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THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: “This Generation” (2)

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The Lord Jesus is recorded using the exact term “This Generation” a total of 17 times. To what generation was He referring? How does it relate to the “Last Days?”

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“THIS GENERATION” IN THE GOSPELS

I stated the following in Part 1 of this Series:

The Lord Jesus frequently and consistently referred to a single generation throughout His ministry. Throughout the Gospel accounts He refers to it specifically as “this generation.” There are a total of seventeen such references, five in Matthew, three in Mark, and nine in Luke. He also described it. He referred to “this generation” as “evil, adulterous, unbelieving, perverted, sinful, and wicked.” In Acts 2:40, Peter also refers to it as “perverse.” In Philippians 2:15, Paul agrees with Peter and adds another fitting adjective—“crooked.” So here we have seven quite descriptive adjectives describing the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation.”

THE LIST

To make sure we are all on the same page and become familiar with the seventeen occurrences of the exact term “this generation” in the Gospels, here is the list (NASB95):

GOSPEL OF MATTHEW (5):

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’” [Matthew 11:16-17]

41 “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” [Matthew 12:41]

42 “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” [Matthew 12:42]

34 “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” [Matthew 23:34-36]

32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” [Matthew 24:32-34]

GOSPEL OF MARK (3):

11 The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He *said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” [Mark 8:11-12]

28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Mark 13:28-30]

GOSPEL OF LUKE (9):

31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’” [Luke 7:31-32]

29 As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.” [Luke 11:29]

30 “For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” [Luke 11:30]

31 “The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” [Luke 11:31]

32 “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” [Luke 11:32]

49 “For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’” [Luke 11:49-51]

24 “For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” [Luke 17:24-25]

29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.” [Luke 21:29-32]

ADDITIONAL OCCURRENCES

The following are nine additional occurrences that do not contain the exact term “this generation” but relate directly to it and contain the word “generation.” Notice the descriptive adjectives:

GOSPEL OF MATTHEW (4):

39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;” [Matthew 12:39]

43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” [Matthew 12:43-45]

4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. [Matthew 16:4]

17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” [Matthew 17:17]

GOSPEL OF MARK (2):

38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:38]

19 And He *answered them and *said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” [Mark 9:19]

GOSPEL OF LUKE (1):

41 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” [Luke 9:41]

APOSTLE PETER:

40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” [Acts 2:40]

APOSTLE PAUL:

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. [Philippians 2:14-16] [1]

Remember, every one of these 26 occurrences refer to the same generation. They each refer to “this generation.”

Is it the generation of the “Last Days?”

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[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 “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: A Brief History of Misapplied Prophecy (1)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: New Testament References to the “Last Days” (3)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: A Brief History of Misapplied Prophecy (1)

 

We have been convinced we are living in the “Last Days,” that there is no remedy for the growing evil of these times, and that we must surrender apathetically without a fight.

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“THIS GENERATION”

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Matthew 24:34]

The Lord Jesus frequently and consistently referred to a single generation throughout His ministry. Throughout the Gospel accounts He refers to it specifically as “this generation.” There are a total of seventeen such references, five in Matthew, three in Mark, and nine in Luke. He also described it. He referred to “this generation” as “evil, adulterous, unbelieving, perverted, sinful, and wicked.” In Acts 2:40, Peter also refers to it as “perverse.” In Philippians 2:15, Paul agrees with Peter and adds another fitting adjective—“crooked.” So here we have seven quite descriptive adjectives describing the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation.”

GROSS ERROR

There is a very strange occurrence that takes place when Christians refer to prophetic content within the Gospel accounts. They almost always have a tendency to refer to the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation” as their own generation. This phenomenon became more common after the advent of the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago. It happened before then as well though the instances are far less due to a lack of access to the Word of God, attributed to general illiteracy, and also because the Roman Catholic Church had purposely hidden the written Word behind a wall of Latin.

Thus, in the 1500s, as more Christians began reading the few emerging Gospel accounts in their own languages, and apparently due to their limited understanding of the phrase “this generation,” they had the decided tendency to think it meant their generation. The same thing happened in successive generations since, from the 1500s to the present. This became especially true beginning in the early to mid 1800s in America with the advent of Dispensational Theology, a spurious construct invented out of thin air. By the time the 20th century dawned in the year 1900, the phenomenon became much more pronounced. It gained great steam by mid century, especially by the 1960s when America began being inundated with so-called Christian “prophecy teachers.”

Strangely enough, though these “prophecy teachers” had relatively slight differences which got blown out of proportion (such as the pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib nonsense), they generally agreed very closely on what they termed Biblical prophecies coming true in our time. This does not mean that they were right but that their interpretations were coming from the same original source.

Then, in the mode of Space-based science fiction popular at that time, the phenomenon broke out into the secular culture with the publication of a seminal Christian prophecy work entitled The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970. According to the New York Times, this was the “bestselling nonfiction book of the 1970s.” [1] All of the sudden, Biblical prophecy not only became a popular topic in America, it was also said to be coming to pass in real time. According to the author, the prophesied future was now upon that generation of fifty-two years ago. Due to its nature and claims, the book was also publicized through high circulation mainstream newspapers and magazines. Many more prophecy books were published by various authors. The top prophecy teachers were touring the states speaking at churches, colleges, and conferences. With the advent of Christian television in the early 1970s they were suddenly selling their wares through that medium. It truly was a burgeoning phenomenon. And the one astounding constant those guys all had in common was that our time (the 1970s) was the specific time referred to in the New Testament when the “Last Days” prophecies of the Lord Jesus were actually coming to pass.

In essence, the prophecy teachers made the declarative persistent claim that the American generation of the 1970s was the New Testament “this generation” referred to by the Lord Jesus.

THE DECEPTION PERSISTS

Remember, pretty much every generation over the last five hundred years has, to varying degrees, believed their generation to be the one that would see the culmination of prophetic events and the second coming of the Lord Jesus. This was more pronounced on scattered occasions here and there especially during times of revival. But as I stated previously, the phenomenon became a flowing stream with no discernible interruptions beginning about 120 years ago. This had never happened before. That generation was convinced we were at the end of time. When WWI broke out it appeared all the more believable. The same thing happened during WWII. The belief that we were in the “Last Days” gained force and notoriety for seventy years until it burst onto the scene in the 1970s reaching an apogee that carried on into the 1980s and 90s.

Of course, the year 1900 or thereabouts was not the end of the world, nor did the prophesied end come in the 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s though many in those two generations were convinced otherwise. A third generation then came upon the scene and gained age in the 1950s and 60s. This generation was also fully convinced it must be the last one on earth due in part to the advent of nuclear weapons which were said to have the firepower to effectively destroy the planet. The 1960s saw great social change not only in the secular but also within Christianity which for the first time was visited throughout with the Holy Spirit outpouring within all major denominations. This occurrence definitely had an effect on the “Last Days” theme.

Then, with the initial emergence of the fourth generation beginning in roughly 1970 the phenomenon blasted into outer space. One could not escape such news if one tried. The Christians of that time knew the “Last Days” had certainly arrived. Regardless of what any previous generation had thought prior to the 1970s, those people were simply wrong, it was said, and they were only seeing the earliest glimpses of the future in their time. The previous generations had made the mistake of attributing the future to their time, it was said, while the emerging generation of the 1970s, having been shown so clearly by the prophecy teachers “that one can see prophecy coming to pass simply by reading the newspapers,” were convinced their days were truly the “Last Days,” the time when Jesus would definitely return. Well, He didn’t return fifty years ago in the early 1970s. Maybe He was “tarrying.”

When nothing changed in the 1970s the new mantra was based on the state of Israel. The prophecy teachers insisted the Lord must return within a generation of the founding of the state of Israel, which took place in the spring of 1948, as wrongheaded as that contention was. Their reasoning was thus: Since a Biblical generation was thought to be forty years the Lord will return by 1988. And of course, because there must be a seven year “Tribulation” period within this construct, this great time of turmoil and suffering which the world has never before seen would have to begin by 1981. That was forty-one years ago. Of course, the “The Great Tribulation” never happened. The Lord did not return in the 1980s.

The prophecy teachers made more adjustments. They were absolutely right all along you see and never admitted to being off, so they simply added more to the mix. They continued to make the rounds and make money. They continued writing best sellers. They continued pontificating on Christian television. Everyone, it seems, kept believing them. As time went on, however, they started sounding that much more incorrect. They could no longer come up with adequate explanations. But giving credit where credit is certainly due, these guys were masters at their craft. And Christians in general remained Biblically uninformed regarding New Testament Scripture as usual and thus extremely gullible. As time continued to pass the entire prophecy timelines and constructs of the prophecy teachers simply started to fade away. There was no sense pushing them anymore. They could no longer be made to fit.

Then a new generation began to rise in roughly the mid-1990s. Christians were still aware of these so-called prophecies somewhat but no longer emphasized them. Nevertheless, from then until now the deception has remained. Christians still insist we are in the “Last Days” referred to in the New Covenant literature. Christians still believe we are in the days directly preceding the Second Coming.

As it turns out, the “Last Days” last a long time, much longer than prophecy says they should. They have now lasted over 120 years. The state of Israel is almost 74 years old. That’s almost two Biblical generations. Every generation from roughly 1900 until now believed they would see the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Each generation was obviously wrong.

THIS PRESENT DARKNESS

We are now at the beginning of the sixth generation. The entire construct of the prophecy teachers of the recent past has been proven absolutely wrong though a probable majority of Christians and even great millions of non-Christians still believe it. Though it has no rhyme or reason from a New Testament perspective, it has become accepted religious theology. We have seen this play out once again over the last few weeks in the Russian war with Ukraine in which prophecy is once again being applied to the actions of Russia as it always is when Russia makes a perceived major move of one kind or another.

The major problem which arises from this prophecy heresy is the idea that evil will continue to grow worse and worse in the world and that there is absolutely nothing Christians can do about it. Though the Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth there is nothing He can do about it either. If Christians have been convinced that prophecy says the world is lost then the current Kingdom of the Lord Jesus existing in this world lacks the power to overcome evil which indicates evil is the greater power.

I submit that this idea is pure unadulterated garbage and that the reason evil is overcoming good is because many potential proponents of spiritual good have been erroneously taught to stand down and go about their Christianity in such a way that they represent no threat to the devil. This absurd attitude based on the “Last Days” deception may best be described by the Lord Himself in the following:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” [Matthew 5:13][2]

Sound familiar?   

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] 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 “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: “This Generation” (2)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: New Testament References to the “Last Days” (3)

 

THE REAL GOSPEL

The odds are great that most Christians in the world have never experienced the real Gospel or are aware of it, and have embraced another gospel in its place.

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I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! [Galatians 1:6-9]

Christians in general are not so discriminating in their gospel choices. Rather than do the required reading and research which the Lord Jesus, as our Teacher, demands, in order to locate the real one, they accept whatever gospel they are most familiar with or the one their particular tradition mandates. Many apparently do not even refer to their respective denominational beliefs as a gospel. They have been taught, and have accepted, the notion that anything Christian is close enough and anything Christian is the gospel, and that denominational separation and variation are the norm. This attitude makes a mockery of the Lord’s extensive teachings as though His full curriculum were optional, as though one can deviate from it and create partial gospels based on segments of His teachings. It makes a mockery of all He went through and the struggles and great victories of the Early Church which they achieved through never-ending spiritual warfare and incessant prayer. What they accomplished was extremely difficult and demanded real discipleship. Such remains a foreign concept in most of today’s churches.

Therefore, what I write here is an attempt to set the record straight. The record, of course, is contained in the actual written Gospel presented in the New Covenant Scriptures. This record is our Christian foundation. And though the early first-century believers had no written New Testament, the written New Testament is an absolute necessity in our day. For by it we can discern truth from error.

THE GOSPEL, THE COVENANT

We call it a testament. The better word is covenant—from the Greek word diatheke. The writer of the Book of Hebrews explains the nature of this covenant (in a passage we will get to shortly) in a manner most often not acknowledged or fully understood by the very Christians who claim to invoke it. How is it that the majority of Christians spend their lives going through their respective Christian motions yet never participate in the covenant which decides their eternal fate?

A covenant is a binding legal contract or agreement between two parties. This is exactly what the New Covenant is. The Gospel, or Good News, announces this covenant. The Good News, or Good Tidings, or Glad Tidings, is that God has made a way for people to be delivered from the bondage of sin and have their sins paid for and remitted completely. It is an agreement instituted by our benevolent Creator for the sake of being relationally reconciled with the wayward people of His Creation. And unlike most contracts which involve the participation of both parties in the authoring of the contract, the New Covenant is a contract in which God authors the terms. But unlike authors of covenants who control the terms and thus write for themselves the best terms, God blesses the wayward offending party with the best terms—the highly beneficial terms normally granted by the controlling author to himself. And what is more, the Author of the New Covenant must not only be the Priest which divides the sacrifice to shed its blood (for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin), but be the Sacrifice and shed His own Blood. God has so loved the wayward people of his Creation that He was willing to become one of us, shed His blood for us, and die for us. There is no greater love than this.

The Greek word diatheke, translated into English primarily as covenant, is also translated in some Bible versions in a few locations as will, as in last will and testament, which is a covenant that goes into effect only at death. Paul uses it this way in Galatians 3:15, for example. For our purposes here, we may focus on Hebrews 9:16 in which most versions translate diatheke as either covenant or testament, but a few as will. Thus, the New Covenant necessitated the death of the Testator—the Author of the will—whose last will and testament went into effect only upon His death and which involves the rights of inheritance for the second party.

And due to the nature of the sacrifice He made for sin, it is also a covenant of blood—a Blood Covenant in that two parties agree that a sacrificial death must take place to institute it (the death of the Lord Jesus, the first party), but also that a second sacrificial death must take place to ratify it (the death of the second party):

15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. [Hebrews 9:15-17]

Now, the death of the first party of the New Covenant was a brutal physical death involving horrific torture and suffering. It was, of course, undeserved. The Lord Jesus was absolutely innocent of the false charges His accusers threw against Him. He never committed a single sin and kept the Law of Moses perfectly. This, of course, made His an extremely difficult and dedicated life. His love for wayward humanity was such that He subjected Himself to the otherwise impossible task and living a life with no sin so He could defeat sin and release us from the evil power of sin. The Lord had to be completely innocent and pure in order for the New Covenant to be instituted. He was the Sacrifice Lamb and the sacrifice had to be without blemish.

The death required of the second party in this covenant, however, is not a physical death but a sacrifice of the totality of one’s life. It is illustrated by the anguish, agony, and grief of the full repentance process as one expresses pronounced sorrow for one’s lifetime personal sins and is broken and “burnt” as an offering upon an intangible altar of sacrifice as one surrenders completely to the terms of the covenant which mandates such a death.

The second party, of course, has no leg to stand on as it were and no defense, since he or she is the guilty party, the party of sin. The Author’s terms which one must agree to in order to accept and ratify the agreement cannot possibly be any better, however, since they entail not only a brand new clean and purposeful life in the here and now but eternal life as well. And this eternal life, of course, demands that there also be a later resurrection after physical death, just as the first party had undergone resurrection. The Lord Jesus had died physically but later came back to life. The second party of the covenant will also undergo physical death and will also later come back to life.

But regarding the present, there is more. If the second party repents properly, correctly, and fully, which means he or she effectively dies, the pure Blood of the Sacrifice Lamb, the Lord Jesus, will then be applied to his or her life. The Blood is applied at repentance. Thus, if there is no real repentance, there is no application of the Blood, and there is no ratification of the New Covenant for any particular second party.

If there is real repentance by the second party, then he or she will be thoroughly cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb and all personal sin will be washed away. And since the second party does not actually die physically to ratify the covenant, the Lord Jesus has instituted full immersion water baptism in His Name—it must be in the Name of Jesus—as a type of burial for the “dead” second party. In other words, real repentance signifies death and full immersion water baptism signifies burial.

Now what? You’ve got a person, the second party, who is dead and buried. When he or she then emerges from the waters of baptism it signifies in one sense a resurrection from the tomb. In effect, however, though one is now clean and pure, his or her spirit must be resurrected as well in order to complete the process of attaining the same state that Adam and Eve existed in before they sinned. Remember, God had told them that if they ever sinned they would die. Yet, when they did sin, they did not die physically, but spiritually. They continued living physically but Adam’s spirit had died. Eve’s spirit had died. Because of this, their sin and their dead spirit cut them off from spiritual relationship with God. And because they were no longer innocent and pure they could no longer live in the spiritual Garden made for spiritual people but were required to leave the Garden and go into the wild world.

The last Adam, however, restores this spiritual relationship. He has made a way in which one can return to the Garden (His Kingdom). He does it through the infilling of the second party with His Holy Spirit:

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. [1Corinthians 6:17]

TRANSFORMATIVE SPIRITUAL POWER

Thus, we now see the complete process toward total restoration. This is what was demonstrated in the early history of the Lord’s Community per the historical record of Acts. This is the fullness of the real Gospel. This is the Good News. The second party, previously completely helpless and bound by sin with no chance of changing his or her condition for the better, is fully transformed into a new creation by the sacrifice and power of the first party.

Therefore, the New Covenant is actually a covenant of transformative spiritual POWER. This was demonstrated throughout the ministry of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel accounts. He possessed and demonstrated the power of God. People were miraculously healed. They were miraculously delivered of possession by demons. The poor and downtrodden, those beat down and taken advantage of by others, were blessed with the uplifting Gospel of hope and joy. And the dead were raised to new life.

This great spiritual power and the one Gospel—the only real Gospel—were and remain a package deal. They go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Not only was this great spiritual power (Greek: dunamis) demonstrated in the Lord’s ministry, it was also demonstrated after His initial ministry through the ministry of the Early Church in the first century. So the power never ended with His direct ministry, continued after His direct ministry according to the clear historical record, and was obviously intended to continue throughout the age of His Kingdom on earth until the present and beyond. To support this fact, we have these three passages for starters:

So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [Mark 16:19-20]

“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” [Acts 2:39]

After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. [Hebrews 2: 3-4]

The New Testament, therefore, is: (1) A written record which reveals the spiritual power of God in action, the very cause of the miracles which took place among them and without which the Gospel would have no power or ability to transform. (2) A written record which documents the full teachings of the Lord Jesus—the real Gospel—but also exposes any and all consequent false gospels.

ANY Christian teaching that deviates from the Lord’s pure curriculum is in essence a false teaching, either because it contains error, that which the Lord never taught, or it acknowledges only a portion of His teachings. Whatever gospel thus contains additions to His teachings denotes a false gospel. Whatever gospel thus contains omissions from His teachings denotes a false gospel. And whatever gospel that denies and does not possess the transformative spiritual power of God is a false gospel. It was none other than the renowned Apostle Paul who first claimed this fact in his second letter to Timothy when he wrote:

…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. [2Timothy 3:5]

For greater insight and clarification, the phrase “form of godliness” in the preceding verse is from the Greek words morphosis eusebeia. The first is defined as “a forming, shaping, semblance, a form, embodiment.” The second is defined as: “reverence, respect, religion, piety.” Putting the two together, using various existing Bible translations, we see much better the man-made formulation of the many false gospels in the world and their inherent character:

A Form of Godliness

A Form of Religion

A Form of Piety

A Pretense of Religion

An Appearance Indeed of Godliness

The Appearance of Godliness

The Form of Religion

The Outward Appearance of Religion

The Outward Form of Godliness

THE REAL GOSPEL

Partial salvation is not real salvation. Partial cleansing of one’s soul is not real cleansing of one’s soul. A partial born again experience is not a real born again experience. Partial healing is not real healing. A broken heart cannot be partially healed and actually be healed. The real Christians of this world know they had to surrender all and give their entire heart to the Lord in order to receive all that He had to offer and must be offered in order to be fully transformed. With the Lord Jesus, there are no partial or halfway measures. He will never allow a person to think he or she is okay when he or she is not okay.

HE IS NOT A QUACK MINISTER LIKE MOST OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTERS IN THIS WORLD, EACH OF WHOM HAVE THEIR PRICE AND HAVE SOLD OUT.

And a lawyer (a Torah teacher) stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” [Luke 10:25-28]

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” [Matthew 12:30]

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” [Luke 11:23]

According to the Lord Jesus, who is our only authority, real Christianity is a 100% proposition. One is either with Him or one is not. If one is with Him one is with Him 100% or one is not with Him at all. He has all authority and all power both in heaven and on earth. As part of His ministry, He shares his power with His real followers. He even said His real followers, those who believe in Him, could do anything He did and more:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” [John 14:12-14]

To this astounding statement, however, He adds an apparent caveat:

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:15]

And it is here that we see the answer. We discover how real Christianity works. We understand how the people of the Early Church, not only the apostles, were able to be used of God to allow for the doing of the same miracles that the Lord performed. They must have loved Him with all their heart. No one would ever do all that He commanded otherwise.

Though they believed in Him and trusted Him completely, their obedience went beyond mere trust. They obeyed Him because they loved Him. This is why they kept His commandments. He loved each of them with all His heart. And they loved Him the same. We know the Lord was willing to do pretty much anything for anyone to help them and bless them and that His help went beyond the mere natural into the supernatural. He empowered His disciples to do the same works He did but they were only able to do them after they reached the same point of love for Him that He had for them, and by this they were able to love each other.

It was the bond of spiritual love (agape) which made the early believers so effective in doing miraculous works (ergon). Their love of the Lord Jesus meant that they trusted the difficult discipleship process they had to go through to receive the spiritual power (dunamis) through which the works were activated. Their love of their neighbor allowed them to work well together and meet the spiritual needs of their neighbor.

And this is why the one Gospel—the real Gospel—is founded upon spiritual love and works through the power of spiritual love.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” [John 15:12-14][1]

© 2022 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.

DAMAGING GOD’S MANAGING: SUPPLANTING THE LORD’S ORIGINAL MODEL WITH THE PASTOR PARADIGM

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It is a direct result of the false clergy-laity divide. Once that precedent was set, local one man rule quickly followed. Most insist on the “pastor” title.

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Everybody calls them pastor. Next to no one ever questions the title nor the position of the title holder. Much worse than this, next to no one ever does any New Testament research on this particular term to verify its legitimacy. Like so many other things regarding traditional Christianity as opposed to the Lord’s original model, the pastor title and one man rule has been successfully embedded in religious concrete with nary a fight. Though it has no legitimate reason to exist, its presence proves the further presence of misinformation by design and millions of Christians unaware of the truth. Those in control would rather not deal with any Biblical truth that challenges their position.

THE LORD’S ACTUAL MANAGEMENT MODEL

For those interested in what the New Testament actually teaches about the Lord’s original model, the following four points explain it succinctly:

  1. The New Covenant Communities were each ruled exclusively by the Lord Jesus through the medium of His Holy Spirit.
  2. He appointed men under His leadership to supervisory places of service. These men were generally entitled elders and overseers.
  3. He appointed other men to associate places of service generally entitled deacons and ministers.
  4. Each Community was supervised by a group of elders and never by one man.

I have researched this topic for decades and written long papers. I have done exhaustive New Testament studies on the subject. Because I must be relatively concise with this article, I will explain and clarify, though briefly, the New Testament facts regarding the pastor title and position, and why the issue matters. I will be quoting from my book Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church (which contains much deeper research). Each book excerpt will be indented to differentiate it from the post text. Keep in mind that the words pastor and shepherd are not synonymous:

As mentioned previously, the word “pastor” is mentioned only once in the New Testament and is translated from the Greek word poimen, which is translated as “shepherd” on every other occurrence of its use. “Pastor” is originally a Latin word and means “herdsman,” which is defined as “a manager, tender, or breeder of livestock.” Though “herdsman” and “shepherd” might appear identical, there is a difference. The Good Shepherd, for example, cannot be identified as a mere manager of livestock, but only as a caring shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. A herdsman, or pastor, is actually more similar to a hired hand in the sense that livestock is seen as a commodity, and the level of personal care is much lower than that of a true shepherd. It is in Ephesians 4:11 that we find the only occurrence of the word “pastor.” If the translators had used the word “shepherd,” as they should have, we quite possibly wouldn’t have today’s “herdsmen” in authority over God’s people, but true shepherds who assist the Great Shepherd. [1]

Again, the word “pastor” is mentioned only once in the New Testament and is translated from the Greek word poimen which is defined as “shepherd.” This Greek word occurs 18 times in the New Testament. Why is it translated as shepherd 17 times instead of all 18? There is absolutely no legitimate reason for this. Since the original King James Version of 1611 was written with a strong authoritarian bias per the king of England and his translators, this was their chance to insert an authority word since the word “shepherd” is disdained by authoritarians as weak and essentially useless for instituting rule. Of course, the Lord Jesus was never referred to as “Pastor” nor were any of His disciples. He was, however, addressed often as Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd not the “Good Pastor.” We must follow His example:

A real pastor is nothing more than, and nothing less than, a shepherd. Many of those who represent themselves as pastors today are anything but. There are many preachers who desire a nice, steady job and a “Pastor” title. There are also quite a few homesick evangelists who would rather settle down in one location to do pastoral work instead of attend to their callings. It should be obvious that the only real pastors are those who are functioning as pastors, that is, caring for and shepherding God’s flock according to God’s will. There are undoubtedly many people who are called to be shepherds who are not serving as such, or else the Church would be in a lot better shape. Most of these are probably wasting away on pews because they don’t feel qualified when comparing themselves to the multi-credentialed big boys in the pulpits. [2]

Because a great many of our so-called Christian leaders refuse the original New Testament management model of the Lord Jesus, might they also be engaging in other violations? If their desire is to rule over the flock instead of shepherd the flock, their spiritual condition doesn’t really matter. Perhaps this is why so many Christian leaders, including those with a pastor title, seem to always be engaged in some form of hidden sin:

Through deception, each of us can become blind to our own sin at any given time. No one is immune from this possibility. The most susceptible are those who have such a high opinion of their worth and stature the very idea of their fallibility and sinful tendencies escape them. Such “right” supremacists would no longer think it possible to be unaware of or compromised by their own sin than they would think anybody else could possibly serve in their place. When this high-minded attitude is resident within professional Christian leadership, it serves as an obstructing hidden sin against abundant living for those in their care. Hence, it is far too often the case that those who lead congregations do so according to their own will since they are not fully obedient to the will of God. This is not the picture of Jesus working through a person, but a person working of his own accord.

Therefore, many spiritually hungry and unfulfilled seekers of life have unknowingly committed the sin of appropriating for themselves leaders other than Jesus. The Lord makes it very clear that He is the only Good Shepherd, and though a believer may gain assistance from a person of more mature spiritual standing, such a person must never occupy the foremost place of authority in a believer’s life. Such facts bring us to the sad conclusion that many Christian leaders and/or pastors are not true shepherds at all, but mere hired hands. They might indeed care somewhat for those in their congregations, but they certainly don’t possess the same level of care as the Good Shepherd. As hired hands whose salary stems from the pocket of their congregations, they can get by without being tapped-in to God’s payroll and yet maintain their ministerial credentials. The shepherdless sheep, however, are not quite as artful and are often scattered by the wolf. [3]

HOME GROWN WOLVES

While churches have been hyper-sensitized to all manner of possible minor deviations from doctrinal and cultural protocol arising from the congregation and (Aghast!) mysterious visitors, no one ever looks in the other direction. The dude in the pulpit is thus most often immune. He is rarely queried. As long as he gets the denominational doctrine right people look the other way. This would explain the previous passage regarding sin in high places. Where then, would the enemy strike? Would the enemy seek to clandestinely enter the well guarded congregation, the laity class, where every member must always toe the mark and squeal on those who don’t? Or would he attempt a takeover by going after those high and lifted up with little or no accountability that control the operation? We should all know that the devil will always try to gain control of the few in control in order to control all. This is yet another reason why such false Christian authority positions are highly vulnerable to temptation. It is the opposite, of course, with legitimate, accountable, and transparent Christian eldership groups. These men act in the service of the Lord Jesus and not only watch over the flock but each other as well.

Could this be why the clergy boys double down and also establish protective manned check points toward their hidden ivory towers? And condition the congregation to never question “them that have the rule over you?” Do they set up all this protection to keep people from finding out what they really are and what they’re really up to? This is a far cry from the way the Lord Jesus and His followers ever conducted themselves. The “One Man Show” Ruling Paradigm has thus done great damage to the Lord’s management model and has had a devastating effect on what could have been regarding American Christianity’s positive impact on the country. The enemy has gained a beachhead:

 Christianity in general has become too stodgy and complacent to be changed by Him in any appreciable manner, since the will of the people for His control is greatly lacking. Revival and/or renewal do not address the root of the problem, and this consequently demands a new approach. The people who are at least trying to obey Him in this regard are finding some success, and their new-found fresh spiritual forays contrast sharply with conventional methods. It is in comparing the two that we discover a glaring truth.

When the splitting of community became official, it easily did more to thwart God’s plan for evangelizing the world than anything else man has devised. The reason why is simple—ninety-something percent of the membership was removed from the process. The “laity” was deemed unqualified for officially ordained Christian service and, consequently, unworthy of receiving God’s call. Yet, there was a time when all believers heard the call of God, and each person heard it from Jesus Himself. At the present, due to the entrenched tradition of the clergy-laity division, many Christians never consider the possibility of devoting their lives to God because they have been made to think that God only chooses certain rare holy ones for His work. If this is true, the Lord is breaking His own commandment by judging a good many people as unqualified before they ever get a chance to prove themselves.

The only thing which actually disqualifies a person from ministry is the same thing which disqualifies him from membership in the Church, and that is simply a lack of full commitment to the absolute Lordship of Jesus. There is nothing inherent within any sincere believer which disqualifies him or her from the Lord’s service—somebody else’s service yes, but not the Lord’s. Every Christian needs to know that all legitimate calls to ministry come only from the Lord, and each should be encouraged to find his or her place of service. There are abundant ministry needs to address, very few who feel worthy to address them, and many who were discouraged from entering the Lord’s service by inept ministers who were more than likely never called themselves, at least, not by God. [4]

ESTABLISHING DOMINION THROUGH ARCHITECTURE

Why are church building interiors arranged like theaters, auditoriums, assembly houses, and ancient Roman amphitheaters, with platforms and stages, and lecterns and pulpits? The Lord’s original apostles and the entire first century Christian Community never appropriated any of these. Instead, theirs was an organic fellowship utilizing available organic means. For example, they never had any central meeting house but always met in private homes. They took care of one another. What one lacked another provided. They steered clear of any institutionalism, prideful shows of earthly power, or dominance over the people dogma precisely because they were spiritually powerful humble servants, exactly as their Lord commanded them to be.

This question of church buildings thus pretty much answers itself for those paying attention. To go along with clergy dominance, it helps to create imposing material representations of said dominance. The people need to know who’s in charge. It began about 1700 years ago with the first “cathedrals.” They simply transformed Roman government structures for Christian use and then continued with the government model to showcase their rule over the people. Never mind that the Lord Jesus never engaged in such earthly nonsense. When did the Lord and His men ever advocate for the building of static church buildings? There were no church buildings for three centuries and the early believers managed to turn the world upside down anyway. The Lord’s kingdom was and remains a spiritual kingdom devoid of the mandatory trappings of earthly kingdoms.

Also, when did the Lord Jesus ever act like a duded-up ruling potentate preaching down from on high to the lower class? Is He not the most humble Man who ever lived? Did not the Creator Himself choose to present Himself that way? Why did God enter this world like everyone else, as a mere babe? Is He teaching us something with His perfect attitude? Is He not our perfect example?

There is a massive disconnect in this area. When presented with such information most Christians simply stare and say nothing or get angry and go into defense mode. This is highly unfortunate. I am not saying that good is not being done in traditional Christian settings. But such tradition has most often been a huge drag on what could otherwise be accomplished. And nothing subverts the process more than a solitary strong man in control dictating anything and everything, and building according to his vision instead of the Lord’s vision. These ruling pastors (and this is a perfect grammatical definition) are most often working in direct opposition to the Lord Jesus rather than working in concert with Him. The Lord is thus forced to support them in part because of the limited good done in such places since they are on balance better than nothing at all.

STUDY TO SHEW THYSELF APPROVED

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2Timothy 2:15] 

Imagine rightly praising your first grade child for doing well in his or her school work. Then imagine the idea of praising him or her when the child continues to operate on a first grade level in the second or third grade. Then think about what happens when kids are passed on to the next grades when they never complete the required course work for their previous grade. You will eventually have some really ignorant children and teenagers that simply cannot handle the work which the grade they were passed to requires.

Did you know we have an absolute epidemic of ignorant children in schools? That we have ignorant teenagers actually graduating from high schools? That some of these are actually attending college? In the early years of this country, roughly three centuries ago, children were learning new languages. They were reading the classics at early ages. They were reading the Word of God and understanding it. They had difficult course work but many were mastering it. Have you seen the bright but disciplined children in this world mastering musical instruments? Have you noticed how some children learn practical work at early ages and later become masters at their trades?

We do a great disservice to children by allowing them to be dumbed down rather than instructed properly toward higher levels. How many people notice the miracle of very small children somehow learning complex grammar and language at the age of two to three years old? How did their grasp of grammar and vocabulary suddenly shoot through the roof? The so-called experts have no answer for this. It defies evolutionary thinking. It is impossible that the children learned it on their own. It is not possible to teach it. They acquire a great amount of information and ability at an extremely young age and begin working out complex problems when they should not be able to.

Then they are placed in “schools” with extremely limited learning environments with forced low common denominators that cause their revved up rocket engine minds potentially taking them into outer space to be downgraded to virtual Model T’s and in other cases horse and buggy technology that make it difficult to get on down the road and impossible to travel any appreciable distance. Rather than continuing toward epic flight they are forced into slave galleys pulling at oars to support the institution and its parasitic inhabitants and leaders instead of the other way around.

This exact dynamic has transpired in American Christianity. The arrogant clergy boys and their sycophants have created institutions that serve them instead of serving the people. The people suffer. Christians never get the teaching they need or the Biblical and spiritual knowledge they require. These Pharisaical leaders almost never create a single disciple but maintain dumbed down “congregants” who rarely progress and are next to worthless spiritually. Most American Christians have never had a real born again experience. Most have never read the Bible. Most are Biblically illiterate. Most have a dirt foundation with a future fall. It is almost never the case that such eternal church-going Christians cannot learn or be properly discipled as the Lord clearly commanded. It is that true discipleship is at odds with the traditional curriculum. Keeping the congregation dumbed down and under control is a much better management model because it’s a much better business model. It is better to keep everyone in elementary school perpetually to keep them coming, giving their money and support, and maintaining the rule of the clergy and local “pastors.” The last thing they want is people doing things the Lord’s way. I mean, if everybody developed as real ministers of the Gospel and actually graduated, how could that be good for the local church?

SUPPORTING THE COUNTERFEIT

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” [Luke 6:46] [5] 

Why is it that most Christians never properly compare the Lord’s ministry style with their own and comprehend the night and day difference? Is it simple cognitive dissonance? Why do so many Christians look upon the Lord Jesus, the original apostles, and the first century Church as primitive and even wacky, and their methods those of a long dead culture that could never work in the present? The reality of the matter is that the Lord’s management model, which is the perfect model, is rejected not because it doesn’t work or cannot work but because it conflicts with what Americans Christians have built in its place.

Why do so many Christians support the Pastor Paradigm? Why does the majority continue to insist on supporting a failed model? The official model is a counterfeit substitute that falls short on many levels. It is why American Christianity in general continues to deteriorate and lose influence. Look around! America and Americans are suffering! Real Christianity is under attack! It is only the current Great Awakening which largely exists outside official channels that is allowing for a vehicle through which the Lord can work. Sound familiar?

They refuse the Lord’s full authority, refuse His perfect management model, and refuse to allow the infusion of spiritual life that so many are desperately praying for. For them it will always be business as usual.

“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. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” [Matthew 23:8-13]   

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

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

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

[4] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[5] 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.

DEFINING SIN: The Growing Movement to Ban the New Testament as Anti-Semitic Hate Speech (3)

YOU NEVER HEAR THIS STUFF ON CHRISTIAN TELEVISION:

         Did you know that the Biblical New Testament—that which contains the entire teaching curriculum of the Lord Jesus, His record of miraculous works, the history of His salvation-producing death, and the truth of His glorious resurrection—has been vociferously attacked by very powerful Americans who want to destroy it and have plans to do that very thing?

         Did you know that millions of Christians support these very people and are so clueless they don’t even know their own enemies?

         Did you know a very high ranking individual of another faith wrote a book twelve years ago essentially demanding a total ban on the New Testament and that he did this because he claimed the New Covenant writings are anti-Semitic?

         Did you know there are many large organizations of Christians partnering with anti-Christians in which the Christians refuse to witness to the unbelievers as if the Gospel did not apply to them?

         If you didn’t know any of this you had better start waking up because the time will come in America when the New Testament will not only be slammed as hate speech, laws will be passed against it, and a total ban will be proposed. Mark my words. The time is approaching faster than you may think. And the worst part? Many so-called Christians and influential Christian leaders will actually support it.

         Sin is growing out of fashion as a concept. It is trending out of acceptance as a principle. It is no longer perceived among mainstream Christians in America as a tenet of acceptable belief.

         None of this is new in world history. Most of the world has traditionally resided in spiritual darkness from time immemorial. There is no question about that. Spiritual darkness even invaded the so-called Holy Land well over two thousand years ago and remains there still. When the Lord Jesus appeared on the scene His arrival was characterized as LIGHT shining on the darkness. What darkness? The majority of the Hebrew people dwelling there at that time did not think their nation was in darkness. And yet the honored and incredibly accurate Old Testament Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote this:

         “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” [Matthew 4:15-16] [1]

         Many of you know these verses well. But how well have you noticed the clear reference to darkness? This wasn’t just any darkness. Remember, this was Galilee, the former land of the northern tribes of Israel. But even at the time of the prophecy he called it the land of Gentiles. I would argue, though, and argue very correctly that even before the time of the Assyrian Captivity when the northern tribes were marched off and removed from the land, the land was in darkness. In fact, the land was so dark during the time of the Israelite kings it actually grew less dark after the Hebrews left. If this seems like a strange notion, I suggest you study the idolatrous history of the Northern Kingdom and its wicked kings.

STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND

         The Assyrian Captivity began right around the time Isaiah began his ministry in about 740 B.C. The final deportations took place after the fall of Samaria and final defeat of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. Imagine then that Isaiah was prophesying about the coming Messiah 700 years before the Light appeared. And he prophesied of a time when the land would not only be dark but would be referred to as “the land of the shadow of death.” That’s pretty serious. That was a very dark land.

         Could America be characterized this way? Well, one must consider that in the 43 and a half years since a reprobate Supreme Court legalized wholesale in-womb baby killing in what used to be the land of the free, upwards of 60 MILLION babies have been murdered. And this great infanticide has never been stopped no matter what solution has been proposed and attempted. Billions of dollars and millions of man hours have gone into the fight to stop it and nothing has worked yet. The Supreme Court could have overturned the outrageous decision at any time. It could overturn it now. But it won’t. Could it be dwelling in a place of darkness? Is not America of the last 43 plus years the land of the shadow of death? And do we therefore need a bright new LIGHT to shine forth and expose this terrible darkness and end all this wanton murder and destruction?

         I vote in the affirmative. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the mega dollar preachers with mega church followers and giant worldwide television and social media presences to do anything about it. Don’t wait for the billion-plus member Roman Catholic Church to do anything about it. There is a majority of Catholics on the Supreme Court and they refuse to do anything about it! And don’t wait for your mainline gigantic Protestant/Evangelical church bodies to do anything either because they won’t. They have billions of dollars to work with but they waste most of it every day on not only doing nothing to alleviate the darkness and death, but actually promote it and spread it around. How?—At the voting booth. Why do Christians keep voting these people into office?

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued…]

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[1] Old Testament Scriptures are listed in All Caps in the NASV95. 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.

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS POWERFUL SERIES:

DEFINING SIN: The New “Evil is Good-Good is Evil” Paradigm (1)

DEFINING SIN: The Lord Jesus Endorsed the Old Testament Definition of Sin (2)

DEFINING SIN: The Lord Jesus Endorsed the Old Testament Definition of Sin (2)

        Many Christians erroneously believe the Old Testament has been eliminated by the New Testament but the Lord Jesus NEVER said this. In fact, He said the following:

         “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:17-19] [1]

         In this passage, the Lord Jesus grants full approval of the entire Torah, accepts it in every respect without question, and allows for no elimination of any single law. He is saying that the Law of Moses is perfect and complete, just as the apostle Paul later taught in his writings, and He endorses the Law wholeheartedly. The Lord Jesus put His entire ministry and mission on the line by doing this, tying Himself entirely and absolutely to the Torah and its existence at least until heaven and earth passes away.

         Therefore, the notion that the Old Testament or the Law of Moses is no longer viable or in play could not be more wrong: Every definition of sin regarding personal human behavior is still 100% in effect. So if people say, “Well, since Jesus never said anything about this sin or that sin, it must be okay to practice such,” the correct response is that He actually did since He endorsed the Law and the Prophets. If the Law of Moses said something was a sin, it is still a sin to this day and the Lord Jesus agrees.

         Also, if the Torah said a particular action or behavior was a gross sin, or a complete violation of God’s intent, or an abomination, then it was and remains an abomination. You can tell which sins were the worst by the penalties attached to them. The worst sins had the sentence of death as the penalty, signifying the outright heinousness of the behavior and ultimately the total contempt for the Lord and His Law.

         Therefore, even though the Gospels do not address every single specific sin or the worst sins that required the death penalty, the Lord endorsed the written Torah, which does.

THE ORAL LAW

         Of course, the original written Torah was added to in a sense and amended with the addition of the unwritten oral law, which began about the time of the Babylonian Captivity and grew in content until the first century A.D. This oral law did not change the written Law (the Torah—the Law of Moses) which remained intact, but it had changed and corrupted the original intent of the written Law. The Lord Jesus addressed this corrupting influence on many occasions, rebuking those Torah-teachers who advocated for its use in altering the original.

         (Many Christians are guilty of the same practice, having altered the original teachings of the Lord Jesus to suit their own taste and limited understanding, and in some cases changing His intent and meaning entirely.)

         Since the New Testament thus defines sin by the Lord’s support of the Law and the Prophets, there is actually no distinction between the two in defining sin. Sin is still what it has always been and it still incurs a penalty. Many people do not understand they are paying a penalty for sin in some form or another at present based on some past or present sin, which they do not recognize as sin. They do not consciously make the cause and effect connection between the two.

         But God is not mocked. What we plant is what we will harvest. The ultimate penalty for unconfessed sin comes after physical death. It is not the Lord’s fault if people choose to die in their sins having rejected the only cure and the only cleansing agent—the Blood of Jesus.

         The worst sins require the death penalty. The Lord Jesus paid that death penalty in full on our behalf. He fulfilled the requirements of the Law regarding sin and whoever applies the penalty He paid toward their own sins will have their long list of violations against God and man expunged, and their official record of sin will be erased as if it never existed.

         This is the Lord’s grace. This is His mercy. This is His love.

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued…]

         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.

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS POWERFUL SERIES:

DEFINING SIN: The New “Evil is Good-Good is Evil” Paradigm (1)

What is a Real Christian?

         Once again we have another controversy in the news about what it means to be a Christian. Who is a real Christian? What does a real Christian believe? What does a real Christian do? Are you a real Christian?

         Franklin Graham, Al Sharpton, and a few left-leaning television talking heads seem to have different ideas about the subject. What do I think?

         I think who cares what they think? It doesn’t matter what they think. It doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what the Bible says. What matters is how closely one lines himself or herself up with the teachings of Jesus. The only thing that really matters is what He thinks.

         Now, of course, since we have roughly a billion different Christian denominations, sects, offshoots, strange individuals who believe things no one else does, and the vast majority who think they are Christians no matter what it is they believe, there must be a final appeal to authority. There must be someone who straightens out the whole mess and sets us all straight.

         That Someone is the Man who created Christianity.

         He didn’t call it that. He had no church boards or elder boards or denominational leaders trying to outdo each other in a funny hat contest. The apostles wore no backwards collars. They didn’t affect some high-minded holier-than-all-you-unwashed-bozos arrogant religious attitude. The Lord was not judgmental, condemning, or prejudiced during His sojourn on earth 2000 years ago. He went out of His way to help people. Simple people. Ordinary people. Everyday people. He never acted toward religious bigwigs with one attitude and toward the lower classes with another attitude. What you saw was what you got. If you didn’t like it, it was your problem. And if you have a problem with Jesus, YOU HAVE A VERY BIG PROBLEM.

         So what was the big controversy regarding Franklin Graham’s recent interview? The big thing, the main thing, was that the hosts could hardly believe Mr. Graham was questioning the president’s Christianity. “You don’t believe our president is a Christian?” they seemed to all think in unison.

         But Franklin Graham was not swayed. It’s difficult for Christians to be nice to everyone and also tell the truth. Well, here’s a news flash: The Lord did not instruct His people to be nice to everyone. He taught them to go forth and tell the truth. He commanded them to go out and tell everyone the Good News. If someone does not like the Good News, tell it anyway. If someone makes fun of you for telling the Good News, tell it anyway. If someone wants to destroy your life, your reputation, or kill you, tell the Good News anyway.

         Why else did all the original apostles except John die a violent martyr’s death? Why was the Lord Himself killed by a bunch of sorry religious idiots? Because He was nice guy?

         The truth is not easy. It never has been.

         Do I think the president is a real Christian? My opinion does not matter. Only God knows our hearts. Only God will ultimately judge us. But I can say that the Bible teaches that murder is a sin. And I can say that anyone who advocates for abortion is advocating for murdering tiny defenseless babies. And I can say anyone who argues that abortion is an option in the realm of “women’s health” is dead wrong from a Biblical point of view.

         Unrepentant baby killers will not inherit the kingdom of God. There is absolutely no Scriptural backing anywhere in the teachings of Jesus that says murder is okay. In the Old Testament, murder was a stoning offense. For decades, the argument was repeatedly made that a “fetus” is not a life. It is a mere gob of tissue. We know now for a fact with no doubt whatsoever that the so-called “fetus” is definitely a life, and that life begins at conception. This has been scientifically proven. Ultrasound videos prove the little dudes and dudettes are alive and growing.

         Leave that baby alone and that baby will come to full term and be born in almost every case.

         The other big question posed to Franklin Graham was, “Are Mormon’s Christians?”

         How do I answer that? Well, again, since we have roughly a billion different Christian denominations, sects, offshoots, strange individuals who believe things no one else does, and the vast majority who think they are Christians no matter what it is they believe, one might ask the Lord if Mormons are real Christians. In lieu of that, one may simply study the teachings of the Lord Jesus.

         Shallow-minded believers must do some actual work for a change. Research the New Testament. May we all quit leaning on our stupid religious opinions and do what the Word of God says.

         Celebrities, media people, and others in the spot light have gained an inordinate amount of influence regarding their personal beliefs. But who cares what anyone believes if it violates Scripture? The only thing that matters is obeying the Lord. The only thing that matters is submitting oneself to Him as a real disciple, otherwise known as a real Christian.

         Real Christians practice Real Christianity to the best of their ability. There is a learning curve. Real Christians are not perfect. No one is except the Lord Himself. He is the only human being who has ever traversed His way through this earth without ever committing a single sin.

         Whoever does not believe that is going to hell, simply because they do not believe in the only Way of salvation.

         But what about all those people who are good people (etc etc etc etc etc) that never practiced Biblical Christianity? Uh, what about ‘em? Should we try to convince the Lord to let unrepentant sinners into heaven? Will one demand that God quit being such a jerk and let blatant sinners screw up heaven the same way they screwed up the earth?

         Right. Yeah, let’s do that. Sure.

         Rather than go around asking dumb questions with an attitude that all Christians are real Christians, wouldn’t it be better to become a real Christian and remove all doubt?

         But what IS a real Christian?

         “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

         “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

         “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

         “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

         “This I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

         “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’” [John 15:1-25] [1]

         © 2012 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.