The Blind Leading the Blind

by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified about him and cried out saying, “This one was he whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks before me because he was prior to me.'”) 16 And from his fullness, we all received, even grace on top of grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, the grace and the truth came through Jesus Christ.  18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, The one being in the bosom of the Father, that one explained him. (John 1:14-18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In John 1:18 the Apostle tells us that no one has ever seen God, but the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us, that one, explained him. What got Jesus in hot water with the religious Jews during his earthly ministry? It was when he did that very thing and it was always in opposition to the presuppositions according to which the Scribes and Pharisees operated. They continually opposed our Lord’s ministry because they could not or would not see the true intent of God’s will as our Lord revealed as taught in the Old Testament. Because of this “blindness” our Lord called them blind guides and hypocrites. Let’s look at Matthew 15:10-20 then we will look at a current example of this same sort of blindness brought about by clinging to man-made presuppositions rather than obeying the Gospel and looking to the Word of God alone for God’s authoritative will for His church. 

10 καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἀκούετε καὶ συνίετε· 11 οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. 12 Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· οἶδας ὅτι οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον ἐσκανδαλίσθησαν; 13 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· πᾶσα φυτεία ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος ἐκριζωθήσεται. 14 ἄφετε αὐτούς· τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηγοὶ [τυφλῶν]· τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται. 15 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· φράσον ἡμῖν τὴν παραβολὴν [ταύτην]. 16 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; 17 οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται; 18 τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. 19 ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι. 20 ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον, τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. (Matthew 15:10-20 NA27)

10 And having summoned the crowd, he said to them, “Listen and understand. 11 It is not the thing entering into the mouth which defiles the man, but the thing going out from the mouth, this defiles the man.” 12 Then having approached, the disciples said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees, having heard the Word, have taken offense?” 13 But he answered saying, “Every plant which my Heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. 14 Leave them. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 And having answered, Peter said to him, “Explain to us this parable.” 16 And he said, “Are you still without understanding? 17 Do you knot know that every thing entering into the mouth goes into the stomach and passes into a latrine? 18 But the things coming out from the mouth come out from the heart, and that defiles the man. 19 For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, and blasphemies. 20 These are the things defiling the man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” (Matthew 15:10-20 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

The Pharisees were accusing Jesus and his disciples of breaking the law for eating without ceremonially washing their hands first (Matthew 15:1-9). However, Jesus did not give in just to get along. Instead, he made sure that everyone understood what really defiles people. What is it? It is the sin that all of are born with. That is why we need a Saviour. The Pharisees stubbornly clung to an aberration of the Mosaic Law in which they actually taught the people it was possible to be right before God by keeping the ceremonial Law. They had added a lot to it in order to make it easier to keep or at least to make it easier for the people “to think” they were keeping it, but Paul was right in his treatise in Romans, no one can keep the Law. No one is right before God in by any works we can do on our own. That is why we have the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and why it is Good News. Jesus kept the Law for us and on the Cross, our sins were imputed to him and he paid their penalty. In our Justification, His righteousness is imputed to our account.

Now what is purpose of the Church? We are to make disciples from all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded us (Matthew 28:18-20). We gather to hear preaching by pastors, to pray together, to disciple and be discipled,  to take the Lord’s Supper and witness Baptism(s). The Church is not a business. It isn’t a social network. It isn’t about entertainment. It’s not a money making concern. A pastor and a few elders could probably take care of a maximum of a couple of hundred people. Beyond that, they cannot PASTOR them. They could “manage” more, but is that pastoring? No!

You know that we have taken a strong stance against the Church Growth paradigm and that includes all forms of what is called the Seeker Sensitive movement. Why? If you compare what its presuppositions are compared to the paragraph above you will see very quickly that there is absolutely no commonality. Those in that paradigm are all about growing large churches, packing them in, and keeping them coming. It does not matter that they have just as many leaving by the back door as long as they keep them coming in through the front door. They use techniques that are totally flesh based. The Word of God clearly says that there is nothing in the flesh we can do to please God (Romans 8:8). Think about that. Using fleshly means to grow a church is of the world not of God.

A friend sent me this link today. The writer of that piece admits at first the complete bankruptcy of the Rick Warren or Seeker-Sensitive way of growing a church. I read that part and was waiting for him to make the repentant turn to move away from man-focused fleshly nonsense, forgetting all about “growth” as the primary goal while seeking God’s glory first in all things, but was totally let down as he came up with just another man-focused paradigm for church growth where the pastor should seek what the people want and then do that in order to seriously grow the church. Of course, what he suggested is a major improvement over the emergent nonsense with all the mysticism, gospel contextualization, and cultural relevance we have seen lately, but still, why not do things God’s way? Preach the Gospel and minister to people by discipling them as you administer the sacraments. You may lose some who “don’t like that sort of thing,” but God will bring in those who are his, in this he is faithful.

As long as the visible church continues to attempt to function primarily by being man-pleasers, its leaders reveal that they are simply blind guides leading the blind.

Soli Deo Gloria!

21 thoughts on “The Blind Leading the Blind

  1. Dear Mike,

    I was struck afresh with the Lord’s simplicity to those of us with simple minds.

    Once we are saved what does our utter thankfulness and overwhelming joy in what Christ did on our behave lead us to do? We should all possess a desire to seek the sheep that are still lost. How do we do that? Jesus said “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; AND I GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO THEM, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28

    We are simply the “grateful slave” doing the Master’s will of abiding in His truth “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You have sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world…I do not ask on behalf of these alone, BUT FOR THOSE ALSO WHO BELIEVE IN ME THROUGH THEIR WORD;” John 17 17,18&20

    All that is necessary is to personally share in truth and love the immeasurable grace of our precious Savior according to the means God has outlined in Scripture. The lost sheep will hear the Good Shepherds words and those who do not hear are not of the fold.

    It’s not about us and our ingenuity and never has been. It is about us realizing that apart from Christ we can do nothing.

    May God strengthen you in His never failing Word. Only by His undeserved grace upon grace, charisse

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  2. David Virtue is an Orthodox Anglican, and his theology is based, in part, in him seeing himself as a priest to his people. Plus, his faith has a long history of being pragmatic and seeking the applause of men, in one way or another. Each of us has this bent and need to be warned off of it. Is Virtue’s way better than Warren’s? Yes, in the same way a cheese pizza is better than one with anchovies on it. But still – we need the pepperoni! That’s the gospel in this recipe 🙂

    You are spot-on, Mike. God’s people need the gospel, whether saved or fixin’ to be saved. It is the POWER of salvation for all who believe in Christ, and by that spiritual food, He will keep ALL of His sheep until Judgment Day when we shall enter into the rest He earned for us.

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  3. I don’t like anchovies on pizza at all Manfred. 🙂 Pragmatism is still man-centeredness even when it backs away from all the goofiness of Rick Warrinism and the Emergent stuff. I am convinced that the SBC church I went to as a child in Purcell, OK in the 1950’s and early 1960’s before we moved to Yukon, OK, even though as conservative as they come, was still man-centered in its approach to church and theology. My generation looked at all of that religiosity and, saw the hypocrisy in it and said no thanks. The Jesus movement, of which I was part, in the 1970’s was our answer. However, it was not theologically sound.

    I find it amazing that it took God forcibly taking me through a personal revival in 2004 that lasted over 8 months of me doing nothing but digging into the word, studying theology, praying, worshiping, et cetera, before I became cleansed of all of those years of religiosity.Not many months later, I was put to the test. The leadership at our church wanted to go Purpose Driven. I said no. I refused. I did so theologically, exegetically, and through reason, but not one person in leadership would listen so we left. Very painful. Was my faith tested? Yes, but here we are attending a very sound church that takes almost 50 minutes to drive to since it is almost in Missouri and we live in Gardner, KS. However, ,my theology is sound and I refuse to be part of a church that is not as well. If I see pragmatism taking root then I have a problem with that for that is placing man before God. It is making man sovereign. Sorry, God is Sovereign.

    That is why David Virtue has a problem. He is all about him and people and not about God and His Sovereignty and Christ and His Lordship. Everything changes when we get those right.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  4. Mike, You are about 5 hours north of where my wife hope in the Lord we will be in 3 or 4 years 🙂

    Yes, anchovies on pizza is pragmatism as is cheese pizza. Pure and unadulterated pizza is pepperoni! And since God is Sovereign (we would all be dead in our sin if not), I praise Him for pepperoni pizza whether it it regular or thin crust.

    My initial comments were intended to point out – perhaps subtly – that I thought David Virtue’s position was without much virtue.

    Our personal stories have much in common, as we’ve discussed in the past. When Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven madness swept through Houston a couple years before your personal revival, that was what the Lord used to draw me to study the Word and see the dreadful condition my church and my soul was in, being starved of the gospel and being drawn to a man-centered worship of creation.

    This is one good use of AlGore’s Internet – blood-bought saints of the living God encouraging and exhorting one another while it is still today!

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  5. Pizza? You guys are killing me! But I’m in trouble if the pure and unadulterated gospel is pepperoni… HAHAHA!

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  6. carolynb – the gate is narrow and few like pepperoni; the path beyond is rough and few travelers are found there, but it leads to a an endless pepperoni buffet with some Italian sausage and bacon bits for the ones who persevere!

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  7. I’m no vegetarian, but good pizza to me involves no meat, just red sauce and cheese, mushrooms, onions, olives, and bell peppers. That’s why Manfred’s pepperoni gospel leaves me in trouble!

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  8. Manfred, oh no! I’m on the broad path of vegetation, leading to an endless lake of brussels sprouts, butternut squash, rhubarb and cucumbers!!!

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  9. LOL! I am glad we can have a little fun in the midst of such a great apostasy. Let us be enriched by the mercies of God and His provision for us and not grow weary in well doing – for the glory of our great God and good of His miserable but redeemed people.

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  10. Mike, you said “We gather to hear preaching by pastors, to pray together, to disciple and be discipled, to take the Lord’s Supper and witness Baptism(s). The Church is not a business. It isn’t a social network. It isn’t about entertainment. It’s not a money making concern.” AMEN AMEN AMEN! I’ve just been reading about Peter Wagner’s interview on ‘dominion’ ideals…. one” intellectual” word comes to mind – YUK! As you know, you and our family share a common story of exodus ….you also said “a blindness brought about by clinging to man-made presuppositions rather than obeying the Gospel and looking to the Word of God alone for God’s authoritative will for His church” – I couldn’t say it better! The church we were in were well and truly enraptured with Wagner’s books.. and they still are – they are exalting a man’s ideals ABOVE God’s actual written Word!

    BUT, once God’s Word has it’s rightful place in a christian’s life, false teaching is sooooo obvious! False teaching not only conflicts with HIS truth, but it twists like a slippery snake! Praise God for His written Word to us – it can be the ONLY standard!

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  11. Sorry, but I had nothing to say as my mouth was full…of homemade pizza! All that talk from Reformed Germanic folks. You should have consulted an Italian (former) Catholic about all of this, like me for example!…By the way, true pizza is WHITE pizza. But I prefer homemade thick crust with double cheese, my own sauce (figures doesn’t it) pepperoni, sausage, olives, sweet peppers garlic… That and flat pop is the BEST BREAKFAST anyone can eat!!!

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  12. Mickey, Mickey, Mickey, eating that stuff will get you disqualified from your company’s health plan don’t ya know…

    Most Seminaries are pumping out these guys who see nothing wrong with CSM and all that goes with it. It all starts at “Christian Undergraduate” level as you said.

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  13. Mickey – Viva Italia!!! If you leave off the pepperoni, I’m with you on your homemade pizza. I can do Italian sausage, half of my heritage is from the old country! Molto buon!

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  14. I took my family on a vacation to Europe in 2005 and the pizza in Italy was the best! Of course, they don’t call pepperoni by that name in most European countries. “Spicy sausage” if I recall correctly. Very good – home-made crust tossed high, the best cheese in the world, and lots of spicy sausage. My wife thinks I missed the best chow because I enjoyed the pizza so much.

    But when we arrived in Germany, my diet changed 🙂

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  15. Welllllllll, I don’t know, when I go to a baseball game at Kaufman Stadium I always get a Sheboygan with lots of sauerkraut with a giant Diet Coke. I can eat that and not be hungry again for at least 8 hours. 🙂

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  16. The kraut is one of the few items that my German friends and I disagree on chow. Goulash Soup, wiener or Jäger schnitzel, dark beer – after a nice drive at 80 – 100 mph on the autobahn.

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