Salvation and transformation


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)

The very first time I raised concerns about the Kansas City Prophets and the International House of Prayer over 15 years ago over their extra-biblical activities, I was rebuked by another professing Christian with this statement, “You just don’t understand what is going on. If people’s lives are being changed then God is working so you should just shut up.” Back in 2006 when God opened my eyes to what the leadership at our church back in Olathe, KS was doing with the Purpose Driven stuff and I raised the alarm I was rebuked again with pretty much the same argument. I was told that I should just kick back and cooperate so that the church could peacefully go Purpose Driven so that God could work there and people’s lives could be changed. When I began commenting on the old Slice of Laodicea blog about that same time, those PDC apologists who hated our firm stance against it said very much the same thing. If you listen to Rick Warren speak when talking about what a great ministry Saddleback Valley Baptist Church is, he will always try to emphasize the thousands of people whose lives have been transformed or changed. When we lived in the Kansas City area the World Revival Church there used the very same theme in their TV advertisements. Their ads on our local TV channels seemed to always talk about the hundreds of lives transformed or changed through that ministry.  Continue reading

What does it mean to preach the Word?


by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly 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, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 NASB)

About 7 years ago or so we were dealing with the Emergent or Emerging “Church” replacing Christian liberalism or at least morphing into the same role. That means that it assumed a Gospel stance of universalism. At the same time, we were hearing of a certain group of Christian leaders who called themselves “New Calvinists.” For many years, it was assumed that if one was reformed in his theology, like me, that it was a sure deal that that Christian was not going to fall into the cesspool of liberalism. However, the New Calvinists appear to lean towards mysticism and heavily toward compromise. I am one who simply cannot wrap my mind around how one who confesses to believe that God is Sovereign over all things and that man is incapable of saving Himself can seek to make the compromises in their ministry that would line themselves up with the Emergents. Universalism and Calvinism are polar opposites in my understanding of things and that means that Calvinists should have a proper understanding of what it means that Jesus Christ is Lord. It means that we do not call the shots. We do not design new and more popular ways to serve and worship Him. No, we must worship and serve as directed by Him. Continue reading

Do you posses the treasure or something else?


by Mike Ratliff

32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33 NASB)

Believe it or not, there are parallels of God’s grace in remembering Abraham and thereby saving Lot from destruction and remembering Christ when at the final judgment and thereby saving all those for whom He is their propitiation. In light of this let us look at why so much of what seems so right and innovative in today’s Church is nothing more than possessing heaps of overthrow while those who refuse to compromise in worship, preaching, witnessing, and making disciples are the ones who truly possess the treasure of the Kingdom of God.  Continue reading

Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?


by Mike Ratliff

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10 NASB)

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “ The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “ Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” 5 Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5 NASB)

 

In the book of Zechariah we have a wonderful passage that gives us a picture of God’s gracious and merciful work in saving those who deserve nothing but the flames of Hell. Continue reading

Forgiveness of the Saints


by Mike Ratliff

7 “ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 “ Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” (Romans 4:7-8 NASB)

The Church, the genuine Church that is, is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our Holy, Righteous, and Just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some.

Continue reading

Biblical evangelism


by Mike Ratliff

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5 NASB)

Evangelism that is biblical is not numbers or results based as if it is a process we can control through methodology. The seeker-sensitive form of evangelism, on the other hand, is totally numbers or results based, and, therefore, uses methodologies to boost perceived effectiveness by increased numbers of “decisions for Christ.” The seeker-sensitive form of evangelism assumes that God is helpless to save anyone outside of their efforts. It ignores passages such as John 3:5-8 and Ephesians 2:1-10.

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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

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

Genuine Christians have been given living water to drink


by Mike Ratliff

10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. (John 4:10 NA28)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 Translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers receiving and drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

Genuine salvation


by Mike Ratliff

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

The very first time I raised concerns about the Kansas City Prophets and the International House of Prayer over 15 years ago over their extra-biblical activities, I was rebuked by another Christian with this statement, “You just don’t understand what is going on. If people’s lives are being changed then God is working so you should just shut up.” Back in 2006 when God opened my eyes to what the leadership at our church was doing with the Purpose Driven stuff and I raised the alarm I was rebuked again with pretty much the same argument. I was told that I should just kick back and cooperate so that the church could peacefully go Purpose Driven so that God could work there and people’s lives could be changed. When I began commenting on the old Slice of Laodicea blog about that same time, those PDC apologists who hated our firm stance against it said very much the same thing. If you listen to Rick Warren speak when talking about what a great ministry Saddleback Valley Baptist Church is, he will always try to emphasize the thousands of people whose lives have been transformed or changed. Back when we still lived in the Kansas City area I noticed the very same theme in the advertisements for The World Revival Church. Their ads on our local TV channels seem to always talk about the hundreds of lives transformed or changed through that ministry.  Continue reading

For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God


by Mike Ratliff

34 ὃν γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ λαλεῖ, οὐ γὰρ ἐκ μέτρου δίδωσιν τὸ πνεῦμα. (John 3:34 NA28)

 34 For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God for he gives the Spirit without measure.  (John 3:34 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 3:1-21 our Lord spoke the words of God to “ a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” In this passage our Lord clears the table and tells it like it is. He tells Nicodemus in v3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Of course, Nicodemus doesn’t “get it at first and asks, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” in v4 and, “How can these things be?” in v9. In between those two perplexed questions, our Lord, the Λόγος or logos or Word, the living Christian proclamation as a whole of the New Testament proclaimed τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ or “the words of God” to Nicodemus in a way that he had never heard before. He said,”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” As we read in John 3:34 (above), He spoke or uttered the ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ to this man and all who read John 3. What did he say? Only those born again are part of the Kingdom of God and to be born again is to be born of the Spirit. Notice carefully that this rebirth is not something controlled by or contained by or comprehended by people of the flesh. Everyone truly born of the Spirit are so by the work of the Holy Spirit not by the works of men. These are the ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ.

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Our required response to ‘liberal christianity’s’ attempted takeover of the visible Church


by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self- control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 NASB)

I have a book in my library by J. Greshem Machen. It was published in 1923 while Dr. Machen was still at Princeton. The name of the book is Christianity & Liberalism. In this book Dr. Machen lays out the facts very clearly proving that Orthodox Christianity and ‘liberal christianity’ are two separate religions. On this blog that statement is one of our man tenets as well. I am amazed how often I have to fight the same battle over and over again against those who want to water down the truth, compromise, partner with those who are obvious apostates or say stupid things like, “I openly suggest to all Christians that we should study the Open Theists, the liberal Christians, the Pelagians, the Arminians, all of them, because each of them has something “useful” to say…” That is something that someone would say who has already taken that first or second step into unbelief. The battle line on this blog and in my life and pray it is for you as well is that we remain ready to defend God’s truth, share the truth to all who will hear and never retreat.  Continue reading

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift


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

The offenses of the Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

34 Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. (Matthew 10:34 NA28)

34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

26 τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ; ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; (Matthew 16:26 NA28)

26 For what will be benefited a man if he acquires the whole world, but he forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

If you are an ardent listener to many so-called “Christian” leaders today you may be surprised to learn that the Gospel message is not meant to bring peace to the earth or between people. It is not meant to make your life better or to make this world a better place. No, in fact, the real Gospel message is hated by the world and those so-called “Christian” leaders who never preach it, but, instead, preach a man-pleasing comprised version of it that includes their own “Jesus” not the real Jesus Christ of the Bible. They compromise the message in order to enlarge their ministries and perhaps make more money. However, the Word of God itself tells us the true preaching of the Gospel will always be offensive. Let us look at these “offenses” of the Gospel. Continue reading