Is the Great Commission best fulfilled by preaching the Gospel or by Christians ‘being the Gospel?’


by Mike Ratliff

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB) 

The passage above (Matthew 28:16-20) is best known as our Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to the Church. This is what we are to be about. I heard a survey taken at a Christian bookseller’s convention a few years ago in which one of the questions asked was something like, “Is the Great Commission best fulfilled by preaching the Gospel or by Christians ‘being the Gospel?’” Well over half of the answers given were affirmative for the latter rather than the former. That was not surprising after the rest of the survey results were revealed though. The overall lack of depth of real Bible knowledge and doctrine in that group was indeed telling. From that discussion it became apparent that most of those responding to the survey actually believed that their performance as Christians had more to do with evangelism than actually preaching the Gospel itself.  Continue reading

Are Christians supposed to preach the Gospel or be the Gospel?


by Mike Ratliff

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB) 

The passage above (Matthew 28:16-20) is best known as our Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to the Church. This is what we are to be about. I heard a survey taken at a Christian bookseller’s convention not very long ago in which one of the questions asked was something like, “Is the Great Commission best fulfilled by preaching the Gospel or by Christians ‘being the Gospel?’” Well over half of the answers given were affirmative for the latter rather than the former. That was not surprising after the rest of the survey results were revealed though. The overall lack of depth of real Bible knowledge and doctrine in that group was indeed telling. From that discussion it became apparent that most of those responding to the survey actually believed that their performance as Christians had more to do with evangelism than actually preaching the Gospel itself.  Continue reading

Are You Ready?


by Mike Ratliff

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. (Matthew 25:1-4 ESV)

Jesus is coming back soon. If that statement brought a surge of joy into your heart then more than likely, you are actively preparing for His return and are looking forward to it with eagerness. However, there may be some of you who reacted with a sense of dread or foreboding. If that is the case, then I pray that you will pay special attention to the truths from God’s Word we will look at in this post. There may be some of you who reacted to that statement with skepticism or doubt. For you, I pray that God will open your heart to the truth as we study His Word.

Continue reading

Therefore Repent


by Mike Ratliff

19 μετανοήσατε οὖν καὶ ἐπιστρέψατε εἰς τὸ ἐξαλειφθῆναι ὑμῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας (Acts 3:19 NA27)

19 Therefore, repent and turn again in order that your sins will be removed. (Acts 3:19 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

One form of religion that claims to be Christian but isn’t is based in something called “no Lordship” or “easy-believism.” On the other hand, many of the proponents of it will point to what we call “the Gospel” in what follows as the “damnable heresy” of Lordship salvation. I have often shared here using passages such as Acts 3:19 (above) making it clear that the Bible tells us that there is no salvation without repentance and again in Acts 2:38, “Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.” Or, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent  [HE SAYS] and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” In any case, to support the Lordship case, all we have to go is go the God’s Word. In the case of the No-Lordship case, it all comes down to philosophical argumentation.  Continue reading

Christianity and the Hegelian Dialectic Revisited


by Mike Ratliff

32 Ἀκούσαντες δὲ ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν οἱ μὲν ἐχλεύαζον, οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· ἀκουσόμεθά σου περὶ τούτου καὶ πάλιν. 33 οὕτως ὁ Παῦλος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ μέσου αὐτῶν. 34 τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες κολληθέντες αὐτῷ ἐπίστευσαν, ἐν οἷς καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις καὶ ἕτεροι σὺν αὐτοῖς. (Acts 17:32-34 NA27)

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some were mocking him, but others said, “We will listen to you about this again.” 33 Thus Paul went out from the midst of them. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom were both Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:32-34 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Many reading this may remember my post from June 2010, The Epistemology of Transformative Learning. Before I left to go on a short mini-vacation to visit my son in Washington D.C., I remember being inundated by emails and Tweets, et cetera about all of the stuff going on with Mark Driscoll and his church planting network and the reason he is so “bent” on doing it is that he had a vision or something like that directly from God to do that. However, this church planting is not done in any way like the Apostles did or those who followed them in the early days of the Church. No, the emphasis is not on following the Great Commission to the letter as given by our Lord in Matthew 28:16-20 which is to go into all the world making disciples from every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded them. They were to go with boldness knowing that Jesus would always be with them to the end of the age. (Paraphrase of the Great Commission) That is what we are to be about, which is taking the Gospel to the World, but that is not the same thing these people mean when they talk about “Church Planting” and “Transforming Lives.”  Continue reading

Preach the Gospel or Be the Gospel?


by Mike Ratliff

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

The passage above (Matthew 28:16-20) is best known as our Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to the Church. This is what we are to be about. I heard a survey taken at a Christian bookseller’s convention not very long ago in which one of the questions asked was something like, “Is the Great Commission best fulfilled by preaching the Gospel or by Christians ‘being the Gospel?’” Well over half of the answers given were affirmative for the latter rather than the former. That was not surprising after the rest of the survey results were revealed though. The overall lack of depth of real Bible knowledge and doctrine in that group was indeed telling. From that discussion it became apparent that most of those responding to the survey actually believed that their performance as Christians had more to do with evangelism than actually preaching the Gospel itself. This started me thinking…  Continue reading

Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost


by Mike Ratliff

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21 ESV)

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, “και εσται πας ος εαν επικαλεσηται το ονομα κυριου σωθησεται.” The ESV’s rendering of “calls upon” translates επικαλεσηται 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

What is the Role of the Church in the World?


by Mike Ratliff

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

The “missional” mindset’s god is not sovereign. One of the “leadership” methodologies employed within this movement is to “shame” or “belittle” those who are not fully committed to a 100% effort to reaching the world as a Jesus follower through missional outreach of some sort. The following is an excerpt from the 2010 Exponential Conference sessions:

2010 EXPONENTIAL

THEME:  “Transformation”

KEY TEXT: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

BIG IDEA: Transformation begins when we love God and what He loves.

If the world was a village of 100 people… 67 would have no clue what it means to be loved by God and love Him in return
 20 would live on less than a dollar a day
 Most would be children without clean water and meal tonight

This was not what God intended life to be. He longs to see his children, his church, his cities, and this entire planet transformed. Planting new churches is the best way to reach the 67
 Planting new churches can revitalize the 20
 Planting new churches brings good news to children waiting for it

Transformation begins in the heart of one.

  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a leader, transformation activates that leader and permeates the new church that leader begins.
  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a church, transformation remakes that church and spreads throughout a city through new churches and life-changing ministries.
  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a city, transformation marshals God’s resources and community assets to reach the world, meeting needs and impacting all people.

But first, transformation must begin in the heart of one.

Now is the time for transformed leaders to lead in the transformation of our churches and our cities.  The next generation of churches can no longer be satisfied with just “saving souls,” nor will it be content with “meeting physical needs” void of the love of Jesus. We can no longer be complacent about 67% of the world not knowing a love relationship with God in Jesus. We can no longer stand by and let 20% of our world goes to bed hungry and hopeless every night. Let us be churches that love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind; and our neighbors as ourselves. Let us plant churches and lead churches that experience and offer transformation Continue reading

You Must be Ready


by Mike Ratliff

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-4 ESV)

Jesus is coming back soon. If that statement brought a surge of joy into your heart then more than likely, you are actively preparing for His return and are looking forward to it with eagerness. However, there may be some of you who reacted with a sense of dread or foreboding. If that is the case, then I pray that you will pay special attention to the truths from God’s Word we will look at in this post. There may be some of you who reacted to that statement with skepticism or doubt. For you, I pray that God will open your heart to the truth as we study His Word.

Continue reading