The Genuine Gospel is not Man’s Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

For I make known to you brothers, the gospel that I preached, is not according to man. For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11,12 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)

The εὐαγγέλιον or euaggelion, which the word “gospel” above translates, means “good message” or “good news.” What Paul stated in Galatians 1:11,12 is vital for us to grasp. Those of us who are in Christ can proclaim this εὐαγγέλιον for it is a message of very good news about something our Lord Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, but we cannot “be the gospel” nor can we “live the gospel.” It is a message of Christ’s work of redemption that was successful. He died on that cross and in so doing, His perfect obedience was made available to be imputed to all who believe this εὐαγγέλιον and in so doing, receive Christ as Lord and Saviour in repentance being saved by God’s grace through faith. In this, the Father justifies them, imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to their account. This is possible because, while he was on that cross, their unrighteousness was imputed to his account and through his death, he became their propitiation. This εὐαγγέλιον  is indeed good news because it means Christians do not have to work their way to God. Their salvation according to Ephesians 1,2 is actually God’s work entirely, not theirs. The preaching of the gospel is a call to repent and believe which is how who do become Christians receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Now, is that the gospel prevalently heard in the visible church in our time?  Continue reading

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians Chapter 3


by Mike Ratliff

But even more so I consider all thing to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all thing I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)

From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Christian through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the 4th grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986.  Continue reading

Discerning The Lord’s Will


by Mike Ratliff

Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1-2 NA27)

Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. (a personal translation of Romans 12:1-2 from the NA27 Greek text)

Both the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul used light and darkness in analogies pertaining to spiritual life and spiritual death. For instance, in John 1:4, 5 the Apostle says, “ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.” Or, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not grasp it.” In order to lay the foundation for this discussion on discerning the Lord’s will, it is imperative that we understand what is being said in these two verses. First, the “Him” in v4 refers back to ὁ λόγος or “the Word” from v1. This is, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ. In v4, we learn that in Him was ζωὴ or zōē, “life.” This ζωὴ is not simply the life we all have here and now, but was φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων or the “the light of men.” What does that mean? This light comes from God and brings to this dark world true knowledge, moral purity, and the light that shows the very presence of God. Finally, notice that this light shines into the darkness, but the darkness does not “receive, admit, or grasp” it. Those who discern the will of God are in His light. Those who cannot are in darkness.  Continue reading

Genuine Christian Behavior


by Mike Ratliff

Ἡ φιλαδελφία μενέτω. (Hebrews 13:1 NA27)

Let brotherly love continue. (a personal translation of Hebrews 13:1 from the NA27 Greek text)

In the last few posts we have looked at our Christian liberty and, in light of that, the discernment and wisdom we must have in not abandoning our common fellowship and that we not be part of some perceived legalistic religiosity. We cannot read the New Testament without seeing that believers are the ἐκκλησία or ekklēsia, “the called-out ones of God.” In the New Testament, the noun ἐκκλησία is found only in the Gospels in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17. Luke uses it in Acts several times, but Paul uses it throughout his epistles. More than half of its usage in the New Testament is in Paul’s epistles. In them, we see that he never thinks of the ἐκκλησία as a physical structure or man-made organization but as a dedicated group of disciples of Jesus Christ whom he has purchased with his blood. In light of these truths, we must seek to line ourselves up with God’s will in our obedience under the spiritual authority He has set over us.  Continue reading

Be Diligent Spotless and Unblemished Found With Him in Peace


by Mike Ratliff

Διό, ἀγαπητοί, ταῦτα προσδοκῶντες σπουδάσατε ἄσπιλοι καὶ ἀμώμητοι αὐτῷ εὑρεθῆναι ἐν εἰρήνῃ καὶ τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μακροθυμίαν σωτηρίαν ἡγεῖσθε, καθὼς καὶ ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἡμῶν ἀδελφὸς Παῦλος κατὰ τὴν δοθεῖσαν αὐτῷ σοφίαν ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν, ὡς καὶ ἐν πάσαις ἐπιστολαῖς λαλῶν ἐν αὐταῖς περὶ τούτων, ἐν αἷς ἐστιν δυσνόητά τινα, ἃ οἱ ἀμαθεῖς καὶ ἀστήρικτοι στρεβλοῦσιν ὡς καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς γραφὰς πρὸς τὴν ἰδίαν αὐτῶν ἀπώλειαν. (2 Peter 3:14-16 NA27)

Wherefore, beloved, these things awaiting, be diligent, spotless and unblemished found with him in peace, consider the longsuffering of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all his letters, speaking in them concerning these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist as they also do the other Scriptures to their own destruction. (a personal translation of 2 Peter 3:14-16 from the NA27 Greek text)

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post my brethren. If you prefer, read 2 Peter 3:14-16 from your own preferred translation. If you do, go ahead and read 2 Peter 3 to keep it in context. What is it? As believers, we are called to remain faithful understanding fully that the Day of the Lord will surely come. In this, our expectation as those in Christ is that we are to be gathered unto our Saviour forever. That is our blessed hope. This includes the tremendous blessing of our Resurrection, which I find dreadfully neglected in the teaching nowadays. Now, let us look at another passage that stresses these same exhortations, but has been misused for centuries to teach something else entirely.  Continue reading

Slavery Freedom Faith and Fruit


by Mike Ratliff

Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε. (Galatians 5:1 NA27)

For this freedom, Christ freed us, therefore, stand fast, and be not held again by a yoke of slavery. (a personal translation of Galatians 5:1 from the NA27 Greek text)

In Galatians 5:1 (above), the reference to the freedom for which Christ freed us is refers to Paul’s arguments from Galatians 4. Never forget the purpose of this letter to the Galatian churches. They were being attacked by “Judiazers” who were attempting to get these Gentile believers to look to keeping the Jewish ceremonial law and regulations because they were saying the atonement bought for them through Christ’s blood was not sufficient for their justification. Paul’s argument is exactly the opposite. In Galatians 5:1, he makes it clear to them that Christ freed us through His atoning death especially for this freedom and those who have it must stand firm and not submit again to a yoke of legalism or slavery.  Continue reading

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God


by Mike Ratliff

Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. γέγραπται γάρ· ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω. (1 Corinthians 1:18,19 NA27)

For the word of the cross to those perishing is senseless, but to us being saved, it is the power of God for it has been written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise ones and the understanding of the intelligent I will set aside.’ (a personal translation of 1 Corinthians 1:18, 19 from the NA27 Greek text)

Look around at those man-focused, pragmatic, seeker-sensitive “churches” all around us in our time. They may vary in many ways, but there is a commonality that marks them all as products of the spirit of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) rather than the spirit of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). That commonality is seen in the passage I placed at the top of this post. It is what makes them of the spirit of Laodicea. They are structured and operate according to the wisdom of men. Their very way of handling the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ depletes the cross of its power. What do I mean? When the “so-called gospel” that is “preached” is given in a way that intentionally removes its offense and an attempt is made to make it sensible to the lost and dying world by removing the blood and removing the necessity of our Lord’s death for those who owed a debt to God they could not pay, well, what is given is more of a sales pitch and self-help remedy. All this does is create a body of people who are neither cold nor hot. No, they believe they have everything and are right with God, but are in reality, wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked who are simply ready for the next deceiver to come along.  Continue reading

Paul and Silas in Philippi


by Mike Ratliff

Ἀναχθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ Τρῳάδος εὐθυδρομήσαμεν εἰς Σαμοθρᾴκην, τῇ δὲ ἐπιούσῃ εἰς Νέαν πόλιν κἀκεῖθεν εἰς Φιλίππους, ἥτις ἐστὶν πρώτη[ς] μερίδος τῆς Μακεδονίας πόλις, κολωνία. Ἦμεν δὲ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ πόλει διατρίβοντες ἡμέρας τινάς. (Acts 16:11-12 NA27)

And having set sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis and from there to Philippi, which is a prominent city of the District of Macedonia, a colony, and we stayed in this city some days. (a personal translation of Acts 16:11-12  from the NA27 Greek text)

As you know, Paul’s friend and companion Luke wrote the book of Acts in the New Testament. In Acts 16:10, we read that after Paul and seen the vision to leave Asia and come to Europe after seeking the will of God for next focus of his missionary journey, Luke includes himself in the narrative as an eyewitness, therefore, his account of what happened to Paul and Silas in Philippi are given as one who was there.  Continue reading

Prayer Fasting and Forgiveness


by Mike Ratliff

Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς· (Matthew 6:9a NA27)

Therefore, thus pray you; (a personal translation of Matthew 6:9a from the NA27 Greek text)

The context of Matthew 6:9-13 from which get what is traditionally called “The Lord’s Prayer,” is, of course, Matthew 6, which is part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. The theme of Matthew 6:1-18 (the context of vv 9-13) is found in v1, “Προσέχετε [δὲ] τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μή γε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.” Or, “But be careful to not demonstrate your righteousness before men with the aim to be seen by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in Heaven.” Our Lord gives an example in vv 2-4 of believers giving alms to the needy. Their motive is to be seen by others in order to receive praise from men. Then in vv 5-18 our Lord gives uses the examples of prayer, fasting, and forgiveness, which will be the subject of this post.  Continue reading

The Rewards of Christian Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

ὅτι [ὁ] καιρὸς τοῦ ἄρξασθαι τὸ κρίμα ἀπὸ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ θεοῦ· εἰ δὲ πρῶτον ἀφ᾽ ἡμῶν, τί τὸ τέλος τῶν ἀπειθούντων τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ εὐαγγελίῳ; (1 Peter 4:17 NA27)

For it is time to begin the judgment at the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those disobeying the good news of God? (a personal translation of 1 Peter 4:17 from the NA27 Greek text)

If you have not done so, I suggest you read my post Excuse Me Dr. Piper paying closing attention to the comments. As my friend Ken Silva has said many times, what we are observing in what is going in with Dr. Piper’s relationships with those whose theology is questionable at best, is just another example of a 1 Peter 4:17 judgment on the Church. I usually take Friday evenings off. That is, I do not write or post. I relax and, believe me, I need it. This Friday evening I was working on my Mac and every few minutes had to moderate a comment still coming in on my post on Dr. Piper. If you read those comments I am sure you will, like me, notice the underlying hurt and anger and sometimes rage over these things. Some feel betrayed.  Continue reading

Excuse Me Dr. Piper


by Mike Ratliff

If anyone teaches a different doctrine which neither agrees with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he has become conceited, having understood nothing, but having a morbid craving for controversies and disputes over words, out of which comes envy, strife, evil speaking, evil-suspicions, constant friction among those who are depraved in mind and having become bereft of the truth, thinking godliness is the means of gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5 translated from the NA27 Greek text)

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and lusts, many foolish and harmful, which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For a root of all evils is the love of money. It is through this craving that some were led away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:9-11 translated from the NA27 Greek text)

Excuse me Dr. Piper. I was once a Southern Baptist. I was a Bible teacher and Deacon in local church not far from where I live now. A couple of years before we parted ways, my Sunday school director gave me a Christmas present. It was your book Don’t Waste Your Life. To be honest, that was the first time I had heard of you. I read the book over the next couple of months. I received more of your books as gifts from other people over the next few years.  Continue reading

An Example of a False Teaching


by Mike Ratliff

Προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων, ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες. ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς. μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὰς ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα; (Matthew 7:15-16 NA27)

Beware of false prophets who come to you in clothing of sheep, but within are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or thistles from figs are they? (a personal translation of Matthew 7:15-16 from the NA27 Greek text)

Looking back at yesterdays post, How can we discern false teachers?, let’s look at a real example. I received in my inbox today a link to a “Tweet” made by Rick Warren:

@RickWarren

Rick Warren

Obedience teaches you more about God than a yr of study.“If u CHOOSE TO DO God’s will, you’ll know my teaching..” Jn.7:17

Here is the actual link to the “tweet:” http://twitter.com/#!/RickWarren/status/101382167078252544

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How can we discern false teachers?


Today Ken Silva posted an article about Mark Driscoll. I wanted to post something that addressed the same topic without repeating the same things Ken stated very well in his post. Then I ran across the following article at Bible.org, which, I believe, helps us see what is exactly going on with false teachers like Driscoll, Rob Bell, et al. In any case, the title of the article below is “How can we discern false teachers?” – Mike Ratliff

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