Father


by Mike Ratliff

16 οὕτως λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα καὶ δοξάσωσιν τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. Matthew 5:16 (NA28)

16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NASB) 

15 οὐ γὰρ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα δουλείας πάλιν εἰς φόβον ἀλλʼ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας ἐν ᾧ κράζομεν· αββα ὁ πατήρ. Romans 8:15 (NA28)

15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15 (NASB) 

As Christians we must understand that we are indeed adopted children of God. We were of our father the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8-10). Under him we were indeed, slaves, slaves to sin, under a sentence of death, already dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). But we have been adopted into the family of God. We are members of a new family, all the old debts are paid, and we are new people with a new Father. Continue reading

Doers of the Word Not Hearers Only


by Mike Ratliff

22 Γίνεσθε δὲ ποιηταὶ λόγου καὶ μὴ μόνον ἀκροαταὶ παραλογιζόμενοι ἑαυτούς. James 1:22 (NA28)

22 Now be doers of the Word and not only hearers deceiving yourselves. James 1:22 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22 (NASB) 

In 1997, about three years before God moved my wife and I from the OKC area to Tulsa, our Pastor contacted me during the week telling me he wanted me to fill in for him on Wednesday night after our weekly meal. That meant I would conduct a short Bible study and then have a question and answer period in which adults present could ask anything they wanted about doctrine or the Church or the Bible and I would attempt to answer it. The Bible study part was not a problem since I planned on simply using one I had prepared for another study that I had not yet taught. However, the Q & A was a bit unsettling. I had seen how it went. It was a bit like “Stump the Pastor.” Continue reading

Only Begotten


by Mike Ratliff

16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. John 3:16 (NA28)

16 For thus God loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that everyone believing in Him may not perish, but have life eternal. John 3:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

There are many great truths in John 3:16 such as God’s love (ἀγαπάω (agapaō)) for His own, and the eternal life that comes by faith (πιστεύω (pisteuō)) in Christ, it is strikingly unique because the apostle John is the only Scripture writer who uses the term μονογενής (monogenēs) to describe the relationship of Jesus to the Father. Several modern translations (ESV, NRSV, NLT, CEV, and GWT) replace “only begotten” with “only” or “one and only” (NCV and NIV). Such readings however, clearly do not mean the same thing as “only begotten,” so, which is correct, or does it really matter?

Continue reading

Wept


by Mike Ratliff

35 ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς. John 11:35 (NA28)

35 Jesus shed tears. John 11:35 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the passage I placed above (John 11:35) the words “shed tears” translates the Greek verb ἐδάκρυσεν (edakrysen) the third singular, aorist active indicative case of δακρύω (dakryō), it means to “shed tears” or even “a tear.” This is not the word for “weep” that we saw in Revelation 5:4 the other day in our post The Lion and the Lamb, Here is that verse from the Greek then my translation.

4 καὶ ἔκλαιον πολύ, ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἄξιος εὑρέθη ἀνοῖξαι τὸ βιβλίον οὔτε βλέπειν αὐτό. Revelation 5:4 (NA28)

4 And I was weeping greatly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Revelation 5:4 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this passage the words “I was weeping” translate the Greek verb ἔκλαιον (eklaion) the first singular, imperfect active indicative case of κλαίω (klaiō), which means to “mourn or weep.” John added the adjective πολύ (poly) the accusative singular neuter case of πολύς (polys), which means “many, great, much.”

Continue reading

The Word Makes Us Clean


by Martin Luther

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:3 (NASB) 

In this passage, Christ is offering us a remedy for the poison of arrogance, which is overestimating your own holiness. Jesus says this so none of us will think that our own suffering, apart from Christ, can attain forgiveness of our sins or make us fruitful branches in the sight of God. Here’s what usually happens: Someone does many good works and endures much suffering. That person becomes aware of producing fruit. In other words, they are aware of achieving something through preaching or some other method. Then that sweet poison begins to make the person think, “Oh, I have now done something that will make God notice me and be merciful to me.” In this way, little wild branches begin growing alongside the true branches. These wild branches steal the sap and energy from the true branches so that they don’t flourish. That is why the Gardener must be alert. He has to restrain such arrogance and presumption by constant application of the Word. Continue reading

Book


by Mike Ratliff

1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. Revelation 5:1 (NASB) 

1 Καὶ εἶδον ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιὰν τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου βιβλίον γεγραμμένον ἔσωθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν κατεσφραγισμένον σφραγῖσιν ἑπτά. Revelation 5:1 (NA28)

In the passage above (Revelation 5:1) is the word “book” which translates βιβλίον (biblion). This word is the diminutive of βίβλος (biblos), which refers to a “book, scroll, writing.” Biblos originally referred to the papyrus plant and then its fibrous stem, which was exported to Greece through the port of Byblos in Syria. There, the plant was prepared by splitting the stems and then pressing and gluing two layers together to form a sheet. A series of sheets were then joined together to form a scroll that was rolled from both ends. Because papyrus was not very durable, becoming brittle with age, and rotting with moisture, it was eventually replaced by “vellum,” which was made from animal skins, such as calf, antelope, sheep, or cow.

Continue reading

The Lion and the Lamb


by Mike Ratliff

4 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:4-8 (NASB)

What is referred to as “the Church” and “Christianity” in our time sometimes makes me very angry. Why? It is all about something or someone other than our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever religion they are about, it isn’t Biblical Christianity. They don’t even seem to know who Jesus is or what His Advent, ministry, Death on the Cross, and Resurrection were all about. Instead, they have come up with all forms of religiosity (idolatry) and have even made it about social issues like social justice. No, sorry, none of that is why my Lord Jesus Christ is who is and why He did what did and will come again to make everything right. Continue reading

The Glorious Gospel Worthy of Our Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

8 μὴ οὖν ἐπαισχυνθῇς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μηδὲ ἐμὲ τὸν δέσμιον αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ συγκακοπάθησον τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ κατὰ δύναμιν θεοῦ,
9 τοῦ σώσαντος ἡμᾶς
καὶ καλέσαντος κλήσει ἁγίᾳ,
οὐ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ἡμῶν
ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἰδίαν πρόθεσιν καὶ χάριν,
τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, 2 Timothy 1:8-9 (NA28)

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but suffer together in the Gospel by the power of God,
9 the one having saved us
and having called us to a holy calling,
not by our works,
but by His own purpose and grace,
which he gave us in Christ Jesus
before the ages began. 2 Timothy 1:8,9 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Apostle Paul’s understanding of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and that of most of what we refer to as the visible church in our time is quite different. I’m not talking about Reformed Theology as opposed to Arminianism or Semi-Pelagianism or even Pelagianism here. No, I am talking about the Good News itself and its impact on the believer and all those whom God touches through it as it is preached and shared by obedient disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, the real, un-doctored Gospel must contain the offense of the Cross. It must be offensive in that it addresses the fact that each and every one of us is hopelessly lost and and on our way to an eternity separated from God in judgment because we are sinners who can do nothing to save ourselves from God’s Wrath which must come upon on all sin with no exceptions. That is why the Gospel is “Good News” and glorious my brethren. Continue reading

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble


by Mike Ratliff

1 Πόθεν πόλεμοι καὶ πόθεν μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν; οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν, ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν ὑμῶν τῶν στρατευομένων ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ὑμῶν; 2 ἐπιθυμεῖτε καὶ οὐκ ἔχετε, φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε καὶ οὐ δύνασθε ἐπιτυχεῖν, μάχεσθε καὶ πολεμεῖτε, οὐκ ἔχετε διὰ τὸ μὴ αἰτεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς, 3 αἰτεῖτε καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετε διότι κακῶς αἰτεῖσθε, ἵνα ἐν ταῖς ἡδοναῖς ὑμῶν δαπανήσητε. 4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. 5 ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει· πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν, 6 μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν; διὸ λέγει·
ὁ θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται,
ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν. (James 4:1-6 NA28)

1 From where do wars come and from where do fights come among you? Is it not from here–from your pleasures warring in your members? 2 You desire and you do not have. You kill and you envy and you are not able to obtain. You fight and you war. You do not have because you fail to ask. 3 You ask and you do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world is made an enemy of God. Or do you think that  it is in vain the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us“? Be he gives greater grace. Therefore it says,
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.” 
(James 4:1-6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Church since its inception in the 1st Century AD has been plagued by quarrels, disagreements, feuds, splits, et cetera. According to God, the problem is not with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ or His doctrines, but with the fact that people in the Church are not submitted properly to Him or to each other. Pride is behind most disagreements just as it is behind those who break away from the truth to lead their followers with false doctrines and a focus that is on self rather than on God and his glory. Instead, those who cause these problems are in love with self and, therefore, in love with the world, its ways, and the things of the world.

Continue reading

What Does it Mean to Overcome the World?


by Mike Ratliff

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:8-12 (NASB) 

There are some who believe that Romans 7:7-25 was written by the Apostle Paul in reference to before his salvation in that he proclaims his frustration with his inability to keep the law by his own strength. However, the unregenerate are not able to see that only 100% obedience to the law is acceptable to God. In this, they do not have the same grief over their inconsistencies in obedience that a genuine believer has. On the other hand, there are some who teach a false doctrine of perfection for Christians. This doctrine teaches that it is possible for Christians to mature to the point that they no longer sin. This is why I hold that Romans 7:7-25 very clearly teaches us that if we attempt to keep the law through morality or legalism then we will experience that same frustration that Paul did. On the other hand, when we understand that it is not us who have overcome the world, but our Lord, then we will have a very different view of tribulation and peace in this life for Christians.  Continue reading

I Have Been Crucified with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 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.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:1-14 (NASB) 

The Doctrine of Regeneration tells Christians that the life they live now will not be as it once was, but will take on the characteristics of regeneration. The Christian is a new creation. The attributes of this pertain to spiritual quality rather than physical substance, however, the evidence of it will become manifest in how the Christian walks through each day and deals with the circumstances of life. Continue reading

Outer Darkness


by Mike Ratliff

12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. Revelation 22:12-15 (NASB) 

Spiritual blindness is a wonder to behold. Those false prophets who profess to be Christian while loving and teaching the doctrines of demons have been given over to their sin by God. Their consciences have been seared and no matter how adamantly we tell them the truth and prove it by showing them what the Word of God teaches, they cling to their false doctrines while stopping up their ears like a rebellious child. The proponents of what has come to be called “Christian Universalism” love their false doctrine, which teaches that the Lake of Fire is not real or it is only temporary regardless of the Word of God clearly saying the opposite. Continue reading

Why Trouble Follows the Preaching of God’s Truth


by Mike Ratliff

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36 and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.
37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39 (NASB) 

Cleansing the heart of man-made religiosity is not fun and games. In fact, it hurts. Many resist God’s truth even to the point of bitterly expressing their anger over what is taught or preached. God’s ways are not man’s ways. The way that seems right unto man is not God’s way. Even the regenerate can cling to a paradigm they have constructed in their hearts that represents God in a way that pleases them, but in fact, can be idolatrous. Their God would not do x,y, and z while the Word tells us that the God of the Bible most certainly does allow things to happen to His people in such a way that their idols comes under direct attack. Many of us have learned the hard way that in this age God sometimes allows His people to be oppressed by their governments, big business, false teachers, or social activists. This could very well be unjust treatment. How are we to react? Continue reading

Justified by Faith


by Mike Ratliff

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) 

The Protestant Reformation was used by God to restore the lost doctrine of Justification by Faith. Also, all of the reformers were adamant that the Bible be available to all people in a language they could read and understand. The Roman Catholic Church of that era was apostate and taught a corrupt gospel based on works. The Bible was kept locked up and away from non-scholars. It was always read verbally to the people in Latin, which few understood.

As the Bible was translated from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into German, English, French, etc. the doctrine of Justification by Faith became central. Why would our enemy and his seed seek to bury this doctrine within religion? Continue reading