by Mike Ratliff
οὐ γὰρ ἔκρινά τι εἰδέναι ἐν ὑμῖν εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον. (1 Corinthians 2:2 NA27)
I decided to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (a personal translation of 1 Corinthians 2:2 from the NA27 Greek text)
As I shared in Those Who Love God, when I started this writing ministry I had completely different goals (i.e. motives) than what I have now. I was doing this as a career move. I approached it from that perspective, but it did not take very long at all for God to force the issue and take away all of that as most in what we know of as the ‘visible church’ would consider what we do here as borderline reprehensible. However, I find it interesting that many of these same people do not hesitate to come to us for prayer and counsel when they hit rock bottom and God leaves them without an escape from the fiery trial that has come upon them.
Tomorrow I go to a local Ambulatory Surgery center to have a procedure done on my right shoulder that is “frozen. “ This is an injury directly associated with the last couple of seizures I had about a year ago. It is an outpatient surgery, but I will be unconscious during the whole thing. I am ready for the pain in my shoulder to be taken care of. I am tired of that, but there is a certain uneasiness about the surgery itself. There is always the risk of further injury. The Orthopedic Surgeon told me that he could actually break some bones in my shoulder. Also, I could have a reaction to the anesthesia. Anything could happen. I am not afraid of death, but I am concerned about my family if something does happen. In any case, we are in God’s hands. God’s will be done.
Since God reoriented me and this ministry I pray that most of you have also become aware that I have attempted to model it after what the Apostle Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 2 especially v2 when it comes to interrelations with each other. Let’s start with vv1-5.
Κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ἦλθον οὐ καθ᾽ ὑπεροχὴν λόγου ἢ σοφίας καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ. οὐ γὰρ ἔκρινά τι εἰδέναι ἐν ὑμῖν εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον. κἀγὼ ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ καὶ ἐν φόβῳ καὶ ἐν τρόμῳ πολλῷ ἐγενόμην πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ ὁ λόγος μου καὶ τὸ κήρυγμά μου οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖ[ς] σοφίας [λόγοις] ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ἀποδείξει πνεύματος καὶ δυνάμεως, ἵνα ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν μὴ ᾖ ἐν σοφίᾳ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλ᾽ ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NA27)
And I having come to you brothers, I came not according to excellence of speech or wisdom announcing to you the mystery of God. I decided to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I in weakness and in fear and in much trembling was with you. And my speech and my proclamation was not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power that your faith may not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (a personal translation of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 from the NA27 Greek text)
Compare that with many of the “ministries” in our time my brethren. I compare it to my original goals and am ashamed. I set out to do the very opposite even though I was ignorant that that was what I was doing. I was seeking to gain a following for myself instead of doing as Paul did here, which is to humble self and make sure that it is Christ and Him crucified is all the message that the hearers hear and through that, God moves and the Church is planted and grows, et cetera. Christ Himself builds it, not according to the efforts of men or according to the wisdom of this world.
This knowing nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified is not just talking about presenting the gospel to the lost. It is also talking about how Christians relate to one another. When we are flippant with each other at all then we are not doing this. When we are mean or hateful or selfish or demanding, or any other thing that is centered in the flesh in our relationships with each other then we are not relating to each other within the bounds of knowing nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. No, instead, we are acting like the world, our flesh is in control, and that is not Christlike.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
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 2:6-16 ESV)
There you have it my brethren. Paul’s standard for how he conducted his ministry and it is also the very thing God has impressed upon me to conduct this one. I know that I did not start out this way, but God accomplished this by taking away a great deal of my hopes and dreams and plans, but in their place He has given me faith that cannot be moved and love for Him and His Church that is far deeper than I can describe. Yes, I know that there is what we call the “visible church,” much of which is as apostate as can be. Our job is to continue to proclaim, “Come out of her before it is too late.” In the mean time my brethren, we do have the mind of Christ and we must continue to grow deeper in our faith as we ask God for Wisdom and Discernment each day that we may serve Him as He wills. Let us always treat each other, knowing nothing among ourselves but Christ and Him crucified.
Soli Deo Gloria!