The Deification of Man

by Mike Ratliff

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

As many of you know, I was given the opportunity to do a pre-release review of a book written by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola titled Jesus Manifesto. To be honest, I was shocked after I received it and began reading it. I knew, for instance, that Sweet was a good friend of Brian McLaren and was emergent in his theology. However, the book started out well. It was like reading a sermon preached by a very good evangelist. My good friend Jon Cardwell was also enlisted to review the book and was going through the same struggle. It was amazing. However, I was also asking for a lot of prayer for wisdom and discernment from friends and family as I dug into the book. It did not help though that this was going on as I was also dealing with a great deal of mental exhaustion. In any case, my prayers were answered when I came to the part of the book dealing with our Lord’s crucifixion. 

Here is a direct quote from a chapter titled “A Bottle In The Ocean,” which was about our Lord’s crucifixion. This quote is from pages 30-31 in my pre-publication version.

So where there was hostility, He brought peace. Where there was separation, He brought union. Where there was death, he brought life.

But here’s the mindblower: Because of that hill, because of that blood, and because of that cross, you stand holy, spotless, blameless, without reproach and accusation in the sight of a holy God.

Yet that’s not all.

This Christ created a new humanity, a new creation, a new race like Himself. That new humanity is His own body, a multi-member creature that we call the church, the ekklesia of God. It is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh—kin to divinity. And this Christ is the head, the authority, and the source of that body.

But wait. There is more.

This Christ triumphed over the greatest enemy that God ever faced—death, the offspring of sin. He conquered its power, extinguished its sting, and dismantled the fear that attached to it.

Jesus Christ passed through death and came out in resurrection—and He is the first to return from the dead to never taste mortality again.

But that’s not all.

In His resurrection, this Christ—the only begotten Son—shook off His chains, no longer bound by time and space. He became a “life-giving Spirit,” the firstborn among many sisters and brothers—all of whom will be raised from the dead after Him.

This glorious Christ defeated death, the grace, the curse, the entire world system; He defeated sin, satan, and all condemnation; He slew shame, He conquered guilt, and He shared His everlasting victory and towering triumph with you.

Here is a Christ so grand and glorious that He is beyond the reaches of human comprehension.

All things are in this Christ. All things are through this Christ.

All things are for this Christ.

And He has been given first place in everything.

What an incredible Lord! This is how Paul described Him to the ailing Colossian church. The Jesus he presented smokes brain cells in one’s effort to grasp Him. He embodies the inexplicables of almighty God. And this is the same Jesus you have today.

As you read that my brethren, did you see anything missing? Did you notice that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was left out? That is what the most of the book of Romans is about isn’t it?

Yes, Sweet and Viola talked about our Lord’s death being the critical point in history and how it was actually the culmination in God’s plan for our Lord’s manifesto. It was as I read this that it was as if God did bring me to that critical place to stop and ask some questions dealing with Biblical context. What about our Lord’s propitiation (Romans 3:25)? In that passage, we see that His propitiation is received ONLY by faith. It is not something that was purchased for everyone on earth. However, in Jesus Manifesto, Sweet and Viola gloss over all of that and make the Gospel something entirely different. It is presented in such a way that if one is not BOTH discerning and Biblically literate he or she can be very easily duped into falling under the spell of a very subtle deception, that this work of Christ’s is something completely different from what the Bible says it is.

What is the deception? Before we go into that let me state here that I never thought I would see the day that I would have to explain the Gospel to Christians. There is a passage in the New Testament that speaks of Jesus marveling at the unbelief of the people of Nazareth, His hometown. I am at that point at times with professing Christians and the Gospel. It is amazing how many golden calves people have set up that are untouchable that keeps us from actually sharing THE REAL GOSPEL with them. In any case, the manifesto that the emergents claim was Jesus Christ’s real mission is entirely different from the Biblical Gospel and the creation of the Church or ekklesia out of the world not make everyone in the world the ekklesia. These are two very different things. Also, the theology of Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet says that the mission of Jesus was to die on that Cross and rise again in order to create a new race by giving people the divine spark of God or to deify them. In other words, Christ went to the Cross to die then be resurrected so that the entire human race can be Gods just like Him. Don’t believe me? Read this.

The deception is growing. Visible Christianity is being absorbed into ecumenical religiosity. Interfaith movements will be the norm with the exclusivity of the Gospel message becoming more and more offensive as the day of our Lord’s return draws ever closer. In the early days of the Church, it could cost a Christian his or her life to confess Jesus as Lord and that meant refusing to compromise with “interfaith” nonsense of any kind. We are again approaching this where we will be seen as intolerant bigots. I have relatives who view me that way already. I work with people who think I am the most closed minded person on the planet. However, when they are hurting, I am the first person they come to. Weird… In any case, the heart of man is desperately wicked, who can know it. Subjectivity cannot be part of how we know God or try to understand Him or our faith. That is key my brethren. However, that is what keeps so many in the dark because they refuse to let go of “their right to choose.” Well, our salvation is by choice, God’s choice, not ours.

In a separate discussion with my friend Ken Silva about these things, I made the comment about using clear Biblical exegesis to show the emergents and other heretics what was right and that what they were doing was wrong. He said that they would simply ignore us if we did that because they have been deceived. Well, that may very well be true and probably is, but we must never stop showing the Church what poison is being fed to them by these false shepherds, these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Our role is to warn the Body of Christ, the ekklesia, about these things as we rebuke those who are doing them. Perhaps God will draw some to repentance.

My brethren, none of us know how much longer we have in this age. None of us know how many days we have left in these bodies. All we can do is live these lives the right way and that is as instructed by God Himself through the Holy Spirit who inspired the Apostle to tell us, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

As I worshipped and prayed this morning, I confessed to my Lord that life without Him would be meaningless. This is the heart cry of the regenerate heart. If your heart is more in love with this world than with Him then there is a problem. If your heart is fixed on self then you have elevated self to the throne as deity and that is a huge red flag. Yes, we can enjoy family, work, and hobbies, et cetera but these things can never take first place in the heart of the true sheep of Christ. Those who are truly His hear His voice and follow Him by walking in repentance. As we get better and better at that as we mature, these things that used to compete in our hearts for that first place will seem as rubbish compared to Him. This is the pattern of spiritual growth we should see in our walks. If that is nowhere to be found then there is a problem. Are you truly Born Again? Not sure? Contact me.

Soli Deo Gloria.

24 thoughts on “The Deification of Man

  1. Oh my! I am lost for words. The quote above is so beautifully worded in the first few lines. The it morphs into a lingo or terminology that reminds me of a science fiction series – like stargate!
    And Mike, where is the crux, or heart of WHY Jesus came to the earth? Because we are dirty, filthy sinners. We are nothing/we are totally lost in our depravation. But Christ, He is our ALL. He stood in OUR place on the glorious Cross.

    I thank God that He KNEW ME, and He CHOSE ME before the foundation of the world. There is NOTHING that I could ever do to bridge that gap called SIN.
    But my Lord and Saviour took MY place at Calvary.
    That is what is missing in the above quote!

  2. “Also, the theology of Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet says that the mission of Jesus was to die on that Cross and rise again in order to create a new race by giving people the divine spark of God or to deify them. In other words, Christ went to the Cross to die then be resurrected so that the entire human race can be Gods just like Him.”

    Interesting, Mike. This is the same teaching I heard so many years ago from the Word of Faith teachers — Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, etc.

    Back when I was involved in the Word of Faith junk, and then the Apostles and Prophets / Dominion / Kingdom Now garbage, I had no idea this same teaching would come up again in completely different circles.

    I really believe we are at the VERY END of the age. Ten years ago, there was no connection between Kenneth Copeland and Todd Bentley, no connection between Joyce Meyer and Pat King, no connection between T.D. Jakes and the Kansas City Prophets. Most of the people who ran in the Faith circles didn’t know anything about the Apostles and Prophets. But now there is more of a common thread.

    Ten years ago, we didn’t know Brian McLaren and the rest of the emergents, but now here they are and what are they teaching? The same Dominionism that the Apostles and Prophets teach. The same Dominionism that some of the Faith people teach.

    And now, the Evangelicals are beginning to jump on board. A lot of them are attempting to build the kingdom but wouldn’t know Todd Bentley if they tripped over him. So many evangelicals are now caught up in building the kingdom but wouldn’t know Brian McLaren from anyone else. The Evangelicals are trying to build the kingdom through the political process (as are some of the Apostles and Prophets), while most of the Faith people are doing it through “good works” and faith in “the force.” Most of the Apostles and Dominionists are doing it through prayer and healing. Most of the emergents are doing it through social issues and culture.

    Sure, the outward rhetoric is different; it’s couched in different terms, but underneath it all, it’s the same: We must rise to our potential. We must create a unified kingdom on earth.

    So, what’s wrong with that? It’s not Biblical. Only Jesus can and will build His Kingdom. The idea that man can build the kingdom is as old as Nimrod, but now it has come full circle.

  3. Amen Carol! Thank for sharing that. I have some in my family who have gone that way as well. It is amazing how it has affected their ability to see the truth. We can only pray for God to open their eyes as He did for you.

  4. “As I worshipped and prayed this morning, I confessed to my Lord that life without Him would be meaningless.”

    Amen, Mike. This is absolutely key.

    It is difficut now to imagine a life without Christ, though I obviously once walked for a long time in such a life. How utterly hopeless and utterly pointless.

    And to be blunt, this christian life would be most miserable of all and pointless, if not for Christ Jesus Himself. It is to live vibrantly aware of a holy standard that one fails at the slightest stumbling in battle against the flesh. It is to be given by the Holy Spirit an ability to smell the stink of sin on one’s self and on the world, so that daily the regenerated heart is repulsed and longing for final and absolute freedom from it. It is as light to see the darkness one is surrounded by constantly, hated by those whom you love, and despised by those to whom you do good.

    In that blessed worship of the King of Glory, only the grace, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, love, and strength of my God and Savior Jesus Christ, makes all of this despair to be trampled under and overcome by His perfect peace and steadfast love that comes from the surpassing excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, to such an extent that it is all not worthy to be compared with it.

    What an incredible God we serve, Who turns our mourning into joy, merely by causing His countenance to shine upon us.

  5. Carol, we had friends here in Australia who flew to America for the “Lakeland Revival” specifically for Todd to heal her.
    We heard she came back with her condition worse than it had been!
    We pointed out the heresies – but we were “cold shouldered”! We actually lost quite a few friends over the Todd Bentley circus- and our standing up for the truth.

    It makes the verse “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it the power of God unto salvation” -very powerful and poignant – because I am NOT ashamed to speak out – even if it means I lose more friends! It also makes Colossians 3:1-4 that more important in our daily christian walk.

  6. “Subjectivity cannot be part of how we know God or try to understand Him or our faith.”

    That is a mouthful!
    It is truly the foundation of the false church of the last days, though, a man-centered “religion”.

    Carol, I think that what we’re seeing is the Word/Faith movement repackaged. It is now more intellectual and refined, appealing more to the elite. And a lot more subtle!

    Mike, I too have family that have said I am too narrow minded…..I think the phrase used was “holier than thou attitude”. My pastor always taught me to get on one side of a line or the other, then get as far away from said line as possible, so as not to confuse anyone where I stood! So many want to walk the line, like a tightrope. And I also have those same people coming to me when there is a problem or need for prayer, etc.

    I have a hard time believing that we will get to Heaven and hear the Lord Jesus say: “you went to far in defending the truth”, “you were too separate”, “you were too intolerant of the false church”, “you gave too much to the widow and fatherless”, and I could go on.

    It is extremely hard to stand firm in these perilous times, and especially hard with family. They are always quick to bring up your faults and shortcomings, because they know you. But, STAND we must!

    “Though none go with me, still I will follow . . . ”

    Praise Jesus for the witness of His Spirit with my spirit that I am His child. Help me, Lord, to walk daily in Your Spirit in obedience, not in sacrifice!

  7. Thanks and Amen Berean Gal! Those close to us see us up close and personal and so aren’t “so impressed” :-). I met one of my commenters a few years ago when I was on a trip to the west coast. It was neat, but it changed our relationship. In any case, our focus has to be Christ and our obedience in our daily walk in the Spirit as you said. Anything else eventually becomes subjectivity and we will eventually find ourselves in our own version of Christianity and that is not a good place.

  8. Carol,

    You are so right about some of these groups showing up again, and they are being repackaged, and actually intermingling. I had a family member a long time back involved in the kansas city prophets/vineyard movement. Her pastor was Mike Bickle. We tried warning her, but to no avail.

    It is now back in the form of IHOP, international house of prayer, which Bickle is now in charge of. Living in the KC area, this is in my backyard, and affecting hundreds of youth, some I know personally. They are being encouraged to cut ties with family who don’t agree with them, strange teachings sexualizing our relationship with Jesus, etc. Also, some of the mystical practices we see in the emergent movement, contemplative prayer as an example, was being used and still is in this movement as well. Even some of the same people who are looked up to and quoted in emergent, are also revered in this movement. Folks like Richard Foster, Peter Wagner, etc.

    It saddens me many days that the eyes of these folks are closed so tightly, not seeing God’s Word showing them the folly of all this. We just keep praying and showing them God’s Word. We wait on Him. Thanks for doing the research on this book Mike.

  9. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for this great article! I think it is so true what you said in the last paragraph of your article…about enjoying family, hobbies, friends, entertainment but they are never to take first place in our hearts. And, I can also relate to being the one people call when they have a spiritual question. They may have no desire to talk about Christ so to speak, but when a question comes up or they need to find a scripture they ask me. That is kind of sad and funny. I am glad to be good for something, I guess! :-) Blessings.

  10. Kim,

    Have you seen the ads on TV here in the KC area about the World Revival Church? They are supposed to be humorous. I have already got into trouble with family for pointing out that this is a cult. Sigh. In any case, yes, all we can do is keep praying that God will open eyes and draw people out of the darkness.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. OH MY!!! and there we have it! IT IS CONFUSING!!!! It does “morph” into something else using another language. And I agree the quote on subjectivity is the turning point. Rather than Man revolving around God. They twist it so that God is revolving around man. How did the old catechisms say it, “Man’s one purpose in life it to worship, serve, obey, and bring glory to God!! NOW…..instead we have God’s ONE purpose is to serve, provide and love Man. I heard someone say once that Laodicea meant…”people’s rights”. What an accurate description of the the Last Days Church. IT IS ALL ABOUT ME, What I want, how I feel, what I think. You can almost hear people screaming when you try to talk to them…..”I have my rights, I am just as good as anybody else…I DESERVE to go to Heaven.” In reality the only “right” any of us has is to burn in hell. What a blessed Saviour who saved some from the wrath of God. I am one of those he saved……..I should not even be able to understand or recognize any of this, but he CHOSE ME!!!
    Mercy on us Lord, help us to stand in these last days.
    GOOD ARTICLE!!

  12. I think its on our Amazing Grace dvd where they say, There are no new heracies, but just old ones come back to life. And Diane…..oh can we relate to what you are saying! Our families are the same way. We are finding out that people we have known for years and years are ‘falling away’ from the faith. It is SO sad. Indeed the road is VERY narrow. Good post Mike.

  13. Paul and Luann, yes, it is so sad yet I look forward with much anticipation to the coming of our Lord. I may go to Him before He comes back, but, either way, that is much preferable to what we are witnessing here in this time of apostasy. Think of what it will be like in Heaven where there will be no sin and no apostasy and none of this sort of thing. I so want to be there. However, until then, we must do our all to be obedient to serve Him for His glory alone.

  14. We’re with you Mike. Can hardly wait! We are reading a book by A.W.Pink called ‘Saving Faith’. It is an eye opener for sure. So many think they are going to make it to Heaven but won’t. Its a great self examination book. Obedient…thats the word Mike. Many just believe but there is no obediance.

  15. I like what Paul Washer said in that sermon I posted the other day. Jesus’ sheep hear His voice and follow Him. We aren’t perfect; we are in process, but we hear Him and follow Him. Those in rebellion are not of Him. Those whose god is self or the world are not of Him. Yes, the way is narrow indeed. We don’t define it either. God does.

  16. One of my prayers is that the Lord will Shepherd me, as sometimes there is so much confusion dealing with the world, the flesh and the Devil, that it is hard to “see” straight!

  17. All I can say is, it is MAN who must conform to God, not the other way around. I find it sad that the gospel message is being twisted/mimimized/igored in favor of man-centered pious nonsense. What these emergents are doing is an egregious affront to our awesome, majestic, and utterly Holy God. He CHOSE to save me, He GAVE Himself for me so that I may have life through Him, and He loved me FIRST – my heart swells with love and gratitude. All to say: Keep up the great work, Mike, I’ve learned much from what you write. God bless! :)

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