Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Power of Christian Living is Found in Family Relationship NOT a “Personal” Relationship

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 19, 2015

Slide 13One of the prevailing pithy truisms of churchianity is that “Christianity” is a “personal relationship” with none other than Jesus Christ. Of course, per the usual, because it sounds spiritual, no one thinks beyond the surface of the truism and questions what that means exactly. Be sure of this: the statement promotes a specific soteriology, worldview, and philosophy of life. If a string of memes replace the meat of Scripture, the latter is effectively replaced, and that is exactly what has happened in our day with the personal relationship with Jesus meme leading the way.

What’s really behind it and why has it sucked the life out of Christianity? First, it denies a biblical definition of the new birth. It replaces a literal family of God reality with ONE pseudo-relationship that is at best ambiguous. Proponents of the truism, when they care to add some sort of substantive mini-treatise to the meme, separate the reasoning of propositional truth expressed in words, even words from Jesus Himself, from this highfalutin “Christianity is a relationship [singular], not a religion.” The supposed antithesis in this case, “religion,” according to the logical conclusion, is propositional truth of some sort expressed in a common understanding of Bible sentences. This is the way it is sometimes expressed: “Jesus is a person, not a precept.” Supposedly, if one attempts to follow Jesus according to a reasonable interpretation of what He said as recorded in Scripture, we miss the point by appealing to reason. Instead, we need to seek a relationship with Jesus that is “more like falling in love” as expressed in two bestselling contemporary works by Jason Gray (a #1 song) and Francis Chan (the book, “Crazy Love.”).

Hence, if salvation is strictly experiential, like being “madly in love” with someone, it’s not works on our part and enables us to live out our “Christian” lives by faith alone, and apart from reason to boot. After all…“we [Christians] live [our Christian lives] by faith [alone] NOT by sight [ie., reason]” as the twisting of 2Corintians 5:7 is often applied. This mystical lovey-dovey Jesus is my boyfriend theology effectively separates professing Christians from a literal true-to-life family of God application via the new birth. It replaces a salvific family relationship with a singular relationship. The differences are ever-so subtle, but catastrophic. Rather than our identity being that of a literal child of God in a family setting, we are “Christ’s bride” whom He has married regardless of our shortcomings. Yes, we are supposedly lowly lovers married to a “friend of sinners” who “bring nothing to the marriage.”1 Yes indeed, the lowly lovers identity versus family children enables the redefinition of the new birth as some sort of ongoing exhilarating experience with our “lover.”2

But what is the new birth from a true biblical perspective? It is “the free gift”3 and “the promise.”4 Salvation is the receiving of the promised Spirit that was even a promise made to Christ Himself.5 Christ made the coming promise of the Spirit possible by dying for our sins and ending the law of sin and death. Prior to the coming of the promised Spirit, Jews and Gentiles were not baptized into one body, but at any rate, this baptism of the Holy Spirit makes a person a literal family member of God. This is a onetime personal event that is irreversible—you cannot unborn someone.

The aversion to biblical new birth finds its roots in Gnosticism which rejects the uniting together of holiness and the material. Even though Christians remain in mortal bodies, they are yet God’s righteous children. 1John ch.3 makes it clear that we are God’s literal offspring and His seed is within us. In contrast, the idea that our relationship is with one person who substitutes everything for us as opposed to a family relationship is the major consideration. Rather than Christ making the onetime baptism of the Spirit possible through His onetime death, He is made to be a salvific avatar that substitutes everything efficacious to salvation through faith in Him alone. This is a denial of the new birth and our true identity as God’s righteous children. Salvation is not a onetime spiritual birth, it is a process through the worship of one person who substitutes a life that we don’t actually possess. Worship is not family life, it is something that we do to keep our salvation by faith alone. Hence, the idea of faith alone actually becomes a work on our part as it evokes the substitutional work of Christ for Christian living. Obviously, therefore, the “Christian’s” true ability to love is circumvented.

When one desires to receive the promise—the free gift, the Holy Spirit falls on them and baptizes them into Christ’s death and resurrection.6 This is the literal new birth. This makes us righteous children of God in the literal sense per Romans ch.6. Why we are literally righteous is explained in Romans ch.7, and our fulfillment of the law to our Father’s pleasure is explained in Romans ch.8.

In other words, the substitution of Christ happened once to make the new birth possible, but the so-called “personal relationship” calls for a continued substitution that negates a literal family relationship which is given mere lip service. Along with the avatar approach, not to mention sub-avatars, is the institutional angle. Institutions go hand in hand with the idea of religious authority and hierarchy. This is where the Christianity brand is found impotent in both reproduction and functionality.

The early church met exclusively in private homes, why? Because they understood that they were a literal family. They also had “all things in common”7 What family builds a separate building and pays to maintain it for the purpose of Thanksgiving dinner and other family get-togethers? How much sense does that make? And how many families organize systems of commerce within the household? If a sibling in a household learns something new about living, does he write a book and sell it to his brothers and sisters? No, he shares it at the dinner table or other like family experiences.

A hierarchical corporate mentality and structure naturally subjugates a literal family system. The two function differently in almost every respect. This is the key to revival—a return to the apostolic assembly of Christ and its literal family construct and function. It is a multifaceted relationship with many, not ONE.

paul

1Paul David Tripp: How People Change, Punch Press 2006

2Francis Chan: Crazy Love

3Romans 5:15,16, 17 “the free gift” stated 5 times.

4Acts 2:39, Ephesians 2:12, Galatians 3; “promises” “the promise,” “by promise” 8 times.

5Galatians 3:16

6Acts 11:15

7Acts 2:44

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