Original Sin, Total Depravity, and Free Will


by Mike Ratliff

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 (NASB) 

Sacred Scripture’s diagnosis of sin is as a universal deformity of human nature found at every point in every person (1 Kings 8:46; Romans 3:9-23; 7:18; 1 John 1:8-10 see above). Both the Old Testament and the New Testament describe sin as rebellion against God’s rule, missing the mark God set for us to aim at, transgressing God’s law, offending God’s purity by defiling oneself, and incurring guilt before God the Judge. The moral deformity is dynamic: sin is an energy of irrational, negative, and rebellious reaction to God. It is a spirit of fighting God in order to play god. The root of sin is pride and enmity against God, the spirit seen in Adam’s first transgression, and sinful acts always have behind them thoughts and desires that one way or another express the willful opposition of the fallen heart to God’s claims on our lives.  Continue reading

Our old self


by Mike Ratliff

5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. Romans 6:5-7 (NASB) 

Post-modern preaching is man-centered, that is, it is geared to cause hearers of it to be self-focused instead of God-focused. In this seeker-sensitive approach to preaching with all the emphasis being on self-awareness and self-improvement and self-esteem, is there any need for Christ and the Cross or repentance with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit? If you are honest you must say no and then as you think theologically about it consider this, this is just another example of the natural outflow of Pelagianism, which is at the root of post-modern “christianity.” The leaders in the seeker-sensitive movement discount the Cross of Christ and the Gospel and put the person at the center of all things. This is why they continually insist that their disciples look within to find their true self while covenanting with them to keep certain values and obey their commitments. In other words, this is a form of law keeping and has nothing to do with grace nor the Gospel. Let’s look at what the Bible says about our true nature and what we can and cannot do as Christians.

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These things I have spoken to you that you not be caused to stumble


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ σκανδαλισθῆτε. 2 ἀποσυναγώγους ποιήσουσιν ὑμᾶς· * ἀλλʼ ἔρχεται ὥρα ἵνα πᾶς ὁ ἀποκτείνας ὑμᾶς δόξῃ λατρείαν προσφέρειν τῷ θεῷ. 3 καὶ ταῦτα ποιήσουσιν ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τὸν πατέρα οὐδὲ ἐμέ. 4 ἀλλὰ ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἡ ὥρα αὐτῶν μνημονεύητε αὐτῶν ὅτι ἐγὼ εἶπον ὑμῖν. Ταῦτα δὲ ὑμῖν ἐξ ἀρχῆς οὐκ εἶπον, ὅτι μεθʼ ὑμῶν ἤμην. 5 νῦν δὲ ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πέμψαντά με, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐρωτᾷ με· ποῦ ὑπάγεις; 6 ἀλλʼ ὅτι ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἡ λύπη πεπλήρωκεν ὑμῶν τὴν καρδίαν. 7 ἀλλʼ ἐγὼ τὴν ἀλήθειαν λέγω ὑμῖν, συμφέρει ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐγὼ ἀπέλθω. ἐὰν γὰρ μὴ ἀπέλθω, ὁ παράκλητος οὐκ ἐλεύσεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς· ἐὰν δὲ πορευθῶ, πέμψω αὐτὸν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. 8 καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐκεῖνος ἐλέγξει τὸν κόσμον περὶ ἁμαρτίας καὶ περὶ δικαιοσύνης καὶ περὶ κρίσεως· 9 περὶ ἁμαρτίας μέν, ὅτι οὐ πιστεύουσιν εἰς ἐμέ· 10 περὶ δικαιοσύνης δέ, ὅτι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ὑπάγω καὶ οὐκέτι θεωρεῖτέ με· 11 περὶ δὲ κρίσεως, ὅτι ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου κέκριται. John 16:1-11 (NA28)

1 “These things I have spoken to you that you not be caused to stumble. 2 They will put you away from the synagogues but an hour is coming that those killing you believe they are offering service to God. 3 And these things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. 4 But these things I have spoken to you that when their hour comes you might remember them that I told you. But I did not say these things to you from the beginning because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to the one who sent Me and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart, 7 but I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away for if I do not go away, the Encourager will not come to you. But if go, I will send Him to you 8 and having come, He will convict the world concerning sin and concerning righteousness and concerning judgment. 9 Concerning sin because they do not believe in Me. 10 Concerning righteousness because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me. 11 Concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged.” John 16:1-11 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In v1 the words, “you not be caused to stumble” translate μὴ σκανδαλισθῆτε. The adverb μὴ or is “a primary particle of qualified negation.” For instance, I could have rendered it “may not.” The verb σκανδαλισθῆτε is the Aorist Tense, Subjunctive Mood, Active Voice form of σκανδαλίζω or skandalizō, “to offend, shock, excite feeling of repugnance.” It should be obvious that we get our English word “scandalize” from this word. This verb tense refers to simple, undefined action rather than repetitive action. The active voice is referring to action done by the subject, which would be those to whom our Lord was speaking. Now, what is our Lord talking about here? Some translations like the ESV render this as saying “falling away.” The KJV simply says “not be offended.” When we are persecuted for our faithfulness or if those with whom we stand there will be the temptation for us to stumble in either fear or offense or some other motivation that our enemy will attempt to inflict upon us. Our Lord is saying He is speaking these words to us so that this will not happen. Continue reading

Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Both the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul used light and darkness in analogies pertaining to spiritual life and spiritual death. For instance, in John 1:4, 5 the Apostle says, “ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.” Or, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not grasp it.” In order to lay the foundation for this discussion on understanding the Lord’s will, it is imperative that we first understand what is being said in these two verses. First, the “Him” in v4 refers back to ὁ λόγος or “the Word” from v1. This is, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ. In v4, we learn that in Him was ζωὴ or zōē, “life.” This ζωὴ is not simply the life we all have here and now, but was φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων or the “the light of men.” What does that mean? This light comes from God and brings to this dark world true knowledge, moral purity, and the light that shows the very presence of God. Finally, notice that this light shines into the darkness, but the darkness does not “receive, admit, or grasp” it. Those who understand the will of God are in His light. Those who do not are in darkness.  Continue reading

Ministering by publicly aligning to things hidden because of shame while walking in craftiness and adulterating the Word of God


by Mike  Ratliff

21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. Romans 6:21 (NASB)

Back in 2006 thru 2008 or so we were vociferously debating what was going on in the seeker sensitive churches all around us as they abandoned expository preaching, replacing it with topical sermons, entertainment, drama, dance, videos, et cetera. In fact, that was how this ministry began, that is, in ministering to those dear brethren who had lost their churches to hostile takeovers by the Purpose Driven paradigm. I remember how we struggled to come up with the “core” reason they seemed to be so successful. Things sure have progressed, or is it actually the opposite with the gospel contextualization having replaced all of that with the goal of church globalization within the framework of Dominonism and/or “the New Evangelism?” I remember some of the debates from that time and as I look back on it now, I see what was actually happening. Of course, at the time, as the Hegelian Dialectic is in play and Diaprax is in one of its incremental changes, it is difficult to see the “big picture.” As we look back at what was done and how it was accomplished by those devoted to their globalization agenda we can see clearly that we were dealing with the forces of our enemy who were dedicated to “ministry” via the practice of cunning in disgraceful, underhanded ways as they tampered with God’s Word for their own ends (2 Corinthians 4:1-2). My brethren, those who truly belong to Christ cannot minster in such a way.

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For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified


by Mike Ratliff

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (NASB) 

The manner of our Lord’s death was one designed by the Romans to humiliate its criminals. The cross was a place of shame, disgrace, humiliation, indignity, degradation, and ignominy. The Roman soldiers were experts at this form of execution in which the criminal was beaten, undressed, arms spread and nailed to a cross-beam, feet nailed to a vertical beam, and hoisted above the ground for the world to see. However, as we read in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (above), Paul decided to know nothing among those to whom he preached and ministered except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Continue reading

Evidence of Christian authenticity and proper use of discernment


by Mike Ratliff

8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. James 3:8-12 (NASB) 

Is the following statement true or false? Good works authenticate true faith. I know that for a growing segment of the church visible this is, for them, a loaded question that they will refuse to either address or answer, but if you pin them down, they will say “false.” However, if you are Biblically centered, that is, if you are centered on the fact that God’s Word is His Truth and it is the gift He has given to His people to be the source of His Truth for their time in this life, then the only answer you can give is “yes” because that is what the Bible clearly teaches. Let’s look at a passage (James 3:1-12) that clearly reveals this principle.  Continue reading

The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal


by Mike Ratliff

15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NASB) 

Religion, if it is worth anything, is worth everything; but it is worth little if it is not worth suffering for. – Matthew Henry

There has been such a long drought of the Word of God being rightly divided by true shepherds of the flock in so much of the visible Church that the spiritually weak and immature believers make up the vast majority. Their understanding of God is not well developed. When suffering comes upon them they react in a complete misinterpretation of what is going on. It is as if they expect everyone to love them and their problems will be over simply because they are now Christians. The Bible is very clear, genuine believers are the ones who endure to the end and they will suffer for Jesus’ sake.  Continue reading

The eleven offenses 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)

The genuine gospel does not bring all people together. It divides. The trend in today’s “visible church” is all about being as inoffensive as possible even to the point of compromising the gospel. The sort of “minister” who does that and his “ministry” is not of God, but is of this world and is of the flesh. Below are the eleven tenets of the offense of the gospel. Enjoy and be blessed as you examine yourself.  Continue reading

Even now many antichrists have appeared and from this we know that it is the last hour


by Mike Ratliff

1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 (NASB)

According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15 the mark of Christian authenticity is abiding or remaining in Him. This is not simply a continual profession of faith, but remaining faithful to Christ in our orthodox Christian faith. According to Paul, it is a two-fold action of departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. The Apostle John called the Christian leaders who do this antichrists. Continue reading

God’s Word exhorts Christians to persevere


by Mike Ratliff

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Our Victory in Christ
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:22-27 (NASB) 

We are exhorted throughout God’s Word to persevere even in the most rugged of circumstances. We are given a promise of what awaits those who do persevere, the adoption as “sons” and redemption of our bodies, which is positional for all truly in Christ. Yet, we look forward to these and other promises with eyes of faith. This temporal part of our life as Christians can be quite a battle with the flesh to the point of crying out like the Apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am!” Weakness in this battle is directly attributable to a lack of praying as we should, while, conversely, victory in this battle is directly attributable to proper praying in the spirit, that is, in harmony with the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than according to one’s own agenda. There are many “church” things out there that are not good for us. These “church” things are the product of those scoffers who have entered the Church to divide it.  Continue reading

Two gates, two ways, two destinations


by Mike Ratliff

13 Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι διʼ αὐτῆς· 14 τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. Matthew 7:13-14 (NA28)

13 Go in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are those going in through it. 14 How narrow the gate and how hard is the way that leads to life and few are the ones finding it! Matthew 7:13-14 (translated from NA28 the Greek text)

It has been said that no prophet preached about Hell as much as our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also true that His preaching would be considered “divisive” and “offensive” in today’s politically correct culture. However, I seriously doubt that if preaching the truth or hurting someone’s feelings or offending someone’s “sensibilities” were the issue with our Lord nor would it would make any difference. He would not hesitate to preach the truth because in God’s truth is life. In man-made truth is only death. Consider the passage at the top of this post. The lie that has taken over our society is that it is a sin to be narrow-minded. We must be as broad and as accepting as possible. We must be all-inclusive in all things to the point of madness. From this our enemy has sown the lies such as “There are many roads to heaven,” and since God is a good God He must also me a “fair God” so “eventually everyone will be saved.” The problems with this are that this “god” is a creation of these people’s wishful thinking not The God, our God, the Creator of all things. Also, in His Word, our Lord Jesus taught exactly the opposite of this as the passage above clearly says.  Continue reading

Worry not!


by Mike Ratliff

22 Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς [αὐτοῦ]· διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν· μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ τί φάγητε, μηδὲ τῷ σώματι τί ἐνδύσησθε. 23 ἡ γὰρ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος. 24 κατανοήσατε τοὺς κόρακας ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲ θερίζουσιν, οἷς οὐκ ἔστιν ταμεῖον οὐδὲ ἀποθήκη, καὶ ὁ θεὸς τρέφει αὐτούς· πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμεῖς διαφέρετε τῶν πετεινῶν. 25 τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ προσθεῖναι πῆχυν; 26 εἰ οὖν οὐδὲ ἐλάχιστον δύνασθε, τί περὶ τῶν λοιπῶν μεριμνᾶτε; 27 κατανοήσατε τὰ κρίνα πῶς αὐξάνει· οὐ κοπιᾷ οὐδὲ νήθει· λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν, οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων. 28 εἰ δὲ ἐν ἀγρῷ τὸν χόρτον ὄντα σήμερον καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέζει, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, ὀλιγόπιστοι. 29 καὶ ὑμεῖς μὴ ζητεῖτε τί φάγητε καὶ τί πίητε καὶ μὴ μετεωρίζεσθε· 30 ταῦτα γὰρ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου ἐπιζητοῦσιν, ὑμῶν δὲ ὁ πατὴρ οἶδεν ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων. 31 πλὴν ζητεῖτε τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῦτα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν. 32 Μὴ φοβοῦ, τὸ μικρὸν ποίμνιον, ὅτι εὐδόκησεν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν δοῦναι ὑμῖν τὴν βασιλείαν. 33 Πωλήσατε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῶν καὶ δότε ἐλεημοσύνην· ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς βαλλάντια μὴ παλαιούμενα, θησαυρὸν ἀνέκλειπτον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ὅπου κλέπτης οὐκ ἐγγίζει οὐδὲ σὴς διαφθείρει· 34 ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρὸς ὑμῶν, ἐκεῖ καὶ ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν ἔσται. (Luke 12:22-24 NA28)

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you may eat, nor for your body, what clothes you may put on. 23 For the soul is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens that they do not sow nor reap, they have neither a storeroom nor a barn, and God feeds them. How much more worth are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying is able to add upon his lifespan a cubit? 26 If then you are not able to do as little a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not labor nor spin, but I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field today and tomorrow it is thrown into an oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you may eat and what you may drink, and do not be anxious. 30 For the nations of the world strive for these things, but your Father knows that you need them, 31 but seek his Kingdom and these things will be added to you.” 32 “Do not fear little flock because it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to charity. Make for yourselves purses that do not become old, with an inexhaustible treasure in the heavens where a thief does not come near nor does a moth destroy. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. (Luke 12:22-34 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

No matter what I write about and post on this blog it seems that there is always someone with an agenda who has issues with those of us who use our discernment to single out one of their favorite “christian leaders.”  As I have shared many times, even though I never enjoy this, God usually takes these things and they become the focus of one or more posts. This is one of those posts.

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I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινὴ καὶ ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν. John 15:1 (NA28)

 1 “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 15:1, we have our Lord’s last of His seven “I am” sayings signifying His claim of deity. The word “true” in v1 translates the adjective ἀληθινὴ, which is nominative, singular of ἀληθινός or alēthinos, “unfeigned, trustworthy, true.” The nominative case form, ἀληθινὴ of ἀληθινός means that the metaphor our Lord is making of Him being the “true vine” is subject to the main verb in the sentence which is εἰμι, which, of course, means, in this context, “am.” Therefore, our Lord is saying that the fact that He is, in fact, deity means that He is the “true vine.” What this means, of course, is that there are “other vines,” but He is the only one who is “true” and God the Father is the γεωργός or vinedresser. The noun γεωργός or geōrgos, “can refer to the owner of a farm or to those who work the farm.” Here our Lord is using this term metamorphically to refer to God the Father as the owner of a vineyard, the “vinedresser.” Continue reading