My first blog post on “witnessing” for Christ might leave the impression that I am among those who suggest that evangelism is something only pastors and/or those with a special call to evangelism need to worry about. I am not. In fact, I think the Bible raises serious questions about the genuineness of a person’s Christianity if he has no heart or concern for evangelism. A text I came across in my devotions a few years ago raises such questions. It has triggered in me a deeper insight into my own failures and a determination to be a more biblical Christian in this area. That text is Matthew 12:30. In the NASB it reads this way: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
Notice the uncompromising assertion found in the text: “He who is not with Me is against Me.”
On the surface the first half of Matthew 12:30 might seem to require little explanation. It is straightforward: “He who is not with Me is against Me.” It teaches that with regard to commitment to Christ there is no neutrality. You are with Him or you are against Him.
But some may be thinking of a passage which utters a sentiment which seems exactly opposite to the one contained in our text. What about Mark 9:40: “For he who is not against us is for us”? What about Luke 9:50: “But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.” You may want to look at one of these passages.
In these passages a man is casting out demons in the name of Jesus, and the disciples try to stop him. In response Jesus tells them not to hinder him and gives the reason that he who is not against us is for us. This is clearly a very different situation than the one in our text. The Pharisees here claimed that Jesus was casting out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Jesus is actually saying ion Mark 9:40 and Luke 9:50 that if a man is using my name to cast out demons, then you should not oppose him because he is actually for our cause and helping in my work. Jesus does not mean in these texts, then, that if a man is simply neutral then he is not against us. The man in question in these other texts is clearly not neutral. He is actually proclaiming the name of Christ as a name of power by which to do miracles. In this way he is actually gathering with Christ.
Lenski supports this view when he says: “In the battle against Satan every man who does not side with Jesus is against Him and for Satan. Luke 9:50 and Mark 9:40 agree with this view: for to do a miracle or a kind deed ‘in Jesus name’ is neither neutral nor hostile to Jesus.”
The real point of both in Matthew 12 and its parallel passage in Luke 11:23 is this reality that there is no neutrality with regard to Christ: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” There is no neutrality with regard to Christ or his mission in the world. You are either supportive of it and join with Christ in it. Or you are his enemy.
Alford remarks: “As usual, this saying of our Lord reached further than the mere occasion to which it referred, and spoke forcibly to those many half-persuaded hesitating persons who flattered themselves that they could strike out a line equally avoiding the persecution of men and the rejection of Christ.”
MacArthur concurs: “It is not necessary to oppose Christ in order to be against Him; it is only necessary not to be with Him. Nor is it necessary to actively interfere with His work in order to be one who scatters; it is only necessary to not gather with Him.”
Many think they are neutral with regard to Christ. They say, “I’m not against Jesus!” I think it would be hard to find a person in my Bible-belt county who would say I am against Jesus. But the question is whether they have entrusted their never-dying soul to him as Savior? Are they gathering with Him? Jesus says, “If you are not with me, you, my dear lady, my dear girl, my dear child, my dear young man, my dear man, are against me.” There is no neutrality with regard to Christ. If you do not follow Him, you fight Him. If you have not committed your soul to Him, you have rejected Him, and you must unavoidably face the consequences!
Men must aspire to be with Christ in all the other He has appointed. They must be with Him in baptism, in the church, and in his mission to the world. If we are really with Christ, then we ought to be with Him in every way you can!
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.