God’s Wrath of Abandonment

by Mike Ratliff

Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone. (Hosea 4:17 ESV)

Idolatry is the natural state of man. Left to themselves, people will worship or idolize someone or something. On the top of the list of those things we place on pedestals of idolatry is self. Professing Christians are not immune. They idolize Christian leaders, their churches, their doctrine, their liberty, their self-righteousness, their denomination, their particular translation of the Bible, and anything else they can view as something that gives them a sense of religious identity. Tragically, most see nothing wrong with this. Genuine Christianity has been supplanted by religiosity and there are only a few left who see the difference. We lament over the growing apostasy in the Church, but should we be surprised?

There is a false teaching in the Church that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. This teaching says that God hates no one, but what does the Bible say?

“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” (Malachi 1:2-3 ESV)

For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:15-24 ESV)

God is Sovereign. Who are we to tell God that He can’t do as He sees fit? He is the potter and Man is the clay. So, the condition of the Church right now seems strange. It appears that God has lost control or maybe moving it in another direction. While there are pockets of genuineness in the Church, there is, over all, little tolerance for sound doctrine. If a teacher or preacher teaches the truth from God’s Word as our Lord did or as John the Baptist did, or as Paul and Peter and John did, then people become offended and either leave or get rid of the offensive teacher or preacher. Because of the overwhelming lack of tolerance for sound doctrine and a refusal to move from unbelief into submission to His Sovereignty over all things, God is in the process of giving the Visible Church over to its idols.

The Church, the genuine Church, has always preached the dangers of sin. We have always viewed the sin preached against from our pulpits and from the Bible to be against the reprobate sinners in the world. When we studied Revelation we always envisioned that the sinners shaking their fists at God were from that bunch. However, over the last several years, it has become increasingly apparent that the fox is in the henhouse. Satan no longer has to deceive to enter our churches and homes and families. Instead, he is at home in them all because the world is there. The Visible Church is full of the world. Christians are called to be separate from the world, not be part of it while being in it. Because of this, the church and its professing Christians look just like the world. Their leaders use the world’s methods instead of being obedient to God and His Word.

I receive email and comments every week from people who have left their churches because they could no longer tolerate the encroachment of the world in them. In many cases they were not sure what was wrong, but they knew that something had changed and they were no longer being fed the pure milk from God’s Word anymore. I was one of these as well. The extreme guilt trip that is laid upon those who have come out of the Scarlet Woman can be hard to take. However, God is doing this and He has provided a network of leaders all over this country to minister to and teach these dear saints until they can find a decent church. Many of us fear that the genuine church will have to go underground someday. If that is the case, then what about those who remain in the Scarlet Woman?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32 ESV)

Now, if you don’t think that church people can’t act like this then you haven’t taken a stand for the truth while being in their midst. I have experienced the viciousness and the exclusion and the loss of classes or ministries because someone didn’t like the truth presented to them as the absolute truth. Most church folks won’t become as visibly evil as we read in the passage above. Instead, they will resemble the following.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Church hopping is a symptom of this as is pastor firing. In any case, when we tell the truth as the truth then unregenerate people who believe that they are real Christians will not stand for it because God’s truth demands action. It demands obedience. It causes sin to be exposed. Then those in our churches who are not of the Spirit, but of the flesh will either leave or will try to expose and expunge what they don’t like. Early in 2006 I was still teaching a Sunday school class for young adults. One Sunday in February I was preparing to teach when one of my students asked a question about election. We had not been discussing this and I was not prepared to discuss it in depth. However, I had been reading a book called The Doctrines of Grace by Boice and Ryken. So I took a step into a nightmare by reading from Ephesians 1, John 6, Romans 8 and 9, etc. I didn’t try to teach anything, I simply read the passages. Before I could get halfway through there were two guys in the class who started taking turns trying to interrupt me with questions or simply by talking louder than me. For every question I simply read the passage that addressed it. The one making the noises began badgering me about not addressing his questions. So I did, but he and the other fellow would not back off. I tried to get back to my lesson, but it wasn’t going to happen. So I simply asked each of them to show me from scripture where God is not Sovereign in election. Of course, they could not do it. That was the beginning of the end for that class. In just a few months I was down to just a couple and perhaps one or two others then our Pastor started moving towards the Purpose Driven Church stuff and that ended that. The first fellow that was not letting me teach that day was arrested for trying to make a date with a teenage girl he met in a chat room just a few months later. I never saw the other fellow again.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)

What we must remember is that God gives people over to their idols. They are given a spirit of stupor that blinds them. They cannot nor will they ever see the truth unless God allows it then they repent. Also, these people are in the visible church big-time. They may even be in leadership positions. They will not tolerate sound doctrine because their reprobate minds totally reject the truth because it condemns them. They are in the throes of God’s wrath of abandonment. They are blind to it and consider those of us who do stand on God’s truth to be self-righteous, legalistic hypocrites. After all, doesn’t God just hate the sin while loving the sinner?

26 thoughts on “God’s Wrath of Abandonment

  1. And 99.9% of the ‘churches’ out there are just what you described Mike. We are seeing it everywhere! We need to cling to our Lord and stand on the faith He has given to us. He will bring us through all of this. Like He said…….fear not the man who can kill the body, but fear the One who can throw you body and soul into hell……….Matt.10:28. There is so much falseness out there sometimes you wonder if anyone has it right!! Even yourself at times!! Every now and then the question will creep into my head……….I think I am right, I hope I am right, they think they are right and they aren’t, what makes me think I have it right? Have you ever delt with that?? Or am I abnormal here? Usually when I get to that point (which isn’t to often) I just get on my face and have a word with my Lord and just be real honest by saying, “Lord………if You don’t let me in………I ain’t gettin in!!” We practically beg for the truth and plead with Him that we are reading and hearing Him right, and not being deceived, because I know we CAN be misled for a time. Just seems that now is not the time to have that happen seeing what is going on all around us here.

  2. Yes Paul, that thought does come to mind sometimes. However, as you do, I get with my Lord and lean on Him. Our salvation is totally in His hands. Have you noticed that those who oppose us are the slick ones who are cool and “with it” while we look like nobodies in their “light” and sight. Well, God knows the truth and we must simply trust Him.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Thank you for this article. I have experienced similar obstacles at this past church I attended. When the pastor was confronted with an issue with the theology being presented my husband and immediately became ‘dissensioners’ within a matter of days. Other believers who were once so warm and loving all of a sudden gave us cold shoulders. It was extremely strange. My husband and I decided to share the clips “Hells Best Kept Secret” and “God’s Wonderful Plan” to people in church. People whom we thought were very devoted all of a sudden turned and became angry with this sound message. I guess it didn’t fit into their idea that God is all loving and kind. Well, needless to say we are no longer there. You might enjoy a book called “Truth War” by John MacArthur. My husband is reading it at the moment. God bless and may His Name be vindicated.

  4. Thanks N! Yes, it is surprising who won’t abide sound doctrine. I have John’s book, but I haven’t read it yet. I have about a half-dozen books that I need to read, but I can only do one at a time. :-)

    Hang in there and just keep obeying our Lord.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Amen Mike, Great truth! Can you come to Iowa and wake some sleeping people up? Then again they might just chase you right out of town.

    Paul, I do that..I was wondering the same thing about others..I am glad I am not alone in that. I beg myself sometimes. Not to be hardened or blinded to the truth. Other people do believe they have the truth just like we do. We will just stand right were we are. I was changed in my heart by that truth just last spring. All Glory to our Father!

  6. Deb,

    To be honest, this whole thing about becoming a pariah really surprised me. I never thought I would experience something like that. However, the truth is not tolerated by the unregenerate. Amen all glory to our Lord God!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Mike,

    I have seen the very same thing happen that you described about in the class that you were teaching. Just by reading scripture ! All of a sudden someone was angry and called the moderator a Calvinist or whatever. It was very surprising! He was just quoting scripture! I couldn’t believe it! I still haven’t figured out why it makes people so angry.

  8. Have we noticed how we get shunned and considered nobodies in the eyes of the ‘cool ones who have it all together spiritually’? Oh…….just a couple of times now…..:) Reprobation is something that for some reason (we think it has to do with p-r-i-d-e :) ) is the reason they are like that to us. But, we pray for them and ask the Lord to soften their hearts. Why no one likes Romans 9 is beyond us. We are GLAD and THANKFUL He is Sovereign!!

  9. Yes, I have noticed this…it is very saddening actually. Another thing I see along with this is how certain people demand perfection from Pastors and Teachers in all things. They can never get angry or “lose it.” If they do then they are shunned and repudiated. Since when are we perfect? When we become devastated about something we react like people not perfect saints. In any case, thanks for this.

  10. Ps 21:8-13

    8Your hand will find out all your enemies;
    your right hand will find out those who hate you.
    9You will make them as a blazing oven
    when you appear.
    The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
    and fire will consume them.
    10You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
    and their offspring from among the children of man.
    11Though they plan evil against you,
    though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
    12For you will put them to flight;
    you will aim at their faces with your bows.

    13Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power.

    God’s word cuts like a knife, is sharper than any two edged sword. It makes peoples blood boil. The people that are in these churches will be the ones murdering us. Praise the Lord. For he said we will suffer but His words will get out no matter what. People still don’t understand that the Word became flesh. I have lost many things including my family. And I do count it all as trash when compared to the work Christ has been doing in my life. And there is no boasting in any of this. God teaches us. It is of no works of our own. My heart greives for these people and pray that the Lord has mercy upon all of them. Because scripture tells us their root end……and if we know there end, people tell us that we are judging…..We don’t judge, we closely inspect and if we closely inspect we are judging. Remember Satan is walking to and Fro a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

    With the Love For Christ
    David

  11. Please don’t thank me, over two years ago, those words won’t have came out of my mouth, and they are not my words. Thank God for the works he has done in my life for His purpuse and not my own.

    To all, may the God of Peace bless all of our Comings and Goings. In the name of Christ Jesus Amen!!!
    David

  12. My oldest daughter was in a college-age “Bible study” at our former church and she had similar experiences. She discovered that whenever she tried to add truth to the conversation (even if all she did was read a short scripture passage and not even offer personal commentary), the group leader would shut her down. It didn’t take her long to discover that all heresy and stupidity was allowed free reign in the group … but whenever someone tried to add the perspective of truth to the discussion, they were shut down. My daughter found that if she either kept silent, or acted stupid, the leader loved her. But as soon as she would reveal the fact that she actually knows her Bible fairly well, she was marginalized and shut down. Even to the point of the leader reprimanding her in front of the entire group (and that would be just after someone would’ve spouted complete and total heresy and the leader would’ve said to them, “Oh, your perspective is very interesting! Thanks for sharing.” The leader was fully entrenched in the entire Emerging Church conversation. He regularly would go visit Mars Hills Church in Seattle (which is supposedly one of the “best” and most doctrinally sound of all the Emerging churches in the country), and he was trying to model what he did with the college group after things that happened at Mars Hill.

    It’s so sad when truth is marginalized and rejected, but error is considered the new “truth”.

    http://thegreatapostasy.wordpress.com

  13. thegreatapostasy,

    Yes, that is sad and unfortunately highly representative of what has happened to the Church. When truth is considered to be unknowable then anyone who says this or that is the truth then prove it from scripture, they must be ostrasized, repudiated, and shunned. Those doing this are apostate and are spiritually blind and have been given over to what they truly idolize.

    Please pray for me as I pursue this. The spiritual attack on me over the several days has been quite severe. There must be a demon named Discouragment because he is working overtime to discourage me from writing about this. He says that if I continue to do this then I will be hated and will have nothing. However, isn’t that what happens when the unregenerate are given the truth straight up? They hate us and attack us and it appears that no one is listening. Actually that is quite a good place to be isn’t it? Why? We are in good company. Think of all of the saints who came before who suffered even unto death because they would not recant or back off of the truth. You have on your blog a statement that your Christian beliefs went from safe to dangerous in no time. That is how it was for me as well. Let us draw the sword together and fight this enemy even if it means we join our Saviour sooner rather than later.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  14. David, Strange but I was thinking that very thing not to long ago. The churches will be the ones murdering us. Why? Were “intolerant.” It’s all about toleration these days.

  15. Seems to me there are more of us out there who are like minded than we think! Thats good……we all need to stick together for sure. Me and the wife was at a so called reformed church and we mentioned the ‘C’ word….(Calvin) and the dreaded ‘A’ word…..(Arminian), and about got booted out because one lady was ‘offended’ that we mentioned it. After all “Aren’t we all just Christians here”? The wife said, well, we just left an arminian church and don’t want to go to another one. The pastor and his wife in a nice way called us down for saying that. So we chose not to attend that ‘reformed’ church. :) We were told to ‘leave our theology at the door when we came in’……….HA!!

  16. “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone.”

    Later in that same book God observes “Ephraim, how shall I give thee up?” Those who are in covenant will not be forsaken, those outside will not be saved.

  17. Great post!

    I rejoice in this reading and find sadness at the same time. I know God is in control, but to see the falling away brings such an ache. I just returned from out of town – I always read the signs outside of all the churches I pass – this somewhat lets you know what is happening inside. I was saddened by all the quotes – I traveled through 3 states and do not recall a sign that did not in some way offer entertainment or a “feel good” statement…and it was not confined to a specific denomination. We had advertisements for movie night, clowns and games, and we must not forget the pizza! No, I am not saying that all these churches I passed along the way are “bad” – but for the ones that do have such advertisements outside to draw you in, I was both saddened and angry.

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