The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men


by Mike Ratliff

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 ESV)

It seems that the default theology of Man is “Justification by Death.” Justification is a legal term where a person is declared “not guilty” by a judge. No one seems to have a problem with the concept of all people being sinners. However, our culture says that all people will be sent to Heaven when they die regardless of how they lived their lives. Once there, they will receive rewards or lose rewards based on the quality of their character. This is why the Doctrine of Hell is seen as “judgmental” and “Pharisaical” by those of the “New Evangelism.” Continue reading

Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints


by Mike Ratliff

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 ESV)

The Epistle of Jude is generally attributed to the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In v3 we learn that his original intent was to write an epistle on salvation to his recipients. However, he was compelled to write a call to battle for the truth instead.  Why? The church was being infiltrated by some apostate teachers. I hear from so many who attempt to say that God’s plan for the church does not include doing this. I was told by one fellow once who was trying to stop me from exposing his favorite “emergent” leader that God had commanded that we should allow the tares and wheat to grow together in the church and let God sort them out as our Lord shared in the parable of the Wheat and Tares found in Matthew 13:24-30. However, Jesus interprets this parable for us in v38 telling us that the field containing the wheat and tares is the world, not the church, and those told to leave them be until the judgment are angels, not Christians (v39). Continue reading

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 ESV)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2 ESV)

The phrase “in the beginning” tells us that the Word existed before creation. The Greek word for “beginning” here is “arche.” It simply means the most extreme or outermost point of something. John uses this word to refer to the beginning of the universe. This would include time, space, and all matter. The word John used that is translated “Word” here is “logos.” This word is best translated as “intelligence.” It was used in Greek philosophy to signify the rational principle of “divine reason,” “mind,” or “wisdom.” However, John gave this word an O.T. and Christian meaning. For example he obviously is referring back to Genesis 1:3 where God’s Word brought the world into existence. In the Psalms and Proverbs God’s Word is His powerful self-expression in creation, wisdom, revelation, and salvation. John took this understanding and made “Logos” refer to a person, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word was not a created being subject to time and space. He is outside of creation. Continue reading

Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God


by Mike Ratliff

12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14 ESV)

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 ESV)

What is the preaching of the cross? This is God’s total revelation, the Gospel in all its fullness. This preaching or teaching is centered in the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ. It also includes the entire divine plan and provision for the redemption of sinners. This is the theme of all Sacred Scripture. This teaching is foolishness to those who are perishing. The Greek word that forms “foolishness” here is the root word for our English word “moron.” It means “absurdity.” Those who are perishing see the message of the cross as utter foolishness or moronic or absurd. What does it mean that they are perishing? The Greek word that is translated as “them that perish” is a present participle. It implies continuous or repeated action. Later in v18 we have the term “saved.” It is also a present participle. Continue reading

The Lord knows those who are his!


by Mike Ratliff

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 ESV)

My father-in-law went on to be with the Lord several years ago, but during World War II he was a U.S. Navy Pharmist Mate. In today’s Navy, they are called Corpsmen. These are the medics who hit the beach or land in the choppers with the Marines or Navy Seals when they go into real combat. My father-in-law hit the beach with the U.S. Marines in the Pacific on the Island of Okinawa not long after they had gone through the holocaust of Iwo Jima. He was about 20 years old at the time. He hit the beach as a boy and left that island at the end of the battle with a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He rarely talked about it. I asked him to describe the battle in which he won the Bronze Star. He had volunteered to go in under fire to treat several wounded Marines then wait for a tank to come in as the means to take them out. That was where he earned that Bronze Star and the second of his Purple Hearts. He had already been wounded before he volunteered. He described the combat as men falling all around him.  Continue reading

Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed


by Mike Ratliff

6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:6-7 KJV)

Romans 6:6 clearly shows us that true believers become holy in Christ. However, there is confusion because many do not look correctly at the Greek verb tenses in this passage. If they simply read it in English or some other translation it is easy to not see that the all the verb tenses here are past tenses (aorist or perfect). What this means is that every verb tense here that refers to our identification with Christ in His death refers to it being completed in the past. Romans 6:6, therefore, says  ὁ παλαιὸς ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος συνεσταυρώθη or “the old of us man was crucified together” way back when Christ died and that it was completed then and there. What it does not say is that we must each morning get up and “crucify ourselves again to sin.” Instead, it says that by God’s judicial act, not by our experiential effort, the old man was “crucified” and therefore “destroyed.” Continue reading

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me


by Mike Ratliff

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV)

God’s ways are amazing to me. If you go back to the earliest posts on this blog you will find a group of people commenting at that time in very fundamentally sound and edifying ways. It was a very spiritually exciting time for me. When the enemy would attack, everyone would come to the battle armored up and things got interesting. However, through many of those “encounters” it became apparent that God was doing something through them. He was revealing to us the costliness of following Jesus. During those times I lost friendships and even had some family members distance themselves from me. This is is notwithstanding the outright hostility I and many of my friends have experienced from those who view our obedience to God as legalism. Their view is that relationships take priority over obedience to God.

Continue reading

As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:3-5 ESV)

For what reason did the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose (elect) all in Christ before the foundation of world? It was that they would be holy (ἁγίους) and blameless (ἀμώμους) before him. The Puritans have always been accused of being legalistic and way too concerned about Christians living holy and blameless lives. I heard a Jeopardy clue not long ago that actually defined this aspect of them as being “harsh” and “stern.” Is it an unreasonable thing to command that believers conform their lives unto holy living and be separate from the world and its ways?  Continue reading

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer


By Mike Ratliff

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:11-15 ESV)

At least once every few weeks I encounter a “brother” or “sister” in the Lord whose “ministry” seems to be to generate as much hatred as possible within the visible Church for some other Christian or group of Christians. While I do discernment in this ministry and do point out to you those whose Christian disingenuousness is continually being revealed to us by their fruit, I find it very disturbing when some rise up with something they call “discernment” that leads many to attack the very ones who are ministering before the Lord to actually feed His sheep the pure milk from His Word.  Continue reading

The unending judgment of Hell


by Mike Ratliff

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24 ESV)

Those who espouse Christian Universalism as the true model of God’s Redemption plan for man, must ignore most of Sacred Scripture as well as misinterpret their so-called “proof texts” in order to make their suppositions. The Bible makes it very clear that all Universalist teachings are heretical. Continue reading

Unbelief leads to deception


by Mike Ratliff

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:53-58 ESV)

As we continue to look at the evidence of God sending out a strong delusion upon professing Christians who appear to be running headlong into apostasy in ever increasing numbers let us look at what it is in these people that has brought this about. Why have they fallen into darkness and we have not? I have always taught God’s Word as literal truth and there are many places in the Word that some professing Christians have a problem taking literally because, if we do, then it refutes their pet theology exactly to the point. That is the nature of God’s truth. I have had some very ugly discussions in Bible Study classes about doctrine in which certain people were insistent that a section of God’s Word cannot be taken literally even though the only refutation they have against doing so is human philosophy. This, my brethren, is unbelief in action.  Continue reading

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes


by Mike Ratliff

1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4 ESV) 

I am sure when our Lord told His disciples on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 5:14-16), “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven…” that there were some who were getting the idea that the way of our Lord was some form of works righteousness that was at a higher, but better level than that of the Scribes and Pharisees who were all about legalism. Some today still have that idea. However, He followed that statement with this one in vv 17-20, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” So, what was our Lord teaching here? He wasn’t teaching us to follow legalism, that is, that our righteousness is somehow obtained by a strict adherence to the Law of Moses was He? Paul was very clear in the book of Galatians that no one ever obtained the righteousness of God that way.  Continue reading

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness


by Mike Ratliff

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:14-16 ESV)

The best place for a Christian to be is at the Cross, before the Saviour, in complete agreement with God that without His saving Grace he or she would be on their way to Hell, and without His sustaining Grace he or she would lose all ability or desire for His godliness. In fact, Christians are in a great deal of trouble when they think otherwise. Yes, we are commanded to obey God and to seek His Holiness, but we are completely unable to obey Him in the Spirit; neither are we able to seek His Holiness unless He first gives us the Grace to do these things. In fact, if we try to do either in our own abilities, we will fail miserably and find ourselves in an impossible situation of trying to attain favor with God by our own efforts in our own ability. This is a form of legalism, which leads only to frustration and disillusionment.  Continue reading

And now, little children, abide in him


by Mike Ratliff

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 ESV)

There are two types of people in the world. There are God’s children (genuine Christians) and everyone else. One of the reasons I love to read the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation is that John, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:7), wrote very profound words that have no gray areas. Of course he wrote as the Spirit breathed these words through him, but God used this man’s entire makeup in that process. John was very pastoral, but he was also a Christian apologist of the highest order. He was one the three Apostles who made up the inner circle closest to our Lord during His earthly ministry. Before Jesus called him to be his disciple, he was a disciple of John the Baptist along with Andrew, Peter’s brother. Jesus called him and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. He had great faith, but like most of us, he could get full of himself and focus inward instead of humble and lined up with our Lord’s will alone. Continue reading