Genuine Christian Unity


by Mike Ratliff

6 A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. 9 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:6-9 NASB)

The passage above  from Isaiah 40 is quoted directly in 1 Peter 1:24-25, which is why I placed it there. We are commanded in God’s Word to be unified in Christ, to love one another in the Lord. We are commanded to stand firm and rebuke false teachers as we warn the brethren as well, but our role is not to cause division. We are not to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. That is not our job at all. That will happen when our Lord returns in judgment. However, that does not mean that we are to be unified with heretics or to call apostates our brothers. No, there is a unity that we are to have as the Body of Christ that is built by the Holy Spirit that He establishes in God’s truth first then as a visible unity which is the eventual fruit of shared submission to the Word of God.  Continue reading

Christian Unity


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, encourage you to walk worthy of the calling by which you were called, 2 with all humility of mind and meekness with long-suffering forbearing one another in love,  3 being eager to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

About the time  I completed my exegetical study of Ephesians 1-2, which was titled “God’s Purpose for the Church,” we learned that my nephew Travis, who had had a brain tumor removed about 4 years ago and had been declared cancer free earlier this year, had begun to have severe headaches and seizure-like symptoms again. Tests showed that he had another tumor in a different part of his brain that was growing rapidly. His surgeon was able to remove most of it and utilized some very new treatments that will, hopefully, kill it. We thank all of you for your prayers for Travis and his family as well as my sister and her family. I learned a great deal from this in the matters of grace and the working of the Spirit in the body of Christ. Genuine Christian faith is genuine Christian faith regardless of whether everyone who possesses it agrees completely on matters of religiosity or not. We do not determine that, God does.  Continue reading

Keeping The Unity Of The Spirit


A good friend sent me a link to an article about an analysis of true Christian Unity that used Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones 1962 speech on that topic given to British Christian leaders and how it was received to show first how Dr. Jones got it right and second, how the emergent, purpose driven, ER 2 folks of our day are no different than the man-centered liberals of Dr. Jones day in their rejection of the clear teaching from God’s Word that genuine Christian Unity is found not in organizations or groups or people just getting along, but in the work of God himself. The link my friend sent me is here. The sermon below is by Geoff Thomas, a Welsh Reformed Baptist who is in full agreement with Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones on this issue. Enjoy and be blessed – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Unity At All Costs?


by Mike Ratliff

Οὐ περὶ τούτων δὲ ἐρωτῶ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν πιστευόντων διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ, ἵνα πάντες ἓν ὦσιν, καθὼς σύ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν σοί, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἡμῖν ὦσιν, ἵνα ὁ κόσμος πιστεύῃ ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας. (John 17:20-21 NA27)

“I do not pray concerning these only, but also concerning those who will believe in Me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in us that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (a personal translation of John 17:20-21 from the NA27 Greek text)

In yesterday’s post, Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, we looked at John 17 and our Lord’s prayer that transitioned Him from His earthly ministry to the beginning of His intercessory ministry for all believers. In the third section of the prayer, which is for the entire Church, I excerpted the section I placed at the top of this post. From that I exposited the following paragraph:

How often do we hear of the lack of unity in the visible church in our time? It is lamented as if we should compromise and come together at all costs. However, that is unbiblical. The basis of true Christian unity centers in adherence to the revelation the Father mediated to our Lord’s first disciples through Him. Believers are also to be united in the common belief of the truth that was received in the Word of God (Philippians 2:2). This became a reality when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4; 1 Corinthians 12:13). True Christian unity is not based on fleshly, temporal, or experiential things. No! It is based upon the common eternal life shared by all who believe the truth. These come together in the Body of Christ all sharing His life.

Last weekend my wife and I were involved in some discussions with other believers about these very things. I did not say much about the rank apostasy we discuss here from time to time, but I was absolutely taken aback by the ignorance expressed by some in that room of the darkness that is rampant in the visible church in our time. Again, there were only a few there who knew who I was and knew about this ministry and I was not there to take over the conversation. However, the few who were there who did know about me and what I do were watching carefully when these topics came up. I held my peace. On the other hand, no outright support any apostate teacher was expressed by anyone either or I might have reneged on my promise to be quiet.   Continue reading

Unity in the Body of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

Therefore, we also from the day which we heard, do not cease praying for you and asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, to walk worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God. (a direct translation of Colossians 1:9-10 from the NA27 Greek text)

It seems my life has become a continuous series of tests and trials, putting me into places of contention in which it is clearly apparent to me that the way I have gone before is not how God would have me go and be walking worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God. Of course, the reason this is clearly apparent to me is that the part of me that is under the spotlight is my pride. I can act like those around me in arrogant, self-protection or I can, in the power of the Holy Spirit, deny self and μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, seek to ἀνέχομαι, forebear with those with whom I in contention ἐν ἀγάπῃ, in love. Of course, I have paraphrased Ephesians 4:2, which is actually about unity within the Body of Christ. However, I am convinced that we must also apply the same forbearance to everyone while never compromising by unifying with those who are not true Christians.  Continue reading

Biblical Unity


by Mike Ratliff

A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:6-9 ESV)

The passage above  from Isaiah 40 is quoted directly in 1 Peter 1:24-25, which is why I placed it there. We are commanded in God’s Word to be unified in Christ, to love one another in the Lord. We are commanded to stand firm and rebuke false teachers as we warn the brethren as well, but our role is not to cause division. We are not to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. That is not our job at all. That will happen when our Lord returns in judgment. However, that does not mean that we are to be unified with heretics or to call apostates our brothers. No, there is a unity that we are to have as the Body of Christ that is built by the Holy Spirit that He establishes in God’s truth first then as a visible unity which is the eventual fruit of shared submission to the Word of God.  Continue reading

Unity in the Body of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

9 And so, r from the day we heard, s we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that t you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all u spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as v to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, w fully pleasing to him, x bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9,10 ESV)

In my last post The Temple of the Living God, we looked at the high standard of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord by being separate from the world and those of the world that are mere pretenders as Christian leaders. We tied this to the recent news that John Piper had invited Rick Warren to speak at the 2010 Desiring God Conference in October. I have been in discussion all day today with friends and fellow laborers in this ministry about this. There is a lot of emotion. There is much sadness and disappointment out there about this, but mostly there is a great deal of anger being expressed. Some of the major questions we are dealing with, of course, is how far do we go in preserving unity in the Body of Christ? What is the criterion or standard that we use to not have fellowship with one while overlooking differences in another?  Continue reading