A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ

by Mike Ratliff

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20 ESV)

We have been looking at examples in the last several posts of a confused mess within the visible church. There are most definitely those who remain faithful in their orthodoxy while there are those who most definitely are “out there” in their apostasy. The confusion comes into play when we witness those with a very positive witness theologically making very unwise decisions with whom they fellowship or endorse. We also have some who have the right theology, but also embrace elements of the Emergent Christianity, which is heretical on many levels because of its unbiblical nature and its ecumenical inclusion of elements from other religions. This intermixing of things is where the confusion comes to bear. I attended a “mega-church” this last Sunday that has a fine pastor. He is theologically very sound. The church has many fine, biblically sound practices. However, it is amazing how conformed it also is on many levels to the very same new age nonsense that I have to put up with at the Catholic Healthcare System that employs me to manage their databases. They have banners hanging in their lobby that are nearly identical to the ones that appear on our newsletters at work as we are being called to “come together” more as a team, to engage, et cetera. 

Before going on, please read the passage I placed at the top of this post, 1 Timothy 1:18-20. From this we learn that we are all called to hold faith and those who reject that make a shipwreck of their faith. Please remember that.

We had our quarterly staff meeting at work today and one of the speakers mentioned within a span of less than two minutes that our company’s main emphasis was to be there as an instrument of the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and then began praising one of our employee encounter groups for their efforts in being so spiritual and coming together as one with a motto that was actually a Buddhist prayer. She even gave the name of the Buddhist monk who authored it. They showed a picture of the group planting sunflowers as a group activity in one of their meetings on the overhead. I knew almost all of them and that they were all Emergent in their religion using terms like “centering prayer” instead of “reflection” to begin our meetings.

What does this say? It says that the undiscerning that claims to be Christian are that way because they lack something vital that the discerning Christian does have. What do you suppose that would be? It is an active, believing, living faith. The faithful are not so just because they try harder. We saw that in yesterday’s post that the faithful are so because the Lord works through them for without Him, we can do nothing (John 15: 5). This includes discernment. Therefore, when we see professing Christians including other religions within their “faith” then we know that they are counterfeit. Jesus is not in that. Faithfulness is a determinant of Christian authenticity. To say mysticism is just as valid as Christianity in getting to God is a marker of unfaithfulness and Christian disingenuousness.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV)

Here we see what has derailed so many or broken the string of faithfulness in our time. The baton of faithfulness has not been passed to faithful men, which will be able to teach others also. How often do we see a great man of God die or retire, then a young man replaces him, and everything changes? The old guard is run off. The church goes new age or emergent and there you go. However, this disaster has averted the need to suffer as a good soldier of Christ Jesus though because now these fellows are friends of the world… Well, you get the idea. However, if we stand against these “ministries” or “leaders” by showing from God’s Word what is wrong, we are suddenly the bad guys. We are the bullies. We are the ones not being Christlike. I suggest that those with that mindset go read some of our Lord’s rebukes in John 6 with his “hard preaching” against those who wanted to follow him, but all they really wanted was the good stuff without the repentance.

Now the no-fun stuff; I have prayed for wisdom in this. I am not God. I am finite. I do not know who the elect are. God does though. He knows who are His. I am convinced that as I read His Word that He does allow His people to err. We sin. We are not perfect. Therefore, it is possible for a theologian to make theological errors or errors of fellowship, et cetera. However, I am just as convinced by studying God’s Word that anyone who commits High-Handed sin is not regenerate. Christians will sin, but they will walk in repentance. They will not walk in rebellion as a way of life. Therefore, when we see professing Christians getting worse and worse in their apostasy, we must conclude that they are to be excluded from fellowship and exposed as wolves in sheep’s clothing if they are confronted and they do not repent. On the other hand, if we do confront these men about their sin and they do repent then we must accept that and include them in fellowship as long as they remain in that repentance.

Marks of apostasy would include the inclusion of religious rites or practices from other religions including mysticism in all its forms. This puts Emergent Christianity in the hot seat right away doesn’t it? Well, we must be discerning here and I see a lot of my friends doing a fine job of that. What about the Church Growth movement stuff? The main issues with it are its inclusion of the world in the Church. It has tried to make each local church a church for the unchurched. This is lunacy and unbiblical.  They use a gospel message that is powerless and has created a large body of professing Christians who are totally Biblically illiterate. All they know is their religion they have at their PDC church that is based totally on works righteousness.

What about New Calvinism and the Acts 29 Network? Where New Calvinism intersects and includes Emergence Christianity there is the problem. It is a merging of good theology with a man-based focus, which is called being “Missional.” It is a merging of Calvinism with works righteousness in an attempt to accomplish some sort of world “reformation.” This is Dominionism. I personally think this is the most dangerous one of these, but time will tell.

Do you see a commonality in these things? Yes, it is here. Where is our focus supposed to be and where is it in these things?

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

These movements, or whatever they are, are all based on a man-focused agenda. The Christian’s focus should be where? We are to seek the things that are above where Christ is. We are to be focused on Christ, to be doing His will, not ours or any man’s will. Stop being conformed to man’s religion and start being conformed to Christ and His mission. That means that we set our minds on Christ and obeying Him in all things regardless of what people say or do. This means that we are to share our faith with everyone who will listen. We are to grow as Christians by living in the Word of God and obeying Him in all things. We are to suffer by His grace and, when the time is right, we will join Him. I personally think that is the best part of the whole deal.

Soli Deo Gloria!

16 thoughts on “A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ

  1. Thanks again Mike. I am really treasuring these posts. Again, I am amazed at the Spirit. I just got back meeting with another brother and he read the 1 Tim. passage that you posted at the top. We discussed it. I had to correct him that this was not about losing salvation (though it does not rule out salvation not being present), but rather about error and then a good conversation ensued. I am going to print this out to give to him (he is a non computer user—can you believe they still exist? LOL)

    About the movement to be inclusionary. Mark Dever made a good point in a recent sermon. He said no one (Christians)is against inclusion. The real question is what do we exclude? What do we keep from the church–not so much who—though by keeping sin and error out we may be excluding people that remain unrepentant and in rebellion from koinenia fellowship.


  2. You are welcome Fred, you know, I just want to go home to be with my Lord sometimes. In any case, we have to do all we can to make sure our churches teach and preach what is right. That means we make sure that false teachers are not allowed to teach or preach that stuff. On the other hand, we must preach the gospel to unbelievers, but the church itself is meant primarily as a means of grace of ministry to the Body of Christ not as a church for the unchurched. Mark knows this so I don’t think he meant that we have to adjust our churches as radically as Rick Warren and his PDC has to create that fiasco. Discernment and Wisdom are what is called for and we need that in abundance and the only source is our Lord.


  3. “This means that we are to share our faith with everyone who will listen.”
    Mike, I just got off the phone with a secret-agent Christian, who has known an individual for years…but has been so concerned about “seperation of church and state” that he’s been silent about the Gospel, thus condemning the man to Hell.
    Our Pastor suggested that I contact him and ask if I could share with his associate that he is a Christian…and he didn’t want that shared.
    Now I know why the Lord has had me witnessing to the man, instead of the closeted Christian.
    Oh, how the Lord must grieve over the refusal of Christians to share His precious Gospel with lost souls!


  4. That’s tragic Kathy! I pray that the Lord will work through you sharing the gospel with him to bring him to faith and salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ.


  5. Right Mike. Mark was only saying that they (CGM & Emerg.) use the idea that we need to be inclusionary as if many of us aren’t. What they miss is the true purpose of the church and by being so inclusionary they compromise the Gospel. The Gospel is for all, Greek, and Jew, woman and man, etc. It is inclusionary. The church however is for believers. It is the gathering of the called out ones (and for those being called.) It is to edify the saints so that they can go into all the world…..


  6. Thank you, Mike! This situation needs all the prayer possible.
    To think that our Lord DIED to save people, and we won’t open our mouth!
    It’s a good thing that Peter was forgiven his denial of Christ, as an example to us, that it’s not too late to be obedient in preaching the “Good News”


  7. Hi Mike,

    Though you I don’t often comment, I know you know I read your articles, mostly through my feeds or by email. I do appreciate you, my friend.

    In this article you mentioned some of this man-focused blending with something they call “missional.” That actually reminded me of an article I wrote several blogs ago in the early CRN days titled, “What is missional?” I should brush it off and post in again at Justification by Grace because I see it, it hasn’t changed; it’s just gaining acceptance because men with reformed socks are putting on “missional” shoes.

    Anyway, thanks for the post, dear brother.


  8. Boy, I really should proof read my comments before I hit submit… but then again, I really don’t want anyone to get the false impression that I’m smart or meticulous. 🙂


  9. I have a question…..what do you do when the current pastor preaches against the Emergent movement, and yet is embracing some of it’s practices? (he would not admit that, but that is what it looks/sounds like)
    Here is another J.C. Ryle quote that is so rich, entitled “The Barren Church”
    If ministers do not teach sound doctrine, and their members do not live holy lives, they are in imminent peril of destruction. God is every year observing them, and taking account of all their ways. They may abound in ceremonial religion. They may be covered with the leaves of forms, and services, and ordinances. But if they are destitute of the fruits of the Spirit, they are reckoned as useless clutter on the ground. Except they repent, they will be cut down.

    ~ J.C. Ryle


  10. Berean Gal, that is exactly what I have be observing. It is called hypocrisy. I don’t think it is intentional, but that is what is in any case. We must show them the truth. Thanks for the J.C. Ryle quote. He is always right on!


  11. Well, I guess it is good to know that I have not completely lost my mind. I would hear preaching and what was said from the Word would be so true and sound 99.99% of the time. Thundering about the Emergent Movement, etc. But, the life lived did/does not match up in many areas! Hypocrisy is the only way to describe it I guess.
    It is really sad. But, our consolation is that “IF it were possible the very elect would be deceived”, I am so glad for that “IF”.


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