Soft Preaching Produces Hard Hearts While Hard Preaching Shatters then Produces Soft Hearts Towards God and His Righteousness

by Mike Ratliff

For being ignorant of the righteousness of God and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3 a direct translation from the NA27 Greek text)

The institutional church or visible church in our time is a mess. It has lost its focus. This has come about over many decades of bad theology overtaking mediocre theology so that the focus of so much of what we see in any given church is not God and His glory, but on people with the man behind the pulpit in the spotlight as if he is either some sort of CEO or a Rock Star. In the seeker-sensitive church model, all things are geared to be inoffensive to everyone so sermons are short and pragmatic with so-called worship being all about entertainment. In those churches subscribed to that model there are no expository sermons preached about the Holiness and Righteousness of God in light of the sinfulness of man and thus his need of a Saviour. No, that would be considered “hard preaching” and offensive. Instead, the order of the day is “soft words.”  Continue reading

The Truly Humble Response to God’s Gracious Offer of Salvation

by Mike Ratliff

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 ESV)

Despite what those say who insist that the only attribute of God that ever comes into play is His Love, the only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is His sovereign grace. It alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. The passage above (James 4:6) tells us that God gives “more grace.” What does this mean? It shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (cf. Romans 5:20). Who obtains God’s grace? Do the proud?  Continue reading

God’s Workmanship

by Mike Ratliff

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

In the ESV’s rendering of Ephesians 2:10, the word “workmanship” translates the Greek noun ποίημα or poiēma, which refers to what is made or created. Our English word “poem” is derived from ποίημα. I have one lexicon that renders ποίημα as “masterpiece” or “work of art.” In the context of Ephesians 2:10, the creator is God and the ποίημα is who? It is the true child of God! Before we continue let’s look at the Greek text of v10 and then a word-for-word translation.

αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. (Ephesians 2:10 NA27)

His for we are masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for Good works which previously prepared – God, that in them we should walk. (a word-for-word translation from the NA27 Greek text of Ephesians 2:10)  Continue reading

Right and Wrong Presuppositions

by Mike Ratliff

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20 ESV

Secondary separation has become a very controversial topic in the Church lately. Remember when John Piper became publicly defensive after he invited Rick Warren to be the keynote speaker at his pastor’s conference? What did he say? He tried to make the case that it was wrong for anyone to separate from him because they had a problem with the theology of Rick Warren and now he and Rick Warren were buddies. I believe I was not alone is publicly stating that the issue was not in friendship per se, but the fact that John Piper was actually validating the theology of Rick Warren and intermingling it with that of his own. So, do we separate from John Piper because he is a friend with Rick Warren or do we separate from John Piper because we disagree with his theology? Ah, now we are getting to the point. If our theology contains the presupposition that it is impossible for someone to be theologically at peace with Rick Warren and still be theologically sound then we have a starting place, but not a firm foundation for separation.  Continue reading

The Robbery of Neutrality

by Mike Ratliff

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

The title of this blog article “The Robbery of Neutrality” is the title of chapter 1 of Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen’s book on Presuppositional Apologetics, Always Ready, which I just received and am working my way through now. By trade, I am an I.T. guy, specifically a Database Administrator. However, my boss has made it clear to me and the rest of our staff that he values me mostly as a key problem solver. I have been in I.T. since 1973 and I have learned over the years that it is far better to get to the root of a problem and even if quite painful, solve it there, rather than go after just surface level solutions to try to fix issues. Therefore, when the uproar of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins began even before it was available, I waited until those I trusted and respected had a chance to review it before I started looking at it. What is Rob Bell’s motive? What is he attempting to accomplish in writing this small “puff piece” book that says nothing new? If you listened to the man talk in any of his interviews then you probably got a glimpse of what is really going on when he encountered an interviewer not willing to let him off the hook with his over generalizations. You see, that is exactly the point. Rob Bell seeks to be “truth neutral” when it comes to all those things he sees in God’s Word as being “exclusive” and “divisive.”  Continue reading


I am taking a few days off from writing and posting for two things beyond my control. My cable provider is preparing to rewire my network tomorrow and I have to spend this evening prepping my office for that and then on Thursday we are leaving town to visit family and recuperate from my fight with the stomach virus I had a few days ago. I will be out of town until late Sunday April 10th. Please pray for my wife and I to have a safe trip.


by Mike Ratliff

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (John 11:32-35 ESV)

As we stand firm against the onslaught of false teachers and heretics attacking the modern church, we can wear ourselves out at times seeking every nuance of what they are saying and doing. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. However, most of the time, the very best way to stand against what is false is to teach God’s Truth clearly to all who will hear. When Rob Bell attacks the veracity of the Gospel from every angle or Rick Warren, dummies it down so that it is no longer recognizable, they do these things from a point of motivation. There is a reason or goal in mind. Mostly, it is to simply appear to be non-offensive to people, to be man-pleasers, to attract as many people as possible come under their Big Tent where all forms of theology are welcome, that is, all forms except the one we hold to here. No Exclusivity is allowed. No Five Solas are allowed. No Sovereignty of God! No Justification ALONE! No, there can be none of that for then others would be offended and there would go their artificial unity. Of course, in the make-believe-Christendom they have created, they have a made-up Jesus. He is not Jesus Christ of the Bible, the Son of God. No, because He is the one who said that No One comes to the Father except through Him, and that would be offensive so they have their own Jesus who just loves everyone and died on the Cross either to save everyone or just to show everyone a better way.  Continue reading


by Mike Ratliff

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).  (Matthew 1:22-23 ESV)

After posting Stephen Furtick’s video in yesterday’s post Fool Part 2, I was struck by one part of his complaint against those he calls “haters.” I’ will not quote directly because I am very tired of listening to him. There is part of it in which he mocks those of us who say we are drawing a line and standing firm, but then he leers into the camera and says, “But nothing really changes!” There was an echo of a passage from Peters 2nd Epistle so I looked it up.

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4 ESV)

Isn’t what we witnessed in that video the same scoffing Peter is talking about here? Isn’t this from a person who has rejected all authority except his own?  Continue reading

Fool Part 2

by Mike Ratliff

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3 ESV)

In yesterday’s post, Fool, we looked at the Greek word ἄφρων or aphrōn, which in noun form means ‘fool’ or in adjective form describes one who is not necessarily lacking in knowledge, but acts without wisdom or sense. In this post we will look at another New Testament Greek word that is translated as fool or foolish, which is ἀνόητος or anoētos. This is the word used twice in the passage I placed at the top of this post (Galatians 3:1-3), however, it is often translated (in various Bible translations) as inconsiderate, unintelligent, unwise (Luke 24:25; Romans 1:14; Titus 3:3), or even brutish in 1 Timothy 6:9). Just as ἄφρων has a very direct meaning for what is going on in the Church in our time, so does ἀνόητος. Continue reading


by Mike Ratliff

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:20-21 ESV)

Over this last week I have been battling some sort of stomach ailment and right now I don’t feel so hot, but at least I can sit up and type now. Also during this time I have listened to Dr. James White do a short analysis of Rob Bell and his book Love Wins. Dr. White did his analysis from the perspective of an interview done by someone else and then analyzed how Rob Bell responded to those direct questions. He promised to do a full review after reading the book. In any case, one of the comments he made about Bell that, I believe, is definitive of the man and his ministry is that he is very smart and well educated, but those things do not make one a true Biblical scholar nor do they even make one a Christian. No, no matter how much knowledge one has of Hebrew and Greek and Theology, if there is no true knowledge of Christ via the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ then all you have is what Dr. White refers to a just another Mainline Protestant Liberal.  Continue reading