by Mike Ratliff
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 (NASB)
When I see or hear so-called Christians speak of God prospering them because of their faith or see Pastors or “Evangelists” with their own private jets, huge homes and limousines there is a bad taste that forms in my mouth. From the birth of the Church until now there have been those professing to be Christians who are anything but. They major in minors while ignoring the major points of our faith. They take passages of scripture out of context to make it say that it supports their aberrant forms of Christian theology. The huge tragedy of this, of course, is how many blindly follow them thinking they are Christian, when they are nothing but False Teachers who love money. Money is their idol and as we have seen in earlier posts, idolatry always leads to spiritual blindness. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1-4 (NASB)
I am a Southern Baptist. I am Reformed in my Theology, but I am still a Southern Baptist. This causes friction at times when my brethren get confused about the Gospel. What I find troubling is that those who are opposed to “Calvinism” the most, don’t have a clear understanding of the Gospel the way the Bible teaches it. No, they only have a nebulous understanding that they have put together since God saved them through the inconsistent discipleship they have had. It would be amusing to stand firm against them, but it’s really not, it is not funny at all because these brethren are confused and have only believed lies and are, therefore, not spiritually mature. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Romans 2:5 (NASB)
I was online today on a friends Facebook page reading about an issue he is dealing with in which a school is disciplining someone who called a “transgender” a girl. He was discussing how he would get involved because he writes and how he needed to get involved because the local press in that city is ignoring the whole thing. I was simply reading the article and trying to understand what was going on then began reading the comments when a person that I did not know started calling my friend a bigot. He made several very rude and crude comments. I made one comment about how hypocritical it was for those demanding tolerance to be so intolerant. Then the guy making those comments came after me calling me a “redneck” and “backward” and a “bible thumper.” The only reason I could think of that he would call me a “bible thumper” was that he had looked at my Facebook page. I made the comment that I was not a “redneck” and stated why and then in another comment I posted Romans 1:18-32. Something happened after that because all comments on that post disappeared. That’s okay. I wondered why God allowed that encounter to happen like that. It’s been awhile since I have actually had to deal with an openly hostile reprobate and I confess it took me by surprise how ugly it got.
by Mike Ratliff
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:34 (NASB)
I am a Calvinist. In this age of not saying things in order to avoid causing offense I refuse to subject myself to that. I know who saved me. I know that without God’s sovereign grace working in me I would never have been saved. It would never have happened because I know what I was. Just a sinner. I was as the Word of God says, dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Since that time I have read many books, listened to many sermons, and have written much about the “process” of how a person goes from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive in Christ. The Reformers had it right. They developed what is referred to as the Ordo Solutis, which is Latin for “Order of Salvation.” Here it is.
- Election – God’s choice of people to save. This choice occurred before the foundation of the world.
- Predestination – The work of God to ordain to salvation those who have been elected to it.
- Calling – The preaching of the gospel message.
- Regeneration – The change in the person produced by God.
- Faith – The trust an individual has in the work of God on the cross.
- Repentance – Turning from sin.
- Justification – The imputation of righteousness to the individual thus making him righteous according to the law.
- Sanctification – God’s work in the individual to make him more like Christ.
- Perseverance – God’s work in the individual results in the person continually believing throughout his life.
- Glorification – Resurrection to glory with God.
by Mike Ratliff
4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 1:4-13 (NASB)
God is Sovereign. There is not one area of creation in which He is not Sovereign. Evil exists and men do evil things, but even in that God is still Sovereign. Creation is cursed and God has not yet culminated this age when He will restore it to its proper relationship with Him. However, He has sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the Elect. At the cross, He redeemed them. However, in life here on planet Earth they must still live in this fallen world. Jesus warned His Apostles and us about what this life would be like for His people on this cursed planet from the birth of the Church until the culmination of the end of this age.
by Mike Ratliff
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)
Some have used the passage above to teach that Christians must still keep the whole Law, but a careful reading of the passage clearly shows that it is conditional. Did Jesus come to to destroy the law or the prophets? No, He came to fulfill them. What does that mean? This speaks of fulfillment in the same sense that prophecy is fulfilled. Our Lord Jesus indicates that He fulfills the Law in all its aspects. He fulfills the moral law by keeping it perfectly. He fulfills the ceremonial law by being the embodiment of everything to which the Law’s types and symbols pointed. Our Lord fulfills the Judicial Law by personifying God’s perfect justice (Matthew 12:18, 20). In any case, the emphasis here is not that all who are true Christians must also perfectly keep the Law. Aren’t you glad? If you doubt that then read the book of Galatians carefully. Actually, our Lord is emphasizing His high view of Scripture and its authority as the inspired Word of God in this passage. Those who reject it as such are those whose righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees and they shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Think of the apostates who are walking into heresy even teaching and embracing heretical doctrines because they have rejected God’s Word as the authoritative, inspired Word of God. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (NASB)
Our Lord warned the Church that after He was taken up into Heaven that ravenous wolves would come to attack and attempt to destroy us and our doctrines and put to doubt the validity of eternal truths given to us by God Himself in His infallible Word. This very ministry came into being in response to those types of attacks. Our enemy is clever and his seed attempts to counter Biblical truths with his errors not by appearing blatantly evil, but by looking very much and sounding very much like shepherds of the flock. They blend some truth with error and lies. They depend upon the lack of Biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity within the visible Church in order to get a following, but our Lord promised that He would continually build His Church and no power could or would ever be able to destroy it. That is why there is always a remnant of true believers within the visible Church who have the discernment to see and understand the lies for what they are and do not fall for them nor do they tolerate them. Yes, we tire at times having to deal with the imposters and the false forms of Christianity they produce, but let us take heart that Jesus keeps His promises. In this post let us look at our primary source for God’s Truth that we have, the Word of God. We aren’t going to look at Biblical history in this post, but rather what the Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 1:19-21 about the nature of God’s Word in how we are to know the truth and live by it. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
21 Therefore the Lord heard and was full of wrath;
And a fire was kindled against Jacob
And anger also mounted against Israel,
22 Because they did not believe in God
And did not trust in His salvation. Psalms 78:21-22 (NASB)
There are only two groups of people in the world. There are Christians, the elect, and everyone else, the non-elect. What separates them? What is the difference? It is not that different streams of faith, which are all equal and going to the same place. Nor can Christianity be broken down into different racial groups like some are doing now with the Social Justice Gospel, which is not the Biblical Gospel at all. No, that is what the liberals are selling, but that is most definitely not what God’s Word explicitly says. No, the difference between those in Christ and everyone else is that the former are possessors of faith, which is the Greek noun πίστις (pistis). It and it’s many grammatical forms are translated as “assurance,” “faith,” ”belief,” et cetera throughout the New Testament. Before we define “unbelief,” let us define biblical faith, πίστις, so that we can see very clearly what marks the true believer from the false professor. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
48 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῇ· ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. 49 καὶ ἤρξαντο οἱ συνανακείμενοι λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν; Luke 7:48-49 (NA28)
48 And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 And the ones reclining with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Luke 7:48-49 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In Luke 7:36-50 there are three main characters. There is our Lord Jesus Christ, Simon the Pharisee, and an unnamed woman who is referred to in v37 and v39 simply as ἁμαρτωλός (hamartōlos), “sinful, sinner.” The events in this passage take place at a meal in Simon’s home and there are others reclining at the table with them. The unnamed woman is uninvited. These events take place in Galilee immediately after John the Baptist’s disciples have come to our Lord on his bequest to confirm whether Jesus is indeed the Messiah. He then shows the Pharisee’s hypocrisy in vv31-35 for rejecting John the Baptist even though he lived in rigid abstinence, but they demanded the same, if not more, of our Lord while the message preached by both was the same. Then in v36 one of these Pharisees, Simon, invites Jesus to eat with him. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 2 Peter 1:13-14 (NASB)
Unlike Peter, the Lord has not made it clear to me the putting off of my body is imminent (see the passage above). However, I do not deny that my desire for the ending of this tabernacling in this earthly tent grows deeper with each skirmish or battle in the Truth War. I am not overly sad here. I am in very good shape for my age, but with each step in spiritual maturity, the natural byproduct of standing firm in the hot parts of the battle, I find that my joy is in the heavenly perspective rather than in anything in the temporal with the only exception being in my personal relationships and fellowship with family and friends and fellow warriors. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
47 While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48 (NASB)
When the dogs and swine come to harass and distract it is not pleasant, but I can bear it. However, when someone approaches this ministry as if a friend only to be discovered later to be a deceiver, it is a difficult pill to swallow. When one breaks the bread of the Word of God with us then turns on us it is a hard thing to bear. Why? Deceitfulness is as the word suggests, it is the process of deception, for whatever purpose, that causes trusts to be broken and fills us with anguish and grief. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” 4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Exodus 24:3-8 (NASB)
With the demise of the Biblical/Christian Worldview those of us who belong to the Lamb of God must stop assuming that our culture, our environment, knows or grasps what we mean when we talk about sin and God being Holy, Righteous, and Just. In Romans 1, we see that the natural Man knows the truth in his or her heart of hearts, but they suppress it. In turn, God gives them over or gives them up to a debased mind. This is spiritual blindness. These given over to their lusts and desires are no longer convicted of the evil of their sin. They lose their fear of God’s judgment. Over time, they become resentful and full of hate towards any who teach or preach the Gospel to them. This is why so many flock to seeker-sensitive “churches.” There they are stroked and made to feel good without having to deal with the real Jesus. Their religion, Christless Christianity, is a friend of the world and eager to welcome those of other ‘religions’ except for those troublesome orthodox Christians who preach the whole Gospel, the Law of God, and the truth about sin and total separation from God for the unredeemed. Continue reading
By Mike Ratliff
17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:17-21 (NASB)
Arrogance, boasting, retaliation, and self-protection are just a few of the fruits of Human pride. The natural mind exalts pride while demeaning humility. Timidity is often confused with humility. Timidity is actually a fruit of pride and is a form of fear. It is the method pride uses for self-protection. On the other hand, boldness is often confused with pride. Biblical boldness is actually a fruit of humility. Biblical boldness is the method humility utilizes in our obedience to God. It is an expression of self-denial as our flesh is crucified as we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When we are bold as we obey our Lord we are often accused of being full of pride. Those opposed to our message use this argument as we proclaim the truth and refuse to compromise with those insisting that Christianity must contain multiple versions of “truth.” As Elijah stood in the gap against overwhelming numbers as well as spiritual oppression, we must remain humble and bold. If we become timid then we are operating from a base of fear and will become self-protective and will not obey God nor stand for His truth. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (NASB)
Justification by Faith is a doctrine that was the storm center of the Reformation. It was also a major concern of the Apostle Paul. As we study his epistles we can plainly see that he considered this doctrine to be the heart of the gospel. (Romans 1:17; 3:21-5:21; Galatians 2:15-5:1) It also shaped both his message (Acts 13:38-39) and his devotion and spiritual life (2 Corinthians 5:13-21; Philippians 3:4-14)