It is necessary for Him to increase, but for me to decrease


by Mike Ratliff

30 ἐκεῖνον δεῖ αὐξάνειν, ἐμὲ δὲ ἐλαττοῦσθαι. (John 3:30 NA28)

30 It is necessary for him to increase, but for me to decrease.” (John 3:30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We often think that false doctrine concerning the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will begin with denials of His deity or the fall of man et cetera. Consider this my brethren. All it takes to get the gospel wrong is to make man the focus of it rather than the glory of the Father through the glorification of the Son as He lived that sinless life and through that perfect obedience became the propitiation for those He came to save. Then he deliberately laid down His life to be that perfect sacrifice on their behalf. He went to that cross so that those chosen before the foundation of the world, given to the Son by the Father, are given eternal life when they believe the Gospel in repentance turning to Christ as Lord as Saviour. At that moment, the Father imputes Christ’s perfect obedience and perfect righteousness to their account. However, during our Lord’s earthly ministry, those who followed Him as well as those who opposed Him did not see this at all. Jesus came to reveal the Father to the lost sheep of Israel, but most of them rejected the message. It was not until our Lord rose from the dead three days after dying on that Cross that He opened the minds of His disciples so that they could understand Sacred Scripture and then know the truth of His true mission and what the gospel is all about. Yes, when the gospel is handled correctly, people are saved and brought into the Kingdom, but the purpose is the glory of God. John the Baptist understood that perfectly.

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Do not love the world nor what makes up the world


by Mike Ratliff

15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· (1 John 2:15 NA28)

15 Do not love the world nor what makes up the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; (1 John 2:15 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

There is a certain type of love that God hates. We find that in 1 John 2:18-20)

18 Εἰ ὁ κόσμος ὑμᾶς μισεῖ, γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐμὲ πρῶτον ὑμῶν μεμίσηκεν. 19 εἰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἦτε, ὁ κόσμος ἂν τὸ ἴδιον ἐφίλει· ὅτι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκ ἐστέ, ἀλλʼ ἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, διὰ τοῦτο μισεῖ ὑμᾶς ὁ κόσμος. 20 μνημονεύετε τοῦ λόγου οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον ὑμῖν· οὐκ ἔστιν δοῦλος μείζων τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ. *εἰ ἐμὲ ἐδίωξαν, καὶ ὑμᾶς διώξουσιν· εἰ τὸν λόγον μου ἐτήρησαν, καὶ τὸν ὑμέτερον τηρήσουσιν. (1 John 2:18-20 NA28)

18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were from out of the world , the world would love you as its own; but because you are not from out of the world , but I myself selected you from out of the world, through this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you’ the slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecuted you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (1 John 2:18-20 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

God has no love for “love of the world system that is opposed to God.” Jesus made it clear in the passage from John 15:18-20 that those who are “of the world” are not of God nor are those whom He has selected from out of the world part of the world. This is why those who are still “of the world” hates them. I want to reinitiate here that there are plenty of apostate, “so-called christians” in our time who exhibit that very same hatred toward those of us who refuse to back away from Orthodox Christianity and God’s Word as being infallible and complete. In any case, John is telling us in 1 John 2:15-17 two important truths about genuine Christianity. First, the Christian loves God and fellow Christians and an absence of love of the world must habitually characterize the love life of those to be considered genuinely born again.  Continue reading

Discernment, divisiveness, unity, and proof of salvation


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες, (Philippians 2:1-2 NA28)

1 Therefore, since there is encouragement in Christ, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection, and compassions, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, the same love, as ones joined in soul and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The exercise of true discernment is not divisiveness regardless of that very charge by those who like to throw around the label “hater” against those who obey God by revealing the truth about their ministries to the Body of Christ. In fact, those who are being divisive are the very ones who are corrupting the truth through their false teachings, leading people astray and by not leading people to become God-focused in their life and worship rather than self-focused. Yes, that is truly divisive and their exposure to the discerning by those being obedient to God is both painful and necessary. Continue reading

You are clean, but not all of you


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7 Jesus answered and said to him, “ What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “ If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “ He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “ You are not all clean.” (John 13:1-11 NKJV)

The following are notes from the NKJV Study Bible pertaining to the passage above:

13:1 To the end means either “to the last” or “utterly and completely.” What follows in vv. 1–11 demonstrates Jesus’ complete love. Jesus loved His disciples, even though He knew that one would betray Him, another would deny Him, and all would desert Him for a time.
13:2 Being ended may also be translated “having begun.” It was customary for slaves to wash guests’ feet as the guests arrived, before they sat down to eat (vv. 4, 5). In any case, it appears that the supper had not ended, but was in progress. The statement of Jesus’ complete love in v. 1 is contrasted with the fact that Judas would soon betray Him.
13:4 His garments:Jesus laid aside His outer garment, which would have impeded His movements. towel:By putting on an apron, Christ looked like the slave to whom the task of washing the feet of guests was assigned. Though the disciples realized what Jesus was doing, none of them offered himself for the task. Servanthood was not on their minds. Jesus loved them knowing all about them, including the worst one of them, Judas.
13:8 no part with Me:The washing was a symbol of spiritual cleansing (vv. 10, 11). If Peter did not participate in the cleansing, he would not enjoy fellowship with Christ (see 1 John 1:9)
(John 13:1-8 NKJVSB)

wash (Gk. nipto) (13:5, 6, 8, 10; 1 Tim. 5:10) Strong’s #3538; bathed (Gk. louo) (13:10; Acts 9:37; Rev. 1:5) Strong’s #3068:In speaking to Peter, Jesus used two different Greek words to indicate two different kinds of washing. The Greek word nipto (13:5, 6, 8, 10) is used to indicate the washing of the extremities, the hands and the feet. The Greek word louo specifically means “bathing.” According to the social customs of those times, once a person had bathed his entire body, he needed only to wash his feet before partaking of a meal. In His response to Peter, Jesus used both words in order to advance a precious truth:just as those who have bathed need only to wash their feet, so believers who have been bathed by the Lord through His word and the Spirit (see 15:3; Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5) need only to wash themselves daily from the filth and defilement they accumulate by their contact with the world.
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13:9, 10 but also my hands and my head:Given Jesus’ dramatic statement, Peter had no choice but to submit. Only this time he went too far in the other direction. At first he wanted to tell the Lord what to do (v. 8). Now he wanted to dictate the manner in which Jesus did it. But Jesus told him he did not need a bath; he only needed Jesus to wash his feet that were dusty from the road. This is symbolic. A believer has already been “cleansed.” He or she only needs the cleansing of daily sins that comes through confession (see 1 John 1:9). Thus Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet not only is a model of service, but it represents the ultimate in service—forgiveness of sins.
13:11 You are not all clean:This is the second indication of the presence of a traitor among the apostles (6:70). Apparently this comment did not attract much attention.
(John 13:8-11 NKJVSB)

My brethren, the next time we even begin to think we have become mature believers who have passed all the tests and have totally crucified the flesh, et cetera, we need to reread passages like this one. Do we go and ‘wash the feet’ of our enemies? Do we cling to our animosity against those who have wronged us as if it is “our right” or do we humble ourselves, forgive them and serve them as our Lord would? Notice carefully my brethren that even though our Lord did all of this for Judas Iscariot, it changed nothing. He still betrayed our Lord. Continue reading

Judgment at Christ’s return


by Mike Ratliff

18 πολλοὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦσιν οὓς πολλάκις ἔλεγον ὑμῖν, νῦν δὲ καὶ κλαίων λέγω, τοὺς ἐχθροὺς τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 19 ὧν τὸ τέλος ἀπώλεια, ὧν ὁ θεὸς ἡ κοιλία καὶ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ αἰσχύνῃ αὐτῶν, οἱ τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες. (Philippians 3:18-19 NA28)

18 For many walk of whom often I was telling you, and now also weeping, I say, “They are the enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with their minds on earthly things.” (Philippines 3:18-19 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then this whole Lordship Salvation debate just looks silly. We do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies “whose end is destruction.”  Continue reading

Coming to Jesus in unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

 

43 Μετὰ δὲ τὰς δύο ἡμέρας ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν· 44 αὐτὸς γὰρ Ἰησοῦς ἐμαρτύρησεν ὅτι προφήτης ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι τιμὴν οὐκ ἔχει. 45 ὅτε οὖν ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, ἐδέξαντο αὐτὸν οἱ Γαλιλαῖοι πάντα ἑωρακότες ὅσα ἐποίησεν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, καὶ αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἦλθον εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν. (John 4:43-45 NA28)

 43 And after the two days, He went from there into Galilee 44 (for Jesus Himself testified that a prophet in His own country does not have honor.) 45 Therefore, when He came into Galilee, The Galileans received Him having seen all things that He did in Jerusalem during the Feast for they also went to the Feast. (John 4:43-45 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The “after the two days” refers to the two days Jesus and His disciples spent in Sychar of Samaria ministering to the people there. The statement by our Lord about a prophet not having honor in his own country contrasts the believing response of the Samaritans with the unbelief of our Lord’s own people in Galilee and Judea. The Jews reticent faith depended on our Lord’s performance of miracles while all He did in Samaria was preach the truth. The Samaritans responded, but the Jews were not open to Him, but more often than not, exhibited reluctance and hardness. In my translation, the verb “received” from v45 is ἐδέξαντο the 3rd person, Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Middle voice case of δέχομαι or dechomai, “essentially means to receive something, but it can also mean to welcome someone.” As v45 is in context with v44 and v48, this reception was likely one of curiosity seekers whose appetite centered more on seeing miracles than believing in Jesus as Messiah, therefore, John probably meant these words as irony. Continue reading

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind


by Mike Ratliff

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)

Truth is not relative. Truth is not found through some synthesis process through which one concept of the truth is ‘synthesized’ with that which opposes it until some sort of compromise can be reached. This is the Hegelian Dialectic process which states that truth is not found in the thesis nor the antithesis, but the synthesis of the two. This synthesis process may take countless evolutions, but the theory is that eventually change will occur and that is the real goal. That is not biblical transformation. It is not what God does in Christians when He transforms them from flesh driven, prideful, self-oriented people to spirit-led, humble, God-focused servants of the Most-High. Continue reading

Deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons


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)

The “Emergence phenomenon” (or whatever they are calling it nowadays) is not Christian. Oh, many of these self-styled “emergents” insist that their “conversation” is the epitome of what Christianity is supposed to be, but the “movement” is undergoing even more drastic transformations, which now include its members celebrating Ramadan or having Buddhist monks instruct them on meditation techniques. This “phenomenon” is nothing more than deceived people who have been seduced by evil spirits to believe the doctrines of demons. We live in a time of deep spiritual deception. I have encountered this spirit of deception working through some people who attempted to cause me to stumble through their deceitful tactics. What we must never forget my brethren is that our enemy is a master salesman and he uses unwitting people to deliver his message to those who are serving the Lord Jesus in order to distract them in an attempt to nullify them in the truth war. Continue reading

Our redemption


by Mike Ratliff

15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:15 NASB)

The Gospel is explained very well in the New Testament. The role of the Church in the World from the time of Christ’s Ascension until His return is very well defined for us there as well (to go and make disciples from all the earth, teaching them to observe all that He taught…) This Great Commission is not to ‘be the Gospel’ nor is it to ‘redeem the earth’ nor is it to ‘make the world a better place.’ No, it is to go and tell the Good News that we have a mediator of a new covenant and those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance that is made possible through the death of their Saviour who has redeemed through the shedding of His blood (see the passage above). You see, this is the Good News. The Gospel is to preach what Christ has done not what people have done, not what churches have done, not what religion has done or what being religious can do for anyone. It is simply to proclaim this message relying on the power and work of the Holy Spirit to draw those called to saving faith. Let’s take a closer look at this “redemption.”  Continue reading

Phariseeism is the religion of works-righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

24 “ Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘ Lord, open up to us! ’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘ I do not know where you are from. ’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from ME, all you evildoers. ’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29 And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:24-30 NASB)

Many who believe they are Christians are not. They have a form of righteousness, but it is not the righteousness born from above. It is self-righteousness. One group that contended with John the Baptist, our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, was the Pharisees. Who hasn’t heard believers accusing other believers of being Pharisees? These accusations are usually thrown at people who are stricter than the accuser in their judgments of saved and lost. The Liberal calls a person who judges on the basis of regeneration as the only evidence of saving faith as being a Pharisee. The mainstream church-goer calls all fundamentalists Pharisees. The antinomian calls those who preach about the Lordship of Jesus Christ Pharisees. Continue reading

The root of compromise in ministry


by Mike  Ratliff

21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. (Romans 6:21 NASB)

Was it just a few years ago that we were vociferously debating what was going on in the seeker sensitive churches all around us as they abandoned expository preaching, replacing it with topical sermons, entertainment, drama, dance, videos, et cetera? Things sure have progressed, or is it actually the opposite with the gospel contextualization having replaced all of that with the goal of church globalization within the framework of Dominonism? I remember some of the debates from that time and as I look back on it now, I see what was actually happening. Of course, at the time, as the Hegelian Dialectic is in play and Diaprax is in one of its incremental changes, it is difficult to see the “big picture.” As we look back at what was done and how it was accomplished by these devoted to their globalization agenda we can see clearly that we were dealing with the forces of our enemy who were dedicated to “ministry” via the practice of cunning in disgraceful, underhanded ways as they tampered with God’s Word for their own ends (2 Corinthians 4:1-2). That is not what we are called to or allowed to do. Continue reading

The application of our justification


by Mike Ratliff

1 Δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Romans 5:1 NA28)

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at Romans 4:13-5:1 which is the application of the theology that Paul presents in Romans 3:20-31, which could be summarized with the statement, “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight since through the law come knowledge of sin, but the righteousness of God is manifest through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” I must interject something my brethren. In these times of doctrinal uncertainty and rampant apostasy in the visible church it is imperative that we who are truly in Christ know what we believe and why we believe it. Also, that we know it so well that we can defend it against all attempts by our enemy and his people to corrupt it and distract us from obeying it.  Continue reading