Limited Atonement / Particular Redemption


by Mike Ratliff

26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the Lord. 28 And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath. (Leviticus 23:26-32 ESV)

Yom Kipper, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It takes place on the 10th day of the seventh month (Tishri) on the Jewish calendar. Please carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Do you see the serious emphasis God places on the need for His people’s atonement? What is this atonement? Biblical atonement is the act of God canceling the debt of His people’s sin. Without it God’s wrath against their sin could not be appeased.

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The Doctrine of Unconditional Election


by Mike Ratliff

The Doctrine of Unconditional Election is not for sissies. What I mean by that is if we adhere to this doctrine then we had better be ready for those in unbelief to attack us with their broadsides and accusations. It seems that every Pelagian out there, whether full blown Pelagian or semi-Pelagian or Arminian, is convinced that Man is not dead in his or her trespasses and sins and is fully able to elect God or not. Of course, none of their arguments hold any water because they are derived either from man-centered philosophy or from Bible verses taken out of context (eisegesis). On the other hand, the Doctrines of Grace are all completely Biblical and are based entirely in Holy Scripture expositions done exegetically.

The Doctrines of Grace describe and teach what God has done for His people in Jesus Christ. While the Doctrine of Unconditional Election is important it is not the best place to start in trying to understand God’s good work in His people’s hearts and for their behalf in eternity. Why? It is completely contrary to Man’s natural way of thinking and understanding. However, it is vital that we do understand and grasp it. Why? This doctrine is “an important measuring rod for someone’s theology, since an acceptance or rejection of this doctrine reveals at once whether a person is biblically correct on such other doctrines as the nature and extent of sin, the bondage of the will, the full grace of God in salvation, and even the presentation of the gospel.”1

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Total Inability / Total Depravity


by Mike Ratliff

Those of us who dearly love Reformation Theology often use the acronym “T.U.L.I.P.” to represent the five points. I will be posting a 5 part series on the 5 points. One of my favorite books about this is The Doctrines of Grace by James Montgomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken. I will use this book extensively in this series along with others by R.C. Sproul, John Owen, and Martin Luther. However, my primary source will be The Bible.

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The doctrines of Election and Reprobation


by Mike Ratliff

13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13. 14 NASB)

A few years ago before I began working from home fulltime and was still working from an office outside of our data center, a fellow from another department who I was working with on an issue made a comment about some of my devotional stuff and my small Bible that I carried in my computer bag, which were laying on my desk. I knew that he had at one time been a Methodist pastor, but had left the ministry. I have no idea what the history of that was. The comment he made was an incredulous statement in which he questioned how I would ever find the time to spend “doing that” as busy as I was. I told him that I did that when I first got to work in the morning before anyone else was there after I had done all my server checkups. At that time I was working my way through R. C. Sproul’s book Chosen By God and it was lying there as well. He asked when I read that. I told him I did that as I ate lunch. He picked it up and read the back cover and then put it down quickly like it burned his hand then made another incredulous statement, “You’re a Calvinist!”  Continue reading

What is Total Inability?


by Mike Ratliff

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,
“ There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “ Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“ The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:9-18 NASB)

The “T” in the Doctrines of Grace “TULIP” acronym stands for “Total Depravity.” The name for this point is unfortunate. While what it implies is true, it also lends a definition to this point that gives many people the wrong idea about what we are saying when unregenerate Man is totally depraved. That makes it sound like all outside of Christ are monsters. In a spiritual sense that is true, but in our experience in this world, some people are better than others. There are horrible criminals, such as terrorists, to be sure, but there are also very charitable people who do good works who would be insulted if you called them Christian. Continue reading

What is Preserving Grace?


by Mike Ratliff

28 κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου. 29 ὁ πατήρ μου ὃ δέδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται ἁρπάζειν ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ πατρός. 30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:28-30 NA28)

28 And I give to them eternal life and they will never perish into the age, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the hand of the Father. 30 I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I have always been puzzled why some become so angry when we declare the doctrine of eternal security of God’s people. Of course, those who do are the very same ones whose theology is man-centered and, therefore, based on the “Free-Will” of man, which is found nowhere in the Bible. When the will of man is discussed in God’s Word it talks of it being enslaved to his sinful nature and how the washing of regeneration at the working of God in man’s salvation, his will becomes free from that bondage. In any case, when we do declare the doctrine of the eternal security of God’s people, it is perhaps clearer to speak of their preservation rather than their perseverance. Perseverance means continued adherence to a belief despite discouragement and opposition. However, the reason believers persevere in faith and obedience is not the strength of their own commitment, but that Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit preserves them through Preserving Grace. Continue reading

Monergism Synergism and Limited Atonement


by Mike Ratliff

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32 ESV)

As I write this, it is about 4 days until the Jewish Passover 2014. It was over 2000 years ago just before Passover on the Jewish calendar that our Lord Jesus Christ was arrested, tried, and crucified. In Christian Doctrinal Orthodoxy we believe that at the Cross of Christ, at His crucifixion, His death made atonement for a specific people given to Him by God the Father. He became their propitiation.  Please carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Do you see the serious emphasis God places on the need for His people’s atonement? What is this atonement? Biblical atonement is the act of God canceling the debt of His people’s sin. Without it God’s wrath against their sin could not be appeased.

Continue reading

A quick look at the Doctrine of Unconditional Election


by Mike Ratliff

The Doctrine of Unconditional Election is not for sissies. What I mean by that is if we adhere to this doctrine then we had better be ready for those in unbelief to attack us with their broadsides and accusations. It seems that every Pelagian out there, whether full blown Pelagian or semi-Pelagian or Arminian, is convinced that Man is not dead in his or her trespasses and sins and is fully able to elect God or not. Of course, none of their arguments hold any water because they are derived either from man-centered philosophy or from Bible verses taken out of context (eisegesis). On the other hand, the Doctrines of Grace are all completely Biblical and are based entirely in Holy Scripture expositions done exegetically. Continue reading

Who Are the Poor in Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 ESV)

One the most disturbing aspects of the churches who practice Christianity “lite” is the near total abandonment of a call to personal holiness. Even more discouraging is the fact that they preach a version of the gospel that has had any mention of repentance severed from it. The reasoning behind this, of course, is that they are building bridges to the unchurched. If they preach the whole gospel they will drive away those they are attempting to draw to join their churches. The problem with that sort of reasoning is that it is based in pragmatism. It is based on fleshly reasoning and the ways of the world. It is actually unbelief in the form of ministry. The architects of Christianity “lite” do not believe that God is still building His Church, therefore, they will do it themselves using marketing techniques constructed around “cultural-relevancy.” They reason that if they build “cool churches” that it will draw people who hate “traditional church.” They may not go to the old Baptist Church on main street, but they might go to a gathering that is more of an entertainment venue than a church.

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The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints


by Mike Ratliff

 

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40 ESV)

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29 ESV)

The Doctrines of Grace are a tremendous blessing to the believer since they teach us that our salvation is God’s work from beginning to end, top to bottom, and side to side. However, each of us from time to time, since we are only vessels of clay and a vapor that is here one day and then gone the next, will experience  a loss of joy born from life’s disappointments. We suffer this way because our focus is not perfectly fixed on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as the source of our fulfillment. God, in His omniscient wisdom, prunes us as He takes things out of our lives that our hearts cherished. It is as we struggle through these times that it is a good thing to review who we are in Christ and what He has done, and what He is doing for us. One such precious promise is the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.

Continue reading

Election and Reprobation


by Mike Ratliff

13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13. 14 NASB)

We have come to the Doctrine of Unconditional Election in our exposition of the Doctrines of Grace. A few years ago before I began working from home fulltime and was still working from an office outside of our data center, a fellow from another department who I was working with on an issue made a comment about some of my devotional stuff and my small ESV Bible that I carried in my computer bag, which were laying on my desk. I knew that he had at one time been a Methodist pastor, but had left the ministry. I have no idea what the history of that was. The comment he made was an incredulous statement in which he questioned how I would ever find the time to spend “doing that” as busy as I was. I told him that I did that when I first got to work in the morning before anyone else was there after I had done all my server checkups. At that time I was working my way through R. C. Sproul’s book Chosen By God and it was lying there as well. He asked when I read that. I told him I did that as I ate lunch. He picked it up and read the back cover and then put it down quickly like it burned his hand then made another incredulous statement, “You’re a Calvinist!”  Continue reading

Preserving Grace


by Mike Ratliff

28 κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου. 29 ὁ πατήρ μου ὃ δέδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται ἁρπάζειν ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ πατρός. 30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:28-30 NA27)

28 And I give to them eternal life and they will never perish into the age, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the hand of the Father. 30 I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I have always been puzzled why some become so angry when we declare the doctrine of eternal security of God’s people. Of course, those who do are the very same ones whose theology is man-centered and, therefore, based on the “Free-Will” of man, which is found nowhere in the Bible. When the will of man is discussed in God’s Word it talks of it being enslaved to his sinful nature and how the washing of regeneration at the working of God in man’s salvation, his will becomes free from that bondage. In any case, when we do declare the doctrine of the eternal security of God’s people, it is perhaps clearer to speak of their preservation rather than their perseverance. Perseverance means continued adherence to a belief despite discouragement and opposition. However, the reason believers persevere in faith and obedience is not the strength of their own commitment, but that Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit preserves them through Preserving Grace. Continue reading

The Intention Wherewith Christ Came into the World


by Mike Ratliff

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:5-10 ESV)

Having just returned from a short vacation trip to Oklahoma for my Grandson’s 2nd birthday and a visit with my mother and family and being completely cutoff from the internet and email through it all, I find myself having finished reading for the third time the Biography of William Tyndale during that time. I finished it on Sunday evening and as I knew it would, God used that life of one of his martyrs to inspire me to continue in obedience regardless of the cost. After I finished it, I began reading again another book I had taken with me just in case I did in fact do that. The second book is The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by 17th Century Puritan Dr. John Owen. The following is an excerpt from the introductory essay for this book:

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ is a polemical work, designed to show, among other things, that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive of the gospel. There are many, therefore, to whom it is not likely to be of interest. Those who see no need for doctrinal exactness and have no time for theological debates which show up divisions between so-called Evangelicals may regret its reappearance.”

As I reread Book 1, over the last couple of days, I was actually amazed at how edifying it is for the Christian to read of the propitiatory work of Christ on the Cross specifically for his or her behalf, that is, to purchase them specifically by His blood. Continue reading

Perseverance of the Saints


by Mike Ratliff

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40 ESV)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29 ESV)

The Doctrines of Grace are all tremendous blessings to the believer since they teach us that our salvation is God’s Work from beginning to end, top to bottom, and side to side. However, each of us from time to time, since we are only vessels of clay and a vapor that is here one day and then gone the next, will experience  a loss of joy born from life’s disappointments. We suffer this way because our focus is not perfectly fixed on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as the source of our fulfillment. God, in His omniscient wisdom, prunes us as He takes things out of our lives that our hearts cherished. It is as we struggle through these times that it is a good thing to review who we are in Christ and what He has done, and what He is doing for us. One such precious promise is the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. Continue reading