The Eternal Purpose of Temptation


by Mike Ratliff

12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James 1:12-16 (NASB) 

Temptation is an often-misunderstood subject. Many of us tend to think that temptation is sin, that temptation is the problem with living the Christian life. However, as Puritan Thomas Watson wrote, “The devil tempts, that he may deceive; but God suffers [i.e. allows] us to be tempted, to try us. Temptation is a trial of our sincerity.” Continue reading

Christian


by Mike Ratliff

25 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11:25-26 (NASB)

Back when I first started writing these posts and helping Ken and Ingrid on the old Slice of Laodicia blog deal with the continuous attacks from the Emergents one of the main topics that was continually in play was that those who were attacking every doctrine that was foundational to Orthodox Christianity refused to be called “Christian.” Instead they demanded that we call them “Christ Followers.” I refused to do that because their demeanor was not Christlike at all. Instead, they were bullies who twisted scripture and attempted to derail everyone’s faith by attacking their character directly. Some even attempted to take us offline by threatening our Internet Providers if they didn’t take us down. Who does that sound like? In any case, who are true Christians and what does that word mean? Continue reading

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 negotiated. 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

Christian Hope


by Mike Ratliff

13 Ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ἐλπίδος πληρώσαι ὑμᾶς πάσης χαρᾶς καὶ εἰρήνης ἐν τῷ πιστεύειν, εἰς τὸ περισσεύειν ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἐλπίδι ἐν δυνάμει πνεύματος ἁγίου. Romans 15:13 (NA28)

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing for you to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The concept of “hope” as it is viewed in the world today, and, sadly, by much of what calls itself “Christian” is an expression of a wish or a want, such as, “I sure do hope I get…,” or “I sure hope I do not get…” In this, there is no certainty in the usage of the word “hope.” However, in the passage above (Romans 15:13) for example, the Greek noun which is the lexical root for both ἐλπίδος and ἐλπίδι, which is ἐλπίς (elpis) speaks of a “desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.” The Christian concept of our hope in Christ, our blessed hope, is exactly this. We are not hoping, as the world does like football fans that our favorite team will win a game or even the title of conference or whatever. That is not what we base our hope upon. No, our hope is based upon certainty.  Continue reading

Genuine Christian Behavior


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ἡ φιλαδελφία μενέτω. Hebrews 13:1 (NA28)

1 Let brotherly love continue. Hebrews 13:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As we mature in Christ it is imperative that we practice our Christian liberty completely within the discernment and wisdom given to us by God. As we do this we must not abandon our common fellowship and that we not be part of some perceived legalistic religiosity. We cannot read the New Testament without seeing that believers are the ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), “the called-out ones of God.” In the New Testament, the noun ekklēsia is found only in the Gospels in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17. Luke uses it in Acts several times, but Paul uses it throughout his epistles. More than half of its usage in the New Testament is in Paul’s epistles. In them, we see that he never thinks of the ekklēsia as a physical structure or man-made organization but as a dedicated group of disciples of Jesus Christ whom he has purchased with his blood. In light of these truths, we must seek to line ourselves up with God’s will in our obedience under the spiritual authority He has set over us. Continue reading

The Words That Keeps Believers From Stumbling


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ σκανδαλισθῆτε. John 16:1 (NA28)

1 “These things I have spoken to you that you not be caused to stumble.” John 16:1 ( translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our post, The True Vine, we looked at John 15. When our Lord spoke of the “things” He spoke of in order that believers “not be caused to stumble,” He was referring to John 15:18-25, which is the fact that those who are truly in Christ will be hated by the world just as our Lord was. Our Lord made it an imperative that we understand that this is true, but also that we do not have to contend with this alone. In John 15:26-27, the promise of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is given again. Those who have the Holy Spirit are genuine believers and they bear witness about Christ because that is what the Holy Spirit does.  Continue reading

Darkness


by Mike Ratliff

5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10 (NASB) 

God is sovereign. He is Holy, Righteous, and Just. As John states in 1 John 1:5 (above), He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

Here is v5 from the NA28: Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία.

Here is my personal translation: “And this is the message which we have heard from Him and we declare to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

The word “light” translates the Greek word φῶς (phōs), while the word “darkness” translates σκοτία (skotia) which means “darkness,” however except for John 6:17; 20:1, in the New Testament, where this word refers to the actual darkness of night or early morning, skotia is always used metaphorically. Jesus uses it to describe time of private teaching with the Twelve, away from the crowds (Matthew 10”27). He also warns against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, saying that everything spoken in “darkness” will be revealed (Luke 12:3). Jesus is light (John 12:35), and He invites people to walk in His light instead of their darkness (John 8:12; 12:46). Those who have hatred in their hearts may think they are in the light, but they are deceived and even blinded (1 John 2:9, 11). This lost sinful world, characterized by skotia, cannot understand the light that has come to illuminate it (John 1:5). Darkness is not a power that is equal to God, for God dispels it. Light and darkness are used to contrast the purity and holiness of God and the wickedness and sinfulness of this world (1 John 1:5). Continue reading

The True Vine


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινὴ καὶ ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν. John 15:1 (NA28)

1 “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 15:1, we have our Lord’s last of His seven “I am” sayings signifying His claim of deity. The word “true” in v1 translates the adjective ἀληθινὴ, which is nominative, singular of ἀληθινός (alēthinos), “unfeigned, trustworthy, true.” The nominative case form, ἀληθινὴ of ἀληθινός means that the metaphor our Lord is making of Him being the “true vine” is subject to the main verb in the sentence with is εἰμι, which, of course, means, in this context, “am.” Therefore, our Lord is saying that the fact that He is, in fact, deity means that He is the “true vine.” What this means, of course, is that there are “other vines,” but He is the only one who is “true” and God the Father is the γεωργός or vinedresser.  The noun γεωργός (geōrgos), “can refer to the owner of a farm or to those who work the farm.” Here our Lord is using this term metamorphically to refer to God the Father as the owner of a vineyard, the “vinedresser.”  Continue reading

God Redeems His people through the blood of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” 4 Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Exodus 24:3-8 (NASB) 

With the demise of the Biblical/Christian Worldview those of us who belong to the Lamb of God must stop assuming that our culture, our environment, knows or grasps what we mean when we talk about sin and God being Holy, Righteous, and Just. In Romans 1, we see that the truth is known by the natural Man in his “heart of hearts,” but it is suppressed. In turn, God gives them over or gives them up to a debased mind. This is spiritual blindness. These given over to their lusts and desires are no longer convicted of the evil of their sin. They lose their fear of God’s judgment. Over time, they become resentful and full of hate towards any who teach or preach the Gospel to them. Why? There is that reminder within them that judgment is pending. This is why so many flock to seeker-sensitive or easy-believism “churches.” There they are stroked and made to feel good without having to deal with the real Jesus and the demand for repentance. Their religion, Christless Christianity, is friends of the world and eager to welcome those of other ‘religions’ except for those troublesome orthodox Christians who preach the whole Gospel, the Law of God, and the truth about sin and total separation from God for the unredeemed. Continue reading

The Alpha and the Omega


by Mike Ratliff

8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come, even the Almighty. Revelation 1:8 (1599 Geneva Bible) 

The title for the Lord Jesus, “The Alpha and the Omega” is in Revelation 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13. Alpha is ἄλφα (alpha) and Omega is ὦ (ō), which are, of course, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Our Lord used this to emphasize that He is beginning and ending and the first and the last (1:11). This concept declares at least three realities about the Lord Jesus. Continue reading

Ignorance


by Mike Ratliff

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19 (NASB) 

18 ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, Ephesians 4:18 (NA28)

In the passage above (Ephesians 4:17-19) the word “ignorance” translates the noun ἄγνοιαν (agnoian) the accusative singular feminine case of ἄγνοια (agnoia) which does mean “ignorance.” This ignorance is not caused by something external, but by man himself. In ancient Greek usage of this word it could refer to a man who lives without knowledge either because he hasn’t heard the truth or because he has refused the truth, and that if he had received it, it would have freed him from his ignorance of his origin. In other words, he just closed his eyes to the truth; he refused to believe what was right in front of him. Do you know anyone like that? Continue reading

What is a Disciple?


by Mike Ratliff

7 The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.  Acts 6:7 (NASB)

This post will primarily be a Greek word study. Our primary Greek word for this study is μαθητής (mathētēs), which means “disciple.” However, it means more than that. Let us take a closer look. Continue reading

Two Ways


by Mike Ratliff

13 Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι διʼ αὐτῆς· 14 τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. Matthew 7:13-14 (NA28)

13 Go in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are those going in through it. 14 How narrow the gate and how hard is the way that leads to life and few are the ones finding it! Matthew 7:13-14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

It has been said that no prophet preached about Hell as much as our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also true that His preaching would be considered “divisive” and “offensive” in today’s politically correct culture. However, I seriously doubt that if preaching the truth or hurting someone’s feelings or offending someone’s “sensibilities” were the issue with our Lord it would make any difference. He would not hesitate to preach the truth because in God’s truth is life. In man-made truth is only death. Consider the passage at the top of this post. The lie that has taken over our society is that it is a sin to be narrow-minded. We must be as broad and as accepting as possible. We must be all-inclusive in all things to the point of madness. From this our enemy has sown the lies such as “There are many roads to heaven,” and since God is a good God He must also me a “fair God” so “eventually everyone will be saved.” The problems with this are that this “god” is a creation of these people’s wishful thinking not The God, our God, the Creator of all things. Also, in His Word, our Lord Jesus taught exactly the opposite of this as the passage above clearly says.  Continue reading

How should we deal with apostates?


by Mike Ratliff

3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3-4 (NASB) 

Carefully read the passage above my brethren. The writer of the Epistle of Jude is the brother of James, the well-known leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21;18; Galatians 2:9) and, therefore, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In v3 we read that Jude had intended to write a letter on salvation as the common blessing enjoyed by all true believers. This intent was probably to emphasize unity and fellowship among believers as he reminded them that God is no respecter of persons, however, his plans were changed. He doesn’t say why he “found it necessary” to write something else, but what we have in this letter is actually a call to battle for the truth in light of the appearance and infiltration into the Church of apostate teachers.  Continue reading