True Transformation


by Mike Ratliff

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)

Truth is not relative. Truth is not found through some synthesis process through which one concept of the truth is ‘synthesized’ with that which opposes it until some sort of compromise can be reached. This is the Hegelian Dialectic process which states that truth is not found in the thesis nor the antithesis, but the synthesis of the two. This synthesis process may take countless evolutions, but the theory is that eventually change will occur and that is the real goal. This is not biblical transformation. It is not what God does in Christians when He transforms them from flesh driven, prideful, self-oriented people to spirit-led, humble, God-focused servants of the Most-High. Continue reading

Be Imitators of God


by Mike Ratliff

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:16-23 ESV)

The clarion call of Emergence Christianity, New Calvinism, the Acts 29 Network, Missional/Dominionism, Seeker Sensitivity, et al is for people to come be part of their group or push and be “transformed.” It is as if the “transforming” is done via their ministry. They have the secret. They have the formula. They have the anointing by God and via their “group salvation” people are also “transformed” as a group. Into what? That is not said. As we saw a few weeks ago, the key process used here is Diaprax which is the Hegelian Dialectic put into motion to create change for the sake of change. It is based on the concept that truth is never found in the thesis nor the antithesis, but the synthesis of the two through many cycles of the Diaprax process. This new synthesis is the “truth” they are looking for. They combine unbelievers and believers together and force synthesis. This is the transformation they are talking about. This is also called compromise in the Word of God and those who proclaim to be Christians who buy into it are also called hypocrites and apostates. This is not the transformation that Christians are called to in God’s Word nor is it the end of what we will look like if we obey God’s command to be imitators of Him. Continue reading

The Letter Kills but the Spirit Gives Life


by Mike Ratliff

For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Romans 2:25-29 ESV)

I often receive requests from dear brethren who are desperate for assurance, but as I attempt to “dig into” their spiritual background, so to speak, those with the most dire sense of of that desperation also seem to be mired in a works righteousness type of understanding of salvation. It’s not their fault and we cannot help them if we approach the solution from that angle. Whenever I get a request like this, and they are all different, I think of Luther. He was a monk who was desperate to be right with God, but no matter how hard he worked at being righteous, he was continually confessing his sins to his confessor. It was only as God opened his heart to the wonderful truth of justification by faith alone as he studied the book of Romans that Sola Fide became a reality in his heart and so the spark of the Protestant Reformation was ignited. Continue reading

Speaking the Truth


by Mike Ratliff

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:4-16 ESV)

Biblical discernment is not legalism. It is not being a know-it-all who just rains on everyone’s parade, taking all the fun away from those exploring new ways of “experiencing God” or “expanding their faith.” No, it isn’t that at all. First and foremost it is done from the context of maintaining unity within one body and one Spirit through speaking of truth in love so that all truly in Christ will grow up in every way into Him who is their head. Those who exercise this discernment from this motive may at times appear to be focusing on the shortcomings of certain “Christian leaders” to the chagrin of those who follow them. Well, the reason we do that can be quite exasperating on our part I assure you. Why? Those who are deceived by these deceivers DO NOT LISTEN. Continue reading

Manservants Maidservants and Obedience


by Mike Ratliff

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49 ESV)

It was about 18 months ago or so, I posted something in which I focused on the Greek word δοῦλος which is translated as “servant” in most modern versions of the New Testament. However, it is best translated as a form of “bondservant” such as “manservant,” “maidservant,” or even as “slave.” The reason I remember it so well was I received one comment in which a person copied my text from my post into their comment and used the cross-out feature on the word “slave” that I had used and replaced it with the word “servant.” That was deliberate. It was a deliberate refusal by that person to see himself or herself as one whose will was in total submission to God in all cases. Continue reading

A Word Study


by Mike Ratliff

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7ESV)

Part of the process I go through to determine what God wants me to write about or what to study is, of course, prayer and meditation. That meditation involves searching Sacred Scripture, seeking God’s truth. Sometimes that involves going deeper where I stop and dig deeper into a certain word or truth. Today, as I worked through the comments from last night’s post, Those Who Practice Homosexuality Will Not Inherit The Kingdom of God, and I had several conversations with friends about other issues dealing apostasy in other areas of the visible church, I became convinced that I needed to look up the Greek lexical definitions for the noun and verb forms of our English words “obedience” and “to obey.” From there I decided to do a study of how these words are used in the New Testament and that would give us the understanding of the writers of those books of the Christians’ obligations to know and obey God’s commands. Continue reading

Those Who Practice Homosexuality Will Not Inherit The Kingdom of God


by Mike Ratliff

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27 ESV)

My friend Ken Silva told me this evening that the Postmodern paradigm sees, “… affirming gays as liberating them from their oppressors…” This postmodern mindset is deeply engrained in what is known as Emergence Christianity. This is why its leaders nearly all line up and stand with their “gay friends” in support and do not attempt to get them to repent of their sin because they actually believe that a person can be a practicing homosexual and a good Christian at the same time. Well, actually, I do understand what they are saying and I do understand the underlying compassion that leads them to this, but there comes a point as Christians when we cannot cross certain lines. What God calls sin is sin regardless of how we or anyone else “feels” about it. What does God’s word say about those who will not inherit the kingdom of God? Continue reading

The Mystery of Godliness


by Mike Ratliff

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:3-10 ESV)

In the visible church in our time one of the key terms that we are hearing and seeing everywhere is rooted in the word “transform.” Rick Warren likes to say that his church is responsible for thousands of transformed lives for instance. In the incarnation/missional/dominionistic push right now we are seeing some call their particular flavor of that “transformational.” This word is a good biblical word. For instance, in Romans 12:2 we have Paul saying, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The words “be transformed” are translated from the Greek word μεταμορφοῦσθε. Paul used this word to describe God’s process of the Christian being transformed by the renewing of their minds. That is, Christ has come to give us a new way of thinking, which is not legalistically following a fixed set of rules and regulations, but desiring to serve Jesus with all our heart and mind. It is this transformation that produces true godliness that cannot be faked and is a mystery to those outside of God’s grace. Is this the same thing that is being described by Rick Warren and the Dominionists? Continue reading

The Judgment of Deception


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. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

Idolatry, as I have been teaching you for these last many years, always produces spiritual blindness. It also brings God’s judgment. As we see in Romans 1:26, God “gave over,” or παρέδωκεν the unrighteous to the their own lusts as an act of judgment. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post from 2 Timothy. This accumulating for themselves of teachers to suit their own passions by those who will not endure sound teaching, but have itching ears is the very same thing. God has given them over to their false gods, to their idols. Their deception is willing. Think of all those people lining up to to become incarnational, missional servants in the big push of dominionism by these false prophets with their false gospel of works righteousness which preys upon the post modern’s inability to think critically about anything. Continue reading

The Test of True Faith


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. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:16-18 ESV)

The test of true faith is that which is revealed in how one lives and walks through this life. Right belief, that is, a faith that lives in a regenerate heart born from above, is exhibited in right living as James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ wrote in the passage above. Notice also that he began that passage in v16 with, “Do not be deceived,” or Μὴ πλανᾶσθε from the Greek. This literally says, “not be deceived.” The verb πλανᾶσθε here is the present imperative active form of the Greek verb πλανάω, which means “to lead astray, deceive.” So, in the form used here, James and the Holy Spirit is commanding and warning believers to actively work to not be lead to believe the lie that which is the opposite of the truth that he is about to share concerning the nature of how true Christian faith produces a true Christian walk. The good gift of faith comes from God and all the gifts that follow concerning this Christian walk do as well. This is God’s plan for His people that they should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Continue reading

Speak Not to Please Man but to Please God


by Mike Ratliff

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

I ended yesterday’s post, Rejoicing in Faith, by saying:

“I saw a comment today on Facebook that went something like this, “Being a Christian is something we are, not something we do.” I would like to add to that, that it is something we are that causes us to do right (Ephesians 2:10). Think about that as you meditate on these pastors and Christian leaders making light of God’s truth as they pick a choose what to believe as true based on their own sense of what is true instead of believing God.”

This post is the result of my own meditation and thinking on these things last night and today as I dealt with those who did not like it that some of us are drawing the circle of Christian Authenticity very small. I like to think of the gate that all true believers enter as being small, narrow, and hard to find (our Lord’s own words) and the way they go from there to their Lord from there as being straight and narrow and full of tests and trials. In any case, the more I mediated on these things, the more clear it became to me that those who are compromising like this who were formerly quite solid in their ministries like Dr. John Piper are doing so for the very same reason that any one else is deceived. Continue reading

Rejoicing in Faith


by Mike Ratliff

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7,8 ESV)

The confidence of the true Christian cannot be in men or the faithfulness of their so-called Christian leaders. No, no matter how well known or published or how solid his reputation is, he is still a sinful man. The Christian’s faith and trust and confidence is not in any other Christian, or in any earthly institution. No, it is in Christ our rock. The false teachers have always known this and that is why they always teach “another Jesus” that is more like the pagan gods of other religions or even more like just one of us than the perfect Son of Man who we learn of in the Word of God. We who really know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour are new creations and have faith that believes God and even when it is under heavy attack, as it seems to be continually nowadays, God has provided us a way to rest in Him and finding peace and joy that the unregenerate cannot understand.  Continue reading

Is the Church living Out in Tangible Ways the Ethical Implications of the Gospel?


by Mike Ratliff

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 ESV)

I’m sure the title of this piece got the attention of some of you. What is Ratliff thinking? Has he gone missional and incarnational on us? The point of this piece is to show that the genuine Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ does indeed have ethical implications and the Church is obligated to live these out in tangible ways. However, the missional people who have created their own contextualized version of this in order to appeal to post-modernism, will probably not agree with what I am about to say here about these true ethical implications of the gospel. To them it is all in the framework of cultural reform and Dominionism with an emphasis on justice and fairness. Are these the true makeup of the call of the church as it lives this out as it should?  Continue reading

The Prayer of Faith


by Mike Ratliff

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11 ESV)

Despite what the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity preachers say or those who preach nothing but positive messages to all who are Christians, the Word of God promises something very different. Like what? How about trials of various kinds? How about fiery trials? How about thorns in the flesh? These are used by God to produce in His children a stronger faith and a deeper steadfastness. Why is this necessary?  Continue reading