by Mike Ratliff
8 καὶ ὁ καρδιογνώστης θεὸς ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν 9 καὶ οὐθὲν διέκρινεν μεταξὺ ἡμῶν τε καὶ αὐτῶν τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τὰς καρδίας αὐτῶν. Acts 15:8-9 (NA28)
8 And the knower of hearts, God, bore witness to them having given to them the Holy Spirit just as to us, 9 and He differentiated nothing between them, and us having cleansed their hearts by faith. Acts 15:8-9 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
God is omniscient, which mean that He knows all things. What is puzzling to me at times is that so many who profess to be Christians either do not understand what this really means or, their hearts are so hard in their unbelief that the “god” of their “faith” is one of their own making, hence, they live and “do their religion” in ways that are “of the world” and in no way could be called Biblical Christianity. Within that paradigm are all forms of man-focused religiosity that came into being, at least in the U.S. about the time of the Second Great Awakening. It was at that time that preaching the Gospel, coming together as a local body of believers to worship, pray together, and hear the Word of God opened and rightly divided was hijacked and made to be seen as something “old fashioned” or “boring.” Instead, so-called Christian leaders sought the tent revivals and continual crusade atmosphere that was much more conducive to large numbers of “conversions.” Forget the fact that very few of those “conversions” actually “stuck.”
From those roots of continual “revivalism” has come what we have now, which is a view of what is taught in the Book of Acts in the New Testament as the model of the local Church, as being outmoded and insufficient. Tied to this view is also the abhorrence for preaching the Law and Gospel as prescribed by Peter, Paul, John, and our Lord Jesus Christ, which God actually uses to save souls. The late Robert Schuller and all who subscribe to his model of “church” reject the Biblical model because they insist that calling people lost sinners in need of a Saviour would drive away most of their congregations. Probably, but the local church is meant for the sheep, not goats. Evangelism is done outside the local church as the sheep make disciples from every nation, teaching them to observe all that Christ taught. These disciples then become part of the local body of believers. This is how it works.
Instead of going after what people may like or what seems to work in someone else’s church (pragmatism), our church leaders should submit themselves under the mighty hand of our omniscient God who is the knower of hearts, fully intent on obeying Him in their ecclesiology. If our church leaders would do this, what a change we would see! If a simple Bible teacher like me and countless other former church leaders who have been ousted or deliberately left their churches because of the corruption or the infiltration of the PDC paradigm or post-modernism in some form could do this and be used by God to reach believers all around the world with His truth then repentance and submission in all things to our omniscient God would be something incredible to see as pastor after pastor would do the same. Remember, you do not work for men. You are accountable to God and as you are getting ready to see, He knows your heart better than you.
In the passage I placed at the top of this post the words “knower of hearts” translates the Greek word καρδιογνώστης (kardiognōstēs). This word was unknown in both secular Greek and the Septuagint. It is, of course, a compound comprised of καρδία (kardia), “which originally referred to the seat of emotions and spirituality, but eventually came to mean spiritual and intellectual life” and γινώσκω (ginōskō), “to know absolutely.” Putting these together, then, the meaning should be very clear for us as God’s children. He is the “knower of hearts.” He knows our hearts completely, totally. However, this is not just the hearts of those who love Him, but also the hearts of everyone. God is the “heart-knower.”
From God’s Word we are told that God looks into the heart and knows our thoughts and attitudes. No one can “pull the wool over God’s eyes.” God may allow men to disobey Him and create false forms of Christianity and “get away with it,” but these same people will have to stand before the Judgment Seat and give and account and receive judgment for their deeds. God may indeed use their disobedience to raise up others to do right in place of their evil just as he allowed Satan to cause havoc in the Corinthian church and become a thorn in Paul’s side. This was for God’s purposes, but those who were tools of our enemy, even though God allowed it and even used them for His purpose, were doing evil and still will be held accountable.
When we read the New Testament, it is clear that even in the age of the Apostles, the Church was under attack from within. Also, those who had the most followers were more than likely the apostates not the Apostles. Look how Paul was slandered even in the churches he planted! If that happened in the 1st Century Church, why should we be surprised about the rampant apostasy in our time?
Since God searches the hearts of men, that means our hearts too; it also means that He will give unto every one according to our works (Revelation 2:23). Think about that. This is why we must fill our hearts and minds with the Word of God instead of the garbage the world is trying to make us digest. Our Lord Jesus is the Word who became flesh. His Word is the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12) Therefore, we must guard our thoughts, attitudes, motives, and all we do. Knowing that God sees any pretense, any wrong motive, or any hidden agenda will help us guard our thinking.
Now, I have been part of two churches that were systematically taken over by the Purpose Driven paradigm. The first time I was a deacon on sabbatical when all that came down and so I was disconnected from most of the ugliness when it happened. When I came back, most of the older members and deacons were gone. The church was decimated. That was in the mid-1990’s. We left in 2000 when I was relocated to another city. In 2001 I took another job in the KC area. We joined a local church there and I became a Bible teacher and later a deacon. In 2004-2005 our pastor started working behind the scenes to bring about a Purpose Driven takeover. I was in the middle of my own personal “awakening.” God had drawn me back to Him after many years of me running the religiosity treadmill. In early 2006 it became increasingly obvious that the pastor had the men behind him to take over and get his way. I put together a very well researched paper that I presented to them about why it was a mistake to go Purpose Driven, but that was snuffed out and I lost my Bible Study class and we left the church and have not been back. That was in May 2006.
I received a letter from the pastor about two months later accusing me of not being obedient to his pastoral authority. I threw it away and did not respond. That was it. I have helped others from that church find their way to other churches. In any case, I am convinced that God allowed that to happen for His purposes. I did not like it at the time. It hurt. However, as I pray about this, I know He knows my heart and I pray that He will draw those in that church to repent and come out of that darkness.
What are we to do now? Our role as believers is to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. We must spend time in the Word, submit to the truth therein and pray that God will apply those truths to our lives. We must spend time in prayer for ourselves, our families, our Christian brethren, our Christian leaders, and as we do this ask as many that will listen to pray for us and others the same things. What I ask for myself and other believers every day is wisdom, discernment, personal holiness and Christlikness. I ask this for myself and those I mentioned above. If we would all do this for ourselves and each other as we also submit to our Lord in obedience to His Lordship what would the Church be like in our time?
Soli Deo Gloria!