Oh, if only we could recognize how poor and filthy we are in God’s sight!

by Mike Ratliff

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” (Zechariah 3:1-4 ESV)

The neo-evangelists in our day push their evangelical emphasis to the forefront where it has become the golden calf in their churches. Instead of obeying our Lord to make disciples they seek to multiply their numbers through easy believism. They use shame tactics to get their flocks to bring their friends and relatives to church so they can hear that Jesus wants to come into their lives so they can live abundantly here and now.

It is a golden calf because it is the primary focus at the cost of discipleship. Being an idol, it cannot deliver on its promises though. Whereas, we learn in the Bible that those who abide in Christ and His word and obey Him in all things will have an abundant life. This abundant life is spiritual not material. It is the byproduct of becoming more and more Christlike as God molds and shapes His people as they surrender to the Lordship of Christ more and more in every part of their lives. On the other hand, the golden calf’s version of the Gospel is incomplete and skewed towards “decisions for Christ” instead of giving people the good news that even though they are filthy in God’s sight because of their sin, there is peace available between God and men through the Son who paid the price for their sin.

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I have not come to bring peace, but a sword

by Mike Ratliff

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 ESV)

The character and the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ is not well understood by the majority of people on planet Earth. In fact, many professing “Christians” have an image of Him in their understanding that is based upon fleshly reasoning. This “other” Jesus is not Biblical for the most part. They have given their Jesus a whole new set of values and traits that conflict sharply with the Jesus presented in the Gospels in His own words. In fact, many of their attributes of “their Jesus” come directly from how he is portrayed in pop culture.  Continue reading

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

by Mike Ratliff

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. (John 18:33-38 ESV)

In the passage I placed a the top of this post, we see where Jesus, as He was being questioned by Pilate, made the statement that He came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Then He made the following statement, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Of course Pilate made the following sarcastic response, “What is truth?Continue reading

The Primary Mission of the Church

by Mike Ratliff

14 Ταῦτά σοι γράφω ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐν τάχει· 15 ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας. (1 Timothy 3:14-15 NA28)

14 These things I write to you hoping to come to you quickly, 15 but if I delay, you may know how one ought to conduct oneself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and buttress of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)

As we have discussed countless times on this blog, the visible church in our time has taken on a “mission” that is different than the one assigned to it by God. Parts of it have the mission of being “user-friendly” while other parts are “purpose-driven,” and others are “seeker-sensitive.” None of that is what the Church is to be about. I had a discussion not long ago with a professing Christian who used to live in Orange County in California and while there attended Rick Warren’s church. He told me that he had read my objections to how Rick Warren and his followers handle the Gospel, but his objection to how we came to that conclusion consisted of the charge that we had overlooked the very obvious fact that Rick Warren and all those who follow him and what he does “do not believe that what they are doing is mishandling the Gospel.” I was somewhat taken aback by that statement. How could that be in any way shape or form a valid apologia to simply stated Biblical Truth? The answer, “They are sincere in what they were doing so it has to be okay.”  Continue reading

Wielding The Sword Of The Lord Correctly

by Mike Ratliff

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

In this day in which the truth is said to be unknowable, Christians must rely on the only source of pure truth we have. There is no truth that we can say is the complete truth unless we take it from God’s Word. The Bible is pure truth and it is the authority we rely on in order to have a firm foundation in this lost and dying world that is consuming itself in rebellion against God.

What can we learn from Hebrews 4:12 about this?

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What Does It Mean To Rightly Handle The Word Of Truth?

by Mike Ratliff

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:14-15 ESV)

In our post What Does It Mean to Walk In The Light, we looked at what true worship is and what is isn’t. Sadly, the prevalence of false worship and “churchianity” has taken over the “visible church” in our time. However, God has not abandoned the True Church and there are those God is calling to take up the slack left by “Christian” leaders who have left their proper calling of genuine ministry and “Rightly Handling the Word of Truth” to pursue a form of “Church” that is more of a business venture than a genuine Church. One of the lynchpins of whatever it is that God calls us to do to take up that slack is that we must be those who do indeed present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. What does it mean to “rightly handle the Word of Truth?”

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What Does It Mean To Walk In The Light

by Mike Ratliff

1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 ESV)

The Church, the True Church, has always taken the stance that God’s truth is knowable. However, in these “post-modern” times this “stance” has come under considerable attack causing many to question it’s veracity. Also, His truth is as His attributes and character. He is immutable. His truth is never changing. He is Holy. His truth is Holy, separate from the corruption of the world. His truth, the Word of God, is precise. It supernaturally divides man’s “truth” and understanding from God’s genuine truth. It is sharper than a two edged sword.

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Textual Criticism and Sola Scriptura

by Mike Ratliff

12 ζων γαρ ο λογος του θεου και ενεργης και τομωτερος υπερ πασαν μαχαιραν διστομον και διικνουμενος αχρι μερισμου ψυχης τε και πνευματος αρμων τε και μυελων και κριτικος ενθυμησεων και εννοιων καρδιας 13 και ουκ εστιν κτισις αφανης ενωπιον αυτου παντα δε γυμνα και τετραχηλισμενα τοις οφθαλμοις αυτου προς ον ημιν ο λογος. (Hebrews 4:12-13 Textus Receptus)

12 Ζῶν γὰρ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐνεργὴς καὶ τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον καὶ διϊκνούμενος ἄχρι μερισμοῦ ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος, ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν, καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας· 13 καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν κτίσις ἀφανὴς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, πάντα δὲ γυμνὰ καὶ τετραχηλισμένα τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ, πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος. (Hebrews 4:12-13 NA28)

12 For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than every doubled-edged sword and penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and insights of the heart. 13 And there is not a creature hidden from before Him, but all things are bare and having been exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13 translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV) 

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight:but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13 KJV)

I suppose it is because I am a political conservative and a Christian that I am exposed (by email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other discussion media such as blogs and websites that my friends want me to see) at times to some very distressful and destructive behavior by adults who should really know better. Oh, I am not blaming my friends because what they are showing me are things that are disturbing to them as well. What causes me such grief in these things is what some of these people do and say in the name of Christ and claim they are attacking a fellow brother in Christ as if he is the seed of Satan to do service to God Himself. If they really thought that through I think it would expose their hypocrisy even to their hard hearts, but since they are spiritually blind, I doubt it. You see, we cannot do the work of our Lord using the tools of our enemy. Lying, stealing, killing, innuendo, slander, intimidation… you get the idea. Did Jesus ever do any of those things? Did he ever condone us doing any of those things? Continue reading

The Cost and Benefits of Obediently Standing in the Gap

by Mike Ratliff

I was involved in a discussion the other day with someone who claimed that it was impossible for a person to be both a Baptist and Reformed in their Theology. I got involved because I saw no sense to what he was saying in the discussion group. When I assured him that I was a Baptist, but not Dispensational he said that was a contradiction in terms. It was then that I went after his presuppositions. His presuppositions was that only those in the Covenant and given a mark of that Covenant, which was reference to their infant baptism, and no one else could be a member of the New Covenant. I then challenged his understanding of believer’s baptism throughout the book of Acts of Jewish and Gentile believers. He then said they were believers not disciples. His theology stated that a person could be a disciple and not be a genuine believer. I disagreed saying that a genuine disciple was a genuine believer while all false disciples were also false believers. This is where we came to the crux of the disagreement. I went to the Greek in The Great Commission and our Lord’s statement about the true cost of Discipleship in Luke 14:25-33. It was then that he claimed that using the Greek meant nothing and I then accused him of playing word games insisting that just because of false disciples such as Judas meant that the term “disciple” was nearly meaningless. That ended the discussion. I doubt if there will be another.

However, we do know that believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading

What is the Spirit of the Antichrist?

by Mike Ratliff

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:15-19, ESV)

If you are at all familiar with Eschatology and the many different views on the end times then you have undoubtedly read or heard of a man who is referred to as the antichrist. However, you may be surprised to learn that the word “antichrist” is found in the Bible only in John’s epistles of 1st John and 2nd John. The study of this person or persons is not the intent of this article. I have no doubt that in God’s timing the final Antichrist will be revealed, but for now I would like to look at the attributes that we should understand are of the spirit of the antichrist.

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Feet Firmly Planted in Midair

Most students entering college today believe that truth is relative, that what is true for you may not be true for me. In this message from the No Compromise: 2013 National Conference, Dr. Steven Lawson looks at the influence relativism has had on our culture and explores the consequences. He will explain the absurd and self-defeating nature of relativism and remind us of God’s call to stand for the unchanging absolute truth of His Word.

Feet Firmly Planted in Midair


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

The Pillar and Support of the Truth

by Mike Ratliff

14 Ταῦτά σοι γράφω ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐν τάχει· 15 ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας. (1 Timothy 3:14-15 NA27)

14 These I write to you hoping to come to you quickly; 15 but if I delay, that you may know how one ought to conduct oneself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

When Paul wrote his first epistle to Timothy that we call “1 Timothy,” Timothy was the pastor of the Ephesian church. Ephesus was home to the pagan temple to the goddess Diana or Artemis, which is considered on of the seven wonders of the ancient world. One of its features was it pillars. It contained 127 pillars, every one of them the gift of a king. All were made of marble and some were studded with jewels and overlaid with gold. Not only did each pillar (στῦλος) act as a tribute to the king who donated it, all of them together, obviously, had the function of holding up the immense structure of the roof. Therefore, Timothy and his flock at Ephesus would have certainly grasped Paul’s analogy. What exactly was he telling the church about its true mission? Continue reading

Truth and Doctrine

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 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 3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Last week, on December 20th, as I was preparing to leave for Oklahoma to visit family over the weekend, I received an “odd” comment on my post Evil Personified.  I approved it, but made no reply as I pondered what that person was trying to say. Then I received an email from that very same person later asking me to remove that comment. Here is part of that email:

 …if you can, please remove my comments – i don’t want to get involved – was involved in another site and they mentioned reformed theology as you do.  i agree with the article you wrote but i have not studied anything other than HIS word and HIS teaching – i have never studied doctrine – please, no hard feelings –  HIS word has kept me and sustained me.  i took HIM at His word that He would be my Teacher and He has fulfilled that promise.  i still agree with the article…

Here was the basis of my reply:

…I’ll remove your comment, but you must understand that Reformed Theology and what our Lord taught are the very same thing. It is the exegesis of his word that is basis for Reformed Theology and it is Doctrine that is what the Apostles and Prophets taught us the is the foundation of the Church with Christ being the Chief Cornerstone holding that foundation together. You cannot say you believe his word and be a fence sitter when it comes to Doctrine….

That person replied:

…thank you for removing my blog –  i am not a fence sitter, mike – i am a true believer who takes HIS word for what it says –  we could argue what the early church taught – i am interested in what Yeshua taught and i take it just as HE states it.  there is no go between in what i have been taught.  i know it is pure and that it is TRUTH –  why put doctrine into the mix?…

There were a few more “back and forth” comments, but I could not get this person to understand that truth and the doctrines given to us by the Lord and his apostles are one and the same. Continue reading