Jesus offers rest to the weary


by Mike Ratliff

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 (NASB) 

I spent many years as a deacon in two SBC churches in the late 1980’s the 1990’s and the early 2000’s. I would say that my spiritual maturity during that time was one of a new Christian who was growing, but certainly not someone who would be considered an elder. I was untrained theologically.  The preaching and teaching we received in those churches was not very deep. The leaders in those churches were more interested in encouraging the people to work harder and give more. My main spiritual gifts are all centered around teaching so I gravitated toward teaching Bible Study classes. One of the things God did during that period that changed my growth rate in Christ was me being selected for Precept training as an instructor. Those going through the courses paid for the classes and part of that money went to have me and a few others trained to do Inductive Word Studies from God’s Word.  I went to all three levels of training and the third level, in 1992, was learning how to do Greek word studies in the New Testament. This changed everything for me, but it was several more years of circumstances beyond my control that God used to move me into this discernment work that I do now.  Continue reading

Original Sin Regeneration and Saving Faith


by Mike Ratliff

16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB)

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  (Genesis 3:1-6 NASB)

19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 NASB)

The doctrine of original sin is a vital part of genuine Christian orthodoxy. For a long time I didn’t really appreciate how important it is in our concept of the depths of our guilt before our sovereign and thrice Holy God. However, as I have become involved in ‘discussions’ with those who reject this doctrine, God has revealed to me, through my studying his Word in order to answer certain ‘arguments,’ that when this doctrine is not part of one’s theology then their concept of their salvation is more self-centered and, in some cases, is understood that one is a Christian based solely on religious acts they have done. Let’s look again at the Apostle Paul’s thesis on our salvation, which none of us deserve. Continue reading

Regeneration, Forgiveness, and Redemption


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-12 (NASB) 

The key to understanding the passage above is in getting who the “us” is that Paul mentions repeatedly all through it. Whoever they are, they are indeed blessed. Of course Paul is talking about those who are called, those who believe the Gospel and are redeemed out of spiritual death unto eternal life in Christ. In this post we will look at one of the direct results of our redemption, which is the forgiveness of sins. It seems that the majority “opinion” of those with the loudest voices and coolest ministries in the visible church never talk about this because they never talk about sin and the doctrine of depravity. Why? They are merely a newer version of what is known as Christian Liberalism, which is a misnomer for it is not true Christianity at all for it denies the necessity of Christ as Saviour so they never preach the Cross. According to them, the Good News is about man not what God has done on man’s behalf. Fortunately, we still have God’s Word and some good solid Bible teachers, well grounded, who never waiver from preaching the whole Gospel. God still has His remnant and always will until Christ returns. Let us look at the three aspects of forgiveness that is the direct result of our redemption. Continue reading

Regeneration is the New Birth


by Mike Ratliff

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NASB) 

God uses the attacks on His truth to train us to become better theologians, those who study God and His truth and ways. These attacks make us think and search the Scriptures and seek the help from the Holy Spirit and other theologians in order to answer these determined to either silence the proclamation of God’s Truth as the Truth or to lead others into the darkness that has blinded them. As we defend the truth, we draw closer to God and He trains us by giving us a deeper and more thorough understanding of His Truth. The doctrine of regeneration is continually under attack because it makes very clear some truths about man that is offensive to many. These truths are that regeneration must come first in order for a person to be able to believe the Gospel. This is because everyone is born spiritually dead, totally unable to see and believe the truth (John 3:3). In order for anyone to believe and know the truth of God, to seek the Kingdom of God, they must be born again.  Continue reading

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature


by Mike Ratliff

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) 

All forms of Liberal (so-called) Christianity are another religion, not True Christianity. Why? They are rooted in worldly, humanistic, and non-Christian presuppositions.  On the other hand, the Word of God clearly directs believers to avoid these philosophies and, instead, their presuppositions must be the precepts and doctrines of Christ, not the futile traditions of men (Colossians 2:3, 4, 22; 3:1-2). Based upon this clear division, believers are precluded from any form of neutrality or even seeking after it. Why? As we have seen in earlier posts, neutrality is in actuality veiled agnosticism or unbelief—a failure to walk in Christ, an obscuring of Christian commitment and distinctives, and a suppression of truth (cf. Romans 1:21, 25).  Continue reading

He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses


by Mike Ratliff

11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:11-15 (NASB) 

The more I deal with “professing Christians,” no matter how conservative they appear to be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the immaturity of the growth of Christ’s nature in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from out own Savior to forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slide right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”  Continue reading

True Christians are both born again and born from above


by Mike Ratliff

3 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. John 3:3 (NA28)

3 Jesus answered and said to him, amen amen I say to you, except one is born again, he is not able to see the Kingdom of God. John 3:3 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)

In John 3:3 (above) is a term that is unique to Christianity and is not well understood even by those have been γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν. The word translated above as “again” is  ἄνωθεν or anōthen, which is comprised of ἄνω or anō, “above, upwards,” and the suffix θεν or then, which denotes “from.”  Continue reading

Saving faith is a gift from God


by Mike Ratliff

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.  (Luke 2:15-20 NASB)

Human faith is not the same thing as Genuine (saving) faith, which is a gift from God. The former is based in Human reason and intellect. The latter is supernatural. What passes for faith in many professing believer’s “Christianity” is a belief based in who preaches to or teaches them. This is not Genuine faith because it is not a belief in the Word or in God through the Word. These are “believers” who will eventually fall away. Some may last a lifetime, but as soon as the fires of tribulation come upon them they slide into apostasy because their faith is not of the substance that endures. Continue reading

Sovereign election and evangelism


by Mike Ratliff

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

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 new birth in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:6-8 (NASB) 

I grew up as a Southern Baptist. Much of the memories from my childhood have something to do with being at church each and every Sunday morning and evening. One thing I remember was an annual event in our church called a ‘Revival.’ The Pastor and his staff would plan it for a certain range of dates, put those dates in every church bulletin leading up to it, put signs up in front of the church advertising it, and make announcement after announcement from the pulpit to remember the upcoming ‘Revival.’ The speaker for these revival meetings was usually some evangelist I had never seen before or a Pastor from another SBC church. One time we had a group of brothers come in and ‘do the revival.’ One preached, one played various instruments, while the other sang solos. That was my concept of ‘Revival.’ Is it possible for people in one place to plan for a certain date and time on the calendar to be the time and place God moves, pouring out His spirit on a local body of believers? The emphasis in those ‘Revivals’ I witnessed were on a pragmatic form of evangelism instead of a moving of God to bring about repentance and a rededication of a group of people to live for God instead of self.  Continue reading

The Human Will


by Mike Ratliff

43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘ And they shall all be taught of God. ’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. (John 6:43-46 NASB)

Even those who most ardently proclaim the sovereignty of man’s freewill must honestly deal with passages throughout Sacred Scripture which make it clear that the human will of the natural man is incapable of attaining such a high role. In fact, God’s Word actually makes it clear that the Human Will is simply the faculty of choice with no inherent ability to make a decision on its own. It is the Human Mind that decides while the Will is the “faculty of choice, the immediate cause of all action.”1 Therefore, it is quite incorrect to allocate the sovereignty of choice to a mechanism within each of us, created by God, which enables us to carry out the volition of the mind. Continue reading

Quicken


by Mike Ratliff

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (Colossians 2:8-15 NASB)

The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from their own Savior to forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slide right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look at  two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.

Continue reading

When God saves a person, He illuminates them, regenerates them, and transforms their will


by Mike Ratliff

5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds:7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5-11 NASB)

It is vital for us to understand the importance of believers hearing and believing the truth of God. Even though it should be obvious to us, I believe we take for granted the veracity of Gospel. However, the Word of God, Sacred Scripture, makes it clear that those who belong to God believe His truth while those whose eternal destiny is Outer Darkness do not believe the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. Continue reading

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, and I will give you rest


by Mike Ratliff

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NASB)

From the time God saved me in 1986 until He shoved me out of our church in Olathe, KS back in 2006 when it began going Purpose Driven, I was immersed in a form of evangelicalism that can best be described as the pastors and leadership of the churches we belonged to teaching and preaching in such a way so as to make all of us uncomfortable with how much we served and how much we gave. They even twisted it in such a way to say that to mature and grow so you can hear the voice of God Christians must make themselves uncomfortable, get busy, then God will speak to them. My brethren, this is not grace, this is not Gospel, it is pure Law. Our Lord has some good news for refugees from this sort of bondage.  Continue reading