by Mike Ratliff
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Corinthians 15:54-57)
There are times when I, like most of you, allow temporal things to cause me to focus on the here and now rather on the eternal aspects of all things. These temporal things are always God allowed distractions that test my faith. Lately, God has allowed some people to post comments on this blog that challenge things I have either posted or commented on here or on some other blog. Of course, my first reaction is to strike back with all of the intellectual capacity that God has given me. At times, of course, that reaction is based in pride and is, therefore, sinful for me to pursue it. Other situations do call for a rebuke from me especially when the comment comes from a basis in apostasy or heresy. Even so, I must not step into the fray from a basis in pride. If I do, then what I have actually done is forget that this life here is temporal and my focus must be on living in it from an eternal perspective.
That eternal perspective is one that understands that suffering here builds our faith. Death for a believer is release from this life into eternity. Our prime example for this is our saviour. The following dialogue is from Martin Luther’s Table Talk. For reference it is in the chapter called “Of Jesus Christ.” This lesson is numbered: CXCVII.
The wrath is fierce and devouring which the devil has against the Son of God, and against mankind. I beheld once a wolf tearing sheep. When the wolf comes into a sheep-fold, he eats not any until he has killed all, and then he begins to eat, thinking to devour all. Even so it is also with the devil; I have now, thinks he, taken hold on Christ, and in time I will also snap his disciples. But the devil’s folly is that he sees not he has to do with the Son of God; he knows not that in the end it will be his bane. It will come to that pass, that the devil must be afraid of a child in the cradle; for when he but hears the name Jesus, uttered in true faith, then he cannot stay. The devil would rather run through the fire, than stay where Christ is; therefore, it is justly said: The seed of the woman shall crush the serpent’s head, that he can neither abide to hear or see Christ Jesus.
I often delight myself with that similitude in Job, of an angle-hook a little worm; then comes the fish and snatches at the worm, and gets therewith the hook in his jaws, and the fisher pulls him out of the water. Even so has our Lord God dealt with the devil; God has cast into the world his only Son, as the angle, and upon the hook has put Christ’s humanity, as the worm; then comes the devil and snaps at the (man) Christ, and devours him, and therewith he bites the iron hook, that is, the godhead of Christ, which chokes him, and all his power thereby is thrown to the ground. This is called sapientia divina, divine wisdom. – Martin Luther
I believe that the “hook” Satan swallowed has ripped open his stomach. It has fatally wounded him. He is “living” on borrowed time. He is our foe, but he is defeated. This wound forced Satan to “give up” Christ who had died and was buried. God resurrected our Lord, thereby putting death to death.
With this perspective, should we be be dueling it out in unfruitful, down and dirty arguments with our brothers and sisters in Christ about theological things that should never cause division in the Body of Christ? I am not talking here about dealing with heresy or apostasy, but even in them shouldn’t we be Christ-like as we stand upon the truth?
I have concluded that it is God who opens our hearts to understand doctrine. Our persuasions have little to do with causing that to happen. It is only as God shines his light of truth in our hearts that we can comprehend it.
I angered a Catholic apologist who uses the handle “Bridget.” I have been studying the works of William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Thomas More, John Owen and John Bunyan along with many others. I made a comment on Slice of Laodica using Thomas More’s fall away from the truth because of the seductions of fame, wealth and power. This resulted in his being the attack-dog for Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII against the reformation and an English Bible. I made this comment then discovered an out-of-context comment on my post about the Beatitudes from Bridget insinuating that I knew nothing about More, Luther, Tyndale, the History of the Bible and the History of the Church. My pride kicked in and I responded accordinging. Then my friend Sarah suggested, via email, that those two comments really messed up the message of my post and my blog. She was right. I prayed about it then deleted my reply and marked Bridget’s comment as spam via Akismet. I then asked God for wisdom and discernment. Since then I have been drawn to see what I do here in a much more “eternal” perspective. I will still stand for the truth, but I must not allow any “attack” on what I have “taught” here or elsewhere to be defended from a platform of pride or any other motivation other than the truth from an eternal perspective.
I will continue to post the truths God gives me. I will continue to respond to comments that are in context to the discussions in my blog. I will continue to mark as spam any comments that are out of context to the discussion or are obviously Satanic in origin. Please pray that I will not respond to anyone’s comments from any motivation other than for God’s Glory alone. After all, as Christians we must move all of our motivations to an eternal perspective because death has been swallowed up in victory so how can what anyone says to me or does to me here change the fact that I am in Christ and He is in me?
Soli Deo Gloria!
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