Phariseeism and the Religion of Do


overby Mike Ratliff

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:7-10 (NASB) 

Over the last several months I have encountered many professing Christians on Facebook who claim that to be truly following what the Bible teaches then you must also believe that the Earth is flat. They also insist that their model of how the Bible really teaches us how the Earth and Sun and Planets behave then the Sun is not over 90 Million miles away from the Earth as the Heliocentric model tells us, but is just a spot light that is only 1000 miles away that moves around while the Earth remains stationary. They decry all scientific teachings about the Heliocentric model claiming they are hoaxes and that includes all the history we have from NASA and trips to and from the Moon that took place in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I have attempted to debate these people, but have found them to be as hard-hearted and close-minded towards the truth as the worst atheist is towards the Gospel. I have resolved to simply pray for them because it is absolutely a complete waste of time to try to reason with them.  Continue reading

He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses


by Mike Ratliff

11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:11-15 (NASB) 

The more I deal with “professing Christians,” no matter how conservative they appear to be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the immaturity of the growth of Christ’s nature in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from out own Savior to forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slide right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”  Continue reading

Pragmatism, Postmodernism and Absolute Truth


by Mike Ratliff

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28 NASB)

Postmodernism : A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.

Postmodernism is “post” because it denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody – a characteristic of the so-called “modern” mind. The paradox of the postmodern position is that, in placing all principles under the scrutiny of its skepticism, it must realize that even its own principles are not beyond questioning. As the philosopher Richard Tarnas states, postmodernism “cannot on its own principles ultimately justify itself any more than can the various metaphysical overviews against which the postmodern mind has defined itself.” – From Faith and Reason

Pragmatism:
Function:
noun
Date:
circa 1864

1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs <tried to strike a balance between principles and pragmatism> 2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

Postmodernism is a term that is claimed by the Emergent Church movement. This philosophy in the first part of the 21st Century has come to dominate Western thinking. In each area of thought within it we find that, invariably, pragmatism is its root. Pragmatic philosophy says that everything is relative because ultimate, transcendent truth does not exist. This makes reasoning with a pragmatist extremely frustrating. Also, there are moral and absolute standards in our society that are continually under attack and, seemingly, are crumbling under our feet all around us. The culprit behind this is pragmatic philosophy coupled with postmodernist thinking.  Continue reading

The righteous one shall live by faith


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4 (NASB) 

17 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.” Romans 1:17 (NASB) 

11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “ The righteous man shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11 (NASB) 

37 For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. Hebrews 10:37-38 (NASB) 

The real author of Sacred Scripture is the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God frequently repeats Himself, He thereby appeals for special attention. Look closely at Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:37-38. Since the right doctrine comes from the Holy Spirit and He has declared that the righteous shall live by faith so often we must discern that this is doctrine and it is of highest importance. Also, these truths, this doctrine, must be preached and taught to believers as much as possible. Since all genuine believers have the Holy Spirit they should unhesitatingly receive this doctrine by their regenerated faith, which is a gift from God.

Continue reading

Christians’ first love and religiosity


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord,
“I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth,
The love of your betrothals,
Your following after Me in the wilderness,
Through a land not sown. Jeremiah 2:1-2 (NASB) 

As I think back on that startling, abrupt, life-changing time immediately following God graciously bringing me into knowing Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, justifying me and placing me on that narrow road of sanctification, I remember my deep devotion to all things related to my faith. Some of those things were obviously part of the trappings of religiosity, but, primarily, I remember not being able to get enough of God’s Word and that is still the case. He has since that time chiseled and burned away much of the dross and worthless stuff from me that hindered me in my pilgrimage. It should be no surprise though that much of what was taken away were things, ministries, and people that I clung to desperately thinking they were vital parts of what made up “my walk.” In my case, my “first love,” which at times had diminished as I served religious things and worked at my religion with much vigor, has actually grown much deeper as the focus has been removed from all that to simply loving and obeying my Lord. Continue reading

For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live


by Mike Ratliff

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13 (NASB) 

God is Holy. God is Righteous. God is Just. God is Sovereign. Yehōwāh (יהוה) our Adhōnāy (אדן    אדון), God our sovereign one, our Lord, our Kurios (κύριος), is also Love, Mercy, and Grace. We must not have a view of God that emphasizes His love, mercy, or grace over His Holiness. We are commanded to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phlippians 2:12). We are commanded to delight in God and come boldly to His throne of Grace, yet we must never take His Holiness for granted. This is why we have so much exhortation in the Bible to put to death the deeds of the flesh and then become Spirit-filled thereby walking in repentance.

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The root of a godly focused life


by Mike Ratliff

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:17-20 (NASB) 

Ungodly focus is the focus that everyone has except for the Spirit-filled believer. This focus is oriented to self. Believers who are self-focused are either baby Christians or they have succumbed to Satan’s attacks against them. These attacks are designed specifically to render each believer powerless and without a Christlike testimony. He does this with temptations, fiery darts, that are designed to bring believers to be self-satisfied, self-sufficient, and spiritually arrogant. Of course, these are the marks of a Christian who is not humble, but whose pride is in control. Continue reading

An ungodly focus


by Mike Ratliff

6 Then Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?” Genesis 43:6 (NASB)

Unforgiveness is poison for the Soul as it ensnares those who refuse to forgive by binding them into the prison of bitterness. This world is not a peaceful, easy, benign place. It is fallen. The world system is the product of Man’s rebellion against God. There is war. There is crime. There is oppression. People wrong other people. They place their wants and desires and perceived needs ahead of the wants and desires of others. The world system is marked by people pursuing their own no matter who gets hurt. The Christian is called to respond to the hurts and wrongs done to them in a vastly different way from the ways of the world. Continue reading

Spiritual blindness, the consequence of unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (NASB) 

God’s truth, which is the truth and there is no other, is true regardless of whether people believe it or not. I pray for wisdom and discernment every morning. God answers this in surprising ways sometimes. One way He does this is when I receive an email or comment from one who is opposed to what we teach here. As I read what they have to say, I often have to retreat into prayer right then in order to grasp the direction the deception is coming from. Other times I can see it quite readily. In these cases, it is very easy to spot the error because their suppositions or arguments are based on one or more invalid assumptions about God’s truth. Never forget, it is very easy to build a very deep case on an invalid or wrong point. When people do this, then their entire case is nothing but a house of cards ready for the strong wind of truth to come in and blow it away. In the other cases in which I must retreat into prayer in order to ascertain how to respond to the attack, I have found that our enemy or one of his minions has caused this through some level of spiritual protection for those serving him. However, their power is nothing when compared with God’s. We may not, on our own, be able to see through the mist or haze or whatever that protects the lie(s), but when we humbly and boldly take the attack to the throne of grace, God is good and will reveal the truth to us in His timing. Through this, we know how to respond if at all. Continue reading

What commandment is the foremost of all?


by Mike Ratliff

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34 (NASB) 

The rabbis of Jesus’ day engaged in an ongoing debate to determine which commandments of the Law were “light” and which were “weighty” (Matthew 23:23). It reminds me of the debate in certain circles of the visible Church today in which some are concerned with how far they can push their “Christian Liberty.” This concept is no more biblical than that of the rabbis attempting to compartmentalize their religion. Does our Lord’s answer to the Pharisee in Mark 12, Matthew 22, and Luke 10 have any significance to the Christian? Continue reading

What is death?


by Mike Ratliff

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB) 

The fallen nature of man does not understand death. Depending on culture, some fight to stay alive with their all. The correct understanding of death comes to us from God’s Word. The word death is used in three different ways in Sacred Scripture. The first is spiritual death, which is separation from God (Ephesians 2:1,1). Then, of course, there is physical death (Hebrews 9:27). Then there is eternal death, which is referred to as “the second death” in Revelation 20:11-15). While many would consider the topic of death to be a subject to be avoided, it is vital for us to have a clear understanding of all three manifestations in biblical terminology so that we will have a better foundation for sharing the Good News.  Continue reading

What are destructive heresies?


by Mike Ratliff

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1 (NASB) 

False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology ‘ gives them a green light. Continue reading

My brethren, do not be surprised if the world hates you


by Mike Ratliff

13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13 NASB)

There are many ministries in our time that are run by people who have either forgotten that friendship with the world is a sin or they are deliberately overlooking it. If a ministry operates in such a way that the world loves it then there is at least one missing component in it. That of course is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture is clear that Christians cannot be friends of the world. Why? Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system, which is in rebellion against God (John 14:30). Therefore, the world not only hates Jesus, but also those who follow Him. This hatred is also focused toward the Father because He sent Jesus to testify against it. Now, since this is true and clearly taught in Sacred Scripture, what does this say about those ministries who work overtime to accommodate the secular and to appeal to temporal ways and means? Continue reading

Separating the sheep from the goats


By Mike Ratliff

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NASB) 

12 So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. 13 And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. Luke 19:12-15 (NASB) 

26 I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” Luke 19:26-27 (NASB) 

There is an element in Man’s heart that refuses to bow the knee to any god except one with whom it is comfortable. If God the Father or our Lord Jesus Christ are honestly portrayed as we read in Sacred Scripture, the vast majority, those whose hearts are overrun by relativism, will stiffen their necks in rejection. However, when a smiling, culturally “relevant” preacher repackages the Holy Trinity and Christianity into a ‘product’ that sells then that ministry will become huge. Book deals and speaking engagements deluge this new superstar of a religion that seems to exist only to speak what people want to hear. Continue reading