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.

This condition is not true of all believers though. God has His remnant that is on the narrow path, which they entered through the narrow, hard-to-find gate. God has them on the track of spiritual maturity. He has given them wisdom and discernment which He is growing and strengthening through many tests and trials and encounters with the false prophets of our day who will not listen to God’s Truth nor His rebuke. The abuse leveled at them can be very discouraging and the resultant persecution from those who hate the truth can distract them from their ministry of being God’s watchmen.

“Blessed is he that watcheth.”-Revelation 16:15

“We die daily,” said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age. We have to bear the sneer of the world-that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse. Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. If we cannot be torn in pieces by the roaring lion, if we may be hugged to death by the bear, the devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in Him. I fear that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour; you need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Spirit display His omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon’s reference to the enchanted ground is from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. This enchanted ground is near the end of the allegory. It is the part of the narrow path bordered by ground on each side which has an “atmosphere” that makes one naturally lethargic and sleepy. Christian and Hopeful are warned by the Shepherds not to fall asleep there, which they almost do. They keep themselves awake and alert by discussing the things of God and relating the details of their own salvation and walk. I confess that I did not at first understand what Bunyan was referring to in this, but it has become clear over time that the visible Church in our time is asleep on this enchanted ground. However, blessed be those who are alert and watching!

It was not that long ago that I became very discouraged over this. It seemed that the apostasy was growing ever deeper and expanding. However, God is good to those who love Him and His truth. He has brought many of us together who are not asleep. We are alert and are watching. We are not deceived by the lies. We see the truth very clearly while we watch the visible Church go down the drain of easy-believism and apostasy while elevating the words and teachings of men over the Word of God. Be encouraged my brethren, God is preserving His people and will continue to build His church until it is time for the end. Therefore, remain watchful and obedient. This is what God is using to keep us alert and watchful as we journey through the enchanted ground of the apostate Church in our time.

Soli Deo Gloria!

32 thoughts on “Blessed Are Those Who Watcheth

  1. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”

    Hebrews 12
    1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

    2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

  2. James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, that God has promised to those who love him.”

    This makes abiding and persevering a joy! Oh to one day see Him face to face!

    Thank you so much, Mike, for your words of encouragement. God bless you.

  3. This reminds me of Matthew 24, where Jesus warns us that love will grow cold because of false prophets abounding (v.11) When our love is focussed on an idol instead of the one true Christ, our love will most certainly grow cold. But the hope is that those who endure- trust in the true Christ and His Word- to the end will be saved (vs.13) as the gospel of the kingdom is preached to the ends of the earth (vs. 14)

  4. So today’s watchers no longer watch to protect the church. Rather, today’s watchers ARE the church. They are all that’s left, the remnant that remain on the narrow path.

    And if you oppose the watchers or their ways, then you persecute God’s people, and are yourself on the broad path to destruction!

  5. Well thought out M.G. We are all called to stand firm and fight the good fight. Those who oppose the truth are revealing that they are off the narrow path.

  6. Most excellent article, Brother Mike.

    Though I don’t know of any proof to suggest that Mr. Bunyan’s “Enchanted Ground” portion of his allegory was directly connected to his most excellent practical divinity, “Christian Behaviour,” I believe his treatise was specifically for the purpose to aid pilgrims from falling asleep when times were eased.

    Toward the end of his wonderful treatise Mr. Bunyan wrote, “The best way both to provoke others and ourselves to good works is to be often affirming to others the doctrine of justification by grace and to believe it ourselves.”

    In other words, Mr. Bunyan gives us some very practical counsel to be watchful; to speak to one another of the glories of Christ, and Him crucified; and as a result of our certain trust in the truth of grace, the reality of that grace, by the power of the Spirit, will stir us, prod us, provoke us to delight in the LORD, casting away all else that hinders us from embracing the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

    Written in 1663 while in Bedford jail, and published later in 1674, this small, easy-to-carry-with-you, body of practical Christianity was written because Mr. Bunyan knew that there would be times when the promises of persecution (2 Timothy 3:12) and tribulation (John 16:33), those precious promises that would sharpen us as iron and strengthen us to steadfast faith and maturity, would be gone, leaving pilgrims to walk paths that bring sleep to our eyes, apathy to our minds, and complacency to our souls.

    Blessings to you, dear brother.

  7. Amen brother Jon! Thank you so much for sharing this. That is one of his works I have not read, but obviously need to. I know very well that you understand the doctrine of Christian suffering brother.

    I am unable to navigate to that sermon audio page here at work, but I will do so this evening. Can’t wait to hear you preach God’s Word!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. Brother Mike,
    There may actually be a possible Third Awakening coming, for persecution is at our door. With President Obama and his Homeland Security Director Janet Napolotonio..(sp?) I found out I’m probably “on their list” of possible right -wing extremist wacko’s…see, we’re the terrorists the world must be rid of…get the Christians and Jews!! Now more than ever….be alert , be sober…stand with Israel and never bow in worship to the false “messiah” Obama. There is actually a blasphemous painting of him being unveiled on the 29th of this month in NYC.

  9. Amen T.J. God is all-powerful and will not be mocked. We may indeed suffer severe persecution. I believe we had better be watchful and ready. I am not an eschatology “expert,” but I have read of a great deception that “is coming” upon the whole world.” There will be those whom our Saviour will protect from it. Isn’t it amazing how deceived the world is right now and how much if not most of the visible Church is following suit?

  10. Good post Mike! Are we blessed or what!? God has chosen us and given us the wisdom and discernment of the false. What a gift to give His own!

  11. I just saw it as well. My goodness, abomination it certainly is, but I was also thinking about those who actually see this man this way. Get ready for full scale war on the truth folks.

  12. Mike,

    What you have stated here is the sad, sad truth. I’ve read many a story of believers who have encountered false teachers and false prophet, but it is all brought home when it happens face to face, in your own church and from the pulpit of your church where truth is supposed to be cherished and proclaimed. I am becoming increasingly convinced that most “churches” are infested with false teachers, false doctrine, false brethren and false preachers. When people sound more like Joel Olsteen than John the Baptist you pretty well get the hint that things are not as they should be.
    Confronting the error and the person who is speaking it is a MUST. Letting it slide in the name of “unity” or whatever cloak is prescibed by the perpetraters of evil is NOT an option. To me, this is not “earnestly contending for the faith”, rather it is the same as denying the Lord who bought me because I will be found to be “ashamed of Him and His Word” (Jude 3 & Luke 9:26).
    On a much better note, I hear of the multitudes that our Lord is saving all over this world. What a great joy it should stir in us to know that He is saving multitudes. Millions of people are turning to the Lord. What a great day it will be when we are all together with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

    Even so, come Lord Jesus!!!

    Darrel

  13. We can’t believe they would actually do a painting like that. Remember when the Beatles said they were more popular than J.C.? and what happened? Look how far gone everyone is now………… Well, the man of sin needs to be revealed and then Jesus says He is coming back for us. Lets just hope this goes fast…….we are ready for His return FOR SURE!!

  14. Amen Paul and Luann! I remember that very well. I don’t suppose anyone ever anticipated why the great deception will be so effective is that those deceived by it want it so bad.

  15. Don’t you think there are nearly as many false conversions in Africa and China as there are in the U.S.? I mean the world is the world. Multitudes who have prayed a prayer are not much different than the ones here who do that. Wanting your best life now ala Joel Osteen is just a difference of degree with wanting your best life now — feeding my children. It is very sad, and very understandable, but is it eternal life?

    I pray that Jesus will come soon — the world does seem upside down — calling evil good and good evil — all at a faster and faster rate of change. But, I guess, I don’t understand how the multitudes being “converted” is a sign of that.

  16. Kate,

    I agree. I do pray that God has His people within those conversions. I know there are a lot of false teachers and preachers out there tickling the ears of the deceived. I have friends all over the world who testify that there is little difference in the gospel being preached there than there is here. God will save His people out of those areas, but I agree with you, the world is world.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  17. As I was cutting the grass today, I thought about the verse where it says not to bid someone Godspeed or else you will be a partaker of their sins. I believe this verse goes unheeded by the visible church. This is evident by man’s desire to unite with whoever and whenever, no matter what they say or believe. In our culture today, men can slap a cross on one of their own formulas and the masses will give it the ‘ok’ without doing a litmus test. This is the spirit of antiChrist which is a counterfeit: so adored and welcomed by the world (and men’s flesh). Those who contend against this seducing spirit will be hated, labeled arrogant, divisive, and unhappy. A firm stand against a wolf is now taboo and extremely unpopular, much like it would have been when the early Reformers stood up against the heresies of the Catholic Church. I don’ t believe that we are at the point of suffering physical torment or violent death, but the rejection and the distortion of the true gospel is blatant and grievous.
    Just 2 days ago some Jehovah’s witnesses came to my door and I opened my door to confront them. They immediately came at me with the Watchtower, and I cut them off to tell them that Jesus Christ is sufficient and I don’t need what they have. I also explained the gift of repentance as enough and that the cross is worthless without it. It fell on deaf ears and I told them that I will not accept what they have nor bid them Godspeed or else I will be partaker of their sins. They were infuriated and told me that they were not sinners. Immediately I closed the door and they left.
    Jesus commands us to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves when dealing with unrepentant sinners who refuse to listen. In doing so, truth does not look relative but absolute. If we have to offend the ungodly, then so be it. We must be obedient even if the world hates us for striving against them. Cost free Christianity is not Christianity at all.

  18. If we are to be fellow sufferers and ‘partakers’ of Christ’s sufferings, then we too must hate and confront what is false (see Psalm 119:104). There is nothing that grieves me more than to hear someone claim to be a soldier of the Lord, but refuses to hear sound doctrine and contend with the world. The Bible uses the word ‘soldier’ to imply that there will be cost which will require endurance, and that we will have to endure something difficult. Fellow sufferers who know the Lord live a crucified life which the world cannot understand. When the occassion arises to glory in the flesh, the repentant sinner will despise it and take whatever measure he/she must take in order to avoid walking in it. After all……….. worldliness opposes spiritual growth. God did not call his people to conform to the world, but to conform to the image of a servant whose permanent home is the new heavens and the new earth.

  19. MIke,

    This is what is so alarming..that so much of the “church” does not discern what is happening. How many CHristians put Obama in office? The great deception is washing over the minds of those numbed by the media..who do not think on God’s word and God’s ways. Josh you have posted things to think on as well. We must pray that the Lord keep our minds from deception because satan is SO CUNNING…..a small twisting of words with Eve led to the fall. How much more the subtle twisting will be at the end of the age before the return of Jesus!!!! That sick portrait of Obama is actually a satanic “brainwashing” of acceptance that he IS ( in their minds) the “messiah”.

  20. Satan’s pretribulation rapture doctrine is an attempt to neutralize and stop the mouths of the prophets… Most lukewarm Christians fail to watch or take heed because they’re deceived into believing, “We won’t be here.”
    This heresy will cause many to stumble during the time of persecution.

  21. For me it is easy to see the false doctrines and self promoting individuals, who set themselves up among the people, rather than Jesus, specifically in the so called visible church. Instead it is the one who masquerades as my friend, he uses his popular position and influence to seduce the simple. He appears in many of his teachings to agree with me about, Babylon the harlot and the false religious systems of this world. Yet when put to the test, when no one is watching and no one really cares, he secretly puts in the knife and cut me out and declares, “Let the Lord be glorified”. It is far past the time, let that what is done in secret be declared upon the house tops! There is no Lord but Jesus, one head of his people, Judgment begans at his house.

  22. Chester, hence the fact that we are commanded to be watchful, obedient and prepared for His return which will end this age and usher in the age to come.

  23. T.J……Obama did not condone that portrait of which you speak nor does he label himself a Messiah. That is what you are heaping upon him and allowing others to dictate
    idol worship of a mere man.
    Obama is not the enemy or our enemy. Do not get sidetracked with this political nonsense and get caught up with personalities and start wrestling the wrong strongman.
    Stay in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh which can include finding a human scapegoat on which to
    place blame. Satan is the prince of the power of this age…
    Obama’s confession of Christ, howbeit “weak” is enough for
    The Spirit of God to work with his spirit and enable him to
    do the right thing. Pray for your brother Obama since and unless The Spirit of God convicts you that he is an imposter or a pretender. If he is a babe in the Lord, even more so, pray for him and his wife and family that they will seek the living Christ and accepts no substitutes.

  24. Obama is not a brother. If he were, he would openly confess that Jesus is the only way. In fact, Obama cannot make up his mind as to whether he is a Muslim or a Christian. Anyone with the Spirit of God cannot nor will not be confused about that. Also, Obama does nothing for the unborn. He is now working on a bill which will use taxpayer money to fund abortion.
    Jesus said that we will know who are his by their fruit. Obama is worldly, denies Jesus by his actions, and he bears no fruit. As Christians, we are to judge a tree by its fruit and not by its appearance. His Black Liberation Theology elevates one race over another– and that all whites are oppressors.

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