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. 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 2:14-16 ESV)
In our continued look at the growing apostasy within evangelicalism, the more we dig, the more we are finding that those whom we have been suspecting of compromise for some time now, actually have been on that path longer than we suspected. I believe that we are just now discovering this for two reasons. No one was really looking in that direction and God is answering our prayers, opening the doors of information and showing us what has been obscured until now. When Dr. John Piper announced that he was inviting Rick Warren to be a speaker at his next pastor’s conference this Fall, it took many of us by surprise. It also began the quest to determine what is really going on.
We serve a sovereign God. He is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, and is totally in control. Therefore, we started by asking Him to show us how to proceed. What should we do? We asked for help. We asked for guidance. We asked for wisdom and discernment. We asked all of this from the goal of God being glorified, His Church being edified, and His Kingdom to be extended all according to His will. This has never been about publicity or anything remotely like that. In any case, please understand that the focus of this series of articles is within this framework alone. It is not about me. It is not about any of us. It is about God and His glory.
In the passage at the top of this post, the word “mind” is translated from the Greek word νοῦν, which is the intellectual faculty of the natural man, applicable to God or Christ in Romans 11:34 and 1 Corinthians 2:16. It can be employed in practical judgment, capable of being good or evil, and of being regenerated. It is the mind, the reason, and the reasoning faculty of man. So what is the Apostle Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 in his contrast between the natural person and the spiritual person in regard to this νοῦν. The difference is, of course, that the genuine Christian is regenerate and no one else is. This difference means that those who are regenerate have νοῦν Χριστοῦ or the mind of Christ. My 1560 Geneva Bible has a note on this verse that succinctly says, “That is, Christ’s Spirit, John 16:13, Romans 8:9.”
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13 ESV)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9 ESV)
Let us put this together before we move into our evidence. Genuine Christians have the Spirit of Christ in them or they do not belong to Him. Because of this, they are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Because of this, genuine Christians have νοῦν Χριστοῦ, the mind of Christ. What this tells us is that by the Word and the Spirit, genuine believers are able to know the thoughts of their Lord (cf. Luke 24:45). This is not accomplished through some mystical exercise. Christians do not have to attain to a higher level of spiritual consciousness in order to “attain” to this. No, this is promised to all believers who do what? Two passages explain this very well.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
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)
There many others of course, but these two passages are very special to me so I share them with you now. Romans 12:1-2 tells us how to grow and mature as Christians. It has nothing to do with going mystical or finding your true self using T.M. or whatever they call it now. No, this is all done via prayer and Bible Study. This prayer is daily prayer and mediation on what you are studying in the Word. This is living in the Word of God. This is being transformed by the power of the Word of God as you do this. You want to become a mature Christian used by God in the good battle then it must start here. Become a living sacrifice who daily submits self to God as His bondservant to use as He pleases. Get into the Word of God and ask God to change you through it as you mediate. He will transform you I promise. The mind of Christ you already have will become sharp, focused, and ready for use.
In Colossians 3:1-4 we have what it takes to be that living sacrifice. It starts here. Instead of being all about what is going in the world or culture, get your focus on Christ and where He is. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. You cannot be that living sacrifice if you do not do this. The living sacrifice knows that he or she has died and his or her life is hidden with Christ in God. It all becomes about God and His glory after that.
In light of all of that, please understand that as part of my daily devotional time I use a book titled The Valley of Vision. It is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. I do not recite them in an attempt at piety. No, that is not the point. Instead, I read them one paragraph or phrase at a time back to God and mediate on it as I do that. I ask about what it is saying. I tell God to make that true in my life or to change me or for Him to be glorified in me that way, et cetera. It is an exercise I go through each day that is an active process of lining up my will with God’s. It is my jump-start each day to praying continually. In this, I have come to know my God better and I obey Him from a grateful heart full of love. This is anything but a form of mysticism.
Now, here is what I want you to do. First, watch this video then read this post by my friend Ken Silva. If you read all of Ken’s post and watched the entire video then you know that there is a problem or several problems really. Dr. Piper has actually implied that the Puritans had their own mystical tradition, which is not true at all. The Puritans were not mystics. In fact, John Bunyan wrote vociferously against the Quakers in his time because of their mysticism. I have a book by William Tyndale who was pre-Puritan, but the Puritans got their theology from men like him and Luther and Calvin. The book is The Obedience of the Christian Man. In it there is one small chapter on prayer in which he mostly attacks the utter uselessness of the Catholic methodologies in their prayers and the total waste of time of the prayer exercises being done in the Monasteries, et cetera. It accomplished nothing good. Tyndale never talked in that book in any sense of the obligation of Christians needing to reach any higher plain of consciousnes through mysticism of any kind. The Puritans saw prayer as one of the “Means of Grace.” The prayers in the Valley of Vision are a collection of prayers by people who knew their God and prayed that their lives would be lined up with His will in every part. Their prayers lead us to do as they did, to an active walking in repentance, a praying continually to know and obey God. There is nothing mystical about it.
Well my brethren. If you are truly in Christ then you have the Spirit and that means that you have the mind of Christ. However, you are responsible for how sharp and clear that is through how mature and obedient you are in your walk of repentance on the narrow path and how well you are doing in the transformation process. Pray about what Ken and I have shown you. You should respond as the Lord leads you. We should all do that.
Soli Deo Gloria!