Where then is boasting? it is excluded; by what kind of law? of works? no, but by a law of faith


by Mike Ratliff

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 3:21-28 (NASB) 

As I reflect back on my personal testimony of my pilgrimage and how God drew me to Himself regardless of my unworthiness and then patiently matured me over the years I marvel at His gift of grace. However, that does not negate the fact that I, like everyone else, had a lot of growing up to do, and still do I am sure. For many years, even as a Bible teacher and Deacon, I confess to you all that my understanding of salvation and the doctrines that have been developed, which explain it, was very fuzzy compared to my understanding now. During those years of doctrinal “confusion” I based my salvation on something I had done. I based my assurance on things I did. When I witnessed to others during that time the emphasis was on bringing people to make a decision followed by them reciting a sinner’s prayer. As well meaning as all of that was, I see it now as the fruit of utter spiritual immaturity.

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Christian accountability and obedience


by Mike Ratliff

7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
9 “When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
10 “For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
11 “Therefore I swore in My anger,
Truly they shall not enter into My rest.” (Psalms 95:7-11 NASB)

Preaching or teaching from God’s Word is nothing to trifle with. The responsibility that goes with each is eternal. Those who minister through the Word will be held accountable. We must ask each time we preach or teach, “Did I treat what is Holy as it deserved? Have I fallen into doing my ministry perfunctorily?” Those of us who teach must never do so in a way that is in any way motivated by anything other than our love and devotion for our Lord. Yes, there will be circumstances that we respond to and use as inspiration or input in a spontaneous way, but, even in that, we do a tremendous disservice to our Lord if we don’t go to Him in prayer first before we respond, write, preach, or teach. While the leader has a huge responsibility to minister by the Spirit, those who hear the truth from God’s Word will also be held accountable. Continue reading

The tragic results of denying the resurrection


by Mike Ratliff

8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:8-14 (NASB) 

The Doctrine of the Resurrection is a target of our enemy. He does not want God’s people to understand it or to have hope in it. On this blog since its inception I have received some very strange comments whenever I have posted about the the Resurrection. I have never posted them because the challenge from them was couched in arguments that were either pure humanism or from a spiritual slant that was entirely pagan. Tragically, a few were from professing Christians whose concept of the Resurrection read more like a fairy tale or a horror story than what we find in the Bible. In this post we will look at the effects of denying the Resurrection. Continue reading

The Heart of Man


by Mike Ratliff

15 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· φράσον ἡμῖν τὴν παραβολὴν [ταύτην]. 16 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; 17 οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται; 18 τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. 19 ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι. 20 ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον, τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. Matthew 15:15-20 (NA28)

15 Peter answered Him, “Explain to us this parable.” 16 And He said, “Are you also still without understanding?” 17 “Do you not know that everything which enters into the mouth passes into the stomach and passes into a latrine?” 18 “But the things which come from the mouth come out from the heart, and that defiles the man.” 19 “For out of the heart comes forth evil thoughts, murder, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, and blasphemies.” 20 “These are the things which defile the man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” Matthew 15:15-20 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we are going to focus on one Greek word that was one of the words in yesterday’s post, It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, that describes one of the sinful acts that have sprung from Satan’s counterfeit love. That word is πορνεία (porneia). Here is the definition from yesterday’s post:

It originally referred to prostitution. It is derived from the related word in Greek which means “prostitute.” It was used in the Septuagint to refer not only to common prostitution, but religious prostitution that was part of the fertility rites of Baal worship. By sexual relations with temple prostitutes, humans, supposedly, could share in the fertilizing power of and cosmic harmony with the fertility god Baal.

However, in in later rabbinical language, which heavily influenced the New Testament, πορνεία came to be used for any sexual relations outside of marriage, including: premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, sodomy, pedophilia, incest, and bestiality. In the Graeco-Roman world, this became so perverted that all of these activities were indulged in without shame or scruple, not only by the common people, but by the social elite as well.

Our time is no different. In fact, indifference to the practice of these things runs deep in our society as well as the visible church. However, lest we become distracted, we must not forget that all Christians are commanded to turn from these things in repentance.

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It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience


by Mike Ratliff

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience Colossians 3:5-6 (NASB)

In Ephesians 5:1-2 the Apostle Paul gave us exhortation to line up our lives with God’s standard of self-sacrificial love that mimics His own for His beloved Children.

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NASB) 

He then, in vv3-7, gives us the opposite, which is counterfeit love. This form of fleshly love always results in impurity of life. I find it amazing how I find so many professing Christians ready to call what I am teaching here “legalism” because they want to embrace the very things Paul lists in these verses which are Satan’s perversion of God’s creation. Continue reading

Christian maturity and discernment


by Mike Ratliff

12 Οὐχ ὅτι ἤδη ἔλαβον ἢ ἤδη τετελείωμαι, διώκω δὲ εἰ καὶ καταλάβω, ἐφʼ ᾧ καὶ κατελήμφθην ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ]. Philippians 3:12 (NA28)

12 Not that I have already obtained  or have already been perfected, but I press on that, if indeed, I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Discernment is not a dirty word. I saw read a statement by friend the other day which stated that if a Christian leader demands to be shielded from those with discernment then that is a sure sign that he (or she) has some sort of theology problem or worse and that very thing calls for those with discernment to take an even closer look at that person’s ministry. When I read that I thought immediately of Paul’s preaching in Berea in which the Jews there closely examined the teaching of Paul comparing it with the Word of God to make sure that what he was teaching was the truth. Yes, that is what discernment is all about. Now, I know that many reading this agree with that and want to be true Bereans and I applaud that, but the second part of being one is becoming a mature Christian in order to be able to stand firm in the fire no matter how rough things get in power of the Holy Spirit for that is how it goes sometimes.  Let’s look at a short passage from the book of Philippians not usually associated with “discernment,” but more with growing in Christian maturity.  Continue reading

Do you really know my Lord?


by Mike Ratliff

6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NASB) 

Isaiah 9:6 is part of a magnificent prophecy given to the prophet Isaiah about 800 years prior to the advent of our Lord being born of a virgin according to the will of God the Father in order to fulfill his eternal will and plan of redemption of his people. Of course there are those who scoff at this prophecy being about the Messiah or that the Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that prophecy. However, those who make those assertions, even if they call themselves Christians, are not of us and never have been of us (1 John 2:19). Some who do believe this prophecy is true, however, do not believe that it in any way is in effect at this time, but is for some time in the distant future. I counter that with Matthew 28:16-20…[But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”] Continue reading

If we confess our sins


by Mike Ratliff

9 ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. 1 John 1:9 (NA28)

9 If we confess our sins , He is faithful and just, that he may forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When the focus of “Christianity” is moved from being God-focused to Man-focused confusion is the ultimate consequence. We see this with so-called Christian leaders like N.T. Wright who is nothing more than an intellectual “Christian” liberal who is attempting to redefine the Gospel or “Good News” along the lines of those who follow Jesus asserting Christ’s kingdom here on earth. On the other hand, there are multitudes of other aberrations of Christian doctrine in which so-called Christian leaders with no understanding of the Sovereignty of God and His Grace who attempt to dismantle Christian doctrine and redefine it along the lines of Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and Arminianism.  Continue reading

El-Shaddai and His people


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now when Abram was ninety- nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him,
“I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
2 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly.” (Genesis 17:1-2 NASB)

In these last days it is imperative that God’s people have a more complete knowledge of God. So, in light of this, let us look at one of the names of God that speaks much about His power and provision. God keeps His part of the covenants He makes and it is this name, El-Shaddai, that God used for Himself that gives us much comfort as we come to understand that He helps and blesses His people. El-Shaddai (   אל שׁדּי  ) – We must never forget that in Hebrew we read from right to left and this name of God is two separate words,  Ēl ( אל), meaning, “might,”  and Shaddai  (שׁדּי ) , meaning , “the Almighty, the Powerful One, or the Mighty One.” As a combined name of God, El Shaddai, which occurs seven times in Sacred Scripture, was the covenant name for God to the Patriarchs until the time of Moses. The Jewish rabbis believed  that the term meant the “One who is self-sufficient.” God’s covenant was moral and ethical in character, not ritualistic or orgiastic.

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What’s Wrong with Pragmatism?


by Mike Ratliff

1 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:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 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, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober- minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

The proponents of the seeker-sensitive church growth model may very well have had good intentions when through it was spawned the rise of contemporary mega-churches such as Willow Creek and Saddleback Valley Baptist and their clones. The focus was outreach to the unchurched. While that appears to be a proper function of the New Testament Church one of the model’s fundamental components is actually an antithesis of the clear instruction to Church leaders found in God’s Word. That component is pragmatism.  Continue reading

Give attention to


by Mike Ratliff

13 ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. 1 Timothy 4:13 (NA28)

13 Until I come give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)

This ministry began as a polemic response to the preaching and ministry downgrade that was taking place in the visible church during the early years of the attempted Purpose Driven takeover of the evangelical churches throughout the United States and in other parts of the world. There were other things going at that time as well such as the rise of the Emergent Village, and other forms of “Christian Liberalism” such as the ministry of Rob Bell. My response and the response of all those who stood against this attack on the Gospel and every part of Christian orthodox soteriology was to stand firmly on what the Word of God says, never straying from the fact that it is God’s absolute truth. This has enabled us to endure. The enemies of the truth are still out there, but we know who they are and until God takes us home we will continue to shine the light of God’s truth into the darkness of their false doctrines. Continue reading

No pardon, no salvation!


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:4-8 (NASB)

For quite some time now we have been looking long and hard at the narrowness of the Gospel and how it it is not editable. It is not open to change. No matter how much a person wants it to be otherwise, it is unchangeable. It is God’s Good News to fallen man. This good news is the proclamation that there is a way, only one way, for sinful people to be reconciled to God. It is good news because all people suffer from the same condition. They are born dead in trespasses and sins and are not morally able to do anything about it. This separates all of us from God because He is Holy and must judge all sin. The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross and became sin on our behalf. God judged our sin in Him. This “atoned” for our sins. Now let us look at the pardon available to all who believe. Continue reading

God’s providence and His inheritance


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (NA28)

11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will,12 for us to be to the praise of His glory, the ones having previously hoped in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Most modern Bible translations undoubtedly render v11 a bit differently than I did above. The words “we were made an inheritance” translates one verb, ἐκληρώθημεν, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Passive voice of κληρόω (klēroō), “obtain an inheritance. The passive voice is the key. Paul is saying that Christians are made an inheritance by God for God. One of the great misconceptions of our salvation, which is made by so many, is that it is the result of something we do, but how anyone could believe that after reading Ephesians 1 and 2 is beyond me.  Continue reading

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!


by Mike Ratliff

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! Romans 9:14 (NASB)

The natural mind, plagued with selective rationalization, demands that God be fair in His dealings with all humankind. Fairness speaks of justice. One of the tenets of our republican form government in the USA is a right to a fair and speedy trial before one’s peers. A person on trial for a crime may or may not truly want justice. They may be guilty so their desire is not justice, but grace. If a judge in a criminal trial declares a defendant guilty, but then defers sentencing in lieu of probation or “time served” then he has extended grace to the guilty party. Continue reading