What Is That to You?

by Mike Ratliff

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:20-22 ESV)

Part of my makeup that God molded into my character is the ability to observe, take note, and analyze as part of Him directing what I study and pray about in order to obediently minister in my writing and teaching. What do I observe? Everything! I take note of my fellow Christians when they interact on this blog and others. I see the patterns of what is hot and what is not. I have seen people come at me or one of my friends with vehement viciousness over doctrinal differences. What have I learned? I have learned that humans have a huge problem in wanting to control other people.

Those of us who write for CRN are often called “Watch doggies” by those who believe that we go too far in comparing what is really going on doctrinally in the church in our time to what should be going on. Much of what is “wrong” in the Church in our time is a drive to reform it into “man-centered” relevancy. When we reveal the very words of those leaders doing this then out come those accusing us of being “over the top” or “arrogant” or “backward” or “legalistic” even “heretical” because we obediently reveal what is said in comparison with what the Bible says.

Since the adherents of “relevancy” are mired in their man-centered worldview, they insist that Biblical truth to that level is unknowable. For instance, they say that the Doctrines of Grace are heretical. For us to say that God is Sovereign in election and saves His people whom He chose before the foundation of the world, then we are heretics even though we teach exactly what the Bible says.

After observing this level of Biblical hypocrisy among more and more people I began to seek the truth about it and what I should do. I wrote the last two posts (The Disowned and Paradoxes) in an attempt to show where we really stand before God. It is right to say that we are simply humans who have no good thing in us and are dead in our trespasses and sins unless God miraculously saves us by His grace. However, it is wrong to say that those whom God regenerates, justifies, adopts, sanctifies, and glorifies cannot know the truth. Why? God gave us His Word, the Bible, which contains His revealed will. He gave those whom He saves the Holy Spirit. With a regenerated heart and the Holy Spirit we can understand the Word of God. We will never understand God’s secret will, but we can know His revealed will as He shows it to us.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8 ESV)

This passage is very clear that God will use our circumstances as trials to mature us. Part of that process is to ask God for wisdom and it is promised that He will give it to us generously if we ask with faith. Therefore, we must ask God to reveal His mysteries to us. He will show us the truth as we need it and as we believe Him. When we learn the truth we must not lord it over anyone. We must not demand that everyone conform to the truth we have. Instead, we must pray for them to be shown the truth. We must stop interfering in other believer’s sanctification. We have no idea at what place God has other believers. I contend that we don’t even have a good understanding of where God has us either. However, the truth is the truth. That must not be compromised and we must contend for it vigorously and Biblically. For a believer to call other believers heretics who have clear Biblical proof that they aren’t, proves his or her self to be a hypocrite.

Why is it okay for us to be adamant that the Bible says that God is Sovereign in election while it is not okay for others to say He isn’t? It is Biblical! When man’s values or feelings or beliefs are held up against the clear teaching of scripture then scripture wins. To say that it is impossible to know the truth is to parrot Satan. On the other hand, Jesus said that if we believe in Him and abide in His Word then we are His disciples who will know the truth and the truth and will set us free.

As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:30-32 ESV)

Therefore, we must continue to stand for the truth, but we must not cross the line trying to take the place of the Holy Spirit in other peoples hearts and their beliefs. No one believes the truth unless God gives it to him or her by opening his or her heart to receive it. Below is a devotional by Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest titled “What is that to thee?”

“What is that to thee?”

by Oswald Chambers

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:20-22 ESV)

One of the hardest lessons to learn comes from our stubborn refusal to refrain from interfering in other people’s lives. It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s plan for others. You see someone suffering and say, “He will not suffer, and I will make sure that he doesn’t.” You put your hand right in front of God’s permissive will to stop it, and then God says, “What is that to you?” Is there stagnation in your spiritual life? Don’t allow it to continue, but get into God’s presence and find out the reason for it. You will possibly find it is because you have been interfering in the life of another— proposing things you had no right to propose, or advising when you had no right to advise. When you do have to give advice to another person, God will advise through you with the direct understanding of His Spirit. Your part is to maintain the right relationship with God so that His discernment can come through you continually for the purpose of blessing someone else.

Most of us live only within the level of consciousness— consciously serving and consciously devoted to God. This shows immaturity and the fact that we’re not yet living the real Christian life. Maturity is produced in the life of a child of God on the unconscious level, until we become so totally surrendered to God that we are not even aware of being used by Him. When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach— a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint— a saint is consciously dependent on God.

We must obey God. We must do things He has given us to do. Since many of us have been given discernment and wisdom then we must not hide under a rock what He gives us . We must do as Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, John, and all those great, long dead saints who preceded us did in telling the truth as God gave it to them. God’s will for His people is their sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) Holiness is what is called for. If Christianity is contaminated with world relevancy or man-focused patterns and programs then it is compromised. It is polluted and must be cleansed. Our job is to expose these things and we must do it boldly and prayerfully. That means simply telling the truth then allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in men’s hearts. We don’t have His role and I am glad.

Soli Deo Gloria!

18 thoughts on “What Is That to You?

  1. Excellent articcle! Thank you for your boldness to stand for the truth and to encourage others to do the same. I know some of us feel very alone at times in the battle, especially when seemingly no one else has discernment or is afraid to speak out for the truth in our church. I would like to go elsewhere where I hear and see more “truth”, but haven’t seen the Lord leading that way yet…..”just stay where I am to try to make a difference!” Blessings on you, brother.

  2. I could not agree more.

    God’s Word is Truth and that is what we must stand on. Unfortunately, there are those, whom when confronted with the truth, even brothers and sisters in Christ, they want to fight and kick against those who are bringing it to them.

    May God open all our eyes to His wonderful truth, even if we don’t like the “taste” of it at times because it rebukes us, it nevertheless is still His truth and that is the only Obsolute truth.

    Amen and God bless

  3. Amen, I read that the other night. Next to the Bible, Utmost s is my favorite book. I really have learned a lot from his writings and he was a very wise man.God uses us best when were not aware of it. That was a relief to know because I was looking for ways for God to use me. It really takes me awhile for all of this to sink in. More of my trying to work for God instead of just letting him work through me, unaware. Hope I got that right. :) Thank you Mike. It’s nice to have you back at your blog.:)

  4. Thanks for this post. It is a reminder and for me a constant struggle not to try to ‘help God’ out’ sometimes, in the lives of others. I guess it’s a fine line between warning someone and judging a person because they have not come to the stage of spiritual maturity that we are at.

  5. Years ago I read this very devotional and realized I needed to get out of God’s way.Those who consider the Doctrines of Grace as heretical must not have a conversion to look back on in order to know they had no part in being converted.When we see that we once had no desire for God then we do,we know it wasn’t at all about us in that new-found love for God.

  6. Daniel,

    Good to hear from you brother. You hit the nail right on the head. Who are we to judge others? We must tell the truth in obedience, but it is God who changes the heart.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Sherry C.,

    I can sympathise with Christians who don’t grasp the Doctrines of Grace because I was in that boat for over twenty years.However, it was as God opend my eyes that I could see His Sovereignty in all things. It was then that I realized that all of the spiritual growth I had expereinced was His doing, not mine. Praise be to Him!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. Mike,

    Thanks a load for this post. I think the shots that come from within the supposed church are more harsh than those that come from the world.

    DT

  9. I still remember the day when I first heard them. Just last year and I was shocked and cried tears of joy and shame. I think that is when my real regeneration began. Chosen for no reason but his mercy. I am very grateful. Thank You God!! I constantly worry about disappointing him. I have sinned many times and feel so bad when I do. I pray a lot that he helps me.

  10. DT,

    Thanks brother and you are welcome. I got much of the inspiration for this post by reading your blog yesterday about How Dead is Dead. It was as I went through the comments that I saw what was happening. Instead of commenting I went to prayer. This post was the result of that. Thanks for your boldness as well! I agree that the in-fighting is far worse than dealing with pagans or atheists. That is quite sad.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. You said:

    “However, it is wrong to say that those whom God regenerates, justifies, adopts, sanctifies, and glorifies cannot know the truth. Why? God gave us His Word, the Bible, which contains His revealed will. He gave those whom He saves the Holy Spirit. With a regenerated heart and the Holy Spirit we can understand the Word of God.”

    Amen! :-)

    And God says:

    “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:9-16)

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