Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction


by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 NASB)

The Lord’s Day approaches. While many will go to church in a few days and hear expository preaching and worship God in spirit and truth, many more will hear sermons that the preacher bought from Sermons.Com or some other source. While I understand the pressures these men are under trying to be “successful” in growing their churches, I contend that those doing this are serving an idol rather than the Living God.

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The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith


by Mike Ratliff

2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:2-11 NASB)

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. What is the aim of the charge of a true discipler? It is to produce the good fruit of of love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. That is the good fruit of genuine prophet of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, our Lord Himself told us in His Sermon on the Mount how to discern whether a prophet was false or not.

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20 NASB)
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Slaves and shame


by Mike Ratliff

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:31-38 NASB)

One of the major weapons of our enemy is attacks centered on provoking our pride, to incite us to be deeply concerned about what others think of us in relation to our profession of faith and how we walk the narrow path set before us by God. Our Lord warned us that this sort of attack would be coming our way and it causes professing Christians to lose their boldness as they actually seek to preserve “their life” for their own sake. When we are more concerned with our image and standing before men rather than for Christ and His gospel then we compromise because we have set our minds on the things of man rather than then things of God. Continue reading

Christ is both God and man


 

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NASB)

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)

If we listen to some today it is as if the Incarnation of Christ was to show Man how to live in such a way that there would be no war, no hunger, no sickness and that the Earth be recovered back to the pristine state of Creation. Was this His mission? If you go to any secular book store either such as Barnes and Noble or even Amazon.com and browse the religious/theology section you will find a large number of books that attempt to blend Jesus Christ into all religions or even non-religious causes. I found one recently that was a supposed list of the parallel sayings of Buddha with those of Christ.  Continue reading

Being humble in all circumstances


by Mike Ratliff

12 οἶδα καὶ ταπεινοῦσθαι, οἶδα καὶ περισσεύειν· ἐν παντὶ καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν μεμύημαι, καὶ χορτάζεσθαι καὶ πεινᾶν καὶ περισσεύειν καὶ ὑστερεῖσθαι· 13 πάντα ἰσχύω ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με. (Philippians 4:12-13 NA28)

12 I know both how to be humbled and how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to have lack. 13 I can do all things in the one empowering me. (Philippians 4:12,13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The enemy of our souls, Satan, does not attack believers in such a way that we should recognize him as being who he is. Instead, he comes disguised as the voice behind the theologian from the best seminary who may be the leader with a huge church empire and also be the author of many best-selling books. How does he attack what we call the Orthodox Christian faith? You know, the preaching of the gospel, the weekly opening of the Word of God, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, et cetera. He attacks that by putting people in place that both insist on and those who promise to deliver “more.” You know, taking emphasis away from all that stuff above and giving people “what they really want!” Sometimes the leaders doing this think this is what the people really want, but it is not. That is when the sheep go to their pastors and ask to be fed rather than be entertained. What happens most of the time nowadays when that takes place?  Continue reading

Christians are quickened together with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (Colossians 2:8-15 NASB)

The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from own Savior to deny self, forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slide right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.

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The Doctrine of Original Sin


by Mike Ratliff

16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB)

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  (Genesis 3:1-6 NASB)

19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 NASB)

The doctrine of original sin is a vital part of genuine Christian orthodoxy. For a long time I didn’t really appreciate how important it is in our concept of the depths of our guilt before our sovereign and thrice Holy God. However, as I have become involved in ‘discussions’ with those who reject this doctrine, God has revealed to me, through my studying his Word in order to answer certain ‘arguments,’ that when this doctrine is not part of one’s theology then their concept of their salvation is more self-centered and, in some cases, is understood that one is a Christian based solely on religious acts they have done. Let’s look again at the Apostle Paul’s thesis on our salvation, which none of us deserve. Continue reading

The authority of Jesus Christ the Son of God


by Mike Ratliff

25 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν ὅτε οἱ νεκροὶ ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀκούσαντες ζήσουσιν. (John 5:25 NA28)

25 Amen, amen I say to you that an hour is coming an now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those having heard will live. (John 5:25 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The misunderstanding or false teaching about two truths pertaining to our Lord Jesus Christ and man are at the center of much of the false teaching that passes for “Christian theology.” It has always been so. The first truth refers to the deity of Christ and His sovereign authority as Lord and God. The second truth pertains to the original sin of Adam and fact that all people are born dead in trespasses and sins, no exceptions. That spiritual death is without any ability to please God in any way. If we get either of these truths wrong then we will get the Gospel wrong and that means all our theology is wrong as well.  Continue reading

Your faith must not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God


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

What is Self-Righteousness?


by Mike Ratliff

17 Because you say, “ I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, (Revelation 3:17 NASB)

Self-Righteousness: the attempt to meet God’s standards based upon one’s own merits.

A thorough study of our Lord’s earthly ministry reveals with certainty the following truth. Our Lord was merciful in every instance to those who were broken, humbled, and spiritually helpless before Him. On the other hand, the proud, the self-righteous, and the self-sufficient He rebuked and shunned, which is thematically summarized for us by James our Lord’s brother in his epistle.  Continue reading

What is the difference between Justification and Sanctification?


by Mike Ratliff

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 NASB)

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 NASB)

justify
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): jus·ti·fied; jus·ti·fy·ing
Etymology: Middle English justifien, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French justifier, from Late Latin justificare, from Latin justus
Date: 14th century
transitive verb
1 a: to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable b (1): to show to have had a sufficient legal reason (2): to qualify (oneself) as a surety by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. 29 May 2008

sanctify
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): sanc·ti·fied; sanc·ti·fy·ing
Etymology: Middle English seintefien, sanctifien, from Anglo-French seintefier, sanctifier, from Late Latin sanctificare, from Latin sanctus sacred — more at saint
Date:14th century
1: to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use :consecrate
2: to free from sin :purify
3 a: to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to b: to give moral or social sanction to
4: to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12(Douay Version)>
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. 29 May 2008

The theological climate in the “visible church” today  has taken on the characteristics of a free-for-all. Most professing believers’ Bible knowledge is extremely shallow. On top of that we are also in a period of intellectual barbarianism which is marked by relativism. This causes the truth to be perceived as unknowable. Those holding this form of thinking refuse to believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. In this intellectual climate it is little wonder that false prophets and false teachers can lead so many astray simply by saying what people want to hear.  Continue reading

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren


by Mike Ratliff

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. (James 1:16-18 NASB)

The test of true faith is that which is revealed in how one lives and walks through this life. Right belief, that is, a faith that lives in a regenerate heart born from above, is exhibited in right living as James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ wrote in the passage above. Notice also that he began that passage in v16 with, “Do not be deceived,” or Μὴ πλανᾶσθε from the Greek. This literally says, “not be deceived.” The verb πλανᾶσθε here is the present imperative active form of the Greek verb πλανάω which means “to lead astray, deceive.” So, in the form used here, James and the Holy Spirit is commanding and warning believers to actively work to not be lead to believe the lie that which is the opposite of the truth that he is about to share concerning the nature of how true Christian faith produces a true Christian walk. The good gift of faith comes from God and all the gifts that follow concerning this Christian walk do as well. This is God’s plan for His people that they should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Continue reading