Enter through the narrow gate


by Mike Ratliff

13 Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι διʼ αὐτῆς· 14 τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. (Matthew 7:13-14 NA28)

13 “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are the ones entering through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and constricted the road leading to life and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

It has been said that no prophet preached about Hell as much as our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also true that His preaching would be considered “divisive” and “offensive” in today’s politically correct culture. However, I seriously doubt that if preaching the truth or hurting someone’s feelings or offending someone’s “sensibilities” were the issue with our Lord it would make any difference. He would not hesitate to preach the truth because in God’s truth is life. In man-made truth is only death. Consider the passage at the top of this post. The lie that has taken over our society is that it is a sin to be narrow-minded. We must be as broad and as accepting as possible. We must be all-inclusive in all things to the point of madness. From this our enemy has sown the lies such as “There are many roads to heaven,” and since God is a good God He must also me a “fair God” so “eventually everyone will be saved.” The problems with this are that this “god” is a creation of these people’s wishful thinking not The God, our God, the Creator of all things. Also, in His Word, our Lord Jesus taught exactly the opposite of this as the passage above clearly says.

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Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven


by Mike Ratliff

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:7-8 ESV)

The Church, the genuine Church that is, is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our Holy, Righteous, and Just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some. Continue reading

Dominion Theology and the true mission of the Church


by Mike Ratliff

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 ESV)

The point of this piece is to show that the genuine Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ does indeed have ethical implications and the Church is obligated to live these out in tangible ways. However, the missional people who have created their own contextualized version of this in order to appeal to post-modernism, will probably not agree with what I am about to say here about these true ethical implications of the gospel. To them it is all in the framework of cultural reform and Dominionism or Dominion Theology with an emphasis on justice and fairness. Are these the true makeup of the call of the church as it lives this out as it should?  Continue reading

What does it take for men to see the Kingdom of God?


by Mike Ratliff

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (John 3:3 NA28)

Jesus answered and said to Him, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless one is born again, he is not able to see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What causes corruption of the Gospel message? An exegetical study of John’s account of our Lord’s contention with the Jewish religious leaders during His earthly ministry reveals that Jesus came to Israel to reveal the Father to Israel proving that He, the Son, was deity, to live a perfect, sinless life and then lay His life down voluntarily to purchase those who were chosen before the foundation of the world with the price of His blood. His perfect sacrifice was their propitiation. We learn these things and so much more by going to the Word and learning from the Holy Spirit as He transforms our minds as we submit to it. Studies into the Word like these are sorely needed in the Body of Christ. I would hate to be a Pastor whose time has come to stand before our Lord to give an account that had sold out and ministered in a way that simply tickled itching ears.  Continue reading

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the founder of salvation


by Mike Ratliff

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10 ESV)

Adherents to any man-focused religion that call themselves Christian place the onus of salvation on the person and make God a passive entity who will not or cannot interfere with Man’s free will. This is not Biblical. It is philosophical. When we debate those who elevate free will above God and His sovereignty using Sacred Scripture their response is never in kind. That is because we are actually contending against a philosophy that is based on Man’s conceptions and understandings not on Biblical exegesis. Let us look at the founder of our salvation from the source our God gave us. Through this, He will make His truth apparent to our hearts by the working of the Holy Spirit as we study His Word. Continue reading

The Gospel Makes Men Holy


How the Gospel Makes Men Holy
By John A. Broadus

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. — Romans 7:24, 25.

The language is intensely passionate, — “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?” Then with the sudden transition of passion, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“How shall I be good?” is a question that used sometimes to rise in your mind when you were a child, sometimes when nobody would imagine you were thinking of such things as that. “How shall I get,to be good.” And it is a question which, amid all the commotion of this runaway life of ours, comes back to us very often, comes back even to people whom you would not suppose to be thinking of such things at all. The grossly wicked men, the men who are the slaves of vice, many of them, perhaps all of them, have their moments when there is a sort of longing that rises in their souls to be good, and when the hope returns, indestructible, that somehow or other they will get to be good after all. It became a sort of jest a few years ago, I know, to speak of “the wickedest man in New York,” but I wonder sometimes if the wickedest man — whoever he might happen to be, considered as God considers — does not sometimes want to be good. Continue reading

The Certainty of God’s Witness


by Mike Ratliff

1Πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν γεννήσαντα ἀγαπᾷ καὶ τὸν γεγεννημένον ἐξ αὐτοῦ. 2ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἀγαπῶμεν τὰ τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅταν τὸν θεὸν ἀγαπῶμεν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ποιῶμεν. 3αὕτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν, καὶ αἱ ἐντολαὶ αὐτοῦ βαρεῖαι οὐκ εἰσίν. 4ὅτι πᾶν τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ νικᾷ τὸν κόσμον· καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ νίκη ἡ νικήσασα τὸν κόσμον, ἡ πίστις ἡμῶν. (1 John 5:1-4 NA28)

1 All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, born of God, and all who love the Father loves the one born of him. 2 In this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and we obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For all that has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:1-4 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Satan’s worldwide system of deception and wickedness, at times, seems to be overcoming the Church not the Church overcoming it. However, through Christ and his provision of salvation, believers are victorious over the invisible system of demonic and human evil that our enemy operates to capture men’s souls for hell. Currently, the visible church seems split with divisive conflicts that those with any rational sense of reason can only attribute to demonic attacks our enemy is using to divide Christians to get them away from our primary mission, the Gospel and the Great Commission and, instead, focusing on issues that simply cause these conflicts and strife keeping us from what we should really be about. Continue reading

The New Testament Explains the Old Testament


by Mike Ratliff

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46 NASB) 
The correct way to understand Sacred Scripture is that the Old Testament contains the “old” promises of the Messiah and the fulfillment of His Kingdom while the New Testament is the “new” revelation from Jesus and His Apostles, which reveal to us how the “old” promises are fulfilled in Him. The New Testament explains the Old Testament, not the other way around.

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No Other Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed–God is witness. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-5 ESV)

The rebellion against God is alive and well…for now. This rebellion began before the fall of Man into sin (Genesis 3). It began when Lucifer attempted to overthrow God and ascend to the throne himself. Because of this, he lost his place in Heaven and became Satan. When he deceived Eve in the Garden and Adam followed her into sin, they actually became recruits in his continual war against God. All of their descendents were born into this army as children of wrath. After God interceded after the fall, He prophesied that there would be a seed of the woman who would be bruised by the serpent, but He would, in turn, crush his head. Continue 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

Who Has Eternal Life?


by Mike Ratliff

24 Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ὁ τὸν λόγον μου ἀκούων καὶ πιστεύων τῷ πέμψαντί με ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ εἰς κρίσιν οὐκ ἔρχεται, ἀλλὰ μεταβέβηκεν ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου εἰς τὴν ζωήν. (John 5:24 NA27)

24 “Amen, amen I say to you that the one who hears my Word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgment, but has been transferred out of death into life. (John 5:24 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

I was listening to a discussion today between several theologians as they contrasted the reaction the 1st Century Jews had to Jesus’ claim to deity with that of the heretics who came later. These 1st Century Jews took Jesus’ words in John 5 about his relationship to the Father as claims of deity, that is, making himself equal with God (John 5:18). Heretics who were not from the time of our Lord and were not Jews of that period were the ones who came up with Arianism, Modalism, et cetera. Each of these types of attack on doctrine of the Holy Trinity are proofs that those doing this may have indeed heard the truth (Jesus’ Word), but they have most certainly not believed the Father who sent him. If so they would most certainly not attack that wonderful doctrine that is so hard for the unregenerate to accept let alone believe. What did Jesus say about those who hear his Word and believe him who sent him? These have been granted eternal life.  Continue reading

Only One Gospel Part 1


by Mike Ratliff

4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Corinthians 11:4 NASB)

This age of spiritual darkness is so because truth is seen as relative. Without absolute truth being allowed, since it may cause the ultimate crime upon one or more persons, which is “offense,” then when those who know better insist on Doctrinal precision, preaching the Word, not editing the gospel, et cetera then everything gets turned upside down. The immoral who want minority protection for their sinful behavior claim that those who proclaim what God’s Law demands of all men, which is repentance, are causing them pain and anguish and so those proclaiming the truth become criminalized while society slides further and further into the darkness of being judged by God as he gives them over to whom they are really worshiping, themselves. In this relativistic culture the gospel has become another victim in what John MacArthur has called The Truth War. However, this battle is nothing new. Paul fought it continually in the churches he planted, especially in the region of Galatia. Continue reading

Living Water


by Mike Ratliff

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. (John 4:10 NA27)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

Those Who Have Eternal Life


by Mike Ratliff

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58 ESV) 

About 26 years ago God intervened in my life with eternal results. He called me to Himself. He regenerated me. He justified me. He sanctified me. He adopted me. He changed me forever. However, I was a baby Christian. I had only a vague concept of what God had done on my behalf. I really did not have a clear understanding of this thing we call Christianity. All I knew was that before that wonderful day I did not care too much for church. My concept of the proper Christian life was one of being religious, but that religion had to meet certain criteria. However, after God saved me, my concept changed radically. I suddenly found that I loved God and His people. I loved hearing Bible centered sermons and being in Bible study classes. I had a deep desire to know God’s will that I may obey Him in all things. However, that earlier concept of the proper Christian life was still with me. That meant that one’s religiosity was what determined one’s right standing before God. Continue reading