Christology 101


by Mike Ratliff

The Elephant Room 2 debacle and all the fuss of those coming to James MacDonald’s defense for inviting T.D. Jakes like Mark Driscoll and Rick Warren and our very well-documented opposition to it is still running its course. The determined defense by some of the ecumenical decision should be looked at by us as something important the enemy is seeking to protect as a stronghold of some sort. In any case, when we encounter these things we must be bold in our defense of the truth regardless of how much men like Rick Warren and those like him protest saying we are unloving. They will always sacrifice the truth on the altar of false humility saying it is wrong to offend and we should always seek to build bridges to all even those like T.D. Jakes whose religious views are obviously heretical. The Elephant Room is a forum designed to discuss differences with the intent of breaking down barriers and constructing bridges between those who differ when it comes to doctrine. However, let’s be honest as Bereans. We must continue to check the verity, Biblically, of what is being taught by all who we listen to and who we read. To do otherwise is foolish. We learn from those who speak the truth and we reject those who do not. Period! On the positive side, we must also learn all we can of our Lord’s good doctrines and it doesn’t hurt to know the truth of Church history instead of the misinterpretations of it used by heretics to mislead people. Continue reading

Rick Warren and Contemplative Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. (Jeremiah 14:14 ESV)

On September 21st, I posted “Is Contemplative Prayer Christian?”. The rest of the discernment team at CRN have been researching and posting on CSM and Contemplative/Centering Prayer or CCP as well. I was listening to an interview on The White Horse Inn the other day done by Michael Horton with Mark Galli who is the senior managing editor of Christianity Today. Most of the interview went well, but right at the end he started talking about Spiritual Formation as if it was something positive. Of course, as he used examples, it was obvious that his understanding of it was nothing like that of someone like Tim Keller whose version is total CSM. I was a bit nonplused I must say because he was so right on with his decrying moral therapeutic deism and the spiritual monstrosities that mega-churches become. Of course, as I thought through that, I think he may have been using the term with a genuine Christian meaning rather than a pseudo-christian meaning like those wolves in sheep’s clothing who are peddling CSM using Christian terminology within it so the gullible will buy into it. Of course, we shall see won’t we?  Continue reading

The Blind Leading the Blind


by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified about him and cried out saying, “This one was he whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks before me because he was prior to me.'”) 16 And from his fullness, we all received, even grace on top of grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, the grace and the truth came through Jesus Christ.  18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, The one being in the bosom of the Father, that one explained him. (John 1:14-18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In John 1:18 the Apostle tells us that no one has ever seen God, but the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us, that one, explained him. What got Jesus in hot water with the religious Jews during his earthly ministry? It was when he did that very thing and it was always in opposition to the presuppositions according to which the Scribes and Pharisees operated. They continually opposed our Lord’s ministry because they could not or would not see the true intent of God’s will as our Lord revealed as taught in the Old Testament. Because of this “blindness” our Lord called them blind guides and hypocrites. Let’s look at Matthew 15:10-20 then we will look at a current example of this same sort of blindness brought about by clinging to man-made presuppositions rather than obeying the Gospel and looking to the Word of God alone for God’s authoritative will for His church.  Continue reading

What is Vision Casting?


by Mike Ratliff

14 Μακάριοι οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν, ἵνα ἔσται ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον τῆς ζωῆς καὶ τοῖς πυλῶσιν εἰσέλθωσιν εἰς τὴν πόλιν. 15 ἔξω οἱ κύνες καὶ οἱ φάρμακοι καὶ οἱ πόρνοι καὶ οἱ φονεῖς καὶ οἱ εἰδωλολάτραι καὶ πᾶς φιλῶν καὶ ποιῶν ψεῦδος. (Revelation 22:14,15 NA27)

14 Blessed are the ones washing their robes that will be their right to the Tree of Life and they may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the fornicators, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone loving and practicing falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

After the T.D. Jakes invite to Elephant Room 2 by James MacDonald he made a tactical error by trying to justify with a lot of obfuscation even claiming that Jakes was not a Modalist. Those who defended MacDonald erred as well even when they tried to cover over the lack of discernment by MacDonald to the point of de-cloaking themselves at the end and endorsing the invite. I find it hard to understand how anyone who claims to be a Biblical scholar (Mark Driscoll) and who can actually do some good research and writing, can say all the right things, but then end his statement is total obfuscation by stating that none of it matters and he is looking forward to discussing the doctrine of the Trinity with Jakes.  Continue reading

Judgment Before the Great white Throne


by Mike Ratliff

9 “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 10 “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened.” (Daniel 7:9,10 NASB) 

Before we look at Revelation 20:11-15, take a moment to reflect on the carnage being wrought upon the visible church in our time by the very men who, by their own positions, should be shepherding the sheep. Instead, they are actually doing the very things to bring about the famine of hearing the Word of God and, hence, spiritual darkness seems to be all around us right in the midst of the “Church.” Mysticism in the guise of Spiritual Formation is being flim-flamed off on the unsuspecting as if it is another form of Christian prayer. We have rock-star pastors who measure their success by how many books they sell and how many branch churches they have who watch them preach via satellite. Of course, if you measure the content of their sermons by the Word of God, what you have is simply man-centered propaganda meant to appease, tease, and keep people coming through the front door instead of confronting them with their sin and need of a Saviour. Now, as you reflect on that, consider what awaits those whose names are not found written in the book of life.  Continue reading

The New Gnostics


by Mike Ratliff

5 Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία. 6 Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν· 7 ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ᾽ ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. 8 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. 9 ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. 10 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. (1 John 1:5-10 NA27)

5 And this is the message, which we have heard from him and we proclaim to you, that God is light and there is not any darkness in him. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from every sin. 8 If we say that we do not have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, that he may forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 if we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

The following definition for the word “esoteric” is from the New Oxford American Dictionary: 

esoteric |ˌesəˈterik|

adjective

intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest : esoteric philosophical debates.

DERIVATIVES

esoterically |-(ə)lē| adverb

esotericism |-ˈterəˌsizəm| noun

esotericist |-ˈterəsist| noun

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Greek esōterikos, from esōterō, comparative of esō ‘within,’ from es, eis ‘into.’ Compare with exoteric .

Not long after God had mercy on me in January 1986, saving me, I remember seeing a newspaper ad with the title “Esoteric Christianity” in bold letters. Below that in nearly as large bold letters was one word, “Gnosticism.” There was a phone number below that. I was a new believer, but I had heard in a Bible study about Gnosticism and how it was a heresy. What is a heresy?

“Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in on attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself.” Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.2 

In other words, a heresy is something false that is portrayed or taught as the truth in such a way that is very convincing to professing believers who are not very mature and are have not been trained to be discerning.

What is it that makes Gnosticism a heresy? As the definition for the word “esoteric” above tells us, it was a religious mysticism that pirated Christian motifs to propagate a totally unchristian understanding of salvation than what we know of in our Orthodox Christian faith. In Gnosticism, salvation is based on esoteric “knowledge” (Greek γνῶσις or gnōsis). To the Gnostic, redemption is through affirming the divine light already in the human soul, not through repentance of sin and faith in Christ’s death to bring about spiritual rebirth.  Continue reading