Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?


I had a very interesting day today dealing with a certain Catholic apologist. This confrontation messed up my concentration. I felt torn between continuing with our study of Matthew 5 or writing something specific against the attack I absorbed earlier. Instead of making that decision, I mowed my lawn. Then my wife and I did some research on the internet. By the time I got back to this it was too late to start so I decided to post one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament.

I cannot read this without worshipping the Living God. I pray that you will do so as well.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

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. 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. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump. (Isaiah 6:1-13 ESV)

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The Beatitudes, the Essence of a Genuine Disciple


by Mike Ratliff

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:3-13 ESV)

Several years ago, about 18 months after I was saved, I heard a wonderful lesson at a men’s retreat on Matthew 5:1-12. My Bible knowledge at that time was spotty. I had heard of The Beatitudes, but really hadn’t studied them. I had actually heard others teach that these statements are not possible for Christians until Jesus comes in His glory. I also heard that this is what Christians will be like during the Millennium. Both of these teachings came out of another teaching that said that there were two types of Christians, Disciples and Carnal Christians. At that time, being such a new believer, I thought that was Biblical. I look back on that period of time now and can see clearly why God moved me away from that church and denomination. Continue reading

Our Sin Problem Part 3


by Mike Ratliff

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:1-6 ESV)

I find it appalling that our version of the church in the early 21st Century has so neglected Discipleship that Christians across the board are clueless about the deadly issue of resident sin within them. They not only do not know it is there, but they are given no training on how to deal with it. After salvation they are told that they are new creations in Christ, the old has passed away, behold the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Well, that is true, at salvation believer’s hearts are quickened. What was dead is now alive. What this means is that where there was zero spiritual life before there is now abundant spiritual life. However, this means that believers are now in Christ spiritually and He is in them spiritually. They can pray, worship and read their bibles with understanding. However, it does not mean that their “old man” sin nature is dead and gone. He is still there. He now has an alive Spirit to deal with whereas before, the Soul controlled everything. Now there is huge battle taking place between the Spirit and Soul for dominance in the heart of the believer. Continue reading

Our Sin Problem Part 2


by Mike Ratliff

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! (Psalms 40:11-13 ESV)

As we saw in Part 1, the first step in mortifying our sin is to attack it habitually. That means that as we take each step through each part of each day we habitually take each thought capture to the Holiness of God. We compare what our hearts are attempting to pursue for gratification with God’s standards, the Law and the commands of our Saviour. This is the first step in our declared war on the root of sin in our hearts. There are two ways to attack our sin nature. The first way is useless. It involves trying to stop doing the sin. It is equivalent to picking the fruit off of a bad tree in an attempt to kill it. That, of course, is silly, but that is what trying to use will power to stop sinning is analogous to. The other way to to attack our sin nature is to lay the axe at the root of the tree and start going for the kill. If we kill the root the tree will die. I would rather think of what we are attempting to kill as weeds rather than a fruit tree, but you get the idea. Continue reading

Our Sin Problem Part 1


by Mike Ratliff

Most believers I know become quite perturbed with me when I dwell on the topic of sin after salvation. I fear that many of our number consider this a taboo topic. In their estimation, they are saved and they don’t have to worry about sin anymore. Of course these same believers are never very interested in the topic of personal holiness either. When these believers do sin they come across with an attitude like, “I know I sinned, but God is going to forgive me so what is the big deal?” It is as if they are living as examples of certain admonitions from scripture.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1 ESV)

What was the Apostle Paul’s response to that question?

By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:2-14 ESV)
Continue reading

Heirs with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14 ESV)

If you are anything like me, looking closely at your walk before the Lord, the concept that sinful believers who vacillate between godliness and carnality with deliverance from those sins not in any way certain, then the concept that we are heirs with Christ is hard to grasp. I have no trouble with God’s absolute sovereignty, holiness, righteousness, justice, immutablility, omnipotence, omniscience, or omnipresence. He is perfect. He is the most High. The problem is that I know that I am not in any way worthy enough to even be in His presence. Continue reading

Life in the Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:22-8:1-4 ESV)

In yesterday’s post, The Carnality of Christians and the Mortification of Sin, we looked at the four things that Christians must do in order to find deliverance from sinful desires in their hearts. These four things should be part of our discipleship in our churches, but they have been forgotten or bypassed in our 21st Century American Christianity. These four things that need to be emphasized in our churches again are the Holiness of God, the significance of motivating desire, the need for self-scrutiny and the life-changing power of God. Instead most believers are taught what actions to do and what actions to not do. It is all external. Sin avoidance is emphasized when the Bible clearly tells us that God looks at the heart. Continue reading

The Carnality of Christians and the Mortification of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:9-24 ESV)

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

Judging by Appearances


by Mike Ratliff

I have had a very interesting day today. First, my wife is out of town so I have the house to myself. Second, it’s about 7pm on Monday right now and I am working from my home office. I have several hours of work left over from my day job that I must get done tonight. I am waiting for a 4gb file to finish copying across a T1 so I can finish this. So, while I am waiting, I am writing this post. The reason I chose this topic is because of two sets of comments I received today on this blog. The first set I have flagged as spam, but in fact, the person who commented decided to call all Christians idiots, Jesus a jerk and God an tyrant. The language was 5th grade level trash talk. In other words, my natural inclination is to confront the blatherer about the level of either their maturity or IQ. Continue reading

Charles Spurgeon Quote


“The eye cannot see itself. Did you ever see your own eye? In a mirror you may have done so, but that was only a reflection of it. And you may, in like manner, see the evidence of your faith, but you cannot look at the faith itself. Faith looks away from itself to the object of faith, even to Christ.”

Suffering for Doing Good


by Martin Luther

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” ( 1 Peter 3:13-14)

Peter doesn’t want you to say that the person who harmed you was doing right. For there is a much different judgment between me and God and between me and you. For example, I can have anger, hatred, and evil desire in my heart and not hurt you. You remain unharmed and have nothing against me. But before God, I am guilty. If he punishes me, he does what is right, for I have certainly earned it. If he doesn’t punish me, then he shows mercy to me. He is right either way. But it doesn’t follow from this that the person persecuting me is also doing right. For I have not wronged that person in the same way that I have wronged God.

In Ezekiel 29:19-20, God speaks about King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s as if God were saying, “Don’t you know that he has been my servant and has served me? Now I must give him a reward. I have not yet paid him. I will give him the land of Egypt as his reward.” Nebuchadnezzar had no right to the land, but God had the right to punish others through him. In order that these evil scoundrels won’t eat their bread free of charge, God has them serve him by persecuting his people. Human reason, then, steps in and thinks that people like this must be doing well. But God is only paying them in return for their work of punishing and persecuting devout Christians. But if you endure the punishment and bless God by saying, “You are right, Lord!” you will do well. Then God will cast those people into hell and punish them for doing wrong. But he will mercifully receive you and give you eternal salvation. So let God do what he will. He will certainly repay in the end.

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Hell is Necessary


I believe that we need to take the time to examine the Doctrine of Hell. We love to look at salvation, worship, obedience, prayer, and devotion. However, the Doctrine of Hell is a necessary part of the our understanding of salvation. Follow this link to a fine sermon by Tim Conway. (not the comedian) I did a great deal of heart searching while listening to Pastor Tim’s anointed teaching.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

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Phos Hilaron


Phos Hilaron is the oldest surviving hymn from the primitive church. Most date it to around 300 AD. Below are the Greek, Latin and English words.

Greek

Φώς ‘ιλαρόν αγίας δόξης αθανάτου Πατρός, ουρανίου, αγίου, μάκαρος, Ιησού Χριστέ, ελθόντες επί τήν ηλίου δύσιν, ιδόντες φώς εσπερινόν, υμνούμεν Πατέρα, Υιόν, καί άγιον Πνεύμα, Θεόν, Αξιόν σε εν πάσι καιροίς υμνείσθαι φωναίς αισίαις, Υιέ Θεού, ζωήν ο διδούς, διό ο κόσμος σέ δοξάζει.

Latin

Iucunda lux tu gloriae, fons luminis de lumine, beate Iesu caelitus a Patre sancto prodiens. Fulgor diei lucidus solisque lumen occidit, et nos ad horam vesperam te confitemur cantico. Laudamus unicum Deum, Patrem potentem, Filium cum Spiritu Paraclito in Trinitas gloria. O digne linguis qui piis lauderis omni tempore, Fili Dei, te saecula vitae datorem personent. Amen.

English

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured Who is th’immortal Father, heavenly, blest, Holiest of Holies–Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest; The lights of evening round us shine; We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!

Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung With undefiled tongue, Son of our God, giver of life, alone: Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, thy own. Amen.

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Invitation to Come to Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:35-37 ESV)

In the last post, Clip the Wings of Wisdom, we looked at how Human reason, which is worldly wisdom, is useless for anyone to rely on in order to be saved. We saw where our salvation is a work by all three persons in the Holy Trinity. God the Father chose his people before the foundation of the world. He set into motion all of the circumstances that would result in all of them becoming part of the Family of God. The Son, Jesus Christ, became the God-Man. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He lived a perfect, sinless life then was murdered by wicked men, dying a horrible death by crucifixion. While dying on the cross, the Father poured out His wrath upon the Son. This wrath was against the sin of those whom He elected. Jesus became sin on their behalf. He knew no sin, but He became separate from the Father because of their sin. His death paid the price for their sin. Jesus was three days and nights in His tomb, but rose from the dead. His resurrection paved the way for all who believe on Him as Lord and Saviour for their future resurrection. Continue reading