Justitification and original sin


by Mike Ratliff

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:12-14 (NASB) 

I am a Monergist, that is, I firmly believe that our salvation is God’s work from beginning to end, totally undeserved by all. There is not one person deserves it nor can they do anthing to earn it because of the fall of man from Genesis 3, therefore, it is a gracious gift from God and, these things being Biblically true, those who hold to them are Monergists. Synergists are those who believe the doctrine of the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 is either fallacious or not complete. They teach either that it affected only Adam and Eve or that our race is only damaged, not ruined by sin. They teach that these damaged people are still able to “do good,” to “earn” or “deserve” God’s meretious favor by seeking after salvation and because of this, God extends His grace in “cooperation” with them and saves them.  Monergists teach that no one can come to Christ without first God regenerating them, giving them living faith, so they can believe and be saved. Synergists teach that this is unnecessary because all are able to come to Christ on their own, by their own Free Will and are saved as a reward for doing so and regeneration is simply part of the gift of salvation “after justifcation.”  Which is it?

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The sheep and the goats


By Mike Ratliff

 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NASB)

12 So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. 13 And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. Luke 19:12-15 (NASB) 

26 I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” Luke 19:26-27 (NASB) 

Let us now look at that element in Man’s heart that refuses to bow the knee to any god except one with whom it is comfortable. If God the Father or our Lord Jesus Christ are honestly portrayed as we read in Sacred Scripture the vast majority, those whose hearts are overrun by relativism, will stiffen their necks in rejection. However, when a smiling, culturally “relevant” preacher repackages the Holy Trinity and Christianity into a ‘product’ that sells then that ministry will become huge. Book deals and speaking engagements deluge this new superstar of a religion that seems to exist only to speak what people want to hear. Continue reading

The Gospel vs Another Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:23-24 (NASB) 

I will be 67 years old later this year. I have been a Christian for over 32 years, but I grew up in a “Christian” home going to church every Sunday until I grew up and went my own way. I know that Christians are commanded to be forgiving, kind, and gentle with others. However, we are also commanded to stand firm and withstand false teachers and their doctrines. When I began writing and blogging as an extension of my teaching ministry, I soon experienced a very rude awakening. When I wrote about things that were experiential and not tied to any specific doctrines no one seemed to care, but the closer I came to that dividing line that separates God’s Truth from everything else, the attacks of every sort seemed to descend on me from every direction. The more precise I came in laying out what is true from that which is not true, the angrier many of my so-called brethren became. It seems the way to ‘get along’ in the visible church is to accept the default form of Christianity and never, even if you have irrefutable Biblical truth to the contrary, teach against it. The one who does that is labeled as divisive as well as an enemy of Christian unity. But this stance is all one-sided. We are divisive for publishing God’s pure doctrines, but those who hold to man-made doctrines are allowed to say anything they want about us. It is as if they have free speech, but we do not.  Continue reading

God will abundantly pardon


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:4-8 (NASB) 

We have been looking long and hard at the narrowness of the Gospel and how it it is not editable. It is not open to change. No matter how much a person wants it to be otherwise, it is unchangeable. It is God’s Good News to fallen man. This good news is the proclamation that there is a way, only one way, for sinful people to be reconciled to God. It is good news because all people suffer from the same condition. They are born dead in trespasses and sins and are not morally able to do anything about it. This separates all of us from God because He is Holy and must judge all sin. The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross and became sin on our behalf. God judged our sin in Him. This “atoned” for our sins. Now let us look at the pardon available to all who believe. Continue reading

The Orthodox Christian view of sin


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5 NASB)

Those who have a problem with the Doctrine of Original Sin and the Wrath of God against all sin attempt to paint the God of Reformation Theology as some sort of ogre full of anger with very little love manifest except in the case of a chosen few. In their examples of how God operates in saving people, sin is never the issue. They portray God as loving everyone to the maximum and even if their sin amounted to open rebellion against Him on their part. In their theology He just looks the other way and attempts to save everyone, but the point of contention is that the God in their example is unable to save anyone. The salvation of people is only made a possibility with those actually being saved being those who hear the Gospel and respond by exercising their “sovereign free will.” On the other hand, the God of the Bible is not anything like this. He is Sovereign. He saves those whom He has elected or chosen unto eternal life. No one limits Him in any way. Man’s will is in no way a barrier to God fulfilling His will. From these two vastly different understandings of theology comes to very different understandings of sin. Let’s look at a biblical view of sin and I invite you to compare your own understanding of it to what we unpack here. If your’s is different, I suggest to you that the Bible is not in error. Continue reading

The vast majority of the “visible church” are “cakes not turned”


by Mike Ratliff

8 Ephraim mixes himself with the nations;
Ephraim has become a cake not turned. Hosea 7:8 (NASB) 

The Gospel is not something given to us in such a way that gives us the right to edit it. Nor is it our prerogative to change the focus of our local churches from what God intended. The Church Growth movement does both. Of course, this movement has pragmatism at its core. It is actually a philosophy. This philosophy says that if something produces the desired results then it must be right and, therefore, the will of God. However, there is a major flaw in this philosophy. It begins with a false assumption. Continue reading

The nature of hypocrisy


by Mike Ratliff

6 “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go.
My heart does not reproach any of my days.
7 “May my enemy be as the wicked
And my opponent as the unjust.
8 “For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off,
When God requires his life?
9 “Will God hear his cry
When distress comes upon him?
10 “Will he take delight in the Almighty?
Will he call on God at all times? Job 27:6-10 (NASB)

One of the easiest accusations that Christians can hurl at one another is the epitaph “Hypocrite!” I probably receive at least half a dozen emails or comments a week with that accusation firmly pointed at me. Most of those never make it through the spam process. What is a hypocrite? A hypocrite may be a very neat imitation of a Christian. He professes to know God, to converse with him, to be dedicated to his service, and to invoke his protection: he even practices prayer, or at least feigns it. Yet the cleverest counterfeit fails somewhere, and may be discovered by certain signs. The test is here: “Will he call on God at all times?Continue reading

Prayer that is powerful and effectual


by Mike Ratliff

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

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

Prayer, to me, has always been a very personal thing. Yes, I have always admired those people who can pray those long eloquent prayers publicly, but I am not one of those. When I pray, I do so with a one-on-one between me and God. Of course, there is always Paul’s exhortation from 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

17 ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NA28)

17 unceasingly pray, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

That exhortation is talking about how we walk through each day, that is, with our focus being eternal rather than temporal. I, for one, believe that this is more important for me to do than learning how to pray long eloquent prayers in public. In any case, prayer is important and it is far more important to pray as James described, don’t you think?
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Apostates, tares, fiery trials, and tests


by Mike Ratliff

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Matthew 10:24-25 (NASB) 

When God saves a person, it is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life. No matter how many years that person lives in this life after that, that condition will not change. However, all those whom God saves are left to deal with their flesh in a demon infested temporal place that He uses to purify and mold them unto the image of their Saviour. This process is dealt with all through the New Testament and is referred to as fiery trials or tests. The journey from that moment of spiritual rebirth to the Celestial City is a pilgrimage along a narrow way through these tests and trials. The way is not bereft of problems, false brethren, false teachers, false prophets, pressure to conform to this Vanity Fair, pressure to dilute the pure truth from God’s Word, pressure to fit in with this lost and dying world, et cetera. It can seem at times that we are about to be destroyed by the very things God is using to perfect us and ready us for our eternity with our Saviour forever.  Continue reading

Seeker-Sensitivity Circa 1975


by Mike Ratliff

God saved me in 1986, but that was by no means the beginning of the history of my Churchianity and religiosity. No, I grew up going to church. When I was in the U.S. Navy (June 1973-July 1976) I was stationed in Washington D.C. I was in a period of rebellion at that time in which I wanted nothing to do with “church” in any form. My family was all Southern Baptists, which is the dominant denomination in Oklahoma where I grew up. However, in 1975 I moved to a new apartment just off of Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia. There was a married couple on my floor that I became acquainted with over the next several weeks. They invited me to their church. It was in the District. I resisted for quite awhile, but finally agreed to go. It was nothing like “church” that I was used to. The focus was not on singing hymns nor were there long dry sermons making me feel guilty about my sins. Instead, the messages were “cool” and there was an actual band that performed on stage rather than a choir. The place was full of guys with long hair wearing jeans and sandals. The women dressed very casually. The place was packed. It also had something I had never seen in a church before. There was a bookstore right inside the entrance full of books that I had never heard of before written by men and women who were definitely not “mainstream.” Continue reading

The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword


by Mike Ratliff

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.,Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) 

In this day in which the truth is said to be unknowable, Christians must rely on the only source of pure truth we have. There is no truth that we can say is the complete truth unless we take it from God’s Word. The Bible is pure truth and it is the authority we rely on in order to have a firm foundation in this lost and dying world that is consuming itself in rebellion against God.

What can we learn from Hebrews 4:12 about this?

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Tribulation


by Mike Ratliff

20 ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ εὐθὺς μετὰ χαρᾶς λαμβάνων αὐτόν, 21 οὐκ ἔχει δὲ ῥίζαν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν, γενομένης δὲ θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ διὰ τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς σκανδαλίζεται. Matthew 13:20-21 (NA28)

20 And the seed upon the rocky places being sown, this one is like the one listening to the Word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but is only transitory, and when tribulation or persecution comes on account of the Word, immediately he falls away. Matthew 13:20-21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the passage above, tribulation translates θλίψεως (thlipseōs) the genitive singular feminine case of θλίψις (thlipsis). This is a graphic word that literally means “to crush, press, compress, squeeze” and “is from thlaō, “to break.” We see θλίψις again in Matthew 24:21.

21 ἔσται γὰρ τότε θλῖψις μεγάλη οἵα οὐ γέγονεν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κόσμου ἕως τοῦ νῦν οὐδʼ οὐ μὴ γένηται. Matthew 24:21 (NA28)

21 For then there will great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now nor will it by any means happen again. Matthew 24:21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Here we have the Nominative, Singular, Feminine form of θλῖψις.  Continue reading

What is an apostate?


by Mike Ratliff

20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Matthew 13:20-22 (NASB)

The Bible very clearly teaches that Christians should examine themselves quite often in order to see what their spiritual condition is. Genuine Christians are not perfect people. Neither are they always full of happiness, in perfect health while having plenty of money in the bank. No, the fact that all believers are called to be humble, poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart and many other things that are growing in their character means that they will spend much of their time in the fires of sanctification.

It is during these times of pruning that believers are in the greatest danger of becoming despondent, discouraged, and even depressed if they have not learned to view their circumstances correctly.

Despite what many in the Easy-believism or Universalism camp teach, there are people who profess Christ who are not genuine. They are not regenerate nor do they have the Holy Spirit because they are not in Christ. Genuine Christians abide in Christ. They remain. They may go through the worst tribulation imaginable, yet they remain attached to the Vine. However, when tribulation descends on the disingenuous professing Christians they do not endure because they have no root in themselves. The world and the deceitfulness of riches cause some to fall away. These are not genuine believers. Continue reading