The Knower of Hearts

by Mike Ratliff

καὶ ὁ καρδιογνώστης θεὸς ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν καὶ οὐθὲν διέκρινεν μεταξὺ ἡμῶν τε καὶ αὐτῶν τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τὰς καρδίας αὐτῶν. (Acts 15:8-9 NA27)

And the knower of hearts, God, bore witness to them having given to them the Holy Spirit just as to us, and He differentiated nothing between them, and us having cleansed their hearts by faith. (a personal translation of Acts 15:8-9 from the NA27 Greek text)

God is omniscient, which mean that He knows all things. What is puzzling to me at times is that so many who profess to be Christians either do not understand what this really means or, their hearts are so hard in their unbelief that the “god” of their “faith” is one of their own making, hence, they live and “do their religion” in ways that are “of the world” and in no way could be called Biblical Christianity. Within that paradigm are all forms of man-focused religiosity that came into being, at least in the U.S. about the time of the Second Great Awakening. It was at that time that preaching the Gospel, coming together as a local body of believers to worship, pray together, and hear the Word of God opened and rightly divided was hijacked and made to be seen as something “old fashioned” or “boring.” Instead, so-called Christian leaders sought the tent revivals and continual crusade atmosphere that was much more conducive to large numbers of “conversions.” Forget the fact that very few of those “conversions” actually “stuck.” 

From those roots of continual “revivalism” has come what we have now, which is a view of what is taught in the Book of Acts in the New Testament as the model of the local Church, as being outmoded and insufficient. Tied to this view is also the abhorrence for preaching the Law and Gospel as prescribed by Peter, Paul, John, and our Lord Jesus Christ, which God actually uses to save souls. Robert Schuller and all who subscribe to his model of “church” reject the Biblical model because they insist that calling people lost sinners in need of a Saviour would drive away most of their congregations. Probably, but the local church is meant for the sheep, not goats. Evangelism is done outside the local church as the sheep make disciples from every nation, teaching them to observe all that Christ taught. These disciples then become part of the local body of believers. This is how it works.

Instead of going after what people may like or what seems to work in someone else’s church (pragmatism), our church leaders should submit themselves under the mighty hand of our omniscient God who is the knower of hearts, fully intent on obeying Him in their ecclesiology. If our church leaders would do this, what a change we would see! If a simple Bible teacher like me and countless other former church leaders who have been ousted or deliberately left their churches because of the corruption or the infiltration of the PDC paradigm or post-modernism in some form could do this and be used by God to reach believers all around the world with His truth then repentance and submission in all things to our omniscient God would be something incredible to see as pastor after pastor would do the same. Remember, you do not work for men. You are accountable to God and as you are getting ready to see, He knows your heart better than you.

In the passage I placed at the top of this post the words “knower of hearts” translates the Greek word καρδιογνώστης or kardiognōstēs. This word was unknown in both secular Greek and the Septuagint. It is, of course, a compound comprised of καρδία or kardia, “which originally referred to the seat of emotions and spirituality, but eventually came to mean spiritual and intellectual life” and γινώσκω or ginōskō, “to know absolutely.” Putting these together, then, the meaning should be very clear for us as God’s children. He is the “knower of hearts.” He knows our hearts completely, totally. However, this is not just the hearts of those who love Him, but also the hearts of everyone. God is the “heart-knower.”

From God’s Word we are told that God looks into the heart and knows our thoughts and attitudes. No one can “pull the wool over God’s eyes.” God may allow men to disobey Him and create false forms of Christianity and “get away with it,” but these same people will have to stand before the Judgment Seat and give and account and receive judgment for their deeds. God may indeed use their disobedience to raise up others to do right in place of their evil just as he allowed Satan to cause havoc in the Corinthian church and become a thorn in Paul’s side. This was for God’s purposes, but those who were tools of our enemy, even though God allowed it and even used them for His purpose, were doing evil and still will be held accountable.

When we read the New Testament, it is clear that even in the age of the Apostles, the Church was under attack from within. Also, those who had the most followers were more than likely the apostates not the Apostles. Look how Paul was slandered even in the churches he planted! If that happened in the 1st Century Church, why should we be surprised about the rampant apostasy in our time?

Since God searches the hearts of men, that means our hearts too; it also means that He will give unto every one according to our works (Revelation 2:23). Think about that. This is why we must fill our hearts and minds with the Word of God instead of the garbage the world is trying to make us digest. Our Lord Jesus is the Word who became flesh. His Word is the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12) Therefore, we must guard our thoughts, attitudes, motives, and all we do. Knowing that God sees any pretense, any wrong motive, or any hidden agenda will help us guard our thinking.

Now, I have been part of two churches that were systematically taken over by the Purpose Driven paradigm. The first time I was a deacon on sabbatical when all that came down and so I was disconnected from most of the ugliness when it happened. When I came back, most of the older members and deacons were gone. The church was decimated. That was in the mid-1990’s. We left in 2000 when I was relocated to another city. In 2001 I took another job in the KC area that I still have. We joined a local church here and I became a Bible teacher and later a deacon. In 2004-2005 our pastor started working behind the scenes to bring about a Purpose Driven takeover. I was in the middle of my own personal “awakening.” God had drawn me back to Him after many years of me running the religiosity treadmill. In early 2006 it became increasingly obvious that the pastor had the men behind him to take over and get his way. I put together a very well researched paper that I presented to them about why it was a mistake to go Purpose Driven, but that was snuffed out and I lost my Bible Study class and we left the church and have not been back. That was in May 2006.

I received a letter from the pastor about two months later accusing me of not being obedient to his pastoral authority. I threw it away and did not respond. That was it. I have helped others from that church find their way to other churches. In any case, I am convinced that God allowed that to happen for His purposes. I did not like it at the time. It hurt. However, as I pray about this, I know He knows my heart and I pray that He will draw those in that church to repent and come out of that darkness.

As I look at Rick Warren and now John Piper’s attempt to bring him into the Reformed camp, I know that God is Sovereign. He is omniscient. He can stop this if it is His will. He can raise up the right people that can address this and stop it if that is His will. I am praying that God will work this out for His glory and for these men to have their eyes opened to the truth.

Soli Deo Gloria!

11 thoughts on “The Knower of Hearts

  1. Thats the question..what has happened with John Piper? Rick Warren has had a huge influence here in australia, very hard finding a church here that hasnt been influenced by his purpose drivenism (or willow creekinsm for that matter) Funny thing is when i oppossed this teaching in my previous church my pastor removed me (and not my wife) from their church membership and stated that he wanted me to relearn their mission statements and philosophies of the church if i wanted to regain membership starting with reading some of Robert schullers books!! But as you say God is sovereign, because even though it was a very hard time for me and my family God used it to draw us out of this movement and opened my eyes to reformed theology. God bless.

    Like

  2. This was a good post Mike. My husband and I went through two church hurts. The second was the hardest and really broke our hearts. The church was independent and the pastor was accountable to no one. His philosophy was that the elders were to protect him because he heard from God. Oh my…it became very clear to us that this was not the place for us to serve the Lord. There are so many places where people can be misled and wounded. We need to be discerning and be aware of scripture. May God open eyes and hearts so that none may be misled.

    Like

  3. Barbara, that is quite sad. You are right. As I reread my post in light of your comment I realized that I left out something about accountability. Yes, Pastors work for God not men, but must be held accountable to the elders or deacons, whatever that structure is. If those men are simply there to protect him in his apostasy then you have what you described. It is best that men in ministry are held accountable to others OUTSIDE of that ministry who are held accountable to each other.

    Like

  4. Mike,
    I really enjoyed this article today. Someone once said to me “God knows my heart” and used it as an excuse to not actually obey the Word of God. Sadly, that has become the standard in a lot of so called Christian churches and the lives of their followers.

    God does know our hearts, and He is watching what we do with them. God knew the hearts of the disciples. When Jesus said “Follow Me” it literally meant follow Him. He didn’t say “It’s ok. God knows your heart. He knows you WANT to follow me. So that is enough. Just sit back and relax. I’ll come back for you when I’m done.” He meant…get up and follow! It was a command to obedience. It was a call for action.

    God knows our hearts, but if we are not picking up our cross and following Him, our hearts deceive us. Like you said…”No one can pull the wool over God’s eyes.”

    On that day, there will be so many that say “But Lord, we did all these things in your name” and He will say “I never knew you.”

    There will be church leaders who refuse to follow the Word of God, who refuse to call sin a sin, who refuse to confront their members with the truth about adultery, marriage, raising children, modesty, etc. There will be men, who refuse to understand the seriousness of the commitment they made to their wives on the day they got married, who refuse to love their wives as Christ loved the church, who place the blame for their marital problems on their wives instead of realizing that they are ultimately responsible to God for the marriage, who refuse to humble themselves before God and their wives to go the “extra mile” like Jesus did to do the right thing. There will be parents who, in their hearts knew that they should be raising Godly children, but refused to take the steps to teach them Scripture, to follow rules, to dress modestly, to be in the world but not of it. Parents who set a poor example of who God is by divorcing and raising their children in broken homes.

    As you can probably tell, this subject has been a burden on my heart for a while. There are not enough Godly men in this world that are willing to stand up and do what God has asked them to do in their families, their ministries, or their lives as a whole.

    God knows their hearts, and they will have to answer to Him for what they do, but how sad it is to sit back and watch people call themselves Christians, and yet they don’t do the right thing according to the Word of God. I wish they would realize that they aren’t only hurting themselves, they are hurting God’s children.

    Matthew 18:1-6, 10-14
    “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

    “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

    “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

    Like

  5. Mike;
    I can’t think of a single case of heresy or for that matter apostasy that hasn’t come to a congregation or denomination that wasn’t the result of “clergy,” that is the professional paid “preachers.” These all came either by being directly introduced by them or their allowing others to come in and introduce it.
    What are the “Deeds of the Nicolaitans” which thing Jesus HATES? It is all on full display in western “churchianity” today. Every book of the New Testament warns us of these things, and we are told that it will wax worse…add in the “Great Falling Away” and what do we have? When Peter Drucker, a marketing guru, is hailed as the expert in church growth…we find that this whole system is another system, or rather another’s system. Yet it is only the most recent permutation of satan’s flesh based empire.He is defeated already, and we are warned by Jesus to come out of her!

    Like

  6. That’s right faith. God knows our hearts so we should realize the truth of that and fear God and then obey Him. I am struck by those blinded by Post Modernism how they scoff at this truth.

    Like

  7. Following the verse you quote Mike is the following indictment to religious men; “Why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (NASB). This statement was a result of some of the Pharisees who were attempting to mandate parts of the law for these new believers. (Acts 15:5)
    With the above in mind, we all might want to consider how we each practice “our religion.” For even as the “purpose driven” continue to obscure the true message of Biblical Christianity by their words and actions, so do those of us (so-called leaders) who continue to place yokes upon our fellow believers. Instead of altering the message of the gospel itself (we wouldn’t dare do that) and yet we have no problem obscuring what Jesus intended through the Ekklesia He is building by our obsession with “church.” If you haven’t already, please look up this word “church” Mike. Despite “ekklesia” being translated “church,” that is not its proper definition. The word “church” didn’t even exist in the 1st century. Do you, do we, recognize the ramifications of that? God knows our heart.
    We should be grateful for those throughout history who have aided in the restoration of New Testament belief and practice. That said, should we likewise remain ignorant of the man-made traditions these same men practiced and passed along to us? God knows our heart.
    Yes Mike, God has and is raising up certain individuals to carry on His message and truth in the coming years. These men will portray the exact opposite character of those we call leaders today and be willing to lose all for the sake of their Lord. These same men are calling to account those leaders who continue to promote the almost 100 different forms of religious tradition through “church.” These nobody’s (they have made themselves of no reputation) have no intent to safeguard what so many cherish through their religious denominations and traditions, but rather rejoice when they see them compromised and overrun by this world. There’s something greater going on here…..
    We enjoy your articles and study Mike, but there is something even greater than the wisdom God has given you, and that’s the collection of wisdom shared within the comments section of your site. Here, although somewhat disconnected due to geography, is an expression of ekklesia. Where two or three (or more) are sharing and attempting to serve one another, here we have in totality the expression of Jesus Christ in our midst. Isn’t that what we’ve always desired from the beginning? We all want a healthy functioning body do we not?
    Yes, God knows our hearts and He has given us this small for-shadowing of what eternity will comprise through this site and others. I for one can’t settle for that and neither should anyone naming the name of Christ. Many things, ministries and people will be sacrificed in order for Jesus’ Ekklesia to be gathered together. In His sovereignty, God Himself will expedite the process. One question remains before us as individuals, “Will I be one of them, or will I continue to put God to the test?” God knows my heart, amen?

    Like

  8. To Mickey,
    I did read your message. Although my name appears as a link, it is not tied to an actual site. The site I’m having built will be up in the next month or so although all of the authors who write upon it must remain anonymous and refrain from using any sectarian names, titles etc.
    Although the site will touch some discernment issues, it is primarily geared toward building up and edifying the body of Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
    I enjoy what you post as we are obviously likeminded in some areas. If you would like to chat sometime, I gave Mike permission to send you my email address. I live in Michigan.

    Like

Comments are closed.