The Word of Life

by Mike Ratliff

Ὃ ἦν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς – καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν – ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν, ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν. καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. (1 John 1-4 NA27)

1 What was from the beginning which we have heard–which we have seen with our eyes, which we beheld and touched with our hands—with respect to the Word of Life—2 indeed the life was manifested and we have seen it and we give testimony and we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3 what we have seen and we have heard we proclaim to you also that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write that our joy maybe made full. (1 John 1-4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

As many of you know, I have been reading The Church History by Eusebius. He was a contemporary of Constantine, but most of his history covers the time of the Apostles and spread of Christianity over the Roman world during and after their time. He brings up an interesting point about a third of the way through the book in that while the Apostles were still alive as well as those who were eye witnesses to their lives and ministries and that included those who had actually seen our Lord Jesus before his crucifixion and after his resurrection, our enemy could only successfully attack with limited success from within the Church. Heresies were easily dealt with as John did in the passage above in dealing a deathblow to the major doctrines of an early form of Gnosticism. However, after these first generation leaders of the Church died or were martyred (which was more likely), our enemy changed tactics and so began the era of wolves coming into the Church to lead astray the sheep with deadly heresies such as Arianism. What is the solution? What has always been the solution? It is the same as what the Apostle John did in 1 John and the Apostle Paul did in 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Corinthians and the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter. They commanded leaders to teach and preach the Word. 

In our era we can easily find ourselves despairing, as it seems that the “whole church” is going after those whose motto is “deeds not creeds.” They use the social media networks to pass around their little non-doctrinal snippets that are only modernized versions of what the Gnostics of the 1st and 2nd Century taught. Here is a very simple breakdown of its major tenets:

  1. Man’s body, which is matter, is therefore evil. It is to be contrasted with God, who is wholly spirit and therefore good.
  2. Salvation is the escape from the body, achieved not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge.
  3. Christ’s true humanity was denied in two ways: (1) Some said that Christ only seemed to have a body, a view called Docetism, from the Greek dokeo (”to seem”), and (2) others said that the divine Christ joined the man Jesus at baptism and left him before he died, a view called Cerinthianism, after its most prominent spokesman, Cerinthus. This view is the background of much of 1 John (1 John 1:1; 2:22; 4:2-3).
  4. Since the body was considered evil, it was to be treated harshly. This ascetic form of Gnosticism is the background of part of the letter to the Colossians (2:21-23).
  5. Paradoxically, this dualism also led to licentiousness. The reasoning was that, since matter—and not the breaking of God’s law (1 John 3:4)—was considered evil, breaking his law was of no moral consequence.

One of the most painful things for me to endure is the mishandling of God’s Word. I grew up in the SBC as many of you know and have not been part of it since I left in 2006. We occasionally visit an SBC church while visiting in in the OKC area, but the Pastor is Reformed and is good friends with Mark Dever. In any case, there are other occasions when I must endure that old pietistic, manipulative, emotional, decisional driven church environment at other places and when that happens I hurt for my Saviour because I know that he and his Gospel is being totally misused and misrepresented and so I write and post things like Those Who Have Eternal Life.

Eusebius was very clear that it was as the wolves entered the Church that aberrant sects and divisions began and not before. The solution for battling the lies and meeting these false doctrines is with God’s truth. Let us never stop contending. There are so many today that would have visited that church with me and would not have been offended and righteously indignant that the Grace of our Lord Jesus was being so misused and misrepresented. Why is that? Isn’t it a lack of knowing what the truth is? Isn’t it being comfortable in “safe religiosity” thinking that is what God wants from us? These same people are the first to have their jaws drop open as one of us who have discernment take that stand as God directs. To them this is wrong because we may offend. What about those who have offended the holiness of our God? How dare us not take a stand against these workers of iniquity who do their evil right in the midst of the visible church all the while calling it “chiristian” and at the same time attempting to mark each of us God is using this way as the truly evil ones.

Never forget my brethren, always take it the Word of Life.

Soli Deo Gloria!

15 thoughts on “The Word of Life

  1. Dear Mike,

    As odd as this may seem I find great comfort in “…and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be accomplished.” (Daniel 12:7)

    If you think about when Christ was crucified, even his beloved Peter, denied Him and fled, and it looked pretty grim. No one considered after Jesus died (although He told them on many occassions that He had to die) that He would in fact be risen from the dead. I really believe that one of the evil ones strategies is to make everything appear exceedingly bleak so that we may give up hope.

    Sometimes it seems (trying to warn or offer any type of discernment) is like being a drift on the sea in a boat with a leak, and using a paper dixie cup to scoop out the water. Why? You are in the middle of nowhere and your efforts certainly appear to be vain… “BUT God! being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),…” (Eph 2:4-5)

    Do we really have faith that “if none go with me STILL I will follow”? God is more than a conqueor and Christ has won the victory no matter what it may seem dimly on this side of heaven. Stay strong in the Lord and He will be our precious prize in the end!!!

    Kept only by His grace, charisse

  2. Amen Charisse! Yes, I am not in despair either, but even more ready to stand firm with my own cross ready to follow… The wolves aren’t going away, but they, as you said without saying so directly, can do nothing to our salvation, they can threaten and they can make this temporal life here messy and no fun, but, again, they are really only noise.

  3. I know how you feel-not that we go by feelings. I used to go to a Christian forum until recently who teaches what’s called “proportion theology”-that is they believe in “free will and God’s sovereignty”. anyways they consider calvinism as false teachings and so they will not allow any form of Calvinism on their forum. I recon it’s a rule they made later because I don’t remember it before. Anyways many are christians and I thoroughly enjoyed the prayer and praise section. BUT the fly in the ointment was always their false teachings bleeding through even in praise and prayer and I finally had to leave. I thought I could just separate the 2 and just not engage in their other discussions when it came to debating their false doctrine. But my heart just grieved and I had this anger well up in me –not the ungodly kind but the kind that instantly angers you when you read false teachings and people not dividing God’s word correctly.

    Anyways I can relate to you

  4. Amen Mike
    Everything needs to be supported by the Word. So much bad theology and practices are entering into the churches exponentially. I too was in the SBC until last year. I tried desperately to lead by example and would admonish tactfully when I could. I discovered that the youth pastor of a large church in our Association was teaching using Rob Bell materials. I discussed it with the youth pastor before I brought it up with the senior pastor. I was not well received. I mean, who was I, I don’t have a degree in theology from as SBC seminary. I served as an elder and lay evangelist in my local church and in the Association. Eventually I was literally “shunned” out of the church I attended and from some pastors/leaders in the Association.

    Love your site and your passion. Keep preaching the Word!

    Lance

  5. Mike,

    When you mentioned ‘special knowledge’ in your post (point 2 of their doctrine) it brought up an encounter I had last week with a pastor of whom I thought was orthodox in his belief. Can’t remember how it came about but I came right out and asked this pastor if he practiced “Spiritual Formation” or “Contemplative Prayer.” To which this pastor affirmed he did with much joy and gladness. So my next question to him was does he read the catholic mystics like Foster or Henri Nouwen (sp?) and again this pastor, with delight and exitement, affirmed that he did and that also it was a requirement in seminary.
    Found myself speaking outloud, in front of two friends of mine and this pastor, about that being heresy and occultic and dangerous. This pastor gave me quite the look (not a good one) and quickly hastened away. My ‘friends’ asked me why I asked him that and I told them why. They too disagreed with me and so I guess I won’t be going to that church again (and I’m the driver). Nothing like making spiritual enemies by speaking truth. And during the sermon that pastor kept looking at me. It was obvious that the words I spoke were in his mind while he was trying to deliver his sermon. And I was polite when talking to this pastor, not irreverent nor sarcastic or anything of the like. Now, like Lance, I’m being shunned and can feel the awkwardness in the air when around those two friends. I know this isn’t about antinomianism but it still references that phrase ‘special knowledge’ as in your second point of their doctrine, instead of ‘faith’ in Jesus for salvation. The mystics empty their minds (a very dangerous form of escaping if you ask me) hoping to get that ‘special knowledge’ or ‘revelation’ rather than put faith in the Word of God/Jesus. This makes their minds open to deception from decieving spirits.
    If this is off topic feel free to delete. Couldn’t help but tell of what happened last week just before the sermon and communion. Oh, I was also given a DVD called “Be Still.” Wow…..that’s not a biblical DVD.
    Thank you for your faithfulness Mike. May the Lord continue to bless you and this ministry He’s given you.

  6. Pingback: Antinomianism « Possessing the Treasure

  7. Denise, as I told Lance, that reaction you received and he received is EXACTLY the same I have received every time I have made those type of stands. Only God can break through that blindness. We are called to contend and SHARE THE GOSPEL. Arguing with people who won’t listen though is fruitless.

  8. Linda,
    When you spoke of how your heart grieved at false doctrine and the anger you also experienced, I just wanted to tell you that that’s exactly how I felt as well. You’re not alone and I just wanted you to know that. Praise God He gave you that gift of discernment!
    These days are dangerous days IN the church. Alot of wolves and decieved people. Prayerfully we’ll all keep a good watch on ourselves. I know I’m keeping diligent watch over myself as I’ve been decieved before. The scarey part of that was that I didn’t know it until years later. That’s sobering to think about! I keep reading the Word and pray, pray and pray.

    May the Lord bless you.

  9. Mike,

    You must have been typing at the same time I was typing to Linda. You’re right, arguing is pointless as God has to open the Truth to them. I think it’s a good thing if we pray for them though. So I’ll pray for them and myself.
    You know, most of the time I end up taking a stand are a complete surprise to myself. I had no idea that I’d be doing that then nor most of the other times it happens. It just happens. Is that how it happens to you?

  10. Of course Denise and yes it is how it usually happens with me. I pray every day for wisdom and discernment as part of what is provided by God to us and I have noticed that the more mature I have become, that there are battles I am very surprised when I take them on and others that I would have taken on in the past, but don’t at all now and am afterward very glad that I didn’t. I think that is part of God answering those prayers and, of course, the results of Romans 12:1,2…

    I was in a very well known chat channel the other day just having a good time with some brothers and sisters when this fellow began spouting out that the book of Daniel’s main theme was Evangelism of the Babylonians by the captive Jews. I don’t know what really clicked, but I drew a line in the sand (since I have taught through Daniel more times than I can count) and confronted him on every point that the he was trying to make insinuating that the Jews of Daniel’s day were not apostate, but evangelical, etc. It got interesting and those brothers and sisters would chime in every now and them with support, but I don’t know exactly what it is, but when I detect false teachers spewing the product of eisegesis something clicks inside and I can’t keep it in.

  11. Mike,
    Thank you for your answer. That explains alot for me. And that something that clicks in you, I believe, is the Holy Spirit prodding you to speak His Truth. Afterall, you read it so He brings it to memory. Your mind is being renewed. You say click and I’ve described it like a fire in my bones type of thing. You’re right, it cannot be kept inside (much sometimes, to the dismay of others). Today I was in the middle of being chastised by one of those two friends from last week when two other people walked up to see what we were talking about, the chastising speech was halted. Whew. I say whew because it was such a good day and this other pastor at another church had just given a great sermon, so I was having a wonderful, peaceful day…until the chastening started over my beliefs. I happened to have the bible in hand and could show my beliefs right in the Scripture but it was of no avail. So, I was glad when two others walked up and stopped that confrontation by their presence.
    May the Lord bless you always. Romans 12: 1,2 are good Scriptures to live by although that too causes division. I know this because the same two who were opposing me were also claiming that I’m too “conservative” in my lifestyle. I won’t attend to bars to associate with the drunkards as a weekly weekend activity. Not for evangelical purposes but just for commeradre. To me, that’s not minding the things of God nor is it transforming my mind and for sure it IS comforming to the world if I do the bar scene. My conscience won’t allow for that activity. Guess I’m just the stick in the mud to many. Little do they know from whence the Lord found me….yikes.
    The book of Daniel is one of my favorites. I wish I could have seen that conversation you had regarding the Jews in captivity. That had to be a great discourse.

  12. Denise, I feel for you in that one. I’ve been there. I don’t see how you stand it. However, as one looking in from the outside, it appears that you are being attacked by the enemy. Keep your eyes fixed on the Saviour my sister.

    As far as that discussion goes. I could have used someone like you to assist. Most ran for cover. :-)

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