1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. (Matthew 28:1-4 NASB)
Jesus is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! According to Paul in his first epistle to the church in Corinth, the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the lynchpin of our faith.
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14 NASB)
If the resurrection of Christ is not true then Christianity is based on a myth and our faith is in vain. Therefore, we must hold tightly to the fact that our Lord is Risen. On the morning of our Lord’s resurrection there were several people who witnessed different aspects of it. Their responses to it varied drastically. Continue reading →
1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings:with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3 ESV)
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.
When I first began this ministry I started with a website (www.mikeratliff.com) then after a several months I got my own domain name for that site. After several more months I added a blog at Blogger.com. I kept both of those sites running for a couple of years then just before I came onboard the CRN team in 2007 I moved everything to this site https://mikeratliff.wordpress.com. Right from the getgo I realized how hard it was to maintain all three sites so I phased out my support of my blogger.com site, but still kept some things over at my original website. I always had a dream of moving my domain name that I owned over to this WordPress blog however. Last night I did just that. I have emptied out all content from both the blogger.com site and my old website and now if you put “www.mikeratliff.com” in your browser, you will be redirected here to https://mikeratliff.wordpress.com. For most of you this probably means little to nothing, but for me I can now tell people at church how to find my site much easier than before. :-) To God be glory!
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1-4 NASB)
The Church in the early part of the 21st Century is very sick. This sickness has not happened all at once. Instead, it is the result of centuries of compromise after compromise on the part of Christian leaders and their followers to adapt the Gospel and the Church doctrines to conform to what men want. As a result, the Church has lost its savor. It is no longer salty. The countries in Europe where the Reformers restored the Gospel at the cost of untold numbers of martyrs would not now be considered Christian at all.
In the United States, the visible Church still has some influence in politics and society, but is that what the Church is supposed to be about? The segment of the American Church that would consider itself evangelical has become so doctrinally shallow that most of the members as well as their leadership have no idea what they really believe. If they are confronted with the Arminain/Semi-Pelagian vs. Calvinism debate they would be clueless about what each side believes and does not believe. In fact, they are so spiritually shallow, they don’t understand why it is important to know what you believe and why you believe it. Continue reading →
3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; (1 Corinthians 2:3-7 NASB)
When we observe those “Christian Leaders” espousing the social activism of new evangelicalism, which is rooted in Semi-Pelagianism and Humanism, it should make us wonder at what motivates them. Why would these people seek to create a new version of Christianity? I suppose it is that they see that what they are seeking to replace has “failed” because so many young people want nothing to do with it. Therefore, they desire to create a new Christianity that uses the marketing techniques of the world and entertainment to entice people to be part of a church that is new and exciting. Gone is any call to repent of sins. Sin is hardly, if ever, mentioned. Instead of calling on God for mercy and seeking the Son for salvation from the Father’s coming judgment, they are told to come to Jesus and let Him into their lives so He can make their life better.
What are the leaders of this movement missing? What is wrong with what they are doing? It is not wrong to want to reach the lost with the Gospel. No, we should be doing that, but it is very wrong to make every Sunday morning into a show that only appeals to the flesh. Instead of worshipping our Lord God in referential fear, they have a rock concert. The leaders of this movement may indeed create large churches and international ministries by doing what they do, but is it right?
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 brining 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.
6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NASB)
Since the inception of this ministry I have been approached by many concerned people who are convinced that they have sinned one too many times and have forfeited their salvation. They were being continually antagonized about their sin by a voice within. In every case, after some careful questioning, I learned that each of them have been part of a church or denomination whose doctrine of justification is a blend of grace and law, faith and works. Also, as I attempted to explain that justification is by faith alone according to the grace of God, each of them responded in disbelief and that usually ended the conversation. When I tried to share with them that the unregenerate are not troubled by their sin this way it fell on deaf ears. This has always been one of the most heartbreaking aspects of ministering like this. It has left me, at times, very frustrated and angry at those false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, whose false doctrines have left their followers spiritually confused, hurt, and unable to grasp the truth.
3 “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘ Who will bring me down to earth (Obadiah 1:3 NASB)
Adapted from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled “Self-Deceived”
Human pride is incredibly deceitful. It can so deceive its host that he or she may well believe they are the truly humble. It is true of all proud people, for pride is self-deceit. Some reading this may be proud. In fact, it is those who believe they have no pride who are most likely the proudest of all. Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed. Continue reading →
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.
17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals. 19 Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” (1 Kings 18:17-19 NASB)
There was a time when the English and American cultures were decidedly “Christian.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the “Remnant” of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.
The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom. Continue reading →
10 Jesus said to him, “The one having been bathed does not have need except to wash his feet, but is wholly clean, and you are clean, but not all.” 11 For He knew the one betraying Him, therefore, He said, “Not all are clean.” (John 13:10-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
We have been discussing the rampant apostasy in the “visible church.” While it seems that is is much worse now than it as ever been, let us never forget that the genuine Church has been infiltrated and mixed together with unbelievers, heretics, and apostates from the very beginning. In the passage above we see that one of the our Lord’s own chosen disciples, one of the 12, would betray Him. However, in John 13:18 our also makes it clear that this betrayal would fulfill Old Testament prophecies about an insider betraying Him.
18 I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘ HE who eats MY bread has lifted up his heel against ME.’ (John 13:18 NASB)
Now, we enter that part of John’s account of our Lord’s last Passover Feast in which His betrayer is set away to do his deed. In contrast, our Lord reveals that those who truly belong to Him follow the commandment from God to love one another. Then He reveals to Peter, even though Peter declares that he would rather die than leave the Lord, he will deny that he even knows Jesus three times this very night. Let us take a closer look.
19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NASB)
Over the last few months (or is it weeks or is it days?) it seems those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” we have been warning you about over last several years have become even more bold in their moves away from what we call doctrinally sound Christianity. Rob Bell has been the most dramatic with his teaming up with Oprah. He has accused any Christian who relies on Sacred Scripture as its source of doctrine as being closed minded, behind the times, and not relevant. Andy Stanley has said pretty much the same thing, but not in such a dramatic way while Rick Warren is trying to get all Protestants to come under the Roman Catholic Pope. Of course within all these guy’s teachings we will find elements of universalism and ecumenicalism. This leads them to be soft on the Doctrine of Hell for instance. Why do they all end up in the same place eventually, which is to deny the inerrancy and authority of Sacred Scripture? They must do this because Sacred Scripture condemns what they are doing. Continue reading →
1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this:‘ I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. (Revelation 3:1-2 NASB)
When my dad died in 2010 I inherited my grandfather’s Bible. My grandfather was a remarkable man. He was born in 1877 and became a preacher of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the 1890’s in Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. My grandfather preached from this Bible well into the 1950’s. It is full of notes and his own cross-references. However, there is one thing in the bible that no one, apparently, knew was there. It is a letter written to him from one of his sisters, Lucy. It had to have been written to him either in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s since she died around that time. Below is a quote from it that I found especially fitting in light of the present condition of the visible church.
2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous. (Psalms 143:2 NASB)
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:3-4 NASB)
“24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:24-26 NASB)
Despite the “popular Christian” teachings in our time that suffering is never God’s will for His people, a close, sober, and honest study of scripture reveals that the fires of tribulation are used by God to form and refine His people. The view that God desires of each Christian to always be healthy and prosperous is based on many false assumptions. One false assumption is that salvation is somehow deserved and those who profess faith can claim anything they want from a god who is bound to meet all their requests. Another false assumption moves the focus of salvation from God glory to the person’s glory and their “having their best life now.” Sin is seen as simple mistakes that God overlooks because He is all love.