True Christians: How Do You Know Them?

The following is an excerpt from my blog, of the same title, posted on This Was the True Light.

...no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Why do you call me "Lord, Lord," and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like... (Luke 6: 43-47 RSV)


The Matthew rendition of this portion of scripture states:

Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven... (Matt. 7:21 RSV)


The popular definition of Christian, whether by people in favor of or people in opposition to Christianity, has more to do with calling "Lord, Lord" and little to do with hearing and following the words of Jesus as he reveals to us the Father's will. The popular definition of Christian has mostly to do with whether or not you believe in Jesus.

All manner of atrocities have been and still are done in the name of belief. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the persecution of various groups, modern day wars; all done in and justified by the name of belief. Yet, looking back, one has a hard time stating that those actions were "Christian."

Many quote John 1:12:

But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name...


and extol the power of belief without any understanding of what is involved in that scripture. To "believe on his name" is to believe in his authority. You demonstrate your belief in his authority only when you accept his command. You encounter Jesus' command as you encounter the light of Christ within you. (See John 1 and elsewhere.) Thus, John 3:18-21 says:

He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the [authority] of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.


Concerning the light that Christ has enlightened us with, George Fox wrote:

And to you that tempt God, and say, the Lord give us a sight of our sins, priests and people, does not the light, which Christ hath enlightened you with, let you see your sins, that lying and swearing, cursed speaking, theft, murder, and whoredom, and covetousness, and pride, and lust, and pleasures, all these to be the works of flesh, and fruits of darkness? this light within you lets you see it, so you need not tempt God to give you a sight of your sins, for ye know enough; and waiting in the light, power and strength will be given to you; for they that wait upon the Lord, their strength shall be renewed; and living in the light, and walking up to God, it will bring you to true hunger and thirst after righteousness, that you may receive the blessing from God; and give over tempting of God, as if he had not given you a sight of your sins. And to all ye that say, God give us grace, and we shall refrain from our sin, there ye have got a tempting customary word, for the free grace of God hath appeared to all men, and this is the grace of God, which shews thee ungodliness and worldly lusts. Now thou that livest in ungodliness, lying, and swearing, and theft, and murder, and drunkenness, and filthy pleasures, and lusting after the world, thou art he that turnest the free grace of God into wantonness, and casteth his laws behind thy back, and walkest despitefully against the spirit of grace; here the scripture is fulfilled upon thee! oh vain man! yet thou canst say, God is merciful; he is merciful and just, and that shalt thou see, when destruction comes upon thee; for thou canst say, God is merciful, yet liveth in thy wickedness, passing on thy time without the fear of God, sporting thyself in thy wickedness. (Works of Fox, Vol. IV, p.21) [For the full text, see Fox's To All That Would Know The Way To The Kingdom.]


So, let me define a Christian as one who lives in and by this light and believes in the authority of Christ from whom the light comes. Now, if we adopt this definition, won't we be leaving out many who base their claim on "I have repented of my sins, have believed that Jesus suffered and died for me, and have accepted his substitutionary death?" The existence of this question betrays our underlying assumption that it is we, not God, who are in charge of defining who is Christian and who is not.

The Matthew 7 text continues:

On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers." (Matt. 7:22-23)


To act in Jesus' name is to act in his authority. To act in his authority is to first sit in council with God, to know his will, and then to act by his command. Otherwise you are acting in your own name. In and by your own authority you can do nothing but evil, for there is none good but God alone...

....Continue reading this blog on my wordpress site....

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Comment by Ellis Hein on 5th mo. 18, 2017 at 8:47am

Reply to Howard Brod:

No, Jesus did not use the term "Christian" (or Christ-ian), that first came into use at Antioch. Neither did Jesus attempt to bring to the consciousness of humankind their divine nature. We have a derived nature. We are either in the image of God or in the image of the devil. "But as many as received Him,  to them He gave the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." (John 1:12) (my next post will deal with what "believe" means, so I will not dwell on that here.) OR " You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father  you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him." (John 8: 44) The fruit declares the lineage of the tree. If we receive the light that is the life in the Word of God, we receive the reproofs, corrections, guidance, the inward baptism with fire and holy ghost that purges the floor of the heart, and we know our wheat to be gathered into God's garner. (See my post https://thiswasthetruelight.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/baptism-and-th... ) These are the things involved in statements like "to them He gave the power to become sons of God," "and the Word became/becomes flesh and tabernacles among us," and Jesus' comment to Nicodemus "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 

The serpent's doctrine, "You shall surely not die..." is indeed a doctrine of inclusiveness. But it is false and yields the fruit of death and separation from God, the source of life. The comment in the quote from Fox at the end of my post (see the link above to the full text of the post),  "...Now we know the first step to peace" is the reaction of those who have received the gift of life and know the preciousness of that gift. Life excludes death, light banishes darkness, and truth drives away the slavery of falsehood. Thus you cannot hang onto life and death. Neither can you walk in light and darkness nor cling to Christ the truth and follow the beguiling serpent. 

Comment by Ellis Hein on 5th mo. 18, 2017 at 8:48am

Reply to Forrest Curo.

Thanks for your expansion. I don't think I have anything further to comment.

Comment by Ellis Hein on 5th mo. 18, 2017 at 9:15am

Response to Keith Saylor:

Jesus, the Messiah of God, IS the Life. You do not come to life except in Him. If you are claiming that you are yourself that life, you are deceived and walk in darkness.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 5th mo. 18, 2017 at 10:01am
Ellis,

I take ownership of and identify with the Life itself in itself. The Life is in me and I am the Life. I am of the Life itself and the Life is of me. I am the Life and the Life is discovered unto me and I too unto the Life. I do know and experience the Life immanently in my conscious and conscience and the Life is of me as I am come unto it.

Be it known. The Life itself anchors my conscious and informs my conscience. I am not guided nor informed by your (or anyone else's) outward judgements concerning the nature of being deceived or walking in darkness. Neither would I impose such judgements on you.

I am in the Life and Word itself.
Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 18, 2017 at 2:15pm

Ellis, if you take systemic theologies too literally, they become stumbling blocks. God did not send us a theology book -- or even a theologian, but a prophet, one who realized that what we truly know comes intuitively from God, and spoke that knowledge freely and poetically.

The life at work in us is God; there is no other life available, no other source of life.

God is challenged by humanity's various failings and immaturities. But anyone who imagines God saying, about any of Hsr children: "That's not my kid!" -- just doesn't realize the scope and intensity of the love at work in all this.

Truly we humans manifest, as you say, psychological and spiritual forces that lead us to doubt and test our loyalties, analogous to those Persian secret police the Judeans knew as 'satans', and personified as God's beta-tester in the Book of Job. People are quite able to self-deceive and turn our own intelligence against ourselves. But none of these obstacles to the life are themselves living, conscious beings.

There's no Devil outside ourselves for anyone to be children of. But we human beings are children, and meant to grow up -- which means we encounter obstacles and become obstacles to that process. Self-deception is among those obstacles. But the root of deception is fear. It is not theological dogmas that overcome that, but the love of God at work.

Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 5th mo. 19, 2017 at 8:22am

Forrest: The last quotation from Fox in Ellis's post is addressed to those who, like you, minimize and excuse their love of darkness and hatred of the light, and then assure themselves that God's mercy and love is their ace in the hole. In case you missed it in your first reading of this post, this is what Fox, or any prophet, has to say about such self-mollifying cant:

thou art he that turnest the free grace of God into wantonness, and casteth his laws behind thy back, and walkest despitefully against the spirit of grace; here the scripture is fulfilled upon thee! oh vain man! yet thou canst say, God is merciful; he is merciful and just, and that shalt thou see, when destruction comes upon thee; for thou canst say, God is merciful, yet liveth in thy wickedness, passing on thy time without the fear of God, sporting thyself in thy wickedness. 

Jesus healed only those who knew they needed and wanted to be healed; he didn't heal those who were comfortable in their sin.

 

 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 19, 2017 at 9:47am

Patricia, you are quite free to accuse anyone who disagrees with you of loving darkness and hating light. It's an eloquent way to say what you think motivates them; it simply isn't recommended for understanding anybody, yourself included.

There are modes of thinking and behavior that most certainly do lead to painful consequences -- and when I said God keeps raising our bets, I certainly do mean such ways, which some call 'sin' aka being off-target. Now you can call for the Sheriff and the Judge against anyone whose ways offend you, but that should be a last resort, not the first.

If humanity has not so much gone criminal as 'run away from home', then we need to understand why.

Hasn't fear of Divine Abuse, disseminated by various inhuman theological constructions, been a key reason why people have 'feared' God (rather than respected God) and fled, rather than turning towards the love God means us to find?

If many people feel safer, imagining themselves alone in a merely physical world, rather than opening their minds to admit even the possibility that God's is real, isn't that a condemnation of harsh ways of vision  that would cast them all as lovers of darkness? Is that an eye, or a log in the eye?

We owe God, owe it to ourselves to give God, far more respect than we've collectively managed so far. "Fear" is not the appropriate kind of respect, however our predecessors expressed it, because ultimately it implies distrust, the fear that "If I make a mistake, He'll beat me." Is it only human nature your belief system disrespects? -- or God's? Will you pray about this, or keep on digging your answers out of old books? If we're both asking, and getting different understandings -- What Truth will we ultimately be led towards? Maybe not whatever we first expected.

Comment by Howard Brod on 5th mo. 19, 2017 at 10:31am

Forrest,

I often find your comments filled with Light, compassion, and understanding.  You express the wisdom and seeking that draws others towards the Light and Love of God within themselves.  This is an appreciated ministry that brings the fruitage of the Spirit to others, and surely aids in the work of God upon our hearts.

Condemnation and judgement from self-proclaimed "prophets", be they George Fox himself, or those who think they represent him in our modern time can not deter the direct reach of God in our hearts. 

Comment by James C Schultz on 5th mo. 19, 2017 at 12:33pm

I have never read anything from Forest indicating in any way a love of darkness.  This whole "who is a Christian " thing is overblown.  No one should consider themselves a Christian.  It's always up to others to categorize any one who tries to be a Disciple of Jesus as reflected in the two scriptures I cited earlier.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 19, 2017 at 5:13pm

The real question is, "Why do bad things get  perpetuated by good people?" If you took some sayings too literally, you'd have to conclude that"People are naturally bad."

But the saying I think really expresses the Divine perspective is, "Forgive them, they don't know what they're doing." (Or think they have to do it, that it's the right thing, etc.) "Not guilty be reason of insanity, perhaps. But really, it comes down to "Not guilty because we aren't grown up yet."

You don't grow up because of outside intervention (although the right kind of influence does help)--  or by determination to change bad habits and attitudes (although who could object?) Grace kicks in, by one means or another. What makes us want to be good and to produce good transcends nature. It's not however 'unnatural, just typically undeveloped. What's 'natural' for a baby simply falls short of what will become his nature.

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