The Great Mystery

by Mike Ratliff

19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19 (NASB)

As many of you know, I took these last two weeks off in order to spend time with family and friends and that “taking time off” included staying out of theological discussion online as much as possible, etc. However, the last few days have been utterly amazing, at least to me. About 3 years ago or so I became part of a discussion group on Facebook in which I tagged team with some friends who stood up and defended the truths of Reformation Theology against those who hate it. It was not a pleasant experience and I soon tired of it and dropped out.  Why? The moderator of the group allowed people in who were obviously abject heretics who had absolutely no ability to debate. After one really long ugly discussion with one fellow who finally called me some horrible names and went away I was contacted by a pastor who ran a very well-known ministry who suggested that what we were doing was a total waste of time.  Why? All we were doing was arguing with goats who had absolutely no inkling of God’s truth. No, they were spiritually dead people who believed they knew the truth better than we did because it was their own truth while all we had was that exegetical interpretation of the Scripture to go by. In any case, just yesterday I got drawn into a discussion with that very same fellow I mentioned above. Nothing has changed. He still won’t listen to the truth. He still has “his own truth,” which is found nowhere in scripture. At the same time, I started receiving email from a fellow who I had not heard from since August 2016. He is a Rick Warren fan and had been demanding from me a detailed explanation of why I have so many posts on my blog against the Purpose Driven Paradigm, Seeker Sensitive church models in general, and Rick Warren’s approach to ministry. I gave him a short history back in August and forgot about it.  Yesterday right in middle of that little debate I got an email from him. He accused me of hypocrisy and picking on his favorite two pastors, Rick Warren and John Piper. He accused those of us who do discernment work of placing ourselves above them. I told him in a return email that none of what he was saying was true, I was not wasting any more time on him, and that I was sorry that he was blinded by his idols.  I sent the email then blocked his email from by blog and my email provider.

It was at that time that I really started wondering what was going on.  I dropped out of the discussion.  I blocked myself from receiving any more notifications from it. I prayed about it. I then remembered that I had posted an article on Facebook a few days earlier from the Pulpit and Pen blog titled Just Announced: SBC Endorses NAR-Charismatic False Teaching. An elder at our church responded to it by linking that post to someone I had never heard of. Why would me praying about those attacks and my concern over them cause me to suddenly become re-aware of that? I went back to that article and found the link and went to it.  Who was it. It was our new pastor who is coming next week “in view of a call.”  I found this out by doing some basic research and putting 2 and 2 together.

At this point I was shaken. I prayed some more for wisdom and discernment then I clicked that button asking for him to be friends.  He responded immediately with a yes.  I thanked him and we got into a very friendly discussion. I can’t wait to hear him preach next week.

This morning our interim pastor preached his last sermon in preparation for this new pastor to come in. His text for his sermon was 1 Timothy 3:14-16 from the ESV.

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,

vindicated by the Spirit,

seen by angels,

proclaimed among the nations,

believed on in the world,

taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:14-16 (ESV)

I am in full agreement with what he preached. He was preparing us to worship not to please ourselves, but to bring glory to God alone.  We are to serve each other the same way and to listen to God’s truth preached by God’s man, receiving it that way and submitting to it. I really liked what he said about how all of us are called to stand up for God’s truth regardless of the tactics of the enemies of the truth. We are to be a godly people who are so within this great mystery that God works out in us. We don’t do it. We can’t. We are sinful and flawed people, but God can take those of us who are submitted to Christ and His Word and do great things that no one can explain.

From this passage we see why churches succeed while others fail or they go after the fleshly way of doing things like Rick Warren and company.  No, those who succeed according to this great mystery are not man focused, but are focused entirely on God, serving Him according to His will all for His glory alone completely dependent upon His grace for everything.

Please pray for me and this ministry in this new year of 2017.  It looks like I may have some extra work at church coming my way. 🙂

Soli Deo Gloria!