A Biblical View of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5 (NASB) 

Those who have a problem with the Doctrine of Original Sin and the Wrath of God against all sin attempt to paint the God of Reformation Theology as some sort of ogre full of anger with very little love manifest except in the case of a chosen few. In their examples of how God operates in saving people, sin is never the issue. They portray God as loving everyone to the maximum and even if their sin amounted open rebellion against Him on their part. In their theology He just looks the other way and attempts to save everyone, but the point of contention is that the God in their example is unable to save anyone. The salvation of people is only made a possibility with those actually being saved being those who hear the Gospel and respond by exercising their sovereign Free Will. On the other hand, the God of the Bible is not anything like this. He is Sovereign. He saves those whom He has elected or chosen unto eternal life. No one limits Him in any way. Man’s will is in no way a barrier to God fulfilling His Will. From these two vastly different understandings of theology comes to very different understandings of sin.  Let’s look at a biblical view of sin and I invite you to compare your own understanding of it to what we unpack here. If your’s is different, I suggest to you that the Bible is not in error…  Continue reading

The Lord is the Strength of His People


by Mike Ratliff

8 The LORD is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
9 Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. Psalms 28:8-9 (NASB) 

The Genuine Christian walk is actually part of a war. Each believer’s walk is a battle or skirmish in that war. As we see in Ephesians 6:10-20, this war is not specifically against other people. Even if heretics or apostates rant and rave against us or terrorists from some pagan religion threaten our lives, our war is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The people who attack us are in some way controlled by these evil forces. Continue reading

Put on the new self who is being renewed


by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (NASB) 

Ten or fifteen years ago those of us in discernment ministries were in intense battles against the Satanic forces of “emergence christianity” and its vanilla cousin the Purpose Driven/Seeker-Sensitive paradigm. I don’t miss those ugly times at all, but now our enemy has a new weapon with new followers who are attacking God’s truth and His Body of believers from inside the visible church with new Satanic weapons. These weapons come from Marxist philosophy and are making great strides in compromising governments, educational institutions, corporations, news media and of course social media. They are Critical Race Theory or WOKEism combined with Intersectionality. This insidious weapons make everything either about race or gender or identity and divide people up into smaller and smaller groups of victims. Victims of who or what? The who there are those in power. The what there is the current culture or whatever institution or group, etc. this “cancel culture” is attempting to marginalize from the inside and make it powerless. This insidious attack is now on the inside of the visible church in a big way. Continue reading

Genuine Believers Are Dead to Sin but Alive to God


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἰ οὖν συνηγέρθητε τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖτε, οὗ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ καθήμενος· Colossians 3:1 (NA28)

1 If, therefore, you were raised with Christ, seek the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

One of the most unpopular Christian teachings is summed up in Colossians 3:1 and Romans 6:1-4. I have been in discussion with some professing Christians who detest any teaching calling for repentance and walking before the face of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, denying self, taking up one’s cross and following Christ. These same ones look at sermons such as Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” with disgust. They claim this is self-righteousness and calls for salvation by works. Nowhere do we teach salvation by any means other than Justification by faith alone. On the other hand, we do teach that from that moment of rebirth into God’s family, He begins the sanctification process in the life of the believer that will not end in this temporal existence.  This sanctification, unlike our justification, is synergistic. We cooperate with God in our spiritual growth. This is where we learn to walk in repentance through the fires of tribulation, to abide in Christ as we are pruned, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and to put on the new self. Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 4


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Colossians 3:16 (NASB) 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 3, we looked at Romans 12:2a, which says, “And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind“. We learned that genuine believers give their souls to God at salvation and their bodies to to God as living, holy sacrifices as genuine acts of worship, as our priestly self-sacrifice and they give their minds to Him as the third element of our priestly self-sacrifice is giving our minds to God as an act of worship. In this post we will look at Romans 12:2b, which says, “that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This implied fourth element of our priestly self-sacrifice is giving our wills to God as an act of worship.  Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 3


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Colossians 3:16 (NASB) 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 2, we looked at Romans 12:1b, which says, “to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service.” We learned that genuine believers give their souls to God at salvation and their bodies to to God as living, holy sacrifices as genuine acts of worship, as our priestly self-sacrifice. In this post we will look at Romans 12:2a, which says, “And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind“. The third element of our priestly self-sacrifice is giving our minds to God as an act of worship.  Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 2


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In yesterday’s post, The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 1, we looked at Romans 12:1a, which says, “Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God.” Today we will look at Romans 12:1b which says, “to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service.” Actually, what Paul is saying here is that genuine believers must give their bodies to God. Yes all of us who are true believers have given our souls to God through faith in Jesus Christ, however, we also specifically called to present our bodies to Him as living, holy sacrifices. Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 1


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Our supreme calling is to serve God with all our being first and foremost in worship. The writer of Hebrews tells us through Christ we are to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). When I was a younger Christian I struggled for many years trying to work hard to please God while all the time never believing or feeling like I was doing enough. Along with that I struggled with my assurance because I saw other men and women in our church who were so much more mature than me and they were always at the right place at the right time doing the right things while it seemed to me that I was always “off” and “out of place.” I finally got past this when God took me through nearly a year of personal revival in which I shed all focus on self and worldly things and simply spent time in prayer, in the Word, and especially in worship whenever I was not at work or asleep. A huge part of this was discovering the passage I placed at the top of this post. Oh, I had read it many times and even memorized it when I was part of Evangelism Explosion at our church. However, I had not studied it like we are going to do here over the next several posts.  Continue reading

God Justifies the Ungodly


by Mike Ratliff

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,
AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.” Romans 4:1-8 (NASB) 

I was in a discussion with one of our elders recently about the worship “style” at our church. I am almost 70 years old. He is about the same age. He and I both would prefer a more “traditional” music format, but he told me that it was not going to happen because the population in our area is predominantly made up of people who would not go for that at all, but are very much attracted to the more “up-to-date” music with the musicians and loud volume along with the videos with the lyrics, etc. However, he did say that our new worship leader has changed the music to be more focused on worshipping God alone and not about us. I did agree with him on that. I thought a lot about what he said and also about the fact that our church is really growing in spite of the Covid-19 stuff. Our pastor also preaches the full gospel, that is, Law and Gospel. On Easter Sunday I lost count of how many people were Baptized. My elder friend also told me that our church is structured in such a way that new Christians are encouraged and discipled while more mature believers are encouraged to serve. No one has demands put on them that are beyond their maturity level.  Continue reading

He Will Abundantly Pardon


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. 5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” 6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  (Isaiah 55:4-8 NASB)

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not editable. It is not open to change. No matter how much anyone  wants it to be otherwise, it is unchangeable. It is God’s Good News to be proclaimed to all fallen man. This good news is the proclamation that there is a way, only one way, for sinful people to be reconciled to God. It is good news because all people suffer from the same condition. They are born dead in trespasses and sins and are not morally able to do anything about it. This separates all of us from God because He is Holy and must judge all sin. The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross and became sin on our behalf, our propitiation. God judged our sin in Him. This “atoned” for our sins. Now let us look at the pardon available to all who believe.

Continue reading

Mercy


by Mike Ratliff

23 Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸ ἔλεος καὶ τὴν πίστιν· ταῦτα [δὲ] ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφιέναι. Matthew 23:23 (NA28)

23 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but you have neglected the more important things of the Law: justice and mercy and faith; but these things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

A simple definition of mercy is “the withholding of deserved punishment and relieving distress.” The Greek ἔλεος (eleos) speaks of “compassion, pity.” One Greek lexicon tells us, “Kindness or good will towards the miserable and afflicted joined with a desire to relieve them.” Even the pagans of Greece felt pity. Aristotle wrote that tragedy aroused pity and even fear that the same tragedy might befall them. Continue reading

Faith


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων. 2 ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι. 3 Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι. Hebrews 11:1-3 (NA28)

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by this the elders were given approval. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not created from visible things. Hebrews 11:1-3 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Several years ago while we were still battling continually with the Purpose Driven nonsense a friend sent me a link to a devotion from a PD web site. The title of the devotion was “Faith: Doing Exactly What Jesus Says to Do.” The reason my friend wanted me to read it was obvious. Why? Is that a definition of faith as we understand it as Christians? Obviously not! However, over the years of dealing with the PD heresy along with Ken Silva he commented often that I seemed to have a handle on it that most of the others at CRN did not seem to have. I was surprised by that because I really struggled for a long time trying to grasp what was at the core of Rick Warren’s message. However, that devotion is the very thing that points to what makes the “gospel” preached by all versions of the Seeker-Sensitive paradigm a false gospel. What is it? Continue reading

Grace


by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:14-17 (NASB) 

Grace is our theology. In a sense the word grace sums up all biblical theology. Of all the theological words we could discuss–redemption, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, election, and many more–none cuts to the heart of our theology like grace. Continue reading

What is an Almost Christian?


by Mike Ratliff

16 θεὸν ὁμολογοῦσιν εἰδέναι, τοῖς δὲ ἔργοις ἀρνοῦνται, βδελυκτοὶ ὄντες καὶ ἀπειθεῖς καὶ πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἀδόκιμοι. Titus 1:16 (NA28)

16 They profess to know God, but by their works, they deny Him, being detestable and as to every good work, unfit. Titus 1:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In Puritan Matthew Mead’s The Almost Christian Discovered we find the very definition for what is plaguing the visible church in the 21st Century.  If Pastor Mead was alive today preaching as he did in the 17th Century, he would be quite controversial, but isn’t that what we who are called of God to stand for His truth in the lost and dying world supposed to do? In our time we lament what cheap grace and easy-believism and post-modernism have done to our churches’ ecclesiology, watering down the Gospel and doing away with rightly dividing the Word of Truth while turning the what should the weekly gathering of the local church into some sort of sales promotion or entertainment event. Those terms would be unknown to Pastor Mead, but he would have been quite familiar with one coined by Martin Luther, antinomianism. This describes those who desired to be called Christian, with all of its benefits, but shunned all of its obligations. Continue reading