You Must be Born Again


By Mike Ratliff

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3 ESV)

I was living in Washington, D.C. when Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States. This was in 1976. I remember the media making a big deal of the fact that Carter claimed to be a “Born Again Christian.” I remember a cartoon in Time Magazine later that year that portrayed a sidewalk scene in some large city with normal sized people staring at some adults who were only about 1/3 size. One woman said, “Oh look, born agains!” Continue reading

Preaching the Word Out of Season


by Mike Ratliff 

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV) 

Without a doubt the culture in the 21st Century is “out of season” for the Gospel. Resistance to the truth of God’s Word is strong because our society has rejected absolute truth. Along with this is the downgrade in morals. I was a teenager in the 1960’s. Even in that “free love” culture there would never be the filth allowed on TV that we see in prime time shows in our time such as “My Name is Earl.” However, our Lord Jesus Christ preached the exclusivity of the Gospel. He confronted sin head on, but in our time preachers water down the message so they won’t offend people by preaching against sin. Continue reading

How to Know if One is Abiding in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:4-10 ESV)

For the first 20 or so years of this walk I was in a very immature spiritual state. I was utterly convinced during that time that my worth as a disciple depended upon my performance, my learning, my obedience. With that mind-set it was a very horrible experience at times since I was on a roller coaster ride of obedience and backsliding. What amazed me during that period was that I was looked at as one of the more mature believers at our church. I knew better. That all changed in 2004 and 2005 as God drew me into the light and drastically changed that ‘mind-set.’ It was as I learned and held to the truth that our salvation is all according to God’s will not ours that I began to have peace and freedom. He chose us according to the good pleasure of His will, not according to our abilities or any other inherent attribute we may have. With this remaking of my mind-set came the ending of that cycle of obedience and backsliding. It was as if it had been put to death. Continue reading

No Servant Can Serve Two Masters


by Mike Ratliff

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13 ESV)

When the Protestant Reformation took off in the early 16th Century one of the motivating factors for the cruel retaliation by the Roman church was the teaching by the reformers from God’s Word to the common people that wealth and power were not indicators of God’s blessing on the prelates, priests, monks, bishops, and the Popes. Luther preached a sermon on the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-13) telling all who heard it and read the published versions of it that salvation is by grace through faith alone and it is for all who trust in Christ alone, not for those who accumulate wealth and power as a pretense of God’s blessing. Continue reading

Be Not Overcome by Evil


by Mike Ratliff

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

In our daily Christian walk it is a rare day in which we take every thought capture and, through our active repentance, successfully deny ourselves through every circumstance. I don’t think I could claim that I have successfully done this the majority of the time. However, our God is wise and omniscient. It should be a matter of great rejoicing on our part that our perseverance is in His hands and is based on the work of the Holy Trinity on our behalf, not on our will power. Continue reading

Born to Love


 

by Mike Ratliff

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

As I have mentioned in other posts, I am re-reading the biography of William Tyndale by David Daniell. I am doing this because I believe God desires that I do so. I read it over a year ago, but this time I am picking up a great deal more about many different things than I did before. Through this I have seen that there are many parallels between our time and that of the Reformation. One of those parallels is how ungodly and cruel professing Christians can be. Another is how man-made religion has become accepted as Christianity while genuine Christians are few and far between. These genuine believers see the fallacies of the false, man-focused religion going on in their churches. Many have left. Others stay and fight it out.  Continue reading

The Old Gospel and the New


by James I. Packer

The old gospel of Owen, first of all, contains no less full and free an offer of salvation than its modern counterpart. It presents ample grounds of faith (the sufficiency of Christ, and the promise of God), and cogent motives to faith (the sinner’s need, and the Creator’s command, which is also the Redeemer’s invitation). The new gospel gains nothing here by asserting universal redemption. The old gospel, certainly, has no room for the cheap sentimentalising which turns God’s free mercy to sinners into a constitutional softheartedness on His part which we can take for granted; nor will it countenance the degrading presentation of Christ as the baffled Saviour, balked in what he hoped to do by human unbelief; nor will it indulge in maudlin appeals to the unconverted to let Christ save them out of pity for His disappointment. The pitiable Saviour and the pathetic God of modern pulpits are unknown to the old gospel. The old gospel tells men that they need God, but not that God needs them (a modern falsehood); it does not exhort them to pity Christ, but announces that Christ has pitied them, though pity was the last thing they deserved. It never loses sight of the Divine majesty and sovereign power of the Christ whom it proclaims, but rejects flatly all representations of Him which would obscure His free omnipotence. Continue reading

The Reality of Sin


 


The Simple Gospel
by
John MacArthur
All Rights Reserved


(A copy of this message on cassette tape may be obtained by calling 1-800-55-GRACE)

John 8:21-30    Tape GC 1246

Introduction

It’s wonderful when a person comes to Christ…they no longer are under the tyranny of sin and guilt or of lust and desire, and they no longer are under the bondage of a purposeless and meaningless kind of existence. Christ not only gives meaning to life, but He restores harmony to our spiritual lives by completely forgiving our sin.

Now, what happens when somebody does not want to establish a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ? What happens when a person maintains the masquerade of Christmas, giving homage to an event, but not tolerating the individual in which that event finds its meaning? If receiving Jesus Christ results in an abundant and eternal life, then not receiving Jesus Christ results in receiving the curse of God.

As we find in this passage of John 8 some very alarming statements by Jesus, I must admit they make the passage a difficult thing for me to discuss, let alone understand. I sometimes want to cry out with Richard Baxter, “Oh, for an empty hell and a full heaven!” It is not my desire, nor is it Jesus’ desire for anyone to enter hell, for God is“not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9b). It is not condemnation, but rather warning that Jesus speaks in these verses. Continue reading

Examine Yourself


by John MacArthur 

Are you a Christian? Many people who claim to be point to some event in the past to substantiate their claim. But inviting Jesus to come into your life in the past is not proof that you are genuinely saved. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says to the Corinthian church, “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves (emphasis added).” He wouldn’t have said that if some event in the past were obviously the answer. The Bible never verifies anyone’s salvation by the past but by the present. If there is no evidence of salvation in your life now, you need to face the fact that you may not be a Christian. You need to examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. How does one do that? Jesus shows us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Continue reading

Family Time


I am in OKC through Wednesday. I will try to post and cover comments the best I can. In the meantime please enjoy the articles I have posted from John MacArthur and J.C. Ryle etc. about the Gospel and Christian Authenticity.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Posted in FYI

Self-Righteousness


by J. C. Ryle

“He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” (Luke 18:9)

Are there none to whom this parable is applicable in the present day? Truly, if it were so, the ministers of Jesus would have comparatively a light employment and an idle post. We do not often meet with men who deny the divinity of Christ—or the personality of the Holy Spirit—or disbelieve the Bible—or doubt the existence of a God, and so bring upon themselves swift destruction. But, alas! We have daily proof that the disease spoken of in our text is as deep-seated and hard to cure as ever, and of all the mischievous delusions that keep men out of heaven, of all the soul-destroying snares that Satan employs to oppose Christ’s Gospel, there is none we find so dangerous, none so successful, as self-righteousness! Continue reading

Me a Sinner?


 

by Mike Ratliff

One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”  (Luke 20:1-8 ESV)

I  usually read two to three books at a time. No, not at the same time, but I will have those books in process all at the same time. One of these books I am reading now is the biography of William Tyndale by David Daniell.  I read it over a year ago, but I am re-reading it. I wanted to go over again the condition of the visible Church at the time of the Reformation that God used to inspire men to be willing to be burned alive at the stake because they dared to put the word of God into the vernacular so common people could read it.  Continue reading

If We Live in the Spirit Let Us Also Walk in the Spirit


 

by Mike Ratliff

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26 ESV)

As we have seen over the last several days, this walk in the Spirit, this genuine Christian walk is one of humility and self-denial. It is not marked by an insistence on having one’s fleshly desires met. Nor is it one of self-righteousness, antinomianism, or legalism. The ones who do walk in the Spirit are discerning and penitent. They walk in repentance and God will grow them in holiness. The Holy Spirit manifests the fruit of the spirit in them as they have crucified the flesh. Their focus in their walk is to do all for the glory of God with no desire for self-recognition or self-aggrandizement.  Continue reading

Self-Righteousness and Repentance


 

by Mike Ratliff

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:25-30 ESV)

I heard part of a sermon on the radio in my pickup this afternoon that pierced my heart. I have learned to pay attention when this happens. The preacher was Dr. Richard Land and he was expounding on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. I began listening just as he read Luke 15:25-30. Then he gave a couple of illustrations that God used to direct my path to this post. The first illustration concerned a friend of Dr. Land who was dying. He had terminal cancer. This man was a Pastor of a church in a small town. His daughter had returned home after living a sinful debauched lifestyle. She was pregnant out of wedlock. Her intent had been to privately abort the baby, tell no one, and remain in her sinful lifestyle. However, God entered in to her heart, brought her to repentance, and sent her back home. She arrived at home as her father was dealing with his cancer.  Continue reading