Being Light in the Darkness

by Mike Ratliff

Διὰ τοῦτο, ἔχοντες τὴν διακονίαν ταύτην καθὼς ἠλεήθημεν, οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν (2 Corinthians 4:1 NA27)

Therefore, having this ministry as we received mercy, we do not lose heart. (a personal translation of 2 Corinthians 4:1 from the NA27 Greek text)

As we have been exploring the depths of apostasy attacking the visible church from the very beginnings of this ministry, it has been from a viewpoint, at least from me, that we were seeing depths of darkness that had to leading to God’s coming judgment. The Gospel was being abandoned left and right. Those who previously held it and the Word of God high were now compromising and seen standing in ministry with outright heretics. I remember seeing a very well known evangelist being interviewed on television by David Frost alongside a Roman Catholic Bishop and it was if they were old friends. It was then that I realized what a foolish thing it is for Christians to follow after men for then we can make the mistake of idolizing them and when they fall off those pedestals, it can indeed shake our faith. That is, our faith can be shaken if it is not rooted in Christ and Christ alone. 

Over the last few years, we have fought against post-modernism in its ever changing forms as well as the seeker-sensitive movement and what its pragmatic approach to “church” has done to kill church after church. I cannot count how many readers of my posts have come to me with their own personal accounts of how the leadership of their church abandoned the Gospel and went hard after post-modernism or the Purpose Driven paradigm, et cetera. Some have concluded that this was the result of God’s judgment on the Church and that God was actually calling us to “come out of the harlot.” While those arguments are compelling, I still cannot get past two nagging Biblical truths. The first is that our Lord promised in Matthew 16:18 to build His church and that the gates of Hades would never prevail against it. He builds it, not men. Can men tear down what He builds? Can Satan tear down what our Lord builds? We can only answer yes to those if and only if it was in God’s timing for that to be so and that would mean that we would be at the end of the age and I do not believe we are there…yet, which is the second Biblical truth.

Harold Camping, a false prophet, has stated that the tribulation began in 1988 and that in 1994 that the Holy Spirit was removed from the Church. Because of that, he says, all this apostasy we have been dealing with is the result. However, he is a false prophet and cannot be believed. He stated that the Judgment of God would start on specific dates twice and, of course, he was wrong both times so he is not to be believed and, in fact, must be shunned. We must warn all believers to not believe anything he teaches. I know all this, but I also know that many of those reading my posts are concerned about what is going in the visible church in our time and I have been working to find answers for them from God’s Word.

Yesterday, May 24th, I was listening to The Dividing Line, which is Dr. James White’s online Radio apologetics ministry show. He started out by covering some Ergun Caner stuff, but then he went in to some updates on Harold Camping. It was then that I picked up my iPhone and dialed the call-in number to see if I could ask Dr. White a question in light of what I shared above. Here is a link to the Mp3. My question is at the 49:39 mark. I hope you can understand my raspy voice since I am dealing with allergies and pain meds for my arm and shoulder. Dr. White’s response was excellent and he brought out what I think is exactly what we really need to understand. What is that?

His answer was that the period we are in now in the Church is most definitely one of darkness, but this is nothing new. The History of the Church is replete with periods of darkness. However, that does not mean that there is not still real Churches with real Christians still functioning as light despite the darkness. Our role is to remain faithful and obey our calling.

Διὰ τοῦτο, ἔχοντες τὴν διακονίαν ταύτην καθὼς ἠλεήθημεν, οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν ἀλλὰ ἀπειπάμεθα τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας συνιστάνοντες ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ. εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔστιν κεκαλυμμένον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν, ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις ἐστὶν κεκαλυμμένον, ἐν οἷς ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ. Οὐ γὰρ ἑαυτοὺς κηρύσσομεν ἀλλὰ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν κύριον, ἑαυτοὺς δὲ δούλους ὑμῶν διὰ Ἰησοῦν. ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ὁ εἰπών· ἐκ σκότους φῶς λάμψει, ὃς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν προσώπῳ [Ἰησοῦ] Χριστοῦ. (2 Corinthians 4:1-6 NA27)

Therefore, having this ministry as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we renounced the hidden things of shame, not going about with cunning nor falsifying the Word of God but by the manifestation of the truth presenting ourselves to every conscience of men before God. But if indeed our gospel has been hidden, it has been hidden from the ones perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. For we preach not ourselves but Jesus Christ the Lord, and ourselves your slaves because of Jesus. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts for us to give an illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (a personal translation of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 from the NA27 Greek text)

I pray that you see where all Christian ministries must be centered. Where is that? Is it to be pragmatic? Is it to see what people want and try to attract the largest crowds possible by never preaching the Word of God, but only giving motivation talks with a feel-good tweak at the end meant to close the sale? No, our focus must be just like Paul’s was. True Christian ministries are given to ministers according to the mercy of God, by His grace. We who do minister cannot monkey around with the doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ either. No, we cannot falsify the message, doing away with those parts that may offend those of the flesh. Notice that there are many who simply will not believe because they have been blinded bye the god of this age. However, never forget that many of these people are quite religious and part of the visible church and do not like it when they hear the real Gospel preached with its exclusiveness and call to repentance. No, they cannot stand that because in light of the real Gospel, they stand condemned.

Dr. White was right. No matter what resistance we receive, those of us truly called to serve our Lord in this must faithfully continue to stand firm in our obedience.

Soli Deo Gloria!

20 thoughts on “Being Light in the Darkness

  1. Mike,

    Excellent post. As a minister, I have had people come up to me and tell me to preach more like Joel Osteen, because by doing so I may attract more people to our church.

    Your analysis and post is exactly right. We must seek and preach Christ, and Him crucified. If those in the pews with fleshly natures don’t like it, it’s because the pure Word of God is at odds with their fleshly thinking.

    Thank you for this post.

    Rob

  2. The ‘harlot’ system of ‘doing church’ isn’t the Church.
    The reason the gates of hell will not prevail against the “Church” ( people of God ) is exactly why the Lord said, “I will build…” ( God, by building men ‘from above, spiritually’ ) builds His body and no… the gates of hell will not and cannot prevail!
    Men build programs, buildings, systems of ‘worship’, they always have and they title themselves to let everyone know who is in charge and to keep their positions and incomes.
    That is why every so often, the ‘visible’ harlot fails and men fail in it… well it wasn’t the ‘Church’ failing, it was flesh and bricks.
    It is GREAT to be free ( thank God alone ) from the harlot!

  3. Excellent post, and excellent replies. Thanks brothers Rob, Brent and Mike.
    I simply would add that I and the rest of the Bride/Ekklesia/Church that Jesus is building should not just sit in a “jesus franchise” under a “preacher” and for fellowship/socialization with tares! Go find a man of God who functions as an undershepherd, with fellow believers who function as the scriptures teach, then support the body. If there be a laity/clergy divide which manifests the deeds of the Nicolaitans which Jesus HATES, then leave. Further, if you find yourself in an area that currently has no such option, then stay in the “wilderness” till He alone raises up the fellowship of His lambs. You can trust Him to lead you in to all Truth through the Holy Spirit and the Word in context, just as He said He would.
    The Harold Campings of the world gather folks who think they need an annmointed one/man to led them, for they do not follow Jesus as Lord. Annointed one is what “the Christ” means. Jesus alone is the “Annointed one” and NO MAN! We are to follow Him alone, and to be thankful and support those who function under Him as pastor, teacher, elder, as they follow Him alone as Lord! These places still exist, yet the times wax worse! Jesus Himself posed the question,” Will He find (the) Faith when He returns?” This world appears to be heading into the next dark age, and could possibly be in the beginning of sorrows, yet isn’t that precisely what was seen in Europe in the 30′s and 40′s as Hitler and others rose to power! To God be the glory for the great things He has done and will do! His Bride is being made ready for His return, and whether we go by way of the grave, martyrdom, or “rapture, we are promised tribulation and our cross to bear. Stand firm in Him, and no man/men, but be thankful for the true brothern…Do you not realize that this very ministry site was raised up as an option for the fellowship of the believers as we gather here in His Name?
    He will ALWAYS lead us as the Great Shepherd!
    Mickey

  4. Mickey, thank you. If you and others are edified and blessed through this ministry then, yes, it is by the grace of God alone. This is my ministry. We left our former church about 5 years ago and, since then, I have been serving here. I had to learn how to do this. I had to go through some fiery trials, which God mercifully upheld me as He took me through them, but here we are. It is as if I have taken over the role my Grandfather Ratliff had when he became too sick to Pastor anymore so he was forced to “retire.” I was too young to remember it very well, but my sister told me that he had no one else to preach to so he would come over to our house and preach to us. :-) Well, with this ministry “raised up” as you said Mickey and receiving it the same way that I received mercy (salvation), that is, all by grace, I minister by faith. Therefore, yes, the visible church waxes worse and worse and is one with the wicked world system. Who is in their crosshairs? It is us. We are the “evil” that refuses to compromise. We call sin evil. We say homosexuality is a sexual perversion and is, therefore, a sin. That makes us homophobic and therefore ‘evil.’ They call evil good and good evil. The visible church is all about that because they are blinded by the god of this age, the god of this world. They are super religious, but are not of Christ. What are we to do? We are to do exactly what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. Yes, this will be offensive to world and those sold out to the world and its ways, but we cannot compromise. Will this be costly? You know it will. I expect the fiery trials for God’s people to only increase. Let us walk by faith this narrow way together.

  5. When we see evil switched to be called good, and good switched to be called evil, it further calls to mind “they will kill you and think they are doing God a favor.” When you look at those websites I emailed you, you will see they look for the great global shift, and the cutting out of “the cancer” that makes the world sick. They in the “new age” believe in among other things, re-incarnation. Now, if they believe in re-incarnation, and we are the narrow minded, selfish and unbendable who hold the great shift back from happening, we must be removed so that the earth can be pure. Thus we can see that they could kill and think they are doing God a favor those who prevent their “doctrines” from coming to fruition. Have you got the book yet? I could send you mine if you wish.

  6. Mickey, what you are describing is exactly what John described in Revelation. I don’t think we should be surprised by this. I think what is surprising is how quickly these things are taking place. Let us pray for God to open the eyes of His people to these things and prepare us for what is coming. No, I don’t have the book, but I would like to read it.

  7. Being one of those that ‘has nowhere to go’, I am truly grateful for the online ministries I have found that are pure and teach the true Word of God… you have no idea Mike, you and the others, how absolutely essential you are to the body at this time. We are so alone… but by the wonderful grace of God, He provides for us all in our own personal studies and worship of Him, along with online teachings…and I don’t know about anyone else, but I for one also get a lot out of comments from fellow believers! It all works to build up, encourage, teach and correct!! Thank you! Thank you all!! And thanks most to our very Faithful Lord Jesus!!

  8. Mike you are so right. And not only the godless, but Christians too need to hear the true gospel. We so desperately need godly men who will speak the truths of scripture to us because they have been saturated in it themselves. The gospel is not just for the godless, it is for all of us, for we are saved by the gospel, sanctified by the gospel of truth, and are being kept by the gospel.

  9. Thanks for sharing Julie! We (my wife and I) have been out for 5+ years, and can tell you first hand that Jesus is enough! Oh, if only we had nice soft pews and a good program to sit under like in the old days…LOL To be honest, we would not trade a day of this walk for ALL those former days. Please understand, my wife travelled in a singing choral for Liberty University back in the 70′s “Mark Lowrey” days, and when the walking bible Van Impe spent time there with Falwell. As for me, I taught financial classes in a church of 1500 families, along with helping start their benevolance ministry and financial counseling ministry. I’ve had several ministers plus several elders/deacons as clients/under counsel. I have friends who have headed major ministries across this country that you would easily recognize, as well as have been V.P. of an organization similar to ‘Make a Wish.’ We had all that many believers chase after thinking we have it made…
    We count all these things as dung as compared to the straight and narrow road we are on now!
    Folks in the pews have no idea about the vast number of folks who have left to follow the Shepherd and no man.
    Honestly, we look forward to the fellowship He orchestrates in our lives, whenever He gathers 2 or 3 or 20 or 30 in His name.
    Till we have the “church home” Mike here has, we are quite content to sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary, and not run around trying to do many things like Martha, and miss the more Excellent Choice!
    He gathers His sheep, who know His Voice, and we follow Him, and will not follow another. Should He raise up a man of God called by Him to lead/undershepherd here where we are, we simply will allow Jesus to increase even as He decreases us, preparing us for whatever He has planned for us, for now, perhaps it is nothing more then getting our “cross-threaded heads” back on straight, so we can become Cross headed threads for Him! LOL
    We are thankful that brother Mike Ratliff has chosen to follow Him as Lord, and applied the Scripture to all things, and not done what most bloggers do, which is take their “denominational template” and put it over those who come here for edification, and accept or reject them based upon their “fit” within the template they so dearly cling to as if it will save them.
    Mickey

  10. Thanks for this, Mike. Am so grateful to the Lord for His keeping of you–for keeping you strong in His word. I am grateful for my salvation and for God opening my eyes… and He has used you these last 2 years to be a teacher for me. Have learned so much from you and CRN, and Apprising. Lots has happened in these 2 years! God bless!

  11. Hello Michael. Please note that my response is not about you as an individual or God’s calling upon your life. I like you, and value your contribution in the faith.
    I just want to ask a couple of questions to all in light of the various responses to this letter you wrote. If Jesus is building His Ekklesia (which we know is heavenly and spiritual) how then does any professing believer justify using anything concrete or earthly in building it? It is not of this world eh?
    The truth be told, and it’s going to hurt, is until religious men and women relinguish everything they have done in exchange for JESUS and what HE CAN DO they will never live Jesus and Him Crucufied before others. God calls believers to DIE does He not? Die to what we might ask? He’res a few suggestions: die to one’s religious title, spiritual position, claiming of a spiritual gift(s), reputation, prominence among men, one’s own titled ministry, up front teaching, education, promoting of oneself through speaking engagements, books and audio tapes and salaried positions- all of which suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

    It’s easy to encite the wrath of compromising heretical individuals as a result of taking a stand upon Biblical principles and doctrine (and so should we). Sadly though, we have failed to discover where the rooot of the real problems for our failures lie, and that within the household of faith itself. What good is an excellent Bible expositer or a defender of the faith who refuses to die to himself and what he has done? He is no different than what Jesus called a whitewashed tomb. The real leaders in God’s Ekklesia are never those who we far too often exalt and have exalted themselves (they have their reward) but those living and embracing the pangs of a daily death to self wherein they choose self crucifixion like their Lord. It’s not when the world desires to hate you that you have done your duty (that’s easy) but when those with supposed religious authority rail against the very things in you that Jesus Himself prohibited in those who claimed Him that proves a worthy obedience. Faithful is the soul to whom only Jesus could comfort, who truly desires nothing but Him and Him alone.

  12. @ Michael.
    I appreciate your letter to this blog, yet when I click on your name, it doesn’t go anywhere, as the link is not complete. Can you write back and let me know how to see your blog?
    I don’t have a blog, that’s why my name isn’t a link. Yours points to the failing to produce good fruit in many a man, yet even as we read each Apostle’s writings, we can see their,” personalities” if you will. He that began a good Work in each of us is faithful to complete it! I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, AND my wife, who both are good at shining light on my faults. LOL
    To be honest, this Work in me causes me to see how wretched I am, and to like Paul, see and say, “In me, that is in my flesh dwells no good thing.” “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” All our own rightiousness is as filthy rags!
    Having followed this blog for some time now, I can see and appreciate the Work The Holy Spirit is doing in Mike Ratliff, and should Christ tarry, and we continue to have our flesh crucified, we will be “Made to stand, as His workmanship.”
    Thanks Michael, for your input.
    Mickey Merrie
    Mickey

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