Believe and Love the Truth and so be Saved


by Mike Ratliff

6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2:6-11 (NASB) 

Earlier this week I listened to John MacArthur’s Sunday Morning sermon. In it he talked about the necessity of preaching the law and gospel and how not being obedient to this is being disobedient to the Great Commission and actually creates churches full of false believers. He gave a short history of how preachers have labored to try to remove the offense of the Cross along with not preaching about sin and the wrath of God so as to make becoming a Christian easy and more attractive to the lost. But, as I said above, all this does is create lots of false believers.  He emphasized the vital importance of believers hearing and believing the truth of God. Even though it should be obvious to us, I believe we take for granted the veracity of Gospel. However, the Word of God, Sacred Scripture, makes it clear that those who belong to God believe His truth while those whose eternal destiny is Outer Darkness do not believe the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. Dr. MacArthur stated throughout his sermon that the lost know the law of God because it is written on everyone’s heart. They know they are sinners. However, when we obediently preach the truth about their sin to them, they often respond in anger. However, that is the process God has given us that He uses to draw those He has chosen to hear the Gospel, believe, repent and come to faith. Continue reading

Inward Cleanliness


by Mike Ratliff

24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:24 (NASB) 

A huge trap that Christians can fall into is self-righteousness. It is a form of idolatry and that always causes spiritual blindness (Romans 1:24-25). Self-righteousness puts all effort towards godliness in the wrong place. It creates a form of piety that is all about outward appearances while putting little or no priority on matters of the heart. It is all about being concerned about appearances and what others think rather than being totally committed to abiding in Christ from within first. The self-righteous are consciously holy. However, that is not what we are called to be. Christians must be consciously repentant and unconsciously holy. The difference is huge for these are totally opposite walks. Continue reading

Genuine Children of God


by Mike Ratliff

28 Καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐὰν φανερωθῇ σχῶμεν παρρησίαν καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 29 ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστιν, γινώσκετε ὅτι καὶ πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται. 1 John 2:28-29 (NA28)

28 And now little children, abide in him that when he is manifested, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know that everyone practicing righteousness has been born of him. 1 John 2:28-29 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

How is that people who profess faith as Christians and supposedly placed their faith in the Incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, actually display a moralistic, therapeutic, deistic religiosity that is centered in their own moral uprightness? We find this in Church leaders such as pastors and especially scholars at the seminary and denominational level, but, sadly, because of the former, highly prevalent in the pews. In 1 John 2:28-3:10, the Apostle John gives us “evidence” that is most definitely not “politically correct” that will enable us to determine those who really are the genuine children of God and those who aren’t. Of course, we should take a close examination of ourselves as we go through this passage. Continue reading

Fairness, Rights and the Pursuit of Happiness


by Mike Ratliff

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NASB) 

16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 1 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NASB) 

9 The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NASB) 

I’ve got my rights! That’s not fair! Can’t I do whatever I want to be happy? Do you recognize those attitudes? As I age I am constantly amazed at how stupid the world’s ways are. I am old enough to remember a time when there was always a “higher standard” that ruled over us all. It was simply understood life was not fair, it never would be, and it was best to get used to the idea. Then one day the world seemed to change. Now, there is a push to try to equalize everything. Forced equality forces the concept “everything is relative.” Continue reading

Abiding in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:1-4 (NASB) 

When My dad was still with us he loved to garden. One of his passions was to grow tomatoes. When I was a teenager we were living in a suburb of Oklahoma City called Yukon. Our backyard wasn’t small, but it wasn’t big either. One day in early spring he came home from work and informed me we were going to dig up and turn over the dirt in a square at the back side of our yard. He told me he was sick to death of store-bought tomatoes. I really didn’t understand what he meant by that, but I did help him break up that ground. Continue reading

Spiritual Adultery


by Mike Ratliff

4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4 (NASB) 

Worship is that vital part of the relationship between God and His people that we see so often corrupted and wrongly focused in our time to the point that the end result is that even if people believe they are “worshiping” God they are actually guilty of spiritual adultery. The division line between what true worship is, that which glorifies and pleases God, and that which is no more than spiritual adultery is actually very easily drawn. Those on the side that is “friends of the world” and are, therefore, making themselves enemies of God, are part of “systems” whose values, loves, and deeds are wholly at odds with what pleases God (1 John 2:15-17). Carefully read James 4:4 (above). Those whom James was accusing were betraying Christ and following after the world by embracing the worldly way of treating people because they were being motivated by the things of this world in this rather than the mandates of Christ. One way that “churches” do this in our day is to seek to meet people’s felt needs first rather than preaching the truth of the Gospel. In these churches, the focus becomes all about the people in “worship” instead of about God and His glory. How can that be called “worship?”  Continue reading

Does “Vision Casting” have anything to do with Abiding in Christ and bearing much fruit?


I have always listened to closely to the direction the Lord has lead me as I become troubled by something I have heard someone preach or someone asks me a question that causes me to become troubled in my spirit or circumstances become skewed in such a way that the Holy Spirit uses that to get my attention and through these various “things” and many others, I start praying, asking for direction, looking deeply into the Word, asking godly counsel from men I know who do the same thing. This post below was written and put online back in August of 2015. We had just moved from Deer Creek to Yukon and were not yet settled where we would attend church. I was researching this when I heard a sermon from one of the pastors of a church we were looking at. What I heard troubled my spirit and this post was the result. If you are serious about your walk, and you should be, then you probably already know that the visible church is full of man-centered preaching and teaching. Vision Casting is just one of the man-centered teachings that come from this. On the other hand, a genuine God centered handling of worship and preaching and teaching will always be about God, the Son, the Holy Spirit, all bound to the Word of God and the message will be bound to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, not in any way some sort of motivational pep-talk to get people busy being religious.

by Mike Ratliff

1 “ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (John 15:1-8 NASB)

Spend any time at all in this dark spiritual time listening to the majority of what passes for “evangelical preaching” and you will hear some very bad, man-centered theology. The crux of this theology goes something like this. God wants everyone to have a vision and so every Christian needs to try really hard to pursue a vision until it aches within them. Then they know its from God and then they need to run after it as hard as they can. What passages from the Bible do you suppose they use to support that? Well, since it is not found anywhere in God’s Word, they attempt to use passages out of context to do that and then misrepresent Jesus completely alien from His Holy nature that we are given in Scripture to one of being more like a servant of these people. They call this stuff either “vision-casting” or “vision-questing,” but, in any case, there are some so-called “evangelicals” who not only have those who preach this stuff come and preach it to their people, but they go to their “churches” as if they are all part of the same good ol’ boy network of ‘evangelicals.’ I think not. Oh, they may all be part of the same good ol’ boy network, but that ‘group’ has nothing to do with the Church and genuine Christianity. Continue reading

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up


by Mike Ratliff

31 νῦν κρίσις ἐστὶν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, νῦν ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐκβληθήσεται ἔξω· 32 κἀγὼ ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς, πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν. 33 τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνῄσκειν. John 12:31-33 (NA28)

31 “Now judgment is upon this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” 33 And in this saying, He was signifying by what kind of death He was about to die. John 12:31-33 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at the interaction between our Lord Jesus, His disciples, and those following Him during that six-day period leading up to our Lord’s last Passover feast. Of course, we know that He was also crucified just prior to the Sabbath of this week so in these last few days our Lord is done with the confrontational stands against the Jewish religious leaders. Now, He is preparing His disciples for what is coming. They still do not get it. Remember, we look at our Lord’s words of His sovereignty, His deity, and joyful submission to the authority to the Father who, in turn, joyfully gives Him all authority throughout creation because of His obedience. Yes, we see this, but remember, He had not yet gone to the Cross nor had He been resurrected. What is so puzzling to those of us who take God’s good doctrines to heart and defend His Gospel with our all is why there are so many wolves in sheep’s clothing in our time with their huge churches and/or ministries running amuck in the visible church causing, seemingly, much damage. What we must never forget my brethren is that our Lord has all this under control. We must stay the course in our obedience and submission to the Lordship of Christ in all things. Those who are in our Lord’s sheepfold are in no danger of being snatched away. Those falling away into apostasy were never in His sheepfold to begin with. Continue reading

Is Christ Sufficient in Our Salvation or do We Need More?


by Mike Ratliff

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4 (NASB) 

The root of most heresies springs from those who profess Christ as Saviour, but who believe in various ways that what the Christian receives at Salvation is not sufficient. Something else must be added in order for the Christian to enter into a fuller relationship with God or to go deeper into the things of God. Some even go so far as to say that unless certain things are added to salvation then it is not complete and, therefore, void. A good example of this is found in the book of Galatians. Some Judiazers had entered the churches Paul and planted in Galatia. They were teaching that salvation was indeed by Christ, but it was not complete unless the converts also were circumcised and kept the Law of Moses. Continue reading

What is the Church?


by Mike Ratliff

18 κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ πύλαι ᾅδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς. Matthew 16:18 (NA28)

18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What is the Church? There is much debate and with that, a great deal of unbiblical beliefs about what our Lord was talking about in Matthew 16:18 in the context of μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν. This literally says in the Greek, “of me the ekklēsian.” The noun ἐκκλησίαν is the Accusative, Singular of ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), “a called out assembly.” The Accusative case corresponds to the English Objective case. Here we see that ἐκκλησίαν is in the Accusative case because it has accusative case ending of “ν.” Nouns in the Accusative case are the direct object of the action, which in this sentence is our Lord’s stating, “καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω” “and upon this rock, I will build…” Therefore, we learn several things that tell us what the Church is and what it is not. It is built upon what our Lord called ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ and that He is the one doing the building. We learn that the Church is not built on or according to anything else nor is built by the efforts of men or according the wisdom of this world.  Continue reading

God Chose What is Foolish in the World to Shame the Wise


by Mike Ratliff

5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5 (NASB) 

During His earthly ministry, as our Lord walked through Roman occupied Galilee, Samaria, and Judea and other parts of what we call the Middle East in our time, the “so-called educated experts” criticized Him with respect to His education credentials (John 7:14-15). What was His response? Did He back down? Did He buy into the authority of these men as carrying any weight that He must take into account in regards to the truth He taught and preached? No! He countered by challenging their competence. Think of the outrage today if someone like me who has no letters after his name like Doctor of Theology or whatever were to do as our Lord did and directly challenged one of these high placed religious leaders whose fruit of apostasy is continually being revealed as they refuse to follow the will of God. However, that is the very basis our Lord used to disqualify those who challenged Him (John 7:17, 19).  Continue reading

Faith


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων. 2 ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι. 3 Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι. Hebrews 11:1-3 (NA28)

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by this the elders were given approval. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not created from visible things. Hebrews 11:1-3 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Several years ago while we were still battling continually with the Purpose Driven nonsense a friend sent me a link to a devotion from a PD web site. The title of the devotion was “Faith: Doing Exactly What Jesus Says to Do.” The reason my friend wanted me to read it was obvious. Why? Is that a definition of faith as we understand it as Christians? Obviously not! However, over the years of dealing with the PD heresy along with Ken Silva he commented often that I seemed to have a handle on it that most of the others at CRN did not seem to have. I was surprised by that because I really struggled for a long time trying to grasp what was at the core of Rick Warren’s message. However, that devotion is the very thing that points to what makes the “gospel” preached by all versions of the Seeker-Sensitive paradigm a false gospel. What is it? Continue reading

Grace


by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:14-17 (NASB) 

Grace is our theology. In a sense the word grace sums up all biblical theology. Of all the theological words we could discuss–redemption, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, election, and many more–none cuts to the heart of our theology like grace. Continue reading

Raised Us Up


by Mike Ratliff

4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (NASB) 

The debate over Lordship Salvation is more than unfortunate, but, as in all controversies in the Church, God uses them, in multi-faceted ways, to accomplish His will. Through the controversy, those who stand firm against the attacks by going to the Word of God and via their defenses against the continual battles in the Truth War, the sheep are edified while the enemies of the cross are identified and are even further separated from the flock in order that they may do as little harm as possible. Some of these battles never seem to end. God has allowed some of these to rage for hundreds of years in various forms. After all, our enemy never really comes up with anything new, just a different slant here and there on his same old arguments, “Hath God said….” In the case of the battle over Lordship Salvation, those who reject it are really being very inconsistent in their theology because they are focusing everything from the perspective of man rather than from the perspective of God. However, to put things in the correct perspective, as one theologian has said, “When Christ comes into your life, your life changes. God’s Word everywhere declares that a change is automatic when someone truly believes.”  Continue reading