Peter preaching the Gospel at Pentecost


by Mike Ratliff

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’ Acts 2:14-21 (NKJV) 

Thus began the Apostle Peter’s sermon following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost just 10 days following our Lord’s Ascension. I am going to walk through this sermon with you so that we can see how the Gospel works when preached with power and with the right focus. Who is being glorified in vv14-21 above? Is it the preacher Peter? Is it those prophesying? Is it those responding? No, it is God who is causing this to happen through the moving of His mighty hand. What will be the result as Peter summarizes in v21? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Here is that verse from Greek, “καὶ ἔσται πᾶς ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται.” The NKJV’s rendering of “calls on” translates ἐπικαλέσηται the Aorist, Subjunctive, Middle form of ἐπικαλέομαι or epikaleomai, which, in this context, is making use of the name of the Lord in adoration as Lord and Saviour. This is a turning to Him for salvation from the hour of judgment and wrath to come. That is how Peter opens his sermon. Let us see the rest. Continue reading

Adultery of the heart and apostasy


by Mike Ratliff

4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:4-10 (NKJV) 

This fallen world is diametrically opposed to God and His ways in every part. Even those of us who have been delivered through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life in Him can find ourselves at times with a temporal focus, which causes us to make compromises in our walks.  Continue reading

Doctrine and truth


by Mike Ratliff

3 Ἀγαπητοί, πᾶσαν σπουδὴν ποιούμενος γράφειν ὑμῖν περὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας ἀνάγκην ἔσχον γράψαι ὑμῖν παρακαλῶν ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει. Jude 1:3 (NA28)

3 Beloved, being extremely eager to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you encouraging you to contend for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. Jude 1:3 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

After R.C. Sproul died just a week ago or so several people in some of the Facebook groups I am part of began to attempt to denigrate his theology based solely on the fact that they disagreed with him. Let that sink in for bit. Some of them called him a heretic. Some called him a false teacher. Some said he was now burning in hell. Well, my list of people who Facebook thinks I should “follow” shrank quite a bit over the last several days. However, I have also found that in his death many of the statements he made in his teachings, sermons, and books about Reformation Theology, Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism are resurfacing and people are now discussing them again. One thing I learned from R.C. was that Calvinism, when taught correctly, is essentially the same thing as the Biblical Gospel. Now, there are many who go to extremes with it and this post is coming from an encounter I had with a fellow on Facebook today.   Continue reading

Biblical Justice vs Social Justice


by Mike Ratliff

1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. 2 And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release. Deuteronomy 15:1-2 (NKJV) 

I was contacted by a friend right after Christmas about writing a post comparing what the Bible says about “justice” and how it is used by many today who call themselves “Social Justice Warriors.” I looked up the Hebrew and Greek words. I studied the context. It was very difficult to see how anyone could take those passages and come up with the Progressive political context called Social Justice from that. I did more research. I then found a very well grounded and well written article by E. Calvin Beisner that nailed it. If you read the entire article I assure you that you will not be confused by what is going on by this topic any longer.  The article is called Biblical Justice vs. Social Justice.

He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me


by Mike Ratliff

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NKJV) 

The Church is in the midst of a Truth War. That is nothing new is it? We have been talking about this for years; however, we must remain diligent while not surrendering the fight over what is Truth and what is not to the enemies of God’s Truth. The reason the visible church is being eaten alive by the world right now is that it has long ago forsaken God’s Word as His infallible Truth. The result is the compromised mess we see all around us now. Why is it that Rick Warren and his followers have such a hold on the visible church? Their paper-thin, worldly theology is geared to be man-pleasing and non-offensive by being sanitized with the removal of those things like the doctrines of the Total Depravity of Man, Justification by Faith, and then there is that bloody cross of Christ and why our Lord deliberately laid down His life there. You will not hear about any of that in those compromised churches because that might offend someone. What about those people comfortable in their religiosity, we couldn’t have them suddenly come under conviction that they are filthy sinners in need of a Saviour and the only way to be Justified by Faith is through that bloody Cross, taking it up and following Jesus Christ as Lord. Oh, no we cannot have that, let us sanitize it up and make it easy so people can come to us and be comfortable in their religiosity so our churches can be large and growing.  Continue reading

Chosen


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-14 (NKJV)

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (NKJV) 

In this post we will look at Ephesians 1:3-14 and Romans 8:29-30. In these two passage are found three Greek words that have been the source of large numbers of polemic works and, in my own experience, I have been accused of holding to doctrines that I do not hold to (nor do any hold to that I know of) by Synergists constructing straw men in order to attack them in an attempt to make it look as if they are defeating the Doctrines of Grace to which I do hold dear and the Monergistic faith through which I know I am saved. Continue reading

The Doctrine of Original Sin and the Wrath of God


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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5 (NKJV) 

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 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 two 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

Works righteousness is man’s default religion


by Mike Ratliff

13 πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν· ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλʼ ἁμαρτωλούς. Matthew 9:13 (NA28)

13 But go and learn what is the meaning of this; I desire mercy and not sacrifice, for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Matthew 9:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Works righteousness is man’s default religion. The Jews mostly misunderstood the Old Testament sacrificial system. The point of the sacrifice was the taking away of sin and the pointing to the perfect sacrifice that would come in Christ, but most had turned it into a form of works righteousness. Continue reading

All of the Good Shepherd’s sheep will believe and repent and be saved by Grace through faith


by Mike Ratliff

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:14-16 (NKJV) 

When those of us who came from an Arminian or Free Will background come to grips with the reality of God’s Sovereignty, it is amazing how we struggle with letting go of the responsibility to “earn” our salvation. Of course, part of that struggle is rooted in the misconception that “election” happens at salvation. Ephesians 1 makes it clear, however, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. An honest reading of that wonderful letter by the Apostle Paul shows us that God’s people are His in completion even though many of them have not yet believed and repented. They are our Lord’s sheep. Continue reading

Spiritual Poverty


by Martin Luther

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? (James 2:5 ESV)

You may wonder, “What? Do all Christians have to live in complete poverty and not own anything? Do we have to get rid of all of our honor, prestige, and power? What are prosperous people, such as business owners and government officials, supposed to do? Should they sell their possessions and give up their authority in order to buy heaven from the poor?” The answer is no. Scripture doesn’t say that you can buy heaven from the poor. But it does say that you should be counted among the poor and also be spiritually poor. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3)

The little words in spirit show that self-imposed poverty won’t bring God’s blessing. It’s not intrinsically evil to have money, own possessions and land, or employ workers. These are all gifts from God and the way God has ordered our society. No one is blessed simply because he is a beggar and owns nothing. Jesus was talking about being spiritually poor, or poor in spirit.

The world can’t keep on going without money, respect for authority, land ownership, and servants. A lord or prince can’t be poor and fulfill his responsibilities in life. In order to carry out his official duties, he must have the necessary resources. So the idea that we must live in poverty in incorrect. The world couldn’t keep going if we were all beggars and owned nothing. We couldn’t support our families and servants if we didn’t have any money. To sum up, being financially poor isn’t the answer. So be satisfied with whatever God gives you, whether it’s poverty or prosperity. But be sure of this: each and every one of us must become spiritually poor in the sight of God.

from: Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional; edited by James C. Galvin.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sola Scriptura vs spiritual blindness


by Mike Ratliff

13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Matthew 15:13-14 (NKJV) 

What is Sola Scriptura? This is a Latin phrase. Sola has the idea of “alone,” “ground,” or “base” while scriptura means “writings” and refers to Sacred Scripture or what we refer to in the vernacular as The Holy Bible. Sola Scriptura means that Sacred Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. That being true it must also be true that “all Scripture is ‘God breathed’ (given of inspiration of God) and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness… (2 Timothy 3:16).” Sola Scriptura was the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation. One of first things the reformers did after breaking from the Roman Catholic Church was to translate the Bible into the common language of their people. This was violently resisted by the Roman Church with many translators, such as William Tyndale, paying with their lives for putting a non-Latin Bible into the hands of the common people. Continue reading

The source of Christian assurance is God Himself


by Mike Ratliff

17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:17-23 (NKJV)

The passage above takes place after Israel’s idolatry with the golden calf (Exodus 32). Moses is seeking assurance from God that He would not utterly destroy Israel but would go with the people and remain with them to continue to make them a set apart people from other nations (Exodus 33:12-16). God did assure Moses that He would not abandon them, but then Moses made this remarkable request of God–he asked to see His divine glory in vv17–18.

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Believers’ Faithfulness vs Religion


by Mike Ratliff

28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. 1 John 2:28-29 (NKJV) 

All who are truly in Christ must admit that this walk is fraught with doubt as well as pressure to conform to a form of godliness that has no power to conform them to the expected standards of doing church, as well as to live up to the idea that this lost and dying world has what a Christian must be. As many of you know, I grew up as a Southern Baptist. While I am grateful for the deep Bible knowledge that I gained through being in Church every Sunday, I have also learned that much of the focus of organized religion is geared more to creating religious faithfulness rather than to disciple believers to abide in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

Are we in the midst of God’s wrath of abandonment?


by Mike Ratliff

17 “Ephraim is joined to idols,
Let him alone. Hosea 4:17 (NKJV) 

Idolatry is the natural state of man. Left to themselves, people will worship or idolize someone or something. On the top of the list of those things we place on pedestals of idolatry is self. Professing Christians are not immune. They idolize Christian leaders, their churches, their doctrine, their liberty, their self-righteousness, their denomination, their particular translation of the Bible, and anything else they can view as something that gives them a sense of religious identity. Tragically, most see nothing wrong with this. Genuine Christianity has been supplanted by man-made religiosity and there are only a few left, a remnant,  who see the difference. We lament over the growing apostasy in the Church, but should we be surprised?

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