by Mike Ratliff
37 For yet in A very little while,
HE who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 But MY righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, MY soul has no pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:37-38 NASB)
Nearly every day I receive contact from a dear soul or a couple or a family who have ‘lost their church.’ They were part of a vibrant, obedient, Bible preaching church then something changed. The leadership changed for some reason and there was some sort of hostile takeover by those who are consumed by Rick Warren’s ungodly Purpose Driven deception. Gone are in-depth Bible studies. Gone are expository sermons. Gone is ministry to the Body of Christ. Instead, the whole “enterprise” is all wrapped up in ministering to the “unchurched.” It becomes church for the world. Some of the contact I have received is couched in deep, hot anger or raw hurt. These people feel betrayed. What happens in most cases is that in certain areas, these take-overs wipe out all good churches there and leave nowhere for these people to go to be fed or to minister.
We should view this as tragic. We should view this is as part of the cause of judgment being heaped up on these evil men who are culpable in this. However, we should also understand that God does allow the spirit of the Antichrist to attack His Church for His own purposes. The cost of following Jesus is high no matter what false teachers like Joel Osteen say. As true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, our role in the Kingdom is to obey Him, to be where He wants us to be, to be doing what He wants us to do.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 And He said to another, “ Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” 61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good- bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “ No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 NASB)
Here is one that is forward to follow Christ, but seems to have been hasty and rash, and not to have counted the cost. If we mean to follow Christ, we must lay aside the thoughts of great things in the world. Let us not try to join the profession of Christianity, with seeking after worldly advantages. Here is another that seems resolved to follow Christ, but he begs a short delay. To this man Christ first gave the call; he said to him, Follow me. Religion teaches us to be kind and good, to show piety at home, and to requite our parents; but we must not make these an excuse for neglecting our duty to God. Here is another that is willing to follow Christ, but he must have a little time to talk with his friends about it, and to set in order his household affairs, and give directions concerning them. He seemed to have worldly concerns more upon his heart than he ought to have, and he was willing to enter into a temptation leading him from his purpose of following Christ. No one can do any business in a proper manner, if he is attending to other things. Those who begin with the work of God, must resolve to go on, or they will make nothing of it. Looking back, leads to drawing back, and drawing back is to perdition. He only that endures to the end shall be saved. – Matthew Henry
So many seek to be a Christian on their own terms. We are witnessing the devastation of that with the carnage wrought by the Purpose Driven paradigm and Emergence Christianity. Both drive people away from God’s truth as the central core of our faith. Both are man-centered. Both are all about shaping God to please men. Both are false forms of Christianity that are in rebellion to the true cost of serving Christ.
As I said at the top of this post, I receive communication continually from people who are being ministered to through this blog and others because their churches, from where they should be fed spiritually, have been decimated by wolves. I would like to affirm to all reading this right now that I will continue to serve my Lord as He directs. I pray that He will draw those who are in spiritual need here to be fed and ministered to as He wills. Let us draw together in His truth and commit to one another by His grace to love and serve one another in love as long as He wills.
On the other hand, in my own spiritual pilgramage, as many of you know, this ministry began with my own withstanding a Purpose Driven takeover at a Church in which I served as a Deacon and Bible teacher from the end of 2001 through when the takeover took place in the Spring of 2006. It was an ugly thing. It was a fiery trial. However, God had taken me through much preparation for it and I had some great support as I went through it from Ken Silva and the rest of the CRN team. It was as I was forced out of that church that I began blogging and this ministry grew up from that. That church was the last church my wife and I were members of until we relocated to Oklahoma in December 2012. Think about that! Nearly six years of looking for a church not contaminiated by the Church Growth heresy. We moved to the NW OKC area and the church we joined was in Edmond. However, earlier this year, we came to terms with the fact that the house we had moved into in 2012 simply was too small. We sold it and bought the house we now live in in Yukon, OK. This is too far from the church in Edmond for us to make that drive, but there is a church just around the corner from our neighborhood that I had been wanting to visit ever since we moved here.
We began visiting that church a few months ago. I began praying that God would show me if this church was free from that Church Growth heresy, that it was all about serving Him by faith, that it was all about drawing the Body of Christ into a close personal relationship with the Lord. Today, the pastor preached a sermon based in John 13. He read the entire chapter then preached a sermon that left me in tears. He shared that when he was seminary that the Church Growth teaching was pushed on everyone as if it was biblical. He shared that he rejected it from the beginning because he saw that it was in complete conflict with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the real purpose of the Church. He then asked one at time the leaders of the Church if they were in complete agreement with him that this Church would never pursue any aspect of the Church Growth heresy. By the time it was over, as I shared above, I was in tears… How long has it been since I have been in a Church that is about what our Lord says it is supposed to be about? Nearly 10 years! I do believe God has answered my prayers! :-)
Soli Deo Gloria!