The Judgment Seat of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:24-27, ESV)

As I stated in yesterday’s post, Submitting To The Authority of Scripture, cultural Christianity is not the same thing as Genuine Christianity. It has been the same all through the history of the Church. The Genuine Church has always been the “regenerate remnant” within the larger, unregenerate “visible church.” A few years ago Harold Camping was calling for the end of the world or the return of Jesus Christ to bring about the end of the world and even predicted it to come about on a certain date. When that date came and went he said he had been wrong and so changed it to another date. Of course, that date came and went. However, there was a certain “zinger” to his predictions that got a lot of Christian discernment people who are keen on eschatology very interested in what he was saying. One of his predictors that the “end was near” was the apostasy of the “church.”  Continue reading

Submitting To The Authority Of Sacred Scripture


by Mike Ratliff

[16] For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [17] For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” [18] we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. [19] And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, [20] knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. [21] For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21 ESV)

Several years ago one of the leaders of a cult attacked a friend using the comment section of her blog. He and other members of that cult attempted to shut her down by overwhelming her comment section. She asked me to help. I wasn’t much help, but I confronted the one doing the dirty work with some straightforward Biblical truth that directly contradicted what he and the leader of that cult were teaching and trying to force all Christians to follow. When I did that, they left her blog and attacked mine. Since I moderate comments it did not take very long to ascertain what was going on and to block them from doing the same thing to me that they had done to my friend’s blog. However, before I got that under control the leader of the cult had someone, probably several of his followers, go through the comments on my blog and get the email addresses of everyone who had commented against what they had been saying. They then began a very hateful email attack against me and those faithful friends who had done the very same thing I had done, which is respond to doctrinal error with Biblical Truth.  Continue reading

Without Hypocrisy


by Mike Ratliff

19Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν· 20θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν· 21ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου. 22Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται· 23ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον. 24Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν· ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει. οὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ. (Matthew 6:19-24 NA28)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon the earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in nor steal;  21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 22 “The eye of the body is the eye. If, therefore, your eye is healthy, your whole body will be enlightened.  23 But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” 24 “No one is able to serve two masters; for either the one he will hate and the other he will love, or one he will hold to and the other he will despise. You are not able to serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:19-24 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Our Lord Jesus was the most powerful and best expositor of God’s Word that believers have ever had. He spoke only the truth and he never taught anything from any motive other than that which is the will of God. We are to follow his example in every part of our lives. In the passage above, in v22, the word “healthy” translates the Greek adjective ἁπλοῦς (haplous). Is healthy a deep enough or strong enough definition for us to grasp what our Lord was teaching here? If we look at the context it is obvious that he is making a contrast between people with a “healthy eye of the body” with those who do not. What does this mean?  Continue reading

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up


by Martin Luther

14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.  (John 3:14, 15 NASB)

When Moses lifted up the snake on a pole, many Israelites disapproved of God’s command to look at it because it wasn’t pleasant. Only believing Israelites–and no one else–understood and were healed because of their faith in the Word. Who else but our Lord could have used this story to point to Christ? I never would have been so bold to interpret this story the way Christ did. He explains it by pointing to himself and saying, “That is the bronze snake, But I am the Son of Man. The Israelites had to look at the snake with their eyes. But you must look at me with the eyes of faith. They were cured of a physical poison. But through me, you will be redeemed from an eternal poison. Looking at the snake means believing in me. Their bodies were healed. But I will give eternal life to those who believe in me.” These are strange statements and an extraordinary teaching.

With these words, the Lord gives us the proper way to interpret the Old Testament. He helps us understand that the writers and prophets of the Old Testament point to Christ with their stories and illustrations. Christ shows us that he is the center point from which the entire circle is drawn. Everyone looks toward him. Whoever follows Christ belongs in that same circle. All the stories in Holy Scripture, it they are interpreted correctly, point toward Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Gospel Makes Men Holy


How the Gospel Makes Men Holy
By John A. Broadus

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. — Romans 7:24, 25.

The language is intensely passionate, — “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?” Then with the sudden transition of passion, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“How shall I be good?” is a question that used sometimes to rise in your mind when you were a child, sometimes when nobody would imagine you were thinking of such things as that. “How shall I get,to be good.” And it is a question which, amid all the commotion of this runaway life of ours, comes back to us very often, comes back even to people whom you would not suppose to be thinking of such things at all. The grossly wicked men, the men who are the slaves of vice, many of them, perhaps all of them, have their moments when there is a sort of longing that rises in their souls to be good, and when the hope returns, indestructible, that somehow or other they will get to be good after all. It became a sort of jest a few years ago, I know, to speak of “the wickedest man in New York,” but I wonder sometimes if the wickedest man — whoever he might happen to be, considered as God considers — does not sometimes want to be good. Continue reading

Jesus, Nicodemus and Regeneration


by J.C. Ryle

I. REGENERATION

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

“The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”—John 3:1–8.

The conversation between Christ and Nicodemus, which begins with these verses, is one of the most important passages in the Bible. Nowhere else do we find stronger statements about those two mighty subjects: the new birth and salvation by faith in the Son of God. Continue reading

The Holiness of the Ekklesia


by Mike Ratliff

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)

The Church is not a building. No, in the New Testament, written in Koine Greek, our English translations of it where we find the the word “church,” it is a translation of  a form of εκκλησια or “ekklesia.” For example, in Acts 5:11, “καὶ ἐγένετο φόβος μέγας ἐφ’ ὅλην τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς ἀκούοντας ταῦτα,” which the ESV translates as, “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things,” contains ἐκκλησίαν or “ekklēsian,” which is the accusative, singular, feminine case of εκκλησια. All that means is that ἐκκλησίαν is the direct object of the main verb in that sentence. However notice that there is just one εκκλησια. “This word literally means, “the called out ones.” It’s usage in scripture denotes the New Testament community of the redeemed in a two-fold aspect, the first referring to all those called by and to Christ in the fellowship of His salvation, which is the “Church” worldwide at all times. The second aspect, rarely used, refers to a local body of believers.

Continue reading

Personal Holiness


by Mike Ratliff

Beth. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. 12 Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes. 13 With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. 16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.  (Psalms 119:9-16 NASB)

The concept that God would somehow be satisfied with those who call themselves Christians, but who live their lives totally apart from Him, should be very strange to believers. The idea that the Lord is only after converts who say a quick sinner’s prayer, but never really change must really insult Him. Look at the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us on the cross. How could anyone really think He went through all that to accomplish only the possibility of salvation for all people or, even worse, automatically save all people including those who continue to live reprobate lives after hearing the gospel? Those who believe either of those are deluding themselves. Of course, their hearts are not being led by the Spirit and they are suffering from a severe case of hardheartedness. God’s values are not apparent to their hearts so they live the way they want. Many of them compartmentalize their lives to the point they give God those couple of hours on some Sunday mornings, but the rest of their time is theirs. Continue reading

Biblical Holiness


by Mike Ratliff

21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 6:21-23 NASB)

Holiness is one of those subjects that everyone seems to know everything it pertains to, but no one knows how to define. What is it? If you look up “Holiness” in a dictionary, it will tell you that it means to be “Holy.” That is not a lot of help is it? What does the word “Holy” mean? One dictionary definition is, “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.” Of course, that could only be speaking of God. Continue reading

How do Christians Overcome the World?


by Mike Ratliff

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.  (2 Timothy 1:8-12 ESV)

There are some who believe that Romans 7:7-25 was written by the Apostle Paul in reference to before his salvation in that he proclaims his frustration with his inability to keep the law by his own strength. However, the unregenerate are not able to see that only 100% obedience to the law is acceptable to God. In this, they do not have the same grief over their inconsistencies in obedience that a genuine believer has. On the other hand, there are some who teach a false doctrine of perfection for Christians. This doctrine teaches that it is possible for Christians to mature to the point that they no longer sin. This is why I hold that Romans 7:7-25 very clearly teaches us that if we attempt to keep the law through morality or legalism then we will experience that same frustration that Paul did. On the other hand, when we understand that it is not us who have overcome the world, but our Lord, then we will have a very different view of tribulation and peace in this life for Christians.  Continue reading

Are You Building Your Own Facade of Self-Righteousness?


by Mike Ratliff

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  (John 19:28-30 ESV)
Sometimes God brings things into our lives that seem devastating. Others may also see these things in our lives and question that God even exists. They cannot conceive of a loving God who would cause or allow debilitating diseases that are always fatal into the fragile bodies of those who profess faith in the Saviour. However, I am always amazed at the deep, rock hard faith displayed by those in the center of these things, whether it is the one suffering or a close family member. As I attempt to minister to these folks, feeling 100% inadequate to do so, I am the one who is encouraged by their attitude and Christlike spirit that seeks to build me up in our Lord. It is then that I view my own walk and am ashamed.

Continue reading

Jesus Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word


by Mike Ratliff

1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8 ESV)

From what I have observed, and please correct me if I am wrong, it seems that telling a false prophet or false teacher from those who are true is not as difficult as we may think. Those who are true understand and teach the centrality of our Lord Jesus Christ in all things. It really is all about Him and His glory. On the other hand, those who are false will focus nearly all of what they preach and teach from the perspective of Man. Instead of teaching our role in the Kingdom as subjects of God, they expound things for the benefit of what is fair or what seems right to men, making excuses for fleshly indulgences and not calling it sin. They refuse to accept that the Bible teaches that sin is what separates Men from God and those who die in their sin will spend eternity in Hell. Of course these teachings echo the lie that our enemy told Eve in the Garden, “Has God really said?” Continue reading

Not Philosophy But Christ


by Mike Ratliff

7τοὺς δὲ βεβήλους καὶ γραώδεις μύθους παραιτοῦ.  Γύμναζε δὲ σεαυτὸν πρὸς εὐσέβειαν· 8ἡ γὰρ σωματικὴ γυμνασία πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος, ἡ δὲ εὐσέβεια πρὸς πάντα ὠφέλιμός ἐστιν ἐπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα ζωῆς τῆς νῦν καὶ τῆς μελλούσης. (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NA28)

7 Have nothing to do with profane, old wives tales and train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is somewhat profitable, godliness is profitable for all things, as it holds promise for this life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the passage above (1 Timothy 4:7-8) the Apostle Paul used the Greek word ευσεβεια in v8, which is translated here as “godliness.” What is godliness? The word ευσεβεια in this context describes the condition of devotion and piety toward God. Godliness is a good translation, though it could also have been rendered as “holiness.” Godliness is a word which encapsulates the whole of true religion and is is called “godliness” because piety toward God is the foundation and the principal part of it. In the Greek, when this word is used to describe a devout worshipper of God, it also carries with it the general sense of a pious life or a life which is morally good. My brethren, this is the description of those who are truly alive in Christ because this is also the description of Christlikeness when it is applied to to genuine believers belonging to the Lord Jesus. Continue reading

Teach Sound Doctrine


by Mike Ratliff

7δεῖ γὰρ τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνέγκλητον εἶναι ὡς θεοῦ οἰκονόμον, μὴ αὐθάδη, μὴ ὀργίλον, μὴ πάροινον, μὴ πλήκτην, μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, 8ἀλλὰ φιλόξενον φιλάγαθον σώφρονα δίκαιον ὅσιον ἐγκρατῆ, 9ἀντεχόμενον τοῦ κατὰ τὴν διδαχὴν πιστοῦ λόγου, ἵνα δυνατὸς ᾖ καὶ παρακαλεῖν ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ καὶ τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας ἐλέγχειν. (Titus 1:7-9 NA28)

7 For it is necessary for the overseer to be blameless as God’s steward, not arrogant, not quick-tempered, not given to much wine, not violent, not fond of dishonest gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, sensible, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast to the faithful Word as taught that he may be able to also to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to expose those who oppose it. (Titus 1:7-9 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When I am asked about recommendations about certain churches or church leaders I do look at various things taught and done and said, but the primary thing I look at as the determining factor in whether a pastor is doing what is called to do is if he is preaching sound doctrine without compromise. If I see attempts to compromise anything in a ministry in an attempt to appeal to the flesh then that is warning that the preaching of sound doctrine is also being compromised.  Continue reading