Heresy, Apostasy, and Discernment


by Mike Ratliff

10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11 NASB)

True Biblical discernment is crucial for the spiritual health of the Body of Christ because there has and always will be a plague of false teaching and teachers upon it until our Lord’s return. I am sure most of you have noticed the recent outrage over the increased security measures by the TSA in the USA that involve full body scans and “pat down” searches at our airports. One of the articles I read today compared what the TSA does with what is done is Israel at their airports, which is, instead of relying on “technology” based systems, passengers are interviewed by experts trained in what specifically to look for. They know their enemy and they know how to flush him or her out via their own interview process. Notice that since they have gone to this system that they have had no breakdown in their security. My point is that they know their enemy. They know their enemy’s tactics. They know this enemy’s goal. They do not waste time and resources with those who are no threat. In the Truth War that is upon us in the Church, we have many enemies trying to come in “unawares.” They try to infiltrate, appearing as “Orthodox” but their teaching is deceitful, degrading, and damnable (2 Peter 2:1). Those of us who have been gifted by God with spiritual discernment are, therefore, also given the job of flushing these people out. Part of this job is  knowing who our enemies really are. Are they apostates or are they simply holding to some heresy that doesn’t fall into the range of “deceitful, degrading, or damnable?”  Continue reading

Who are the apostates?


by Mike Ratliff

12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have not known), 14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. (Deuteronomy 13:12-15 NASB)

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. 7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, 9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. 10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’; 11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'” 12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:1-13 NASB)

It must have been about 7 or 8 years ago that I was in a discussion on this blog after I had written a piece about some of the confusing things coming from the ministry of Dr. John Piper and others. I made the comment to one of my friends that I thought that Dr. Piper needed to show the fruits of repentance for some of the things he had said and done or he would eventually be considered an apostate. Someone not in that conversation (a bottom feeder or troll??) jumped all over that statement and condemned me for calling Dr. Piper an apostate which he refused to consider because (according to him) an apostate is one who drops all pretense of Christianity and walks away from his faith. Using that reasoning those who continue to claim to be Christians even though they preach heresies such as Modalism (T.D. Jakes for instance) or deny the necessity of the Atonement and Justification by Faith alone and the reality of Hell (Rob Bell for instance) or those who insist on Christianity that is forever changing according to whatever society demands or wants (pragmatism) and insist that doctrine is not needed, but works is what God wants (Rick Warren for instance) are Christians along with the Roman Catholics, Mormans, and anyone else who claims that they are. Of course then there are those fellas (Steven Furtick, and James MacDonald for instance) who are all about erecting “cool” idolatrous worship which is really all about themselves and they sell this product to other wannabe preacherboys who want to be rich and famous like them. Do you see the common denominator in all this? Is any of what these people do about God and his glory? Is it about the edification of the Body of Christ through the genuine worship of God for his glory alone? No, it is about making money and becoming famous while fleecing the sheep who have been duped into thinking its all about the gospel. Have you noticed that these people never talk about the gospel without talking about money? Continue reading

Mortification of sin


by Mike Ratliff

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13 NASB)

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 Kurios (κύριος), 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 commanded 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 the Bible to put to death the deeds of the flesh and then become Spirit-filled thereby walking in repentance. Continue reading

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him


by Mike Ratliff

4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:4-6 NASB)

I had a Facebook “discussion” today with a fellow who claimed to have the same “theology” that I profess, but had posted an article defending the theology of Roger E. Olsen, a self-proclaimed defender of Arminianism. In his post he linked to this article. The longer the “discussion” went the more virulently this fellow defended Olsen, all those who claimed to be Christians, but were considered by me and most of you as “Liberal Christians,” and he also went on to include in there all “Open Theists.” He also threw out there how “helpful” it was for Christians to read the books by those we may not agree with to see how broad Christianity really was. As I sat down to put this post together I became convinced that I should write about the number one marker that reveals the authenticity of Christians. That is that genuine believers in our Lord Jesus Christ abide in Him and do not fall away. This falling away includes not pursuing after heretics and their false doctrines.  Continue reading

The Deity of Christ and the Sovereignty of God


by Mike Ratliff

30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA28)

30 “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I read the following paragraph from one of my devotions the other day:

Visible disunity in the church is the worst it has ever been, but we must take care not to think that God’s people were once fully and visibly united on all matters of Christian living. Christians may have the Holy Spirit, but they are not free from sin in this life, and living in community with other believers always leads to disagreements…

Please notice that I am not writing this in defense of those certain so-called “Christian leaders” who “tweet” unbiblical and misleading things such as, “Spirit-led people can emphasize interpret & things differently. See FOUR Gospels! Your opinion isn’t the only Christian one.” My brethren, yes, there are four Gospels, but they are not four different “Christian opinions” nor are they in any way doctrinally opposed. That devotional that I quoted above went on to say that genuine Christians may indeed differ on many things, but not when it comes to true doctrinal issues such as the deity of Christ, the Gospel, our Lord’s Resurrection, Salvation by Faith through Grace alone, et cetera. As always, we must keep things in context. That passage I quoted above (John 10:30) seems enigmatic to some and I am sure some heretics have abused it, therefore, let us look at John 10:22-42.  Continue reading

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness


by Mike Ratliff

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (Romans 1:18-19 NASB)

The wrath of God is something that is never part of a seeker-sensitive, emergent, or pop-culturally relevant type of church. Nor is it ever part of those who have abandoned the Word of God as being the authoritative, infallible, inerrant, and complete Word of God. In other words, any form of liberal leaning religious group that calls itself Christian, but who is on the road to apostasy also, through their unbelief, has a total misunderstanding of the Wrath of God. Lest we forget, in God’s economy, just calling oneself a Christian does not make you one. Those who say they are but really are not believers are unregenerate and are just as lost as those who openly reject the Gospel and Christ Jesus as Saviour.  Continue reading

If you love Me, you will keep my commandments


by Mike Ratliff

15 Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτέ με, τὰς ἐντολὰς τὰς ἐμὰς τηρήσετε·  (John 14:15 NA28)

15 “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments;” (John 14:15 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at John 14:15-31, which is last part of the dialogue between our Lord and His disciples in the upper room after the Passover Feast just prior to His arrest in the garden on the other side of the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem (John 18). Never forget my brethren, our Lord did not come to bring all people together. His message was one of division. That was what He said. Also, His ministry was to reveal the Father (John 1:14, 18), to bring glory to Him. In this post we will see that our Lord even further defines who it is who are truly His.  Continue reading

Christian obedience


by Mike Ratliff

1 Paul, a bond- servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 NASB)

Part of the process I go through to determine what God wants me to write about or what to study is, of course, prayer and meditation. That meditation involves searching Sacred Scripture, seeking God’s truth. Sometimes that involves going deeper where I stop and dig deeper into a certain word or truth. As many of you know, not every comment on this blog makes it through moderation. In fact, some people have violated the rules for commenting so often that they have been blocked so that all their comments are automatically put into the SPAM folder. One of the sources I use for direction in these posts is what comes from “some” of those comments. This post is an example of that. Through that I became convinced that I should deal with some issues dealing with apostasy in the visible church. In this post we will study what the New Testament has to say about “obedience.” To do that we will look at the Greek lexical definitions for the noun and verb forms of our English words “obedience” and “to obey.” From this we should come to a deeper understanding of Christians’ obligations to know and obey God’s commands.  Continue reading

Christ is our Advocate


by Mike Ratliff

1 Τεκνία μου, ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε. καὶ ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον· (1 John 2:1 NA28)

1 My little Children, these things I write to you so that you do not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. (1 John 2:1 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Perfection is not obtainable for anyone is this life. The only perfect person who ever walked this Earth was the Lord Jesus Christ and the reason He could be perfect and was perfect is that He is deity. Part of His mission was actually to perfectly keep the Law in order to be the propitiation and only acceptable sacrifice in the Father’s eyes in place of those He came to save. We see this in the following verses.

2 καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου.
3 Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν. 4 ὁ λέγων ὅτι ἔγνωκα αὐτὸν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ μὴ τηρῶν, ψεύστης ἐστὶν καὶ ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν· 5 ὃς δʼ ἂν τηρῇ αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον, ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται, ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐσμεν. 6 ὁ λέγων ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν ὀφείλει καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησεν καὶ αὐτὸς [οὕτως] περιπατεῖν. (1 John 2:2-6 NA28)

2 And He is the propitiation for our sins, not for our sins only, but also for the whole world. 3 And this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commands. 4 The one saying, “I have known Him” and he does not keep His commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected, by this we know that we are in Him. 6 The one claiming to abide in Him ought to walk as He walked. (1 John 2:2-6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)  Continue reading

If we are bearing spiritual fruit in any way, we belong to Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

1 Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε. (Galatians 5:1 NA28)

1 For this freedom, Christ freed us, therefore, stand fast, and be not held again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In Galatians 5:1 (above), the reference to the freedom for which Christ freed us refers to Paul’s arguments from Galatians 4. Never forget the purpose of this letter to the Galatian churches. They were being attacked by “Judiazers” who were attempting to get these Gentile believers to look to keeping the Jewish ceremonial law and regulations because they were saying the atonement bought for them through Christ’s blood was not sufficient for their justification. Paul’s argument is exactly the opposite. In Galatians 5:1, he makes it clear to them that Christ freed us through His atoning death especially for this freedom and those who have it must stand firm and not submit again to a yoke of legalism or slavery.  Continue reading

The intention of Christ’s incarnation


by Mike Ratliff

5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:5-10 NASB)

One of the first books I bought after I began studying theology was The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by 17th Century Puritan Dr. John Owen. The following is an excerpt from the introductory essay for this book:

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ is a polemical work, designed to show, among other things, that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive of the gospel. There are many, therefore, to whom it is not likely to be of interest. Those who see no need for doctrinal exactness and have no time for theological debates which show up divisions between so-called Evangelicals may regret its reappearance.”

As I reread Book 1, over the last couple of days, I was actually amazed at how edifying it is for the Christian to read of the propitiatory work of Christ on the Cross specifically for his or her behalf, that is, to purchase them specifically by His blood. Continue reading

What is the Gospel and what does it do?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 NASB)

1 Γνωρίζω δὲ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν, ὃ καὶ παρελάβετε, ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἑστήκατε, 2 διʼ οὗ καὶ σῴζεσθε, τίνι λόγῳ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν εἰ κατέχετε, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῇ ἐπιστεύσατε. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 NA28)

The Apostle Paul defined the gospel for us throughout his writings in the New Testament. In these dark spiritual times in which people believe their opinions and feelings are consistent with “truth” it is vital that we know God’s truth and make it known to all who will hear.  I would like to start in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. I placed vv1-2 at the top of this post. In v1 he tells us that he is going to define the Gospel (εὐαγγέλιον) as a process. In this process, the Gospel must be proclaimed (εὐηγγελισάμην) and through this some who hear it will receive it and it is their very foundation. I pray that you noticed the similarities between the two Greek words above. The word εὐαγγέλιον is Greek for “a good message” or “the good news.” The word εὐηγγελισάμην literally means “announce good news.” It is the word from which we get our English word “evangelize.” Notice also that those who hear the good news and are saved by it also stand (ἑστήκατε) within it because it is their foundation. This Greek word means “you stand” They abide in the covenant of the Gospel because it is now their foundation. Continue reading

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour


by Mike Ratliff

1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1 NASB)

According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15 the mark of Christian authenticity is abiding or remaining in Him. This is not simply a continual profession of faith, but a remaining faithful to Christ in our orthodox Christian faith. According to Paul, It is a two-fold action of departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. The Apostle John called the Christian leaders who do this antichrists. Continue reading

Genuine Christians are stewards of God’s grace


by Mike Ratliff

13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Peter 3:13-20 NASB)

Genuine Christianity cannot coexist with any other religion. God has given us the tenets of our faith and they are mutually exclusive with the claims of all other religions. There can be no peace between them and true Christianity because once compromise has taken place here then what remains is something less and no longer true. We are called to live our lives in the flesh here in the temporal, but with entirely different motives than non-Christians. The confusion about this exists because what passes for Christianity, for the most part, in our time has been compromised. The world has been welcomed in in various ways at different levels and the professing Christians within are far more concerned about their temporal existence rather than obeying God in all things for His glory.  Continue reading