Rejoicing in Faith

by Mike Ratliff

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7,8 ESV)

The confidence of the true Christian cannot be in men or the faithfulness of their so-called Christian leaders. No, no matter how well known or published or how solid his reputation is, he is still a sinful man. The Christian’s faith and trust and confidence is not in any other Christian, or in any earthly institution. No, it is in Christ our rock. The false teachers have always known this and that is why they always teach “another Jesus” that is more like the pagan gods of other religions or even more like just one of us than the perfect Son of Man who we learn of in the Word of God. We who really know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour are new creations and have faith that believes God and even when it is under heavy attack, as it seems to be continually nowadays, God has provided us a way to rest in Him and finding peace and joy that the unregenerate cannot understand. 

I got this link today from some friends. The post at the end of that link by my friend Ken Silva was actually being discussed in another post at another site. The title of the second post, asking the rhetorical question, “Are Tim Keller & John Piper Even Christian?”, really struck a chord with me. Why? Either we believe God or not. If we are in the mode of picking and choosing to believe what is true that God says is true then we are in unbelief and that means we are being revealed as unbelievers. Sorry, but that is what that means. I have had this “conversation” many times in many contexts. When God says something is true, the believing heart, the one that is regenerate and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, believes Him. Those who insist on filtering everything that God says is truth according to their own set of values that are revealed to be “of this world” instead of “of God,” are proving that that regenerate heart does not reside in them, or, if it does, it has become hardened over by repeated instances of disobedience so that every act of deliberate unbelief is now seen by them as what is true and right. In either case, they have been deceived. I personally doubt that either of the men mentioned in those articles are of the latter condition, but are of the first, which means that God has given them over to the hardness of the heart and there is not one thing any of us can do for them unless He is merciful and breaks through that hardness to allow them to hear the truth and repent.

What is extremely sad on top of this is that this is just an example of what is becoming rampant throughout “evangelicalism.” There is one “mega-church” that I occasionally visit that was originally like a cookie cutter of Saddleback Valley. One of the associate pastors tried to dress like Rob Bell and preached out of his books continually. However, the main pastor was pretty solid and that is why I went. I just could not understand the disconnect. About 2 years ago or so there was a major reorganization done at that church. The resemblance to Saddleback Valley went away for the most part. The small groups remained. The Rob Bell lookalike associate pastor left though. The rock show stuff on stage all went away along with the light shows. However, the last couple of times I visited that stuff was starting to creep back in. The pastor still preached his solid messages, but the rest of the church seemed to be right out of the Purpose Driven Church with a little Rob Bell thrown in. I could go on, but the point is that when I go there I am not encouraged in the Lord, but attention is continually put on us to become part of a group to be part of some relationship instead of the focus being on strictly our relationship with the Lord. That is why I never leave there with any sense of peace or joy.

On the other hand, when I am at home on weekends, I do get to go to a church here in our city that has not compromised. I love the pastor and the gospel has not been messed with or edited or subordinated in any way. The focus there is Christ and what He has done and what our responsibility is because of that.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)

Despite the ugly compromises going on around us, we must not allow our enemy to discourage us in them. Instead, we are called to have joy that is not a happiness that depends on circumstances, but a deep contentment that is in our Lord, based on trust in the sovereign, living God. Because of this, this joy is always available to us no matter what the world and our enemy throws at us. Notice also that we are not called to be radical zealots, but to a level of reasonableness for maintaining community. This is an attitude that seeks what is best for everyone and not just for oneself. Our focus must be eternal, not temporal. If we live this way then we will not be tied to the things that cause such heartache and stress in those who are temporally focused. If we are eternally focused then we will see the Lord’s return as imminent. We know that when He returns that it will be for His Church and as judge of those outside of it. These will be held responsible for their deeds.

I saw a comment today on Facebook that went something like this, “Being a Christian is something we are, not something we do.” I would like to add to that, that it is something we are that causes us to do right (Ephesians 2:10). Think about that as you meditate on these pastors and Christian leaders making light of God’s truth as they pick a choose what to believe as true based on their own sense of what is true instead of believing God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

30 thoughts on “Rejoicing in Faith

  1. Pingback: “Are Tim Keller & John Piper Even Christian?” « Defending. Contending.

  2. Excellent post, Mike!
    As I sit here reading it, I am awaiting deployment as a Tornado Spotter…one who is stationary, observing the coming storm.
    If it weren’t for the Joy of the Lord, and confidence in His Holy Word, I would not have the ability to do this, and thus serve the community. But knowing that I am in His hands, even in the danger of the unpredictable weather, gives me the calm needed to go out into the dark of night, and stand watch.
    Thanks for this post.

  3. Excellent post!
    Thanks for the warnings and admonitions.
    Jesus’ return is imminent!
    Blessed, blessed hope.

  4. BJ, I hesitate to answer this with a quick yes or no answer because I have learned it is a bit more complicated than that. In the “business” sense my wife and I are not members of any local church. However, when we are not traveling, we attend a Sovereign Grace church in Lenexa Kansas which we consider our church home. We tithe there. We are not official members there because they require a month long class on SG theology and practice etc. Every time we have tried to line up our schedule to do that something happens. We cannot officially join until we take that class and then we can apply for membership. However, the leadership there treat us like members and we are part of a care group. However, I am way too busy with this ministry to be part of a lot of what goes on there. Of course, a lot of what they are doing is based on discipleship and I have been told by those involved that they consider me a “one who disciples.” Well, I know that I can always learn more and am ready to do so. God’s will be done.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Hi Mike,
    I was thinking about devotion to Christ after reading your article. I looked up devotion: profound dedication, selfless affection for a person, loyalty, feality, allegiance. Are we truly devoted to Jesus? Are we devoted to His ways? Or are we devoted to what we think is best—to get along with everyone?
    I can’t help but think of the warnings in Matthew 10…esp. verse 38: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” I think we somehow think we are still “worthy” of Him no matter how far we stray from following His truth. Very humbling passage of scripture.
    Thanks, Mike!

  6. Mike, Seems the ‘church’ you attend sure have alot of criteria for fellowship that our Lord didn’t require or the apostles. That sounds strange to me, the classes, tithing, offically join, etc. different treatment for offical members as opposed to those that are members of God’s elect by grace rather than works or classes or tithes.
    Seriously. This may not be the place or thread to discuss but we should get back to scripture on everything right? Isn’t that the plumbline and not traditions of past so-called ‘churches’ after all many places are called churches and do the same thing.

  7. Brent, that was my point. My wife and I are not “official” members in sense of being on their member list, but we are members in sense of fellowship. We take the Lord’s Supper there. We worship and fellowship there. We look at our tithing as a form of worship. In any case, I am leaving this in God’s hands. I was trying to describe something to BJ and it has come across totally different to you than it really is. The church we attend is a Sovereign Grace church. They are all the same. Here is the website.

  8. Pingback: Speak Not to Please Man but to Please God « Possessing the Treasure

  9. i would agree with you Brent, its ot about traditions and following the ways that man go but going back to the bible. legalism and favoritsm can kill the Spirit of the LORD if we are not careful. we must also carefully review james chapter 2 on favoritism.

  10. sovereign grace ministries is a mixed bag of legalism and sloppy grace. I know from personal experience. Plus, Piper (who is friends with Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll) is also very good friends with CJ MAhaney ( who is also friends with MD)

  11. Pingback: Speak Not to Please Man but to Please God - Daily Living Falling Away God Jesus Salvation - Christian God John Bunyan Mike Ratliff Paul Pleasing - Standing For God

  12. The entire “membership” thing is way overrated
    and misused. It is a form of control in a lot of cases.

  13. Michelle, perhaps, but our church’s pastor is very good and I haven’t seen any evidence of that there. Of course, this is the only Sovereign Grace church I have ever been to. In any case, they have offered us fellowship and place to worship knowing all about this ministry. They know that I do not do what I do here to please man, but God and they never flinch. Our pastor never flinches from the pulpit either when he tells it like it is. That is what makes him the great preacher he is. I have heard from others in other places about other SG churches that are not so hot, but our church in no way is like that.

  14. Mike, worship comes from the Spirit and that would cause us to give freely one way or another to other beleivers to meet any pressing needs as it was throughout the new testament. BUT with that said, Tithe means a ‘Tenth’ and it isn’t New Testament Spirit it is old testament ‘law’ so to speak and it was for feeding the priests in food. Today, by God’s grace ( the temple veil was rent ) we are all priests that have the ability to support ourselves like Paul did for ministery unless one is weak and needs help or is persecuted and needs help etc. See Acts: 20 and especially the last part on how by Paul’s example of 3 years he lived and told the ‘elders’ to live after he was to depart.
    For any Christian to tell another that they should ‘tithe’ to them is a form of ‘judaizing’. If an ‘elder’ is telling the weak to ‘tithe to him he is wrong. Little kids and widows should not be ‘required’ using some verse out of context like Malachi 3:10 to law them into giving to ‘support’ thier ministery. I used to teach my kids that when I gave them money they should take out a ‘tenth’ and give it to the ‘church’ or they could be in danger of ‘robbing God’. How sinfully wrong was that? it was.

  15. Also… I was never Jewish nor was a great portion of the Gentile New Testament converts, they were not instructed to start ‘keeping’ Jewish law unless it was by judaizers and it was heresy.
    We should always desire to give appropriatly, but not under compulsion from men. See;
    2 Corinthians 9:7 (Amplified Bible)
    7Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He [a]takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].(A)

  16. Brent, so, for me to use the term “tithe” when I am referring to simply giving from the abundance God has provided is somehow legalism? I don’t think so. You are reading too much into what I was saying as I was trying to say in my last comment to you. There was no “legalistic requirements” in what I was saying. We “tithe” as an act of worship. Period. No one is making us do it. We give what we give from the spirit and we call it tithing because we always have not because we are equating it to what you are saying. Okay?

  17. I understand Mike completely. I don’t think that you ‘tithe’ out of law, but you also know as I do, that the great majority of ‘christians’ are taught to ‘tithe’ out of fear of robbing God etc. I just think that word is used wrongly in Christian circles for wrong reasons and sometimes ignorance. I have decided to personlay not use that term for ‘giving’ period because it has the past law associations in it. That is the only point I was making. I wasn’t saying anything towards you.

  18. I agree Brent, and our current pastor has even preached on this. We give back to God as He has blessed us and as He leads us to do so. We both grew up as Southern Baptist and this “giving” was always called “tithing” and we are both in our late 50’s and so we both still call it that even though it is in no way equated with the LAW. We both know that. It’s just what we call it.

  19. Just one question for clarity on ‘tithing’ since we are in front of other believers.
    Would it be a sin (judaizing believers is sinful) for an ‘elder’, ‘pastor’ or any Chrsitian to tell another believer to ‘tithe’ to them or thier ministery or the ministery of another because to not do so would be robbing God?
    Sorry, but I felt I had to finalize this discussion in light not gray areas.

  20. I think it would be a sin to teach something like that. I grew up under that sort of teaching and, of course, the support for it always came from the Old Covenant never from the New Covenant. However, in the New Testament, we are told to give as God has prospered us, but I never take that in any legalistic sort of way.

  21. Thanks Mike. I Love the Spirit of Truth that flows from Him through those He appoints to be His messengers of that Truth… continue the work and yes those things will flow from that.

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