It is Finished


by Mike Ratliff

28 Μετὰ τοῦτο εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται, ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή, λέγει· διψῶ. 29 σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους μεστόν· σπόγγον οὖν μεστὸν τοῦ ὄξους ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες προσήνεγκαν αὐτοῦ τῷ στόματι. 30 ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· τετέλεσται, καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. (John 19:28-30 NA27)

28 After this, Jesus having known everything that had been completed that the Scripture may be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of vinegar was there, so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on a hyssop branch and put it to his mouth. 30 Therefore, when he received the vinegar, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And having bowed his head, he gave up his Spirit. (John 19:28-30 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Many of those with whom we earnestly contend for the faith have a problem with the absolute truth that is presented to us in the three verses above. Many of them may deny the fact that they hold to a form of salvation that denies the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ on the cross to accomplish all that is required for all of the elect to not only believe the gospel, but also to persevere. Those who have doubts about that do so because they either do not understand or believe the doctrine of imputation. We have looked at this many times and I do not intend to go into that here. In this post we will look at what Christ meant when he knew that everything had been completed in John 19:28 and then said so in John 19:30. Continue reading

Truth and Doctrine


by Mike Ratliff

3 Ἀγαπητοί, πᾶσαν σπουδὴν ποιούμενος γράφειν ὑμῖν περὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας ἀνάγκην ἔσχον γράψαι ὑμῖν παρακαλῶν ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει. (Jude 3 NA27)

3 Beloved, being extremely eager to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you encouraging you to contend for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. (Jude 3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Last week, on December 20th, as I was preparing to leave for Oklahoma to visit family over the weekend, I received an “odd” comment on my post Evil Personified.  I approved it, but made no reply as I pondered what that person was trying to say. Then I received an email from that very same person later asking me to remove that comment. Here is part of that email:

 …if you can, please remove my comments – i don’t want to get involved – was involved in another site and they mentioned reformed theology as you do.  i agree with the article you wrote but i have not studied anything other than HIS word and HIS teaching – i have never studied doctrine – please, no hard feelings –  HIS word has kept me and sustained me.  i took HIM at His word that He would be my Teacher and He has fulfilled that promise.  i still agree with the article…

Here was the basis of my reply:

…I’ll remove your comment, but you must understand that Reformed Theology and what our Lord taught are the very same thing. It is the exegesis of his word that is basis for Reformed Theology and it is Doctrine that is what the Apostles and Prophets taught us the is the foundation of the Church with Christ being the Chief Cornerstone holding that foundation together. You cannot say you believe his word and be a fence sitter when it comes to Doctrine….

That person replied:

…thank you for removing my blog –  i am not a fence sitter, mike – i am a true believer who takes HIS word for what it says –  we could argue what the early church taught – i am interested in what Yeshua taught and i take it just as HE states it.  there is no go between in what i have been taught.  i know it is pure and that it is TRUTH –  why put doctrine into the mix?…

There were a few more “back and forth” comments, but I could not get this person to understand that truth and the doctrines given to us by the Lord and his apostles are one and the same. Continue reading

Evil Personified


by Mike Ratliff

[6:1] When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? [2] Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? [3] Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! [4] So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? [5] I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, [6] but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? [7] To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? [8] But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! [9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:1-11 ESV)

As we have been studying over the last several months, genuine Christians are not “of this world.” We are new creations under a new covenant, a better covenant. However, many try to blend what is in the Old Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant with what is in the New Covenant causing much confusion. A close study of Matthew 5, 6, & 7 shows that those bought with a price, those in the New Covenant, are not here on this Earth to occupy it, subdue it, or transform it. No, we are here as witnesses of the Gospel and to give an account of the hope that is within us to those still in their sins. God will draw some of them to himself through this and of these, we make disciples. As we study our role in world as our Lord and the writers of the New Testament reveal it, we see that we only are conquerors in the Spiritual sense while it will appear that the evil of this world, even that which pretends to be Christian, but is not, will appear to be victorious to most. Continue reading

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled


by Mike Ratliff

[27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

My dad’s brother, my uncle Paul, is the last living relative I have from that generation of his family. My dad, who died in 2010, was the youngest of many brothers and sisters. All of them were married and their spouses have all passed away as well. My aunt Dorothy, 97 years old, who was married to my dad’s brother Aubrey, died yesterday. He had died about ten years earlier. In any case, I do not really mourn my aunt Dorothy’s passing. She was a very sweet Christian lady with as strong a faith as I have ever witnessed in anyone. Right now she no longer cares about her aches and pains and being old and missing her husband Aubrey because she is with our Lord Jesus. Continue reading

I Am the Door


The following is from Charles Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for December 17th.

“I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”-John 10:9

Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true church, and the way of access to God Himself. He gives to the man who comes to God by Him four choice privileges.

1. He shall be saved. The fugitive manslayer passed the gate of the city of refuge, and was safe. Noah entered the door of the ark, and was secure. None can be lost who take Jesus as the door of faith to their souls. Entrance through Jesus into peace is the guarantee of entrance by the same door into heaven. Jesus is the only door, an open door, a wide door, a safe door; and blessed is he who rests all his hope of admission to glory upon the crucified Redeemer.

2. He shall go in. He shall be privileged to go in among the divine family, sharing the children’s bread, and participating in all their honours and enjoyments. He shall go in to the chambers of communion, to the banquets of love, to the treasures of the covenant, to the storehouses of the promises. He shall go in unto the King of kings in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the secret of the Lord shall be with him.

3. He shall go out. This blessing is much forgotten. We go out into the world to labour and suffer, but what a mercy to go in the name and power of Jesus! We are called to bear witness to the truth, to cheer the disconsolate, to warn the careless, to win souls, and to glorify God; and as the angel said to Gideon, “Go in this thy might,” even thus the Lord would have us proceed as His messengers in His name and strength.

4. He shall find pasture. He who knows Jesus shall never want. Going in and out shall be alike helpful to him: in fellowship with God he shall grow, and in watering others he shall be watered. Having made Jesus his all, he shall find all in Jesus. His soul shall be as a watered garden, and as a well of water whose waters fail not.

Blessed


by Mike Ratliff

[18] Pride goes before destruction,

                        and a haughty spirit before a fall.

            [19] It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor

                        than to divide the spoil with the proud.

(Proverbs 16:18-19 ESV)

The truly discerning, obedient, Christian who is seeking God’s will in his or her relationship with all in the Body of Christ is not one seeking a fight over every difference. Instead, the stronger brother or sister is to always be about seeking the defense of the conscience of the weaker brethren. In fact, those who are mature in Christ will not seek to have that known among the brethren at all, but are of lowly spirit, but always ready to teach and encourage those willing to be discipled. However, even in this, they know that what they are teaching is what they have received from their Lord and is not of themselves. Continue reading

Clothe Yourself With Humility


by Mike Ratliff

[5] Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [6] Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, [7] casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7 ESV)

Humility was not considered a virtue in the ancient world any more than it is in our day and time. Oh, it is given lip service here and there, but what I have seen get the most attention from people is arrogance that is rooted in pride. When this is rampant in the world it is understandable, but when so-called Christian leaders become so puffed up with their own importance that they refuse to listen to any constructive criticism whatsoever nor will they change the course of their ministries in case they may damage their public image, well, those are men living according to the flesh not in the Spirit. The imperative in the passage above is not just for leaders. It is for all of us. We know this since it is in the context of being subject to our elders. Let’s look at it a bit closer. Continue reading

Faithful is He that Calleth You


by Mike Ratliff

[23] Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [24] He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ESV)

My friend Jon Cardwell put me on the list to receive a pre-publication copy of his new book Christ and Him Crucified. I received it on Friday from the publisher. Some of you may know, but some may not, that Jon suffers many of the symptoms of ALS, which is often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His symptoms started when he was serving as Pastor in Scammon Bay, Alaska. Because of the severity of the onset and the need to have a proper diagnosis, he had to leave the flock he loved. He is now serving as a Pastor of a church in Alabama. When I think of my friend Jon, I am reminded of a sermon I heard from Steve Lawson at the 2010 Shepherd’s Conference in which he exegeted Job Chapter 1. The message was titled “The Invisible War.” In this message, Dr. Lawson shows that God uses adversity in the lives of his people to make them broken vessels, who humbly walk with a limp before him, dependent upon him, not in love with this world, but wholly dependent upon him for everything. Continue reading

Sacrifice


by Mike Ratliff

13 πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν· ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς. (Matthew 9:13 NA27)

13 But go and learn what is the meaning of this; I desire mercy and not sacrifice, for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Matthew 9:13 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Works righteousness is man’s default religion. The Jews mostly misunderstood the Old Testament sacrificial system. The point of the sacrifice was the taking away of sin and the pointing to the perfect sacrifice that would come in Christ, but most had turned it into a form of works righteousness. Continue reading

The Dead Church


by Mike Ratliff

1 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Σάρδεσιν ἐκκλησίας γράψον· Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἔχων τὰ ἑπτὰ πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀστέρας· οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ὄνομα ἔχεις ὅτι ζῇς, καὶ νεκρὸς εἶ. (Revelation 3:1 NA27)

1 And to the angel of the Sardis Church write,’ These things says the one having the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. “I know your works that you have a name that you live, and are dead.”’ (Revelation 3:1 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

My brethren, the message from Revelation 3:1-6 goes contrary to most of what is taught in Evangelicalism today. The church at Sardis had a name that it was alive yet our Lord bluntly said that even so, they were spiritually dead. Since 2006 since I have been in this ministry, I have seen my good friends like Ken Silva along with all of those associated with him, denigrated because we stand firm with what God’s Word says about what constitutes real Christianity and what doesn’t. Then when we point out that certain ministries do not measure up we are called divisive, haters, and many other ugly things and then some of them resort to worldly things like lawsuits and denial of service attacks on Ken’s websites. Excuse me, but how can anyone justify that sort of behavior as Christian in any shape or form? Continue reading

Attaining The Resurrection


by Mike Ratliff

 8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 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, 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Legalism is the default religion of most people. However, when God gave the Law to Moses to give to Israel, he did not do so as a means for sinners to earn the Kingdom of Heaven. The Law was given to Moses on the mountain after the people were redeemed from Egypt (Exodus 20:1-17). The sacrificial system within the Law proves that the Lord knew the people would fail to obey the Law perfectly. If the Law is not a means for sinners to save themselves, why did God reveal it at all? Continue reading

Build Your House on the Rock


by Mike Ratliff

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God. 20 Having been built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the Cornerstone 21 in whom all the building being fitly joined together grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 Possessing the Treasure V1)

We live in dark spiritual times, but that is nothing new. This has been going on quite some time. Philosophers call this current age Postmodernism. It is marked by the shifting sand of constantly changing truth, that is, “truth” is supposedly different for each person. From this foolishness comes the insane concept that the greatest crime is to offend someone else by holding to absolute truth with which they do not agree. No matter how evil the times become in this lost and dying world, Christians are called to not be part of it, to live according the God’s truth not what man says.  Continue reading

Made Alive in Christ Unto Good Works


by Mike Ratliff

We are his masterpiece, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God previously prepared that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

The second chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians can be divided into two sections of emphasis. As we shall see, Paul makes it abundantly clear in vv1-9 that our salvation is by grace through faith and this it is God’s work in which he lavishes his grace on Christians through his saving initiative alone. Paul uses v10 to introduce the next section that is based on what he introduced in vv1-9, that believers are new creations. In vv10-22 we learn that our new life in Christ is unto good works in him and that all of this unto the glory of Christ as we walk in obedience and unity.  Continue reading

Knowing God Through Love


by Mike Ratliff

34 Ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους. 35 ἐν τούτῳ γνώσονται πάντες ὅτι ἐμοὶ μαθηταί ἐστε, ἐὰν ἀγάπην ἔχητε ἐν ἀλλήλοις. (John 13:34-35 NA27)

34 “A new command I give to you that you love one another; as I loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.” (John 13:34-35 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Continuing with the theme of self-examination with the goal of having my heart free from all idols, let us look a very stringent test our Lord gave his apostles, which they gave to the Church of how we can have both assurance of our own faith as well as the markers that will be present in genuine believers and absent in those who are false professors.  Continue reading