Never Give Up!


by Mike Ratliff

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ESV)

Over the last several weeks I have been on quite a “ride” emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. I began a series of articles that have been quite unpopular with certain people who have issues with preaching the gospel and law together as well as how genuine Christians are called to walk in repentance until they are taken home to be with the Lord forever. The focus has been on the eternal at the expense of the temporal and the flesh. We have looked at the necessity of living lives in which we deliberately seek to work with God in mortifying our sin.

A little over a week ago I was awakened early in the morning with severe pain all through my abdomen. Everything hurt, especially my shoulder joints, ribs, and spine. My eyes were as red as a fire truck. My face was swollen and covered in red splotches. These same splotches covered my shoulders. All I could think of was that that tick I had found several weeks earlier had given me some tick-borne disease. Since it was the weekend, I waited until Monday to go to the doctor. When he saw my face and how much pain I was in, he prescribed antibiotics and ordered several blood tests. He warned me that I might not like what they would find. Continue reading

The Bad News and the Good News


by Mike Ratliff

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:21-26 ESV)

This morning in Church I heard an incredibly succinct description of how a preacher is to correctly preach. Those who do it right read out loud to their hearers what the Word of God says. Then they exegetically expound to them what it says. All of this is bathed in prayer in total reliance on the moving of the Holy Spirit to move people to obey God’s Word. Those who do it this way do so in obedience to their Lord while those who seek to entertain and never offend anyone are in unbelief and are actually in disobedience to their calling. In fact, if we obediently preach God’s Word then there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. What we must do is make sure that we fear God instead of man and that we obey Him in proclaiming His Word rather than seek to please men because if we do the latter we prove we are actually ashamed of the gospel.  Continue reading

The Advance of the Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Philippians 1:12-14 ESV)

This Christian walk is one of progressive sanctification in which God uses our tests and trials to shape and form us so that we will conform unto the image of Christ. However, we are of the right mind and have the right understanding when we gauge theses tests and trials as nothing when compared with what awaits us in eternity. I personally do not like the push back that comes from our enemy and his seed, but I know that the fierier the verbiage in their protests is, the more God has used His truth to provoke them. In light of that, I must carefully examine what I taught that caused their feathers to be ruffled then prayerfully seek the direction God is giving me through this. Being ridiculed and called a heretic by an enemy of the truth is nothing when compared to what other Christians throughout the history of the Church have endured, therefore, I use these things as means of discerning direction as well as self-examination to make sure I am responding as my Lord would.  Continue reading

You Must be Born Again


In response to some “protests” which I received offline pertaining to last night’s post, What Must I Do To Inherit Eternal Life, I am reposting a piece from September 30, 2008 titled “You Must be Born Again.” It is an exegetical study of John 3:1-21. Enjoy and be blessed. – Mike Ratliff

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

What Must I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?


by Mike Ratliff

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17 ESV)

The natural man cannot conceive of eternal life coming to anyone who does not “earn” or somehow “deserve” it. Jesus’ teaching set the record straight, but many today still do not regard what He said. Even preachers and religious leaders have bent the truth and twisted it in such a way so as to provide a way for professing believers to have a “work” they could point back to that marks them as having done that one thing that enables them to inherit eternal life. The Kingdom of God is not earned by people who somehow elevate themselves higher than others through their good works or their religiosity. No, our Lord used children as examples whom He referred to this way, “For to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  Continue reading

Motives in Christian Ministry


I received the following article today from some dear friends. I knew immediately that I had to use it somehow on Possessing the Treasure. A major part of our ministries must be self-examination. We need to see if we and our ambitions are driving our ministries or if God is. We must examine our motives for everything we commit to. As you read the article below I pray that God will prick your heart as He did mine to look deep into what is driving what we do in His name. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Stewards of God’s Grace


by Mike Ratliff

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. (1 Peter 3:13-20 ESV)

Genuine Christianity cannot coexist with any other religion. God has given us the tenets of our faith and they are mutually exclusive with the claims of all other religions. There can be no peace between them and true Christianity because once compromise has taken place here then what remains is something less and no longer true. We are called to live our lives in the flesh here in the temporal, but with entirely different motives than non-Christians. The confusion about this exists because what passes for Christianity, for the most part, in our time has been compromised. The world has been welcomed in in various ways at different levels and the professing Christians within are far more concerned about their temporal existence rather than obeying God in all things for His glory.  Continue reading

A Call to Persevere


by Mike Ratliff

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:22-27 ESV)

We are exhorted throughout God’s Word to persevere even in the most rugged of circumstances. We are given a promise of what awaits those who do persevere, the adoption as “sons” and redemption of our bodies, which is positional for all truly in Christ. Yet, we look forward to these and other promises with eyes of faith. This temporal part of our life as Christians can be quite a battle with the flesh to the point of crying out like the Apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am!” Weakness in this battle is directly attributable to a lack of praying as we should, while, conversely, victory in this battle is directly attributable to proper praying in the spirit, that is, in harmony with the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than according to one’s own agenda. There are many “church” things out there that are not good for us. These “church” things are the product of those scoffers who have entered the Church to divide it.  Continue reading

Oh Wretched Man That I Am!


by Mike Ratliff

For 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? 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. (Romans 7:15-25 ESV)

There is a great deal of false teaching going on in the visible Church in our time. One of those teachings has to do with the nature of salvation. I grew up as a Southern Baptist and remained one until 2006. Of course, I was not a Christian until January 1986 and there are even times as I look at  how I have matured and become dedicated more and more to my devotion to walk before my Lord according to His will at all times, I wonder if my true salvation took place back in 2004 instead. In any case, the reason for this is that as I take inventory of my Christian walk I see inconsistencies. I see periods of very high devotion intermixed with periods of self-focus. The periods of repentance afterwards are both incredibly sweet and heart-rending, much like the Apostle’s statement from Romans 7:24. The sweetness comes from the knowledge that I am forgiven according to God’s Grace and will not be judged for my sin, since I am in Christ, according to God’s Mercy.  Continue reading

Should Christians Dialogue With Apostates?


by Mike Ratliff

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12 ESV)

This era of the Church is one of extreme deception due to compromise with the standards and focus of the world. Separation between the Church and the world is not being kept. Instead, the holy barrier between the two has been breached as false prophets have welcomed in not only the world and its ways into their churches, but have also embraced the mysticism of the Eastern religions. Syncretism is the new byword of the Emergent Village. On the other hand, God is good. He keeps His promises. The Lord told Peter that He is the one building His Church and no evil will ever be able to destroy it. (Matthew 16:18) If this is true, and it is because our Lord spoke it, then how do we reconcile the rapid apostasy of so much of the visible Church with what He said? God always keeps a remnant during times of rampant apostasy. These Christians are the small group whom God has reserved who have not bowed the knee to Baal. These are also the ones in whom God is developing Christlikeness and through the fires of persecution by those in the visible Church who have succumbed to the heresies and ungodliness going on in it, He is teaching them how to stand firm and never compromise with evil. In this they learn the difference between debate and dialogue and know that the former actually clarifies the truth and why they hold to it while the latter is only a conversation which has the intent of compromising the truth. Continue reading

Declaration of War Against Apostates


by Mike Ratliff

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)

In light of the upcoming Christianity21 conference being put on by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones in Minneapolis, MN in October, as well as Rob Bell’s continual slide down the slippery slope of apostasy by his embrace of “another gospel,” I would like to take a look at what God’s Word tell us about these sorts of pseudo-Christian “leaders” as well as their eternal destiny. God’s Word tells us that throughout the period between our Lord’s first and and second coming, the Church will be plagued by apostasies being propagated by false teachers and false preachers who have received their “doctrines” from seducing spirits. Also, through this entire period, the Church will have to endure the attacks during very dangerous eras that never end. They simply remain and combine with later apostasies to form ever greater threats to its health. God is allowing these things in order to test His children, to try them in the fire in order to perfect them and prepare them for eternity with Him. However, that does not mean that those to whom He has given over to their false doctrines, which are direct attacks on His pure and true doctrines, He is also preparing judgment especially for them.  Continue reading

Dangerous Times for the Church


by Mike Ratliff

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Timothy 4:1 KJV)

Being Reformed in my theology, I adhere to the Sovereignty of God in all things. He keeps remnants of believers even in the most apostate of times. He always has pockets of genuine believers who know their Lord by His grace through the faith He gives no matter what darkness is attacking the Church. In last night’s post we looked at 1 Timothy 4:1 from the aspect of what is the source of the false doctrines propagated by apostate “Christian” leaders. That source, of course, is that they have been seduced by evil spirits and now they are following and teaching the doctrines of demons or devils. In this post we will look at the different epochs or eras that have not only come to attack the Church down through the ages, but have remained and are still with us now. They have accumulated now so that there is much overlap between them and this complicates the task of explaining these things to you my brethren. However, it is vital at this time that we take the covers off of what is hidden behind religiosity in order to direct our devotion to the Lord alone, not a local church or a pastor or a denomination or a certain set of religious rules or any other thing that are in actuality only distractions sent from the enemy to muddy the waters and draw believers into a from of Christianity that neither edifies us or glorifies God.  Continue reading

Seducing Spirits and the Doctrines of Demons


by Mike Ratliff

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Timothy 4:1 KJV)

The “Emergence phenomenon” is not Christian. Oh, many of these self-styled “emergents” insist that their “conversation” is the epitome of what Christianity is supposed to be, but the “movement” is undergoing even more drastic transformations, which now include its members celebrating Ramadan or having Buddhist monks instruct them on meditation techniques. This “phenomenon” is nothing more than deceived people who have been seduced by evil spirits to believe the doctrines of demons. We live in a time of deep spiritual deception. I have encountered this spirit of deception working through some people who attempted to cause me to stumble through their deceitful tactics. What we must never forget my brethren is that our enemy is a master salesman and he uses unwitting people to deliver his message to those who are serving the Lord Jesus in order to distract them in an attempt to nullify them in the truth war. Continue reading

Assaulted by Shame


by Mike Ratliff

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:31-38 ESV)

One of the major weapons of our enemy is attacks centered on provoking our pride, to incite us to be deeply concerned about what others think of us in relation to our profession of faith and how we walk the narrow path set before us by God. Our Lord warned us that this sort of attack would be coming our way and it causes professing Christians to lose their boldness as they actually seek to preserve “their life” for their own sake. When we are more concerned with our image and standing before men rather than for Christ and His gospel then we compromise because we have set our minds on the things of man rather than then things of God. Continue reading