by Mike Ratliff
22 Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς [αὐτοῦ]· διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν· μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ τί φάγητε, μηδὲ τῷ σώματι τί ἐνδύσησθε. 23 ἡ γὰρ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος. 24 κατανοήσατε τοὺς κόρακας ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲ θερίζουσιν, οἷς οὐκ ἔστιν ταμεῖον οὐδὲ ἀποθήκη, καὶ ὁ θεὸς τρέφει αὐτούς· πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμεῖς διαφέρετε τῶν πετεινῶν. 25 τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ προσθεῖναι πῆχυν; 26 εἰ οὖν οὐδὲ ἐλάχιστον δύνασθε, τί περὶ τῶν λοιπῶν μεριμνᾶτε; 27 κατανοήσατε τὰ κρίνα πῶς αὐξάνει· οὐ κοπιᾷ οὐδὲ νήθει· λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν, οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων. 28 εἰ δὲ ἐν ἀγρῷ τὸν χόρτον ὄντα σήμερον καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέζει, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, ὀλιγόπιστοι. 29 καὶ ὑμεῖς μὴ ζητεῖτε τί φάγητε καὶ τί πίητε καὶ μὴ μετεωρίζεσθε· 30 ταῦτα γὰρ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου ἐπιζητοῦσιν, ὑμῶν δὲ ὁ πατὴρ οἶδεν ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων. 31 πλὴν ζητεῖτε τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῦτα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν. 32 Μὴ φοβοῦ, τὸ μικρὸν ποίμνιον, ὅτι εὐδόκησεν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν δοῦναι ὑμῖν τὴν βασιλείαν. 33 Πωλήσατε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῶν καὶ δότε ἐλεημοσύνην· ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς βαλλάντια μὴ παλαιούμενα, θησαυρὸν ἀνέκλειπτον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ὅπου κλέπτης οὐκ ἐγγίζει οὐδὲ σὴς διαφθείρει· 34 ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρὸς ὑμῶν, ἐκεῖ καὶ ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν ἔσται. (Luke 12:22-24 NA28)
22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you may eat, nor for your body, what clothes you may put on. 23 For the soul is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens that they do not sow nor reap, they have neither a storeroom nor a barn, and God feeds them. How much more worth are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying is able to add upon his lifespan a cubit? 26 If then you are not able to do as little a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not labor nor spin, but I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field today and tomorrow it is thrown into an oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you may eat and what you may drink, and do not be anxious. 30 For the nations of the world strive for these things, but your Father knows that you need them, 31 but seek his Kingdom and these things will be added to you.” 32 “Do not fear little flock because it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to charity. Make for yourselves purses that do not become old, with an inexhaustible treasure in the heavens where a thief does not come near nor does a moth destroy. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. (Luke 12:22-34 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
No matter what I write about and post on this blog it seems that there is always someone with an agenda who has issues with those of us who use our discernment to single out one of their favorite “christian leaders.” As I have shared many times, even though I never enjoy this, God usually takes these things and they become the focus of one or more posts. This is one of those posts.
The passage I placed at the top of this post (Luke 12:22-34) is amazing. If you haven’t read it, please do so now. It should be obvious to all believers by now that God’s people are called to be unworldy. Their unworldliness makes them very different than those who profess to be Christians, but who are simply religious. There is a huge push going on right now throughout the world to redefine Christianity. Rick Warren is the most visible proponent of the Church Growth movement. His Purpose Driven Church model, while professing to be Christian and Biblically based, is actually just a pragmatic model for church leaders to grasp and “franchise” at the local level. This model plays down any emphases on God’s Wrath against sin against His Holy Law as well as repentance from that sin. Instead, all focus is on the decision to come to Jesus so He can improve your life. There is no talk of a Sovereign God. Those of us who have refused to be dragged into the deception should praise the Lord for opening our eyes. However, as we look at the massive shift towards this pragmatism it can cause us to become anxious.
One of the things I find that makes me anxious is doubt about the veracity of my own stand against Rick Warren, his PDC machine, the New Evangelism, the Emergent Church, et cetera. Perhaps I’m being too judgmental. Perhaps I should just watch and see instead of pointing out the troubling extra-biblical things coming from those things. I confess, I do agonize over this sometimes. However, God always comes through and shows the truth from His Word via one of His servants.
As we carefully read the passage above we see that our focus must be eternal. If it is then we will not treasure this world or anything in it. Instead we will seek to do the Lord’s will in all things. As we do this, we will find that we will believe God and not Man. Even though there are many “ministries” that call themselves Christian or even appear to be orthodox, that does not mean they are. When a ministry is subject to God’s sovereignty, it will not function according to Man’s Reason. Instead, it will be unworldly. It will not function along the world’s lines in any way. There will be no follow-the-leader, copy-cat, pragmatism in its methods. Instead, it will be truly faith-based. I know that term is thrown around a lot and has lost much of its meaning, but in this context we are saying that not all people and ministries that call themselves Christian actually are. Those that are will be different. How different?
They will not be concerned about numbers. They will not be concerned about money. They will not be concerned about fame. They will not be concerned about image. Instead they will be based upon seeking the Lord’s will and doing it by His grace. One of the telling things about the Purpose Driven Church model is it’s emphasis on church growth. However, in v32 above we see that Jesus calls the Church a “little flock.”
13 Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς· 14 τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. (Matthew 7:13,14 NA28)
13 “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are the ones entering through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and constricted the road leading to life and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus tells us in His Sermon on the Mount that the way to salvation is not easy nor is it easy to find. In fact, the religious way that is made easy leads to destruction. Those who are saved are those who find the narrow gate that is hard to enter because it opens to a way of life that is not “easy” nor is it “wide.” In fact, when an unregenerate person looks at Jesus’ words about salvation, they will always reject them. However, many “evangelicals” have concocted a new message about a different Jesus that doesn’t make the way hard nor does it put any demands on anyone for repentance. Instead all that is called for is religion. Never forget, the easy way that leads to destruction is made easy by religion. The way that leads to life is not a religious way at all. It is a response to the Gospel being preached in light of Man’s utter depravity and terrible sin against a Holy God who judges. When this gospel is preached those who are effectually called by the Holy Spirit will enter the narrow gate and take on the narrow (constricted) and hard path (road) because their regenerated hearts have found that life in Christ is everything and this world is nothing. They become pilgrims on the way to the Celestial City.
On the other hand, those who make us anxious with their apostate, pragmatic religion displacing so many of Christ’s sheep from their local churches are becoming ever more visible and popular. God is not mocked though. The following is a excerpt from the prologue of William Tyndale’s The Obedience of a Christian Man.
“Neverthelater in very deed, after the preaching of God’s word, because it is not truly received, God sendeth great trouble into the world: partly to avenge himself of the tyrants and persecutors of his word and partly to destroy those worldly people which make of God’s word nothing but a cloak of their fleshly liberty. They are not all good that follow the gospel. Christ (Matthew in the thirteenth chapter) likeneth the kingdom of heaven unto a net cast in the sea that catcheth fishes both good and bad. The kingdom of heaven is the preaching of the gospel, unto which come both good and bad. But the good are few. “Christ calleth them therefore a little flock (Luke 12). For they are ever few that come to the gospel of a true intent seeking therein nothing but the glory and praise of God and offering themselves freely and willingly to take adversity with Christ for the gospel’s sake and for bearing report unto the truth, that all men may hear it. The greatest number come and ever came and followed even Christ himself for a worldly purpose. As thou mayest well see (John 6) how that almost five thousand followed Christ and would also have made him a king, because he had well fed them. Whom he rebuked saying: ye seek me now, because ye saw the miracles, but because ye ate of the bread and were filled: and drove them away from him with hard preaching.”- William Tyndale
Tyndale published this book in 1528. If we modernized the English a little, wouldn’t it describe what we are seeing in the American Church today? Should we, then, be anxious about those false Christian leaders who seem to be “taking over the world?” No, we should not. Yes, we should pray for God to open the eyes of the deceived, but God’s will is being done. I say that we need to seek the Lord’s face and obey Him in all things. We must pray for those who have been blinded by all false religions that call themselves Christian. We must diligently preach and protect the gospel, never allowing it to become sullied and “religionized.” We must understand that the net of the Gospel draws in God’s people as well as those who are false professors. We must not compromise the gospel in any way to appease them. The truth must be preached hard no matter who it offends. Jesus’ flock is small. He is in control of it. Who are we to try to come up with solutions based on Man’s Reason to try bring into the flock those who are not His sheep?
We must not allow these trying times to make us anxious to the point of despair. Instead, let’s stay on the narrow way, preaching and teaching the gospel to everyone, but never compromising or adjusting it to make it palatable to fleshly people. The true Gospel slices, cuts, hacks and injures even unto death, but those who die are made alive again unto eternal life by grace through faith. That is why the way is hard and its gate is narrow. Man’s Reason rejects this.
Before he died a few years ago, Ken Silva told me when I was upset about the mess the visible church was in, “Mike, if you read the New Testament carefully doesn’t it appear that those who opposed the Apostles had the bigger churches, the most followers and all the money? Nothing has changed brother!”
God is allowing these apostate false professors to become seemingly powerful and famous. They seem to be drawing the vast majority of Christians to them. While we anxiously perceive this as tragic, we must simply take to heart Jesus’ words to trust Him and live our lives here and now with our treasure in Heaven where it does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Soli Deo Gloria!