by Mike Ratliff
17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:17-20 (NASB)
Martin Luther’s ministry as a reformer was in the early 16th Century. However, even back then people were trying to force their own man-made doctrines on the Bible. Nothing has changed. People still do this. The use of the Bible this way is always eisegetical. That is, it is reading into the text that which is not there. This does violence to the authority of scripture and it’s inerrancy. Every heresy started this way. Also, much of the rebellion against traditional churches these days is born within those who believe that established denominations are guilty of doing the same thing. This has tragic consequences. No matter how we “feel” about these things, we must not fall into the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bath water. I am not alone in contending that the Church is ripe for another Reformation. However, currently there are many counterfeit reformations taking place that are extra-Biblical in nature with a focus on the temporal rather than the eternal. In their zeal to reform, they have done away with the Authority of Scripture as our baseline. This is a huge error and we must take a stand and not give in the least little bit on the truth and veracity of God’s Word, that it is inerrant and complete.
The following is by Martin Luther from a book of devotions titled Faith Alone A Daily Devotional.
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; John 14:16 (NASB)
When otherwise intelligent people hear these words of Christ, they cleverly reply, “Those aren’t God’s words, but those of a mere human. If he were God, he would say, ‘I myself will send you another Counselor.'” These people want to instruct the Holy Spirit and make fine distinctions with grammar and logic. They insist that anyone who has to ask for something can’t be God. Therefore, Christ cannot be God. They argue persuasively and even assert that the Holy Spirit doesn’t know how to speak correctly. In their eyes, whatever the Holy Spirit says or does is wrong. They find fault with everything. They aren’t godly enough to take the time to compare these verses with others. Instead, they take a verse here and a verse there. They pounce on a couple of words and distort them in order to obscure what the Bible means. If it were valid to tear one or two words from the text and forget about the rest, then I also could twist Scripture any way that I wanted.
But this is the correct way to approach Scripture: look at the entire passage; look at what comes before and after the verse. In this case, you will find that Christ speaks both as God and as man. This is powerful proof that Jesus is both true man and true God, as our teaching and faith hold. How can we explain that Jesus speaks as God and as man at the same time? He can speak either way, because he possesses both divine and human natures. If Jesus spoke everywhere as God, no one could prove that he was a true man. If he spoke as a man all the time, no one would know that he is also true God.
With that in mind and the growing crisis within American Evangelicalism in which it seems that it is divided more and more each day I submit to all reading this who have the Holy Spirit that we must put aside all of our man-made presuppositions that are dividing us, which are, by-the-way, heresies to some extent.
What am I talking about? I was in a discussion yesterday in which I made some bold statements, but became extremely convicted to withdraw those statements and leave. I don’t normally do that so when that happens I pay attention. The discussion had to do with some comments made by a fellow in a FB discussion group that I am part of that is “supposedly” setup to defend Biblical Orthodoxy. However, there is a fellow that is obviously well educated and erudite in how he states things but comes across, to me at least, as somewhat on the liberal side. Yesterday he made a comment in which he stated he became very frustrated with an online discussion on Apoligia.com that was about a very well-known “Easy-Belivism” Calvinism hater. He said he had little to no sympathy for that fellow, but was very uncomfortable with the Lordship Salvation aspects coming from Apoligia.com. My inner-man, my discerning man, that man who I pray all the time that will have wisdom and discernment from God obviously was working because I reacted like a hunting dog right away to this and started following the trail.
The next thing he started talking about was another perspective he was much more comfortable with. He then posted this link. As I read that post I got deja-vu. Well actually I suddenly became aware that I had read it several years ago. Yes, that’s right. I had been suckered into reading one of Michael Spencer’s sob stories about how the church had failed him and was no use to anyone so that is why he had become a 21st Century Monk, the iMonk. I had worked several years ago with Ken Silva on researching him and helping Ken put together some articles on him. If you read that article it is very easy to get pulled in to what he is saying and become part of the “disaffected Christ-followers” that we used to call the Emergents and later “emergence christianity.” If you look at the blogroll on that blog there is a mixture of people and ministries that I would suggest that you do not follow or read or anything. Be warned not to go there.
So, what am I saying? This fellow on our Calvinism Theology site is really a closet liberal. He is more like what we used to call a New Calvinist. He is a political liberal I know that, but politics and Christianity should not be tied together should they? Let us go back to Luther’s supposition. We use God’s Word as our source for the Truth not our feelings, not how people treat us, not how we perceive that people are thinking about us. If you research Michael Spencer you will find that he became the iMonk because he “felt” rejected by the SBC. He found that he really felt sorry for the liberals in the SBC who were being rooted out and felt like he was going to be next, et cetera.
My brethren, we are who we are in Christ because of His work. That is what God’s Word says. He also says in His Word that we will be persecuted if we obey Him. We will suffer. We will not be loved by the World, but will be hated. Sounds to me like those who have a problem with God’s Truth don’t like the sound of that. Again, I believe American Evangelicalism is full of the world and is all messed up. Therefore, we must continue to pray for our Lord to cleanse it and guide us into good fellowships with His people. To give up on the church and go liberal simply because your feelings have been hurt by people who are probably not real Christians anyway is pretty childish and probably a sign you are not a real Christian either.
Soli Deo Gloria!