The Temple of the Living God

by Mike Ratliff

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:21 ESV)

With the utter lack of discernment being exhibited within the visible church in our time, it is as if the condition of the Israelites at the time of the Prophet Amos is upon us. These Covenant people had turned their backs on God and His commands. They were sin-sick and idolatrous, which means they were spiritually blind. When Amos traveled from Judah to the Northern Kingdom of Israel to deliver God’s message to them, he simply gave what God told him to say. What a concept! In Amos 3:3-8 the Lord posed a series of rhetorical question to the people to show them that no matter what they thought or did, He was still sovereign. Certain actions have predictable results. God spoke, therefore, Amos was to speak as the people listened and trembled. That is how it should have been. However, as in our time, when God’s Word is exposited and given to those in error, the response is exactly the opposite. Instead of heeding God’s Word, the people attempt to silence the prophet (Amos 2:12; 7:12, 13) and, therefore, silence God. 

Of course, it is the same sin that the Israelites committed during the Exodus at Mount Horeb (Sinai) as Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from the very hand of God (Exodus 32). They had Aaron make a golden calf to represent God in a way in which they were comfortable (v4). God is Holy and He cannot abide with sin. When Moses returned to the people (vv. 15-20) we see that the people had their own ideas of how to worship their god(s), which was nothing like God had prescribed. Joshua told Moses that the noise of their worship was as a noise of war in the camp. Moses told him that what he heard was singing. What they saw when they entered the camp, however, was an orgy or party.

In our day with men such as Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, who are disciples of Peter Drucker, leading the way, church after church has been taken over and changed from a biblical structure that was designed to be a place of healing and feeding for the sheep, to one that is “church for the unchurched.” The structure is as of the world. It is worship and structure and preaching (if you can call it that) that pleases the natural man. It is not biblical. I and many of my friends are fugitives from churches that have been taken over by this paradigm. The leadership in these churches has bought into the concept of gospel contextualization, which is a changing of the gospel message to make it more palatable to the natural man’s way of thinking. They actually believe that if they can create a church environment so appealing and a gospel message that does not offend by saying that all have sinned and need a Saviour that the unchurched will actually buy it as if they were buying a product off the shelf. It is all about the right marketing strategy. This is what men like Rick Warren stand for. This is his concept of Christianity, the Church, and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I and many of my fellow laborers in this task of being the watchmen on the wall that warns and educates the Church about the dangers threatening it on every side have taken a great deal of heat from the apologists for Rick Warren, those behind Emergence Christianity, the New Evangelism, seeker-sensitivity, et cetera, but how can we keep silent when if we tried to do so, it would come out as an explosion from within. I cannot hold it in. I have tried. There will be no peace in this heart unless I obey my Lord in all things.

I received some very disturbing news today about John Piper. While many things he is doing and with what he has been involved with in his relationship with Mark Driscoll has caused me great heartache, I did not say or write anything because I was not given the Word to do so. However, today I learned that Rick Warren is one of the speakers at the upcoming Desiring God 2010 conference. My friends and I have been mulling this over all day. I asked this rhetorical question during the discussion, “Will someone please explain to me how someone who stands for preaching the Gospel unencumbered by anything of man could compromise with the prince of gospel contextualization?” One of my friends responded, “He’s misinterpreting unity.” Then I left the discussion as I sought how or if I should address this. My friend is right. At least, I hope this is the motivation for John Piper to allow this. It does not change what I was led to study in God’s Word today in light of this however.

I want to exposit 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 to address this. Of course, many may object to my equating Rick Warren and all he stands for, as well as all those in the same Leadership Network, with Belial, but how else can we address this? These same people are continually attacking Sola Scriptura because they know that God’s Word does not support what they are doing (isn’t that a parallel with Amos 3?). Therefore, if it is not of God then who is behind it?

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV)

14μη γινεσθε ετεροζυγουντες απιστοις τις γαρ μετοχη δικαιοσυνη και ανομια η τις κοινωνια φωτι προς σκοτος  15τις δε συμφωνησις χριστου προς βελιαρ η τις μερις πιστω μετα απιστου (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 WHNU)

The words “Do not be unequally yoked” are the Greek words μη γινεσθε ετεροζυγουντες or, literally, “Not become being other yoked.” This is an image for being allied or identified wrongly with unbelievers. Paul was addressing the problem of certain church members in the Corinthian church who were rebelling against him and his teachings, ignoring his authority. Here he calls them απιστοις. What is this? This word describes those not worthy of confidence, untrustworthy, and unbelievers. In the New Testament, this word is used to describe those who disbelieve the Gospel of Christ, an unbeliever or an infidel (1 Cor. 6:6; 7:12-15; 2 Cor. 6:15). This is quite shocking for Paul to call these people that since they were professing members of that church, but their behavior, their character, was such that he made that charge against them. In the church environment we have in our time, Paul probably would have been censured for saying that.

We know who Christ is. Who is this Belial or βελιαρ? This is a name for Satan used in the Judaism of the New Testament era, which was derived from one of his characteristics. This particular characteristic is that he is “worthless” or “treacherous.” It was used in reference to Satan’s activity as an opponent of God, which is the pattern of behavior that Paul was witnessing in his opponents. Therefore, when we show the unbiblical nature of certain so-called Christian leaders and their teachings, is not this the very same thing? Aren’t they opposing God and doing damage to the Church by advocating compromise with the diluting influence of the world in our churches? Yes, I think the name βελιαρ fits them very well. The last rhetorical question in v5 is, “Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” The answer is obvious. Yes, we give unbelievers the Gospel. Yes, we attempt to make disciples of them. But, No, we do not treat them as if they are believers and structure our worship and service of our God around them as if it is all about them.

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV)

Never forget my brethren, the temple of the living God is the Church. Now, there is the visible church, which is all the religiosity all around us that calls itself Christian, but the real Church is invisible within that. Within it are all true believers. This is the temple of the living God. This is why we are to seek to live holy lives. This is why we are to be those living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto God. This is also why we must be diligent in standing firm on God’s Truth and warn the Church of the evil of the compromises all around us that are tools of our enemy seeking to do damage to the Church and cause the unregenerate in the visible church to apostatize lest they hear the truth and be truly converted. In light of all of this then we know that the man-centeredness of the seeker-sensitive model is idolatrous and blasphemous and we must stand against it.

Now, I adjure each of you to examine yourselves carefully. Are you of Christ or are you of βελιαρ? If you are of the former then you are not part of this world. Your home is where Christ is. You are being called to be holy and separate from the world. However, if you are of the latter and are a professing Christian then you are all about things that are man-oriented rather than God oriented. You are all about man and what is fair in his eyes rather than God, His sovereignty and His glory. Examine yourselves my brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Addendum: Go here for more info on why I disagree with John Piper’s inclusion of Rick Warren at his conference or even why he should not keep him at arm’s length.

28 thoughts on “The Temple of the Living God

  1. Amen and amen Mike! When we left our previous church over Rick Warren’s 40 days of purpose being implemented throughout the church, we approached our pastor at the time, and shared our biblical concerns with him.
    His response: you are 1% of the church who looks into the tiny details and finds the “suspect” teachings in books such as these. (prayer mantras, breath prayers, twisted interpretation of scripture, catholic mysticism being promoted and endorsed etc etc) – he agreed there were numerous suspect areas – but that the good outweighed the bad!

    He went on to say that Sandra, you need to see the good in these books, and spit out the bad that we don’t agree with!
    We said that’s not good enough! So we abstained for the 4 weeks this church studied and celebrated this book – and when we returned, the next book that the leaders in the church were about to start was Bill Hybels “Just walk across the room” – I was a worship leader in the church, and I had to do this study! So again, after voicing our concerns, we decided that was enough – so we left. And NO-ONE from the church even called us to enquire were we ok? The pastor NEVER contacted us ever – and I was a worship leader in the church! What had happened?

    But I agree 100% with you Mike. I WILL NOT be silenced. Yes, it would have been easier to “shut up” and go along with these studies – and spit out the bad and keep the good! But at what price? I say the price is TOO HIGH in NOT saying anything. We have lost a lot of christian acquaintances in South East Queensland, Australia – as we have become quite vocal in protesting false teaching/emergent teaching/seeker sensitve etc etc. I know we are getting a name as being “difficult” in the “christian scene” where we live.

    But Mike, like you, the price in NOT speaking out is TOO GREAT in my mind. My spirit grieves over why Australian – or any church for that matter, feels compelled to implement these popular church growth models. Our pastors flock to visit the mega-churches in your nation. WHAT is going on? What is so wrong in simply preaching the powerful Word of God? This secularised, seeker-sensitive juggernaut has become a power unto itself!

    But yet…

    Romans 8: 5-8…
    “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the spirit desires”

    Romans 8: 18-19…
    “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of god to be revealed”
    Come Lord Jesus, come!

  2. In a way, this Piper thing surprises me, but then again, it doesn’t. I was taken aback when he hooked up with Mark Driscoll a few years ago. (But at least Driscoll claims to be Reformed.) I began to notice, though, that if I go into Barnes & Noble, Piper’s books are as numerous as Brian McLaren’s or Joyce Meyer’s or Joel Osteen’s. It seems that the secular stores like Piper, but it’s a lot harder to find a MacArthur book at B & N. Very few “difficult” books are stocked at secular stores.

    Then I went into a new Christian bookstore in town just to see what it was all about. I quickly realized I had walked into a Pentecostal/Charismatic/Emergent store. It was quite a mix of books, but they were all heretical. It was very creepy, actually. Then I walked around the other side of the book display and there were several John Piper books! I’m sure the look on my face was entertaining to the people there.

    What is it about Piper that these Semi-Pelagians like? I’ve never read a Piper book, only a few articles on his website, so I have no idea. But for some reason, Piper is not offensive to anyone. My brother, who is Arminian, likes Piper. Whenever I talk to my brother about the doctrines of grace, he argues vehemently and makes no logical sense. He does not like Reformed theology whatsoever. Yet, he admits that he likes Piper and often reads articles on Piper’s website. I don’t know. I’m baffled. What I do know is that Piper’s inclusion of Warren at his upcoming conference is indefensible.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Just thought I’d drop by and say ‘hi.’ So… ‘hi.’ I’ve been minimizing my typing because my writing & my typing is sometimes not so good. Tonight, my voice was cracking so bad during the reading of Scripture for devotions that it seemed nothing short of a miracle when I preached a 17-minute devotion with as much strength as I’ve had before any of my ailments.

    The John Piper/Rick Warren thing is interesting. This afternoon I listened to the sound bite again done late last year or early this year (can’t remember) when John Piper first made the announcement that he was inviting Rick Warren to DG2010. I commented in an email to Ken S. that I was a bit surprised but probably shouldn’t have been since he invited Doug Wilson last year.

    Nevertheless, John Piper’s inviting Rick Warren has been good for me personally… because I have been giving this A LOT of thought the past few months, & the past few weeks in particular: my congregation loves me. They’re praying that God would have mercy upon us and that I’d be healed. Yet, the reality is, I may have a few years, more or less, and what I’ve been thinking about is that I really want to step down from the pulpit (well, wheel away from the pulpit) with dignity, humility, and as a glorious witness unto Christ our Master. I don’t want to hang on to where I’m cramping & fatiguing so badly I can’t concentrate and then I say something stupid that is so heretical that it confuses people. I don’t want to do something that is questionable or controversial, when for me, every single second is valuable. I don’t have time for the what if’s and maybe’s. Dr. Piper does, I suppose, and God bless Him. But given the moments that I have left, would I use them to try to tie into something maybe, possibly, Rick Warren might facilitate if I invited him to share exactly what it was he is trying to do… or will I pray to God that whatever moments He gives me, I will preach Christ crucified.

    Will slam the door on any that does not agree with me theologically or ethically? No. But I am thinking about, much more, that my life is a vapor that appeareth for a little while and vanisheth away. The drama behind the Piper/Warren controversy has, pardoned the pun because of my physical weakness, strengthened my resolve.

    Sorry to wax on so endlessly. I haven’t spoken or written to you in a while so I thought I’d do so while my fingers have a moment of “limberality.”

    love you, brother.

    jon

  4. Mike, you have named this for what it is.

    When you said, “Of course, many may object to my equating Rick Warren and all he stands for, as well as all those in the same Leadership Network, with Belial, but how else can we address this?”

    Indeed, how else for that is what it is. Thank you for addressing this.

  5. Matthew 7:17-20
    “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” KJV

  6. Sandra,

    I am sorry about your experience in your old church in Australia. Unfortunately, it is very typical of what happens when a pastor becomes corrupted by the PDC paradigm. It is all about compromise and this IS NOT OF GOD. Never stop praying for these people to repent nor grieving until they do. We must be bold, firm, yet gracious. We do not backstab or gossip, et cetera. No, we confront error with the truth boldly, head on, but not rudely or hatefully or deceitfully. I have experienced being treated in these ways of the world by so many who are in error that I almost expect it every time I encounter them. Deceitfulness marks their ways. Let us not partake of that nonsense, but be Christlike in how we deal with them. Perhaps some will be drawn by God into the light as we deal with them as Jesus would. Jesus was very blunt with the Pharisees, et cetera, and so being gentle and Christlike does not mean compromise.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Carol,

    We have some of those “Christian Stores” around us here in the KC area as well. Sigh… In any case, my take on these “stores” is that it is all about money. They stock what they think people will buy. The publishers push their big name books and Piper is in that bunch. I have some of his books, but most of them were gifts from the leadership from my old church. I have read only a couple of them and that was over 5 years ago. I find it interesting that on my bookshelf next to me here, I have books by John Owen, John Bunyan, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Martin Luther, Kim Riddlebarger, James White, et cetera. I have Piper section, but I never go there. When I am writing I reach over there for the information to link things together in my posts from these men of God, but I NEVER seem to end up in the Piper section. I never really thought about it until this stuff started. I guess I need to take these books to the my local second hand book store and clear up the space. :-) In any case, we must not expose our minds to these compromisers. God’s Word is very clear about this and God is always right. I spend more time in the Bible than anywhere else. I find it is sufficient and those extra-Biblical sources I use always point me back to the Word.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. Brother Jon,

    Good to hear from you. I understand where you are coming from. When God humbled me with my seizure disorder reoccurrence last year, it changed everything. It has refocused me on being God’s man totally. I deeply dread blowing it in my flesh so I work pretty hard staying focused on God and His will. I have found that the more I do that the more Christ’s gentle character become manifest and it always surprises me. I like being here. Will I totally place Piper into the heretical category? Not sure. We will know more about that as this plays out and what he says in defense or in repentance of what this is doing. In any case, let us pray for John Piper to repent of this.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  9. John, the Universal True Church is the temple of God. We may not gather together in one group here, but we are gathered in one group in Christ. This is the true ἐκκλησία.

  10. You are very welcome Heather and yes, I am still struggling with this. I used to think Piper was very solid. I think God is using this to show us NOT to place any man up on these pedestals of infallibility.

  11. VERY GOOD ARTICLE I wholeheartedly agree. “Wherefore come out from among them , and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.” When we mix trying to please God and trying to please man, we have created an “unclean thing”.

    Piper not only invited Warren to be a speaker, he was quoted by the source I read as saying that Warren was “brilliant, deeply doctrinal, and sound. I noticed in part of the other quote that the the things Piper affirmed Warren for were all “people-oriented”. Large church, peace plan, ect. This is where we start down the slippery slope in my estimation……ALL must be to the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, not turning the focus to people. We should not be planning any chuirch ministries, any music, even any evangelistic outreaches to “appeal” to any person. If we lift up the Lord Jesus Christ and his Word people will be drawn who are supposed to be drawn. I am not saying that we do not love, talk to people, ect, but that we keep the church based on the Word, not on what might be pleasing to the person down the road.

  12. Thanks Mike for putting in written words some of what I’ve been thinking. It’s always good to see Jon Cardwell’s thoughts too. As I told him, we all fear physical disability and even the loss of memory as in Alzheimer’s but my greatest fear is that of “doctrinal senility”. I pray that God would take me home rather than to veer off course and embrace falsehood and by so doing lead any of His sheep astray.

  13. I follow alot of reformed Christians on twitter. Yesterday was a real eye opener to see where most everyone stood. Two sides the (supposed) “heresy hunters” and the John Piper die hards. My heart was breaking seeing tweets like “He’s just a man that makes mistakes”, “Everyone should pull the plank out of your own eyes”, “what about love?”…etc.

    He is a man that leads thousands of people and he is inviting RW just because RW’s read Jonathan Edwards!! Give me a break people!(sorry :) righteous anger) Isnt the greatest love rebuking a brother so he can be reconciled back to God? Shouldnt we love JP enough to ask him to repent?

    Anyway, its at times like these that Im reminded of “Lord, Lord…” and his response “I never knew you…” and also the great falling away. Im asking the Lord to please help me examine myself to make sure Im truly in the Faith. I encourage everyone else to do the same.

    Thanks to everyone on here for your encouragement and the reminder to NEVER put anyone on a pedestal and to stay grounded in the Word of God. Even if you “feel” that someone might have something good to offer, if the fruit isnt there please dont ask him to teach God’s people. Now God’s will be done in all of this. My next step is to begin praying for those attending this years DG conference. Love to you all…

  14. Amen, well said Heather! The slippery slope into heresy begins with making friends with the apostates. Can I be friends with one who is close to one who is a rank heretic? I will confront that person and make sure he or she understands that this is totally against what God commands us to do. Yes, tell Rick Warren that what he is doing and saying is wrong and WHY IT IS WRONG. Give him the opportunity to repent. If he doesn’t then move on, but don’t buddy buddy with him thereby inviting Belial in with your sheep. Goodness, I could preach about this for hours I suppose, but who is listening?

  15. Oh! Oh! (my hand is in the air in case you cant see it) pick me! pick me! I’m listening Mike! Preach it Brother! ;D

  16. Are the Jonas Brothers coming too? This morning when I first read about this I thought it was an April’s fool joke. I even laughed a little, yet because of the association Dr. Piper has with Driscoll and the lack of discernment he has shown lately, in the back of my mind I was saying please don’t let it be true. It is no secret that Dr. Piper has quite a following ( I have many of his books and have grown tremendously from his teaching). I wonder if God is allowing this to happen because of certain preacher worshiping and idolizing that is going on. I have been guilty of this myself.
    As you said above “I think God is using this to show us NOT to place any man up on these pedestals of infallibility.”Nonetheless, I am quite sad today :(

  17. Yes, you’re so right Mike. We must keep check on our own heart’s sinful nature when dealing with issues like these – as at times it is hard not to cross that line when exposing false teachers/teachings when we get “frustrated”, and you just want to “shake them by their shoulders, and say wake up!!”

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