by Mike Ratliff
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:1-6 ESV)
My friend Ken Silva was attacked today by someone claiming that he has no discernment. This was in reference to his stand against the new age, emergent Leonard Sweet attempting to pass off his theology as orthodox. Some of Mr. Sweet’s friends and allies have taken it upon themselves to claim that Ken is simply a bully and only a lowly “ODM” so he must be just looking for someone to kick around and there really is not anything to these charges anyway, blah, blah, blah… Well, I have read Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I have also been right there with Ken as he showed me the evidence of Sweet’s total lack of orthodoxy, his push to separate Christians from the Word of God to pursue his version of Jesus, et cetera. I am not surprised that many have come to the aide of Leonard Sweet and this book. Why? We live in a time of spiritual blindness. Those claiming that Ken has no discernment are doing so from their own base of zero spiritual discernment and prove it by their blind acceptance of this book and Leonard Sweet’s ministry as orthodox Christianity. God’s Truth, His Word, is what indicts them in this. I read some of the comments on the blog where most of the complaints were. I think a debate with some of those folks would be fun…
Well, we have had the cold water in the face experience quite a bit lately when as we have taken bold stands against clear cases of apostasy and heresy. The total lack of discernment in the mainstream of the visible church right now is truly amazing. As I stated a couple of months ago, I never thought I would see the day come when we would have to actually explain the gospel to Christians. Biblical ignorance is rampant. People are so afraid of offending anyone that no one will take a stand on anything so there are no clear borders any more on what is right and what is wrong. The truth is whatever people want it to be hence everything is relative. That may be what people want to believe, but in fact it is only a tragic fantasy. God’s truth is still absolute and His judgment is coming. In the meantime, what are we to do? We are to obey our Lord and that means abide in Him, obeying Him and keeping His commandments as per 1 John 2:1-6 (above).
Here is vv4,5 from the ESV: Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him
Here is vv4,5 from the Greek: ο λεγων οτι εγνωκα αυτον και τας εντολας αυτου μη τηρων ψευστης εστιν και εν τουτω η αληθεια ουκ εστιν ος δ αν τηρη αυτου τον λογον αληθως εν τουτω η αγαπη του θεου τετελειωται εν τουτω γινωσκομεν οτι εν αυτω εσμεν
Here is vv4,5 word from word from Greek to English: The one saying, “I have known him” and the commands of him not keeping, liar he is and in this the truth not is; who but – might keep of him the word, truly in this the love of the God has been completed, in this we know that in him we are.
The words translated as ‘does not keep’ are μη τηρων and are structured as negated present active participle. In other words, the person who continually lives in rebellion to the Lord’s commandments is a liar if he or she claims to be His disciple. Of course, the opposite is true as well. The true believer proves he or she is a real Christian. How? He or she keeps the Lord’s Word and in them, the love of God is perfected. Let us take a closer look at this.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:1-11 ESV)
The word translated in v4 as abide is the Greek word μεινατε, which refers to continuing or remaining. Our Lord is telling his disciples that genuine Christians remain in Him and this proves their authenticity. They not only remain in Him, but they also bear much fruit. In fact, disingenuous disciples can look genuine to the multitude and fool many, but they do not fool the Lord. They may do many things intellectually in the name of Jesus. They may do many things in the flesh in the name of Jesus. They may debate in the name of Jesus. They may do all sorts of religious things in the name of Jesus, if all we do is the best we can do then all it will amount to is nothing at all in the Kingdom of God. Our Lord is very clear here. He says, “for apart from me you can do nothing.” This tells us that the only works that cause us to bear fruit that is Kingdom fruit are works done by the grace of God according to the will of God as we abide in Christ. The works that we do that count in the Kingdom of God are Christ’s works done through us.
It doesn’t matter how may cool books we write or how emotional we can be in videos trying to get people to follow a different Jesus than the one clearly given to us in Sacred Scripture. Weeping as we try to convince people we are genuine does not make us genuine. Are you listening? I watched a video of Leonard Sweet explaining why he wrote Jesus Manifesto. He started weeping in the video as he explained how he was positive that Jesus was missing in most Churches as they focused mostly on Scripture. He even quoted a “well known Bible teacher” he disagreed with in this saying that we would spend time in heaven learning more Scripture. Leonard wants you to stop spending time in your Bible trying to find Jesus. Instead, he wants you to find him by serving the poor, et cetera. That is the essence of the Emergent message he is selling and calling orthodox.
I find it disturbing when I go to a church or listen to a Christian leader who gives a teaching or counsels someone and they push their people to follow a man or a book instead of pointing them to the Word of God. However, that is exactly what is rampant in visible church in our time. Look back at the passages I placed in this post. That is where the truth is. I have tried to explain it, but the truth is in those words. Jesus opened up the minds of His disciples to understand the Word of God so that they would know Him and His mission and what the purpose of the Church was. The Word of God is central to all of that and that has not changed. Therefore, when a man comes along and wants to point the Body of Christ away from it to some sort of activity in place of studying it and living in it, then we had better take notice and turn from him in a hurry.
Soli Deo Gloria!