Blog Archives

THE REJECTED BECOME THE CHOSEN: SEPARATIST PILGRIM PIONEERS AND THE JOURNEY TO AMERICA

       

      In the 1590s English Separatists and dissenters were finding life in England ever more difficult. Several were sentenced to hanging in an enhanced effort to kill off the movement toward spiritual liberty.

.

         Laws were passed that made exile to the European continent the punishment and death if one ever returned. England would thus stop at nothing to rid itself of unwavering Christian reformers. There was no going back for those who had gone so far with God. Queen Elizabeth was determined to wipe them out and the level of her persecution continued until her death in 1603. She had no heirs and her passing thus ended the generational line of the ultra-dysfunctional Tudor monarchs.

         The new king was James Stuart I (1566-1625), the then present king of Scotland under the name of James VI. He had ascended the Scottish throne at a mere thirteen months of age in 1567 when his mother, Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587), had abdicated. As “King of Great Britain” James I united England, Scotland, and Ireland under his leadership. Though his mother was a loyal Catholic, James was raised as a member of the Protestant Church of Scotland. The developing church was attempting to continue the reform movement began a decade earlier by essentially removing all things Catholic, but James obviously felt more comfortable with those men manning church offices whose ecclesiastical nature lent them to monarchial rule.

         Of course, that’s what bishops and ruling prelates are by nature and why such offices were created. The Presbyterians were setting up a national polity in which churches would be administered by the Biblical model of elders and overseers, which simply does not mix with monarchy any more than does oil and water. The comfort level for kings had always involved close trusted ones, be they civil or clergy, and James was thus not prepared to get on board with the movement toward spiritual truth. In becoming king of England he had quickly embraced an anti-Puritan sentiment, which gives one an idea of his treatment of Separatists and other dissenters who continued pushing for reform and refused to conform to non-Biblical tenets. The Puritans still maintained membership in the Church of England and had consequently escaped the larger wrath of Elizabeth, but the heat began rising. Yet, regardless of the new king’s negative attitude toward them, it was their own compromise and apprehensive middle-ground approach that relegated them as unfit for the spiritual frontier. They were not of a mind nor possessed the strength of purpose to be used of God in the necessary major way as those Separatists who had given their all. The Puritans as a group had remained far too connected. They were unqualified as pioneers.

         After Elizabeth’s reign of terror, it seemed there remained only one Separatist church community in all of England. Located in the hamlet of Gainsborough, most of its members had fled to Holland two years later. There remained a few holdouts of this group in the town of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, and it is here the story gets interesting. In Scrooby there lived a man who became postmaster there in 1590. He had attended Cambridge in his youth and later became greatly interested in the new Christian reformation movements. By the early 1600s he had taken under his wing a young man from Austerfield while ministering in the Scrooby area as a reforming Puritan when persecution raised its head once again. A group of perhaps 50 were meeting secretly at Scrooby Manor, having managed to cobble together a small community from the remains at Gainsborough, when the decision was made in 1607 to break ranks completely with the Church of England and establish themselves as Separatists. Thence began the great adventure.

         The two men were the postmaster William Brewster (c.1566-1644), who would become a leading Elder at Plymouth Colony, and his young protégé William Bradford (1590-1657), the future Governor thereof. These two were undoubtedly placed together by Providence. Bradford’s father died when he was only a year old and his mother when he was seven. The orphan was forced to live with several relatives in the interim. He met Brewster at the meetings of the Puritan Richard Clifton when only a young man of about twelve and at last found an appropriate father-figure. From this he received a better upbringing and someone to direct his already keen interest in the Reformation movement.

         The restrictive spiritual atmosphere in England was such that the young congregation decided they must leave the mother country and sail across the channel to Holland to live according to their convictions. Yet, as another indication of the severe trials and fight to come their way, they were robbed of all their possessions by the officers of the ship they hired and imprisoned for attempting to leave England illegally. They remained undeterred, however, and were able to make their getaway the next year, finding peace and religious toleration in The Netherlands. After a year in Amsterdam amid the bickering of two other congregations, they moved to the city of Leiden, approximately 100 strong, and settled into a peaceable and productive life.

         One can see by the trials they faced and tests they passed that God was preparing them for a much greater mission. Others had disqualified themselves for one reason or another, be it a lack of faith, selfish attitudes, inability to work together, or loyal connections to the state church, which prohibited a lack of complete loyalty to God. Those connected, as the Puritans, had not considered their inevitable betrayal through their association with ecclesiastical authority and the throne or the temptation of looking back. We see the same thing in the ancient history of the Jews when God had to remove all Egyptian influence and fleshly nature from His people through their wanderings in the Sinai desert. These Separatist future founders of the American Plymouth Colony had proved their loyalty to God by both their obedience to Him regardless of greatly challenging circumstances, and also their complete separation from the world.

         In Leiden, Brewster began publishing books for sale in England and was soon under arrest by English authorities in 1619, who had accused him of the same crime as William Tyndale—printing up non-official religious works that did not toe the mark of the accepted Anglican confession. The Dutch government agreed with England in a political move and confiscated the printing equipment. Brewster was able to escape to England and hide out. It was during this time that plans were made to make the most radical move of all—securing a land patent from the London Virginia Company.

        The community as a whole had become very concerned after ten years of relative comfort and security in Leiden that their children, if allowed to grow up and become established there, would lose both their English heritage and Christian beliefs. The Netherlands was a free pluralistic nation by comparison to England, but the resultant freedom also gave place to a more open mindset regarding moral values and sin. It occurred to the group that the time had come yet again when they must move on if they would maintain their walk with God. Their willingness to suffer so many trials for the sake of the real Gospel had undoubtedly impressed the Lord. Due to their relentless attitude toward holy living and walking in God’s new light, rather than fighting against the movement or holding back like almost every other group, they had become the chosen ones to take not only the Gospel to America, but a community form much closer to Scriptural intent.

       The 180 ton Dutch cargo vessel Mayflower was hired in London and sailed to Southampton on the southern coast of England in late July of 1620. Most of the Pilgrim community remained in Leiden, Holland and bought a small ship called the Speedwell to take them to Southampton, from which both ships would sail across the Atlantic to Virginia. The second ship proved unworthy of the journey, however, having leaked on the trip across the English Channel, and after repairs, began leaking again at the start of the great voyage. Stopping at Dartmouth, repairs were made a second time. On their second attempt at the Atlantic crossing, as they reached the open ocean after having traveled roughly 300 miles, the Speedwell continued leaking once again and the Pilgrims were forced to return to England. Many of the passengers had become so tired and frustrated they decided to stay home. Here was yet another test of heart and a further winnowing of the passenger list, from about 120 to 102. Of these, approximately 40-45% were members of the Leiden congregation.

         They decided to scuttle the second ship entirely and transfer all their goods and supplies to the Mayflower, making for very cramped quarters and a much less comfortable trip. After losing about forty days, the Mayflower finally set sail from Plymouth, England on September 16 (Gregorian calendar). The second half of the ocean voyage was very rough, having hit the severe northern Atlantic storm season, and piled yet more discomfort and trepidation upon the passengers. Imagine the battle these Pilgrims had with doubt and second thoughts, crammed together in a freezing ship tossed forth like a cork on the frigid seas.

         After 66 long days, the sturdy ship arrived intact off the coast of America around November 21, 1620. During the long and fitful journey there was one death but also one birth. The colonists’ destination was the mouth of the Hudson River, part of Virginia at the time, but the captain first sighted land off the coast of Cape Cod. In the attempt to go south the elements were again against them, almost causing shipwreck. As if by divine hand they returned to Cape Cod and dropped anchor. With great courage and whatever stamina remained as the biting cold winds of winter descended upon them, parties were arranged to explore the land for a suitable settlement site. By the next summer, 50 of the original 102 passengers had perished, the majority over the harsh winter, and most of them from disease contracted during the voyage.

            From these extremely difficult and humble beginnings Plymouth Colony was built upon the hope and grace of a committed people and the Lord Jesus. Having served as willing pioneers and taking the full brunt of the battle, many more parties were soon making the trip across the Atlantic and adding to the new colony. In time it became a routine crossing peopled primarily by English Puritans who began spreading out into the wilderness. In time the Separatist Pilgrims became greatly outnumbered, though their spiritual stand and way of life had a decided effect on later arrivals.

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   

THE INDEPENDENT SOVEREIGNTY OF EACH REAL CHRISTIAN

        When the American colonies were first formed a few centuries ago, each was a sovereign entity. After the Revolutionary War (1775-1781), each colony became a separate sovereign state.

.

         Each state was responsible for its own laws and welfare under the general umbrella of coexistence with the other United States. The Federal government had no jurisdiction in the internal affairs of the thirteen states, each of which was akin to a separate nation.

CREATING AN ENTIRELY NEW AMERICA

         The War of Northern Aggression (1861-1865), otherwise known as the Civil War, changed all that. The Federal government made the decision to grossly violate the Constitution by invading and destroying the Southern states. It also stole the authority of not only those states but all the states in the union. After the Civil War the states were no longer sovereign entities and were only separate states in the administrative sense. All states from that time forward were forced to bow to the newly garnered power of the Federal government.

        It is obvious, thus, that central control and power in Washington DC has only grown more immense and unaccountable over time until the present. And though there have been attempts at intervals in American history since the Civil War to correct this wrong and stem the tide, each has failed to curtail the overriding power of the Feds. Those who know history know such federal power was not the vision of the Founding Fathers. Indeed, after the Revolutionary War they had attempted to write a new Constitution (1787) that would continue to respect the sovereignty of states but also grant a greater unifying force at the federal level. Their effort diverged from the first constitution, the Articles of Confederation (1777), which was written and ratified during the war. Article II of the Articles of Confederation states the following:

         Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

         Thus, in the effort to grant a greater unifying force in the new Constitution of 1787, they took a great risk by granting the possibility of too much federal control. As opposed to the former Articles of Confederation, the Founding Fathers granted what eventually became far too large a loophole within the new Constitution that would eventually allow for unscrupulous and immoral scoundrels to usurp the authority of the states and thereby destroy the authority of the citizens of those states. Since that time, by deviating from the clear intent of the law, authority was unlawfully granted to those who gravitated to yet another man-made government ziggurat in which the few ruled over the many and from which great spoils could be extracted from the citizenry.

         The natural course of this action after 154 years is that much of the vast wealth and authority of America is owned by less than one percent, which is quickly growing to an even smaller fraction. The more they gain the more we lose. Foreign entities and dual citizens are buying up and controlling much of the country. Americans are being squeezed like never before. We are long since past the time of another Revolution, something Thomas Jefferson said we must have at not so long intervals, to maintain the freedom and liberty of the people. It was We the People who originally had the power and wealth. It was what the Constitution called for and to which the original sovereign states agreed to.

THE REAL CHURCH AND THE EVIL FAKERS

       But again, that sovereignty is long gone, as is the original freedom and liberty of Americans. This exact occurrence has also taken place within institutional, traditional Christianity: One must enter a “church” on their terms. One must sit down among a sea of people and remain silent. One is a mere spectator. On must go through choreographed routines and submit to dry “liturgies.” By this practice, if one never matures spiritually, one grossly violates the teachings of the Lord Jesus. He created a Community in which each of His followers has an independent mind and spirit. Each must walk in the freedom and liberty of the Lord. Each believer understands he or she has a duty to the Lord to participate significantly. Indeed, His is a participatory Community that demands the involvement, input, and contribution of every member.    

         According to His teachings, each real Christian is a sovereign entity accountable only to the higher power of the Lord. Any other authority is only lateral. It is why He refers to His people as a family and a Community. Everyone is the same. Each is equal. The only difference is that some believers are more mature than others but all begin at the same place and each can develop to full maturity. Followers of the Lord were never to rule over other believers. These simple facts easily tell us whose methods are wrong and who has robbed individual Christians of their God-given authority and freedom in the Lord. The vast majority of Christians and Christian leaders have gotten it wrong over these last twenty centuries. An extremely small class, the Clergy, has taken over and believes itself to be far superior. The vast 99% of everyone else, the Laity, has surrendered to a false authority as a wimpy dog to a pack leader. The people who comprise these classes will not fare well at the Judgment. The Lord will reprimand one for taking authority He never granted and He will reprimand the other for never taking the authority He did grant.

        Until then, however, millions of real Christians worldwide have thrown off their shackles and insist on doing Christianity the way the Lord Jesus intended. They are having a far greater impact than most people, especially unreal Christians, are aware of. It is the false Christians who are the chief persecutors of the real Christians. But it has always been this way. It is up to real believers to take on and maintain their sovereign authority, walk in spiritual maturity, take the battle to the enemy, and assist the Lord Jesus in doing the work and living the lives He has called them to. This is the only road to spiritual success. It is the only way to fully honor Him. It is the only way to get the job done.

THE REAL CHOSEN PEOPLE

         For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:26-29][1]

          © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


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

The Real Chosen People (Part 3)

         “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.” [John 15:16]

         Most of the people who refer to themselves as some form of “Christian” choose God on their terms. But God chooses real Christians on His terms. Thus, unreal Christians create their own unholy covenant with God according to their own stipulations and provisos. It is not a real covenant, though, because God is not involved in it. He signed none of the papers. He did not agree to the terms. Such minor details do not concern the pretenders, however. They continue onward by themselves insisting God is with them. And these people preach about the Jews being stiff-necked? 

         Many “Christians” have been duped into thinking they have the power to choose Messiah Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But Christians don’t do the choosing. What they do, before they become real Christians, is have a hungry heart for truth and light. They know there must be something much more than this temporal world of sin. As a result they begin searching for that “something more.” In the process they find belief systems, gurus, false forms of Christianity, and eastern religions that look real and are quite promising. But after looking within these and practicing their tenets for a while, they continue to move on because there is no heart connection. They do not feel fulfilled. They are not satisfied. Something is missing. Knowing this, they realize they have identified yet another fake. Most people in the world are content with fakes, but real searchers of truth never allow this for themselves. They continue seeking, not knowing God is attracting them magnetically by His Spirit until they are chosen.

         For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. [1 Corinthians 1:26-29]  

         Among every pagan nation in the ancient world, each dwelling in deep darkness and rebellion, God chose one nation to represent Himself: 

         For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. [Deuteronomy 7:6-10]

         Fifteen hundred years later, the very nation He called forth to be His own rejected Him. It became the opposite of faithful. It no longer loved Him or kept His commandments. It chose to hate its own Messiah.

         “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” [Matthew 23:37-39]

         There was always a believing Remnant, however. In the first century, the Lord Jesus managed to gather together the hungry in heart and those searching for truth among His people. He chose them because of their condition of heart. With 120 people, including the remaining original eleven apostles and His own mother, He created His own community. These were people who loved and honored Him, who recognized Him for who He is, and who pledged their lives to serve, obey, and trust Him forever. They are the chosen of the Chosen.

         “Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” [Luke 9:35]

         He chose many more after Peter delivered the first message of the Qahal:

         So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. [Acts 2:41]   

         Can you hear the echo in the writings of Isaiah?

         Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will glorify Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people. The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.

         Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel. You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings, nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, nor wearied you with incense. You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; state your cause, that you may be proved right. Your first forefather sinned, and your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, and I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement. [Isaiah 43:19-28]

         Was it just a coincidence that what was left of the geographic kingdom of David was utterly ruined forty years after the nation rejected their Savior? Was it coincidence that Jerusalem was razed and the Temple destroyed in 70AD?

         Prior to this, He had made a Way for His real people, whether Jew or Gentile. He established a New Covenant. For forty years He continued adding thousands of believing Israelites, creating a new spiritual nation, as He said He would do through the prophets of old:

         “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” [Jeremiah 31:31-33]

         “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” [Ezekiel 36:26-27]

         As most “Christians” reject the Lord, so did most Jews initially reject the Lord. But of those who accepted the invitation to the kingdom, Peter says:

         And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe;

         But for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE;” for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

         But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. [1 Peter 2:4-10]

         There are only two kinds of people in the world—those who are chosen by the Lord Jesus as members of the New Covenant and those who are not. Real Christians are not only called by the Lord and chosen for His community, they are also faithful and true warriors. Non-members of the New Covenant oppose it.  

         These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the Called and Chosen and Faithful.” [Revelation 17:6-14] [1]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 3]


[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.