To Confess


by Mike Ratliff

9 ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. (1 John 1:9 NA28)

9 If we confess our sins , He is faithful and just, that he may forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When the focus of “Christianity” is moved from being God-focused to Man-focused confusion is the ultimate consequence. We see this with so-called Christian leaders like N.T. Wright who is nothing more than an intellectual “Christian” liberal who is attempting to redefine the Gospel or “Good News” along the lines of those who follow Jesus asserting Christ’s kingdom here on earth. On the other hand, there are multitudes of other aberrations of Christian doctrine in which so-called Christian leaders with no understanding of the Sovereignty of God and His Grace who attempt to dismantle Christian doctrine and redefine it along the lines of Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and Arminianism.  Continue reading

The offense 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)

What is is the offense of the Gospel? Let us examine scripture to answer that.  Continue reading

Let us draw near unto God


by Mike Ratliff

7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘ This people honors ME with their lips, But their heart is far away from ME. 9 ‘ But in vain do they worship ME, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'” (Matthew 15:7-9 NASB)

What does it mean biblically to draw near unto God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:

22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22 NASB)

Here is Hebrews 10:22 from the NA28 Greek text, “προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ·”

The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the Present tense, Subjunctive mood, Middle voice, 1st person, plural of προσέρχομαι or proserchomai, “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.  Continue reading

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings:with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “ Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:1-3 NASB)

In the English translations of the Old Testament when we encounter the word “Lord” we are actually reading the Hebrew word “Adhōnāy.” On the other hand, when we read the word “LORD,” it is is completely different Hebrew word, “Yehōwāh.” “Adhōnāy” is actually a title for God meaning “sovereign one.” “Yehōwāh” is the sacred name of God. It was the name He used to reveal Himself to Moses at the burning bush. “Yehōwāh” is the unspeakable name, the holy name of God. The Hebrew scribes wrote it as “YHWH.” Therefore, it is referred to as the sacred tetragrammaton, the unspeakable four letters. “Adhōnāy” is the plural noun form of “Ādhōn,” which, when used in reference to God, means Lord. However, “Adhōnāy” is plural but singular in meaning. This speaks of the Holy Trinity, i.e. One God in three persons. Continue reading

Authentic Christians, apostates, and antichrists


by Mike Ratliff

28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:28-31 NASB)

True, genuine, authentic Christianity is exclusive. It is not a smorgasbord or buffet of options from which men may take what they like while rejecting the rest and still call themselves Christians. While a statement like that may not be popular in this post-modern, politically correct, 21st Century culture which advocates tolerance that is sort of a give and take “conversation” in which people with opposing views find a middle ground, it is still the truth. Authentic Christianity is quite the opposite. That is not to say that many who call themselves Christians have not colored their own personal theology with post modern presuppositions, but these are what we call apostates. What is that?

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The reality of Christian authenticity


by Mike Ratliff

34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38 NASB)

Jesus is coming back. Are you ready? Are you trusting in man-made or self-made religion to be what God will recognize as sufficient so that Christ will be your Advocate before the Father when you are judged? Without Christ as your Advocate, you will have no defense. How does Christ become our Advocate? How do we know if He is our Advocate? Let us examine Christ’s own words about this. Continue reading

American Sniper


by Mike Ratliff

I had planned on reading Chris Kyle’s book Amercian Sniper from the moment I became aware that Clint Eastwood was working on a project to make it into a movie. I had seen Chris Kyle on various television shows prior to his murder and I, being a U.S. Navy veteran from the Vietnam era, really appreciated him and how he poured himself into his work of helping other returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan “wars” who suffered from both physical and mental issues. PTSD is something I have dealt with myself on a much smaller scale after the Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. I can only imagine what combat veterans go through. Continue reading

The King of Heaven humbles those who walk in pride


by Mike Ratliff

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth:“May your peace abound! 2 It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. 3 “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:1-3 NASB)

The deepest, widest blind spot that most professing Christians have is that they are convinced their religion pleases God. Pride disguises itself in many different ways. One that I have noticed in most professing Christians is a form of self-righteousness that sees their religion as making them so well-pleasing to God that anyone who is not part of their denomination or church could not possibly be right with God. Pragmatism springs from a desire by spiritually blind Christian leaders to mimic what other “successful” preachers or pastors do to grow their congregations or baptize huge numbers of converts. When these manipulating processes seem to work the first result is deeper spiritual blindness. Why? Idolatry always produces spiritual blindness. This blindness keeps those in it deceived into believing a lie. What lie? The lie is that God is not totally sovereign and needs their help to further the Kingdom. Their religious efforts may appear to “work,” but since the results are the fruit of fleshly methods and the works of men they only lead to cultivating pride. However, we must never forget that God is Sovereign. Continue reading

Christians are to be Biblically discerning rather than politically correct


by Mike Ratliff

There is a myth in this post-modern times that has deceived untold numbers of professing Christians. The deceived have believed the lie that Christians are not to confront and rebuke false teachers nor preach or teach anything that has the potential to cause division within the visible Church. The visible Church contains the churches we see all across this globe. This would include denominations and local churches and ministries that we can see visually and of which we can partake. The invisible Church is made up of the elect, the called-out ones. This is the true Church of genuine believers. It is within the visible Church. Therefore, the visible Church contains both genuine believers and professing believers who are not genuine.  Continue reading

The message to the Church in Philadelphia


by Mike Ratliff

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: (Revelation 3:7 NASB)

One of the big errors of our time in the visible Church of the 21st Century is the misguided concept that truth is subjective. In other words, truth is what you want it be. This concept is, of course, simply borrowed from the world, which loves it. While I do not contend that I know when our Lord will return, I do know that it will be at the end of this age prior to the age to come. I know that He has been given a people for Himself from the Father. I know that His blood purchased them at the cross. I know that those whom He saves must live in this sin-sick world in order to be sanctified, to mature in Christ, and for their lives to glorify God. These truths, and so many more from God’s Word, are not subjective. Continue reading

The Christ of God


by Mike Ratliff

18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “ The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20 NASB)

We must agree that there is a growing apostasy that appears to be consuming the visible Church. This can cause us anguish and grief along with some growing excitement in anticipation of the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, let us not forget that there are many who claim to be “christian” who view this as the very thing they are trying to accomplish. They view our exposition of it as “interference” and “over reaction.”

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Do not love the world nor the things in the world


by Mike Ratliff

4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 NASB)

Compromise is a term the world system likes. In fact, the world system as we know it in our time runs on rails greased by compromise. Even though the U.S. Constitution protects the right of free speech to its citizens, the political correctness movement is doing all it can to squelch or smother the expression of “opinion” that is contrary to what it deems as inoffensive. It appears that the right of the easily offended is more protected than the right of those who speak the truth and live by it. The emergent movement, for example, teaches that it is wrong to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in completion. Why? It is divisive. It is exclusive. It offends. Instead, its leaders teach that we should only preach things that bring people together. Another difference between orthodox Christianity and the emergents has to do with separation from the world system. We teach what the Bible teaches, that is, Christians must not be friends of or part of the world system because those who are actually prove that they are an enemy of God. On the other hand, the emergents consistently teach that repentance is no big deal and all sorts of sins condemned in the Bible are not grounds for separation from the local body of believers.

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The Cross of Christ separates the living from the dead


by Mike Ratliff

19 “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19 NASB)

When our Lord spoke of the “world” in John 14:19, he was talking about those in this temporal existence who are not believers. They are not Christians even though some in that group may profess to be so. In this context he was also referring to the Jewish religious leaders of his own day who so opposed him and his ministry and who would continue to oppose the early Church as is seen all through the books of Acts for example. What is it that separates those alive in this world from those who are not is that the living truly see Jesus for who he really is, believe and are saved while those who refuse to do so, reject the gospel, and remain in their sins, even if they may develop a form of Christianity that suits them, but is absent of the real Jesus.  Continue reading

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me


by Mike Ratliff

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25 NASB)

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message given to be passed on as “Good News” of the completed work of Christ on behalf of those he came to save. The message is about his incarnation, his perfect life, his death on the cross, his three days and nights in the tomb, and his resurrection. All of these things were attested to by witnesses. The resurrection is the proof that our Lord is God and that the work of the Atonement is complete. Those who effectually hear the Gospel, believe it, receive it by grace through faith and repent as they turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour. As is made clear in Ephesians 2:1-10, there is no one is able to do this on their own, God must intervene making then alive in Christ who were once dead in their sins so they could believe and be saved. Continue reading