What will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NASB)

A very important person in my Christian walk died this week. My dear brother in the Lord Ken Silva died on Sunday, September 28th. God used Ken in a huge way in directing my paths in 2004-2005 into how to do the right research into the Purpose Driven paradigm that was about to consume the local church where I served as a deacon and Bible teacher. It was through that research I also was drawn into several online debates on the old Slice of Laodicea website that was being run by Ingrid Schlueter with the help of Jim Bublitz and Ken. The debates were fierce and I learned a great deal about the “emergent church” along with those “christian liberals” in it as they accused us of being the Pharisees and much worse. Along with this I was also studying C.H. Spurgeon, Martin Luther, A.W. Pink, R.C. Sproul, and many others while making many new friends in the Reformation Theology online community. It was from that experience that I learned about Christian discernment and how important it is and how God demands that all of us exercise it for the health and well-being of the Body of Christ.

It was from this that this discernment ministry grew. Of course, in the beginning I focused mostly on the Purpose Driven paradigm and Rick Warren, but over time I also looked at past so-called Christian leaders such as Charles Finney. I remember the first time I wrote about Finney I had one fellow who had been my friend and posting comments for some time get very angry with me for saying that Charles Finney was a heretic. Our relationship went down hill from there.

Let us, honestly, compare 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 with the life and ministries of Warren and Finney and others that we have called out as heretics or false prophets. Are these two men examples of those who built upon the foundation of Christ with wood, hay, and stubble, and would, in the end, see all their works be consumed in the fire of judgment, suffering eternal loss, but themselves being saved, “but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) or something else? To get our answer we must put this passage into context. Continue reading

Assurance and Election


by Mike Ratliff

1 Simon Peter, a bond- servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self- control, and in your self- control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short- sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:1-11 NASB)

After God dragged me from my former Arminian doctrinal beliefs into the truth of Reformed Theology, my assurance of my salvation did not suffer at all. In fact, it deepened as the profundity of our salvation by grace and justification by faith became apparent to me. I no longer had a fractured or nebulous picture of God’s eternal plan. It all came into focus as I studied the “Ordo Solutis” from Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1 & 2. However, some I have attempted to teach these truths have virulently resisted. One of the questions these “resistors of the truth” seem to always ask is, “How could you ever have assurance believing that?” Continue reading

The Death of a Dear Friend


It is with a heavy heart that I must share news with all of you that I received earlier this evening. I received an email from one of our leaders at Christian Research Network to call a phone number. The message simply stated that it was about Ken. I called the number and was told that our leader, Ken Silva had died, probably yesterday evening. He was found this morning. I am devastated and am grieving. Ken and Jim Bublitz were instrumental in getting me started in this ministry now they are both with the Lord. He will be missed. I have no details about a funeral or anything like that. Please be in prayer for his family and for CRN and the CRN family. – Mike Ratliff

silva memorial

Christian Authenticity – Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles


by Mike Ratliff

8 λέγω γὰρ Χριστὸν διάκονον γεγενῆσθαι περιτομῆς ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ βεβαιῶσαι τὰς ἐπαγγελίας τῶν πατέρων, 9 τὰ δὲ ἔθνη ὑπὲρ ἐλέους δοξάσαι τὸν θεόν, καθὼς γέγραπται· διὰ τοῦτο ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι ἐν ἔθνεσιν καὶ τῷ ὀνόματί σου ψαλῶ. 10 καὶ πάλιν λέγει· εὐφράνθητε, ἔθνη, ετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ. 11 καὶ πάλιν · αἰνεῖτε, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, τὸν κύριον καὶ ἐπαινεσάτωσαν αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ λαοί. 12 καὶ πάλιν Ἠσαΐας λέγει· ἔσται ἡ ῥίζα τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ καὶ ὁ ἀνιστάμενος ἄρχειν ἐθνῶν, ἐπʼ αὐτῷ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν. 13 Ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ἐλπίδος πληρώσαι ὑμᾶς πάσης χαρᾶς καὶ εἰρήνης ἐν τῷ πιστεύειν, εἰς τὸ περισσεύειν ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἐλπίδι ἐν δυνάμει πνεύματος ἁγίου. (Romans 15:8-13 NA28)

8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “ Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name.” 10 Again he says, “ Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.” 11 And again, “ Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, And let all the peoples praise Him.” 12 Again Isaiah says, “ There shall come the root of Jesse, And HE who arises to rule over the Gentiles, IN Him shall the Gentiles hope.” 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:8-13 NASB)

Sadly, the visible Church has become mostly Christless. For many years in “church” I heard a definition for the opposite of “pride” as being “genuine humility.” However if we take what we have learned from this study so far wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the opposite of “pride” is actually genuine saving faith. Christian authenticity, then, belongs to those whose pride is the process of being eradicated and replaced by a walk of faith as a result of their regeneration. This faith is not in a religion nor is it placed on a Christian leader, preacher, or teacher. It is totally focused and wrapped up in our Lord Jesus Christ. Through our Lord, the only Hope for Jews and Gentiles, is found genuine fulfillment and the spiritual growth that results from being a living sacrifice produces a life that can laugh with those rejoicing and weep with those sorrowing because it is not self-focused, but is taking on the very character of the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Christian Authenticity – The Example of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ὀφείλομεν δὲ ἡμεῖς οἱ δυνατοὶ τὰ ἀσθενήματα τῶν ἀδυνάτων βαστάζειν καὶ μὴ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκειν. 2 ἕκαστος ἡμῶν τῷ πλησίον ἀρεσκέτω εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς οἰκοδομήν· 3 καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς οὐχ ἑαυτῷ ἤρεσεν, ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται· οἱ ὀνειδισμοὶ τῶν ὀνειδιζόντων σε ἐπέπεσαν ἐπʼ ἐμέ. 4 ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη, εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη, ἵνα διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν τὴν ἐλπίδα ἔχωμεν. 5 ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως δῴη ὑμῖν τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἀλλήλοις κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, 6 ἵνα ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐν ἑνὶ στόματι δοξάζητε τὸν θεὸν καὶ πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 7 Διὸ προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς προσελάβετο ὑμᾶς εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (Romans 15:1-7 NA28)

1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “ The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on ME.” 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Romans 15:1-7 NASB)

Christ-likeness is what we call the desired outcome of our maturing in Christ. Even as we remain in our renovation from sinful, flesh-bound yet redeemed believers to spirit-filled, obedient, and mature believers we will begin to manifest Christ’s character in our walk. God seems to enjoy surprising us in our testing when we respond to that which is unreasonable with grace and patience. This, of course, is part of the fruit of the spirit that is manifest through the spirit-filled. Continue reading

Christ and Him Crucified


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My brethren, my dear friend Jon Cardwell is launching a pretty big free promotion for Christ and Him Crucified at the end of this month, September 30th through October 1st. If you don’t already have a copy, You can check the book out by CLICKING HERE.

If you know anyone who would be interested in getting a free copy of the book when it is made available during its two free days, please let them know. 

A note from Jon, “If you already have a copy of the book, I sure would appreciate an honest review on Amazon.com. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A couple of sentences will do. I welcome any constructive criticism of my writing as sales of my books help to supplement my income so I may continue to serve in the ministry. (You’ve probably noticed that the cover art has been changed– please let me know what you think of the new cover). Thank you so much.”

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST

  • There will be an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) giveaway for my upcoming book,The Simple Gospel.
  • Book review of Miles McKee’s And That’s the Gospe Truth!
  • Book reviews of Jeff Johnson’s The Kingdom of God and The Chruch: Why Bother?

May the Lord continue to bless and keep you.

Christian Authenticity – Do Not Cause Another to Stumble


by Mike Ratliff

14 οἶδα καὶ πέπεισμαι ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ ὅτι οὐδὲν κοινὸν διʼ ἑαυτοῦ, εἰ μὴ τῷ λογιζομένῳ τι κοινὸν εἶναι, ἐκείνῳ κοινόν. 15 εἰ γὰρ διὰ βρῶμα ὁ ἀδελφός σου λυπεῖται, οὐκέτι κατὰ ἀγάπην περιπατεῖς· μὴ τῷ βρώματί σου ἐκεῖνον ἀπόλλυε ὑπὲρ οὗ Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν. 16 μὴ βλασφημείσθω οὖν ὑμῶν τὸ ἀγαθόν. 17 οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ βρῶσις καὶ πόσις ἀλλὰ δικαιοσύνη καὶ εἰρήνη καὶ χαρὰ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ· 18 ὁ γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ δουλεύων τῷ Χριστῷ εὐάρεστος τῷ θεῷ καὶ δόκιμος τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. 19 Ἄρα οὖν τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης διώκωμεν καὶ τὰ τῆς οἰκοδομῆς τῆς εἰς ἀλλήλους. 20 μὴ ἕνεκεν βρώματος κατάλυε τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ. πάντα μὲν καθαρά, ἀλλὰ κακὸν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τῷ διὰ προσκόμματος ἐσθίοντι. 21 καλὸν τὸ μὴ φαγεῖν κρέα μηδὲ πιεῖν οἶνον μηδὲ ἐν ᾧ ὁ ἀδελφός σου προσκόπτει. 22 σὺ πίστιν [ἣν] ἔχεις κατὰ σεαυτὸν ἔχε ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ. μακάριος ὁ μὴ κρίνων ἑαυτὸν ἐν ᾧ δοκιμάζει· 23 ὁ δὲ διακρινόμενος ἐὰν φάγῃ κατακέκριται, ὅτι οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως· πᾶν δὲ ὃ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως ἁμαρτία ἐστίν. Romans 14:14-23 NA28)

14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:14-23 NASB)

In Romans 14:1-13 we looked at the Law of Liberty that genuine believers have in Christ. This Law is not license for licentiousness, but, rather, it is freedom to not be bound by ritual or religiosity while denying self in order to not cause strife and disunity in the body of Christ by practicing that liberty in a way that causes those with weak faith to have battles with their conscience. In this lesson we will finish Romans 14 in looking at vv14-23. This passage is actually a continuation of Paul’s teaching on this vital topic for the Church in our day.  Continue reading

Christian Authenticity – Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another


by Mike Ratliff

1 Τὸν δὲ ἀσθενοῦντα τῇ πίστει προσλαμβάνεσθε, μὴ εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμῶν. 2 ὃς μὲν πιστεύει φαγεῖν πάντα, ὁ δὲ ἀσθενῶν λάχανα ἐσθίει. 3 ὁ ἐσθίων τὸν μὴ ἐσθίοντα μὴ ἐξουθενείτω, ὁ δὲ μὴ ἐσθίων τὸν ἐσθίοντα μὴ κρινέτω, ὁ θεὸς γὰρ αὐτὸν προσελάβετο. 4 σὺ τίς εἶ ὁ κρίνων ἀλλότριον οἰκέτην; τῷ ἰδίῳ κυρίῳ στήκει ἢ πίπτει· σταθήσεται δέ, δυνατεῖ γὰρ ὁ κύριος στῆσαι αὐτόν. 5 Ὃς μὲν [γὰρ] κρίνει ἡμέραν παρʼ ἡμέραν, ὃς δὲ κρίνει πᾶσαν ἡμέραν· ἕκαστος ἐν τῷ ἰδίῳ νοῒ πληροφορείσθω. 6 ὁ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν κυρίῳ φρονεῖ · καὶ ὁ ἐσθίων κυρίῳ ἐσθίει, εὐχαριστεῖ γὰρ τῷ θεῷ· καὶ ὁ μὴ ἐσθίων κυρίῳ οὐκ ἐσθίει καὶ εὐχαριστεῖ τῷ θεῷ. 7 οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἑαυτῷ ζῇ καὶ οὐδεὶς ἑαυτῷ ἀποθνῄσκει· 8 ἐάν τε γὰρ ζῶμεν, τῷ κυρίῳ ζῶμεν, ἐάν τε ἀποθνῄσκωμεν, τῷ κυρίῳ ἀποθνῄσκομεν. ἐάν τε οὖν ζῶμεν ἐάν τε ἀποθνῄσκωμεν, τοῦ κυρίου ἐσμέν. 9 εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἔζησεν, ἵνα καὶ νεκρῶν καὶ ζώντων κυριεύσῃ. 10 Σὺ δὲ τί κρίνεις τὸν ἀδελφόν σου; ἢ καὶ σὺ τί ἐξουθενεῖς τὸν ἀδελφόν σου; πάντες γὰρ παραστησόμεθα τῷ βήματι τοῦ θεοῦ, 11 γέγραπται γάρ· ζῶ ἐγώ, λέγει κύριος, ὅτι ἐμοὶ κάμψει πᾶν γόνυ καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσεται τῷ θεῷ. 12 ἄρα [οὖν] ἕκαστος ἡμῶν περὶ ἑαυτοῦ λόγον δώσει [τῷ θεῷ]. 13 Μηκέτι οὖν ἀλλήλους κρίνωμεν· ἀλλὰ τοῦτο κρίνατε μᾶλλον, τὸ μὴ τιθέναι πρόσκομμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ ἢ σκάνδαλον. (Romans 14:1-13 NA28)

1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “ AS I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to ME, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this— not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. (Romans 14:1-13 NASB) 

When I encounter a believer who is legalistic, no matter how well versed they are on the Biblical passages they specialize in, I know I am dealing with someone who is spiritually immature. The more mature we become in Christ the more Christlike we become and that means we do not pass judgment on those who do not understand the Law of Liberty. Continue reading

Christian Authenticity – Fulfilling the Law Through Love


by Mike Ratliff

8 Μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν· ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκεν. 9 τὸ γὰρ οὐ μοιχεύσεις, οὐ φονεύσεις, οὐ κλέψεις, οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις, καὶ εἴ τις ἑτέρα ἐντολή, ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται [ἐν τῷ] · ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν. 10 ἡ ἀγάπη τῷ πλησίον κακὸν οὐκ ἐργάζεται· πλήρωμα οὖν νόμου ἡ ἀγάπη. 11 Καὶ τοῦτο εἰδότες τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι ὥρα ἤδη ὑμᾶς ἐξ ὕπνου ἐγερθῆναι, νῦν γὰρ ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν. 12 ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν, ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικεν. ἀποθώμεθα οὖν τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, ἐνδυσώμεθα [δὲ] τὰ ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός. 13 ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ εὐσχημόνως περιπατήσωμεν, μὴ κώμοις καὶ μέθαις, μὴ κοίταις καὶ ἀσελγείαις, μὴ ἔριδι καὶ ζήλῳ, 14 ἀλλʼ ἐνδύσασθε τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς πρόνοιαν μὴ ποιεῖσθε εἰς ἐπιθυμίας. (Romans 13:8-14 NA28)

8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “ You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:8-14 NASB)

Human Reason can be an idol. In those who consider themselves to be “intellectual” or have been educated in philosophy thereby become existentialists, Human Reason is seen as the path to perfection. These will discount in various degrees how relevant or pervasive Holy Scripture, God’s Word, is in being the basis of truth. To these, Human Reason far outweighs the Bible in determining truth. Some see Scripture as totally irrelevant. Others see it as a valuable “historical” book. Sadly, many professing Christians are guilty of worshiping at the altar of Human Reason while their Bibles gather dust somewhere. Continue reading

Christian Authenticity – Submission to Authorities


by Mike Ratliff

1 Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν. 2 ὥστε ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν, οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες ἑαυτοῖς κρίμα λήμψονται. 3 οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ. θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν· τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς· 4 θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν. ἐὰν δὲ τὸ κακὸν ποιῇς, φοβοῦ· οὐ γὰρ εἰκῇ τὴν μάχαιραν φορεῖ· θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι. 5 διὸ ἀνάγκη ὑποτάσσεσθαι, οὐ μόνον διὰ τὴν ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν. 6 διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ φόρους τελεῖτε· λειτουργοὶ γὰρ θεοῦ εἰσιν εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο προσκαρτεροῦντες. 7 ἀπόδοτε πᾶσιν τὰς ὀφειλάς, τῷ τὸν φόρον τὸν φόρον, τῷ τὸ τέλος τὸ τέλος, τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον, τῷ τὴν τιμὴν τὴν τιμήν. (Romans 13:1-7 NA28)

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7 NASB)

God is the sovereign ruler of the Universe. All of creation is subject to Him. He is the one who hung the Earth on nothing and set boundaries of the seas. He is the one who established the authority system that governs the peoples of the Earth. Is it okay for Christians to participate in Civil Disobedience then? Should the Church rule over government or should the government rule over the Church? God has setup the correct order of things.  Continue reading

Christian Authenticity – Marks of the True Christian


by Mike Ratliff

9 Ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος. ἀποστυγοῦντες τὸ πονηρόν, κολλώμενοι τῷ ἀγαθῷ, 10 τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι, τῇ τιμῇ ἀλλήλους προηγούμενοι, 11 τῇ σπουδῇ μὴ ὀκνηροί, τῷ πνεύματι ζέοντες, τῷ κυρίῳ δουλεύοντες, 12 τῇ ἐλπίδι χαίροντες, τῇ θλίψει ὑπομένοντες, τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτεροῦντες, 13 ταῖς χρείαις τῶν ἁγίων κοινωνοῦντες, τὴν φιλοξενίαν διώκοντες. 14 εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς διώκοντας [ὑμᾶς], εὐλογεῖτε καὶ μὴ καταρᾶσθε. 15 χαίρειν μετὰ χαιρόντων, κλαίειν μετὰ κλαιόντων. 16 τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλήλους φρονοῦντες, μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες ἀλλὰ τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι. μὴ γίνεσθε φρόνιμοι παρʼ ἑαυτοῖς. 17 μηδενὶ κακὸν ἀντὶ κακοῦ ἀποδιδόντες, προνοούμενοι καλὰ ἐνώπιον πάντων ἀνθρώπων· 18 εἰ δυνατὸν τὸ ἐξ ὑμῶν, μετὰ πάντων ἀνθρώπων εἰρηνεύοντες· 19 μὴ ἑαυτοὺς ἐκδικοῦντες, ἀγαπητοί, ἀλλὰ δότε τόπον τῇ ὀργῇ, γέγραπται γάρ· ἐμοὶ ἐκδίκησις, ἐγὼ ἀνταποδώσω, λέγει κύριος. 20 ἀλλʼ ἐὰν πεινᾷ ὁ ἐχθρός σου, ψώμιζε αὐτόν· ἐὰν διψᾷ, πότιζε αὐτόν· τοῦτο γὰρ ποιῶν ἄνθρακας πυρὸς σωρεύσεις ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. 21 μὴ νικῶ ὑπὸ τοῦ κακοῦ ἀλλὰ νίκα ἐν τῷ ἀγαθῷ τὸ κακόν. (Romans 12:9-21 NA28)

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “ Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “ But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him A drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 NASB)

All that is not of faith is sin. That includes good works and any religious acts that are done from any motivation or source other than faith. The Christians who walk before the face of God Spirit-filled are the ones who are walking by faith. As we have seen in this study, so far, those that become Spirit-filled are those who are living sacrifices. The continual process of mind renewal is transforming them. This renewal is actually a complete renovation of the intellect or mind by the Holy Spirit as they become immersed more and more into the Word of God. This causes them to surrender more and more unto the Lordship of Christ. They have given over their circumstances to the Lord so they have taken up their crosses and are following the Lord. Continue reading

Christian Authenticity – The Gifts of Grace


by Mike Ratliff

33 Λέγω γὰρ διὰ τῆς χάριτος τῆς δοθείσης μοι παντὶ τῷ ὄντι ἐν ὑμῖν μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρʼ ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν ἀλλὰ φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν, ἑκάστῳ ὡς ὁ θεὸς ἐμέρισεν μέτρον πίστεως. 4 καθάπερ γὰρ ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι πολλὰ μέλη ἔχομεν, τὰ δὲ μέλη πάντα οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἔχει πρᾶξιν, 5 οὕτως οἱ πολλοὶ ἓν σῶμά ἐσμεν ἐν Χριστῷ, τὸ δὲ καθʼ εἷς ἀλλήλων μέλη. 6 ἔχοντες δὲ χαρίσματα κατὰ τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν διάφορα, εἴτε προφητείαν κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως, 7 εἴτε διακονίαν ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ, εἴτε ὁ διδάσκων ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, 8 εἴτε ὁ παρακαλῶν ἐν τῇ παρακλήσει· ὁ μεταδιδοὺς ἐν ἁπλότητι, ὁ προϊστάμενος ἐν σπουδῇ, ὁ ἐλεῶν ἐν ἱλαρότητι. (Romans 12:3-8 NA28)

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:3-8 NASB)

As we saw in the last post dealing with Romans 12:1-2, Christian Authenticity – A Living Sacrifice, genuine Christians have a duty to God to give themselves unto Him completely. It is through become a living sacrifice that the believer’s sanctification precedes to the level of surrender. This process takes place as the Holy Spirit renovates the mind as the believer submits more and more to the Word of God in all parts of his or her life. Those who are on this path of spiritual growth become ready for service.

Continue reading

Christian Authenticity – A Living Sacrifice


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1-2 NA28)

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)

Works righteousness is the default religion of man. However, God’s ways are not man’s ways. Neither are His thoughts man’s thoughts. His ways are higher than man’s. The Natural Man believes that the way to be justified by God is to do good works or not be as bad as those really evil people. However, Romans 1-11 makes it clear that no one is righteous or innocent. All have sinned. All are guilty. Also, there is not one thing anyone can do about that problem. Oh, people have and still try all sorts of things to try to earn salvation, to be justified by God. They become very religious. They do good works. However, Paul makes it crystal clear that that is all a total waste of time. Continue reading

The mystery and victory of the resurrection


by Mike Ratliff

17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17 NASB)

All of us have witnessed a certain very well known Christian leader who appears very genuine in his faith and even takes stands against those who would dilute the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ no matter how costly. He debates homosexuals who are demanding to be called “gay-Christians” for instance and come out of those debates very well with those he debates licking their wounds, etc. Then just a few weeks later we see this very same Christian leader worshipping and praying at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, even taking part in a “revival” there. This is confusing. It is also well known that this same Christian leader is virulently anti-Reformed Theology. For those of us who are Reformed in our theology this makes it even more troubling. How are we to handle this?

We must never forget my brethren that just because someone expresses that they have faith and believe does not mean that he or she actually does. One’s genuiness in Christ is not revealed by confession. The Bible teaches of only one way to know if one is truly in Christ. That is perseverance in the faith to the end. Christians are not saved through the good works in their walk or even by the fact that they do persevere, but they prove their Christian authenticity through these things. Faithfulness is a mark of genuineness. When professing Christians wander off the path for whatever reason, this does not mean that God will forsake them, refusing to have mercy on them and bring them back. In John Bunyan’s monumental work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, we see how easy it is for pilgrims to be deceived by all sorts of things, to become distracted; and this blinds them spiritually so that they lose sight of the spiritual and, therefore, see things through eyes of flesh. Then they find themselves off the path in all sorts of deception and trouble. God is good. He will draw His genuine believers back to the narrow path, but those who are not truly His will reside in their spiritual blindness and remain deceived in their fleshly pursuits or false doctrines.  Continue reading