Self-righteous?


by Mike Ratliff

9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”Self-Righteousness: the attempt to meet God’s standards based upon one’s own merits. Luke 18:9-14 (NASB) 

In these last days as God has many of us working, standing firm as He uses us with the wisdom and discernment He has given us, some though they perhaps mean well, from a confused theology foundation and concept of genuine holiness and Christlikeness, are continually accusing many of us of things that seemed designed to discourage and divide. Their “standards” of Christian conduct that reveals whether a person is genuinely in God’s will or not is based on a set of values that are very hard to find in the only place that counts, the Word of God. Instead of being based in our Lord’s own teachings and those of the inspired writers of the Word of God, they have created their own standards that our enemy uses in his accusations of those who are truly obeying God by speaking His truth in face of liars, hypocrites, apostates, and heretics.  Continue reading

Discernment, heresy, and apostasy


by Mike Ratliff

10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11 (NASB) 

True Biblical discernment is crucial for the spiritual health of the Body of Christ because there has and always will be a plague of false teaching and teachers upon it until our Lord’s return. If you have ever flown on public transportation and had to go through the entire TSA screening process then you know how unpleasant that is. Also, and I am sure many of you probably already know this, the TSA has never caught or stopped one terrorist from boarding a plane. The TSA relies on “technology” based systems and force 100% of passengers who have not been prescreened into that funnel of stripping down, full body scans and “pat down” searches.  Many are furious about it. I read a study that compared the TSA’s system with that used by Israel at their airports, which is, instead of relying on “technology” based systems, passengers are interviewed by experts trained in what specifically to look for. They know their enemy and they know how to flush him or her out via their own interview process. Notice that since they have gone to this system that they have had no breakdown in their security. My point is that they know their enemy. They know their enemy’s tactics. They know their enemy’s goal. They do not waste time and resources with those who are no threat. Continue reading

Reprobate Mind


by Mike Ratliff

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 (NASB) 

28 Καὶ καθὼς οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν τὸν θεὸν ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει, παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς ἀδόκιμον νοῦν, ποιεῖν τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα, 29 πεπληρωμένους πάσῃ ἀδικίᾳ πονηρίᾳ πλεονεξίᾳ κακίᾳ, μεστοὺς φθόνου φόνου ἔριδος δόλου κακοηθείας, ψιθυριστὰς 30 καταλάλους θεοστυγεῖς ὑβριστὰς ὑπερηφάνους ἀλαζόνας, ἐφευρετὰς κακῶν, γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς, 31 ἀσυνέτους ἀσυνθέτους ἀστόργους ἀνελεήμονας· 32 οἵτινες τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπιγνόντες ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες ἄξιοι θανάτου εἰσίν, οὐ μόνον αὐτὰ ποιοῦσιν ἀλλὰ καὶ συνευδοκοῦσιν τοῖς πράσσουσιν. (Romans 1:28-32 NA28)

The word translated as “depraved” in the NASB rendering of Romans 1:28 is the Greek word ἀδόκιμον. This anarthrous adjective means, “unapproved, unworthy, spurious, or worthless.” In the context of Romans 1:28 it is speaking of those who do not have a sense of pending judgment. They have a reprobate, abominable mind that is abhorred by God and men who do know God’s truth. The word “mind” here is νοῦν. This anarthrous noun is the intellectual faculty of the natural man, applicable to God or Christ (Romans 11:34; 1 Corinthians 2:16), employed in practical judgment, capable of being good or evil, and of being regenerated, the mind, the reason, the reasoning faculty. Continue reading

How are Christians to handle professing Christians who prove they are apostate?


by Mike Ratliff

1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1-4 (NASB) 

How should those of us who are in the light of God’s truth live in these last, apostate days as so much of what calls itself “Christian” is anything but? In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, we have just such an instruction. Chapter 3 can be broken down into two distinct parts. Part one runs from v1 through v9 and addresses the apostate nature of those who oppose God’s truth. Part two begins in v10 and runs through v17 and addresses how the man of God should live in an era dominated by wicked men who profess to be Christians. As we study these letters of instructions, it is imperative that we never forget that false teachers, preachers, prophets, and leaders have always plagued the Church. False doctrines are allowed by God to arouse His people to address them and lead the godly remnant out of that darkness into the light of His truth. Our doctrines have been primarily developed through perilous times such as ours. God uses the fires of persecution and tribulation to refine His people and grow them unto Christlikeness. Therefore, let us walk according to the godly instruction of the Apostle Paul given to us in his Spirit-inspired words. Continue reading

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him


by Mike Ratliff

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 (NASB) 

We live in a time of deep deception. Even genuine Christians can be deceived if they are not exceedingly careful. It is imperative that, even though we must remain in the world for a time, we must not be of it. The Church has been under heavy attack since Acts 2. It is a wise and discerning thing for us to understand that God uses this to purify, cleanse, and teach the Church. It is as we address heresy that doctrine is developed or our understanding of God and His ways becomes more defined for us.

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Wheat and Tares


by Mike Ratliff

9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:9-15 (NASB) 

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Matthew 13:24-30 (NASB) 

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:36-43 (NASB) 

Several years ago a preacher ask me what a tare was. He knew that I was from Oklahoma and he thought I would know. I am no country boy, but when I was a young man, I worked in a grain elevator. Actually, most wheat farmers I knew complained about a weed, which grew in their fields, they called “Cheat.” I may not be spelling it correctly. I have seen the weed though. Wheat looks like a thick-bladed grass when it is young and green. “Cheat” is a native rye grass whose species name is Lolium Temulentum. When it is young, it looks just like the Wheat. However, when it matures, it has a head on it as does Wheat, but you can tell them apart. Wheat has value, but “Cheat” is a nuisance. We offered a Wheat cleaning service to farmers just prior to planting. To clean Wheat seed we ran it through a screening process to remove any other seeds that were not Wheat. We would drop the grain down a chute into a cleaning machine that had several well-placed screens that allowed only the Wheat grains to make it through the process. The rest of the chaff and weed seeds were waste, which we bagged. Some of the farmers took that waste and fed it to their chickens. Continue reading

Wretched man that I am!


by Mike Ratliff

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? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25 (NASB) 

There is a great deal of false teaching going on in the visible Church in our time. One of those teachings has to do with the nature of salvation. Even though I grew up going to Church I was not a Christian until January 1986 and there are even times as I look at how I have matured and become dedicated more and more to my devotion to walk before my Lord according to His will at all times, I wonder if my true salvation took place back in 2004 instead. In any case, the reason for this is that as I take inventory of my Christian walk I see inconsistencies. I see periods of very high devotion intermixed with periods of self-focus. The periods of repentance afterwards are both incredibly sweet and heart-rending, much like the Apostle’s statement from Romans 7:24. The sweetness comes from the knowledge that I am forgiven according to God’s Grace and will not be judged for my sin, since I am in Christ, according to God’s Mercy.

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Wine


by Mike Ratliff

22 χεῖρας ταχέως μηδενὶ ἐπιτίθει μηδὲ κοινώνει ἁμαρτίαις ἀλλοτρίαις· σεαυτὸν ἁγνὸν τήρει.
23 Μηκέτι ὑδροπότει, ἀλλʼ οἴνῳ ὀλίγῳ χρῶ διὰ τὸν στόμαχον καὶ τὰς πυκνάς σου ἀσθενείας. 24 Τινῶν ἀνθρώπων αἱ ἁμαρτίαι πρόδηλοί εἰσιν προάγουσαι εἰς κρίσιν, τισὶν δὲ καὶ ἐπακολουθοῦσιν· 25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὰ ἔργα τὰ καλὰ πρόδηλα, καὶ τὰ ἄλλως ἔχοντα κρυβῆναι οὐ δύνανται. 1 Timothy 5:22-25 (NA28)

22 Do not lay hands on too quickly and thereby be partner in sins of others; keep yourself pure.
23 No longer drink water alone, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and  your frequent weaknesses. 24 The sins of some men are clear before them, leading them to judgment; for others, their sins follow on; 25 likewise also the works that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be hidden. 1 Timothy 5:22-25 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

If you get a group of Baptists together then hit certain passages of scripture that contain references to wine, it doesn’t take long for the discussion to get hasty, defensive, polemic, and somewhat confused. When positions are taken that are based on what some preacher from my parents’ generation said instead of what the Word of God says then we should exercise discernment right there and insist on solid exegesis of scripture instead of emotional, cultural and denominational positions. Continue reading

Unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

43 Μετὰ δὲ τὰς δύο ἡμέρας ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν· 44 αὐτὸς γὰρ Ἰησοῦς ἐμαρτύρησεν ὅτι προφήτης ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι τιμὴν οὐκ ἔχει. 45 ὅτε οὖν ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, ἐδέξαντο αὐτὸν οἱ Γαλιλαῖοι πάντα ἑωρακότες ὅσα ἐποίησεν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, καὶ αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἦλθον εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν. John 4:43-45 (NA28)

43 And after the two days, He went from there into Galilee 44 for Jesus Himself testified that a prophet in His own country does not have honor. 45 Therefore, when He came into Galilee, The Galileans received Him having seen all things that He did in Jerusalem during the Feast for they also went to the Feast. John 4:43-45 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The “after the two days” refers to the two days Jesus and His disciples spent in Sychar of Samaria ministering to the people there. The statement by our Lord about a prophet not having honor in his own country contrasts the believing response of the Samaritans with the unbelief of our Lord’s own people in Galilee and Judea. The Jews reticent faith depended on our Lord’s performance of miracles while all He did in Samaria was preach the truth. The Samaritans responded, but the Jews were not open to Him, but more often than not, exhibited reluctance and hardness. In my translation, the verb “received” from v45 is ἐδέξαντο the 3rd person, Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Middle voice case of δέχομαι or dechomai, “essentially means to receive something, but it can also mean to welcome someone.” As v45 is in context with v44 and v48, this reception was likely one of curiosity seekers whose appetite centered more on seeing miracles than believing in Jesus as Messiah, therefore, John probably meant these words as irony. Continue reading

According to the goal pursue the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

13 ἀδελφοί, ἐγὼ ἐμαυτὸν οὐ λογίζομαι κατειληφέναι· ἓν δέ, τὰ μὲν ὀπίσω ἐπιλανθανόμενος τοῖς δὲ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεκτεινόμενος, 14 κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκω εἰς τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Philippians 3:13-14 (NA28)

13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have made it my own; but one thing, forgetting what lies behind while straining forward to the things ahead, 14 according to the goal I pursue the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (a personal translation of Philippians 3:13-14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Those truly in Christ are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not all agree about what that means, but according to that passage it does tell us plainly, “ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά” or “so that if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold he has become new.” Those who are a καινὴ κτίσις· have moved from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ Jesus. The Christian now lives for Christ by living for others, effected by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:3, 6, 18) and the death of Christ (5:14-15). This was destined by God to come amid this evil age. Notice it was never meant to suppliant it, but to be in the midst of it and be continually at war with it. This war causes many casualties. So many professing Christians fall victim to taking the wrong side in this war and find in the end that their profession was nothing more than words. The god of this age blinds the eyes and hearts of his slaves and many of them are very religious. This blindness creates hearts so hard and unbelief so thick that the Gospel, even when well preached, interests them not at all.  Continue reading

Look, the lamb of God, the one lifting up the sin of the world!


by Mike Ratliff

29 Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει· ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. John 1:29 (NA28)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the lamb of God, the one lifting up the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

In my Nave’s Topical Bible there is a subsection under “Atonement” titled “Atonement – Made by Jesus.” It covers half of page 85 and runs through half of page 88. I find it interesting that the leaders in the emergent church such as Brian McLaren focus so much of their energies on trying to deny that the Lord Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross to atone for the sins of His people was the primary mission of His incarnation. Instead, these false Christian leaders point their followers to follow a man-made Jesus whose purpose in His incarnation was to show people how best to live and make the world a better place. At the same time, so many “denominations” are rapidly apostatizing through cultural compromise and moving away from God’s moral standards. Our enemy has planted easily believable lies throughout the visible Church and has given verbiage to the lying mouths of his prophets that are designed to confuse and take away the clarity of God’s Truth. For instance, the emergent leaders cannot preach a thing without emphasizing that ultimate truth is unknowable while elevating indefiniteness as a virtue. They teach that if solid, defined lines run between professing Christians and God in which doctrines are clearly held and proclaimed then those Christians have made-up what they believe and are no longer in communion with God. Sounds a bit like a post-modern version of Gnosticism to me. Continue reading

Common Grace: Myth vs. Reality


I have reached a very important crossroad. If you have been following my posts over the last several weeks then you know that I have been focusing on what genuine Salvation looks like, its source, and comparing it with man’s version of it that does not save. Of course, how do we do that? We go to God’s Word. We use the words of our Lord, the Apostles and Church Fathers and the Reformers and good men of faith who have come since to help us clarify God’s truth from every attempt that our enemy makes to cloud the issue, to sow confusion and keep people in the dark. Yes, God’s truth shines the light of our Lord in the darkness of our enemy and his seed’s lies that have created a form of “Christianity” that looks genuine, but is not. Many call it “Churchianity.” I make no apologies that I am Reformed in my faith. My theology is that of the Reformers. However, many who call themselves Calvinists and should, by most men’s measure, be “Reformed” as well, prove that their theology is compromised by what I am about to share in this post. I know that this post will anger some. I will probably lose a few friends. However, truth is truth and I will continue to pursue it with my all with the time the Lord gives me in order to bless the Body of Christ. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Life and death


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 “Thusly, for God loved the world, so that He gave his only Son, that all those trusting in him might not be destroyed but might have life eternal. (John 3:16 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

26 ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος νεκρόν ἐστιν, οὕτως καὶ ἡ πίστις χωρὶς ἔργων νεκρά ἐστιν (James 2:26 NA28)

26 As indeed for the body without spirit is dead, thusly also the trust without works is dead.  (James 2:26 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

There is no more dramatic contrast between two words than those describing what are alive and those describing what are dead. For instance, in James 2:14-26 James describes the difference between living faith (trust), which is saving faith (trust), and dead faith (trust), which does not save. In v26 the first occurrence of “dead” translates the Greek adjective νεκρόν (nekron), the Nominative, Singular, Neuter case of νεκρός (nekros), which speaks of a dead body or corpse. The second occurrence of “dead” translates the Greek adjective νεκρά (nekra), the Nominative, Singular, Feminine case of νεκρός. What James is describing is a false faith that is as dead as a dead body. The ultimate contrast is to take that which is the state of death compared to the state of eternal life, which our Lord described in John 3:16.  Continue reading