by Mike Ratliff
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18 ESV)
I was born in 1951, but since my birthday is in October, I actually graduated from High School when I was 17. I started college in September and then on my 18th birthday, just a month or so later, I had to register for the draft. My draft number was 6. I had friends who did not even try to get a college exemption from the draft because their draft numbers were 300+. In any case, in 1973 I had left college before graduation and was informed that I had better be prepared to be drafted into the Army. Therefore, I joined the Navy. I went in on a delayed program so I could get the Computer Training they offered. Just one week after I signed those papers, the Vietnam peace accords were signed in Paris effectively ending the need for the draft. On June 1, 1973, I entered the U.S. Navy and learned what it meant to be in the military.
God calls all genuine Christians into His service at their salvation. They are given gifts in order to fulfill their ministries given to them by Him. We are all called to be good soldiers who participate in the suffering of our Lord (2 Timothy 2:3). We are also called to not be divided from one another, but to serve the Lord as one, to not work against one another. However, from the beginning of the Church there have been those who profess to be Christians, but who are not regenerate. They are not genuine. Some of these act as infiltrators in the church causing havoc, division, and creating obstacles contrary to the orthodox doctrines given to the Church, which are clearly taught in God’s Word.
As good soldiers of our Lord, we are to obey Him and endure the sufferings that can happen when He uses us to flush out these infiltrators. Much of the current drama that we are witnessing right now within this group of “apologists” that some have termed “ODMs” or whatever is backlash against how rough these conflicts can become. I personally do not like arguing or conflict at all, but God gifted me with what some have called the gift of prophecy and teaching. I am not a prophet as Bennie Hinn claims he is, but one who speaks from God’s Word with authority, not my authority, God’s authority. This also means that I can see the ins and outs of logic and can see very quickly when a person with whom I am dealing is operating from the flesh or the spirit. In most cases I treat them with the kindness that can only be coming from our Lord, but there are other times that that “ol’ gift of prophecy” kicks in and out comes words that are spoken with an authority I do not possess in myself. This usually happens when dealing with a suspected infiltrator.
I am very glad that men are not in control of this war. This war is between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. God is in no danger of losing this war, however, He is using this conflict for His purposes to fulfill His will for the Church. Ken Silva told me in an email today, “As you know a large part of the ministries I have been given to do involve the Internet Front of this spiritual Vietnam of a Truth War. I never asked to be involved along a frontier, which is still largely developing because, in my view, the Lord is using it to circumvent some of the apostatizing denominational leadership and spread truth in a similar fashion as He once used house churches in the first century. Short story; it’s not a fun place.” I Amen that last part. The front lines in this war are not a fun place. I also received some encouragement today from my friends over at Strange Baptist Fire who stated, “When we engaged in polemics we knew the calling was to periods of controversy and trials. How hot they get is well within God’s gracious control, as He conforms us to the image of His Son. His promise not to tempt us beyond what we are able must extend to cyberspace as well. Do press on as God leads, upholding the truth of His sovereign grace.”
My brethren, you may not agree with the idea that we are in a war, but trust me, we are most certainly in a very ugly war that involves taking one every now and then as God works through these trials to expose the fallacy of those dark ones who have infiltrated the church bent on its destruction. I believe Ken Silva is right. The denominational leadership in our time is quickly apostatizing. I never thought I would see the day when it seems as if entire denominations have become part of the Compromised Church, but it is even worse now than when I wrote that series of articles.
The enemy now seems to have new leadership. These new leaders are equipped to do much damage. When I first started this writing and contending for the faith those I came up against were intelligent and were good with words, but they contended from human logic, which is very easy to defeat with God’s Word. However, now there are new leaders who are dynamic, very well accepted by many of our denominational leaders, and they are aggressive and do not listen when we rebuke them. They manipulate opinion, cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that we have been taught from God’s Word. It as if they have been given power over the minds and hearts of those they exploit. The divisions are growing. More and more former friends are now joining the camp of the enemy. However, we must remember that this is just another period of controversy and trials and the heat from it is well within God’s gracious control. He is using this to perfect His church while filling up His wrath against those with whom we are contending.
Are you a good soldier of the Lord? If so, then you are to be watchful and careful while obeying Him in this walk. Part of our calling as His good soldiers is to be ready to contend for the faith. We must do this by the spirit, not the flesh. If we try to fight these battles with our own strength, we will be made short work of. On the other hand, if we will humbly obey our Lord in His strength then we can stand, contend, and not run away. We can prayerfully take one now and then as God uses us in this war. We can be used by God to expose the infiltrators and then warn the Body of Christ of what is happening.
I am currently re-reading John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress the Second Part. I try to read it as soon as possible after finishing part One. Part One is about a man named Christian. The story is an allegory of his journey to salvation then through to His arrival at the Celestial City. The Second Part describes the journey of Christian’s wife and children after he dies. One of my favorite characters in the Second Part is Great-Heart. He allegorically represents pastors while the pilgrims represent those in their churches and the journey from place to place represents their spiritual maturity through tests and trials. In the two allegories there is a place called the Hill of Difficulty. It is a rough, steep hill that represents a tough trial.
At the beginning of this hill is a clear running stream that represents solid doctrine. It ran clear and pure when Christian made his journey and after drinking from it he was able to make it up the hill just fine. However, when his wife and children make their journey this stream is now cloudy with mud. They ask Great-Heart why this is so. His answer is that the mud in the water is the result of the work of infiltrators in the Church who have tried to change it into a more popular form, one that most people like. He tells them that the water is still pure and good if the mud is removed from it. So they take some water from the stream and put it in an earthenware jar. The mud settles to the bottom and then they are able to drink of God’s pure doctrines to prepare for the Hill of Difficulty.
My brethren, let us prayerfully resolve to humbly contend for the faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we encounter the pure water of God’s Biblical doctrines made cloudy by the infiltrators, our job is to clear it up. We tell the truth. We preach and teach the truth minus the fog of seeker-sensitivity, emergent – New Age mysticism, and cultural relevancy. We do this prayerfully as we help each other in this war. I am always gratified when friends show up to encourage me right after one of these tough fights. God is good, for I know that He sent them. I have had good friends encourage me throughout this day and I know that as long as we stick together like this that our enemy can only blind his people as he leads them to do things that only fills up God’s wrath to their account even more. Let us pray that our Lord draws them out of this darkness to Himself and into His light.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Addendum: As I put this piece together last evening I kept being reminded by a nagging, accusing voice that what I shared here could just as easily be turned around and used by those attacking us to justify what they are doing. That scenario would be that they are the real Christians and we are only fake Christians mired in tradition or whatever. Yes, that did occur to me all through writing this and I also received some heat today from some on the other side about this along those very lines. The difference though is that we are defending God ‘s Truth from Sacred Scripture. We are not defending ourselves; we do this as we stand firm on God’s Truth. We allow no compromise of that. We may indeed suffer for it, but we must never compromise God’s Truth even unto death. On the other hand, these we oppose can only use humanistic reasoning and philosophy, which is not in any way equivalent to God’s Truth, which is His Word. – Mike Ratliff