The Spot of His Children


“The spot of His children.”-Deuteronomy 32:5

What is the secret spot which infallibly betokens the child of God? It were vain presumption to decide this upon our own judgment; but God’s word reveals it to us, and we may tread surely where we have revelation to be our guide. Now, we are told concerning our Lord, “to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on His name.” Then, if I have received Christ Jesus into my heart, I am a child of God. That reception is described in the same verse as believing on the name of Jesus Christ. If, then, I believe on Jesus Christ’s name-that is, simply from my heart trust myself with the crucified, but now exalted, Redeemer, I am a member of the family of the Most High. Whatever else I may not have, if I have this, I have the privilege to become a child of God. Our Lord Jesus puts it in another shape. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Here is the matter in a nutshell. Christ appears as a shepherd to His own sheep, not to others. As soon as He appears, His own sheep perceive Him-they trust Him, they are prepared to follow Him; He knows them, and they know Him-there is a mutual knowledge-there is a constant connection between them. Thus the one mark, the sure mark, the infallible mark of regeneration and adoption is a hearty faith in the appointed Redeemer. Reader, are you in doubt, are you uncertain whether you bear the secret mark of God’s children? Then let not an hour pass over your head till you have said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Trifle not here, I adjure you! If you must trifle anywhere, let it be about some secondary matter: your health, if you will, or the title deeds of your estate; but about your soul, your never-dying soul and its eternal destinies, I beseech you to be in earnest. Make sure work for eternity. – C.H. Spurgeon from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for December 22.

Easy Preaching for Itchy Ears


In light of last night’s post, Stand Firm as the Day of the Lord Approacheth, I would like to post an article by our brother John P. Sartelle. A major contributing factor in the growing apostasy of the visible church is explored in this article. For us to stand firm as the visible church is deceived and drawn down the way of inevitable destruction, we must take what brother John teaches us in this article and apply it. Enjoy and be blessed my brethren, but I pray mostly for God to open eyes and hearts, drawing His people close in obedience to Him for His glory and their edification. – Mike Ratliff

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Stand Firm as the Day of The Lord Approacheth


by Mike Ratliff

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV)

Last evening I watched the movie “The Nativity” instead of writing. I needed the break I suppose. I was somewhat tired and felt quite beaten down. However, as I watched the story of the advent of my Saviour as a helpless baby into this fallen, evil, and cruel world, I pondered the grace, the incredible love our Lord has for His people that He would become the atoning sacrifice to save them from their sins. This encouraged me as I put into perspective that temporal focus of most professing Christians this time of year as opposed to the call for each of us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow our Lord. At the urging of a dear sister in Christ, I also listened to a sermon by Paul Washer. This more than confirmed what I had learned as I listened to the Holy Spirit during the movie.  Continue reading

Suffering For God’s Glory


by Mike Ratliff

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)

I doubt that I am unique in my dread of fiery trials. I have been a Christian long enough to know, however, that despite what men such as Joel Osteen preach and teach, testing by fire is the way God perfects our faith unto completion to prepare us to be before Him in glory. I have been rereading Grace Abounding To the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan. He was a mighty warrior of the Christian faith, but he was made so by the great craftsman of our faith, our Lord, through the fires of temptation and tests that left a legacy of Biblical Truth for the body of Christ that is timeless. He lived in the 1600’s yet we are still reading of how God took a man who confesses all through this wonderful book about how wicked his heart is; but through his repentance and spiritual growth through fiery trials and temptations, God matured him and used him for His glory.  Continue reading

He That Loveth not his Brother Abideth in Death


By Mike Ratliff

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:11-15 ESV)

At least once every few weeks I encounter a “brother” or “sister” in the Lord whose “ministry” seems to be to generate as much hatred as possible within the visible Church for some other Christian or group of Christians. While I do discernment in this ministry and do point out to you those whose Christian disingenuousness is continually being revealed to us by their fruit, I find it very disturbing when some rise up with something they call “discernment” that leads many to attack the very ones who are ministering before the Lord to actually feed His sheep the pure milk from His Word.  Continue reading

Holiness


by Keith Mathison

In the early centuries of the church’s existence, Christian apologists would sometimes appeal to the distinctively holy lives of Christians as evidence for the truth of Christianity. Would such an appeal be of any use today? According to numerous surveys, the behavior of professing Christians is not discernibly different from the behavior of those who profess other religions or no religion at all. The phrase one often hears on the lips of pagans who observe contemporary Christian behavior is: “The church is full of hypocrites.” This should not be. We worship a holy God who calls His people to be holy and who has provided the means by which they may be holy. Continue reading

Moving Toward the Goal of History


by R.C. Sproul

“What goes around, comes around.” This American idiom suggests a view of history that has more in common with ancient Greek philosophy than with the Judeo-Christian understanding of history. The grand difference between the ancient view of history and that found in Scripture is the difference between what is called “cyclical” and “linear-progressive.” A cyclical view indicates that there was no beginning to the universe and no goal for it; rather, history creates itself and eventually repeats itself — forever. It was this ancient perspective that generated the skepticism that inspired Friedrich Nietzsche’s view of “the myth of eternal recurrence.” Continue reading

Judge With Right Judgment


by Mike Ratliff

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24 ESV)

What is the definition of the English word “fact?” The following is from the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.

Main Entry: fact

Pronunciation: \ˈfakt\

Function: noun

Etymology: Latin factum, from neuter of factus, past participle of facere

Date: 15th century

1 : a thing done: as a obsolete : feat b : crime <accessory after the fact> c archaic : action 2 archaic : performance, doing 3 : the quality of being actual : actuality <a question of fact hinges on evidence>
4 a : something that has actual existence <space exploration is now a fact> b : an actual occurrence <prove the fact of damage>
5 : a piece of information presented as having objective reality

in fact : in truth

The part that says, “a piece of information presented as having objective reality” is where I would like to concentrate in this post. I am a firm believer that there is something called absolute truth. Also, there exist truths that are objective. These are facts. On the other hand, there is information that is subjective in nature that is presented as if it has objective reality when actually this is not so because there is nothing objective behind the “proof.” For instance, there are times when I use a form of the word “purpose” in what I write to convey a truth of God “purposing” to do something or that as Christians we should purpose in our hearts to obey the Lord, et cetera. There are some who would attempt to make the case that this is “Purpose Driven” language and this “proves” that I have become compromised and am now a disciple of Rick Warren. I contend that this type of thinking is what our Lord was referring to in John 7:24 about judging by appearances. Continue reading

What Are Your Motives?


by Mike Ratliff

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)

In 2004, God worked a miracle in this Christian. I began the year a self-focused, somewhat bitter, bible teacher at a church that was in the process of falling into the chasm of seeker-sensitivity with the rest of the SBC. However, right at the end of 2003 and the first of 2004 I was asked to prepare to start a new class for singles. This drew me to prayer with a commitment to obey what God called me to do. God used this to draw me deeper into obedience into His Word and over the first six months or so of 2004 I increased the time I spent in prayer and worship every day until by August, that is all I did when I was not sleeping or working. I cut out all TV and entertainment. This came to a climax in the first week of August when I discovered that what I had been before had been replaced. It was as if part of me died and was replaced with something very much alive. This new part of me was desperately in love with God and becoming increasingly skeptical of “religion.” This was only the beginning. Continue reading

What Does It Mean to Walk by the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 ESV)

In my research yesterday into Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality I became amazed at the ease with which the Emergent writers would take passages from Sacred Scripture out of context and attempt to force them to support their mystical paradigm. There was a lot of emphasis on Christian Authenticity and what that means as well as becoming Christlike or like Christ. While I write about those things quite a bit I was a bit surprised to see them take the passages from God’s Word I use to teach believers to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily and follow Jesus to mean something quite different. Continue reading

No Other Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 ESV)

In the recent attacks on John MacArthur and his ministries by some bent on claiming that he is in league with Rick Warren and perhaps isn’t even a Christian, I have learned what it is like to be considered guilty by some using the method of “guilt by association” as sure-proof evidence of one being false. It is very easy to make a case against someone or their ministry if this sort of method of “discernment” is 100% valid in every case. I have seen discussions get started on our discernment blogs that devolve into creating “isms” in which this or that person is categorically assigned by those who have not taken the time to investigate what he or she really teaches or writes about. I doubt that God is pleased with us when we do that. I have received the very same treatment by some who have categorically assigned me to the camp of ‘fundamentalism’ even though I reject much of what that ism stands for and the way they go about doing what they do.  Continue reading

True Godliness Comes Only From True Contentment


by Mike Ratliff

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13 ESV)

I heard a rhetorical question the other day in an interview with R.C. Sproul. He wondered aloud why so many liberal theologians entered “the ministry” when all they were about was denying the veracity of Sacred Scripture and, therefore, the deity of Christ. As I pondered this I thought of all those liberals who profess to be Christians using their “ministries” to effect social change. I also thought of those in their very public ministries perverting the Grace of God in order to become rich. Paul describes both groups of people succinctly in 1 Timothy 6:3-5.  Continue reading