Issues, Etc. Cancelled

Today with no advanced notice the discernment radio show, Issues, Etc. with Todd Wilkins and produced by Jeff Schwarz., was canceled by the Luther Church Missouri Synod. Both men were let go.

I have often been blessed by this show and it is indeed sad and disturbing that this “denominational group” would axe a ministry that was not only popular, but highly effective in defending salvation by sola fide. I invite you to pray about what you should do about this. Also, please view the attached video.

New Creations

by Mike Ratliff

As many of you know, my nephew Travis was diagnosed with a brain tumor over Christmas week at the end of last year. A few weeks later he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Analysis of the tumor revealed that it did contain some type 3 cancer cells so he had to undergo several weeks of chemo-therapy. His last treatment is this Friday, the 21st of March, which is Good Friday. He is doing remarkably well. However, even more joyous to me is the spiritual growth I have witnessed in my sister’s family since all of this happened.

I am reminded of Romans 8:26-28. Continue reading

Faith: Life

by Mike Ratliff

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4 ESV)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 ESV)

Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11 ESV)

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:37-38 ESV)

The real author of Sacred Scripture is the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God frequently repeats Himself, He thereby appeals for special attention. Look closely at Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:37-38. Since the right doctrine comes from the Holy Spirit and He has declared that the righteous shall live by faith so often we must discern that this is doctrine and it is of highest importance. Also, these truths, this doctrine, must be preached and taught to believers as much as possible. Since all genuine believers have the Holy Spirit they should unhesitatingly receive this doctrine by their regenerated faith. Continue reading

Education and Relation: Truth and Love

by John Piper

Think with me for a moment about education and relationships. Some of you care deeply that education not ignore or marginalize relationships of love. They are essential in real, lasting, life-changing education. Amen.

So I turn to the Bible. I find in place of the words, “education” and “relationship,” the words, “truth” and “love.” So what does the Bible say about how truth and love relate to each other? There are at least four ways of talking about this relationship. Continue reading

The Vanishing Conscience

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (Romans 13:5 ESV)

In our last several posts we have looked at the lack of holiness in the Church along with God’s Holiness and His commands that His children be holy as He is Holy. Much of the hand wringing we do these days is the result of observing the symptoms of something that runs very deep in our society.

This blog is public enough that I do receive quite a few comments and emails from those who contend that “religion” is a scourge and a plague in the world. While I agree that that does describe man-made religion, we contend that genuine Christianity is not man-made, or man-controlled, or in any way a scourge or a plague. The blunt instrument that these “fellows” use in their “contentions” is entirely based in relativism. They claim to be using “reason” while accusing all who live by faith as being blind fools for being so certain. Continue reading

God is Holy and His Purpose For Us is that We Walk in Holiness

By Mike Ratliff

And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. (Isaiah 35:8-9 ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5 ESV)

God is holy and immutable. There is not now nor has there ever been nor will there ever be any darkness in Him. He is eternally holy. In James 1:17 we read that with God, there is no variation or shadow due to change. The Puritans referred to God as the “Thrice Holy God!” Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:14-19 that the redeemed of the Lord are commanded to be holy as He is holy then he tells us why and how we are to do so. Continue reading

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

by Mike Ratliff

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3 ESV)

Not long ago I became involved in a “discussion” here with some professing Christians who were a bit perturbed at me and some of you because we were pointing out that it is wrong for Christians to be fleshly. What struck me through most of that was their insistence that we were the ones in sin because we were rebuking them. Their stance was that we just need to mind our own business. Also, God showed me through this that those who belong to Him who are maturing unto Christlikeness don’t seek to see how far they can push the flesh envelope before it becomes sin. They don’t walk in simply sin avoidance either. No, instead, they seek to live pure and holy lives before their Lord. Continue reading

Crucifixion and Resurrection

by Mike Ratliff

One of the missing ingredients in the Church of the early 21st Century is holiness. The sinfulness of Sin is not understood. Some even claim that to preach about it causes people to feel guilty, therefore, we must not. Why? Self-esteem is the god of this age. I saw an article in a newspaper here in Seattle the other day that asked the question if the current generation is little more than spoiled brats who have the bodies of adults, but the emotional maturity of 2 year old children who demand everything they desire. If denied it, they sulk and pout and rage. Continue reading

Beware of Light Thoughts of Sin

by C.H. Spurgeon

“Sin . . . exceeding sinful.”-Romans 7:13

Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and then follows an unholy presumption: “We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent.” So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how thou thinkest lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced His heart! It made Him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”

A Brand Plucked From the Fire

by Mike Ratliff

And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2 ESV)

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Revelation 12:10 ESV)

As I flew from Kansas City to Seattle today, I had the privilege of sitting by a young man named Chris who is about the same age as my son. He and I talked the entire length of the flight. It seemed to last just a matter of minutes. We talked about many things, but eventually the discussion became centered on Christianity and our faith. He was very typical of my son’s generation in that organized religion turned him off and, therefore, he considered himself a questioning agnostic.

I did share many things about our faith including my testimony. My heart went out to this young man because I saw the sincere searching that he was doing. Most of our conversation from that point on was me answering his questions. When we began our approach into SeaTac, he reached over and shook my hand and thanked me for sharing these things with him. Now I have another person to pray for that God will pluck him from the fire. Continue reading

There is Only One Gospel

I am preparing for a trip to Seattle, Washington. I leave on Sunday March 9th and return home to Kansas City on Saturday March 15th. I will try to write and post while I am away, but my coverage of comments will be mostly in the evening until I return.

I received two separate emails today about John Piper’s sermon, “How I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels” at the 2008 Resurgence Conference. I suggest that you follow that link and read it. As I read it, I remembered the following article that I posted on March 2, 2006 titled “There is Only One Gospel.” I am not a theologian like Piper and I am not comparing my article with His sermon. I posted it below mainly to provide some Biblical exegesis on this topic. If we approach the Bible correctly, God will work through our study to change our hearts to line up with His will.

The reaction to John’s sermon, so far, has been one of outrage from some as Ken Silva shows us here while most Christians seem to be staying on the sidelines. Let us pray for God to work through this for His glory and to draw His people into the truth. Continue reading

Unquestioned Revelation

by Mike Ratliff

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. (John 16:23 ESV)

In our journey these past several weeks we have looked at the nature of faith, the veracity of the Bible as the Word of God, and the deity of Christ. Much of this has been done as the result of or in response to attacks by liberals, Christian and otherwise. I often ponder what could possibly be their goal. Why should they care that we proclaim that Jesus Christ is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE and no one comes to Father except through Him? When we analyze that then it becomes clear that their attacks are on the exclusivity of the genuine Gospel.

Genuine faith, the product of God’s grace (Romans 4:16; Ephesians 2:8,9) is possessed only by the regenerate. This faith is alive whereas before God’s grace quickened it, it was completely incapable and unwilling to believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour. This dead faith is inherited from Adam and the product of the fall. (Genesis 3) Without God’s grace according with man’s faith, there is no possibility of belief and, therefore, no possibility of salvation. However, when God quickens a sinner (we are all sinners) his or her faith comes alive. The spiritual blindness that marked them before regeneration is washed away. Continue reading

I Am Who I Am

by Mike Ratliff

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:14 ESV)

In our look at the Bible and the Christian view that it is the living Word of God, His communication to His people, we saw that it is not just a collection of writings or a simply a history. The Holy Spirit not only indwells Christians he also indwells Sacred Scripture. When believers read and study the Word of God, The Holy Spirit works through it to accomplish spiritual, eternal work within them. God communicates with His people primarily through His Word. One of the main goals in this is His revelation of Himself to those who love Him.

We have also seen that Jesus Christ is the interpretive key to Sacred Scripture. Any other hermeneutic will lead people into various forms of heresy or unbelief. However, if we view all of scripture from this key, it enables us to see clearly the utter depravity of fallen man because it imparts this to us via God’s Word by the Holy Spirit working in our consciences and minds. We see that the Gospel is not what most of us have conceived of as we have listened to some preacher’s water-down version of it. No, we see that Christ is the center and purpose of all creation and that the Word of God clearly shows us God’s plan of redemption of those chosen before the foundation of the World. Continue reading