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COMPETING AGAINST THE LORD: “Churches” versus the Kingdom

         The Lord Jesus created one Church. It signifies the one Community of the Lord Jesus on the earth, composed of every real Christian. The word “church” is derived from the Greek Ekklesia and the Hebrew Qahal. The Kingdom of the Lord Jesus is, of course, a spiritual kingdom. It has one King—the King of kings, the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last—YeHoshua HaMashiach.

        The moment a religious chartered institution, including an individual local “church,” is formally formed, it becomes a competing entity to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. It creates a clergy-based leadership team almost always consisting of one man at the top of the pyramid who has been invested with the ultimate power to do whatever he deems appropriate within the bylaws. He usually has a church board, an elder staff, or a small committee of some sort that shares his power in a sense, but most of these are mere sycophants, or yes-man boards who do little more than support him, not much different at all from the way a pack of wolves will honor a single alpha male as pack leader and submit to him completely.

         When a man is invested with such power he is bound to fail the Lord’s commission, lead his people astray, and royally screw things up over time. It keeps happening over and over, but such Christians who support this format refuse to see that the set up is messed up and rather than change the faulty format they insist on forcing everyone to adhere to it as the ultimate “right thing to do.”

         In other words, a monster is created and rather than kill the monster they insist on supporting it regardless of cost or what it does to people, and whoever has a different opinion is run off or destroyed by said monster. The concept of spiritual peace and love as taught by the Master is thrown out the window and is used and referred to only in the abstract in order to save the man-made substitute.

         To illustrate the difference between religious institutions and the one Ekklesia, Qahal, or Community of the Lord, the Southern Baptist Convention is not the Kingdom but a competing entity. The Roman Catholic Church is not the Kingdom but a competing entity. A Pentecostal mega “church” is not the kingdom but a competing entity. These legal religious institutions may or may not have real Christians as members, but such members are often unclear on the concept of the Lord’s original intent and curriculum. Thus, they give too little honor to the Lord Jesus and too much honor to their chosen leaders, who are often compromised.        

JUDAS

         Judas would not last long in the vast majority of churches unless he made it to the leadership team. In fact, this is where Judas spirits usually end up. But rather than go after the leader as the original Judas did, the real Judas spirit, since it longs for power over people, wants to control the institution. In this sense it works with the leadership team over the congregation. All it needs to accomplish this is a willing leadership team.

         The very fact that the Lord Jesus instructed His real disciples to call no one the “leader” except Him, and that most Christians insist on doing otherwise, and that “pastors” love being called “leader” and revel in the authority it brings (though many will affect a faux humble attitude), proves that almost all Christians and Christian leaders insist on violating the following pure commands of the Lord:

           “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.

         “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

         “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. [Matthew 23:8-10]

         The preceding commands of the Lord Jesus in Matthew’s gospel are essentially no different than the first three of the Ten Commandments:

         Then God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” [Exodus 20:1-7]

         In the Matthew account the Lord Jesus clearly identifies Himself as (1) The only Teacher, (2) The only Father, and (3) The only Leader. In the Exodus account, YHWH Elohim clearly identifies Himself as the only God, which encapsulates everything that God is to His people, such as their loving Deliverer from bondage which always starts the process of salvation.

         But Christians in general are grossly confused by these clear facts. They are confused for a reason. They are confused because the very clear commands of the Lord Jesus regarding leadership and authority have been grossly violated. They refuse to see or even consider that He is indeed the only Teacher, Father, and Leader. As a result, they also grossly violate the first three of the Ten Commandments by making idols and worshipping them, and taking the Name of the Lord in vain:

         For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth… [Philippians 2:9-10]

         Because people have it stuck in their heads that an “idol” is a crude little ancient statue made of metal, wood, or stone representing some weird foreign deity and nothing else, they are blinded to the reality of what the Lord was teaching: The most fully evolved “idol” is a living human being. Hence—

         “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. [Matthew 23:8-10]

         We can add to this many other titles such as “reverend” and “pastor,” the latter of which is a pure corruption of a bad translation and appears only once in the NT. It should have been translated as shepherd. Most “pastors” love their title for obvious reasons, but are not true shepherds and in fact abhor the designation of shepherd due to its inferred lack of status, decorum, and authority. They do not want to be characterized as mere sheep herders off in a pasture somewhere with a stained robe and weathered stick.

         If Christians are waiting for reform in this area from the top, such reform will never arrive. We see by what happened to the Lord Jesus that challenging false leadership will be costly. They killed Him. In America, because we have laws against that sort of thing, false leadership resorts to chicken solutions like spreading false gossip and innuendo, blackballing, the use of supreme indifference, quiet hatred, and generally breaking every commandment of the Lord to attack His prophets and maintain personal power. All of this is done to prop up false leadership which proves further that it is false leadership, often infused with the power of a Judas spirit, which uses betrayal of the brethren as the means toward its highest goal: Power over them.

         “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” [Exodus 20:5-6] [1]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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.

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The Judas in Your Life

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         The Biblical percentages are such that one out of every twelve disciples is a Judas. On average, there is a Judas among every twelve people in the life of a real Christian. This being the case, it may be wise to limit your friends to eleven people. But really, the Judas problem exists, and it will never go away. It is one of those things we must be aware of, but keep on the back burner. Eleven out of twelve, on average, are on your side and will not betray you, and this must always be our focus.

         The Lord knew the heart of Judas. He knew He had chosen “the son of perdition” as one of His original twelve. David prophesied of this man:

         All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt, saying, “A wicked thing is poured out upon him, that when he lies down, he will not rise up again.” Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. [Psalm 41:7-9]

         Yet Judas was in no way predestined to perform his dirty deed. He was not created to be a jerk. He chose to be a jerk. It seems that the other apostles did not suspect him. None of them knew who the traitor was at the Last Supper, for example. It is apparent that Judas hid himself very well.

         He was the holder of the money bag. And he repeatedly stole from it. Imagine that. He was routinely stealing the money given for the work of God. The only one who knew this, apparently, was the Lord. Maybe the others did know it. Maybe they knew Judas was a thief but did not know he would be a traitor. There was something not quite right about this man. Each of the original apostles was messed up in some way. They each had their personality quirks and sin problems. Except for John, they all eventually ran off and/or denied the Lord after His arrest.

         But they returned. Their hearts were right. They simply did not understand. They were afraid. But Judas was a betraying thief with his own agenda. He was not on the same page with the Lord or the others. He was listening to a different radio station. He was getting his information from a different source. At the time of the end, his increasingly cozy relationship with the devil himself caused the two to come into perfect union. It was a spiritual marriage. The devil entered into Judas and the two became one. Whoa.

         It had been building for some time. At whatever point it commenced we do not know for sure, but Judas Iscariot had decided he would either take back his heart from the Lord or never give it fully to Him. It could be that he, like the others, could only perceive the popular notion of the Messiah as a conquering hero. He noticed early on that the Lord Jesus did not seem to fit this role. He thus held back his heart. The others thought the same thing generally, but gave their hearts to the Lord anyway. They overcame anything that might have held them back, and each of them sided with the Lord 100%. They still messed up from time to time, but their hearts were right.

         Not so with Judas. And not so with any possible unknown Judas in your life. The Lord never advocated being suspicious of others, though. Suspicion and love do not go together. The best Scriptural advice concerning how to best approach this subject, straight from the Lord’s teachings, is probably the following:

         “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” [Matthew 10:16]

         The Lord knew about Judas but carried the knowledge well. It takes a certain strength to do this, a great strength. He loved Judas to the very end and knew there was always hope on the one hand, but was aware of his eventual fate on the other. He never let this knowledge or the various actions of Judas affect His mission or relationship with others, however. He never even fought against the actions of Judas, but allowed them to play out as part of a plan. One solution to this is that it was already predetermined there must be a traitor, because Satan would counter the Lord’s ministry with betrayal. Under the devil’s overall tempting influence upon everyone close to the Lord, Judas Iscariot was the one who gave in to temptation and chose the role.

         Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. [Romans 12:9-18] [1] 

         © 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 Price of Betrayal

Judas' regret

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         Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus. [Matthew 26:14-16]

         During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… [John 13:2]

         And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. [Luke 22:3]

         The devil and betrayal go together. One may wonder how a man such as Judas could have spent so much time with the Lord and still have such a wicked heart toward Him. One may also wonder why the Lord even allows betrayal in the first place. In His case, it was all a part of the plan. But why are His people betrayed?

         It may also be part of His plan. On the one hand it is a simple battle tactic, a method used by the enemy to inflict damage. On the other hand it is an insidious process to inflict pain on a higher level, a needless level of pain, one that goes beyond the mere achieving of a goal. It is used to strike at the deepest center of a person’s heart in such a way that recovery is often impossible. It’s a method of piling on or mutilating a corpse after murder. It reveals an enormous amount of pure hate on the part of the betrayer that goes far beyond a simple elimination of one’s opposition.

         I went to see The Passion of the Christ when the film first arrived in theaters in 2004. I never saw it again until a few weeks ago. Once was plenty for seven years. As we all know, the film illustrates graphically the nature of pure betrayal upon an innocent Man. They could have simply murdered Him, but the enemy wanted to inflict as much pain as possible. Though the House of Annas was the principal party behind the execution, and the Roman army the tool, it was the devil that was obviously lurking behind the entire plot. He would make an example of the Lord and attempt to put enough fear in the Lord’s followers that they would shrink from their duty and betray Him as well.

         The Lord Jesus was demonized in that He was made to appear evil or threatening in the eyes of others. He was lied about. Most people believed the lies. They had no idea a powerful demonic influence was behind the lies. They were manipulated. Many who saw the Lord in action and heard His teachings had grown to greatly appreciate Him. He made them feel free. His wonderful presence was a joy. But then they drifted off. They accepted the innuendo and false charges as fact, and allowed fear to take hold in their hearts. They would no longer stand with Him. They would not defend Him. At the time of His trial, the Lord was all alone. Not a single supporting voice of any disciple was heard. Even His right hand man denied Him.

         We may see this as a onetime event in the life of the Son of God that has no bearing on betrayal in general, but this is incorrect. Betrayal is what it is, regardless of the betrayed. It is something almost impossible to defend against because it involves loved ones and trusted ones—friends and family—those who are thought to be on one’s side. The Lord knew in advance. Few others know anything at all until the trap is sprung.

         “But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name.” [Luke 21:16] 

         “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” [Matthew 24:9-10]

         “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. [John 6:64-66] [1]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[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.