It’s All About Me


by Mike Ratliff

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-16 ESV)

I have often written on this blog and elsewhere about the spiritual awakening that God took me through in 2004. I remember vividly, however, being very confused about some things as I went through that. Several years earlier, I had been deeply involved in several men’s studies at a former church that were built around the teachings of Henry Blackaby. I had been through once and led several times the study called “Experiencing God.” One thing that always puzzled me in that study was how cool it was and how “deep” it was in the beginning and then so wrapped up in spiritual or mystical disciplines toward the end because to progress past the initial seeking where God is working then get involved stage, which was always quite exciting for everyone, it got into those parts of self-discipline that most of the men simply shrugged off and didn’t come back. In any case, I used the context of those studies to evaluate or try to understand what God was doing in my life in August 2004. Things just did not jibe together as I thought they should.  Continue reading

Reprove the Works of Darkness


by Mike Ratliff

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV)

It has been put forth that the apologists for the Seeker-Sensitive movement in the visible church insist that they are justified in what they do because God is blessing their ministries with explosive growth and so it is wrong for us to oppose them. They cite Acts 5:33-39 to support this thesis. Carefully read the following passage. The bold section contains Gamaliel’s advice, which the Purpose Driven, Missional, Seeker Sensitive, and/or Emergent folks cite.

When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, (Acts 5:33-39 ESV)

If we blindly follow this reasoning then it would appear that it was wrong for Jesus to oppose the Pharisees, Paul to oppose the Judiazers, the early Church to oppose Gnosticism, Athanasius to stand firm against Arianism, and Augustine to oppose Pelagianism. We are not being told in Acts 5:33-39 that the right way for the Church to deal with apostasy within the Church is to tolerate it hoping God will stop it as we silently observe. No, we are given plenty of commands in the New Testament on how to deal with judging those inside the Church who are guilty of things that are not to be named amongst the Brethren.  Continue reading

Playing the Pharisee Card


In some discussion amongst friends this morning it became known that Rick Warren, on Twitter, has said:

“‘It drives Pharisees nuts to watch God keep blessing ministries they ridicule & despise.God’s sovereignty is often humorous.’ ‘It takes ALL kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. If Jesus is honored & lives transformed, I like how you do it!’ ‘”Father,thank u for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise&clever,&revealing it to the CHILDLIKE”Mt11:25’.”

As the day wore on, the angrier I became about this and so determined to address it in tonight’s post. However, one of these friends posted something this evening that addressed this comment very well. I cannot think of any way to improve on what my brother Daniel Neades wrote, therefore, instead of me writing a post about this, I am linking to his.

I want to say one thing about this though before you go to read that post. I have been opposed to the Purpose Driven paradigm for many years and have been addressing this from many different angles. However, today through my listening to Chris Rosebrough’s fine exposition on the unbiblical nature of all aspects of the Seeker Sensitive movement here, and then praying and researching to get ready to address Rick Warren’s comments above, I believe God has given us that ‘point of deception’ that marks these Seeker Sensitive churches as unbiblical. That ‘point of deception’ is that the Seeker Sensitive gurus actually lead pastors to approach transitioning their churches from biblical and pastoral in nature to CEO/Business model store fronts meant to be churches for the unchurched. The deception is that they are lead to believe that they have been given this mandate by God via an extra-biblical vision to do this so they must view all criticism and disagreements with that vision as invalid and something to be attacked and run out of their churches. All those who oppose the vision in these churches are dealt with as people to be ‘run off’ or ‘nullified.’ I have seen this in operation myself and left my old church as the pastor and his cohorts were getting ready to deal with me this way.

In any case, I suggest you listen to Chris Rosebrough’s radio show exposition of the Church transition process here then go read this fine post by my friend Daniel Neades.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 

The Wisdom From Above


by Mike Ratliff

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:16-17 ESV)

With Brian McLaren and his followers showing their true colors recently proclaiming that they are working to recreate the Church, to bring in a new form of Christianity, we must go back to the root of the matter. We must show what truth is and what it is not. Yes, we are in a post-modern culture that is relativistic, but that does not mean that we have to succumb to that fatal disease. If we are in Christ then we are new creations–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)—This means we are not destined to the spiritual ignorance and blindness that we were born with, but have been changed through the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) being resurrected from spiritual death unto reconciliation and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have the freedom in Christ to know the truth, hold the truth, believe the truth, and stand firmly within it in His power as He sustains us and keeps us from succumbing to the lies and spiritual mediocrity of this lost and dying world and the charlatans who profess to be Christian theologians, but who know only human wisdom.  Continue reading

The Scandal of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-11 ESV)

During my recent trip I have been rereading and studying a book by John MacArthur titled The Vanishing Conscience. Along with this, I have been listening to a series of teachings by R.C. Sproul on the human conscience, all men’s guilt before God because of their sin, and the utter uselessness of man-made religiosity or human psychology teachings about self-esteem in maintaining a healthy conscience that leads the believer into growing in humility and Christlikeness. As part of my study, I have also been praying for guidance in how I should or even if I should address this. The direction I have received is that we must address this since the apostate emergent forms of the visible church have recently shown their true colors of adherence to liberal theology. Also, the missional focus of so many of those who call themselves the  “New” Evangelism or “New” Calvinism or “New” ‘put your favorite religious flavor here’ are redefining the true “Mission” of the Church into a works-righteousness with a nebulous concept of sin, repentance, justification, et cetera.  Continue reading

A Few Days Of Study and Family Time


I will be offline until the middle of next week. My grandson is having some tubes put into his eardrums so we have traveled to another state to be with our daughter and son-in-law. In the meantime I am reading a book that I intend to review on Possessing the Treasure. Please pray that the procedure goes well.

The Work of the Comforter in the Face of the Hatred of the World


by Mike Ratliff

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:3-7 ESV)

A careful survey of any Scriptural expository of the ministry of the Holy Spirit will reveal that the writers of the New Testament usually tell us about ο παρακλητος, the Comforter, and His ministry in the context of Christians remaining obedient, Christlike Christians in the midst of persecution and in the face of the hatred of the World. This resistance to God’s Truth often takes the form of apostasy and heresy. We see this in our day within what has become a “new and improved” form of Christianity forged in the hands of men such as Brian McLaren and those who follow him. In order for them to attract and keep their followers they must necessarily attack God’s Truth and those who accept it, live by it, and have it manifested in them because they are truly saved.  Continue reading

The Work of the Comforter


by Mike Ratliff

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. “ (John 14:25-26 ESV)

On the night prior to our Lord’s crucifixion and death, He promised that He and the Father would send to His disciples the Helper, the παρακλητος, the Holy Spirit. This Greek word, translated as Helper, means a lawyer or assistant in a legal question. Its Biblical context, however, describes a person who provides encouragement, counsel, and strength. In John 16:7-11, which will be the focus of this post, our Lord promises to send “another” παρακλητος, One like Himself who will carry on after Him the teaching and testimony that He began.  Continue reading

Have No Fear of Terror


by Mike Ratliff

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:12-17 ESV)

In a recent study of Scripture to gain wisdom from God in the area of fear or distress or anguish that seemed to be overwhelming a person dear to me, we came together upon a passage in the book of Proverbs that God used to help both of us to get our focus on Him as the source of our fulfillment and security. Through this I was able to help her see that her distress was not coming from an abandonment by God, but that God was actually giving her the way to defeat it, which is to walk securely within His Wisdom in dependence on Him to keep her and sustain her.  Continue reading

The Mind of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? (Isaiah 40:13 ESV)

When we observe Christian leaders operate according to the world’s standards and methods with pastors taking on roles other than shepherd of the sheep then responding to righteous criticism with further deception like this fellow, what we are actually witnessing are professing Christians not walking within the wisdom that is available to all true believers via the Mind of Christ. This same situation is seen in all who have been sucked into the “Innovation Cult” as well. That would include those proponents of easy-believism in all its forms. We see it in “church organizations” that are built around a personality rather than following a shepherd of the sheep who is obediently following the Lord as he should. When a Christian leader becomes the focus rather than Christ in a ministry then we see this idolatry begin to take shape. How often do we see one of these personalities build up a large church then when he moves on to the next church the one he built just falls apart? This should not be and this is indicative of a form of Christianity that is built around this personality cultic focus rather than around following Christ.  Continue reading

The Mark of a Genuine Christian


by Mike Ratliff

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)

When the Manhattan Declaration controversy came about last year, it was truly amazing how God used that to clarify the dividing line between true Christianity born from above and that which is a manmade facsimile, which is, of course, not genuine. That dividing line was very precise. On one side were those who took a stand against signing the declaration because it stated that all who signed it were in agreement based on a fellowship of common beliefs. It inferred that within those common beliefs was that all practiced the sharing of the Gospel. The refusal to sign the document was because they would have by signing it, in essence, been showing an agreement with some who call themselves Christians, but who do not hold to the same concept of what the Gospel is in accordance to that held by Orthodox Evangelicals. In other words, this declaration was a means to make the Gospel an unimportant side issue. Continue reading

Longing For A Heavenly Body


by Mike Ratliff

I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. (2 Peter 1:13-14 ESV)

Unlike Peter, the Lord has not made it clear to me the putting off of my body will be soon (see the passage above). However, I do not deny that my desire for the ending of this tabernacling in this earthly tent grows deeper with each skirmish or battle in the Truth War. I am not overly sad here. I do not even consider myself to be that ill, but with each step in spiritual maturity, the natural byproduct of standing firm in the hot parts of the battle, I find that my joy is in the heavenly perspective rather than in anything in the temporal with the only exception being in my personal relationships and fellowship with family and friends and fellow warriors.  Continue reading

The Heart of the Gospel and Deceitful Arguments


by Mike Ratliff

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24 ESV)

Despite what the emergent or “missional” focused folks attempt to say, the biblical definition of the Gospel is not “sufficiently broad” to accommodate their non-biblical focus along with our specifically biblical focus according to what they call a “balance point.” There is the biblical gospel and then all else is either apostate or pagan.  Continue reading