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JUDGMENTAL CHRISTIANS: Breaking Fellowship Over Non-Salvation Issues

         About a decade and a half ago there was a Christian conference relatively close by and would take place in just a few days. It featured a man I’d seen on television countless times. I made it a point to be there.

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         His name is Hugh Ross. In 1986 he started a ministry called Reasons To Believe, “Where Science and Faith Converge.” I encourage you to visit this website and look around.

         As a young man he began looking for spiritual truth and, like so many of us with a hunger for God, began searching world religions. When he began his research into Christianity he was immediately struck by what he found in the first chapter of Genesis—it made perfect sense from a scientific point of view. He was amazed by the accuracy. He soon became a Christian. He also eventually became an astrophysicist.

THE CONFERENCE   

         I planned on getting there early with hopes of meeting Mr. Ross. I walked into a relatively mid-sized conference facility about the size of a very large classroom. There were many people milling about as new arrivals wandered in. I took a seat on the front row. At some point Hugh Ross walked in and went up to the front. He gave an informal talk and said we would wait a little longer until everybody arrived, and then sat down a couple of seats from me.

         People who know me very well know I pray about everything, and I pray about everything in the context of God’s will, knowing for a fact that God’s will is always the best. A person can never do better than the will of God. Well, on the way over I had asked the Lord if it would be okay if I could talk to this man. Then when I got there the man sits down two seats over. No one approached him. I didn’t waste any time introducing myself and we began a brief discussion.

         Hugh Ross is not a young earth creationist. For this reason alone many Christians don’t like him. Some see him as a heretic. It does not matter how well he explains everything from both a purely Biblical perspective and from pure science, many Christians judge him right off the bat as soon as they find out he doesn’t believe the Universe was created about 4000BC.

         We had a great talk. I was trying to shed light on the nature of God and how the Bible clearly states that the Lord Jesus is the Creator though so many Christians recoil at that fact. He agreed. We spent most of the conversation, however, discussing young earth versus old earth creationism.

         Hugh Ross is a solid Christian. He believes the Bible is the absolute Word of God. He makes an excellent case both Biblically and scientifically why young earth creationism is lacking. He is a very gracious man but has certainly seen his share of Christian persecution (that is, persecution from Christians). Then he said something very profound. Remember, this is a very brilliant man who loves the Lord Jesus with all his heart. He lives to serve Him. He is low key, humble, relaxed, and the very opposite of professorial.

         We were discussing why so many Christians can’t see eye to eye on the creation issue. I have also faced many fights in this area even though most of the time I really don’t have a dog in that fight. Why can’t the young-earthers, who have traditionally composed the much greater percentage of creationists, find it in their heart to fellowship with those with a different perspective? Why can’t they honor the beliefs of others? Hugh answered my question perfectly:

         “Because they see it as a salvation issue.”

         I was somewhat taken aback and went silent for a few seconds. I was thinking. “Of course. I knew this, or I should have, and I have certainly applied this to other Christian doctrines and beliefs.” But still, in that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It is why so many Christians favor separation over unity. It is why there are approximately four billion Christian denominations. The separatist Christians believe EVERYTHING is a salvation issue.

         Though I always spend much more time in study and research than the average Christian, I am almost always forced to prove everything. This is impossible, of course. When Christians believe they have all the light and truth on an issue, they become not only dogmatic but very judgmental. They close their eyes and ears. Those who do the larger work and pay the greater price know the truth, however. They work very hard to see an issue from as many perspectives as possible. Those who rarely or never do the work usually only believe something because that is what they have been told. They can only see it one way.

         What if a Christian is walking in all the light he has? What if he loves the Lord? Must he also be absolutely perfectly right in every doctrine taught by a particular denomination or pastor or single believer in order to be saved? Are Catholics saved? Are Protestants? Are Pentecostals? In all actuality we have millions of distinct beliefs within Christianity in general and there is no possible way anyone can believe it all. Much of it is contradictory. Much of it comes forth from people who insist they are right and never budge. What is being preached on one side of town is often the very opposite of that which is preached on the other. There is no way both can be right. But both can be wrong.

REAL CHRISTIANITY

         This is why I always make my final and only appeal to authority to the Lord Jesus. It is only His curriculum that is perfect and it must be His entire curriculum that we learn and live by. Not everything in His teachings, however, is a salvation issue. We should never, ever be divided as a result of such. If two Christians believe the Lord Jesus CREATED the universe but differ on how He did it or how long it took, that’s okay. Both of these Christians can still be saved. Besides, we were not there. We don’t know exactly how He did it.

         The Lord came across this problem often and just as often He had to do some rebuking. His greatest rebukes were always for the hard core religionists who refused to see anything other than the way they saw it and would disfellowship a person in a heartbeat for not seeing it their way. What we should be doing is working harder and studying more and praying more and fasting more instead of thinking we’ve cornered the market on truth.

         I found out later that evening that Hugh Ross and I did not believe everything the same way. But it didn’t matter. Wherever we differed on beliefs, they were not salvation issues. I’ll never forget that brief though deep discussion we had. He was humble enough and approachable enough to give me a few minutes of his time right before he was to give a major talk to so many of his ministry’s supporters.

         Please readers, keep up all the great work. Keep doing your study and research. Keep reading the Word. But most of all, knowing we are all at different spiritual places based on our discipleship and knowledge level, let us not make everything a salvation issue and thus a disfellowship issue. The Lord only has ONE community. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters with regard to who is in it and who isn’t is His. Let us all try to keep the salvation issues among the salvation issues, such as the simple teaching that decides salvation as quoted here:

         For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

         For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

         But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

         AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. [Ephesians 2:8-22] [1] 

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

RECOMMENDED READING FROM MY FRIEND LISA:

You are saved by grace? or works? or faith? or fruit? Can Grace save you?

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REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Redemption (4)

         “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.”

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         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.

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

         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. [1]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Revolution (3)

         “We can follow orders, we can send directives through the chain of command, we can organize massive shows of religious pomp and promote great Broadway hits, such as Charismania!, but this only means we are unified in purpose.”

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         In Part 1, we discussed the Revelation of Real Relationship. In Part 2, we discussed the ongoing Restoration. In Part 3, we continue the narrative from my book Real Christianity by discussing the Revolution in American Christianity presently coming forth in these early days of the Great Awakening:

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

         The partitioning of Christianity into clergy and laity began with the introduction of the professional minister. The distinction must be drawn between those who minister because it is a job and those who do it because they have a passion to walk in their calling.

         Professionalism promotes rank, and rank promotes division. Yet the present members of the institutional clergy, like their forefathers, continue to insist that rank can coexist with unity. What they call unity is nothing more than communication between ranks brought on by forced submission to a dominant hierarchy.

         However, communication between ranks will never result in spiritual unity among ranks. We can follow orders, we can send directives through the chain of command, we can organize massive shows of religious pomp and promote great Broadway hits, such as Charismania!, but this only means we are unified in purpose. It does not mean our spirits are knit together in real relationship and true Christian love.

         It used to be that traveling shows had to keep traveling in order to escape from those they duped. But the level of deception has now become so great that many of these road shows have settled down in our cities and towns and are perceived as being quite respectable. The reason most of the duped remain duped stems from the fact that the standard which early Christianity once represented has been suctioned out and cut on until it is no longer recognizable and in too many instances, rejected outright. Instead of walking tall as the body of Christ, we are all too often mere church mice, thoroughly intimidated by a system and structure that has no real community or love between members.

         What causes such intimidation? Why are there no opposing viewpoints? Is dissension evil even when those in power are wrong? There is no doubt that centralized authority is to be blamed in part since it causes individuals to feel insignificant and irrelevant in relation to the whole and powerless to change anything. Such power-over-the-people dogma flies in the face of that which Christianity is supposed to be.

         Yet God doesn’t leave us without the possibility of deliverance. Some of the blame, therefore, must fall squarely on the backs of those latent ministers who could make a difference but disregard their calling, opting instead to weakly blend into a directionless, homogenized mass.

         When the people of God take their ease instead of taking up their cross, they become subject to something or someone other than the Lord. This causes a false servitude to an improper party, and thus, a fear of breaking ranks with said party. The spirit behind the cause of such behavior has no respect or honor for individuals.

         Yes, we are supposed to be a body. Yes, we are supposed to be a team. Yes, we are supposed to be a family. But these entities are strong not only because of their unity but also because of the strength of their individual members. If the individual members are spiritually weak but the unifying force is strong, the whole can only be strong temporarily, if at all, and absolutely spiritually impotent for the long term, though it remain unified through coercion, fear, or cultural tradition.

         There are reams of historical data reaching back throughout the history of Christianity to support this fact. Centralized authority is only supposed to be a temporary fix designed to bring an entity back on course. When it is institutionalized, it feeds on those it rules over, instead of assisting and serving the common good.

         When such authority gains control, it will not only feed on its subject class, it will also confiscate the children’s bread. This stunts the children’s growth and keeps them in a perpetually immature state. As an example, look at the sea of “lay” people which make up most of our congregations. Far too many are clueless concerning their role in the Lord’s body. Almost all are underdeveloped and dependent upon the clergy. Many are in fear, and the great majority are thoroughly overwhelmed by the centralized power which keeps them from developing into what God wants and needs them to be.

         Why? Because to buck central authority is to invite its wrath. Centralized authority is heavily control-oriented and dictatorial. For a lone individual or small group to stand against it takes much strength. In the Church, it takes obedience to the Lord and much anointing. Indeed, the very history of the Lord’s Qahal is constructed with the building blocks of dissent against the raw power of inhumane religious impostors bent on maintaining their stolen authority. In the early days of the Church, her religious enemies were thoroughly pagan. But they eventually became “Christianized.” [1]

        © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Restoration (2)

         “In the beginning, spiritual relationship came naturally. Nobody had to come up with a program to promote relationship between members…”

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         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:

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

         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 [1] 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. [2]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Qahal is the Hebrew equivalent for “Church,” and is the word most likely used by Jesus.

[2] Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Revelation (1)

         “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…”

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         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:

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

         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, [1] 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. [2]

         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 [3]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Qahal is the Hebrew equivalent for “Church,” and is the word most likely used by Jesus.

[2] 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.

[3] Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

Leaving the Grateful Dead and Creating Great Wineskins: An Oil Field Story (2)

         And He was also telling them a parable:

         “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.

         “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.

         “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

         “And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” [Luke 5:36-39]

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         When the Lord Jesus prepares to bring real revival He must first create a real community.

         Since He only works with and through people, such people must be real disciples. They must be born again. They must be new. They must be filled with His Spirit. Without willing, obedient, and fully submitted participants—new wineskins—He cannot work, create, or pour out new wine. We know this from His Word.

         Creating the new necessitates leaving the old.

         And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” [Luke 9:59-60]

         Though it is obvious that the Lord Jesus is all-powerful and can do whatever He wants whenever He wants, it is also the case that He has given human beings a free will. People must choose. People must choose Him. Otherwise He cannot bring forth new life.

         Therefore, free will restricts God.

         Strangely enough, though, what most people don’t know is that free will also restricts free will.

         Let me explain.

The Lucas Gusher at Spindletop Hill, South of Beaumont, Texas. January 10, 1901SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS OF THE OIL FIELD

         I have worked many years in the oil fields of Texas. When I was a rookie learning operations and equipment I became aware that much of the stuff we were using was old and outdated. The old stuff was still in use for two reasons: It still functioned and to replace it would cost money.

         The oil field is different like that. Because of the nature of ongoing boom and bust cycles, those who make their living in the industry have long since developed a traditional corresponding attitude. Those smaller companies who are invested in old equipment that still functions continue to use it even though it is outdated and advanced technology has created upgrades. It is the effort to work on the cheap and maximize profits while the getting is good.

         During a boom when a lot of money is available, one would think the equipment would be upgraded. But I noticed that money was at such a premium even when it flowed that few wanted to use it to make upgrades as long as the old equipment still worked. People feared the inevitable bust and were afraid to spend, not sure if they would ever get their investment back. In other words—in a classic case of the counterintuitive—in times of plenty wallets often got even tighter.

         Why spend money on new stuff when the old stuff still worked? Why upgrade the method when the existing method has worked for decades? Why treat people well when you could save money by treating them like cattle? Instead of thinking about spending for the future, a much greater price is paid in great inconvenience, more effort, more repairs, and more headaches.

         Sound familiar?

        Of course, the larger companies had capital to spend. Some newer companies began with the latest technologies. Their initial investments were in the best equipment and rigs of the time if they could afford it and had relatively long-term contracts. But for smaller operators, it was always a matter of using the past in the present.

         I remember one day in my first year, when working on an old rig that had been cobbled together in the yard from parts going back decades, I asked a worker with much more experience what had occurred to me early on: “Why are we still doing things this way?” I’ll never forget his answer:

         “Because that’s the way they did it in the fifties.”

         It was then that I noticed a completely different phenomenon. Not only did the people who were invested in old, outdated equipment insist on using it until it was scrap beyond any possible repair, they also insisted on doing things “the old way.” There was great reluctance to adapt to anything new.

         From this I learned three things:

         (1) The old-timers who spent a lifetime working their way up from the bottom in much toil and misery and had gained a better position of employment with greater authority and salary only knew what they knew. They knew a lot, of course. They had a ton of experience. They knew how to run a rig. But they knew little that was new.

         They had a hard time learning and adapting to new technologies. Their entire beings, brains, and brawn was an incredible collection of everything done in the oil field from many decades past to their present.

         Though they had worked extremely hard and learned it all, they had become hardwired to history. It was all they knew.

         (2) The second thing I learned from this strange dynamic is that it was like pulling dinosaur teeth to get anyone on a rig site to clue me in on a few things so I could do my job better and easier. There were so many times early on that I had to go through my work in the dark, just barely aware of my surroundings and how everything worked. I was trained enough to do the job just barely—that’s the way training was done. A man learned the basics quickly and then broke out into the field. So I had to learn a lot on my own on rig sites.

         My employers were happy. They liked me. I was a great worker. I did my job. But they also would only invest so much. They invested in the minimum toward their employees. If you couldn’t hack it you were gone. I hacked it. I was forced by the culture to learn my job the way everyone else had always had to learn. Unless you knew somebody or were born into the oil field with a supportive family or friends, you were on your own. No one who knew anything was talking.

         Also, nobody wanted anyone else to know how little they did know. People acted like they knew more than they did. So, on top of not knowing and wanting to know, one could not reveal that they didn’t know or they would lose rig site credibility. Cred is very important in the oil field. But one had to earn it. Low level rig workers would clue me in to some stuff here and there, as long as things were worded right and all the protocol was respected. They had had the same problem and could relate. But the higher ups were generally clammed up.

         You know why? It wasn’t just to make the new guys squirm and feel like idiots, and for the joy that such actions brought them. It wasn’t just because men had to earn respect by working their butts off and figuring stuff out on their own. No one ever helped most of them when they were coming up and they were bound and determined to do likewise.

         (3) It was mainly because they didn’t want anyone taking their job. They learned as rookies that knowledge in the oil field was power, and the more one knew the better off they were regarding the constant competition from new workers. Whatever they learned they put into practice but they never shared the information.

         If you wanted to learn you would have to learn the hard way as they did. You would have to man your post the best you could though feeling like an idiot much of the time but never letting anybody know it. It’s how you climbed the ladder. You would have to be treated with supreme disrespect and indifference by condescending closed-lipped and close-minded rascals. You would have to be an idiot until you figured it out on your own.

         Once you did figure it out you gained respect. I reached a point where it suddenly all came together. All the puzzle pieces fit. I saw the big picture. I got the big idea. I went from working in the dark to walking fully into the light. I learned it all the hard way, and it was very hard. Once a man goes through that process, he can afford a little swagger. I arrived at a place where I demanded respect without saying a word and I got it.

         Whoever does not understand this is still in the dark.

         Regarding Unreal Christianity, it explains everything. It explains why Unreal Christianity is still in the Dark Ages. It explains why it rejects the New Wine of the Spirit and why it refuses the Lord’s real community.

        Rather than leave dead works and dead religion, the grateful dead thereof have invested everything they have in Old Wine, Old Wineskins, burying dead fathers, and spiritual darkness.

         “If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” [Matthew 6:23] [1]

         [To Be Continued.]

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

The Classic Church Building: A Non-Biblical Wineskin (Part 2)

         “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” [Mark 2:22]   

         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] [1]

         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.


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

The Classic Church Building: A Non-Biblical Wineskin (Part 1)

         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.