Missional Church or New Monasticism?


Dr. Michael Horton who teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary in California and is host of the radio show The White Horse Inn has become quite controversial in some quarters over last few years. He is a very gracious man and, though uncompromising in his theology, is willing to interact and converse publicly with those who most of us would consider to be either apostate or heretical doctrinally. On the other hand, I listen to the White Horse Inn when I can and know how solid he is doctrinally. He uses a term quite bit he refers to as the “New Reformation” and how much it is needed in the Church in our time. In this article, if you make to the end, you will see how he defines it.  Continue reading

Rob Bell is Mainline Protestant Posing as an Evangelical


by Mike Ratliff

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5 ESV)

The last couple of days at work I have been blessed with a lot of heads down work that I can do while listening to my iPod. During that time I have listened to probably six episodes of Dr. James White’s The Dividing Line via podcast. Today I finished The Dividing Line from March 15, 2011 before I got too busy to listen to any more. In any case, if you have access to the internet and can subscribe to Podcasts either via iTunes or My Yahoo then I suggest that you go here and subscribe. Find the broadcast for March 15, 2011 and when you get in your player go to the 34:50 minute mark and you will hear Dr. White begin discussing Rob Bell’s new book Love WinsContinue reading

Raised Us Up


by Mike Ratliff

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4 ESV)

The debate over Lordship Salvation is more than unfortunate, but, as in all controversies in the Church, God uses them to, in multi-faceted ways, to accomplish His will. Through the controversy, those who stand firm against the attacks by going to the Word of God and via their defenses against the continual battles in the Truth War, the sheep are edified while the enemies of the cross are identified and are even further separated from the flock in order that they may do as little harm as possible. Some of these battles never seem to end. God has allowed some of these to rage for hundreds of years in various forms. After all, our enemy never really comes up with anything new, just a different slant here and there on his same old arguments, “Hath God said….” In the case of the battle over Lordship Salvation, those who reject it are really being very inconsistent in their theology because they are focusing everything from the perspective of man rather than from the perspective of God. However, to put things in the correct perspective, as one theologian has said, “When Christ comes into your life, your life changes. God’s Word everywhere declares that a change is automatic when someone truly believes.”  Continue reading

Quicken Together With


by Mike Ratliff

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:11-15 ESV)

The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from own Savior to forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slid right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”  Continue reading

False Teaching on How to Hear From God


by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3 ESV)

On Friday morning Ken Silva sent me an email with a link to this article he had just posted. About a third of the way down through it there is a paragraph, which really got my attention:

Men like Brian McLaren are hijacking the visible church by taking it away from the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura and into a highly subjective murky mysticism where one decides truth about God by what they “feel” He is saying. Well, guess what; this is already beginning to happen within broader evangelicalism as evidenced by The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond, the latest book by Church Growth Movement guru Bill Hybels, and Recognizing God’s Voice. The latter is the March 12-13 sermon below by Purpose beginning Pope Rick Warren where—beginning at 5:57 in—he makes the outlandish claim to his congregation that by following these 7 tests they all can be “absolutely certain” when God is speaking directly to them.

Please watch the video at this linkContinue reading

Therefore We Know That it is the Last Hour


by Mike Ratliff

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

The rage right now in the church visible is what is called Christian Universalism. This is the theology of Rob Bell as revealed in his book Love Wins. Of course he plays his usual game of never being doctrinally definite about anything so it is impossible to pin him down to anything, but as this fellow says, Rob Bell is a Universalist. He should know because he is as well. I was at a second-hand bookstore about a month ago or so looking for a Greek-English Lexicon. Before I went to where the really special books were I decided to look first in the “Christian” book section, hoping that, perhaps, some seminary dropout had sold his Mounce Greek reference books and I would be the first to pounce on them. But, instead, I encountered two women excitedly talking about a book one of them had pulled from that stack by Rob Bell titled Velvet Elvis. One of the women was trying to convince the other how special it was and why she should buy it. I did not mean to listen, but I kept waiting for some sort of sound Biblical or Orthodox Christian reason that the other woman should buy that book. All I heard was that it was “really cool” and made the first woman feel “special.” I just shook my head, walked over to the reference section, and found a great buy on a 1999 edition from Oxford Press of Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon for $12.00. I think I got a better deal.  Continue reading

How Deep Are We Into The Last Days?


by Mike Ratliff

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)

The title to this post is strictly a rhetorical question. I do not expect anyone to be able to answer it succinctly except the Lord and He isn’t going to do that. However, as we, those of us who are not blind to the truth that is, survey the church visible, we must honestly say that what is going on is exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. Could things get worse? Sure, they could. Could God grant the Church a reprieve and send mighty men of God who would preach in the power of the Holy Spirit and bring another Great Awakening? God can do that if He wills, but will He?  Continue reading

Put Away


by Mike Ratliff

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV)

Much that is wrong that is causing the confusion in the church visible all around us right now is the result of complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ, a Christian. John MacArthur’s new book, Slave, is a great source for believers to read and then understand their true role in the Kingdom of God. Back in the late 1980’s a good friend at our church gave me a book by John MacArthur. It was the first edition of his book The Gospel According to Jesus. I believe I read it in just a few days. I have read it two more times since then. I have also read his books The Gospel According to the Apostles and Ashamed of the Gospel. There is a common theme in all of them my brethren and it is one that detractors of John MacArthur hate because that theme is directed to correct them. That theme is all through his new book, Slave, as well. What is it? It is that Jesus Christ is Lord and those who belong to Him are his δοῦλοί (slaves).  Continue reading

Unable to See the Forest For the Trees


by Mike Ratliff

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:6-8 ESV)

About six or seven years ago before my old church was taken over with its current PDC madness, it became a haven for several families and single adults from a Fundamental Baptist church in our area that had forced them to leave. They were disciplined and expelled from membership because they refused to sever relationships with others in their families who the leadership in that church determined “were in sin.” I became close to several of the couples and taught them in my Bible Study class and what I discovered was that they were actually starved for the Word of God. They were not being fed the truth regularly as they should have been, but, instead, were fed the commandments of men.  Continue reading

The Judgment at Christ’s Coming


by Mike Ratliff

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18, 19 ESV)

I am in the process of reading John MacArthur’s new book Slave. I have heard that some who despise his stand on Lordship Salvation have said that this book is simply another book about the Lordship of Christ. I am about 1/3 of the way through it and that statement is an oversimplification to be sure, but, in a sense, it is correct. When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then this whole Lordship Salvation debate just looks silly. We do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies have an end that Paul calls “destruction.”  Continue reading

An Example of a False Dichotomy


by Mike Ratliff

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,

lest you take part in her sins,

lest you share in her plagues;

for her sins are heaped high as heaven,

and God has remembered her iniquities.

Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,

and repay her double for her deeds;

mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. (Revelation 18:4-6 ESV)

In the March 2011 Tabletalk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries on pp54-55 is an article by Rev. Kevin DeYoung titled “Heresy of the Free Spirit.” The author is a member of the Acts 29 church planting network team. He is not “emergent” or “emerging.” At least he claims he is not. He has written several books among them is Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. I would like to remind you of our discussions over the last several weeks about the Christian’s responsibility regarding the doctrine of Unity and Separation as well as our brother Daniel Chew’s debate with Frank Turk regarding these very same issues. The link to that debate is here. This is neither a minor issue nor is it a simple one, therefore, we must pray for wisdom and discernment that we may do what is right in the eyes of our Lord in this, not in the eyes of man. Continue reading

Is This Wise Counsel?


by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 ESV)

I have been contacted from two separate readers with information about something Dr. James MacDonald is promoting in his Walk in the Word Ministry called The Elephant Room. Here is the invite to the event:

If you’ve heard about the Elephant Room but haven’t made a decision on whether or not to attend, I want to get your ear for just a minute – because this event is for you! As a listener of Walk in the Word, I know you are interested in truth and battling for truth is what the Elephant Room is all about. So think of this as my personal invitation.

Listen to why I am fired up about this event and why I want you to be part of the conversation.

James Macdonald

Well, I and most of you, are most certainly interested in truth and battling for truth. He states that the “conversation” at this event will be all about that. He also states that he is “fired up about it” and wants all who received that invitation to not only be part of the conversation, but (not included in my excerpt) was hints to send the invite to others via other media, et cetera. If you clicked on that link for The Elephant Room then you already know who those men are that are going to be part of the conversation and I doubt very seriously if any solid Biblical truth will be at the core of that.  Continue reading

The Second Death


by Mike Ratliff

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,

and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:40-42 ESV)

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:42-50 ESV)

It is utterly amazing to me to listen to or read what some who claim to be Christians these days have to say about the Doctrine of Hell. Of course, Rob Bell has his new book out, Love Wins, and is making the tour to promote it. Here are two excellent sources for you on this. Go here for an article by my good friend Ken Silva. I suggest you also watch the video at the end by someone that I believe to be an even worse heretic than Bell, Carlton Pearson. The second link, here, is an actual interview of Rob Bell by Martin Bashir on MSNBC. As I listened to both of the videos, I was simply dumbfounded at the temporal focus of both Carlton Pearson and Rob Bell. Regardless of Martin Bashir’s theology, I thought he did a fine job of not letting Rob Bell off the hook. He would not let him use double talk or trivialize the profoundness of the Gospel. We need some Theologians who are not afraid to confront heretics like Rob Bell and Pearson and not let them get away with their doublespeak and scripture twisting.  Continue reading