Deception is rooted in unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58 (NASB) 

The condition of the “visible church” in our time is quite tragic.  It is full of professing Christians who appear to be running headlong into apostasy in ever increasing numbers. In this post we will attempt to look at what it is in these people that has brought this about. Why have they fallen into darkness and we have not? There are leaders amongst those on the broadway that leads to apostasy that have a problem taking God’s Word as absolute truth. On the other hand, I have always taught God’s Word as literal truth yet there are many places in the Word that some professing Christians have a problem taking literally because, if we do, then it refutes their pet theology exactly to the point. That is the nature of God’s truth. I have had some very ugly discussions in Bible Study classes about doctrine in which certain people were insistent that a section of God’s Word cannot be taken literally even though the only refutation they have against doing so is human philosophy. This, my brethren, is unbelief in action.  Continue reading

Correct doctrine conforms to godliness and is a means of great contentment, but false doctrines do neither


by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB) 

Life is a continual hunt or search for circumstances that will result in contentment. That is the focus for the natural man. When societal norms become relaxed from the “bonds” that restrict certain forms of self-expression” we witness rising levels of aberrant behavior that are simply attempts by seekers of this “contentment” to find, experience, and practice them hoping to finally reach some level of passion or peace or whatever that will last and leave them in that “contented” state. We see this in Christianity as well. What we understand as Orthodox Christianity is not very satisfying to the unregenerate. However, religiosity is an integral part of the human makeup, therefore, with this volatile combination, we witness increasing levels of bizarre forms of “Christianity” as those desperately seeking what “satisfies” go after the “feelings” as they vainly try to fill that hole in their soul that demands fulfillment. Continue reading

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth


by Mike Ratliff

13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Luke 16:13 (NASB) 

When the Protestant Reformation took off in the early 16th Century one of the motivating factors for the cruel retaliation by the Roman church was the teaching by the reformers from God’s Word to the common people that wealth and power were not indicators of God’s blessing on the prelates, priests, monks, bishops, and the Popes. Luther preached a sermon on the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-13) telling all who heard it and read the published versions of it that salvation is by grace through faith alone and it is for all who trust in Christ alone, not for those who accumulate wealth and power as a pretense of God’s blessing. Continue reading

Truth twisting


by Mike Ratliff

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 20:29-30 (NASB) 

Several years ago when I was doing almost daily battle with Rob Bell’s apologists I was asked by one of them what Bell had done that has so upset me that I would post some articles about him on this blog. His stance was that even though he disagreed with much of what Rob Bell taught, he read him and listened to him anyway because he liked to “be stretched.” Should we open up our hearts to hear the teachings of people whose stance on Christian essentials is marked by shades of grey? That begs another question. Is genuine Christianity made up of essential truths that are knowable? The more I study God’s Word the more I am convinced that there are no grey areas. God’s truth is always true and that part of it that we must know in order to know and serve Him is clearly taught in scripture and is knowable through reason. Continue reading

Rooted and grounded in love


by Mike Ratliff

14 Τούτου χάριν κάμπτω τὰ γόνατά μου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, 15 ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται, 16 ἵνα δῷ ὑμῖν κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον, 17 κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι, 18 ἵνα ἐξισχύσητε καταλαβέσθαι σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ ὕψος καὶ βάθος, 19 γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NA28)

14 For this cause I bend my knees to the Father 15 from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named,16 that He may grant you according to the wealth of His glory to become mightily empowered in your inner being through His Spirit 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, having been rooted and grounded in love,18 that you might have strength to grasp together with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of His love, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I would not pass the test for post modernism in any context. I am not politically correct nor do I care whether I am or am not. If that becomes a requirement for employment or something else that we view as temporally vital in this age, I will still refuse. On the other hand, as I walk through my day in this world, that does not mean that those around me are not exposed to God’s love through me. As I have meditated a great deal on this lately, I have done much repentance as well. When unbelievers see me, get to know me, et cetera, they should be drawn to Christ because they see evidence of His love being manifest through me. Is that always the case? Oh that it was! If we walk in light of Jesus Christ and Him crucified in all of our relationships, how can we be self-centered jerks at anytime with anyone?  Continue reading

The Atonement and our redemption through the blood of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” 4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Exodus 24:3-8 (NASB) 

With the demise of the Biblical/Christian Worldview those of us who belong to the Lamb of God must stop assuming that our culture, our environment, knows or grasps what we mean when we talk about sin and God being Holy, Righteous, and Just. In Romans 1 we see that the natural Man knows the truth in his or her heart of hearts, but they suppress it. In turn, God gives them over or gives them up to a debased mind. This is spiritual blindness. These given over to their lusts and desires are no longer convicted of the evil of their sin. They lose their fear of God’s judgment. Over time, they become resentful and full of hate towards any who teach or preach the Gospel to them. This is why so many flock to some form of alternative “church” such as seeker-sensitive “churches.” There they are stroked and made to feel good without having to deal with the real Jesus. Their religion, Christless Christianity, is friends of the world and eager to welcome those of other ‘religions’ except for those troublesome orthodox Christians who preach the whole Gospel, the Law of God, and the truth about sin and total separation from God for the unredeemed. Continue reading

The doctrine of original sin is biblical


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

Persecution and the spread of the Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:14-19 (NASB) 

I have been reading through the book of Acts over the last few weeks and I followed it up with a documentary about the Book of Acts in which every verse was read and acted out on the screen. It is very interesting to see the spread of Christianity as the Apostles obediently made disciples wherever they went. This spread was always accompanied by persecution. The hotter the persecution the more encouraged the brethren became. While that is not logical to the fallen mind, that is exactly how God grew His church. In the early 2nd century the bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John, was brought to the Roman authorities and ordered to confess that Caesar is lord. Polycarp was eighty-six years old at this point. All he had to do was utter that statement as he offered a pinch of incense to Caesar, but he refused. He was martyred by fire. Continue reading

Sin Grace Faith Righteousness Flesh and Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They *said to Him, “Yes.” 52 And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:51-52 (NASB) 

Charles Spurgeon spent the last several years of his ministry contending with “liberalizing” efforts within the Evangelical churches in England in what came to be known as the “Great Downgrade Controversy.” That “downgrade” gained momentum not only in England, but here in the United States and around the world. It began in the 19th Century when Seminaries began embracing “higher criticism” of the Bible. This caused many promising Biblical Scholars to eventually cast loose that which moored them to orthodoxy, the belief that the Bible is God’s Word, inerrant, and complete. Even though movements came forth to contend with this liberalization, this downgrade, instead of dying, has only changed form many times while still poisoning the Church like a parasite, sucking the spiritual life from it. Continue reading

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me


by Mike Ratliff

12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. Philippians 4:12-14 (NASB) 

The enemy of our souls, Satan, does not attack believers in such a way that we should recognize him as being who he is. Instead, he comes disguised as the voice behind the theologian from the best seminary who may be the leader with a huge church empire and also be the author of many best-selling books. How does he attack what we call the Orthodox Christian faith? You know, the preaching of the gospel, the weekly opening of the Word of God, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, et cetera. He attacks that by putting people in place that both insist on and promise to deliver “more.” You know, taking emphasis away from all that stuff above and giving people “what they really want!” Sometimes the leaders doing this think this is what the people really want, but it is not. That is when the sheep go to their pastors and ask to be fed rather than be entertained. What happens most of the time nowadays when that takes place?  Continue reading

The three ways the Bible refers to death


by Mike Ratliff

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB) 

The fallen nature of man does not understand death. Depending on culture, some fight to stay alive with their all. The correct understanding of death comes to us from God’s Word. The word death is used in three different ways in Sacred Scripture. The first is spiritual death, which is separation from God (Ephesians 2:1,1). Then, of course, there is physical death (Hebrews 9:27). Then there is eternal death, which is referred to as “the second death” in Revelation 20:11-15). While many would consider the topic of death to be a subject to be avoided, it is vital for us to have a clear understanding of all three manifestations in biblical terminology so that we will have a better foundation for sharing the Good News.  Continue reading

Spiritual growth comes through humility under the lash


by Mike Ratliff

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 (NASB) 

There is a form of Christianity prevalent in post-modern America that has an incredible hold on some people to the point their conception of God is that He is little more than a vending machine or a kindly grandfather who would never hurt anyone. I speak, of course, of all forms of Christianity that are man-based. Man-based “Christianity” that looks at God this way is held by people who have no patience for theology. Instead, they rely on their own conception of God based within the limits of their ability to reason. For instance, their conception of God is that He is too good to be unfair. Then, of course, their conception of what is fair and unfair enters into their reasoning. The end result is that, since God does not seem to come through the same for all people, then the problem must be with the people themselves. If one person is not healed while some are then those who are not healed must not have enough faith because God is fair and would not leave anyone in sickness while healing others. Continue reading

Timidity and boldness


by Mike Ratliff

7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB) 

I remember a preacher who filled in for our Pastor one Sunday for some reason. I was about 15 or so at the time. He was an older gentleman with a big booming voice and a head full of white hair. He was so different from our preacher that I actually listened to what he said. I believe that the person from the Bible he was talking about was Isaac. I remember him commenting on the fact that he was timid or shy or fearful. In my mind I thought of that person as shy or bashful by the way he described him. Then he said something I will never forget. He said, “Folks, timidity is not of God.” He then preached a sermon on how God calls His people to be bold and to fear not. Those who are fearful are those of little faith who make decisions that reflect their fear instead of reflecting a trust of God through their faith. He said that those who walk in fear and timidity are actually not in obedience to God and are therefore operating from pride. Their fear was the product of their pride as it did all it could do to protect self. However, those who walk in boldness are the truly humble believers because they lay aside self-protection while obeying God for His glory. Continue reading

What does it mean to be devoured by Satan?


by Mike Ratliff

8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB) 

I have written several posts about heresy and apostasy. However, I have always been puzzled by those believers who were once very effective in ministry or serving our Lord with Christ focused walks, but then something changed. Those men and women once very effective in ministry seemed to stumble badly or they who once stood firm now seemed be willing to compromise in areas of doctrine or they once stood against invasion of the world into “church,” but now seem to be all for it in one way or another. What happened? I know that many of us are willing to throw out the “apostate” label in these cases, but is that what really happened? Continue reading