The Offense of the Cross


by Mike Ratliff

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 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. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. Galatians 5:6-12 (NASB)

In Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians he delivers a scathing indictment against all  who teach works salvation or any version of the Gospel that has been edited from the original. If these false gospels be true then, as Paul says, the offense of the cross has been removed. However, the Apostle, in fact, is declaring that the offense of the cross never has ceased, and never can cease. Any attempt to soften the offense is folly. While genuine Christianity is peaceful, mild, and benevolent, history shows us that it has been attacked with the bitterest hate from the beginning. Why? It is clearly offensive to the unregenerate mind. Continue reading

The Power and Message of the Cross


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. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB)

Carefully read the passage above. How are we saved? Is it by our own worth? Is it by our own works? Is it by anything we do? If you say yes to any of those then try to find support for it in those verses above. You won’t find it. Instead, what you will find is that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. This is fully supported in the previous two verses that tell us For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. So with that fully in the forefront of our minds we go back and reread vv1-7. What was the mechanism that enabled this to take place since all of us without exception were dead in our trespasses and sins?  Continue reading

Empty Me


by Mike Ratliff

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (NASB) 

The manner of our Lord’s death was one designed by the Romans to humiliate its criminals. The cross was a place of shame, disgrace, humiliation, indignity, degradation, and ignominy. The Roman soldiers were experts at this form of execution in which the criminal was beaten, undressed, arms spread and nailed to a cross-beam, feet nailed to a vertical beam, and hoisted above the ground for the world to see. However, as we read in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (above), Paul decided to know nothing among those to whom he preached and ministered except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Continue reading

Cross


by Mike Ratliff

37 Ὁ φιλῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος, καὶ ὁ φιλῶν υἱὸν ἢ θυγατέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος· 38 καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος. 39 ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὁ ἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν. Matthew 10:37-39 (NA28)

37 The one who  loves a father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me and the one loving a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And the one who does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39 The one who has found his life will lose it and the one who has lost lost his life because of me will find it. Matthew 10:37-39 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When we say, “The Cross,” we state the very focal point of history. The Old Testament points to it, the New Testament presents it, and the Christian proclaims it. It is the cross that is our salvation, not religion. A study of the cross as used in crucifixion is a sobering exercise. Several years ago my wife and I took our small group, made up of young singles, to Mel Gibson’s new movie “The Passion of Christ.” I believe that was in either 2004 or 2005. In any case, the way the movie presented how our Lord was treated all through his arrest, trial and crucifixion was one of the most brutal things I have ever seen. I was not the only person weeping throughout that movie. Continue reading

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified


by Mike Ratliff

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (NASB) 

The manner of our Lord’s death was one designed by the Romans to humiliate its criminals. The cross was a place of shame, disgrace, humiliation, indignity, degradation, and ignominy. The Roman soldiers were experts at this form of execution in which the criminal was beaten, undressed, arms spread and nailed to a cross-beam, feet nailed to a vertical beam, and hoisted above the ground for the world to see. However, as we read in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (above), Paul decided to know nothing among those to whom he preached and ministered except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Continue reading

The Intensity of Christ’s Love and the Intentionality of His Death


by John Piper

The love of Christ for us in his dying was as conscious as his suffering was intentional. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). If he was intentional in laying down his life, it was for us. It was love. “When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Every step on the Calvary road meant, “I love you.” Continue reading

He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions


By Mike Ratliff

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5 ESV)

I have been reading Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone over the last several days. He does a fine job of revealing the often-subtle aspects of what has come to be called “The New Reformation.” Along with this study, I have been reading some Bible studies put together by a man who termed himself a “liberal evangelist,” William Barclay. I find it fascinating that we can look at the Christian liberalism of over a half-century ago and then witness in our day the result as the Emergents, Purpose Driven leaders, and New Evangelicals follow suit as they liberalize the truth of Sacred Scripture in order to justify their “New Reformation.” In light of this, let us look at some of the truths these liberals seem bent on ignoring or, at best, modifying for their own purpose. Continue reading