Westminster Larger Catechism Study

Idolatry and the Holiness of God


Mike’s comment on this is extremely useful. I love how he turns to Luther and Tyndale to highlight the issue.

I was personally back in the late 80’s attracted to the current Spiritual Formation movement, being a card carrying Renovare person. Practicing the solitary and silence 🤐 🤫. In the practice of Lectio, I was asked to follow my heart to hear what God was speaking though a limited word or phrase. I think I was drawn (could I say saved) out of it because I kept wanting to engage my mind and understand God’s word from God’s whole word in the Bible alone, not a mystical repetition. Lectio itself seemed so limited in hearing the full story of what God’s word reveals. And becomes mystical or even gnostic in gaining a higher personal revelation via the experience or personally directly from God.

Of course the Spiritual disciplines are now broadly taught and encouraged and those involved rarely will tolerate any questioning. In my observation, I can’t go a day without someone happily speaking about their Spiritual Formation practices. All of course really sincerely pursued.

This is well outside the realm of monks and nuns. It’s in the mainline and evangelical visible churches.

Curiously if the word to describe this is “idolatry” perhaps we can learn from what Paul says, and Old John Gill comments upon. I never looked at it in this context.

1 Corinthians 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

for then must you needs go out of the world; meaning not out of Greece, or of any of the cities thereof, into other parts, but out of the world itself; they must even destroy themselves, or seek out for a new world: it is an hyperbolical way of speaking, showing that the thing is impracticable and impossible, since men of this sort are everywhere; and were all trade and conversation with them to be forbidden, the families of God’s people could never be supported, nor the interest of religion maintained; a stop would soon be put to worldly business, and saints would have little or nothing to do in the world; wherefore, as the Arabic version reads it, “business would compel you to go out of the world”.

But he goes on to explicitly say this does apply to the church. If so it presents a very challenging 😥 task to be separate. We probably need more insight and Grace in applying that since so many are involved.

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; 3 and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”  (Genesis 35:1-3 NASB)
 idolatry 1: the worship of a physical object as a god 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something (from Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary)

I’m sure that most Christians’ conception of idolatry is one in which people fall down and worship some statue or image or a facsimile of something that appears…

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Westminster Larger Catechism Study

The Prayer of Faith


Mike uses an unfamiliar word Diaprax. When I looked into I noticed a lot of familiar related terms. Turns out it opens up a huge area that needs one to depend upon a lot of prayer and a bucket full of God’s Authoritative Word, the Scriptures to examine. I’ll probably never use the terms “What do you think about or How do you feel about” again!

Here are a couple of quotes I found along the way. Just a sample.

“Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered,’ not ‘man-centered.’” – Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation 1

“An undisputed historical fact is that I am the founder, really, of the church-growth movement in this country….I advocated and launched what has become known as the marketing approach in Christianity.” – Robert Schuller, as quoted in Willow Creek Seeker Services by G.A. Pritchard

“In seminary I took the equivalent of a total quality management course where I learned how to survey the congregation: ‘What do you think and how do you feel?’….[However, w]e’re accountable to [the Word of God], as is, not how do we feel or think about it.” – Dean Gotcher, The Institute of Authority Research

1 I checked the first quote to an old reference in one of Ken Silva’s posts. I assume it and others are accurate but I didn’t read the book itself or verify the others. Robert Schuller, Self–Esteem: The New Reformation [Waco: Word Books, 1982], , p 64.

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:7-11 (LSB) 

Despite what the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity preachers say or those who preach nothing but positive messages to all who are Christians, the Word of God promises something very different…

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Westminster Larger Catechism Study

Spiritual Darkness Unbelief and Unrighteousness


Mike you take us on a 12 year journey with this post. It was quite interesting to follow back through your links into the evolution of the visible Church this past dozen years. That goes back before I regularly followed your posts. Words like Transformational, Dominion, Delphi, Dialectic, as well as leaders with familiar popular names are quite enlightening. I would encourage readers to follow the stream of links, and even read the comments on your old posts, there were quite a few. Btw the old link to Vision360 does work anymore, but Bob Roberts has his own site, and is quite active, having even received a special White House award just this September for his work. The list of organizations he is involved with is impressive. I spent about an hour reading through all that.

Also I add these verses to think about…notice the word, “many”.

John 6:64-67 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

4 And Jesus was saying to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He was marveling at their unbelief.
And He was going around the villages teaching.nMark 6:4-6 (LSB) 

The joy of the Lord is a tremendous gift to God’s people from him. Without it we would be left to deal with far more evil, disappointment, tragedy, distress, and despair than we could ever do on our own. We have prayer and the promise that we can always come boldly to the Throne of Grace.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us take hold…

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Westminster Larger Catechism Study

Do not despair


Not Despairing! Good thoughts for today’s world.
I observed the whole chapter is on the Gospel and the Glory of God.
Paul urges them not to Despair 😩 at his troubles. Or as the KJV translators put not to Faint, be that falling down as if dead, either at seeing his condition, our perhaps being concerned for their own lives. Fainting also implies, being like dead one can’t do anything….maybe the ultimate Despair! The Chapter ends.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Old John Gill wrote about verse 13 in this way.

Ephesians 3:13
Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you,…. The apostle was a man attended with many tribulations, and great afflictions, which he did not suffer as an evildoer, either from God or men; wherefore he was not ashamed of them, but gloried in them; yea, he took pleasure in them, having much of the presence of God in them; they did not come to him unawares, he always expected them, and was helped to look to the glory which should follow them, the view of which greatly supported him under them; and these tribulations were endured for the sake of the elect, for Christ’s body’s sake; the church, and among others, for the Ephesians, for the sake of preaching the Gospel among them, and for the confirmation of their faith in it;

and yet they were a stumbling to them, they were ready to faint at them; but he desires they would not, since they were on account of the Gospel,…..

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

12 ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ. 13 διὸ αἰτοῦμαι μὴ ἐγκακεῖν ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσίν μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἥτις ἐστὶν δόξα ὑμῶν. (Ephesians 3:12-13 NA28)

12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through faith in him . 13 Therefore, I ask you not to despair concerning my afflictions for you, which is for your glory.  (Ephesians 3:12-13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The words “not to despair” above translate μὴ ἐγκακεῖν. Μὴ or expresses absolute denial. Paul is expressing his desire to the Ephesians that they DO NOT do something. That something is ἐγκακεῖν that is the Present tense, Infinitive mood, Active voice form of ἐκκακέω or ekkakeō, which literally means, “to turn out to be a coward, to lose one’s courage, to faint or despond in view of trial or to be utterly…

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