What must we do to fight the good fight?


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) 

This coming Monday I am leading the Bible study in our Small Group. We have been working our way through Hosea. If you have studied Hosea then you know what a mess Israel and Judah had made of their obedience to their covenant with God. They resembled in many ways that description written by Paul in the passage above. In my own experience on this blog and on others where we have dealt with obvious heretics and very “liberal christians” who considered everything we taught and stood for as nothing more than legalism. However, their behavior matched that list above as well even though they insisted that they were the “real christians.” Continue reading

Social Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

Not long after Donald Trump took office a stranger began posting hateful messages on my Facebook page in reference to some of my posts. However, most of those messages were pointed towards a friend who was commenting on those posts, not me. It began with me trying to peacefully end the hostility, but then graduated into one of those long, drawn-out sessions I hate with a passion where this fellow kept building straw-men about nearly everything I believe and write about as he gleefully burned them as if to say he was the “real christian” because he was a “social justice warrior” while we were mired in our self-focused religiosity. I got angry (that’s not good).  I then decided to pray about it (that’s good). It was then I realized that I could solve this very easily. I simply asked the fellow to show me from scripture where it backed up what he was saying we were to do what he claimed the Church had been doing wrong for over 2000 years. That made him angry. It was then I blocked him because his real personality came out and his pretensions about being a “real christian” were greatly over-shadowed by some very ugly comments. 🙂   Continue reading

The glorious Gospel vs the contextualized gospel


by Mike Ratliff

8 μὴ οὖν ἐπαισχυνθῇς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μηδὲ ἐμὲ τὸν δέσμιον αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ συγκακοπάθησον τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ κατὰ δύναμιν θεοῦ,
9 τοῦ σώσαντος ἡμᾶς
καὶ καλέσαντος κλήσει ἁγίᾳ,
οὐ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ἡμῶν
ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἰδίαν πρόθεσιν καὶ χάριν,
τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, 2 Timothy 1:8-9 (NA28)

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but suffer together in the Gospel by the power of God,
9 the one having saved us
and having called us to a holy calling,
not by our works,
but by His own purpose and grace,
which he gave us in Christ Jesus
before the ages began 2 Timothy 1:8,9 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Apostle Paul’s understanding of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and that of most of what we refer to as the visible church in our time is quite different. I’m not talking about Reformed Theology as opposed to Arminianism or Semi-Pelagianism or even Pelagianism here. No, I am talking about the Good News itself and its impact on the believer and all those whom God touches through it as it preached and shared by obedient disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, the real, un-doctored Gospel must contain the offense of the Cross. It must be offensive in that it addresses the fact that each and every one of us is hopelessly lost and and on our way to an eternity separated from God in judgment because we are sinners who can do nothing to save ourselves from God’s Wrath which must come upon on all sin with no exceptions. That is why the Gospel is “Good News” and glorious my brethren.  Continue reading

The five responses to the resurrection of Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. Matthew 28:1-4 (NASB) 

Jesus is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! According to Paul in his first epistle to the church in Corinth, the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the lynchpin of our faith.

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 (NASB) 

If the resurrection of Christ is not true then Christianity is based on a myth and our faith is in vain. Therefore, we must hold tightly to the fact that our Lord is Risen. On the morning of our Lord’s resurrection there were several people who witnessed different aspects of it. Their responses to it varied drastically. Continue reading

The Gospel vs Another Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:23-24 (NASB) 

I will be 67 years old later this year. I have been a Christian for over 32 years, but I grew up in a “Christian” home going to church every Sunday until I grew up and went my own way. I know that Christians are commanded to be forgiving, kind, and gentle with others. However, we are also commanded to stand firm and withstand false teachers and their doctrines. When I began writing and blogging as an extension of my teaching ministry, I soon experienced a very rude awakening. When I wrote about things that were experiential and not tied to any specific doctrines no one seemed to care, but the closer I came to that dividing line that separates God’s Truth from everything else, the attacks of every sort seemed to descend on me from every direction. The more precise I came in laying out what is true from that which is not true, the angrier many of my so-called brethren became. It seems the way to ‘get along’ in the visible church is to accept the default form of Christianity and never, even if you have irrefutable Biblical truth to the contrary, teach against it. The one who does that is labeled as divisive as well as an enemy of Christian unity. But this stance is all one-sided. We are divisive for publishing God’s pure doctrines, but those who hold to man-made doctrines are allowed to say anything they want about us. It is as if they have free speech, but we do not.  Continue reading

Christ’s work of redemption is finished!


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) 

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 the 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

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life


by Mike Ratliff

1 Πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς, ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν γεννήσαντα ἀγαπᾷ [καὶ] τὸν γεγεννημένον ἐξ αὐτοῦ. 2 ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἀγαπῶμεν τὰ τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅταν τὸν θεὸν ἀγαπῶμεν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ποιῶμεν. 3 αὕτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν, καὶ αἱ ἐντολαὶ αὐτοῦ βαρεῖαι οὐκ εἰσίν. 4 ὅτι πᾶν τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ νικᾷ τὸν κόσμον· καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ νίκη ἡ νικήσασα τὸν κόσμον, ἡ πίστις ἡμῶν. 1 John 5:1-4 (NA28)

1 All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, born of God, and all who love the Father loves the one born of him. 2 In this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and we obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For all that has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:1-4 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Satan’s worldwide system of deception and wickedness, at times, seems to be overcoming the Church not the Church overcoming it. However, through Christ and his provision of salvation, believers are victorious over the invisible system of demonic and human evil that our enemy operates to capture men’s souls for hell. Currently, the visible church seems split with divisive conflicts that those with any rational sense of reason can only attribute to demonic attacks our enemy is using to divide Christians to get them away from our primary mission, the Gospel and the Great Commission and, instead, focusing on issues that simply cause these conflicts and strife keeping us from what we should really be about. Continue reading

What is Biblical salvation?


by Mike Ratliff

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

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 with argument 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 Community Church is, he will always try to emphasize the thousands of people whose lives have been transformed or changed.  Continue reading

What does faith have to do with eternal life?


by Mike Ratliff

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:24 (NKJV) 

A fascinating study is to take a close look at the reaction the 1st Century Jews had to Jesus’ claim to deity then compare it with that of the heretics who came later. These 1st Century Jews took Jesus’ words in John 5 about his relationship to the Father as claims of deity, that is, making himself equal with God (John 5:18). Heretics who were not from the time of our Lord and were not Jews of that period were the ones who came up with Arianism, Modalism, et cetera. Each of these types of attack on doctrine of the Holy Trinity are proofs that those doing this may have indeed heard the truth (Jesus’ Word), but they most certainly have not believed the Father who sent him. If so they would most certainly not attack that wonderful doctrine that is so hard for the unregenerate to accept let alone believe. What did Jesus say about those who hear his Word and believe him who sent him? These have been granted eternal life.  Continue reading

What are the words of God?


by Mike Ratliff

34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. John 3:34 (NKJV) 

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

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, “Most assuredly, 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,“Most assuredly, 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 the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is 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.  Continue reading

Real Salvation


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 of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) 

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 see the point of this or 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 of works, lest anyone should 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

Preaching the Gospel vs being Missional


by Mike Ratliff

2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. Galatians 3:2-7 (NKJV) 

When we study and teach on Justification by God of His people, shouldn’t the clutter be removed and the rubbish swept away? All aspects of our salvation should be clarified and those things that are only meant to cause confusion or misdirection (showing those with discernment their true source) should be shown for what they really are and cast aside. Then, with a sharp focus, we must look at the truth, which means we go to the source; i.e. The Word of God not some emergent or missional guru. Therefore, in this post we will look at part of Romans 10, in which the Apostle Paul, showing that God has provided a way to justification in His eyes to both Jews and Gentiles, further nails down from where salvation comes, who possesses it, and how they got it. What could be more important than that?

Continue reading

Peter preaching the Gospel at Pentecost


by Mike Ratliff

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’ Acts 2:14-21 (NKJV) 

Thus began the Apostle Peter’s sermon following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost just 10 days following our Lord’s Ascension. I am going to walk through this sermon with you so that we can see how the Gospel works when preached with power and with the right focus. Who is being glorified in vv14-21 above? Is it the preacher Peter? Is it those prophesying? Is it those responding? No, it is God who is causing this to happen through the moving of His mighty hand. What will be the result as Peter summarizes in v21? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Here is that verse from Greek, “καὶ ἔσται πᾶς ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται.” The NKJV’s rendering of “calls on” translates ἐπικαλέσηται the Aorist, Subjunctive, Middle form of ἐπικαλέομαι or epikaleomai, which, in this context, is making use of the name of the Lord in adoration as Lord and Saviour. This is a turning to Him for salvation from the hour of judgment and wrath to come. That is how Peter opens his sermon. Let us see the rest. Continue reading

The Cross is proof of God’s grace


by Mike Ratliff

13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ Luke 18:13 (NKJV) 

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 the 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