Proselyte or Christian?Bro. David Chancellor
12/7/2008 6:00 PM
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass the sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Proselyte or Christian? These went to great lengths to make a proselyte, and yet they were making that one even more bound for hell than before. Jesus came and brought a new religion, but more so than just religion, he gave us a relationship with God.
A proselyte just goes from religion to religion. We could go to great lengths to get people to religion, but if that’s all we do, we’ve failed. What is the "come out" message? It is to come out of religion and follow Christ. We are to be following Christ. If you just get full of religion, you’re still bound for hell. There’s a difference between being a proselyte Christian and being a Christian that follows Christ.
And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave the, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
This shows the affection between Ruth and her mother-in-law. It is also the story of Ruth, the proselyte. This is the story of what a proselyte is. It’s about religion and people. They focus on fitting in with a group of people. This is how you join most religions. Following Christ is different. You don’t come to Christianity this way. You come by the cross and by repentance. The proselyte just wants to be a part of religion. Just being religious isn’t part of Christianity. We want visitors to hear the gospel and get a real experience of salvation. If they already have it, then they should feel welcome. Our goal isn’t moving people from church to church. We want them to follow Jesus Christ. We want God to work in them whatever is needed.
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was at Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
As the persecution arose, they went out to the Jews only, but others talked to the Grecians at Antioch. When they heard it at Jerusalem, they didn’t tell them to join the church at Jerusalem; they told them to keep following Jesus. This is where they were first called Christians. Jesus should be our focus. He is what we came out to. Barnabas didn’t tell them to conform to the group. He encouraged them to follow Christ.
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps; And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
These were sealed by God and recognized as his. They were the redeemed ones. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. " This is what makes a Christian a Christian. Ruth’s vow to Naomi, if said to Christ, is a good thing. If it is said to an organization of men, it isn’t. Don’t make that vow to an organization of man. Real salvation is found in following Christ. "These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." The eldest sons were the firstfruits and had to be redeemed. We also had to be redeemed. We are the firstfruits, the redeemed. Jesus paid to redeem us from the death angel.
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
This is another aspect of being a Christian. To be a Jew, you did so outwardly, but as a proselyte, you did not receive the full benefits of Judaism. When you come to Christ, you become a full participant. Becoming a Christian is achieved by an inward work. You become accepted of God, and you praise God rather than men. The Christian focuses on the work done on the inside. The internal change leads to external changes.
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
You can’t get much more Christ-centered than this. The Christian keeps bringing the message back to Christ. Leave idolatry and religion behind and come to Christ. Stick with God. Why should we boast of anything but Christ? Jesus should be our point of reference. Don’t focus on religious activity and forms of worship; focus on the message of Christ. Our praise and worship should flow from the life that is within. Focus on what Jesus thinks of you. Is Jesus pleased by your life? Count on Christ for everything in your life. Be a Christian, not a proselyte.