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

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

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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

In Hypocrisy of Ones Speaking Lies Having Been Seared In Their Own Conscience


by Mike Ratliff

ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν (1 Timothy 4:2 NA27)

In hypocrisy of ones speaking lies, having been seared in their own conscience… (a personal translation of 1 Timothy 4:2 from the NA27 Greek text)

I have made clear what all Christian’s stance should be on homosexuality here. That stance is biblical and any attempt to soften, change, or redirect it has as its source the father of all lies and enemy of our souls. My friend Ken Silva posted an article yesterday titled Christianity 21 To Attack Christian Sexuality. To be honest, the spew that comes from “Christianity 21” no longer surprises me. What would surprise me is if they repented, reversed course, dropped all the post-modern pretense, and submitted themselves to the Jesus Christ as Lord. The reason that would be such a surprise is, of course, once apostasy takes over a person, they depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demon, (1 Timothy 4:1) and it is like watching water circling a drain. Eventually, it will enter the drain and be sucked into the sewer.  Continue reading

Fight the Good Fight of Faith


by Mike Ratliff

ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. (1 Timothy 6:12 NA27)

Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called and confessed the good confession before many witnesses. (a personal translation of 1 Timothy 6:12 from the NA27 Greek text)

There are times when this work becomes an agonizing battle just to combat the attacks of our accuser; just to pray and prepare to open God’s Word; let alone dig into the Greek then translate et cetera. I am a mere man upon whom God had mercy January 1986 when I was 34. I was 35 later that year. Here I am now just a couple of months from being 60 years old and when the accuser comes to battle me, to distract me, to belittle me, what do you think he uses for ammunition? Yes, I know that at the cross all my sins were atoned for and that by God’s grace through faith the father justified me. Yes, Amen! I have days when I can take any fiery dart the enemy shoots in my direction with hardly any problem because I am so totally full of the Spirit and, using the shield of faith, extinguish those fiery darts as if they are nothing. However, there are times when I am convinced that God allows the enemy access so that his accusations seem to overwhelm me. I feel worthless. I look at my past sins and then at the task of doing this work and cannot see how God could or even want to use one such as I.  Continue reading

To Abide You Must First Believe


by Mike Ratliff

καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. (John 5:38 NA27)

“And His Word you do not have abiding in you because He whom He sent, this one you do not believe.” (a personal translation of John 5:38 from the NA27 Greek text)

In John 5:30-47 the apostle gives us several witnesses to establish the truthfulness and genuiness of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Our Lord Jesus presented these witnesses who testified to His identity as the Son to those who opposed Him. The first witness given is John the Baptist in vv32-35. The second witness is our Lord’s own words in vv 35, 36. The third witness is the Father in vv 37, 38. The fourth witness is the Old Testament Scriptures in vv 39-47. However, as is the case from this point to the end of John, those who most vehemently opposed our Lord and His ministry, refused to believe.  Continue reading

Jesus Deals With Unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς αὐτόν· ἐὰν μὴ σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα ἴδητε, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε. (John 4:48 NA27)

Therefore, Jesus said to him, “Except you see signs and wonders you never believe!” (a personal translation of John 4:48 from the NA27 Greek text)

In this stage of my life, God has me residing in the Kansas City area. In our city is a “church” that calls itself “World Revival Church.” It is closely associated with another “church” that was recently sued by the corporation International House of Pancakes because it used the same logo, i.e. IHOP. In any case, the people behind these “churches” advertise heavily on our local television during the evening news hour. The focus of their ads is not to come there to see God glorified or to come and learn about Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Nope, it is all about “feelings” and “being blessed” and “experiences.” I have written about them before. There are some very disturbing videos portraying “signs and wonders” on Youtube about them as well. In any case, what they promote is attending their church for the experience, to get something for self, all subjectively. Contrast that with our Lord’s own words from John 4:48 (above).  Continue reading