by Mike Ratliff
9 And so, r from the day we heard, s we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that t you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all u spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as v to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, w fully pleasing to him, x bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9,10 ESV)
In my last post The Temple of the Living God, we looked at the high standard of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord by being separate from the world and those of the world that are mere pretenders as Christian leaders. We tied this to the recent news that John Piper had invited Rick Warren to speak at the 2010 Desiring God Conference in October. I have been in discussion all day today with friends and fellow laborers in this ministry about this. There is a lot of emotion. There is much sadness and disappointment out there about this, but mostly there is a great deal of anger being expressed. Some of the major questions we are dealing with, of course, is how far do we go in preserving unity in the Body of Christ? What is the criterion or standard that we use to not have fellowship with one while overlooking differences in another?
I watched the video of John Piper explaining his thought processes in deciding to invite Warren to speak. One thing bothered me throughout. He said many times as he spoke of Warren’s theological stances on things important to us, that he was basing his understanding of Warren’s theology on answers given to Piper’s questions. In other words, he believed him when he said he believed this, but not that. In this post by Ken Silva, the evidence is very clear that this man is willing to make compromise after compromise in order to be accepted by whomever he is attempting to “win over.” In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul warns the Corinthian Christians about being unequally yoked with those he calls απιστοις. 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). What makes a person “not worthy of confidence?” If a person is like a Chameleon in their theology being whatever it takes to be pleasing to one group and something totally different for the next group, then how can that person be trustworthy? Paul makes it clear in that passage that this is a mark of an unbeliever.
I pray that you did follow that link to Ken Silva’s post. At the bottom of that post is another link to an article by Michael Horton about Rick Warren. I pray that you go there and read it as well. In it Horton, speaking of Rick Warren, says, “I believe that his message distorts the gospel and that he is contributing to the human-centered pragmatism that is eroding the proper ministry and mission of the church.”
Unity in the Body of Christ built around compromise at all costs is not true unity. The unity we are called to pursue in the Body of Christ is given to us in Ephesians 4. In the 1560 Geneva Bible, the introduction to Ephesians 4 reads, “He exhorteth them unto meekness, log suffering, unto love and peace. Everie one to serve and edifie another with the gift that God hathe given him. To beware of strange doctrine. To lay aside the old conversation of griedie lustes, and to walke in a newe life.” While the 16th Century English takes a bit of concentration to interpret at times, this is a good summary of how we are to walk in this life as Children of God in a world hostile to Him and all who belong to Him. I find that those who decry what we do here and in the watchman on the wall ministries as a whole, are very quick to point out the meekness and long suffering unto love and peace part of this, but they overlook that part about being wary of “strange doctrine.” This in no way tells us, nor does Ephesians 4, nor does any other part of God’s Word tell us to automatically accept a person as a brother or sister in Christ just because they profess to be one. It is one thing to say all the right things, but it means nothing if it is not backed up in how one lives and ministers.
1 I therefore, m a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to n walk in a manner worthy of o the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all p humility and q gentleness, with r patience, s bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in t the bond of peace. 4 There is u one body and v one Spirit—just as you were called to the one w hope that belongs to your call— 5 x one Lord, y one faith, z one baptism, 6 a one God and Father of all, b who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV)
1παρακαλω ουν υμας εγω ο δεσμιος εν κυριω αξιως περιπατησαι της κλησεως ης εκληθητε 2μετα πασης ταπεινοφροσυνης και πραυτητος μετα μακροθυμιας ανεχομενοι αλληλων εν αγαπη 3σπουδαζοντες τηρειν την ενοτητα του πνευματος εν τω συνδεσμω της ειρηνης 4εν σωμα και εν πνευμα καθως [και] εκληθητε εν μια ελπιδι της κλησεως υμων 5εις κυριος μια πιστις εν βαπτισμα 6εις θεος και πατηρ παντων ο επι παντων και δια παντων και εν πασιν (Ephesians 4:1-6 WHNU)
The Greek word rendered in v1 as “worthy” is αξιως, which speaks of the quality of something being “becoming, after a godly sort.” In other words, Paul is exhorting Christians to live their lives in a godly manner that is appropriate “of the calling to which you have been called.” This is the phrase της κλησεως ης εκληθητε, which literally says, “of the call of which you were called.” The word κλησεως, “an invitation” is rendered by the ESV as “calling,” which is very appropriate. The words ης εκληθητε, “of which you were called,” speaks of a divine invitation to participate in the blessings of redemption. In other words, Christians are called. Paul is exhorting all of them to walk in a manner that is appropriate to that calling. This appropriate walk will be patterned a certain way. What is that? We are commanded to walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This is a description of Christ’s own character. Our daily walks should be patterned after His primary example. In vv4-6 we see that true Christianity is not something that is open to everyone’s interpretation. There is one body and one Spirit. There is one hope that belongs to what? It belongs to our call. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. These are essentials. Any gospel that negates or attempts to change any of that is bogus.
7 But c grace was given d to each one of us e according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, f “When he ascended on high g he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (h In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into i the lower regions, the earth?  10 He who descended is the one who also j ascended k far above all the heavens, that he might l fill all things.) 11 And m he gave the n apostles, the prophets, the o evangelists, the p shepherds  and teachers,  12 q to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for r building up s the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to t the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, u to mature manhood,  to the measure of the stature of v the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, w tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in x deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, y speaking the truth in love, we are to z grow up in every way into him who is a the head, into Christ, 16 b from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, c when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:7-16 ESV)
What is God’s plan for the Church that is on the Earth in this time between our Lord’s Ascension and His return? He gave spiritual gifts. Some are gifted as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. Their purpose is to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. This will continue until we all attain to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Why is this important? It is so we will no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. There you have it. The reason the Church in our time has little to no discernment is that it is full of either unregenerate church members or immature believers. They are man-focused rather than God-focused. Their leaders are NOT discipling them according to these standards. Those in the Seeker-Sensitive paradigm have a pragmatic focus, which is not biblical. They are totally man-focused while proclaiming the opposite. They are not focused on the Body of Christ becoming mature in Christ looking forward to their reuniting with Him, but instead, they are focused on redeeming the earth and correcting social injustices, et cetera. Jesus did none of that and neither should we change our focus away from serving Him to be well pleasing to men. We should make disciples as commanded and that means we are not after numbers, but seek to preach the gospel and take those who believe and teach them to walk the way we do. That is it.
Phil Johnson posted an article by C.H. Spurgeon the other day. It is titled, “Shall We Fraternize With Those Who Bury the Gospel Under Wagon Loads of Trash?” I highly recommend you read it. Rick Warren and all those who emulate him and work with him and are associated with him are guilty of violating what we are commanded to do as both Christians and Christian leaders. They have done much damage to the Gospel and have created havoc in the Church in our time. Therefore, I think it is a mistake for anyone like John Piper to even consider including Rick Warren in his conference. Warren has proven that he is not trustworthy. He says whatever he thinks people want to hear in order to tickle their ears. I call John Piper to consider these things prayerfully and then obey what God’s Word tells us to do when it comes to partnering with those who butcher the Gospel. I think a debate would be fine, but to include the man in a Christian conference meant to feed and equip pastors does not come from godly wisdom.
Soli Deo Gloria!