by Mike Ratliff
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 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. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)
When I was first enlisted to become part of the CRN team, I was actually quite shocked for two reasons. The first reason was that Ken had actually chosen me. I was very surprised about that. However, sadly, the other surprise was that there was an immediate effort by some professing Christians bent on stopping what we were doing. Perhaps I am a bit simplistic in my reasoning, but I just cannot conceive of what is wrong with pointing people to God’s truth and away from that which pretends to be, but is not. Fortunately, this role still allows me to do what I love to do the most, open God’s Word and teach, all for His glory.
Since then, I have had many run-ins with these fellows and have been totally amazed at their lack of restraint and how deceitful they can be in how they operate in order to try to discredit us. The rules for commenting on this blog came from this. Ken told me that since we are only “ODMs” they do not believe they have to stay within the limits of Christian ethics when they deal with us. It sorta reminds me of how the Scribes and Pharisees tried to entrap our Lord with trick questions and dirty tricks. I find it amusing at times. They actually believe us to be stupid while they are brilliant so they should be able to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes with ease. Well, I do have the Holy Spirit, I pray for wisdom and discernment every day, and that God’s will be done in my life and ministry so I doubt that they will be able to do anything like that unless God allows it. My method of dealing with them is to allow them to comment until they become obnoxious then I block them. It usually does not take long.
In any case, I wrote that above in response to some interesting events today with one of those fellows who disliked Ken’s article here and my article here because we were dealing with subjective issues dealing with Matt Chandler, Contemplative Prayer, and Matt’s being a “reformed charismatic,” et cetera. My post had more to do with how Christians should respond in light of the growing apostasy. However, the conversation started going ugly and becoming personal so I cut it off and followed my posted procedures. I was busy else where anyway and could sense that if I did not do that that I was going to get sucked into an endless, time wasting dirty trick designed to nothing more than discredit what I do and what we do at CRN. In other words, this fellow was trying to get me to lose it. Is this how Christians treat other Christians? I think not. I had done nothing to this fellow. I had actually written nothing he was upset about. He was more upset about some of the comments from some of my readers and what Ken had written, but he was taking it out on me I guess.
I reflected a great deal about this after the fact I assure you. No matter what the circumstances, my response, my heart, my mind, my intent, my all needed to come under the glaring inspection of God’s Word. Was I wrong? Even if this fellow was out of bounds, was my response right? Did my actions bring glory to God or not? That is really the point. In light of this, let us look at Philippians 1:27-30.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:27-30 ESV)
What does it mean to let the manner of our lives be worthy of the gospel of Christ? This is speaking of integrity. We are to live consistent with what we believe, teach and preach (cf. Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; 4:1; Titus 2:10; 2 Peter 3:11, 14.)
Here is v27 in Greek: μονον αξιως του ευαγγελιου του χριστου πολιτευεσθε ινα ειτε ελθων και ιδων υμας ειτε απων ακουω τα περι υμων οτι στηκετε εν ενι πνευματι μια ψυχη συναθλουντες τη πιστει του ευαγγελιου
Here is a Word for Word Translation of v27 from Greek to English: Alone worthily of the good message of the Christ act as citizen, that whether having come and having seen you whether being absent I hear the about you, that you stand in one spirit, in one soul struggling together in the trust of the good message.
Paul is telling believers that we should look to Christ, not men, for our model of behavior, since our primary allegiance is to God and His Kingdom. We need to stand together with one another in striving for the Gospel.
Now, think of the integrity and lack of hypocrisy with which we are called to live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ. Does this leave room to treat those we disagree with outside of Christian ethics? No it does not. What do we do with those who refuse to abide by this? Well, we are not to be frightened by them and we should be concerned for their salvation shouldn’t we? Their clear opposition to the truth should be a huge red flag to us that there is a problem with their faith. Their focus is all wrong. They are not focused on the things in Heaven where Christ is, but on the things of this earth and are all about things that should not be what the Church should be about at all (Colossians 3:1-4). My heart aches for these people. However, at the same time, I cannot allow them to attack unchallenged the work God has given me to do. I will always defend God’s truth against that which seeks to muddy the waters, to distract from God’s clear truth. If you debate these people long enough, you will notice after a while that they say an awful lot without ever going there. When you set God’s truth before them and challenge them to refute it or be silent, it gets quiet in a hurry. That does not mean they are convinced. That does not mean that they will not come back again with another attack. It only means they have no way to counter that.
I was told today to prepare for more of these attacks because the bar is being raised. I told Ken to “go for it!” It is God’s truth and His glory that matters. I am a δοῦλος of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν. God’s will be done.
Soli Deo Gloria!