Be transformed by the renewing of your mind

by Mike Ratliff

10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:10-11 NASB)

Some “evangelical leaders” in our time will tell you that transformation is actually part of the gospel and that the evidence of salvation is how busy a person is in “working in church ministry.” No where in God’s Word is transformation given as part of the Gospel. The Gospel is based in who Jesus Christ is and what He has done to be the propitiation for the elect. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, including the elect. No one is able to do any work of any kind to deserve or earn salvation, that is, justification. However in Ephesians 1:3-23; Ephesians 2:1-10, the Apostle Paul gives us God’s solution. Notice that nowhere in these passages is the transformed life mentioned as part of being justified. Yes, Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2 that Faith was a gift and that tells us that it is a product of regeneration, and that God saves us unto good works, but that is not the same thing. Paul tells us more about the transformed life in Romans 12. Notice that this is talking about spiritual growth after salvation and is not part of our justification at all, but is part of our sanctification process. Notice also who is in control of this process. Is it a local church or a ministry or is it God? Continue reading

The Gospel vs the EvanJellyFish non-gospel

by Mike Ratliff

8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. (Galatians 5:8-10 NASB)

One of the first things lost when apostasy sets in is adherence to the genuine Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as the one and only way God has provided to save people from their sins, bringing them into an eternal relationship with Him through their propititiation, the Lord Jesus Christ. In our time, with Relationship Theology having come to the fore, it has become akin to a ‘sin unto death’ to cause grief or hurt feelings in some one else by daring to explicitly give them the truth of the doctrine of Total Depravity and their need of a Saviour. The ‘sin of hurting someone’s feelings’ has become the primary issue in our time. Things have been turned upside down.  Continue reading

The Reformed Doctrine of Definite Redemption

by Mike Ratliff

17 Καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ νύμφη λέγουσιν· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ ἀκούων εἰπάτω· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ διψῶν ἐρχέσθω, ὁ θέλων λαβέτω ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν. (Revelation 22:17 NA28)

17 And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And the one hearing let him say, “Come.” And the one thirsting let him come; let the one desiring take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Reformed Doctrine of Definite Redemption is also called “The Doctrine of Particular Redemption” and, historically, “The Doctrine of Limited Atonement.” This doctrine speaks about the intention of the triune God in the death of Jesus Christ. Without questioning the infinite worth of Christ’s sacrifice or genuiness of God’s sincere invitation to all who hear the gospel (Revelation 22:17 above), this doctrine states that Christ in dying intended to accomplish exactly what he did accomplish, that is, to take away the sins of God’s elect, and to ensure that they would all be brought to faith through regeneration and preserved through faith for glory. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not intend to die in this efficacious sense for everyone. The proof of that, as Sacred Scripture and experience unite to teach us, is revealed very clearly in the fact that not all are saved.  Continue reading

Clearing the threshing floor

by Mike Ratliff

14 Καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, 15 ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ. 18 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται· ὁ δὲ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται, ὅτι μὴ πεπίστευκεν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ. 19 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς· ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα. 20 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ· 21 ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα. (John 3:14-21 NA28)

14 And as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up 15 that everyone believing in Him may have eternal life.”  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that everyone believing in him should not perish but have life eternal. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 The one believing in him is not judged, but the one not believing has been judged already because he has not believed in the only name of the Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, light has come into the world and men love the darkness rather than the light for their works were evil. 20 Everyone practicing evil things hates the light and does not come into the light lest his works be exposed,  21 but the one doing the truth comes to the light that it may be manifested that his works have been wrought in God.  (John 3:14-21 translated from the NA28 Greek text) 


10 ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.
11 Ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν, ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί· 12 οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ διακαθαριεῖ τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ καὶ συνάξει τὸν σῖτον αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην, τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ. (Matthew 3:10-12 NA28)

10 And already the axe is laid at the root of the trees, therefore, every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is thrown into the fire. 
11 I baptize you with water leading to repentance, but the one coming after me is mightier than I of whom I am not worthy to remove his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire.  12 His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clean out his threshing and will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will consume with an inextinguishable fire.” (Matthew 3:10-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

This statement by John the Baptist combined our Lord’s first coming as the suffering servant dying for the sins of His people and His second coming when He returns in judgment. If we compare this statement with John 3:14-21 (above) we see that those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire are divided into two groups. Those who believe the Gospel are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9) and the fire cleanses and renews them. On the other hand, those who do not believe the Gospel are condemned already. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire in their case will simply be that they will be thrown into the fire in righteous judgment. Continue reading

For this reason they could not believe

by Mike Ratliff

35 So Jesus said to them, “ For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke:“ Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “ HE has blinded their eyes and HE hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” (John 12:35-40 NASB)

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand. ’
10 “ Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10 NASB)

This is the passage that John quoted in John 12:40, which is in context at the top of this post. Notice v39, “For this reason they could not believe…” This is the NASB rendering. The NA28 Greek text for this part of v39 is, “διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἠδύναντο πιστεύειν.” Here is my rendering, “Through this they were not able to believe.” The word translated here as “not” is οὐκ or ouk, which is an absolute negative. Therefore what it is defining is absolutely negated and that verb is ἠδύναντο, which is the 3rd person, imperfect tense, indicative mood, middle voice form of δύναμαι or dunamai, which means “to be able, either intrinsically and absolutely, which the ordinary signification; or, for specific reasons.” The third part of this is the word “believe” which is a translation of the verb πιστεύειν the present tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of πιστεύω or pisteuō, “to have faith.” The way this is structured my brethren it is plainly a work of God that these people were not able “to have faith.” Continue reading

Another mass shooting?

by Mike Ratliff

5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5 NASB)

Until December 2012 I lived in the Kansas City area. In late April 2007 a former employee of a Target store at the Ward Parkway Mall in KC put his plan into action to “shoot up a lot of people” there. That mall is between the Ward Parkway and State Line Boulevard. I remember it like it was yesterday. The killer forced his way into a neighbor’s house, killed her and took her guns and stole her car. Police were notified when the lady who was killed had not been seen and that her car appeared to be stolen. Police found her body and put out a call for the car. A KCMO policeman spotted the car going down a street and pulled it over. The man driving was the person he was looking for. A gun battle ensued. The policeman was shot in the arm, but managed to put a bullet into the driver of the car. Also, he was able to take two pistols away from the shooter. They played a recording of the dispatch of this incident on the local news. You could hear the gunshots as the officer called for assistance. The shooter fled in the stolen car and proceeded to carry out his plan without the two pistols. Police were not aware that he also had a rifle in the car.

He parked the car in the parking lot between two other occupied cars. He shot and killed the man in the car on his left then walked over to the other car on his right and killed the woman in that car. Then he shot up the front of the mall before going inside. His goal was to kill as many people as possible during a very busy time. He shot another person in the mall then proceeded to shoot in every direction at random as he tried to get to the Target store. By this time the KCMO police had arrived then confronted the shooter who did not surrender. The police then used deadly force. The first encounter with the policeman who had pulled him over took much of his firepower away and injured him enough so that he was not as effective with the rifle as he could have been. As my wife and I watched the news breaks as it was happening, we got a call from our son-in-law and daughter in Edmond, Oklahoma. They had already heard of it and were concerned that we might have been involved. Amazing!

If you think back on that time, it was just after the massacre at Virginia Tech earlier that month. It just made no sense. We look at these people who decide in their warped reasoning that it’s the right thing to do to “shoot up a lot of people.” Where does this come from? Also, just a few days earlier, 10 young Turkish men brutally killed a German missionary and two Turkish pastors. The brutality of the killings was staggering.

Just last week there was another senseless shooting in Oregon at a junior college. Some of the survivors have claimed that the killer demanded that each victim admit whether he or she was a Christian or not. If they admitted they were a Christian he shot them in the head. If they did not then he shot them in the legs. Evidence is still coming in, but it appears he was not a Muslim, but in fact, he was simply full of hate.

In all these examples, and I could have named many more, were the people killed by these demon-oppressed people being punished by God for something bad in their lives? What does the Bible tell us? Continue reading

True Christianity is not politically correct nor will it ever be

by Mike Ratliff

30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA28)

30 “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Genuine Christianity, not the false versions of it, is unique when compared to the world’s religions. In fact, those false versions of it are just like the rest of the world’s religions in one regard that makes genuine Christianity absolutely unique. All other “religions” are based upon some form of works based theology and belief system in which some form of justification is made through those works which increase the value of the person in that religion thereby gaining the reward. On the other hand, genuine Christianity is nothing like that at all. Salvation or justification comes as a result of something God has set out to do and has completed. Those who are justified were elected by him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) based upon no works or deeds or value inherent in them  (that none may boast). All of the work to justify these elect was done by God and completed; and he, being sovereign and all-powerful, saves them all as we will see in the short passage we will exegete below. Those who are saved are new creations after their justification because God himself regenerated them so that their dead faith is made alive and they are now able to believe the gospel and be saved (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5). Who believes? Who are these Christians?  Continue reading

What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished!” in John 19:30?

by Mike Ratliff

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well- being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NASB)

One of the teachings from the leadership of the Word-Faith movement is that Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross was insufficient to accomplish the salvation of His people. They teach that Jesus then had to go to Hell to suffer as a lost person by being tormented by Satan. If that were true then what did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”? (John 19:30) Continue reading

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

by Mike Ratliff

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 NASB)

The older I become as I journey down this narrow way the more what passes for Christianity seems more and more absurd. Why? I suppose it is that I have become very convicted that we are very guilty of taking God for granted. Instead of worshiping Him for who He is, we seem to be totally focused on His works. While we should worship Him for His works with a grateful heart, we are leaving out direct worship of our Wonderful, Awesome, and Majestic God for who He is.

Our salvation is an incredible gift by His grace. That is why it troubles me so when Christian leaders cheapen it with their man-focused, easy-believism. Easy-believism produces professing Christians who believe their salvation came as a result of something they did. I know this because I was one of them for nearly 20 years. If this is our mindset about our salvation, we believe that our walk as Christians is also totally dependent upon our will power. It is as if what the Bible teaches about regeneration is unheard of or at least completely misunderstood. Also, Jesus’ own words about the exclusivity of who are His disciples and who aren’t seems to be in code because few seem to grasp what He is saying. Continue reading

Genuine Christians are chosen in love

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. (Ephesians 1:3-6 NASB)

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post my brethren. In love, God predestined believers for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. Our Creator’s great love for us moved Him to call us out of the passion we had for Satan and the kingdom of darkness. Never forget my brethren, all in Christ were predestined for adoption as sons with great affection by God Himself. He took us, who had no legal claim to being a part of God’s family, as His very children, with all the privileges that status entails. Continue reading

Jesus’ Parable of the Sower and 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’s something about Jesus’ parables that has always fascinated me. I have heard “stories” from others that were designed to drive home some relevant point, however, His parables are succinct and not only drive home His point, but reveal mighty truths straight from God to our hearts. That, of course, is the work of the Holy Spirit. The parable of the sower and 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

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming

by Mike Ratliff

42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42 NASB)

I know that I am a finite person who is incapable of knowing everything. I know this very well. I also know that it is impossible for any finite individual to possess the knowledge with certainty of future events. I am fully aware of this so I am not making predictions here or saying that I know for certain that eschatological events are going to happen any day now. No, I am not saying that. No, but what I am saying, and have been saying for quite some time, is that unless God grants us a revival, the Church will continue with its tailspin into apostasy and we will be in for a very rough period of spiritual darkness and possible persecution. The move from Christian orthodoxy into the many forms of apostasy we are seeing is not just an American phenomenon, but is worldwide. Religious tolerance is very close to becoming a requirement nearly everywhere. When this happens, there will be no room for the exclusivity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, there will still be the Church and there will still be Christians, but real Christians will be persecuted, underground, and second-class citizens everywhere. This is the reality of enforced religious tolerance.  Continue reading

Supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ

by Mike Ratliff

19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Philippians 1:19-20 KJV)

The ESV translates the passage above as:

19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:19-20 ESV)

The NASB translates the passage above as:

19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:19-20 NASB)

What is this “help” or “supply” or “provision” Paul is talking about and how can we “tap” into it ourselves as we stand firm in these Laodicean days? Let’s see… Continue reading

What does it mean to abide in Christ?

by Mike Ratliff

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love(John 15:4-10 ESV)

For the first 20 or so years of this walk I was in a very immature spiritual state. I was utterly convinced during that time that my worth as a disciple depended upon my performance, my learning, my obedience. With that mind-set it was a very horrible experience at times since I was on a roller coaster ride of obedience and backsliding. What amazed me during that period was that I was looked at as one of the more mature believers at our church. I knew better. That all changed in 2004 and 2005 as God drew me into the light and drastically changed that ‘mind-set.’ It was as I learned and held to the truth that our salvation is all according to God’s will not ours that I began to have peace and freedom. He chose us according to the good pleasure of His will, not according to our abilities or any other inherent attribute we may have. With this remaking of my mind-set came the ending of that cycle of obedience and backsliding. It was as if it had been put to death. Continue reading