The Great Delusion


by Mike Ratliff

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 2:8-12 NASB)

When I was a young Christian I was a Dispensationalist because that was what the churches I belonged to taught.  I remember listening to Hal Lindsey or some of the teachers at the church I was going to at that time teach on these things, but I never quite sunk my teeth into it. I remember never being fully convinced about that eschatology or that the Church would be secretly Raptured away and miss the Tribulation or that the “Tribulation,” as it was being presented by those Dispensationlists, was Biblical.  Why did I have these issues? At that time I did not really have any knowledge of other views of eschatology so I was more than a little concerned about these things.  These eschatological teachings with which I had issues are structured to be popular and they are presented in a way that tickles the itching ears of the many rather than on what is Biblical. Continue reading

What is the Great Delusion?


by Mike Ratliff

9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV)

Back when I was a Dispensationalist I remember listening to Hal Lindsey or some of the teachers at the church I was going to at that time teach on these things, but I never quite sunk my teeth into it. I remember never being fully convinced about the Eschatology or that the Church would be secretly Raptured away and miss the Tribulation. I heard a comment by R.C. Sproul the other day say that he isn’t sure which Eschatological view is correct, but he did know of two that he was totally convinced were not correct and were in fact terrible error. The two he spoke of that he was sure that were wrong was Full Preterism and any view that incorporated Dispensationalism. He was fine with Partial Preterism, Postmillenialism, and Amillenialism. Why? Each is Biblically based rather than based in what people want to hear. Continue reading

Millennial Positions


After posting the piece on the Binding of Satan it became painfully obvious that many people who objected to it had never even conceived of any other position on Eschatology or a Biblical view other than Dispensationalism. I was brought up as a Dispensationalist. I was a Pre-Trib, Pri-Mil dispy for decades. However, I knew that something just wasn’t right. There were way too many leaps of faith that had to be made and way too many gaps and holes and unexplained things, from Revelation especially, that do not fit or appear to be just plainly illogical. Then God awakened me to Reformed Theology. It was incredible. It was as if I could see scripture in layers and levels that were hidden to me before. Then I started exploring Eschatology. The first thing I rejected was Dispensational/Premillennialism. I was actually very surprised at the different views. It was as if I had never even seen them before. Here is a list of the four major millennial positions. Continue reading

The Binding of Satan


by Mike Ratliff

My last post on Isaiah 52-53 was an eye-opener for me. I exposited the “Song of the Suffering Servant” hopping to have an edifying discussion about our Lord that would both glorify the Son and the Father. Instead, the discussion spiraled down into an eschatological turf war about Israel and the elect and covenants. That was not my intent. However, I believe it is time to take the gloves off. We are going to go through Revelation 20 one verse at a time. This post will cover the first three verses. Why this chapter? This is the most misinterpreted chapter in Revelation and that means it is the most misinterpreted chapter in the whole Bible. I pray that God will open this to us from His Word that we may know the truth. Continue reading

The Time of the End


by Mike Ratliff

20 Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
21 For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain. (Isaiah 26:20-21 ESV)

God is Sovereign! He has always been and always will be Sovereign. I use Gmail as my main email. Unfortunately Google embeds ads in the interface just above the control buttons. Sometimes I will see something interesting there and click it. Usually I regret it. A few days ago I saw one that advertised a study that was supposed to show the real definition of Hyper-Calvinism. I am Reformed in my Theology, but I abhor Hyper-Calvinism. I know that many confuse the two so I hit the link to see what was what. The formula this writer of the document used to determine if a person was Hyper-Calvinistic was if all they talked about was God’s Sovereignty and glory instead of insisting on man’s responsibility. While I can see what the writer was trying to say I also saw that even though he agreed that God was Sovereign, he still was not sovereign over Man’s will. I read about half the document then gave up because the further I read the less Sovereignty God had and the more Man had. I had to go get a cold drink of water after that because it left a very bad taste in my mouth. Isn’t this the very essence of Man’s rebellion against God? Continue reading

The Kings of the South and the North


by Mike Ratliff

20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince. (Daniel 10:20-21 ESV)

As we saw in the last post, there are evil powers behind the “kingdoms” of the world. Satan is the lord of this present age. In this post we will attempt to exposit Daniel 11. This is a very interesting chapter in that it covers the history of spiritual conflict in Israel (11:2-35) to the tribulation (11:36-42) where Michael comes to the aide of the Jews to assist in fully delivering them (12:1). The history section of this prophecy (vv2-35) is so accurate that skeptics have railed against the veracity of this prophecy. They cannot understand how someone could write with such accuracy several hundred years earlier than the events. However, as believers, we should look at this part of Daniel and rejoice in the fact that when God says something will happen, it will happen. However, this prophecy, which extends into chapter 12, looks into the future from Daniel’s time into what is future for us as well. We will see a preview of the Antichrist given to Daniel by God over 2 millennia ago. Continue reading

Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts


by Mike Ratliff

1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4 ESV)

It is time to prayerfully step into the prophetic section of Daniel. I have had quite a bit of anxiety about tackling these books that are deeply eschatological. Why? My method of Bible teaching is to simply expound scripture. I try to limit input into my analysis of passages to Biblical references for the most part. I do not believe I am wise enough or schooled enough in eschatology to do justice to this study. However, God is able to open up His word to our hearts. As we look at these sections in Daniel let us carefully let scripture speak. God will give us the truth as He sees fit. Perhaps God will give us insight into His Word that we have lacked until now. If so, then it is God doing this, not me. Continue reading

God in Heaven Reveals Mysteries


by Mike Ratliff

20 Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.” (Daniel 2:20-23 ESV)

Over time, Daniel became a very important person in the Kingdom of Babylon. However, as we look at Chapter 2 we find Daniel still a young man among the King’s counselors. The events in this chapter take place shortly after the promotion of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the ranks of the trainees that we looked at in yesterday’s post. In this chapter God uses a pagan King and a faithful servant to give us a prophetic picture of world kingdoms and a glimpse into the coming Kingdom of God. Continue reading

Jacob’s Trouble


by Mike Ratliff

5 “Thus says the Lord:
We have heard a cry of panic,
of terror, and no peace.
6 Ask now, and see,
can a man bear a child?
Why then do I see every man
with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?
Why has every face turned pale?
7 Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:5-7 ESV)

As we move through our study on Eschatology I have become very burdened with an overwhelming sense that I must not carelessly exegete any scripture. In fact, I do not feel comfortable writing anything about it without much prayer and research. I deeply desire to get it right. My commitment has been to do this study by looking at scripture alone. Also, a major point of contentions, so far, in our discussions has been whether the “Church” has replaced Israel as God’s covenant people. There is no doubt that all who are in Christ were saved by Faith through Grace thereby making them part of Abraham’s offspring. God justified him because He believed Him. All who follow Him in believing become branches in the Vine who is Christ. However, is God through with Israel and has He given all of the promises to Abraham’s offspring to the Church. Continue reading

This Age and the Age to Come


by Mike Ratliff

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23 ESV)

Many years ago, when was in my twenties, eschatology books were being pumped out by every “evangelist” under heaven. They were dazzling with their complicated charts with arrows for Christ’s multiple returns to get His church then later to bring His kingdom into fulfillment. It was so complex that it was impossible to follow without those pull out charts. I had friends who became experts on this. They could quote chapter and verse on every point in the end times as revealed in these books. However, as I have matured (hopefully) and learned to trust what the scriptures say more than what men say I have come to believe that eschatology shouldn’t be that complicated. When Jesus talked about the sin of Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit he said something very interesting. Continue reading

The Day of the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

5 For the Lord God of hosts has a day
of tumult and trampling and confusion
in the valley of vision,
a battering down of walls
and a shouting to the mountains. (Isaiah 22:5)

As we study the book of Revelation we will find that within it the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies. The Bible is a harmonious book. That means that all of what it teaches us is in harmony. We will not find contradictions within its pages. Instead, we find unchangeableness. It does not change. I heard a preacher say not long ago that when he was in Seminary that he had very little money. He loved books, but could not afford many. However, the local library would have sales at times and the prices for books would be very inexpensive. However, when he went through them the books were about science or philosophy, but next to none on doctrine or theology. He asked the librarian why that was so. She replied that the reason they had the sales was that science and philosophy changed over time so they had to make room for new books, but theology and doctrine never changed. Therefore, books by Tyndale or Luther or Bunyan or Owen are just as applicable today as they were when they were written. Continue reading