Sneak Attacks from Bottom Feeders et cetera


by Mike Ratliff

I’ve been busy all day and will be all night so I am putting together a quick post with two topics that seemed to me to be very important for me to share with you this day. The first is that as I fight the good fight more and more, our enemy seems to change course and attack from strange directions. I have ceased to be puzzled by this and refuse to be distracted by them, for very long that is, to the detriment of what I should be about. We do not have to take on every fight simply because someone dares us to, especially when those fights have already been fought long ago, and won. The new enemy may be lying and accusing us with all sorts of false charges, but it doesn’t matter. God knows the truth and that is all that is really all that counts.  Continue reading

Therefore Repent


by Mike Ratliff

19 μετανοήσατε οὖν καὶ ἐπιστρέψατε εἰς τὸ ἐξαλειφθῆναι ὑμῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας (Acts 3:19 NA27)

19 Therefore, repent and turn again in order that your sins will be removed. (Acts 3:19 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

One form of religion that claims to be Christian but isn’t is based in something called “no Lordship” or “easy-believism.” On the other hand, many of the proponents of it will point to what we call “the Gospel” in what follows as the “damnable heresy” of Lordship salvation. I have often shared here using passages such as Acts 3:19 (above) making it clear that the Bible tells us that there is no salvation without repentance and again in Acts 2:38, “Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.” Or, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent  [HE SAYS] and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” In any case, to support the Lordship case, all we have to go is go the God’s Word. In the case of the No-Lordship case, it all comes down to philosophical argumentation.  Continue reading

Spiritual Darkness Unbelief and Unrighteousness


by Mike Ratliff

4 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 5 καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκεῖ ποιῆσαι οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν, εἰ μὴ ὀλίγοις ἀρρώστοις ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐθεράπευσεν. 6 καὶ ἐθαύμαζεν διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν. Καὶ περιῆγεν τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ διδάσκων. (Mark 6:4-6 NA27)

4 And Jesus was saying to them, “A prophet is not dishonored except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his house.” 5 And he was not able to do any miracles there except a on few sick person having laid his hands on them, he healed them. 6 And he was amazed because of their unbelief. And he was going around the villages in a circuit teaching. (Mark 6:4-6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

The joy of the Lord is a tremendous gift to God’s people from him. Without it we would be left to deal with far more evil, disappointment, tragedy, distress, and despair than we could ever do on our own. We have prayer and the promise that we can always come boldly to the Throne of Grace.

14 Ἔχοντες οὖν ἀρχιερέα μέγαν διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς, Ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας. 15 οὐ γὰρ ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα μὴ δυνάμενον συμπαθῆσαι ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν, πεπειρασμένον δὲ κατὰ πάντα καθ᾽ ὁμοιότητα χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας. 16 προσερχώμεθα οὖν μετὰ παρρησίας τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος, ἵνα λάβωμεν ἔλεος καὶ χάριν εὕρωμεν εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NA27)

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is not able to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every way was tempted as we are yet without sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach with boldness to the Throne of Grace that we may receive mercy and may find grace for timely help. (Hebrews 4:14-16 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Yet, I am contacted quite often, probably because of the nature of our investigative posts into the NAR, Postmodernism, Emergent Christianity, and the like from folks who have friends and loved ones, people they care deeply care about, who have become part of that “darkness” and because of that, they will no longer listen to reason. They will no longer listen to clear Biblical evidence that “the way” they are on only leads to destruction. I offer no panaceas or bland promises that I cannot keep that “everything is going to be all right” for them. Continue reading

Cause and Effect


by Mike Ratliff

I have been in a fascinating discussion today with members of our discernment team at CRN. It brought back a lot of memories of those early days of this ministry when those wounds and bruises from the battle at our former church over whether it should go Purpose Driven or not were still very evident along with the inherent resentments over how our supposed brothers and sisters in Christ simply brushed us aside not caring that we left since we would not conform to the PDC takeover. From that I learned much. I became determined to find the smoking gun, the mechanisms behind what makes the PDC paradigm and Rick Warren seem so monolithic and impossible to resist while at the same time, so shallow and unbiblical and able to sidestep nearly every very direct and valid doctrinal issue about his theology, ecclesiology, and epistemology. On these issues, he has been like the “Teflon Don,” able to deflect and seem untouchable no matter how well we show what he says and writes is questionable at best when lined up with Christian doctrine.  Continue reading

Missionaries and the Methods of Missions


by Mike Ratliff

21 εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς [ὁ Ἰησοῦς] πάλιν· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν· καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς. (John 20:21 NA27)

Therefore, Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.” (John 20:21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I’m sure most of you know what an “inconsistency” is. When it comes to one’s stand and understanding of theology, I have been amazed since I began this ministry with doctrinal inconsistencies revealed clearly in so many. Some are very subtle of course, but some can only be explained by blind spots as large as there can be. Once such “inconsistency” that is indeed puzzling, but very prevalent in these days of spiritual darkness are seen in those who profess to be Reformed in their Theology including a doctrinal stance on the Sovereignty of God while at the same time in their ministries, the message that comes across from them is one of works righteousness, which is little different than the Pelagianism of Rick Warren. We see this in their Missional initiatives that are tied to their Church planting programs. We looked at some of this in last night’s post Christianity and the Hegelian Dialectic RevisitedContinue reading

Christianity and the Hegelian Dialectic Revisited


by Mike Ratliff

32 Ἀκούσαντες δὲ ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν οἱ μὲν ἐχλεύαζον, οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· ἀκουσόμεθά σου περὶ τούτου καὶ πάλιν. 33 οὕτως ὁ Παῦλος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ μέσου αὐτῶν. 34 τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες κολληθέντες αὐτῷ ἐπίστευσαν, ἐν οἷς καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις καὶ ἕτεροι σὺν αὐτοῖς. (Acts 17:32-34 NA27)

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some were mocking him, but others said, “We will listen to you about this again.” 33 Thus Paul went out from the midst of them. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom were both Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:32-34 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Many reading this may remember my post from June 2010, The Epistemology of Transformative Learning. Before I left to go on a short mini-vacation to visit my son in Washington D.C., I remember being inundated by emails and Tweets, et cetera about all of the stuff going on with Mark Driscoll and his church planting network and the reason he is so “bent” on doing it is that he had a vision or something like that directly from God to do that. However, this church planting is not done in any way like the Apostles did or those who followed them in the early days of the Church. No, the emphasis is not on following the Great Commission to the letter as given by our Lord in Matthew 28:16-20 which is to go into all the world making disciples from every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded them. They were to go with boldness knowing that Jesus would always be with them to the end of the age. (Paraphrase of the Great Commission) That is what we are to be about, which is taking the Gospel to the World, but that is not the same thing these people mean when they talk about “Church Planting” and “Transforming Lives.”  Continue reading

Traveling


I will be traveling to the East Coast to visit my son, leaving Thursday the 20th and returning Monday the 24th. Please pray that my wife and I have a safe and blessed trip. – Mike Ratliff

Living in the Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

9 Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλὰ ἐν πνεύματι, εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. εἰ δέ τις πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ οὐκ ἔχει, οὗτος οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ. (Romans 8:9 NA27)

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

When we talk about “the flesh” in this life, we are not always talking about these living breathing bodies we all have though the context does mean that in some cases as we shall see. Here in Romans 8, the root word of what is translated in English as “flesh” is σάρξ or sarxContinue reading

Always Ready


by Mike Ratliff

15 κύριον δὲ τὸν Χριστὸν ἁγιάσατε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος (1 Peter 3:15 NA27)

15 but reverence Christ in your hearts as Lord always being prepared to make a defense to everyone asking for a reason for the hope in you. (1 Peter 3:15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

I took a few days off as I had family visiting from Oklahoma. On Saturday we returned from an outing and as I opened the door to get out of the car, I heard someone say, “Hello!” I thought it was one of my neighbors. Everyone else went into the house and I stayed out on the driveway to talk to a fellow holding a sign he wanted to plant in my yard saying that our house was protected by his “Home Protection System.” All I had to do was agree to pay the monthly fee, have the sign put in the yard, and the cost of installation and the equipment was “free.” I do not remember how many times or how many ways I said no and was not interested. I have this extra God given gene that automatically shuts off the part of my brain that says, “Yes” when high-pressure sales techniques are applied. In fact, the more they are applied the angrier I become and when all is said and done the last company I will ever do business with is that company no matter what and I will tell everyone I know not to do business with them, et cetera.  Continue reading

Time for an Apologetics Test


by Mike Ratliff

This whole petty “thing” with ER2 and James MacDonald, et cetera has gotten very old. Today, I received an email that D.A. Carson and Tim Keller, the initial founders of The Gospel Coalition, had “weighed in” with their own response titled Reflections on Confessionalism, Boundaries, and Discipline. Whatever… We also got news that Frank Turk had written an Open Letter to Chris Rosebrough over at PyroManiacs. It was quite interesting in that Frank admitted that Rick Warren’s response to the whole ER2/T.D. Jakes blow up opened his eyes to R.W.’s real character. While Frank and I still have differences on what is required to be truly discerning, I appreciated what he said about that. Continue reading

Answering Fools According to Their Folly


by Mike Ratliff

1 Καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ Σαδδουκαῖοι πειράζοντες ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτοῖς. 2 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· [ὀψίας γενομένης λέγετε· εὐδία, πυρράζει γὰρ ὁ οὐρανός· 3 καὶ πρωΐ· σήμερον χειμών, πυρράζει γὰρ στυγνάζων ὁ οὐρανός. τὸ μὲν πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γινώσκετε διακρίνειν, τὰ δὲ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν οὐ δύνασθε;] 4 γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ, καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ. καὶ καταλιπὼν αὐτοὺς ἀπῆλθεν. (Matthew 16:1-4 NA27)

1 And having approached to test him, the Pharisees and Sadducees asked for him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But he answered and said to them, “When evening comes you say, ‘Fair weather for the sky is fiery red.’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today stormy weather for the sky being overcast is fiery red.’ The appearance of the sky you know enough to distinguish, but the signs of the times you can’t make out? 4 An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign and a sign will not be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” And having left them, he went away. (Matthew 16:1-4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Today, my friends in the CRN discernment group sent me the link below to a tweet by Perry Noble.

Perry Noble tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/perrynoble/status/123786301538451456

RT @jamesmacdonald: Fool! or No Fool? New blog post – http://ow.ly/6TUP7 //THIS IS A MUST READ!!! #homerun 

Go ahead and follow those links and read James MacDonald’s post on Proverbs 26:4,5, which Perry Noble says is a “must read.” If you don’t think this is reference to the blow up over his invite of T.D. Jakes to his Elephant Room 2 discussion, his failed attempt to defend that decision, his losing Mark Dever from the Forum, et cetera then you haven’t been paying attention. Dr. James White said it best when he commented the other day on this whole sad affair by saying, “…the Elephant Room, whatever that is. Whatever it is, it sounds like a place where people sit around and discuss how to redefine Christianity while refusing to stand on the shoulders of giants who have come before…” Of course, his main comment was about the foolishness of inviting a known Modalist, T.D. Jakes, to a supposed Christian discussion about the Holy Trinity.  Continue reading

Christian Exclusivity


by Mike Ratliff

30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA27)

30 “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1 )

Genuine Christianity, not the false versions of it, is unique when compared to the world’s religions. In fact, those false versions of it are just like the rest of the world’s religions in one regard that makes genuine Christianity absolutely unique. All other “religions” are based upon some form of works based theology and belief system in which a some form of justification is made through those works which increase the value of the person in that religion thereby gaining the reward. On the other hand, genuine Christianity is nothing like that at all. Salvation or justification comes as a result of something God has set out to do and has completed. Those who are justified were elected by him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) based upon no works or deeds or value inherent in them  (that none may boast). All of the work to justify these elect was done by God and completed; and he, being sovereign and all-powerful, saves them all as we will see in the short passage we will exegete below. Those who are saved are new creations after their justification because God himself regenerated them so that their dead faith is made alive and they are now able to believe the gospel and be saved (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5). Who believes? Who are these Christians?  Continue reading

Justified Without Charge


by Mike Ratliff

23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ 24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 25 ὃν προέθετο ὁ θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ [τῆς] πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων 26 ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ. (Romans 3:23-26 NA27)

23 for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Christ Jesus, 25 whom God displayed as a propitiation by his blood received through faith. This was in order to display his righteousness because in his divine forbearance, he passed over previously occurred sins. 26 This was to display his righteousness in the present time, for him to be just and the justifier of the one having faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

As I got ready to “attend Church” this morning with my wife, I spent some time in prayer as the coffee brewed. I write down what I pray as this helps me focus. There is nothing legalistic in this. There is nothing mystical about it. This just helps me pray. It is also gives me a record of what I pray, which is pretty cool when God answers one of those requests. Part of my prayer this morning was. “…I pray for your glory in and through me this day. I pray for your kingdom to come into fulfillment soon. I pray for you to be glorified in my worship of you this day in church and in my walk and service. Use me as you will. I pray for wisdom and discernment…” There was more of course, but as the worship service began, there was something different. We noticed that we were going to have Communion today because the “Elements” were on the Communion Table. Also, there was a Cello on the stage. When the pastor, Rick Holland, spoke, he said that we would be led in worship by part of the Christian Worship band “Enfield.” The leader and his wife were in town for a wedding. It turned out that the Cellist was the bride. In any case, the music was all Christ glorifying and incredibly edifying. By the time we took communion, I had tears rolling down my face. Did God answer my prayer? Who can worship God like that? It is only those who are justified without charge, the ones justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Christ Jesus. Continue reading

Presuppositions Unto Darkness


by Mike Ratliff

18 Ἀποκαλύπτεται γὰρ ὀργὴ θεοῦ ἀπ᾽ οὐρανοῦ ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν ἀνθρώπων τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων, 19 διότι τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φανερόν ἐστιν ἐν αὐτοῖς· ὁ θεὸς γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἐφανέρωσεν. (Romans 1:18,19 NA27)

18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness repress the truth. 19 For that which may be known of God is manifest among them because God has manifested it to them. (Romans 1:18,19 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

The circus that visible church has become wears me out. I know that we must continue to oppose the wolves in sheep’s clothing. I know that we must continue to expose the false prophets and false doctrines while, at the same time, continue to teach the truth and point God’s people to the light and away from the darkness. I know this, but it can be tiring at times. However, I have also learned that when that weariness comes, it is also a time of reflection, and most of the time, God uses it to show me a root cause of much of the weeds we are pulling up. Isn’t it better to find the root and kill it then to simply pull up what comes from it?  Continue reading