Blog Archives

KICKING AGAINST THE GOADS

I wrote my first book, Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church, in the 1990s in part to show the clear distinction between real and unreal Christianity. It released a sword of separation.

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All Christians must understand that the New Covenant writings contain contrastive material. The Word of God is designed to draw clear distinctions, cause sharp divisions, and assist one in making positive decisions. It presents Light and darkness, good and evil, sheep and goats, wheat and tares, and righteousness and sin. Real repentance is challenging (understatement alert). Personal sin, false beliefs, contrary attitudes, and uncircumcised hearts all must be addressed. It is not an easy process nor should it be. The Light shines on the darkness and everything hidden in the darkness gets exposed. Whenever one comes to the Lord he or she is exiting darkness and entering Light.

THE SWORD OF SEPARATION

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” [Matthew 10:34-36]

Over the last quarter century, the spiritual climate in organized American Christianity has radically changed. Previous errors have been compounded. It is apparent that American Christians in general have consistently rejected the fullness of the Gospel. Most have certainly rejected the Book of Acts. The instructions and warnings of my book went unheeded. One might recall that the 1990s were considered the good times. Does not the Lord always warn during the good times that bad times are soon coming if one does not stay right with Him?

Real Christianity is based firmly on the full teachings of the Lord Jesus and the New Covenant writings. Our Lord is the Master. What He says goes. He instructs us to build our entire lives upon His foundation. Most of what we term “Christianity” has never done this. This means most “Christians” are actually not on the Lord’s side at all. Maybe most are deceived. It is more likely most simply refuse to follow the Lord as He said we must.

A Christian’s bullheaded balking at the Lord’s direction becomes evident, as kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14), when he or she reaches a point of refusal to go any further or in the right direction, though the Lord gently applies pressure to do so, and he or she insists on staying put wherever personally anchored or wander off wildly on a course of his own choosing. From the Lord’s perspective, those who have pledged their lives to Him have no call to refuse Him. But not only does an apparent majority of Christians refuse Him and decide on their own how far their discipleship will go, some are also guilty of persecuting the Lord (Acts 26:15). This is not something to have on one’s Christian résumé.

The Lord has never needed large numbers of followers to have a great impact in the world. I have consistently reiterated this point in all my writings going back decades. What He actually needs are fully obedient followers who trust Him fully and make a stand as He did. It is easy to discern a Christian who is not standing properly with the Lord because they do not put His teachings first. Instead, they will appeal to church leaders or teachers or writers or speakers or whoever else that has an alternative perspective and agenda which most often includes false and opposing denominational doctrines. They cannot understand that they have been compromised. Rather than put their trust in the Lord Jesus they put it in others and in themselves though outwardly insisting otherwise. This likely explains the great amount of Cognitive Dissonance among Christians.

The best way to break free from any accepted “Christian” belief that is contrary to the Lord’s teachings is to simply pray for direction and then dive in to His teachings. Don’t pick and choose. Have no agendas other than learning His full curriculum. Read the gospels focusing on all of His statements. Get familiar with everything He taught. Do your best to apply it. We are all a work in progress in this area in one sense. In another, however, we must understand that the early members of His initial Community immediately hit the ground running from the very start. They didn’t know everything as individuals but were always open to instruction; they acted on what they knew and continued. Also, the Community as a whole did know pretty much everything and it is why every voice mattered. They believed and practiced the adage, “Nobody is as smart as all of us.” What one didn’t know another did. When one was not operating correctly or speaking fullness of truth another lovingly corrected him. Fellow believers were never censored. It was an organic fellowship of the Spirit. They never waited to become “perfect” disciples in knowing and applying everything the Lord said before doing their Christian duty, though they certainly believed in everything the Lord said. They preached and taught the most foundational and important teachings first and went from there. They put first things first.

The first thing is salvation from sin and establishing trust and faith in the Lord Jesus. This requires a complete change and transformation of one’s life, initially through repentance of sin and walking away from all sinful practices. Ongoing obedience must follow. And because the Lord would never leave us powerless or defenseless against powerful spiritual enemies He commanded we be filled with His Holy Spirit. Those filled with His Spirit in the first century turned the world upside down. Every real Christian has the same influential impact.

Most Christians, however, are not filled with His Holy Spirit as the originals were and are thus not much of a threat to the enemy. This is largely why the enemy has come into America like the proverbial flood. It is why the enemy now controls pretty much everything.

The majority of American Christians insisted on being spiritual wimps, biblically illiterate, and embarrassed by the Lord Jesus.

The enemy has taken full advantage and likely couldn’t believe it would be so easy. And now, after a quarter century, much of American Christianity, compromised by sin and enslaved to mammon, has gone over to the enemy.

THE SPIRIT OF JUDAS

The problem arises from a consistent refusal to do what the originals did and instead substitute their own various forms of “Christianity” which look nothing like the original. The most reprehensible consequence of all the false gospels and False Teachers is their rejection of the Lord Jesus and His teachings and those who truly follow Him. Therefore, long before such disruptive times as these when so much hate and division is being openly presented, real Christians in America have had to deal with such throughout their entire walk. They are used to it. They are quite familiar with betrayal. Such negativity is not necessarily coming from non-Christian Americans, however, most of whom really don’t care all that much what real Christians believe, or even from secular authority which has most often been neutral and even supportive of religious freedom. No, the worst battle has always been with the various forms of what I term “Unreal Christianity.” This is where most of the hate and rejection has consistently come from. This can only mean the devil has an established presence there.

It was no different in the first century. The very worst and most extreme persecution of the Lord’s followers came from among their own. It came from religious leaders and family members. It was brother against brother. Even the Lord’s own family were against Him for a time. Some within the nation saw the Light and received the Lord as the long hoped for Messiah. Others hatefully rejected Him. This dynamic remains in place. Some Jewish people, a relative few, the Messianic Jews, have embraced the Lord Jesus. The rest reject Him, hate Him, and mock Him. It was the relatively small group of unbelieving Messiah-rejecting Israelite/Judean religious and political leaders and those indoctrinated by them that led the effort in murdering the Sacrifice Lamb. They turned against their own blood, against vast numbers of their own nation. Remember, as I have always pointed out, the entire original Community of the Lord Jesus, every single one of the 120 in the Upper Room, and all twelve apostles were also composed only of Israelites/Judeans, including the Apostle Paul. For some of you, such a betrayal might be familiar.

The movement started by the Lord Jesus which later became termed “Christianity” was originally an entirely Israelite/Judean movement for roughly nine years. There were no Gentiles until the time the apostle Peter was sent by the Lord to preach to and preside over the salvation of the Gentile Cornelius and his family/associates (See Acts Chapter 10). Those people all received the infilling of the Holy Spirit in the exact manner of those on the Day of Pentecost. Peter was initially shocked by this. In time, Gentile believers far outnumbered Israelite/Judean believers. Regardless of nationality, the Lord Jesus always consistently did the exact thing on every occasion of a new spiritual outpouring and it is all recorded in the Scriptural history book of the Early Church. Each occasion was an exact repeat of Pentecost.

However, from that time to the present, scads of false or incomplete gospels have been presented and the majority of “Christians” have believed and accepted something very different or incomplete compared to that of the originals. Those Christians who are participating and having a positive effect in the current Great Awakening have one primary thing in common: They are fully dedicated to the Lord Jesus. They have pledged to do His will. They do their best to know and obey His teachings. They identify with the Early Church of the first century. They will not stay in a place where He is not fully supported. They want the full curriculum of the Lord. They want to excel. They have become aware of the difference between the real and unreal. If the Lord directs them to, they will walk away from the faux bros.

COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM

It is why so many have walked away. They are tired of sleepy time Christianity and less than the best Churchianity. They are tired of hanging around the willing sleepers and pew droolers. They want the whole catalogue. They want to be exactly like the originals. THEY WANT EVERYBODY TO WAKE UP. They are tired of all their spiritual efforts pretty much going nowhere because only watered-down common denominator stuff is accepted so the stragglers won’t be offended. (We must never offend; it keeps the money from rolling in.) Things keep getting worse, the people in charge still refuse to change and get right with God, and those who see know the Titanic has struck an iceberg and is going down.

The great Ark of the Lord, however, sails on unimpeded. It’s got this cool Upper Room that keeps going 24 hours a day. There is much joy! The Lord guides His ship expertly and anyone and everyone is welcome aboard, though a few New Covenant papers will have to be signed.

Remember, according to the Gideon Paradigm and the Upper Room 120, all it takes is a comparative few to have great success and rout the enemy. It is not necessarily the big crowds that make the difference but the obedient few separated from the rest and united in heart and Spirit. The Lord proved this with Gideon’s 300. He proved it with the 120.

And He proves it every day when as few as two or three are gathered together in His Name.

Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. [Daniel 12:3] [1]

© 2021 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.

REMEMBERING THE LORD’S ASCENSION INTO HEAVEN

The anniversary for this astounding event is Tuesday morning, May 19, 2020. Join me as we discuss this relatively obscure historical milestone.  

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And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. [Luke 24:50-51]    

What a trip it must have been. His overall mission was completed, the last forty days after the resurrection had ended, and the final instructions to His disciples were given. It was time to say goodbye.

I was out working in the yard a couple of weeks ago. A neighbor came by walking his dog. I see him on occasion, but not very often. It had been a while since I saw him last. In the midst of our conversation I happened to mention that real Christians actually believe in the resurrection and ascension of the Lord. He immediately went into controlled defense mode: “Well, that’s a matter of faith.” I was suddenly struck by how weird I must have sounded. I apparently had not broached the subject with a non-believer in quite a while.

Yes. We believe a Man who died rose again from the dead and that He did it by Himself. There was no one calling Him forth from the grave the way the Lord did with Lazarus. None of His disciples were yet filled with the Holy Spirit so they could not have done it. In fact, they were initially incredulous and unbelieving that He had done it. “Say what?!” “You saw what?!” “He did what?!”  

ASCENSION PRETENSION?

Every Resurrection Sunday/Easter multiple millions of Christians worldwide celebrate this event. Do they all really believe it? Do they think about it? Do they talk to non-believers about it? I ask these questions because the subject matter should not be matter-of-fact. It should be met with funny stares. The disciples who raced to the tomb to check it out should have thought it ridiculously quite strange.

Christianity is entirely based on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If it never happened then Christianity is a total fraud. We know it did happen, of course. Though unbelievers will still think us quite strange for our weird faith, it is impossible that it did not happen for the simple fact that the Gospel spread so far so fast. There were many actual witnesses. There was no way to deceive multiple thousands of people in the first few days after Pentecost, not to mention the soon-to-be hundreds of thousands and more. His resurrection unleashed manifold spiritual and historical events that cannot be denied. Books have been written about this. Apologetics is based primarily upon it. For those who want more information it is there to be had.

But what of His ascension? Quick show of hands: How many of you have ever heard a sermon dedicated to this historical event? Hello? Anybody? Why is that? I have some ideas.

UP, UP, AND AWAY

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. [Acts 1:9][1]

I brought this up in my current teaching series Early Church History 101, LESSON 4:

“The Bible records many miraculous historical events. One of the most miraculous, or downright mind-bending if you were there, was the Ascension of the Lord. Some say it defies belief. Believers say He defied gravity.”

“As they stood there on the Mount of Olives between Bethany and Jerusalem peering up into the sky at the Lord’s strange private rapture, the disciples were enthralled with an event never possibly experienced before, lost in their goodbyes, and momentarily overcome with loss. How would they manage without Him? Then the two angels suddenly showed up with more of the matter-of-fact narrative as if the Ascension were a mere ho hum event. “Why are you guys still standing there looking into the sky?”

Um, well, you see, it’s just that, uh… (Did we just see that?)

So my neighbor was being polite but he thought I was a nut.

THE 2020 ASCENSION ANNIVERSARY

It happened on a Thursday. I believe it was a Thursday morning. I believe this because the Lord’s resurrection took place in the early morning on the first day of the week. And Pentecost happened in the early morning, also on the first day of the week, about 9am. The ascension happened forty days after the resurrection. Exactly ten days later Pentecost happened.

On the ancient Hebrew calendar the ascension fell on Iyyar 26. According to the official Hebrew 2020 calendar, Iyyar 26 is this Wednesday, May 20. But this calendar is off by a day if we go by present celestial rendering. I’ve already done the math so you don’t have to. Iyyar 26 is actually Tuesday morning, May 19. Please think about it and how awesome it must have been.

Imagine if you were there.

© 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: Acts Chapter 1 Review

Dear Readers: Now that we have completed Acts Chapter 1, it is a good time to review. Please check to see if you have completed the Introduction and each Lesson. Blessings to all.

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INTRODUCTION : Announcing a new teaching series and discussing format. (March 29)

LESSON 1 : Acts 1:1-3 (March 30)

LESSON 2 : Acts 1:4-5 (April 1)

LESSON 3 : Acts 1:6-8 (April 3)

LESSON 4 : Acts 1:9-12 (April 4)

LESSON 5 : Acts 1:13-15 (April 6) 

LESSON 6 : Acts 1:16-20 (April 7)

LESSON 7 : Acts 1:21-26 (April 9)

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© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

THE CURRENT SHUTDOWN: AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER AND PRACTICE ORIGINAL CHRISTIANITY

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They had no church buildings. They had no New Testament. They had no professional clergy. And still, they turned the world upside down.

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This is a difficult concept to grasp for many Christians. It sounds subversive. It appears incorrect. The reality of the matter, however, is that the early 1st century believers were acting exactly in accordance with the Lord’s teachings. They did just what He told them to do. They taught what He taught. They practiced what He practiced. It is not their methods which were odd and non-Scriptural, but those of today. They were not the rebels but the perfect example. Those who refuse to follow their example or engage in their methods are the actual rebels.

And He wasn’t far away from those early believers in a distant unknown heaven but right there with them bringing forth the spiritual fruit of His Word:

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][1]

THE REAL HIERARCHY

Actually, there isn’t any legitimate Christian hierarchy. There is the Lord Jesus, who has all authority in heaven and earth, which of course, is all the authority there is, and then there are His followers who all exist on the same spiritual plane, equal to one another, below Him. He is the only Leader, Master, and King. If such can be described as a hierarchy then it is the only one that exists in His Kingdom.

There is no legitimate middle man group or professional clergy. What there actually is are all Christian believers at various stages of spiritual maturity. Some have reached full maturity but this does not mean they have license to rule over other believers. The Lord made it very clear that all believers were equal with no one ruling over them except Him. He said the more spiritual maturity one gained the more of a servant he must be. Thus, if anything, there should be a reverse hierarchy in which the spiritual giants among us should navigate to lower and more humble stations rather than climb an ecclesiastical power ladder. Rather than a raised platform or stage there should be a hole in the ground. This is merely Christian Spirituality 101. Humility is a door.

I’m not keeping track of how many churches have suspended their services. I assume it is a great percentage. The leaders thereof were given orders to shut down and dutifully complied. One wonders if this would have happened without the internet, because it is largely internet streaming on various platforms keeping many churches going. There is nothing essentially wrong with this but Christians in general are still not seeing the big picture.

BOGUS TALKING HEAD MINISTRY

About a dozen years ago I was invited to a church service by a friend. I had never been there before. We drove up and parked in a large parking lot. We entered a large traditional church building. There were people milling around in the foyer and a central station where one could get some coffee. All normal things. We entered the usual large auditorium with standard pews and found a place about half way down on the right. After getting settled and looking around, however, I noticed for the first time something really odd. After the worship service it became odder. Instead of a pulpit or a preacher up there on the platform there was a big screen. It suddenly came on and there was a guy on the screen. This was the pastor. He was preaching from a remote location. There were three other churches connected to the transmission doing exactly as we were.

It was absolutely weird, and believe me, I am aware of most of the weird things about Christian practices in general, but had yet to experience such a thing. Here was a guy in a small studio somewhere preaching to a camera with the feed going into his four “churches” and everyone in those four churches were dutifully watching him on a screen. I was generally nice to my friend but let it be known that I thought it was a tad strange. In my heart I knew it was absolutely ridiculous but again, I was nice. I sat there and went through the motions with everyone else but the entire time was wondering how all these people could possibly put up with Mr. Big Brother up there in this weird 1984 style “church.” Everyone could have just stayed home and watched it on the net. Or gathered in small groups in homes. There was no need for the four church buildings and the great expenses they incurred. All that money could have been spent on, oh, I don’t know, maybe people?

AN AWAKENING

Which brings us to the present. All over America former church goers have been forced by strange unprecedented circumstances to stay home from church and watch their pastor or maybe a small service of a few online. So far, people seem to be getting what they need and are greatly enjoying themselves. Some states have ordered, from what I understand, only small groups of ten or less, even in private homes. This is actually about the perfect size of a home group. I would think that after several weeks under these circumstances the innovative intelligent Christians out there would figure out a way to minister to one another and take care of one another and soon discover a brand new method for organic Christianity.

Please stick with me here because this will sound really weird. What if Christians simply did their Christianity at home? And among their neighbors? What if they opened up their Bibles and shared with each other? And prayed for one another? And what if they organized a method to meet each other’s needs and the needs of their neighbors? I have seen many reports of people doing very strange things like collecting groceries and supplies and giving them away. One older woman who likes to sew was making surgical masks for the hospitals or for individuals to wear personally. When you start searching out such events it will astound you what is actually going on out there nationwide. There are apparently millions of good hearted people who have suddenly been released into various unofficial ministries more than happy to do whatever they can to help and provide. Rather than suppress ministry the current shutdown has actually promoted it. This is great news.

It is starting to look like 1st century Christianity out there!

© 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.

NOTE: Please see my friend Barb’s site, My Life in Our Father’s World, for this great post of current ministry in action: A SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS

EXPOSING THE ANTICHRIST SPIRIT: THE HISTORICAL RECORD

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         The light of the real Gospel exposes all darkness. It shines upon all who lurk in the shadows of sin. It reveals every hidden enemy of the Lord Jesus to those with eyes to see.

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         We live in a time of veiled opposition. Most people are completely unaware of the spiritual warfare raging all around them. There are times when this warfare flashes into the open. It happens whenever the real Gospel is properly presented by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. This is when sinners are exposed. Their sin becomes known to them. Many blessedly surrender unto salvation. When this happens on a large scale, Great Awakenings break forth. The kingdom of the Lord expands and advances.

         Parallel to this, the unrepentant enemies of the Lord are also exposed, often by their own hateful and rapid reactionary response which they most often cannot manage. We call this triggering or getting triggered. It often takes place in people with low or no impulse control. A stimulus causes a reflex. Something sets them off.

          That something is the truth of the Gospel. More so, it is the truth of the real identity of the Lord Jesus. When His real identity is veiled, obscured, watered-down, or removed, there is little reaction. His enemies are pacified. But when the real Gospel is brought forth and His real identity, authority, and presence are fully noted, His enemies suddenly become extremely upset and angry. They are instantly inflated with antagonism and rapidly rise up to fight. The more resentful they are the more reactionary they become. The more antichrist they are, the more they agitate.

         It never changes. When the real Gospel is preached as it was in the beginning it happens. When the Lord Jesus is lifted up for who He really is it always occurs. His enemies cannot contain themselves. Their bitterness and hatred will not allow them to. They must fight back to defend their false paradigm and faulty construct to which they have dedicated their lives and in which they are fully invested.

THE EARLY CHURCH IN ACTS

          The real time demonstration of this dynamic is entirely clear as plainly illustrated by the following compelling events from the Book of Acts, captured brilliantly by Luke. Many Christians are not aware of these passages and many others rebuff them as irrelevant and even inappropriate. Others are embarrassed and discomfited, as the Scriptural record does not fit their religious and cultural narratives.

         Though listed here as highlighted sections in a chronological format, I encourage everyone to also read these passages in full context and thereby gain even greater insight into the genuine outworking of the original Gospel presentation, why it applies to the present, and how it exposes the antichrist spirit. We are blessed to have this historical documentation.

         For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [Romans 1:16]

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THE HISTORICAL RECORD 

        But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. [Acts 9:22-25]   

           And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. [Acts 9:28-29]

         “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.” [Acts 10:38-39]   

           Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. [Acts 12:1-3]

        When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. [Acts 13:5-8]   

          The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.’” When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. [Acts 13:44-52]   

         In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren. Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them, they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach the gospel. [Acts 14:1-7]

         But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. [Acts 14:19-20]   

          But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them. [Acts 17:5-9]

        But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. [Acts 17:13-14]   

          And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. [Acts 18:4-7]

          But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.” And he drove them away from the judgment seat. And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things. [Acts 18:12-17]   

          After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. [Acts 20:1-3]

         From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. [Acts 20:17-21]

         As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. [Acts 21:10-12]  

         Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them. When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. [Acts 21:26-31]

         But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them. Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” [Acts 22:30 – 23:3] 

         And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks. But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who formed this plot. They came to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have bound ourselves under a solemn oath to taste nothing until we have killed Paul. Now therefore, you and the Council notify the commander to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case by a more thorough investigation; and we for our part are ready to slay him before he comes near the place.”

         But the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, and he came and entered the barracks and told Paul. Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Lead this young man to the commander, for he has something to report to him.” So he took him and led him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to lead this young man to you since he has something to tell you.” The commander took him by the hand and stepping aside, began to inquire of him privately, “What is it that you have to report to me?” And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down tomorrow to the Council, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more thoroughly about him. So do not listen to them, for more than forty of them are lying in wait for him who have bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they slay him; and now they are ready and waiting for the promise from you.” So the commander let the young man go, instructing him, “Tell no one that you have notified me of these things.” And he called to him two of the centurions and said, “Get two hundred soldiers ready by the third hour of the night to proceed to Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen.” They were also to provide mounts to put Paul on and bring him safely to Felix the governor. [Acts 23:10-13]   

         After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, with an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought charges to the governor against Paul. After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor, “Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation, we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, ordering his accusers to come before you. By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him.” The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so. [Acts 24:1-9]

         Festus then, having arrived in the province, three days later went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul, and they were urging him, requesting a concession against Paul, that he might have him brought to Jerusalem (at the same time, setting an ambush to kill him on the way). Festus then answered that Paul was being kept in custody at Caesarea and that he himself was about to leave shortly. [Acts 25:1-4]

         After he had spent not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove, while Paul said in his own defense, “I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me on these charges?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know. If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then when Festus had conferred with his council, he answered, “You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go.” [Acts 25:6-12]   

         So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. For this reason some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to put me to death. So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” [Acts 26:19-23]   

          When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. 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.

         And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. [Acts 28:23-31] [1]

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

         I wrote the following response yesterday in answer to a loyal reader’s comment:

         One should notice that the great majority of “church leaders” have played little role in the presidential election. The news that most of these deciding Christian voters went off the reservation in their support for the Trump candidacy is coming forth. It is another sign that Christians have not only seen through the MSM fakery and the Washington DC corruption wheel to nowhere, but are also starting to see the irrelevance of their own churches and that church leadership in general would rather everyone sit down and be quiet rather than engage in their ministries, answer their callings, and honor the Lord Jesus.

         We have been hearing for quite a while about the 1% or the actual .1% that controls everything and gains all the goodies, but a few more Christians are finally starting to see the 1% as their own irrelevant church leadership.

         Though it is great that Donald Trump has so many Christian advisors, it is not so great that many of them are church and ministry “leaders” with their own vested interests. The ones who make the real difference are the forgotten, neglected, and largely rejected 99%.

         When the Lord Jesus came on the scene, He let everyone know that He was about to free the sheep from their religious enclosures and allow them to run free in great fields of rich green grass and clear running waters!

         WHEN HE IS IN CONTROL THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT ALWAYS HAPPENS FOR HIS PEOPLE.

         Otherwise, it’s the spiritual equivalent of sardines in a can and an endless yearning for what could be.

         I started writing posts about the 2016 Presidential Election well over a year ago. Then I began writing posts in October about the election in an ongoing series that were purposely parabolic in nature. For reference, see the column at left. I like writing in this manner for several reasons. First, the articles generally do not become dated. Second, they are designed to make us think and use our own spiritual cognitive abilities and critical thinking skills to arrive at the meaning, which can be multi-faceted. Third, the stated truths expose invisible spiritual enemies.

         The truth I want to reveal in this post is something I have been writing and teaching about for almost three decades. The Lord taught on this subject often. He revealed it’s truth in any number of parables and teaching stories. But due to the nature of an overpowering deception brought on by a false ministry model that almost all Christians are familiar with and comfortable within, as if it was the only model, the truth the Lord wants to reveal goes right over the heads of most believers.

         Rather than go into yet another detailed study of the subject, let me put it this way:

         If every single real Christian went to work at becoming what the Lord created him or her to be and began doing what the Lord created him or her to do instead of wasting away doing so much less, all of us together could turn this entire world upside down just like our powerful spiritual forebears did so long ago.

         The reality is that only a few are answering their callings and most of those teach everybody else that they have no other calling than supporting them. Thus, Christians in general have traded who they really are in the Lord for who someone other than the Lord wants them to be.

         This means that the great majority of Christians, in America especially, are NOT in the spiritual work force and are NOT on the spiritual battlefield. For example, instead of sending nine men out to the field during a baseball game we are sending one man out. That’s fine if the enemy also sends out one but the enemy doesn’t do that. He sends out his entire horde. In addition, the one who is sent out usually does very little effectively against the enemy and for the Lord because he or she has a different agenda to fulfill.

         Regardless of what anyone may think about the election or about the winning candidate’s character, the fact of the matter is that Donald Trump showed us how it’s done. He had the whole deck stacked against him and began taking powerful shots from the very beginning, not only from political enemies but from his own party. He won anyway.

         The Lord is trying to show us something here. He is telling us that EACH of us matter and that EACH of us must go to work! But if you listen to the Christian professionals they’ll tell you to sit down and hush and work only for them. Thank the Lord there is still enough people in this country with an independent American backbone. That backbone has now revealed itself.

         I think of so many of you who have dedicated yourselves to serving the Lord through whatever means you can, especially to all these blogs we are all familiar with. They might not look like all that much if only a few are engaged, but there are probably a hundred thousand Christian blogs. We now are doing independent movies and music. The technology is here that anyone, on their own if need be, can find any platform, go right to work, and eventually reach thousands of people with the Gospel.

         All this while most Christians in America are still taught to live in the far distant past when none of these technological ministry avenues were available. Instead of the 1% claiming all the ministry and shutting almost everyone else down, wouldn’t it be better if every Christian was in some form of real ministry?

         American Christians must STOP being mere spectators. We must all answer the call.

         “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too… and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” [Acts 17:6-7 NKJ]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.