He Must Increase But I Must Decrease


by Mike Ratliff

30 ἐκεῖνον δεῖ αὐξάνειν, ἐμὲ δὲ ἐλαττοῦσθαι. John 3:30 (NA28)

30 It is necessary for Him to increase, but for me to decrease. John 3:30 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We often think that false doctrine concerning the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will begin with denials of His deity or the fall of man et cetera. Consider this my brethren. All it takes to get the gospel wrong is to make the focus of it man rather than the glory of the Father through the glorification of the Son as He lived that sinless life and through that perfect obedience became the propitiation for those He came to save. Then he deliberately laid down His life to be that perfect sacrifice on their behalf. He went to that cross so that those chosen before the foundation of the world, given to the Son by the Father, are given eternal life when they believe the Gospel in repentance turning to Christ as Lord as Saviour. At that moment, the Father imputes Christ’s perfect obedience and perfect righteousness to their account. However, during our Lord’s earthly ministry, those who followed Him as well as those who opposed Him did not see this at all. Jesus came to reveal the Father to the lost sheep of Israel, but most of them rejected the message. It was not until our Lord rose from the dead three days after dying on that Cross that He opened the minds of His disciples so that they could understand Sacred Scripture and then know the truth of His true mission and what the gospel is all about. Yes, when the gospel is handled correctly, people are saved and brought into the Kingdom, but the purpose is the glory of God. John the Baptist understood that perfectly.  Continue reading

The Cross is Not Proof of Our Worth But of God’s Grace


by Mike Ratliff

13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ Luke 18:13 (NASB) 

In our day it is not unusual to hear a man-centered version of the Gospel message that has everything turned around backward and is presented in such a way that is meant to appeal emotionally to unbelievers with a statement such as, “Christ’s crucifixion is proof of our worth to God!” The appeal is meant to show that if Christ was willing to go to Cross to save sinners like us then that proves we are of value to God. I have even heard one version of this that says that Jesus would have gone to that Cross even if it was for just one unrepentant sinner. Is that found anywhere in God’s Word? I have never found it. Instead, what I see clearly presented there is that all of us are undeserving sinners and even dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). Until God regenerated us, we are spiritual corpses, that is, without spiritual life. Therefore, grace that is not all grace is no grace. Grace that saves means that God has done everything; if He does not do everything, then it is not grace.  Continue reading

Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All


by Mike Ratliff

10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “ The righteous man shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:10-11 (NASB) 

As has been clearly shown, the easy-believism “gospel” as well as any version of it that either calls for more works (i.e. piety) on the part of the believer over and above believing the Gospel and receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour or suggests that the saving work of Christ on the Cross was not “sufficient enough” to cover the sins of those He came to save, therefore they must somehow achieve perfection on their own or enter into some form of purgatory after death to make up for that, are perversions of what is clearly taught in God’s Word. They are based on the presupposition that God has created salvation in a man-centered, law-based, works-righteousness oriented way that is found nowhere in Sacred Scripture. The correct presupposition, being Biblically based, we will explore in this post and will focus primarily on Hebrews 10:1-18.  Continue reading

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians Chapter 3


by Mike Ratliff

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 (NASB) 

From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Christian through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the 4th grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986.  Continue reading

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians Chapter 1


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις, 2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Philippians 1:1-2 (NA28)

1 Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In vv1-2 Paul and Timothy gives the standard Christian greeting that was very common in the early Church. Notice that it is from both Paul and Timothy, who identify themselves as δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (slaves of Christ Jesus), but it addressed to all the ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (saints in Christ Jesus) at Philippi. The word “saints” translates ἁγίοις, which is actually a form of an adjective that means “holy.” That root word is ἅγιος (hagios), which in the Dative form, as used in this passage, designates “saints.” Paul used this word in Ephesians 2:19 saying, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Who are the “overseers?” This is the Greek word ἐπισκόποις the Dative, Plural of ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos), “overseer, bishop.” In the Greek, it literally refers to someone who “looks over” or “watches over” a group of people. It is translated as “overseers” or “elders” in the church. Paul gives their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7. What we must understand my brethren is that in 1 Peter 2:25, Peter refers to our Lord Jesus Christ as “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls..” Therefore, Jesus is, the chief overseer of our lives. Those men who are appointed as elders and such in our churches function on His behalf and should use His life as a model.  Continue reading

Saving Faith is a Self-Renouncing Faith


by Mike Ratliff

24 Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. 25 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δʼ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν. Matthew 16:24-25 (NA28)

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If someone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, 25 for whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message given to be passed on as “Good News” of the completed word of Christ on behalf of those he came to save. The message is about his incarnation, his perfect life, his death on the cross, his three days and nights in the tomb, and his resurrection. All of these things were attested to by witnesses. The resurrection is the proof that our Lord is God and that the work of the Atonement is complete.  Those who hear the Gospel, believe it, receive it by grace through faith and repent as they turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour. As is made clear in Ephesians 2:1-10, there is no one is able to do this on their own, God must intervene making then alive in Christ who were once dead in their sins so they could believe and be saved.  Continue reading

Who is Jesus Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15 (NASB)

Several years ago when I liven in Kansas I served on a jury for a few days. We tried a criminal drug case. It was heart rending. All through the trial we were subjected to evidence and testimony that were all vivid markers of the deep darkness to which our world is in bondage. Even though my life is far removed from that of the drug culture and that of the police who must operate in it, but not be part of it, I still felt compassion for those people who do not have the light of life from our Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Are you born again?


By Mike Ratliff

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3 (NASB) 

I shared the following on Facebook today:

After church yesterday I came home and ate a small lunch and rested. I taught our Bible Study class. We went through Acts 4. As usual I was exhausted when I was done. I think “drained” is a better word. I actually don’t remember Brian’s sermon in great detail, but it was pretty good because he emphasized much of the same things that we talked about in our lesson, like Peter and John boldly proclaiming the Gospel as the most important thing that we do while also continually remaining together as a church body because we need each other. After lunch I tried to rest, but couldn’t so I got on my walking/hiking gear and went to the park to do a fast 4 miles. That should relax me, right? At the end I was hot and sweaty. I got my water out of my pickup and went to the pavilion that is near the parking lot. There were two women in there talking. They had bicycles, but I didn’t pay any attention to them. I just enjoyed the shade and how fast I cooled off as I drank my ice cold water as the cool breeze swept over me as I sat at that picnic table. However, that’s not how it went. The older of the two women kept trying to get my attention. It was then that I noticed that they had name tags on their shirts. My brain immediately threw up a caution flag and it was correct. They were Mormon missionaries. She asked me if I knew what a missionary was. I took a long drink of water then said, “Yes, I know what a missionary is, and I am one.” That startled them. I got up and went over there and we talked awhile. She asked me if I had any questions about their religion. I told her no. She asked me what religion I was part of. I told her I was a Christian, born again, regenerated from the dead, saved by grace through faith. Both of them just stared at me. I asked if they had Bibles with them. They did. I asked them to read Ephesians 2:1-10. They tried, but they couldn’t understand it. I looked at the version they were reading. It must have been the 1611 version of the KJV. I mean, that was harder to read than my 1569 Geneva Bible. In any case, I realized that the only way I could give them the truth was through my testimony so I gave it to them. They simply could not comprehend how the Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the will of the Father to draw sinners to Christ. They just could not see it. When I finished my water I said goodbye and left. I was never abrupt with them. I did not get arrogant with them. I simply conversed with them and gave them the Gospel. Please pray for Brittany and Sarah who are Mormon missionaries currently working in Yukon, OK. May God use my poor effort yesterday in some way to reach them for Christ.

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The superiority of Christ, the cost of discipleship, and the genuine Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4 (NASB) 

The Church in the early part of the 21st Century is very sick. This sickness has not happened all at once. Instead, it is the result of centuries of compromise after compromise on the part of Christian leaders and their followers to adapt the Gospel and the Church doctrines to conform to what men want. As a result, the Church has lost its savor. It is no longer salty. The countries in Europe where the Reformers restored the Gospel at the cost of untold numbers of martyrs would not now be considered Christian at all.

In the United States, the visible Church still has some influence in politics and society, but is that what the Church is supposed to be about? The segment of the American Church that would consider itself evangelical has become so doctrinally shallow that most of the members as well as their leadership have no idea what they really believe. If they are confronted with the Arminain/Semi-Pelagian vs. Calvinism debate they would be clueless about what each side believes and does not believe. In fact, they are so spiritually shallow, they don’t understand why it is important to know what you believe and why you believe it. Continue reading

What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is Finished!”?


by Mike Ratliff

28 Μετὰ τοῦτο εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται, ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή, λέγει· διψῶ. 29 σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους μεστόν· σπόγγον οὖν μεστὸν τοῦ ὄξους ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες προσήνεγκαν αὐτοῦ τῷ στόματι. 30 ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· τετέλεσται, καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. John 19:28-30 (NA28)

28 After this, Jesus having known everything that had been completed that the Scripture may be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of vinegar was there, so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on a hyssop branch and put it to his mouth. 30 Therefore, when he received the vinegar, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And having bowed his head, he gave up his Spirit. John 19:28-30 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Many of those with whom we earnestly contend for the faith have a problem with the absolute truth that is presented to us in the three verses above. Many of them may deny the fact that they hold to a form of salvation that denies the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ on the cross to accomplish all that is required for all of the elect to not only believe the gospel, but also to persevere. Those who have doubts about that do so because they either do not understand or believe the doctrine of imputation. We have looked at this many times and I do not intend to go into that here. In this post we will look at what Christ meant when he knew that everything had been completed in John 19:28 and then said so in John 19:30. Continue reading

A Salvation that is Biblical


by Mike Ratliff

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 2:8-10 (NASB)

Our salvation is far more than simply justification by faith, which in and of itself is incredible, but also includes the imputation of the actual active righteousness of Christ, His good works or keeping of the Law, which is required for our complete acceptation by God into His Kingdom. I know that many reading this may not have no idea what I am talking about. However, please understand, I am praying that you will understand the truth of this because this is a huge missing piece from the gospel in the church in our time. Without this teaching, the church is plagued with professing Christians who are in a form of self-salvation. They did the religious thing “to get saved” at church. They were sincere, but there is no real change in their lives. However, the Bible is very clear as in the passage above that we are saved “not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Therefore, there is a huge problem with a lack of assurance in these people. The issue is not their lack of sincerity or their lack of obedience since their religious experience, but that they have believed a false, man-made gospel that has no spiritual power to really save or regenerate anyone.  Continue reading

What exactly is salvation?


by Mike Ratliff

16 Οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι. Romans 1:16 (NA28)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the passage above the word  “salvation” translates the noun σωτηρίαν (sōtērian), the accusative singular feminine case of σωτηρία (sōtēria), which means safety, deliverance, and preservation from danger or destruction. But what exactly is Biblical salvation?

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For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “ But the righteous man shall live by faith.”


by Mike Ratliff

1 I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.
2 Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
4 “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:1-4 (NASB) 

Just a few days ago I had a conversation with a young man who was interested in talking to me about my camera gear and how I approached all that went into setting it up and what I used in certain situations, et cetera. We were at a gym where I was taking pictures of children as they celebrated a birthday party. I had one camera on a tripod that I was using to shoot video and the other one I held with a flash that I was using to take facial shots. In any case, I asked him which kids were his and he pointed them out to me and I recognized one of them and so we talked about all sorts of things and eventually I asked him where he went to church. I was very surprised by his response. He just gave me a nervous grin and said he could not find a church that suited him. In Oklahoma that’s unusual. I understand someone saying that in place like Kansas City, but here there are churches everywhere. He then told me that all the churches that I mentioned as possibilities for him were too judgmental. That’s when I decided to ask him what his church background was. He said he grew up Catholic, but he was not real religious. We quit talking about church after that because I got too busy with my photoshoot. What do you think he meant by all those churches I mentioned as possibilities for him and his family being too judgmental? I had to think on that for awhile. Continue reading

Therefore, when he received the vinegar, Jesus said, “It is finished” and having bowed his head, he gave up his Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

28 Μετὰ τοῦτο εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται, ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή, λέγει· διψῶ. 29 σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους μεστόν· σπόγγον οὖν μεστὸν τοῦ ὄξους ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες προσήνεγκαν αὐτοῦ τῷ στόματι. 30 ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· τετέλεσται, καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. John 19:28-30 (NA28)

28 After this, Jesus having known everything that had been completed that the Scripture may be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of vinegar was there, so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on a hyssop branch and put it to his mouth. 30 Therefore, when he received the vinegar, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And having bowed his head, he gave up his Spirit. John 19:28-30 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Many of those with whom we earnestly contend for the faith have a problem with the absolute truth that is presented to us in the three verses above. Many of them may deny the fact that they hold to a form of salvation that denies the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ on the cross to accomplish all that is required for all of the elect to not only believe the gospel, but also to persevere. Those who have doubts about that do so because they either do not understand or believe the doctrine of imputation. We have looked at this many times and I do not intend to go into that here. In this post we will look at what Christ meant when he knew that everything had been completed in John 19:28 and then said so in John 19:30. Continue reading