by Mike Ratliff
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them– since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. (2 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)
Early last week before I traveled to Washington, DC to visit my son, I received an email from someone claiming that a very well known and beloved Christian leader was actually a lying hypocrite. I looked at the evidence and was surprised to find by my own reaction that I had actually been idolizing this person. I wrote Little Children Keep Yourself From Idols from that perspective. I did not intend to raise a firestorm or to rouse a witch-hunt against this person. I have been inundated with requests for me to reveal this person’s identity. The problem for me is that I posted that article right before my trip. During it, I had no ability to follow it up.
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post especially the part in bold print. The allegations against the person in question are all based on the testimony of one individual. Are we so ready to crucify a man based on the testimony of one person? I have not revealed what I know because I am awaiting the response from him to my own questions about this. Once I receive a response, if I do, then I will proceed from there to make matters very clear to everyone. To be honest, I am very doubtful that the allegations are true and I am proceeding from that context as a brother in Christ dealing with another brother in Christ.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13 ESV)
9η αγαπη ανυποκριτος αποστυγουντες το πονηρον κολλωμενοι τω αγαθω 10τη φιλαδελφια εις αλληλους φιλοστοργοι τη τιμη αλληλους προηγουμενοι 11τη σπουδη μη οκνηροι τω πνευματι ζεοντες τω κυριω δουλευοντες 12τη ελπιδι χαιροντες τη θλιψει υπομενοντες τη προσευχη προσκαρτερουντες 13ταις χρειαις των αγιων κοινωνουντες την φιλοξενιαν διωκοντες (Romans 12:9-13 WHNU)
The love unhypocritical. Abhorring the evil, being joined to the good, in the brotherly love in one another lovingly affectionate, in the value one another leading before, in the diligence not troublesome, in the spirit boiling, in the Master being slave, in the hope rejoicing, in the affliction enduring, in the prayer remaining constant, in the needs of the holy ones being partner, the love to strangers pursuing. (Romans 12:9-13 word for word from Koine Greek to English)
In v9 the Apostle Paul tells to have αγαπη love for one another that is genuine, not hypocritical. This word that is translated love, αγαπη, is not found in Classical Greek. The KJV renders it as “charity.” It speaks of benevolence shown to the one loved, but not based on his or her desires, but upon what the one who loves perceives is best for the one loved. The word ανυποκριτος is used by Paul to define this love as being genuine or unfeigned and without hypocrisy. This is how we are to be with one another, with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Then in the rest of this passage, he gives us an x-ray or MRI image of this love.
When we love one another like this, we do not treat one another peevishly or with ulterior motives. Instead, we treat one another as Christ did as He washed His disciples’ feet. We serve one another instead of trying to exploit each other the way the world does. We do this by coming constantly to the throne of grace in prayer and being there for each other. Yes, we rebuke brothers and sisters in Christ when they stray from the truth or act in a way that does not bring glory to God. You see, this is what our lives in Christ are really all about. On my trip, as I sat in airports and on airplanes I read a book by J.I. Packer titled A Quest For Godliness. I have actually owned it for four or five years, but I had not read it. I bought it so I could quote from it for a specific article I was working on at the time. However, I have felt drawn to this book ever since God allowed me to have those seizures in August and September. I was humbled and began to see that I was not the center of anything, but He is the center of it all.
In this fine book, Packer uses the Puritans and their writings as having attained and utilized the very thing that is missing in today’s version of Christianity. On page 122 he refers to this time as, “Laodicean Days.” Of course, this is in reference to the last of the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. The Laodicean Church in vv14-22 was apostate. Christians in this “Laodicean state” are not tuned in to any of the things I have shared in this article so far. To those in apostasy, it is all about self. Churches get large and prosperous because they attract a lot of people by feeding their flesh. This is not what Paul was talking about in Romans 12:9-21. In the Laodicean version Christianity, there is no spiritual centeredness on believers belonging to their Lord and living accordingly. No, they are lukewarm and see everything as involving them and how it affects them, et cetera. No my brethren, we are not called to live this way. By the way, Packer makes it clear throughout this book that the Puritans fought very well for what they believed to be true, but lost nearly every battle. However, God was glorified by their living for His glory alone in all they did, all they taught, and all they sacrificed in order to be right in His eyes.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21 ESV)
14ευλογειτε τους διωκοντας ευλογειτε και μη καταρασθε 15χαιρειν μετα χαιροντων κλαιειν μετα κλαιοντων 16το αυτο εις αλληλους φρονουντες μη τα υψηλα φρονουντες αλλα τοις ταπεινοις συναπαγομενοι μη γινεσθε φρονιμοι παρ εαυτοις 17μηδενι κακον αντι κακου αποδιδοντες προνοουμενοι καλα ενωπιον παντων ανθρωπων 18ει δυνατον το εξ υμων μετα παντων ανθρωπων ειρηνευοντες 19μη εαυτους εκδικουντες αγαπητοι αλλα δοτε τοπον τη οργη γεγραπται γαρ εμοι εκδικησις εγω ανταποδωσω λεγει κυριος 20αλλα εαν πεινα ο εχθρος σου ψωμιζε αυτον εαν διψα ποτιζε αυτον τουτο γαρ ποιων ανθρακας πυρος σωρευσεις επι την κεφαλην αυτου 21μη νικω υπο του κακου αλλα νικα εν τω αγαθω το κακον (Romans 12:14-21 WHNU)
I think the ESV nails this translation. The word ευλογειτε, translated here as “bless,” is the source of our English word “eulogize.” It means, “to speak well of.” When those who hate our faith and resent our doctrine treat us as enemies by attacking us based on their own flawed version of Christianity, then how do we respond? Do we return fire as received? According to this passage, we must not. Instead, we respond the way our Lord did, the way the Apostles did, when the enemies of our faith try to silence us or to ruin the reputation of a fine Christian leader through slanderous remarks or even the taking of our own words out of context, then we must not use their tactics.
Much of what is called Christian discernment in these Laodicean Days does not even come close to this pattern and we can recognize the disingenuousness of what is being said because of the built in deceit with which it is delivered. According to Paul’s wise counsel here, we are not to rely on our own wisdom in these things. Instead, we are to never return evil for evil by taking vengeance on those who attack us. Instead, we leave it to the wrath of God. He knows all things. He can shut up and silence those who have great looking ministries, but whose foundation is on nothing but sand. However, He may also allow them to continue as an act of judgment against the apostasy in the visible Church.
I have been teaching for quite some time that the fruit that our Lord was talking about in Matthew 7:15-23 is the doctrines with which they minister. In other words, false prophets, false teachers, have bad fruit which can be seen when their followers are unable to conquer the flesh and are far from godly men and women. Meanwhile, the good prophet, the good teachers are so because they teach sound doctrine. The Holy Spirit changes those who follow them as they follow them. They are able to walk crucified lives because good shepherds who teach sound doctrines straight from God’s Word are leading them. I profess to you all that I have been taught by the Holy Spirit as I studied what the man in question has taught as with others as well. I have learned to recognize a false teacher by the fruit they exude.
Please do not pressure me to reveal whom I was referring to in my last article. I will not tell you. I am continuing to look into this. I refuse to take the word of one witness, but must have corroborating evidence from other godly sources or I refuse to believe it. My trauma I expressed in that article was over my idolatry in elevating a man to a level reserved for Christ alone. Does that make sense? Let us seek to end these Laodicean Days and move into a godly time of repentance and restoration.
Soli Deo Gloria!