Be Strong in Grace

by Mike Ratliff

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV)

One of my favorite things to do is study my Bible, and then write about what God has shown me from His Word. Lately there has been some posts that have lead to some serious contention from some people. Why? Those posts touched on subjects dripping in controversy. They cast doubt on the foundation of some people’s sacred cows. Of course that is because I used scripture to make those points which God used to espouse that contention in people’s lives and hearts.

While I do not regret being obedient in doing this, I have become a target of our enemy. I have had some severe attacks trying to get me to despair and become discouraged. Along with that I am experiencing my annual Spring Time allergy misery coupled with severe back pain and digestive issues. When I sat down here to get ready to write this post it was all I could do to shut out that voice in my head telling me, “It’s okay, you don’t have to write this evening. No one is going to read this anyway. Let someone else fight the fight.” However, I have learned not to listen to that voice. He will only lead me to spiritual mediocrity and self-absorption. So, I ignored the voice then asked God to help me. This post is the result.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:8-13 ESV)

Why did Paul suffer? He wrote this from prison. His suffering was the price he paid for preaching the gospel. Some say the gospel is not necessary. Why not just trust that God will save His elect. He is going to anyway. Why preach the gospel to everyone? We must never allow the gospel to be overshadowed by election. Election is not the gospel. When Paul ministered in planting churches everything he did and said was bathed in the gospel. Why?

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV)

People are saved by hearing the gospel. Studying doctrine and contemplating the wonders of election, justification and sanctification is great, but it does not replace our obligation to share the gospel with everyone. God has chosen the foolishness of trusting in, believing in and submitting to a Saviour who was crucified and died on the cross to justify those who do believe and repent. I will someday, perhaps even today, stand before my Lord to give an account. I pray that I will not be ashamed of what I did with the truth He has given me. Therefore, I renew right now my commitment to continue to rightly divide the Word of truth and proclaim that truth to all who read what I write. The gospel must be central to our message. It must permeate all that we do. It isn’t an add on to our message. It is the message. Why? Salvation requires and comes only through faith.

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:8-17 ESV)

I pray that those reading this will renew themselves to living gospel centered lives free from the coldness and sterility of simply studying doctrine and theology as ends in themselves. The end of all things is Christ. What we do with what He has given us must be dedicated to our obedience to Him in all things.

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20 thoughts on “Be Strong in Grace

  1. Mike:
    I just want to thank you for your effort to write such Scripture laden articles. It is such an encouragement to so many. I know there will always be detractors and that’s a hard thing. Standing firm is never easy nor is speaking the truth in love. Most people today are very good at what I call unbiblical love that embraces any belief and tolerates any behavior regardless of how ungodly. May God’s grace continue to uphold and uplift you. Praying for you my brother. Wendy West

  2. Amen,good post brother. The end of Correct doctrine is that we might love the Lord our God with all our heart,all our soul and all our mind,and that we might love our neighbor as ourselves.Love of God and for our fellow man is what compels us to preach the gospel.Correct doctrine is what allows us to preach an effectual gospel,Not to be right,but to be able to rightly love.

  3. Mike,

    As always your posts are beautiful words to my ears. I just heard the real truth last year at the age of 53, on John Pipers site. Your posts are such a blessing to me so please don’t give up. He is doing a great work through you. Bless You. I have gotten called narrow minded, crazy, gone to far, and divisive by telling the truth. They don’t care for truth even if you show them right from the Word.

    Deborah

  4. I think we forget sometimes who we are and who God is. We are not God and He is not us. He determines the elect and we are to obey Him and preach the Gospel to everyone. Learning doctrine, which I love to do, is not so that we can lord it over people as though we came up with the knowledge, but it is to learn about how awesome God is and His separateness from us that we may fear Him and be humble before Him…not puffed up with knowledge. Long sentence, sorry! But really! We call ourselves Calvinist now instead of Christian? We lift people up higher than we ought. It’s not fair to that person for then they fight pride and it’s idolatry until God. Yes, let’s keep it centralized on Christ! I keep you and your health and your family in my prayers and thank you for your tireless work!

  5. Mike,

    Amen!

    I too want to thank you Mike for your strength and encouragement – it is a blessing from above!
    I also want to thank the Possessing the Treasure “postees” ( I know that is not a word, but you know what I mean) for some of your comments are also full of strength and encouragement.

    I am truly thankful for being led to Possessing the Treasure! It has been a God perfectly timed blessing!

    In Christ,
    Sherry

  6. Mike I always enjoy reading your post..I might not consistently comment but I trully look forward to reading how God has graced you to embrace his word and explicate the word of truth! I pray your total obedience to the will of the Father and may your confidence rest in him and that his Infallible word have free course in you that the heart of men be exposed that Christ our Lord and Saviour be GLORIFIED! Be Encouraged my Brother

  7. Deborah,

    Sounds like you and i found the truth at close to the same age and nearly at the same time. God is waking up His people. You are right about some not caring for the truth even if you show it to them from scripture. That is called spiritual blindness.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. Mike, welcome to the club! There will always be those who fight against you, no matter what you teach. What matters is that you do not fight against God in what you teach. Just keep being obedient to His call and be joyful that He has shown you, and continues to show you, the truth. Be encouraged to pray and study before you post (I know you do!) and then let the chips fall where they may.

    Men do not fight against you, they fight against God. If they are fighting out of ignorance, we pray that Father would forgive them, for they know not what they do. And then we try to help them see the truth, gently and with all patience. But if they are fighting out of rebellion, having seen the truth and rejected it, there is nothing you can do. All is in God’s hands. You are not entrusted to save people, but only to plant and/or water. And that you can only do as God permits. But in all you do, give thanks.

  9. Hello Mike,

    I know in the churches today that what is being taught is that Christians should always be happy-clappy and unbeat and enthusiastic, but that was not always the case with the apostles and disciples. Just remember it is not a sin to get down sometimes. There were instances in the Bible where even the apostles and disciples got so discouraged and depressed to the point they wished they were dead!

    For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that WE DESPAIRED EVEN OF LIFE: (2 Corinthians 1:8 KJV).

  10. Mike,

    I do praise God for your determination and desire to be obedient to what you are convinced about. Thank God for His grace, His wonderful grace that sustains us. Reading your posts I thank God for the remnant God has kept for Himself. In an era where the entire Christendom is seemingly corrupted and identified with the world, I thank God for people like you who stand for what the Bible demands instead of twisting the Scripture to justify their actions. May God bless you richly and keep you in his grace.

    I do pray also for healing on you as go through physical discomfort along with your mental tensions. We all get discouraged at times as we are the targets of the enemy, just because we have made up our minds to resist him and stay on the Lord’s side. But cheer up, God is on our side, and that makes us the majority. You are in my prayer, brother. May the Lord protect you from the snares of the enemy and make you bolder than before.

    Blessings in Christ!

    Joji

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