But We Have the Mind of Christ

by Mike Ratliff

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV)

In our continued look at the growing apostasy within evangelicalism, the more we dig, the more we are finding that those whom we have been suspecting of compromise for some time now, actually have been on that path longer than we suspected. I believe that we are just now discovering this for two reasons. No one was really looking in that direction and God is answering our prayers, opening the doors of information and showing us what has been obscured until now. When Dr. John Piper announced that he was inviting Rick Warren to be a speaker at his next pastor’s conference this Fall, it took many of us by surprise. It also began the quest to determine what is really going on. 

We serve a sovereign God. He is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, and is totally in control. Therefore, we started by asking Him to show us how to proceed. What should we do? We asked for help. We asked for guidance. We asked for wisdom and discernment. We asked all of this from the goal of God being glorified, His Church being edified, and His Kingdom to be extended all according to His will. This has never been about publicity or anything remotely like that. In any case, please understand that the focus of this series of articles is within this framework alone. It is not about me. It is not about any of us. It is about God and His glory.

In the passage at the top of this post, the word “mind” is translated from the Greek word νοῦν, which is the intellectual faculty of the natural man, applicable to God or Christ in Romans 11:34 and 1 Corinthians 2:16. It can be employed in practical judgment, capable of being good or evil, and of being regenerated. It is the mind, the reason, and the reasoning faculty of man. So what is the Apostle Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 in his contrast between the natural person and the spiritual person in regard to this νοῦν. The difference is, of course, that the genuine Christian is regenerate and no one else is. This difference means that those who are regenerate have νοῦν Χριστοῦ or the mind of Christ. My 1560 Geneva Bible has a note on this verse that succinctly says, “That is, Christ’s Spirit, John 16:13, Romans 8:9.”

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13 ESV)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9 ESV)

Let us put this together before we move into our evidence. Genuine Christians have the Spirit of Christ in them or they do not belong to Him. Because of this, they are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Because of this, genuine Christians have νοῦν Χριστοῦ, the mind of Christ. What this tells us is that by the Word and the Spirit, genuine believers are able to know the thoughts of their Lord (cf. Luke 24:45). This is not accomplished through some mystical exercise. Christians do not have to attain to a higher level of spiritual consciousness in order to “attain” to this. No, this is promised to all believers who do what? Two passages explain this very well.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

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)

There many others of course, but these two passages are very special to me so I share them with you now. Romans 12:1-2 tells us how to grow and mature as Christians. It has nothing to do with going mystical or finding your true self using T.M. or whatever they call it now. No, this is all done via prayer and Bible Study. This prayer is daily prayer and mediation on what you are studying in the Word. This  is living in the Word of God. This is being transformed by the power of the Word of God as you do this. You want to become a mature Christian used by God in the good battle then it must start here. Become a living sacrifice who daily submits self to God as His bondservant to use as He pleases. Get into the Word of God and ask God to change you through it as you mediate. He will transform you I promise. The mind of Christ you already have will become sharp, focused, and ready for use.

In Colossians 3:1-4 we have what it takes to be that living sacrifice. It starts here. Instead of being all about what is going in the world or culture, get your focus on Christ and where He is. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. You cannot be that living sacrifice if you do not do this. The living sacrifice knows that he or she has died and his or her life is hidden with Christ in God. It all becomes about God and His glory after that.

In light of all of that, please understand that as part of my daily devotional time I use a book titled The Valley of Vision. It is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. I do not recite them in an attempt at piety. No, that is not the point. Instead, I read them one paragraph or phrase at a time back to God and mediate on it as I do that. I ask about what it is saying. I tell God to make that true in my life or to change me or for Him to be glorified in me that way, et cetera. It is an exercise I go through each day that is an active process of lining up my will with God’s. It is my jump-start each day to praying continually. In this, I have come to know my God better and I obey Him from a grateful heart full of love. This is anything but a form of mysticism.

Now, here is what I want you to do. First, watch this video then read this post by my friend Ken Silva. If you read all of Ken’s post and watched the entire video then you know that there is a problem or several problems really. Dr. Piper has actually implied that the Puritans had their own mystical tradition, which is not true at all. The Puritans were not mystics. In fact, John Bunyan wrote vociferously against the Quakers in his time because of their mysticism. I have a book by William Tyndale who was pre-Puritan, but the Puritans got their theology from men like him and Luther and Calvin. The book is The Obedience of the Christian Man. In it there is one small chapter on prayer in which he mostly attacks the utter uselessness of the Catholic methodologies in their prayers and the total waste of time of the prayer exercises being done in the Monasteries, et cetera. It accomplished nothing good. Tyndale never talked in that book in any sense of the obligation of Christians needing to reach any higher plain of consciousnes through mysticism of any kind. The Puritans saw prayer as one of the “Means of Grace.” The prayers in the Valley of Vision are a collection of prayers by people who knew their God and prayed that their lives would be lined up with His will in every part. Their prayers lead us to do as they did, to an active walking in repentance, a praying continually to know and obey God. There is nothing mystical about it.

Well my brethren. If you are truly in Christ then you have the Spirit and that means that you have the mind of Christ. However, you are responsible for how sharp and clear that is through how mature and obedient you are in your walk of repentance on the narrow path and how well you are doing in the transformation process. Pray about what Ken and I have shown you. You should respond as the Lord leads you. We should all do that.

Soli Deo Gloria!

27 thoughts on “But We Have the Mind of Christ

  1. I saw nothing wrong that Dr. John Piper said in the video, maybe the problem is confusing the terms and using them the same way Roman Catholic use them. In the video Dr. Piper did define his terms, and they are not the same as the Roman Catholics use them.

    I still believe Dr. Piper was wrong to invite Rick Warren to his DG Fall conference, and needs to disinvite Warren.

  2. Linda, the issue is that he said what he said, but then he turns around and does quote the very same Catholic mystics he disparages in that video as Ken clearly showed in his article. That is why I asked that all who watched the video also read the article. In any case, I believe that is called hypocrisy.

  3. Dear Mike,

    Now it is time to fasten our seatbelts!

    I have determined to commit one verse to my memory (hopefully many others too:), but if all else fails ONE verse. “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.

    We have enter into an era of slight of hand.

    Meditation used to have a common meaning of THINKING on God’s wonderous Word. Now, the word “meditation” is more commonly thought of and twisted into some form of eastern spirituality.

    Also, prior to the last five years when did you ever hear of Contemplative Spirituality? Did our parents hear of it? Did our grandparents hear of it?

    Well, my goodness, just what kind of Christians could they have possibly been? They could NEVER have known that “mystical bliss”. Were they incomplete? Was their testimony of grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone insufficient?

    Maybe they were just boring, staying married to their high school sweet heart their whole life? Maybe they tried to raise their children with fear and reverence of the one True and living God? And just maybe they prayed out loud for the people directly around them where God providentially placed them through His sovereign will.

    One thing I do know is that God is not the author of chaos. God’s word is the absolute truth and it never changes and not one jot will disappear from His word until Christ returns. Furthermore, if we ask God for discernment He will give genereously James 1:5 and finally “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 27&28 Praise God! If that isn’t Good News then I don’t know what is. In Christ alone.

  4. Again, thank you, Mike. You and Ken Silva have done a wonderful job, not only in exposing the false, but in setting forth an example to follow….

  5. Thank you so much Charisse. I was going to make an addendum to this post explaining the very things you put in your comment. Now I do not have to. Dr. Piper did indeed attempt to qualify his comments about prayer and the Valley of Vision calling them Contemplative, etc. I reject all of that even with his qualifications and I do so on the very grounds that you shared in your comment. This is what makes this so difficult for us to stand against at times. The concepts and terms are so abstract to us at times they become “fair game” to be used to mean whatever we want them to mean. No! You are exactly right. The Puritans and all good Christians prior to this nonsense we have going on right now knew their God through the means of grace because they had the Mind of Christ. They prayed and because they had the Holy Spirit they could understand the Word of God. They were encouraged. It is not about FEELINGS and I think that is what these people are trying to get to.

    Again, thanks for this my sister!

  6. I think our problem in the so-called ‘church’ could be as simple as the Israelites of the old, they wanted a ‘king’.
    Instead of Christ being the ‘Head of the (called out ones) Church’ , men really want a ‘Senior Pastor’, someone that they can point to as who they are ‘led by’. Really this is just one form of false religion, the putting away of our Lord over our total lives and His Holy Spirit and replacing it with the teachings of certain men that we can say we are under them which tends to make the ‘Christian’ lazy, and without true responsibility.
    The Jews of the New Testament didn’t want Jesus to ‘rule over them’, they traded Him for an insurrectionist, Barabas just as they did in Samuels day when they wanted a ‘king’ instead of God to rule over them.
    Jesus reminded His chosen that they would not be like the Gentiles who ruled from the top down, instead He said the greatest will serve the least, so to speak.
    Now we have little children and widows and good old regular people serving the ‘leaders’ of America’s ‘churches’.
    People even refer to these ‘churches’ as for example, “Rick Warren’s Church’ , John Piper’s Church, John MacArthur’s Church, etc and on and on.
    The Elect has one Head of the Church, Jesus, the Lord and anyone else is simply put, a sinner saved by grace and should lead from the Spirit from that.
    The New Testament was not written by ‘Senior Pastors’, it was written by ‘elders’ (mature in the faith) and it wasn’t ever addresssed to a ‘Senior Pastor’.
    Can you imagine if those letters where written today, the ‘Senior Pastors’ of today would expect that Paul would have sent them and addressed them in those letters first.
    Not some little ‘servant’ like Phebe of the letter to the Roman ‘Body of Christ’.
    The only person mentioned in the New Testament that liked ‘Preeminence’ in the ‘Body’ was going to be addressed by Paul in a correction not salutes.
    3 John 1:9
    I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

    Main Entry: pre·em·i·nent
    Pronunciation: \-nənt\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin praeeminent-, praeeminens, from Latin, present participle of praeeminēre to be outstanding, from prae- + eminēre to stand out — more at eminent
    Date: 15th century
    : having paramount rank, dignity, or importance : outstanding, supreme

    — pre·em·i·nent·ly adverb

    ONLY Jesus should and is rightful to have this position.

    Colossians 1:18
    And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

    Do we need men who are ‘mature in the faith’ to teach? Yes, some need that. But as John wrote, ‘You do not need a man to teach you, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things still holds true.

    Dear Elect, look unto the Lord as the active, real Head of the Church and our love affair with ‘famous’ ‘teachers’ ‘authors’ and ‘leaders’ will dim in the light of the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus, the Christ!
    If you want a man to lead you, just as the Israelites wanted, God might just give him to you and he will take you places you don’t want to go and fail you in the end.

    1 Samuel 8:5-7 (English Standard Version)
    5and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways.(A) Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you,(B) for they have not rejected you,(C) but they have rejected me from being king over them.

    Mike, please excuse the length, with love- Brent

  7. Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
    Psalm 119:105
    Our light to see, in the middle of this present darkness and confusion, is the word. It will guide us, show us what is to come and reveal to us the narrow path we are to be on.
    What a blessing it is to have the word of God.
    God bless you, Mike.

  8. Mike Ratliff – thank you for your response, I do suppose if you compare what Dr. Piper says in the video as to what he says in one of his books you could call it being a hypocrite. But I have a question – in the book where Dr. Piper is quoting these people is it as an example of mediatative prayer or for other reasons? Until I know why these people are actually quoted in Piper’s book I would not know if Piper is actually being a hypocrite when it come to mediatative prayer. So I guess what I am saying is I need more context surrounding these quotes in Piper’s book to make a good judgement – would you be willing to research the context of these quotes?

    I read your blog off and on, and find much encouragement and edification from your articles even though I do not normally comment. But I think you need to research this a little bit more to say that Dr. Piper is a hypocrite. Context is critical to make a good judgement.

  9. Of course it is Linda. I would not have written this or tried to tie these things together is these points had not already been made painfully clear to me. I have Dr. Piper’s book When I Don’t Desire God, which is the source for most of these quotes from the Catholic mystics. Yes, he does quote them in a positive way as a source of a way to approach and serve God. Sorry, but that is indeed troubling because he then says the very opposite in that video so what are to believe? The book is “out there” all over the world. I am sure anyone can go pick up a copy somewhere in a bookstore and find these quotes themselves. We are not making this stuff up.

    The issue is much deeper though. I hesitate to breech the subject here, but we are really talking about the definition of terms. I found Dr. Piper’s association of the Puritians’ prayers as Contemplative to be extremely offensive. Why? Because they were anything but that. These people were tied to lining their lives up to the Means of Grace. That is why they were Puritans. This is why they were separatists to begin with. The official Church of England was corrupting these things and the Puritans were advocating a move back to adherence to the Means of Grace as THE ONLY means of Communion with God. I am a puritan at heart. Therefore, I take this very seriously and I see post-modernist thinking to be the culprit here. Relativistic thinking is not allowed here. When it comes to the defining of terms and words in our worship and service of our Lord there can be no compromise or relativistic view. it has to be God’s way and that is it.

    More to come.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  10. Mike Ratliff – what about Jonathan Edwards and his wife, I read where both had some blissful experiences (FEELINGS) while thinking or praying to God. God is a person, and feelings are towards persons, so it makes sense to have feelings when you think about them. It should be both mind and heart, not just mind or not just heart, when it is only mind alone then it is cold, when it is only heart alone it can be too emotional. After all we are to love God with all our HEART and all our MIND (1st commandment).

    Do you have feelings when you think upon your wife? I would hope you do if you really love her.

  11. Linda, of course we do and there is nothing wrong with this, but Edwards would stand right along side us in this one in saying that Feelings are NEVER the point. They cannot be the reason we do what we do. They cannot be trusted. When he preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God he preached in monotone with no emotional fervor at all because he depended on the moving of the Holy Spirit alone to move the people, not emotions, not feelings.I love God and I do have intense feelings for Him, but I commune with Him according to the means of grace not by seeking to enhance my emotions. As I pray and worship I most certainly find joy, but I see that as a gift from God, but I do not try to enhance that thinking that is how I “experience Him.” Do you see the difference? The more I give myself to Him as His bondservant the more joy I have. It isn’t the other way around.

  12. I read this excerpt this afternoon from William
    Gurnall’s Christian in Complete Armor. I couldn’t help but think of this duscussion.

    “Since Satan comes as a serpent concealed in false teachers and tries to decieve with error for truth, every Christian needs an established judgment in the truths of Christ. The Bereans studied Scripture to satisfy their judgments concerning the doctrine Paul preached. They refused to believe anything he had said before they “searched the scriptures daily, whether they were so”. (Acts 17:11) They took the preacher’s doctrine straight to the written word and compared it to that; and the result was “therefore many of them believed” (v.12) As the Bereans dared not believe before, they could not help but believe now. Tertullian described the preaching of heretics like this; “They teach by persuading, and do not by teaching persuade.” That is , they court the emotions of their hearers without convincing their judgment.

    “EVERY CHRISTIAN NEED AN ESTABLISHED JUDGMENT IN THE TRUTHS OF CHRIST!!! ” What a statement! I also think today we not only have to compare what is said, but also what is meant and practiced by what is said. I have had experience where the same words were used, but when working my way to definition and practice the idea being set forth was directly contrary to Biblical standard. I believe this is true with “meditation”.

    Good comments by Brent…….It is a distinguishing factor between Christianity and just any religion. Christianity looks first and formost to CHRIST in everything, and because the saved are indwelt with the very Spirit of Christ, they are complete….. whereas every other religion has to have some human “leader”…hhhhmmmm

  13. Mike Ratliff – I went to Desiring God website, since all of Dr. Piper’s books are free on-line and read the cited references. I found that Bonhoeffer was quoted for fighting against cheap grace, Willard for Bible memorization, Chesterton for seeing the glory of God in everyday life. Foster for finding joy in the power of human words (poetry), and I did not see Dr. Piper using this to refer to extra biblical revelation from God. Dr. Piper used the phrase “dark night of the soul” to refer to human depression, and it he explaining how we can help those who are depressed.

    I agree that these quoted persons have wrong theology and Dr. Piper should probably avoid quoting these people for that reason alone, but I would not say that Christians can never quote anybody unless all of their theology is in order. I know that Dr. MacArthur quotes from C.S. Lewis in his “Who Do You Think I Am” gospel tract, and yet C.S. Lewis theology is also wrong. In context when Dr. Piper quotes from these people he is not quoting them to support any kind of praying. So I would not say his book versus what he says in the video makes Dr. Piper a hypocrite as far as meditative prayer goes, but it makes him look sort of a hypocrite on how he selects who to use to support his views/thoughts in general.

  14. Then we will have to disagree Linda for I see him as being totally out of line in his approach to Contemplative Prayer. He has become compromised with post-modern thinking and we see that in even trying to redefine these terms. I noticed that you didn’t mention his quoting Richard Foster on pp192-193 in his When I Don’t Desire God book in his discussion of The power of human words to make the world a cause of joy. The example he uses from Foster means that he is buying into Foster’s theology at least here and this is more than disturbing.

  15. Mike, I find it interesting that we can be so quick to defend a person, or a ministry ( I have done this also in the past) to the point of obsession (i.e compelling motivation) – yet our object of this “obsession” is an earthly person or thing that is ‘corrupt/fleshly/will whither and pass away’!

    We need to lift our eyes to the things of above (heaven), rather than defending the things of earth, and fix them onto defending the things of heaven!
    ie GOD!!!!
    HIS Word!
    HIS Son!

  16. Stella Marie, AMEN and AMEN.
    I have been greatly encouraged and blest by Gurnall’s “Christian In Complete Armour”, this sentence
    popped out at me:
    “Tertullian described the preaching of heretics like this; “They teach by persuading, and do not by teaching persuade.” ”
    WOW !

    Sandra you are right, our focus must be Heavenward.
    We do, however, need to be warned about pitfalls on the way to the Celestial City.

    Ok, now I will be in trouble here, but Linda you mentioned that John MacArthur quotes C.S. Lewis, shame on him! C.S. Lewis was dabbling in the occult. I would never recommend his books/writings or quote him for this reason.

    Flee the very appearance of evil. These are fallible men, as we all are, so we must be very careful in quoting them if their life does not match up with the Word that they so readily spout.

  17. Berean Gal, sorry, I don’t think I wrote that sentence very well!
    Yes of course we need to be warned about incorrect/false teachings/teachers etc here on earth – we need even MORE discernment in these days in which we are living.

    What I MEANT to say was when we blindly follow a person or ministry – and elevate THEIR ideals ABOVE the Word of God, and we find ourselves arguing over the teachings/merits of a ‘man’ -that is when we are on very shaky ground – and that is why our eyes should be fixed ABOVE – on the truths of our amazing Saviour – and that His WORD is our only absolute!

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