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HOW THE LORD CONFIRMS THE ACCURACY OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING: A DIALOGUE

 

“Look. Here’s the problem. It’s like we have to follow a script. It’s like we are limited in what we can do in ministry because of Scriptural parameters.”

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[If you are reading this at the WP Reader, please read at my website. Thank you.]

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“What are you suggesting?”

“Well, I don’t feel I am suggesting anything, I don’t think, but merely pointing out the problems that arise from always having to keep reverting back to Scripture, as in, well, ‘the Bible says this’ or ‘the Lord said we must,’ or ‘we have to apply this Biblical directive…’”

“You think your ministerial work is suffering because you invoke Scripture?”

“No, no, not necessarily, but because, well, because I think there are other applications that probably work better in some instances, and…”

“But don’t you realize that the application of Scripture, especially the teachings of Jesus, is exactly that which provides solutions?”

“But does it always? Sometimes I’m not so sure. I’ve seen…”

“Are you having a personal crisis regarding your faith?”

“What? No, no, I just think that, that, well, that sometimes I want to help someone get through whatever they may be dealing with and show, you know, my heartfelt sympathy or concern, and, I think that trying to quote Scripture at such a time is, just, not working, or won’t work, like it’s being cold.”

“My goodness. How long have you been doing this?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve obviously been attempting to minister to people while also holding a clear lack of faith in Christian teachings. Do you not see this?”

“No! No, that’s not it. I know the Scriptures are the Word of God but I feel like I’m hitting people with a book, like I’m merely parroting verses and passages instead of reaching them at the point of their need, and showing sincere concern, and…”

“Did the Lord engage in ministry in such a way?”

“Well the Lord was certainly right there and touching hearts, and…”

“Showing compassion?”

“Yes! Yes, that’s it. He showed compassion. He granted mercy, He…”

“He watered-down the Law of Moses because that might help people not feel offended?”

“The Law! What?”

“You have a problem with the Law!”

“Wait. We’re Christians! We honor the New Covenant not the Old! We…”

“The Lord Jesus was never against the Law of Moses! The Lord actually fulfilled the Law of Moses! What is wrong with you?”

“Why are you getting so upset?”

“Because you have obviously gone off the deep end and need strong correction! How long have you been carrying this lack of respect for the Law?”

“But Paul was always talking about the deficiencies of the Law. It’s throughout all his writings.”

“You’re exaggerating. Paul spoke of the New Covenant superseding the Old Covenant but he also strongly defended the Law of Moses! Yes! The Law as delivered originally by God through Moses was certainly not deficient but was simply in need of its final fulfillment which could only be done by the future Messiah. To state that the Law was deficient or that there was a problem with the Law is grossly incorrect.”

“Okay… I’m thinking… I’m wondering where I picked this up…”

“It could be through a simple misapplication of Scripture.”

“Yes… But no. I must have received my understanding of the Law through those New Testament passages which refer to the Law in a negative sense.”

“Then you have an incomplete understanding of Scripture and need further teaching. Or you could have received it through the teachings of others in that regard.”

“But that, that would indicate that there are Christian teachers that get it wrong.”

“Yes. And what else is new?”

“No, I don’t mean… I mean, that they are doing it deliberately…”

“Which would mean exactly that or that they also have been deceived by a false teaching regarding the Law. They are doing what they think is right or…”

“Or they are not deceived at all but are deliberately teaching something that opposes the Scriptures…”

“Yes. Some are deceived. But some are agents of the enemy who have infiltrated our schools and churches.”

“How do we… What do we do?”

“First of all I appreciate the respect you are showing an elder. All real ministers of the Gospel at some point come across this sad state of affairs, this deceptive invasion, usually when they’re relatively young, as yourself. I discovered it when I was a young minister but I had no elder to help me out. I’m glad you came to me. Secondly, what we do is what any real minister of the Gospel would do. You know the answer…”

“Study to show yourself approved.”

“Exactly. Paul knew so much, so much more than he could readily share. People have to be able to receive it… When he wrote those words to Timothy he knew that Timothy, though relatively young, had gained enough maturity to know what to do.”

“Even if he didn’t fully understand. Like me. Right now…”

“But again, Paul knew Timothy would know what to do and he knew he would work very hard to succeed. And would do anything he must.”

“Timothy had to study. He had to read the Word. He had to pray.”

“That’s right. Real ministers know they often don’t know so they work very hard so they will know. That’s how they learn. It’s an ongoing process. The Word of God is Truth. It is filled with spiritual truths. It is our job to work hard at finding those truths. Then we can apply them.”

“That’s what I thought I was saying at the beginning of our conversation.”

“Well, you were seeing that merely relaying Scripture or quoting verses was kind of, kind of wooden, in some instances. You want to connect with people on a heart level instead of simply give directives toward the written Word.”

“Yes.”

“Then don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can minister all day long but it will be worthless without the Word of God. And I specifically mean the teachings of our Lord. His teachings were pure and they were purely delivered. He never ministered without the Word. It would have been impossible anyway. He is the Word.”

“So I need to study. Wait. Can I see your Bible?”

“Sure.”

“Okay… I need to read this… Here it is: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

“There’s a lot there.”

“He has given us His Word.”

“Yes.”

“He trusts us with it.”

“It’s a high calling.”

“And I feel ashamed, but not like, I mean, I know He understands. But I must work harder. I must be diligent.”

“It’s the only way. We only have so much time. And we have to get it right.”

“I need to focus more on the Word than on someone else’s teaching of the Word.”

“Well, there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. We just need to always make sure that our primary Counselor is the Lord Jesus. He will confirm the truth but also reveal untruths. For every untruth there is a lack of spiritual freedom. If you collect too many they act as chains tying you down. You came in here with a burden. We had to fish out its cause.”

“Thank you. I thought I knew what I was talking about.”

“You got a hold of some bad information. It wasn’t intentional. You see, if a believer gets some bad information in the context of Biblical teaching but doesn’t know it’s bad, and accepts it as truth, the only way to ferret it out is by reading and studying the Word. The more you read and study the Word the more likely it will get exposed. It is the Living Word you know. The New Covenant Scriptures were divinely inspired by the Lord and are actually alive. They will do the work as long as we do ours.”

“They didn’t even have written New Testaments in the beginning…”

“But they had Spirit-filled anointed preachers and teachers. There were a great many of them. They came to maturity rapidly.”

“And they handled the Word of truth accurately…”

“That’s right. And when they got it right the Lord confirmed what they taught with signs and miracles. Those miracles had a dual purpose. They acted as endorsements—a sign of approval.”

“That was the proof.”

“Yes.”

“And if they were somehow wrong…”

“No miracles. No attesting signs.”

“Wow. The written Word is a deliverance mechanism…”

“Well, yes. That is why it is so important that we get it right. We are charged with delivering the Gospel as He delivered it. When we do we get the results He got. The originals got it right.”

“On a colossal scale.”

“So you see why it is so important to never let anything foreign or false enter into our curriculums because they act as a drag on the power of the Word.”

“So a great many ministers want to get it right and many are very strong about teaching what they believe is Scriptural truth. They insist on their versions and doctrines. But they never test their teachings against the only proof that would confirm them. They are satisfied without proof.”

“Yes. Many Christian teachers never put their teachings to the Scriptural test. Instead of seeking God’s confirmation they get their confirmations from others. They seek the approval of others.”

“They mainly seek the confirmation of the congregation. Oh boy. You don’t want the church folks on your back. Or they seek the confirmation of their betters, their higher-ups. Whoever’s paying you. Whoever’s giving you permission to preach. That’s who most ministers are trying to please. …Yes, I get it. We must seek only the Lord’s confirmation. It’s the only way to know we’re getting our teaching right.”

“You mean His teaching.”  

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© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

CLASHING COVENANTS AND THE DESTRUCTION PROTOCOL: THE LORD’S KINGDOM AND THE DEVIL’S DOMAIN

The Lord Jesus mentioned the devil often. He referred to him as a destructive force. The devil hates the Lord’s covenant. He is a covenant breaker and a covenant destroyer.   

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[If you are reading this at the WP Reader, please read at my website. Thank you.]

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“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” [Matthew 19:6]

Those who destroy covenants created by God are aligned with the devil. When the Lord Jesus brought forth His perfect covenant model the devil immediately went to work against it. He knew such a model meant death and destruction to him so he did his best to bring death and destruction to it. The apostle Paul stated what would happen at a certain point in history:

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert… [Acts 20:29-31]

This is how the devil always works. And he must do it through humanity. What kind of people are these who pledge themselves to doing the devil’s business? We may imagine them to be a relative miniscule few, extremely abominable and evil. While this is true of those at the very top of the pyramid running the world vowed to the devil’s authority—in full covenant with him—most of the people involved appear as mainstream to the unaware sleepers and hide their evil status expertly through false façades, appearing as normal as anyone else and even as morally good and culturally superior. It is the ongoing masquerade of one’s visible betters in apparent control, but compared to their hidden higher ups, the talking head storefront jockeys are mere pawns in the devil’s hierarchy.

COVENANT AND UNCOVENANT

The world we are born into is made to appear as something other than it actually is. Starting at an early age, before anyone has the ability to correctly discern reality or even be aware of the world at large and how it actually works, people are deceptively instructed to make covenants with apparent innocuous entities that are not in covenant with God. This is obviously never spiritually beneficial for anyone but the lack of knowledge of the true intent of such covenants is beyond them and also beyond the lower level lackeys instructing them. In essence, we are made to make agreements with authoritative organizations, cultural beliefs, and religious practices while having no idea of their origins or agendas. People simply do not understand that they have been subjected to programming, that there are hidden programs and programmers, and that such programmers are subject to higher controllers with evil agendas. If this scenario sounds far-fetched we need only look to the gospels to verify it. The Lord reveals it right here:

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” [Luke 4:5-7]

The existence of such a passage of Scripture causes many Christians to question Holy Writ. How could such a thing be true?

How could the devil control all the kingdoms of the entire world throughout time? And who was it exactly who gave all these kingdoms to him? And how is it exactly that he has gained the ability to give partial control of any or all of his kingdoms to anyone he chooses?

This was the deal he was offering the Lord. Maybe he never tried to make such a far-reaching deal with anyone else. Maybe he has only made much lesser deals to certain people throughout history in that they would control only continents or regions or large cities or other non-tangible kingdoms. In all of these, though, as it was with his proposed deal with the Lord, the one overall caveat would be that he, the devil, would be recognized as the supreme authority to which one has dedicated his or her life. The people making such deals would have to bow down and worship him and do anything and everything he tells them to do. This obviously speaks of covenant. It is making a deal with the devil to gain the power, wealth, and goods of this world which one would not otherwise be able to gain.

Imagine then, how many well-known people there are in history and at present who have signed on with such demonic deals and made such covenants. What was the Lord going to gain if He made the deal the devil was proposing? From this we can surmise those who existed who have made such deals. We can also surmise those currently living who have made such deals. Who are those ruling over large “kingdoms” whether tangible or not? Whether unseen or not? How did they gain such rule? How did they gain such great wealth and power? Who opened the doors for them? How else could they have gained it? If it all belongs to the devil, the one the Apostle Paul referred to as “the god of this world,” then it only follows that those in positions of great power with great means have only gained their exalted places and status by the devil gifting it to them in exchange for their acknowledgement of him as “god,” their worship of him, and their obedience of his dictates. They owe him everything because everything they have and have become is due to him.

The following is a good illustration of how this works:

Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” [John 18:33-37]

…And he entered into the Praetorium again and *said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” [John 19:10-11]

These passages reveal the nature of this world. Remember, the Word of God clearly states that we all live in a fallen world, on a sinful planet, and that while the Lord Jesus certainly has all authority in heaven and earth, He is not in covenant with those who oppose Him. He is not in spiritual fellowship with unrepentant sinners, with the rebellious, and with those who put their faith in sinful flesh, this world, or the devil. He obviously is in no covenant with those who have made unholy covenants with the enemy. And while there are a great many kingdoms in this world there is only one holy spiritual kingdom in this world and He is the sole King of that kingdom. He has instituted human government for obvious reasons but when such governments become corrupt they no longer function per His design.

How sad it is then when the majority of that which is called “Christian” in this world is also not in covenant with the Lord Jesus. The majority of that which is called “Christian” creates their own kingdoms and covenants and while they invoke His Name they do not fully obey Him, do not do His will, do not teach the real Gospel, and are not part of His spiritual kingdom. They look legitimate on the surface but are actually non-spiritual entities not created by Him. They are spiritual deep fakes. These false Christian entities are included with all those other earthly kingdoms existing in opposition to the Lord. We know this in part because they have acquired the same benefits as the other sellouts: Wealth (for some, great wealth), territory, worldly authority, control, cultural acceptance, and elevated status. The Lord Jesus never had any of these things. His early Community never had any of these things.

Consider the following:

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. [Luke 16:14-15]

“…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”[Matthew 6:21-24]

(Wealth: Greek: mamonas, from Aramaic mamon (mammon); i.e. wealth, etc., personified as an object of worship.)

This is why the faux bros within false forms of Christianity, like the original Pharisees, say one thing but do another. They talk the “talk” very well, enough to fool and deceive many people and even deceive themselves, and some are much better at the “talk” than others, but they simply do not walk the “walk.” They have not entered into the full covenant of the Lord Jesus. It should not be difficult to understand, therefore, that the ruling Israelite religious authority of the first century AD that opposed the Lord and His Kingdom was also one of the kingdoms belonging to you know who, who gave those religious authorities their rule and position. It is why they clashed so vociferously with the Lord and His people. These were two kingdoms at war. They are still at war.

CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY VS. WOKE SOCIALISM

These are kingdoms also at war. The ideology of Wokeism opposes everything about America’s original founding. It opposes the original colonists, particularly the Pilgrim Separatists who established Plymouth Colony in 1620. It opposes the American Revolution and the original Republic. It has no problem denigrating and defaming the Founders of this country. It opposes the very essence of what America is and what it stands for. Though aligned with classic Marxism, Wokeism is an entirely different and unique belief system which has presently risen upon this country. It stands in stark opposition against traditional America and is designed to become established and take over. It has spent years forming and gaining recruits by taking over former cultural institutions and transforming them into indoctrination centers. It has already made huge strides toward its ultimate goals. But the majority of all who invoke this anti-freedom destructive ideology do not understand that it is not organic but part of an agenda sent forth from on high which has deceptively captured their minds into believing they are engaging in something good and necessary. They do not understand they are actually assisting in destroying their country as part of an ongoing destruction protocol.

It is same with false forms of Christianity. In order to exist and gain power they must throw off the old. This means they must oppose the original Christianity of the Lord Jesus in order to establish their own. They deceive their people into making a covenant with the new “denomination,” whatever it may be, which means such people are not in covenant with the Lord Jesus. Constantine, in the 4th century AD, was the first to do this on a massive scale and it proved hugely successful. He created a syncretic religious kingdom in the guise of Christianity. All later Christian denominations do essentially the same to varying degrees. They prove by their very existence that they are different entities than original Christianity as created by the Lord Jesus.

Rather than create new religious kingdoms they simply could have joined the Lord’s existing Kingdom. See how that works?

So this again begs the question: How many of these Christian entities which comprise overall Unreal Christianity fall under the aegis of “the kingdoms of this world?” Are their leaders actually in full covenant with the Lord Jesus? How can we know who is actually in full covenant with Him? The following passages present clear clues, yet apparently hidden to many:

“But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.” [Matthew 5:36]

The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…” [John 10:24-27]

Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” [John 14:8-10]

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:12-15][1]

The Lord Jesus proved He was for real in part by the miraculous works done by Him. These works proved the Father dwelt in the Son which illustrated full covenant. Later, at Pentecost, the believers were also filled with the Spirit of God which signified their full covenant with the Lord as well. It is therefore not difficult, from a New Covenant Scriptural perspective and foundation, to name some key points which identify those in full covenant with the Lord Jesus, those who are actual members of His spiritual kingdom:

(1) They honor the Lord Jesus 100%. They strive to learn and follow His full curriculum. They obey “You shall have no other gods before Me.” They fulfill the instructions of the Apostle Peter in Acts Chapter 2. They are not in covenant with anything or anyone in which the Lord is not in covenant. They desire the Lord’s will.

(2) They are willing to deny themselves, carry their cross, and even go to the cross. They subject themselves to persecution.

(3) They are spiritual warriors. They oppose the devil and the devil opposes them.

(4) The Lord Jesus operates through them doing the works He did during His ministry, works that can never be empowered or facilitated by anyone else: And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [Mark 16:20]

© 2022 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.

TIME TRAVELER

 

After His resurrection He told Mary Magdalene He must travel “to the Father.” If He could do that He could travel anywhere. He could even travel back in time…

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He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind. [Psalms 104:3]

Many years ago I was doing my usual research. I had been delving into the Word of God for years up to that time. Directly after my born again experience when I was filled with the Spirit of God I had an insatiable hunger for the written Word. Though I knew well it is our duty as Christians to read and study the written Word it should not be forced labor. It should not have to be a chore. It was certainly not that way with me. I simply couldn’t get enough. My employment at the time entailed hard physical labor but I would often spend my entire lunch hour reading the Word. On days I didn’t fast I was still out in my car reading. It didn’t take me all that long, relatively speaking, to read through the entire Bible. There was also much study on various topics and paying more attention to certain passages.

In this process I was always coming across things that reminded me of interesting topics I had studied and books I read prior to salvation. In those years pretty much nothing in literature was off the table. One cannot restrict oneself in the search for truth. One must be open and even consider subjects the world at large may think are different or weird. I didn’t care. That never bothered me. Time travel was likely one of those subjects I looked into. What could be cooler than that?

There is so much associated with the doings of this world that most people know nothing about. The majority of people seems to spend their short lives running on treadmills to nowhere and extremely limiting their intake of knowledge and are perfectly satisfied with being told what to believe. Most are apparently not at all inquisitive nor do they consider learning on their own. This demands they must always be taught by others. Their level of knowledge is thus often limited to what they learn in school and directed additionally by whatever they learn passively from television or read in a newspaper. If they ever worked in television or for a newspaper they likely wouldn’t do that. They would see how “news” is received, packaged, and delivered. They would know there is always an ulterior agenda attached. The media people have to make money, you see, and they must use their product in such a way. They also “teach” through subtle manipulative practices. Today, much such news is pure for-profit propaganda. It’s not that it wasn’t that way in the not too distant past, but was not as bad as it is now.

I discovered when young that the more one read, from different sources and forms of literature and media, the more one would eventually know because everything one reads has bits of knowledge in it that lead elsewhere. One’s curiosity in piqued by something read in Book 1, which leads to checking out Book 2, which opens one up to seeking knowledge from Books 3-1000. It never ends. After a while one learns to disseminate knowledge properly, retain the real and reject the hokum.

When I first began reading the Bible as a young adult I likely had that same attitude. Yet, I found things that didn’t appear to add up. I would keep reading and then discover confirmation of something I read before which made it more plausible. I wasn’t doubting the Word but only trying to make it make sense to me. I was building consensus and forming the big picture. It is a process that takes much work and many years but becomes extremely satisfying over time. The Lord does not fear our little doubts or tests. It is all part of learning. We must have an attitude that we are in it for the long haul, however, or may succumb to deception and deem His Word unreliable or not worth our efforts.

One of the unique things I noticed in His Word that initially appeared otherworldly (and approaching science fiction) were the various Old Testament appearances made by God in the form of a human being. I thought that was a tad odd, but again, from my prior experience before salvation of letting my mind loose to wander in consideration of discovering whatever, knowing there is so much out there we don’t know (and knowing there is much we are not supposed to know), I figured, okay, God visits us (a few anyway). He has to appear to a few chosen ones on occasion in order to relate and communicate something important and specific. He is (I thought) great and powerful and way out in the Universe somewhere and also invisible, but is nice enough to take the time to come see us, though we are unworthy little human mud balls without a clue. He somehow becomes a human being (we are talking Old Testament here, long before the Lord Jesus came) and walks among us. He travels through space and time and then somehow changes from being invisible to visible and manifests as a human being.

He did this with Adam and Eve. And with Abraham and Sarah. And with Joshua. And with Moses. And others. There I was, a rookie Christian, reading the Word of God for essentially the first time with Spirit-filled eyes-to-see and ears-to-hear and it was as if I was back in my prior element under the influence of a hazy helper getting into all kinds of cool stuff, all based on historical literature and suppressed news of the time. But I was as clear-headed as possible and the Lord was showing me stuff. In my thinking at the time I considered it very cool stuff that I had no idea ever existed in the Bible. It was as if all the cool stuff I had studied before proved I was not necessarily that far off track and that God was now showing me stuff in His Holy Word that backed up my previous desires to know beyond what I was allowed to know. In other words, by what I was seeing in His Word, His Word would be considered “weird” according to the straight-laced close-minded attitudes of the overall culture at that time which strove at all costs to be perceived as so far down-to-earth that it may as well put brick ballast in its shoes.

I discovered later that these Old Testament appearances of God in human form had a name. They were called theophanies. And I thought, “Okay, this is really getting good.” Here I am an open-minded guy in search of truth and I am finding that the Bible contains the kind of weird stuff the world rejects as untouchable that I was used to researching before. Think about it. How many people actually believe in a Creator God? And how many of the relatively few who believe this also believe He could travel down here from heaven, whatever that may be, and manifest Himself as a human? And then actually meet with people and talk to them? If it wasn’t in the Bible Christians in general would think it was stupid. There’s probably a lot of Christians who would think it was stupid anyway if they were aware of it.

PUTTING TWO AND TWO TOGETHER

Maybe just a few years later I started thinking about these discoveries again and then applied them to the Lord Jesus. I thought along these lines:

After the resurrection, and after the Lord ascended to the Father and then returned during that forty day period He spent on earth before He ascended to heaven for good, He still had work to do. He still had more teaching and ministry to do among His chosen disciples. He had to make final preparations. But He also had an apparent habit of discarding the use of doors and walking through walls. Okay, now that’s weird. That’s bona fide weird. And the Lord didn’t seem to think too much of it. I guess, since He just raised Himself from the dead, that walking through walls was simply not that big a deal. From there, it didn’t take me long to start thinking of other possibilities of things He could do. He said before He left that He had all authority in both heaven and earth so I am fairly certain that means He could pretty much do anything he wanted.

It then came to me. He could time travel. Those theophanies of God back in the Old Testament were not necessarily God traveling from heaven to earth, they were the Lord Jesus traveling back in time from the first century AD. Think about it. God had always planned to become one of us. Before He ever began the Creation process He arranged for His eventual arrival. He was not human at that time, of course. Humans had yet to be created. The only way He could become a human, since He would limit Himself to enter this world the way everyone does, was to be the product of other humans. He would therefore have to create Adam, then Eve, and then be born as one of their progeny at a future date. That being the case, He would have to wait a long time to become a human. And then, in order to appear as a theophany in the past, He had to travel from the future…

Here is something else to consider: On the Mount of Transfiguration He met with Moses and Elijah. Now, I understand in the orthodox that these three men represented the Law, the Prophets, and the Living Word, or Grace. Moses was apparently long dead, of course, but he had his own private funeral which leaves room for speculation. Elijah, of course, according to the Old Testament account, apparently never died. And here they both were with the Lord up on the mountain. I’m thinking, well, if those two guys could travel from wherever they were and meet with the Lord in His time, then why couldn’t the Lord travel to meet with them in their time? While they were still living on earth? We know He did meet with Moses on Mount Sinai after the Exodus, though it is not generally characterized as Him but as “God.” But whoever it was, He had to have human form to some degree. (He certainly did have human form when He met with Abraham.)

So rather than God assuming human form many centuries before He actually became a human being, why didn’t He just wait to become a human and then travel back in time to meet with those people? Too farfetched? You think I’m being too weird? If so I will remind you that we Christians actually believe a Man came back from the dead. And not just any Man but God. This is easy to believe if we simply keep it in our minds as a concept and read it on paper. But consider the possibility of it happening right now with someone you may have known. Do you still think it is something that is easy to believe? Though we have many Biblical examples of people being raised from the dead, have you ever heard of this happening to anyone you know? What if the Lord sent you to pray for someone to be raised? What then? Therefore, I ask that you consider the strong possibility that what I am postulating here as merit.

Do you think the Man in the following account is the Lord Jesus?—

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. [Joshua 5:13-15]

How about the account in Genesis when the Lord apparently appeared with Adam and Eve?

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. [Genesis 3:8][1]

Keep in mind that the phrase “in the cool of the day” actually means “in the wind (or breeze) of the day.” It sounds like the aforementioned quote from Psalms 104: He walks upon the wings of the wind…

In the account with Abraham, God is seen doing very human things much like the human things the Lord Jesus did in His time such as walking, talking, and eating a meal (See Genesis 18).

THEY SAY TIME IS A DIMENSION

Whatever time is, the Lord is not restricted by it, because He is not restricted by anything. Past, Present, and Future is a concept based on our perspective, not His. The ancient philosophers had their studied ideas on the nature of time as did Einstein and many modern scientists. Some say all time is one. Whatever the case, it should be obvious that we humans live in an extremely limited dimension in that our life experiences are based on mere sensory input for the most part. We can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. Yet there are physical forms of life on this planet with senses that far exceed our own. There is much more out there than we are aware of simply because we do not possess the means to sense it or experience it. Our abilities are thus greatly limited. There is a vast amount we do not know or can perceive. The Lord Jesus, however, showed us what is possible by doing the impossible things He did. He had already done the impossible countless times during His ministry, even though He had limited Himself to human spiritual abilities, and even gave these spiritual abilities to His disciples. But after His resurrection He went beyond these. Walking through walls is not something most humans can generally do, for example. Such things are said to be theoretically possible, however, at least on a drawing board.

Keep in mind that scientific discoveries have increased exponentially almost from nothing over the last two centuries or so, especially during the last one. And if one trips back to the times of the ancients one would see that they had next to nothing compared to what we have today. They were still capable of great feats however, but were simply not in our class. What if such knowledge and discovery continues on its current track? What else is there to know? What else will we discover?

We can say the same about our understanding of real Christianity. There is far more there than most Christians are aware of. In fact, Christianity in general is often the virtual opposite when we trip back and consider the way they operated. Our forebears in the first century AD did things that we for the most part only dream about. The vast majority of Christians don’t even try to emulate them, apparently of a mind that what they accomplished was effectively impossible for us guys in the present. Their spiritual record is undoubtedly one that puts us to shame by comparison. Rather than be like them most Christians are either not aware of them or shun them. And sadly, Christians of the present often substitute worldly and material counterfeits as replacements for signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We must learn to follow their example, however, because what they did was in direct obedience to the Lord Jesus and they had massive success in the world.

We must learn to start walking through the walls of our limitations.

We must travel back in time.

© 2022 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.

THE DAY OF PENTECOST 2021

Today is Pentecost. It is the 50th day since the anniversary of our Lord’s resurrection. On this date almost two thousand years ago the Holy Spirit outpouring began.

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In the beginning God initiated the initial Great Awakening. He brought forth a great spiritual event heavily prophesied in Old Testament literature and in His own ministry. He told everyone with ears to hear what would happen and it is apparent that only very few had such ears. As recounted here often, the Lord Jesus had preached to tens of thousands at the populous height of His ministry. They came from near and far. Word had spread rapidly. For a while He was the most sought after and popular Israelite in history. But alas, like all things spiritually solid and truthful in a fickle, unbelieving, sinful, and shallow religious world, His popularity and support began to fade.

WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?

Though it was the greatest of Messianic ages in that a probable majority were aware of the prophetic times, there was much difference of opinion and confusion over what the Messiah must be. Most Israelites were obviously put off with their station in life and with the status of their nation as a whole, though it was no longer much of a nation. From the heights of the later portion of King David’s time a thousand years before when the Lord had brought together a roughly unified people after the defeat of Saul and emerging Israelite interlopers intent on the throne, a time not unlike the heights of Joshua’s conquest when the warrior David regained and established much territory, Israel began its long and steady decline. David’s son Solomon, like King Saul before him, had started out well but fell into sin and eventually descended into abject idol worship and tyranny. All that David had gained was lost not soon after Solomon’s death when the nation was split in two. From there it was a precipitous fall. The great nation began hemorrhaging and never recovered. Over the next millennium God did all He could to keep His believing remnant intact for His eventual arrival.  

The Lord’s ministry experienced a similar pattern. The tens of thousands of followers were reduced over time due to various reasons, though He was as powerful and consistent as ever. It appeared as though His school might end. The Lord even alluded to the possibility of being reduced completely in the following passage:

As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” [John 6:66-67]

By the time the great prophesied and hoped-for event of Pentecost arrived, only a relative fraction remained as His faithful followers.

The people of the Lord’s time thus looked back with great remorse over what had become of a once profound nation and also seethed with anger over its centuries-long perceived mistreatment at the hands of various world powers. Little did they know or appreciate that such powers—Babylon, Medo-Persia, the Macedonian Greeks, and now the hated Romans—were actually being used to keep the nation intact. Without the strong unifying governmental structure applied from without, the Israelites would have easily destroyed themselves years before from within. Which brings to mind a statement of God made early in their history which encapsulates and defines Israel’s true identity that it would never be able to slough off or prove otherwise:

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people… [Exodus 32:9 KJV]

This descriptive term arrived in the English language in 1526, undoubtedly associated with William Tyndale’s first printed English translation of the New Testament of the same year, the first to be translated directly from the Greek. Most of the much later King James Version (1611) was taken directly from Tyndale’s version, though not credited to him. The echo of the preceding statement of God referencing the early Israelites in Exodus 32:9 is found in its only New Testament occurrence, translated by Tyndale and spoken by Stephen, telling the world that nothing had changed in the intervening centuries:

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” [Acts 7:51KJV]   

And they still resist the Holy Ghost. And most Christians do likewise. In fact, Christianity has taken such stiffneckedness to entirely new levels beyond that of its early Israelite forebears. In somewhat reasonable defense of the Pharisees et al who pretty much had no impulse control whatsoever when it came to any perceived slights against their prideful exalted religious standing and highly slanted, opinionated, and goofy interpretations of OT Scripture, they never had any hands-on frame of reference to Pentecostal happenings as later Christians did. In fact, the history of Christianity in the world contains a world class stiffnecked opposition toward all things New Covenant spiritual that actually puts the rebellious Pharisees to shame, if that were possible, and thus evokes the notion, judging by having so much in common, that those same Pharisees had somehow morphed into fake Christians.  

RESISTANCE AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT

There are several strange non-New Testament beliefs held by some Christians who are not so clear on the concept regarding the Holy Spirit’s identity. Many Christians actually believe that God is literally three different persons. They believe this because they were taught it. They did not acquire this belief from the Lord’s pure teachings or the New Covenant writings because it simply isn’t there. Call it an interpolation. The classic trinity doctrine was invented two to three centuries after the Lord’s time. There is obviously no such thing ever alluded to in OT literature which consistently and repeatedly states, in direct contrast to the rest of the world, that God is one. He is one Person. This was a quite radical departure among the ancient Hebrew patriarchs from the polytheism of the time. The prophets especially reveal this truth. Isaiah shouts it. But whatever. That was a long time ago and those guys just didn’t get it, right? I wrote about this in my post, IF ISAIAH SAID THAT HE’S A LIAR!

To illustrate this further, I remember seeing a Christian production a few decades back likely put on by some mega church and broadcast on Christian TV that featured the Lord Jesus in the usual stage depiction but also added the Holy Spirit as an additional personage. One might have thought prior to production, “But how do we display the Holy Spirit?” They solved that problem by essentially using the Casper the Ghost model. I kid you not. They made a Holy Spirit effigy out of a very white sheet flowing loosely below but gathered together at the top in a clearly delineated rounded head motif by installing the required wadding and utilizing an unseen band at the neck. They were somehow controlling this from above with piano wire or something to make it flit about. So there was the Lord and His disciples and some other hangers on all in the usual Biblical dress with robes and head wrappings and whatnot and among them flitted this “Holy Spirit” ghost thing, in appearance pretty much exactly like a ghost and invoking memories of Halloween. As far as I remember this person of the Holy Ghost had a non-speaking part, which, when one thinks about it, probably did much to further the notion of etherealness and spiritual distance from lower level humans. But I think it might have been just this side of awesome if this depiction of the Holy Ghost did speak just to see how far they might have taken it.

I would think if this is the real Holy Spirit no one should have anything against Him. It has been opined in the past that if Jesus was the super cool hippie dude as often presented by the know-nothings, why would anyone hate Him? Who in their right mind would crucify Mister Rogers? But again, Scripture is quite clear that the Israelites in general and the Israelite religious leaders in particular really hated the Holy Spirit pretty much the same way they hated the Lord Jesus (clue alert). And I guess since we’re on the trinity theme they must have also hated God the Father.

HEART CIRCUMCISION (OR NOT)

Stephen told them what their problem was. He said their hearts were each encircled with a fat encrusted infected mass that also had metastasized to their ears. Now, the concept of fat encrusted infected masses on human hearts was not a new thing. It too, as the previously mentioned stiffneckedness, was spoken of in the vast distant past in Old Testament lore which came to the fore through Moses (15th century BC):

“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” [Deuteronomy 10:16]  

Jeremiah (late 7th to early 6th century BC), brought a prophetic explanation to the issue 800 years later in the following:

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.” [Jeremiah 4:3-4]

Imagine then, a thick foreskin-like wrapping encircling the heart encrusted and hardened like sun-baked fallow ground impervious to plows. Then imagine the stiffest of necks reinforced with #18 rebar. Then imagine ears plugged with epoxy and spiritual eyes sealed with super glue. How is a loving God supposed to get through to such evil people? How are such spiritually diseased people to apply a remedy? What concoction from great grandma’s dusty cupboard might do the trick and heal the sick?

In the few more explanatory Bible translations we get a fuller academic meaning of the word stiffnecked. A more expository definition of the Hebrew and Greek originals results in the well known English word obstinate. And if you’re wondering how that plays out consider the thesaurus entries of this word from Misters Merriam and Webster:

obstinate  adjective:

    1. unwilling to submit (as to reason or control) <he had an obstinate determination to live as he pleased>

Synonyms: bullheaded, closed-minded, deaf, hardheaded, headstrong, incompliant, intractable, intransigent, muleheaded, muley, mulish, pertinacious, perverse, pervicacious, pigheaded, refractory, self-willed, ||sot, stiff, stiff-necked, stubborn, tough, unpliable, unpliant, unyielding, willful, wrongheaded; Compare UNRULY 1

Related: resistant, unsubmissive, withstanding; contrary, crabbed, recalcitrant, renitent; inexorable, inflexible, obdurate; opinionated; resolute, staunch, steadfast, unbudging [1]

Yikes. Now that we have a greater understanding of the heart, neck, eyes, and ears condition of those on the other side of rightness with God, we must get to the (ahem) heart of the matter regarding Christian religious prejudice against the Lord’s teachings and spiritual ways of operating. Again, the Pharisees and those guys in powerful opposition to the Lord were certainly bad enough but the later Christians who subverted the New Covenant were in my opinion far worse. Once the Light has come there is no longer any excuse for darkness. Once the first guy way back when decided to reject particular aspects of the New Covenant and opened the door for later anti-Christian hordes successfully masquerading as pro-Christian to further undermine and sabotage real Christianity to the nth degree and coerce millions to follow accordingly (or else), the die had been cast as it were and evil gained a great upper hand. It would do all Christians good to admit there is a devil and that he is extremely good at what he does. And it should not be so difficult to believe he has power to convince anyone to follow him and believe his tripe. And furthermore it must follow that there is only one cure for his great ability to deceive and if that one cure is not applied then one has no chance.

THE DEVIL GOES TO CHURCH

Many years ago there was a popular minister who pastored a very large denominational church, one of those “First” churches located in a large metropolis. He used to shout from the pulpit something to the effect that if one didn’t like something in the Bible then just tear it out! I am not sure if he only pretended to tear pages out of his Bible or just acted like it but he made his point very clear. Of course, this man also had his extreme prejudices against holy writ and had effectively already torn much from the New Testament, but this mattered little. No one among his own ever called him on it because they all believed the same. His church had a membership role in the tens of thousands. His denomination consisted of thousands of churches. Except for the ever-present minor squabbles among those otherwise perfect Christians they all believed basically the same thing. Isn’t that why they call them denominations?

Anyway, this particular minister apparently made a definitive anti-Pentecost statement at the forefront of the Holy Spirit outpouring of the early 1960s which I’ll get to shortly. A little background: The Lord had begun blessing Protestants with the infilling of the Holy Spirit at that time. Before then, due to religious prejudice, this experience was only possible for the most part among Pentecostal Christians. The new outpouring of the 20th century dated back to the Topeka, Kansas event in 1901 and the Azusa Street Revival which began in 1906 in Los Angeles. In the 1950s a few Protestants from various denominations began receiving the experience and their influence spread the word among their own. By about 1960 the movement had started to spread throughout Protestant churches and by early 1967 the movement even found favor among Catholics. Catholic priests and nuns were suddenly speaking in tongues, which brings me to the statement apparently made by the minister in question:

He supposedly said “Tongues are of the devil.” This was very well known at the time in Pentecostal circles. After all these years we must attempt to understand that “speaking in tongues” was a huge cutting-edge issue at the time and extremely divisive. Nevertheless, and despite the shenanigans of more than a few within the movement, the overall historical Pentecostal outpouring of the 20th century was decidedly very real. It has since spread all across the planet. Multiple millions have received the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Returning to our origins then, what happened on the first Pentecost in Jerusalem in about 32AD was clearly unprecedented. Also, in true Gideon paradigm form, many thousands of the Lord’s one time followers were eliminated from participating in the Upper Room Experience by their own unwillingness to walk with the Lord to the finish line and were reduced to a relatively microscopic 120 ever-faithful ones. In line with Gideon’s retort to God, how could the Lord’s future ministry, after so much work and spiritual achievement, possibly be successful with so few remaining disciples? The point here is that many were called but few were chosen. To put it another way, real disciples were not only called, they were also chosen and remained faithful, no matter what. That last part is really tricky because a Christian’s faith in the Lord Jesus will be tested greatly, far beyond the point one ever would have previously thought. The remaining 120 had been through the ringer. They were threatened always and sometimes with death. The disciples knew the religious leaders were out to stomp them into the ground. Sound familiar? The others could not handle it. It was simply too much. There were various reasons for departing, all involving some form of fear. For the most part it was simply because they either refused full obedience or could not bring themselves to the 100% commitment level. They were concerned about their status and livelihoods unlike the 120 who pretty much lost everything and had their reputations destroyed. It was the cost all real disciples must pay and are willing to pay.

But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” [Luke 9:62]

THE FINAL MEMBER TO YIELD

The Lord’s brother James, in the third chapter of his noted epistle, taught that the unregenerate human tongue is evil. It is a condition, of course, that every human has in common prior to spiritual regeneration and commitment to the Lord. Whereas the tongue is a miraculous creation with great abilities and is capable of many astounding achievements, it is also responsible for the worst atrocities. The following are the descriptions James used to define the tongue:

    1. A boaster of great things
    2. A fire
    3. Able to create allegorical forest fires
    4. A world of iniquity
    5. A body part that defiles the entire body
    6. It sets the course of one’s life on fire
    7. Is set on fire by hell
    8. A restless evil
    9. Full of deadly poison

Wow. James certainly didn’t stutter. Everything he wrote, however, is absolutely true though not often acknowledged. It is clear then, that this body organ we call the tongue is the most powerful organ we possess. Of course, James is referring to human speech. He gives the cure in chapter four and it essentially comes down to giving one’s all to the Lord Jesus in total surrender. This is actually what a real believer is. One either gives 100% to the Lord or one does not. If one never submits completely then one’s tongue is never tamed. Why? Because only the Lord can tame the tongue. Only He can bring it out of subjection to sin. And this means He must be in total charge. Any remnant of remaining human control will subvert the process.

It is thus completely within the realm of spiritual rationality that there must be a universal sign that the most unruly, rebellious, and sinful member of the human body has been tamed and brought under control. The New Covenant writings, especially the Book of Acts, reveal this sign. Paul mentions it directly in First Corinthians 14. In the recorded historical events regarding the infilling of the Holy Spirit it was not only the event that proved something profound and miraculous took place, but also that each one additionally proved in some way the taming of the tongue and a brand new use of human speech never utilized before. Just as the human heart must be spiritually circumcised to remove the fat encrusted infected mass encircling it so must the human tongue be cleansed of evil. Both are a vital part of the sin removal process. Both require the hands on participation of the Lord Himself. Only He can do it. Our part is to fully surrender to Him so He can. The tongue is the last member of the body to submit.

THE EVIDENCE

Though most Christians probably look for long term evidence proving one’s genuine relationship with God, from a New Testament perspective there was also immediate evidence. Just as there were immediate healings, immediate miracles, immediate answers to prayer, and immediate occurrences of deliverance, so were there immediate transformations of heart and tongue. These things did not have to take long. They did not need to be drawn out. It was simply a matter of the Lord Jesus taking authority. He has ALL authority on earth and in heaven but will never force anyone to do anything. Thus, a person must simply submit to His authority. When the Lord Jesus is given authority to act on one’s behalf by that person then all things become possible according to His will, and it is certainly always in His will to excise the evil from one’s heart and tongue. Once a person has been spiritually cleansed and becomes a clean vessel the Holy Spirit can then take up residence.

For perhaps most Christians, this is an entirely new definition of faith in Jesus. It demands total trust. And this demands the complete abdication of our own personal opposing authority which makes His work on our behalf impossible. When we allow Him to work, miracles happen. Always.

Happy Day of Pentecost everyone.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. [Acts 2:1-4] [2]

© 2021 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] ©1997, 1996 Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary/Thesaurus. Zane Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.             

[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.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 15)

Beyond the spiritual manifestations of the infilling of the Spirit, there were also the emotional and physical ones. To outside observers, it appeared as though the Upper-Roomers were drunk or high on something.

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8  LESSON 9  LESSON 10  LESSON 11  LESSON 12  LESSON 13  LESSON 14

LESSON 15

Acts 2:12-15

12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” 14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day… [1]

In the ancient city of Babel, God transformed the one language of all people into many languages. The people could no longer understand one another and were consequently dispersed into separate regions. Conversely, on the day of Pentecost, the languages of the dispersed peoples of the world were spoken by the power of one Person who resided within many. This was a reversal of the confusion of Babel. This act would unite instead of divide. The builders of the city and tower of Babel were united against God. The constructors of the Church are united for Him. This was the clarion call sent out to all nations to join the kingdom without walls, the spiritual kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the new Jerusalem.

But as now and throughout the church age, some were not impressed. Some people openly mocked the work of the Spirit, claiming the boisterous activity and loud voices were merely the actions of the inebriated and ignorant. Though there have always been excesses, were the Upper-Roomers excessive? Was the Lord Jesus excessive? When He walked the earth, His detractors called Him a wino. Is it merely coincidence that the same accusation emerged once again?

Something about the disciples’ behavior reminded the naysayers of common drunks. Sweet wine, or “new wine,” was that which was produced the same year of its harvest. It was very intoxicating. In a relatively joyless world of difficult toil and little natural merriment, wine provided a relaxing and welcome respite from the rigors of the work week. Maybe few Jews drank to excess but those who did were obvious to all. It was indeed a cheap shot to label the Lord’s people Sunday morning Mardi Gras revelers under the influence of strong drink, but what else were the mockers to think? Such a thing had never happened before. It was relatively early in the day and a house load of fellow Israelites had taken on the apparent appearance of festival-goers too impatient or undisciplined to at least wait until evening before engaging the vino.

But the majority of those below sensed something else. Instead of simply making a quick judgment based on minimal evidence, they were drawn to the spectacle in wonder. The Spirit of God was everywhere around them. They began to feel what the Upper-Roomers were feeling. Joy was spilling out of the windows. Great smiles and laughter abounded. A release was taking place. Over and over the same thought kept running through their awestruck and somewhat confused minds, What does this mean?

Peter, sensing that the time had arrived to explain the current happening, moved to the forefront and prepared for his address. He was no longer the impetuous fisherman, but the articulate and well-versed spokesman of the “fishers of men.”

© 2020 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.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 14)

While the unprecedented and astonishing miracle was taking place in the Upper Room with those inside oblivious to the outside world, a great stirring was occurring in the streets below: They had an audience.

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8  LESSON 9  LESSON 10  LESSON 11  LESSON 12  LESSON 13

LESSON 14

Acts 2:5-11

5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”

The Lord said they would be witnesses. I remember many years ago I heard a New Testament studies teacher expounding on the subject. He was a brilliant man and a friend, who has since made the big trip. By this time in my walk I had witnessed to countless people but I had never before heard one particular thing that man spoke forth. It stood out within his teaching and has remained strong in my memory ever since. He said, “Witnessing is a forced option.” What he meant was that Christians are witnesses twenty-four hours a day whether they want to be or not, or whether they think they are or not. We are not witnesses only when we are witnessing.

While that particular thought settles in, let’s think about the mindset of the believers in the midst of the greatest event of their lives. Many had their eyes closed, lost in the Spirit, emotions spilling forth. There were loud voices of praise at various levels, male and female, bass, alto, soprano, all speaking forth in languages they had never spoken before. Most were unaware of their surroundings, being completely focused on the Lord. Tears were streaming. Smiles were beaming. Pure joy was breaking out all over. They had been clothed with power from on high.

And in the midst of it all, those on the streets below, Jews from all over the empire in town for the great Feast of Weeks, were beyond perplexed. It was unprecedented for them as well.

The Upper-Roomers were already fulfilling their call to be witnesses and did not even know it.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” [Acts 1:8] [1]

Every one of those temporary residents of Jerusalem and the city dwellers themselves were receiving a forced witness. They had no choice in the matter. They heard unlearned and ignorant Galileans, given away by their accents, “speaking of the mighty deeds of God,” in their own respective languages. It was the first instance of this “sign for unbelievers,” as Paul mentioned, which would be given again and again—the evidence of a surrendered heart and the fruit of holy speech. It was also an awakening moment for those on the outside looking in.

Pentecost was a reversal of Babel.

© 2020 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.

Acts of the Apostles [2:40-43]

         And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”

         So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

         They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

         Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. [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.

Forced Religious Conformity: Human Graven Images (Part 2)

         “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] [1]

         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.

         Imagine that.

         © 2013 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.