How Sharp Is Your Sword?


by Mike Ratliff

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:16-17 ESV)

I have deliberately taken a short Sabbatical from writing and contending. God has used this to move me from a certain focus to another one, at least for now. As I prepared over the last few days to reenter the truth war I became convinced that many of us need a review of some fundamentals. If we are effective warriors in this war that means we will also come under attack from directions other than on the battlefront. These attacks are sinister and come from some that most would think should know better than to fall into being a tool of our enemy. The first fundamental is that this war is not about us. We make mistakes. We blunder. We make foolish decisions. It is vital that we do not compound our error by attempting to cover it up by going hard after those who have exploited it or exposed it. Instead, like Peter when Paul contended with him about his hypocrisy, we should humbly repent and move forward with our Lord in His light.  Continue reading

The Manhattan Declaration


Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009

(By John MacArthur)

Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it:

• Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season”—and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.”  Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.

• This is precisely where the document fails most egregiously.  It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct “communities.” Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as “historic lines of ecclesial differences” rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity.

• Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like “we [and] our fellow believers”; “As Christians, we . . .”; and “we claim the heritage of . . . Christians.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.

• The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.

• This is neither a novel approach nor a strategic stand for evangelicals to take.  It ought to be clear to all that the agenda behind the recent flurry of proclamations and moral pronouncements we’ve seen promoting ecumenical co-belligerence is the viewpoint Charles Colson has been championing for more than two decades. (It is not without significance that his name is nearly always at the head of the list of drafters when these statements are issued.) He explained his agenda in his 1994 book The Body, in which he argued that the only truly essential doctrines of authentic Christian truth are those spelled out in the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. I responded to that argument at length in Reckless Faith. I stand by what I wrote then.

In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue.  That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.

John MacArthur

 

The Troubling Aspects of the Manhattan Declaration


11/23/2009 – James White

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.  Continue reading

Thanksgiving Sabbatical


by Mike Ratliff

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

This year my wife and I will be traveling for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We leave tomorrow (Monday) after my physical therapy appointment and will return Saturday the 28th. This time off from writing and contending has come at just the right time for me as I feel drawn to the throne of grace as I seek my Lord’s wisdom. I am both discouraged and encouraged with events in the Church at this time. Continue reading

Majoring on the Minors


A few years ago after my wife and I left our old church because it was going Purpose Driven, we visited another church not far from our home. It was a very traditional SBC church. After a few visits the Pastor asked us to have lunch with him and his wife after church services that Sunday. At the restaurant, we had to wait for the pizza so we had time to talk. He informed me that he had been to my blog and he had a lot of questions for me personally. This surprised me. I thought he was going to ask me about why I had such a hard stance on the PDC, but instead, his questions had to do with my understanding of theology and what we as Christians in this world should mainly be about. He wanted to know how I would get along with the other men in that church whose theological understanding was barely past that of a new Christian, et cetera. He told me that in his estimation that I was a thinker and since I was all about discipleship and obedience that some of those men would see me as a bit legalistic even though he knew that was not so. I made the comment that the vast majority of Christians I have ever known were enslaved to their flesh. He nodded in agreement and said that that was why the American Church was in such sad shape. He stated that we were welcome at that church, but I had better get prepared for a bunch of baby Christians who saw themselves as leaders having problems with what I taught. We went back one more time and I found that some others had been to my blog and none of them wanted me to even be in the same building with them. That was the last time we visited there.  Continue reading

Is it Slander or is it Discernment?


by Mike Ratliff

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12 ESV)

This discernment ministry stuff is not for everyone. I often wonder if I am cut out for it at all. I do not like conflict. On the other hand, God gifted me with the makeup that loves the truth and seeks justice because it is His truth and I am compelled, quite often, to speak out when false prophets besmirch His truth and the Gospel is treated as optional by certain “evangelicals.” However, there is a fine line between exposing that which is false and slander. That fine line has to do with intent and evidence. Continue reading

Jesus Is Coming


by Mike Ratliff

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. (Revelation 3:11 ESV)

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV)

It is one thing to say, “Come soon Lord Jesus!” and quite another thing to live as if you mean it. There are even some today who are of the emergent mindset that teach we should live this life with our focus on the here and now rather than eternity. Why? This is to create a better world or make this world a better place. However, I also tire of those who treat eschatology much like the world handles conspiracy theories always looking for the right combination of “signs” that our Lord’s return is imminent. I used to do that myself, but I do not do that very much anymore. Why? My focus is on living this life for the glory of God and that means I focus on my relationship between me and my Lord first and from that flows my relationships with everyone else. Yes, the sad shape of the visible Church grieves me and, to me, this is the most telling sign that our Lord’s return is imminent.  Continue reading

I Will Not Be Inquired Of By You


by Mike Ratliff

“Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD, Is it to inquire of me that you come? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you.” (Ezekiel 20:3 ESV)

The Visible Church has become largely corrupt and apostate. Some are going the direction of Joel Osteen’s Word of Faith gospel that tells us that God wants to bless us, but cannot because we are not asking Him for it or we are not doing something right. Then there are those denominations that are affirming same-sex marriage, which is expressly condemned in God’s Word. There are apostasy examples all across the board and there is not room enough or time enough to address them all here. However, these things all have one thing in common. These are people seeking to be seen as “Christian,” but on their own terms rather than what the Word of God clearly teaches us.  Continue reading

Triumph in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 ESV)

Much of the heresy being taught and preached by the apostates in our time is the product of a wrong view of Christ. Their knowledge of Jesus Christ is flawed, incomplete, or man-made. On the other hand, we should not despair that this is happening because our faith is not in any man, but in Christ Himself who promised to build His Church and the gates of Hell would never be able to prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, when we see well known Christian leaders compromise and the largest Churches and groups of Churches in our time be those who have butchered the Gospel or who major on things other than it, we must look to God in faith, which was given to us at our New Birth, and commit ourselves to being where He wants us to be and doing what He wants us to be doing.  Continue reading

Our Heavenly Dwelling


by Mike Ratliff

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:11-13 ESV)

I was taught in College when writing a newspaper story or a paper that we should never state facts without corroboration via quotes from accepted authorities using documentation to back it up. However, I have found it very difficult to do this lately in the articles I post here. I have used J.I. Packer a lot over the last several years because of his summary writing of works such as John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Jesus Christ. However, it has been pointed out to me that J.I. Packer seems to be one who writes wonderfully true expositions of Biblical truth while also compromising with the very ones we oppose in their stands to corrupt our faith and attack the church with false doctrines, et cetera. My good friend Ken Silva pointed this out to me via this post. Continue reading

Preach the Word!


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)

I read the other day that the Emergent or Emerging “Church” was replacing Christian liberalism or at least morphing into the same role. That means that it assumed a Gospel stance of universalism. For many years, it was assumed that if one was reformed in his or theology, like me, that it was a sure deal that that Christian was not going to fall into the cesspool of this nonsense. However, now we have a new term to deal with called New Calvinism or a reference to a certain group of Christian leaders called New Calvinists. Those we have looked at in this group appears to lean towards mysticism and compromise. I am one who simply cannot wrap my mind around how one who confesses to believe that God is Sovereign over all things and that man is incapable of saving Himself can seek to make the compromises in their ministry that would line themselves up with the Emergents. Universalism and Calvinism are polar opposites in my understanding of things and that means that Calvinists should have a proper understanding of what it means that Jesus Christ is Lord. It means that we do not call the shots. We do not design new and more popular ways to serve and worship Him. No, we must worship and serve as directed by Him. Continue reading

The Name Above Every Name


by Mike Ratliff

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalms 110:1 ESV)

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:15-21 ESV)

When I witness the bizarre conflicts in the visible Church in our time, especially the ones in which I take part, I never come through them without wondering how those whose faith is in their religion or idol can call Jesus Lord since they most definitely are not obeying Him nor submitting to His will as their Lord. If they did then two things would be true about them. They would teach sound (αντικειται) doctrine (διδασκαλια) from God’s Word and they would minister to His Church with love (αγαπην). Any other form of “ministry” will negatively impact the Body of Christ for it will come from motivations other than ministering unto the glory of God alone as a slave (δουλος) of his or her Lord (κυριος). These other motivations are actually service to another lord, either self or the enemy of our souls and are therefore the source of bad fruit. Continue reading

Lies and Deceit


by Mike Ratliff

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

A principle that must be engrained in us as we run this race set before us by our God is that our enemy is a deceitful liar and he has many who belong to him who, like him, are wicked and the truth is not found in them. Many of these people proclaim to be Christians but are, in fact, only wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Like their father, Satan, they have no problem using half-truths and outright lies when it appears to serve their purpose, whatever that is. If we are not very careful and prepare ourselves for the journey through prayer and immersion in God’s Word then these wolves can deceive us if we are not very careful. If this happens, we might find ourselves stumbling into error. Continue reading

Spiritual Therapy


by Mike Ratliff

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household? “ (Matthew 10:24-25 ESV)

I began my series of six sessions of physical therapy today. This is to address some damage to my left shoulder because of the seizures I had in August and September. The therapist evaluated me today and told me that my right shoulder has some of the same damage, but not quite as severe. I had not told anyone about that pain because it was not as bad as that in my left shoulder. His discovery made me feel a whole lot better about submitting to his treatment.

When God saves a person, it is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life. No matter how many years that person lives in this life after that, that condition will not change. However, all those whom God saves are left to deal with their flesh in a demon infested temporal place that He uses to purify and mold them unto the image of their Saviour. This process is dealt with all through the New Testament and is referred to as fiery trials or tests. The journey from that moment of spiritual rebirth to the Celestial City is a pilgrimage along a narrow way through these tests and trials. The way is not bereft of problems, false brethren, false teachers, false prophets, pressure to conform to this Vanity Fair, pressure to dilute the pure truth from God’s Word, pressure to fit in with this lost and dying world, et cetera. It can seem at times that we are about to be destroyed by the very things God is using to perfect us and ready us for our eternity with our Saviour forever.  Continue reading