The Storm Center of the Protestant Reformation


by Mike Ratliff

[1] Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

I shared in a previous post how I had in an incident in a Bible Study class while attempting to teach about the Doctrine of Election back in 2006 by a couple of men who were dead set on stopping me from simply reading certain texts from Sacred Scripture. I have had similar experiences when teaching on the Doctrine of Justification, which is what this post is about. Justification by Faith is a doctrine that was the storm center of the Reformation. It was also a major concern of the Apostle Paul. As we study his epistles we can plainly see that he considered this doctrine to be the heart of the gospel. (Romans 1:17; 3:21-5:21; Galatians 2:15-5:1) It also shaped both his message (Acts 13:38-39) and his devotion and spiritual life (2 Corinthians 5:13-21; Philippians 3:4-14) Continue reading

Loss of Discernment Regarding What It Means to Be a Protestant


By Paul M. Elliott

There has been a loss of discernment concerning the nature of Roman Catholicism, what it means to be a Protestant, and the need to be vigorously Protestant. Today too few Christians really understand why the Reformation took place and what is at stake if it is reversed – and the Reformation is being reversed in our time. This loss of discernment is the direct result of the loss of discernment regarding church history. Continue reading

Justification, Sanctification and Lordship Salvation


You cannot receive Christ as your justification only, and then, later, decide to refuse or to accept Him as your sanctification. He is one and indivisible, and if you receive Him at all, at once He is made unto you “wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” You cannot receive Him as your Saviour only, and later decide to accept or refuse Him as your Lord; for the Saviour is the Lord who by His death has [bought] us and therefore owns us. Sanctification is nowhere taught or offered in the New Testament as some additional experience possible to the believer. It is represented rather as something which is already within the believer, something which he must realise more and more and in which he must grow increasingly. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

What is Penal Substitution?


by Mike Ratliff

6 Ἔτι γὰρ Χριστὸς ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν ἔτι κατὰ καιρὸν ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ἀπέθανεν. 7 μόλις γὰρ ὑπὲρ δικαίου τις ἀποθανεῖται· ὑπὲρ γὰρ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ τάχα τις καὶ τολμᾷ ἀποθανεῖν· 8 συνίστησιν δὲ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀγάπην εἰς ἡμᾶς ὁ θεός, ὅτι ἔτι ἁμαρτωλῶν ὄντων ἡμῶν Χριστὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἀπέθανεν. 9 πολλῷ οὖν μᾶλλον δικαιωθέντες νῦν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ σωθησόμεθα δι’ αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς. 10 εἰ γὰρ ἐχθροὶ ὄντες κατηλλάγημεν τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, πολλῷ μᾶλλον καταλλαγέντες σωθησόμεθα ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτοῦ· 11 οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ καυχώμενοι ἐν τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δι’ οὗ νῦν τὴν καταλλαγὴν ἐλάβομεν. (Romans 5:6-11 NA28)

6 For while we were still weak, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die on behalf of a righteous man–though perhaps on behalf of for a good man someone would dare to die– 8 but God demonstrates his own love for us, that though we were still sinners, Christ died on our behalf. 9 Since, therefore,  having now been justified by his blood, much more will we be saved from the wrath through him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, now having been reconciled, we will be saved by his life. 11 Not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ  through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Penal Substitution is a theory of the atonement within Christian theology, especially associated with the Reformed tradition. It argues that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished in the place of sinners, thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly forgive their sins. Penal Substitution is, therefore, a specific understanding of substitutionary atonement, where the substitutionary nature of Jesus’ death is understood in the sense of a substitutionary punishment.

As I researched the doctrine of Penal Substitution for this article I was amazed at the lengths some people go to in order to obscure God’s truth through man-centered verbiage slanted away from Sacred Scripture towards human reasoning. Not one piece I read that decried Penal Substitution could attack it exegetically. In every case I read, the focus was on the barbarity of such a doctrine and how this shed a very negative light on the character of God. Before we go any further let us define what Penal Substitution is.

Continue reading

The Article on Which the Church Stands or Falls


As we have stood firm against those who are demanding that we compromise and say nothing about the History Channel’s Mishandling of the Bible in it’s miniseries, I have been somewhat surprised about one thing, but not about another. The volume of the outcry against this stance surprised me, but the incredible theological shallowness of those doing the attacking against our stance did not. It was very similar to the volume and type of attack that I went through when I reblogged a post from a friend about some false teaching being promoted by Beth Moore a few years ago. The outcry was intense and large, but the depth of theological knowledge and reason within those doing the attacking was sparse indeed. It was all based within fleshly outrage that is evident within those whose idol has been toppled over. Now, with that in in focus I had intended to repost my study Judge Not!, which I wrote about 7 years ago. However, that is a 16 part Bible study which I had intended to publish back in the day, but a friend in the Christian marketing/publishing industry suggested that I simply post it and let as many people read it as possible. He posted it on his web site and several others have as well. I wanted so much to suggest to those accusing of us of judging falsely to go read that post, but I doubt if they were really listening.

Instead of focusing on that study I would like to continue with pursuing what is theologically correct and what we must hold fast to and never compromise even unto death. As I contemplated this today I received an email from Ligonier Ministries about their current No Compromise: 2013 National Conference. The message below is from R.C. Sproul.  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

Our Redemption in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

21 Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ πεφανέρωται μαρτυρουμένη ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν, 22 δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολή, 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 3:21-26 NA27)

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being attested to by the Law and the Prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all those who believe for there is no distinction. 23 For all sinned and come short of the glory of God. 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed as a propitiations through faith in his blood for a display of his righteousness because of the passing by of the previous sins 26 because of the forbearance of God for the display of his righteousness in the present time for him to be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

I listened to part of President Obama’s 2nd Inaugural speech and I want to reiterate to all of you reading this with discernment that we should not be surprised when leaders who are not Christians do and say unchristian things. I wrote about this over a year ago in a post I called Evil Personified.  We live in an evil world in a dark time in which the visible church has become dominated by those attempting to redefine the Gospel to make it more palatable to the post-modernism while at the same time blatantly ignoring what God’s Word clearly teaches about what is evil and what he judges and what genuine Christians are really to be about. On the other hand, God has always kept a remnant within the visible church, which is the True Church, and it has remained faithful. This post and what we are teaching here is meant for those Christians. In fact, I suggest that what we are about to study will “offend” many of those who call themselves Christians, but who are really just attempting to be religious while sanctifying what they do in the flesh.  Continue reading

Brought Near by the Blood of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

11 Διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ποτὲ ὑμεῖς τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί, οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου, 12 ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. 13 νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 14 Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ, 15 τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην 16 καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ, ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ. (Ephesians 2:11-16 NA27)

11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, the ones being called “Uncircumcision” by the ones being called “Circumcision,” done in the flesh by hand– 12 that you were at that time without Christ, having been alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers of the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you, the ones once being far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  14 For he, the one having made the two one and having broken in his flesh the partition of the middle wall of hostility is our peace. 15 In so doing he annulled the law of the commandments in ordinances that he might create the two in himself into one new man, making peace, 16 and might reconcile the two in one body to God through the cross having killed the hostility by it. (Ephesians 2:11-16 a personal translation of the NA27 Greek text)

We have been looking at our Justification, which is of course, by grace alone through faith alone apart from works. This truth cannot be challenged by anyone who is devoted to Sola Scriptura and abides to true exegetical standards of Biblical exposition. There are, of course, those who want to add things to this such as “Church Tradition” and “works” et cetera. When I have had face-offs with some of these people they cannot hold their ground unless they first can try to dilute Sola Scriptura in some way. However, I digress. Many others and I have become convinced that the visible church in the West has come under the judgment of God. That is why truth is watered down within and rare. That is why God has taken away solid leadership within it. Look what happened with the Louie Giglio fiasco with President Obama’s Inaugural. I am old enough to remember when the leaders in the Church in this country would never have considered even being a part of such an evil event, but when Giglio was disinvited because he had once preached a Biblically true sermon about how homosexuality is a sin and God is calling all sinners to repentance, what did he do? He gave a half-hearted “apology” and crept away with his tail between his legs. Where was the spirit-filled righteous indignation over such an evil event that is celebrating such a thing as homosexuality as being a celebrated civil right from within the leadership of the visible church?  Continue reading

God’s Righteousness Through Faith


by Mike Ratliff

21 Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ πεφανέρωται μαρτυρουμένη ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν, 22 δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολή, 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 3:21-26 NA27)

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being attested to by the Law and the Prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all those who believe for there is no distinction. 23 For all sinned and come short of the glory of God. 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed as a propitiations through faith in his blood for a display of his righteousness because of the passing by of the previous sins 26 because of the forbearance of God for the display of his righteousness in the present time for him to be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

Those who trained me in Biblical exegesis made sure to emphasize those “changes in the flow” of the text that is meant to summarize previous points or to go to new point based upon a previous argument with a solid “therefore” for instance. In this case Paul begins Romans 3:21 with “Νυνὶ δὲ”, which could be translated as “in fact,” but here we are using “But now” because Paul is making a change in the flow of his arguments. In the previous verses of Chapter 4 he refers to God’s righteous judgment and justice being rightly deserved because “All have sinned…” and how the Law cannot justify anyone, but through it can only come the knowledge of sin. Here Paul begins his proclamation of the Good News that there is justification available to believers apart from Law, but there is only one way and it is completely apart from works.  Continue reading

God’s Purpose for the Church Part 4


by Mike Ratliff

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints and believers in Christ Jesus who are in Ephesus.  2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and  our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

What I am about to say is indicative of the doctrinally confused times in which we now live. I have written posts that teach nothing more than the doctrine of Justification by faith and have received criticism from more commenters than I care to count and several confused questions concerning not our Justification, but our Sanctification. Here are two examples. One was from a Roman Catholic priest who wanted me to stop teaching people about the sufficiency of God’s Grace at our Justification because, according to the traditions and teachings of the RCC, that grace is not sufficient and with each sin, Christians must attend Mass and confession, et cetera and even then that did not entirely pay the entire penalty for that sin in the eyes of God and so Purgatory awaits all true believers. Sigh… The other example was a very short angry comment that contained a link. The comment stated, “Calvin, John MacArthur, James White, John Piper are wrong” then there was link to a post on another site that was a very confused teaching about the fact that no one can enter into the presence of God carrying any sin so even though each believer is “saved” when they believe, it is conditional on their walking in repentance and keeping the law, et cetera. Those who are not able to reach this level of perfection lose their salvation. Sigh… My brethren, We are sinners and our salvation is a miracle because not one of us do one thing to deserve or earn.  Continue reading

Only One Gospel Part 6


by Mike Ratliff

21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

This morning, as I worshiped at our church, we had what some call “The Lord’s Supper” and others “Communion.” No matter which name is used, I rejoiced as I took the bread and the cup and meditated on what my Lord Jesus went through to become my propitiation, to become separate from God the Father, one who knew no sin to be sin on behalf of those he came to save so that they might become the righteousness of God in him. The reason the joy was so intense for those who “get” the magnitude of this is that they also know that not one of those could ever have become reconciled to God the Father by any action or deed or by attempting to keep the Law. No, there was no other way other than a sinless sacrifice paying their penalty for them and that is exactly what our Lord Jesus did. Continue reading

Only One Gospel Part 5


by Mike Ratliff

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 NASB)

Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone is a core or central doctrine to true or Orthodox Christianity. This justification is God’s declaration (as we he did with Abraham) of righteousness based upon believers believing and obeying God by turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour as they receive the Spirit as they hear the proclamation of the gospel. Now, compare what I just summarized there with what goes on in most “culturally relevant churches” in our time. You know, those churches that are focused on following the person on the stage, but in fact, it is really about self-glorification. That is why people go to those “churches.” They go to hear how good of a person they really are and what the “secret” is of unlocking their potential so that God will give them everything they could ever want because, hey, they are worth it! Sigh, sorry, but that is not even close to being biblical Christianity. It’s some other religion. Continue reading

Only One Gospel Part 4


by Mike Ratliff

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. (Romans 6:1-9 NASB)

The Christians with whom I have the most “disagreement” are those who are confused about our Justification and Sanctification. I have noticed that most of the articles and videos online that claim to prove R.C. Sproul, Dr. James White or John MacArthur wrong and that their gospel is not biblical while those producing those articles and videos have the real gospel are all of the same bent. They are all infected with the same lack of faith that the Judiazers had in the sufficiency of saving grace made available through the Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. They all, like the Roman Catholics and the Judiazers Paul was dealing with in his epistle to the Galatians insisted that, yes, we are saved by grace through faith, but there has to be something added to it called works. Continue reading

Glory Only in the Cross


by Mike Ratliff

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB)

Martin Luther is considered the “Lighting rod of the Protestant Reformation.” It was through his battle with the Roman Catholic Church that the doctrine of salvation through Justification by Grace through Faith alone was recovered and from that, many Christian martyrs went to their deaths refusing to compromise their faith by denying the truth of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified based not upon the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. So much of the pressure being brought to bear upon Christians in our time is to not be so precise in our theology, but be more willing to “compromise” along doctrinal grounds for the sake of “unity.” The “mega-church” model is based precisely upon never offending anyone, but being non-threatening and willing to be all things to all people in order to attract everyone, but to what? Continue reading