I began the early research of Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church, in 1992. The Lord told me then what the future would be. That future is now coming to pass.
Mine was a voice that got it right. The book is a record from the past correctly foreseeing the future. Though soundly rejected at the time, including by the leadership of my own fellowship that I was dutifully supporting per the Lord’s will, the Lord revealed to me why the disintegration of traditional Christianity in America would not only continue but accelerate. If you’re in to prophecy and possibly followed the major prophecy teachers of that time who never saw the Great Awakening coming, the following passage from my book may interest you. It was originally drafted almost twenty-five years ago:
“If the ruling clergy class has been mandated by Jesus to be the movers and shakers of His teachings in this country, it has apparently messed up. Whatever guilt they do carry they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge, which makes correction impossible. This is why God is removing them—they refuse to act wholly on His behalf. And if you don’t think this is true, that they’re becoming history, check the stats. Their numbers are dwindling in this country, while the numbers of “nobodies” who simply want to do God’s will are rising dramatically. Will America be saved? No. But when certain people get out of the way and other people mature en masse, hundreds of thousands of hungry souls will find salvation, and America’s greatest great awakening will take place.” 
There has been tremendous transformation, much Christian turmoil, and great spiritual warfare over the last quarter century. Many never understood the long term goal or supported it and preferred a dying status quo. This always happens in the early stages of reform and correction. Because there remain many disaffected Christians with dubious resumes and axes to grind, and by which people may judge yours truly, I am listing the following aspects of my overall profile to demonstrate a solid career church attendance and participation record, not to crow about accomplishments but to illustrate my dedication and faithfulness to the Lord. I spent many years as a dutiful church-going Christian attending untold numbers of church services and related assemblies. I bought into the program. I honored authority. I gave it my best. You might say I paid my dues. At one time or another I participated in pretty much every church-related and non-church related volunteer (non-paying) ministry task there was, including the following:
- Extensive street witnessing
- Wide-ranging personal evangelism and counseling
- Church follow up and visitor chauffeuring
- Sunday School recruiting director and bus driver
- Church seasonal program participant (multiple)
- Church seasonal program carpenter and set builder
- Church building remodeling
- Church property maintenance
- Usher (church and major offsite productions)
- Church softball coach and team builder
- Church services recording engineer
- Post service prayer counselor and altar worker
- Pulpit preacher
- Group Bible Study teacher
- Home Group leader
- House church creator and director
- And much more
I also engaged in extensive personal Bible study, reading, and research, becoming familiar not only with Scripture but also secular and historical knowledge relating to Scripture for use in witnessing and teaching. As I grew more knowledgeable I inevitably began discovering the differences between how churches and ministries were conducting themselves in relation to how our spiritual forebears did things in the beginning of the Lord’s Community. These differences fell into three principle categories: (1) Church Doctrine, (2) Church Format, (3) Ministerial Authority.
Though some Christians reach the point I did, most of these apparently come to the conclusion that the departure from original norms was justified, most likely due to their investment in church culture and an unwillingness to attempt reform. I did the opposite. I believed in and fully supported the original teachings of the Lord and the apostles. And though I tried to maintain excellent relations with church authority (a notoriously challenging endeavor) and most often succeeded, I began attempting dialogue on the many new issues I discovered. Most ministers would acknowledge the differences of course, but never go beyond any elementary attempt to apply correctives. Most never did anything. Because I had to tell what I knew and teach what the Lord taught me, open ministry doors began to close. I had to find another venue. This is when I began to write. Long before I wrote my first book I wrote many notes and detailed Bible studies, and recorded extensive research. I had to get what I knew on paper. It was a lonely pursuit but was such as it had to be.
I continually discovered that ministers in general were not interested in anything non-relatable to their personal beliefs, doctrinal statements, and church formats. Nor were they interested in greater truth or returning to our roots if it meant anything related to actual change. Most saw such reform efforts as entirely inappropriate at best and that they bordered on rebellion or heresy. Their attitude was often based on a fear of personal disruption and inevitable church problems. They insisted everyone in the congregation must buy into the program and remain in that place to assure church success, or something substantial, including their job, may suffer. I also discovered that the majority of church goers simply do not care about reform or doings things God’s way. Most Christians prefer to remain relatively spiritually unaware and allow their chosen leaders and authority figures to do their work for them. Many remain statically fixed on the teachings of mainline theologians and authors of the past or become swayed by flashy speakers and writers of the present. They end up trusting them instead of the Lord Jesus and often never progress beyond an elementary level. They are thus exceptionally easy to manipulate and make real revival impossible.
This is in part why the Lord began telling me what would eventually happen to such churches and ministries in America. He began showing me the future. I tried my best to warn people. Few ever listened. Thus, what has happened to churches since, and it has only been a quarter century, has come to pass exactly as I was shown way back then, and even before that. The latest statistics, seemingly unbelievable as they are, are such that approximately 6,000 to 10,000 churches in America are dying each year on average. That’s about 100-150 per week.
The above author cites no research but another quite reputable source, Church Leadership, claims that 4000 churches were dying annually in 2007. That was an average of 77 per week. If those trends held it would certainly account for 100-150 closures per week at present. Because the majority of traditional Christians in the past never progressed, noticed the trends, or heeded the warnings, but instead fought off any reform effort as if it was the enemy, most of their venues were unprepared for the vast American cultural change that began emerging about thirty years ago.
THE LAST BECOME FIRST
They also didn’t understand that a powerful new group, very small in numbers at the time, was being formed by the Lord to usher in a new generation of reform in order to bring His full teachings to the fore. This group was composed largely of unconnected individuals who suffered various levels of persecution by their own brothers, much like the patriarch Joseph. The traditionalists also did not care that the new emerging generation of younger people wanted more than simply being told to come to church, to sit in church, to stay quiet in church, to go along with the church program with no questions asked, to participate only superficially in church, and to pay church tithes to support something they couldn’t wrap their heart around. Many of us in the prior generation did all that for many years but never received the full benefits we were striving for. We trusted in and respected an authority that ultimately proved itself to be cowardly and non-spiritually responsive. The next generation, however, had less church influence and were largely never indoctrinated to stoically accept things as they were and dutifully comply with a set-up that did little or nothing for their heart.
This is in part why America now has an extremely large population of people with no religious affiliation. It is also why the long-standing American church tradition is fading rapidly. Traditional churches have no answer for this. Their programs no longer work. Many churches have become infested with cultural rot yet still refuse the Biblical directive. Many others have tried ever more watered-down programs but those don’t work either. Such efforts are actually going in the opposite direction.
THE RISE OF THE NEVER CHURCH CULTURE
The young religiously unaffiliated Americans are categorized as the nones. According to the following article, Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why they’re Unlikely to Come Back, in 1991, the year before the Lord called on me to begin my first book, the nones represented a mere 6% of the American population. In 1972 it represented 5%. There was a slight rise in the 1980s. Thus, in the 19 year period of 1972 to 1991, this small religiously unaffiliated subsection of the American populace ranged only from 5%-8% and stayed relatively stable. It was not until 1993 that the nones began an upward track on the graph. By 1996 their numbers had shot up to 12%, doubling its population of only five years before. This marked 1992 as the year of demarcation, the very year I began my book. This was not a coincidence. It was the year that American Christianity began changing dramatically.
According to the quoted source, the nones increased to 14% in 1998 and remained stable until 2004. But then it promptly rocketed rapidly upward, ballooning to a whopping 25% by 2016. After only 24 years since the pivotal year of 1992, their number had astonishingly grown fourfold. This is the same time period that churches in general engaged in a rapid die off. There is presently no end in sight to this phenomenon and any applied remedy of the present is for the most part too late. This changing church landscape is an obvious fast-happening disaster for those who wrongly decided years ago to stay in spiritual Egypt or the Sinai. Currently, the religiously unaffiliated represent almost one in four Americans. The church world is now suffering major loss with no cure yet it still obstinately refuses to change and get in line with what the Lord wants to do. Because they have been rejecting the corrective for decades, they don’t have a clue how to stop the process and their destruction continues.
Most continue to blame it on the sinful culture, a ridiculous notion that only proves their ineffectiveness, irrelevance, and spiritual laziness. They obviously don’t know what the early believers faced regarding a sinful societal culture or they simply refuse to acknowledge it. The Roman Empire world of the first century was such that most church-going Americans, if transported in time, would be shocked to their core at what they saw. It was a thoroughly lost and wicked culture reveling in gross idolatry. But the early Church thrived anyway against powerful odds. The gist is that the Lord can do anything, anywhere, and wants to. He wants people free from sin and spiritual bondage! It seems that His greatest effort, however, is simply trying to find people who will honor Him and join His cause. Most of those who refer to themselves as Christians in some form or another simply refuse to obey and follow Him. They invent their own low wattage Christian hybrids and substitute these for the real thing.
WHAT ABOUT REAL CHRISTIANITY?
Conversely, remember that small, persecuted, obscure, and rejected group that existed a quarter century ago? Well, with this group something quite different has happened. As dead churches died off it has grown exponentially. Churches may be shutting down by 150 per week on average but real Christians have gone in the opposite direction. Real Christianity is on the rise. For those paying attention who are close to the Lord, this is obvious. Though most of these real believers are effectively invisible, their effect is not. It reminds me of unseen, unknown prayer warriors who do their work in obscurity. The non-believing American culture has certainly gone in the tank and grows more sickeningly depraved every day due to no checks on its behavior, but these people are now losing the cultural battle. They had the world by the tail until about two or three years ago but now their paradigm is suffering major cracks and is on a downward slide. They are also beginning the inevitable historical process of destroying one another.
Thus, a new American culture is emerging, based on the old ways, the ancient paths, and the foundations fought for and won in a righteous revolutionary battle 240 years ago. Real Christians are returning to their roots, following the Lord in big numbers and are undoubtedly affecting the culture in a positive way. It is a movement based on discovering, establishing, and standing up for the truth. These people are meeting and advancing in the same style as their early forebears—behind the scenes, in small non-descript venues of any number of forms and variety, and also through the greatest invention and change agent in human history—the internet. The World Wide Web is directly comparable with the advent of the Gutenberg Printing Press of circa 1450. That remarkable invention dramatically changed the world and ushered in the modern period. It allowed for an immense increase of knowledge and communication which led to the Protestant Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. What happened then is happening now but on a much larger scale. The world is waking up.
I encourage all of you to stay faithful and strong. These times are largely unprecedented and we are greatly blessed to be alive and involved in whatever work the Lord has called us to do.
For those of you reading this, especially my faithful readers, please be informed that a spiritual attack against this site is apparently in process. I started this blog in May of 2011. Readership grew steadily. 2018 was a record year. January of 2019 was a record for that month. Then something happened which caused the site to become somewhat invisible as confirmed by some of you.
In general, Christian reform efforts are always opposed by the status quo and I have been personally quite familiar with this over many years. Yet the Lord is always faithful. Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church has had a decided impact on those who heard the message and supported it but was otherwise rejected by the majority. I could tell you some seriously shocking stories of underhanded efforts by so-called Christians, but this is nothing new. It is par for the course. My first book was far ahead of its time but the message inherent within it is timeless and remains fresh, especially now. It is thus a message for today and can assist in sorting out what has happened in the transformation of American Christianity over the last quarter century. For more information you can go to my author page here. I ask only for your prayers. There is much work to be done. Thank you and be blessed.
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 From Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.]
Christians who should know better continue to state blatant untruths as if they were real. One of the most egregious of these is lumping all “Christians” together into one “Church.”
Christians, including many ministers, continue to perceive the “Church” as all Christians worldwide regardless of denomination or grouping. This is not true and never has been true. It should be obvious. The Lord teaches that there are actually two groups, not one. The first group is composed of all real Christians who have bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus and confess His Name, the Name above every name. The members of this group comprise His Community on the planet. This has always been the case from the beginning and has never changed.
The other group is comprised of Christians in name only. These are largely cultural Christians who have never surrendered to the Lord Jesus. They have never repented properly of their sins. They have never been born again as the Lord Jesus said all believers must be. They have never been filled with the Holy Spirit. Their hearts have never been circumcised unto God. They continue to live in the flesh and honor human leaders and human institutions rather than honor the Lord Jesus and His one Community or Kingdom.
There is only one King. There is only one Lord and Savior. Only one Man went to the cross and paid for our sins with His one and only perfect sacrifice. After He rose from the dead He said He possessed all authority in both heaven and earth. Those who follow Him are completely distinct from the people of this world. Those who do not follow Him but refer to themselves as Christians or are perceived as some form of Christian do not qualify. There is only one door into this Community and the Lord Jesus is that Door.
Thus, Christians should stop referring to the “Church” as a universal monolith made up of all “Christians.” The real Church, His Community, is the one in which each member follows Him and obeys Him. It is in great shape and is doing great things in the earth. Massive progress has been made in this Community since the first century AD and great progress continues onward. The Lord is getting it done!
Therefore, there is Real Christianity and there is Unreal Christianity. There is the real Church and there is the fake church. The fake church is multi-denominational and is beset with multitudinous non-relatable factions. The real Church follows and obeys to the best of its ability the full curriculum of the Lord Jesus. The members thereof believe in all of His teachings. They do not pick and choose. They do not put one teaching above another or form a denomination based on particular teachings to the detriment of others.
The fake church or Unreal Christianity is actually the enemy of the Lord’s real Community. It insists on putting itself forth as legitimate when it is actually completely illegitimate. People must understand this. They must choose correctly. The Lord taught this from the very beginning:
“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. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:13-20] 
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Many years ago several members of our church were returning from a service on the other side of town. There were maybe eight or ten of us, all young adults.
It was kind of funny because we were in one of those standard yellow school buses that had a former life transporting kids all over creation and we could probably fit our entire congregation within its cavernous confines. It was an old bus. Someone had probably bought it for a song after it was retired and then donated it. Most of us were brand new born again believers.
Anyway, here we were, fresh from praising the Lord in a small black Pentecostal church that never failed to be a blessing. We visited many such churches back then and it was always a great experience. My first time in one of those churches allowed me to see two things immediately—those believers didn’t mess around. When it came to praising the Lord they gave it everything they had. The preacher, the singers, even the worshipers in the pews—no one held back. The second thing was that we all had the same intentions and love for the Lord. When you meet another real Christian for the first time, even if on the other side of a very large city or cultural divide, you instantly meet another brother or sister. Such divides do not matter. Having the Lord Jesus in common and loving Him with all your heart does that. We are all part of His family.
We were almost back to our church that night. Then our fun time in our big yellow school bus that became a church bus suddenly stopped. The engine died. It wouldn’t start. Now, though I was in my early twenties, I had already been completely immersed in the practical side of life and had many an untold number of such experiences with cars. I was used to having a car break down and was also used to finding a way to get it back on the road. If that didn’t work you dragged it off to a garage somewhere to get it fixed.
It’s funny how I look back at those times now. We couldn’t afford wreckers. That was far too much a luxury. If your car broke down, you and a friend got a towing chain and set off on an adventure. If you didn’t have a chain you used a rope. It was not at all as easy as it may sound. A LOT could go wrong when you’re out on the road or a highway linked together like that. But it was cheap. In fact it was free. And that was a good thing, of course, because any other alternative meant doing nothing since it involved too much money already dedicated to other things.
I say all that to set the scene for what was about to happen. Again, I was very familiar with the right way to go about doing whatever must be done to get a dead bus back on the road. But that night was different. It was different because I was different. I had recently become a born again believer and was fired up. I had just been in a powerful church service where the place was rocking. The preacher wasn’t some laid back drone going through the motions like you see in some churches, but an anointed minister of the Gospel who took the Lord seriously and believed in the miraculous. (You know, like a baby being born in a manger who happens to be God.)
So when the engine died and my natural inclination to go help fix what was wrong was supposed to kick in it didn’t kick in. I had a completely different mindset. I thought it was wrong to immediately respond in a practical manner with no regard for a spiritual effort. I felt it was time to be serious about the Lord! Didn’t He tell us to seek Him? I told the others we needed to pray about it. We needed to pray right away and ask the Lord to fix whatever was wrong. Silence… Crickets… Nobody said anything. I think they all knew they had to honor the sentiment of what I was expressing. They knew I was right but they also knew they better get out there and find the problem. I was having none of it. We were going to pray and the Lord was going to fix the old bus!
It never happened. What I said was acknowledged somewhat but then ignored. A couple of guys quietly went outside to raise the hood. I couldn’t believe it. I got really angry. I got off the bus and began walking away. In the growing distance I heard it start up. They got the old yellow church bus running again pretty quickly. Maybe the Lord actually did do something. But by that time I was walking home. I wasn’t waiting for a ride back with my friend. While I’m out there not too far away on the highway still as angry as I could be my friend drove by to pick me up. I said forget it. Then he got angry. He drove on and I was left to my thoughts on a long walk back to my apartment. What in the world was I thinking? It’s pretty funny as I reflect back on it. I think the Lord enjoyed it all and probably got a good laugh. He understood, and He knew this was all part of the discipleship learning curve. I also think He was proud of me for thinking of Him first and taking a stand though the application left much to be desired.
My behavior obviously was not the greatest, but I was serious about my new found faith. We see that same kind of behavior among the Lord’s own chosen ones in the gospels. It’s hilarious when it seems Peter wanted to fight everybody, for example. Those guys were always letting their unbridled masculinity run free. The cool thing about it all was that the Lord supported it. He made them that way. Sure, we must learn to channel it all correctly and He did jump their case on occasion, but Christian men should never allow for even a second the slightest effort toward religious emasculation. And if you want to know the one giant problem with organized Christianity, that’s it.
I certainly could have helped find the problem with that bus. You learn to do a lot regarding the fixing of cars when you’re young and you don’t have a lot of money. There are some of you reading this right now who have a practical need but no money to fix it. I understand. Sometimes, even though we are all so incredibly blessed as children of the Lord, we don’t have all that we need and must improvise or simply do without. But if we really believe in the Lord and what He can do, is there really a problem?
Miracles are not practical. They also don’t happen automatically. They require faith. We must be serious. The Lord says this repeatedly in His Word and demonstrates it for us and proves it to be true. With Him, ALL things are possible. This is just fact. As a young man I was all gung ho for the Lord. I wanted us to pray about that old bus. I wanted to give the Lord the first opportunity to fix it. I knew He could. It would have been a great spiritual ending to a great spiritual night. But even though everybody there believed just as I did, no one agreed with what I felt we should do.
Why is that? Why didn’t anyone else agree with me that we should at least pray first? I think we all know the answer. We must be practical when it is called for. There are times, though, when practical knowledge won’t work. Though we may be great at fixing things, there are times when it is beyond our ability and know-how to fix something. None of us are Superman. But the Lord is. And if the only way any particular follower of the Lord will actually engage in spiritual things is when all other practical possibilities are exhausted, I guess that’s okay. But wouldn’t it be best to be wise and seek Him first?
This is the time of year when Christians the world over return to the beginning of the greatest story ever told—the one historical event that changes the spiritual direction and eternal destination of any person anywhere. The Lord Jesus can do anything. Anytime, anywhere, any place, under any conditions—there is nothing He cannot do. He has achieved mythological proportions for those few who actually see His life for what it is, yet most Christians can’t quite get there. This nonsense must stop. There is no such thing as practical-only Christianity. Real Christianity always requires the miraculous. The Lord will often put us in impossible situations just to prove it. Maybe you messed up or maybe someone else messed up or maybe no one messed up. Maybe it is simply the case that the Lord wants to bless you with a miracle. If you have a great need this Christmas and have no other way to make it happen, He can make it happen for you.
It’s who He is. It’s what He does.
And the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. [Matthew 2:9-11] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
When I was in college many moons ago I learned about prerequisite courses. I could not take a specific class, for example, if I did not take another class first.
IN THE BEGINNING
The prerequisite courses were generally introductory 101s and oftentimes a repetition of basic high school courses. Much of the first two years of college contains classes like this. On the surface it appears to be a good idea in order to fill in any education gaps using a college level standardized form and facilitate a greater understanding of the foundational stuff required for the higher learning of junior and senior years.
On the other hand it is an opportunity to force students to extend their university years and bring more income into the institution. One might reject that notion, but colleges and universities exist to make money. Even public colleges supported by government subsidies are in it for a buck. Someone is making money somewhere, and a lot of it, or such institutions would largely not exist. If anyone thinks otherwise, one needs to check their naiveté filter.
Idealism runs high in the college level age group and can easily be taken advantage of. Parents face tremendous societal pressure to enroll their children in so-called institutions of higher learning even though many know such places are highly compromised with alternative education agendas and often deliver much less than advertised and much more that is never advertised.
This brings me to two points:
(1) Christians are generally uninformed and unaware of the real teachings of the Lord Jesus and the actual New Covenant writings.
(2) Christians face tremendous societal pressure to become members of “churches.”
These two are symbiotically connected. It brings me to two further points which explain the preceding points:
(1) Many “churches” generally keep people uninformed and unaware of the real teachings of the Lord Jesus and the actual New Covenant writings through alternative education agendas.
(2) Most “churches” strongly pressure people to attend all services and buy into everything being taught in order to be a member in good standing.
This process creates a low-denominational heavy traffic roundabout difficult to disengage from and pretty much explains perfectly why so many Christians continue to: (1) Work very hard doing what they’re told by religious authorities, because they want to do the right thing, and (2) No matter how hard they work at attending “church” and go through all the prescribed motions, they get out on the other side one day in the distant future still generally uninformed and unaware of the real teachings of the Lord Jesus and the actual New Covenant writings. What did they actually achieve?
It is the same reason why so many hundreds of thousands of college graduates are educated in specific areas but generally brain dead regarding subjects they should be extremely proficient at, and why their overall knowledge base is severely lacking on even the most rudimentary levels. When such young, bright idealistic though naïve students finish an extensive college academic program only to be dumb and dumber in much of the knowledge that matters most but highly skilled in subjective social indoctrination that is most often anti-Christian, anti-freedom and liberty, and pro-status quo in nature, it portends that a deceptive alternative agenda is in the works.
THE “BUSY CYCLE” ENFORCED BY SOCIETAL PRESSURE
Why do millions of people continue to support such an academic system?
Why do millions of Christians continue to support such systematic “churches?”
The answer to both questions are the same: Societal Pressure.
The only way to gain the necessary knowledge to exit the busy cycle is to leave the traffic circle. Why? Because the busy cycle keeps people from gaining the necessary information to escape it. Therefore, people have been conned to support the very thing that is keeping them from gaining the answer to get off the merry-go-round.
THE LORD’S PREFERRED DISCIPLES
This is why the Lord Jesus did not choose religious academics to begin His movement. He chose no clergymen or priests or reverends or rabbis or scribes or tenured professors or administrators or sold-out money-loving status quo addicts or the socially ascendant. Really. He never chose any of those kinds of people. He obviously knew such people were agenda-driven, that their agendas would clash with His purpose, that they possessed highly inflated self worth, that they would insist on attempting to build their own kingdoms within His, based on their limited and subjective knowledge, and that they would fight Him at some point or every point along the way. What He prefers are raw recruits willing to leave all and start over with total trust in Him as their only Shepherd and Teacher.
His discipleship course requires that everyone start at the beginning. He demands that His prerequisites be honored. He commands a born again experience.
The apostle Paul said this:
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” [1Corinthians 1:26-31]
Thus, the Lord—a hard working manly Carpenter with a powerful though gracious bearing—preferred choosing regular down-to-earth people like Himself. He chose fishermen and blue collar workers. He chose those with searching, honest hearts who never fully engaged in what they deemed compromised programs. He also chose those often despised by society such as tax collectors. He even associated with great sinners. Any of these would have been the kiss of death for any “acceptable” ministry, and it proves that His ministry was the opposite of those who always respond to societal pressure and keep the wheel to nowhere turning.
He usually went outside the usual and found His disciples down by the seaside and along the roads in the small out-of-the-way places and among the societal rejects and so-called misfits. He never judged by the outer appearance but looked on a person’s heart.
DEFINING A NEW COVENANT CONGREGATION
As far as “church” is concerned, real disciples could congregate anywhere, with a building or not with a building, under a tree or in a boat, or even by the thousands on a gently sloping hillside. Finding a place to meet was never a problem.
Also, regarding how many people must be gathered to constitute an actual “church,” the Lord made this most profound statement:
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” [Matthew 18:20]
This means that an authentic, genuine Christian meeting can be held virtually anywhere on the planet with as few as two people, and if the two are gathered together in His name He will support it. Not only that, He will attend it!
I know this may be a very hard concept to grasp due to so much anti-New Covenant Christian indoctrination, but real Christianity is actually quite simple and open in its approach and allows for a tremendous amount of learning and knowledge in both the natural and spiritual fields.
There are certainly vital prerequisites, however, though these prerequisites commanded by the Lord Jesus have been rejected for one illegitimate reason or another, usually pride, by many Christians. They are designed to assist us in defeating the oppressive power of sin, break the spell of societal pressure, provide an exit from a fruitless, circular religious lifestyle, gain the powerful anointing and strength needed for our work, and open a giant secret spiritual entrance door into His kingdom:
Peter said to them,
“And each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
“And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” [Acts 2:38-39] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
I can never forget the testimony of a man who was a very good friend. Long ago, someone took the time to witness to Him, casting personal risk aside.
He was probably in his mid-to-late thirties and about a decade and a half older than me. He had a loving wife and a bunch of kids. I had never known him before he was born again but he had been a rough character, a man no one would mess with. He was a solid family man and he worked hard. He was a construction worker, a foreman, and lived in the country some distance away. He had a hard row to hoe to pack up a large family with several little kids and head off to church four times a week, but he was always there. His smile lit up the whole place. He was a great example of how the Lord could melt even the most powerful heart.
When Charlie met the Lord Jesus, he finally met his match, and then some. Charlie found out that the Lord was a lot stronger than he was, that He was a bigger and better Man, and that He was the greatest man’s Man who ever lived. Charlie surrendered to his Maker.
I don’t know who witnessed to him but that family’s salvation was one of the great boons to our group. I have worked in construction for many years. I worked in the oil industry a long time as well. I have met hundreds of strong men. There is a culture in these blue collar fields that one had better respect. I am ever thankful to my Dad for teaching me early on how to thrive in the world of real men who do their job, who won’t be denied, and who know there is a job to be done, that must be done, and will get done.
But among all these guys I have still never met a man who was as physically strong as Charlie. My Dad always taught me when I was a kid to give a strong handshake, and I did. But this man had the strongest handshake I ever felt, and that was decades ago. I know he had to torque it down when he shook hands with other men because, if he wanted to, he could mash your hand to a pulp. I am serious. He could break your hand. The best defense is to squeeze the other guy’s hand harder than he is squeezing yours, or just as hard. But it wouldn’t work with him. He was strong as an ox. Two oxes. There were times when I had him in a good grip and looked him in the eye and told him to go a little more and he would smile and clamped down just about an extra ounce and I knew my hand would be withered in a heartbeat and quickly told him to back off. This has never happened with anyone else. Ever.
So now I think I know what happened to that guy with the withered hand in the Bible. He met Charlie before Charlie got saved.
It’s hard to explain to people who have never been filled with the Holy Spirit about the transformation that takes place. Charlie was undoubtedly a very rough character but after he was filled with the Lord’s Spirit his face glowed like an angel. He was God’s middle linebacker, still tough as nails and solid as a rock but with a loving, tender heart. He was always smiling and trying to hold back from laughing in that shy way he had. He could not contain all the joy the Lord filled him with though he tried. Every service he was back there in the back row. He did that because he had so many young kids, about half a dozen, and did not want to disrupt the service. He and his lovely wife, also filled gloriously with the Holy Ghost, were all lined up back there. The kids always stayed in line but were still kids and were also smiling all the time. They made it work. It is not natural to make little kids do that but they managed it very well. They were such happy people. I think Charlie knew even more than I did that he had been hell bound and got rescued. He would be forever grateful and showed it always.
He told me that before the Lord rescued him he drank a half bottle of hard liquor every day. He smoked two or three packs of cigarettes every day. And he worked very hard every day. This man was tough as nails. Then somebody witnessed to him. Some real Christian answered the call and witnessed to Charlie. Charlie could have done some serious damage.
We all know how some will go off half-cocked when they get witnessed to. There is sometimes a lot of hate and one must have enough love to overcome it. Only the Lord has that kind of love but He must work through people to show it. This is a hard, tough world, and many people are filled with a lot of pain. They’ve been treated bad and they’re angry. And they don’t like it when told it is somehow their fault. They need our help and understanding.
When the Lord reached out from heaven through a brave witness, instead of getting angry, Charlie listened. Maybe he knew he was a mess and really wanted to change but wasn’t going to be forced into becoming some fake girly man and succumb to religion. The Lord knew that. So he sent Charlie a real witness to witness about the real thing. The Lord was not going to force Charlie to surrender his manhood but just the opposite. He wanted him to be the real man he wanted to be but with a godly heart.
The Lord filled Him with His Spirit. He delivered him from his cigarette habit. He took away his desire for alcohol. Charlie stopped cussing and fighting and began smiling and loving. He could still break you in two, though, and you had to be careful—you had to watch out for exuberant hugs. He became a solid witness for His Lord and Savior and though he didn’t talk much he was the very picture of Christian strength.
I want to close with a funny incident that will give you a tad more insight into the joy we all felt in Charlie’s presence. Before I go on, there was one thing I touched on previously about Charlie but didn’t tell the whole story.
Charlie was so full of spiritual joy he continued smiling and doing these little laughs even after we all settled into our seats and church got going. It was just part of his good nature that the Lord accentuated with His own. This was an active Spirit-filled congregation of lively people so it was not always possible to contain one’s self. Charlie would often continue expressing his happiness and gratitude throughout the service. He was way in the back but everyone always knew it was just Charlie being Charlie. Some of us may say “Amen!” but he would do a chuckle. It added greatly to a joyful atmosphere.
One night, a traveling minister came to the church. He was a big guy in a black suit with a commanding presence. He was also blind. He’s up there preaching and we’re down there in the pews, being properly respectful if not more so, and not quite sure what was transpiring before us. It was pretty hushed.
Well, the preacher must have said something Charlie really liked. Showing his unbound appreciation, Charlie did one of his customary good-natured manly chuckles that just happened to project quite well. The preaching stopped. The combination of church quiet and back bench acoustics made the preacher think he was being laughed at! It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen in church and I could write a book on the subject. The blind preacher rebuked Charlie from the pulpit! He hollered, “You may think this is funny! But I’m preaching up here!”
We all started stifling laughter at the initial shock and some of us turned around and looked back at poor Charlie who obviously meant no harm and was real embarrassed. He was red as a beet and had a weird grin on his face coming down from a joy high and was not quite sure what to do. But just like his Lord, Charlie took it like a man. And he understood.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The world is filled with hungry people searching for life and truth. They know there must be something more than this temporary surface existence. We must reach out to them.
CAN I GET A WITNESS?
I remember well my early experience as a rookie Christian. The church building was relatively new but somewhat sparse. There were many empty pews. It needed filling up. The preacher was always preaching about witnessing. I certainly complied. I was always witnessing—at work, on the street, wherever I was, whatever I was doing—I was always witnessing.
Why? Because people were going to hell. They needed to be saved. I had dodged hell and so must they. The Lord turned me on to His incredible life and love and I wanted the whole world to have what I had. Before being shown the path of salvation, I didn’t know I was on the wrong road. I was a sinner but didn’t know it before I met the Lord.
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. [Hebrews 2:1-4] 
THE FIRST WITNESS
I rejected them the first time they came. These were close friends. A young married couple. I was a tad younger. I had known them a few years. We hung out together. I hadn’t seen them in a while. The news was they got religion and I could not understand how they could be so dumb. They used to be so cool. What the heck happened to them? If they had joined a cult it would have been different. Weird but different. But they joined a church! What a joke! The great respect I had for them was no more.
They came over to tell me all about it. They said I needed to do what they had done. I was very friendly and open. I listened to their story. But they were brand new Christians and were not so good at what they were trying to do. They certainly had the heart and desire but they came on pretty strong. I was too mature for that. I knew too much. I could see through them. I was nice to them and tried hard to understand. We had a relatively good discussion at first. I told them I was happy for them but I could not go in that direction. I wanted no part of their church stuff. I didn’t want what they were selling. They persisted. I told them if they didn’t stop they needed to leave. I stayed strong. I never lost my cool. They got bummed out and left. They had done their best. I knew they cared. But they failed in their mission and were sad. That was that.
THE SECOND WITNESS
Then one day, after three months of no contact with them, I received a second witness. They never gave up. Instead, they went into prayer with other unknown people who shared their concern. This is a very important point because the Lord often has to do things in the Spirit that we are not aware of to have ultimate success. We usually never know about all the in-between things that must happen in spiritual warfare and prayer battles. In this case, He had to prepare me for another opportunity which would in all probability be the last. There might not ever be another chance in my life like this one. It was imperative that I receive this Word. Sometimes, people build up a hardness of heart that can never be overcome.
To remedy that, the Lord had managed to break me down over that time. I went from being strong and confident to somewhat insecure. I had no idea what was happening but the Lord had been preparing me for a second witness. He was plowing a field and I was the field. He knew I had been searching for Him for roughly four years but I didn’t know that. I was searching for TRUTH. That’s what I was after. I had determined right out of high school that I would find out what was really going on behind the scenes in this world. I had been doing an exhaustive search of various belief systems the world over. I knew there was something more and was determined to find it. I would never stop. By that time in my young life I had already rejected organized Christianity because the version I knew (and knew very well) offered nothing on a deep spiritual level.
Keep in mind, however, that though I was completely fed up with “Christianity,” I never ever rejected the Lord Jesus. I always thought He was the coolest Guy. How could anyone in their right mind be against Him?
For the second witness only she came over. She had given her life to the Lord before her husband and was instrumental in getting him saved. Both had strong born again experiences but her gifting made her more persistent. Both had matured spiritually and she did a better job this time. There was less pressure and more joy.
At one point when we were talking she suddenly said, “Wow! I feel the presence of God in this room!” I didn’t know what she was talking about but I felt it too. This was not the same kind of witness as before. She didn’t come alone after all.
Thanks to the Lord Jesus who never gave up, and to the loving witness He sent who never gave up either who went out of her way to find me and tell me all about the Lord and spiritual reality, the scales on my eyes fell off. It was the Lord’s presence on that occasion that made the difference. I suddenly realized it all made sense. This was it! I had been searching for truth for so long and had found it. The truth was Him. I surrendered to the Lord that night. It was easy and the best decision I ever made.
NOW COMES THE HARD PART
I also had to submit to the Lord’s next directive. This is the way it works. The Man gave His life for us. We give our lives to Him. And that makes Him the One in charge. We must do what He says. We must trust Him.
He wanted me to go somewhere. When I found out where, it was the last place I ever thought I would find truth. He wanted me to attend their dreaded church. Oh no! It would be like going to the blasted dentist. But worse. I had been forced to go to church about a million times growing up and had learned to want no part of it. There was nothing there anyway. All that had long since become way back in my rear view mirror. This church thing was going to be a hard sell. It took more convincing and more “preparing.” Long story short, the Lord won the argument. I was in no position to fight Him. I went.
I found out churches are different! This one was nothing like the one I grew up in. The people were lively and happy. I was very well received. There was an excitement in the air. This was a place with the presence of the Lord. Later on I heard the Word of God from a very good preacher. I had never seen or heard preaching like this. The Word of God came alive. I was almost instantly convicted. The Lord planted the Gospel seed in my plowed up heart. I gave Him my life, hook, line, and sinker, and never looked back. A few weeks later I was filled with His Spirit!
After my born again experience I set my mind on telling everyone I knew about the Lord Jesus—the One who saved me, the One who went to the cross in my place. I wanted everyone to have the salvation I had. Sin no longer had any power over me. I was set free. I wanted everyone else to be set free also. Combining my strong spiritual hunger with a powerful born again experience set me loose as a witnessing juggernaut.
In time I found out that people in general didn’t share the same passion I had. I often had the same experience of the two who first witnessed to me when I rejected them. It can be discouraging. It is hard to understand why a person does not want all the Lord has for them and had to die to make it available. I learned that many people are simply not so spiritually hungry. They are happy with life as it is. They would rather stay on the surface. I had to learn to follow the leading of the Lord more closely.
Witnessing is therefore not so easy but is obviously vital. There is no other way to be saved. We are commanded to tell the Gospel story. People must know the truth—the TRUTH. We must turn people on to the Lord. Whatever He has put on your heart and called you to do, be encouraged. There is an inexhaustible supply of every spiritual means available that can be applied. It truly is the case that all things are possible with God.
Many people were doing their share of witnessing in that relatively small congregation I was blessed to be a part of long ago. We had success to a degree but it never resulted in the level of success we wanted until much further down the road. Many would visit. Few would stay. But some of those who did stay were solid and strong. In time, several years later, the floodgates opened.
In my next post I will introduce you to one of the people there in those early days. His name was Charlie. He was a bad dude brought into the love of the Lord because someone made a bold move and the serious risk to witness to him.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
In Old Covenant terms they were called prophets. They were sent by God to stand up strongly for truth, speak out forcefully against error, and expose outright corruption in high places.
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. [Acts 7:51-54]
Hold on to your hats folks, because 2017 will be a bumpy ride. It will also be a year of great blessing.
We have already seen the beginning of the overthrow of entrenched establishment principles, priorities, and prime movers and shakers. Three extremely powerful political dynasties have been pushed aside. The Powers That Be are doing one of two things they never thought they would be forced into. The first is to admit they never thought the day would come when the challenge against their authority has actually made their defeat possible. The second is scrambling around in their shocked amazement in the effort to gain or maintain a piece of the current pie.
Since corruption can never be eliminated wholesale at any given time in this corrupt and fallen world of mankind, it is not possible to eliminate all the compromised players and many will find a place on the new team. But the fact that three teams have been pretty much rendered ineffective and unwanted lets them know they are no longer in Kansas and that things for them could get even worse. They know an unraveling when they see it. They can feel the pulse of angry lesser power centers composed of millions of individuals who would otherwise have no power at all but have been forced into a new mindset after decades of being treated like chattel.
These people are not associated with mere street rioters blowing off steam, running around like proverbial headless chickens accomplishing nothing productive.
Instead, they are strong and vested members of various communities with various backgrounds who have had enough and are willing to challenge a compromised status quo. Their bravery will go nowhere, of course, and rarely has, if only the few forthright ones come forth with no support of great majorities, and this is where it gets interesting.
In Christian circles, it is very easy to single out the one or two with an honest willingness to live for the Lord and speak the truth. It is easy to turn a church against them. There are long-held traditional ways in which to do this and the perpetrators are very good at it. They know how to make themselves look good and make those who follow the Lord look bad. One simple method is to activate the church gossips to stir up the people. This has always proven to be quite effective.
But at present, there are far too many real Christians coming forth. They cannot be treated in the usual way. Rather than the usual occurrence of a few coming forward and getting quickly slammed and eliminated, as had happened with Stephen, there are now too many real Christians to be dealt with in the usual dismissive and indifferent manner. Not only are they too numerous, they are too informed. Much groundwork has been done over the last few years exposing corrupt leadership. Corrupt leadership has actually been forced by powerful former witnesses to reform themselves, but they only do it incrementally, as their heart is not in it.
An overall general reform has come forth but only exists as a foundation of sorts at present from which much greater reform can take place now and in the future. Also, there are many, many more real Christians on the cusp of coming forth. They are just waiting for the right time or inspiration. Their minds are made up. They are fed up. They want to do the right thing. All these people know that real reform must happen.
A SPIRITUAL EXAMPLE
There was a time when the Lord sent me to a new church, but it took a lot of work to get me there. Here is how He did it:
I was a member in good standing in a previous church. It was borderline large and a few years later achieved mega church status, largely built on the persona of the preacher. (No! Really?) I had a good record there and many friends and associates who respected me. I did what I was told. I went through all the proper channels and obeyed church protocol. But I was also following the Lord and this caused a problem. Over time the leadership there, composed of one man and the usual yes men, developed a different opinion. They began to make life difficult. They were revealing their cultish side.
Of course, they treated anyone this way if they did not fall into line and obey whatever they were pushing from on high. They, like so much other entrenched church leadership that continues to exist, some far worse, prefer to operate with smiles and “love” but much of this is mere window dressing. Their exterior can change in a flash. Sometimes their interior is exposed. It is often much different than their exterior. They hide their full personas to protect their real intentions and agenda.
It was certainly not all bad. In many ways it was a great place. But that is not the issue. Many churches do much good. But real disciples of the Lord know the difference between Sunday school and spiritual reality. They know there is a devil and they know the devil goes to church. Even the leadership knows that. But what most Christians don’t know is that the devil is often IN the leadership, something those in power refuse to consider or acknowledge for obvious reasons.
The main objective for the majority of religious establishments is power, control, and money. Otherwise they would look like the Lord and His ministry, but most know they can’t operate that way and must therefore establish other methods to do what they want. Whoever within the congregation that follows the Lord Jesus first and not them is always suspect.
The Lord started telling me to leave. I resisted the Lord. I was far too loyal. I would stay the course. The Lord started sending witnesses my way to tell me to get out of there and go to another church. He knew the leadership in my current place would never support me because I was too much of a challenge even though I did not see myself that way, was struggling to survive, and was only being what the Lord created me to be. Compromised leadership always has a problem with such people. I initially paid no attention to the Lord and did not even know it was the Lord. Nevertheless, some reform was happening. Here is one small example:
The preacher was always talking about money. He was a great preacher. Really gifted. But he was obsessed somewhat with money and was always engaging in small sermonettes on the subject. A friend of mine in another church in a different city far away told me how they collected money in their church. They never took up offerings. Instead, they had a box in the back of the church. Members gave when they gave without any prompting whatsoever or coercing. There was also no condemnation. The church had no money problems. In fact, it was a relatively large church and the preacher took no salary.
I thought this news was very refreshing. I thought it was cool. I mentioned this in passing to a friend in my church one day. I was not saying it to be critical but simply because I thought it was a great idea. He thought so too. I never told the leadership. That was the extent of it. Guess what happened? Within a very short time I came to church one day and there was a large tastefully constructed collection box matching the trim installed on the wall of the vestibule. I kid you not.
There were other things like this.
THE TWO WITNESSES
The Lord sent me a witness. Christians talk about the places they attend. This first witness brought my attention to a new church. The Lord was directing me to it. I had never heard of it. That was the purpose of the first witness. This person had no idea what was going on and was not in any way trying to proselytize that I know of, but merely giving an excellent report in conversation and probably had no idea the Lord was in it. I didn’t know it was the Lord.
Then the Lord sent me a second witness. The two witnesses did not know each other. This second witness, which came several weeks later, was a man of excellent character. Like the first, this was not an overt witness either because the man didn’t even know what the Lord was doing in reference to me. But he happened to mention the church he was attending. It was the same church.
It got me thinking. He put the place on the map, so to speak, and made it a distant possibility. No other church ever came up in conversation like this. But I was still adamant about being loyal and not leaving my current church, even though life kept getting more difficult. It got so difficult that I was forced to change anyway and make relatively desperate moves.
We left. We needed support but there was no support coming and never would be. This is what the Lord had been warning me about. He tried to get me to make a shift earlier before things got worse. He knew I was open to attack and was no longer covered even though I should have been and never warranted their behavior. The leadership there was actually reacting to my calling and not necessarily me personally. Their cold shoulder made me vulnerable, the enemy attacked, my life was going downhill, and they took that as a sign that I was not worth supporting. This, obviously, was not financial support but merely the support all believers should have from their community. I was actually supporting them. I had worked hard and had given a lot of money that was earned with difficulty. I gave by the Lord’s direction. I even supported a new building program financially and donated free labor.
But again, they did not appreciate my calling. The Lord was bringing conviction upon the leadership and they didn’t like it. They reacted by turning against one of the messengers. Incidentally, in my time there the leadership began making big moves to correct their financials. I had never seen that before.
After being forced out through the usual cold shoulder church tactics and due to the Lord increasingly withholding His blessing as a way to get me to move on, I spent months mulling my options and trying to figure out the next step. During this time, the strangest thing happened. The Lord began blessing. I wasn’t even going to church. It involved quite a dramatic change for the better. Just getting out of there allowed the Lord to bring blessing. He was making a way.
THE THIRD WITNESS
Six months later I came into contact with the third witness. Remember, the Lord had already blessed me with two clear witnesses over a year earlier. The third witness hit the ball out of the park. It was amazing. The Lord Jesus is always faithful! I had never met the man. He was a well-known minister from a different city with an excellent reputation and also had no knowledge whatsoever of my past situation with the other church. By this time I had pledged to never attend any church ever again and I was maintaining that line of thought as a mature follower of the Lord overly loyal to a fault.
Completely out of the blue, the third witness suggested to me that I look up a good friend of his. This friend of his was a church pastor. He just happened to be the pastor of the very church the other two witnesses had been telling me about! I was in a very large locality with hundreds of churches. The odds of this happening without the Lord’s direct involvement were absolutely impossible. It had been the Lord’s plan all along but my own misplaced loyalty had been getting in the way.
THE STEPHEN EFFECT
The lesson to be learned here might be called the Stephen Effect. Because Stephen was so powerfully anointed and filled with the Spirit of the Lord, the religious idiots he revealed could not hide. If he had said nothing at all they still would have been greatly uncomfortable just being around him. They were powerfully convicted. Compromised Christian leadership acts exactly the same way. It is why they attempt to get rid of people that make them feel convicted.They would much rather be surrounded by adoring fans.
Most Christians refuse to make the connection that this is exactly the way the Lord makes us all feel if we are not right with Him. He convicts us. He does it to help us. He does it to purify the Church.
Since the Lord convicts us, should we get rid of Him?
Christian leadership almost always rejects the spirit of reform, especially when it comes from someone they do not respect or from the outside. But what else can the Lord do? They have already taken control of everything inside. The Lord must always send someone from outside.
Isn’t this always the case? Is not this the true nature of a prophet? Isn’t this exactly why Hebrew leadership was always killing Hebrew prophets? Those who were sent by God? Isn’t that exactly why they killed the Lord?
STEPHEN THE WHISTLEBLOWER
Why was Stephen even brought to trial before the mighty Sanhedrin in the first place? What in the world did he do that was so bad? What law did he break? How did he violate the Torah? What did he do that was so wrong that it got him killed? Could it possibly be that his chief offense was provoking conviction?
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. [Acts 6:8-12]
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
I’ve been writing about the current Great Awakening since I began this blog in May of 2011. Though it remains in the early stages, there should no longer be any doubt that it is coming forth.
Here is a prediction of five years ago: 2011: The Year in Review.
When I first received the revelation and told a few of my associates, they had yet to see any indicators. And as I have explained a few times on this site in other posts, as time passed, they reported back that they were certainly seeing them. Remember, when the Lord brings something forth gradually over time it looks to most observers as not a new thing at all; it merely looks like life as usual. But when one receives a revelation of what will happen beforehand and then observes it coming forth exactly as predicted, one has a front row seat, so to speak, of a revelation becoming reality.
In the five and half years of this blog I have often put forth truth that has been soundly rejected and even disparaged by some Christians. This is all part of the process. People in general resist change. People invested in untruth don’t appreciate their stock being depreciated or their beliefs being questioned. All Christians are, of course, completely ignorant of all things spiritual in the beginning. That’s why it’s a born again experience. The problem is that the majority appear to stay in the beginning and resist further development. They invest in certain doctrines and beliefs and resist the consideration of greater truth.
CHURCHES AS ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
I often use the elementary school illustration for churches in general. Why? –Because they are. Most churches, though they may be great places filled with wonderful people, are elementary. The majority of the Christians in these places do not care for greater truth. They do not want to graduate to the third or fourth grade. Thus, they remain unaware.
Anyone who spends a lot of time studying hard and doing in-depth research knows it is very difficult work. It is not the realm of the lazy. Christians who would rather take it easy can always find a place to fit in, because many churches are comprised of such people. This is not a knock against them but simply an acknowledgement of reality.
Some Christian groups make it to high school but they are very few and far between. Almost no churches at all in America ever get to the spiritual university level. This means individual Christians, if they want to grow, develop as strong and mature disciples, and gain greater truth and revelation, must do the vast bulk of it on their own.
YOU GOT YOUR GOSPEL WHERE? THE DESERT?
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. [Galatians 1:11-12]
The problem arises, however, that when the apostle Paul came back from Damascus and the desert, much of it being alone with the Lord for three years receiving revelation, and returned to Jerusalem, the first disciples he met up with did not fully believe his conversion. It is also why, later in his travels, many unbelieving Jews did not understand what he was talking about or trying to relate, and thus rejected his teachings. This is in part why Paul later found such great success among the Gentiles. They were less concerned about obeying cultural religious precepts and keeping up appearances within religious establishments and much more concerned with a practical application of real Christianity that changed their lives for the better.
It is obviously right and good to protect and stand for the ancient paths, as long as the ancient paths were authored by the Lord. It is terrible thing, however, to stand up and fight for untruth, false doctrines, bad narratives, and outright deception. The Christians who fall for this stuff and never correct it have only themselves to blame. I confess right now to you all, my readers, that I have believed stuff that turned out to be wrong, but as Paul said once, I believed it from ignorance. I didn’t know any better. It’s what the preacher said. It’s what the book author said. It’s what I was taught. Whatever. Through continuing study I discovered facts that proved unfacts wrong.
But again, with reference to Paul, the man who goes to the desert often finds he is no longer welcome when he returns. The people you used to hang with want you to junk all the new truth the Lord gave you and return to being a dummy. They will not work to be a better disciple and they get upset when their lack of greater discipleship is exposed. They get convicted. It is often the case that a person doesn’t have to say anything at all and still get a bad reaction. It is how the enemy works. The enemy goes into demonic derangement syndrome in a heartbeat and flies off the handle. Here is a case in point:
And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” [Luke 4:31-34] 
Do you notice how the Lord was being a real Man and speaking with great authority? And had the dunamis to back it up? That usually never happens in many churches. The Lord, however, during His ministry, was POWERFUL. He shook things up. The people were amazed. The religious leaders were shocked. He was a real man’s Man and beyond. People took notice. Sinners were instantly convicted. But demons were scared to death. That’s why the synagogue demon flipped out. And this is also why they flip out in churches when someone brings in some real truth that clashes with the accepted curriculum.
People who have never been to the wilderness or the desert will usually never accept anything from the wilderness or the desert.
In the next post I will list some trends to watch for in the coming year. Until then I encourage you to look over some of my recent posts and especially posts that concern the Great Awakening. There is a search box in the left column entitled Seek, and Ye Shall Find.
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Many years ago I was working as the lead carpenter on a residential job in a relatively upscale section of a large city. The homeowners were a respected middle-aged couple. He was a professor at a local university. She was from England. The state governor lived nearby.
The professor was a good guy, relatively happy, and bookish. Because of his job he was rarely home and I never talked to him much. She had a strong English accent, a proper manner, and was well educated. It was one of the reasons we had good conversations. I was relatively well-read and knowledgeable of the classics.
Due to the way I was motivated as a witness for the Lord, I had slowly begun to talk to her during breaks about spiritual things and we eventually had some limited conversations about Christianity. They were Christians, of the Protestant variety. I had an idea to invite them to church like I did with so many people I witnessed to, but I figured it would be a difficult thing to accomplish in their case.
I was going to a large Spirit-filled church at that time. It was known by one visiting teacher who spoke there on occasion as “The Church of What’s Happening Now.” It had gone through a big growth phase a few years earlier and had been transformed from a small old-school Pentecostal church to an innovative and wonderful place due to a large influx of newly born again university students and younger people. Many of these were set free to use their youthful expertise to make some powerful positive changes. It was a great place to be.
The day came when I suggested we get to know each other’s Christian traditions better by actually attending each other’s churches. She was open to the idea. It took a long time to get to this point. I was always one to move slowly because I knew how the enemy could disrupt a good plan at a moment’s notice. She asked her husband about it. And what a joy it was when she told me they were agreeable. I was just a young carpenter on a job site and they were up there in the social ranks. I could not help but see the hand of God.
We agreed to go to their church first. My wife and I met them there. I cannot remember the denomination, but it was one of those upscale places where everything was relatively quiet and low key amidst high-end adornment and a very traditional setting. The place was very tastefully decorated.
The service was somewhat monotonous compared to what I preferred and was used to. There was certainly no moving of the Spirit of God. It was intellectually-based. But my wife and I were thoroughly polite. The older couple liked us. Afterwards, as I recall, we shared a small meal on site and got to know each other a little better. There were smiles all around. I appreciated their wonderful attitude and the way they embraced a young couple interested in finding common Christian ground.
It might have been the next week when they were to reciprocate and visit our church. My wife was in the choir so it would be just me in the pew. It turned out her husband the professor couldn’t make it. Maybe he didn’t want to. This was, as everyone knew, a large Spirit-filled Pentecostal church pretty much on the very opposite end of the spectrum from their much more traditional format. I’m sure it must have invoked some difficulty for them.
I met her out in the vestibule and she was polite and smiling, and somewhat upbeat. I believe she really was interested even though the place was never something she would choose on her own. Again, she was from England, was used to a high church format, and moved in some high circles. It was so cool that this was actually happening.
Though I greatly appreciated Spirit-filled gatherings, I confess that I had also developed an embarrassment of Pentecostal excess. This was the early 1980s. I was still connected to some very old school Pentecostal people and traditions, some of which were really silly, and some even a tad dark. There was a thread of redneckism to be dealt with. There was also an anti-intellectual element. It is certainly true that many Pentecostals came from the other side of the tracks and were not necessarily very well educated. But I can also honestly say that I had never met more warm, fun, and engaging people. Most were open to the Lord and were willing to do whatever He required, reputations be damned.
So there we were, standing in the pews while the choir sang. It was a tremendous choir. So much about this place was so far ahead of the curve. It set the tone for many churches across the country. Long before the word “progressive” was appropriated and used for other purposes, I used to refer to this place as “Progressive Pentecost.” Many great things happened there. There was an openness to many fields of study. It was composed of all ages and races, a truly open and colorblind church.
I can’t remember exactly what happened next. It seems it was still in the early part of the service. We were all standing. I remember I had worked so hard to get this lady to visit. She trusted me. I had always shown her the grace of God. I was certainly concerned that some excessive thing might happen that would turn her off but was never prepared for what did happen. I was trying so hard to be low-key and normal, maybe a hard thing to do in a full blown Pentecostal service among many hundreds of people. To affect this attitude in my attempt to be cool and not a religious redneck, I happened to have my hands in my slacks pockets as I stood there. I was really hoping that she would be touched by the Spirit of God and had been silently praying.
In the midst of a little commotion on the platform the preacher suddenly grabbed a microphone and started speaking to the crowd. There was a move of the Spirit and I think he was trying to get everyone’s mind on God and to pay attention. Of course, I would think everyone WAS paying attention. We could all feel the Spirit of God. Everyone was respectful and obeying protocol. But rather than let the Lord wash over us and bless us with some peace and His presence, the preacher, as he was wont to do, had to take over.
Completely messing up a good thing, he actually started to berate people. He’s walking quickly across the platform and pointing out individuals and then back to the other side, his eyes going from those closest to those toward the back. Everyone was on eggshells. This happened way too much but because of our respect for the proceedings we all thought it was God, that God was anointing him to go off like that. I learned later that was not the case. I got older. I grew spiritually. I eventually figured out that this anointed man of God who did so many wonderful things had a tendency to turn into a complete nutcase on occasion.
Now, most of us do this. Sometimes we are very tired. We do not get enough sleep. The pressures of life can be very strong. We lose our tempers. We prove our humanity. But in the course of a church service when people really need the Lord, it should never happen or should at least be rare.
As he was raising his voice and pointing people out I began to get seriously embarrassed for my visitor. I was afraid this would happen. But I never expected what did happen. Why? –Because I had obeyed the Lord and was guided by Him to bring this classy friend of mine to church in hopes of her growing in the Lord, being introduced to something new and great, and possibly getting filled with the Holy Spirit!
The preacher’s crazy eyes fell on me. He pounced. I couldn’t believe it. “Get your hands out of your pockets!” Wait. What? He had no clue whatsoever what the Lord was up to with my visitor or what I was attempting to accomplish.
Right away she told me she had to leave. She saw him looking at her also and was shaken. She wasn’t waiting around. She had to get out of there. Still smiling, she began to exit the pew. I followed her out. We talked briefly at the doors but it did no good. She was leaving.
The entire witness was ruined. All the prayer, effort, and work was wasted. A wonderful opportunity went right down the drain. Right at the finish line.
There are so many stories like this. The lack of accountability among the preacher ranks has always been the chief reason why such things happen. It is why the Lord always appointed several elders in the early churches and NEVER a single “pastor.” And such sordid behavior is certainly not contained to Pentecostal churches. It happens everywhere, in all denominations, and is continually reinforced and rarely challenged. There are far too many blowhards who do and say whatever they feel like and next to no one in the churches has the guts to speak correctively. Everyone knows what will happen if they do.
Perhaps we are now in a time when that can change.
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
From the very beginning the Lord built into His ministry model committed followers pledged to carry on His legacy. He trained distinctly loyal men recruited largely from the working class and lower levels of society.
He had no need of anyone already vested in and sold out to this world. Such men could never be counted on when the going got rough. They were culturally comfortable and would inevitably desert or betray Him. As it was, Judas Iscariot proved that even qualified disciples could go bad.
ALL THESE HAVE I KEPT FROM MY YOUTH UP
A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” [Luke 18:18]
The gospel story of the rich young man seeking greater discipleship illustrates the Lord’s selection process perfectly. He was used as a living example to reveal why the Lord would not choose disciples who were compromised socially or monetarily.
When the young man first spotted the Lord, he actually ran up and fell on his knees before Him. This individual, who had kept the Torah from his youth, appeared upstanding and sincere, and was certainly devoted to his father and family.
Jesus confirmed that the man had indeed been observant of the Torah as instructed by Moses. Though he hailed from the privileged class, the young archon looked like a great ministry candidate. But to make sure the man’s heart was in the right place the Lord said he must do just one more thing to inherit eternal life:
Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Mark 10:21]
At once the man was floored with the unexpected. He never saw it coming. Even the observers were shocked by the Lord’s command. The young man, so rich and comfortable in this temporary fallen world, stood before the Lord contemplating deeply the ramifications of such a course of action. In considering all his options, his hesitancy had already given him away. He went from confident and contented to very sad and insecure in a mere moment. Money had too great a hold on him. He could not break free. There is no record of a verbal response. The young man turned down a one-in-a-million chance and slowly walked out of history.
But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. [Mark 10:22]
CHURCHES BOUND BY MONEY
Part of the reason the Lord displayed an open acceptance of non-servitude to money was because He knew how bewitching money in itself could be toward people without full integrity. He set the example. He would never have been overcome, but He also had to demonstrate the proper distaste and inherent wrongness for the attempt to achieve spiritual objectives through money. The Lord said it is IMPOSSIBLE to serve God and wealth. One can therefore serve only one or the other.
Money is necessary for ministry to an extent, of course. It is essentially benign. It only gains an untoward connotation while in the hands of unregenerate or compromised people who make it their be-all and end-all.
Because the church realm has historically forced itself into subsisting on donations, and since one must ask to receive donations, it is obvious that the compromised leaders thereof spend much more time and effort begging and even demanding money from others than they do in seeking assistance from the Lord in faithful and humble prayer.
That’s why non-Spirit-filled churches and denominations—those composed of non-disciples like the Torah-observant rich man in Luke’s gospel—reject real discipleship and replace the Spirit of God with money. They are not seeking the spiritual success instructed by the Lord but a different form of success made impossible without money. They are by and large successful in ministry only because of money. Such institutions have proven this over many centuries. They have done quite well completely devoid of the Lord’s control, authority, and spiritual power. They have easily bypassed the Lord by convincing people to support them monetarily. That is the secret of their success.
REAL CHRISTIANS UNBOUND BY MONEY
In contrast, the Lord Jesus teaches that His disciples can be spiritually successful whether they have any money or not. Think of Peter and John who were used as vessels of the Lord in the healing of the lame man as recorded in the Book of Acts. They told him they had no money, but would give him what they did have—the healing power of the Lord and eternal life.
As real Christians we must first commit to the Lord and be His disciples. That’s the top priority. This will involve surrendering whatever we have been dependent on beforehand. He will then grant us the spiritual power and anointing we need. At some point after that He will give us the money we need. The money must be subject to Him and fit within the parameters of discipleship. When He does give us money it is almost always based on need rather than want. The desire to store up large amounts of money for no ostensible purpose is actually self-defeating for the spiritual man or woman. Money is necessary but it is only good if it is properly subjected to the Lord. This is what sanctifies it. The majority of “Christian” money and holdings are not sanctified because such are not fully subjected to the Lord. If money will not be sanctified it is better to not have it.
This is in part why “Christianity” in general spends multiple billions of dollars with absolutely no spiritual effect. Most of it is spent improperly. There is very little spiritual return on the investment. Why? Because it is spent on lands, buildings, furnishings, stocks, businesses, salaries, maintenance, and etc—much of the stuff the Lord never spent it on. The great bulk of it never reaches the ones who need it most.
The Lord Jesus died for PEOPLE. He loves PEOPLE. His priority is PEOPLE.
CHRISTIAN CORRECTNESS PROGRAMMING
Unreal Christianity has controlled the outward accepted narrative since it was created many centuries ago after forcing the Lord’s narrative underground. It falsely legitimizes what Christians are made to believe. Though its precepts are based on the Word of God, it deceptively adds its own distinctive doctrines. Such doctrines become traditional and accepted over time. Congregations are none the wiser. They are taught to submit, to be passive and never dynamic. Such Christians become dependent and even addicted to the religion thereof and cannot escape, just as the rich man was bound by money. When presented with the opportunity to break free, most will not. They exist in religious captivity.
Unreal Christianity has survived many fairly recent attempts over the last 50-60 years to expose it for what it is in order to reclaim the narrative. At present it is being seriously exposed but many of its followers still cannot bring themselves to disconnect, in part because it takes a while to admit to being deceived. Most people do not enjoy being told they are wrong. Much pride is involved.
“It is easier to fool people than to convince people that they have been fooled.” [Mark Twain]
RESISTERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The professional clergy are never going to promote spiritual freedom. They will never fight for anything greater than themselves and their own enterprises. Only the truth can make us free and they don’t practice the truth. Only the Lord does. It is a dominion issue. The Lord Jesus gives us an absolutely perfect example of how this works:
(1) He exposed the fakes.
(2) They murdered Him for it.
(3) He essentially said, “Fine. I will awaken from the dead and blow your minds. I will awaken millions of others also. You cannot and will not ever stop me. ”
A TRUTH AWAKENING
Truth exposes falsehood and deception. It exposes lies. It exposes ulterior motives. It exposes personal agendas masquerading as religiously “good” agendas. Truth exposes everything.
We exist in a time when a Great Awakening is coming forth. IT IS AN AWAKENING BASED ON TRUTH. It is a Truth Awakening. Christians are tired of being kept uninformed of the higher truths taught by the Lord, coddled as children, and used by clergyites who, even if well-intentioned in the beginning, always succumb to the real nature of clergyism: It is nothing more than the religious upper classism of a very few ruling over 99% of everyone else. These blind leaders of the blind, like the Sumerian high priests of antiquity, exist atop their many heaven-reaching steepled ziggurats spread all over the landscape.
They keep their congregants regimented, controlled, programmed, and spiritually uninformed or misinformed. They downplay the Word of God and promote their own theologies. And by means of a clear violation of Scripture, they subsist like ticks off culturally obligated donations, coerced cash, and public collections of money.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:1-4] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 2]
“Some church leaders speak of “covenant,” but their actions toward those they are supposedly in covenant with often show they are completely ignorant of its true meaning.”
In Part 1, we discussed the Revelation of Real Relationship. In Part 2, we discussed the ongoing Restoration. In Part 3, we discussed the Revolution in American Christianity coming forth in these early days of the Great Awakening.
In this Part 4 conclusion, we continue the narrative from my book Real Christianity by discussing the ramifications of reform, the counter fight against it, and Redemption.
I encourage everyone to read this entire series. In contains both a guide for current reform and the prior instructional evidence for successful reformation to date.
We are all growing ever-more hungry for spiritual reality in our Christian effort and experience, especially in the realm of community and our relations with one another. The Good News is that much progress has taken place and continues. Your work matters and is having an effect. The Lord Jesus is winning.
Dual-natured Christianity added a whole new dimension to spiritual battle. To show how bewitching this evil spirit can be, many of those who dissented and began great movements away from centralized captivity and toward freedom often built their own version of the way things ought to be and guarded it like a junkyard dog.
As an illustration, imagine draining the water out of one massive dammed-up lake into several smaller dammed-up lakes. Then, drain those lakes by building more dammed-up reservoirs. Eventually, one would arrive at thousands upon thousands of small, dammed-up bodies of water. The lesson here is that Jesus is not interested so much in man-made lakes as He is in naturally flowing rivers and streams.
Is it really all that difficult, therefore, to see why Christianity is much less than what it should be? If some pastors treated their family in the indifferent manner they do their flock, they would probably no longer have a family.
Why such a harsh statement? Congregation turnover, for one reason. It is something that completely escapes our notice the more populous the church happens to be. There are exceptions to every rule, yet the larger the church, the greater the turnover. There are obviously demographics at work in all churches, meaning that a percentage of the congregation will be fluid. Yet, some churches have almost complete housecleaning every five to ten years. Church leadership thinks this is due to people either moving on into ministry, backsliding into oblivion, or refusing to commit to their program, meaning that any fault, in their view, lies largely with the congregants.
Some church leaders speak of “covenant,” but their actions toward those they are supposedly in covenant with often show they are completely ignorant of its true meaning. God has put up with manifest garbage from His own people throughout history, yet He continues to hold to the terms of His covenant with Abraham because it is an everlasting covenant. From the perspective of Christian leaders immersed in centralized authority, a covenant of that sort is just plain silly and is only referred to in the abstract. They know they cannot maintain control according to the terms of such an agreement and therefore reject it outright. Their public discourse leads one to believe that they support the Abrahamic covenant unequivocally, but this is not really the case. If it were, they wouldn’t be fighting to maintain control over their people or vying to gain even greater dominion by seeking more converts over which they might rule.
If God’s people are to grow, they must be free. By God’s grace, some manage to do this within the system. For others, the only real freedom and maturity they acquire arrives after they exit, stage right.
TIME TO MOSEY
Actually, a great exodus began about thirty to forty years ago. Today, the fruit of this search for freedom within Christendom exists virtually everywhere. In large metropolitan areas, in small towns, in suburbia—thousands of non-denominational fellowships have sprung up with no affiliation with any central authority. This means there are no bureaucrats, no mission boards, no paid resident clergy, and no faceless masses yearning for freedom and real growth in the Lord. Right? Well, we only wish.
We have, in this latest movement, carried less of Egypt with us than in the past, but still too much to promote true spiritual freedom. If anything, we are more fractured than before. Instead of having one, or a few centers of religious authority, we now have scads of mini-kingdoms and assorted loose groupings based on former denominational ties. Of course, the majors came through it all basically intact, although many had to compromise their doctrines, liturgies, and stands on issues in order to keep their membership rolls at an operational level.
So, even though progress is being made, we’ve still not come up with the fortitude to rid ourselves of the clutches of carnality, worldliness, and pride. Christendom must continue, therefore, through the blistering sands of the Sinai on its long and winding trek to the promised land, in order to eventually eliminate those who are hell-bent on making and maintaining golden calves. 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“In the beginning, spiritual relationship came naturally. Nobody had to come up with a program to promote relationship between members…”
In Part 1, we discussed the Revelation of Real Relationship. In Part 2, we continue the narrative from my book Real Christianity by discussing the Restoration:
In the beginning, spiritual relationship came naturally. Nobody had to come up with a program to promote relationship between members. The early believers understood that the relational purity they each came to possess upon their new-birth experience was instantaneous. For example, when a baby is born, that child becomes an immediate member of its family. The baby’s family relationships result from the birth, not from trying to create them at a future date. It is the same in the Church. Relationship is a byproduct of joining the community.
It doesn’t exist properly in many churches that have attempted to establish it, however, and this denotes a problem. It could be a problem of immaturity and lack of proper spiritual insight, or it could indicate a problem of resistance against God. Real Christianity has real relationship. Unreal Christianity has little bona fide spiritual relationship between members but only a substitute or inferior form thereof. Such unreal relationship creates no unity or intimacy among members. Thus, the quiet discord that exists beneath the surface in most churches is due to neglect or rejection of that which brings unity. When individual members of the same church never establish relationship, spiritual unity is victimized, and true fellowship is not possible.
It’s jarring to think that what the early church once was is what we in the present are trying to become. Sadly, there was a point in history when the early community of saints which brought light to millions began to have less effect on a dark world. They were faced with mass conversions to a state religion which was Christian in name only and, thus, were increasingly perceived as heretics by the unreal brethren and as world aliens to everyone else. The real believers had become the spat upon and rejected scum of the earth. Wherever they went, they were truly strangers in a strange land.
The Qahal  of the latter portion of the church age met a parallel historical point, though in reverse, a few centuries ago. By the early 1900s, restoration reached a new level and has been steadily increasing since. We are now at another fork in the road. One way leads toward our destiny; the other way embarks on yet another endless circle. This juncture marks the point of no return for those who decline to follow the Lord into the next and possibly final transition. The very narrow way which the Church is pressing through at this writing is forcing her to abandon excess weight and baggage, as well as those elements which might have assisted her in the past but are now only slowing her down. One of these elements is class division. It must be left on the entry side of the eye of this present needle. 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Qahal is the Hebrew equivalent for “Church,” and is the word most likely used by Jesus.
 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“There is a reason people have problems in their attempt to minister together. The chief obstacle which has been in the way for the greater portion of the church age is still in the way…”
I have written extensively on this subject. My book, Real Christianity, delves deeply into the issue. I have taught many Bible Studies on the topic.
Though the following excerpt from the book is relatively brief, it presents the historical and Biblical essence of Real Relationship and helps every believer to discover how it positively affects his or her Christian experience and discipleship.
Speaking of which, I highly recommend buying my book. It has received excellent reviews. Its pages are loaded with truth that reveals this application of the Lord’s teachings, the Divide and Conquer tactic against it, and so many other methods of the enemy that strive to limit and even stop the progress of the Lord’s real Community by eliminating real spiritual relationship, both with the Lord and with one another.
Thank you and be blessed:
There is a reason people have problems in their attempt to minister together. The chief obstacle which has been in the way for the greater portion of the church age is still in the way. We exist in the midst of a major revelation, which Christendom has repeatedly failed to apply properly. This attests to its freshness. That it had to come by revelation shows the depths of our collective naiveté. Of course, many in the pew saw the need for it long before the pulpiteers, but were powerless, in their estimation, to do anything significant about establishing it since it seemed to be in opposition to the status quo. Indeed, the ruling clergy is threatened by it and has therefore tried to water it down or channel it in a “safe” direction. But such puny attempts by even punier autocrats will never succeed against the will of God.
What is this major revelation? Put simply, it is real relationship. Its fundamental hindrance is the clergy-laity division which was firmly established by the fourth century A.D. Remember, the Church, or Qahal,  which Jesus initiated was a community—the community of called-out ones. In the early days, there were no class distinctions or divisions—everyone participated in a meaningful, fulfilling way. At present, though we might try, we will never arrive at real relationship church-wide, until we do away with the clergy-laity split. 
Many churches have attempted to incorporate spiritual relationship between members into their objectives, and most of them think they have succeeded. This reveals at least a small amount of religious pride which must be eliminated as well. The clergy can attach any label it desires to a thing, but labeling is often as far as it gets. Those who have made great starts in the heat of great opposition, on the other hand, should be commended for their stand and supported for stepping out. In takes more time than we think, however, before real relationship is established within a group, and those who have begun the process must press on. When we at last lay to rest the evil root which causes division in the Church, we will have:
1. True recognition of each and every one of God’s people
2. A revelation of the inestimable worth of each member of the congregation
3. The utilization of this worth toward the building of real community
4. The functioning of every person in the Church according to his God-ordained purpose within his destined ministerial calling
5. The maturing of the Church into an organic ministering fellowship (the body of Messiah) with any number of horizontal relationships between members, yet only one direct vertical relationship—that between each member and the Lord Jesus 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Qahal is the Hebrew equivalent for “Church,” and is the word most likely used by Jesus.
 The word “Laity” originates from the New Testament Greek word laos (lah-’os). It is defined as a people group, whether socio-political, socio-religious, or cultural-ethnic. It generally refers to the “common people,” as a crowd, a populace, or a nation. It is also used as the people of God. When used in the latter sense, it means all of the people collectively. It is easy to see how the meaning of this word was corrupted when class division entered Christianity.
 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. [Galatians 4:4-5]
The Lord Jesus arrived at exactly the right time. One would think it was actually not a very good time at all, especially in light of what eventually happened to Him. He came to His people when what was left of the nation of Israel had brought forth the very worst generation in its history. That says a lot, since the ancient Hebrews had manifested some really bad generations over the centuries.
He came at a time when the religious kingpins had gained complete control and had corrupted the entire spiritual establishment. The sect of the Sadducees, the high upper class of well-to-do Establishment power brokers, were in bed with the Romans and had control of the Temple. But remember that the Lord God never wanted a Temple in the first place, and that the Temple in Jerusalem in the first century was empty: There was no Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.
The Ark had disappeared to history 600 hundred years before and is still missing to this day. Without the Ark of the Covenant, what exactly was going on at the Temple in the first century? This is a perfect type of the majority of churches in America that refuse the presence of God but continue to go through the motions anyway.
Consider the following:
But in the same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”’ [2Samuel 7:4-7]
“David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET; WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?’ says the Lord, ‘OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE? WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’ You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” [Acts 7:46-51]
As soon as Stephen said this his fate was sealed. Those religious authorities not only murdered him seconds later, they acted exactly like the pack of wolves they were just before:
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. [Acts 7:54]
Did Stephen hit a big old giant religious nerve or what?
The sect of the Pharisees had control of the synagogues, which meant they controlled all religious thought and actions, supervised all behavior, and demanded that everyone follow their strict but incorrect interpretation of the Law and Prophets. They had gained the seat of Moses but the Lord told His own disciples to not do what they do. There are many powerful rebukeathons directed by the Lord against the Scribes and Pharisees throughout the Gospels. There are also many parables revealing their illicit behavior and inherent wrongness. The Pharisees were always against the Lord, always trying to trip Him up, always attempting to disparage Him in the eyes of the people, and also always trying to kill Him.
Was the Lord Jesus constantly hitting a big old giant religious nerve or what?
In light of the fact that the Holy of Holies was empty, the people were struggling under a curse, and the religious Establishment looked great on the outside but were evil within, shouldn’t more people have noticed the real Ark of the Covenant? Shouldn’t they have perceived the real Temple?
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19]
THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
So why did the Lord Jesus arrive at such a time? The religious authorities who had been engaged in so much wanton destruction for so long, whose forebears had killed all the prophets, had gained complete control.
Evil had been elevated to the very top of the pyramid.
“Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. [Matthew 16:3-4]
Sound familiar? Let’s return to the topic verse:
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. [Galatians 4:4-5]
The Lord Jesus arrived when He did to redeem His people who were under the Torah. For greater clarification, Paul also said this:
For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— [Galatians 3:11-13] 
The Lord came to set His people free at a time when they needed it most. He would become the Sacrifice Lamb. He had to be born under the Law and that particular generation was more “under the Law” than any prior generation.
The word “redeem” in these two passages from Galatians is from the Greek exagorazo, which means: (1) to redeem (1a) by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off (1b) metaph. of Christ freeing the elect from the dominion of the Mosaic Law at the price of his vicarious death (2) to buy up, to buy up for one’s self, for one’s use (2a) to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good, so that zeal and well doing are as it were the purchase money by which we make the time our own.
Paul said that Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Torah. That’s a powerful statement. Quite pejorative. The curse of the Torah? This explains how the Pharisees gained control of the people. It explains why that generation was the worst. It explains why He came as a bright Light into a land of great darkness. It explains why they hated Him.
This Jewish sect had fully recognized the evil of the Sadducees and Pharisees, how they had gained control of the Temple and the synagogues, and essentially the entire religious Establishment. And they told them all to go stick it in their collective ear by leaving all and going to the wilderness. They would not put up with all the religious chicanery and shenanigans. Their problem was not that they left but that they had no power as witnesses to stay on the scene and do anything about it. They knew they were defeated and could never change the status quo. But they did a great service to the Lord by shaking the dust off their feet and refusing to be a part of the evil.
This is also why John the Immerser conducted his ministry out in the wilderness, away from all the religious and political intrigue. He proved in part that his ministry was from God because much of the nation went all the way out there to see him. It was a powerful movement within what was left of the nation of Israel and set in motion the Lord’s own movement. What these two movements portend is that REPENTANCE must always come before GRACE. American Christians must properly repent before the Great Awakening can come forth. A big part of this repentance is renouncing everything wrong within “Christianity” instead of supporting it or merely walking away from it.
BLINDED BY DECEPTION
Though the spirit of repentance is rising, there is still very little repentance in America for incorrect, non-New Testament church practices and church formats, the teaching of false doctrines, the clergy-laity division, or the refusal to be filled with the Lord’s Spirit allowing Him full control. This is due in part to ignorance, willful ignorance, deception, and outright rebellion, but at its heart is a curse. In Galatians, Paul quoted the following OT verse:
“‘Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” [Deuteronomy 27:26]
The point here is that Moses taught that the entire Torah must be honored. Anything less not only rendered it ineffective, it brought on a curse.
James reiterated this teaching of Moses in the following:
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. [James 2:10]
The Lord Jesus made it clear that we are either with Him or against Him. There is no middle ground. It should therefore be obvious that we are not allowed by Him to choose whatever part of His teachings we like and reject the others. But Christianity in general has been guilty of this for centuries and certainly remains guilty at present.
It was the same in the first century. Though the people were under a curse, they continued to support the status quo. They continued going through religious motions that had no real effect on their spiritual lives. They were beat down, and they were scared. They wanted real change for the better but could not make it happen.
Until the Lord Jesus.
And until Pentecost.
After that the flood gates opened.
For such a time as this.
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The Lord Jesus created one Church. It signifies the one Community of the Lord Jesus on the earth, composed of every real Christian. The word “church” is derived from the Greek Ekklesia and the Hebrew Qahal. The Kingdom of the Lord Jesus is, of course, a spiritual kingdom. It has one King—the King of kings, the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last—YeHoshua HaMashiach.
The moment a religious chartered institution, including an individual local “church,” is formally formed, it becomes a competing entity to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. It creates a clergy-based leadership team almost always consisting of one man at the top of the pyramid who has been invested with the ultimate power to do whatever he deems appropriate within the bylaws. He usually has a church board, an elder staff, or a small committee of some sort that shares his power in a sense, but most of these are mere sycophants, or yes-man boards who do little more than support him, not much different at all from the way a pack of wolves will honor a single alpha male as pack leader and submit to him completely.
When a man is invested with such power he is bound to fail the Lord’s commission, lead his people astray, and royally screw things up over time. It keeps happening over and over, but such Christians who support this format refuse to see that the set up is messed up and rather than change the faulty format they insist on forcing everyone to adhere to it as the ultimate “right thing to do.”
In other words, a monster is created and rather than kill the monster they insist on supporting it regardless of cost or what it does to people, and whoever has a different opinion is run off or destroyed by said monster. The concept of spiritual peace and love as taught by the Master is thrown out the window and is used and referred to only in the abstract in order to save the man-made substitute.
To illustrate the difference between religious institutions and the one Ekklesia, Qahal, or Community of the Lord, the Southern Baptist Convention is not the Kingdom but a competing entity. The Roman Catholic Church is not the Kingdom but a competing entity. A Pentecostal mega “church” is not the kingdom but a competing entity. These legal religious institutions may or may not have real Christians as members, but such members are often unclear on the concept of the Lord’s original intent and curriculum. Thus, they give too little honor to the Lord Jesus and too much honor to their chosen leaders, who are often compromised.
Judas would not last long in the vast majority of churches unless he made it to the leadership team. In fact, this is where Judas spirits usually end up. But rather than go after the leader as the original Judas did, the real Judas spirit, since it longs for power over people, wants to control the institution. In this sense it works with the leadership team over the congregation. All it needs to accomplish this is a willing leadership team.
The very fact that the Lord Jesus instructed His real disciples to call no one the “leader” except Him, and that most Christians insist on doing otherwise, and that “pastors” love being called “leader” and revel in the authority it brings (though many will affect a faux humble attitude), proves that almost all Christians and Christian leaders insist on violating the following pure commands of the Lord:
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.” [Matthew 23:8-10]
The preceding commands of the Lord Jesus in Matthew’s gospel are essentially no different than the first three of the Ten Commandments:
Then God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” [Exodus 20:1-7]
In the Matthew account the Lord Jesus clearly identifies Himself as (1) The only Teacher, (2) The only Father, and (3) The only Leader. In the Exodus account, YHWH Elohim clearly identifies Himself as the only God, which encapsulates everything that God is to His people, such as their loving Deliverer from bondage which always starts the process of salvation.
But Christians in general are grossly confused by these clear facts. They are confused for a reason. They are confused because the very clear commands of the Lord Jesus regarding leadership and authority have been grossly violated. They refuse to see or even consider that He is indeed the only Teacher, Father, and Leader. As a result, they also grossly violate the first three of the Ten Commandments by making idols and worshipping them, and taking the Name of the Lord in vain:
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth… [Philippians 2:9-10]
Because people have it stuck in their heads that an “idol” is a crude little ancient statue made of metal, wood, or stone representing some weird foreign deity and nothing else, they are blinded to the reality of what the Lord was teaching: The most fully evolved “idol” is a living human being. Hence—
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. [Matthew 23:8-10]
We can add to this many other titles such as “reverend” and “pastor,” the latter of which is a pure corruption of a bad translation and appears only once in the NT. It should have been translated as shepherd. Most “pastors” love their title for obvious reasons, but are not true shepherds and in fact abhor the designation of shepherd due to its inferred lack of status, decorum, and authority. They do not want to be characterized as mere sheep herders off in a pasture somewhere with a stained robe and weathered stick.
If Christians are waiting for reform in this area from the top, such reform will never arrive. We see by what happened to the Lord Jesus that challenging false leadership will be costly. They killed Him. In America, because we have laws against that sort of thing, false leadership resorts to chicken solutions like spreading false gossip and innuendo, blackballing, the use of supreme indifference, quiet hatred, and generally breaking every commandment of the Lord to attack His prophets and maintain personal power. All of this is done to prop up false leadership which proves further that it is false leadership, often infused with the power of a Judas spirit, which uses betrayal of the brethren as the means toward its highest goal: Power over them.
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” [Exodus 20:5-6] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“How in the world did Paul learn directly from the Lord since the Lord had already died, was resurrected, and went to heaven? How was it that Paul appropriated the Lord Jesus as his new and only Rabbi?”
. . .
Most official ministers are not aware of how the Lord Jesus financed His ministry, and there is a very good reason for that. Actually two reasons. The first is a basic lack of knowledge, which is completely understandable in that most members of the clergy are taught by other clergyites in official Bible schools, seminaries, and colleges. Very few of these people learn spiritual truths as did the apostles and even Paul—directly from the Lord.
This method is actually the New Testament model. One may learn the basics as a rookie in churches and Bible Studies from any number of sermons and teachings but at some point must graduate to higher spiritual learning. The apostles were certainly well-versed in Scripture prior to joining the Lord’s school, and the apostle Paul was likely the most well-versed, but these men had no knowledge of the spiritual things the Lord Jesus must teach them. It is why they were often such hard cases and gave off the appearance of being clueless though good-hearted Forrest Gumps. If it had been any of us it would have been the same.
That’s why the general Christian clergy attitude is so defeating and backwards regarding higher Christian education. It is far too controlling, egg-headed, and dogmatic. It leaves little room for free thought. In case you may think I’m starting to drift here, I must remind all that the apostle Paul learned the Gospel directly from the Lord out in the desert somewhere. He never went to any official New Testament school. And in case one may think he was the exception, this was actually not the case. The Lord Jesus made it clear that He must be our only teacher:
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.” [Matthew 23:8]
Regarding this fact, how in the world did Paul learn directly from the Lord since the Lord had already died, was resurrected, and went to heaven? How was it that Paul appropriated the Lord Jesus as his new and only Rabbi?
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia… [Galatians 1:11-17]
Official Bible schools, seminaries, Christian colleges, and churches are not as open and transparent as they purport to be. They are each agenda-based though this fact is often played down or concealed. Each of these institutions has their respective, unique, and exclusive teaching agenda. They each have their own distinctive curriculum and teaching format. Thus, one establishment will frequently disagree completely with another regarding doctrine, liturgy, or ecclesiastical infrastructure, which makes them contradictory!
Because they are agenda-based and not purely New Testament-based, they will be lacking in some of the Lord’s teachings, will have introduced some of their own dogma which is not representative of the Lord’s teachings, and will thus not fulfill the Lord’s directive that He must be the only Teacher.
Let me put it this way: Elementary school prepares us for junior high, which prepares us for high school, which prepares us for college or university if we get that far. Some go beyond this. A university degree thus prepares some students for master’s or doctoral programs. Therefore, as disciples of the Lord, it is understandable to learn the basics through lesser and general means.
I know in my experience, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, I had an insatiable appetite for the Word of God. I was attending church services four times a week but was also doing the bulk of my reading and study on my own. It didn’t take me long to read the entire Bible. I was also engaged in much interaction with many different believers. I got familiar with different denominational beliefs. All of this served as great background and foundational learning. During that early time I also did what I could to buy books and slowly start building my library. All of this set the tone and served as vital prerequisites for greater learning directly from the Lord.
This is where things get interesting. A disciple starts receiving revelation and learning that goes beyond the received education of most, simply because most Christians do one of the following:
- They do very little if any Bible reading or study on their own.
- They depend far too heavily on whatever preachers or teachers they submit to and rarely go beyond that agenda.
- They develop an attitude of suspicion and eventual criticism toward anything and anyone that is not fully ensconced within their own little Christian world.
Regarding the latter, Christian schools of higher learning do exactly the same. Generally speaking, this does not mean that much good cannot be learned in such institutions or even in churches. The key is being led of the Lord Jesus. What is vitally necessary, then, if one is to progress as an effective and mature disciple and learn directly from the Lord, is that one must move on from basic convention at some point to arrive at that place of higher spiritual learning the Lord has for each of us.
“I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” [Proverbs 8:17] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“How was it possible that the Lord could just go up to men and call them into ministry, telling them to leave their jobs and livelihoods, without somehow taking care of them and their families financially?”
. . .
Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” [Matthew 8:20]
No one is more selfless and humble than the Lord Jesus.
I have promoted a truth on this site in several posts and comments that I have never heard preached or taught anywhere else. It has to do with the Lord and money. How did He finance His ministry?
Most Christians never consider this question. Here’s the bigger question, however: How was it possible that the Lord could just go up to men and call them into ministry, telling them to leave their jobs and livelihoods, without somehow taking care of them and their families financially? These men were all working very hard to make a living. Their wives and children needed them. How could they just drop everything and walk off with the Lord? Who would take care of their own?
The reason this equation is a stumper and head-scratcher for many Christians is probably because they have been taught the Lord was poor. The preceding passage of Scripture seems to denote this: He had nowhere to lay His head. But the apostles, their wives, and their children had to be provided for during the Lord’s ministry and their simultaneous spiritual education. The necessary money was certainly not coming from the synagogues or other rabbis. This leaves only one possibility: It came from the Lord. It was He who had the money. There were later donations, of course, but He didn’t go around making collections of the vast sums He would need prior to His ministry.
When one considers all the people He had to take care of, including as well older relatives dependent on these apostle families, the number is substantial. I’ve written before that it could be like it was when Jacob and his extended family moved to Egypt at the behest of Joseph. There were seventy people (Genesis 46:27). It was roughly the same with the Lord.
In our day, we have what is virtually the very opposite: One man becomes a preacher and puts the onus on the many to provide for him. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The standard in the recent past was that a local preacher would take a church and receive the tithe. This was his understood entitlement. If the church was small he would not receive much and would have to work like everyone else to supplement his income. Larger churches had more money. You see where this is going…
The only answer, then, for how the Lord was able to start His ministry from scratch and immediately stock it with chosen disciples was simply that He had to pay their way. He provided for them. This meant He had to have money. Where did He get it? HE EARNED IT. He worked very hard as a carpenter and builder until He was thirty years old. He took care of His mother and siblings after Joseph died. He saved His money for His later purpose in life.
But He was also provided for as well, long before He could provide on His own. It was a picture of divine providence in which heaven was interspersing itself into the needs of humanity according to scriptural promise, investing in the One who would later give everything He had, when the One was very young…
After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. [Matthew 2:11] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
A common, timeless, under-the-radar, and for the most part unspoken catch phrase often threatens emergence from larynx’s everywhere in response to a single catalyst—rising up and forming as a thin film on the edges of tongues and lips and threatening to bubble and babble forth at any given time.
It reveals clearly and unmistakably the thinking and makeup of those confronted with and easily irked and tested by Truth:
“Don’t confuse me with facts!”
The majority of those who refer to themselves as Christians of one form or another are particularly notorious for this expression and the misguided thought behind it, as are they guilty of grossly and adamantly violating the Golden Rule whenever their beliefs are revealed as false or incomplete.
This denotes two things: (1) It denotes religious pride that should not be there because religious pride cannot survive the crucifying of the flesh; and (2) It denotes a lack of love for the Truth which all real Christians readily embrace regardless of what it costs them personally.
Unreal Christians are also notorious for passing personal conviction off onto others (“You talkin’ to me!?”). Anger begins to boil slowly and can become a seething cauldron if not held in check for fear of confrontation, though sometimes ironically because they wish to obey the Golden Rule. Go figure.
It must be remembered, though, that innocent real Christians throughout the last 2000 years have had no desire to elicit such anger, and this includes the Founder Himself. He never tried to anger people on purpose, as far as I can tell, simply for the sake of making them angry. Yet, His preaching drew huge amounts of anger and vitriol, meaning of course, that the problem was without question in the ears and minds of the listeners.
Now, it is certainly true that many so-called Christians have no problem provoking others for all the wrong reasons. It is not that difficult to get people into a thick lather regarding their beliefs if that is the goal.
But that was not the Lord’s goal. Nor was it the goal of the early believers who turned the world upside down.
Their goal was to preach the Truth that sets people free from the power of sin, and break them free from the clutches of evil and the evil one, that they might possess and live in the abundant life and freedom of the Lord.
But that which became one person’s freedom became another’s reason to fight. Why? Because the Lord and His disciples preached the Truth. And the Truth often hurts. Especially when it reveals false beliefs.
Nevertheless, then and now, the majority would apparently rather stick to their false beliefs, though such may be couched in warm, traditional, family-oriented, culturally-derived, and religiously-dependent benchmarks, including, and somewhat especially, those of the Unreal Christianity variety.
Rest assured, if the Lord arrived for the first time among Christian adherents as He did among His own, it would certainly be Christian adherents who would reject Him and crucify Him. And there is an entire plethora of such “Christian” adherents willing to stand up and do the dirty deed. We know this because it is exactly what such are doing at the moment (and have been for centuries) to real Christians worldwide.
Though most Christians insist on church attendance as a mandatory practice, and while some houses of worship are generally good places with good people, churches in general contain some really bad people. Actually, some really vile people. Actually, as did some of the synagogues of the Lord’s time as told in the Gospel accounts, some churches contain demon-possessed people and some of these devil-hosters run the show.
Of course, this always refers only to other churches and never one’s own.
The point here is that if church attendance is mandatory then it is also mandatory that one had better watch one’s backside while in attendance. Many a church member has exited with long-term knife-in-back syndrome that often never heals because they (first) never prepared for such a possibility, (second) still get no sympathy from said members who always blame the victim, and (three) usually never find a way to extract said knife and often are not aware of the cause of their pain.
It is simply a very sad fact that many forms of Christianity had begun or morphed into hateful culture clubs against the full Truth of the Lord, even to the point of making the early Pharisees look like sashaying sissies in sundresses. History books are filled with such tales.
But if one is willing to peel back and lift a corner of the this world’s present false overlay and take a peek at spiritual reality, one would see it happening right now as well, and in many cases just as bad if not worse than ever.
Christian persecution is rising because it always rises as Light grows brighter and God’s people become bolder in preaching the Truth. And it is not God’s fault that a person must often become a slobbering mess of repentance to gain salvation (something prideful people abhor), in order to make a strong and clean break from sin and deception.
Let us always remember that illicit agendas are universal and that such agendas exist only at the expense of Truth, which allows one to see and understand why concealing evidence that conflicts with Truth is tantamount to the devil’s and this faux world’s survival.
Rejecting facts that challenge beliefs thus becomes a life and death issue for those who built and invested their lives on shifting-sand foundations and the bare ground of dartboard-derived locations. Though their house is destined to fall they never see such nor acknowledge such and fight anyone who thinks or says otherwise.
Pre-conceived notions and belief in false premises and data thus drive a man to protect said data, and many will stop at nothing to rewrite entire books of truth in order to alleviate it and prop up their own false version of events.
Deception is the name of the enemy’s game—that is, the enemies of the Lord Jesus and real believers—and every effort must be made to get out of it if one is in it, and resist it once one is free. Otherwise, the Truth is impossible to behold and hold and one will end up crucifying the very thing and the very One who can set them loose.
So, rather than professing and embracing in one’s heart such inane statements as, “Don’t confuse me with facts!”, let us all take a good hard look at our particular beliefs and see just how closely they line up with the Lord’s teachings. Test everything you believe against the Lord’s curriculum and commandments. An excellent starting point is the Golden Rule. He commanded us to love one another as ourselves and to treat others they way we want to be treated.
Better to resolve the issue now before it’s too late. Better to become a slobbering mess of repentance in the here and now rather than a slobbering mess of regret at the Judgment, when the eternal fate of our souls is decided upon based upon our own obedience or disobedience toward God and actions toward our fellow man during our sojourn breathing air.
After physical death, the blood of Jesus can no longer be applied and cannot cleanse. One’s eternal fate has been sealed.
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.
“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?
“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.
“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [Matthew 25:31-46] 
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Throughout all of man’s history, the one constant form of physical structure which has accounted for 99% of all buildings on the planet is the simple family dwelling. Be it a hut, a tent, or something more extravagant, it is home. Houses, therefore, have forever been ubiquitous. Even in modern society houses greatly outnumber all other buildings. The farther one goes back in history, the more the percentage rises. Hence, the private home was then and remains now the best ministry tool of all time, and the early believers proved it.
All throughout the Book of Acts is the record of private homes being used in ministry. They began by going “house to house.” The house of the upper room was most likely the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. After his Damascus road experience, Paul was taken to the house of Judas where he met Ananias. Peter was staying at Simon the tanner’s house by the sea. Paul stayed at and ministered from Lydia’s house in Philippi. The home of Jason in Thessalonica was obviously used for ministry. Paul also lived at and ministered from the house of Titius Justus in Corinth.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. [Romans 16:3-5]
Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. [Colossians 4:15]
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [Philemon 1:1-3] 
Church buildings are not New Testament archetypical. They can be good. They can be useful. They are possibly great on a temporary basis. But they are very costly and high maintenance. They sometimes cause more problems than they solve. And the number one reason is because they are slow.
I played softball with a guy once who had to be one of the slowest guys in the whole world. He was not overweight. He was physically healthy. But I could make it to second base before he ever got to first. Once, a dim coach actually put this gentleman in front of me in the batting order. In that game, he had somehow made it safely to first base. Then I came up. I got a hit that would normally easily get me to second base and maybe third. But when I rounded first base my buddy was only halfway to second. Doh! He barely made it there. I’m standing on first when I might have made it to third. And I was not the fastest guy on the team.
American Christianity has slowed considerably. Despite all the latest technology it has grown sluggish, materialistic, and weighted down. It is no wonder it is failing so badly. The Community of the Lord Jesus was built to be fleet of foot, in shape, slim and trim, on the move, and filled with energy, but also strong in its own right. American Christianity has grown in size as has the population and as a result has long since given up sprints. The problem is doubly bad in that we don’t have the strength for weight-lifting competitions either. In general spiritual terms, though traditional American Christianity has church buildings everywhere, we’re simply not getting the job done, are routinely outclassed, and often overrun. People “go to church” forever and never get to know most of the people in the congregation.
On the other hand, there is a relatively new wineskin in this country on the rise. It has remained true to the gospel but has sloughed off old forms that slow and restrict. It is having a tremendous impact.
House churches and small groups have exploded in the country over the last two decades. Its proponents are quick and mobile, and do whatever possible to reach the lost and disciple the up and coming. There is no way to stop their progress. They need little or no funding. They reach places traditional Christianity rarely reaches. They touch hearts. The organic nature of a small group allows the Lord to be in charge. One cannot hide in a small group. Everybody is somebody. Through much learning and many spiritual trials, home church practitioners have developed the same ministry forms of the early centuries of Christianity. They are motivated by love. They stand on unity. They live to serve.
The Lord’s original model is presently being applied in more places in the world than ever before, and is impacting the lives of millions that would otherwise never be reached. Mobility is the key. Instead of one large physical building, there are scads of many smaller buildings. Some have no buildings. By this they much more easily follow the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and cover a lot of ground. And they are having miraculous Lord Jesus-caliber results.
Also, they understand that each real believer is a house—the real building—a mobile tent wherein lives the Spirit of the Lord. Collectively these comprise the worldwide Community of Called-Out Ones independent of the traditions of men. On those occasions when church buildings supplement the work of God and exist according to His will, it is good. Otherwise, we must follow the Lord’s example, trim down, get quick, and make the necessary transistion to the future. His work demands it. [Part 2 of 2]
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The Community of the Lord was built for speed. It began in the upper room of a house. The early Church had no time to even consider the things we in the present deem wholly indispensible. They were out to save the world. The Community was expanding by leaps and bounds. Growth was rapid from the very beginning and never slowed for three centuries. It began on its very first day in Jerusalem with a harvest of three thousand souls.
Imagine that. Many churches of today work for long decades to accumulate a few hundred loyal members. Many are presently trying to keep what they have and are failing miserably.
It was twenty years ago when I began receiving from the Lord the notes and revelations that would eventually become my first book. But I knew by the 1970’s, within a very short time of studying the New Testament by Holy Spirit inspiration that modern Christianity did not match up at all with the prototype. And I wondered why.
I quickly got the big idea. I eventually spent thirty years in institutional churches, including my youth, gaining much experience of all that is good about church buildings and that which is not so good. There is no question that the latter outweighs the former.
First of all, church buildings are simply not Biblical. The Lord never built a building nor did He ever instruct His men to do so. He was never on board with the rich, connected Sadducees who controlled the Jerusalem Temple. Though He often preached in synagogues when welcome, He spent the majority of His ministry time out in the open, in the woods, along the Sea, and on the beaten paths. He was always moving. Always. The Lord Jesus was mobile. The tabernacle in the wilderness was mobile. It was a tent. It was set up, used, taken down, loaded up, transported to a new site, and set up again.
The Lord taught His men to be mobile. He taught them to give up all their possessions, in part so that they would have nothing tying them down when it came time to move on. The apostle Paul was also constantly on the move. There were occasions when he stayed local to teach and establish a work and then he was off yet again. The traveling man was so mobile that the Lord blessed him with a perfect location to end his life on earth—on the side of a road outside Rome.
The Lord had no place to lay His head. He occasionally stayed with others but He mostly slept under the stars. He was on a mission. He had work to do. He could not afford to be slowed down.
It is as obvious as it can be that the early believers followed His example. They were as mobile as He was, and a perfect representation in spiritual terms of the tabernacle of Moses, which was a type of mobile ministry centered on human beings.
Conversely, our ministries are most often centered on church buildings. We are often bound by church buildings. We can’t get them out of our heads. We cannot imagine life without them (“How can I go to church if there’s not a church?”). For the most part, Christians feel absolutely naked without the comfort, security, and anchor of a building.
Yet, the majority of Christians throughout history never had buildings. The majority of real Christians on the planet today do not have buildings. But they have the Lord. They are dedicated. They are productive. And they are fast. They can break camp quickly and move to new locations, so to speak. Some of the travel real Christians do is in the Spirit. It is not always geographic. We live, we learn, we gain revelation and greater knowledge, we mature, and then we have to leave old forms, understandings, and perspectives and create new ones based on such. Core Biblical truths are thus granted greater freedom and opportunity to produce much fruit. Isn’t this our goal?
Static forms always slow. They restrict. We end up trying to force our ministries within such structures. But are we really having an impact on society? How can we when we force others to come to us instead of us going to them?
Here’s the real beauty of the Lord Jesus and his manner of ministry: He needs nothing material on a permanent basis. Because He is God, He can create anything He needs whenever He needs it, so why must He accumulate a bunch of stuff to schlep around? All it does it slow Him down and restrict ministry efforts. The bulk of His work is in the spiritual realm. If He wants or needs stuff He acquires it. But when it is has served its purpose He gives it away or sells it, and usually gives the money to the needy. Then He starts again. He will not be bound by anything. He is as free as free can be. He builds nothing that grows sluggish as long as He is in charge. [Part 1 of 2]
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.