Warning Against 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

I am convinced that a good way to understand apostasy and what causes one to abandon his or her religious faith is to think of it in the verb form of “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 21st Century. Continue reading

God’s Wrath of Abandonment


by Mike Ratliff

7 Ephraim is joined to idols;
Let him alone. Hosea 4:17 (NASB) 

Idolatry is the natural state of man. Left to themselves, people will worship or idolize someone or something. On the top of the list of those things we place on pedestals of idolatry is self. Professing Christians are not immune. They idolize Christian leaders, their churches, their doctrine, their liberty, their self-righteousness, their denomination, their particular translation of the Bible, and anything else they can view as something that gives them a sense of religious identity. Tragically, most see nothing wrong with this. Genuine Christianity has been supplanted by religiosity and there are only a few left who see the difference. We lament over the growing apostasy in the Church, but should we be surprised?

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The Throne in Heaven, the Scroll, and the Lamb


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Isaiah 6:1-4 (NASB) 

Any form of Christianity that is antinomian is Gnostic in nature and because of that always leads to licentiousness within the professing believers where this is going on. The Nicolaitans taught this form of Gnosticism saying that God is Spirit and so Christians should only be concerned with the spiritual things, but it does not matter what Christians do in the flesh since it is defiled anyway. Antinomianism says that Christians don’t have to obey God’s commands. This is rebellion against clear Biblical doctrine. They say they want Jesus, but forget that obedience stuff. Jesus is truth and love and He’s all I want. Those who say these sorts of things are actually treating God as if He is unimportant. What does the Bible tell us about God and His majesty and omnipotence? Continue reading

False Prophets and Teachers


by Mike Ratliff

1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NASB) 

In these last days, there appears to be a clarifying work of God going on in within the Visible Church. In the early church and in all those historic periods when it was not “comfortable” to be counted among those who named Christ as their Lord and Saviour, the genuine believers were easy to spot. They endured. They may have undergone severe persecution even unto death, but they did not fall away. Since the end of Puritanism, Christianity has taken on a role in the West that ensured religious freedom. Humanism began to encroach upon doctrine and in every aspect of how Church was done. Despite bright spots in this period such as the Great Awakening and then later the ministries of men like Charles Spurgeon, a downgrade in doctrine began to emerge into the Church. Humanism begat Liberal Theology which devastated the Church. A backlash against it called Fundamentalism was born. It was a move away from Liberal Theology, but it’s doctrines bore the stamp of legalism in many areas. This caused a backlash in the opposite direction that begat the emergent church movement and the New Evangelism.  Continue reading

Who is the antichrist?


by Mike Ratliff

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 1 John 2:18-20 (NASB) 

The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church says that it is the only true church while all others are false. At the same time most solid evangelical Christians I know hold to the truth that the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is an “antichrist.” The word that is translated from the Greek that is rendered as “antichrist” in the New Testament is ἀντίχριστος (antichristos). It is made up of two words, ἀντί(anti), which means “instead of or against,” and χριστος(christos), which means “anointed one.” The ἀντί prefix may be reference to “substitution or opposition.” The word ἀντίχριστος is found only in 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, and 2 John 1:7. Paul refers to a man whom he calls “the man of sin, the son of perdition, and wicked one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8. He refers to “the one opposing” in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Most believe that John’s ἀντίχριστος is the same man that Paul is referring to. This man will attempt to assert the fulfillment of God’s Word in himself and will attempt to set up his own throne.

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Unbelief, Disobedience, and Hatred


by Mike Ratliff

24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ John 15:24-25 (NASB) 

Let us never forget that those of us who stand for God’s Truth not only being knowable, but binding on all, are in a serious war. This is not a skirmish or a battle. It is a war as per John MacArthur’s book The Truth War. In it, he exposes the tremendous battle that is being fought over what is truth and what isn’t. The Church is wounded and compromised to an extent greater than most of us can imagine. The liberals who are part of those attacking the absolute truth we love and defend have said that the primary purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was not to provide a way for His people to be saved from their sins, but to show people how to be Kingdom people or to have a better life right now. They make the message sound so right and our flesh loves that message, but it isn’t Biblical. This statement is nothing more than unbelief packaged as an alternative truth designed to deceive people into discounting the truth from God’s Word thereby keeping them in darkness. It should be clear that this is a direct attack on the Gospel.

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The Enemy Within


by Mike Ratliff

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15 (NASB) 

False prophets have infiltrated the Church since the very beginning. Also, disingenuous professors have always plagued churches. There has not been a time when the church has been free from enemies within. However, in our time the church is the sickest it has ever been. False prophets beget false doctrine, the doctrine of demons, for the false believers that flock to them. Sound Doctrine is no longer tolerated. Expository preaching and teaching is ignored or shouted down. This is happening not between Christians and non-Christians, but between professing Christians in the “name” of Christ. The Church has become polluted with the ways of the world, which demands no offense to anyone. If doctrinal disagreements happen, the resultant “debate” soon resembles some sort of all out gang war. Those holding sound doctrine will often be condemned and threatened and pressured to abjure to their opponents view using every imaginable tactic. When he or she refuses to give in to the onslaught then those on attack will escalate it to something like this, “either you ‘repent’ and apologize publicly for this (not giving in) or I will ruin you. I will warn everyone about you.” Of course those other ravenous wolves demanding that he or she give in are chiming in with all sorts of threats such as, “either you … or I will pull my support for your ministry” Again, what was their crime? They held a doctrine and presented it as the truth. Those in disagreement did all they could to silence the offender for good. They did not try to understand the point of the accused even when it was given plainly. The fact that he or she would not cave in to the pressure made them a target. Interestingly, the only and best way to end this is to simply do the Christlike thing, end the discussion and walk away. Of course, then they will be accused of being spiritually proud, etc. However, didn’t our Lord get accused of much worse than that? Continue reading

What is Sweet as Honey yet Causes Bitterness in the Heat of the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

Believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being humble and Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness


by Mike Ratliff

5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Romans 2:5 (NASB) 

I was online today on a friends Facebook page reading about an issue he is dealing with in which a school is disciplining someone who called a “transgender” a girl. He was discussing how he would get involved because he writes and how he needed to get involved because the local press in that city is ignoring the whole thing. I was simply reading the article and trying to understand what was going on then began reading the comments when a person that I did not know started calling my friend a bigot. He made several very rude and crude comments. I made one comment about how hypocritical it was for those demanding tolerance to be so intolerant. Then the guy making those comments came after me calling me a “redneck” and “backward” and a “bible thumper.” The only reason I could think of that he would call me a “bible thumper” was that he had looked at my Facebook page. I made the comment that I was not a “redneck” and stated why and then in another comment I posted Romans 1:18-32. Something happened after that because all comments on that post disappeared. That’s okay. I wondered why God allowed that encounter to happen like that. It’s been awhile since I have actually had to deal with an openly hostile reprobate and I confess it took me by surprise how ugly it got.
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Waterless Springs and Mists Driven by a Storm


by Mike Ratliff

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.
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 1:4-13 (NASB) 

God is Sovereign. There is not one area of creation in which He is not Sovereign. Evil exists and men do evil things, but even in that God is still Sovereign. Creation is cursed and God has not yet culminated this age when He will restore it to its proper relationship with Him. However, He has sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the Elect. At the cross, He redeemed them. However, in life here on planet Earth they must still live in this fallen world. Jesus warned His Apostles and us about what this life would be like for His people on this cursed planet from the birth of the Church until the culmination of the end of this age.

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Being A Good Servant of Jesus Christ in the Midst of Apostasy


by Mike Ratliff

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6 (NASB) 

It is one thing to confess Christ or profess to be a Christian and quite another to live and walk before the face of God within that confession or profession in obedience to God and His Word. There are so many in our time who claim to be Christians, but whose lives are marked by them speaking and living according to the world and its ways. I, like many of you, have become very perplexed when certain Christian leaders who profess all the right things are then seen to fellowship with those who are obvious apostates. If we are not careful and properly focused in our devotion, which is the definition of godliness, we can become discouraged because we are looking to men rather than our Saviour for the proper way to walk, minister, and confront false doctrine.  Continue reading

The Falling Away


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NASB) 

I confess that for many years that 2 Thessalonians 2:3 seemed to me “not to fit” with the Eschatology that I was being fed on a regular basis. I even heard one very well known “Prophecy Expert” say that the “falling away” as some translations say or “apostasy” as the NASB says in v3 was describing the secret Rapture of the Church. Nowadays, with my work in this ministry, it has become apparent to me that more and more of once solid “evangelicals” and their ministries are joining the ranks of the apostate. Not only that, the “quasi-Christians” that once seemed to at least feel guilty because of their fleshly lifestyles are now viewing those of us who remain firmly fixed in our obedience to our Lord as “crazy” or “legalistic” or “judgmental” or even “dangerous.” They seem to have no issue with calling themselves “Christian” while living fleshly, sinful lifestyles. I believe that this move into apostasy that is called “the falling away” or “apostasy” by Paul is well underway. Continue reading

What Is That to You?


by Mike Ratliff

20 Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” John 21:20-22 (NASB)

Part of my makeup that God molded into my character is the ability to observe, take note, and analyze as part of Him directing what I study and pray about in order to obediently minister in my writing and teaching. What do I observe? Everything! I take note of my fellow Christians when they interact on this blog and others. I see the patterns of what is hot and what is not. I have seen people come at me or one of my friends with vehement viciousness over doctrinal differences. What have I learned? I have learned that humans have a huge problem in wanting to control other people.

Those of us who write for CRN are often called “Watchbloggers” by those who believe that we go too far in comparing what is really going on doctrinally in the church in our time to what should be going on. Much of what is “wrong” in the Church in our time is a drive to reform it into “man-centered” relevancy. When we reveal the very words of those leaders doing this then out come those accusing us of being “over the top” or “arrogant” or “backward” or “legalistic” even “heretical” because we obediently reveal what is said in comparison with what the Bible says.

Since the adherents of “relevancy” are mired in their man-centered worldview, they insist that Biblical truth to that level is unknowable. For instance, they say that the Doctrines of Grace are heretical. For us to say that God is Sovereign in election and saves His people whom He chose before the foundation of the world, then we are heretics even though we teach exactly what the Bible says. Continue reading

Idolatry


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; 3 and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” Genesis 35:1-3 (NASB) 

idolatry 1: the worship of a physical object as a god 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something (from Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary)

I’m sure that most Christians’ conception of idolatry is one in which people fall down and worship some statue or image or a facsimile of something that appears to resemble a god. While that is an example of idolatry there is a more subtle form of idolatry that all people are neck deep in outside of the grace of God. If we look closely at the dictionary definition I placed near the top of this post, we will see that the first definition is our conception while the second is the reality that we must all agree that we are guilty of. The last word in that definition could easily be changed from “something” to “someone.” Then all we have to do is look in a mirror to see who that someone is. We are all guilty of idolatry at some level. Continue reading