The Sermon on the Mount Part 4

by Mike Ratliff

13 “You shall not murder. (Exodus 2:13 NASB)

As I have been studying our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, I have come under deep conviction of my extreme need of grace. Oh, I’ve always known since God saved me that I was saved by grace not according to my merits or works, but as the working of the Word of God on my heart does what it is supposed to do, that is, the Law kills any bit of self-righteousness I have, stripping it away, leaving me with only the grace and mercy of God, anything else is to end up with my clothes torn, lying and weeping in dust and ashes rather than joyfully resting in my Lord. Continue reading

The Sermon on the Mount Part 3

by Mike Ratliff

12 Πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς· οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται. (Matthew 7:12 NA27)

12 Therefore, everything that you wish men would for you, thus also you do for them for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

At least a couple of times a month, sometimes a couple of times a week, I am contacted either through comments or via email from persons who at the heart are some form of “Antinomian.” No matter what flavor, they all want to say that the Christian is in no way accountable to obey the Law of God or that the Old Testament is of no value to us. Let’s see what our Lord says about that. Continue reading

The Sermon on the Mount Part 2

by Mike Ratliff

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)

I finished translating Matthew 5 last night. I must say that going verse-by-verse, word-by-word through this part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount this way has got to be one of the most humbling and heart-rending exercises I have ever gone through. Why? Our Lord was proclaiming that his kingdom had come and that those in it would have certain characteristics and those who did not were not part of his kingdom. In other words, these verses he proclaims about us being salt and light are not parts of a sermon on how to become salt and light, but indicative statements of fact about those already part of his kingdom. Of course, there are later statements of rebuke in which he preaches about our behavior of what we are to do and not do as those in his kingdom. However, as I translated chapter 5 I did a huge self-checkup and realized how my flesh rather than my Lord rules far too much of my character. Continue reading

The Sermon on the Mount Part 1

by Mike Ratliff

23 And he went about in all Galilee teaching in their Synagogues and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every illness among the people. 24 And the report of him went out into all Syria and they brought to him all those having illnesses, various diseases, suffering from torments, being demon possessed, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.  25 And many crowds followed him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. 1 And having seen the crowds, he went up to the mountain. And when he sat down his disciples came to him. (Matthew 4:23-5:1 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

The Jewish religious system that our Lord confronted head-on when he began his earthly ministry was one based upon the Mosaic Law, but the keepers of that Law had created oral traditions for the people to keep that were not part of the Law at all. The purpose of God’s Law was intended to show the people their inability to be what God commanded and, therefore, their need for a Saviour outside of themselves so that they would come to God. The oral traditions and the legalistic religious system, a system of works righteousness, kept that from happening because it actually created a system of works that people could actually “keep,” even though they were burdensome, but it deceived them into believing they were actually keeping the Law. We have flavors of this in our time in those religious systems that are all about “works righteousness” or “deeds not creeds.” Any religious system calling itself “Christian” that bases justification upon “works” rather than justification by God’s grace through faith is false. Continue reading

Jesus’ Equality with God in Power and Authority Part 2

by Mike Ratliff

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now and I am working. 18 Because of this, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him not only because he was breaking the Sabbath, but also he was calling God his own Father making himself equal with God. (John 5:17, 18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Earlier today I listened to a Muslim apologist on a Dividing Line podcast from last week as he attempted to show that Jesus could not be God because he never claimed deity for himself and was nothing more than a prophet. I have yet to hear any “non-Christian apologist,” while attacking the deity of Christ, attempt to address the passages we have been studying in the Gospel of John. However, they do quote a lot of liberal, so-called Christian scholars and attempt to interpret Sacred Scripture through the lens of a man-centered world-view that is slanted toward the religion to which they belong. Jesus our Lord in his incarnation was very different from how he has often been “cast” over the last 2000 years or so. Continue reading

Jesus’ Equality with God in Power and Authority Part 1

by Mike Ratliff

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now and I am working. 18 Because of this, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him not only because he was breaking the Sabbath, but also he was calling God his own Father making himself equal with God. (John 5:17, 18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In this day of man-centered religiosity that has largely supplanted much of Evangelicalism, a study on Jesus Christ as Sovereign Lord, as Messiah, as God with full authority awaiting the trumpet call for judgment to begin is not only seldom preached and taught, but would seem so out of step with the post-modern, politically-correct version of the visible church all around us. The problem is not with the truth of that message, but with the fact that much of what calls itself “Christian” in our time is not. No, these religious groups may have a “god” named “jesus,” but he is anything but the one we are reading of in the Gospel of John. No, the real Jesus deliberately confronted false religious leaders and bluntly told them the truth about himself in contrast to their apostasy. Continue reading

The Beginning of Opposition to the Son of God

by Mike Ratliff

18 διὰ τοῦτο οὖν μᾶλλον ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἀποκτεῖναι, ὅτι οὐ μόνον ἔλυεν τὸ σάββατον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πατέρα ἴδιον ἔλεγεν τὸν θεὸν ἴσον ἑαυτὸν ποιῶν τῷ θεῷ. (John 5:18 NA27)

18 Because of this, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him not only because he was breaking the Sabbath, but also he was calling God his own Father making himself equal with God. (John 5:18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In our study of Lord’s ministry from John 1 through John 4 the response from the Jewish religious leaders has been one of reservation and hesitation as Jesus as Messiah. Most of the Jews and Galileans had a mixed response as well. However, the Apostle John records for us in John 5 the controversial incidents that caused the shift from reservation and hesitation to outright opposition. This section of our Lord’s ministry is recorded by John for us in John 5:1 through John 12:50. In this post we look at John 5:1-18.

Continue reading

The Challenge of Same-Sex Unions

by Al Mohler

In the world but not of the world? From the very beginning, the church has faced the challenge of responding to external events, trends, ideologies, and controversies. By definition, the church does not get to choose these challenges, but they have been thrust upon Christians by the world. The question always comes down to this: What now? Continue reading

Death in Adam Life in Christ

by Mike Ratliff

16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  (Genesis 3:1-6 NASB)

19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 NASB)

The doctrine of original sin is a vital part of genuine Christian orthodoxy. For a long time I didn’t really appreciate how important it is in our concept of the depths of our guilt before our sovereign and thrice Holy God. However, as I have become involved in ‘discussions’ with those who reject this doctrine, God has revealed to me, through my studying his Word in order to answer certain ‘arguments,’ that when this doctrine is not part of one’s theology then their concept of their salvation is more self-centered and, in some cases, is understood that one is a Christian based solely on religious acts they have done. Let’s look again at the Apostle Paul’s thesis on our salvation, which none of us deserve. Continue reading

Living Water

by Mike Ratliff

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. (John 4:10 NA27)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

The True Christian Serves the Law of God with the Mind but the Law of Sin with the Flesh

by Mike Ratliff

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:24, 25 NASB)

As I thought it would, my last post, Antinomianism, caused some backlash. Every time I have posted on that topic it causes something to happen like that. I was accused of things that as far as I know are not true and was told that that article was heretical. At the opening of it I stated, “Antinomianism means “opposed to law.” Antinomian views are those denying that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life.” The one doing most of the accusing demanded a verse stating where God’s law in Scripture should directly control the believer’s life. The first one I thought of was Romans 7:25 (above).  Continue reading

The Word of Life

by Mike Ratliff

Ὃ ἦν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς – καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν – ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν, ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν. καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. (1 John 1-4 NA27)

1 What was from the beginning which we have heard–which we have seen with our eyes, which we beheld and touched with our hands—with respect to the Word of Life—2 indeed the life was manifested and we have seen it and we give testimony and we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3 what we have seen and we have heard we proclaim to you also that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write that our joy maybe made full. (1 John 1-4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

As many of you know, I have been reading The Church History by Eusebius. He was a contemporary of Constantine, but most of his history covers the time of the Apostles and spread of Christianity over the Roman world during and after their time. He brings up an interesting point about a third of the way through the book in that while the Apostles were still alive as well as those who were eye witnesses to their lives and ministries and that included those who had actually seen our Lord Jesus before his crucifixion and after his resurrection, our enemy could only successfully attack with limited success from within the Church. Heresies were easily dealt with as John did in the passage above in dealing a deathblow to the major doctrines of an early form of Gnosticism. However, after these first generation leaders of the Church died or were martyred (which was more likely), our enemy changed tactics and so began the era of wolves coming into the Church to lead astray the sheep with deadly heresies such as Arianism. What is the solution? What has always been the solution? It is the same as what the Apostle John did in 1 John and the Apostle Paul did in 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Corinthians and the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter. They commanded leaders to teach and preach the Word.  Continue reading

Those Who Have Eternal Life

by Mike Ratliff

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58 ESV) 

About 26 years ago God intervened in my life with eternal results. He called me to Himself. He regenerated me. He justified me. He sanctified me. He adopted me. He changed me forever. However, I was a baby Christian. I had only a vague concept of what God had done on my behalf. I really did not have a clear understanding of this thing we call Christianity. All I knew was that before that wonderful day I did not care too much for church. My concept of the proper Christian life was one of being religious, but that religion had to meet certain criteria. However, after God saved me, my concept changed radically. I suddenly found that I loved God and His people. I loved hearing Bible centered sermons and being in Bible study classes. I had a deep desire to know God’s will that I may obey Him in all things. However, that earlier concept of the proper Christian life was still with me. That meant that one’s religiosity was what determined one’s right standing before God. Continue reading

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

by Mike Ratliff

νῦν κρίσις ἐστὶν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, νῦν ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐκβληθήσεται ἔξω· κἀγὼ ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς, πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν. τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνῄσκειν. (John 12:31-33 NA27)

“Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” And in this saying, He was signifying by what kind of death He was about to die. (a personal translation of John 12:31-33 from the NA27 Greek text)

We are in that six-day period leading up to our Lord’s last Passover feast. Of course, we know that He was also crucified just prior to the Sabbath of this week so in these last few days our Lord is done with the confrontational stands against the Jewish religious leaders. Now, He is preparing His disciples for what is coming. They still do not get it. Remember, we look at our Lord’s words of His sovereignty, His deity, and joyful submission to the authority to the Father who, in turn, joyfully gives Him all authority throughout creation because of His obedience. Yes, we see this, but remember, He had not yet gone to the Cross nor had He been resurrected. What is so puzzling to those of us who take God’s good doctrines to heart and defend His Gospel with our all is why there are so many wolves in sheep’s clothing in our time with their huge churches running amuck in the visible church causing, seemingly, much damage. What we must never forget my brethren is that our Lord has all this under control. We must stay the course in our obedience and submission to the Lordship of Christ in all things. Those who are in our Lord’s sheepfold are in no danger of being snatched away. Those falling away into apostasy were never in His sheepfold to begin with.  Continue reading