It has been a privilege and blessing to do this work here over the last eleven years. I am thankful to the Lord. With your help I look forward to year twelve…
So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. [Acts 5:41-42]
As Christians, suffering is often a difficult concept to grasp. It is hard to make sense of in light of the fact that the Lord said He came that we may “have life abundantly.” Abundant life and suffering don’t seem to go together. These two appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. How can such opposites have fellowship? The Scriptures are clear, however, that real Christians are also called to share in His sufferings.
I’ve written about 750 posts in my time here at WordPress. Most of these are teaching posts of two to four pages. I have also written many longer articles, however, which means my total count here is probably approaching three thousand pages. That’s approximately ten to fifteen books.
Please excuse me for personal reference but I think we need times of such accounting. These annual birthday posts are one of two times during the year when I allow a tad more personal reference in order to give you, my dear readers, a better understanding of who I am and what the Lord has called me to do. In that light, we should all be glad that His standards of judgment are not those of the world.
The world, and yes, even the Christian world, judges ministers on their success, how big their church or ministry is, whether or not they’re on television, and whether or not they have millions of people, millions of dollars, and many church higher-ups backing them. I am not saying that all of such people have drifted off and do believe that some of them are where they are supposed to be, but I am saying that the standard of what a real minister of the Gospel is was established in the very beginning and that it is FAR different from modern standards.
Of course, though most Christians and most ministers thoroughly reject it, the greatest and only standard is that of our Lord Jesus. Prior to official ministry He worked tirelessly and obscurely preparing for it. He also worked for most of His life to that point as a builder. Though the Scriptures refer to Him as a carpenter, the meaning of the term extended beyond what one may think a carpenter was in those days. He was actually involved in larger construction projects though to what degree we do not know. Suffice it to say that He learned His craft from His stepfather Joseph and served him honorably while growing up. There is no doubt the Lord had great success as a builder though such success is relative. At some point Joseph passed away and the Lord had to take responsibility for His mother and siblings. He also had to prepare for future ministry which included earning enough money to finance it. He would have to earn enough not only for Himself, which amounted to next to nothing, but mainly to take care of His twelve and their families. This measure of a minister of the Gospel is therefore, truly, pretty much the opposite of Christian ministers in general, who are more concerned with their own bottom line rather than that of their congregants.
During His ministry, the Lord Jesus, a Man accustomed to having much more, one whom the apostle Paul said was rich and became poor, pared Himself down to the use of only the barest of the bare essentials. He had no house. He had pretty much no possessions whatsoever other than the clothes on His back. This was the model He set. He taught this model to His men. He taught them to travel light. Therefore, the idea that He would involve Himself with something so spurious and foreign as building “church buildings” and doing His best to look like a Pharisee is ludicrous.
It was the Pharisees and those like them who were obsessed with religious externals. They had to have their synagogues and their high places therein, their own equivalent of platform thrones, from which they could rule and make sure everyone knew who was in charge. They also loved their extravagant clerical costumes and their highbrow religious attitudes that would gag a maggot. The Pharisees were also lovers of money (as were the Sadducees, Scribes, etc.). Their religion was entirely external. The Lord, on the other hand, had no need of such ridiculous externals. His was a spiritual ministry. He was a spiritual King of a spiritual Kingdom. From without, He had nothing by which to command respect according to sinful religious standards. This is obviously why the religious leaders had no respect for Him and why they treated Him with such contempt.
It was the same for the twelve apostles. It was the same for all the Lord’s disciples. It was the same for all of His true followers. And it is the same for all real Christians ever since.
SPEAKING OF EXTERNALS…
Over the last several years church buildings in America have been closing at an alarming rate. Until a person takes a look at this phenomenon he is completely unaware of it and doesn’t understand either side of the issue. A great church-building campaign was implemented throughout the last century. Protestant churches of all major denominations engaged in the practice once they had the money to spend, and they obviously had gained a lot. The Roman Catholic Church had always been flush with cash and power, so building church buildings everywhere was relatively easy for them also. However, what goes up must come down. That many of these church buildings no longer exist or have been sold and transferred into something else is yet another sign of the times. Sadly, for the most part, much of the money that these religious leaders possessed and had access to was used improperly. THE MONEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN SPENT ON PEOPLE.
This is what the Lord did. Unlike the grifting Christian religious leaders who refuse the Lord’s example and appropriate that of the Pharisees who have no problem asking for and demanding money all day long because they are worth it though “their people” are obviously not, the Lord worked very hard in His early life earning the money He would need for ministry and for supporting His ministers. He never called them forth from their life’s work at earning money for their families, whatever their trade may be, such as fisherman, without also providing for them. Imagine all those guys just dropping their nets and following a poor preacher all of the sudden and leaving their families in the lurch. This is apparently what most Christians must believe.
In reality then, one can see that the object of highest value in the Lord’s eyes was never external religious stuff but PEOPLE. The Lord Jesus loves PEOPLE. The Lord Jesus died for PEOPLE. He lives for PEOPLE. He rose again from the dead so that PEOPLE dead in sin can be saved and also rise again. His entire focus was always on PEOPLE. And He loves every single PERSON exactly the same because one cannot exceed the fullness of one’s heart and the Lord always gives His full heart to “whosoever will.”
Thus, practical externals are okay if necessary but are always far down the priority list. Regarding places to meet, why build external “church houses” when so many homes are available for use? How many times do we see the Lord using someone’s home, such as Peter’s, as not only a place to stay but a place to meet? The Book of Acts, early on, reports that they went “house to house.” And how many times do we see this standard throughout the epistles? There was always someone’s home here and there used as a meeting place. The houses of the early Christians thus served a dual purpose. They were following the Lord’s example.
As we continue on we will see more and more church buildings shuttered forever, especially after so much of American Christianity bought into the scam of the last two years and began worshiping “remotely.” One wonders what happened to these people. The bigger question, however, is how American Christians in general also bought into the hate toward those Christians who refused to engage in the false narrative. This is obviously a terrible development but what is done is now done. There is no going back. It was a big test and many if not most American Christians failed it.
ON THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION
Over the last eleven years I have done my best to warn you and keep you informed. I have always worked very hard at gaining information and truth because it is what I do. It is my calling. The Lord anointed me for this. I mostly get rejection, however, which is roughly par for the course. And I often prefer a parabolic approach. I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence. (The Lord used parables for a reason. They force people to think and become engaged.) However, Americans, and people in general, who refuse to consider the Lord’s gracious offer to become real Christians, usually do not make this decision based on what but on will. In other words, most people know the Lord Jesus is someone very special and have little or nothing against Him. With just a little introductory witnessing people quickly understand what is what. Their problem is thus not one of facts and truth but one of will, in that if they acknowledge the truth about the Lord they know they will have to submit to Him and quit their free-to-sin lifestyle. They don’t want to do this. Carrying a cross is no fun. They would rather keep their independence from God so they can maintain their authority to live in whatever way they choose. They are therefore forced to reject truth which forces them to cast aspersions upon the Lord’s Truth in order to be comfortable in the unworkable place they have chosen.
It is interesting that many Christians have the same attitude. In their case, New Testament facts do not matter. If New Testament facts clash with the doctrines of their denomination most will always choose the false or incomplete doctrines of their denomination. It is a religious thing. It is a cultural thing. It is a social thing. It is a lowest possible common denominator thing. Rather than choose the Lord’s full Truth and likely lose fellowship and social standing (and money and power and prestige and honor and self-congratulatory plaques on the wall and trophies in one’s case) they would rather keep on keeping on and keep the Lord and His hardcore Christianity at a distance. They would rather not be confused by facts. Again, especially in these days when so much truth and information is available, it is not because disobedient Christians do not know it but because they don’t want it. So they gather among other Christians like themselves and support one another in their disobedience. It gives them a warm glow or something and makes the conviction go away.
Tradition is a hard taskmaster to break free from.
Speaking of houses, did you know vast swaths of housing in America are being bought up at this very moment? Did you know that entities worth trillions of dollars are buying entire neighborhoods and plan to continue until they own as much housing as possible? And that they are buying houses above market rates to insure that owners will sell? And that they plan to turn all of these into rental properties and raise the rents astronomically? Money is not a problem for them. All they have to do is keep raising the sale price until the sellers sell.
Did you also know that the American homeless problem is growing by leaps and bounds? Did you know that renters are being priced out by being presented with massive rent increases they simply cannot afford? And that these responsible hard-working Americans can now not afford to live anywhere in their areas because the cost of housing has risen so dramatically? It is one thing to be homeless because one may be lazy or has given up or is mentally unstable or is addicted to drugs or alcohol. There has always been a percentage of the populace that fits this category. But many homeless people as of late are homeless because their salaries no longer allow them an affordable place to stay. Many of these continue working their jobs while living in their car or on the street. This is an entirely new phenomenon. And it is beginning to explode.
Did you also know there is war against your food? That bad actors are buying up all the farm land? That a great many food processing plants are mysteriously being destroyed all across the country? That multiple millions of chickens, etc. are being willfully destroyed because of possible bird flu? In other words, in order to protect the people we must starve them. Famine is thus coming to America as is increasing poverty. Destruction is upon us and most people are not even aware of it. I humbly suggest you do your own research to confirm this. You will then see.
We must also work harder at researching Scripture. The Lord rebuked the Pharisees in part because they knew the Scriptures but refused any understanding of Him as the Messiah. To do so would put too much pressure on them to change and get right with God. For them there was simply too much to lose. Our attitude toward Scripture thus reveals the condition of our heart.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” [John 5:39-44]
The Lord said the Scriptures tell all about Him. But how many “Christians” are willing to do the simple work of reading and studying the Scriptures, especially the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus, to get to know Him better and pattern their lives according to His will? If we want to know Him and know about Him, this is how to do it. Of course, the Lord was talking about the Old Testament in the preceding. We have so much more! A great way to get to know the Living Word is by reading the written Word. Those who do are much better prepared for any eventuality including that of the present.
At the end of the day we were all properly warned. Many Christians have been warning for a long time. It is mostly a failing cause which reminds one of Jeremiah’s work. Next to no one heeded his warnings or considered his teachings. Most of the Lord’s own people even rejected all of His warnings when only a very short time was left to repent. Most refused. Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple were destroyed forever. Is this America’s fate? Unless something dramatic happens very soon it certainly is to whatever degree. As of now it appears that no one is doing anything to rebuke the devourer. The Devourer is running roughshod over the country and Christians are still doing and believing what they always have which is exactly how we arrived at the present. Unless one is doing what the Lord requires, the same old same old will no longer work. It is not working and hasn’t been for a while now. Also, the spiritual void created by the fake Christians is now being filled up by the fakest of fake ministers and most are none the wiser. It is all happening right before us. For many it is hidden in plain sight. American Christianity has largely been taken over by imposters.
SOMETHING MUST CHANGE. CHRISTIANS MUST DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA MUST INCREASE THEIR SPIRITUAL PRESENCE AND ABILITIES HIGH ENOUGH AND STRONG ENOUGH AND POWERFUL ENOUGH TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. CHRISTIANS MUST START STANDING UP AGAINST ALL THE DECEPTIVE COUNTERFEIT GARBAGE.
The tide of this greatest spiritual war in this country must be turned. I believe it will be. But it also looks like it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Maybe this is the only way to make Christians wake up. Maybe they cannot be properly motivated while relatively free and financially comfortable and must be enslaved and suffer great lack before they get the big idea. (Experience is the best teacher.) When they do the Lord Jesus will be there to meet them.
I have written more new material and longer articles this year than in any previous year. I remain very thankful for those of you who read and follow. Words cannot express how much I appreciate it. But it’s not about me, of course, but the material. If you want to further support my work, say a prayer. There are many things I need to accomplish. Your prayers may help move some mountains. I continue to do what I can to direct people to the Lord’s pure teachings. When we apply them correctly we no longer support lesser teachings and false interpretations of His Word, maintain false ideas and formats, or focus on religious externals. Real Christianity is about the heart. The Lord knows your heart. He knows everything about you. This would normally cause a person to simply give up and surrender to Him knowing he or she cannot hide. But again, it is not about what but will. One must engage one’s will in the process. One must surrender one’s will to Him. Whoever does gains the greatest benefit which is a close relationship with the Lord and secondly, is blessed with specific fulfilling spiritual work to further His Kingdom.
Remember, the last member of the human body to surrender to the Lord Jesus is the tongue. When this most rebellious member fully submits the Holy Spirit enters and heavenly speech pours forth. This is the clear record in Acts. It is the same when we surrender our will. His will then becomes dominant in our lives and everything begins to change for the better. We must know He loves us with all His heart and will bless us with abundant life if only we allow Him to do so. He is a benevolent God of mercy and compassion. It is very important in this regard that we embrace His full curriculum. This process will drive out any false or incomplete teachings resident in our minds which means such things will no longer be a burden or a drag on our spiritual lives. His Truth also puts an end to confusion and cognitive dissonance.
WHAT ABOUT AMERICA?
I have been telling you for eleven years now through this medium that a national Great Awakening is upon us. I got the word from the Lord in late August of 2010, going on twelve years ago, that we were in the early stages at that time. The term Great Awakening was not at all in use then. Roughly five to seven years went by as I continued to labor in obscurity before the term then burst upon the scene in America. Now, probably half the country is well aware of the term Great Awakening. Millions know what it means. Millions are seeing the light and gaining more truth daily at an exponential rate. The Lord is seeing to this. HE IS EXPOSING EVIL LIKE NEVER BEFORE. But the perpetrators are still getting off scot free. Facts no longer matter. It reveals who is in control at that level. But the Lord’s Light will keep shining. Sin will continue being revealed. There is nothing anyone can do to stop this juggernaut let loose by the Lord. The devil wanted to amp it up and the Lord essentially said, “Fine. Now watch what I can do.” Whenever the enemy comes in like a flood the Lord will have the last word if we submit to Him and allow Him and will bring an answering flood of goodness and abundant life for His people. The Lord always takes care of His people but this works best when we fully cooperate.
Therefore, regarding the country, all nations and empires eventually come to an end. The only entity existing in the world at present that will never come to an end is the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. This Kingdom has existed on this planet since the first century AD. It was designed to continue growing and expanding until it fills the earth. It is constantly clashing with the temporary kingdoms of this world controlled by you know you. The Lord, however, said the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Currently, spiritual warfare in America is off the charts. It will be up to the relative few to continue fighting this battle. Most Christians are not engaging and will not engage. It is because most are not really Christians anyway. They have false conversions. They are Christians in name only. These are the people who comprise Unreal Christianity. They cannot fight their way out of a spiritual paper bag. It’s just the way it is.
Though things look pretty bad and times are growing darker, and it appears as though all sin ever known to man is being freely exhibited all around us with no apparent remedy, and that those who are supposed to honor the rule of law and enforce the law are doing the opposite, always remember that the Lord Jesus is in charge. And even though He is not in effective charge in that He gave us free will and honors it and will never force anyone to do anything, He is in charge in that He can answer effectively at any time. It greatly helps Him when we pray properly and sincerely. I have the faith that He can do anything whenever He wants to. I have seen great miracles in my time and in my own life. We should all know what the Lord can do.
So be strong! Believe Him! Believe in Him! He keeps winning! The enemy has been throwing everything he has at us but keeps failing and thus continues resorting to different tactics. If the Lord’s relatively few people stay with Him the Lord will continue defeating anything the enemy might try. But again, we must put all of this in the context of the Lord’s invisible spiritual Kingdom. He puts all of His efforts into saving PEOPLE not things.
Outside of His Kingdom, everything in this world is temporary with an expiration date. We must occupy and be responsible but know our spiritual responsibility must be paramount.
Consider His perfect example. Consider the example of our Christian forebears in the first century. Study them. Read their accounts. Do what they did.
This is the answer.
© 2022 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’m reading a book about a Christian minister in the early to mid-20th century conducting evangelistic meetings and starting churches. In tents.
ATTENTION TO TENT MINISTRY INTENTIONS
This is nothing profound or out of the ordinary, of course, since big canvas tents had become the norm of sorts for large evangelistic meetings by mid-century. They were also used by those sent to start new ministry works in various small towns and locations throughout the country. If one had a tent he could carry it around on a trailer with the other stuff necessary for holding services. Once the minister secured a location on which to set up the tent it didn’t take long to begin holding services. The tent itself would often act as free advertising. When the people of the town saw the new curiosity, like a traveling road show or entertainment spectacle, they were often drawn to it since the interloping tent attraction added a new level of excitement in a hum drum existence. The minister to which I am referring did much of his early work in the late 1920s and into 1930s during the Great Depression. He was not only offering the Gospel of salvation to the locals but also giving them hope and inspiration.
He later revealed his method for starting new churches. He would visit a new town, usually of the smaller variety and sometimes in out of the way places. He would set up his tent, which often included a platform to preach from, maybe do a little additional advertising around town, and then commence with holding services. After a few months of steady work holding consistent meetings and growing a regular congregation he would set up a pastor to take care of the folks while the folks compensated the new pastor with a living. Then he would move on. It would take a certain quantity of people giving a necessary amount of money to support the pastor depending on the situation and his needs. To replace the tent, a local building would be appropriated for either rent or purchase depending on the circumstances. If all continued to go well regarding growth and expansion the new church start would be able to eventually build a new church building to call their own.
This was a difficult effort overall if the church start minister was not connected to an established deep pockets denomination from which to draw support and financing. Anything the Lord created through him must have been greatly satisfying, since he was starting from scratch, especially since his preaching method, doctrine, and ministry emphasis was on the salvation of souls, which was usually not the emphasis of the mainline churches. Such tent ministry methods were sometimes or frequently seen as deviating from the Christian norm and were somewhat disdained by both local anti-Christian forces who often got stirred up and provoked rather easily, as well as by the local denominational church pastors who may have seen such efforts personally intimidating, a threat to their authority, and an invasion of their turf.
It is why this particular minister and those like him saw Christian ministry not as business as usual but one much more in line with the New Covenant practices of the Lord Jesus. They got their ideas from the New Testament. Thus, they saw themselves as certainly different from the norm but were not so untraditional that they would not later adopt the same formats of those churchmen and traditional Christians opposing their early efforts.
BEHOLD, I WILL DO A NEW THING
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2Corinthians 5:17]
These new ministers of the Gospel were part of a new wave breaking upon America as part of a Great Awakening movement that had its roots primarily in the 1906 Los Angeles Azusa Street Revival. The people of that time associated with the movement were more than willing to step from traditional methods and go out on large limbs of pure faith to honor the Lord. And He blessed them for it.
The majority of Christians today cannot identify with that movement or what those people went through to assist the Lord in bringing forth new Light. Their emphasis on Pentecost and Book of Acts happenings took a tremendous amount of courage and demanded a willingness to have one’s Christian reputation destroyed. As John the Baptist facing off against the Pharisees, they had to put up with unending attacks not necessarily from local yokels in general, though that was surely the case, but primarily from status quo Christians in high places and their unthinking drone army of pew-worn sycophantic lemmings. Whatever Christian norm had been established at that time by the current generation was seen as the norm from which no one should deviate. Of course, necessary deviations from such established traditional sleepy time norms must happen anyway if the real Gospel is to be preached, otherwise there would never be the proper spiritual corrections and ongoing restoration toward the pure New Testament prototype.
DID THE APOSTLES USE TENTS?
And this is where it gets interesting. The minister tent user of which I speak and whose book I’m reading who held a great many tent crusades et al in his time over several years was not actually engaging in a pure New Testament effort after all because the big top model was relatively recent. I’m not sure what minister first used a tent for ministry purposes and I don’t feel like doing the research but one wonders if the idea came from the ever present traveling circuses of bygone years. I’m sure big canvas tents were used for more than just circuses but I think said circuses indeed captured the market on the imagination since pretty much everybody back in the day associated circuses with giant tents filled with lions and tigers and bears and acrobats coming to town. It was only a hop and a skip sans the jump to put the proverbial two and two together and manifest a flashing yellow light bulb over one’s head toward the big ministry-minded voilà: We can use tents in ministry!
It was certainly a good idea and maybe a great one. Except for one little problem. It was at heart a mere variation on the standard model of the local church building. As I said, if the tent ministers/ministries were successful, the people they gathered would eventually be housed in something more permanent than the transitory tent which makes the tent a kind of halfway house toward the standard church house. So the question regarding the Early Church and its non-use of permanent meeting buildings would also apply to the big tents of past crusade fame. You see, not only did the early believers never have any permanent church buildings as we know the term, they would also not use big tents if indeed big tents were available. Now, stay with me here because there is a point to this, hard to figure though it may first appear.
HOUSE TO HOUSE
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart… [Acts 2:46]
The private home was their preferred meeting place. It was essentially their only allowable meeting place. The New Covenant Scriptures are filled with references to houses being utilized for meeting places. The apostle Paul mentions them often and that he taught “from house to house” (Acts 20:20). This means the term “church house” has an entirely different connotation from their perspective. Rather than it being a public Christian meeting house which Christians attend from without as it has been throughout much of western history, the original church houses were actual church houses—they were private houses that Christians lived in that Christians also used for ministry meetings. This was the case in the very beginning in Jerusalem and it remained the case for roughly three centuries. The exact model was used throughout the Gentile world within the Roman Empire.
Regarding overt persecution from the state, in the early going until the emperor Claudius was ousted in 54AD and Nero came to power, the Gentile Christians got a pass because the Romans considered them a Jewish sect and the Jews had already been granted an exclusion of sorts from practicing the Roman religion and participating in the emperor cult. One reason for this was their many centuries-old religious practice that far predated Roman times which gave them an effective grandfather clause. That and the fact that Jews made big gigantic huge earth-shattering trouble at any appearance of attack against their religion or when obedience to Roman religion was put forth or even suggested.
The time came however, when the Gentile Christians could no longer fly under the radar though they sincerely attempted to always “follow peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:4). Part of the reason for that was those same unbelieving Jews who professed holy hell when their religion was slighted had no problem doing the slighting themselves against followers of the Lord Jesus, most especially if they were fellow Israelites. It was also quite problematic that the more vocal and hard core branch didn’t stop at mere slights but proceeded to destruction and murder. In other words, the unbelieving Jews were blessed with effective freedom of religion and respect by a Roman government which could otherwise be quite brutal but they refused such freedom of religion to their brothers following the Lord Jesus and the many Gentiles following Him as well.
Thus the Romans were not the persecutors in the beginning. They were sometimes influenced by unbelieving Jews undercover to go after Christians as was the case recorded in Acts Chapter 12 when Herod Agrippa had the apostle James unlawfully executed, and “when he saw that it pleased the Jews,” he planned on murdering Peter also. Both of these men were obviously solid Israelites but no matter.
It was nutbag Nero who later jettisoned the peaceful policy of Claudius (41-54AD) toward the Christians, a period when real Christianity had flourished in the empire. It was on Nero’s sordid watch that the first major Roman state persecution broke out against Christian believers. At that point the home fellowships in Rome and other areas had to take extra precautions not only because of Nero’s madness and the antichrist influence upon him but also because Christianity was now seen as something entirely different from first century Judaism. Its growing numbers and influence appeared threatening. Christians soon became Roman public enemy number one and convenient scapegoats.
Therefore, even though real Christianity had gained great early success and had much freedom to meet relatively unmolested in their homes over a wide stretch of territory throughout the Roman Empire, there had certainly been insufficient wherewithal to create actual Christian meeting houses (though they saw no need for such and even likely perceived what we termed church buildings as counterproductive), such buildings became impossible after the start of Nero’s persecution.
Yet, as it was, after the early glory days in the 30s AD when persecution and famine broke out in Jerusalem scattering the seed of the Gospel to the four corners, the same in essence had happened in Nero’s time (54-68AD), as Christians were forced to grow ever more vigilant, spiritually strong, and able to travel. And they had to travel light. This still required meeting in small groups in homes as the best way to stay undetected in part and be seen as peaceable law abiding citizens of no threat to the state or their neighbors. To construct an overt large building to meet in would be seen as an affront and would be out of character anyway. The plan they were taught by the Lord had always worked very well as it had for Him. Remember, though the Lord sometimes ministered in synagogues there came a time when He was no longer welcome. The same thing happened to the apostle Paul in his early ministry who often started in the local synagogues teaching the Good News to his brothers. He was often warmly accepted early on and gained converts but eventually the unbelievers there created such a terror he had to move on.
For the early believers, ministry was not bound by convention but simply a matter of shining their light, witnessing, assisting the Lord in saving souls, helping and loving others, teaching the Gospel when open doors and hungry hearts presented themselves, keeping a relatively low profile when necessary, and most importantly, being vessels filled with the Spirit of God and praying others through to the same experience.
THE REAL TENTS
For the Early Church, Pentecost was essentially an everyday affair. Real Christianity started in a private home in Jerusalem in an appropriately named Upper Room and continued with that format everywhere it traveled. The first many generations of Christian believers had no church buildings or large canvas tents. They had next to nothing of what later Christians, including today’s, deemed indispensable. What they had, however, worked wonders. It did so because their ministry model was organic and close to the people.
The closer we get to their model at present, the more we will be like them and the more spiritual success we will have. Rather than insisting on traditional largely non-productive, unworkable, unbiblical ministry models and watching the culture and country fall down all around us as a result, not to mention millions of souls being lost due to such models never caring to reach them, it is high time we get this right and do things the Lord’s way. Humble servitude always works. People need the Lord.
“Freely you received, freely give.” [Matthew 10:8b]
At the end of the day, the only real church buildings, the only real tents, are our own bodies—spiritual temples—each of which should be dedicated to the Lord Jesus as a welcome home for His Holy Spirit. This is the actual New Covenant model—individual spiritual temples built up into one large spiritual temple composed of all real Christians, exactly as our spiritual forebears believed, taught, and practiced. They placed a very high priority on believers being filled with the Holy Spirit of the Lord. We see this referenced repeatedly in the early history of Christianity at Pentecost, immediately after Pentecost, and throughout the Book of Acts record over the next forty years. Receiving the Spirit of God was AN EVENT. It never happened by osmosis and never happened “by faith” without powerful empirical evidence witnessed by others.
The one common denominator evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, through the process toward total submission, was the surrender of the last rebellious holdout of the human body—the tongue.
Thus, the early Community of the Lord Jesus was composed of brand new, spiritually clean, holy, set apart for service, mobile temples filled with the Holy Spirit. The Lord alluded to this future standard repeatedly during His ministry in the gospels. The New Covenant epistles, especially those of Paul, also mention this truth. He taught on it. He refers to believers who have experienced it. In the middle of these two we have the Book of Acts which illustrates the experience in real time. The major problem with much of Christianity is that it skips over Acts and goes straight from the gospels to the epistles. This causes non-Spirit-filled Christians to identify with the content of Paul’s letters as though it applied to them and causes them to think they are Spirit-filled when they are not.
In the following passage, the apostle Paul identified the real Christians of his time not according to Christian religious tradition, but according to OT Scripture and as those who had fully experienced Pentecost. A separation and dedication was called for then as it must be now:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. [2Corinthins 6:14-18]
© 2022 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.
They had no church buildings. They had no New Testament. They had no professional clergy. And still, they turned the world upside down.
This is a difficult concept to grasp for many Christians. It sounds subversive. It appears incorrect. The reality of the matter, however, is that the early 1st century believers were acting exactly in accordance with the Lord’s teachings. They did just what He told them to do. They taught what He taught. They practiced what He practiced. It is not their methods which were odd and non-Scriptural, but those of today. They were not the rebels but the perfect example. Those who refuse to follow their example or engage in their methods are the actual rebels.
And He wasn’t far away from those early believers in a distant unknown heaven but right there with them bringing forth the spiritual fruit of His Word:
And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [Mark 16:20]
THE REAL HIERARCHY
Actually, there isn’t any legitimate Christian hierarchy. There is the Lord Jesus, who has all authority in heaven and earth, which of course, is all the authority there is, and then there are His followers who all exist on the same spiritual plane, equal to one another, below Him. He is the only Leader, Master, and King. If such can be described as a hierarchy then it is the only one that exists in His Kingdom.
There is no legitimate middle man group or professional clergy. What there actually is are all Christian believers at various stages of spiritual maturity. Some have reached full maturity but this does not mean they have license to rule over other believers. The Lord made it very clear that all believers were equal with no one ruling over them except Him. He said the more spiritual maturity one gained the more of a servant he must be. Thus, if anything, there should be a reverse hierarchy in which the spiritual giants among us should navigate to lower and more humble stations rather than climb an ecclesiastical power ladder. Rather than a raised platform or stage there should be a hole in the ground. This is merely Christian Spirituality 101. Humility is a door.
I’m not keeping track of how many churches have suspended their services. I assume it is a great percentage. The leaders thereof were given orders to shut down and dutifully complied. One wonders if this would have happened without the internet, because it is largely internet streaming on various platforms keeping many churches going. There is nothing essentially wrong with this but Christians in general are still not seeing the big picture.
BOGUS TALKING HEAD MINISTRY
About a dozen years ago I was invited to a church service by a friend. I had never been there before. We drove up and parked in a large parking lot. We entered a large traditional church building. There were people milling around in the foyer and a central station where one could get some coffee. All normal things. We entered the usual large auditorium with standard pews and found a place about half way down on the right. After getting settled and looking around, however, I noticed for the first time something really odd. After the worship service it became odder. Instead of a pulpit or a preacher up there on the platform there was a big screen. It suddenly came on and there was a guy on the screen. This was the pastor. He was preaching from a remote location. There were three other churches connected to the transmission doing exactly as we were.
It was absolutely weird, and believe me, I am aware of most of the weird things about Christian practices in general, but had yet to experience such a thing. Here was a guy in a small studio somewhere preaching to a camera with the feed going into his four “churches” and everyone in those four churches were dutifully watching him on a screen. I was generally nice to my friend but let it be known that I thought it was a tad strange. In my heart I knew it was absolutely ridiculous but again, I was nice. I sat there and went through the motions with everyone else but the entire time was wondering how all these people could possibly put up with Mr. Big Brother up there in this weird 1984 style “church.” Everyone could have just stayed home and watched it on the net. Or gathered in small groups in homes. There was no need for the four church buildings and the great expenses they incurred. All that money could have been spent on, oh, I don’t know, maybe people?
Which brings us to the present. All over America former church goers have been forced by strange unprecedented circumstances to stay home from church and watch their pastor or maybe a small service of a few online. So far, people seem to be getting what they need and are greatly enjoying themselves. Some states have ordered, from what I understand, only small groups of ten or less, even in private homes. This is actually about the perfect size of a home group. I would think that after several weeks under these circumstances the innovative intelligent Christians out there would figure out a way to minister to one another and take care of one another and soon discover a brand new method for organic Christianity.
Please stick with me here because this will sound really weird. What if Christians simply did their Christianity at home? And among their neighbors? What if they opened up their Bibles and shared with each other? And prayed for one another? And what if they organized a method to meet each other’s needs and the needs of their neighbors? I have seen many reports of people doing very strange things like collecting groceries and supplies and giving them away. One older woman who likes to sew was making surgical masks for the hospitals or for individuals to wear personally. When you start searching out such events it will astound you what is actually going on out there nationwide. There are apparently millions of good hearted people who have suddenly been released into various unofficial ministries more than happy to do whatever they can to help and provide. Rather than suppress ministry the current shutdown has actually promoted it. This is great news.
It is starting to look like 1st century Christianity out there!
© 2020 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.
NOTE: Please see my friend Barb’s site, My Life in Our Father’s World, for this great post of current ministry in action: A SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. 
There are upwards of 100,000 Christian believers in the nation of Iran by conservative estimates. The number could be considerably higher. There is a solid Christian underground that meets primarily in private homes. Evangelistic activity is strong but very risky. Witnessing for Christ is illegal.
The state religion of Iran is Shia Islam. All other faiths are essentially against the law, though Christians are singled out for extreme prejudice and hostility. They undergo discrimination in all areas, including housing, employment, and education. The government engages in the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of Muslim converts to Christianity who sometimes pay the ultimate price for their faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus. Under the strict Islamist regime, forsaking Islam is a crime punishable by death.
As in many other hostile nations, Christians cannot meet openly and are forever subjected to suspicion and betrayal, even by family members. Since Iran is over 98% Muslim, almost all new Christian believers are former Muslims and are routinely hounded by those of their former religion. Secrecy is often a must for survival’s sake, yet house churches are often raided. Due to the strong faith of Iranian Christians in light of such strong persecution, the suffering and scattering of believers spreads the embers of Christian light to more Muslims hungry for truth. Iran is ripe for revival and there is in fact a strong awakening taking place in the country. Many of the people have access to Western media and it is only a matter of time until a strong Christian presence is established.
This dynamic must be considered in light of the probable attack from Israel and Western forces that is currently in the making. Iran is a great restrictor of personal freedom, has a government-sponsored radical Muslim ideology, and makes no bones about its intentions. Iran is a powerful nation and has powerful allies who are pledged to varying degrees to supporting it against economic and military attack. These allies also share a general hatred of real Christianity though it be burgeoning in Communist China and India, as well as beginning to make an impact in other Muslim nations.
Muslims are coming to Christ in very large numbers, though this fact is rarely revealed in the major media. It is an unprecedented movement throughout Islamic countries and among Muslim immigrant populations and the pioneers are paying the price. Yet the Lord teaches us to outlast the enemy through constant victorious faith regardless of harsh conditions, suffering, and an apparent lack of progress. We also know that persecution always results in greater numbers and deeper faith of believers. Islam is doing itself no favors by attempting to stomp out Christianity, as it is only making it grow.
I remember being involved in the very early house church movement in America. I recall that the chief persecutors of the growing movement were not government authorities but established Christian churches, even those in the more “understanding” nondenominational sphere. Many churches co-opted the process by breaking their congregations down into home groups, but this is the opposite of true cell division. Some Christians went flat crazy against the movement much as radical Muslims do now. And it is for the same purpose — maintaining strict religious control to protect the organization, even if the battle is against the Spirit of the Lord.
Due to obvious circumstances in hostile environments, there is no other reasonable method for meeting to share the Gospel. The vastly expanding house church movement in America is indicative of God’s hand regarding our future. The community of the Lord was born in a house in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The movement was illegal then also, both in Judea and throughout the Roman Empire. But the Gospel spread rapidly through small groups of dedicated believers and this very process is currently taking place in Iran.
Christians should therefore be careful of getting sucked into anti-Iran and anti-Muslim war rhetoric and propaganda since Iranian Muslims are the seed bed of Christianity in that country.
Though persecuted, our Iranian brothers and sisters are without doubt praying for their government leaders and those associated with fomenting the coming war, and are showing the love of God. They know war well in that the spiritual war has been raging in the region for decades. Iranian believers want to save fellow Iranians and their country for the Lord.
Let us remember that “Iran in the Crosshairs” also means Iranian Christians in the crosshairs. Would God use His “chosen people” in Israel against His sons and daughters in Iran? Such things are always more complicated than they appear on the surface. The Word of God has the correct answer on how to approach the conflict and the various people groups involved. The Lord has Iran in His own crosshairs for His own purposes.
Those who revoke and shoot down “Love Thy Neighbor” do so at their own expense.
“All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” [Matthew 26:52]
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 5 of 5]
THANKS TO ALL FOR READING AND SPREADING THE WORD