Real Christianity’s ongoing forty-year surge in China is due in part to the incessant attempts by the Communist government to control and eliminate it.
This attempt failed in Rome two thousand years ago. The Roman Empire at first made little issue of real Christianity. Yet, while the Lord’s Community was in its early formative stages, the Romans began getting somewhat concerned as the burgeoning Ekklesia began exploding in growth. Its impact began being seen and felt all over the empire and its presence soon threatened the established ideologies and cults, especially the emperor cult.
In Rome the emperor was god, and all Roman citizens and subjects were forced to honor this credo whether they wanted to or not. The idea of religious freedom and a personal conscience was a joke. Forced faith was the order of the day. Those countries where religious freedom exists at present should know this but many don’t (or do and don’t care). Legal religious freedom is not only seldom appreciated, those who paid the price to gain it are often slandered by later generations.
Constitutional religious freedom in America has been under attack for so long that many American Christians have apparently decided to throw in the towel, get dumbed-down to the fact, made numb by their lack of actually obeying the Lord Jesus, and weakly succumb to largely ineffective and vapid forms of “church life.”
Many if not most church leaders in America continue to fudge it and censor themselves, and refuse to do what the Lord has commanded we do, namely preach the real Word as He preached it so people can actually get delivered from sin, be born again, and gain spiritual power over the enemy. Real Christians are doing this in China on a massive scale and the government there will never be able to control it now. It is too late for them but they certainly keep trying.
CENSORED “LEGAL” CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA
They only allow two “Christian” entities and both are government controlled: The National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the official umbrella group for Chinese Protestants, and the Chinese Catholic Church. These two account for about a third of the practicing Christians in China, but the overwhelming majority of Christians there, conservatively estimated at perhaps 100 million, reject both of these government-sanctioned legal bodies and are essentially practicing their faith outside the law. And no matter how much the government tries to control them through authoritative, dictatorial practices they continue to flourish. Sound familiar?
When Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire it flourished the same way. The real Christians, though, were not anti-government, were not radicals, and were not trying to overthrow anything. They simply honored the Lord Jesus as God and not the emperor, and they obeyed the Lord’s directives and refused to practice the idolatrous religions of Rome. Their impact was staggering. It is presently the same in China.
The illegal Christians in China now outnumber the members of the Communist Party.
What do you think will happen next? Will the Communists surrender or clamp down harder? It is now merely a matter of survival and only one of these can win. Here’s a clue which one that will be:
COMPROMISE THROUGH ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
The enemy is presently attempting to tempt the real Chinese Christians with the increasing economic prosperity of that nation without understanding that it was the real Chinese Christians who brought it about through spiritual means in the first place. The Lord always brings prosperity to His people but it must be put in perspective and handled with proper discipline. We must understand that blessings can never be allowed to circumvent or detract from our spiritual duty.
This has mainly failed in America. Christian bodies have given in to being dictated to by money and economic success and eschew any attempts toward reining in that which has caused millions of Christians to become compromised and spiritually lazy. It took place gradually over time but has happened nonetheless and this becomes clear when attempts at proper and corrective reform are made. The reformers sent by God often eventually get shown the door because the nature of such closed-minded congregations and groups borders on the cultish with the usual domineering leader asserting primarily a vaunted rightness and secondly, an imposed inferiority upon those unlike them which must result in the aforesaid rejection. You can see, then, how it makes perfect sense for the Chinese government to make life very hard for those Christians who won’t go along with their program.
We know this sinister paradigm quite well if only from the reams of data regarding centuries of church history. Some people have a tendency to go nuts when they gain illegitimate authority and will do anything to keep control. This is the main reason why there has been so much Christian-on-Christian bloodshed and why millions of Christians have been taken advantage of and ripped off.
One of the clues regarding the real infilling of the Lord’s Spirit is that one will act as the Lord Jesus acted. One will do as He did. One will have His nature. Developing the mind and nature of the Lord and gaining spiritual maturity must obviously take place over time. Some never get there. Most are never filled with His Spirit to begin with and can therefore hardly be expected to act in His stead according to His nature and purpose. As a case in point, why do so many big time preachers insist on special privileges (such as body guards)? The Lord never did this. The apostles never did. We can certainly see by the things that happened to them that they were men of faith who subjected themselves to whatever may happen in spiritual warfare. They simply did not see themselves as special or as members of a higher caste which deserved superior benefits.
How many real Christians have been murdered for their faith in China? How many have been sent to prison where they often died, languishing away from loved ones? How many have suffered in so many ways and still suffer today simply because they have given their lives to the Lord and faithfully serve Him? And how many have suffered because they were betrayed by other Christians? The numbers are likely in the millions.
When one considers the fact that the underground “illegal” Christians in China are equivalent to one-fourth or even one-third of the United States population, it should make us all reconsider just exactly what it is that we are attempting for the Lord.
They are getting so much more done with so much less while American Christian pastors censor themselves to make sure they remain in compliance with whatever will keep the money and prestige flowing in. Many Christian leaders do not see themselves as compromisers and that’s the problem. Though a decided minority, there is always an ongoing dynamic of stronger and more mature Christians wanting us to go deeper in following the Lord, more correctly appropriate what He called us to do, and achieve that which really matters rather than play around in the shallows.
What a sad occurrence it is to have complete religious liberty in America guaranteed by the Constitution and so much blessing only to squander it all in order to save face and look “respectable” as a means to stave off inevitable persecution. How should the Lord Jesus respond to such an attitude? I have said long ago (and you can find it documented in my book) that a time of great Christian persecution would arise in America. The Lord revealed it during a time of great prosperity in this nation when so many Christians were going the opposite direction and didn’t care. The idea that Christian persecution would arise here was seen then as ridiculous and that remains the case for many. They will get a wake-up call, because when persecution arises there will be no outward distinction regarding who the recipients will be. All Christians will be subjected to it and all will be forced to make a choice. The compromisers will quickly succumb and surrender since that is their adaptive nature.
The strong and mature Christians, however, will fare best and continue to be productive since they had already been tested and strengthened, having been previously persecuted for years by their own brethren.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
THE FIG TREE
On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. [Mark 11:12-14]
Why did the Lord curse the fig tree? The narrative said it was not the season for figs.
Actually, a fig tree produced fruit three times a year. In about April, which was the time the Lord saw the tree in question, every healthy fig tree would bear what are known as “early figs,” also known as “unripe” or “untimely” figs. These immature figs were very small, were edible, though certainly not comparable to the full fruit which would come later, and most fell to the ground with the wind. They appeared as the first leaves appeared on the tree.
In about June, the first mature figs appeared, the first actual crop, and were said to grow out of the “old wood,” or the shoots from the prior year.
In August or so, the final crop of figs came forth, from the “new wood,” or new shoots of the present year.
From this we know that if a tree will be fruitful and not barren, it will send forth fruit roughly at the same time, or very shortly thereafter, as it sends forth its first leaves, though the first fruit is a far cry from what will come later. The Lord Jesus knew, therefore, that because the tree He came upon already had leaves but no “early figs,” it would never produce any figs.
Keep in mind also that He was hungry, that He saw the tree “at a distance,” that He had to put time and effort into reaching it, and that He expected to find food. This is obviously indicative of His long journey to visit and rescue His beloved people.
As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” [Mark 11:20-23] 
Mountains are associated with spiritual high places, places of great power. The little that was left of the Jewish nation in the first century had long since been subverted by a political association between the religious leaders and Rome. This was especially true of the Sadducees who had no belief in spiritual things whatsoever, not even the resurrection. It was also true of Annas and Caiphas, the High Priest. They were living only for this world, had achieved great wealth and power, and had joined “the mountain,” represented by the great earthly power of the Roman Empire.
The fig tree was representative of the Israel of that time, which made an outward show of national legitimacy and religiosity, but was actually fruitless and spiritually barren. It is the same today.
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]
© 2016 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.
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” [Matthew 24:1-2]
As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” [Mark 13:1-2]
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” [Luke 21:5-6]
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44] 
At sunset tonight begins the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It was on this exact date that both ancient temples of the Jews met their complete destruction.
Because this infamous date falls on the Jewish Sabbath this year, it will be commemorated on Sunday.
The original Temple of Solomon, which began construction circa 966 BC, was completely destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC on the 9th of Av.
It has now been exactly 2600 years since that date, and is a clear multiple of 13, the Biblical number of rebellion.
A second temple was built 70 years later, completed in 516 BC, though it in no way resembled the magnificent glory of the original. This temple had degraded significantly for five full centuries until the time of Herod the Great.
In approximately 19 BC, Herod began a massive overhaul of the entire temple mount area that was not fully completed until 64 AD.
Regarding the second temple built in 516 BC, it was essentially completely deconstructed and rebuilt by Herod on a far grander scale, taking less than two years to complete. Though it was not referred to as a third temple, this is a mere semantic overreach insisted upon by Herod and the religious leaders of that time and has always been known as the Second Temple.
It lasted less than 90 years.
On this date in 70 AD, on Tish’a B’Av, it was completely destroyed by the Romans, exactly as the Lord Jesus had prophesied.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
By some current estimates there are over 400,000 Christians in Iran. Past estimates from a few years ago put the number at about 100,000. Regardless of exact figures, it is a fact that there is a burgeoning underground house church movement in Iran and it is growing stronger every day. It is relatively new but growing fast.
Most Christians in the West do not know this or consider it, but God is certainly doing a powerful work in that country. The core of this movement is composed of former Muslims, who, even though they know it is against the law to convert to Christianity are doing it anyway. It often costs them everything, even their lives.
REVOLUTION IN IRAN
The pro-west Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had been in power in the country since a 1953 coup d’état sponsored by the UK and the US. He was later overthrown by the internal Iranian Revolution of 1979. At that time, there was a sudden rise in America of extreme hatred for Iran.
During the revolt, several American Embassy workers had been taken hostage by said revolutionaries. Ted Koppel started doing reports each night on what became known as the hostage crisis and these reports eventually turned into the news program Nightline which continues today.
Amid all the hatred and the derogatory references to the “evil Islamists,” or “rag heads,” a new perspective was formed in America. A dividing line was crossed, and this dividing line even included Christians. Because of the Iranian Revolution it became culturally acceptable and even patriotic to hate not only Palestinians due to their clash with Israelis, but Iranians and Muslims in general.
I remember a popular song parody back then, sung to the tune of “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys:
We never bombed Iran then, but according to the way the US Congress and Senate were cheering Benjamin Netanyahu and giving him repeated standing ovations two days ago, the bombing looks to commence shortly.
I mention all this because America can trace its current dislike of Muslims back to the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Of course, the new leaders of Iran hated America also and referred to it as “The Great Satan.”
Those were fighting words.
The world has never been the same since.
Three years ago I wrote a couple of articles called The Christian-Muslim Hate Fest. You can find the links at the end of this article.
OF SOVEREIGN NATIONS AND WORLD EMPIRE
Geopolitics is a very complicated thing and changes on a daily basis. Riding herd on such is often impossible. Every nation has its own agenda and must fight to stay alive, stay strong, maintain and increase market share among trading partners, and defend itself. When sovereign nations engage in what they believe is the proper course to take for survival and growth, other nations may disagree. But because trading among nations offers great benefits to trading partners, such partners often put lesser desires aside for the sake of those benefits.
Diplomacy exists so the leaders of nations can talk things out, hopefully reach agreements, and remain partners. But in mankind’s history it has often been the case that agreements among nations cannot be reached. These nations may choose to simply cut off all trade and leave it that.
Or they may choose to go to war.
It has also often been the case that powerful nations who don’t much care about the sovereignty of smaller nations but do covet said nation’s natural resources make ulterior moves to gain said resources. If the smaller nation chooses to not trade, the more powerful nation will simply up the ante and sometimes go to war to attain the resources. This is how empires are built.
The ancient Romans were masters of this process. In time, increasing their environs became relatively simple for the Romans.
They would tell a particular country that it had two choices: “You will either submit or we will destroy you.”
“If you choose submission and surrender, we will take over your country, become your new rulers, and own everything. We will establish high taxation rates, use your people and resources however we see fit, and add you as conquered foes to our ever-burgeoning world empire.”
“If you refuse to submit you are choosing to fight us and we will consider that a declaration of war against us. We will respond by killing your best people and enslaving the rest. Then, we will establish high taxation rates, use your people and resources however we see fit, and add you as conquered foes to our ever-burgeoning world empire.”
BREAKUP OF SOLOMON’S KINGDOM
A thousand years before the Roman Empire in ancient Israel, King Solomon had appropriated similar tactics to build his personal empire, using his own people during what many Christians and Jews see as his glorious reign. Though he established a great monarchy, he also sinned to his heart’s content, which allowed for it’s soon destruction. The great nation of Israel imploded and was divided in two. This was largely because the northern tribes rebelled after Solomon died, seeking to free themselves from his subjugation, though God certainly had a hand in the division and announced it beforehand through a prophet.
Remember, God never wanted Israel to have a human king in the first place since He was their King, but Israel rejected Him. He told everyone what would eventually happen though, and how their great rebellion against Him and their resultant great sin would destroy them.
As a result of the division, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Israel became hated enemies and many wars were fought between them. A couple of centuries after the split, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was attacked and defeated by the Assyrian Empire, and the people were taken captive as slaves and dispersed to other places, using the very tactics later used by the Romans. The Northern Kingdom was no more forever.
Centuries later, the geographic area of the formerly Northern Kingdom of Israel was divided further by both culture and religion. The northern area became Galilee, where all the original apostles except Judas hailed from and where the Lord Jesus grew up in Nazareth.
The southern area of the formerly Northern Kingdom became the home of the hated Samaritans who were seen as mixed-breed and half-breed Hebrews, to a greater degree than the Galileans. The Samaritans believed in the Pentateuch as God’s Word, or the first five books of the Law, but did not consider the rest of the Old Covenant. The Samaritans and Galileans had both religious and cultural differences and neither cared for the other.
To the south of Samaria, the formerly Southern Kingdom of Judah had devolved into Judea and had long since been taken over by kings of other nations. During the Lord’s time all three—Galilee, Samaria, and Judea were ruled by Rome.
The Judeans, composed largely of the kingly tribe of Judah, the priestly tribe of Levi, and what was left of the tribe of Benjamin, hated the Samaritans. The Judeans considered themselves the only remaining pure Hebrews, or Jews (Judah). The tribe of Judah had always been the dominant tribe among the twelve. It was the tribe of David and Solomon. It was also the tribe of the Lord Jesus.
FIRE FROM HEAVEN
Late in His ministry, the Lord made plans to travel from the far north in Galilee to Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea to the far south. He would attempt to travel through Samaria:
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.
When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” [Luke 9:51-56]
Right here we see yet another big divide. Why was it okay, many centuries before, for Elijah to call down fire from heaven to consume his enemies but not then? And why did the Lord tell James and John, His own trusted disciples who had been with Him and were taught by Him throughout His ministry, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of?” These men believed in the prophetic writings and certainly revered the prophet Elijah. And Elijah had even appeared with the Lord and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Like other things in the Lord’s ministry that departed from what was perceived as the norm, this was a curious statement in the ears of His men. What “spirit” was He talking about? Their belief system at that time had obviously become infused with current cultural beliefs that had no standing in God’s Word or agreement with it. They believed, especially since they did not identify with the Samaritans, that they would be doing the right thing by destroying them with fire from heaven.
But the Lord said the spirit that inspired them was not the Spirit of God.
Could it be the same at present with so many Christians wanting to obey a spirit that is not of God? Why is such an attitude accepted and honored even though it violates the teachings of the Lord Jesus? The Lord was obviously more concerned about the Samaritans and their salvation than He was about going to war with them or killing them.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
He even taught in one of His parables that it was possible to be a good Samaritan, something most Galileans did not believe and from which the Judeans recoiled in shock and horror, especially when the Lord said the two Judeans in the story, who were otherwise seen as exalted followers of God actually failed God and were instead followers of that “other spirit:”
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.
“And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
“On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”
And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [Luke 10:30-37] 
There are three types of people in this story:
(1) Evil robbers who stole the man’s stuff, including all his clothes and beat him almost to death, violating completely the Golden Rule.
(2) Those religious ones of a high reputation who refused to get involved and help the victim because they were on their way to church and considered their religious practices and reputation of much higher value than helping a fellow human being. Like the robbers, they also completely violated the Golden Rule by refusing to love their neighbor, simply because they did not consider the unfortunate man their neighbor.
(3) Those who are looked down upon by most of society including religious society but actually perform the will of God, have hearts of compassion and mercy, and obey the commandment to love their neighbor without even seeing it as obedience to a commandment but simply as a natural response to help a fellow human being, regardless of nationality or religion.
The Lord is not calling for fire from heaven.
He is calling His people to compassion and mercy.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
FOR FURTHER READING ON THIS SUBJECT SEE THE FOLLOWING SERIES FROM THREE YEARS AGO (FEBRUARY 2012). IT PROVIDES EXCELLENT IN-DEPTH BACKGROUND INFORMATION LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR WAR WITH IRAN. IT ALSO PROVIDES INFORMATION ON IRANIAN CHRISTIANS, THE AWAKENING IN IRAN, AND THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE THEY FIGHT DAILY. PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM:
THE CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM HATE FEST: