Associate With


by Mike Ratliff

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV)

In yesterday’s post, Koinōnia, we saw what true Biblical “fellowship” is and what it isn’t. Paul made in clear in the passage 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 that Christians are not to be partnered or partakers in any way with what is opposed to Christianity. I didn’t mention it in that post, but that would include those who profess to be Christians, but who teach “doctrines” that are not Christian. We are called by God from His Word to be separate from them. In the passage above (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) there is another word that I would like for us to examine a bit more closely that the ESV translates as “associate with” in both v9 and v11.  Continue reading

The Open Door


by Mike Ratliff

And having gone through the Pisidia they went into the Pamphylia and having spoken in Perga the Word they went down to Attalia and from there sailed off to Antioch, from where they having been commended by the grace of God to the work they had fulfilled. Having arrived and gathered the assembly together they declared all that God had done with them and opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples. (Acts 14:24-28 a personal translation from the Greek text)

Not all of the letters to the churches from our Lord in the book of Revelation were as harsh as the one to Laodicea. In his letter to the church in Philadelphia he commended their faith and good works. In that letter He made one marvelous statement (v8) that we will be the focus of this post. Continue reading

Supper


by Mike Ratliff

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:19-20 ESV)

The “visible church” is without a doubt Laodicean, that is, lukewarm or χλιαρός or chliaros, as we saw in yesterday’s post Laodiceans. We saw that that means the vast majority of our local churches are comprised of a mixture of those who are ψυχρός or psuchros, which the ESV translates as “cold,” and those who are  ζεστός or zestos, which the ESV translates as “hot.” We saw that that meant apostasy was predominate because unbelievers were allowed to be part of local churches professing to be believers even though they obviously showed no evidence of being  ζεστός or fervent in their faith. My own experience in this is that the real believers in these churches are in the minority. This will vary of course from church to church. One of the first and most prolific red flags that is a warning of Christian disingenuousness is whether a church or a believer is focused in their walk and their ministries on God and His glory where it should be or whether that focus is upside down or backward in that the focus is on people or self rather than God. If everything is focused on the person or the people in what is preached, taught, and what the “worship style” is (whatever that means) then what you have is man-centered religiosity and that is a clear marker of disingenuousness.  Continue reading

Biblical Unity


by Mike Ratliff

A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:6-9 ESV)

The passage above  from Isaiah 40 is quoted directly in 1 Peter 1:24-25, which is why I placed it there. We are commanded in God’s Word to be unified in Christ, to love one another in the Lord. We are commanded to stand firm and rebuke false teachers as we warn the brethren as well, but our role is not to cause division. We are not to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. That is not our job at all. That will happen when our Lord returns in judgment. However, that does not mean that we are to be unified with heretics or to call apostates our brothers. No, there is a unity that we are to have as the Body of Christ that is built by the Holy Spirit that He establishes in God’s truth first then as a visible unity which is the eventual fruit of shared submission to the Word of God.  Continue reading

The Old Man


by Mike Ratliff

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:6-7 KJV)

In this “tweet” Rick Warren made the following statements that he claimed were from his sermon today:

To change ask: WHERE am I now? WHAT do I want? WHY do I want it? WHY don’t I have it already? WHAT’s my plan? Is it worth it?

What or who is the focus of these questions? It is self isn’t it? I have another question for you. Do you see any need for Christ and the Cross or repentance with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit in any of that? Again, this is just another example of the natural outflow from one whose theology is Pelagian. Rick Warren and his disciples discount the Cross of Christ and the Gospel and put the person at the center of all things. This is why they continually insist that their disciples look within to find their true self while covenanting with them to keep certain values and obey their commitments. In other words, this is a form of law keeping and has nothing to do with grace nor the Gospel. Let’s look at what the Bible says about our true nature and what we can and cannot do as Christians.  Continue reading

Boast


by Mike Ratliff

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

It is very common in the visible church in our time to hear preachers and teachers and people within local bodies of believers to boast about all sorts of things pertaining to their salvation or walk. They boast about their confirmation, baptism, church membership, Holy Communion, keeping the Ten Commandments, living the Sermon on the Mount, giving to charity, and living a moral life. It is not uncommon to hear some even boast about their faith, but all boasting is rooted in good works, not grace.  Continue reading

Pride


by Mike Ratliff

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18 ESV)

At the root of hypocrisy is, of course, pride. Pride is the antithesis of humility, which is exemplified for us by Paul’s attitude to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 3:8. On the other hand, pride is absolutely never portrayed in the Bible in a positive way. Never is pride tolerated. Never is it praised as it is today. However, in the visible church in our time don’t we hear sermons and read teachings about “positive pride” and the building up of self or the searching inside to find that real “you” that God is deeply in love with and only wants you to find it so He can show you what a fantastic you you really are? Well, I have a Greek word for that, σκύβαλον. In any case, let’s look at the Greek words in the New Testament translated as “pride,” “proud,” and “puffed up.”  Continue reading

Hypocrisy


by Mike Ratliff

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 ESV)

I have taken a few days off to be with family. I am preparing for a trip to visit my son on the East coast next week and will be “off” for about six days or so. In between these two “downtimes” I would like to post a few things that all Christians need to take care to turn from because not only are they “evil,” they are actually markers of a heart that is following hard after the flesh rather than God as a living sacrifice. One of those “markers” is hypocrisy. Our Lord gave us two good examples of this in Matthew 6:1-6 which is part of His Sermon on the Mount.  Continue reading

Rick Warren – Pelagianism – and the Desiring God Conference


by Mike Ratliff

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 ESV)

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius who was a theological opponent of Augustine of Hippo. Pelagius and his followers believed that original sin did not taint Human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without God’s aid. Therefore, Adam’s sin simply set a bad example for his progeny, but this did not impute a “sin nature” to them that the Orthodox view held by Augustine called the doctrine of “Original Sin.”

While most of you reading this would read that definition of Pelagianism and view it as foreign and rightly as not Christian, it is actually the predominate theological position of much of the “seeker movement.” This view holds that man must “do” and “earn” and so “be blessed” by God. It nullifies the Cross of Christ making it just a background piece of the puzzle for show. The emphasis is on the person and what he or she does not on Christ and what He has already done. Continue reading

Rulers


by Mike Ratliff

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV)

As many of you know, Rick Warren did not personally speak at the Desiring God conference. Instead, a video of him speaking was presented. I have not watched it yet, however, I will do so tomorrow and probably report on it from that. One of my friends has already done this and has said, “Rick Warren’s Lecture at the Desiring God Conference was a circus of Blatant Bible Twisting and Pelagianism. John Piper owes us an apology and must publicly rebuke Warren for his false teaching” I intend to watch both Rick Warren’s lecture or sermon or whatever it is tomorrow as well as listen to my friend’s sermon analysis, but until then I must focus on where God has had me over the last few days. I have been studying the Greek words in Ephesians 6:10-20 pertaining to the “whole armor of God,” et cetera. As I thought through this in light of what is going on with Rick Warren at the Desiring God pastor’s conference this concept of ἐνδύσασθε or to put on the whole armor of God once-for-all and never take it off because it’s to our benefit things seem to come together very well. Why? The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We ἐνδύσασθε this whole armor in order to stand firm in the evil day. Well, this is most definitely an evil day when truth is seen as something to be bargained away or shunned while lies and that which is only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Therefore, we must become discerning and wise and that means we must consistently wear this armor.  Continue reading

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Promotes Self-Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

The five points of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as defined by Christian Smith are these:

  1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

However, this is the basis of the “theology” predominantly preached and taught throughout the “seeker movement” as my friend Lane Chaplin made clear here. I pray that you do follow that link and read Lane’s post from 2008 and also read Christian Smith’s article from The Christian Post, which is also included at the bottom. Continue reading

A Blow at Self-Righteousness


A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 16th, 1860, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At Exeter Hall, Strand.

“If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.”—Job 9:20.

Ever since man became a sinner he has been self-righteous. When he had a righteousness of his own he never gloried of it, but ever since he has lost it, he has pretended to be the possessor of it. Those proud words which our father Adam uttered, when he sought to screen himself from the guilt of his treason against his Maker, laying the blame apparently on Eve, but really upon God who gave him the woman, were virtually a clame to blamelessness. It was but a fig leaf he could find to cover his nakedness, but how proud was he of that fig-leaf excuse, and how tenaciously did he hold to it. As it was with our first parents so is it with us: self-righteousness is born with us, and there is perhaps no sin which has so much vitality in it as the sin of righteous self. We can overcome lust itself, and anger, and the fierce passions of the will better than we can ever master the proud boastfulness which rises in our hearts and tempts us to think ourselves rich and increased in goods, while God knoweth we are naked, and poor, and miserable. Tens of thousands of sermons have been preached against self-righteousness, and yet it is as necessary to turn the great guns of the law against its walls to-day as ever it was. Martin Luther said he scarcely ever preached a sermon without inveighing against the righteousness of man, and yet, he said, “I find that still I cannot preach it down. Still men will boast in what they can do, and mistake the path to heaven to be a road paved by their own merits, and not a way besprinkled by the blood of the atonement of Jesus Christ.” My dear hearers, I cannot compliment you by imagining that all of you have been delivered from the great delusion of trusting in yourselves. The godly, those who are righteous through faith in Christ, still have to mourn that this infirmity clings to them; while as to the unconverted themselves, their besetting sin is to deny their guiltiness, to plead that they are as good as others, and to indulge still the vain and foolish hope that they shall enter into heaven from some doings, sufferings, or weepings of their own. I do not suppose there are any who are self-righteous in as bold a sense as the poor countryman I have heard of. His minister had tried to explain to him the way of salvation, but either his head was very dull, or else his soul was very hostile to the truth the minister would impart; for he so little understood what he had heard, that when the question was put, “Now then, what is the way by which you hope you can be saved before God?” the poor honest simpleton said, “Do you not think sir, if I were to sleep one cold frosty night under a hawthorn bush, that would go a great way towards it?” conceiving that his suffering might, in some degree at least, assist him in getting into heaven. You would not state your opinion in so bold a manner; you would refine it, you would gild it, you would disguise it, but it would come to the same thing after all; you would still believe that some sufferings, or believings of your own might possibly merit salvation. The Romish Church indeed, often tells this so very plainly, that we cannot think it less than profanity. I have been informed that there is in one of the Romish chapels in Cork, a monument bearing these words upon it, “I. H. S. Sacred to the memory of the benevolent Edward Molloy; a friend of humanity, the father of the poor; he employed the wealth of this world only to procure the riches of the next; and leaving a balance of merit in the book of life, he made heaven debtor to mercy. He died October 17th, 1818, aged 90.” I do not suppose that any of you will have such an epitaph on your tombstones, or ever dream of putting it as a matter of account with God, and striking a balance with him, your sins being on one side and your righteousness on the other, and hoping that a balance might remain. And yet the very same idea, only not so honestly expressed—a little more guarded, and a little more refined—the same idea, only taught to speak after a gospel dialect—is inherent in us all, and only divine grace can thoroughly cast it out of us. The sermon of this morning is intended to be another blow against our self-righteousness. If it will not die, at least let us spare no arrows against it; let us draw the bow, and if the shaft cannot penetrate its heart, it may at least stick in its flesh and help to worry it to its grave. Continue reading

The Family of God


by Iain Duguid

The theological doctrine of adoption is not one that readily comes to most people’s minds. It has often received short shrift in text books of systematic theology and in the church’s confessions, so it is little wonder that even people who can tell you clearly what they believe about justification and sanctification will often give you a blank look when you inquire about adoption. Yet properly understood, adoption is one of the most precious, heartwarming, and practical of all of our theological beliefs. It invites us to consider the amazing privilege that is ours that we should be called the children of God (1 John 3:1). Whereas justification rests primarily on a legal image and invites us to revel in the freedom that comes from our undeserved acquittal at the court of God’s judgment, adoption focuses our attention on a relational image and points us to the joy and assurance that comes from receiving a father who loves us and a family with whom we can enjoy our new freedom in Christ. Continue reading