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

Genuine Repentance


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5 (NASB) 

I used to belong to a Christian discussion group on Facebook called “You may be a Heretic.” It was fun for awhile. There was a lot of people on there with the type of sense of humor that I enjoy. There were always some who took everything way too serious and tried to ruin it for everyone. However, everything changed for me when one of the admins of the group got into a very heavy discussion with a friend of mine who was doing nothing more than defending the reputation of that missionary who was killed by natives on that island in the Pacific. The admin was being quite cruel to my friend and I decided to get in between them and defend my friend. When that happened I triggered something in that admin that caused him to vent all his anger towards me and I told him he needed to calm down and leave us alone. He suspended my account for two weeks. I knew the guy who owned the site and contacted him about it. He said he agreed that the admin was out of line and reinstated my account. But it was just like when my former pastor in Olathe, Kansas told me and my wife that if we did not submit to his authority in that church and become Purpose Driven then we had to leave. He was very blunt. We were gone within the hour and never went back. A few weeks later he sent me a letter wanting me to repent and come back. After all, I was a Deacon. However, he had broken something in me that could not be repaired. My wife and I agreed to simply ignore the letter and keep looking for another church. The same thing happened with that discussion group. I simply lost all interest in it. I contacted my friend who owned it and told him I was done, but he really needed to consider cleaning up his admins. Continue reading

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled


by Mike Ratliff

[27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

My Dad died in 2009 in the Assisted Living Center where he was forced to live because he had Alzheimer’s Disease. It is a horrible disease. I told everyone close to me at that time that we lost our Dad 10 years earlier when that disease took hold of him. My mother suffered a heart attack during that time before they had to go live there and while in the hospital she had a stroke which caused her to lose the ability to drive, to communicate clearly, and so, we as a family had both of them moved to that Assisted Living Center. If Dad had not been there who knows what would have happened to him? He did not know where he was most of the time. He even started forgetting who most of us were. As I said, He died in 2009 while asleep at the age of 86. My mother was then moved to an apartment in the same Assisted Living Center. She lived there for many years until she got to be about 90 then we moved her to be closer to my sister in Houston. It was there that her health started going down pretty fast. She died in 2018 just after turning 91.  Continue reading

Spiritual Darkness Unbelief and Unrighteousness


by Mike Ratliff

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief.
And He was going around the villages teaching. Mark 6:4-6 (NASB) 

The joy of the Lord is a tremendous gift to God’s people from him. Without it we would be left to deal with far more evil, disappointment, tragedy, distress, and despair than we could ever do on our own. We have prayer and the promise that we can always come boldly to the Throne of Grace.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NASB) 

I watched some videos today while at lunch that showed the reaction of many of the spokespersons from the Main Stream Media and other politically leaning left groups as they reacted to the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election. These reactions were from the immediate two days after the 3rd of November. Some of the people from CNN for example could not even make complete sentences they were so overcome with emotion. The one that really got my attention though was a spokesperson for a Social Justice group. He said that the attempts by the Trump Campaign and his supporters to force recounts and expose corruption in the election process were “Racist.” Yes, that is what he said.

During and after the 2016 election I lost a boatload of Facebook friends. During the 2020 election I lost a lot of friends on Facebook as well, but these were different. These were people I had been reaching out to with the light of the Gospel. I had been giving them the truth yet as it became clear that I was not participating the ‘you must live in fear tyranny’ coming from certain government institutions as they proclaimed that the Covid-19 outbreak had become a “Pandemic” when it was really far less lethal than the seasonal flu and I refused to allow anyone to bash our President with all sorts of outlandish accusations then I ended up having to sever a lot more Facebook relationships.

However, what is most disturbing to me during all this is when professing Christians fall into that pit of hate and lies I just described. They have become part of that “darkness” and because of that, they will no longer listen to reason. They will no longer listen to clear Biblical evidence that “the way” they are on only leads to destruction. Isn’t it interesting that those professing Christians doing that are also on the Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality way?

Continue reading