Christ the Foundation Stone

by Mike Ratliff

42 Jesus *said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,
‘ The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes ’?
43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. 44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” (Matthew 21:42-44 NASB)

The message to the Christian throughout the New Testament is to deny self, to view with contempt the temporal or world system, to understand that love of the temporal and genuine discipleship are mutually exclusive because it is from the former which all genuine believers are being delivered. This deliverance is progressive mortification of all carnal affections and impediments. This must be so in order for the Christian to attain more speedily the heavenly Kingdom of Christ. It is to Christ’s Kingdom that all believers are called by the grace of God and it is revealed to them in His Son. All believers have received this by faith, possessed it by hope, and have therein confirmed it by Holiness of life. Continue reading

What is God doing within the division and factions in the Church?

by Mike Ratliff

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 2:19 NASB)

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)

19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NASB)

In King James Version of Galatians 5:20 there is the word “heresies.”  The NASB translates the same word as “factions.” “Heresies” and “factions” are translating the Greek word αἱρέσεις, which is a form of the word αἵρεσις or hairesis. This word describes a condition which is only theoretical in that one can hold different views than the majority and remain in the same body but he is a heretic. Heresy is theoretical and does not become practical until the heretic tears himself away, σχίζω or schizō. Then he is schismatic and is the source of σχίσμα or schisma. In that, schismaticalness is practical heresy. Continue reading

Christ’s suffering and Christian suffering

by Mike Ratliff

3 ἀρκετὸς γὰρ ὁ παρεληλυθὼς χρόνος τὸ βούλημα τῶν ἐθνῶν κατειργάσθαι πεπορευμένους ἐν ἀσελγείαις, ἐπιθυμίαις, οἰνοφλυγίαις, κώμοις, πότοις καὶ ἀθεμίτοις εἰδωλολατρίαις. 4 ἐν ᾧ ξενίζονται μὴ συντρεχόντων ὑμῶν εἰς τὴν αὐτὴν τῆς ἀσωτίας ἀνάχυσιν βλασφημοῦντες, (1 Peter 4:3-4 NA28)

3 For we have wasted enough time participating in the desires of the Gentiles, having proceeded in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties and unlawful idolatry. 4 Wherein they think it strange you are not running with them into the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:3-4 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Loneliness of the Christian

“The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

“The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

“It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.”

AW Tozer

I know of what Tozer was talking about. I was amazed when this happened to me at a Deacon’s meeting one Saturday morning when I wanted to share that my walk with Christ had a great deal more to do with my time in the Word, in prayer, in worship, than it did in being a Deacon or “doing church.” I did indeed long for some of those men, perhaps just a few of them, would be in that same spiritual place. However, I remember the cold stares and from that day forward, I became an outsider looking in even through I was one of the senior deacons and was a Bible teacher at that church. It was only about 6 months or so later that all that Purpose Driven stuff started. I fought it, but it became apparent that those who made the decisions there were not going to listen to anyone that did not agree with them so my wife and I left. Continue reading

Doctrine and truth

by Mike Ratliff

3 Ἀγαπητοί, πᾶσαν σπουδὴν ποιούμενος γράφειν ὑμῖν περὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας ἀνάγκην ἔσχον γράψαι ὑμῖν παρακαλῶν ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει. (Jude 1:3 NA28)

3 Beloved, being extremely eager to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you encouraging you to contend for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. (Jude 1:3 Translated from the NA28 Greek text)

One of the topics of contention that I often deal with “commenters” whom I screen and block and with those who contact me via email is that “doctrine” is different from the truth given to the Church by our Lord through the Apostles. These are the same people who contend that there is a seperation between truth and the revealed truth the Church has in God’s Word.  Continue reading

What is the danger of entering temptation?

by Mike Ratliff

9 “ Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘ Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘ Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] (Matthew 6:9-13 NASB)

In this post we will look at the danger of “entering temptation.” There is no doubt that most believers walk in defeat in this battle much if not most of the time. On top of the guilt and self-abhorrence that are natural products of Christians sinning, there is also the battle fatigue that comes upon them which results in more guilt simply for being “tempted” in the first place. Of course, much of this can be blamed on faulty theology and an extreme drought in the area of teaching the Biblical truth about sin and temptation from our pulpits and Bible studies. To understand the danger of “entering temptation” we must first understand what it is and what it is not.

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The end of this age and the Kingdom of God

by Mike Ratliff

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “ See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “ Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:3-14 NASB)

When I was a youth back in the 1960’s I remember hearing many sermons in our church about how the signs of the end of the age were upon us and that it would only be a short time until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1970 Hal Lindsey published his book The Late Great Planet Earth. I read it while I was in the Navy in the early 1970’s. I bought it at the bookstore of a church in Washington, D.C. that I was attending at that time. The focus of that book was to get the reader to buy into the fact that the signs of the times were indicating that the Great Tribulation was very near. One of the points Lindsey and others used during that time to show that we were in the birth pangs was how horrible things were throughout the world morally, politically, militarily, and how the “gospel” was being preached around the world. Here we are over 40 years later and I defy anyone to say that things have improved in any of those categories since then. In Matthew 24:3-14, which I placed at the top of this post, our Lord tells us what the world would be like leading up to the end of this age. This age began at the Cross and will continue until the cup of God’s Wrath is filled.  Continue reading

What is moral inability?

by Mike Ratliff

19 Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. (Joshua 24:19 NASB)

When my faith was young, Joshua’s statement in Joshua 24:19 seemed puzzling. Of course, I was a member in some churches that did their best to ignore anything resembling deep theological study. I remember a Q&A session with one of my former pastors in which this passage was read (not by me) then he was asked to explain it. The answer was that this was just an abstraction not to be taken literally and not to be applied to the Church age. Let’s take a closer look.

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Pragmatism and Postmodernism

by Mike Ratliff

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28 NASB)

Postmodernism : A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.

Postmodernism is “post” because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody – a characteristic of the so-called “modern” mind. The paradox of the postmodern position is that, in placing all principles under the scrutiny of its skepticism, it must realize that even its own principles are not beyond questioning. As the philosopher Richard Tarnas states, postmodernism “cannot on its own principles ultimately justify itself any more than can the various metaphysical overviews against which the postmodern mind has defined itself.” – From Faith and Reason

circa 1864

1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs <tried to strike a balance between principles and pragmatism> 2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

Postmodernism is a term that that is claimed by the Emergent Church movement. This philosophy in the first part of the 21st Century has come to dominate Western thinking. In each area of thought within it we find that, invariably, pragmatism is its root. Pragmatic philosophy says that everything is relative because ultimate, transcendent truth does not exist. This makes reasoning with a pragmatist extremely frustrating. Also, there are moral and absolute standards in our society that are continually under attack and, seemingly, are crumbling under our feet all around us. The culprit behind this is Pragmatic philosophy coupled with postmodernist thinking.  Continue reading

Who is Jesus?

by Mike Ratliff

32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “ Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. (John 11:32-35 NASB)

As we stand firm against the onslaught of false teachers and heretics attacking the modern church, we can wear ourselves out at times seeking every nuance of what they are saying and doing. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. However, most of the time, the very best way to stand against what is false is to teach God’s Truth clearly to all who will hear. When one of the “New Evangelists” attacks the veracity of the Gospel from every angle or Rick Warren dummies it down so that it is no longer recognizable, they do these things from a point of motivation. There is a reason or goal in mind. Mostly, it is to simply appear to be non-offensive to people, to be man-pleasers, to attract as many people as possible to come under their Big Tent where all forms of theology are welcome, that is, all forms except the one we hold to here. No Exclusivity is allowed. No Five Solas are allowed. No Sovereignty of God! No Justification ALONE! No, there can be none of that for then others would be offended and there would go their artificial unity. Of course, in the make-believe-Christendom they have created, they have a made-up Jesus. He is not Jesus Christ of the Bible, the Son of God. No, because He is the one who said that No One comes to the Father except through Him, and that would be offensive so they have their own Jesus who just loves everyone and died on the Cross either to save everyone or just to show everyone a better way.  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.

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Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths

by Mike Ratliff

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.
4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:1-5 NASB)

Doubting God and His promises, worrying about things that are in God’s control leads us into sin. As we have seen in the last few posts, our enemy focuses primarily in His attacks on us on attempting to bring us to a place where we doubt God. This struggle comes to all who commit themselves to serving God with their lives. The closer they draw to God, the more Satan or his forces attempt to bring discouragement and despair to bear on these believers in an attempt to thwart their devotion to their Lord. Continue reading

Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other?

by Mike Ratliff

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “ The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 NASB)

I have had a rough couple of days. For a while I could not figure out what was wrong. Then at 3:30am this morning, not being able to sleep, I asked God for help. Things began to become clear. I was being accused by the enemy. I do not pretend to be righteous by my own merit. If I was I would have lost it a long time ago. However, our enemy loves to attack us, especially when we attack him and his strongholds. It is imperative to know the enemy and how he works. To have an enemy implies that there is a conflict of some kind. Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other? Continue reading

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ

by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 NASB)

There is no guarantee that the Genuine Christian will ever be immune from suffering despite what false teachers like Joel Osteen say. In fact, suffering is the method God uses to prune the branches that abide in the Vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15) I have found that the form this suffering takes is nearly always a surprise. When atheists or pagans ridicule the resulting sorrow from that is relatively minor and easily borne compared to that delivered by professing Christians. In any case, we must not be discouraged, even though that is what our enemy seeks to do to us through it. God is allowing him to do this to us, therefore, what should our reaction be? Continue reading

New Gnosticism

by Mike Ratliff

5 Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία. 6 Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν· 7 ἐὰν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. 8 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. 9 ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. 10 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. (1 John 1:5-10 NA28)

5 And this is the message, which we have heard from him and we proclaim to you, that God is light and there is not any darkness in him. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from every sin. 8 If we say that we do not have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, that he may forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 if we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

The following definition for the word “esoteric” is from the New Oxford American Dictionary: 

esoteric |ˌesəˈterik|


intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest : esoteric philosophical debates.


esoterically |-(ə)lē| adverb

esotericism |-ˈterəˌsizəm| noun

esotericist |-ˈterəsist| noun

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Greek esōterikos, from esōterō, comparative of esō ‘within,’ from es, eis ‘into.’ Compare with exoteric .

Not long after God had mercy on me in January 1986, saving me, I remember seeing a newspaper ad with the title “Esoteric Christianity” in bold letters. Below that in nearly as large bold letters was one word, “Gnosticism.” There was a phone number below that. I was a new believer, but I had heard in a Bible study about Gnosticism and how it was a heresy. What is a heresy?

“Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in on attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself.” Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.2 

In other words, a heresy is something false that is portrayed or taught as the truth in such a way that is very convincing to professing believers who are not very mature and are have not been trained to be discerning.

What is it that makes Gnosticism a heresy? As the definition for the word “esoteric” above tells us, it was a religious mysticism that pirated Christian motifs to propagate a totally unchristian understanding of salvation than what we know of in our Orthodox Christian faith. In Gnosticism, salvation is based on esoteric “knowledge” (Greek γνῶσις or gnōsis). To the Gnostic, redemption is through affirming the divine light already in the human soul, not through repentance of sin and faith in Christ’s death to bring about spiritual rebirth.  Continue reading