Why I Don’t Think I’ll Claim To Be Christian – Brad Jersak
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’(Matthew 7:21-23)
2 It is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore
judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both
bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of
the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
(1 Cor. 4:2-5)
In 1972, I came to belief in Christ and consciously prayed for God’s saving grace to come into my life. I was baptized on the confession of my faith in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Later, was welcomed into membership at Calvary Baptist Church. After transferring membership to Bethel Mennonite Church, I also went on staff and was ordained as a Reverend by the Conference of Mennonites in BC. My ordination was also recognized by the Christian Ministers Association after we planted Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship. Many moons later, I was chrismated into the Eastern Orthodox Church (again, upon confession of the Symbol of Faith) and later, was ordained as a Reader.
None of this allows me to claim to be Christian. Many who say, ‘Lord, Lord’ will prove to be strangers before Christ on the Last Day.
During the course of these assorted ministries, I prophesied in Jesus’ name, cast out demons (or at least thought I did) in Jesus’ name, even did the odd wonder in Jesus’ name. Taught in his name, evangelized in his name, pastored in his name, counseled in his name, prayed in his name.
None of this allows me to claim to be Christian. Many who serve ‘In his name,’ will prove to be strangers before Christ on the Last Day.
The stubborn fact is that it not by our claims, but by our fruit that Jesus recognizes living faith. Nor will the fruit he seeks be our spiritual pedigree or our relentless religiosity. It seems that he will actually be looking for the fruit of the grace of the Holy Spirit in our lives, whatever that means.
Claiming the fruit does not allow me to claim to be Christian. Only bearing the fruit will count on the last day.
The fruit of the grace of God’s spirit cannot grow from the flesh of self-righteousness, striving or zeal. It can only grow on branches grafted to the Tree of Life, the Cross of Christ. Paul sure knew this:
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
While Christ warns us not to disown him before men, let he disown us before his Father (Matt. 10:33) … and this I will not do. As my friend Sean says, ‘neither brashly presuming nor cowardly denying.’ For me, that’s a given. Giving up my self-claims are not a repudiation of my Christ-claims. Not identifying as a Christian is not the same as dissociating from Christ before men. The latter does matter.