A Real Jerk

by Mike Ratliff

12 Χάριν ἔχω τῷ ἐνδυναμώσαντί με Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, ὅτι πιστόν με ἡγήσατο θέμενος εἰς διακονίαν 13 τὸ πρότερον ὄντα βλάσφημον καὶ διώκτην καὶ ὑβριστήν, ἀλλὰ ἠλεήθην, ὅτι ἀγνοῶν ἐποίησα ἐν ἀπιστίᾳ· 14 ὑπερεπλεόνασεν δὲ ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μετὰ πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 NA27)

12 I have gratitude to the one who empowered me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful having put me into his service, 13 previously being a blasphemer and persecutor and an insolent man, but I received mercy because I did it in unbelief, being ignorant, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Today Frank Viola posted “The Art of Being a Jerk Online: 9 Sure Ways.” While I understand “the gist” of what is being said in the article and have rules for commenting on my own blog to curb that sort of thing, the target of this post by Frank is not people like those I block for being obnoxious, rude, belligerent, et cetera, but those who are critical of him, his ministry and those with whom his partnered. For my own part, I don’t think I have written anything about Frank or his friends that violated any of those 9 points, but I have certainly disagreed with him about a few things having to with doctrine and his “mission” to change the Church. 

Those who cannot tolerate criticism and try to deflect by posting articles like The Art of Being a Jerk Online: 9 Sure Ways, do so by trying to make themselves out to be victims and those who are obedient to God’s mandate to be discerning are just mean, and are, therefore, jerks because they are divisive. Look at what is going on in the pop-culture soft-gospel part of the visible church right now. Everyone is embracing one another across their nearly non-existent, man-made doctrinal lines and all becoming one big happy visible church family. However, those with discernment and the courage to stand firm in the face of this “nonsense” are seen as “jerks” and will always be on the outside looking in here because they are not politically correct nor do they play ball to become popular with the masses nor do they really care what imposters who call themselves theologians or Christian leaders or pastors or whatever think of them or say about them. No, all that matters is their obedience to God, not man (Acts 5:29).

I consider articles like Frank’s to be bait in a trap that I have no intention of taking. Genuine Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). That means that even though I am in Christ and he is in me, until I go to be with him in Eternity, I must remain in the temporal in this body in this life. However, I am not the same as I was before God saved me. Neither was the Apostle Paul. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (1 Timothy 1:12-14). What was Saul of Tarsus (Paul) before God saved him? Paul himself tells us that he was a blasphemer (βλάσφημον), that is, one who slanders God. He not only did this, but compelled Christians to do it as well in his persecution of them (Acts 26:11). He was a persecutor (διώκτην), that is, one who pursued someone for the purpose of persecuting them.

Both of those makes Saul of Tarsus a real jerk, but the third thing he mentions about himself prior to his conversion is the most graphic. I translated it as “an insolent man.” It is the Greek noun ὑβριστήν (hybristēn), the Accusative, Singular of ὑβριστής (hybristēs), “an overbearing, violent person.” Paul is describing himself before his conversion as one who is not just violent, but who is driven by violence and contempt for others. To see them humiliated and suffering actually brought him pleasure. Would that have made Saul of Tarsus a sadist? Ἡβριστής also appears in the list of sins that describe man’s fallen nature in Romans 1:30.

Also, our Lord said in Luke 18:32 describing how he would suffer during his arrest and trial, “παραδοθήσεται γὰρ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν καὶ ἐμπαιχθήσεται καὶ ὑβρισθήσεται καὶ ἐμπτυσθήσεται”, or, “For he will be delivered up to the gentiles and he will be ridiculed and he will be mistreated and he will be spat upon.” The words, “he will be mistreated” translates the verb ὑβρισθήσεται (hybristhēsetai) the Finite, 3rd Person, Singular, Future, Indicative, Passive of ὑβρίζω (hybrizō), “to mistreat or insult. “It should be obvious that this is the verb form of ὑβριστής. The way our Lord was treated at his crucifixion was with spite.

Now my brethren and I speak to those of you who are truly with me in that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, Saul of Tarsus was a real jerk and so were those who crucified our Lord. So were all of us before the miracle of our New Birth in Christ. However, none of us were too great a sinner for God to save us. God saved Saul of Tarsus and he became Paul the Apostle. When I look back on my own life before Christ I cringe, but that was what our fallen nature was all about. That was then, now we are in Christ and are New Creations in Christ. Let us not be jerks, but obedient slaves of our Lord Jesus Christ not slaves of this culture or the trends and fads that is driving what is shamefully going on the visible church. We must be above all that as we remain faithful even if it means telling the truth to the Body of Christ about how certain so-called Christian leaders are preaching unbiblical stuff and embracing things from other religions et cetera. We must obey God rather than man. We do this all for the glory of God alone.

Soli Deo Glora!

11 thoughts on “A Real Jerk

  1. Dear Mike,

    Yesterday I listened to Acts chapters 6&7 and it fit perfectly with your insight. Stephen was simply compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak the Truth in love to the people. He recounted the Jewish heritage and all the miracles God had done for them and how even so, Israel rebelled.

    “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” Acts 7:51-53

    Then you get the result of Stephen’s honesty: “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.” Acts 7:54

    But the lesson of All of this for me is the end…

    “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,’ The he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’” And when he ahd siad this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:60

    When we speak the truth in love to those without Christ they will gnash their teeth, but even of those, we do not know who will by our testimony and witness for Christ in love, plant seeds that will blossom into salvation.The real test for me is the ability to say from the heart “Lord do not charge them with this sin.” That is what Christ did for us and what we should strive to do for others.

    To God be the glory great things He has done, charisse

  2. Well said! Will post a link from my blog TruthwithSnares.org since I do say a bit more about the teachings of Viola and crew with their overt attack on the “Institutional Church” (Any church that is not like their Organic Church that follows a number of traditions including having a Pastor or a church building) the list is extensive labeling those things “Pagan.”
    Also I wonder if Viola will share his message with his cohort in the Organic Church Wolfgang Simson to who I sent an open letter following his ‘ad hominem’ attack of me? Ramblings of An Angry Lonely Old Man – Say What!?
    An Open Letter to Wolfgang Simson – By John Beardsley 1/7/2012 http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/ramblings/Ramble.htm
    I think you are correct, it is deflection and baiting — they forget their teachings that are in black and white print DO mean something but make it sound as if we misunderstood them, well the cults do the same sort of thing. The fact that Viola promotes Contemplative Mysticism as well is not gossip and revealing that along with a host of other things such as his open and lavish endorsement of the heretical book The Shack… well how could we have misunderstood that from a “leader” of what is called the Organic Church?

    Thank you for your article,

    John Beardsley
    (My real name and contact info here as always)

  3. Pingback: A Real Jerk!? – Answering Frank Viola’s The Art of Being a Jerk Online: 9 Sure Ways « Truth with Snares!?

  4. The hubris many display to those of us who are defending the faith is usually the opposition’s feeble attempt to try and justify their unChristlike behavior by covering it up with the blame game that’s as old as the fall in the garden because they don’t know how to be reasonable in light of the truth presented. –That’s knee jerking. It also shows their lack of trust in the Lord. They usually take the critics as “personal attacks’ because they lack judgment. Anytime anyone becomes visceral that’s just PRIDE.

    Usually people resort to name-calling and labeling people as Jerks because they can’t defend their faith in Christ since for many (not all) they can’t defend what they don’t possess. If we are “jerks” as they say who are remaining true to our Lord and the truth that sets men free, well have they judged properly so from Scripture by comparing their teachings TO Scripture as every good Berean should do?

    We ARE biblically justified and commanded to oppose anyone who is teaching contrary to sound doctrine and expose their false teachings and even mark them- according to Scripture. God hates false teachings. Yet always with the proper attitude and with gentleness and respect

    Lack of trusting in the Lord when someone even wrongs us still shouldn’t warrent attacking people though. One Scripture verse that I just love is in Proverbs which says “A patient man has great understanding but a quick tempered man displays his folly”. Pr.14:29. Either we are trusting in the Lord by turning over whatever the problem is or we are trusting in ourselves and will display our foolishness. I love the Lord Jesus too much to try and tear people down. If there’s any way I can build them up and let the love of God shine then maybe God will work on their hearts and grant them repentance to HIM. It’s GOD we’ve sinned against not the other person. Yes we’ve done wrong but ultimately we need to learn to see our wrongdoing is violating GOD who is HOLY-That’s the Fear of the Lord!

  5. Frank Viola is a … well I should keep my mouth shut about my opinion of the man. Let’s just examine his work, shall we?

    I reviewed his “Jesus Manifesto” a couple years back: http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_Jesus_Manifesto_It_s_Time_to_Restore_the_Supremacy_of_Jesus_Christ_Leonard_Sweet_Frank_Viola/content_514415758980?sb=1

    I reviewed his “Pagan Christianity?” late last year: http://defendingcontending.com/2012/01/27/pagan-christianity/

    His theology reminds me of Rob Bell.

  6. I read that link on Frank Viola-Oh my Lord he’s like the opposite of truly having the mind of Christ. And he strikes me as very tenacious in his ungodly interpretations and quite hostile to the true Gospel

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