by Mike Ratliff
1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.
3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4 Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
(Psalms 123:1-4 ESV)
The vast majority of people on planet Earth want nothing to do with the real Jesus. Many love and hold dear “another Jesus,” but he is one made up by people who don’t know the one who is real. Also their Jesus is “different” because they do not particularly like the one who is revealed to mankind in God’s Word. Tragically, the numbers of professing Christians are growing continually who are also following “another Jesus” who does not resemble in the least the one found in Sacred Scripture. Those who hold dear the real Jesus are those who are entirely reliant upon the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly there are immature Christians who whose faith is not strong. However, there are also huge numbers of “religious” Christians who live as if their “decision for Christ” many years ago is their fire insurance. Some of these are quite religious while others are simply calling themselves Christian as if it is some sort of family trait, these being “cultural Christians.” Those who are completely reliant upon God, whose focus is His glory in all things are those who know the real Jesus and are known by Him. These are the believers whose eyes look to the Lord their God. They look unto God because this brings them knowledge of His countenance. Christians know God by interacting with Him in prayer, Bible Study, obedience and repentance and, of course, by partaking of the means of grace. They are able to do these things with Him as they look unto Him, fully trusting Him to work out the details for His glory. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25 ESV)
Liberty – ἐλευθερία – eleutheria – freedom, generosity, independence. Freedom is presented as a distinctive blessing of the economy of grace which, in contrast with the OT economy, is represented as including independence from legal restrictions and rules of life (1 Corinthians 10:29; Galatians 2:4; 5:1, 13). In contrast to the present subjection of the creature to the bondage of corruption, freedom represents the future state of the children of God (Romans 8:21; see also vv. 20, 23). The perfect law of freedom (referred to in James 1:25 [above]) is the freedom of generosity, seen exclusively in James 2:12, 13, when the Judge shows his generosity in proportion to the mercifulness of the believers on earth.
Slavery or bondage – δουλεία – douleia – servitude, dependence; the state of a δοῦλος or doulos, a slave. That state of man in which he is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life; a state opposed to liberty. In NT used only figuratively (Romans 8:15, 21; Galatians 4:24; 5:1; Hebrews 2:15).
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 ESV)
Galatians 5:1 is often used by some to teach a version of Christian liberty that is not biblical. There are some who teach that this liberty, which is for all genuine Christians, is a freedom to ignore God’s moral Law. This is a form of antinomianism. Those who teach this are giving license to believers to sin. This is not what Paul and James were talking about when they spoke of freedom in Christ and the law of liberty. Continue reading
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
by Mike Ratliff
15 Διὰ τοῦτο κἀγὼ ἀκούσας τὴν καθʼ ὑμᾶς πίστιν ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους 16 οὐ παύομαι εὐχαριστῶν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν μνείαν ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, 17 ἵνα ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης, δώῃ ὑμῖν πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ, (Ephesians 1:15-17 NA28)
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, (Ephesians 1:15-17 ESV)
Post-modernism has as one of its tenets “relativism” that, of course, leads to ambiguity not revelation nor precision in our understanding of the truth. In fact, I have been rebuked more times than I can count by those who hold to that false religion called the “Emergent Church” that I was full of pride and not humble because I declared that I knew truth revealed to us by God in His Word as absolute truth, authoritative and without error. The liberal insists that to be humble we must declare that we do not know the truth nor are able to know God or understand His Word. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! — 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)
The writers of the New Testament had no concept of a Christian whom many today would call a “Carnal Christian.” All believers still sin in this life and there will be times when they struggle with certain sins as if in a deadly battle, which they perceive as one they are losing. However, God will not leave His children this way. There will be no peace in the heart of a genuine Christian who is actively indulging his or her flesh. Instead, there will be heartache, self-loathing, and a deep desire to get the victory and draw closer to the Saviour much as David did when finally confronted about his horrible sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. There is no true peace in the heart of Christian who is hiding his or her sin. Those around them may not know what is going on, but God does and so do those hiding their sin. It is not a spiritually healthy situation.
by Mike Ratliff
12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12 ESV)
Just a few days ago I posted “Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other?” In that post I mentioned a link sent to me by a friend to a post on another blog called The Emergent Village. On that blog I could not help noticing a link to another post by another writer there titled “The Bible is NOT the WORD OF GOD: a polemic against Christendom“. What that fellow had to say is the centerpiece of “Christian Liberalism.” Denying The Bible as the Word of God, a gift from God to His people is the first step into apostasy. Once that step is taken all other truths are no longer held as absolute.
Without that God-given anchor into His absolute truth all else is up for grabs. Those like the fellow who wrote that article and those who agree with him are those who also have a problem with what Orthodox Christianity holds as the gospel, the sovereignty of God, election, the exclusivity of genuine discipleship, et cetera. Because of this “liberalism” they also force a man-centered perspective on God’s Word in one form or another. These same people lean towards a form of Christianity that is almost all experiential. Since their view of how the gospel works and how God works with Man is wrongly focused and the Word of God contains clear teachings about the sovereignty of God, these people conceive of their entire “Christian” paradigm from a philosophical and existential base rather than on the authority of Sacred Scripture. They have to do this since they deny that what we call Sacred Scripture has any authority.
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?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV)
Today I was sent this link. It brought back a lot of memories of some very serious battles from about 5 to 6 years ago between many of us at CRN and those who proclaimed allegiance to “The Emergent Village.” The fight got ugly at times, but from it it became more and more apparent that the Emergent or Emergence movement was just another form of the “Liberal Christianity” that Charles Spurgeon faced during the Great Downgrade Controversy in his time and what J. Gresham Machen stood against in his ministry and wrote of in his fine book Christianity and Liberalism. In that book Machen proved that what was called progressive or Liberal Christianity was a different religion from genuine or Orthodox Christianity. It was a good thing that my friend sent me that link and it was also a good thing that I read what was going on there and thought back on those days and those fights. Why? It is imperative to know the enemy and how he works. To have an enemy implies that there is a conflict of some kind. Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other?
by Mike Ratliff
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (John 6:28 ESV)
Genuine Christians will be very interested in getting the answer to the question posed to Jesus from John 6:28. If a professing Christian is not interested in that answer then there’s a problem. On the other hand, there are many professing Christians who have answered that question without reading Jesus’ response to it. Instead, they have jumped head foremost into “religous” work that they believe pleases God and is earning them bonus points in eternity. Their “works” may look good to most people, but are they what Jesus tells us are the genuine works of God? Let’s look at this passage in context. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 ESV)
God is Holy. God is Righteous. God is Just. God is Sovereign. Yehōwāh (יהוה) our Adhōnāy (אדן אדון), God our sovereign one, our Lord, our Kύριος or Kyrios, is also Love, Mercy, and Grace. We must not have a view of God that emphasizes His love, mercy, or grace over His Holiness. We are commanded to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phlippians 2:12). We are commaded to delight in God and come boldly to His throne of Grace, yet we must never take His Holiness for granted. This is why we have so much exhortation in Bible to put to death the deeds of the flesh and then become Spirit-filled thereby walking in repentance.
by Mike Ratliff
4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4 ESV)
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 ESV)
11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11 ESV)
37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:37-38 ESV)
The real author of Sacred Scripture is the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God frequently repeats Himself, He thereby appeals for special attention. Look closely at Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:37-38. Since the right doctrine comes from the Holy Spirit and He has declared that the righteous shall live by faith so often we must discern that this is doctrine and it is of highest importance. Also, these truths, this doctrine, must be preached and taught to believers as much as possible. Since all genuine believers have the Holy Spirit they should unhesitatingly receive this doctrine by their regenerated faith.
by Mike Ratliff
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17 ESV)
The Great Down Grade Controversy in the late 19th Century was between Charles Spurgeon and a few orthodox ministers who stood against the trend towards modernism that was sweeping through England in the last years of his ministry. That conflict had many similarities with the battle we are in the midst of right now with the movement into “relevance” and “the new evangelism.” Just as in Spurgeon’s day, there seems to be only a remnant that is standing against this onslaught against the truth for the sake of being man pleasers.
by Mike Ratliff
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:12-16 ESV)
Humility is a not easy to get our minds around. The problem is that pride sometimes masquerades as humility. We naturally act humble from a motivation of pride. It is insidious. Also, most of us have a wrong idea what genuine humility is. Is a person who is self-deprecating humble? What about the person who boldly shares his or her faith with confidence? Our fleshly minds see the former as humble and the latter as prideful, when that is more than likely not the case. If the person full of boldness and confidence is emboldened by the Holy Spirit and their confidence is in our Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit in and through them, then they are actually exhibiting Christlike humility. On the other hand, the one who is constantly tearing themselves down before others could be doing so from a motivation of false humility that is actually pride. The ones who are ready to serve the Lord and do so with enthusiasm and boldness are genuinely humble if their confidence is in God, not their own abilities. On the other hand, those who are always telling others that they can’t serve because they aren’t able are actually responding from their pride. They don’t want to look bad if they fail. They have no faith in God working through them. Do you see how insidious this is? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:22-27 ESV)
We are exhorted throughout God’s Word to persevere even in the most rugged of circumstances. We are given a promise of what awaits those who do persevere, the adoption as “sons” and redemption of our bodies, which is positional for all truly in Christ. Yet, we look forward to these and other promises with eyes of faith. This temporal part of our life as Christians can be quite a battle with the flesh to the point of crying out like the Apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:7-25) Weakness in this battle is directly attributable to a lack of praying as we should, while, conversely, victory in this battle is directly attributable to proper praying in the spirit, that is, in harmony with the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than according to one’s own agenda. There are many “church” things out there that are not good for us. These “church” things are the product of those scoffers who have entered the Church to divide it. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
8 ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διʼ 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 νεκρῶ. (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 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The Visible Church in our time has continued with what Charles Spurgeon referred to as The Great Downgrade. That was, of course, the move to liberalize the doctrines of the Church so as to make the individual churches become more “user friendly” to people, that is, to not be so offensive by being so forceful with moral stands against “certain sins” while, at the same time, giving up adherence to long held statements of faith such as the Five Solas of the Reformation: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory). Continue reading