Preaching the Gospel of light into the darkness


Pby Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (NASB) 

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 Paul speaks of a veil that lies over the hearts of those who reject the genuine Gospel. Paul used the Jews as his example of those who, with hearts hardened against the Gospel, believe they are serving God in their rejection of it. In the 21st Century Church, we have a parallel of this in much of the visible Church. Before I took my time off I received several emails from many of you about an escalation of attacks on what we refer to as Reformation Theology from those who are convinced that Christians are saved by exercising their will with absolutely no help from God. In fact, they view this as sacred and if God were to interfere, He would be in violation somehow and this would nullify the veracity of their salvation. This is part of the struggle for the truth with which we must deal, but we also have outright heretics preaching in some pulpits teaching Eastern Mysticism as if it is part of the Gospel. We also have those who are seemingly desperate to be seen as separate from anything “Orthodox” so they reject what the Bible clearly teaches about Homosexuality being a sin. It is as if these who are consistently attacking God’s truth and rejecting His Sovereignty are doing the very same thing the Jews of Paul’s day did. They insist that the focus of Christianity must be all about people, while we teach that it is all about God and His glory. Continue reading

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ vs the man-made gospel


by Mike Ratliff

11 Γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπʼ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον· 12 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτὸ οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην, ἀλλὰ διʼ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Galatians 1:11-12 NA28)

11 For I make known to you brothers, the gospel that I preached, is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The εὐαγγέλιον or euaggelion, which the word “gospel” above translates, means “good message” or “good news.” What Paul stated in Galatians 1:11,12 is vital for us to grasp. Those of us who are in Christ can proclaim this εὐαγγέλιον for it is a message of very good news about something our Lord Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, but we cannot “be the gospel” nor can we “live the gospel.” It is a message of Christ’s work of redemption that was successful. He died on that cross and in so doing, His perfect obedience was made available to be imputed to all who believe this εὐαγγέλιον and in so doing, receive Christ as Lord and Saviour in repentance being saved by God’s grace through faith. In this, the Father justifies them, imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to their account. This is possible because, while he was on that cross, their unrighteousness was imputed to his account and through his death, he became their propitiation. This εὐαγγέλιον  is indeed good news because it means Christians do not have to work their way to God. Their salvation according to Ephesians 1,2 is actually God’s work entirely, not theirs. The preaching of the gospel is a call to repent and believe, which is how those effectually called by God do become Christians receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour. Now, is that the gospel prevalently heard in the visible church in our time?  Continue reading

The things of the Spirit of God are only discerned spiritually


by Mike Ratliff

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)

When the Word of God ceases to be the plumb line of one’s faith, walk, understanding of truth, and knowing God then what replaces it is human reason which, outside of the Grace of God, is completely unable to know God’s truth when it sees it. There seems to be a large number professing Christians who raise a protest when I teach on doctrine. Their contention is that they simply refuse to believe that what I am teaching is the truth. Upon what do they base this? It is all based within their own reasoning. Never do I receive a clear Biblical indictment against the truths I share. Instead, the protests are couched in feelings, human reason, common sense, or philosophy. My brethren, we must not flinch from these protests. God’s truth is knowable because the Holy Spirit imparts divine wisdom to His children for this purpose. Never forget, it is falsehood that cannot stand scrutiny. The truth has nothing to fear from deep examination, therefore, let us defend it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

Jesus Christ is God


by Mike Ratliff

14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:14 NASB)

In our look at the Bible as the living Word of God and His communication to His people, we understand that it is not just a collection of writings or simply a history. No, the Holy Spirit not only indwells Christians he also indwells Sacred Scripture. When believers read and study the Word of God, The Holy Spirit works through it to accomplish spiritual, eternal work within them. God communicates with His people primarily through His Word. One of the main goals in this is His revelation of Himself to those who love Him.

Jesus Christ is the interpretive key to Sacred Scripture. Any other hermeneutic will lead people into various forms of heresy or unbelief. However, if we view all of scripture from this key, it enables us to see clearly the utter depravity of fallen man because it imparts this to us via God’s Word by the Holy Spirit working in our consciences and minds. We see that the Gospel is not what most of us have conceived of as we have listened to some preacher’s water-down version of it. No, we see that Christ is the center and purpose of all creation and that the Word of God clearly shows us God’s plan of redemption of those chosen before the foundation of the World. Continue reading

What is the Light of the Gospel?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV)

In our church we have been studying the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament for the last several weeks and our teaching pastors have done a fine job of relating God’s truth there to the Gospel and the New Covenant truths from the New Testament. As always, we have been looking at why it is vital to know what we believe and why we believe it. In light of that we have also looked at the disturbing truths from God’s Word that show us clearly that his Truth is not knowable by those to whom it is not given.

Continue reading

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

Here I Stand


In every generation, new attacks on the veracity of Scripture arise, and the church faces a choice. Will she stand firm on the inspired Word of God, or will she capitulate to the Spirit of the Age? In the message below given at Ligonier Ministries’ No Compromise: 2013 National Conference, Dr. Steven Lawson explains why the church must never compromise her commitment to the inspired and inerrant Word of God, but rather remain firm in the face of all challenges.

Here I Stand

Another Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 ESV)

Every professing Christian, whether he or she is trained theologian or not, has constructed some kind of Christology in their mind, in their heart. Sadly, with the dearth of clear and correct doctrine being taught in our churches, most seem to believe that whatever their own concept of Christ is okay. After all, to have correct doctrine isn’t that important…right? Some think that Jesus came to give His followers a “better life” here and now. This would include becoming prosperous and influential. Others see Jesus as mostly concerned about the environment and that He is the ultimate tree hugger. Still others see Jesus as primarily a teacher of ethics. This same Jesus is concerned with accepting all into His kingdom regardless of whether they have repented of their sins or not. Are any of these examples representative of the Jesus we meet in God’s Word?  Continue reading

The History Channel’s Bible Miniseries Mishandling of God’s Word


by Mike Ratliff

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)

Back on February 14th my wife and I went to see a movie at a local theater. It was Lincoln, which I have wanted to see for some time since I have been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals upon which the movie is partially based. The book is history written based upon actual letters and diaries and records written by the people Goodwin wrote about in her book, however, in the movie, artistic license was obviously taken in order to dramatize certain things. Certain facts were made up and others were left out or changed in order “to fit the movie story line” and tell the story that Stephen Spielberg wanted to tell. We got to the theater early enough so that we had to sit through nearly 30 minutes of previews and specials before our movie actually started. One of those specials that were previewed was the upcoming History Channel’s miniseries “The Bible.” Continue reading

The Genuine Gospel is not Man’s Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

For I make known to you brothers, the gospel that I preached, is not according to man. For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11,12 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)

The εὐαγγέλιον or euaggelion, which the word “gospel” above translates, means “good message” or “good news.” What Paul stated in Galatians 1:11,12 is vital for us to grasp. Those of us who are in Christ can proclaim this εὐαγγέλιον for it is a message of very good news about something our Lord Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, but we cannot “be the gospel” nor can we “live the gospel.” It is a message of Christ’s work of redemption that was successful. He died on that cross and in so doing, His perfect obedience was made available to be imputed to all who believe this εὐαγγέλιον and in so doing, receive Christ as Lord and Saviour in repentance being saved by God’s grace through faith. In this, the Father justifies them, imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to their account. This is possible because, while he was on that cross, their unrighteousness was imputed to his account and through his death, he became their propitiation. This εὐαγγέλιον  is indeed good news because it means Christians do not have to work their way to God. Their salvation according to Ephesians 1,2 is actually God’s work entirely, not theirs. The preaching of the gospel is a call to repent and believe which is how who do become Christians receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Now, is that the gospel prevalently heard in the visible church in our time?  Continue reading

Wisdom From the Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)

When the Word of God ceases to be the plumb line of one’s faith, walk, understanding of truth, and knowing God then what replaces it is human reason which, outside of the Grace of God, is completely unable to know God’s truth when it sees it. There seems to be a large number professing Christians who raise a protest when I teach on doctrine. Their contention is that they simply refuse to believe that what I am teaching is the truth. Upon what do they base this? It is all based within their own reasoning. Never do I receive a clear Biblical indictment against the truths I share. Instead, the protests are couched in feelings, human reason, common sense, or philosophy. My brethren, we must not flinch from these protests. God’s truth is knowable because the Holy Spirit imparts divine wisdom to His children for this purpose. Never forget, it is falsehood that cannot stand scrutiny. The truth has nothing to fear from deep examination, therefore, let us defend it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

The Light of the Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV)

All this week I have had my son who I get to see only a few times a year and my daughter and grandson who also live in another state visiting my wife and I in our home. During this time, I deliberately did not spend any time online with the purpose of keeping up with what is going on the ongoing battle for the truth and of what the real Gospel consists. After we took my son to the airport this afternoon one of the first things I did was open up the Christian Research Network website. It was as if that insulation that my rest had built around me during my “vacation” was immediately blown away. As I read those articles from the last few days, I kept asking God to show me what He wanted me to do; what should I address? Ken Silva and Chris Rosebrough both did a fine job of addressing the apostasy and outright heresy coming from Rob Bell’s church and Jay Bakker among many others. I knew that I could not add anything to what they said, but I could address the truth and how the genuine Gospel is known by those to whom it is given by God and how it is unknowable by those to whom it is not given.  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

Can You Handle the Truth?


by Mike Ratliff

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. (John 18:36-38 ESV)

We use that word “truth” quite a bit here on this blog. Truth is not relative. It is absolute. Of course, when I speak of truth this way I am referring to God’s truth, not man-made truth. What a wonderful thing it is that God gave His people His revealed truth in a form that the regenerate can read or hear and understand. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in John 18:36-38 that the purpose of His incarnation was to bear witness to the truth and that everyone who is of the truth listens to His voice. Continue reading