Traveling


I will be traveling to Oklahoma today then to Washington, D.C. through the 9th of November. I will try to write and post some during that time, but that is up to God to provide the time and guidance. Please pray for my wife and I to have a safe trip.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Father Forgive Them


by Mike Ratliff

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36 ESV)

Probably the command from our Lord that is the most difficult for us to obey is found in Luke 6:35 (above). That is, it is hard or difficult if we are full of pride and are self-focused. However, as the master vinedresser prunes us as we abide in the True Vine and the refiner burns away the fleshly dross from us in the refiner’s fire, we will be humbled as we surrender to the potter, as the clay should. This humbling is what is required for Christlikeness to become manifest in and through us. Why? If we are being driven by pride then we will be self-focused and operate as if we are the center of our universe, much like my one-year old grandson does. However, the humble believer is one who has given that up as something that hinders their walk with the Lord. He or she sees the things of this world, the very things the world runs after, as nothing but dung in comparison to what they have in Christ. He becomes their all-in-all. Their love for Him spills over into all parts of their lives and for the Saviour’s sake they love their enemies and are merciful to all just as He was and is. Our Lord demonstrates the epitome of this as He was crucified.  Continue reading

Heaven Is Worth Suffering For


by Mike Ratliff

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:1-4 ESV)

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

While the emergents and other forms of relativistic Christianity attempt to refocus Christians to this present age, we are clearly taught throughout the New Testament that what awaits us after we leave this life is that for which we should really be preparing. In the world, we will have tribulation (θλιψιν) (John 16:33). Θλιψιν symbolically means grievous affliction or distress that applies pressure or burden upon the spirit. Θλιψιν is used to give the picture of one being crushed. At the same time we are given these warnings about our life here as resident aliens, we are also given encouragement beyond measure.  Continue reading

Taking Up Your Cross and Following Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV)

God’s ways are amazing to me. I put together last night’s post, Bearing Fruit, with the focus of the disciple of Christ Jesus being revealed through their abiding in Him. However, the focus at the end of the post and in the discussion that followed it soon became apparent that the real focus of this post was the costliness of following Jesus. All of us in the discussion shared how we had lost friendships and even closeness in our families because of it. This is notwithstanding the outright hostility many of us have experienced from those who view our obedience to God as legalism. Their view is that relationships take priority over obedience to God.  Continue reading

Bearing Fruit


by Mike Ratliff

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20 ESV)

The fruit of a ministry in God’s economy is not the number of people “converted” under it. No, the fruit, which will be what God will use to judge, refers to the effectiveness that ministry has in leading and developing within those who are ministered to by it unto a Christ-like life produced by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). What is it that those God uses in these ministries do that achieves this? They teach their flock sound doctrine from God’s Word. The Holy Spirit takes these truths and applies them to the hearts of the flock. It is not emotion or feelings. It is being transformed by the renewal of their minds because they are being living sacrifices unto God (Romans 12:1,2).  Continue reading

Spiritual Growth as Confirmation of Election


by Mike Ratliff

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)

Doctrine is a vital part of the true Church. Many of us may disagree on some things pertaining to our faith and still call one another brother or sister, but there are some things, from the sound doctrines from God, that are non-negotiable. I am constantly amazed when those who disagree with the clear exegesis from God’s Word will counter with human philosophy or attempt to use human reason to void what the Bible actually says. The veracity of God’s Truth is unimpeachable no matter who believes it to be so or not. One of those clear truths from God’s Word that is under severe attack in our time is the role and extent that regeneration plays in the life of the believer. Some claim that all that is required to be “saved” is the saying of some prayer or saying that he or she agrees with some “truth.” God’s Word tells us, however, that regeneration is a washing that changes everything (Titus 3:5). There will be solid and observable changes in those saved by grace through faith as a gift from God.  Continue reading

Signs of the Close of the Age


by Mike Ratliff

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 ESV)

The Church in our time appears huge, but this is only in appearance. It is thousands of miles wide, but only a fraction of an inch deep. Much of what claims to be Christian is not and proves it by what is actually its focus and what (or who) it actually worships. The focus has its foundation in pragmatism and its worship is nothing more than self-aggrandizement. They give lip service to their own version of “Jesus” who bears little if any resemblance to the Jesus we read of in God’s Word. This counterfeit Christianity is the majority while the true Church, which is made up of those saved by grace through faith because of God’s election and effectual calling is the minority. This should not surprise us because the Word of God tells us that this will be case as this age comes to a close to make way for the age to come.  Continue reading

The Doctrine of Election and the Natural Result of Rejecting It


by Mike Ratliff

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? (Romans 9:20-21 ESV)

I was a teenager in the 1960’s. My generation, the Baby-Boomers, are known for their rebellion against authority. I was no flaming radical, but like most in my generation, I did question the right of those in positions of authority over me. However, I enlisted in the US Navy in 1973 and quickly found out what submission to authority was really all about. All through boot camp and data processing training in the Navy, I discovered how important it was to obey commands and work under the authority of those over me. This hit home to me in a big way when I went to fire fighting school as part of my basic training.  Continue reading

Treasure and Dung


by Mike Ratliff

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)

The doctrine of imputation is under severe attack in our day. Those who have made the mistake of seeking a peace with those who desire to change or do away with this doctrine have erred egregiously. This doctrine must never be negotiated. Why? The changes certain people desire to make to this doctrine would change our justification from being according to faith alone to a combination of faith and works. According to Galatians 5:3, this would make us obligated to keep the whole law, which none of us can do. Only our Lord Jesus Christ kept the commandments perfectly, therefore, His righteousness is imputed to those who trust in His obedience to be justified.  Continue reading

Answering a Fool According to His Folly


by Mike Ratliff

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11 ESV)

Secular humanism, relativism, pluralism, et cetera are worldly philosophies that have invaded the visible Church. These ways of the world when applied to the Church are some of the things that “stirs up division” within the Body of Christ. Other things that cause this would be majoring in minors such as taking things from the Bible that are not explained in detail enough to be taken literally because they are given to us in an arbitrary fashion. Some take these minor points and make them major points in the gospel stirring up division. Also, some simply want to argue. They hate the truth and are not interested in it being explained to them in detail. All of these are the ones Paul was speaking of in Titus 3:10-11 (above). It is a total waste of time to contend with these people continually. There comes a time when, through God’s wisdom, that we move on and have nothing to do with these divisive people.  Continue reading

The Loving and Patient Hand of God


by Mike Ratliff

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.  (Rom 8:26-27 ESV)

I am still on the road, but should be home this evening. I spent much of my time over the last several days with my 13 month old grandson. His mental and physical development over the last several months has been amazing. His understanding of how to function in his environment has grown as well. He has his own little personality and ways. It is a joy to see this creation of God in action. However, he must still be watched closely and his mother and father still have to provide for his needs and protection. He does not know what is good for him or what is bad. He is very smart, but his mental development is that of a toddler. I asked God to show me something profound during this trip. I went to visit my parents this weekend as well. They are both in an assisted living center. They are in their 80′s. I learned much during that visit as well about the stages of our lives and how God is intimately involved throughout in our care and development. Continue reading

Weekend Trip


I will be traveling over the next 3 or 4 days. I hope to be back home and writing again on Sunday evening. Please pray that God will give us a safe, edifying, and God-glorifying trip.

A Biblical Example of Self-Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:17 ESV)

Self-Righteousness: the attempt to meet God’s standards based upon one’s own merits.

A thorough study of our Lord’s earthly ministry reveals with certainty the following truth. Our Lord was merciful in every instance to those who were broken, humbled, and spiritually helpless before Him. On the other hand, the proud, the self-righteous, and the self-sufficient He rebuked and shunned, which is thematically summarized for us by James our Lord’s brother in his epistle.  Continue reading

Self-Righteousness and Accusing the Brethren


by Mike Ratliff

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

Self-Righteousness: the attempt to meet God’s standards based upon one’s own merits.

In the truth war, some though they perhaps mean well, from a confused theology foundation and concept of genuine holiness and Christlikeness, are continually accusing many of us of things that seemed designed to discourage and divide. Their “standards” of Christian conduct that reveals whether a person is genuinely in God’s will or not is based on a set of values that are very hard to find in the only place that counts, the Word of God. Instead of being based in our Lord’s own teachings and those of the inspired writers of the Word of God, they have created their own standards that our enemy uses in his accusations of those who are truly obeying God in the truth war.  Continue reading