…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 on this site.]
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.
All our running without being sent, all our speaking without the command of God, all our religious activity — all our effort to please God is of no value. It is all counterfeit currency based upon the Serpent’s standard of “You shall be as Gods.”
So what does pass current in the kingdom of God? The first commandment God gave to the Israelites is not one of the ten.
Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine…(Exodus 19:5-6 RSV)
The covenant included the law given to Moses to deliver to the people, but before they could give the law any consideration they had to attend to this matter of hearing and obeying the voice of God. However, people will object, “that was the old covenant, we are now living under the new covenant.” And what is this new covenant?
On the mount of transfiguration, a cloud overshadowed Jesus and his disciples,
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35 NASB)
The voice said, “This is My Chosen One…” Chosen for what? Isaiah stated:
Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon him;…I am the Lord, I have called you [My Chosen One] in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison… (Isaiah 42:1,6-8 NASB)
And Moses stated:
And the Lord said to me,…I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.(Deut. 18:17-18 NASB)
Chosen for what? Chosen to be the covenant of light, sight, and release from the dungeon. Chosen to be the one who delivers God’s words to God’s people. God’s command concerning this chosen one is, “Listen To Him!” This “listen to him” like the Exodus “obey my voice” is more than recognizing that a sound has made our eardrums vibrate. The implication is that not only do we hear, we obey; before we can obey we must hear.
We only enter into this new covenant by hearing the voice of God’s Chosen One. George Fox recorded in his journal concerning a particular meeting in 1653:
On First-day I went to the steeple-house at Cockermouth…Some great men of the town said, Sir, we have no learned men to dispute with you.’ I told them, I came not to dispute, but to show the way of salvation to them, the way of everlasting life. I declared largely the way of life and truth to them, and directed them to Christ their teacher, who died for them, and bought them with his blood.
Note: These were “Christian” people to whom Fox was sent to show the way of salvation and the way of everlasting life. Fox continued:
When I had done, I went about two miles to another great steeple house…called Brigham; where the people, having been at the other meeting, were mightily affected…When I came into the steeple-house yard, I saw the people coming in great companies, as to a fair; and abundance were already gathered in the lanes and about the steeple-house….When I came into the steeple-house yard, a professor asked, if I would not go in the church? And I seeing no convenient place abroad, went in; and stood up on a seat, after the people were settled. The priest came in also, but did not go up to his pulpit. The Lord opened my mouth, and I declared his everlasting truth and word of life to the people; directing them to the spirit of God in themselves, by which they might know God, Christ, and the scriptures, and come to have heavenly fellowship in the spirit. I declared to them, that every one that cometh into the world was enlightened by Christ, the life; by which light they might see their sins and Christ, who was come to save them from their sins, and died for them. And if they came to walk in this light, they might therein see Christ, to be the author of their faith, and the finisher thereof; their shepherd to feed them, their priest to teach them, their great prophet to open divine mysteries unto them, and to be always present with them. I explained also to them, in the openings of the Lord, the first covenant, showing them the figures, and the substance of those figures; bringing them on to Christ, the new covenant. I also manifested to them, that there had been a night of apostacy since the apostles’ days; but that now the everlasting gospel was preached again, which brought life and immortality to light; and the day of the Lord was come, and Christ was come to teach his people himself by his light, grace, power, and spirit. A fine opportunity the Lord gave me to preach truth that day for about three hours, and all was quiet. Many hundreds were convinced; and some of them praised God, and said, ‘Now we know the first step to peace.’ (Works of Fox, Vol. I, pp. 176-177)