Ashamed Of The Gospel

by Mike Ratliff

I completed reading John MacArthur’s book Ashamed Of The Gospel over the weekend. This fine book has the following subtitle, “When The Church Becomes Like The World.” There are several editions of this book. The one I have was marketed in 1993 as the Expanded Edition for it contains several Appendix sections. While this is not a “new” book, I still found it very up-to-date for MacArthur paralleled the trend in our time of “church marketing,” “seeker-sensitivity,” and “soft-selling the Gospel” with the Down-Grade Controversy that consumed the last several years of the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon in the 19th Century. Our enemy may enlist his followers because of their supposed innovations in ministry, but honestly, there is nothing new under the Sun. The very same error being made by seeker-sensitive ministers such as Rick Warren and emergents like Doug Pagitt is simply a repeat of the very same errors made by the liberals in Spurgeon’s day, which is to attempt to minister pragmatically rather than by faith.





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A Short Sabbatical

My wife and I will be leaving this afternoon to drive from the KC area to OKC to spend a few days with family. I know that while we are there there will probably be a major ice/snow storm. We plan on returning Sunday.  I plan on finishing my reading of John MacArthur’s book Ashamed of the Gospel while traveling and resting.Please pray us to have a safe and restful trip.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Are We Picking Fruit or Pulling Roots

by Mike Ratliff

During the latest escalation in the Truth War, it has been noticed by many of my good friends who watch these things that as we have brought into focus many of the things pertaining to outright heresy and the blending of pagan with Christian practices within the Emergents’ “ministries” as well as all those who are attempting to minister pragmatically, certain incriminating book references and articles on their blogs and websites have been taken down. Also, in discussion with other comrades in arms in the trenches it has come to the fore that even though it is good that we shine the truth from God’s Word in the dark corners of this movement, there are still hidden things that are actually the roots of all of the apostasy and heresy against which we contend. As we deal with the present evil, the even deeper evil behind it remains.  Continue reading

Pragmatism and Proclaiming Christ Crucified

by Mike Ratliff

But God forbid that I should reioyce, but in ye crosse of our Lord Iesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified vnto me, & I vnto ye world. (Galatians 6:14 Geneva)

My original plan was to read and review three of John MacArthur’s books over a three or four week span. Those three books are The Jesus You Can’t Ignore (done), The Truth War (done), and Ashamed of the Gospel. However, two things have transpired which have delayed the third review. The first is that it took a bit longer to get my hands on a copy of Ashamed of the Gospel than I had anticipated.  I did not begin reading it until late last week. The second is, I believe according to an intervention by the hand of God, an escalation in the truth war. The writing of the last several articles on Pragmatism as it relates to the biblical Gospel were in response to some increased “activity” by certain Emergents, which I believed God commanded me to “counter.” These types of articles or “apologies” take a lot of time and work on my part to put together. This took time away from the reading of Ashamed of the Gospel. However, interestingly, today I have arrived in the section of the book dealing with “contextualization” as it relates to the pragmatists’ handling of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I will be taking a short Sabbatical from the 27th through the 31st of January so I should complete the book during that time and have the review ready shortly after that. Continue reading

Pragmatism and the Wisdom of God

By Mike Ratliff

Thus sayeth the Lord thy redeemer and he that formed thee from the wombe, I am the Lord, that made all things, that spred out the heauens alone, and stretched out the earth by my selfe. I destroy the tokens of ye southsayers, and make them that coniecture, fooles, and turne the wise men backwarde, and make their knowledge foolishnesse. (Isaiah 44:24-25 Geneva)

In the exchange between Emergent leader Doug Pagitt and myself and several of you who commented on this post, I found myself, again, utterly amazed at the work of God in the hearts of His people. Those who are truly in Christ, have a kernel of faith that listens to and obeys God. It learns His truth and, according to His will, causes the believer to stand firm against all attempts of those in unbelief to “reeducate” and draw them into the same darkness of a wavering faith that they uphold as virtuous. This unbelief is based in wisdom for sure, but it is not the wisdom of God, which is true wisdom, but a false wisdom. Of course, some do fall into the trap and apostatize. That is a shame, but I firmly believe that anyone who does possess the Wisdom God in his or her heart will not do so.  Continue reading

Pragmatism and the Purpose of the Gospel

by Mike Ratliff

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

pragmatic  adj. dealing with matters with regard to their practical requirements or consequences.1

pragmatism n. 1 pragmatic attitude or procedure. 2 philosophy that evaluates assertions solely by their practical consequences and bearing on human interests. 2

Over the last several days I have been struggling with how I should address, or even if I should, the growing influence of the Acts 29 Network. This push to plant churches across the globe has as its primary proponent Mark Driscoll. I must admit that Driscoll has been somewhat of an enigma for me. There are times that he says, preaches, and teaches all the right things from a Soteriological (doctrinal) basis, but then I will read of him being part of the birth of the Emergent Church movement. Then I see where he promotes Spiritual Formation. Sigh…  Continue reading

Great Is The Lord

by Mike Ratliff

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. (Psalms 78:4 ESV)

God is good. He is beyond our comprehension in His magnificence and the depths of His mercy. He is Holy, Righteous, and Just. He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Immutable. Oh, let us praise Him from grateful hearts.  Continue reading

The Truth War

by Mike Ratliff

I have had John MacArthur’s book The Truth War on my reading list ever since it was first published a couple of years ago. In fact, I bought it as soon as it was available. However, I have only recently had the opportunity to actually read it. I am very glad I did. While I was reading The Jesus You Can’t Ignore a couple of weeks ago, I kept berating myself for putting it ahead of The Truth War. Of course, I had it in my head that there would be a great deal of continuity between the two books. I envisioned that they would be bookends to the issue of the growing apostasy in the visible church. In a way, that assumption was correct.

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Warning Concerning Antichrists and Apostates

by Mike Ratliff

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. (Acts 20:28-31 ESV)

True Christianity is exclusive. It is not a smorgasbord or buffet of options from which men may take what they like while rejecting the rest and still call themselves Christians. While a statement like that may not be popular in this post-modern 21st Century culture which advocates tolerance that is sort of a give and take “conversation” in which people with opposing views find a middle ground, it is still the truth. True Christianity is quite the opposite. That is not to say that many who call themselves Christians have not adopted this modus operandi, but these are what we call apostates. What is that?  Continue reading

The Narrow Path and Walking by Faith

by Mike Ratliff

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:4-10 ESV)

If you have read very much of what God has had me post here then you know how much I admire John Bunyan and his fantastic allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan understood what real Christianity was all about. He was surrounded by the empty religiosity of the state church of his time and its leaders tried to silence him through intimidation and imprisonment for refusing to stop preaching the Gospel. The real Church has always had to contend with false prophets and false forms. One of the things that Bunyan taught in his allegory was that the true form of Christianity was lived out by those who walked daily down a very narrow path sealed by God’s absolute truth. There are many ways off the path. Many believe they can make their own path. There are many detours and intersections requiring godly wisdom by the pilgrim in order to remain on the narrow path. Only the genuine Christian is alive in Christ and they are the only ones who complete the journey, the pilgrimage, to meet their Saviour in glory at the end. All other paths lead only to death and destruction.  Continue reading

The Jesus You Can’t Ignore

by Mike Ratliff

While I was on my Christmas break, I bought and began reading John MacArthur’s 2008 book The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. As I stated in another post, I was in the process of rereading the biography of William Tyndale by David Daniell when I bought and began reading this book. It was as if God was showing me through the persecuted life of William Tyndale that he “got it” about the life of Jesus Christ and recognized that, no matter the cost, he had to obey Him in all things. He took on the entrenched religious system of the Roman Catholic Church and the state church of Henry VIII contemporaneous with the Reformation begun with Martin Luther. Then, as I began reading The Jesus You Can’t Ignore, God showed me that our example is indeed Christ and if we are ministering according to the seeker sensitive, politically correct, Church growth methods then we are actually being friends of this world and not obedient to our true calling to walk and serve according to our Lord’s perfect example.

John MacArthur states in the Prologue:

The way Jesus dealt with His adversaries is in fact a serious rebuke to the church of our generation. We need to pay more careful attention to how Jesus dealt with false teachers, what He thought of religious error, how He defended the truth, whom He commended and whom He condemned—and how little He actually fit the gentle stereotype that is so often imposed on Him today.

Furthermore, His attitude toward false doctrine should also be ours. We cannot be men-pleasers and servants of Christ at the same time.

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The High Calling of God

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2 ESV)

As I stated a few days ago, I am preparing to review John MacArthur’s book The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. I should have that ready by the end of this week or early next week. In any case, I am currently in one of the latter chapters of the book, which has the title “Hard Preaching.” MacArthur covers two Biblical passages in this chapter, the “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5,6 & 7 and “The Bread of Life Discourse” from John 6. When studied from the perspective of what was actually going on in our Lord’s ministry as He preached those polemic messages, the utter separation from those truly in Christ from the merely religious becomes extremely clear. The politically correct, seeker sensitive, Church Growth approaches to ministry are vividly shown for the empty fallacies they are. In this post, I believe God would have us take a closer look at the marker of true discipleship, its source, and how it becomes apparent in every genuine Christian and how its absence is evidence of disingenuousness.  Continue reading

Peace That Passes All Understanding

I have always had an issue with depression, but for some reason, uncontrollable anxiety has never been much of problem. However, since my Neurologist has put me on a larger dosage of anti-seizure medication this Fall I have had several very severe bouts of depression. Everything is under God’s control. I am positive that God is using this for my good and for the edification of all to whom the Holy Spirit ministers as they read the exegetical studies from Sacred Scripture God gives me to give to them. In my own case, I have found that even as I am dealing with depression I never cave in to the doubt and worry associated with a lack of faith. Even when I hit the bottom my Lord is there to minister to me. In this, I rejoice! In the January 2010 issue of Tabletalk Magazine from Ligonier Ministries there are several very good articles dealing with worry and anxiety. The one I have posted below struck me because in the magazine it is accompanied by a painting of Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Briton Riviere (below). There are seven or so large lions around him, but each of them has a puzzled look on his or her face and not one of them has their mouth open. Daniel is standing with his back to them looking up at the little bit of light filtering into the chamber. His face is calm and it is so obvious that he is confidently awaiting deliverance from the Lord. I pray that God will minister to you as you read this as He did me. – Mike Ratliff

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The Fruits of Justification

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV)

In my younger days when I was working on my undergraduate degree, I had a professor who used to work in a major manufacturing company in the US. He used his experiences there in analogies pertaining to the management topics we were studying. He used one of his former co-workers there as an example, a bad example, as he taught us how we should work together toward our common goals, et cetera. This fellow’s nickname at that company was ‘Yeah-but.’ He told us that it never failed that in meetings when someone had a solution to an issue or a concept of a better way to do things, this fellow would always interrupt and start his diatribe against it with the words, “Yeah, but…!” I had an encounter with a “religious yeah-but” several months ago here on this blog. I had written a post dealing with our Justification and this fellow’s response to it was, “Yeah, but what about those sins you have committed since God saved you?” It did not matter how I replied to this fellow, he was convinced that, yes he was saved by grace through faith, but it was his obedience, et cetera, that kept him there. If he sinned, he lost his salvation and had to be re-justified I suppose. Is this biblical?  Continue reading