The Genuine Gospel is not Man’s Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

For I make known to you brothers, the gospel that I preached, is not according to man. For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11,12 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)

The εὐαγγέλιον or euaggelion, which the word “gospel” above translates, means “good message” or “good news.” What Paul stated in Galatians 1:11,12 is vital for us to grasp. Those of us who are in Christ can proclaim this εὐαγγέλιον for it is a message of very good news about something our Lord Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, but we cannot “be the gospel” nor can we “live the gospel.” It is a message of Christ’s work of redemption that was successful. He died on that cross and in so doing, His perfect obedience was made available to be imputed to all who believe this εὐαγγέλιον and in so doing, receive Christ as Lord and Saviour in repentance being saved by God’s grace through faith. In this, the Father justifies them, imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to their account. This is possible because, while he was on that cross, their unrighteousness was imputed to his account and through his death, he became their propitiation. This εὐαγγέλιον  is indeed good news because it means Christians do not have to work their way to God. Their salvation according to Ephesians 1,2 is actually God’s work entirely, not theirs. The preaching of the gospel is a call to repent and believe which is how who do become Christians receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Now, is that the gospel prevalently heard in the visible church in our time?  Continue reading

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians Chapter 4


by Mike Ratliff

I know both how to be humbled and how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to have lack. I can do all things in the one empowering me.  (Philippians 4:12,13 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)

The enemy of our souls, Satan, does not attack believers in such a way that we should recognize him as being who he is. Instead, he comes disguised as the voice behind the theologian from the best seminary who may be the leader with a huge church empire and also be the author of many best-selling books. How does he attack what we call the Orthodox Christian faith? You know, the preaching of the gospel, the weekly opening of the Word of God, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, et cetera. He attacks that by putting people in place that both insist on and those who promise to deliver “more.” You know, taking emphasis away from all that stuff above and giving people “what they really want!” Sometimes the leaders doing this think this is what the people really want, but it is not. That is when the sheep go to their pastors and ask to be fed rather than be entertained. What happens most of the time nowadays when that takes place?  Continue reading

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians Chapter 3


by Mike Ratliff

But even more so I consider all thing to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all thing I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)

From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Christian through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the 4th grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986.  Continue reading

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians Chapter 2


by Mike Ratliff

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind,doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit but in humility, esteeming one another above self. (Philippians 2:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)

I just watched part of an interview with John MacArthur concerning the YRR. I’ll watch the rest when I finish this post. To be honest, I have always been puzzled by the “Young, Reformed, and Restless” group. Yes, God’s truth, especially the Gospel, divides, but those who are truly in Christ are called continually in Sacred Scripture to come together, to unite in love and humility as exemplified by Christ himself. On the other hand, what I see in the YRR folks is a co-opting of a genuine restoration of Reformation Theology by those who are attempting to blend it with the seeker sensitive, cultural relevance, and gospel contextualization which are all corrupting influences that move the focus back to the mis-direction mainstream evangelicalism was going, but with the hope or desire of “getting a pass” because they proclaim themselves to “be reformed.” As those in the Seeker Sensitive paradigm have found though, emotionalism and getting people to work through motivations other than the genuine moving of the Holy Spirit will work only for a short period of time. Why? It’s all of this flesh and that means, of this world. That is not what Christians are called to do. Continue reading

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians Chapter 1


by Mike Ratliff

Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις,χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Philippians 1:1-2 NA27)

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. (a personal translation of Philippians 1:1-2 from the NA27 Greek text)

In vv1-2 Paul and Timothy gives the standard Christian greeting that was very common in the early Church. Notice that it is from both Paul and Timothy, who identify themselves as δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (slaves of Christ Jesus), but it addressed to all the ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (saints in Christ Jesus) at Philippi. The word “saints” translates ἁγίοις, which is actually a form of an adjective that means “holy.” That root word is ἅγιος or hagios, which in the Dative form, as used in this passage, designates “saints.” Paul used this word in Ephesians 2:19 saying, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Who are the “overseers?” This is the Greek word ἐπισκόποις the Dative, Plural of ἐπίσκοπος or episkopos, “overseer, bishop.” In the Greek, it literally refers to someone who “looks over” or “watches over” a group of people. It is translated as “overseers” or “elders” in the church. Paul gives their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7. What we must understand my brethren is that in 1 Peter 2:25, Peter refers to our Lord Jesus Christ as “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls..” Therefore, Jesus is, the chief overseer of our lives. Those men who are appointed as elders and such in our churches function on His behalf and should use His life as a model.  Continue reading

Discerning The Lord’s Will


by Mike Ratliff

Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1-2 NA27)

Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. (a personal translation of Romans 12:1-2 from the NA27 Greek text)

Both the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul used light and darkness in analogies pertaining to spiritual life and spiritual death. For instance, in John 1:4, 5 the Apostle says, “ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.” Or, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not grasp it.” In order to lay the foundation for this discussion on discerning the Lord’s will, it is imperative that we understand what is being said in these two verses. First, the “Him” in v4 refers back to ὁ λόγος or “the Word” from v1. This is, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ. In v4, we learn that in Him was ζωὴ or zōē, “life.” This ζωὴ is not simply the life we all have here and now, but was φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων or the “the light of men.” What does that mean? This light comes from God and brings to this dark world true knowledge, moral purity, and the light that shows the very presence of God. Finally, notice that this light shines into the darkness, but the darkness does not “receive, admit, or grasp” it. Those who discern the will of God are in His light. Those who cannot are in darkness.  Continue reading

Genuine Christian Behavior


by Mike Ratliff

Ἡ φιλαδελφία μενέτω. (Hebrews 13:1 NA27)

Let brotherly love continue. (a personal translation of Hebrews 13:1 from the NA27 Greek text)

In the last few posts we have looked at our Christian liberty and, in light of that, the discernment and wisdom we must have in not abandoning our common fellowship and that we not be part of some perceived legalistic religiosity. We cannot read the New Testament without seeing that believers are the ἐκκλησία or ekklēsia, “the called-out ones of God.” In the New Testament, the noun ἐκκλησία is found only in the Gospels in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17. Luke uses it in Acts several times, but Paul uses it throughout his epistles. More than half of its usage in the New Testament is in Paul’s epistles. In them, we see that he never thinks of the ἐκκλησία as a physical structure or man-made organization but as a dedicated group of disciples of Jesus Christ whom he has purchased with his blood. In light of these truths, we must seek to line ourselves up with God’s will in our obedience under the spiritual authority He has set over us.  Continue reading

Be Diligent Spotless and Unblemished Found With Him in Peace


by Mike Ratliff

Διό, ἀγαπητοί, ταῦτα προσδοκῶντες σπουδάσατε ἄσπιλοι καὶ ἀμώμητοι αὐτῷ εὑρεθῆναι ἐν εἰρήνῃ καὶ τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μακροθυμίαν σωτηρίαν ἡγεῖσθε, καθὼς καὶ ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἡμῶν ἀδελφὸς Παῦλος κατὰ τὴν δοθεῖσαν αὐτῷ σοφίαν ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν, ὡς καὶ ἐν πάσαις ἐπιστολαῖς λαλῶν ἐν αὐταῖς περὶ τούτων, ἐν αἷς ἐστιν δυσνόητά τινα, ἃ οἱ ἀμαθεῖς καὶ ἀστήρικτοι στρεβλοῦσιν ὡς καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς γραφὰς πρὸς τὴν ἰδίαν αὐτῶν ἀπώλειαν. (2 Peter 3:14-16 NA27)

Wherefore, beloved, these things awaiting, be diligent, spotless and unblemished found with him in peace, consider the longsuffering of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all his letters, speaking in them concerning these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist as they also do the other Scriptures to their own destruction. (a personal translation of 2 Peter 3:14-16 from the NA27 Greek text)

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post my brethren. If you prefer, read 2 Peter 3:14-16 from your own preferred translation. If you do, go ahead and read 2 Peter 3 to keep it in context. What is it? As believers, we are called to remain faithful understanding fully that the Day of the Lord will surely come. In this, our expectation as those in Christ is that we are to be gathered unto our Saviour forever. That is our blessed hope. This includes the tremendous blessing of our Resurrection, which I find dreadfully neglected in the teaching nowadays. Now, let us look at another passage that stresses these same exhortations, but has been misused for centuries to teach something else entirely.  Continue reading

Slavery Freedom Faith and Fruit


by Mike Ratliff

Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε. (Galatians 5:1 NA27)

For this freedom, Christ freed us, therefore, stand fast, and be not held again by a yoke of slavery. (a personal translation of Galatians 5:1 from the NA27 Greek text)

In Galatians 5:1 (above), the reference to the freedom for which Christ freed us is refers to Paul’s arguments from Galatians 4. Never forget the purpose of this letter to the Galatian churches. They were being attacked by “Judiazers” who were attempting to get these Gentile believers to look to keeping the Jewish ceremonial law and regulations because they were saying the atonement bought for them through Christ’s blood was not sufficient for their justification. Paul’s argument is exactly the opposite. In Galatians 5:1, he makes it clear to them that Christ freed us through His atoning death especially for this freedom and those who have it must stand firm and not submit again to a yoke of legalism or slavery.  Continue reading

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God


by Mike Ratliff

Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. γέγραπται γάρ· ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω. (1 Corinthians 1:18,19 NA27)

For the word of the cross to those perishing is senseless, but to us being saved, it is the power of God for it has been written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise ones and the understanding of the intelligent I will set aside.’ (a personal translation of 1 Corinthians 1:18, 19 from the NA27 Greek text)

Look around at those man-focused, pragmatic, seeker-sensitive “churches” all around us in our time. They may vary in many ways, but there is a commonality that marks them all as products of the spirit of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) rather than the spirit of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). That commonality is seen in the passage I placed at the top of this post. It is what makes them of the spirit of Laodicea. They are structured and operate according to the wisdom of men. Their very way of handling the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ depletes the cross of its power. What do I mean? When the “so-called gospel” that is “preached” is given in a way that intentionally removes its offense and an attempt is made to make it sensible to the lost and dying world by removing the blood and removing the necessity of our Lord’s death for those who owed a debt to God they could not pay, well, what is given is more of a sales pitch and self-help remedy. All this does is create a body of people who are neither cold nor hot. No, they believe they have everything and are right with God, but are in reality, wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked who are simply ready for the next deceiver to come along.  Continue reading

Paul and Silas in Philippi


by Mike Ratliff

Ἀναχθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ Τρῳάδος εὐθυδρομήσαμεν εἰς Σαμοθρᾴκην, τῇ δὲ ἐπιούσῃ εἰς Νέαν πόλιν κἀκεῖθεν εἰς Φιλίππους, ἥτις ἐστὶν πρώτη[ς] μερίδος τῆς Μακεδονίας πόλις, κολωνία. Ἦμεν δὲ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ πόλει διατρίβοντες ἡμέρας τινάς. (Acts 16:11-12 NA27)

And having set sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis and from there to Philippi, which is a prominent city of the District of Macedonia, a colony, and we stayed in this city some days. (a personal translation of Acts 16:11-12  from the NA27 Greek text)

As you know, Paul’s friend and companion Luke wrote the book of Acts in the New Testament. In Acts 16:10, we read that after Paul and seen the vision to leave Asia and come to Europe after seeking the will of God for next focus of his missionary journey, Luke includes himself in the narrative as an eyewitness, therefore, his account of what happened to Paul and Silas in Philippi are given as one who was there.  Continue reading

Prayer Fasting and Forgiveness


by Mike Ratliff

Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς· (Matthew 6:9a NA27)

Therefore, thus pray you; (a personal translation of Matthew 6:9a from the NA27 Greek text)

The context of Matthew 6:9-13 from which get what is traditionally called “The Lord’s Prayer,” is, of course, Matthew 6, which is part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. The theme of Matthew 6:1-18 (the context of vv 9-13) is found in v1, “Προσέχετε [δὲ] τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μή γε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.” Or, “But be careful to not demonstrate your righteousness before men with the aim to be seen by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in Heaven.” Our Lord gives an example in vv 2-4 of believers giving alms to the needy. Their motive is to be seen by others in order to receive praise from men. Then in vv 5-18 our Lord gives uses the examples of prayer, fasting, and forgiveness, which will be the subject of this post.  Continue reading

The Rewards of Christian Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

ὅτι [ὁ] καιρὸς τοῦ ἄρξασθαι τὸ κρίμα ἀπὸ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ θεοῦ· εἰ δὲ πρῶτον ἀφ᾽ ἡμῶν, τί τὸ τέλος τῶν ἀπειθούντων τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ εὐαγγελίῳ; (1 Peter 4:17 NA27)

For it is time to begin the judgment at the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those disobeying the good news of God? (a personal translation of 1 Peter 4:17 from the NA27 Greek text)

If you have not done so, I suggest you read my post Excuse Me Dr. Piper paying closing attention to the comments. As my friend Ken Silva has said many times, what we are observing in what is going in with Dr. Piper’s relationships with those whose theology is questionable at best, is just another example of a 1 Peter 4:17 judgment on the Church. I usually take Friday evenings off. That is, I do not write or post. I relax and, believe me, I need it. This Friday evening I was working on my Mac and every few minutes had to moderate a comment still coming in on my post on Dr. Piper. If you read those comments I am sure you will, like me, notice the underlying hurt and anger and sometimes rage over these things. Some feel betrayed.  Continue reading