Destruction is Not Sleeping


I am traveling to visit our daughter and son-in-law this weekend for a baby shower and birthday celebration of my wife’s brother. I should be back online by Monday evening. In the meantime, I have posted some articles that I believe address the terrible condition of the church in our day due to the laxness of spiritual discernment compounded by the prevalence of numerous popular false teachers. Enjoy and be blessed – Mike Ratliff


2 Peter 2:1-10 ESV  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  (2)  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.  (3)  And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.  (4)  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;  (5)  if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;  (6)  if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;  (7)  and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked  (8)  (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);  (9)  then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,  (10)  and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,

by John Piper 

May 23, 1982

The main point of 2 Peter 1 which everything else supports or elaborates is verse 10: “Brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election; for if you do this, you will never fall.” Peter wants us to enjoy the certainty of our salvation. He wants us to be so firmly established in God that we cannot be shaken by any temptation or false teaching. In 3:17 he draws his letter to a close with this admonition: “Beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.” Peter devotes his last will and testament (1:14, 15) to help us be firm and stable and unshakable in our faith. Continue reading

Contend Earnestly For the Faith


by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 ESV)

A couple of days ago I posted an articled titled Are There Two Christianities?, which linked to a post on another blog that detailed some activities that took place during an evangelistic push in the San Francisco area. One of the conclusions in that article was that it had appeared  to the writer of it that there were indeed two radically different forms of Christianity. One form is focused on God, His will, obeying His Word, and living for His glory. The other form actually took many forms itself. There are liberal churches. There are Word of Faith churches. There are those who had become enveloped in the church growth movement which take many other forms one being Purpose Driven. Then there are the emergents. These are very different from one another, but have one thing in common. In various degrees their primary focus is on pleasing men rather than in glorifying God. Continue reading

My Soul Waits for God Alone


There seems to be a concerted effort on the part of certain people to drive a wedge between some of us who contend for the faith. Their weapons are not godly, but are wicked and in their use these people reveal that they are actually Satan’s seed. There also appears to be an evil stronghold surrounding these people. I am not able, in myself, to resist them or defend myself. However, my hope is not in myself but in God alone. In light of this I want to share two  passages from Sacred Scripture and the lyrics of one of my favorite hymns with all who are engaged in this battle. – Mike Ratliff

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15-19 ESV)

As Christians let use minister in light of who our Lord is and what actual spiritual “power” he imparts to those who serve and belong to Him.

 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work. (Psalms 62:1-12 ESV)

A Mighty Fortress is Our God – by Martin Luther

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Fiery Trials


 

by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV)

I suppose the best example of a fiery trial in the Bible would be the Book of Job. Job was a righteous man whom God tested by allowing Satan to strike him by taking away his children, his possessions, and his health. In the end God vindicated Job as he repented of questioning God’s love for him during the trial. God also addressed Job’s accusers who had misrepresented God by declaring that Job was suffering because he had sinned. Continue reading

Are There Two Christianities?


by Mike Ratliff

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

The great divide between what is genuine Christianity and what claims to be, but isn’t, is becoming more and more clear, it seems, everyday. We have seen the type of “Christian” that the Purpose Driven Church paradigm produces in the sorry situation in which a PDC apologist, Richard Abanes, attempted to get a Christian blog taken off line by threatening the blogger’s ISP with a legal action implying that a certain post contained objectionable, slanderous, or libelous material against him. I am convinced that this is only the beginning. This incident was the result of a “debate” in which the blogger, Ken Silva, refused to back down against the insistence by Abanes that any attempt to show the unbiblical nature of the seeker-sensitive, church growth, or Purpose Driven paradigms was inherently devious and wrong. Continue reading

A PASTOR’S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES – text only


I wish the reader to know that I truly was grieved to see that Richard Abanes felt that he needed to continue his dealings with me. As the pastor of a very small congregation known as Connecticut River Baptist Church (CRBC), who had seen their teacher attacked by Mr. Abanes concerning a pastoral article which I had written called The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to then protect my integrity in front of them. One needs to keep in mind at this point, that prior to all this, I was simply teaching a precious few, and really had no personal intentions of elevating my work beyond that scope. Continue reading

A Pastor’s Assessment of Richard Abanes


Since Apprising.Org has been taken offline I have made a copy of Ken’s assessment of Richard Abanes from a Pastoral view available on my website Walk by Faith. To read it click here. A word of caution. Don’t try to use any of the navigation links on that page because it will not give you the desired results. To come back here just hit the back button on your browser. – Mike Ratliff

Blog Shutdown by ‘Christian’ Apologists Threat


Christian Newswire has just released the following article. Here is the link.

Contact: Pastor Dustin Segers, Coalition of Concerned Bloggers, ChristianResearchNetwork.com, 336-848-7197

MEDIA ADVISORY, July 28 /Christian Newswire/ — Pastor Dustin Segers submits the following and is available for comment:

How safe are our blogs? That question was raised again when on the evening of July 26, 2008, a popular religious blog was shut down by an Internet service provider. A complaint filed by Christian author and apologist, Richard Abanes, claiming that one article on the religious opinion site, Apprising.org, had slandered him, caused the web host, IPower, to send its publisher, Ken Silva, a 48-hour warning to remove the offending piece or be taken down. In that the piece was not believed to be slander at all, but rather religious and theological opinion, he refused to be forced into censoring his site by Richard Abanes. The site went down.

There are serious implications here for all bloggers, regardless of what sort of blog they publish. Anyone who has a complaint about your views can claim that you have engaged in slander and the ISP Terms of Service usually allow for the companies to remove your website if you don’t take the material in question down. The First Amendment means nothing in these cases. ISP’s cannot and will not explore the claims of slander and simply notify bloggers to remove whatever is causing the problem. This opens the door for anyone to censor what a blogger writes online.

Everyone who values the right to read and publish blogs on the Internet has a vested interested in the issue. There is growing concern in the blog world over this, and a number of servers are popping up that offer “First Amendment” hosting. These are web hosts which require a court order before they will remove someone’s website. Their day has clearly come.

Spiritual Wisdom


 

by Mike Ratliff

Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NET)

When we are pressured in our circumstances to compromise and respond via the flesh, i.e. the way of the world, we are actually employing worldly wisdom. That wisdom says to, “Look out for number one!” It says to, “Never allow yourself to be taken advantage of.” It says to, “If attacked, respond in kind.” When Christians react this way then they are actually utilizing values that are part of a system that does not know God, cannot know God, and sees truth as relative. Those who hold to relativism appear to the unregenerate as the most enlightened and, obviously, more fair minded. However, as we have seen with the recent acts of censorship against Ken Silva and Apprising Ministries that when the disciples of relativism come head to head with those who will not compromise  God’s truth, their response can be quite brutal. Continue reading

Have Mercy O Lord


Have Mercy O Lord

by Mike Ratliff

Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:11-21 NET)

As many of you know, there has been an escalation of the conflict between those of us who are contributors to the Christian Research Network and certain self-appointed apologists for the Purpose Driven Paradigm and the New Evangelism. There has been the threat of lawsuits and demands for censure of certain posted comments. I posted my response to this in Pride Arrogance and Humility. It has been very eye opening as certain people have seen fit to attempt to justify this sort of behavior by pointing fingers at others who they accuse of “doing the same thing.” There are several issues here being exacerbated by negative emotional responses. Continue reading

Pride Arrogance and Humility


by Mike Ratliff

Though the Lord is exalted, he takes note of the lowly, and recognizes the proud from far away. (Psalms 138:6 NET)

But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NET)

I received an email yesterday from my friend and dear brother in Christ Ken Silva. In it he explained, “…Richard Abanes has threatened a lawsuit against IPower who currently hosts the website Apprising Ministries.” IPower had alerted Ken about “accusations” from Abanes in which he stated that Apprising Ministries contains content that is alleged to be, “untrue, offensive, slanderous, harrasing or controversial in nature.” They then demanded that Ken remove that content within 48 hours or his website would be terminated. Continue reading

Bought With a Price to be Slaves of Christ


 

by Mike Ratliff

Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24 ESV)

During the ministries of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles there was a full understanding of the nature of slavery. It dominated their culture. Therefore, we must take that into account when we read from God’s Word the true nature of our “personal relationship” with our Lord. The Greek word for Lord or Master is “κυριε” or “Kurios.” This title describes Jesus Christ as Lord in the sense of being the owner, possessor, or master. Some may teach that Christians can be genuine without them submitting to Christ as Lord, but that concept is alien to the Bible. We do not make Christ Lord of our lives my brethren. No, He is Lord of all those whom He bought with the price of His precious blood. Continue reading

Cynicism Bitterness and Sacrifice


 

by Mike Ratliff

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV)

Steel is made through the smelting of iron ore. Iron becomes steel as carbon is added while the iron is very hot. What makes steel much harder than iron was not really understood by the ancients who created it. All they knew was that at a certain point in the shaping of a sword they would lay the red hot blade into the coals for a few minutes then resume the process of hammering, cooling in water, re-heating, hammering, cooling in water, et cetera. The finished product was a sword that would not bend in battle and could be sharpened over and over. The blade was actually made up of many pieces of iron rods that were heated, flattened, and folded upon itself over and over. It was hard work, but that was what it took to create a fine, usable steel sword. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

When we are born of the Spirit at regeneration we are new creations. However, that does not mean that we become instantly sinless. Nor does it mean that we are instantly mature and able to know the will of God in walking before Him for His glory alone. No, these attributes come over time and after much “smelting, hammering, cooling, re-heating of us in the fires of sanctification. When I was a young Christian I remember many times being on the verge of walking away from my faith. Why? It seemed that I was “in the fire” all the time. I am very glad that God preserved me, but I want to share with all of you reading this that God has not stopped this process in me. I have been a believer since 1986, but I am no where near complete and this is obvious as God has not relented in showing me how much I must suffer for the name of Christ. Continue reading

Our Gospel


 

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:8-12 ESV)

The churchianity that  most of us  grew up with is confused with genuine Christianity by many people. It is actually a set of beliefs or values  laid out in our minds’ decision grid. It becomes a value system in the heart that reckons salvation to be based on religious acts such as saying a certain prayer in a certain order while holding to a certain frame of mind. When doubt comes, and it always does, we are told to look back on “that day” when we said that prayer. Some even go so far as to say that they doubt if a person is really a Christian if they cannot remember the exact moment when they prayed that prayer.  Continue reading