I Need a Break

It has come to the attention of some that what happened to me at the end of this last summer was some sort of burn-out. This caused the re-occurance of my seizure disorder that had lain dormant since 1976. In any case, if you have read any of my articles you have probably noticed how they have not only grown shorter and shorter over the last several months, they have also grown a lot less complex and with a lot less Greek exegesis, etc. The last time I tried to put together one of those heavily exegetically, really complex articles, when it came time for pull all the points together the anxiety level in my mind was so high that I thought I was going to lose it. There is something very wrong. I think I have hit that threshold. I work in my mind. I work with people who do everything on paper. They do not have this problem I do everything in my mind. I just have too many balls in the air at the same time I guess. I can’t be a Greek student, a DBA, a Grandpa, a good husband, a Dad, a writer, a researcher, a Christian apologist, a high end photographer, et cetera with all of that being juggled and kept in the “air” in my mind any more I suppose. 

In any case, I am taking several days off starting today (April 28th). I will be on a camping trip to Oklahoma and will return Sunday (May 2) late. I will be on vacation through Monday (May 3). I will work Tuesday, go to the doctor on Wednesday and go back to Oklahoma Thursday through Sunday (May 9th). So, I will be offline through May 8th or 9th. We’ll see. Please pray for me during this time.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Proper Focus: Christ and the Life Above

by Mike Ratliff

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:13-16 ESV)

I am sure many of you reading this can identify with what I am about to say. The more we attempt to point the visible church away from the time wasting, world-focused, nonsense of this present evil-age, the more popular it seems to become in its hearts, minds, and eyes. I have seen some behind the scene plans by many so-called pastors to even bring their ministries into tighter focus with the secular to be even more involved with every aspect of government, entertainment, you name it, in the world. Of course, Emergence Christianity, which is simply a cult that is just another form of Christian Liberalism from the 19th Century, has no issues with this since it sees the ekklisia as containing the entire world anyway as per Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola in their new book Jesus Manifesto due to hit the stands June 1st of this year. Their publisher gave me an advanced copy of Jesus Manifesto last month in order to prepare a review for Possessing the Treasure. Continue reading

What is Wrong With Evangelicalism?

by Mike Ratliff

We have spent a great deal of time over last several posts on two very important topics, the Sovereignty of God and the Deity of Christ. I was talking with Ken Silva this evening about that and he and I agreed that there is nothing more important for the Church to grasp than those two things in light of the total depravity of man. These things taken together make the Bible make sense. On the other hand, if you take what is preached and taught in much of the visible church in our time and try to reconcile them with the message of Sacred Scripture it becomes a tough job indeed. What am I saying? The Word of God teaches that God is Sovereign and Christ is God and the natural man is desperately lost and in need of a Saviour.  Continue reading

Repent or Perish

by Mike Ratliff

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke (5:27-32 ESV)

I had someone ask me not long ago how our salvation could be totally by Grace alone through faith alone, totally God’s work alone if it involved our repentance. My response to him was that the repentance part was our response to our Lord’s call, ἀκολούθει μοι, “Follow me.” However, the washing of regeneration, the gift of faith had been given as part of this effectual call. That is why we turned as Levi did, leaving everything, rising, and following our Lord. There are two calls of the gospel, the general call and the effectual call. The general call goes to everyone so there is no excuse. The effectual call, as the one above to Levi, which the Pharisees and the scribes objected to, always leads to repentance and goes only to God’s elect.  Continue reading

What Does Justification Have to do With the Gospel?

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:28 ESV)

The assault on the Gospel referred to as the New Perspective on Paul is lead by Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright who is quoted as saying, “I must stress again that the doctrine of justification by faith is not what Paul means by ‘the gospel’. It is implied by the gospel; when the gospel is proclaimed, people come to faith and so are regarded by God as members of his people. But ‘the gospel’ is not an account of how people get saved.” —N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, pp. 132–33  Continue reading

What is the Role of the Church in the World?

by Mike Ratliff

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

The “missional” mindset’s god is not sovereign. One of the “leadership” methodologies employed within this movement is to “shame” or “belittle” those who are not fully committed to a 100% effort to reaching the world as a Jesus follower through missional outreach of some sort. The following is an excerpt from the 2010 Exponential Conference sessions:


THEME:  “Transformation”

KEY TEXT: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

BIG IDEA: Transformation begins when we love God and what He loves.

If the world was a village of 100 people… 67 would have no clue what it means to be loved by God and love Him in return
 20 would live on less than a dollar a day
 Most would be children without clean water and meal tonight

This was not what God intended life to be. He longs to see his children, his church, his cities, and this entire planet transformed. Planting new churches is the best way to reach the 67
 Planting new churches can revitalize the 20
 Planting new churches brings good news to children waiting for it

Transformation begins in the heart of one.

  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a leader, transformation activates that leader and permeates the new church that leader begins.
  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a church, transformation remakes that church and spreads throughout a city through new churches and life-changing ministries.
  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a city, transformation marshals God’s resources and community assets to reach the world, meeting needs and impacting all people.

But first, transformation must begin in the heart of one.

Now is the time for transformed leaders to lead in the transformation of our churches and our cities.  The next generation of churches can no longer be satisfied with just “saving souls,” nor will it be content with “meeting physical needs” void of the love of Jesus. We can no longer be complacent about 67% of the world not knowing a love relationship with God in Jesus. We can no longer stand by and let 20% of our world goes to bed hungry and hopeless every night. Let us be churches that love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind; and our neighbors as ourselves. Let us plant churches and lead churches that experience and offer transformation Continue reading

Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road

by Mike Ratliff

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22 ESV)

It’s one thing to say one believes the gospel and is part of the Kingdom of God, be part of a local church, worship our Lord on His day, pray and serve Him when our lives have sense of normalcy about them. However, it is quite another thing to worship our Lord when the bottom falls out of our lives as Job did in Job 1:20-22 (above) after hearing of the death of his children and the loss of all of his wealth. Things have not changed in our time. God still allows our enemy to touch our lives to cause us pain in an attempt to cause us to curse God. However, this test is used by God to validate our faith. Genuine faith is not a product of man, but is of God.  Continue reading

Do You Possess the Treasure or do You Possess the Overthrow?

by Mike Ratliff

32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. (Luke 17:32,33 ESV)

My pastor returned from T4G today. He had a gleam in his eye. He had a determined look about him. I overheard him talk to others about it before I had a chance to ask him anything. He told us that the focus on the gospel was truly inspiring. In between our worship time and his preaching time, I asked him if he had heard John MacArthur’s sermon. That gleam in his eye got brighter. The grip in his hand became firmer. He has been preaching through Genesis for over a year and we are just now in chapter 19, which is the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. I thought he did a fantastic job today showing us the parallels of God’s grace in remembering Abraham and thereby saving Lot from destruction and remembering Christ when at the final judgment and thereby saving all those for whom He is their propitiation. In light of this I would like to borrow some things from his sermon to reflect into the darkness of our time, to shed some light on the why so much of what seems so right and innovative in today’s Church is nothing more than possessing heaps of overthrow while those who refuse to compromise in worship, preaching, witnessing, and making disciples are the ones who truly possess the treasure of the Kingdom of God.  Continue reading

The Sower and the Soils

A good friend sent me a link today to a sermon by John MacArthur at T4G 2010. God is so good to His people to provide the right leaders with the right message at the right time for His people. Many of us have been in discussion about the very things he covered very well in his message. One of those things is the growing divide that is becoming more and more apparent seemingly every day between genuine Christianity, that which is Christ based and focused, and man-made, false Christianity, that is man based and focused. The former, orthodox Christianity is made up of regenerate Christians who are in the Kingdom of God by the hand of God, not by any works of man or because of religiosity. On the other hand, the latter is so complex and multifaceted that it defies description yet it has one defining attribute. It is the product of man and his religiosity and his philosophy and his works and his traditions. Continue reading

The Purpose of Suffering for Righteousness

by Mike Ratliff

17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:17-22 ESV)

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered unjustly on behalf of those He came to save because it was God’s will. He perfectly accomplished God’s purposes in this. Even though those in Emergence Christianity are attempting to hijack our Lord’s Crucifixion for their own purposes, let us never forget that His violent, physical execution did terminate His earthly life when He was “put to death in the flesh”, nevertheless, He was “made alive in the spirit” on the third day. This is not referring to the Holy Spirit, but to Jesus’ true inner life, His own spirit, which is contrasted with His humanness, His flesh, which was crucified and lay dead for three days in the tomb. His deity, His Spirit, remained alive, literally “in spirit” (Luke 23:46). In light of our Lord’s suffering for righteousness, Christians should have a “Christian” perspective on suffering in the flesh as well.  Continue reading

Who Can We Trust?

by Mike Ratliff

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:15-18 ESV)

I have been in many separate discussions with friends over that last several weeks and months pertaining to the seeming escalation of growing apostasy all around us. Some have lamented that it seems that there is no one who can be trusted anymore. I made the comment last night to a friend that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to trust the fruit of those who minister for money or whose livelihood depended upon popularity. This is really nothing new. Our Lord, in His Sermon on the Mount, told us to beware of false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. He told us how to recognize them. How? It is by their fruits. This has not changed. Therefore, when I sit at the feet of a teacher or preacher of God’s Word I look for this within what is taught and within how he lives and with whom he associates and how he conducts himself in this life. Those who are not really God’s man will be revealed in this because of their inconsistencies in godliness and their consistencies in worldliness because, “we will recognize them by their fruits.”  Continue reading

The New Life In Christ

by Mike Ratliff

8 For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.” And he became their Savior. 9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. (Isaiah 63:8-10 ESV)

I have been receiving some interesting emails from friends today which are forwards of Tweets by Rick Warren from the T4G conference. In one it appeared that he was attempting to make it look like those of us who are calling for more discernment in his inclusion in John Piper’s Bible conference this Fall are actually committing the sin of grieving the Holy Spirit. His exact “tweet” was, “Grumbling, Griping,Gloating & Gossiping grieve the Spirit.The GOSPEL is grace-filled.Christ died 4my sins&rose again.” Most of you probably don’t know that I spend a great deal of my time listening to the debates of Dr. James White. This “tweet” is a perfect summary example of the type of logic used by those whom he debates who attempt to skirt the truth with misdirection. A good apologist never uses tactics like this. Instead, we simply focus on the truth. We tell the truth and stand firm right in the middle of it while refusing to allow anyone to skirt around it with his or her ploys of misdirection, ad holmium, and straw men argumentum.  Continue reading

Still, My Soul, Be Still

When I got off work yesterday, my wife handed me a a cd and dvd she had bought for me by Keith & Krystyn Getty titled “Awaken the Dawn.” There is one hymn on this cd that I just cannot hear enough. It is below. The message is exactly that which God continually presses into me. Self-focus, self-sufficiency, and the like are of the flesh, of the world, and are, therefore, worthless in the eternal. Oh my brethren, learn this… Here is the link to the Getty resource for this cd.

Still, My Soul, Be Still

Still, my soul be still
And do not fear
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow
God is at your side
No longer dread
The fires of unexpected sorrow

God, You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone

Still, my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways
With shield of faith
Against temptations flaming arrows

Still, my soul be still
Do not forsake
The Truth you learned in the beginning
Wait upon the Lord
And hope will rise As stars appear when day is dimming

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

What is the Gospel?

by Mike Ratliff

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,

15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14, 15 ESV)

In my Cruden’s Concordance introduction for the word “gospel” it reads, “The English word gospel comes from the Anglo-Saxon gõdspel which meant good tidings through, gõdspel or god-story. The word in the original (Greek) in the New Testament is euaggelion, from which, through the Latin evangelium, comes our word evangel, with its derivatives. In the New Testament, it is the Christ-message, not the books which were written to spread that message. Later it was applied to the four books which tell of the earthly life of Jesus—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” The word translated as Gospel in Mark 1:15, which I placed at the top of this post is εὐαγγελίῳ, which litterlly means “good message” or “good news.” Why is it “good news?”  Continue reading