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. 19, 2017 at 10:15pm

Keith, "I am the Life..." and "I am in the Life..." are two different things. "I am in the Life" is the basis of that which is truly Christian. "I am the Life..." is not. The latter is an attempted usurption of the position and qualities of Christ Himself. He, not you, not me, was in the beginning. From Him comes the life that is the light of men. He, not you nor me, shines in the darkness and is not overpowered by darkness. He gives the power to be remade in the image of God. Abiding in His inward teaching sets one free from bondage to sin. Jesus told the Jews who professed to believe in Him, "If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. (John 8:42) George Fox testified, "Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have pre-eminence, who enlightens, and gives grace, faith, and power." (Works, Vol. 1, p. 75) In your statements do you give Christ all the glory and show Him forth as pre-eminient?

I have issued no judgment upon you. Read again the conditions I wrote about concerning being deceived and walking in darkness. There is one, Christ Jesus, who will stand judge of your actions and your words. I have written to you the words that He has given me. It is up to you whether you will profit by them or take offense at them.

Comment by Ellis Hein on 5th mo. 19, 2017 at 10:24pm

Forrest, It is the testimony of Moses, of the prophets, of Jesus, of his apostles and other writers of scripture that the Devil exists, and that those who commit sin are children of the Devil and not children of God. (See 1 John 3:8-10 for example) I assume that the readers of this post and series of comments have access to the Bible and can look up sufficient scriptures to corroborate my statement.

Two other excerpts, whom many may not have as ready access to, are instanced below.

George Fox stated concerning his commission, "I could speak much of these things, and many volumes might be written; but all would prove too short to set forth the infinite love, wisdom, and power of God, in preparing, fitting, and furnishing me for the service he had appointed me to; letting me see the depths of satan, on the one hand, and opening to me, on the other hand, the divine mysteries of his own everlasting kingdom." (Works of Fox, Vol. I p. 90)

Stephen Crisp said,

We all know, and we must confess, that we have been subject to the man of sin, whatsoever we are now. We have seen the reign and government, the rage and tyranny of the wicked one, that hath led us into rebellion and disobedience to the Lord our Maker...For there are many in this assembly have been trying to no purpose, and done what they could in their own strength, to deliver their own souls from death, and yet:they find themselves in bondage still; nay, they have called in the help and assistance of those that they thought to be stronger than themselves, and all have failed, and they are yet weak and entangled, and they cannot find themselves at liberty to serve the Lord as they ought to do.

I am of this mind, that nothing but the Almighty Power of God can do it; and when you have come to my experience, to know this as I have done, then I hope you will seek after that, and you will see good reason for it; and you will then come to this profession, if the Lord puts not forth his Almighty Power, I must then perish, for there is no other power can deliver me...you must wait for the revelation of that power that will take you off from all trust and confidence that you have ever had in any thing else: a man that hath nothing to trust to but the Almighty Power, and mercy, and goodness of God, he puts his whole trust and confidence therein, or else he knows he must perish...

Now if there was but a willingness in every one of us; freely to give up ourselves to that power that created us, to obey his will, I am fure there is never a man or woman among us should long be without the knowledge of it. If I am but willing to be subject to the law of him that made me, it will not be long before he discover it to me, and reveal his power in me in the glory and excellency of it; that power which is more able to preserve me, than all the power of men on earth, or all the power of the devils in hell is able to destroy me. When the Lord shall discover and reveal his power in you, you will be willing to be subject to it.

But methinks the sound and noise of flesh and blood grows loud here: I would be subject to God, but I would not have him cross mine interest, and deprive me of that I love and thirst after; I would not have him imbitter my carnal delights and pleasures, and undo me as to my reputation in the world...

If you will become spiritual, and partake of spiritual blessings and benefits, I would advise you to turn from all kind of reasonings that 'come from the pit of darkness, that hath thus far deceived you, and will ruin you forever, if you hearken to them. For assure yourselves, new gospel-terms no man can make; and if any come to preach new gospel-terms, count him a deceiver; for there is no possibility of being a disciple of Christ, but by taking up a daily cross, and denying ourselves, and following him as our leader and guide. To him I must go, and go in no other way, speaking nothing, and doing nothing but what is holy and pure; he must conduct me in my walking, guide me in my way, and justify me in it. This is to be a true disciple of Christ. (Scripture Truths Demonstrated in Thirty Two Sermons or Declarations of Stephen Crisp..., pp. 158-161) (For the full text of the above sermon, see http://nffquaker.org/page/the-kingdom-of-god-within )

Yes, God did not send us a theology book or even a theologian, but a prophet. He still sends this prophet to us, whom we are to hear in all things. The things we truly know come from this prophet who was and still is God's Word to mankind. In Him is the life and the life is the light of men. This is the true light that enlightens everyone who comes into the world, but some hate the light and will not come to the light lest their deeds be discovered to be evil. These neither receive the power to become children of God, nor do they know the Word to become flesh and tabernacle with them. They may read the law that came by Moses, but they cannot profit by the grace and truth that comes through Jesus Christ without coming to the light of Christ within them, receive His reproofs, and walk in His direction. They cannot join with the testimony of John who stated, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil"(1 John 3:8) unless they come to the manifestation of the Son within themselves to hear and obey Him. Those who come to this manifestation know this work to be carried on within.

To all the above testimonies, I can add that I have had sufficient experience, and need no works of theology, to know your statements concerning there being no devil and that he has no children to be false. I know the manifestation of the Son of God to destroy the works of the devil within me by the action of His light, and I have seen that work proceed in the lives of others.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 19, 2017 at 11:38pm

The Bible testifies: that the Earth is flat, and encased in a vast bubble, with waters above and below.

But there is also the testimony of Walt Whitman, that I should re-examine all I have been taught at school or church or in any book, and "Dismiss whatever insults your own soul." Which is, as I have seen, God's ongoing work in progress -- and so is yours, as little satisfaction as I find in it myself, so far. Since I was once an atheist myself, I see no reason to despair of you being brought to see better, over time. Or me, either.

At this point, though, I don't see a further round of "Yes there is!" -- "No there ain't!" as helpful to you, me, or anyone else.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 5th mo. 20, 2017 at 1:23am
Hello Ellis,

I affirm, I am the Light and the Light is in me. As I indicated to you previously, by the power of direct participation in the Light itself in itself, I am guided and informed. I do not look the you or George Fox or anyone else for guidance in matters of conscience. I shared with you the Life I know directly and participate in daily. That Life is sufficient in itself to guide and teach and correct. I speak to you now not as one who turns to the words and letters of others for support and comfort; but as one who rests in and identifies with the Light itself in my conscious and conscience. When you reflect on my words in this way:

I am the Life..." and "I am in the Life..." are two different things. "I am in the Life" is the basis of that which is truly Christian. "I am the Life..." is not.

I say to you that I do not know them as two different things and my witness denies you abstraction of the two. The Light in my conscious and conscience is as much who I am as I am in it and it is all around me, even in others, including yourself. I affirm to you through immanent participation in the Life itself (right down into and anchoring my conscious and conscience) that who I am, my identity, is the Light itself in itself. I identify with no philosophy, theology, tradition, institution, practice, teacher, minister, elder etc. Such Grace is open to anyone. I also affirm and it is discovered unto me, I am of the nature of that which is from the beginning as are all human beings who witness and participate in the Life itself in itself that is come again and is coming.

In my participation with and experience of the Life itself; Far from being “an attempted usurption of the position and qualities of Christ Himself,” speaking aloud “I am the Life,” is a living testimony to the personal witness of the significance of the Living Name itself and its interpenetration in and with the conscious and conscience of people so that we live directly the qualities and position of immanent Presence itself and at the same time, speaking “In am in the Life” we are affirming this immanent Life is not my own alone but that it is all around me and others participate in it.

It is not my attempt here to suggest that you should or ought to agree. I am giving testimony to a specific witness that may or may not match that of you and others. If you do not share that witness, then I leave you to the prerogative of Christ in your conscience.
Comment by Howard Brod on 5th mo. 20, 2017 at 1:31am

I sincerely wish you, Ellis, the fullest journey possible into the deepest experience of the Light you now seek so fervently; so that you are able to live as One with that Light - without the need to depend on words and books and doctrines and labels and distinctions in order to feel acceptable to the Light you so desperately seek. 

I found at one time in my life that these "idols" are the tools of the "devil within" who seeks to keep you at arms-length from the fullness of the Light.

Comment by Ellis Hein on 5th mo. 20, 2017 at 8:55am

Forrest, Thanks for your clarification and encouragement. This has been a lot more than a yes there is, no there isn't discussion. If I have failed to be clear, then I should apologize for wasting your (and others') time. Though I could not have quoted Walt Whitman, I have known the process you described. The things I have been telling you are not merely gleaned from old books. I have never had the distinction of being an atheist, but I have had plenty of experience of God-denying religion (which yet professes to be "Godly"). Since the age of about three years old, as best as I can determine, I have had encounters with Satan, the adversary of my (and everyone's) soul. I have known the roaring lion who has sought to devour me, I have heard his whispering that tried destroy me, I have felt his overpowering pull to evil. Though I may not be able to say with Fox that I have seen the depths of Satan, I can say that such experiences were only "on the one hand." On the other hand, I have witnessed the power, the grace, the love, and the mercy of God to preserve me. I can quote the words of John who stated that Christ is come to destroy the work of the Devil, not just because it is written in scripture, but because I have seen it happen in me. In a very real sense I can say with John, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." I can, through personal experience, identify with the quote I took from Stephen Crisp's sermon.

Two things that will join up in a minute are: (1) Sin is not so much "missing the mark" (your definition from an earlier comment) as being dead where we were meant to be alive. and (2) a fundamental principle I have understood from scripture is "You are a child of him whose deeds you do." One is a child of God if one walks in life and does the will of the Father. or One is a child of the devil if one walks in death and the power and fear of death doing the deeds of him who was a liar and murderer from the beginning. (By their fruits you shall know them.) The mercy and call of God is that the light of Christ, in whom is the life, shines in the heart of all humanity. It is my testimony that any can choose to live by that light as I and many other have done. It is a conscious, deliberate choice that includes turning away from many things that seem so alluring at the time in order to follow this light within us. It can often come with ridicule and all manner of abuse heaped upon those who determine to walk in this light of Christ. This I have also experienced.

The point of all this is that here is a real and present danger that we would do well to not ignore. Because of this danger, it is of utmost importance to keep our eyes on Christ our guide, who alone is able to preserve us and make us into the beings God intends us to be.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 20, 2017 at 10:26am

People experience God at work in us in many different ways; and when they take the differences as more significant than God's involvement in the process, that leads to what I'd call a 'satanic' image of God -- an image of God as one who accuses people of their failings and fully intends to use them against us --

a far different image than what I find in those words I recognize as from Jesus, a far different image from my life's experience and ongoing intuitive vision of how God in fact deals with us.

The existence of tendencies which subvert people's efforts and intentions to do right, which use our own intelligence to our detriment -- and most certainly deceive people as to their own righteousness -- Who could deny it?

Rather than conceiving of that as internal psychological processes which bear watching... You can keep the conception of an external being who does all that for us, but I wouldn't.

http://sneezingflower.blogspot.com/2006/09/quaker-renewal-iv-satans...

------

Your "fundamental principle" is a fundamental artifact of the language Jesus spoke, one like Hebrew and Arabic in being based on a small number of very concrete roots -- with more abstract concepts typically built up by metaphoric use of these. Which makes for extremely eloquent material for translation, but risks it being misunderstood far too concretely.

I've met some pretty scary people (one of whom later killed a stranger for his car, something I wouldn't have expected of him, though I knew to be wary) but I've never known "a son of Satan." God made us all -- and thankfully isn't done yet.

Comment by Ellis Hein on 5th mo. 20, 2017 at 10:43pm

Forrest, you can attempt explain things however you wish, but you weren't there. I will trust the insights Christ taught me rather than your not-even-second-hand explanation. You are speaking (writing) beyond your knowledge. 

Comment by Ellis Hein on 5th mo. 20, 2017 at 11:29pm

Howard, your wish seems to come from your heart, but I cannot accept it without denying the light of Christ in which I am living. I do not know why you would think I "so fervently seek" or that I am "so desperately" seeking the light. These are not terms I have used nor have I attempted to convey any such concept. My words give testimony to my experience of the life and light that are in Christ, the Word of God to all mankind. I can say with Edward Burrough, "...and for one I may speak, who, from a child, even a few years old, set my face to seek and find the saviour, and, more than life and treasure or any mortal crown, sought with all my heart the one thing that is needful, to wit, the knowledge of God. And after our long seeking the Lord appeared to us, and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his spirit from heaven, and poured it upon us, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us..." These are not idols that keep me at arms-length from the fullness of the light, nor are they idle words that have no meaning. By experience, I can join in testimony with the people I have been quoting. They form a cloud of witnesses as spoken of by the writer of the book of Hebrews, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 21, 2017 at 1:16am

I don't know what "there" you're referring to, but God is here -- and if I ask for anything to be clarified, in due course it is: not "however I wish" but however it can best be shown to my admittedly-limited understanding.

I haven't always had the same take on evertthing, nor do I necessarily expect to see things the same way in the future. God continues to teach; I continue to learn; the view shifts as I see it from other places. To live is to be open to further teaching. God continues to create and to surprise.

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