by Mike Ratliff
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:21 ESV)
With the utter lack of discernment being exhibited within the visible church in our time, it is as if the condition of the Israelites at the time of the Prophet Amos is upon us. These Covenant people had turned their backs on God and His commands. They were sin-sick and idolatrous, which means they were spiritually blind. When Amos traveled from Judah to the Northern Kingdom of Israel to deliver God’s message to them, he simply gave what God told him to say. What a concept! In Amos 3:3-8 the Lord posed a series of rhetorical question to the people to show them that no matter what they thought or did, He was still sovereign. Certain actions have predictable results. God spoke, therefore, Amos was to speak as the people listened and trembled. That is how it should have been. However, as in our time, when God’s Word is exposited and given to those in error, the response is exactly the opposite. Instead of heeding God’s Word, the people attempt to silence the prophet (Amos 2:12; 7:12, 13) and, therefore, silence God.
Of course, it is the same sin that the Israelites committed during the Exodus at Mount Horeb (Sinai) as Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from the very hand of God (Exodus 32). They had Aaron make a golden calf to represent God in a way in which they were comfortable (v4). God is Holy and He cannot abide with sin. When Moses returned to the people (vv. 15-20) we see that the people had their own ideas of how to worship their god(s), which was nothing like God had prescribed. Joshua told Moses that the noise of their worship was as a noise of war in the camp. Moses told him that what he heard was singing. What they saw when they entered the camp, however, was an orgy or party.
In our day with men such as Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, who are disciples of Peter Drucker, leading the way, church after church has been taken over and changed from a biblical structure that was designed to be a place of healing and feeding for the sheep, to one that is “church for the unchurched.” The structure is as of the world. It is worship and structure and preaching (if you can call it that) that pleases the natural man. It is not biblical. I and many of my friends are fugitives from churches that have been taken over by this paradigm. The leadership in these churches has bought into the concept of gospel contextualization, which is a changing of the gospel message to make it more palatable to the natural man’s way of thinking. They actually believe that if they can create a church environment so appealing and a gospel message that does not offend by saying that all have sinned and need a Saviour that the unchurched will actually buy it as if they were buying a product off the shelf. It is all about the right marketing strategy. This is what men like Rick Warren stand for. This is his concept of Christianity, the Church, and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I and many of my fellow laborers in this task of being the watchmen on the wall that warns and educates the Church about the dangers threatening it on every side have taken a great deal of heat from the apologists for Rick Warren, those behind Emergence Christianity, the New Evangelism, seeker-sensitivity, et cetera, but how can we keep silent when if we tried to do so, it would come out as an explosion from within. I cannot hold it in. I have tried. There will be no peace in this heart unless I obey my Lord in all things.
I received some very disturbing news today about John Piper. While many things he is doing and with what he has been involved with in his relationship with Mark Driscoll has caused me great heartache, I did not say or write anything because I was not given the Word to do so. However, today I learned that Rick Warren is one of the speakers at the upcoming Desiring God 2010 conference. My friends and I have been mulling this over all day. I asked this rhetorical question during the discussion, “Will someone please explain to me how someone who stands for preaching the Gospel unencumbered by anything of man could compromise with the prince of gospel contextualization?” One of my friends responded, “He’s misinterpreting unity.” Then I left the discussion as I sought how or if I should address this. My friend is right. At least, I hope this is the motivation for John Piper to allow this. It does not change what I was led to study in God’s Word today in light of this however.
I want to exposit 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 to address this. Of course, many may object to my equating Rick Warren and all he stands for, as well as all those in the same Leadership Network, with Belial, but how else can we address this? These same people are continually attacking Sola Scriptura because they know that God’s Word does not support what they are doing (isn’t that a parallel with Amos 3?). Therefore, if it is not of God then who is behind it?
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV)
14μη γινεσθε ετεροζυγουντες απιστοις τις γαρ μετοχη δικαιοσυνη και ανομια η τις κοινωνια φωτι προς σκοτος 15τις δε συμφωνησις χριστου προς βελιαρ η τις μερις πιστω μετα απιστου (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 WHNU)
The words “Do not be unequally yoked” are the Greek words μη γινεσθε ετεροζυγουντες or, literally, “Not become being other yoked.” This is an image for being allied or identified wrongly with unbelievers. Paul was addressing the problem of certain church members in the Corinthian church who were rebelling against him and his teachings, ignoring his authority. Here he calls them απιστοις. What is this? This word describes those not worthy of confidence, untrustworthy, and unbelievers. In the New Testament, this word is used to describe those who disbelieve the Gospel of Christ, an unbeliever or an infidel (1 Cor. 6:6; 7:12-15; 2 Cor. 6:15). This is quite shocking for Paul to call these people that since they were professing members of that church, but their behavior, their character, was such that he made that charge against them. In the church environment we have in our time, Paul probably would have been censured for saying that.
We know who Christ is. Who is this Belial or βελιαρ? This is a name for Satan used in the Judaism of the New Testament era, which was derived from one of his characteristics. This particular characteristic is that he is “worthless” or “treacherous.” It was used in reference to Satan’s activity as an opponent of God, which is the pattern of behavior that Paul was witnessing in his opponents. Therefore, when we show the unbiblical nature of certain so-called Christian leaders and their teachings, is not this the very same thing? Aren’t they opposing God and doing damage to the Church by advocating compromise with the diluting influence of the world in our churches? Yes, I think the name βελιαρ fits them very well. The last rhetorical question in v5 is, “Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” The answer is obvious. Yes, we give unbelievers the Gospel. Yes, we attempt to make disciples of them. But, No, we do not treat them as if they are believers and structure our worship and service of our God around them as if it is all about them.
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV)
Never forget my brethren, the temple of the living God is the Church. Now, there is the visible church, which is all the religiosity all around us that calls itself Christian, but the real Church is invisible within that. Within it are all true believers. This is the temple of the living God. This is why we are to seek to live holy lives. This is why we are to be those living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto God. This is also why we must be diligent in standing firm on God’s Truth and warn the Church of the evil of the compromises all around us that are tools of our enemy seeking to do damage to the Church and cause the unregenerate in the visible church to apostatize lest they hear the truth and be truly converted. In light of all of this then we know that the man-centeredness of the seeker-sensitive model is idolatrous and blasphemous and we must stand against it.
Now, I adjure each of you to examine yourselves carefully. Are you of Christ or are you of βελιαρ? If you are of the former then you are not part of this world. Your home is where Christ is. You are being called to be holy and separate from the world. However, if you are of the latter and are a professing Christian then you are all about things that are man-oriented rather than God oriented. You are all about man and what is fair in his eyes rather than God, His sovereignty and His glory. Examine yourselves my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Addendum: Go here for more info on why I disagree with John Piper’s inclusion of Rick Warren at his conference or even why he should not keep him at arm’s length.