by Mike Ratliff
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13 NASB)
Before believers mature to the point where they can consistently mortify the sins that so easily ensnare them, they are not a serious threat to Satan and his subordinates in his war against God. However, when believers have matured so that they continually seek to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Word and to serve the Lord more faithfully they will soon discover that their walk before the face of God, serving Him, and living for His glory becomes more difficult instead of easier.
This difficulty is part of the battle against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. When believers become Spirit-filled, growing in Christ-likeness, they come under attack by our enemy because his goal is to rob God of His glory and those believers are living in such state of grace that their lives bring glory to God more and more as they obey Him in every part of their lives. Of course God uses the ensuing battle both for His glory and the edification of His saints as well. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “ You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:9-24 NASB)
If we are honest, each of us would have to confess that there are sins that have an incredible hold on us. It seems that no matter how devoted we become in our walk before our Lord, there will be some sins that trip us up, making us stumble and fall to our deep chagrin. Our self-loathing resulting from this can be quite severe. We cry out to God, we promise Him that we are done with that sin. We declare that we would rather die than do it again. We weep. We mourn. We then start to recover and become joyous in the Lord again. Then a short time later there is that sin pouncing upon us out of no where. We seem to have little or no strength or resolve to fight it off and then we stumble right back into it again. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “ Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18 NASB)
The passage I placed at the beginning of this article is one the most abused and misunderstood passages that I know of. If it is read casually, it can be easily misunderstood. If it is exposited by someone possessing a faulty hermeneutic, it can be twisted to say what no other part of the Bible teaches, that faith plus works is required for salvation. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
21 Therefore the Lord heard and was full of wrath;
And a fire was kindled against Jacob
And anger also mounted against Israel,
22 Because they did not believe in God
And did not trust in His salvation. (Psalms 78:21-22 NASB)
Dealing with Emergents and others who insist that they are Christians while what they say and do is marked as distinctly the fruit of unbelief, can be a very trying experience. I suppose that is why our enemy will never stop his attacks on those who are called by the name of Christ to discourage and confuse them. Earlier this week I became involved in a discussion in a Reformed site about a post there on The Atonement. The problem was that it was written by Greg Boyd who is an Open Theist. The site from where the poster got the article is notorious amongst those at CRN as one that is all about casting doubt on every aspect of Orthodox Christianity. All was well until two fellows showed up with whom I had had issues before. What was the problem? Both of these fellows would be right at home at Solomon’s Porch with Doug Pagitt even though they both claim to be Reformed in their theology. However, if you are like me and see God’s Word as absolute truth and any attempt to water that truth down is an attempt to introduce error then when you have discussions with two fellows who want to have “many steams of outlook on the atonement” that are all valid regardless of the fact that their source is from an Open Theist or not, then you understand why I said some things in that discussion that many who lean toward Political Correctness would frown upon, calling me the divisive one. I left the discussion with this parting shot:
It appears to me that you have little or no discernment. If you did have any it has been plowed under by too much seminary.
Why did I get so upset? Why did their attack get me to that point? It got there because they both saw no issue with fellowshipping with known heretics, such as an Open Theist and they both believed there were many ways to interpret God’s Word that were all equally valid. By-the-way, this is the exact same message we used to get from Doug Pagitt years ago when he talked about the many “steams of faith.”
by Mike Ratliff
1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “ Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5 NASB)
On social media is always surprising to me how often I encounter discussions that supposedly between Christians that reveal that one or more of those involved are clueless about the relationship of the Christian faith and repentance. For instance, on more than one occasion I have been involved in discussions in which the initiators were proclaiming that it is perfectly fine for Christians to use profanity and those who call them on it are being hypocritical and self-righteous. I have been teaching for quite a while that the genuine believer is regenerate, a new creation, whom God is the process of sanctifying. Our humility must come to predominate our pride. The prideful person is self-focused while the humble person is not. So how do you think I responded? Continue reading
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)
The “push” to replace Christianity or change it along the lines of emergent gurus Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, et cetera as well as those of the Seeker-sensitive paradigm such as Rick Warren and all of those who follow him seems to make giant strides each day. Those of us who do see very clearly the deception in what is going on can become quite discouraged even to the point of despair at times, as it appears the Church is circling the drain into the vortex of apostasy. However, we must not allow Giant Despair to drag us into the dungeon of Doubting Castle. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
15 Βλέπετε οὖν ἀκριβῶς πῶς περιπατεῖτε μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι ἀλλʼ ὡς σοφοί, 16 ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. (Ephesians 5:15-16 NA28)
15 See therefore how carefully you walk not as unwise but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
There is a great deal going on the visible church, much of it having little to do with genuine Christianity, that most can do little about. Yes, we can pray, which is very powerful. We can also obey God and expose the evil to other believers. However, the older I get in the faith the outrage over much of what false teachers like Rob Bell or Rick Warren say or write I no longer allow to consume me. I know what my role is in the Truth War. Do you know what yours is? For most of us it is to obey what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 5:1-21. Continue reading
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 as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB)
As many of you know, I grew up as a Southern Baptist. After God saved me in 1986 I was a Southern Baptist until 2006 when our former church was overtaken by the Purpose Driven paradigm. I was bitter about that for a while. I and many of you found common ground having had our churches ripped away from us and in many cases finding it nearly impossible to find a good Biblical local church remaining in our area after the Seeker-Sensitive tsunamis had moved through devastating what were once good churches, leaving behind man-centered, store fronts for Rick Warren’s brand of man-focused religiosity. However, God is good and through this devastation and some personal fiery trials, which actually began in 2004, He has worked in me to grow me into a more mature Christian, stronger in the Word of God than ever, more knowledgeable in Biblical Greek, and deeper in the more cerebral areas of our faith that are sorely needed in our day such as presuppositional apologetics. When I was a Deacon teaching Sunday school at our local SBC church, I was extremely mediocre in most of that and hardly knowledgeable at all in the area of apologetics. Why? I was serving and operating from within a mindset that was extremely spiritually immature compared to today. My understanding of the Gospel and theology was probably deeper than most of my peers at that time, but compared to now, it was probably surface level at best. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 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 2:8-15 NASB)
The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ 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 their 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.”
by Mike Ratliff
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 NASB)
When we do word studies in the Greek New Testament it is vital that we pay very close attention the verb tenses. From these we learn that some statements are commands (imperatives) while others, which some Bible translations render as if they are commands, are actually statements of fact (indicatives or aorists). Confusing these has caused a very large amount of confusion and bad doctrine to pollute the church. For instance, when Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” the verb structure here is not imperative (a command to be born again), but aorist tense, subjunctive mood, passive voice. In other words, this is action that is most definitely not a command by our Lord to Nicodemus to be born again, but a statement of fact that if a person is to see the kingdom of God he or she must be born again. The action is passive so it is the result of some other action. So what? Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. This is an example of an imperative. Let us put it into context. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:8 NASB)
The Doctrine of Imputation is a wonderful blessing for the Christian. Christ’s Righteousness and perfect obedience to the Law were both imputed to the account of every believer at their justification. That means, in God’s sight, each and every one of us in Christ are as blameless in his eyes as Christ himself. I was asked this last Thanksgiving Day before our meal to “briefly” state that for which I was most thankful. How can I separate the atonement and all the eternal blessings that await all of us in Christ and just single out one thing? I knew that it would be very confusing for some of those in attendance to talk about the doctrine of imputation so I simply said I was most thankful for God’s Grace. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5 NASB)
Evangelism that is biblical is not numbers or results based as if it is a process we can control through methodology. The seeker-sensitive form of evangelism, on the other hand, is totally numbers or results based, and, therefore, uses methodologies to boost perceived effectiveness by increased numbers of “decisions for Christ.” The seeker-sensitive form of evangelism assumes that God is helpless to save anyone outside of their efforts. It ignores passages such as John 3:5-8 and Ephesians 2:1-10.
by Mike Ratliff
Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB)
God’s ways are not man’s ways. What seems right to man is not necessarily right according to God, who is always right. For instance, God’s Word clearly teaches the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only way to approach the Father. There is only one way, not many ways, which lead to God. That way is Jesus Christ alone. We must be aware that our culture has become contaminated by religious relativism. This relativism’s chief virtue is “acceptance” of others as coequal in our faith no matter what their religion is. This “acceptance” holds as its primary goal “diversity” with its public philosophy being pluralism. Those professing Christians who hold to this “philosophy” have compromised the truth plainly taught in God’s Word. Also, those who have not made this compromise and refuse to water-down the Gospel are see as misfits and bigots. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 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 5:4-10 NASB)
If you have read very much of what God has had me post here then you know how much I admire John Bunyan and his fantastic allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan understood what real Christianity was all about. He was surrounded by the empty religiosity of the state church of his time and its leaders tried to silence him through intimidation and imprisonment for refusing to stop preaching the Gospel. The real Church has always had to contend with false prophets and false forms. One of the things that Bunyan taught in his allegory was that the true form of Christianity was lived out by those who walked daily down a very narrow path sealed by God’s absolute truth. There are many ways off the path. Many believe they can make their own path. There are many detours and intersections requiring godly wisdom by the pilgrim in order to remain on the narrow path. Only the genuine Christian is alive in Christ and they are the only ones who complete the journey, the pilgrimage, to meet their Saviour in glory at the end. All other paths lead only to death and destruction. Continue reading