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THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: Announcing Part 4

Hello everyone. Hope all is well. I completed Part 4 of this series and will likely be posting it on Monday morning, March 29. It is entitled Spiritual Resurrection. There are many Biblical facts within it that some may not be aware of so I hope it will be interesting to you and fill in some gaps in your understanding. I wrote it on Thursday and it turned out to be five pages but I think it reads well. Because it’s been several days since I posted Part 3 I am making this announcement to make you aware it is on the way and to prepare for it.

The Lord Jesus greatly desires reconciliation with everyone and has done all He can to make that happen. When we do our part it does happen. The following is the central passage in His Word revealing The Ministry of Reconciliation:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [2Corinthians 5:18-20]

Thanks to all of you who have read all or parts of this series so far, and thanks for the many excellent comments that have added to our understanding of the subject matter. You are all appreciated. If anyone wants to read parts they may have missed I have added links and their titles below. Be blessed. See you on Monday.

3/11: THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: RESTORING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (1)

3/14: THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: WORD STUDY AND APPLICABLE VERSES (2)

3/17: THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: THE REMOVAL OF SIN (3)

3/29: THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION (4) Coming Monday

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: WORD STUDY AND APPLICABLE VERSES (2)

There are two types of Christians in the world—those who desire and choose to have an actual relationship with God, and those who are content to pretend they have one.

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Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed Part 1 of this series. In Part 2 we will learn the applicable New Testament English words and their Greek counterparts relevant to this study and also the verses where they occur. This will get a tad technical but I will keep it as concise as possible. It is important to gain a better understanding of the original Greek words and their meanings. As you read consider the apostle Paul as he dictated the NT letters from which we derive this study. Think about the original copies he created by the Lord’s inspiration and the rounds they made to the many groups of Christians in the various cities of that time.   

BIBLE VERSION

Those who follow this blog know my Bible version of choice is the New American Standard 1995 Update. This is an excellent version and likely the most literal. It is extremely important when doing NT word studies to use an accurate version faithful to the Greek and limited to its original transmission. The three translated English words used here are from the NASB95. They are (1) reconciliation, (2) reconciled, and (3) reconciling. The next section gives us a brief overview of each.

WORD STUDY

RECONCILIATION

The word reconciliation occurs four times in the NT. Each one is translated from the same Greek root word. Three of these occurrences are applicable to this study.

The Greek root word is katallagh. It is pronounced kat-al-lag-ay’. The following definition is from Strong’s Concordance (#2643):

(1) exchange (1a) of the business of money changers, exchanging equivalent values (2) adjustment of a difference, reconciliation, restoration to favor (2a) in the NT of the restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory death of Christ.

The following are the three applicable verses in which this word occurs:

And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. [Romans 5:11]

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, [2Corinthians 5:18]

namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. [2Corinthians 5:19]

RECONCILED

The word reconciled occurs seven times in the NT and is translated from three different Greek root words. Five of these occurrences are applicable to this study and are translated from two Greek root words.

Four of these occurrences are from the Greek root word katallasso. It is pronounced kat-al-las’-so. The following definition is from Strong’s Concordance (#2644):

(1) to change, exchange, as coins for others of equivalent value (1a) to reconcile (those who are at variance) (1b) return to favor with, be reconciled to one (1c) to receive one into favor

The following are the three applicable verses in which this word occurs:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. [Romans 5:10]

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, [2Corinthians 5:18]

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [2Corinthians 5:20]

One occurrence is from the Greek root word apokatallasso. It is pronounced ap-ok-at-al-las’-so. The following definition is from Strong’s Concordance (#604):

(1) to reconcile completely (2) to reconcile back again, bring back a former state of harmony

The following is the one applicable verse in which this word occurs:

yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— [Colossians 1:22] 

RECONCILING

The word reconciling occurs once in the NT and is also translated from the Greek root word katallasso as is the word reconciled (See the preceding).

VERSES IN CONTEXT

The title of this series is The Ministry of Reconciliation. The phrase ministry of reconciliation appears only once in the NT, in 2Corinthians 5:18. There are three epistles where Paul refers to this ministry: Romans, 2Corinthians, and Colossians. Regardless of the book of Romans appearing first in the NT among Paul’s letters, Paul wrote his Corinthian letters before he wrote Romans. Of these three he wrote Colossians last. According to New Testament scholars Conybeare and Howson,[1] Paul wrote 1Corinthians in the spring of 57 and 2Corinthians in the autumn of that year, both in Ephesus. He wrote Romans from Corinth in the spring of 58. He wrote Colossians in Rome in the spring of 62.  

From this we know he first revealed the Ministry of Reconciliation in 2Corinthians. Also, of the nine applicable occurrences of the three English words of our study, five occur in the three verse segment of 2Corinthians 5:18-20. Thus, we refer primarily in this study to Chapter 5 of that book, notably to verses 17-21, as the definitive passage of Paul’s teaching:

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [2Corinthians 5:17-21] [2]

© 2021 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] The Life and Epistles of Saint Paul by W.J. Conybeare and J.S. Howson

[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 MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: RESTORING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (1)

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: THE REMOVAL OF SIN (3)

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION (4)

 

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: RESTORING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (1)

God’s great desire is to be reconciled with everyone. He has already done everything He possibly can do on His part to achieve this and has made it as easy as possible for us.

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Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… [2Corinthians 5:18]

WHERE AM I? 

Many people grow up perceiving the world at large as a great unknown and somewhat of a mystery. We don’t necessarily see our own immediate surroundings that way, however. From the beginning of awareness at a very tender age we are presented with a family structure we must live within. This structure, whatever it may be, wherever we may live, contains certain expectations we must adhere to even though much within our young lives is granted as a gift, though we do not initially recognize it as such. We are not aware of the great effort it took to bring us into this world or the extreme care and expense required immediately afterward. We have no knowledge or memory or those early months when we were completely helpless and dependent on 24 hour-a-day attention and devotion prior to our later conscious understanding. We simply have no conception of the meaning of love at that time.

When we do begin becoming aware of our surroundings and are able to make cognitive connections we only know of our limited direct environment and this is usually filled to overflowing. We become as thirsty sponges taking it all in. There is so much to know and learn. We must develop as little humans and it is a fulltime endeavor. We continue to major on receiving and expect that our needs will always be met. Some children, of course, are not so fortunate to be blessed with the level of stability and protective environment necessary for proper development in the first years of life, but development continues onward anyway. Time waits for no one. Growth proceeds ready or not.

Regardless of parental love for children, and most parents are very good in this regard, they can only do so much. Most parents are limited. They are limited regarding what they would like to do for their children compared to what they can do. They are not necessarily limited in love and may attempt to love all the more to make up for perceived deficiencies. It must be understood, though, that love comes in many forms and people express their love in different ways. Sometimes love is not appreciated because it is not acknowledged or understood. Sometimes parents go way out of their way to get their children the best life possible according to their conception of whatever that may be but it is not appreciated. And it is sometimes the case that children of poor parents remain well adjusted in life despite not having much at all growing up. There are several reasons for such outcomes and it can be complicated, but maybe the common denominator is whether or not one understands loving intentions.

LOST RELATIONSHIP

And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” [Luke 18:15-17]

Children are close to God. They may not understand this but it is true. We know it is true because the great separator of people from God is personal sin. Young children have no sin. Regardless of their actions that sometimes do not reveal them as saintly, they are simply not accountable for their actions. For the most part they are innocent, open, and kindhearted. They also have greater perception of heavenly things. They are not weighed down by sin. Because of their lack of sin they remain in close contact with God even though there may not be any overt communication on their part. Yet, God does communicate with children, though on a level they can understand and through a means they can receive.

But the inevitable always happens. The children grow older and begin to sin willingly. At first their conscience may bother them terribly and they will respond with fear. In other words they know whatever sinful actions they engage in are wrong. They are able to know right from wrong. In much the same way God has created the means and ability for incredibly complex language skills that come forth almost automatically in a relatively very short period of time, so has He blessed each person with a working conscience. This functions as an automatic right/wrong indicator. It allows a young growing child to know what bad behavior is and to steer clear of it. Parental and societal rules certainly play a part in this and there is also a certain level of fear of both when rule-breaking is involved. Nonetheless, once a child even thinks about engaging in sin his or her conscience kicks in and red lights starts flashing. What else can this be but a built-in warning system placed there by the Creator?

Eventually, of course, the warning system will be bypassed. It only has the ability to warn but never stop one from acting on sinful desires. And though it will continue to work as designed it becomes less effective the more it is overridden. There is a long-term danger here, however. A person can neglect and reject the warnings of the conscience to the point that it actually will effectively stop working in the sense that it can be so tuned out its warnings do not register. This means a person will no longer have a working conscience. And this means he or she loses any and all conception of personal sin. Paul gives a good illustration of this in the following from his first letter to Timothy: by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron… 

Most people may never arrive at that place but learn to deal with their conscience differently. The red light warnings may simply be overridden by a competing set of rules which justify sin. You see, the human conscience is programmed according to God’s definition of sin and no other. This is the default position. Sin is what God says it is and the conscience will always warn on that basis. However, if one adopts a different set of moral rules (or decides on no rules whatsoever) that conflict with the default, one can eventually override the default in the same way one can destroy his or her conscience by repeatedly rejecting the warnings. This is in part why so many people are able to sin without remorse and remain for all intents and purposes contributing members of society. They teach themselves how not to be bothered by their sin by simply convincing themselves it is not sin. They allow their desires to define good and bad behavior. As Eve did, on that terrible day in the Garden, people choose to imbibe and fulfill the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life rather than resist such soul-shattering temptations. This is why and how everyone eventually falls out of contact with God. Their willing personal sin destroys the lines of communication with Him. The contact they had with God when they were small children, innocent and pure, becomes lost. When communication is lost, the relationship is lost.

LOST IN A LOST WORLD

When the majority is lost it appears on the surface to not be lost at all. This is because sinful people usually invoke the tenet of majority rule with regard to moral standards. This social majority rule ideology simply means that whatever the majority within a culture decides is morally right is what is right. The majority sets the standard. Such standards vary by majorities which can be relatively small or composed of millions. If the majority does not convict a person for some personal sin then that person makes peace with such sin. It is as if there is no law against it. He or she may know on some level it is wrong but because no one in his or her sphere of influence holds him or her accountable, one effectively gets away with it so to speak. If everyone one hangs around with thinks the same and engages in the same sinful practices then sin as sin disappears. It becomes nothing more than what everyone else partakes of and is commonplace. Rather than there being any bulwark against it there is instead the cultural acceptance of it. Of course, sin is still there, behind the scenes as it were, destroying and eating away at the good. It is surely progressive but often works relatively slowly and the damage being inflicted does not register. Such will certainly register eventually, however, and show up in a form that appears to have a different source.

Majority rule regarding moral standards rather than God’s law is why some cultures fall to the point of adopting particular sinful activity as a vital component of their culture. When the majority accepts it, engages in it, and even honors it, it becomes part of a traditional belief system. We can think of the worst and most heinous examples of such cultures, such as those which are cannibalistic or those which practice infanticide. World history reveals many such cultures dating from ancient times. Historical accounts in the Bible give us several examples as well. Such heinous sins also exist in the present within so-called higher cultures.

But not all of these are so egregious on the surface. There are some cultures within an outer culture that engage in truly disgusting and vile sinful practices but keep it fairly well hidden. These have an outer cloak of respectability. The general rule of thumb, therefore, is to watch out for those who love to dress up in overtly “respectful clothing.” Such people must forever put forth the effort to hide what they really are. They know people are surface oriented and are easily deceived by mere appearances. If one dresses right, looks right, and acts right, one will largely shield himself from further inspection. These people know the majority will essentially revere them as people they wish they could be and will try to live vicariously through them. It is why celebrity status works so well. It is why celebrities in any field not only capture the hearts of masses but also shield themselves from close inspection. They know that such easy to deceive people are obsessed with image and not reality, and that they perceive the image to be reality. Thus, for them, image is everything.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. [Matthew 23:27-28]

Did anyone other than the Lord know these outwardly righteous religious leaders were actually filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness? Had they fooled everyone else? Or did others know it as well but the Lord was the only one courageous enough to expose them? Why was everyone else so fearful? Have you ever noticed that regular people never came to the defense of the Pharisees?          

Making peace with personal sin is not good and has an expiration date. Those who not only make peace with sin but insist they actually have no sin are another story altogether. If people ever figured out that such individuals are the opposite of what they claim to be and are just as sinful as anyone else, if not much more so, their entire lives would come crashing down. On the other hand, many people know they are sinners, wish they were not sinners, and have tried to stop sinning but to no avail. They do their best to cover it up and act like it isn’t there in order to get along in life and keep some semblance of respectability but remain blessed with a conscience in good working order. Still, without a cure what are they to do? We get an answer here:

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” [Luke 18:9-14] [1]

© 2021 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 MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: WORD STUDY AND APPLICABLE VERSES (2)

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: THE REMOVAL OF SIN (3)

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION: SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION (4)

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.