True Christian unity


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB) 

The number one accusation thrown at those who take up the armor of God and use it in the battle as they are called to do, is that they are full of pride. Those who use this fiery dart are equating certainty with pride. Extra-Biblical revelation should never be used in the battle by God’s warriors. Instead, the source of truth that is used is the sword of the Spirit itself, the Word of God. Experience is extra-Biblical. Man’s teachings, if contrary to the Word of God, are extra-Biblical. One’s own private interpretation of Scripture and/or experience is extra-Biblical.

These battles may appear to cause disunity in the Body, but unity that is held together through compromise is false. Christians should never seek to be yoked up with those who hold doctrine or beliefs that are contrary to the truth from God’s Word or are based solely on extra Biblical sources. Unity in the Body of Christ is commanded in God’s Word, but that unity is not based in compromise, but love and humility within those who are obedient to the truth. Continue reading

Christian unity through humility


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:12-17 NASB)

The number one accusation thrown at those who take up the armor of God and use it in the battle as they are called to do, is that they are full of pride. Those who use this fiery dart are equating certainty with pride. Extra Biblical revelation should never be used in the battle by God’s warriors. Instead, the source of truth that is used is the sword of the Spirit itself, the Word of God. Experience is extra-Biblical. Man’s teachings, if contrary to the Word of God, are extra-Biblical. One’s own private interpretation of Scripture and/or experience is extra-Biblical. Feelings are extra-Biblical.

These battles may appear to cause disunity in the Body, but unity that is held together through compromise is false. Christians should never seek to be yoked up with those who hold doctrine or beliefs that are contrary to the truth from God’s Word or are based solely on extra Biblical sources. Unity in the Body of Christ is commanded in God’s Word, but that unity is not based in compromise, but love and humility within those who are obedient to God’s truth. Continue reading

Discernment, divisiveness, unity, and proof of salvation


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες, (Philippians 2:1-2 NA28)

1 Therefore, since there is encouragement in Christ, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection, and compassions, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, the same love, as ones joined in soul and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The exercise of true discernment is not divisiveness regardless of that very charge by those who like to throw around the label “hater” against those who obey God by revealing the truth about their ministries to the Body of Christ. In fact, those who are being divisive are the very ones who are corrupting the truth through their false teachings, leading people astray and by not leading people to become God-focused in their life and worship rather than self-focused. Yes, that is truly divisive and their exposure to the discerning by those being obedient to God is both painful and necessary. Continue reading

Humble service vs YRR


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, 3 doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit but in humility, esteeming one another above self. (Philippians 2:1-3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Over the last several years there has been a “movement” in the visible church that has been made up of group called “Young, Reformed, and Restless” or YRR. I have always been puzzled by the YRR group. Why? God’s truth, especially the Gospel, divides, but those who are truly in Christ are called continually in Sacred Scripture to come together, to unite in love and humility as exemplified by Christ himself. On the other hand, what I see in the YRR folks is a co-opting of a genuine restoration of Reformation Theology by those who are attempting to blend it with the seeker sensitive, cultural relevance, and gospel contextualization which are all corrupting influences that move the focus back to the mis-direction mainstream evangelicalism was going, but with the hope or desire of “getting a pass” because they proclaim themselves to “be reformed.” As those in the Seeker Sensitive paradigm have found though, emotionalism and getting people to work through motivations other than the genuine moving of the Holy Spirit will work only for a short period of time. Why? It’s all of this flesh and that means, of this world. That is not what Christians are called to do. I believe the recent tragic implosion of Mark Driscoll’s ministry is a prime example of what we are talking about. Continue reading

Christian Unity


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε, 2 μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, μετὰ μακροθυμίας, ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ, 3 σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης· (Ephesians 4:1-3 NA28)

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 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The requests I receive from readers of these posts concerning discernment issues in their own churches seem to be on the upswing. It is as if we have moved from the trauma of the Purpose Driven/Seeker Sensitive devastation of so much of Evangelicalism to something even more insidious. The seeker movement was blunt force trauma. Now what I am hearing about more and more resembles covert operations deep from within the leadership of churches. One or two of the Elders of a church are solid while others are actively promoting the teachings of men (and women) that are ecumenical, man-focused instead of God-focused, centered around mysticism such as Spiritual Formation or Prayer Circles, or taking the Church’s focus away from the Great Commission and changing it to “social justice” or even “Dominionism.” The “solid Elders” profess to know nothing about what is going on. The requests I receive about these things are nearly always centered around the concern about maintaining “unity.” The concern is that if they address their concerns they will be looked as “divisive” or even as a “hater.” Yes, I get emails and contacts about all that. My reply here is based within my own journey through those choppy waters.

Continue reading

The Cost and Benefits of Obediently Standing in the Gap


by Mike Ratliff

I was involved in a discussion the other day with someone who claimed that it was impossible for a person to be both a Baptist and Reformed in their Theology. I got involved because I saw no sense to what he was saying in the discussion group. When I assured him that I was a Baptist, but not Dispensational he said that was a contradiction in terms. It was then that I went after his presuppositions. His presuppositions was that only those in the Covenant and given a mark of that Covenant, which was reference to their infant baptism, and no one else could be a member of the New Covenant. I then challenged his understanding of believer’s baptism throughout the book of Acts of Jewish and Gentile believers. He then said they were believers not disciples. His theology stated that a person could be a disciple and not be a genuine believer. I disagreed saying that a genuine disciple was a genuine believer while all false disciples were also false believers. This is where we came to the crux of the disagreement. I went to the Greek in The Great Commission and our Lord’s statement about the true cost of Discipleship in Luke 14:25-33. It was then that he claimed that using the Greek meant nothing and I then accused him of playing word games insisting that just because of false disciples such as Judas meant that the term “disciple” was nearly meaningless. That ended the discussion. I doubt if there will be another.

However, we do know that believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading

True Unity in Light of the Grim Reality of These Last Days


by Mike Ratliff

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

These are incredible times. Before I left on my trip to Oklahoma, I watched a special on the National Geographic HD channel about the recent earthquakes and following tsunamis in Japan. There was an actual video of the approaching tsunamis coming into the bay of one of the cities that had the highest barrier built to protect it from them. However. The people on the highest points were screaming that they could tell that the waves were much taller than the walls meant to keep them out. There were four waves, one after the other, that simply washed over the barriers and inundated through the city devastating everything and killing thousands. In places, the waves made it over 5 miles inland.  Repeatedly, the people were wailing, “Everything is gone, everything is gone!”

The night before we left for our trip, the tornados came and ravaged through the south, wiping out everything in their paths and killing hundreds. What I found so surreal was that in some of the interviews I saw on television with some survivors was eerily the same as what I heard in that documentary about the Japan Tsunami disaster. I heard repeatedly, “Everything is gone, everything is gone!”  Continue reading

Unity Through Humility


by Mike Ratliff

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

The number one accusation thrown at those who take up the armor of God and use it in the battle as they are called to do, is that they are full of pride. Those who use this fiery dart are equating certainty with pride. Extra Biblical revelation should not be used in the battle by God’s warriors. Instead, the source of truth that is used is the sword of the Spirit itself, the Word of God. Experience is extra-Biblical. Man’s teachings, if contrary to the Word of God, are extra-Biblical. One’s own private interpretation of Scripture and/or experience is extra-Biblical.

These battles may appear to cause disunity in the Body, but unity that is held together through compromise is false. Christians should never seek to be yoked up with those who hold doctrine or beliefs that are contrary to the truth from God’s Word or are based solely on extra Biblical sources. Unity in the Body of Christ is commanded in God’s Word, but that unity is not based in compromise, but love and humility within those who are obedient to the truth. Continue reading

What is Sweet as Honey yet Causes Bitterness in the Heat of the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

We have been looking at genuine Humility in the last few posts. We have seen within these studies that believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading

Is Unity for Unity’s Sake Right or Wrong?


My last three posts have been about shining the light of truth into the darkness of the Word-Faith movement. When I began the research for that, I was convinced that I would receive multitudes of attacks from the WoF folks, but to my surprise, I heard absolutely nothing from them. Perhaps they don’t read anything posted here…

However, I did receive a few comments here and there from well meaning folks questioning the outcome of what I was I doing. Their point was that we should not shun those in error, but remain in unity with all professing Christians. That would be unity for unity’s sake, not obedience to any command from the Bible that I am aware of. All calls for unity we find in the Bible are not to cross the boundaries of error, apostasy or heresy. Instead, we are to be separate from those people mired in those errors, but always with the hope of restoration as we pray for God to bring them back into the light. Continue reading