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. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)
When the Word of God ceases to be the plumb line of one’s faith, walk, understanding of truth, and knowing God then what replaces it is human reason which, outside of the Grace of God, is completely unable to know God’s truth when it sees it. There seems to be a large number professing Christians who raise a protest when I teach on doctrine. Their contention is that they simply refuse to believe that what I am teaching is the truth. Upon what do they base this? It is all based within their own reasoning. Never do I receive a clear Biblical indictment against the truths I share. Instead, the protests are couched in feelings, human reason, common sense, or philosophy. My brethren, we must not flinch from these protests. God’s truth is knowable because the Holy Spirit imparts divine wisdom to His children for this purpose. Never forget, it is falsehood that cannot stand scrutiny. The truth has nothing to fear from deep examination, therefore, let us defend it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 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. (1 Corinthians 2:1-7 ESV)
How did Paul come to Corinth? In what manner did he teach and preach? He did not preach using “great oratory” nor did he use human wisdom. He did not attempt to persuade the Corinthians using the techniques that are so prevalent today. There was no“show.” There was no “entertainment.” There was no “event.” Instead, he preached the Gospel, the whole Gospel, with Christ crucified and why He had to go to the cross. Notice also that Paul’s ministry to the Corinthians was marked by his humility. He submerged his great learning and high standing in the Church in subordination to “the Spirit and…power of God.” Why? It was so the Corinthians’ faith would be real and not rest in the wisdom of men. Paul began the mission in Corinth at ground level. However, as the Corinthians matured in Christ, Paul did impart the “secret and hidden wisdom of God” to them. This wisdom is not based in human common sense nor in the philosophies of the world. No, it is the wisdom that is given only to those taught by the Holy Spirit as they are transformed by the renewing of their minds as they walk as living sacrifices before the face of God (Romans 12:1-2).
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. (1 Corinthians 2:8-11 ESV)
When I contend with a person who refuses to believe the clear truth of God’s Word because it contradicts what they hold near and dear, it is like trying to help a wounded animal that believes you are actually trying to harm it. They respond in various levels of hostility but never from God’s Word. Why? It is actually very easy to build a false form of theology from the Bible. To do so, however, requires taking scripture out of context and not interpreting it according to the whole counsel of God’s Word. All of Sacred Scripture must be taken into context when digging for truth there. If parts of scripture contradict what your nugget seems to be saying, then it is imperative that a reevaluation takes place along with surrender to the whole testimony of God’s Word. Also, never forget, that the statement, “I don’t believe it” is not a valid argument for rejecting the God’s truth because that is a statement of unbelief. What defeats a person’s unbelief? When a person has the Spirit of God within, then He imparts His wisdom to that person’s spirit. This is the ONLY way a person can know God’s Truth. An unbeliever can read the Bible end to end thousands of times, but unless the Holy Spirit enters and imparts the truth to him or her, then he or she will remain in unbelief. This is why it is impossible for an unregenerate person to believe God and be saved simply by making a decision through an exercise of the will. No, God must impart His spirit to you and me first, regenerating us and giving us the gift of faith. Then we see the truth by God’s grace through this faith. We believe, repent, and are saved.
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 2:12-16 ESV)
Here it is very clear. God’s truth is not according to the spirit of the world. This is why it is so tragic to see so many emergent leaders and seeker sensitive pastors go hard after conforming to the philosophies and ways of the world in their ministries. They are actually moving away from the moving of the Holy Spirit. This is why their books and such are so striking in their rebellion against God’s Truth found only in His Word. As we pray and seek the truth from God that we may serve Him according to His will then we are invariably guided into His Word. There, the Holy Spirit teaches us spiritual truths so we may grow, mature, and teach others in obedience. The genuine Christian is spiritual. He or she can discern God’s truth because the Spirit of God teaches and imparts it to them as they seek it. Through this, God develops in Christians the mind of Christ. What is that? Through the Spirit of the Lord, we have the mind of Christ. In this we have the blessing of the Spirit and understand the things of God. We judge as Christ judged. We are able to discern truth from that which is false.
When I first began this ministry, I was not as mature as I am now. I thought I was though. In any case, I would invariably run into professing Christians who had huge problems with what I was teaching. My reactions for the most part were to stand and fight it out. It was like I shared earlier in the example of trying to help a wounded animal that thinks you are attacking it. I kept going hard after the truth, but only ending up in ugly arguments that sometimes went on for days at a time. These were extremely painful for the most part and afterwards, I could clearly see that all we had accomplished was to alienate each side even further from each other. I would struggle for days afterwards with regrets. I would spend hours and hours in prayer, confessing and seeking wisdom.
Through several of these “encounters,” God has done a work of maturity in me. Now, instead of drawing the sword immediately and going after those who attack what I teach or what a friend has said in a comment, I stop and analyze what is bothering me about what was said. I ask God for wisdom and discernment. Then as I examine what was said, I can see what is behind those statements. I ask for the words to use to defend the truth. I respond with what is given to me by God. These attacks are against His truth, not against my friends or me even though first perception is that the opposite is true. We must view ourselves as soldiers who take the hits with the armor God has given us in order that we can stand and not fall back from the front. It is a huge mistake to take the attacks personally.
I used to suffer much by attempting to fight these battles from that wrong perspective. Now, I understand that these attacks may appear to be personal, but they are actually against God and His truth. The truth can bear the scrutiny; it is the lies that must hide in the dark. Therefore, those of us who are committed to standing for God’s truth in this evil age must understand that our part is to be good soldiers and obey our Lord. We are to stand and not run from the attacks of the enemy. The attacks are against Him and His truth. We must simply stand and tell the truth. Yes, we must learn how to defend it in order to do this. We err when we start taking the attacks personally and this is exactly what our enemy wants us to do for when we are defending self, we are not defending the truth.
Be encouraged my brethren υπερ της δοξης του θεου!
Soli Deo Gloria!
There is SO much truth in this one statement from you in reference to the Apostle Paul’s preaching, ‘He submerged his great learning and high standing in the Church in subordination to “the Spirit and…power of God.” Why? It was so the Corinthians’ faith would be real and not rest in the wisdom of men.’
This is what is missing from today’s ‘preachers’, the power of God & the Spirit of God. They preach a different gospel, one that fills the pews but does not prick the heart. They end up with a congregation filled with false converts, who then attack true biblical teaching such as yours and label it ‘heresy’. These superficial Christians have bought into the lie so much that they cannot discern truth. The fact that they do not know truth is evidence of their false conversion…they are void of the Spirit of God. They must be taken back to square one, they must be given the true Gospel. May God fill His own with power, may His Spirit go forth as we speak His truth boldly.
Thanks for this post, it is a blessing to those who have been sealed with His Spirit.
Wow…I needed this! thank you!
I am often quick to argue back with someone and get very upset when it involves God’s truth and have learned that it only causes more problems. I have told myself I’m just not going to respond at all anymore. But we do need to defend the truth, and we can only do that through His wisdom and strength…..I need to quit taking it personally!
You are very welcome Lyn and Amen!
Amen and you are welcome Elizabeth!
I guess many of us have been through that school, Mike. I have learned from it as well. We are called to defend the faith, but how we defend it is where we sometimes get into trouble. I will remember not to take it personally, and to be in patient prayer before responding! It is, after all, not my battle, but His. Reliance on the Holy Spirit is crucial!
This was wonderful, thank you. It is so natural for me to want to defend God and get angry at someone for attacking or falsely interpreting God’s truth.
We love Him and naturally rise up in anger, as we would if someone were attacking our friends or family. It is so true, as you stated, that this is of no value and the enemy delights in our fighting with each other. I pray that I/we not enter those traps set by the enemy and ask God for the deeper meaning behind the attack and for wisdom in responding. It is sometimes very hard to do this because I don’t want people to reject Him or continue in deception, especially when they are friends or family.
God bless you.
Mike, I have walked this same walk you outline and thank you for your clear exposition on such an important topic for those who desire to teach and proclaim the Word of God. On this same subject I was encouraged as Paul continued in this theme in 1 Corinthians 3:18-21 and in particular, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”: and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise , that they are futile.” From experience and godly counsel I have come to realize that there is an “n” of one I aim to please in all that I do, and that of course is the Lord Jesus Christ. Mike I appreciate your ministry and in particular your diligence to be true to the Word of God.
Thank you Diane!
Amen David and thank you!
There is just so much confusion out there, and those who attempt to ‘convolute’ the Truth of the Gospel with humanly ‘wisdom’ need to be mindful of Jeremiah 17:9 and the true condition of the human heart.
God’s Truth is absolute and unchanging, no matter what ‘judgments’ may be passed upon it by those who consider themselves ‘wise’.