Are you Reformed or fundamentalist or both?


 

by Mike Ratliff

The “emergent” or “emergence” movement in the visible church began as an opposition to Right-Wing Conservatism or “Fundamentalism” in the Southern Baptist Convention that took over that denomination beginning in the early 1970’s and becoming mostly successful in 1980’s and 1990’s. Of course, that movement into “right-wing” conservatism was in response to an earlier push in the denomination that was taking it to the left into liberalism. The result was “fundamentalism.” Since this ministry has existed I have been called many names by angry people who disagreed with the message here. One the “emergents” liked to throw at me was, “you are just a “fundamentalist!” However, I have also heard the term used in a positive way.

If we are honest and think through things like this from a Biblical perspective, a Christian world-view, we should come to understand that to some being a Christian fundamentalist is a positive thing while to others it is the next thing to being a self-righteous Pharisee. Also, this word is used in the news media in a negative context to describe religious people who commit acts of terrorism or retreat from society into cultic communes. The emergents, as do all Christian liberals, view fundamentalists with anger and resentment. They view them as backward and mired in dead religiosity. However, is that what fundamentalism is? Continue reading

The Doctrine of Election and the Free Gift


by Mike Ratliff

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:14-16 ESV)

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 that epistle by the Apostle Paul 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 Parable of the Soils


by Mike Ratliff

1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 “And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 “He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 NASB)

There is nothing man can teach or preach that can compare with that of our Lord Jesus’. He parables are especially succinct and not only drive home His point, but reveal mighty truths straight from God to our hearts. The parable of the soils is not only important and relevant, it is vital for our post-modern Church to understand. Our complacent society has infiltrated the Church. No one seems to have an attention span longer than a few seconds. If some entertainment feature isn’t before our eyes or pounding into our ears, then panic sets in because our hearts are desperate for fulfillment, yet we are lazy and addicted to media, games, or music which tie directly into our flesh bound souls.

Continue reading

There Are Only Two Religions in the World


by John G. Reisinger

There are basically only two religions in the world. One says, “If you will do such and such, God will graciously bestow His blessing upon you.” The thousand and one varieties of this religion differ only on what the “such and such” is that you must be willing to do. One variety says bathe in a sacred river, another bids you kiss the sacred rock located in the holy city, still another says be baptized or some similar rite, and in distinctly evangelical circles this religion emphasizes, “If you will open your heart, then God . . .

Notice carefully the three key words IF YOU WILL.

  1. God’s forgiveness is possible IF …..
  2. God’s forgiveness is possible if YOU
  3. God’s forgiveness is possible if you WILL. . . . Continue reading

Repent or Perish


by Mike Ratliff

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke (5:27-32 ESV)

I had someone ask me not long ago how our salvation could be totally by Grace alone through faith alone, totally God’s work alone if it involved our repentance. My response to him was that the repentance part was our response to our Lord’s call, ἀκολούθει μοι, “Follow me.” However, the washing of regeneration, the gift of faith had been given as part of this effectual call. That is why we turned as Levi did, leaving everything, rising, and following our Lord. There are two calls of the gospel, the general call and the effectual call. The general call goes to everyone so there is no excuse. The effectual call, as the one above to Levi, which the Pharisees and the scribes objected to, always leads to repentance and goes only to God’s elect.  Continue reading

Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen


by Mike Ratliff

13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast.14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful. (Revelation 17:13,14 ESV)

In this post we will look our Lord’s parable of the Wedding Feast from Matthew 22:1-14. I was told by some one today who disagreed with my post Who Is Responsible For A Believer’s Salvation?, that those of us who held a “Calvinist” viewpoint” did so because we misinterpreted this parable. His contention was that we were taking v14 out of context. Let us look at the entire context. Continue reading

The Sower and the Soils


A good friend sent me a link today to a sermon by John MacArthur at T4G 2010. God is so good to His people to provide the right leaders with the right message at the right time for His people. Many of us have been in discussion about the very things he covered very well in his message. One of those things is the growing divide that is becoming more and more apparent seemingly every day between genuine Christianity, that which is Christ based and focused, and man-made, false Christianity, that is man based and focused. The former, orthodox Christianity is made up of regenerate Christians who are in the Kingdom of God by the hand of God, not by any works of man or because of religiosity. On the other hand, the latter is so complex and multifaceted that it defies description yet it has one defining attribute. It is the product of man and his religiosity and his philosophy and his works and his traditions. Continue reading

Preach the Word!


by Mike Ratliff

I 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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV)

I read the other day that the Emergent or Emerging “Church” was replacing Christian liberalism or at least morphing into the same role. That means that it assumed a Gospel stance of universalism. For many years, it was assumed that if one was reformed in his or theology, like me, that it was a sure deal that that Christian was not going to fall into the cesspool of this nonsense. However, now we have a new term to deal with called New Calvinism or a reference to a certain group of Christian leaders called New Calvinists. Those we have looked at in this group appears to lean towards mysticism and 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

A Must Hear Sermon on Election


by Mike Ratliff 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:1-14 ESV) 

Most of us who call ourselves “Reformed” in our theology did not start out that way. I did not. However, in my case I actually had no theology. I was a typical Southern Baptist. I had never heard the term Arminianism until I studied theology for the first time back in 2005-2006. I had heard of Calvinism in World History classes in High School and College, but all I remembered about it was the emphasis on Predestination.  Continue reading

I Have Many In This City Who Are My People


by Mike Ratliff

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:14-16 ESV)

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 that wonderful letter by the Apostle Paul 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 Idol of Free Will


 


The Idol of Free-Will
by Dr. John Owen

Our next task is to take a view of the idol himself, of this great deity of FREE-WILL, whose original being not well known. He is pretended, like the Ephesian image of Diana[1], to have fallen down from heaven and to have his endowments from above. But yet considering what a nothing he was a this first discovery in comparison of that vast giant-like hugeness to which now he is grown, we may say of him as the painter said of his monstrous picture, which he had mended or rather marred according to every one’s fancy, “It is the issue[2] of the people’s brain.” Origen[3] is supposed to have brought him first into the church; but among those many sincere worshippers of divine grace, this setter forth of new demons found but little entertainment. It was looked upon but like the stump of Dagon with his head and hands laid down before the ark of God without whose help he could neither know nor do that which is good in any kind, still accounted but “a fig – tree log, an unprofitable piece of wood.” The fathers of the succeeding ages had much debate to what use they should put it, and though some exalted it a degree or two above its merits, yet the most concluded to keep it a block still until at length there arose a stout champion,[4] challenging on his behalf the whole church of God, and like a knight-errant,[5] wandered from the west to the east to grapple with any that should oppose his idol; who, though he met with divers adversaries, one especially,[6] who in the behalf of the grace of God continually foiled him and cast him to the ground, and that in the judgment of all the lawful judges assembled in councils and in the opinion of most of the Christian bystanders. Yet by his cunning insinuation,[7] he planted such an opinion of his idol’s deity and self-sufficiency in the hearts of divers[8] that to this day it could never be rooted out. Continue reading