What is Reformed Theology?


by Mike Ratliff

My good friend Stuart said recently on Facebook when asked if he was Reformed, “Calvinist, not Reformed.” I put a big like on his response. However, there is a great deal of things that those of us who are Baptists, but also Calvinists, have in common with our Reformed brethren. Stuart has asked me to write a commentary on Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. I agreed to do that if he would handle the “book” part. However, I will be 70 years old in a couple of weeks and as Dr. James White said the other day on Twitter, “Age must have something to do with my stamina on writing. I am getting so tired when I have to write a lot, but it has to be done…” I started developing the chapter layout and text of my commentary last week and found out, like Dr. James White, that I’m not as young as I was back in 2004-2009 when I could put out long complex posts on a nightly basis and never seemed to tire. However, I am also approaching this project carefully and doing a lot of documentation and cross-referencing while I write everything based on solid exegesis. Now, with that being said, writing at that level also precludes me from working as much as I would like on posts here. That does not mean I won’t, it just means I will have to find a way to balance things. Please pray for me on this. After church today I worked on the manuscript for most of the day and I am just too tired to do any more research for a new post. So, I would like to post a link to a series of articles by R.C. Sproul about Reformed Theology. I read these way back around 2005-2006 and this moved me into an understanding of what Calvinism is and what it was not. Continue reading

Providence and God’s Inheritance


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (NA28)

11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will. 12 For us to be to the praise of His glory, having previously hoped in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Most modern Bible translations undoubtedly render v11 a bit differently than I did above. The words “we were made an inheritance” translates one verb, ἐκληρώθημεν, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Passive voice of κληρόω (klēroō), “obtain an inheritance. The passive voice is the key. Paul is saying that Christians are made an inheritance by God for God. One of the great misconceptions of our salvation, which is made by so many, is that it is the result of something we do, but how anyone could believe that after reading Ephesians 1 and 2 is beyond me.  Continue reading

The Self-Existence of God


by Mike Ratliff

24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Acts 17:24-28 (NASB)

Over the last few decades (perhaps much longer) our society has been doing all it can to eradicate all remnants of what we call the “Christian Worldview” from everyone’s mindsets. Of course this is being done through education, entertainment, social reforms (in name only) and many other things that put the emphasis of our being on man rather than on God. Continue reading

God’s providence and His inheritance


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (NA28)

11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will,12 for us to be to the praise of His glory, the ones having previously hoped in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Most modern Bible translations undoubtedly render v11 a bit differently than I did above. The words “we were made an inheritance” translates one verb, ἐκληρώθημεν, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Passive voice of κληρόω (klēroō), “obtain an inheritance. The passive voice is the key. Paul is saying that Christians are made an inheritance by God for God. One of the great misconceptions of our salvation, which is made by so many, is that it is the result of something we do, but how anyone could believe that after reading Ephesians 1 and 2 is beyond me.  Continue reading

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!


by Mike Ratliff

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! Romans 9:14 (NASB)

The natural mind, plagued with selective rationalization, demands that God be fair in His dealings with all humankind. Fairness speaks of justice. One of the tenets of our republican form government in the USA is a right to a fair and speedy trial before one’s peers. A person on trial for a crime may or may not truly want justice. They may be guilty so their desire is not justice, but grace. If a judge in a criminal trial declares a defendant guilty, but then defers sentencing in lieu of probation or “time served” then he has extended grace to the guilty party. Continue reading

God is Sovereign in Salvation


by Mike Ratliff

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:14-16 (NKJV)

When those of us who came from an Arminian or Free Will background come to grips with the reality of God’s Sovereignty, it is amazing how we struggle with letting go of the responsibility to “earn” our salvation. Of course, part of that struggle is rooted in the misconception that “election” happens at salvation. Ephesians 1 makes it clear, however, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. An honest reading of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians  shows us that God’s people are His in completion even though many of them have not yet believed and repented. They are our Lord’s sheep. Continue reading

The elect were made God’s inheritance through His providence


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (NA28)

11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will 12 for us to be to the praise of His glory, having previously hoped in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The enemy of our souls is also a liar and hates all truth. He cannot stop people whom God has elected from being saved, but he can attack them and lie to them with all out assaults on God’s truth to keep them from knowing the wonderful width, depth and breadth of God’s love for them and that all of the truths about these things are contained in His good doctrines which are given to us in the Word of God. I have been dealing with several sniping attacks over the last several weeks from brothers and sisters in Christ who should really know better. They have been challenging the veracity of Reformation Theology and calling it “Calvinism” derisively and some have even gone so far as to call it a damnable heresy. When these things happen it is best to not react emotionally. We must not respond in the same tone as those throwing the sticks and stones and acting like little children who say they have the truth, they are right and we are wrong and then refuse to allow any discussion on the matter, which is what I have been encountering. No we cannot do that. What I attempt to do in all my posts is show from the Word of God alone what God says is the truth. That is what this post is all about.  Continue reading

The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints / Persevering Grace


by Mike Ratliff

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39 ESV)

Probably the number one thing that I have learned while presenting the doctrines of grace is that there are people who simply will not believe nor back away from their own conception of Soteriology. For instance, I have friends, acquaintances, and relatives who smirk and roll their eyes back when the topic of Persevering Grace comes up. I heard one fellow say once that God writes those who are saved in the Lamb’s Book of Life in pencil and that pencil has an eraser. Where in the Bible is that one?

Continue reading

The doctrines of Election and Reprobation


by Mike Ratliff

13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13. 14 NASB)

A few years ago before I began working from home fulltime and was still working from an office outside of our data center, a fellow from another department who I was working with on an issue made a comment about some of my devotional stuff and my small Bible that I carried in my computer bag, which were laying on my desk. I knew that he had at one time been a Methodist pastor, but had left the ministry. I have no idea what the history of that was. The comment he made was an incredulous statement in which he questioned how I would ever find the time to spend “doing that” as busy as I was. I told him that I did that when I first got to work in the morning before anyone else was there after I had done all my server checkups. At that time I was working my way through R. C. Sproul’s book Chosen By God and it was lying there as well. He asked when I read that. I told him I did that as I ate lunch. He picked it up and read the back cover and then put it down quickly like it burned his hand then made another incredulous statement, “You’re a Calvinist!”  Continue reading

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies!


by Mike Ratliff

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NASB) 

In this post we will study Romans 8:18-39. All of the Bible is important and should be studied thorougly. In this passage it is vital for each Christian to grasp the truths therein in order to stand firm in the midst of every conceivable attack our enemy can use against them. Also, the truths in this passage are like a dividing line. Those who come down on the side of God’s Sovereignty and the security of the believer within it have it right, while there are many who call themselves Christians who ignore these truths and teach the opposite leaving those who follow them in the bondage of fear and doubt and even believing in the sovereignty of Satan and his demons. There is another group of course, that would be all in the liberal camp who take the name of Christian for whatever reason, but believe in no historical Christian doctrines. No, they only believe in their own man-made “god” and “jesus” made in their own image. These magnificent truths are meant only for genuine believers not those who have never bowed the knee to Christ and are now walking in repentance having been saved by grace through faith as a gift from God himself.  Continue reading

Original Sin, Total Depravity, and Free Will


by Mike Ratliff

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 (NASB) 

Sacred Scripture’s diagnosis of sin is as a universal deformity of human nature found at every point in every person (1 Kings 8:46; Romans 3:9-23; 7:18; 1 John 1:8-10 see above). Both the Old Testament and the New Testament describe sin as rebellion against God’s rule, missing the mark God set for us to aim at, transgressing God’s law, offending God’s purity by defiling oneself, and incurring guilt before God the Judge. The moral deformity is dynamic: sin is an energy of irrational, negative, and rebellious reaction to God. It is a spirit of fighting God in order to play god. The root of sin is pride and enmity against God, the spirit seen in Adam’s first transgression, and sinful acts always have behind them thoughts and desires that one way or another express the willful opposition of the fallen heart to God’s claims on our lives.  Continue reading

Victory in Christ Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NASB) 

All of those truly in Christ have an enemy.  He hates us.  He hates our Lord.  He hates the Father. He hates the truth.  He hates the light given to us by our Lord  by which we see the truth. He hates the truth that he has already been judged and his future in Lake of Fire awaits while our sins were already judged at the Cross as they were imputed to Christ who paid the penalty for them as our propitiation. Because of this we have a glorious future awaiting us in eternity with our Lord. Yes, our enemy hates us and all that. Because of this and the fact that he is more evil than we can imagine, he attacks us in every conceivable way possible in attempts to discourage us and keep us from living and walking in the light of the truth provided for us by our Lord. That is why it is vital for each of us to grasp the truths from the passage above (Romans 8:31-39) in order to stand firm in the midst of every conceivable attack our enemy can use against us. On the other hand, the truths in this passage are like a dividing line. Those who come down on the side of God’s Sovereignty and the security of the believer within it have it right, while there are many who call themselves Christians who ignore these truths and teach the opposite leaving those who follow them in the bondage of fear and doubt and even believing in the sovereignty of Satan (our enemy) and his demons. There is another group of course, that would be all in the liberal camp who take the name of Christian for whatever reason, but believe in no historical Christian doctrines. No, they only believe in their own man-made “god” and “jesus” made in their own image. These magnificent truths are meant only for genuine believers not those who have never bowed the knee to Jesus Christ as Lord and are now walking in repentance having been saved by grace through faith as a gift from God.  Continue reading

God’s providence and inheritance


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. (Ephesians 1:11-12 NA28)

11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will. 12 For us to be to the praise of His glory, having previously hoped in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Most modern Bible translations undoubtedly render v11 a bit differently than I did above. The words “we were made an inheritance” translates one verb, ἐκληρώθημεν, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Passive voice of κληρόω or klēroō, “obtain an inheritance. The passive voice is the key. Paul is saying that Christians are made an inheritance by God for God. One of the great misconceptions of our salvation, which is made by so many, is that it is the result of something we do, but how anyone could believe that after reading Ephesians 1 and 2 is beyond me.  Continue reading

Victory in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“ For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 NASB)

It is vital for each Christian to grasp the truths from Romans 8:18-39 in order to stand firm in the midst of every conceivable attack our enemy can use against them. As we study this passage we learn several things. One very important truth is that what God reveals is how these truths in this passage are like a dividing line. Those who come down on the side of God’s Sovereignty and the security of the believer within it have it right, while there are many who call themselves Christians who ignore these truths and teach the opposite leaving those who follow them in the bondage of fear and doubt and even believing in the sovereignty of Satan and his demons. There is another group of course, that would be all in the liberal camp who take the name of Christian for whatever reason, but believe in no historical Christian doctrines. No, they only believe in their own man-made “god” and “jesus” made in their own image. These magnificent truths are meant only for genuine believers not those who have never bowed the knee to Christ as Lord and are now walking in repentance having been saved by grace through faith as a gift from God himself.  Continue reading