The Effects of Denying the Resurrection

by Mike Ratliff

8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:8-14 NASB)

The Doctrine of the Resurrection is a target of our enemy. He does not want God’s people to understand it or to have hope in it. I have received some very strange comments on the posts on the Resurrection lately. I have not posted them because the challenge from them was couched in arguments that were either pure humanism or from a spiritual slant that was entirely pagan. Tragically, a few were from professing Christians whose concept of the Resurrection read more like a fairy tale or a horror story than what we find in the Bible. In this post we will look at the effects of denying the Resurrection. Continue reading

Destructive Heresies and Doctrines

by Mike Ratliff

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.(2 Peter 2:1 NASB)

False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology ‘ gives them a green light. Continue reading

Is it Slander or is it Discernment?

by Mike Ratliff

8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-12 NASB)

This discernment ministry stuff is not for everyone. I often wonder if I am cut out for it at all. I do not like conflict. On the other hand, God gifted me with the makeup that loves the truth and seeks justice because it is His truth and I am compelled, quite often, to speak out when false prophets besmirch His truth and the Gospel is treated as optional by certain “evangelicals.” However, there is a fine line between exposing that which is false and slander. That fine line has to do with intent and evidence. Continue reading

Genuine Christian Unity

by Mike Ratliff

6 A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. 9 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:6-9 NASB)

The passage above  from Isaiah 40 is quoted directly in 1 Peter 1:24-25, which is why I placed it there. We are commanded in God’s Word to be unified in Christ, to love one another in the Lord. We are commanded to stand firm and rebuke false teachers as we warn the brethren as well, but our role is not to cause division. We are not to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. That is not our job at all. That will happen when our Lord returns in judgment. However, that does not mean that we are to be unified with heretics or to call apostates our brothers. No, there is a unity that we are to have as the Body of Christ that is built by the Holy Spirit that He establishes in God’s truth first then as a visible unity which is the eventual fruit of shared submission to the Word of God.  Continue reading

God Justifies the Ungodly

by Mike Ratliff

1What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:1-8 ESV)

I was in a discussion recently where the person I was conversing with was very upset because he felt that when we raise the standard high in our churches that it can be very discouraging to those who are not as spiritually mature as others. He believed that churches need to be more easy going and less demanding. He also believed that all we have been saying lately against seeker-sensitive church models is unfair because in those churches those who may not be very mature can feel comfortable and welcome. My heart broke while reading his comments because I understood exactly what he was talking about and I began to see that there is another group of Christians out there that are drawn to churches that are not so demanding on doctrinal issues as in a typical Reformed church. They are the ones who feel that they will never measure up. They feel inadequate to the apparent “Holiness” seen in the more mature members in those churches. Continue reading

Be Killing Sin Or It Will Be Killing You

by Mike Ratliff

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

The 21st Century version of pop-Christianity is not doctrinally sound. That should not surprise us since those most of influence in it elevate human philosophy up to the highest esteem while looking at Orthodox Christianity and its solid biblical doctrines as passé or old-fashioned or something to be phased out to make room for what is culturally relevant. One of the components of this “pop-Christianity” consists of using cool buzzwords like “missional.” Within that paradigm, there are other cool buzzwords like “incarnational” and “Spiritual Formation.” I have yet to see a denominational or church group go down the path of a “missional” focus that does not also emphasize the necessity of being “incarnational” and that that must be preceded by a church-wide emphasis on Spiritual Formation. “Incarnational” is a buzzword that refers to a church becoming culturally relevant. It calls for its members to alter how everything is done in the church in order for those outside of it to not feel threatened so they will come in and become part of it. They attempt to make the church look just like the culture they are attempting to be part of. They are trying to fit the church in. A crucial step in doing this is Spiritual Formation in which the members go through spiritual disciplines in order to enhance their ‘spiritual maturity.’ This is focused on things like transcendental meditation, yoga, et cetera. Continue reading

The Results of Justification

by Mike Ratliff

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

There is a lot of dispute in our day about the nature of Christ’s atonement on the cross. What did Christ purchase for His people that day? Many imply that our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross was not necessary. Others say that He did not die for the sins of His people, He simply suffered for them. Let us not rely on tradition or ‘feelings’ here. Let us go the source, God’s Word, to see what the Holy Spirit revealed to us about this through the Apostle Paul. Continue reading

Are You Being Filled With the Spirit or Something Else?

Last evening my pastor’s Wednesday evening message was an in-depth exposition of Pneumatology or The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He did a very good job of differentiating the works of the Holy Spirit that so many professing Christians confuse and look at as the same thing or as something that is completely unbiblical. Not including the works of the Holy Spirit prior to and including Christ’s incarnation he is intimately involved in the salvation and life of believers. For instance, in 2 Peter 1:21 we learn that he inspired all Sacred Scripture. All believers come to Christ because they are first regenerated by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:12; Titus 3:5; Romans 8:11). All believers are baptized into the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3-4; Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5) and from this we learn of his permanent indwelling of all genuine believers. In the lives of all genuine believers, before they are saved and afterwards as they are drawn into walks of repentance, the Holy Spirit convicts (John 16:8). He sanctifies all believers (2 Thessalonians 2:13). He is the “helper” sent by Christ to all believers (John 14:16; 1 John 2:1; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:1; Romans 8:26). Lastly we come to the filling of the Holy Spirit. All believers are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not the same thing as being baptized by the Holy Spirit. I wrote the following post August 29, 2010, but I believe it is just as vital for us to grasp now as it was then. – Mike Ratliff

Are You Being Filled With the Spirit or Something Else?

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21 ESV)

In Ephesians 5:18 Paul commands, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit!“ At first glance that may read or sound like Paul is saying, “instead of getting drunk, do these religious things,” which he lists in vv19-21. However, as we know, the proper way to interpret Sacred Scripture is by keeping what we are studying in context foremost. Here, the context tells us that the Apostle Paul is making a contrast that the Ephesians would have understood perfectly. Let’s go deeper. Continue reading

Children of God Abide in Christ

The following was originally posted July 11, 2009. I am presenting this here again as I believe that many believers are convinced that even though they are justified by grace alone through faith alone, as Sacred Scripture clearly teaches, they have become convinced that they must obey certain commands of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to be accounted worthy of that salvation. This notion is unbiblical. For instance, as I show in the post below, the command to abide in Christ is indeed an imperative, a command, but the ability to obey it is only available to those whose hearts have been regenerated by God. The regenerate are justified by God and have nothing to earn and could never deserve their salvation, however, as we grow more mature in Christ we take on more and more of his character as the Holy Spirit transforms us all by the grace of God (Romans 12:2). We obey our Lord because we are in him not to earn our salvation. – Mike Ratliff

Children of God Abide in Christ

4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”  (John 15:4-6 NASB)

I watched part of two videos last night that a friend posted on Facebook. Both videos were diatribes against orthodox Christianity by “preachers” telling their people presenting the Gospel the way Paul Washer does it is wrong and that anyone who holds to Reformation Theology is not a real Christian. I did not make it very far into either video before I “hung up” in disgust. Did either of the attackers use scripture to back up their claims? No, they used nothing but human “common sense” and philosophy. I suppose it never occurred to these people that God’s ways are not Man’s ways. However, after those little treats last night I began pondering how I should address this or even if I should. As I sat down to put this post together I became convinced that I should write about the number one marker that reveals the authenticity of Christians. That is that genuine believers in our Lord Jesus Christ abide in Him and do not fall away.  Continue reading

Discernment Leading to Righteous Judgment

by Mike Ratliff

24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24 NASB)

Our pastor has been preaching through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7) since October. Today he preached through Matthew 7:1-6, which as I hope many of you know was the foundation for my series Judge Not!, which I wrote back in 2006. One thing I really appreciated in his sermon was that as he got to v6, which is where Jesus tells us that we must be discerning; i.e. that we must make proper judgments, he quoted John 7:24, which I placed at the top of this post. He even contrasted improper judging that Jesus was preaching against in Matthew 7 with proper judging that requires discernment and humility and the mind of Christ. I almost fell out of my seat when he gave the example of righteous judgment being warning Christians against the unbiblical preaching that was preached this very day by the pastor of the largest SBC church in California.  Continue reading

Here I Stand

In every generation, new attacks on the veracity of Scripture arise, and the church faces a choice. Will she stand firm on the inspired Word of God, or will she capitulate to the Spirit of the Age? In the message below given at Ligonier Ministries’ No Compromise: 2013 National Conference, Dr. Steven Lawson explains why the church must never compromise her commitment to the inspired and inerrant Word of God, but rather remain firm in the face of all challenges.

Here I Stand

Feet Firmly Planted in Midair

Most students entering college today believe that truth is relative, that what is true for you may not be true for me. In this message from the No Compromise: 2013 National Conference, Dr. Steven Lawson looks at the influence relativism has had on our culture and explores the consequences. He will explain the absurd and self-defeating nature of relativism and remind us of God’s call to stand for the unchanging absolute truth of His Word.

Feet Firmly Planted in Midair

The Article on Which the Church Stands or Falls

As we have stood firm against those who are demanding that we compromise and say nothing about the History Channel’s Mishandling of the Bible in it’s miniseries, I have been somewhat surprised about one thing, but not about another. The volume of the outcry against this stance surprised me, but the incredible theological shallowness of those doing the attacking against our stance did not. It was very similar to the volume and type of attack that I went through when I reblogged a post from a friend about some false teaching being promoted by Beth Moore a few years ago. The outcry was intense and large, but the depth of theological knowledge and reason within those doing the attacking was sparse indeed. It was all based within fleshly outrage that is evident within those whose idol has been toppled over. Now, with that in in focus I had intended to repost my study Judge Not!, which I wrote about 7 years ago. However, that is a 16 part Bible study which I had intended to publish back in the day, but a friend in the Christian marketing/publishing industry suggested that I simply post it and let as many people read it as possible. He posted it on his web site and several others have as well. I wanted so much to suggest to those accusing of us of judging falsely to go read that post, but I doubt if they were really listening.

Instead of focusing on that study I would like to continue with pursuing what is theologically correct and what we must hold fast to and never compromise even unto death. As I contemplated this today I received an email from Ligonier Ministries about their current No Compromise: 2013 National Conference. The message below is from R.C. Sproul.  Continue reading

No Other Gospel

by Mike Ratliff

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed–God is witness. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-5 ESV)

The rebellion against God is alive and well…for now. This rebellion began before the fall of Man into sin (Genesis 3). It began when Lucifer attempted to overthrow God and ascend to the throne himself. Because of this, he lost his place in Heaven and became Satan. When he deceived Eve in the Garden and Adam followed her into sin, they actually became recruits in his continual war against God. All of their descendents were born into this army as children of wrath. After God interceded after the fall, He prophesied that there would be a seed of the woman who would be bruised by the serpent, but He would, in turn, crush his head. Continue reading