Associate With


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)

In yesterday’s post, Koinōnia, we saw what true Biblical “fellowship” is and what it isn’t. Paul made in clear in the passage 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 that Christians are not to be partnered or partakers in any way with what is opposed to Christianity. I didn’t mention it in that post, but that would include those who profess to be Christians, but who teach “doctrines” that are not Christian. We are called by God from His Word to be separate from them. In the passage above (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) there is another word that I would like for us to examine a bit more closely that the ESV translates as “associate with” in both v9 and v11.  Continue reading

Koinōnia


by Mike Ratliff

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 ESV)

Most of the churches I attended in my life had something called “fellowship” and some even had  space dedicated to it called “fellowship hall” or something similar. We had time after “church” that was called “fellowship time” that always seemed to be a relaxed time of visiting together and just being friendly with each other outside of normal “church stuff.” In the New Testament the word that is translated as “fellowship” as in Acts 2:42 (above) is κοινωνια or koinōnia, which Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest defined as, “joint participation in a common interest or activity.” Instead of simply a friendly time of visiting together or a coming together for relaxation, κοινωνια, then, is a partnership, a sharing of something in common. Continue reading

The Open Door


by Mike Ratliff

And having gone through the Pisidia they went into the Pamphylia and having spoken in Perga the Word they went down to Attalia and from there sailed off to Antioch, from where they having been commended by the grace of God to the work they had fulfilled. Having arrived and gathered the assembly together they declared all that God had done with them and opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples. (Acts 14:24-28 a personal translation from the Greek text)

Not all of the letters to the churches from our Lord in the book of Revelation were as harsh as the one to Laodicea. In his letter to the church in Philadelphia he commended their faith and good works. In that letter He made one marvelous statement (v8) that we will be the focus of this post. Continue reading

Supper


by Mike Ratliff

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:19-20 ESV)

The “visible church” is without a doubt Laodicean, that is, lukewarm or χλιαρός or chliaros, as we saw in yesterday’s post Laodiceans. We saw that that means the vast majority of our local churches are comprised of a mixture of those who are ψυχρός or psuchros, which the ESV translates as “cold,” and those who are  ζεστός or zestos, which the ESV translates as “hot.” We saw that that meant apostasy was predominate because unbelievers were allowed to be part of local churches professing to be believers even though they obviously showed no evidence of being  ζεστός or fervent in their faith. My own experience in this is that the real believers in these churches are in the minority. This will vary of course from church to church. One of the first and most prolific red flags that is a warning of Christian disingenuousness is whether a church or a believer is focused in their walk and their ministries on God and His glory where it should be or whether that focus is upside down or backward in that the focus is on people or self rather than God. If everything is focused on the person or the people in what is preached, taught, and what the “worship style” is (whatever that means) then what you have is man-centered religiosity and that is a clear marker of disingenuousness.  Continue reading

Laodiceans


by Mike Ratliff

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:14-16 ESV)

I have heard numerous sermons and read even more teachings on Revelation 3:14-22, which is is our Lord’s letter given to the Apostle John to be sent to the church at Laodicea. I have written and taught on this passage myself numerous times. In any case, there are two aspects of it that we will look at in this post that point directly to the apostate mess that is going on right now in the “visible church.” I just returned from a week in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA. I found it incredible that both cities are full of very large, ornate church buildings while all around those very same building was what could only be described by John Bunyan as “Vanity Fair.” I won’t go into detail about the aggressive panhandling in Philadelphia as well as the very obvious racial hatred projected against us as we walked to and from our hotel into the historical area of that city. However, I did recognize much of the rhetoric coming from one of their “demonstrations” as Black Liberation Theology. Interestingly, I witnessed none of that in Washington, DC. Instead, what I saw there was pure hedonism in every form projecting itself in every way imaginable.  Continue reading

Biblical Unity


by Mike Ratliff

A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:6-9 ESV)

The passage above  from Isaiah 40 is quoted directly in 1 Peter 1:24-25, which is why I placed it there. We are commanded in God’s Word to be unified in Christ, to love one another in the Lord. We are commanded to stand firm and rebuke false teachers as we warn the brethren as well, but our role is not to cause division. We are not to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. That is not our job at all. That will happen when our Lord returns in judgment. However, that does not mean that we are to be unified with heretics or to call apostates our brothers. No, there is a unity that we are to have as the Body of Christ that is built by the Holy Spirit that He establishes in God’s truth first then as a visible unity which is the eventual fruit of shared submission to the Word of God.  Continue reading

The Old Man


by Mike Ratliff

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:6-7 KJV)

In this “tweet” Rick Warren made the following statements that he claimed were from his sermon today:

To change ask: WHERE am I now? WHAT do I want? WHY do I want it? WHY don’t I have it already? WHAT’s my plan? Is it worth it?

What or who is the focus of these questions? It is self isn’t it? I have another question for you. Do you see any need for Christ and the Cross or repentance with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit in any of that? Again, this is just another example of the natural outflow from one whose theology is Pelagian. Rick Warren and his disciples discount the Cross of Christ and the Gospel and put the person at the center of all things. This is why they continually insist that their disciples look within to find their true self while covenanting with them to keep certain values and obey their commitments. In other words, this is a form of law keeping and has nothing to do with grace nor the Gospel. Let’s look at what the Bible says about our true nature and what we can and cannot do as Christians.  Continue reading

Boast


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. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

It is very common in the visible church in our time to hear preachers and teachers and people within local bodies of believers to boast about all sorts of things pertaining to their salvation or walk. They boast about their confirmation, baptism, church membership, Holy Communion, keeping the Ten Commandments, living the Sermon on the Mount, giving to charity, and living a moral life. It is not uncommon to hear some even boast about their faith, but all boasting is rooted in good works, not grace.  Continue reading

Pride


by Mike Ratliff

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18 ESV)

At the root of hypocrisy is, of course, pride. Pride is the antithesis of humility, which is exemplified for us by Paul’s attitude to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 3:8. On the other hand, pride is absolutely never portrayed in the Bible in a positive way. Never is pride tolerated. Never is it praised as it is today. However, in the visible church in our time don’t we hear sermons and read teachings about “positive pride” and the building up of self or the searching inside to find that real “you” that God is deeply in love with and only wants you to find it so He can show you what a fantastic you you really are? Well, I have a Greek word for that, σκύβαλον. In any case, let’s look at the Greek words in the New Testament translated as “pride,” “proud,” and “puffed up.”  Continue reading

Hypocrisy


by Mike Ratliff

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 ESV)

I have taken a few days off to be with family. I am preparing for a trip to visit my son on the East coast next week and will be “off” for about six days or so. In between these two “downtimes” I would like to post a few things that all Christians need to take care to turn from because not only are they “evil,” they are actually markers of a heart that is following hard after the flesh rather than God as a living sacrifice. One of those “markers” is hypocrisy. Our Lord gave us two good examples of this in Matthew 6:1-6 which is part of His Sermon on the Mount.  Continue reading

Rick Warren – Pelagianism – and the Desiring God Conference


by Mike Ratliff

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 ESV)

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius who was a theological opponent of Augustine of Hippo. Pelagius and his followers believed that original sin did not taint Human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without God’s aid. Therefore, Adam’s sin simply set a bad example for his progeny, but this did not impute a “sin nature” to them that the Orthodox view held by Augustine called the doctrine of “Original Sin.”

While most of you reading this would read that definition of Pelagianism and view it as foreign and rightly as not Christian, it is actually the predominate theological position of much of the “seeker movement.” This view holds that man must “do” and “earn” and so “be blessed” by God. It nullifies the Cross of Christ making it just a background piece of the puzzle for show. The emphasis is on the person and what he or she does not on Christ and what He has already done. Continue reading

Rulers


by Mike Ratliff

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV)

As many of you know, Rick Warren did not personally speak at the Desiring God conference. Instead, a video of him speaking was presented. I have not watched it yet, however, I will do so tomorrow and probably report on it from that. One of my friends has already done this and has said, “Rick Warren’s Lecture at the Desiring God Conference was a circus of Blatant Bible Twisting and Pelagianism. John Piper owes us an apology and must publicly rebuke Warren for his false teaching” I intend to watch both Rick Warren’s lecture or sermon or whatever it is tomorrow as well as listen to my friend’s sermon analysis, but until then I must focus on where God has had me over the last few days. I have been studying the Greek words in Ephesians 6:10-20 pertaining to the “whole armor of God,” et cetera. As I thought through this in light of what is going on with Rick Warren at the Desiring God pastor’s conference this concept of ἐνδύσασθε or to put on the whole armor of God once-for-all and never take it off because it’s to our benefit things seem to come together very well. Why? The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We ἐνδύσασθε this whole armor in order to stand firm in the evil day. Well, this is most definitely an evil day when truth is seen as something to be bargained away or shunned while lies and that which is only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Therefore, we must become discerning and wise and that means we must consistently wear this armor.  Continue reading

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Promotes Self-Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

The five points of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as defined by Christian Smith are these:

  1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

However, this is the basis of the “theology” predominantly preached and taught throughout the “seeker movement” as my friend Lane Chaplin made clear here. I pray that you do follow that link and read Lane’s post from 2008 and also read Christian Smith’s article from The Christian Post, which is also included at the bottom. Continue reading