Is it the “Rapture” or is it the “Resurrection”?


by Mike Ratliff

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NASB)

In this post we will simply look at the meaning of certain Greek words and how they are translated in many or most English Bibles instead of how they should “literally” be translated.  From this the meaning of certain passages will change their focus from one eschatological term that is found nowhere in scripture to one that is the basis of our blessed hope in Christ. The passage in question is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Continue reading

How to avoid letting false teachers mislead you


by Mike Ratliff

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. (Romans 16:17-19 NASB)

The visible church is overrun with false teachers and their doctrines. There is a mindset in the Church right now that is actually part of the problem in that it ostracizes and attempts to isolate and silence those who, in their obedience to the discernment God has given them, reveal the truth about certain false teachers and why their doctrines are unbiblical. Some of these wolves in sheep’s clothing are very popular in the visible church to the point that their supporters are more than willing to “give them a pass” when they err biblically because they have been ministered to by them in the past. However, this very thing simply promotes the environment for “tolerance” of error. This mindset contains a lie that those who discern these things, warn the body, and expose the false teachers and their doctrines, are the ones being divisive, unloving, and unChristlike. Thankfully, we still have God’s Word, and in it, we learn that we must always be on guard against false and deceptive teaching. One of the helpful things it teaches us in this battle is the knowledge of the believer’s new identity in Christ. This knowledge helps us resist the arguments of false teachers as we walk before the face of God for His glory alone.  Continue reading

The nature of genuine saving faith


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, 2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις 3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, 4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 5 διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, 6 ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 7 πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Romans 1:1-7 NA28)

1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called Apostle having been set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised before through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 concerning his Son – having come from the seed of David according the flesh, 4 – having been designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of Holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we received grace and Apostleship for obedience of faith among all the nations on behalf of his name, 6 among whom you are also the called ones of Jesus Christ, 7 to all the ones in Rome, loved ones of God, called ones, saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the passage above the word “faith” in v5 translates the noun πίστεως (pisteōs), which is the Genitive, Singular of πίστις (pistis), “faith, faithfulness.” The verb form of πίστις, πιστεύω (pisteuō) means, “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly persuaded to something.” Some teach in our time that this “faith” we are describing here simply means “mental assent” and so teach that all one must do to be saved is mentally assent to a few facts about Jesus. Continue reading

Obediently hold fast to the Word of life with fear and trembling


by Mike Ratliff

19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” (Acts 5:19-20 NASB)

We are in a period of the Church in which we must keep our eyes fixed on Christ alone for if we look to men we are in danger of being deceived. We must become focused where God wants us to be focused, doing as He desires us to be doing. Continue reading

Christlikeness


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες, 3 μηδὲν κατʼ ἐριθείαν μηδὲ κατὰ κενοδοξίαν ἀλλὰ τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ ἀλλήλους ἡγούμενοι ὑπερέχοντας ἑαυτῶν, 4 μὴ τὰ ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστος σκοποῦντες ἀλλὰ [καὶ] τὰ ἑτέρων ἕκαστοι.
5 Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων
οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο
τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ,
7 ἀλλʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν
μορφὴν δούλου λαβών,
ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος·
καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος
8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν
γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου,
θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.
9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν
καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα
τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα,
10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ
πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ
ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων
11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι
κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς
εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. (Philippians 2:1-11 NA28)

1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, 3 doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit  but in humility, esteeming one another above self. 4 Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but those of one other.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but he poured himself out, taking the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men, and having been found in appearance as a man,
8 he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death, and that death by a cross.
9 Wherefore also God exalted him and gave to him the name above every name
10 that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Here we have Paul’s exhortation for believers to live out their lives in Christ in the Spirit by living in unity. Who is our example? It is Christ! Christ’s humbling himself to become our Saviour is our example to serve one another. We are to consider other people’s interests first. Jesus did not come and set up a huge church or ministry to rival the Temple et cetera. He did not instruct his disciples to do that either. No, that sort of religiosity is not what we should be about. I hope you noticed that throughout this exhortation by Paul, that he focused on our worship and service of our Lord and that was lived through the sacrificial love for each other. Continue reading

Election and Predestination


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13 NASB)

To complement our study of “foreknowledge” in yesterday’s post, let us look at two other aspects of Doctrine of Election. When people confront me about my “Calvinism” I do not become tense or defensive. Instead, I usually make sure that whoever I am conversing with understands that the basis for my understanding of God and His doctrines is that He is Sovereign. Who in their right mind would worship a God that is not Sovereign and for any reason is dependent upon mankind (one of his creatures) for any reason whatsoever? Also, Reformed Theology (I prefer that term over Calvinism) is rooted in God’s Sovereign Grace. Because of this, and since I am fully submitted to God because of who He is knowing that He is God and without my Lord I can do nothing, I am fully at ease, and resting in His Sovereign Grace. What is the response I usually get? Tense argumentation! I don’t get it. Foreknowledge, as we saw yesterday, is a wonderful word that should cause none of us to squirm or get upset or whatever, but should drive us to our knees in thanksgiving for God foreordaining each of us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Likewise, as we are about to see, election and predestination are both wonderful words that describe God’s exercise of His Sovereign Grace on our behalf. Continue reading

Foreknowledge


by Mike Ratliff

28 Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν. 29 ὅτι οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς· 30 οὓς δὲ προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν. (Romans 8:28-30 NA28)

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 NASB)

Unfortunately, “foreknowledge” is a very controversial or contentious term. However, I contend that the debate over it is made overly “intense” by those who really do not understand what it actually means. I have heard more times than I can count from well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ something that goes like this, “Doesn’t ‘foreknowledge’ in the Bible in those verses such as Romans 8:29 simply mean that God looked down through time and had prior knowledge of who would be saved and elected them?” Well my brethren, that simply is not what it means. The root Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “foreknew” is προγινώσκω (proginōskō), which also carries the idea of “foreordination.” Continue reading

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.


by Mike Ratliff

11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:11-14 NASB)

I have heard many Christians explain their lack of spiritual maturity as not important because, after all, they are not under law but under grace. Some take this concept even further and say things like, “God is not angry!” This is said in reference to the call for Christians to walk in repentance and put to death the sins that cling so close, et cetera. However, if these same people would bother to put into context Paul’s statement about Christians not being under law, but under grace, they would quickly see that it is part of a call for all of us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. This is a command to walk in repentance. This is a command to walk before the face of God in total submission to Christ’s Lordship. There are no exceptions. There are no sins overlooked. What God calls sin is sin. It matters not at all that to proclaim that homosexuality is a sin, for instance, may be offensive to some.  Continue reading

The Doctrine of Imputation, Treasure, and Dung


by Mike Ratliff

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on 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 or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

The doctrine of imputation is under severe attack in our day. Those who have made the mistake of seeking a peace with those who desire to change or do away with this doctrine have erred egregiously. This doctrine must never be compromised. Why? The changes certain people desire to make to this doctrine would change our justification from being according to faith alone to a combination of faith and works. According to Galatians 5:3, this would make us obligated to keep the whole law, which none of us can do. Only our Lord Jesus Christ kept the commandments perfectly, therefore, His righteousness is imputed to those who trust in His obedience to be justified.  Continue reading

For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.


by Mike Ratliff

34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:34 NASB)

34 ὃν γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ λαλεῖ, οὐ γὰρ ἐκ μέτρου δίδωσιν τὸ πνεῦμα. (John 3:34 NA28)

In John 3:1-21 our Lord spoke the words of God to “ a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” In this passage our Lord clears the table and tells it like it is. He tells Nicodemus in v3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Of course, Nicodemus doesn’t “get it at first and asks, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” in v4 and, “How can these things be?” in v9. In between those two perplexed questions, our Lord, the Λόγος or logos or Word, the living Christian proclamation as a whole of the New Testament proclaimed τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ or “the words of God” to Nicodemus in a way that he had never heard before. He said,”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” As we read in John 3:34 (above), He spoke or uttered the ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ to this man and all who read John 3. What did he say? Only those born again are part of the Kingdom of God and to be born again is to born of the Spirit. Notice carefully that this rebirth is not something controlled by or contained by or comprehended by people of the flesh. Everyone truly born of the Spirit are so by the work of the Holy Spirit not by the works of men. These are the ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ.  Continue reading

Who are apostates?


by Mike Ratliff

12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have not known), 14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. (Deuteronomy 13:12-15 NASB)

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. 7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, 9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. 10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’; 11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'” 12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:1-13 NASB)

It must have been about eight or nine years ago that I was in a discussion on this blog after I had written a piece about some of the confusing things coming from the ministry of Dr. John Piper and others. I made the comment to one of my friends that I thought that Dr. Piper needed to show the fruits of repentance for some of the things he had said and done or he would eventually be considered an apostate. Someone not in that conversation (a bottom feeder or troll??) jumped all over that statement and condemned me for calling Dr. Piper an apostate which he refused to consider because (according to him) an apostate is one who drops all pretense of Christianity and walks away from his faith. Using that reasoning those who continue to claim to be Christians even though they preach heresies such as Modalism (T.D. Jakes for instance) or deny the necessity of the Atonement and Justification by Faith alone and the reality of Hell (Rob Bell for instance) or those who insist on Christianity that is forever changing according to whatever society demands or wants (pragmatism) and insist that doctrine is not needed, but works is what God wants (Rick Warren for instance) are Christians along with the Roman Catholics, Mormons, and anyone else who claims that they are. Of course then there are those fellas (Steven Furtick, and James MacDonald for instance) who are all about erecting “cool” idolatrous worship which is really all about themselves and they sell this product to other wannabe preacherboys who want to be rich and famous like them. Do you see the common denominator in all this? Is any of what these people do about God and his glory? Is it about the edification of the Body of Christ through the genuine worship of God for his glory alone? No, it is about making money and becoming famous while fleecing the sheep who have been duped into thinking its all about the gospel. Have you noticed that these people never talk about the gospel without talking about money? Continue reading

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.


by Mike Ratliff

15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· (1 John 2:15 NA28)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

If we are not prayerful and become careless in our own abiding in our Lord, we can become distracted and then susceptible to the wiles of our enemy to become discouraged and even despair about the strangeness and growing apostasy in the visible church. On the other hand, when we are in the heat of battle and God is using us, it is amazing how clear we can see the compromise all around us. We see believers with a love for truth and a profession of faith, but also with a love for this world and the things of this world that becomes evident in those compromises. When this takes place in “Christian leadership” what are the evidences we should look for? Are there consistent ones that obviously point to ones that we can say, “Blindness has blinded his eyes?”  Continue reading

Jesus and God the Father are one.


by Mike Ratliff

30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA28)

30 “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I read the following paragraph from one of my devotions the other day, “Visible disunity in the church is the worst it has ever been, but we must take care not to think that God’s people were once fully and visibly united on all matters of Christian living. Christians may have the Holy Spirit, but they are not free from sin in this life, and living in community with other believers always leads to disagreements…” Please notice that I am not writing this in defense of those certain so-called “Christian leaders” who “tweet” unbiblical and misleading things such as, “Spirit-led people can emphasize interpret & things differently. See FOUR Gospels! Your opinion isn’t the only Christian one.” My brethren, yes, there are four Gospels, but they are not four different “Christian opinions” nor are they in any way doctrinally opposed. That devotional that I quoted above went on to say that genuine Christians may indeed differ on many things, but not when it comes to true doctrinal issues such as the deity of Christ, the Gospel, our Lord’s Resurrection, Salvation by Faith through Grace alone, et cetera. As always, we must keep things in context. That passage I quoted above (John 10:30) seems enigmatic to some and I am sure some heretics have abused it, therefore, let us look at John 10:22-42.  Continue reading