Authority: Christ and the Bible


by Mike Ratliff

The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority. Continue reading

The Nature of Temptation


by Mike Ratliff

41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew 26:41 (NASB)

38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 (NASB)

45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:45-46 (NASB) 

Temptation: Temptation is any thing, state, way or condition that, upon any account whatsoever, has a force or power to seduce, to draw the mind and heart of a man or woman from his or her obedience, which God requires of them, into any sin, in any degree of it whatsoever.

As Jesus agonized in Gethsemane in the hours prior to His trial, torture, and crucifixion, His disciples had a hard time staying awake. He went off by Himself to pray, but asked James, John and Peter to watch and pray. However, each time He came to them, He found them asleep. If we look closely at Mathew 26:41, Mark 14:38, and Luke 22:45-46, we will see the whole of our Lord’s caution to His disciples seems to have been, “Arise, watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation.” Our Lord knew that danger was near. He knew that His disciples would be scattered from Him when He was arrested. However, His concern seems to be on these men that they would not enter into temptation. Notice also that it is the flesh that is weak and it is the watching and praying that keeps them lined up with the spirit that they be one in spirit with Him. If they would do that then they would not enter into temptation.

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Blind Leading the Blind


by Mike Ratliff

13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:13-14 (NASB) 

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 Call to Sound Doctrine


by Mike Ratliff

5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. 1 Timothy 1:5-11 (NASB) 

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. What is the aim of the charge of a true discipler? It is to produce the good fruit of of love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. That is the good fruit of genuine prophet of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, our Lord Himself told us in His Sermon on the Mount how to discern whether a prophet was false or not.

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20 (NASB) 
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The Real Christ of God


by Mike Ratliff

18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” Luke 9:18-20 (NASB) 

Since this blog has existed (2006) 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.” Over the years, 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

Christian Oneness


by Mike Ratliff

7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:7-9 (NASB) 

Our sanctification is designed by God to transform us unto the image of Christ. The human heart before regeneration is clueless about the ways of God. The unregenerate heart can only comprehend the wisdom of the world. This ‘wisdom,’ such as it is, views the Christian calling as utter foolishness. Sadly, there are innumerable professing Christians in our time who claim that Jesus is their Saviour, but they cling to worldly comforts as they view the self-denied life as peculiar and only for Jesus freaks and fanatics. Continue reading

Filthy in God’s Sight


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Zechariah 3:1-4 (NASB) 

The neo-evangelists in our day push their evangelical emphasis to the forefront where it has become the golden calf in their churches. Instead of obeying our Lord to make disciples they seek to multiply their numbers through easy believism. They use shame tactics to get their flocks to bring their friends and relatives to church so they can hear that Jesus wants to come into their lives so they can live abundantly here and now.

It is a golden calf because it is the primary focus at the cost of discipleship. Being an idol, it cannot deliver on its promises though. Whereas, we learn in the Bible that those who abide in Christ and His word and obey Him in all things will have an abundant life. This abundant life is spiritual not material. It is the byproduct of becoming more and more Christlike as God molds and shapes His people as they surrender to the Lordship of Christ more and more in every part of their lives. On the other hand, the golden calf’s version of the Gospel is incomplete and skewed towards “decisions for Christ” instead of giving people the good news that even though they are filthy in God’s sight because of their sin, there is peace available between God and men through the Son who paid the price for their sin.

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Faith Grace and Certainty


by Mike Ratliff

16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO shall your descendants be.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Romans 4:16-21 (NASB) 

Several years ago I wrote a post about Liberal Theology. That post produced a very long and protracted discussion in the comment section of this blog. I remember it very well. The discussion became quite heated at times. One person insisted that scholarship and critical analysis of the Bible far outweighed faith when it comes to theology. In fact, he tried very hard to make us see that the Bible is unreliable and cannot be understood or held by Christians to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God.As some of my friends from around the blogosphere joined the battle, he soon “tired” and left when it became obvious that we would not accept what he was “preaching.” He gave some parting shots that were intended to do some damage to our faith. The one that stood out to me was, “No, I encourage you to continue in your faith. Hold tight. Don’t let go. But I think that over time you will find that it is kinda like trying to hold on real tight to a handful of sand.Continue reading

Our Heavenly Dwelling


by Mike Ratliff

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:22-25 (NASB) 

As I have grown older as a Christian, and, hopefully, as the Lord has matured me, the more I want freedom from everything that is in any way tinged with The Fall. Of course that includes my own flesh that wants only to have its cravings satiated as well as the World System whose king is Satan. God does use our time here to grow us in humility while uprooting our pride, but I so want to be past this so I can be with my Saviour.

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Unworthy to Pray


Prayer is a huge struggle for me most of the time. It seems that God must wring my heart and drive me into deep despair at times in order for me to pray in such a way that bears fruit. Why do I struggle so? I think the following piece by Martin Luther nails this right on the head. Enjoy and be blessed – Mike Ratliff

by Martin Luther

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)

Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you–even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.

We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.

So go ahead an feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness. Yes, everything depends on this alone. Don’t turn his faithful promise into a lie by your doubts. For your worthiness doesn’t help you, and neither does your unworthiness hinder you. A lack of faith is what condemns you, but confidence in God is what makes you worthy.

From Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional – James C. Galvin General Editor

Antinomianism


by Mike Ratliff

4 Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ τὴν ἀνομίαν ποιεῖ, καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία. 5 καὶ οἴδατε ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη, ἵνα τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἄρῃ, καὶ ἁμαρτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν. 6 πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν.
7 Παιδία, μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς· ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν· 8 ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν, ὅτι ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς ὁ διάβολος ἁμαρτάνει. εἰς τοῦτο ἐφανερώθη ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα λύσῃ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου. 1 John 3:4-8 (NA28)

4 Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that he was manifested to take away sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 No one who abides in him continually sins; those who continually sin have not seen him or known him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you; the one practicing righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous 8 The one practicing sin is of the devil for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this cause the son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:4-8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Antinomianism means “opposed to law.” Antinomian views are those denying that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life. Dualistic antinomianism appeared early in the Gnostic heresies. The Gnostics taught that salvation was for the soul only, making bodily behavior irrelevant both to God’s interest and to the soul’s health. The conclusion was that one may behave riotously and it will not matter.  Continue reading

Make your Calling and Election Sure


by Mike Ratliff

22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25 (NASB)

The Puritans had a term they used in their theological writings and discussions describing professing believers who fell away or were in some way not consistent in their walk. They called them “temporary believers.” This may be a little offensive to many these days, but there are untold numbers of Pastors, Deacons, Elders, Evangelists, or whatever in our churches in our time who would not even qualify for membership in a 17th Century Puritan Church. As I have stated many times, I grew up in Oklahoma as a Southern Baptist. I have seen literally hundreds (if not more) of “invitations.” In a large percentage of these invitations, people walked an aisle, prayed a sinner’s prayer, was Baptised, and made a full member of the church. All of this taking place in a just a period of days. I have also observed a staggeringly high percentage of those professing believers last only a short period of time before disappearing from church never to be seen again. Continue reading

The Test of True Faith


by Mike Ratliff

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:16-18 (NASB) 

The test of true faith is that which is revealed in how one lives and walks through this life. Right belief, that is, a faith that lives in a regenerate heart born from above, is exhibited in right living as James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ wrote in the passage above. Notice also that he began that passage in v16 with, “Do not be deceived,” or Μὴ πλανᾶσθε from the Greek. This literally says, “not be deceived.” The verb πλανᾶσθε here is the present imperative active form of the Greek verb πλανάω, which means “to lead astray, deceive.” So, in the form used here, James and the Holy Spirit is commanding and warning believers to actively work to not be led to believe the lie that which is the opposite of the truth that he is about to share concerning the nature of how true Christian faith produces a true Christian walk. The good gift of faith comes from God and all the gifts that follow concerning this Christian walk do as well. This is God’s plan for His people that they should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Continue reading

The Hatred of the World


by Mike Ratliff

13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13 (NASB) 

There are many ministries in our time that are run by people who have either forgotten that friendship with the world is a sin or they are deliberately overlooking it. If a ministry operates in such a way that the world loves it then there is at least one missing component in it. That of course is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture is clear that Christians cannot be friends of the world. Why? Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system, which is in rebellion against God (John 14:30). Therefore, the world not only hates Jesus, but also those who follow Him. This hatred is also focused toward the Father because He sent Jesus to testify against it. Now, since this is true and clearly taught in Sacred Scripture, what does this say about those ministries who work overtime to accommodate the secular and to appeal to temporal ways and means? Continue reading