Always Maintaining a Blameless Conscience Before God and Men


by Mike Ratliff

9 συνεπέθεντο δὲ καὶ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι φάσκοντες ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχειν. 10 Ἀπεκρίθη τε ὁ Παῦλος νεύσαντος αὐτῷ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος λέγειν· ἐκ πολλῶν ἐτῶν ὄντα σε κριτὴν τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ ἐπιστάμενος εὐθύμως τὰ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ ἀπολογοῦμαι, 11 δυναμένου σου ἐπιγνῶναι ὅτι οὐ πλείους εἰσίν μοι ἡμέραι δώδεκα ἀφ’ ἧς ἀνέβην προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ. 12 καὶ οὔτε ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ εὗρόν με πρός τινα διαλεγόμενον ἢ ἐπίστασιν ποιοῦντα ὄχλου οὔτε ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς οὔτε κατὰ τὴν πόλιν, 13 οὐδὲ παραστῆσαι δύνανταί σοι περὶ ὧν νυνὶ κατηγοροῦσίν μου. 14 ὁμολογῶ δὲ τοῦτό σοι ὅτι κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν λέγουσιν αἵρεσιν, οὕτως λατρεύω τῷ πατρῴῳ θεῷ πιστεύων πᾶσιν τοῖς κατὰ τὸν νόμον καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς προφήταις γεγραμμένοις, 15 ἐλπίδα ἔχων εἰς τὸν θεὸν ἣν καὶ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι προσδέχονται, ἀνάστασιν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι δικαίων τε καὶ ἀδίκων. 16 ἐν τούτῳ καὶ αὐτὸς ἀσκῶ ἀπρόσκοπον συνείδησιν ἔχειν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους διὰ παντός. (Acts 24:9-16 NA28)

9 The Jews also jointed in the attack saying these things to be so. 10 And Paul answered as the Governor nodded to him to speak: “Knowing that for many years you have been judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense concerning these things, 11 since you can take note that not more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple did they find me conversing with anyone or stirring up the crowds in either the synagogues or in the city itself. 13 Nor are they able to prove to you the things that they are now accusing me. 14 But I confess this to you that according to The Way which they call a sect, thus I serve the God of our fathers, believing in all the things according to the Law and the things written in the Prophets; 15 having hope toward God, which also these men anticipate, a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 By this I also do my best to always have a blameless conscience toward God and men.” (Acts 24:9-16 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, Fumbling the Ball, we looked at some disturbing examples of some very visible professing Christians and Christian leaders who have set an example of compromise. We discussed how this “fear of man” that causes Christians to compromise infects us all. What is that God-given mechanism that he put in each of us that works as the Soul’s warning system? It is, of course, the conscience, which allows humans to contemplate their motives and actions and make moral evaluations of what is right and wrong. However, in order for the conscience to work correctly as God designed it, it must be informed to the highest moral and spiritual level and best standard. This means that we must submit it to the Holy Spirit through God’s Word (Romans 12:1,2; 1 Timothy 1:19; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22). In the passage above Paul is telling us that the proper Christian walk is one that is fully enlightened this way and that plus abiding in Christ, walking as a living sacrifice, submitted to Christ as Lord over all, that is, bearing one’s own cross as we follow him throughout each day is how one get’s to the point where we too can make that claim that we are doing our best to always have a blameless conscience toward God and men.  Continue reading

Fumbling the Ball


by Mike Ratliff

32 Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοὶ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁμολογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν [τοῖς] οὐρανοῖς· 33 ὅστις δ’ ἂν ἀρνήσηταί με ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀρνήσομαι κἀγὼ αὐτὸν ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν [τοῖς] οὐρανοῖς. (Matthew 10:32-33 NA28)

32 So everyone who confesses me before men I also will confess him before my Father who is in Heaven 33 and whoever denies me before men I will also deny him before my Father who is in Heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)

What does it mean to confess Jesus before men? Is it what so many say in our time that it is a simple profession of faith that you are a “Jesus Follow?” Or as so many do in that they point to their religious affiliation? One thing is made clear in Sacred Scripture; if one does profess to be a Christian then that “faith” that is presented will be tested. The test will be along some line of demarcation that divides what is genuine faith from what is of the flesh or of this world. Of course, there are three results of these tests. Christians go through the fires of tribulation and stand firm and their faith is strengthened as the Holy Spirit works through that test to reveal the truth of their faith to them and also to those whom God intended to see it for his own purposes. However, genuine believers can also fall badly as their faith is tested as did Peter the night of our Lord’s trial in which he denied our Lord 3 times and also when Paul had to confront him about his hypocrisy when the Judiazers came to Antioch (Galatians 2:11-13). In both cases Peter failed the test because of “fear of men.” Did this make him an unbeliever? Of course not! No, these tests were used by God to reveal to him problems with his walk in which he needed to confess and repent. On the other hand, there is a third result in which disingenuous faith is revealed and these false believers immediately fall away as their faith is revealed to be not supernatural, but of the flesh or of the world. I covered this in this post back in 2006.  Continue reading

Justification By An Imputed Righteousness


My brethren, there is a default spiritual condition in all of us that is deplorable. Many professing believers, while extolling the great work of God’s grace on their behalf to save them or they would be among those doomed to an eternity in hell, actually hold to a position that is based entirely within the scope of self-righteousness. These “believers” seek to be justified before God in and of themselves. They may not declare it verbally, but by their own acts it is obvious that they view their “sanctification” and their religiosity as that which is justifying them before God. This is nothing new as the Word of God makes clear even going back to Cain who slew Able because his own “religious works” were not acceptable to God while righteous Able was justified before God because of an imputed righteousness that Cain knew nothing about. In 21st Century Christianity this is still going on. The tragedy is that a huge contributor to this problem is a dreadful lack of the teaching of the deep things of God in our churches. This results in so many Christians being ignorant of the basics of Theology (the knowledge of God).

John Bunyan was an incredible Bible teacher in 17th Century England. I have read his Pilgrim’s Progress at least 6 times in the last 10 years. However, his autobiographical book Grace Abounding To the Chief of Sinners is also a must read. In any case, John Bunyan understood more than most Christians that genuine Christians are so because of God’s grace alone. He also understood that God had every right to take away as well as give, all by grace, to prepare believers for service in whatever capacity was required for the Kingdom. Since this was so, how could our Justification be based on our own efforts, abilities and deeds? In the following essay, Justification By An Imputed Righteousness or No Way to Heaven but by Jesus Christ, he deliberately exegetes Sacred Scripture to clearly teach these truths to God’s elect. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

What is Knowledge?


by Mike Ratliff

8 ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, δι’ ὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω 9 καὶ εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ, μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ, τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει, 10 τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ καὶ [τὴν] κοινωνίαν [τῶν] παθημάτων αὐτοῦ, συμμορφιζόμενος τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτοῦ, 11 εἴ πως καταντήσω εἰς τὴν ἐξανάστασιν τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν. (Philippians 3:8-11 NA28)

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 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)

Speaking from experience, which I am sure most of you can relate to very much, one the most frustrating things for me to bear is to have to be subjected to a teaching or information or even something shared about a situation or another person that I know to be false beyond any doubt and yet those expounding what is not true either will not listen to the truth or are beyond the reach of my revealing the truth to them. It is an amazing thing to witness those sure in what they perceive to be the light of a truth that really is darkness. Those mired in postmodernism may at this moment be wanting to scream at me that “truth is relative,” however that stance is illogical and the orthodox Christian doctrinal stance says that God’s truth is revealed to us in his Word and his truth is immutable, eternal and authoritative. This being so, and since believers should seek to be Orthodox Christians who reveal their authenticity through their Orthopraxy as they abide in Christ, through this they must come to a true knowledge of their Saviour. In fact, genuine Christians have that hunger born of the Spirit as Paul declared in the passage above that to “know him” was worth losing all things that this world has to offer. I submit that in our time there are many declaring that they have attained this knowledge, but what they proclaim reveals that they are liars because what they are saying our Saviour is like or what he is saying the Church is to be about is not Biblical. We know they are liars and are, therefore, false teachers or wolves in sheep’s clothing, because we compare their teaching with the straight line of God’s Word, our Orthodoxy and this reveals that what they are saying is Orthodoxy is, instead heterodoxy, that is, another truth, therefore, a lie.  Continue reading

Orthodoxy


by Mike Ratliff

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:19-24 ESV)

As we waited for the early service folks to exit the auditorium this morning before we entered to find a place to sit for the later service we decided to look at some books for sale in the books store near the door. I ended up buying a textbook used in the seminary that meets on our campus. It is an introduction to Biblical hermeneutics. Yes, I know, it’s not very exciting and so much of it is something I already have a firm grip on. However, during the sermon this morning on Matthew 6:19-24 (above), I heard the preacher go to great lengths to put our Lord’s statement there in context and at the same time make it understandable to people living in the early years of the 21st Century. It was then that I reevaluated my purchase and how important proper Biblical hermeneutics is in both attaining and adhering to solid Christian Orthodoxy. I struggled all day on how to address this in this post. As our Lord said in Matthew 6:23, those who believe they are in the light, but are deceived by false doctrine, “How great is the darkness!Continue reading

Is it Orthopraxy or is it Legalism?


by Mike Ratliff

21 Οὐ πᾶς ὁ λέγων μοι· κύριε κύριε, εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἀλλ᾽ ὁ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. 22 πολλοὶ ἐροῦσίν μοι ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ· κύριε κύριε, οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν; 23 καὶ τότε ὁμολογήσω αὐτοῖς ὅτι οὐδέποτε ἔγνων ὑμᾶς· ἀποχωρεῖτε ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν. 24 Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ ποιεῖ αὐτούς, ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ φρονίμῳ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν· 25 καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ οὐκ ἔπεσεν, τεθεμελίωτο γὰρ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν. 26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον· 27 καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέκοψαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἔπεσεν καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη. (Matthew 7:21-27 NA27)

21 “Not all the ones saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in heaven.  22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name, and perform many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from me you who work lawlessness.”  24 “Therefore, everyone who hears my words and does them will be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and beat against that house and it did not fall for it had been founded upon the rock. 26 And everyone hearing these my words and does not do them will be compared to a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. 27 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell and the fall of it was great.” (Matthew 7:21-27 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

What is Christian Orthodoxy? There really isn’t enough space here to succinctly define that for you. However this section from the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms does quite a good job.

  • The Bible, having been inspired by God, is entirely trustworthy and without error. Therefore, we are to believe and obey its teachings. The Bible is the only source of special revelation for the church today.
  • The one true God is personal, yet beyond our comprehension. He is an invisible spirit, completely self-sufficient and unbounded by space or time, perfectly holy and just, and loving and merciful. In the unity of the Godhead there are three “persons”: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • God created the heavens and the earth, and all they contain. He upholds and governs them in accordance with his eternal will. God is sovereign—in complete control—yet this does not diminish human responsibility.
  • Because of the sin of the first man, Adam, all mankind is corrupt by nature, dead in sin, and subject to the wrath of God. But God determined, by a covenant of grace, that sinners may receive forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ has always been the only way of salvation, in both Old Testament and New Testament times.
  • The Son of God took upon himself a human nature in the womb of the virgin Mary, so that in her son Jesus the divine and human natures were united in one person. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and died on a cross, bearing the sins of, and receiving God’s wrath for, all those who trust in him for salvation (his chosen ones). He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, where he sits as Lord and rules over his kingdom (the church). He will return to judge the living and the dead, bringing his people (with glorious, resurrected bodies) into eternal life, and consigning the wicked to eternal punishment.
  • Those whom God has predestined unto life are effectually drawn to Christ by the inner working of the Spirit as they hear the gospel. When they believe in Christ, God declares them righteous (justifies them), pardoning their sins and accepting them as righteous, not because of any righteousness of their own, but by imputing Christ’s merits to them. They are adopted as the children of God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies them, enabling them increasingly to stop sinning and act righteously. They repent of their sins (both at their conversion and thereafter), produce good works as the fruit of their faith, and persevere to the end in communion with Christ, with assurance of their salvation.
  • Believers strive to keep God’s moral law, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments, not to earn salvation, but because they love their Savior and want to obey him. God is the Lord of the conscience, so that men are not required to believe or do anything contrary to, or in addition to, the Word of God in matters of faith or worship.
  • Christ has established his church, and particular churches, to gather and perfect his people, by means of the ministry of the Word, the sacraments of baptism (which is to be administered to the children of believers, as well as believers) and the Lord’s Supper (in which the body and blood of Christ are spiritually present to the faith of believers), and the disciplining of members found delinquent in doctrine or life. Christians assemble on the Lord’s Day to worship God by praying, hearing the Word of God read and preached, singing psalms and hymns, and receiving the sacraments.

We Reformed folks say that if one’s theology is “right” because it is according to what I just listed above then he or she is our brother or sister in Christ. Look at the next to last bullet point. It speaks of true believers striving to keep God’s moral law, not to earn salvation, but because they love their Savior and want to obey him. What is described here is what I would call Christian Orthodoxy according to Reformed Theology, which is what I hold to. What then is Orthopraxy?  Continue reading

Throwing Arthur Pink Under the Bus


by Mike Ratliff

Back on January 17 Dan Philips over at Pyromanics posted an article that resembled, to me, a character assassination of Dr. Arthur Pink who died in 1952. Here is the link to the post. I was busy at the time and, to be honest, I really have lost the desire to waste my valuable time over there at TeamPyro since their format changed. When this post came out I was notified of it in our CRN discussion forum, but no one really wanted to tackle it. I mean, who wanted to go defend Arthur Pink? It’s not like Dan Phillips was attacking the Gospel or being postmodern or anything like that. I let it go. However, I have a couple of Pink’s books and one of them was very important to me in the early stages of my understanding of Reformed Theology. It was his book The Sovereignty of GodContinue reading

The Real Gospel as Opposed to Another Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, 7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρ᾽ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω· εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρ᾽ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 10 Ἄρτι γὰρ ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢ τὸν θεόν; ἢ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἂν ἤμην. (Galatians 1:6-10 NA27)

6 I marvel that you are so quickly being turned from the one who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel; 7 which is not another; except there are some troubling you and are desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you besides that which we preached to you, let him be a curse.  9 As we have previously said, and now again I say, if anyone preaches a gospel to you besides that which you received, let him be a curse.  10 For am I now trying to convince men or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave. (Galatians 1:6-10 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

Along the lines of our last post which was from John MacArthur’s book, Ashamed of the Gospel, in which he summarized Charles Spurgeon’s struggle with the move towards Christian liberalism in England in the 19th Century. This move began earlier after the Puritan era and gained momentum as Christian leaders sought to become more appealing and less strict, more conciliatory and less divisive no matter the cost in terms of theology. While some held the high ground in terms of their own theology they saw no issue in the compromise in fellowshipping with those who held more “liberal” views than they or some of their peers did. As this trend continued the erosion lead to a spiraling down that became known as the Great Down Grade. In the end, the struggle led to the ejection of from England’s Baptist Union of Spurgeon himself because he had led the defense against the Down Grade. For Spurgeon it cost him his health, but for the Baptist Union it cost it it’s spiritual life. The liberals won the leadership and led the denomination into the death throes of Christian Liberalism. Yes, it still exists today, but it stands for nothing having lost its backbone. What would Charles Spurgeon think about that?  Continue reading

Spurgeon and the Down-Grade Controversy


by John F. MacArthur, Jr.

[At the end of the Puritan age] by some means or other, first the ministers, then the Churches, got on “the down grade,” and in some cases, the descent was rapid, and in all, very disastrous. In proportion as the ministers seceded from the old Puritan godliness of life, and the old Calvinistic form of doctrine, they commonly became less earnest and less simple in their preaching, more speculative and less spiritual in the matter of their discourses, and dwelt more on the moral teachings of the New Testament, than on the great central truths of revelation. Natural theology frequently took the place which the great truths of the gospel ought to have held, and the sermons became more and more Christless. Corresponding results in the character and life, first of the preachers and then of the people, were only too plainly apparent.[1]

In March 1887, Charles Spurgeon published the first of two articles entitled “The Down Grade” in his monthly magazine, The Sword and the Trowel. The articles were published anonymously, but the author was Robert Shindler, Spurgeon’s close friend and fellow Baptist pastor. Shindler wrote the articles with input from Spurgeon, who footnoted the first article with a personal endorsement: “Earnest attention is requested for this paper. We are going down hill at breakneck speed.”[2]

Tracing the state of evangelicalism from the Puritan age to his own era, Shindler noted that every revival of true evangelical faith had been followed within a generation or two by a drift away from sound doctrine, ultimately leading to wholesale apostasy. He likened this drifting from truth to a downhill slope, and thus labeled it “the down-grade.” Continue reading

God is Light and Christ is the Way


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ὃ ἦν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς – 2 καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν – 3 ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν, ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν. καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 4 καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. (1 John 1:1-4 NA27)

1 What was from the beginning—which we have heard, which we have seen, with our eyes, which we beheld and touched with our hands—with respect to the Word of Life— 2 indeed the life was manifested and we have seen it and we give testimony and we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3 what we have seen and we have heard we proclaim also to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed fellowship with our Father and with his son, Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write that our joy may be made full.  (1 John 1:1-4 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

While there is counterfeit Christianity all around us, let us stay focused on the “real deal.” How do we do that? We look to God’s Word as his truth and from it we learn of Christ’s divinity, his incarnation as the God-man, and his saving death on the cross. We also learn about our role in God’s Kingdom while we are still on this side of eternity such as intercessory prayer ministry. The Word of God teaches us about God’s Holiness and his standard for being in his Kingdom and the ubiquity of human sin, which disqualifies all of us, but then we have our Lord’s substitutionary death on that cross that purchased a people for himself. In this “equation” we must learn that our salvation was all of God’s doing, not ours. He is the one who keeps us as well, but we do have a part to play and this is to walk in repentance for the rest of our lives. Some make the mistake of teaching that we can become perfectly holy and sinless in this life, but as we shall see, this is unbiblical and puts people in bondage for those who teach that invariably are the same ones who also teach that we earn our salvation in so doing so we can also lose it. Continue reading

Truth?


by Mike Ratliff

2 καὶ ἐζήτουν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τὸ πῶς ἀνέλωσιν αὐτόν, ἐφοβοῦντο γὰρ τὸν λαόν. (Luke 22:2 NA27)

2And the Chief Priests and the Scribes were seeking how they might destroy him for they were afraid of the people. (Luke 22:2 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

Even though it is not exactly new, we live in a day when the concept of truth is seen as something that is “relative.” I was listening to Dr. Al Mohler’s ‘The Briefing’ Podcast a couple of days ago in which he read part of an editorial from a major newspaper that was written to defend the intellectual concept of ‘Abortion on demand’ as being right if the mother considered it in her best interest to exercise her ‘right to choose.’ Her “rights’ outweighed those of the unborn baby she was carrying in her womb. On the other hand, the writer of the editorial, a woman, celebrated with her friends who had babies and wept with others who had miscarriages. What was the difference? It was the value placed by the parents and those around them on the “fetus” that gave it “rights” that demanded sacrifice on the part of the woman. If the woman felt like the pregnancy was a burden in any way then an abortion should be the next step. That was her “truth.”  Continue reading