Glory and Praise


by Mike Ratliff

28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. Luke 9:28-32 (NASB) 

As we continue in our discussion and deeper look at the makeup of the dividing line between genuine Christianity, that which is God centered, and counterfeit Christianity, that which is man-centered, let us look at the vast difference in how each side understands the concepts of God’s glory and the praise that is His due. The word most often translated as praise in the New Testament is δόξα (doxa). It is also translated even more often as glory. However, in secular Greek, δόξα means opinion or conjecture, especially favorable human opinion, which then includes an evaluation placed by others, such as fame, repute, honor, or praise. Is this what is meant in God’s Word when δόξα is used in reference to God’s glory and the praise that His due? I submit that that definition exactly defines most professing Christians’ understanding of praise and worship, but is not in any way shape or form what is true δόξα. Continue reading

The Express Image of God


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. John 1:1-2 (NASB) 

I heard a sermon once a long time ago in which the preacher defined a cult as any religious group that called itself Christian but denied the orthodox view our Triune God. That means that those who deny the Doctrine of the Trinity, according to that definition, are not Christians, but heretics. The man-centered part of each of us, that is the flesh, rebels from such a strict “legalistic” view, but as our faith becomes more and more God centered in all its aspects, that view becomes entirely justified in our hearts because as we come to know God as He reveals Himself to His children, we will not doubt His Word nor will we attempt to overlay His truth with “altered” truth nor will we add to it nor subtract from it nor take it out of context in order to make it more Man centered. If we compromised and did those things we would do so in order to become more acceptable to the majority and not be excluded and hated by the world and those who call themselves Christians, but who are really just part of the world system. Continue reading

Blindness


by Mike Ratliff

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, Ephesians 4:17-20 (NASB) 

We are looking again at Ephesians 4:17-20. In this short study we will look at the concept of spiritual blindness and the progressive “hardening” or “callousing” over of the heart toward God and His truth as men seek to center everything in self to have their worship and religion be Man Centered instead of where it should be, and is in the hearts of those truly Regenerate, God Centered. Oh yes, I do recognize that all of us must grow from spiritual infants into maturity and that we follow false teachers and bad doctrine, but God will not keep those who are His in this darkness forever, but will do what it takes to draw them out even if it means they become ejected from their home church for example. I have have heard forms of that from so many of you that I have lost track of the number and I no longer doubt that this is God’s doing for He did it to me as well. Continue reading

With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel


by Mike Ratliff

27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Philippians 1:27-30 (NASB) 

Notice in the passage above that Paul’s call for believers to stand firm together in one spirit, with one mind striving side for the faith of the gospel. Notice that those who do this are to do so with no fear of anything that opponents of God’s truth try to do so say against them and the message of the Gospel, that is, the real Gospel, not the Laodicean gospel or social gospel. In any case let us look at the Greek word the NASB translates as “striving” in v27 above, which is συναθλουντες a present, active, participle version of συναθλέω (sunathleō), which is a compound word made up of ἀθλέω (athleō) from which we get our English word athlete and athletics and means to strive or contend, to be a champion in the public games, such as wrestling, boxing, et cetera. This word pictures a completely dedicated, single-minded striving that would equal that of committed athlete. Continue reading

Fruitfulness


by Mike Ratliff

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:1-8 (NASB) 

There is a form of man-centered theology that is called “vision-casting” or “vision-questing.” Beware of it, whatever those who do it call it. The crux of their theology goes something like this. God wants everyone to have a vision and so every Christian needs to try really hard to pursue a vision until it aches within them. Then they know its from God and then they need to run after it as hard as they can. What passages from the Bible do you suppose they use to support that? Well, since its not found anywhere in God’s Word, they attempt to use passages out of context to do that and then misrepresent Jesus completely alien from the His Holy nature that we are given in Scripture to one of being more like a servant of these people. There are some so-called “evangelicals” who not only have those who preach this stuff come and preach it to their people, but they go to their “churches” as if they are all part of the same good ol’ boy network of ‘evangelicals.’ I think not. Oh, they may all be part of the same good ol’ boy network, but that ‘group’ has nothing to do with the Church and genuine Christianity.  Continue reading

You are not able to serve God and mammon


by Mike Ratliff

19 Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν· 20 θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν· 21 ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου.
22 Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται· 23 ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον.
24 Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν· ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει. οὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ. Matthew 6:19-24 (NA28)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon the earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in nor steal;  21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
22 “The eye of the body is the eye. If, therefore, your eye is healthy, your whole body will be enlightened.  23 But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
24 “No one is able to serve two masters; for either the one he will hate and the other he will love, or one he will hold to and the other he will despise. You are not able to serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:19-24 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Our Lord Jesus was the most powerful and best expositor of God’s Word that believers have ever had. He spoke only the truth and he never taught anything from any motive other than that which is the will of God. We are to follow his example in every part of our lives. In the passage above, in v22, the word “healthy” translates the Greek adjective ἁπλοῦς (haplous). Is healthy a deep enough or strong enough definition for us to grasp what our Lord was teaching here? If we look at the context it is obvious that he is making a contrast between people with a “healthy eye of the body” with those who do not. What does this mean?  Continue reading

Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds


by Mike Ratliff

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB) 

Proof that these are Laodicean times, that is, lukewarm, man-centered, not fervently God-centered times in the “visible church” is always found in points of contention. One such point presents itself in which a “mega-church” pastor has gone public that he is “gay,” which took place several years ago. How something like that is “handled” by the “visible” church reveals it’s spiritual health. I see the division between genuine Christianity and man-centered, Laodicean “christianity” becoming even more defined through this. I believe there will probably be even more well-known so-called “christian leaders” come out of the closet soon. However, if we focus too much on the apostasy all around us my brethren we can become very discouraged, therefore, as the writer of Hebrews says in the passage above, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Continue reading

He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me


by Mike Ratliff

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NKJV) 

The Church is in the midst of a Truth War. That is nothing new is it? We have been talking about this for years; however, we must remain diligent while not surrendering the fight over what is Truth and what is not to the enemies of God’s Truth. The reason the visible church is being eaten alive by the world right now is that it has long ago forsaken God’s Word as His infallible Truth. The result is the compromised mess we see all around us now. Why is it that Rick Warren and his followers have such a hold on the visible church? Their paper-thin, worldly theology is geared to be man-pleasing and non-offensive by being sanitized with the removal of those things like the doctrines of the Total Depravity of Man, Justification by Faith, and then there is that bloody cross of Christ and why our Lord deliberately laid down His life there. You will not hear about any of that in those compromised churches because that might offend someone. What about those people comfortable in their religiosity, we couldn’t have them suddenly come under conviction that they are filthy sinners in need of a Saviour and the only way to be Justified by Faith is through that bloody Cross, taking it up and following Jesus Christ as Lord. Oh, no we cannot have that, let us sanitize it up and make it easy so people can come to us and be comfortable in their religiosity so our churches can be large and growing.  Continue reading

Is the Great Commission best fulfilled by preaching the Gospel or by Christians ‘being the Gospel?’


by Mike Ratliff

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB) 

The passage above (Matthew 28:16-20) is best known as our Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to the Church. This is what we are to be about. I heard a survey taken at a Christian bookseller’s convention a few years ago in which one of the questions asked was something like, “Is the Great Commission best fulfilled by preaching the Gospel or by Christians ‘being the Gospel?’” Well over half of the answers given were affirmative for the latter rather than the former. That was not surprising after the rest of the survey results were revealed though. The overall lack of depth of real Bible knowledge and doctrine in that group was indeed telling. From that discussion it became apparent that most of those responding to the survey actually believed that their performance as Christians had more to do with evangelism than actually preaching the Gospel itself.  Continue reading

What does it mean when the Bible says that the Son is the Express Image of God?


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. John 1:1-2 (NASB) 

I heard a sermon a long time ago in which the preacher defined a cult as any religious group that called itself Christian but denied the orthodox view of our Triune God. That means that those who deny the Doctrine of the Trinity, according to that definition, are not Christians, but heretics. The man-centered part of each of us, that is the flesh, rebels from such a strict “legalistic” view, but as our faith becomes more and more God Centered in all its aspects, that view becomes entirely justified in our hearts because as we come to know God as He reveals Himself to His children, we will not doubt His Word nor will we attempt to overlay His truth with “altered” truth nor will we add to it nor subtract from it nor take it out of context in order to make it more man-centered. If we compromised and did those things we would do so in order to become more acceptable to the majority and not be excluded and hated by the world and those who call themselves Christians, but who are really just part of the world system. Continue reading

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me


by Mike Ratliff

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NASB)

The Church is in the midst of a Truth War. That is nothing new is it? We have been talking about this for quite some time; however, we must remain diligent while not surrendering the fight over what is Truth and what is not to the enemies of God’s Truth. The reason the visible church is being eaten alive by the world right now is that it has long ago forsaken God’s Word as His infallible Truth. The result is the compromised mess we see all around us now. Why is it that Rick Warren and his followers have such a hold on the visible church? Their paper-thin, worldly theology is geared to be man-pleasing and non-offensive by being sanitized with the removal of those things like the doctrines of the Total Depravity of Man, Justification by Faith, and then there is that bloody cross of Christ and why our Lord deliberately laid down His life there. You will not hear about any of that in those compromised churches because that might offend someone. What about those people comfortable in their religiosity, we couldn’t have them suddenly come under conviction that they are filthy sinners in need of a Saviour and the only way to be Justified by Faith is through that bloody Cross, taking it up and following Jesus Christ as Lord. Oh, no we cannot have that, let us sanitize it up and make it easy so people can come to us and be comfortable in their religiosity so our churches can be large and growing.  Continue reading

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it


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) 

When we look at the Moon in its phases what we are actually seeing is part of that created body orbiting the Earth facing the Sun and so reflecting its light back to us while the part not facing it being in shadow, appears dark. The dividing line between the two is called the Terminator. On one side is day and on the other is night. One side is light, one side is dark. However, we must remember that the Moon simply reflects light back to us, it has no light of its own, no brightness or luminosity generated that makes up its nature unlike the Sun. Also, if we look at our Lord’s Transfiguration, we see that the glory in which Moses and Elijah saw was actually the glory being manifested from our Lord. It was His glory or δόξα which awakened Peter, James, and John to their astonishment. As the passage above, from John 1, states, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” What is this light and what is this darkness? What is this life? What has this to do with the dividing line between God Centeredness and Man Centeredness?

Continue reading

Are Christians supposed to preach the Gospel or be the Gospel?


by Mike Ratliff

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB) 

The passage above (Matthew 28:16-20) is best known as our Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to the Church. This is what we are to be about. I heard a survey taken at a Christian bookseller’s convention not very long ago in which one of the questions asked was something like, “Is the Great Commission best fulfilled by preaching the Gospel or by Christians ‘being the Gospel?’” Well over half of the answers given were affirmative for the latter rather than the former. That was not surprising after the rest of the survey results were revealed though. The overall lack of depth of real Bible knowledge and doctrine in that group was indeed telling. From that discussion it became apparent that most of those responding to the survey actually believed that their performance as Christians had more to do with evangelism than actually preaching the Gospel itself.  Continue reading

So how did you learn Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, Ephesians 4:17-20 (NASB) 

17 Τοῦτο οὖν λέγω καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν κυρίῳ, μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν, καθὼς καὶ τὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν, 18 ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, 19 οἵτινες ἀπηλγηκότες ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν τῇ ἀσελγείᾳ εἰς ἐργασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ.
20 Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν Χριστόν,  Ephesians 4:17-20 (NA28)

In the passage I placed at the top of this post (Ephesians 4:17-20) there are two Greek words which we will focus on in this post. They are ματαιότητι, which is translated in the NASB as “futility” in v17 and ἄγνοιαν, which is translated as “ignorance” in v18. That mindset which looks at what we call “Orthodox Christianity” and our completely firm stance of non compromise on any of it with a jaw dropping arrogant, bullying attitude stance is what we are encountering more and more throughout the visible church because most of it has been given over to the darkness it loved more than the light of truth. Those with this mindset simply cannot comprehend God’s truth nor do they love Him or those who belong to Him and follow the Son. Continue reading