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THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR GRACIOUS SUPPORT OF YESTERDAY’S POST

      Regarding yesterday’s post, JESUS DESTROYS COMMUNITY DIVISION, something really profound took place and many thanks are in order. Read on:

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         I’m not sure what happened. My blog traffic had been down and then began picking up last weekend. The last time I made a post was the 7th, but that was mainly a compilation post featuring links to three posts I made in December: THE TRUTH DIALOGUES (COMPILATION). Before that I made my first post of the new calendar year on January 4 entitled, THE ALARMING DECEPTION OF CONFIRMATION BIAS. Those two posts did okay but yesterday’s post received a much better response and I am most grateful to all of you who took the time to read and to all readers.

         Regarding yesterday’s post specifically, what follows is a list of each of you who liked the post and made comments, listed alphabetically:

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Bruce:   https://bcooper.wordpress.com

Elizabeth:   https://bornagain732.wordpress.com

Gary:   https://garybertnick.wordpress.com

Karina:   https://karinasussanto.wordpress.com

Linda:   https://lindasbiblestudy.wordpress.com

Lisa:   https://prepareforthelamb.com

Lynn:   https://throughinkandimage.com

Ray:   https://realray.wordpress.com

Richard:   https://richards-watch.org

Tim:   https://hitchhikeamerica.wordpress.com

Tony:   https://tpuccio.wordpress.com

Yvonne:   https://newheavenonearth.wordpress.com

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         I want to thank Richard for reblogging the post and making it available to all his readers over there in the environs of England and thereabouts. Every time you do this, Richard, my traffic spikes (and yours probably goes down.) I also want to thank Tony. He made some great comments on my blog. Not long after that I revisited Richard’s blog and noticed that Tony, along with Richard, had apparently come to my defense over there. A reader had claimed I was writing falsehoods and Tony responded with much Scripture and his own writings, the same he later posted on my site. So thank you Tony. I appreciate that. Those of you who also commented—Elizabeth, Gary, and Lynn—you made some great points and it was all encouraging. Also, Richard later added a pingback. Thanks again!

      I know all of us have different readership lists, but for today consider yourselves a community. I encourage you to continue to visit each other’s sites, especially the ones listed above, as you have time. We are all in this together. We can all learn from one another. I know we have various differences of beliefs but we all agree 100% with the ones that matter most, as written, for example, by our brother Paul from long ago:

        For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. [1Corinthians 2:2]   

       Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. [1Corinthians 15:12-17]

      So, we all believe that the Lord Jesus lived a sinless life, was crucified, and was resurrected from the dead, and that it is only through His grace and great sacrifice on our behalf that He made a way for our salvation. These core facts alone and our agreement with them make for a strong foundation for fellowship and though we may never see eye to eye on everything it doesn’t mean we cannot be loving brothers and sisters anyway. This is our current challenge, one that so many Christians of the past have failed at, and that so many of today find insurmountable. Division disease is hard to overcome but it can be and is being done. To that end, and in honor of the Lord and the gist of my article, I will close by once again posting the relevant passage of Scripture listed there. Be blessed, everyone, and thanks again.

        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]

         © 2018 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.

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JUDGMENTAL CHRISTIANS: Breaking Fellowship Over Non-Salvation Issues

         About a decade and a half ago there was a Christian conference relatively close by and would take place in just a few days. It featured a man I’d seen on television countless times. I made it a point to be there.

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         His name is Hugh Ross. In 1986 he started a ministry called Reasons To Believe, “Where Science and Faith Converge.” I encourage you to visit this website and look around.

         As a young man he began looking for spiritual truth and, like so many of us with a hunger for God, began searching world religions. When he began his research into Christianity he was immediately struck by what he found in the first chapter of Genesis—it made perfect sense from a scientific point of view. He was amazed by the accuracy. He soon became a Christian. He also eventually became an astrophysicist.

THE CONFERENCE   

         I planned on getting there early with hopes of meeting Mr. Ross. I walked into a relatively mid-sized conference facility about the size of a very large classroom. There were many people milling about as new arrivals wandered in. I took a seat on the front row. At some point Hugh Ross walked in and went up to the front. He gave an informal talk and said we would wait a little longer until everybody arrived, and then sat down a couple of seats from me.

         People who know me very well know I pray about everything, and I pray about everything in the context of God’s will, knowing for a fact that God’s will is always the best. A person can never do better than the will of God. Well, on the way over I had asked the Lord if it would be okay if I could talk to this man. Then when I got there the man sits down two seats over. No one approached him. I didn’t waste any time introducing myself and we began a brief discussion.

         Hugh Ross is not a young earth creationist. For this reason alone many Christians don’t like him. Some see him as a heretic. It does not matter how well he explains everything from both a purely Biblical perspective and from pure science, many Christians judge him right off the bat as soon as they find out he doesn’t believe the Universe was created about 4000BC.

         We had a great talk. I was trying to shed light on the nature of God and how the Bible clearly states that the Lord Jesus is the Creator though so many Christians recoil at that fact. He agreed. We spent most of the conversation, however, discussing young earth versus old earth creationism.

         Hugh Ross is a solid Christian. He believes the Bible is the absolute Word of God. He makes an excellent case both Biblically and scientifically why young earth creationism is lacking. He is a very gracious man but has certainly seen his share of Christian persecution (that is, persecution from Christians). Then he said something very profound. Remember, this is a very brilliant man who loves the Lord Jesus with all his heart. He lives to serve Him. He is low key, humble, relaxed, and the very opposite of professorial.

         We were discussing why so many Christians can’t see eye to eye on the creation issue. I have also faced many fights in this area even though most of the time I really don’t have a dog in that fight. Why can’t the young-earthers, who have traditionally composed the much greater percentage of creationists, find it in their heart to fellowship with those with a different perspective? Why can’t they honor the beliefs of others? Hugh answered my question perfectly:

         “Because they see it as a salvation issue.”

         I was somewhat taken aback and went silent for a few seconds. I was thinking. “Of course. I knew this, or I should have, and I have certainly applied this to other Christian doctrines and beliefs.” But still, in that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It is why so many Christians favor separation over unity. It is why there are approximately four billion Christian denominations. The separatist Christians believe EVERYTHING is a salvation issue.

         Though I always spend much more time in study and research than the average Christian, I am almost always forced to prove everything. This is impossible, of course. When Christians believe they have all the light and truth on an issue, they become not only dogmatic but very judgmental. They close their eyes and ears. Those who do the larger work and pay the greater price know the truth, however. They work very hard to see an issue from as many perspectives as possible. Those who rarely or never do the work usually only believe something because that is what they have been told. They can only see it one way.

         What if a Christian is walking in all the light he has? What if he loves the Lord? Must he also be absolutely perfectly right in every doctrine taught by a particular denomination or pastor or single believer in order to be saved? Are Catholics saved? Are Protestants? Are Pentecostals? In all actuality we have millions of distinct beliefs within Christianity in general and there is no possible way anyone can believe it all. Much of it is contradictory. Much of it comes forth from people who insist they are right and never budge. What is being preached on one side of town is often the very opposite of that which is preached on the other. There is no way both can be right. But both can be wrong.

REAL CHRISTIANITY

         This is why I always make my final and only appeal to authority to the Lord Jesus. It is only His curriculum that is perfect and it must be His entire curriculum that we learn and live by. Not everything in His teachings, however, is a salvation issue. We should never, ever be divided as a result of such. If two Christians believe the Lord Jesus CREATED the universe but differ on how He did it or how long it took, that’s okay. Both of these Christians can still be saved. Besides, we were not there. We don’t know exactly how He did it.

         The Lord came across this problem often and just as often He had to do some rebuking. His greatest rebukes were always for the hard core religionists who refused to see anything other than the way they saw it and would disfellowship a person in a heartbeat for not seeing it their way. What we should be doing is working harder and studying more and praying more and fasting more instead of thinking we’ve cornered the market on truth.

         I found out later that evening that Hugh Ross and I did not believe everything the same way. But it didn’t matter. Wherever we differed on beliefs, they were not salvation issues. I’ll never forget that brief though deep discussion we had. He was humble enough and approachable enough to give me a few minutes of his time right before he was to give a major talk to so many of his ministry’s supporters.

         Please readers, keep up all the great work. Keep doing your study and research. Keep reading the Word. But most of all, knowing we are all at different spiritual places based on our discipleship and knowledge level, let us not make everything a salvation issue and thus a disfellowship issue. The Lord only has ONE community. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters with regard to who is in it and who isn’t is His. Let us all try to keep the salvation issues among the salvation issues, such as the simple teaching that decides salvation as quoted here:

         For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

         For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

         But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

         AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. [Ephesians 2:8-22] [1] 

         © 2017 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.

RECOMMENDED READING FROM MY FRIEND LISA:

You are saved by grace? or works? or faith? or fruit? Can Grace save you?

Forced Religious Conformity: Human Graven Images (Part 1)

         Early in my walk with God, less than two years in, a friend of mine and I had a prayer meeting. I had just began to emerge from the fog of rookie training (most of it very good) and saw from a distance the great revelation that the Lord actually DID NOT want His people to be all alike—as some conformed, congealed, regimented, and watered-down mass.

         I began telling my friend that the Lord told me He was not into the business of making such mass-produced manufactured saints.

         Picture God with a big die cutter stamping out replicas like the idol-makers of the ancient world.

         Now, maybe I didn’t get the terminology exactly correct when I heard the message, but I certainly translated the gist correctly. Though the idea of the Lord standing over a copier making copies may appear obviously incorrect to the enlightened and mature among us, one must remember this was the late 1970’s when the majority of churches and preachers thought all rock music was of the devil, ministers of the Gospel were inerrant, and talking in tongues was the practice of insane crazies on the other side of the tracks.

         Though what was termed “Pentecost” had made great strides, and though some Pentecostals had even managed to buy up the tracks, the truths of Book of Acts real Christianity were still treated and reacted to not only with great disdain but great hysteria. And if one knows what hysteria really is, the actual crazies were the ones pointing their boney religious fingers not necessarily at Pentecostal excess or fakery (there’s loads of that stuff), but often the actual work of God.

         So my friend and I started praying. I was over visiting. He was renting an older house built probably 50 years before. It had big rooms and tall ceilings and I remember walking into one room praying pretty intensely and it was the first time I recalled being in the presence of angels. I’ve never seen an angel that I know of in the sense of some giant glowing apparition, but I knew they were around me that night in that room.

         And it was then I got the big idea. That was when the Lord told me He wasn’t turning out children of God the way Henry Ford turned out Model T’s.

         I already had my own bent against that direction anyway. Being raised a Catholic, I was aware of conformity from a very young age—everyone in school dressing the same, acting the same, lined up in regimented rows to go outside the classroom, girls on the left, boys on the right, like long slow moving processions of khaki-clad ducks following a giant penguin. Some of those nuns were very nice and displayed much patience with the incorrigible among us. And some of them were like crazy women with PMS on steroids.

         They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And I say especially if she’s a nun in the 1960s trying to force school kids to conform to the image of God without the help of the Holy Spirit. The level of frustration is off the scale.

         But anyway, the Pentecostal church I was then attending at the time of said prayer meeting (quite the pole shift, huh?) was up to the same tricks. Conformity was the order of the day. I preferred wearing blue jeans, for example, as did several other new converts which by that time was considered barely acceptable, though never on Sundays.

         [Speaking of which, it was my senior class in my Catholic High School that first won the right to wear jeans to school. It had never been done before. Something to be proud of if you knew the times.]

         As a young adult in Spirit-filled churches I witnessed the same attempt to force new believers into religious compliance by yelling that much harder from the pulpit or shaming people into conformity. New believers, like little Catholic school kids, are pretty vulnerable to such tactics, since most want to do the right thing and won’t rock the boat. But coercion has never been God’s way. It doesn’t work. Impressionable young ones are damaged by it.

         So at that prayer meeting with Ken and me in that old house, it was no little thing to have the Lord agree with me on something I had always thought was stupid. Tongues are not of the devil, though most “Christians” apparently still think so, but religious conformity is certainly of the devil because it attempts to disregard the fact that we were each made to be conformed to God’s original design, not some other.

         The Lord Jesus is the most non-conformist Person that has ever lived. Now, He certainly conformed to the will of the Father, but not so much to the will of religious people or the fashion of this world. Which means God was not into your basic everyday Phariseeism. Especially if it’s the Christian kind. He’s just different that way.

         That’s right. God is a religious non-conformist. You’ll never figure Him out. You’ll never tie Him down. You’ll usually never guess what He will do next. (As a standard example, study the many different ways He healed the blind.) He is as unreligious and as unpredictable as can be. Though He is the ROCK and He NEVER changes, don’t try to set your watch by Him.

         “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]

         He’s always doing things in such a way that it leaves His enemies perplexed and dumbfounded, especially dumbfounded—God’s enemies are DUMB. He messes with ‘em every chance He gets, or it sure seems that way. Read the Gospels in light of what I’m saying here and see if it isn’t true.

         But our churches? Predictable. Dead, dull, and boring. Rote and ritual. This Sunday the same as last Sunday. All the people lined up in neat rows. Quiet and torqued down. Scared to break convention. Somehow needing a man-made structure and format that works against a move of God and against the very thing their hearts scream for.

         And then we picture the Lord out in the countryside with His men like a flock of sheep, following YES, but as organic and free flowing as leaves on a breeze. And an impetuous Simon Peter routinely blurting something forth, often good and sometimes not so good, whom the Lord never censored. (Try speaking forth like Peter in your church.)

         We also have the incredible spiritual phenomenon of Pentecost described so wonderfully by Luke, a travelling companion of Paul, and quite possibly a disciple of the Lord. How could Luke not have been there that glorious day when the Spirit of God returned to His people? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is still fought against with great gusto to this day, especially by the majority of “Christian” adherents, which should tell us very clearly how the devil works.

         Regarding religious man’s false conformity, the natural world tells us what God is like (a Living Stone, unprofaned):

         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. [1 Peter 2:4-5]  

         Our church buildings (and inhabitants) tell us what He is not like (every brick the same):

         “If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.” [Exodus 20:25]   

         There is an insistence, if you get my drift, on right angles and plumb walls and straight rows and the linear and broad flat surfaces and steeply pitched roofs and cathedral ceilings and stained glass windows and steeples. (Shades of Babel.)

         Religious man, like the great slave master Nimrod, must have CONTROL. He must wield his stone-cutting tools. He must force compliance.

         But God has built a natural world that is forever in a state of flux, some landscapes changing at a moment’s notice and some gradually over time. Mankind cannot control the natural world though mankind screws it up in the attempt, and in time the natural world simply and patiently takes over again and repairs the damage. And unregenerate mankind certainly cannot control the spiritual world since mankind is fallen in sin and under the authority of the devil:

         We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. [1 John 5:19]  

         The wind moves upon the surface of the sea and roils it up, making today’s water different from yesterday’s. And look at the clouds. Are they ever the same? Sunsets and snowflakes and trees and landscapes are always different and distinct.

         But what about God’s people? Should not each person be totally unique? Where then does all this conformist nonsense come from? It doesn’t come from God. Not on your life. It actually comes from one who has a contrary agenda. He is the one who treats human beings as slaves. And there are no slaves deceptively ensconced in greater slavery than those in religious slavery.

         Never forget that it was all them good Christian boys who distorted Scripture to back up their support for black slavery in the good old USA not all that long ago.

         And it was all them good Christians who had people burned at the stake during the Great Reformation. They were both Catholic and Protestant. They were not interested in doing God’s will but their own. They built and guarded their own religious kingdoms, put their fat posteriors on thrones, dressed up like religious potentates, and killed off and enslaved whoever did not agree.

         Today’s fake Christians in the West merely run off such real Christians and gossip about them. It’s how they protect themselves and their silly little establishments. Yet, if they could kill…

         Considering that, it should cause us all to consider the origins of any and all religious conformity. The more the conformist big boys buy into this false concept and the false doctrines that go with it, the more they distance themselves and their regimented pew sitters from the heart of the Lord, and the more they create an anti-community, one in which people may be close geographically every Sunday morning but a million miles apart otherwise.

         That night long ago in the midst of a two man prayer meeting confirmed something for both of us, and I have never forgotten the lesson:

         A strong and vibrant Church means strong and vibrant individuals.

         And in order to have such strong and vibrant people, they must be allowed to develop. They must be allowed to speak forth. They must be allowed to answer their callings and do their jobs. They must be fed the best spiritual food and given the best spiritual drink. We were put here in part to take on very powerful spiritual entities who have existed for eons. They know their way around. To beat them in battle means we have no other choice than to be like the Mighty Man from Galilee who silenced the Pharisees and calmed the stormy seas.

         But if God must depend on the average pew warmer and pinhead preacher we’re all sunk. Therefore, we must all get off our tuffets if it’s on a tuffet we sit, and get in a spiritual gym, and become more like Him, and stand up and speak forth and do what He put us here to do instead of playing church every blasted Sunday morning of the year.

         The only things we must ever conform to are His will, His Word, His nature, and His way of doing things. The enemy’s greatest fear is millions of the Lord’s children roaming the earth doing exactly as He did. That Christians in general are NOT doing that means most are getting their marching orders and instructions from someone else.

         Wonder who that could be?

         “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

         “Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.

         “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.

         “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

         “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. [Luke 8:11-15] [1]

         © 2013 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.