The Christ of God


by Mike Ratliff

18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” Luke 9:18-20 (NKJV) 

Since this ministry has existed we have looked at the growing apostasy that appears to be consuming the Church. This has caused many of us anguish and grief along with some growing excitement in anticipation of the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, let us not forget that there are many who claim to be “christian” who view what we have been discussing and exploring as the very thing they are trying to accomplish. They view our exposition of it as “interference” and “over reaction.” Among the comments I did not post and ping backs that I refused were some who described our study as a growing train wreck or a study in delusion. Continue reading

Defilement


by Mike Ratliff

15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. Mark 7:15 (NKJV) 

One very interesting character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is a fellow named ‘Ignorance.’ ‘Christian’ and ‘Hopeful’ encounter him after they depart the company of the ‘Shepherds’ as they continue their journey to the Celestial City.  The path on which they traveled became crooked and it lay next to a country called ‘Conceit.’ ‘Ignorance’ came from there. Bunyan described him as ‘a very brisk lad.’ After ‘Christian’ learned  that ‘Ignorance’ claimed to be on the same journey as he and ‘Hopeful’ he also deduced that this fellow had not begun it at the Narrow Gate nor had he encountered Christ Crucified. Continue reading

Our good works done in the Spirit do not earn our salvation, but prove its authenticity


by Mike Ratliff

5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:5-6 (NKJV) 

This Christian walk is fraught with struggle against a deadly enemy. That enemy is the flesh. Our flesh is deceitful and has only one goal, which is, motivated by pride, to drive us to seek fulfillment through channels which will always result in the believer not walking in the Spirit, but according to it. It is very clever and can even conjure up false humility that is really pride in disguise. It can justify all sorts of things that appear to be humble and Christlike, but which are merely screens and bluffs designed to disguise a life of self-gratification. In this walk it is vital that the believer come to terms with the fact that they will have to deal with this monster as long as he or she is in this life and that it is the victory over it which is the wonderful result of the mortification of sin. This humble pursuit is only possible for the believer as he or she learns to walk by faith motivated by God’s love working through them. Continue reading

Paying the cost of discipleship


by Mike Ratliff

21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21 (NKJV) 

The message of salvation that is normally preached or taught in the vast majority of churches these days has been contaminated with Humanism. The focus is on becoming a Christian for some great benefit or reward from God. Tragically, masses of people respond to that false gospel as well. The genuine gospel that our Saviour preached during His earthly ministry may have mentioned the benefits of being saved, but He emphasized the cost of becoming His disciple in such a way that it caused many of His hearers to not follow Him anymore, which was His intent. In fact, whenever He saw that the people were flocking to Him to have their felt needs met, He would speak a message to them that expressed that those who are His disciples are the ones who have counted the cost and seen that the eternal is all that truly matters. Continue reading

Christian authenticity is radical Christianity


by Mike Ratliff

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
But after that no one dared question Him. Mark 12:28-34 (NKJV) 

The rabbis of Jesus’ day engaged in an ongoing debate to determine which commandments of the Law were “light” and which were “weighty” (Matthew 23:23). It reminds me of the debate in certain circles of the visible Church today in which some are concerned with how far they can push their “Christian Liberty.” This concept is no more biblical than that of the rabbis attempting to compartmentalize their religion. Does our Lord’s answer to the Pharisee in Mark 12, Matthew 22, and Luke 10 have any significance to the Christian? Continue reading

Great is the mystery of godliness


by Mike Ratliff

14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:14-16 (NKJV) 

The best place for a Christian to be is at the Cross, before the Saviour, in complete agreement with God that without His saving Grace he or she would be on their way to Hell, and without His sustaining Grace he or she would lose all ability or desire for His godliness. In fact, Christians are in a great deal of trouble when they think otherwise. Yes, we are commanded to obey God and to seek His Holiness, but we are completely unable to obey Him; neither are we able to seek His Holiness unless He first gives us the Grace to do these things in the Spirit. In fact, if we try to do either in our own abilities, i.e. according to the flesh, we will fail miserably and find ourselves in an impossible situation of trying to attain favor with God by our own efforts in our own ability. This is a form of legalism, which leads only to frustration and disillusionment.  Continue reading

Standing firm in God’s truth no matter the cost


by Mike Ratliff

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”
23 So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. 27 No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
28 “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:22-30 (NKJV) 

Several years ago I got into a comment and email exchange with a fellow who insisted that God will not condemn anyone to an eternity in hell. He said that it is only a temporary place that will be emptied when all things are reconciled to God in eternity. It did no good to use clear scripture references to show him that he was ignoring a great deal God’s truth. One thing that struck me was his stance that Romans 5 was blasphemous in reference to the doctrine of Original Sin and condemnation for all men by it, but there is justification and life for ‘the many’ (Romans 5:12-17). Was this a case of ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?’ Continue reading

Sanctifcation and Regeneration


In response to yesterday’s post, Who will and who will not inherit the Kingdom God God?, my friend Stuart Brogden sent me the article below, which he had written in response to some people that we both know who contend that the redeemed person is no different from a reprobate. Some of them say Christians are still Totally Depraved, not a new creation. Both of us have contended with them. I asked if it would be ok if I posted the article and he said yes. Enjoy and be blessed. By-the-way, some of you may know Stuart by his online name of “Manfred.” 🙂 Continue reading

Who will and who will not inherit the Kingdom of God?


by Mike Ratliff

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 1 Corinthians 15:50 (NKJV) 

There are only two religions in the entire world. There is genuine Christianity and then every other form of religiosity including humanism and atheism. All but genuine Christianity are opposed to the truth and are part of the rebellion against the sovereignty of God. Genuine Christianity is made up of those who have been redeemed from the slave market of iniquity. This slave market preys on people and keeps them in bondage to the flesh. On the other hand, Genuine Christianity, which is the Church, is spiritual. Those in it are adopted into the family of God. Those in it who are still alive right now await the completion of their redemption. Those in it who have already died are with the Lord now. Those who remain are in process. This process is their progressive sanctification, which is the mortification of the deeds of their flesh, which is sin. However, all outside of the Church are in their sins and can only operate in the flesh. Continue reading

The Tower of Babel error


by Mike Ratliff

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9 (NKJV) 

The emergent movement and actually all forms of “Christianity” that has a problem with preaching the whole Gospel and the Law in order to “remain relevant” and to “not offend” seekers, such as the Purpose Driven paradigm are, in fact, repeating a very old error. As we study Genesis 11 we see the gathering together of all people into one group by the settlers of Babel in disobedience to God’s commands. In this post we will compare those people on the plains of Shinar who attempted to build the Tower of Babel and draw all people into one place in defiance of God’s command and those in our time attempting to build massive churches through pragmatism, watering down the Gospel, and nullifying the Word of God. We will show that the error of those in our time attempting to build larger and larger churches is simply a repeat of  the same error committed by those in Genesis 11.  Continue reading

The Lord tests the righteous


by Mike Ratliff

4 The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men.
5 The Lord tests the righteous,
But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Psalms 11:4-5 (NKJV) 

According to some professing Christians, if anything unpleasant comes into their lives then it proves that God is displeased with them. They say it proves that God is punishing them. Also, they proclaim that the ones suffering are simply victims in the ongoing battle between God and Satan. Is there another explanation? Let’s see! Continue reading

To live is Christ, to die is gain!


by Mike Ratliff

4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (NKJV) 

It seems that most of what we post here has to do with the Gospel. It is vital that we do that. On the other hand, the way we handle it here and the way we demand that it be handled in our churches has, at times, been quite unpopular with certain people who have issues with preaching the Gospel and law together as well as how genuine Christians are called to walk in repentance until they are taken home to be with the Lord forever. Our focus has been on the eternal at the expense of the temporal and the flesh. We have looked at the necessity of living lives in which we deliberately seek to work with God in mortifying our sin. To certain apostates such as Rob Bell, that is simply putting people into slavery. However, our response should always be, “What does God’s Word say about the Gospel?”
Continue reading

Our Comforter and His work


by Mike Ratliff

25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:25-26 (NKJV)

25 Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν παρʼ ὑμῖν μένων· 26 * ὁ δὲ παράκλητος, τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, ὃ πέμψει ὁ πατὴρ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου, ἐκεῖνος ὑμᾶς διδάξει πάντα καὶ ὑπομνήσει ὑμᾶς πάντα ἃ εἶπον ὑμῖν [ἐγώ]. John 14:25-26 (NA28)

On the night prior to our Lord’s crucifixion and death, He promised that He and the Father would send to His disciples the Helper, the παράκλητος, the Holy Spirit. This Greek word, translated as Helper, means a lawyer or assistant in a legal question. Its Biblical context, however, describes a person who provides encouragement, counsel, and strength. In John 16:7-11, which will be the focus of this post, our Lord promises to send “another” παράκλητος, One like Himself who will carry on after Him the teaching and testimony that He began.  Continue reading

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling


by Mike Ratliff

19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” Acts 5:19-20 (NKJV) 

6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJV) 

Learning, knowing, and then responding according to God’s will to His truth is NEVER done subjectively. No, we are told that those who are truly in Christ walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:6). To do this we must know God’s truth and respond by faith and this is not done through mysticism or feelings. No, in fact, when we encounter those who claim they are receiving direct input from God outside of His Word how should we respond? Shouldn’t we remain in our position of walking by faith and not by sight, going boldly to the throne of grace in prayer, seeking the truth in the Word of God? I submit that seeking truth outside those parameters will only lead to deception, not the truth.  Continue reading