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

The word of the cross to those perishing is senseless, but to us being saved, it is the power of God


by Mike Ratliff

18 Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. 19 γέγραπται γάρ·
ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν
καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω. (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 NA28)

18 For the word of the cross to those perishing is senseless, but to us being saved, it is the power of God 19 for it has been written,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise ones
and the understanding of the intelligent I will set aside.’ (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Look at those man-focused, pragmatic, seeker-sensitive “churches” seemingly all around us in our time. They may vary in many ways, but there is a commonality that marks them all as products of the spirit of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) rather than the spirit of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). That commonality is seen in the passage I placed at the top of this post. It is what makes them of the spirit of Laodicea. They are structured and operate according to the wisdom of men. Their very way of handling the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ depletes the cross of its power. What do I mean? When the “so-called gospel” that is “preached” is given in a way that intentionally removes its offense and an attempt is made to make it sensible to the lost and dying world by removing the blood and removing the necessity of our Lord’s death for those who owed a debt to God they could never pay, well, what is given is more of a sales pitch and self-help remedy. All this does is create a body of people who are neither cold nor hot. No, they believe they have everything and are right with God, but are in reality, wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked who are simply ready for the next deceiver to come along.  Continue reading

Take your part in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.


by Mike Ratliff

3 Συγκακοπάθησον ὡς καλὸς στρατιώτης Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. (2 Timothy 2:3 NA28)

3 Take your part in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Over the last few years I have been sorely tempted by our enemy into despairing of this ministry. Why? This happens as my focus goes inward and with that always comes a sense of my sinfulness and unworthiness to even be called a Christian. I look at those whom God uses to feed me spiritually and I see how small I am. How can God use one such as me? What have I done in the past to help me through these times?  I look at the biographies of men such as William Tyndale and John Bunyan. Bunyan is a great role model for us. As we read of Bunyan’s early Christian walk, it soon becomes apparent that there are some parallels with how God uses not only me, but many others like me in these dark times. The well educated and those with large ministries are more often then not the ones who are on the road to apostasy just as in Bunyan’s day. Bunyan was barely educated and his only education in theology was from the Word of God and sitting at the feet of his pastor. God raised him up to do a mighty work in the Church, but it was one that involved much suffering.  Continue reading

Church of tares


I am taking some time off.  I will be back next Tuesday.  I have already posted the following video on my Facebook page. I think you should take the time to watch it (3 hours).  I did it this afternoon and it really filled in a lot of blanks for me as well as taking me back to the days of the start of this ministry. Several of my CRN friends are featured in interviews in this piece or they are quoted. The research is solid. I am posting it everywhere I can because I have many Christian friends who still consider Rick Warren to be a solid Christian leader. After you watch this I pray that you will see the truth about him and the entire Church Growth movement. – Mike Ratliff

Correctly dealing with apostates.


by Mike Ratliff

8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“ The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
11 “ HE must turn away from evil and do good;
HE must seek peace and pursue it.
12 “ For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12 NASB)

This era of the Church is one of extreme deception due to compromise with the standards and focus of the world. Separation between the Church and the world is not being kept. Instead, the holy barrier between the two has been breached as false prophets have welcomed in not only the world and its ways into their churches, but have also embraced the mysticism of the Eastern religions. Syncretism is the new byword of the Emergent Village. On the other hand, God is good. He keeps His promises. The Lord told Peter that He is the one building His Church and no evil will ever be able to destroy it. (Matthew 16:18) If this is true, and it is because our Lord spoke it, then how do we reconcile the rapid apostasy of so much of the visible Church with what He said? God always keeps a remnant during times of rampant apostasy. These Christians are the small group whom God has reserved who have not bowed the knee to Baal. These are also the ones in whom God is developing Christlikeness and through the fires of persecution by those in the visible Church who have succumbed to the heresies and ungodliness going on in it, He is teaching them how to stand firm and never compromise with evil. In this they learn the difference between debate and dialogue and know that the former actually clarifies the truth and why they hold to it while the latter is only a conversation which has the intent of compromising the truth.

Continue reading

The nature of false prophets and false 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)

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3 NASB)

The greatest sin of those who reject Christ is their misrepresentation of the truth and the resultant deception. This is a work of Satan. His name means “adversary.” He is also called “the Devil.” This word in Greek means “the Slanderer.” Jesus called him a liar and a murderer. When we are in the battle against those who hate our faith and attack the veracity of the Word of God, there will be a commonality in their tactics. They misrepresent the truth, they lie, and they accuse God and us of all sorts of things that are untrue. Continue reading

The Golden Calf and apostasy


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. 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

Are you willing to suffer in the flesh for Christ’s sake?


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. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:17-24 NASB)

From the moment the Gospel was first preached, it has been under attack. Impostors have come along pretending to be genuine Christians or preachers or teachers and they have led many to destruction. Part of my planning for this post was research into The Down-Grade Controversy that Charles Spurgeon was engaged in for many years until his death. When I started this blog back in 2006 a group of bloggers resisted nearly everything I and the rest of the CRN team did. Many of them were part of the Christian Restoration Movement. Continue reading

Always apply the Word of Life


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς — 2 καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν — 3 ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν, ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθʼ ἡμῶν. καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 4 καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. (1 John 1:1-4 NA28)

1 What was from the beginning which we have heard–which we have seen with our eyes, which we beheld and touched with our hands—with respect to the Word of Life—2 indeed the life was manifested and we have seen it and we give testimony and we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3 what we have seen and we have heard we proclaim to you also that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write that our joy maybe made full. (1 John 1:1-4 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Eusebius was a contemporary of Constantine. His book, The Church History,  covers the time of the Apostles and spread of Christianity over the Roman world during and after their time. He brings up an interesting point about a third of the way through the book in that while the Apostles were still alive as well as those who were eye witnesses to their lives and ministries and that included those who had actually seen our Lord Jesus before his crucifixion and after his resurrection, our enemy could only successfully attack with limited success from within the Church. Heresies were easily dealt with as John did in the passage above in dealing a deathblow to the major doctrines of an early form of Gnosticism. However, after these first generation leaders of the Church died or were martyred (which was more likely), our enemy changed tactics and so began the era of wolves coming into the Church to lead astray the sheep with deadly heresies such as Arianism. What is the solution? What has always been the solution? It is the same as what the Apostle John did in 1 John and the Apostle Paul did in 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Corinthians and the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter. They commanded leaders to teach and preach the Word.  Continue reading

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 word that is translated from the Greek that is rendered as “antichrist” in the New Testament is “Antichristos.” It is made up of two words, “anti,” which means “instead of or against,” and “christos,” which means “anointed one.” The “anti” prefix may be reference to “substitution or opposition.” The word “antichrist” 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 antichrist 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

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


by Mike Ratliff

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, 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. (Romans 2:5-8 NASB)

In my research on the Hegelian Dialectic and Diaprax it was amazing how many and how often some very well known “Christian” leaders kept coming up. Several years ago I watched part of an interview done with Billy Graham in which he gave the reasons for his moving from “evangelism” as the primary focus of his ministry to that of Social Justice, world hunger, et cetera. He called it “his fourth conversion.” The result of that “conversion” was the creation of the Lausanne Movement. If you have followed this ministry for the last several years then you know that the two major opponents of genuine Christianity that we have opposed here the most are the Church Growth movement which includes the Purpose Driven Paradigm, and New Evangelism. The other opponent has been the Emergent movement. They seem quite different, but, in fact, they both utilize the same “change” methodology which is Diaprax. What is this?

Continue reading

For this reason they could not believe


by Mike Ratliff

35 So Jesus said to them, “ For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke:“ Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “ HE has blinded their eyes and HE hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” (John 12:35-40 NASB)

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand. ’
10 “ Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10 NASB)

This is the passage that John quoted in John 12:40, which is in context at the top of this post. Notice v39, “For this reason they could not believe…” This is the NASB rendering. The NA28 Greek text for this part of v39 is, “διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἠδύναντο πιστεύειν.” Here is my rendering, “Through this they were not able to believe.” The word translated here as “not” is οὐκ or ouk, which is an absolute negative. Therefore what it is defining is absolutely negated and that verb is ἠδύναντο, which is the 3rd person, imperfect tense, indicative mood, middle voice form of δύναμαι or dunamai, which means “to be able, either intrinsically and absolutely, which the ordinary signification; or, for specific reasons.” The third part of this is the word “believe” which is a translation of the verb πιστεύειν the present tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of πιστεύω or pisteuō, “to have faith.” The way this is structured my brethren it is plainly a work of God that these people were not able “to have faith.” Continue reading

Another mass shooting?


by Mike Ratliff

5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5 NASB)

Until December 2012 I lived in the Kansas City area. In late April 2007 a former employee of a Target store at the Ward Parkway Mall in KC put his plan into action to “shoot up a lot of people” there. That mall is between the Ward Parkway and State Line Boulevard. I remember it like it was yesterday. The killer forced his way into a neighbor’s house, killed her and took her guns and stole her car. Police were notified when the lady who was killed had not been seen and that her car appeared to be stolen. Police found her body and put out a call for the car. A KCMO policeman spotted the car going down a street and pulled it over. The man driving was the person he was looking for. A gun battle ensued. The policeman was shot in the arm, but managed to put a bullet into the driver of the car. Also, he was able to take two pistols away from the shooter. They played a recording of the dispatch of this incident on the local news. You could hear the gunshots as the officer called for assistance. The shooter fled in the stolen car and proceeded to carry out his plan without the two pistols. Police were not aware that he also had a rifle in the car.

He parked the car in the parking lot between two other occupied cars. He shot and killed the man in the car on his left then walked over to the other car on his right and killed the woman in that car. Then he shot up the front of the mall before going inside. His goal was to kill as many people as possible during a very busy time. He shot another person in the mall then proceeded to shoot in every direction at random as he tried to get to the Target store. By this time the KCMO police had arrived then confronted the shooter who did not surrender. The police then used deadly force. The first encounter with the policeman who had pulled him over took much of his firepower away and injured him enough so that he was not as effective with the rifle as he could have been. As my wife and I watched the news breaks as it was happening, we got a call from our son-in-law and daughter in Edmond, Oklahoma. They had already heard of it and were concerned that we might have been involved. Amazing!

If you think back on that time, it was just after the massacre at Virginia Tech earlier that month. It just made no sense. We look at these people who decide in their warped reasoning that it’s the right thing to do to “shoot up a lot of people.” Where does this come from? Also, just a few days earlier, 10 young Turkish men brutally killed a German missionary and two Turkish pastors. The brutality of the killings was staggering.

Just last week there was another senseless shooting in Oregon at a junior college. Some of the survivors have claimed that the killer demanded that each victim admit whether he or she was a Christian or not. If they admitted they were a Christian he shot them in the head. If they did not then he shot them in the legs. Evidence is still coming in, but it appears he was not a Muslim, but in fact, he was simply full of hate.

In all these examples, and I could have named many more, were the people killed by these demon-oppressed people being punished by God for something bad in their lives? What does the Bible tell us? Continue reading