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BREAKING FREE FROM CHRISTIAN PROGRAMMING

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If you’re a Christian of some form or another, the odds are high that you’ve been religiously programmed in some way or another. They don’t call it indoctrination for nothing. You must find a way to break free.

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A LONG TIME AGO IN A LAND FAR AWAY

Let’s set the scene: Two thousand years ago, in a small secluded land, a solitary figure arose from abject obscurity and began to teach. He gathered a small group of followers, twelve in number, to assist Him. He explained that they must be fully dedicated and so this small band of men lived as a brotherhood twenty-four hours a day. They traveled the countryside, visited small villages, and on occasion ventured into larger towns, even those not necessarily of their ancestral tradition.

These men were thoroughly unknown to the rest of the world, but also remained obscure among their own in the early days of the mission. If it were not for some extremely extraordinary events that took place among them by the hand of this Teacher, the group would likely have never achieved any notoriety at all and would have just as likely faded out, unknown to history. There were such groups that did. Local bands of rabbis and students dotted the place, this little country, a place with a centuries-old tradition of legends and stories of past exploits and endeavors. They said it was once at the top of nations, that it achieved the greatness reserved only for the rarest and best, and that it achieved it in a way no other country had ever done.

The residents believed these stories. Their priests and doctors of law, what some referred to as shamans and others as religious enforcers, kept the traditions alive through various means, at best to maintain revealed truths and at worse to control the populace and extract wealth. The people had no choice but to honor these men since they had attained power over the people by possessing closely held access to the ancestral writings and the ability to decipher their content. Only they could read from them and deliver teachings based upon them. No one else had access to any meaningful degree.

The new Teacher had been raised upon these traditions and knew them as well as anyone. He had become very well versed in the teachings thereof, as others had done, but most of the others had taken another turn long before by entering the ranks of the learned by joining up with the established denominations from which honor and wealth could be appropriated. Many a proud parent saw their grown children become exalted expositors of the law and sacred parchments, not knowing or apparently caring that such expositions had become stale and distant from those of the originals long before.

The great patriarchs, in a distant age, and later prophets, were said to be in close contact with what this strange and small people referred to as the One God. They had communed with Him and heard His great Words, and honored the great God with their lives. The people of the present knew conditions must have been much different and better in those days long ago and a few longed for such to be again.

SOLITARY MAN

The new Teacher did not take the traditional ministerial route. He was no mere ecclesiastic. He did not join the ranks of the powerful public officially-ordained clerics but struck out completely on His own. He was a solitary Man, a lone figure on the outer fringes, collecting not the learned ones from religious academies as student followers, but everyday men, fishermen and tradesmen, and even the lowborn and despised, like a certain tax collector. This merry band of misfits was truly unique and showed no future promise that anyone could see, and appeared destined, like so many others, for the scrap heap of wayward wonderers and wretched falsifiers.

Except, again, for the curious presence of those otherworldly occurrences that no one else had ever seen or experienced—those strange works that followed them wherever they went—those “extremely extraordinary events.” And when people saw the events, they also began paying more attention to this Man’s teachings and pronouncements. They noticed first, that His teachings were not actually so different at all from what they had grown up hearing, but secondly, that he delivered His teachings and pronouncements in a way that no one had ever done before or even heard of before. He was powerful. He never simply read a script or spoke in the usual dry and monotonous manner of the elders and priests, or carried any scrolls that anyone could see, but delivered His words as if somehow, in some unknown way, He actually was the words. His words did not simply fall to the ground or quickly dissipate in the immediate air as all were used to, but were delivered in a way in which the words entered directly into a person, like the air he or she breathed, and stirred his soul and revived his heart. It was not as if they were words, but food. They were like spiritual food. Yes, that was it.

Others came. They sat enthralled at what they were hearing. The Scriptures were coming alive as delivered by this obscure young Preacher, if one could call Him that. He was more like a Father teaching His children, but how could that be? He was so young. And a tradesman! He bore the mark of much physical strength and long toil in the hard and rough elements. No preacher or priest they knew ever looked like that. How does such a man have so much wisdom and ability? Old men with much experience, vaunted elders of the land, had not the vast wisdom and abilities of this Man.

Who is He?

TOTAL TRANSFORMATION

From the above description we can ascertain quite the contrast between The Lord’s original ministry and that of later forms of Christianity which obviously do not possess this powerful spiritual dynamic. Their character exposes them not so much as Christianity light but as entirely different entities. We fully understand such a contrast in other fields or subjects, when something vibrant and energetic either becomes downgraded over time through use, neglect, or attack, or when it is entirely replaced by a facsimile which merely poses as the original. Why don’t we consider this in the case of Christianity?

The same thing happened to the nation of ancient Israel. There was time when it reached a zenith among nations and was blessed with God’s full protection and providence. And all throughout its history to that point there was at the very least a strong Remnant of the faithful which kept the fire burning, but this didn’t last. The Remnant certainly lasted and remained as vibrant as ever. What changed was the number of spiritually energized participants holding true to the Word first delivered. The majority had drifted away from the heart of God and flaked off. Whatever they did outwardly, if they maintained the correct geography, or became members of an official religious order, didn’t matter. They had turned on the Lord in heart.

Thus we see when studying the history of the nation, a new majority arose which was not connected whatsoever to the original or in fellowship to the Remnant. They certainly were not connected to God. The fruit was not there. The same has happened in Christianity. It has happened because Christians allowed themselves to be torn from their roots and planted elsewhere under the authority of counterfeit vinedressers in entirely different vineyards. In time the forms of Christianity these Christians became associated with were essentially the only ones they knew. They did not know a variant curriculum had been foisted upon them or their parents or ancestors. And through the use of the usual religious fear tactics by those in charge to keep everyone on the plantation, they had no heart to attempt an escape but settled into their respective cultural practices and identities. They had become captured and it often passed from generation to generation.

It is the clear evidence of indoctrination. Their lives reveal religious programming. Why their brand doesn’t match first century Christianity does not matter to them because actual history does not matter, both because those who know it reject it and those who don’t have no frame of reference. As far as the latter are concerned, their denomination’s version of events is the only one that matters. This is a bad bridge to cross because the next step is actually defaming the originals as primitive and unenlightened, and unaware of “higher truths” arising later, an otherwise clear falsehood. This perspective also implicates the Lord Himself as a veritable imposter, meaning a “new Jesus” has been created in the minds of these unfortunate ones, both to make their faux forms work and also to relieve their conscience. When presented with the real Lord Jesus He appears to them as a foreigner and His real curriculum is seen as wholly incorrect, unworkable, and even strange.

BREAKING FREE

When we see the Lord for who He actually is we understand, as the Scriptures state, that He never changes. We are still in the Age of Grace. With reference to the Church it began at Pentecost. Nothing has changed regarding His pertinent commandments since then. What was done in the beginning remains in effect now. For those Christians who disagree, they may argue until the cows come home but have no leg to stand on and the Lord will never bless them. Until they get their hearts right before Him such Christians will never see what those people saw so long ago in His ministry. What He did then He is still doing now.

Maybe only a few have experienced this. Maybe the Remnant is comparatively small as it was in those OT times when the generational line was reduced to a thread. Or maybe many Christians are not doing their work to become good disciples, “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Can it be that most are satisfied with far less than the Lord has appropriated? Don’t we all want the full blessing? Don’t we know our Lord will not only rain down His love but also His very Spirit to fill us with His energetic and vibrant life, to do as He did and as the early believers did? There comes a time when we need to get out more. Abundant life awaits for all those who seek it.

There’s a green pasture out there where dreams come true.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.” [John 10:7-13][1]

© 2020 by R.J. Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

The Apostles’ Foundation: The One Household of God

         It is impossible to serve the Lord without being a dedicated disciple. According to many, however, serving God is a relatively simple thing. Wimpy Christianity has largely become accepted practice in America, in which mere human virtue is put forth to carry the day. “Salvation” now often comes by works or simply by being a member of the correct denomination or church. Yet true Biblical salvation will cost everything. Grace is free, but the new birth demands total surrender and obedience to God.

         “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” [Luke 6:47-49]

         The majority of Christians build on the wrong foundation. Real disciples build on the right one.

         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 2:19-22]

         The above passage, penned by the apostle Paul, presents an excellent illustration of the Body of Christ, or House of the Lord. Notice that there is only one foundation? One household? One building? One dwelling place of God? The prophets led the way. John the Immerser was the last of the OT prophets. He prepared the new way of the Lord. The Lord brought a new covenant. The apostles took the teachings of the prophets as part of the new foundation, they themselves were the other part, and the Lord Jesus was the Cornerstone that made the whole thing work.

         The apostles’ teaching, as put forth in the Book of Acts, was acquired from the Lord during His ministry. There was only one community then. There were no denominations. Everyone in that early community was filled with the Spirit of God, as mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. All one must do to understand the apostles’ foundation is study their history. They were not working against one another. Each one of them was preaching the same message.

         It was not until later and throughout the Church Age that their foundational message was fractured, discarded, fought against, and emasculated—by “Christians.” Hence, we presently have Christianity in many different and often competing forms. Where then, is “The One Household of God?” Is every “Christian” on the planet a member of God’s household in some mysterious non-descript way?

         And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. [1 Peter 2:4-11] [1]

         The preceding passage in no way speaks of some form of wimpy Christianity or an easy way. Instead, it speaks of a single unified body made that way through the very strict discipleship of the Lord, that of the prophets and apostles, and that of every single chosen member.

         We have drifted. We have gone soft. That’s in part why there are so many idiots with false gospels in the world. The Book of Acts brings us back on course. The foundation of the apostles and prophets distinguishes the real household of faith from all imposters. The symbology is clear—there is only one Precious Cornerstone. He exists as both the chief Rock of the foundation and the prototypical example and blueprint from which the house is being built. As the Alpha and Omega—the First and the Last—the Beginning and the End, He both anchors and caps off The One Household of God.

         © 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.