The Conflict of Two Natures


by Mike Ratliff

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24 NASB) 

This is written to Christians, that is, those who were dead in their trespasses and sins in which they formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them they too all formerly lived in the lusts of their flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy because of his great love with which he loved them, even when they were dead in their transgressions, made them alive together with Christ (by grace they have been saved), and raised them up with him, and seated them with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the ages to come he might show in the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward them in Christ Jesus. For by grace they have been saved through faith; and not of themselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For they are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that they would walk in them.  Continue reading

The Separation of the Cross


by Mike Ratliff

19 “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19 NASB)

When our Lord spoke of the “world” in John 14:19, he was talking about those in this temporal existence who are not believers. They are not true Christians even though some in that group may profess to be so. In this context he was also referring to the Jewish religious leaders of his own day who so opposed him and his ministry and who would continue to oppose the early church as is seen all through the books of Acts for example. What is it that separates those alive in is this world who truly see Jesus for who he really is, believe and are saved from those who refuse to do so, reject the gospel, and remain in their sins, even if they may develop a form of Christianity that suits them that is absent of the real Jesus?  Continue reading

Is it Deceit or the Product of Being Unequally Yoked?


by Mike Ratliff

 14 Μὴ γίνεσθε ἑτεροζυγοῦντες ἀπίστοις· τίς γὰρ μετοχὴ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀνομίᾳ, ἢ τίς κοινωνία φωτὶ πρὸς σκότος; (2 Corinthians 6:14 NA27)

14 Do not become unequally yoked with unbelievers for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

As many of you have know, there has been much news and rumor about the “Historic Interfaith Document“ between Saddleback Valley Baptist Church in Orange County, California and the many Muslim communities there. As usual, the absolute worst place to get the truth about something like this is in the opinion polls of “Twitter,” which are like popularity contests with only your best friends. What should our position be about this? We should always come down on the side of sharing the gospel with those outside of Christ, but not if is some sort of “social engineered gospel” meant to offend no one nor be robbed of the right view of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It must also be clearly defined in terms of the Orthodox position of the fall of man and his need of redeemer as the only means of redemption, hence, the need of a perfect, sinless, propititiation, that is, God himself, who is the second person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son. Yes, the gospel we give to these Muslims must at least start there.  Continue reading

Wisdom From the Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

6 Σοφίαν δὲ λαλοῦμεν ἐν τοῖς τελείοις, σοφίαν δὲ οὐ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου οὐδὲ τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου τῶν καταργουμένων· (1 Corinthians 2:6 NA27)

6 But wisdom we speak among the mature, yet it is a wisdom not of this age or of the rulers of this age, the ones being brought to nothing; (1 Corinthians 2:6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I was listening to Dr. James White’s The Dividing Line a few weeks ago and I heard him say something he has said several times, that is, every generation of genuine Christians must fight the battles for the truth and correct doctrine. Some of these “Truth Wars” as John MacArthur calls them, have been worse and longer than others, but the one we are in now has been especially ugly with outright defections from within what most would consider the bulwark of Christian leaders who have shown their true liberal colors. However, what has been most enlightening to this Christian has been the absolute faithfulness of our Lord in the building of his church in the midst of rampant apostasy, pop-culture so-called chrisitianity, the decimation of local churches on a huge scale with the proliferation of mega-churches that are seeker-sensitive and politically correct non-gospel man-centered fake churches. There are also the huge churches based on the personality of the pastor as if he is some sort of rock-star. I have contacts from all over the world who testify how hard it is for them to find a solid, Biblically based church in their area. Even through all of this carnage, our Lord is faithful and continues to build his church.  Continue reading

Knowledge Part 2


by Mike Ratliff

2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη ἐν ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. (2 Peter 1:2 NA27)

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you by the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Ambiguity and relativism, unfortunately rule our day within the “visible church.” In this post we will look at 2 Peter 1:1-11, in which the Apostle speaks of precise doctrine, exact knowledge, not something vague and relative to each person’s experience. To Peter, Paul and the other Apostles the modern philosophies of “open-mindedness” and “tolerance” were foreign to their thinking and they should be expunged from the thinking of Christians today. Those who have been ensnared into that deadly trap though may have many fooled, but there is problem; μαρτυρῶ γὰρ αὐτοῖς ὅτι ζῆλον θεοῦ ἔχουσιν ἀλλ᾽ οὐ κατ᾽ ἐπίγνωσιν· (for I bear witness to them that a zeal of God they have, but not according to knowledge. Romans 10:2)  Continue reading

Knowledge


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)

In our last post, A Real Jerk, we looked at the true nature of all those who operate in the flesh. They think they have true knowledge, but they do not. That faulty knowledge can even come from Seminary training or years of sitting under the teaching of other theologians, but if the one being trained is in the flesh then it does not matter if they hear and read the truth or not. Of course, a lot of that stuff that passes for Seminary teaching and Christian preaching and teaching in our time really isn’t. True knowledge that comes from God is entirely different. It is not for those who operate in the flesh. It is only for those in Christ, those who abide in him (John 15). This knowledge has a divine purpose.  Continue reading

A Real Jerk


by Mike Ratliff

12 Χάριν ἔχω τῷ ἐνδυναμώσαντί με Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, ὅτι πιστόν με ἡγήσατο θέμενος εἰς διακονίαν 13 τὸ πρότερον ὄντα βλάσφημον καὶ διώκτην καὶ ὑβριστήν, ἀλλὰ ἠλεήθην, ὅτι ἀγνοῶν ἐποίησα ἐν ἀπιστίᾳ· 14 ὑπερεπλεόνασεν δὲ ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μετὰ πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 NA27)

12 I have gratitude to the one who empowered me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful having put me into his service, 13 previously being a blasphemer and persecutor and an insolent man, but I received mercy because I did it in unbelief, being ignorant, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Today Frank Viola posted “The Art of Being a Jerk Online: 9 Sure Ways.” While I understand “the gist” of what is being said in the article and have rules for commenting on my own blog to curb that sort of thing, the target of this post by Frank is not people like those I block for being obnoxious, rude, belligerent, et cetera, but those who are critical of him, his ministry and those with whom his partnered. For my own part, I don’t think I have written anything about Frank or his friends that violated any of those 9 points, but I have certainly disagreed with him about a few things having to with doctrine and his “mission” to change the Church.  Continue reading

Word and Sacrament in Worship


Having been in this apologetics battle for quite some time, I have become used to our enemy being allowed to counter-attack us viciously as our standing firm in the name of the Lord has caused light to come to bear into places of confusion and deception he has caused. However, I have never become used to how vicious these attacks are nor how those who are being used by our enemy are so convinced that they are actually the ones serving God and what we are doing must be stopped because after all we are stirring things up by being so unbending, unyielding, and not politically correct, et cetera. God is Love isn’t he? After absorbing several charges of legalism, being overly harsh, and losing some readership and subscribers because of that, I think it is time to make some things more clear. Just because I use what God says as the truth and insist that there is no other because that is what he says, does not mean that I do not also have religious affections. I do worship my Lord. I could not bear to have a form of Christianity forced on me that consisted of mere intellectual assent devoid of joy and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. That being said, I pray that you carefully read Kim Riddlebarger’s excellent article below about proper worship. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

To Contend For The Faith Delivered Once For All To The Saints


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 1:3 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 1:3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

It has been brought to my attention that what we do here in the pursuit of being Biblical and having our Doctrines line up with what our Lord and His Apostles taught, if we also use the same black and white standards of contending for the faith that they used then we are too harsh and judgmental. When I use the Word of God to show the nature of genuine believers contrasting that with disingenuous professing Christians, then that is called judgmental and harsh, et cetera. The charge is also leveled at us if we use wisdom and discernment to point out the apostate behavior of certain Christian leaders or theologians who started out looking good, but have shown by their fruit to be highly suspect. For instance, how can we have a problem with John Piper since he has written such wonderful books that have blessed so many people? My response was, “But he hangs out now with known apostates and heretics and calls them his brothers in Christ while saying and doing things that no Christian leader of his caliber should do. Shouldn’t he be held accountable to these things as well? It is as if he is supposed to get a pass for what he does now because of what he did early in his ministry. If we do that are we contending for the faith delivered once for all to the saints?  Continue reading

Are Unbelievers Spiritually Disabled or Spiritually Dead?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν, 2 ἐν αἷς ποτε περιεπατήσατε κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος, τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦντος ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας· 3 ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί· (Ephesians 2:1-3 NA27)

1 And you being dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience 3 among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, performing the desires and thoughts of the flesh, and we were by nature children of wrath as also the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

During his sermon today, James MacDonald made a comment that we need to be careful how we “label” unbelievers. He used the analogy that just as you wouldn’t call someone a “cripple” or “retarded” you should be careful in how you refer them as well. He came up the term “spiritually disabled.” While that would probably get a nod and a smile from those all about Political Correctness, it is not Biblical. The Word of God did not “beat and around the bush” attempting to not offend “unbelievers.” In fact, our Lord himself used such hard preaching in John 6 to purge his followers of the marginal that in John 6:66 the Word of God says, “Ἐκ τούτου πολλοὶ [ἐκ] τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ οὐκέτι μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ περιεπάτουν.” Or, “From this time many of his disciples went back and no longer were walking with him.” Why did they walk away as in 1 John 2:19? There is more to being a Christian than just making a profession.  Continue reading

The Great White Throne Judgment


by Mike Ratliff

11 Καὶ εἶδον θρόνον μέγαν λευκὸν καὶ τὸν καθήμενον ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν, οὗ ἀπὸ τοῦ προσώπου ἔφυγεν ἡ γῆ καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς. 12 καὶ εἶδον τοὺς νεκρούς, τοὺς μεγάλους καὶ τοὺς μικρούς, ἑστῶτας ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου. καὶ βιβλία ἠνοίχθησαν, καὶ ἄλλο βιβλίον ἠνοίχθη, ὅ ἐστιν τῆς ζωῆς, καὶ ἐκρίθησαν οἱ νεκροὶ ἐκ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν τοῖς βιβλίοις κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν. 13 καὶ ἔδωκεν ἡ θάλασσα τοὺς νεκροὺς τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἔδωκαν τοὺς νεκροὺς τοὺς ἐν αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἐκρίθησαν ἕκαστος κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν. 14 καὶ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἐβλήθησαν εἰς τὴν λίμνην τοῦ πυρός. οὗτος ὁ θάνατος ὁ δεύτερός ἐστιν, ἡ λίμνη τοῦ πυρός. 15 καὶ εἴ τις οὐχ εὑρέθη ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ τῆς ζωῆς γεγραμμένος, ἐβλήθη εἰς τὴν λίμνην τοῦ πυρός. (Revelation 20:11-15 NA27)

11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. From his presence fled the earth and heaven, and a place was not found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, having taken their stand before the throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged by the things written in the books according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead in it and Death and Hades gave up the dead in them and they were judged each one according their works. 14 And Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the Second Death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

In Revelation 2:11 in his message to the Church at Smyrna, our Lord Jesus said, “Ὁ ἔχων οὖς ἀκουσάτω τί τὸ πνεῦμα λέγει ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις. Ὁ νικῶν οὐ μὴ ἀδικηθῇ ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ δευτέρου.” Or, “The one having ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one overcoming will never be hurt by the second death.” What is described in Revelation 20:11-15 is the judgment of those going into “the second death.” These are people who have already lived their physical, temporal lives on earth and have died physically, but now they stand before the great white throne to receive the judgment of God. Continue reading

Faithful


by Mike Ratliff

10 μηδὲν φοβοῦ ἃ μέλλεις πάσχειν. ἰδοὺ μέλλει βάλλειν ὁ διάβολος ἐξ ὑμῶν εἰς φυλακὴν ἵνα πειρασθῆτε καὶ ἕξετε θλῖψιν ἡμερῶν δέκα. γίνου πιστὸς ἄχρι θανάτου, καὶ δώσω σοι τὸν στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς. (Revelation 2:10 NA27)

10 Do not fear the things you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison that you may be tested and you will have affliction ten days. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the Crown of Life. (Revelation 2:10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

Πιστὸς (pistos) is the Greek adjective translated in Revelation 2:10 (above) as “faithful.” Πιστὸς is defined as “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable.” In the context of Revelation 2:10, 13, which are our Lord’s own words, to be “faithful” is to refuse to compromise the Christian faith, even in the face of persecution and martyrdom. In this day of superstar or what some call “Rock Star” Christian leaders whose popularity is based upon their willingness to dilute the Christian faith with the world and its ways or even by blending in the cultic ways of other religions, we need to have a clearer understanding of the faithfulness that is expected of the genuine Christian by our Lord.  Continue reading

The Obedience of Faith


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, 2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις 3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, 4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 5 δι᾽ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, 6 ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 7 πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Romans 1:1-7 NA27)

1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called Apostle having been set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised before through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 concerning his Son – having come from the seed of David according the flesh, 4 – having been designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of Holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we received grace and Apostleship for obedience of faith among all the nations on behalf of his name, 6 among whom you are also the called ones of Jesus Christ, 7 to all the ones in Rome, loved ones of God, called ones, saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In the passage above the word “faith” in v5 translates the noun πίστεως (pisteōs), which is the Genitive, Singular of πίστις (pistis), “faith, faithfulness.” The verb form of πίστις, πιστεύω (pisteuō) means, “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly persuaded to something.” Some teach in our time that this “faith” we are describing here simply means “mental assent” and so teach that all one must do to be saved is mentally assent to a few facts about Jesus. Continue reading