(And not an ‘ordained’ minister. And not a ‘reverend’. And not a ‘doctor’.)
We are what Christ made us to be by His redeeming sacrifice. Nothing more. Nothing less.
1 Corinthians 7:23: You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
Evangelicals (etcetera) have given themselves over to that from which they now need to be set free. Because those “bought with a price” wanted to be part of something bigger than their Christ, they are now burdened with a shared identity: Christ and something else.
Seriously handicapped is the Christ-plus christian.
Galatians 6:13 (NLT): They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples.
The rancher would rather have a thousand cattle bearing his brand than a mere hundred, and this has more to do than profit. Ranchers measure themselves and each other by numbers, same as athletes by trophies won, same as fishermen by fish caught.
There are many who want to brand you, to claim you as theirs, to put you to good use advancing their cause. You give increase to their coveted respect and influence. You make them bigger. Hopefully after many sundays under their pulpit ministry you will be an accomplished ambassador of their slant of christianity.
Acts 20:30 (NLT): Even some men from your own group will rise up to distort the truth in order to draw a following.
Paul was prophesying to “the elders of the church” of Ephesus. “For three years [Paul] did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” about “some men from [their] own group”, men who would “distort the truth”, men whose purpose would be “to draw a following” after themselves – which necessitates drawing them away from Lord Jesus.
The Ephesians teach us those passionate for Christ today will not necessarily be passionate for Christ tomorrow. The heart of man then is the heart of man now. We are what they are, think what they think, want what they want. They teach us that in our ranks are a dreadful some who would draw disciples after themselves if given the opportunity.
The Ephesians were doing well. Of them Paul wrote, “I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.” And then they were not doing well. Jesus said to them (Revelation 2:4), “You have left your first love.” Paul prophesied rightly.
Acts 20: 29 (NLT): I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock.
Paul knew false teachers would come. “Vicious wolves” always come for delicious sheep. Elders are supposed to protect the flock, but they didn’t always (and don’t always). Paul prophesied the Ephesus church would be under assault from insiders and outsiders. Sheep must learn to protect themselves by staying close to the only dependable elder brother, the Lord Jesus.
Their safety was to remain in Christ…. alone. Our safety is to remain in Christ…. alone. Christ, not Christ-plus. An evangelical is a steer branded with two brands, belonging to two lords. The percentage of christians who go back to old ways is very high. They are like the light of a candle that eventually flickers in desperation and soon after expires. So very foolish and so very unnecessary.
Paul spoke in tongues, but he wasn’t a pentecostal. John baptized multitudes, including our Lord, but he wasn’t a baptist. We can have several gifts of the Holy Spirit without being a charismatic. One can attend an evangelical church without being an evangelical.
Overcomers have but one brand. They identify with Christ alone. They stand fast against the adders and subtracters, the compromisers and negotiators. Overcomers are not shy to proclaim: I am Christ’s and Christ’s alone. I am not a pentecostal, baptist, evangelical or one of many etceteras. I have one Lord, and Him alone I do serve.