The enemies of the cross of Christ and their judgment

by Mike Ratliff

18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19 NASB)

When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then they must also have a clear understanding of the fact this does include everyone. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies have an end that Paul calls “destruction.”  Continue reading

The Laodicean Church

by Mike Ratliff

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15 ‘ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:14-16 NASB)

14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον·
Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ· 15 οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα ὅτι οὔτε ψυχρὸς εἶ οὔτε ζεστός. ὄφελον ψυχρὸς ἦς ἢ ζεστός. 16 οὕτως ὅτι χλιαρὸς εἶ καὶ οὔτε ζεστὸς οὔτε ψυχρός, μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου. (Revelation 3:14-16 NA28)

All Christians should study the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. Why? Jeremiah was a prophet of God. What he was called to do was be the prophet to warn of God’s coming judgment to apostate Judah. They were still very religious. They still offered their sacrifices and held their festivals, but they also mixed in worship of other “gods” that called for the sacrifice of their own children. Jeremiah was threatened. He was beaten by the priests and told to shut up. He was put into stocks. When the Babylonians did come and fulfill the judgment he had prophesied, he was still despised by the apostates. The point is that God would not allow him to quit. He had to continue to preach. He had to continue to tell the truth. Even if only a few listened, he had to remain faithful. The religion that he preached against was the religion the people wanted. It was man-centered. Now keep that in mind as we look at the four Greek words that are key to understanding Revelation 3:14-22. Continue reading

Striving together

by Mike Ratliff

27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. (Philippians 1:27-30 NASB)

Notice in the passage above that Paul’s call for believers to stand firm together in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. Notice that those who do this are to do so with no fear of anything that opponents of God’s truth try to do so say against them and the message of the Gospel, that is, the real Gospel, not the Laodicean gospel or social gospel. In any case let us look at the Greek word the NASB translates as “striving” in v27 above, which is συναθλουντες a present, active, participle version of συναθλέω or sunathleō, which is a compound word made up of ἀθλέω or athleō from which we get our English word athlete and athletics and means to strive or contend, to be a champion in the public games, such as wrestling, boxing, et cetera. This word pictures a completely dedicated, single-minded striving that would equal that of committed athlete. Continue reading

Our Advocate

by Mike Ratliff

1 Τεκνία μου, ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε. καὶ ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον· (1 John 2:1 NA28)

1 My little Children, these things I write to you so that you do not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. (1 John 2:1 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Perfection is not for anyone is this life. The only perfect person who ever walked this Earth was the Lord Jesus Christ and the reason He could be perfect and was perfect is that He is deity. Part of His mission was actually to perfectly keep the Law in order to be the propitiation and only acceptable sacrifice in the Father’s eyes in place of those He came to save. We see this in the following verses.

2 καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου.
3 Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν. 4 ὁ λέγων ὅτι ἔγνωκα αὐτὸν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ μὴ τηρῶν, ψεύστης ἐστὶν καὶ ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν· 5 ὃς δʼ ἂν τηρῇ αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον, ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται, ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐσμεν. 6 ὁ λέγων ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν ὀφείλει καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησεν καὶ αὐτὸς [οὕτως] περιπατεῖν. (1 John 2:2-6 NA28)

2 And He is the propitiation for our sins, not for our sins only, but also for the whole world. 3 And this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commands. 4 The one saying, “I have known Him” and he does not keep His commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected, by this we know that we are in Him. 6 The one claiming to abide in Him ought to walk as He walked. (1 John 2:2-6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)  Continue reading

The Church

by Mike Ratliff

18 κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ πύλαι ᾅδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς. (Matthew 16:18 NA28)

18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What is the Church? There is much debate and with that, a great deal of unbiblical beliefs about what our Lord was talking about in Matthew 16:18 in the context of μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν. This literally says in the Greek, “of me the ekklēsian.” The noun ἐκκλησίαν is the Accusative, Singular of ἐκκλησία or ekklēsia, “a called out assembly.” The Accusative case corresponds to the English Objective case. Here we see that ἐκκλησίαν is in the Accusative case because it has accusative case ending of “ν.” Nouns in the Accusative case are the direct object of the action, which in this sentence is our Lord’s stating, “καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω” “and upon this rock, I will build…” Therefore, we learn several things that tell us what the Church is and what it is not. It is built upon what our Lord called ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ and that He is the one doing the building. We learn that the Church is not built on or according to anything else nor is it built by the efforts of men or according to the wisdom of this world.  Continue reading

They are blind guides of the blind–If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.

by Mike Ratliff

14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. 15 Ἰωάννης μαρτυρεῖ περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ κέκραγεν λέγων· οὗτος ἦν ὃν εἶπον· ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. 16 ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος· 17 ὅτι ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσέως ἐδόθη, ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο. 18 Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. (John 1:14-18 NA28)

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 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

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

False prophets and their destructive heresies

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

The costliness of a Biblical view of sin

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5 NASB)

Those who have a problem with the Doctrine of Original Sin and the Wrath of God against all sin attempt to paint the God of Reformation Theology as some sort of ogre full of anger with very little love manifest except in the case of a chosen few. In their examples of how God operates in saving people, sin is never the issue. They portray God as loving everyone to the maximum and even if their sin amounted to open rebellion against Him on their part. In their theology He just looks the other way and attempts to save everyone, but the point of contention is that the God in their example is unable to save anyone. The salvation of people is only made a possibility with those actually being saved being those who hear the Gospel and respond by exercising their “sovereign free will.” On the other hand, the God of the Bible is not anything like this. He is Sovereign. He saves those whom He has elected or chosen unto eternal life. No one limits Him in any way. Man’s will is in no way a barrier to God fulfilling His will. From these two vastly different understandings of theology comes to very different understandings of sin. Let’s look at a biblical view of sin and I invite you to compare your own understanding of it to what we unpack here. If your’s is different, I suggest to you that the Bible is not in error…  Continue reading

Grieving the Holy Spirit

by Mike Ratliff

8 For He said, “Surely, they are My people,
Sons who will not deal falsely.”
So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
10 But they rebelled
And grieved His Holy Spirit;
Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy,
He fought against them. (Isaiah 63:8-10 NASB)

What is this biblical teaching on grieving the Holy Spirit? What is the context? The immediate context is found in Ephesians 4:17-32 within the larger context of a unified Body of Christ and how Christians are to live and interact within that. This begins at Ephesians 4:1 and runs through 6:20. For this post, we will focus on 4:17-32. Continue reading

The Parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ

by Mike Ratliff

19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NASB)

19 τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως — ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς — ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ; 20 ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NA28)

19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—is it not even you—before our Lord Jesus, at His coming? 20  For you are our glory and joy.  (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and attempt to unpack Paul’s statement about our Lord’s παρουσια or parousia. What we must never forget my brethren, Christianity is simply another religion if we ignore our Lord’s παρουσίᾳ, It is vital to our doctrines. It is vital to the meaning and purpose of the Gospel. This is why any form of Christian Liberalism attacks both the Doctrine of Hell and the Doctrine of the παρουσίᾳ of Christ. This should make it evident of the power behind these attacks. He is both a liar and a murderer. Therefore, let us open God’s Word and dig into it to feed, learn the truth, and be encouraged in the Lord. Continue reading

God’s providence and inheritance

by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. (Ephesians 1:11-12 NA28)

11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will. 12 For us to be to the praise of His glory, having previously hoped in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Most modern Bible translations undoubtedly render v11 a bit differently than I did above. The words “we were made an inheritance” translates one verb, ἐκληρώθημεν, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Passive voice of κληρόω or klēroō, “obtain an inheritance. The passive voice is the key. Paul is saying that Christians are made an inheritance by God for God. One of the great misconceptions of our salvation, which is made by so many, is that it is the result of something we do, but how anyone could believe that after reading Ephesians 1 and 2 is beyond me.  Continue reading

Who are the blessed?

by Mike Ratliff

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Proverbs 16:18-19 NASB)

The truly discerning, obedient, Christian who is seeking God’s will in his or her relationship with all in the Body of Christ is not one seeking a fight over every difference. Instead, the stronger brother or sister is to always be about seeking the defense of the conscience of the weaker brethren. In fact, those who are mature in Christ will not seek to have that known among the brethren at all, but are of lowly spirit, but always ready to teach and encourage those willing to be discipled. However, even in this, they know that what they are teaching is what they have received from their Lord and is not of themselves. Continue reading

Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace

by Mike Ratliff

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24 NASB)

All genuine Christians have one thing in common—they are imperfect people who, no matter how much they desire to be Christlike, will struggle with the paradox of being new creations slowly becoming conformed to the image of their Saviour while being mired in a body of death that wants to be ruled by their old sin nature. How often do we cry out to God to release us from this prison? What good can it do for us to struggle so with the demands of the flesh?

Continue reading

The shepherd of the sheep

by Mike Ratliff

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. (John 10:1-2 NASB)

In John Bunyan’s classic allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian encounters two interesting men shortly after his own salvation. These two men are named Formalist and Hypocrisy. He saw them enter the Narrow Way by climbing over the wall which bordered the Left Hand of the path. Christian asks them what they are doing and where they are going. They reply that they were born in the land of Vain-Glory and that they are going for Praise to Mount Sion. Christian asks, “Why came you not in at the Gate which standeth at the beginning of of the Way? Know you not that it is written, That he that cometh not in by the Door, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a Thief and a Robber?” They replied, “…to go to the Gate for entrance, was by all their countrymen counted too far about; and that therefore their usual way was to make a short cut of it, and to climb over the wall, as they had done.” Christian asked, “But will it not be counted a trespass against the Lord of the City, whither we are bound, thus to violate his revealed Will?” They replied, “That as for that, he needed not to trouble his head thereabout; for what they did, they had Custom for, and could produce, if need were, Testimony that would witness it, for more than a thousand years.” Continue reading