Death in Adam Life in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:12-14 (NASB) 

Those professing Christians who for one reason or another believe they should attack the doctrines of grace usually begin with arguments against the Doctrine of Original Sin. Of course, I know many who I would call doctrinally ignorant like I was for the first couple of decades after the Lord saved me who simply do not know what the doctrines of grace really are. They only hear the “noise” from the “haters” out there who simply cannot believe that God’s Sovereignty overrides their free will. In this post, let us look at our salvation by grace through faith that the Pelagians (whether they know they are or not) tell us we can “make everything right between us and God” by our own willpower alone. Continue reading

The Authority of the Son


by Mike Ratliff

25 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν ὅτε οἱ νεκροὶ ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀκούσαντες ζήσουσιν. John 5:25 (NA28)

25 Amen, amen I say to you that an hour is coming and now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those having heard will live. John 5:25 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The misunderstanding or false teaching about two truths pertaining to our Lord Jesus Christ and man are at the center of much of the false teaching that passes for “Christian theology.” It has always been so. The first truth refers to the deity of Christ and His sovereign authority as Lord and God. The second truth pertains to the original sin of Adam and fact that all people are born dead in trespasses and sins, no exceptions. That spiritual death is without any ability to please God in any way. If we get either of these truths wrong then we will get the Gospel wrong and that means all our theology is wrong as well.  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

Give attention to


by Mike Ratliff

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

13 Until I come give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)

This ministry began as a polemic response to the preaching and ministry downgrade that was taking place in the visible church during the early years of the attempted Purpose Driven takeover of the evangelical churches throughout the United States and in other parts of the world. There were other things going at that time as well such as the rise of the Emergent Village, and other forms of “Christian Liberalism” such as the ministry of Rob Bell. My response and the response of all those who stood against this attack on the Gospel and every part of Christian orthodox soteriology was to stand firmly on what the Word of God says, never straying from the fact that it is God’s absolute truth. This has enabled us to endure. The enemies of the truth are still out there, but we know who they are and until God takes us home we will continue to shine the light of God’s truth into the darkness of their false doctrines. Continue reading

The Reformed Doctrine of Definite Redemption


by Mike Ratliff

17 Καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ νύμφη λέγουσιν· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ ἀκούων εἰπάτω· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ διψῶν ἐρχέσθω, ὁ θέλων λαβέτω ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν. (Revelation 22:17 NA28)

17 And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And the one hearing let him say, “Come.” And the one thirsting let him come; let the one desiring take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Reformed Doctrine of Definite Redemption is also called “The Doctrine of Particular Redemption” and, historically, “The Doctrine of Limited Atonement.” This doctrine speaks about the intention of the triune God in the death of Jesus Christ. Without questioning the infinite worth of Christ’s sacrifice or genuiness of God’s sincere invitation to all who hear the gospel (Revelation 22:17 above), this doctrine states that Christ in dying intended to accomplish exactly what he did accomplish, that is, to take away the sins of God’s elect, and to ensure that they would all be brought to faith through regeneration and preserved through faith for glory. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not intend to die in this efficacious sense for everyone. The proof of that, as Sacred Scripture and experience unite to teach us, is revealed very clearly in the fact that not all are saved.  Continue reading

The authority of Jesus Christ the Son of God


by Mike Ratliff

25 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν ὅτε οἱ νεκροὶ ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀκούσαντες ζήσουσιν. (John 5:25 NA28)

25 Amen, amen I say to you that an hour is coming an now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those having heard will live. (John 5:25 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The misunderstanding or false teaching about two truths pertaining to our Lord Jesus Christ and man are at the center of much of the false teaching that passes for “Christian theology.” It has always been so. The first truth refers to the deity of Christ and His sovereign authority as Lord and God. The second truth pertains to the original sin of Adam and fact that all people are born dead in trespasses and sins, no exceptions. That spiritual death is without any ability to please God in any way. If we get either of these truths wrong then we will get the Gospel wrong and that means all our theology is wrong as well.  Continue reading

What is Hyper-Calvinism?


by Mike Ratliff

11 “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:11 NASB)

At a former church in Oklahoma in 1997 I donated a great deal of my free time to rewire the office areas for network access, configured the networking gear they had and helped them get their peer-to-peer network operational. Not long after that, the church staff had the pastor’s secretary call me to come up to the church after work, which I did. When I got there, they presented me with a gift in gratitude. It was a John MacArthur Study Bible, which had just been released on the market. I still have it. One Sunday not long after this, I was talking with some fellow deacons in between services. One noticed my new Bible and told me that John MacArthur was a Hyper-Calvinist. That was actually the first time I had ever heard that term so I was not sure what he meant. I was not even sure what Calvinism was. I had never heard of the term Arminianism either. Continue reading

The Authority of the Son


by Mike Ratliff

ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν ὅτε οἱ νεκροὶ ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀκούσαντες ζήσουσιν. (John 5:25 NA27)

Amen, amen I say to you that an hour is coming an now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those having heard will live. (a personal translation of John 5:25 from the NA27 Greek text)

The misunderstanding or false teaching about two truths pertaining to our Lord Jesus Christ and man are at the center of much of the false teaching that passes for “Christian theology.” It has always been so. The first truth refers to the deity of Christ and His sovereign authority as Lord and God. The second truth pertains to the original sin of Adam and fact that all people are born dead in trespasses and sins, no exceptions. That spiritual death is without any ability to please God in any way. If we get either of these truths wrong then we will get the Gospel wrong and that means all our theology is wrong as well.  Continue reading

Effectual Calling and Conversion


by Mike Ratliff

3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:3,4 NASB) 

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter X 

Of Effectual Calling

All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.

As many of you know, I was born in 1951 and grew up as a Southern Baptist in Oklahoma. I never heard of the Westminster Confession of Faith until 2006 or so. That article above is entirely biblical and I had read those passages from where they were drawn, but I had never heard Christian Conversion described that way. No, what I heard continually in church services, Sunday School, Youth Groups, and Revival Services was all about us making a decision. It was all about what we did, not what God did. Continue reading

Preserving Grace


by Mike Ratliff

28 κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου. 29 ὁ πατήρ μου ὃ δέδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται ἁρπάζειν ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ πατρός. 30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:28-30 NA27)

28 And I give to them eternal life and they will never perish into the age, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the hand of the Father. 30 I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I have always been puzzled why some become so angry when we declare the doctrine of eternal security of God’s people. Of course, those who do are the very same ones whose theology is man-centered and, therefore, based on the “Free-Will” of man, which is found nowhere in the Bible. When the will of man is discussed in God’s Word it talks of it being enslaved to his sinful nature and how the washing of regeneration at the working of God in man’s salvation, his will becomes free from that bondage. In any case, when we do declare the doctrine of the eternal security of God’s people, it is perhaps clearer to speak of their preservation rather than their perseverance. Perseverance means continued adherence to a belief despite discouragement and opposition. However, the reason believers persevere in faith and obedience is not the strength of their own commitment, but that Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit preserves them through Preserving Grace. Continue reading

Definite Redemption


by Mike Ratliff

17 Καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ νύμφη λέγουσιν· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ ἀκούων εἰπάτω· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ διψῶν ἐρχέσθω, ὁ θέλων λαβέτω ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν. (Revelation 22:17 NA27)

17 And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And the one hearing let him say, “Come.” And the one thirsting let him come; let the one desiring take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

The Reformed Doctrine of Definite Redemption is also called “The Doctrine of Particular Redemption” and, historically, “The Doctrine of Limited Atonement.” This doctrine speaks about the intention of the triune God in the death of Jesus Christ. Without questioning the infinite worth of Christ’s sacrifice or genuiness of God’s sincere invitation to all who hear the gospel (Revelation 22:17 above), this doctrine states that Christ in dying intended to accomplish exactly what he did accomplish, that is, to take away the sins of God’s elect, and to ensure that they would all be brought to faith through regeneration and preserved through faith for glory. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not intend to die in this efficacious sense for everyone. The proof of that, as Sacred Scripture and experience unite to teach us, is revealed very clearly in the fact that not all are saved.  Continue reading

The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology


In light of the controversy created by the ER2 debacle, it is necessary for Christians to get the right perspective. We are not the world or of the world, therefore, we should not behave the way the world behaves and that means the way we are being baited into reacting to what is going on. In the late 19th Century C.H. Spurgeon dealt with a Downgrade Controversy that caused him to lose many friends and separated him from many Pastors and Theologians who formerly walked with him. What was the controversy? It was an invasion of Christian Liberalism into the Church. My friend Ken Silva has dubbed this controversy with its many facets and connections the New Downgrade that creates No Controversy. Just as Charles Spurgeon fought that necessary battle right to the end of his ministry and Athanasius spent years fighting the heresy of Arianism (the same heresy as Modalism or Sabellianism) despite it costing him exile and nearly his life many times, we must also contend earnestly for the faith and stand up to the likes of Mark Driscoll and James MacDoanld as they attempt to make the Doctrine of the Trinity just a side issue or just a matter of opinion. No my brethren, it matters. Continue reading

Christology 101


by Mike Ratliff

The Elephant Room 2 debacle and all the fuss of those coming to James MacDonald’s defense for inviting T.D. Jakes like Mark Driscoll and Rick Warren and our very well-documented opposition to it is still running its course. The determined defense by some of the ecumenical decision should be looked at by us as something important the enemy is seeking to protect as a stronghold of some sort. In any case, when we encounter these things we must be bold in our defense of the truth regardless of how much men like Rick Warren and those like him protest saying we are unloving. They will always sacrifice the truth on the altar of false humility saying it is wrong to offend and we should always seek to build bridges to all even those like T.D. Jakes whose religious views are obviously heretical. The Elephant Room is a forum designed to discuss differences with the intent of breaking down barriers and constructing bridges between those who differ when it comes to doctrine. However, let’s be honest as Bereans. We must continue to check the verity, Biblically, of what is being taught by all who we listen to and who we read. To do otherwise is foolish. We learn from those who speak the truth and we reject those who do not. Period! On the positive side, we must also learn all we can of our Lord’s good doctrines and it doesn’t hurt to know the truth of Church history instead of the misinterpretations of it used by heretics to mislead people. Continue reading

Calvin On Free Will


(From Institutes of the Christian Religion) 

 The Arguments Usually Alleged in Support of Free Will Refuted: 

1. Enough would seem to have been said on the subject of man’s will, were there not some who endeavour to urge him to his ruin by a false opinion of liberty, and at the same time, in order to support their own opinion, assail ours. First, they gather together some absurd inferences, by which they endeavour to bring odium upon our doctrine, as if it were abhorrent to common sense, and then they oppose it with certain passages of Scripture, (infra, sec. 6.) Both devices we shall dispose of in their order. If sin, say they, is necessary, it ceases to be sin; if it is voluntary, it may be avoided. Such, too, were the weapons with which Pelagius assailed Augustine. But we are unwilling to crush them by the weight of his name, until we have satisfactorily disposed of the objections themselves. I deny, therefore, that sin ought to be the less imputed because it is necessary; and, on the other hand, I deny the inference, that sin may be avoided because it is voluntary. If any one will dispute with God, and endeavour to evade his judgement, by pretending that he could not have done otherwise, the answer already given is sufficient, that it is owing not to creation, but the corruption of nature, that man has become the slave of sin, and can will nothing but evil. For whence that impotence of which the wicked so readily avail themselves as an excuse, but just because Adam voluntarily subjected himself to the tyranny of the devil? Hence the corruption by which we are held bound as with chains, originated in the first man’s revolt from his Maker. If all men are justly held guilty of this revolt, let them not think themselves excused by a necessity in which they see the clearest cause of their condemnation. But this I have fully explained above; and in the case of the devil himself, have given an example of one who sins not less voluntarily that he sins necessarily. I have also shown, in the case of the elect angels, that though their will cannot decline from good, it does not therefore cease to be will. This Bernard shrewdly explains when he says, (Serm. 81, in Cantica,) that we are the more miserable in this, that the necessity is voluntary; and yet this necessity so binds us who are subject to it, that we are the slaves of sin, as we have already observed. The second step in the reasoning is vicious, because it leaps from voluntary to free; whereas we have proved above, that a thing may be done voluntarily, though not subject to free choice. Continue reading