Out of Pocket


I am taking a much needed long weekend to hike, rock climb,  take pictures, and fellowship with family and friends in Oklahoma. God willing, I will return sometime Sunday, May 3rd.

Why Saints Persevere


by Mike Ratliff

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 ESV)

Not long ago during some research for a piece I was working on, I found myself on a blog that was most definitely not a friendly place for anyone who holds that God’s Truth is absolute and we can know it by studying His Word. The search that landed me there had to do with Penal Substitution. I never did find out why Google linked to that site, however, as I read the comments in the discussion of the post in question, one seemed to sear itself into my memory. The person who wrote came across as young and angry. He had a huge problem with Paul Washer of Heart Cry Missionary Society. Why? He did not like the fact that when he heard him he felt like Paul was simply manipulating his emotions to make him believe that he was not really saved. He then began ranting about Reformation Theology, calling it “works theology.” Why? Because we teach that proof of the veracity of one’s salvation is proven when the believer perseveres to the end. I asked myself, how that could possibly be seen as works because we do not teach that the believer’s perseverance is accomplished by self-effort. Continue reading

Are You Bearing the Marks of Jesus or the Mark of the Beast?


by Mike Ratliff

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:14-17 ESV)

The Apostle Paul did indeed bear the marks of persecution on his body. He had been found to be worthy to suffer shame for the name as had Peter and John (Acts 5:17-42). Paul had been stoned, beaten, imprisoned, run out of town, and would die as a martyr. Why were they persecuted so? They preached the truth. They preached against sin and works theology. They preached the Cross. They preached the exclusivity of the Gospel and against pluralism. They held that God’s truth was absolute. This is the message the natural, unregenerate person hates. This is the message the pseudo-Christians hate as well because the clear bright light of God’s truth reveals their compromises and false doctrines. Continue reading

Holiness is Not an Option


by Mike Ratliff

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

Are we to accept the profession of faith from everyone who claims to be a Christian? This is a hot button issue in our time. I know of several people who once fellowshipped here who no longer do because they are convinced that it is wrong to rebuke and contend with those who profess faith in Christ, but whose fruit show otherwise. What about this fruit? Is it an indication of the veracity of one’s faith? According to Hebrews 12:14 we see that only those who possess holiness will see the Lord. This is a way of saying that those who will see the Lord, those who are truly saved, will possess some degree of personal holiness. Continue reading

Can You Handle the Truth?


by Mike Ratliff

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. (John 18:36-38 ESV)

We use that word “truth” quite a bit here on this blog. Truth is not relative. It is absolute. Of course, when I speak of truth this way I am referring to God’s truth, not man-made truth. What a wonderful thing it is that God gave His people His revealed truth in a form that the regenerate can read or hear and understand. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in John 18:36-38 that the purpose of His incarnation was to bear witness to the truth and that everyone who is of the truth listens to His voice. Continue reading

Blessed Are Those Who Watcheth


by Mike Ratliff

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 ESV)

One of the worst things that has happened for the Church was the removal of official persecution by the Romans after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Prior to that, Christians were always just one step away from possible persecution and death. The Protestant Reformation was at its height during that period when European governments worked closely with the Roman Catholic Church to hunt down and martyr the reformers. Puritanism was also at its height when the Crown and the Church of England persecuted the Puritans. In any case, the point I am trying to make is that for the last 250 years or so, the church has been weakened by the lack of this sort of pressure. In this, combined with a predominantly easy-believism bent visible Church that has resulted from it, we find that the majority of churches and their members are very worldly, fleshly, unrepentant, and extremely weak doctrinally. They do not know their Bibles. Instead, they follow men. Continue reading

Evanjellyfish and Mighty Warriors


by Mike Ratliff

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:8-11 ESV)

There is a dread disease present in the visible Church in our day. The disease is the result of conformity to the current culture in which it is a crime to tell the truth to those who may resent it. It is a crime because a minority has determined that the worst thing that can happen to a person in our day is that they be offended by standards or truths that those conveying them portend, directly or indirectly, they are absolute. While temporal society can hold all sorts of beliefs and standards contrary those found in the Word of God, the tragedy is when the Church itself conforms to them. This causes it to become weak, ineffectual, confused, and spiritually dead. This causes those professing Christians to water down their doctrines, misinterpret scripture according to the world’s values, and reject the message from God while persecuting His messengers. This is exactly why the Jews all through Biblical History killed God’s Prophets. His message was always contrary to the closely held beliefs of the people that came from  them being conformed to the ways of the world just as has the majority of the visible Church in our time. Continue reading

Children of God


By Mike Ratliff

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 ESV)

My parents are in their 80’s and both have health issues that have become exacerbated at a seemingly increasing rate over the last few years. It is something I confess that I never thought would happen in that my sister, brother, and myself are having to make life changing decisions for them that I am not at all comfortable making. On the other hand, I have a 7-month-old grandson who is even more helpless and dependant on his parents and grandparents for everything. While that is expected and we all love taking care of him, it is quite another thing to have parents who, if they continue to go the direction they are going, will soon be nearly as helpless as my grandson. In light of this, let us contemplate our spiritual condition as Christians in the family of God. Continue reading

The Sovereignty of God


by Mike Ratliff

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. (1 Chronicles 29:11 ESV)

I was involved in a theological “discussion” quite some time ago in which one who disagreed with the Doctrines of Grace attempted to say that his belief that Man’s Free Will was sacrosanct and God could not violate it was Biblical Christianity. After much consternation and prayer on how to respond to that that I simply told him that he was in unbelief. He shot back that that was not the case! He told me that he had his thinkology all lined up and was in need of nothing more than that. It reminded me of Revelation 3:17, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” The only ones who enter the Kingdom of God do so on God’s terms not their own. That means that no one comes in on the basis of pride. Continue reading

Fight the Lord’s Battles


by Mike Ratliff

So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. (Acts 5:38-41 ESV)

A good friend informed me of an incident in his life in which he had suffered some extreme personal costliness by standing firm and not giving in to the lies about God and our faith. I could tell he was in a great deal of anxiety and pain. He was also perplexed about many things. I asked God what I should do. Should I try to comfort him? Should I try to encourage him.? How was I to do either? All through this there was a nagging voice attempting to blame me and what I teach here as being the cause of my friends pain. This voice also attempted to warn me not to try to encourage him with the passage from Acts 5 (above) that was being laid on my heart as I prayed because then that would open me up to criticism. Continue reading

Is Justification According to Law or Grace?


by Mike Ratliff

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

Since the inception of this ministry I have been approached by many concerned people who are convinced that they have sinned one too many times and have forfeited their salvation. They were being continually antagonized about their sin by a voice within. In every case, after some careful questioning, I learned that each of them have been part of a church or denomination whose doctrine of justification is a blend of grace and law, faith and works. Also, as I attempted to explain that justification is by faith alone according to the grace of God, each of them responded in disbelief and that usually ended the conversation. When I tried to share with them that the unregenerate are not troubled by their sin this way it fell on deaf ears. Continue reading

Valiant For Truth


by Mike Ratliff

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:10-17 ESV)

A dear friend sent me Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone, which is a very good exposition of the “emerging church.” I have quoted from it since I received it, but I have not had the time to simply sit and devour it. I began that process today. I highly recommend this book to all desiring to know the truth of what some have called “a new reformation.” The “movement” is not biblically based at all. Instead, it has its roots in the existential philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard repackaged by business guru Peter Drucker. Oakland gives us the names of the “Christian” leaders who have bought into this deception. Some are those we know well such as Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet, but there are others that we don’t normally think of being in the “emergent movement” such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. In any case, what we must determine is what we are to do when those whose agenda is nothing more than the destruction and replacement of our Orthodox faith attack it at every level. Continue reading

The Preaching Which Delights Itching Ears


by Mike Ratliff

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Much of what I read online about what is going on in the visible Church that is nothing more than a form of entertainment is foreign to most of my own experience. I have visited one church in our area that is a first class example of the seeker-sensitive model and a few others that were blends of orthodoxy and attempts at cultural relevancy, but I have never been to one of those “churches” that are attempting to fill their pews with series on sex and sexuality. I have never been in a church where the Pastor dressed like a biker and talked like a drunken sailor, but I have seen the video of Mark Driscoll’s “sermon” on the Song of Solomon. I confess that I only watched the first few minutes of it though. It was obvious that Pastor Driscoll’s “sermon” was not based on serious exegesis of that wonderful book in God’s Word. I had several people contact me after that video went online who were aghast after comparing what he preached with what the text of the Song of Solomon actually said. Continue reading

There Will Be A Day


by Mike Ratliff

It seems like at least a week, but it was only two days ago that I received a call from my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband, that my mother had been admitted into a hospital in Oklahoma with chest pains. He told me that my sister was on her way from Houston to OKC to be with her and my father. I called the hospital and found out that the physicians did not think she had had a heart attack, but was experiencing a reoccurrence of acid reflux. I even talked with her and she seemed fine. I thanked God and went back to work. I went home afterwards and mowed my lawn. When I got through, I found that I had three messages on my cell phone from my brother-in-law. During the afternoon, my mother had a heart attack in the hospital. I was stunned. He told me that she was being transported to a large hospital in OKC for heart surgery. The next couple of hours are like a blur to me. I remember typing in the post asking for prayer for my parents and my family. I must have packed because after the 5-hour drive to OKC I had clothes to wear and whatnot. Continue reading