying close to God is very foolish, but this is often the norm in Christian circles. Good shepherds are relatively rare and should be respected, but appeals to authority other than the Lord will not be allowed at the judgment: “But look at all I did, Lord! My pastor/priest/reverend told me to do it that way! All my friends said I was right!”

         When believers let their lamp go out it is because they are living today on yesterday’s oil. The Lord alluded to new wine skins being necessary on given occasions of new growth and new spiritual output. Doing things the way we did it yesterday does not necessarily work in the here and now. It never works in the future. God changes course a lot and does new and different things all the time. Without following Him and paying attention one can never keep up. It is always sad to see so many Christians living in the past and refusing to allow themselves the refreshing renewing and change for the better that comes with truly following God.

         Do the journeys of the Israelites mean anything at all? God was always doing different things. He wanted no one to come up with a formula or plan or doctrine or belief system that would somehow give all the answers and make Him predictable. As another example, when the Lord Jesus healed the blind He always did it differently.

         From these simple truths we should know we can NEVER figure out God, but the reason why is not what you may think. A real living relationship with the Lord demands an ongoing newness and freshness, and such cannot be achieved or lived out by doing the same thing we did last year or last decade. Some Christians are so stuck in the mud they are still living in the wineskin of fifty years ago. As a result, they have little life. Their oil has long since run out. Their lamps serve no purpose. They give off no light. They missed the bridegroom long ago but act as if they are still waiting for Him.

         It will be a long wait.

         That’s why the answer is the non-answer. Living for God successfully means staying close to Him so one can hear His voice and thereby obey Him and do His will, whatever it may be. Therefore the answer is remaining in a state of real repentance, living by faith, praying always, fasting enough to get the job done, giving, and studying the Word. These are not answers so much as they are the means to the answer. These things help us to keep our lamps and oil flasks filled. We were made to be filled with the Spirit of God. We must always keep our oil supply fresh and our tanks topped off.

         And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. [Acts 13:52][1] 

         © 2012 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.

GOD’S GIFT OF GRACE

        Sometimes I wonder why the whole world isn’t lined up to receive the one thing that cures their eternal ills and reconciles them with God.

      Though living a real Christian life is not easy, living in a cold, hard world is significantly more difficult and often impossible. We were designed to live for God and with God. We were created to be with Him, not apart from Him, and not lost on some weird avenue leading nowhere but down. Everything about the Lord is upward, and positive. He lifts spirits, He blesses with joy and peace, and He makes a place for the lonely and alone:

           A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land. [Psalm 68:5-6]

       Grace is not about deserving anything. It is by perfect definition a pure gift—a gift inspired and motivated by pure love. The Lord is out to get us. He wants us for Himself. His desire is to smother us with love and affection, make our backs strong and straight, light up our faces with the joy of His Spirit, and bless us abundantly. But He also knows we can only handle so much blessing. Too much at any given time and He might spoil us, something He will never do. In the meantime, though our trials and times of testing and growth may be severe, such in no way must ever question or diminish the full measure of His love and grace. As He Himself, these things are eternal. They are gifts to be accepted that He will only give and never, ever take back. Falling away from God and going into a world of sin, however major or minor, is purely our decision. It is never His. Though He often grieves for lost souls who refuse His grace, He also respects their choices.

        And though He is a mighty Warrior and powerful in all respects, the Lord Jesus has a tender heart of love. He extends a hand of grace toward you this day.

        …For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. [Romans 3:23-26] [1]

         © 2011 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.