Fight the Good Fight of Faith

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (soundtrack)

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         Over twenty years ago I made the statement, “Someday I’m going to write a book, and I’m going to call it Real Christianity.” By that time in my life I had already seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of much of what official Christianity had to offer. The old Clint Eastwood movie was pretty good too, but very tame by comparison. Millions of Christians worldwide live the real movie, and are experienced with both God’s wonderful love and grace, and sadly, man’s inhumanity to man in off-the-scale fashion. We can pretend that Christian persecution does not take place in this world, or that it certainly never happens in America. Or we can climb out from under our religious rocks and face the facts.

         There is a war going on for our souls, and the battle is most brutal in the realm of religion. Without the love and power of our Lord Jesus, all believers would be as sitting ducks getting blown to smithereens on our respective ponds. In reality, this does not happen, but the operative word is all. Many Christians do die as a result of persecution, and are dying as you read this. Many others are physically tortured. Still others are brow-beaten and warned repeatedly to get in line or suffer the consequences.

         Does all this sound “over the top?” Am I engaging in egregious exaggeration? One might be reminded of what happened to the Lord of all Creation when He showed up on the scene. One might consider what happened to almost every one of His chosen twelve. Their crime was preaching a new message never before heard that clashed with every other religious method and doctrine on the planet, especially those of their own people. How could there not be the manner of ensuing conflict that arose as a result of their work? The very nature of preaching the real gospel invites trouble, hatred, and persecution. But it also destroys the work of the enemy and hangs him out to dry. Real Christianity is therefore not for the squeamish or half-hearted. Countless witnesses of the Lord who have given their lives throughout history will attest to that. We spend much time trying to make Christianity a “nice” religion, a watered-down version of the original with no clout or gravitas, or ability to change hearts for the better. Imagine walking out on the field of battle unarmed against a formidable foe whose only desire is to kill you, and trying to be nice to him in an effort to alleviate his hatred.

         This brand of Christianity, instead of bringing about spiritual change and strength, has resulted in a profound weakness in all societies where preached, and has allowed the enemy of our souls to grow strong and entrenched. Real Christianity, that created and sponsored by our Lord Jesus twenty centuries ago, did the veritable opposite. It challenged powerful spiritual entities on their own turf. The Lord set the example for all later believers to follow, not only by His profound compassion, grace, and willingness to forgive the repentant, but also by His dogged pursuit of the devil and determination to free those made slaves by him. The best friend anyone could ever have is the Lord. But in order to be His friend, we must engage in His work. Those who do are blessed with the joy of seeing “The Good,” but also become familiar with “The Bad” and “The Ugly.” The attempt to eliminate the latter, however, by creating an alternative gospel, will also eliminate the former, and further eliminate any proper purpose for its existence in the first place.

         Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. The real gospel of the Lord changes hearts for the better, and in time it can change entire societies.

        “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]

        Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. [1 Timothy 6:12-16] [1]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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.

Posted on May 10, 2011, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Bob, Thank you for this reminder! The battle has often made me weary, but the victory has already been won! Your encouraging words lifted my spirits today. Be blessed!

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  2. Thank you, Jo Rae! The victory is in Him.

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  3. I thought I would start here, because it looked like the beginning. The fresh air that I smell is the blowing of the Holy Spirit in this post. Looks like I have some reading to do in order to catch up! Looking forward to it. I have gotten to the point in my life where I can no longer tolerate the stale or the fake. I want the REAL. Looks like I have found some. Thank you.

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  4. Thank you very much. Yes, I began with this post back in May. I always thought “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” was a near perfect description of American Christianity, though “The Fake” should be included also. I’ve seen a ton of that. The Lord is GOOD, and is deserving of all honor and reverence. There is no one more real than the Lord Jesus. Fighting the Good Fight of Faith is not an option for real believers.

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  5. “The Fake” should be included also.

    I agree! America’s concept of the Christian life has drifted with the winds of culture. Jesus is certainly speaking of a different way of living in John 16.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. WOW! This is a POWERFUL post RJ! I find it stirring… to be bold, strong, and courageous for the Lord! And, to not shrink back, or look to the right or left, or “God help us” if we should look down or beneath us.

    I found in the New American Standard Bible that “strong” and “courageous” or “courage” were paired within sixteen verses.

    Starting from:
    Deuteronomy 31:6… “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

    a couple in-between:
    “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight.” [2 Samuel 10:12]

    “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” [Psalm 27:14]

    To:
    Psalm 31:24… “Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.”

    I believe the Lord was & still is trying to tell us something… be strong & courageous! 😉

    Although I found the whole post to be “right on”, including the good, the bad, and the ugly of it, I was particularly struck by “Imagine walking out on the field of battle unarmed against a formidable foe whose only desire is to kill you, and trying to be nice to him in an effort to alleviate his hatred.” This quote took me back about 4 and a half years. Something happened at a Bible Study that I had been actively involved in for a couple of years by then- that for me, illustrates one such battle. It is a long story once again, and it may be too much even for WordPress.

    It is very hard for me, even now, to bring this up. It conjures up a very bad time and ill feeling for me. It even happened on my birthday. 😦 So I don’t want to open the door for the enemy and give him the opportunity to wreak havoc once again by my retelling or account of it. There were sadly too many [“Christians”] who should have known better, but instead were deceived. I’m thinking that I will need to get it out at some point. 🙂 It may be included in the book.

    I will say this… It involved a brother’s ludicrous story which opened the door for the enemy, prayer for discernment and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be opened, shared, and delivered, a young woman who was oppressed at best, a holier-than-thou, Bible memorizing woman who speaks deliverance in “a little red riding hood” voice, myself [who is probably anything but “little red riding hood” and without the ability to pray her way], a road-trip to deliverance, and it ends with- God still makes deliveries and “a lesson learned” with Him. [As you can see, there is good, bad, and even some ugly in this too.]

    What did I hear the loudest by the end of all this— “I didn’t give it [the gift] to them. I gave it to you!”… Oh, now I get it. Thanks Jesus! [It was, after all, my birthday. 😉 ]

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    • Thanks Julie. What fun we have at Bible Studies!

      I don’t think it’s your birthday but Happy Birthday anyway.

      The Lord knows all hearts. In church buildings we have all been conditioned to be very polite and respectful, but mostly QUIET. When we gather in our homes or in less structured environments, it is sometimes like letting the kids out for recess.

      The good news is that so many people have so much to say and need to say but nowhere to say it, and the Lord has established a great number of places where His children can develop. Some take advantage of spiritual open mikes. Some have axes to grind. The answer is freedom of speech but with proper respect and the feelings of others. To me, this love illustrates real Christianity best in that we prefer our brother and only want to serve, and serve the Lord. That’s what He did.

      Thanks again for a great comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wouldn’t go back into that organized bird cage for anything. It’s kind of like the Shawshank redemption, in a way; you have to endure a whole lot of muck to get out into the fresh breath of freedom.

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    • Thank you, Scarlett. The real Gospel involves a Road. In the very early days of the Lord’s real Community, it was called The Way. The Lord Jesus said there is a Path. The Road, the Path, and the Way—this is something to be traveled. Walking with the Lord is just that—it is walking. Serving the Lord, then, is dynamic. It is ongoing.

      It is exactly the same in the Search For Truth. I was searching for Truth all over the place as a young man and made it my top priority in life. It began as a teenager. The Lord continued directing me to Him until I “found” Him. I was blessed to have a great born-again experience in a traditional church format. But as I continued on The Way with the Lord I found some things there that were not scripturally correct and after about three years had to move on.

      Even though I was saved I had to keep searching for more Truth, since most traditional “churches” only had SOME Truth. I am still searching today, and still finding, and will continue. Again, traveling the Road is dynamic, it is not passive. There must be fellowship, even though it may be hard to find. It we can’t find it we can always create it. The Lord said all it takes is two or three.

      This is all part of Fighting the Good Fight of Faith: We search. The enemy fights us. We fight back. We find. We must continue doing this as part of our walk exactly as the Lord said:

      “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” [Luke 11:9-10]

      Be blessed!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. How well I do know the need for fellowship. For one thing, how else can we use certain of our spiritual gifts meant to operate within the context of the ekklesia, the Body of Christ, if we aren’t connected to a functioning assembly of believers; even the two or three you mentioned.

    That said, I have not had the joy and necessity of being part of such a group for many years. I’ve been isolated and caught between the two worlds of the organized church on one hand and the world on the other. And yes, I have prayed, earnestly for the Lord to grant me this desire and need. And sadly, you can’t always force these things. When I was living in the Bible belt, everyone I encountered that called themselves Christians, were churchaholics, and couldn’t grasp the concept of not going to “church”.

    Well, just as I was once again becoming frustrated yesterday from lack of fellowship…yesterday afternoon, the Lord Jesus brought a wonderful spirit-filled woman into my life and even into my home. She’s a registered RN who came to my home to reevaluate my need for home health assistance. It was just so amazing! By the end of our visit, plans were already in the works for meetings and fellowship. A parting hug and prayer was made and I was nearly beside myself with joy! Isn’t our Lord amazing and faithful to do all to fulfill his Word, and the desires of our heart? ! But I can see so clearly now that he is not going to put one of his children into a false or unhealthy ekklesia anymore than he would arrange a bad marriage relationship for one of them.

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  9. Sadly, this may be yet another false alarm. Come to find out, this is now tracing back to the organized church right down the road…all the old familiar “spirit-filled” hype so prevalent in this day. Can I trust this?
    http://newhoperevivalchurch.com/

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    • We must trust the Lord Jesus.

      I looked over the site. Being a student of Great Awakening history and revivals, I liked the section on Revival History. Such history always gives a good indication of the real and unreal, and competing factions. All the historical revivalists were both praised for their work and also fought against and derided. It is often best to take the following advice:

      But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” They took his advice… [Acts 5:34-40]

      We are living in a time when the Great Awakening of the 21st century is coming forth, but I have always known before now that in that time there would be a mix of many different strains and efforts toward that goal, and that the enemy would have his own delusions. This happened in the 1960s movement also, in which many thousands had exact Book of Acts occurrences. A great many people of almost all denominations were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues as the main evidential sign. I wrote about this in my post Catholics Speaking in Tongues! The Spirit-Filled movement of the 1960s.

      But there were also some things taking place that were not indicative of the Acts historical accounts whatsoever, and many Christian man-made add-ons from throughout history remained in place. Other things have been created since that are accepted as New Testament but do not stand up under close scrutiny. Nevertheless, in our track back to the original Pentecost these things must happen. There must also be divisions which in many cases will not be healed because the people therein refuse to go further into greater Truth or wrest control for themselves.

      Regarding my original post, I have certainly seen the Good in my time and lots of it. I have also seen the Bad and Ugly. Since these are born of the personal experiences of each individual believer as they are led by the Lord, one will often not really know what is real until one experiences it on their own.

      That which is real will always present the Lord Jesus FIRST. It will seek to bring Him glory and no other. It will seek to obey Him fully. All real revivals and Great Awakenings happened primarily for this one reason.

      Be blessed, Scarlett.

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  10. “That which is real will always present the Lord Jesus FIRST”

    That makes sense. Seems like in the past, there was always some church that was seeking revival because they were half dead, and needed CPR. As I pondered this one…and looked at some of the posts by this lady (I just started my first Face Book acct due to a family emergency)…I noticed she said she had “wrestled with church” herself, but was inspired here in this one, by the youth loving the Lord Jesus and some other indications the Spirit was moving there, she mentioned. There were apparently a number of small healings thus far, and some filled with the Holy Spirit. They are praying and fasting corporately.

    All that is encouraging.

    I have been praying for months the Lord would move on this rebellious wicked town and do something with it. If ever a town needed revival, this would be one of them.

    I do remember back in the day at one church I was going to at the time…a Pentecostal, the Lord spoke in prophecy as He sometimes did, and said, “There are not many places I can move anymore.” Can’t remember the rest, but I’ve never forgotten that. What was striking is that this church was in disobedience at the time…not totally, that got worse later. I’ve thought about His words, how He worked with these people as much as they allowed Him to… So, yes, there was a partial, but yet, a compromising church that the Lord hadn’t given up on in His infinite mercy and goodness.

    So, who knows…about this “Revival”? I was thinking today, in a way it makes sense that a great move of the Spirit would start in a church. Why not? After all, many of us who got saved and then went on into a church atmosphere for a season were then also pulled out of church after a season of learning, spitting out tons of bones, and after maturing enough to see the unreal aspect of it.

    I have to say, looking at the church website, the Easter Egg and Bunny Parade advertised was more than a little off-putting to me, as well as their Malachi plea for donations, “Would a man rob God” mantra.

    So, bottom line, this may be interesting to watch and even participate in…I will be seeking His face on this.

    Thanks for the wise words. 🙂

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    • Thanks for the wise comment. We must study the difference between those places where the Lord Jesus was welcomed, was able to do miracles, and most of all, where the people repented—and those places in which He could do no mighty work and where there was unbelief.

      It is interesting that He greatly rebuked the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida not because He was unable to do miracles there but because they never repented. He told them that even the wicked Sodomites would have repented if they had experienced His mighty works. I’m sure that made those proud sons of Abraham feel great in being portrayed as worse than Sodomites. In Nazareth where He grew up, He was unable to do miracles because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58).

      So we can gather from these examples in the Gospels the following:

      (1) If the Lord Jesus is present and there are no miracles, there is unbelief (which makes Him unable to work). He said no prophet is welcome in his hometown.
      (2) The Lord Jesus and miracles can be present but it is does not guarantee repentance. Not only will such hard-hearted people not repent, they will often get very angry, especially the religious leaders, in the presence of miracles worked by someone whom they refuse to approve.

      Whether are not a Christian place is for real is also whether or not the Lord can work there. It means very simply that He is either in charge or He isn’t. If He isn’t then someone else is. If He is in charge it will look like Him and act like Him. If He is not in charge, it will look and act as something else.

      Regarding specific examples within a place and what is accepted or not, just look at the Lord’s own ministry and ask yourself what He would allow or disallow based on His own example and teachings. Sometimes hearts are right but they do things and believe things that are not right because they need more teaching. Of course, the Lord may send someone to teach them that they refuse to approve of, and there you go.

      So another example that leads to repentance is whether or not the people in a place are humble enough to receive the Lord and further instruction, because I can guarantee you there is no church in America that does not need some form of further instruction in order to further comply with the Lord’s real teachings.

      Be blessed.

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      • One of the numerous problems with the churches, is that so many of them tend to make the Lord Jesus and Christianity a laughing stock. This is nothing but another device of the enemy to turn people away from Christ, instead of to Him.
        I know there are folks that say, “Well, at least there is “some” good to come out of going to most any church”. To me, that’s not a good reason because we should never perpetuate blatant and heretical compromise. Nevertheless, as you’d mentioned, we must carefully weigh all these issues in the balance prayerfully. And most of all…be led of the Lord Jesus when making these decisions about fellow-shipping and church attendance, etc.
        Speaking for myself, having once been brought out, (and that by the Lord), I just can’t see myself going back into another clergy/laity Nicolaitan divide.

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