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

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (NASB)

The growing apostasy in the Church in our time is actually the culmination of decades of poor, man-centered doctrine within our churches and ministries coupled with relentless assaults of liberalism by unbelieving believers bent on remaking Christianity into a politically correct social institution. Those people behind this see Christianity as just another religion. Since these people have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power, their motives for this could not be to partake of what they are denying, therefore, we must assume that they see the fulfillment of their spiritual journey elsewhere. They refuse to say that Jesus is Lord in the context that we mean it. They may call Him Lord, but they are referring to another Jesus of their own making who is totally lined up with their spiritual agenda. Our enemy is working quite hard in attempting to discourage those of us who see the truth. Therefore, we must seek the one who is our only source of comfort; He can override the bleakness of this time in our hearts with His peace and joy.

Continue reading

At the root of hypocrisy is pride the antithesis of humility


by Mike Ratliff

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Proverbs 16:18 NASB)

At the root of hypocrisy is pride the antithesis of humility, which is exemplified for us by Paul’s attitude to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 3:8. On the other hand, pride is absolutely never portrayed in the Bible in a positive way. Never is pride tolerated. Never is it praised as it is today. However, in the visible church in our time don’t we hear sermons and read teachings about “positive pride” and the building up of self or the searching inside to find the real “you” that God is deeply in love with and only wants you to find it so He can show you what a fantastic you that you really are? Well, I have a Greek word for that, σκύβαλον. In any case, let’s look at the Greek words in the New Testament translated as “pride,” “proud,” and “puffed up.”  Continue reading

The Antinomian


by David Bishop

1 Corinthians 15:56  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

The Corinthians were under the impression that the most efficient way to overcome the power of sin was for God to remove the imperative demands of His law.  In other words, if there is no more law, then there is no more law to violate, and therefore, violation of the law can no longer be charged to me.

The problem with this is that it is actually a form of self righteousness.  If there is no law anymore, then I live not because God charged Christ’s righteousness to me, but rather because there is no more law that I can violate.  I’ve earned my right to resurrection, you see.  Why should God raise me from the dead?  Because I have violated no law, for there is no law to violate.

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Works righteousness and boasting excluded


by Mike Ratliff

27 Ποῦ οὖν ἡ καύχησις; ἐξεκλείσθη. διὰ ποίου νόμου; τῶν ἔργων; οὐχί, ἀλλὰ διὰ νόμου πίστεως. 28 λογιζόμεθα γὰρ δικαιοῦσθαι πίστει ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου. 29 ἢ Ἰουδαίων ὁ θεὸς μόνον; οὐχὶ καὶ ἐθνῶν; ναὶ καὶ ἐθνῶν, 30 εἴπερ εἷς ὁ θεὸς ὃς δικαιώσει περιτομὴν ἐκ πίστεως καὶ ἀκροβυστίαν διὰ τῆς πίστεως. 31 νόμον οὖν καταργοῦμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως; μὴ γένοιτο· ἀλλὰ νόμον ἱστάνομεν. (Romans 3:27-31 NA28)

27 Therefore, where is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of principle? Of works? No, but through a principle of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcision through faith. 31 Therefore, do we annul the Law through faith? May it never be! Rather, we confirm the Law. (Romans 3:27-31 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As I translated Romans 3:27-31 I had to do some research on how others had rendered νόμου in v27, v28, and v31. The NASB renders it as “law” and “Law” meaning a principle in the v27, but then as the O.T. Law in v28 and v31. The ESV renders it as “law” in all four cases. As I looked at the context though I could see what Paul was saying very clearly in v27 in his rhetorical questions so I rendered νόμου, “nomou”, “principle, law, the Law” in v27 as “principle.”  Continue reading

Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him


by Mike Ratliff

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)

In our continued look at the growing apostasy within evangelicalism, the more we dig, the more we are finding that those whom we have been suspecting of compromise for some time now, actually have been on that path longer than we suspected. I believe that we are just now discovering this for two reasons. No one was really looking in that direction and God is answering our prayers, opening the doors of information and showing us what has been obscured until now.  Continue reading

The Justification Controversy: A Guide for the Perplexed


As I have shared in my posts here on this blog, God saw fit to mature me in Christ and open my spiritual eyes and heart to the truth of His Sovereignty in all things back in 2004-2005.  It was during this time that I became what many flippantly call a ‘Calvinist.’  I prefer the term Reformation Theology. In any case, It was as I was growing up in the Doctrines of Grace that I also became an apologist for them through this ministry. That was eye-opening I must say. However, I digress. To be a good apologist I had to become more educated so I began buying and reading everything I could on these good doctrines. It was amazing. I found that I could base all of my discernment ministry within the bounds of Reformation Theology and address all heretical and apostate behavior within the visible church from a very solid, immovable base. I remember a conversation I had with a fellow ‘Calvinist’ at that time that it seemed that only the ‘Reformed’ believers seemed to be able to withstand the onslaught of Rick Warrenism, the Seeker Sensitive nonsense, and the New Evangelicalism circus. Sadly, it was also at that time that we discovered that that was not the case. There was very much wrong going on within Reformed churches that we were only becoming aware of such as the Federal Vision Heresy. I tried to address it and found it so confusing and senseless that I could not fathom why anyone who was rooted and grounded in Christ and solid Reformed Theology could fall for something as absurd as that. None of my friends, some of them much more educated than me, could find the source either.  However, I suggest that you read the following essay by John W. Robbins, which addresses this issue succinctly and traces all of it back to its source. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Is it the “Rapture” or is it the “Resurrection”?


by Mike Ratliff

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NASB)

In this post we will simply look at the meaning of certain Greek words and how they are translated in many or most English Bibles instead of how they should “literally” be translated.  From this the meaning of certain passages will change their focus from one eschatological term that is found nowhere in scripture to one that is the basis of our blessed hope in Christ. The passage in question is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Continue reading

How to avoid letting false teachers mislead you


by Mike Ratliff

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. (Romans 16:17-19 NASB)

The visible church is overrun with false teachers and their doctrines. There is a mindset in the Church right now that is actually part of the problem in that it ostracizes and attempts to isolate and silence those who, in their obedience to the discernment God has given them, reveal the truth about certain false teachers and why their doctrines are unbiblical. Some of these wolves in sheep’s clothing are very popular in the visible church to the point that their supporters are more than willing to “give them a pass” when they err biblically because they have been ministered to by them in the past. However, this very thing simply promotes the environment for “tolerance” of error. This mindset contains a lie that those who discern these things, warn the body, and expose the false teachers and their doctrines, are the ones being divisive, unloving, and unChristlike. Thankfully, we still have God’s Word, and in it, we learn that we must always be on guard against false and deceptive teaching. One of the helpful things it teaches us in this battle is the knowledge of the believer’s new identity in Christ. This knowledge helps us resist the arguments of false teachers as we walk before the face of God for His glory alone.  Continue reading

The nature of genuine saving faith


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, 2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις 3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, 4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 5 διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, 6 ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 7 πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Romans 1:1-7 NA28)

1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called Apostle having been set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised before through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 concerning his Son – having come from the seed of David according the flesh, 4 – having been designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of Holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we received grace and Apostleship for obedience of faith among all the nations on behalf of his name, 6 among whom you are also the called ones of Jesus Christ, 7 to all the ones in Rome, loved ones of God, called ones, saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the passage above the word “faith” in v5 translates the noun πίστεως (pisteōs), which is the Genitive, Singular of πίστις (pistis), “faith, faithfulness.” The verb form of πίστις, πιστεύω (pisteuō) means, “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly persuaded to something.” Some teach in our time that this “faith” we are describing here simply means “mental assent” and so teach that all one must do to be saved is mentally assent to a few facts about Jesus. Continue reading

Obediently hold fast to the Word of life with fear and trembling


by Mike Ratliff

19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” (Acts 5:19-20 NASB)

We are in a period of the Church in which we must keep our eyes fixed on Christ alone for if we look to men we are in danger of being deceived. We must become focused where God wants us to be focused, doing as He desires us to be doing. Continue reading

Christlikeness


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες, 3 μηδὲν κατʼ ἐριθείαν μηδὲ κατὰ κενοδοξίαν ἀλλὰ τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ ἀλλήλους ἡγούμενοι ὑπερέχοντας ἑαυτῶν, 4 μὴ τὰ ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστος σκοποῦντες ἀλλὰ [καὶ] τὰ ἑτέρων ἕκαστοι.
5 Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων
οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο
τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ,
7 ἀλλʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν
μορφὴν δούλου λαβών,
ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος·
καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος
8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν
γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου,
θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.
9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν
καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα
τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα,
10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ
πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ
ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων
11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι
κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς
εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. (Philippians 2:1-11 NA28)

1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, 3 doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit  but in humility, esteeming one another above self. 4 Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but those of one other.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but he poured himself out, taking the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men, and having been found in appearance as a man,
8 he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death, and that death by a cross.
9 Wherefore also God exalted him and gave to him the name above every name
10 that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Here we have Paul’s exhortation for believers to live out their lives in Christ in the Spirit by living in unity. Who is our example? It is Christ! Christ’s humbling himself to become our Saviour is our example to serve one another. We are to consider other people’s interests first. Jesus did not come and set up a huge church or ministry to rival the Temple et cetera. He did not instruct his disciples to do that either. No, that sort of religiosity is not what we should be about. I hope you noticed that throughout this exhortation by Paul, that he focused on our worship and service of our Lord and that was lived through the sacrificial love for each other. Continue reading

Election and Predestination


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13 NASB)

To complement our study of “foreknowledge” in yesterday’s post, let us look at two other aspects of Doctrine of Election. When people confront me about my “Calvinism” I do not become tense or defensive. Instead, I usually make sure that whoever I am conversing with understands that the basis for my understanding of God and His doctrines is that He is Sovereign. Who in their right mind would worship a God that is not Sovereign and for any reason is dependent upon mankind (one of his creatures) for any reason whatsoever? Also, Reformed Theology (I prefer that term over Calvinism) is rooted in God’s Sovereign Grace. Because of this, and since I am fully submitted to God because of who He is knowing that He is God and without my Lord I can do nothing, I am fully at ease, and resting in His Sovereign Grace. What is the response I usually get? Tense argumentation! I don’t get it. Foreknowledge, as we saw yesterday, is a wonderful word that should cause none of us to squirm or get upset or whatever, but should drive us to our knees in thanksgiving for God foreordaining each of us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Likewise, as we are about to see, election and predestination are both wonderful words that describe God’s exercise of His Sovereign Grace on our behalf. Continue reading

Foreknowledge


by Mike Ratliff

28 Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν. 29 ὅτι οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς· 30 οὓς δὲ προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν. (Romans 8:28-30 NA28)

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 NASB)

Unfortunately, “foreknowledge” is a very controversial or contentious term. However, I contend that the debate over it is made overly “intense” by those who really do not understand what it actually means. I have heard more times than I can count from well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ something that goes like this, “Doesn’t ‘foreknowledge’ in the Bible in those verses such as Romans 8:29 simply mean that God looked down through time and had prior knowledge of who would be saved and elected them?” Well my brethren, that simply is not what it means. The root Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “foreknew” is προγινώσκω (proginōskō), which also carries the idea of “foreordination.” Continue reading