Betraying Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

21 Ταῦτα εἰπὼν [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς ἐταράχθη τῷ πνεύματι καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν καὶ εἶπεν· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι εἷς ἐξ ὑμῶν παραδώσει με. John 13:21 (NA28)

21Having said these things, Jesus was troubled in His Spirit and He testified and said, “Amen, amen I say to you that one of you will betray me.” John 13:21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, Lord Do You Wash My Feet?, our Lord revealed that one of the twelve disciples was “not clean” in John 13:10 and then in 13:18 He revealed that this would fulfill Old Testament prophecies about an insider betraying Him. Now, we enter that part of John’s account of our Lord’s last Passover Feast in which His betrayer is sent away to do his deed. In contrast, our Lord reveals that those who truly belong to Him follow the commandment from God to love one another. Then He reveals to Peter, even though Peter declares that he would rather die than leave the Lord, he will deny that he even knows Jesus three times this very night. Let us take a closer look.  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. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 1 John 18-24 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.

Continue reading

What is the Offense of the Gospel?


by Mike Ratliff

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (NASB) 

I have been working on writing a commentary. It is very tiring, but also exciting as I dig into an Epistle that I thought I knew pretty well, but now I think I will almost have it memorized. Here is a list of the different offenses of the Gospel that can cause us to not be the witnesses that we should be. Continue reading

Friendship With the World is Enmity with God


by Mike Ratliff

4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. James 4:4 (NA28)

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 sets himself as an enemy of God. (James 4:4 Legacy Standard Bible)

The Seeker-Sensitive paradigm is rooted in a form of Pelagianism. Of course, the theology I grew up with as a Southern Baptist in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, et cetera was somewhere between semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. In each of these forms of theology, man is at the center. God has done all he can do to create the possibility of salvation, but it is up to man to exercise his autonomous free will in order to be saved. Even in this, after salvation there is a time of working to please God, to become perfected, to become moral, et cetera. Again, the focus is on man, not God. The reason I brought this up is to reflect on how far I have come in my understanding of these things since God revealed to me the veracity of His Sovereignty over all things. From that, I rapidly rebuilt my theological understanding of justification and sanctification. It was probably not as dramatic as Luther’s awakening when he discovered the doctrine of Justification by grace through faith, but, for me, it was. I was utterly amazed and spent days and hours in prayer of gratitude and praise before the throne of grace expressing it the best way I could of how utterly unworthy I was that I was totally justified before God with the Righteousness of Christ and His perfect obedience imputed to my account. My righteousness, in God’s eyes, actually did exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees!  Continue reading

The Basis for Genuine Christian Living


by Mike Ratliff

1   “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-grower. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He cleans it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1–2 Legacy Standard Bible)

Something has changed. Of course, I am sure the changes I am referring to have not suddenly taken place, but are, in fact, the result of years of God’s judgment upon nations, church groups (denominations), church leaders, and professing Christians because Christians at the core along with their leaders have compromised. Adherence to preaching Jesus and Him crucified has been replaced with feel good sermons that are designed to draw people in to large church bodies that have little to nothing to do with how the Bible defines the role of Christians and their relationships with Christ, each other and the world. Let us look at John 15, which was one of our Lord’s final teaching to His apostles just prior to going to the Cross. Continue reading

The Deceitfulness of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
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. 1 John 2:15-19 (NASB) 

It is not very costly to profess Christ. Anyone can do that. Christianity becomes costly when the professing Christian stands and does not fall away in the face of persecution or pressure to conform to some position or stance that is clearly opposed in some way to God’s clear commands found in His Word. For the Christian to commit this sin will be either to disobey God in an act of commission or omission. In any case, when the professing Christian takes each step in disobedience a layer of scar tissue is burned into their conscience with the searing hot iron of deliberate sin. Over time those professing Christians will each have an inoperable conscience and the processes which caused this will have proven that these compromisers have become victims of the deceitfulness of sin and, therefore, they will become what the Bible refers to as apostate. Some of these will still believe they are Christians, but others will refer to themselves as ‘former Christians.’ The Word tells us though that they “went out” from “us” because they were never in Christ to begin with. All genuine believers “continue” in faithfulness to the end. Continue reading

Are You Ready?


by Mike Ratliff

42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42 (NASB) 

I know that I am a finite person who is incapable of knowing everything. I know this very well. I also know that it is impossible for any of us finite individuals to possess the knowledge with certainty of future events. I am fully aware of this so I am not making predictions here or saying that I know for certain that eschatological events are going to happen any day now. No, I am not saying that. No, but what I am saying, and have been saying for quite some time, is that unless God grants us a revival, the Church will continue with its tailspin into apostasy and we will be in for a very rough period of spiritual darkness and possible persecution. The move from Christian orthodoxy into the many forms of apostasy we are seeing is not just an American phenomenon, but is worldwide. Religious tolerance is so close to becoming a requirement nearly everywhere. When this happens, there will be no room for the exclusivity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, there will still be the Church and there will still be Christians, but real Christians will be persecuted, underground, and second-class citizens everywhere. This is the reality of enforced religious tolerance.  Continue reading

Everyone Did What was Right in His Own Eyes


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 by giving them their vision so it must be okay and those who protest are just legalistic. Continue reading

The Rebellion before the Man of Lawlessness is Revealed


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) 

1 Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπʼ αὐτὸν 2 εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχέως σαλευθῆναι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι, μήτε διὰ πνεύματος μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε διʼ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν, ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου·
3 Μή τις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον. ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ ἡ ἀποστασία πρῶτον καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, 4 ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσαι ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἐστὶν θεός. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NA28)

1 Now we ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 for you to not be quickly shaken from your mind nor to be alarmed, neither by a spirit, nor by a word nor by a letter as if it has come by us that the Day of the Lord has come.
3 Let not anyone deceive you any way because it will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the Man of Lawlessness be revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or an object of veneration so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God presenting himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As you can probably tell, I have been doing a great deal of research into these very important eschatological elements. It is as if I cannot get past this study. When that happens I pay attention. God is working. What is Paul talking about in these verses? The Thessalonians had contacted him and were very upset because someone had told them, pretending to be him in some way, that the persecution they were experiencing was part of the Day of the Lord. That meant they had missed being gathered together with the rest of the saints. That meant they were experiencing the Wrath of God and that is something all believers should know that we will never experience. Yes, we will experience tribulation θλίψις (thlipsis) because the world hates the truth and if we are walking in the truth and are obedient to the Word of God then the world will hate us as well. So, Paul was telling the Thessalonians that they were experiencing thlipsis, but the events that must happen that precedes the coming of our Lord to gather the saints have not happened yet. Let’s look at those events. Continue reading

The Great 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. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (NASB) 

Part of my daily devotions is the reading from a book that takes a Greek word and shows how it is used in the Bible and then how it is understood and/or misunderstood in the visible Church. I am in a section of the book right now that focuses on the Greek words that describe worship. It just breaks my heart how the focus in our churches has become so self-focused instead of God focused. How is that worship if it is all about us? In some of the cases used as examples in the devotions over the last several days the writer of the book describes how churches have moved away from singing Hymns by replacing them with spiritual songs. What’s the difference? Hymns are all about God that we sing to Him. They describe his glory, holiness, mercy, and grace and draw us to worship him. Spiritual songs are songs that we sing to each other instead of singing to God. They are always based in modern music of some sort and more often than not, bring glory to the musicians rather than to God. This will probably be an unpopular statement, but I’m going to make it here. I believe that this is either part of or something that leads to the great falling away or apostasy that Paul was describing in 2 Thessalonians 2:2. If you disagree with me that’s fine, but if all you have is ad hominem or straw man arguments I will not post them. Continue reading

The Most Frightening Words


by Mike Ratliff

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB) 

Over the years I have had many would be dissenters attempt to thwart the message I have labored long and hard over on this blog. They come in all sorts of directions, but one of the most confusing are those who insist that Jesus taught a totally different “Gospel” than that which Paul the Apostle preached. These same people also insist that they are following Jesus instead Paul. Why they do this is puzzling, but really what is being said by these people is nothing new. There are really only two groups of people. There are those who believe God and those who don’t. When people reject the Gospel they will give all sorts of reasons for doing so, but really it all boils down to the fact that they refuse to bow the knee in total surrender to the Lord of Lords. Continue reading

Its lamp is the Lamb


by Mike Ratliff

22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. Revelation 21:22-23 (NASB) 

Our enemy is working overtime to distract us from the truth. What do I mean? We have pressure from corrupt governments all over the world attempting to become totalitarian. What that means for Christians is that we must know whom we serve, who is our Lord, and to whom we owe our allegiance. We can only bow to Caesar so much, but when he attempts to usurp what is the Lord’s we must do as John MacArthur and his church did and what those pastors in Canada did when their local governments attempted to lock them down. The Lord Jesus Christ is over His Church not governments. It can be costly, but Jesus said it would be.  Continue reading

Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” Exodus 14:13-14 (NASB) 

While I rejoice as there are so many Christian leaders whom God has raised up at this time to tell the truth about the growing apostasy within the visible church. I know that there is a force at play hitting all genuine believers to be distraught, to be angry, to be full of doubt and so many other distractions that keep us from where we need to be and doing what we need to be doing for our Lord. My first reaction when I see the leadership of the SBC act like the world in being deceitful liars while attacking God’s truth continually chipping away at it thereby proving to be apostates is anger and deep desire to depart the denomination. I was right there this morning when I opened my Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for my daily devotional.  Continue reading

Telling the Truth


by Mike Ratliff

17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. 19 Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 1 Kings 18:17-19 (NASB) 

There was a time when the English and American cultures were decidedly “Christian.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the “Remnant” of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.

The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom. Continue reading