Blog Archives

THE INHERENT RISK OF COVENANT RELATIONSHIP

When two are together in any venture in complete reliance upon the other, both are in an otherwise precarious position. Each one is absolutely vulnerable to the possible failure of their associate.

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The longer the relationship exists the more vulnerable each becomes. The dependency grows due to the progress accomplished. In other words, at the beginning of the contract or covenant, the only element gained is the relationship itself. The relationship is such that it is seen by both partners as having much higher value than the absence of it. Both parties had chosen to begin the relationship. Both had sowed the vital nutrients into it as it grew. Both parties benefited and continued to gain greater benefits until a point was reached when each party decided to make an absolute commitment to the relationship rather than maintain any portion of themselves apart from it.

Such a decision places one party at the mercy of the other. Though it is not perceived in that manner at the time due to the beneficial nature of the initial relationship which each party greatly appreciates, it must certainly be a consideration in the beginning. One must move slowly in learning who one can trust. We are instructed by God to guard our hearts. One must also seek the requisite compatibility. If the opposite party displays trustworthiness at the outset, the only way it can be tested is by a furtherance of the relationship. If each step reveals honesty and apparent fidelity, a sense of reliability emerges and increases. One has less reason to be self-protective. One has greater freedom to be open. One has more willingness to share.

At least, this is how relationships should proceed. It is obvious that many relationships do not develop in such a way, based simply on their finality, brought about primarily from endemic disharmony stemming from selfish and/or immature behavior. If the proper steps are not taken and applied, or if a relationship is fast tracked due to the immediate benefits of one particular aspect without paying any attention to all the other aspects, either because they are considered but rejected or simply not perceived, it allows for a poorly constructed and weak foundation which will certainly present itself in time when the growing pressures of derivative relationship accretion are placed upon it.

In the event, however, when all proper steps are taken and any evident inappropriate or harmful future possibilities are rightfully considered and all appears good to go, it still does not mean that the partnership or relationship will not be tested or suffer to some degree, only because such is the nature of life in this world and also the nature of humanity itself in that we are complicated beings subjected to many influences.

From a Christian perspective, there is always the possibility of the specter of temptation. Of course, both parties must be well aware of this and do their due diligence to avoid it knowing that so much rides upon it. Each party must have already been right with God in the beginning and must maintain their relationship with God throughout. Each party must also maintain their commitment to one another.

Any person who does not consider these aspects or embrace them are effectively attempting to create something which is bound to fail unless corrective measures are taken in the early stages to rectify any incorrect applications, improper attitudes, or selfish conduct which can only restrict or do damage to the relationship but more importantly, to the other party. The vulnerability of each partner which is always present as a necessary component of the relationship must always be considered by the other party when deliberating upon possible actions and choices, because wrong actions and choices will harm one’s partner and stand in opposition to the love one has committed to and should indeed demonstrate.

Normally, one would never do any wrong thing in this regard because their love or respect for the other would prohibit it. But human beings are not automatons. There is always the possibility of straying from one’s covenant promises and responsibilities, or failing in them entirely. Judas proved this.

On a positive note, there is also the possibility of applying forgiveness and walking in proper humility. This is relatively easy if not extremely so when one acknowledges the high price paid for saving grace. For best results, we must always prioritize the Lord’s perfect example. 

YOKED WITH GOD: A NO RISK VENTURE

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30][1]

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


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

 

DEFINING THE REAL CHRISTIAN (1)

To be a socially acceptable follower of the Lord Jesus, one must never stand up for Him the way He stood up for us. Those who do are cancelled by the culture. It is why traditional Christianity often bypasses the Lord and creates inoffensive derivatives so one can practice his faith safely and securely, largely beyond the reach of persecution, and maintain the desired worldly connections of wealth and social standing. 

PROVING A CHRISTIAN’S AUTHENTICITY

What defines a real Christian? Is there a Biblical proof? How does anyone know who may be for real and who is merely posturing? To begin answering these questions, we actually have a treasure trove of New Testament tests to turn to. Keep in mind, however, that the Lord often employed parables, those wonderful story tales containing couched, embedded meanings revealing hard truth in a seemingly innocuous manner. Therefore, the answer we seek, which can only be derived from His teachings, wholly and exclusively, are often rejected by some due to an inability to understand His hidden connotations reserved only for those with “eyes to see.” The spiritually obtuse, whose perspective may also be marred by religious prejudice or predisposition, will thus likely never arrive at the correct definition.

The NT method for defining real Christians is also rejected based on (1) its perceived limited scope, in that extra-biblical references are excluded, and (2) its non-acceptance of mere traditional standards of socially acceptable behavior (actually a faux proof) which are believed by some to indicate virtuous intent though lacking actual NT familiarity and knowledge, most specifically of the Lord’s full curriculum.

In other words, defining a real Christian relates directly to one’s relationship with the Lord Jesus. If there is no actual relationship it is not possible that one is truly a Christian in the New Covenant sense, which is the only sense that matters in the spiritual realm. If there is a relationship, it is because a person made a decision to create one, meaning he not only said yes to the Lord’s invitation but fully accepted His predetermined terms (which apply to all and, of course, apply equally). This means a believer submits to New Covenant discipleship, subjects himself to the Lord’s entire curriculum, and does his best to learn it, know it, and apply it.

Based on these requirements, it is easy to see that the likely majority of those who profess Christianity are not actual disciples of the Lord simply because they do not fulfill the requisites thereof. Many, however, follow and obey the teachings of others who claim to follow the Lord, possess a willingness to accept doctrines that are not His, and subject themselves to traditional religious organizations claiming Christianity but which reject the Lord’s full standard. That many Christians are deceived makes no difference in the academic sense, and to claim ignorance speaks directly to one’s personal failure to have a personal relationship with Him, the lack of which is never the Lord’s fault.

“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” [Luke 14:27][1]

Though Christian discipleship is not easy, neither was the price paid to make it possible.  

© 2020 by R.J. 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.

 

REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Redemption (4)

         “Some church leaders speak of “covenant,” but their actions toward those they are supposedly in covenant with often show they are completely ignorant of its true meaning.”

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         In Part 1, we discussed the Revelation of Real Relationship. In Part 2, we discussed the ongoing Restoration. In Part 3, we discussed the Revolution in American Christianity coming forth in these early days of the Great Awakening.

         In this Part 4 conclusion, we continue the narrative from my book Real Christianity by discussing the ramifications of reform, the counter fight against it, and Redemption.

         I encourage everyone to read this entire series. In contains both a guide for current reform and the prior instructional evidence for successful reformation to date.

         We are all growing ever-more hungry for spiritual reality in our Christian effort and experience, especially in the realm of community and our relations with one another. The Good News is that much progress has taken place and continues. Your work matters and is having an effect. The Lord Jesus is winning.

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

         Dual-natured Christianity added a whole new dimension to spiritual battle. To show how bewitching this evil spirit can be, many of those who dissented and began great movements away from centralized captivity and toward freedom often built their own version of the way things ought to be and guarded it like a junkyard dog.

         As an illustration, imagine draining the water out of one massive dammed-up lake into several smaller dammed-up lakes. Then, drain those lakes by building more dammed-up reservoirs. Eventually, one would arrive at thousands upon thousands of small, dammed-up bodies of water. The lesson here is that Jesus is not interested so much in man-made lakes as He is in naturally flowing rivers and streams.

         Is it really all that difficult, therefore, to see why Christianity is much less than what it should be? If some pastors treated their family in the indifferent manner they do their flock, they would probably no longer have a family.

         Why such a harsh statement? Congregation turnover, for one reason. It is something that completely escapes our notice the more populous the church happens to be. There are exceptions to every rule, yet the larger the church, the greater the turnover. There are obviously demographics at work in all churches, meaning that a percentage of the congregation will be fluid. Yet, some churches have almost complete housecleaning every five to ten years. Church leadership thinks this is due to people either moving on into ministry, backsliding into oblivion, or refusing to commit to their program, meaning that any fault, in their view, lies largely with the congregants.

         Some church leaders speak of “covenant,” but their actions toward those they are supposedly in covenant with often show they are completely ignorant of its true meaning. God has put up with manifest garbage from His own people throughout history, yet He continues to hold to the terms of His covenant with Abraham because it is an everlasting covenant. From the perspective of Christian leaders immersed in centralized authority, a covenant of that sort is just plain silly and is only referred to in the abstract. They know they cannot maintain control according to the terms of such an agreement and therefore reject it outright. Their public discourse leads one to believe that they support the Abrahamic covenant unequivocally, but this is not really the case. If it were, they wouldn’t be fighting to maintain control over their people or vying to gain even greater dominion by seeking more converts over which they might rule.

         If God’s people are to grow, they must be free. By God’s grace, some manage to do this within the system. For others, the only real freedom and maturity they acquire arrives after they exit, stage right.

TIME TO MOSEY

         Actually, a great exodus began about thirty to forty years ago. Today, the fruit of this search for freedom within Christendom exists virtually everywhere. In large metropolitan areas, in small towns, in suburbia—thousands of non-denominational fellowships have sprung up with no affiliation with any central authority. This means there are no bureaucrats, no mission boards, no paid resident clergy, and no faceless masses yearning for freedom and real growth in the Lord. Right? Well, we only wish.

         We have, in this latest movement, carried less of Egypt with us than in the past, but still too much to promote true spiritual freedom. If anything, we are more fractured than before. Instead of having one, or a few centers of religious authority, we now have scads of mini-kingdoms and assorted loose groupings based on former denominational ties. Of course, the majors came through it all basically intact, although many had to compromise their doctrines, liturgies, and stands on issues in order to keep their membership rolls at an operational level.

            So, even though progress is being made, we’ve still not come up with the fortitude to rid ourselves of the clutches of carnality, worldliness, and pride. Christendom must continue, therefore, through the blistering sands of the Sinai on its long and winding trek to the promised land, in order to eventually eliminate those who are hell-bent on making and maintaining golden calves. [1]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Revolution (3)

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

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

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Restoration (2)

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

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         In Part 1, we discussed the Revelation of Real Relationship. In Part 2, we continue the narrative from my book Real Christianity by discussing the Restoration:

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

         In the beginning, spiritual relationship came naturally. Nobody had to come up with a program to promote relationship between members. The early believers understood that the relational purity they each came to possess upon their new-birth experience was instantaneous. For example, when a baby is born, that child becomes an immediate member of its family. The baby’s family relationships result from the birth, not from trying to create them at a future date. It is the same in the Church. Relationship is a byproduct of joining the community.

         It doesn’t exist properly in many churches that have attempted to establish it, however, and this denotes a problem. It could be a problem of immaturity and lack of proper spiritual insight, or it could indicate a problem of resistance against God. Real Christianity has real relationship. Unreal Christianity has little bona fide spiritual relationship between members but only a substitute or inferior form thereof. Such unreal relationship creates no unity or intimacy among members. Thus, the quiet discord that exists beneath the surface in most churches is due to neglect or rejection of that which brings unity. When individual members of the same church never establish relationship, spiritual unity is victimized, and true fellowship is not possible.

         It’s jarring to think that what the early church once was is what we in the present are trying to become. Sadly, there was a point in history when the early community of saints which brought light to millions began to have less effect on a dark world. They were faced with mass conversions to a state religion which was Christian in name only and, thus, were increasingly perceived as heretics by the unreal brethren and as world aliens to everyone else. The real believers had become the spat upon and rejected scum of the earth. Wherever they went, they were truly strangers in a strange land.

         The Qahal [1] of the latter portion of the church age met a parallel historical point, though in reverse, a few centuries ago. By the early 1900s, restoration reached a new level and has been steadily increasing since. We are now at another fork in the road. One way leads toward our destiny; the other way embarks on yet another endless circle. This juncture marks the point of no return for those who decline to follow the Lord into the next and possibly final transition. The very narrow way which the Church is pressing through at this writing is forcing her to abandon excess weight and baggage, as well as those elements which might have assisted her in the past but are now only slowing her down. One of these elements is class division. It must be left on the entry side of the eye of this present needle. [2]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

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

REAL RELATIONSHIP: The Revelation (1)

         “There is a reason people have problems in their attempt to minister together. The chief obstacle which has been in the way for the greater portion of the church age is still in the way…”

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         I have written extensively on this subject. My book, Real Christianity, delves deeply into the issue. I have taught many Bible Studies on the topic.

         Though the following excerpt from the book is relatively brief, it presents the historical and Biblical essence of Real Relationship and helps every believer to discover how it positively affects his or her Christian experience and discipleship.

         Speaking of which, I highly recommend buying my book. It has received excellent reviews. Its pages are loaded with truth that reveals this application of the Lord’s teachings, the Divide and Conquer tactic against it, and so many other methods of the enemy that strive to limit and even stop the progress of the Lord’s real Community by eliminating real spiritual relationship, both with the Lord and with one another.

         Thank you and be blessed:

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REAL RELATIONSHIP

         There is a reason people have problems in their attempt to minister together. The chief obstacle which has been in the way for the greater portion of the church age is still in the way. We exist in the midst of a major revelation, which Christendom has repeatedly failed to apply properly. This attests to its freshness. That it had to come by revelation shows the depths of our collective naiveté. Of course, many in the pew saw the need for it long before the pulpiteers, but were powerless, in their estimation, to do anything significant about establishing it since it seemed to be in opposition to the status quo. Indeed, the ruling clergy is threatened by it and has therefore tried to water it down or channel it in a “safe” direction. But such puny attempts by even punier autocrats will never succeed against the will of God.

         What is this major revelation? Put simply, it is real relationship. Its fundamental hindrance is the clergy-laity division which was firmly established by the fourth century A.D. Remember, the Church, or Qahal, [1] which Jesus initiated was a community—the community of called-out ones. In the early days, there were no class distinctions or divisions—everyone participated in a meaningful, fulfilling way. At present, though we might try, we will never arrive at real relationship church-wide, until we do away with the clergy-laity split. [2]

         Many churches have attempted to incorporate spiritual relationship between members into their objectives, and most of them think they have succeeded. This reveals at least a small amount of religious pride which must be eliminated as well. The clergy can attach any label it desires to a thing, but labeling is often as far as it gets. Those who have made great starts in the heat of great opposition, on the other hand, should be commended for their stand and supported for stepping out. In takes more time than we think, however, before real relationship is established within a group, and those who have begun the process must press on. When we at last lay to rest the evil root which causes division in the Church, we will have:

1. True recognition of each and every one of God’s people

2. A revelation of the inestimable worth of each member of the congregation

3. The utilization of this worth toward the building of real community

4. The functioning of every person in the Church according to his God-ordained purpose within his destined ministerial calling

5. The maturing of the Church into an organic ministering fellowship (the body of Messiah) with any number of horizontal relationships between members, yet only one direct vertical relationship—that between each member and the Lord Jesus [3]

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


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

[2] The word “Laity” originates from the New Testament Greek word laos (lah-’os). It is defined as a people group, whether socio-political, socio-religious, or cultural-ethnic. It generally refers to the “common people,” as a crowd, a populace, or a nation. It is also used as the people of God. When used in the latter sense, it means all of the people collectively. It is easy to see how the meaning of this word was corrupted when class division entered Christianity.

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