Growth in Christian virtue


by Mike Ratliff

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:1-4 (NASB) 

Is it possible to know whether we are genuine partakers of the divine nature and not simply religious converts? Let us look at the Apostle Peter’s understanding of this. If anyone would understand that our own efforts to please God are a total waste of time, Peter would be the man. He declared to our Lord on the night of His arrest that he would rather die with Him than desert Him. However, we all know that Peter not only deserted our Lord that night, he denied Him three times. From that failure and his later restoration by our Lord after He was resurrected, we know that we cannot please God with our own efforts. Any work that we do that is outside of His Grace is just works of the flesh and totally worthless. Continue reading

Mammon


by Mike Ratliff

4 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.
5 When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. Proverbs 23:4-5 (NASB) 

Happiness is a temporal condition of ‘rightness’ based upon circumstances.  On the other hand, Christians are taught all through God’s Word to pursue the Joy of the Lord, which is not based in the temporal, therefore, it is in no way based upon our circumstances. Instead, “Joy is both an outcome of our relationship with the Lord and our source of strength for our obedience of Him.” This is a quote from my post What is Joy? from January 2006. However, in my many years as a Christian, I have known countless professing believers who sought their fulfillment completely in the temporal and, because of that, were easy prey of those false teachers of the ‘Health, Wealth, and Prosperity “Gospel”.’ As we have seen as we have dug deep into our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, there are many forms of religion that men create that they insist are ‘Christian,’ but they are another religion and their ‘Jesus’ is not Jesus Christ because they are man-made not God ordained. Continue reading

Judgment at Christ’s return


by Mike Ratliff

18 πολλοὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦσιν οὓς πολλάκις ἔλεγον ὑμῖν, νῦν δὲ καὶ κλαίων λέγω, τοὺς ἐχθροὺς τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 19 ὧν τὸ τέλος ἀπώλεια, ὧν ὁ θεὸς ἡ κοιλία καὶ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ αἰσχύνῃ αὐτῶν, οἱ τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες. (Philippians 3:18-19 NA28)

18 For many walk of whom often I was telling you, and now also weeping, I say, “They are the enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with their minds on earthly things.” (Philippines 3:18-19 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then this whole Lordship Salvation debate just looks silly. We do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies “whose end is destruction.”  Continue reading

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…


by Mike Ratliff

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

We have spent a large amount of time lately looking at forms of “Christianity” that are really forms of apostasy or heresy. We have also compared their false beliefs with those of other aberrant forms of our faith such as the Emergent movement and “liberal Christianity.” There are others to be sure, but what has been amazing is how they all do the same thing. They elevate Man and demote God. They teach salvation by works instead of by grace through faith as a gift from God.

Continue reading

Jesus Christ’s Authority


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)

Jesus Christ is Lord of all of each of His people. Christians do not make Him Lord in order to be saved because He is Lord. Those who claim to be Christians, but refuse His Lordship are not genuine Christians. That is very sobering isn’t it? It is supposed to be. Those are Jesus Christ’s own words about the nature of those who are and aren’t His disciples. There are some in the pulpit these days who treat Jesus as if He is just an add on their ministries. Several years ago I wrote a piece on evangelism and how it is God working through His people to do this work. The direction is Him working through us instead of us working and including God. However, I received one comment that stated what a “neat thing” it was when we included God in our evangelistic efforts. That bothers me to this day. Sigh…  Continue reading

The Sermon on the Mount Part 13


by Mike Ratliff

4 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it.  5 When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (Proverbs 23:4,5 NASB)

Happiness is a temporal condition of ‘rightness’ based upon circumstances.  On the other hand, Christians are taught all through God’s Word to pursue the Joy of the Lord, which is not based in the temporal, therefore, it is in no way based upon our circumstances. Instead, “Joy is both an outcome of our relationship with the Lord and our source of strength for our obedience of Him.” This is a quote from my post What is Joy? from January 2006. However, in my many years as a Christian, I have known countless professing believers who sought their fulfillment completely in the temporal and, because of that, were easy prey of those false teachers of the ‘Health, Wealth, and Prosperity “Gospel”.’ As we have seen as we have dug deep into our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, there are many forms of religion that men create that they insist are ‘Christian,’ but they are another religion and their ‘Jesus’ is not Jesus Christ because they are man-made not God ordained. Continue reading

Put Away


by Mike Ratliff

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV)

Much that is wrong that is causing the confusion in the church visible all around us right now is the result of complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ, a Christian. John MacArthur’s new book, Slave, is a great source for believers to read and then understand their true role in the Kingdom of God. Back in the late 1980’s a good friend at our church gave me a book by John MacArthur. It was the first edition of his book The Gospel According to Jesus. I believe I read it in just a few days. I have read it two more times since then. I have also read his books The Gospel According to the Apostles and Ashamed of the Gospel. There is a common theme in all of them my brethren and it is one that detractors of John MacArthur hate because that theme is directed to correct them. That theme is all through his new book, Slave, as well. What is it? It is that Jesus Christ is Lord and those who belong to Him are his δοῦλοί (slaves).  Continue reading

The Judgment at Christ’s Coming


by Mike Ratliff

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18, 19 ESV)

I am in the process of reading John MacArthur’s new book Slave. I have heard that some who despise his stand on Lordship Salvation have said that this book is simply another book about the Lordship of Christ. I am about 1/3 of the way through it and that statement is an oversimplification to be sure, but, in a sense, it is correct. When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then this whole Lordship Salvation debate just looks silly. We do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies have an end that Paul calls “destruction.”  Continue reading

The Gift of God


by Mike Ratliff

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God… (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

It wasn’t that long ago that I received a warning email from a friend that a firestorm had been started within the internet discernment blogs about what some were calling the “damnable heresy of Lordship Salvation.” I and many of my good friends responded with sound Biblical doctrine to the assault and I don’t think the enemy’s attack accomplished much of anything other than getting some of us to dig a bit deeper into God’s Word then prayerfully respond in the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s people were edified and, as always, His truth blew massive holes in the lies of the enemy. After all, what we are talking about is saving faith. Is it something within natural man that everyone is born with and so can bring to life through self will or self effort or is it, as the Bible clearly says, that man is dead in trespasses and sins and, therefore, this saving faith is a gift from God and our salvation is His work from beginning to end?  Continue reading

The Lord of the Church


by John MacArthur

The truth that Christ is Lord of His church may sound somewhat benign to a casual listener in our generation, but the struggle for Christ’s authority in the church has come to us through the ages on a sea of blood. Thankfully, literal bloodshed over the issue is no longer very common. But faithful Christians are still waging a fierce moral and intellectual battle for Christ’s lordship over the church. Continue reading

Make Your Calling and Election Sure


by Mike Ratliff

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

We have spent a large amount of time lately looking at forms of “Christianity” that are forms of apostasy or heresy such as the Word-Faith movement. We have also compared their false beliefs with those of other aberrant forms of our faith such as the Emergent movement, the ReThinking of Christianity, and Oneness Pentecostalism. There are others to be sure, but what has been amazing is how they all do the same thing. They elevate Man and demote God. They teach salvation by works instead of by grace through faith as a gift from God. Continue reading