Discernment is rooted in maturity in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

11 Καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, 12 πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 13 μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 14 ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, Ephesians 4:11-14 (NA28)

11 And He gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some shepherds and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints to the work of ministry to the building up of the Body of Christ 13 until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the fuller knowledge of the Son of God, to complete maturity, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ 14 that we should not longer be infants tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. Ephesians 4:11-14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In 1887, Robert Shindler, a fellow pastor and close friend of Charles Spurgeon, wrote in Spurgeon’s publication, The Sword and the Trowel: “It is all too plainly apparent men are willing to forego the old for the sake of the new. But commonly it is found in theology that that which is true is not new, and that which is new is not true.” If we think deeply and honestly on those searing words with all humility and willingness to repent of what God shows us about ourselves, I am certain that each of us must repent of falling for the fallacy of seeking that which is new or different in our theology. If we are honestly seeking the will of God that is both good and right, but if we are looking to have itching ears tickled or are pursuing the subjective or experiential as the means of fulfillment then all we are really doing is falling for some lie and are revealing that we are indeed just infants in the Lord who are being tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. I doubt if any one reading this really wants that.  Continue reading

The fruit of proper Christian ministry devotion


by Mike Ratliff

13 ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. 1 Timothy 4:13 (NA28)

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As the passage above (1 Timothy 4:13) makes clear, to the Apostle Paul the centrality of preaching in Christian ministry was critical. He knew that the fruit of that was the working of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ producing godliness. However, its neglect produces its own fruit. I am not exaggerating when I state that most ministries today are built on entertainment, personality, crowd-gathering events, gimmicks, programs, and anything entrepreneurs can come up with to draw people together that simply appeals to the flesh. However, that was not nor has it ever been the Biblical model of a Christian ministry.  Continue reading

Discernment is vital but it only comes to those who are mature in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

11 Καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, 12 πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 13 μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 14 ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, Ephesians 4:11-14 (NA28)

11 And He gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some shepherds and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints to the work of ministry to the building up of the Body of Christ 13 until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the fuller knowledge of the Son of God, to complete maturity, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ 14 that we should no longer be infants tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. Ephesians 4:11-14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In 1887, Robert Shindler, a fellow pastor and close friend of Charles Spurgeon, wrote in Spurgeon’s publication, The Sword and the Trowel: “It is all too plainly apparent men are willing to forego the old for the sake of the new. But commonly it is found in theology that that which is true is not new, and that which is new is not true.” If we think deeply and honestly on those searing words with all humility and willingness to repent of what God shows us about ourselves, I am certain that each of us must repent of falling for the fallacy of seeking that which is new or different in our theology. If we are honestly seeking the will of God that is both good and right, but if we are looking to have itching ears tickled or are pursuing the subjective or experiential as the means of fulfillment then all we are really doing is falling for some lie and are revealing that we are indeed just infants in the Lord who are being tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. I doubt if any one reading this really wants that.  Continue reading

Warnings about heresy is not the same thing as being a “hater”


by Mike Ratliff

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 (NASB) 

We live in an evil time. There are large numbers of “Christian” leaders who claim to be ministers of God, but prove by their words and actions to have thrown off the authority of God. They do what is right in their own eyes while claiming that they are only following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The fact that what they say or do is unbiblical seems to trouble very few. When some point out the truth to them, they claim that God has lead them to do what they do so it must be okay and those who protest are just legalistic.

Continue reading

The eleven tenets of the offense of the gospel


by Mike Ratliff

34 Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. Matthew 10:34 (NA28)

34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As we saw the other day in our post on Christian unity,  the genuine gospel does not bring all people together. It divides. Unfortunatly, way too many so-called Christian leaders in the visible church are all about being as inoffensive as possible even to the point of compromising the gospel from the motivation to make their churches larger. The sort of “minister” who does that and his “ministry” is not of God, but is of this world and of the flesh. Below are the eleven tenets of the offense of the gospel. Enjoy and be blessed as you examine yourself.  Continue reading

The post-modern golden calf


by Mike Ratliff

1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NASB) 

1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1-4 (NASB)

Those familiar with the Exodus of Israel from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan know that the journey was long and arduous. Only two men from those who left Egypt made it through the journey. The rest died on the way including Moses. Their children were those whom Joshua led to conquer and claim the land flowing with milk and honey. God tested them in the wilderness. They were put in circumstance after circumstance by God to see if they would repent of their stiff-necked resistance to His Lordship, and time after time they proved that they were temporal, fleshly people who did not trust Him. In this post we will look at a parallel between one of those circumstances and the condition of the Church in the early 21st Century. Continue reading

Apostasy


by Mike Ratliff

11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:11-14 (NASB) 

Apostasy: [Middle English apostasie, from Old French, from Late Latin apostasia, defection, from Late Greek apostasi, from Greek apostasis, revolt, from aphistanai, aposta-, to revolt : apo-, apo- + histanai, to stand, place; see st- in Indo-European roots.]

Noun pl -sies abandonment of one’s religious faith, political party, or cause [Greek apostasis desertion] from:Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006

Another definition for the word “apostasy” that is meant to give us a better way to understand it and what causes one to abandon his or her religious faith is “to forget.” In the history of civilization, the battle between intellectual honesty and intellectual barbarity is one that has cycled back a forth for millennia. When intellectual honesty is on top, truth is seen as succinct and knowable and authoritative. When intellectual barbarity is on top, truth is seen as relative and completely unknowable.  In case you weren’t sure, we are now in an intellectual barbarian stage in the early 21st Century. Isn’t that evident as we just experienced the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and are now seeing engineered riots and protests from people who simply refuse to accept defeat?  Continue reading

Three letters to three churches


by Mike Ratliff

1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Revelation 3:1-2 (NASB) 

In our time it is very unusual for Christians to discuss apostasy. In fact, it makes some very uncomfortable to point out certain so-called “christian” leaders as being “heretics” or “apostates.” Why? The insidious poision called “Political Correctness” which has been implanted into our society by our enemy has taken a horrendous toll on our ability to be discerning as we are called to be in by our Lord in His Word. In this man-centered society, which has invaded deeply into our churches, the worst crime we can commit is to cause offense yet that very thing is a major mechanism within the preaching of the Law and Gospel that God uses to bring people to Christ. What has been the result? Apostasy springing up from all forms of “liberal christianity” has infected vast numbers of preachers and church leaders so that we are left with a wasteland of “Christian Evangelicalism” that is as spiritually dead as the “Christian Liberalism” that J. Gresham Machen contended with in his day calling it “another religion” from genuine Christianity.  Continue reading

Standing firm amidst famine of the Word of God


by Mike Ratliff

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB) 

The growing apostasy in the visible Church seems to be accelerating. The spiritual blindness of so many professing believers and their leaders is truly astounding. My brethren, the sad state of the visible Church is both the product of the famine of the Word of God and the cause of it. When the Word of God is seldom heard or read or taught then its purifying power is muted. The world and its ways now coexist with the visible Church. Genuine believers are new creations, God’s workmanship, and they now crave the pure milk of the Word of God. It is necessary for their Spiritual Growth and their new character craves it. This is not an attribute of the natural person though. The unregenerate have no desire to know the Word of God and really don’t like to hear it preached to them. Therefore, the genuine believers in those churches which are apostatizing by neglecting the Word are leaving to find church homes that still preach it, teach it, and hold it as the revealed Word of God. Continue reading

The eleven offenses of the Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

34 Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. Matthew 10:34 (NA28) 

34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The genuine gospel does not bring all people together. It divides. The trend in today’s “visible church” is all about being as inoffensive as possible even to the point of compromising the gospel. The sort of “minister” who does that and his “ministry” is not of God, but is of this world and is of the flesh. Below are the eleven tenets of the offense of the gospel. Enjoy and be blessed as you examine yourself.  Continue reading

Discernment, heresy, and apostasy


by Mike Ratliff

10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11 (NASB) 

True Biblical discernment is crucial for the spiritual health of the Body of Christ because there has and always will be a plague of false teaching and teachers upon it until our Lord’s return. If you have ever flown on public transportation and had to go through the entire TSA screening process then you know how unpleasant that is. Also, and I am sure many of you probably already know this, the TSA has never caught or stopped one terrorist from boarding a plane. The TSA relies on “technology” based systems and force 100% of passengers who have not been prescreened into that funnel of stripping down, full body scans and “pat down” searches.  Many are furious about it. I read a study that compared the TSA’s system with that used by Israel at their airports, which is, instead of relying on “technology” based systems, passengers are interviewed by experts trained in what specifically to look for. They know their enemy and they know how to flush him or her out via their own interview process. Notice that since they have gone to this system that they have had no breakdown in their security. My point is that they know their enemy. They know their enemy’s tactics. They know their enemy’s goal. They do not waste time and resources with those who are no threat. Continue reading

How are Christians to handle professing Christians who prove they are apostate?


by Mike Ratliff

1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1-4 (NASB) 

How should those of us who are in the light of God’s truth live in these last, apostate days as so much of what calls itself “Christian” is anything but? In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, we have just such an instruction. Chapter 3 can be broken down into two distinct parts. Part one runs from v1 through v9 and addresses the apostate nature of those who oppose God’s truth. Part two begins in v10 and runs through v17 and addresses how the man of God should live in an era dominated by wicked men who profess to be Christians. As we study these letters of instructions, it is imperative that we never forget that false teachers, preachers, prophets, and leaders have always plagued the Church. False doctrines are allowed by God to arouse His people to address them and lead the godly remnant out of that darkness into the light of His truth. Our doctrines have been primarily developed through perilous times such as ours. God uses the fires of persecution and tribulation to refine His people and grow them unto Christlikeness. Therefore, let us walk according to the godly instruction of the Apostle Paul given to us in his Spirit-inspired words. Continue reading

The Justification Controversy: A Guide for the Perplexed


As I have shared in my posts here on this blog, God saw fit to mature me in Christ and open my spiritual eyes and heart to the truth of His Sovereignty in all things back in 2004-2005.  It was during this time that I became what many flippantly call a ‘Calvinist.’  I prefer the term Reformation Theology. In any case, It was as I was growing up in the Doctrines of Grace that I also became an apologist for them through this ministry. That was eye-opening I must say. However, I digress. To be a good apologist I had to become more educated so I began buying and reading everything I could on these good doctrines. It was amazing. I found that I could base all of my discernment ministry within the bounds of Reformation Theology and address all heretical and apostate behavior within the visible church from a very solid, immovable base. I remember a conversation I had with a fellow ‘Calvinist’ at that time that it seemed that only the ‘Reformed’ believers seemed to be able to withstand the onslaught of Rick Warrenism, the Seeker Sensitive nonsense, and the New Evangelicalism circus. Sadly, it was also at that time that we discovered that that was not the case. There was very much wrong going on within Reformed churches that we were only becoming aware of such as the Federal Vision Heresy. I tried to address it and found it so confusing and senseless that I could not fathom why anyone who was rooted and grounded in Christ and solid Reformed Theology could fall for something as absurd as that. None of my friends, some of them much more educated than me, could find the source either.  However, I suggest that you read the following essay by John W. Robbins, which addresses this issue succinctly and traces all of it back to its source. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Who are apostates?


by Mike Ratliff

12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have not known), 14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. (Deuteronomy 13:12-15 NASB)

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. 7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, 9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. 10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’; 11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'” 12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:1-13 NASB)

It must have been about eight or nine years ago that I was in a discussion on this blog after I had written a piece about some of the confusing things coming from the ministry of Dr. John Piper and others. I made the comment to one of my friends that I thought that Dr. Piper needed to show the fruits of repentance for some of the things he had said and done or he would eventually be considered an apostate. Someone not in that conversation (a bottom feeder or troll??) jumped all over that statement and condemned me for calling Dr. Piper an apostate which he refused to consider because (according to him) an apostate is one who drops all pretense of Christianity and walks away from his faith. Using that reasoning those who continue to claim to be Christians even though they preach heresies such as Modalism (T.D. Jakes for instance) or deny the necessity of the Atonement and Justification by Faith alone and the reality of Hell (Rob Bell for instance) or those who insist on Christianity that is forever changing according to whatever society demands or wants (pragmatism) and insist that doctrine is not needed, but works is what God wants (Rick Warren for instance) are Christians along with the Roman Catholics, Mormons, and anyone else who claims that they are. Of course then there are those fellas (Steven Furtick, and James MacDonald for instance) who are all about erecting “cool” idolatrous worship which is really all about themselves and they sell this product to other wannabe preacherboys who want to be rich and famous like them. Do you see the common denominator in all this? Is any of what these people do about God and his glory? Is it about the edification of the Body of Christ through the genuine worship of God for his glory alone? No, it is about making money and becoming famous while fleecing the sheep who have been duped into thinking its all about the gospel. Have you noticed that these people never talk about the gospel without talking about money? Continue reading