Why it is vital that Christians become mature and discerning


by Mike Ratliff

11 Καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, 12 πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 13 μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 14 ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, Ephesians 4:11-14 (NA28)

11 And He gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some shepherds and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints to the work of ministry to the building up of the Body of Christ 13 until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the fuller knowledge of the Son of God, to complete maturity, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ 14 that we should not longer be infants tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. Ephesians 4:11-14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In 1887, Robert Shindler, a fellow pastor and close friend of Charles Spurgeon, wrote in Spurgeon’s publication, The Sword and the Trowel: “It is all too plainly apparent men are willing to forego the old for the sake of the new. But commonly it is found in theology that that which is true is not new, and that which is new is not true.” If we think deeply and honestly on those searing words with all humility and willingness to repent of what God shows us about ourselves, I am certain that each of us must repent of falling for the fallacy of seeking that which is new or different in our theology. If we are honestly seeking the will of God that is both good and right, but if we are looking to have itching ears tickled or are pursuing the subjective or experiential as the means of fulfillment then all we are really doing is falling for some lie and are revealing that we are indeed just infants in the Lord who are being tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. I doubt if any one reading this really wants that.  Continue reading

The desire of the false teacher is to deceive


by Mike Ratliff

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB) 

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; Ephesians 4:11-14 (NASB)

14 ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, Ephesians 4:14 (NA28)

In the NASB translation of Ephesians 4:14 above the words “deceitful scheming” translate μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, which could literally be translated as “lie in wait to deceive.” The desire of the false teacher is to deceive, however, in the last days there will be multitudes of people willing to be deceived. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11). Continue reading

Coarse Jesting


by Mike Ratliff

4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:4 (NASB) 

What is this and is it that big a deal about using “coarse jesting” in a sermon? Here is Ephesians 5:4 from the NA28 Greek text, “καὶ αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογία ἢ εὐτραπελία, ἃ οὐκ ἀνῆκεν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εὐχαριστία.” Here is my translation, “also indecency and foolish talking or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather thanksgiving.” The word I translated here as “coarse jesting” is εὐτραπελία (eutrapelia). Some Bible translations render εὐτραπελία as “jesting.” This is the only place in the New Testament where this word is used. Let us dig a bit deeper.

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Do not lose heart


by Mike Ratliff

11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. Ephesians 3:11-13 (NASB) 

Let us look at an important word from v13 which many Bible translations render as ‘faint,’ ‘discouraged, ‘ or ‘lose heart.’ Here is v13 from the NA28 Greek text.

13 διὸ αἰτοῦμαι μὴ ἐγκακεῖν ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσίν μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἥτις ἐστὶν δόξα ὑμῶν. Ephesians 3:13 (NA28)
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Holy and Blameless


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-5 NASB)

For what reason did the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose (elect) all in Christ before the foundation of world? It was that they would be holy (ἁγίους) and blameless (ἀμώμους) before him. The Puritans have always been accused of being legalistic and way too concerned about Christians living holy and blameless lives. I heard a Jeopardy clue not long ago that actually defined this aspect of them as being “harsh” and “stern.” Is it an unreasonable thing to command that believers conform their lives unto holy living and be separate from the world and its ways?  Continue reading

Repentance and salvation


by Mike Ratliff

19 μετανοήσατε οὖν καὶ ἐπιστρέψατε εἰς τὸ ἐξαλειφθῆναι ὑμῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας, Acts 3:19 (NA28)

19 Therefore, repent and turn again in order that your sins will be removed. Acts 3:19 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

One form of religion that claims to be Christian but isn’t is based in something called “easy-believism.” On the other hand, many of the proponents of it will point to what we call “the Gospel” in what follows as the “damnable heresy” of Lordship salvation. I have often shared here using passages such as Acts 3:19 (above) making it clear that the Bible tells us that there is no salvation without repentance and again in Acts 2:38, “Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.” Or, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent  [HE SAYS] and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” In any case, to support the Lordship case, all we have to do is go to God’s Word. In the “easy-believism” case it all comes down to philosophical argumentation.  Continue reading

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ


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.” It is imperative that we also understand that Romans 4:13-5:1 is an extended discussion of the supremacy of the promise (our justification) to the law and how if one makes observance of the law (works) the means of securing righteousness, then the promise is void, grace is undone, and the gospel loses its power. Continue reading

What is Living Water?


by Mike Ratliff

10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. John 4:10 (NA28)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

Jesus Christ is the True Vine


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινὴ καὶ ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν. John 15:1 (NA28)

1 “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 15:1, we have our Lord’s last of His seven “I am” sayings signifying His claim of deity. The word “true” in v1 translates the adjective ἀληθινὴ, which is nominative, singular of ἀληθινός or alēthinos, “unfeigned, trustworthy, true.” The nominative case form, ἀληθινὴ of ἀληθινός means that the metaphor our Lord is making of Him being the “true vine” is subject to the main verb in the sentence with is εἰμι, which, of course, means, in this context, “am.” Therefore, our Lord is saying that the fact that He is, in fact, deity means that He is the “true vine.” What this means, of course, is that there are “other vines,” but He is the only one who is “true” and God the Father is the γεωργός or vinedresser.  The noun γεωργός or geōrgos, “can refer to the owner of a farm or to those who work the farm.” Here our Lord is using this term metamorphically to refer to God the Father as the owner of a vineyard, the “vinedresser.”  Continue reading

What is effectual fervent prayer?


by Mike Ratliff

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16 (NASB) 

16 ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. James 5:16 (NA28)

16 Confess, therefore, to one another your sins and pray on behalf of one another so that you may be cured. The petition of a righteous man, being effective, has great power.  James 5:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I have received many requests through many different channels from brethren who desire to know how to stand firm in these last, dark, and evil days. My reply is that we must pray for ourselves and each other for God to mature us, to give us the ability to stand, to give us wisdom, discernment, personal holiness, Christlikness and as He does this that he gives us boldness to stand in obedience. The issue is that many are confused about prayer. The “Name it and Claim it” heresy has corrupted the view of prayer for many. While that is in no-way Biblical and Satan has used it to keep many of us from praying as we should, we are given all sorts of examples in scripture of how to pray and why to pray. In this post we will look at James’ encouragement to us to pray and why. Continue reading

Who is Jesus Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15 (NASB)

Several years ago when I liven in Kansas I served on a jury for a few days. We tried a criminal drug case. It was heart rending. All through the trial we were subjected to evidence and testimony that were all vivid markers of the deep darkness to which our world is in bondage. Even though my life is far removed from that of the drug culture and that of the police who must operate in it, but not be part of it, I still felt compassion for those people who do not have the light of life from our Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Are You Bearing the Marks of Jesus or the Mark of the Beast?


by Mike Ratliff

14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. Galatians 6:14-17 (NASB) 

The Apostle Paul did indeed bear the marks of persecution on his body. He had been found to be worthy to suffer shame for the name as had Peter and John (Acts 5:17-42). Paul had been stoned, beaten, imprisoned, run out of town, and would die as a martyr. Why were the Apostles persecuted so? They preached the truth. They preached against sin and works theology. They preached the Cross. They preached the exclusivity of the Gospel and against pluralism. They held that God’s truth was absolute. This is the message the natural, unregenerate person hates. This is the message the pseudo-Christians hate as well because the clear bright light of God’s truth reveals their compromises and false doctrines. Continue reading

Genuine Christian Transformation


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)

Despite the fact that the unregenerate refuse to accept what I am about to say as being true, it does not change the fact that it is the truth. The true Christian walk is one of faith that results in faithfulness while the counterfeit or false Christian walk is one of works righteousness that results in a pragmatic form of religious works meant to counter failures of the flesh. The true Christian will be on a path of continual, progressive transformation unto Christlikeness that will result in God using him or her in doing His good works (Ephesians 2:10). On the other hand, the false Christian, not being regenerate, may still be fooled by their religiosity into believing that he or she is on that narrow path. They may even zealously do good works and call that a transformed life, but it is still nothing more than works righteousness. The enemy of men’s souls has produced a counterfeit version of Christian Transformation, but it is totally different and only produces temporal fruit while genuine Christian Transformation produces fruit that is eternal.  Continue reading

Who are genuine Christ followers?


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “ Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22 NASB)

It seems like just the other day, but I actually it was in late 2004 through 2005 and into 2006 that the old Slice of Laodicea blog was going full tilt, Jim Bublitz, Ken Silva and Ingrid were taking it as well as giving it from those who hated to hear the truth that there actually is a dividing line between Orthodox Christianity and everything else that calls itself Christian, but isn’t, that is, apostasy in one form or another. I came into the battle seeking the truth. I was desperate because my church was being sucked into the Purpose Driven paradigm and no one there would listen to my warnings. Both Jim and Ken were a great help to me. In any case, it was during all of that that we witnessed a group of individuals declare war on the Orthodox Christianity we defended, refusing to be called “Christians” any longer, preferring to be called “Christ followers.” I always looked at that with humor because that seemed so “self-righteous” and “pretentious” and if we look carefully at what these people were trying to say by that, they were driving themselves even further into a “works righteousness” religion. Let’s look at our Lord’s own words in his calling people to follow Him.

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