Is T.D. Jakes a Modalist and does it Matter?


by Mike Ratliff

4 Ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα, καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν· 5 εἷς κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα, 6 εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων, ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν. (Ephesians 4:4-6 NA27)

4 As there is one body and one Spirit–as also you were called with one hope of your calling—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism 6 one God and Father of all, the one over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

As I said in a comment earlier today on this blog, “I am immensely tired of the circus that the visible church has devolved into.” However, I also know that God uses these fiery trials in his church to cleanse, mature, and purify those who are his. Therefore, even though what we are about to look into is somewhat distasteful and our even bringing it up will be looked at with resentment by some, we must do this as part of standing firm and keeping watch that the sheep are made aware and are edified as they hear the truth and know who to turn from and avoid.  Continue reading

Friendship With the World is Enmity with God


by Mike Ratliff

4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. (James 4:4 NA27)

4 Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world, is made an enemy of God. (James 4:4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

The Seeker-Sensitive and Purpose-Driven paradigms are rooted in a form of Pelagianism. Of course, the theology I grew up with as a Southern Baptist in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, et cetera was somewhere between semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. In each of these forms of theology, man is at the center. God has done all he can do to create the possibility of salvation, but it is up to man to exercise his autonomous free will in order to be saved. Even in this, after salvation there is a time of working to please God, to become perfected, to become moral, et cetera. Again, the focus is on man, not God. The reason I brought this up is to reflect on how far I have come in my understanding of these things since God revealed to me the veracity of His Sovereignty over all things. From that, I rapidly rebuilt my theological understanding of justification and sanctification. It was probably not as dramatic as Luther’s awakening when he discovered the doctrine of Justification by grace through faith, but, for me, it was. I was utterly amazed and spent days and hours in prayer of gratitude and praise before the throne of grace expressing it the best way I could of how utterly unworthy I was that I was totally justified before God with the Righteousness of Christ and His perfect obedience imputed to my account. My righteousness, in God’s eyes, actually did exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees!  Continue reading

Born Again to a Living Hope and Called to be Holy


by Mike Ratliff

6 ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὀλίγον ἄρτι εἰ δέον [ἐστὶν] λυπηθέντες ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, 7 ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως πολυτιμότερον χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου, εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· (1 Peter 1:6,7 NA27)

6 In this you greatly rejoice, for a little while now, if it is necessary, having been grieved by various trials, 7 that the tested genuineness of you faith—infinitely more valuable than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6.7 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

A few weeks ago we looked at the doctrine of the imputation and what that means to the believer and what implications it has on both how we handle the gospel and how we live this Christian life. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I did have to deal with several objections both in the comment sections and offline to these precious doctrines. I was puzzled by this at first. Why would anyone want to deny that both Christ’s Righteousness and his active obedience is imputed to the believer at their justification? Then I remembered why I started that series. It was to answer something Rick Warren had said in a Tweet implying that the doctrine of imputation created passive Christians and God wanted us to be active and cooperative with him, et cetera. In last night’s post, I pointed you to a broadcast of the White Horse Inn about the discussion of The New Covenant. It was during that discussion that one of the commentators quoted John Wesley in reference to the doctrine of imputation saying, “The doctrine of imputation saws off the leg of holiness…” I hope I got that right. In any case, I am bringing this up in this post because I am convinced that it is men like Rick Warren and those who follow him are revealing their Pelagian roots by insisting that people must “work” in order to be right with God and that the doctrine of imputation is something made up by the Reformers like Calvin. Continue reading

The New Covenant


In our continued push to clarify the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ it has been become astounding, at least to me, how much biblical doctrine the visible church in our time has either lost or has totally ignored. As we have dug deep into God’s Word to determine the truth, God has blessed our efforts and I want to thank both Dr. James White of the Dividing Line and Dr. Michael Horton and the rest of the commentators of The White Horse Inn in pointing me in the right direction. I listened to the latest White Horse Inn show today titled “The New Covenant” and have been trying to figure out how to write something to complement it, but there is no way I can even come close. Continue reading

Robbing God of His Glory


by Mike Ratliff

Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:10-13 ESV) 

As my friend Ken Silva said in a recent email, “…the visible church sinks lower…” This was in response to the response some on our discernment team had to research he had done in discovering something called “Hipster Church” by sending him this link. He followed that by asking the team if they had read my post on Tim Keller. There is most definitely a connection between what is going on at Redeemer Presbyterian Church that Tim Keller “pastors” and this latest example of “gospel contextualization” at Hipster Church. On the sidebar of their website, the leadership of Hipster Church says that their primary focus is to be a church that has no barriers for the “unchurched.” However, what about people like my wife and I? What about hearing the Word rightly divided and going deep into it so that we can be transformed through the renewing of our minds as the Holy Spirit does his work as we become those living sacrifices Paul talks about in Romans 12:1,2? Will we be fed from God’s Word? Will we be edified as we worship God in Spirit and Truth?  Continue reading

Prayer for Boldness


by Mike Ratliff

18 Διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως προσευχόμενοι ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ ἐν πνεύματι, καὶ εἰς αὐτὸ ἀγρυπνοῦντες ἐν πάσῃ προσκαρτερήσει καὶ δεήσει περὶ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων 19 καὶ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ, ἵνα μοι δοθῇ λόγος ἐν ἀνοίξει τοῦ στόματός μου, ἐν παρρησίᾳ γνωρίσαι τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, 20 ὑπὲρ οὗ πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλύσει, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ παρρησιάσωμαι ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι. (Ephesians 6:18-20 NA27)

18 By means of all prayer and petition, praying always in the Spirit, and to this end keeping watch with all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints, 19 and for me, that to me may be given utterance in opening my mouth in boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 on behalf of which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may be bold as it is necessary for me to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

In the last couple of posts we have looked at CSM or Contemplative Prayer and one of its most visible proponents in the visible church, Tim Keller. Contemplative Prayer is a cleaned up, “Christianized” name for Transcendental Meditation, which is another name for Eastern Mysticism, which God calls Divination and strictly forbids (Deuteronomy 18:10). God forbids divination as a way to know him and his will. On the other hand, he has given us sanctioned ways, by his grace, through which those who are his can know him and his will. The primary way is through his Word as the Holy Spirit guides us according the will of God by his grace. We pray and ask God and he draws us to him and imparts wisdom, discernment, and through his Word, we gain knowledge of him and his ways. On the other hand, outside of those parameters is what men like Tim Keller calls Contemplative Prayer, but it only a dressed up version of divination and God hates it. Those who practice it are given over to it, are deceived by it, and soon believe the lies they are hearing from those evil spirits are coming from God himself.  Continue reading

Tim Keller and Contemplative Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

19 καὶ ἔχομεν βεβαιότερον τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον, ᾧ καλῶς ποιεῖτε προσέχοντες ὡς λύχνῳ φαίνοντι ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ, ἕως οὗ ἡμέρα διαυγάσῃ καὶ φωσφόρος ἀνατείλῃ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, 20 τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται· 21 οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη προφητεία ποτέ, ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι. (2 Peter 1:19-21 NA27)

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic Word to which you do well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing first that every prophecy of scripture is not of ones own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever brought by the will of man at any time, but men spoke from God being carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In yesterday’s post, Is Contemplative Prayer Christian?, we nailed down the fact that genuine Christian prayer is not the same thing as Contemplative Prayer. In fact, Contemplative Prayer is just Eastern Mysticism labeled with Christian words to make it more acceptable to people who aren’t doctrinally educated. It is similar to what some post-modern so-called evangelicals do with the word “Gospel.” To us it is the account of Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross to be propitiation for those he came to save. Therefore, it is the “good news” because those who believe in the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour have their sins forgiven before our Holy God. However, to the post-modern so-called evangelical, the word “gospel,” more often than not, takes on a liberal connotation such as transforming a society. In this post we will take a look at one of these post-modern church leaders named Tim Keller who not only practices this sort of neo-liberalism, but is a proponent of Contemplative Prayer and has been for quite some time. Continue reading

Is Contemplative Prayer Christian?


by Mike Ratliff

19 καὶ ἔχομεν βεβαιότερον τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον, ᾧ καλῶς ποιεῖτε προσέχοντες ὡς λύχνῳ φαίνοντι ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ, ἕως οὗ ἡμέρα διαυγάσῃ καὶ φωσφόρος ἀνατείλῃ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, 20 τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται· 21 οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη προφητεία ποτέ, ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι. (2 Peter 1:19-21 NA27)

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic Word to which you do well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing first that every prophecy of scripture is not of ones own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever brought by the will of man at any time, but men spoke from God being carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I received an email from friends about today’s tweet from Pete Scazzero, which says, “There is a mysterious attraction to interior silence in the depth of our beings. The attraction is like a magnet… Here is the link. Of course, he is quoting Roman Catholic Monk Thomas Keating, a proponent of Contemplative Prayer. In these days where post-modernist thinking has contaminated nearly everything including deeply into the visible church, we must have clear understanding of what Contemplative Prayer, or CSM, really is. Some seemly very solid Christian leaders give it a pass as if it is just another form of Christian meditation, but is it? Let’s see.  Continue reading

Genuine Children of God


by Mike Ratliff

28 Καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐὰν φανερωθῇ σχῶμεν παρρησίαν καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 29 ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστιν, γινώσκετε ὅτι καὶ πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται. (1 John 2:28,29 NA27)

28 And now little children, abide in him that when he is manifested, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know that everyone practicing righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28, 29 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In our post The Incarnate Word and Sunday Mornings, we looked at the oxymoron that some call atheistic Christianity. How is that people who profess faith as Christians and supposedly placed their faith in the Incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, actually display a moralistic, therapeutic, deistic religiosity that is centered in their own moral uprightness. We find this in Church leaders such as pastors and especially scholars at the seminary and denominational level, but, sadly, because of the former, highly prevalent in the pews. In 1 John 2:28-3:10, the Apostle John gives us “evidence” that is most definitely not “politically correct” that will enable us to determine those who really are the genuine children of God and those who aren’t. Of course, we should take a close examination of ourselves as we go through this passage.  Continue reading

The Slippery Slope of Death


by Mike Ratliff

14 Μὴ γίνεσθε ἑτεροζυγοῦντες ἀπίστοις· τίς γὰρ μετοχὴ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀνομίᾳ, ἢ τίς κοινωνία φωτὶ πρὸς σκότος; 15 τίς δὲ συμφώνησις Χριστοῦ πρὸς Βελιάρ, ἢ τίς μερὶς πιστῷ μετὰ ἀπίστου; (2 Corinthians 6:14,15 NA27)

14 Do not become unequally yoked with unbelievers for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 And what harmony has Christ with Beliar or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14,15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Today I listened to the September 6th, 2011 episode of Dr. James White’s Dividing Line via podcast. Most of it was dedicated to another Radio broadcast in the U.K. called the Unbelievable Radio Program hosted by Justin Brierley. In that episode there were two guests, Bart Ehrman and Mike Licona who each gave their accounts of the makeup of their faith, et cetera. Dr. White played none of Bart Ehrman’s content saying, “What’s the point since he is an apostate?” I had never heard of Mike Licona. Who is he? He is currently the Apologetics Coordinator at the North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention) and Research Professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary. He has a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies (University of Pretoria) which he completed “with distinction” and the highest mark and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Liberty University. Notice the part I put in bold. Why did Dr. White spend so much time going over this man’s “testimony”?  Continue reading

The Incarnate Word and Sunday Mornings


by Mike Ratliff

14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (John 1:14 NA27)

14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I write this motivated from my Lord’s own work in my heart over the past several days to “restore my soul” (Psalm 23:2). The battle against apostasy and seeing how the visible church is becoming more and more symbolic and less and less genuinely focused on what the Apostle John calls “Spirit and Truth” has caused me to become susceptible to attacks from the enemy all designed to discourage and distract. However, at church this morning I heard a sermon on Psalm 23 and when the preacher came to v2, he spoke of how God allows us to be attacked like that. He allows us to be taken into the valley of the shadow of death and so be tested that we may become more and more reliant on God’s grace and less and less on ourselves. After these trials, he will take us to a quiet place of restoration and recovery, and, for me, that is to dig into and exegete His Word for His glory and the edification of the Body of Christ. Hence, we will look at John 1:1-18 and the Incarnate Word.  Continue reading

Justification Applied


by Mike Ratliff

Δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Romans 5:1 NA27)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In this post we will look at Romans 4:13-5:1 which is the application of the theology that Paul presents in Romans 3:20-31, which could be summarized with the statement, “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight since through the law come knowledge of sin, but the righteousness of God is manifest through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” I must interject something my brethren. I am so grateful to God for raising up the ministries of men like Dr. Michael Horton and Dr. James White who are both determined to define gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ biblically and in no uncertain terms that we truly in Christ know what we believe and why we believe it. Also, that we know it so well that we can defend it against all attempts by our enemy and his people to corrupt it and distract us from obeying it. God uses the teachings of these men and others to teach me the truths you read here. Of course, the reason they are the truth is that they are bound to the Word of God.  Continue reading

In Defense of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

21 τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς γενώμεθα δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NA28)

21 The one who knew no sin, on our behalf, was made sin that we might become the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 translated from the NA28 Greek text)  

Mirrored in the YRR movement and probably overlapping it quite a bit is something called New Covenant Theology. Especially amongst Reformed Baptists who grew up ignorant of it (like me), but who are now enthusiastically grasping its depth and how Reformation Theology’s strengths are all found in how it is rooted in Biblical exegesis rather than the philosophies of men, most are determined “to get it right.” Unfortunately, within New Covenant Theology is a determined attack on what many call “Calvinistic sacred cows” within Reformation Theology. One of these “sacred cows” is “The Covenant of Works,” which includes the double imputation of both Christ’s active and passive obedience to the Christian at their justification. Why would they attack these things?  Continue reading

Liberalism or Christianity?


by Mike Ratliff

At the core of all of what we recognize as apostate christianity in our time is really no different than  the liberalism that was fought by the theologians in the late  19th Century such as Charles Spurgeon and those in the early 20th Century such as J. Gresham Machen. In fact, our brother Ken Silva as termed it, Liberalism 2.0. On the other hand, Dr. Michael Horton has said that his mission is to bring about another “Church Reformation.” He has said that people are under the wrong impression that there has been only one “Reformation.” There have been many and also, there has never been a time when the Church was perfect. There have always been issues. Ken and I were discussing Machen earlier. He agrees that he is wonderful source for us in this time because he stood firm against a relentless onslaught of liberalism much like we have today. It seemed like he was doing it alone, but, of course, he was not alone, he had the Holy Spirit and those whom God drew to listen, believe, and come from the darkness of compromise to follow Dr. Machen into continued obedient Christian Orthodoxy.  Continue reading