The Christian’s Incompatibility With Sin


by Mike Ratliff

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 ESV)

It is imperative that Christians have a correct and viable theology of suffering. These health, wealth, and prosperity preachers in our time will disagree of course, but let them. We have God’s Truth, His Word, held in objective context held up against their subjective, ear-tickling smoke and mirrors false religion. Oh, there may indeed be some “spirituality” going on in there, but to proclaim, “God is here!” or “God is in this!” or “We are having a Revival, come and join us!” is the very act of man elevating himself above God, telling Him what to do and when. However, I digress, God has always used suffering in the lives of His people to sanctify them, to draw them to prayer, to purify them, to grow them spiritually, and to direct their paths. Paul called some of his suffering a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan (2 Corinthians 12), but allowed by God to keep him from exalting himself because of his great knowledge. When we learn to view the seriousness of our sin as Paul did and God’s glory as imperative then we will begin to understand that sin in the life of a Christian is an anathema in a realistic, daily sense rather than in some sort of abstract give and take.  Continue reading

A Salvation That Really Saves


by Mike Ratliff

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

In yesterday’s post, Grace of Acceptation With God, we saw that our salvation was far more than simply justification by faith, which in and of itself is incredible, but also includes the imputation of the actual active righteousness of Christ, His good works or keeping of the Law, which is required for our complete acceptation by God into His Kingdom. I know that many reading this may not see the point of this or have no idea what I am talking about. However, please understand, I am praying that you will understand the truth of this because this is a huge missing piece from the gospel in the church in our time. Without this teaching, the church is plagued with professing Christians who are in a form of self-salvation. They did the religious thing “to get saved” at church. They were sincere, but there is no real change in their lives. However, the Bible is very clear as in the passage above that we are saved “not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Therefore, there is a huge problem with a lack of assurance in these people. The issue is not their lack of sincerity or their lack of obedience since their religious experience, but that they have believed a false, man-made gospel that has no spiritual power to really save or regenerate anyone.  Continue reading

Grace of Acceptation With God


by Mike Ratliff

[16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (John 14:16 ESV)

As we look about us with any discernment at all in these times of spiritual deceit, it can be heart rending to see the outright lying done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are so-called men of God preaching and teaching and ministering and doing things that could best be described as either the teaching or application of damnable heresies. I know that there are some who call themselves Christians who automatically have a problem with that last statement because they are afflicted with the disease of post-modernistic thinking. They believe everything is relative. Sorry, to the wind with that. If you are uncomfortable with the proclamation of God’s truth as absolute then you will not be comfortable here. God’s Word is His truth, a precious gift to His Church. In it we learn theology and His doctrines. This includes the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. From that we learn that our salvation is entirely by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are justified by faith, not works. God’s truth is objective and absolute not subjective and relative. The grace we possess as Christians was purchased for us at the Cross of Christ.  Continue reading

Standing Firm as a Way of Life


by Mike Ratliff

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

When I was first enlisted to become part of the CRN team, I was actually quite shocked for two reasons. The first reason was that Ken had actually chosen me. I was very surprised about that. However, sadly, the other surprise was that there was an immediate effort by some professing Christians bent on stopping what we were doing. Perhaps I am a bit simplistic in my reasoning, but I just cannot conceive of what is wrong with pointing people to God’s truth and away from that which pretends to be, but is not. Fortunately, this role still allows me to do what I love to do the most, open God’s Word and teach, all for His glory.  Continue reading

Hold Fast to the Word of Life


by Mike Ratliff

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” (Acts 5:19-20 ESV)

It seems that Christian suffering is a very big topic right now. I think I have heard at least three separate teachings on Job Chapter 1 & 2 in the last few months. Then there is Matt Chandler at T4G making that impact with his message of God taking him through cancer and brain surgery. It was very interesting to watch the reaction when Ken Silva posted this article the other day. I knew there would be some who would cry foul and some did. They called what was said, “watchblogging” as if that is an evil thing. However, Ken let me read some of the email he received on this and it was very interesting to see the confusion. Yes, no one had an issue with the evils of out of control subjectivism being elevated to the level of truth, but then as what they disagreed with was laid bare, they would revert right back to analyzing everything subjectively. What ever happened to prayer and going to God’s Word for the truth? When we look for it anywhere else we will never find it.  Continue reading

There is Death in the Pot!


by Mike Ratliff

And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Set on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. He said, “Then bring flour.” And he threw it into the pot and said, “Pour some out for the men, that they may eat.” And there was no harm in the pot. (2 Kings 4:38-41 ESV)

In a private discussion with friends over the last few days the question has been raised about three primary examples of well-known reformed theologians or pastors who if we looked closely at their theology of salvation and the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ we would say that these are our brothers. However, there is a problem. These same three men are involved in things that many of us consider extra-biblical and outside of the true mission God has given the Church. John Piper is a good theologian, but he is also closely associated with Mark Driscoll who is both emergent and the leader of the Acts 29 Network. He has also invited Rick Warren to speak at his conference this Fall. Mark Driscoll is reformed in his theology as well. He has made statements that he has turned away from his emergent roots, but the Acts 29 Network claims to be the source of “new Calvinism” which is missional and lines up nicely with the emergent goals. Lastly, we have Matt Chandler. His theology is right on, but he is also pursuing some things in his ministry that are troubling because they are highly subjective in their foundation.  Continue reading

Acts 29 Network and Subjective Religiosity


by Mike Ratliff

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18 ESV)

Our brother in the Lord Ken Silva wrote a very good article this afternoon revealing the rotten spiritual foundation of the Acts 29 Network and its embracing of Contemplative Spirituality. I pray that you follow that link and read it. There was part of that article that really got my attention from a different direction however. Here is the list of the four ways ‘New Calvinism’ is So Powerful and, hence, is becoming such a force in our time.  Continue reading

True Christianity vs Subjective Religiosity


by Mike Ratliff

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

There is a form of religion in the world today that calls itself by many names and in each of those forms it is seen as a type of Christianity, but is, in fact, nothing more than a man-made facsimile of true Christianity. Its foundation is not the same. True Christianity is built upon the foundations of Christ, Him Crucified, God’s Eternal Word, The Holy Trinity, and the Sovereignty of God, On the other hand, the man-made, subjective form of it has an entirely different foundation. Its foundation is accommodation, fairness, equality, the nobility of man, the rights of man, the free will of man and experientialism. Even though both true Christianity and the subjectivism reference many of the same things, the focus will be entirely different with the former being primarily being on the glory of God through the exposition of His truth from His Word with the latter being on the accommodation of man with the inclusion of people’s experiences as the primary focus and means of knowing God and His truth.

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Afterward


“Afterward.”-Hebrews 12:11

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. Our sorrows, like the passing keels of the vessels upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them “afterwards.” It is peace, sweet, deep peace, which follows the horrible turmoil which once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls. See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are “afterward” good things, harsh ploughings yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy “afterwards” in heaven? If his dark nights are as bright as the world’s days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol Him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then? Oh, blessed “afterward!” Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown which cometh afterwards? But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for to-day, nor the triumph for the present, but “afterward.” Wait, O soul, and let patience have her perfect work. – C.H. Spurgeon from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for for May 18

Simul Iustus et Peccator


I began reading John Owen’s book Communion With The Triune God edited by Dr. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor back in 2008 as we awaited the birth of our grandson. I read in the waiting rooms prior to the various ultra-sound tests and other doctor visits that go with that. On the day of his birth, I read a few pages and stopped as that blessed event finally arrived. For some reason, I put the book back on the shelf with the bookmark in place and left it there when I got back home. Then at the end of April of this year, I reached a level of mental and spiritual exhaustion that required that I take some time off. I looked for some books to take with me on my trip and my eyes fell on this long neglected book. I took it with me and started reading right where I left off back in 2008. I read it now every chance I get. God is still blessing me through the excellently edited version of the text.  Continue reading

The Chief Way Whereby Doctrine is Maintained


by Mike Ratliff

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:16 ESV)

No matter what category this ministry is placed in some peoples’ catalogs, I still see myself as primarily a teacher of God’s Word. I find that the act of having to take those firm stands in face of obvious wrong doctrine and wrong motives et cetera is not something I relish. Therefore, the label of “ODM” given with disdain and often included with other descriptive words like “hater” or “narrow-minded” or “ bigoted” sting and brings out emotions that I would rather not experience. There is never a battle fought that is not accompanied by a period afterward in which peace and joy seem far away indeed and I find myself contemplating doing something else to serve my Lord. That is, until I spend some time in prayer, seeking His face and direction. Yes, there will still be those who hate what I do. Yes, there will still be those who view Christianity as subjective and, therefore, we have no right to question another’s practice of it and we must still stand against these things as long as God gives us the time and ability to do so as painful as that may be. Continue reading

Are You Ready?


by Mike Ratliff

42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42 ESV)

I know that I am a finite person who is incapable of knowing everything. I know this very well. I also know that it is impossible for any of us finite individuals to possess the knowledge with certainty of future events. I am fully aware of this so I am not making predictions here or saying that I know for certain that eschatological events are going to happen any day now. No, I am not saying that. No, but what I am saying, and have been saying for quite some time, is that unless God grants us a revival, the Church will continue with its tailspin into apostasy and we will be in for a very rough period of spiritual darkness and possible persecution. The move from Christian orthodoxy into the many forms of apostasy we are seeing is not just an American phenomenon, but is worldwide. Religious tolerance is so close to becoming a requirement nearly everywhere. When this happens, there will be no room for the exclusivity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, there will still be the Church and there will still be Christians, but real Christians will be persecuted, underground, and second-class citizens everywhere. This is the reality of enforced religious tolerance.  Continue reading

The Deification of Man


by Mike Ratliff

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

As many of you know, I was given the opportunity to do a pre-release review of a book written by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola titled Jesus Manifesto. To be honest, I was shocked after I received it and began reading it. I knew, for instance, that Sweet was a good friend of Brian McLaren and was emergent in his theology. However, the book started out well. It was like reading a sermon preached by a very good evangelist. My good friend Jon Cardwell was also enlisted to review the book and was going through the same struggle. It was amazing. However, I was also asking for a lot of prayer for wisdom and discernment from friends and family as I dug into the book. It did not help though that this was going on as I was also dealing with a great deal of mental exhaustion. In any case, my prayers were answered when I came to the part of the book dealing with our Lord’s crucifixion.  Continue reading

Are You Ashamed of That Stumbling Block?


by Mike Ratliff

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 ESV)

Currently, the Truth is under serious assault by the enemies of anyone and anything that has any claim of it holding the quality of being absolute. That means that those cars we see all over our metro areas with those cute little bumper stickers made up of religious symbols that spell out the word “COEXIST” as seen in the image below are attempts to say that there is no such thing as absolute truth. They are saying that whatever is true for one person is okay as long as that person respects what is true for another person even if these “truths” are completely contradictory. The absurdity of this is apparent to anyone with any ability to reason, but as we have seen, post-modern thinkers do not think logically.

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