Indeed, has God said?


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) 

Sola Scriptura is under heavy attack in the visible Church. Some of those who are leading this battle against it are already predicting victory. The central theme of Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence is, “Where is our authority?” This question is asked in order to stress the need to do away with Sola Scriptura in order to make way for “the step and subsequent journey out of traditional church expressions and into new ones.” She also said that there are forty-four specific events that underline the move away from Sola Scriptura and that it’s not if Sola Scriptura ends, but when…  Continue reading

The deception of the “Missional Call”


by Mike Ratliff

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “ Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “ Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2:36-39 NASB)

When I was a new Christian, through many interlocking circumstances, I moved my family back to the same town in Oklahoma in which I had grown up. We joined a very traditional Southern Baptist Church just a block or so from our house. We remained there about 13 years. When we first joined, the emphasis there was evangelism. We supported missions through the SBC. We had annual mission trips to Mexico and Central America. We had a very well run Evangelism Explosion program that was tightly integrated into our weekly prayer and visitation programs. I went from a trainee to a trainer after a year or so. That emphasis on evangelism was always outward. We went into areas outside of the Church and evangelized. God blessed this sometimes by using us to bring people into the Kingdom. However, in the early 1990’s we lost our pastors and the man who replaced them changed our church drastically. The emphasis was no longer an outward facing evangelism. Instead, it was on reshaping the church to be more attractive to those outside. The emphasis on the Gospel was muted.  Continue reading

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might


by Mike Ratliff

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17 NASB)

This ministry began primarily to bring Christians from the darkness of dead religiosity into the light of an obedient, vibrant, growing, daily walk by faith as a living sacrifice. However, it soon became apparent that a huge number of those who God sent this way were refugees from churches that had been taken over by the Purpose Driven paradigm. They had stood against the takeover and had been asked to leave or told to leave. They were no longer welcome in churches in which they had served for years. In many cases, generations of their family had served there. Now, that local church had become a local Purpose Driven franchise that only welcomed the world and cared nothing for real Christians. In our analysis of this and our ministering to those who were dealing with this we soon found ourselves also dealing with the PDC apologists who were allied with another group. That group was a loosely defined bunch of people we called the “emergent village.” We had other names for them, but that name will work for now.

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 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV)

Today I was sent this link. It brought back a lot of memories of some very serious battles from about 5 to 6 years ago between many of us at CRN and those who proclaimed allegiance to “The Emergent Village.” The fight got ugly at times, but from it it became more and more apparent that the Emergent or Emergence movement was just another form of the “Liberal Christianity” that Charles Spurgeon faced during the Great Downgrade Controversy in his time and what J. Gresham Machen stood against in his ministry and wrote of in his fine book Christianity and Liberalism. In that book Machen proved that what was called progressive or Liberal Christianity was a different religion from genuine or Orthodox Christianity. It was a good thing that my friend sent me that link and it was also a good thing that I read what was going on there and thought back on those days and those fights. Why? 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

The Intolerance of emergent (liberal) Christianity


by Mike Ratliff

89 Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalms 119:89 ESV)

Truth is not relative. If truth were then it couldn’t be truth for what would be true for one could be considered a fallacy by another. Therefore, it is utter foolishness to make assertions that truth is just a matter of opinion and we must be tolerant of other’s views on the Gospel and all of the vital aspects of our faith. On the other hand, I am perfectly willing to call another Christian my brother or sister in Christ even though we may disagree on things about our faith that are not barriers to orthodoxy. I find the discussions about these things with them to be wonderful opportunities of iron sharping iron. However, that is not the same thing as joining in fellowship with those who have serious issues with vital parts of doctrine that are non-negotiable. What do I mean? I have no problem loving and having fellowship with a Christian who is not Reformed in their Theology as I am. However, I draw the line and, as God leads,   contend with those who, for example, deny the deity of Christ or add works as a requirement for salvation or deny the inerrancy of the Bible or teach that Biblical Truth is inherently unknowable, therefore, we cannot hold to solid doctrinal truths. Continue reading

The Deification of Man


by Mike Ratliff

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

As many of you know, I was given the opportunity to do a pre-release review of a book written by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola titled Jesus Manifesto. To be honest, I was shocked after I received it and began reading it. I knew, for instance, that Sweet was a good friend of Brian McLaren and was emergent in his theology. However, the book started out well. It was like reading a sermon preached by a very good evangelist. My good friend Jon Cardwell was also enlisted to review the book and was going through the same struggle. It was amazing. However, I was also asking for a lot of prayer for wisdom and discernment from friends and family as I dug into the book. It did not help though that this was going on as I was also dealing with a great deal of mental exhaustion. In any case, my prayers were answered when I came to the part of the book dealing with our Lord’s crucifixion.  Continue reading

The Proper Focus: Christ and the Life Above


by Mike Ratliff

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:13-16 ESV)

I am sure many of you reading this can identify with what I am about to say. The more we attempt to point the visible church away from the time wasting, world-focused, nonsense of this present evil-age, the more popular it seems to become in its hearts, minds, and eyes. I have seen some behind the scene plans by many so-called pastors to even bring their ministries into tighter focus with the secular to be even more involved with every aspect of government, entertainment, you name it, in the world. Of course, Emergence Christianity, which is simply a cult that is just another form of Christian Liberalism from the 19th Century, has no issues with this since it sees the ekklisia as containing the entire world anyway as per Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola in their new book Jesus Manifesto due to hit the stands June 1st of this year. Their publisher gave me an advanced copy of Jesus Manifesto last month in order to prepare a review for Possessing the Treasure. Continue reading

The Scandal of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-11 ESV)

During my recent trip I have been rereading and studying a book by John MacArthur titled The Vanishing Conscience. Along with this, I have been listening to a series of teachings by R.C. Sproul on the human conscience, all men’s guilt before God because of their sin, and the utter uselessness of man-made religiosity or human psychology teachings about self-esteem in maintaining a healthy conscience that leads the believer into growing in humility and Christlikeness. As part of my study, I have also been praying for guidance in how I should or even if I should address this. The direction I have received is that we must address this since the apostate emergent forms of the visible church have recently shown their true colors of adherence to liberal theology. Also, the missional focus of so many of those who call themselves the  “New” Evangelism or “New” Calvinism or “New” ‘put your favorite religious flavor here’ are redefining the true “Mission” of the Church into a works-righteousness with a nebulous concept of sin, repentance, justification, et cetera.  Continue reading

The Seductive Deception of the Call to be Missional


by Mike Ratliff

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:36-39 ESV)

When I was a new Christian, through many interlocking circumstances, I moved my family back to the same town in Oklahoma in which I had grown up. We joined a very traditional Southern Baptist Church just a block or so from our house. We remained there about 13 years. When we first joined, the emphasis there was evangelism. We supported missions through the SBC. We had annual mission trips to Mexico and Central America. We had a very well run Evangelism Explosion program that was tightly integrated into our weekly prayer and visitation programs. I went from a trainee to a trainer after a year or so. That emphasis on evangelism was always outward. We went into areas outside of the Church and evangelized. God blessed this sometimes by using us to bring people into the Kingdom. However, in the early 1990’s, as I have shared in this post, we lost our pastors and the man who replaced them changed our church drastically. The emphasis was no longer an outward facing evangelism. Instead, it was on reshaping the church to be more attractive to those outside. The emphasis on the Gospel was muted.  Continue reading

Pragmatism and Mustard Seed Faith


by Mike Ratliff

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. (Luke 17:1-6 ESV)

There are many parallels between what is going on the visible church at this time with what Charles Spurgeon called “the Down-Grade Controversy” in his time. In the latter part of the 19th Century, he began addressing the growing apostasy in the Baptist Union in Great Britain. This apostasy was fueled by those leaders who wished to move Christianity from its historical focus, i.e. preaching the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit with emphasis on sin and the need of a Saviour, to one that was more in line with “Modernism.” He compared Biblical truth to the pinnacle of a steep, slippery mountain. The margin for error is very precise because one step away, and you find yourself on the downgrade. The following excerpt is from one of his sermons preached at the height of this controversy.

Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, while for himself he craves a chaplet of laurel? Shall Jesus ascend to his throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? Be not so vain in your imagination. Count you the cost, and if you are not willing to bear Christ’s cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them; only let me whisper this in your ear; “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? 1

Spurgeon preached the sermon from which this excerpt is taken just after he was censured by the Baptist Union for his stance against the majority’s efforts to “modernize” their churches with de-emphasis of the biblical gospel in favor of being more open to those who would be offended by the cross and the insistence that they were sinners in need of a Saviour.  Continue reading

The Emergent Conversation Is A Tool Of Deception


by Mike Ratliff

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” (Luke 11:37-44 ESV)

The emergent conversation is nothing more than postmodern relativism corrupting the Church. Even those who claim outright that they are not “emergent,” but who reject the clear and direct teachings of the Gospel and sound doctrine from the Bible, have been corrupted by the inherit postmodern spiritual bankruptcy that has invaded seemingly every part of the visible Church. Dialogue has as its main intent the finding of “common ground” in order to peacefully coexist with those of different mindsets, viewpoints, religion, or “types” of profession of faith, et cetera. This finding of “common ground” is nothing more than compromise. This “conversation” is not the same thing as debate, which, if properly done, preserves and proves points of fact rather than seeking to compromise. We are often dismayed when we witness a Christian leader compromise who, in the past, has appeared to have a solid background of orthodoxy and stood firmly on the right foundation which is the Word of God, its doctrines, all built on and around and through the chief cornerstone, who is Christ. Why has this happened?  Continue reading

Emergent Fallacies and The Dummying Down of the Church


by Mike Ratliff

I listened to a fantastic interview today on Crosstalk Radio from the 17th. It featured Ingrid Schlueter interviewing Chris Rosebrough. The title of the show was “Emergent Heresy – A Warning.” One of the most difficult things for me over the last few years has been in addressing the heretical things that the emergents were saying, but it seemed that there was absolutely no foundation or structure to their confusing attacks on the truth while using some of the same doctrinal words that we us in Christian Orthodoxy. This interview tied much of the confusion together for me so that I now understand that simply addressing a salient heretical point here and there with them is like trying to kill a swam of mosquitos with an ice pick. This issue really isn’t that these Emergents are messed up theologically, but that they are not Christians at all. Their religion is not Christianity, it is some other hashed together conglomeration of philosophies that have become anchored in our churches because the source of their followers are coming from our youth groups who are easily duped into their lies because they have grown up in churches in which there is no solid Biblical training. Their local church has been fed a dummied down theology that is void of biblical truth.  Continue reading

The Truth and the Deceived


By Mike Ratliff

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-19 ESV)

The prevalent lie dominating the emergent “Church” is that the Gospel is defined differently than it is clearly set down in God’s Word. Of course, this should be no surprise since Sacred Scripture tells us plainly that the genuine Gospel is folly or foolishness to those who are perishing. I know that some are saying that the emergents are genuine Christians and that they are leading the way into a “new reformation,” but if one simply dialogues with any of the emergents for very long about the Gospel it becomes very clear in a hurry that it is a different religion. Continue reading

Yea Hath God Said?


by Mike Ratliff

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 ESV)

Sola Scriptura is under heavy attack in the visible Church. Some of those who are leading this battle against it are already predicting victory. The central theme of Phyllis Tickles book The Great Emergence is, “Where is our authority?” This question is asked in order to stress the need to do away with Sola Scriptura in order to make way for “the step and subsequent journey out of traditional church expressions and into new ones.” She also said that there are forty-four specific events that underline the move away from Sola Scriptura and that it’s not if Sola Scriptura ends, but when…  Continue reading