The necessity of preaching the Word


by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB) 

25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:25-30 (NASB) 

We are in a strange time in visible Church. We were warned throughout the New Testament that the Body of Christ would be attacked without mercy by savage wolves who will not spare the flock. I grew up in a time in the American Church when it was considered a good thing to be a Christian and Christian values were found throughout our culture. Those days are past. However, what is so discouraging is the rapid downgrade within the Church as denomination after denomination has made friends with the world and, thereby, their churches became just another entertainment venue and a place the worldly can go and assuage their consciences by being somewhat religious every now and then believing that the Jesus they hear about there just loves them the way they are. No repentance necessary! As one who has not been compromised I will state emphatically that those so-called Christian leaders behind all this are those savage wolves mentioned in Acts 20:29 and they are leading their flocks into empty religiosity and idol worship.  Continue reading

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season


by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NASB) 

Without a doubt the culture in the 21st Century is “out of season” for the Gospel. Resistance to the truth of God’s Word is strong because our society has rejected absolute truth. Along with this is the downgrade in morals. I was a teenager in the 1960’s. Even in that “free love” culture there would never be the filth allowed on TV that we see in prime time shows in our time. However, our Lord Jesus Christ preached the exclusivity of the Gospel. He confronted sin head on, but in our time preachers water down the message so they won’t offend people by preaching against sin. Continue reading

Did Jesus preach the gospel?


By Mike Ratliff

1 When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. (Mark 2:1-2 NASB) 

A few weeks ago a friend contacted me with a question that came up because of a theological disagreement between him and his pastor. The disagreement centered on the necessity of repentance as part of our salvation and as the discussion continued the pastor insisted that Jesus never taught that nor did he preach the gospel because He had not yet gone to the cross. Here is part of the quote from our conversation.

“He asserted that he (Jesus) did not preach the gospel because he had not yet died or had been raised from the dead so therefore there was no gospel to preach at that point. I then asked him from what then and why did Jesus asked them to repent and why and what did he ask them to believe in. He did not really answer this question but went on another line of thought.

He is heavily influenced by the writings and teaching of Tim Keller and NT Wright CS Lewis. He told me to reread the gospel and that I would never witness Jesus preaching the gospel.”

I must admit that this took me by surprise so I am sure my response was not adequate for my friend.  However, this has been bothering me since then. Today at church our interim pastor preached on Mark 2:1-12 and he actually spent some time on v2 which is what this post is going to be about. Continue reading

Being Light in the Darkness revisited


I have been in discussion with a dear sister in Christ about discernment matters. One of the things that has been bothering me is why God has placed my wife and I back in our old Church that we were in back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. When we moved back home last year I really did not want to visit this Church because I knew it had gone seeker-sensitive. However, we met several old and dear friends in town from this Church and were invited back and so here we are. The Church has no pastor. It is elder led, but when I go there I am struck by a sense of spiritual confusion. On the one hand there is an interim pastor who preaches everything from a SBC perspective. On the other hand, I sense a deep hunger in the body for two things, to be used by God, but also to know Him. Since the seeker-sensitive model by its very nature messes all that up and changes the focus from God to man, this does not surprise me. However, what I expressed to my friend was that I could not discern what I am doing there. I know that if, given the chance, I will speak the truth. After all, what we do in Christ is for God’s glory alone. Right?   In any case, below is a post from 2011 that my friend suggested I redo a bit and repost.  I have decided to leave it intact. Just remember it references things as they were happening in May of 2011. Continue reading

What does it mean to preach the Word?


by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 NASB)

About 7 years ago or so we were dealing with the Emergent or Emerging “Church” replacing Christian liberalism or at least morphing into the same role. That means that it assumed a Gospel stance of universalism. At the same time, we were hearing of a certain group of Christian leaders who called themselves “New Calvinists.” For many years, it was assumed that if one was reformed in his theology, like me, that it was a sure deal that that Christian was not going to fall into the cesspool of liberalism. However, the New Calvinists appear to lean towards mysticism and heavily toward compromise. I am one who simply cannot wrap my mind around how one who confesses to believe that God is Sovereign over all things and that man is incapable of saving Himself can seek to make the compromises in their ministry that would line themselves up with the Emergents. Universalism and Calvinism are polar opposites in my understanding of things and that means that Calvinists should have a proper understanding of what it means that Jesus Christ is Lord. It means that we do not call the shots. We do not design new and more popular ways to serve and worship Him. No, we must worship and serve as directed by Him. Continue reading

Being Light in the Darkness


by Mike Ratliff

Διὰ τοῦτο, ἔχοντες τὴν διακονίαν ταύτην καθὼς ἠλεήθημεν, οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν (2 Corinthians 4:1 NA27)

Therefore, having this ministry as we received mercy, we do not lose heart. (a personal translation of 2 Corinthians 4:1 from the NA27 Greek text)

As we have been exploring the depths of apostasy attacking the visible church from the very beginnings of this ministry, it has been from a viewpoint, at least from me, that we were seeing depths of darkness that had to leading to God’s coming judgment. The Gospel was being abandoned left and right. Those who previously held it and the Word of God high were now compromising and seen standing in ministry with outright heretics. I remember seeing a very well known evangelist being interviewed on television by David Frost alongside a Roman Catholic Bishop and it was if they were old friends. It was then that I realized what a foolish thing it is for Christians to follow after men for then we can make the mistake of idolizing them and when they fall off those pedestals, it can indeed shake our faith. That is, our faith can be shaken if it is not rooted in Christ and Christ alone.  Continue reading