Blog Archives

BASIC AUTHORITY RANKING AS REVEALED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

God has all authority. In His wisdom, He shares His authority through official delegation. Among people, there is an uncomplicated organizational order with spiritual authority ranking above secular rule.

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NEW COVENANT AUTHORITY 101

The following chart reveals basic New Covenant authority and who ranks where. It is not complicated. There is no hierarchy. Like everything else in the New Covenant Scriptures this should be second nature for all Christians. But like everything else in the New Covenant Scriptures, the subject of authority has been shanghaied by interlopers and rewritten to suit themselves. Hey, if the Pharisees could do it regarding the Old Testament, and of course, they did, right in the midst of the Lord Jesus, with no reservations, what makes one think Christian Pharisees cannot do the same regarding the New Testament?

FIRST—

THE LORD JESUS:

He has all authority in heaven and earth. He is God. He is also Man. He is thus the Mediator between God and man:

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. [1Timothy 2:5]

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” [Matthew 28:18]

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. [1Corinthians 11:3]

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. [2Corinthians 5:19]

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” [Matthew 1:23]

“I and the Father are one.” [John 10:30]

SECOND—

THE COMMUNITY OF THE CALLED-OUT ONES:

The Lord Jesus shares His authority with those who have submitted properly and fully to His authority and places them in positions of spiritual authority. He set the example for this as a Man, the Last Adam, receiving spiritual authority from God. He was the first:

But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. [Matthew 9:8]

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. [Matthew 10:1]

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:26-29]

THIRD—

GOVERNING AUTHORITIES:

The Lord gives authority to those in legitimate positions of civil authority as recognized by Him who honor their positions appropriately and are generally supported by the people. As a check on civil authority by the Lord’s people, see Peter and John’s response in Acts 4:19-20. This proves the authority of the Lord’s Community supersedes governmental authority.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.

But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. [Romans 13:1-7]

FOURTH—

INDIVIDUALS:

Each individual has personal authority over his or her own life as granted by the Lord. Each person has the freedom to make his or her own choices, including whether or not to be delivered from sin, to be His disciple, and to possess eternal life. Where one ends up when this short life is over is strictly and fully up to the individual who alone has the power to make that choice. God has given every individual a free will to choose his or her own eternal fate.

“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. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” [Matthew 7:7-14][1]

© 2020 by R.J. 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 9)

Today’s theme is Christian Unity. For those of you who missed Lesson 8 posted Sunday morning, it contains an excellent typology and is a prerequisite for Lesson 9. I am using Acts 2:1 for both. 

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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

Acts 2:1

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

A few years ago I made a comment to a friend of mine, a Christian book author, which he found quite amusing. He laughed out loud. We were discussing the Day of Pentecost and the Upper Room, as well as the apparent oxymoronic concept of Christian unity. I said the reason there were only 120 in the Upper Room was because it was the maximum amount of Christians the Lord Jesus could possibly gather together in one place that would remain in spiritual unity.

Since that time, of course, Christianity in general has split into roughly a million pieces with segments fighting segments. It long ago became an idiotic display of morons insisting they must adhere to their simplistic revelations of the moment and immediately build fortresses on the spot willing to defend them to the death against all comers.

The worst thing that ever happened in this regard was what the spiritual fruitcake Constantine did early in the fourth century. Some think he legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire. He actually did nothing of the sort. What he did was create a new syncretic form of Christianity based extremely loosely on Scripture that gave major precedent to human control which bypassed completely the sole authority of the Lord Jesus. This is the religion he legalized. It was the one he fully controlled. All other forms of Christianity were declared illegal, including real Christianity! Constantine and his minions certainly achieved unity in his new enterprise, of course, but it was based strictly on forced submission and authoritarian religious control. All Christian denominations and many churches have adopted the exact format ever since.

It was the very opposite in the beginning. The only central authority was the Lord Jesus and no other. He ruled from on high. He was the only King of real Christianity and remains that way. Below Him every real member in His Community is exactly equal. There is no clergy class. There is no laity. There are none who wrest control over others and set up their own fiefdoms. Whoever the Lord places in the forefront must be the greatest servant of the group. Such servant leaders, as the apostle Peter, must be extremely humble and very careful not to take the spotlight from the Lord. This is why the vast majority of those we refer to as “Christian leaders” are mere pretenders. Some are much worse than others.

The only way to gain actual Christian unity is for each individual believer to first gain 100% unity with the Lord. This demands total repentance and total surrender. When two or three who have done this decide to be in unity with each other, the Lord is there and confirms the spiritual union. From this point on, the individual members of the group increase. It is exactly the same as cell division. It starts with one, one becomes two, two become four, etc. Thus, there are only two necessary components:

1. Initial spiritual union with the Lord

2. Lateral spiritual union with each other

Both are based on serving. This is exactly as the Lord taught. But the big boys hate the very idea. How can they rule over others under such a scenario? How can they transform Christianity into a method to gain riches and a good living doing such serving? How can they create their own little domains or immense worldwide religious kingdoms without a ruling hierarchy and top of the pyramid figurehead? Such commandments of the Lord are utter nonsense to them. They don’t serve the Lord and never have. These are the destroyers of Christian unity. They even destroy the possibility.

The Lord Jesus, however, remains the King of His one and only kingdom. It consists only of those who honor Him only, bow the knee to Him only, and invoke only His holy Name above every name and no other. This is exactly what the 120 did on the Day of Pentecost. They set the example for what all Christian meetings should be.

May we all submit to the King.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” [John 17:22-23]   

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! [Psalm 133:1]

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:1-6]  

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. [Colossians 3:12-17] [1]

© 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.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

Blog Pic 12.24.19

     

       There was an unknown circumstance in Mary’s young life that spoke of great humility. We don’t know what this was exactly, and Luke does not elaborate. But there are directive clues. Read on:

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        The following is from Part 1: There is something else here that Luke’s narrative hints at which he does not delve into, possibly because he knew his audience was aware of whatever particulars were involved with Mary and the circumstances of her humble life.

         In the very beginning, after initially being told by the angel Gabriel that she was highly favored and the Lord was indeed with her, Mary became, depending on the translation, troubled/disturbed/perplexed. The Greek says greatly agitated. She wondered where this extraordinary greeting came from and what it could possibly be about. One senses she thought it must be meant for another, that the joyous messenger must have the wrong house.

         In answering a faithful reader’s comment on Part 3 today, who said of Mary, She must have indeed been a highly intelligent, spiritually sensitive young woman, I wrote the following:

         “Yes. A perfect choice. And she had to somehow come to a quick understanding of this fact though her humble nature would otherwise preclude it. She had to look beyond her humble circumstances and do her best to see herself as God saw her. He needed her. He wanted her to be the one. Here we have a good look into the counterintuitive nature of humanity. If Mary had previously thought herself as the best choice she would be disqualified, since that would reveal the presence of sinful pride. But if she thought herself unworthy and could never be persuaded to the contrary she would disqualify herself.”

         Why did she feel so unworthy? And why did she refer to herself not once but twice as a bondslave? I mentioned this in Part 1. The Hebrew word for a female slave is shiphchah. The Greek word used here is doulos, which speaks directly to a slave of the basest order and is used throughout the New Testament. One gets the idea that young Mary was somehow familiar with such status.

         It is also quite interesting that the New Testament never mentions any interaction with Mary’s parents or possible siblings. We know her father’s name was Eli (Heli), from her genealogy in Luke 3:23, but there is never any mention of her mother or her mother’s name. It appears they were no longer around. It is also evident that Mary was an only child. Imagine that. There is also a distinct possibility that Joseph, her betrothed, was her father’s adopted son, as alluded to in the genealogy. This was actually a Hebrew tradition going back centuries for men with no natural male heirs, so the idea isn’t so far-fetched. Any or all of these challenging life circumstances might be the cause of her feelings of unworthiness, but there is yet another, and it is here where we shall gain even greater understanding of the well known verse, “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1Samuel 16:7).

        There is a Greek word that only occurs four times in the NT. It only applies to two specific people in the NT. Those two people are the Lord Jesus and His mother Mary. The word is tapeinosis. It is defined as “lowness, low estate, and humiliation.” Regarding the Lord it appears in Acts 8:33 in which the author references Isaiah 53:8. Here are both verses with the translated English word underlined:

     “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.” [Acts 8:33]

         By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? [Isaiah 53:8]

      Here is the verse that references Mary, again with the translated English words underlined:

          “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.” [Luke 1:48]   

         The Hebrew word is otser. It is defined as “restraint, coercion.” It is translated primarily as “oppression.” It refers in a sense to prison or being a prisoner. This indicates a form of slavery. Mary did refer to herself as a bondslave. This speaks indirectly of possessing a particular humble state or condition and we now have a better understanding of what that was. Isaiah chapter 53 is an OT prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus. Here is the verse that ties both Son and mother together:

          He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. [Isaiah 53:2][1] 

           © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[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.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

Choose For Yourselves This Day Whom You Will Serve

         The invisible war rages. There are two competing kingdoms. Real Christians know the real fight is between the Lord Jesus and Satan. These two are the only leaders of the only two kingdoms that exist on the planet.

         Thus, the fight is not between this country and that. It is not a fight between Christians and Muslims. It is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats. And it is not a fight between Catholics and Protestants.

         The devil has authority over the entire world of unregenerate sinful mankind:

         And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]   

         The Lord Jesus is the King of His kingdom:

         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 6:13-16]  

         The devil offered the Lord all the kingdoms of the world as his second in command, which means the devil controls all the kingdoms, nations, and countries of the world, or he could not have made the offer. This means he even controlled and sat atop the powerful Roman Empire.

         If one purports to honor and believe the Word of God, one must believe this. Therefore, if a person wants life and real freedom, he must at some point leave the devil’s kingdom and join the Lord’s. Otherwise, do nothing. The Lord Jesus is only in authority over those who have confessed His Name and bowed before Him. He is the Father of those who have accepted His sacrifice on their behalf and have been released from their bondage to sin.

         According to His teachings, everyone else is under the authority of Satan.

         Thus, the devil creates sub-battles within his kingdom to deceive the lost and even Christian believers about the real battle. He divides us through political parties, culture, race, denominations, and a myriad of other subsets in order to take our focus off of him.

         This is why the only real change takes place when the Lord Jesus is able to rule in an area where the devil had previously ruled.

         In the present battle, Jesus gains authority through the submission of a human being to Him. It is the only way He gains authority. And it must be through a person’s free will and love for Him, and not by coercion. He has only ONE kingdom. He has only ONE community of believers. And He is the ONE leader of His community. Everyone else within it is on equal footing with one another. He created no hierarchies or clergy-laity divisions. He created no men ruling other men within His kingdom. He is the only Ruler.

         It is the same in Satan’s kingdom. Though it appears on the surface to be ruled by many different and disconnected leaders, rulers, presidents, dictators, financial kingpins, and religious quacks around the world, all of these are under his command whether they know it or not. If one has not submitted to the Lord Jesus, then one does not belong to Him and one does not have salvation. Such a one remains in His sins regardless of his station in life and receives his or her motivational feed from the original Beastie Boy.

         If sin rules a person’s life (and it will unless the Lord is allowed to remove it and its power), then one is prone to powerful deception. Sin is blinding, and those who live in sin are subject to it, controlled by it, and are easily deceived by the devil into believing any number of lies.

         And the devil is a master liar.

         When one submits to the authority of the Lord Jesus and accepts His only payment for sin, then one is released from the power of sin and the blinders come off. This is a very, very powerful event, and one becomes an entirely new creation. Old desires pass away and new desires come forth to serve God and live a holy life. This is why the Lord referred to a true conversion experience as being “born again.”

         This does not happen by merely converting to some branch of “Christianity.” It does not happen by merely joining a church or submitting to it and its particular doctrines. It happens only by submitting oneself to the Lord Jesus with one’s whole heart. He is the only One who can set a person free from the disease of sin, and give a person power over sin.

         In fact, His Name means that very thing: YHWH-Salvation, or YeHoshua. The real meaning of salvation is being set free. It is the granting of freedom. Everyone wants to be free, but sin is the one thing endemic to mankind that one will never be set free of without the Lord. He lived a perfect sinless life and thus gained power over sin, and shares that power with whoever will join Him. There is no salvation without Jesus. He is the only One who can bestow spiritual life.

         Yet, the devil has a field day dividing up Christians. It was not the Lord who created a million different Christian denominations. It is not the Lord who advocates hating one president and loving another, or siding with one political party and hating the other, or fighting for one Christian denomination and hating all others. The Lord’s community is in perfect unity, and is composed of all those who have bowed the knee to Him and no other.

         If the Lord Jesus could be president, then real Christians would vote for Him. Otherwise we should vote for a real Christian. If neither candidate is a real Christian then it doesn’t matter which one is elected, since both belong to the kingdom of the other guy and nothing significant will change.

         When the Lord Jesus is in charge there is liberty and blessing. When He is not in charge there is very little liberty and blessing. It should be obvious to Christians, since they supposedly know God’s written Word, that when the Lord is honored, the land of the people who honor Him is blessed. When the land is otherwise cursed, then…

         Ask yourself if America is presently in good shape. Does it look like the Lord Jesus has been given governing control of Washington D.C.? Does it appear that He has been given governing control of the fifty states?

         Some states are certainly in better shape than others, but most have very serious problems. People have been warning for decades that America is going in the tank, that the nation is filled with sin and murder, and that things are regressing ever faster. Yet, what do we do? We think a particular non-real Christian candidate is better than another? We think sinful human beings will somehow make the necessary gargantuan changes that are required?

         We need to look at the big picture. Look back at the last 100 years and one will see a steady downhill slide that keeps accelerating. Yet we do nothing to actually change it. We engage in a bunch of cosmetic garbage that has no effect. The Word of God even predicts that things will continue to grow darker:

         Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [2 Timothy 3:12-13]

         But there is a reason for this. It is not set in stone. It is because most people refuse to give themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord. We as a nation refuse to repent and submit to His authority so He can fix things.

         And why is this surprising? The majority of churches don’t want Jesus in charge!

         Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. [Psalm 127:1] [1]  

         So, with all the constant drivel on the airwaves and the ongoing political process, Americans are fools if they think anything other than our submission to the Lord Jesus will change things substantially for the better.

         Until then, the devil is in control of all those who refuse to bow the knee to the Lord, and if such people are in high office, the devil has that much more control.

         At the end of the day, whether we like it or not or understand it or not, each of us will either serve the devil or serve the Lord Jesus. There is no in-between. There is no third party.

         It may be the devil

         Or it may be the Lord

         But you’re gonna have to serve somebody [2]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

        

         WATCH VIDEO: Gotta Serve Somebody [Won Grammy Award in 1980]


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

[2] Bob Dylan, Gotta Serve Somebody, from the album Slow Train Coming 1979.