What is the Biblical Evidence of Being Filled With the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 ESV)

As we have seen, the passage Ephesians 5:18 is a command. The verb forms of “do not get drunk” and “be filled” are both present tense, imperative mood, passive voice. The imperative mood equates to a military command and something the Christian does control. Neither not getting drunk with wine unto debauchery or Spirit-filling are optional, but rather mandatory for Christians. You may ask, “how so?” This is clearly shown to be the will of God in Ephesians 5:17, just one verse earlier, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Never forget my brethren, God would not give us command unless we were being put in charge of carrying out the command, so it’s up to us to obey.  Continue reading

Be Filled With The Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-18 ESV)

As we saw in yesterday’s post Are You Being Filled With the Spirit or Something Else?, the Apostle Paul was making a very deep contrast in v18 (above) between the people being controlled by evil as they seek ecstatic spiritual experiences in any way other than the only way God has prescribed for His people. That way is to be filled with the Spirit, which is to be controlled by Him in the sense of having one’s life permeated with Him. In this post I would like to take a closer look at the contrast Paul made in v18 between the process of “being filled” with wine using the word μεθύσκεσθε, which is translated as “get drunk” in the ESV and the process of “being filled” with the Spirit using the word πληροῦσθε, which is translated as “be filled.” It should be obvious these are different words and mean something totally different, but many today misinterpret Spirit-filling to be something that causes one to lose control and become mindless such as in the “laughing revival” for instance. Let’s take a closer look at these words.  Continue reading

Are You Being Filled With the Spirit or Something Else?


by Mike Ratliff

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21 ESV)

 

In Ephesians 5:18 Paul commands, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit!“ At first glance that may read or sound like Paul is saying, “instead of getting drunk, do these religious things,” which he lists in vv19-21. However, as we know, the proper way to interpret Sacred Scripture is by keeping what we are studying in context foremost. Here, the context tells us that the Apostle Paul is making a contrast that the Ephesians would have understood perfectly. Let’s go deeper. Continue reading

Redeeming the Time


by Mike Ratliff

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12 ESV)

It seemed that the moment I posted Are You Walking Circumspectly? that the pressure came to bear upon me from nearly every direction in an effort to distract me from doing that very thing. To walk circumspectly is to walk in light of the gifts of wisdom and discernment from God. However, we all have people and circumstances in our lives that are the sources of fiery tests and trials that are allowed by God to buffet us so that we will see clearly our dire need of His grace and cause us to draw closer to Him in repentance. It doesn’t help that we are at the height of ragweed season where we live and the older I get, the worse my symptoms to that become. Lay on top of that circumstances that are clear affronts to our concepts of what is “fair” and “right” and given no recourse then our emotions can certainly take over. As I reflected on these things before I prayed and sought God’s will for this piece I actually “felt” completely unworthy to do this. How can I teach from God’s Word when I have been struggling so much with my own battles over these very things?  Continue reading

Are You Walking Circumspectly?


by Mike Ratliff

Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.  (Proverbs 15:21 ESV)

I have never been to Seminary. My degree is in Business Management and all of my College education and training since has been in Information Management. I work as a Database Administrator for a fairly large hospital group. I’ve been in one form or another of this type of work since 1973 so I’ve been at it quite some time. I’ve seen a lot of change. I’ve also been through many jobs and have had jobs just go away as companies merge with other companies or get bought out by others. The company I work for now is in the process of merging with a company of about equal size. I am still about six or seven years from retirement age and am one of the senior people at our office. Today we learned some of the goals for the merger is to get I.T. costs in line with other companies our size (after the merger). They will accomplish this via attrition, severance packages, outsourcing, et cetera over the next two to four years.

They have hired a manager that is in between me and the manager who hired me 9 years ago who is also my friend. This new guy knows nothing about database management. He knows nothing about how DBAs do their jobs in an integrated way with with system analysts and the rest of the company. It is all I can do some days to keep from walking into his office and telling him to just shut up and mind his own business when he says something stupid about how I work with other people in our group or with other managers. It is on days like that, days like today when it just seems like life is unraveling all around me and there just doesn’t seem to be any point in even trying to do a good job for this company who wants me to put in another 16 hour day yet question my value to their future. It is then that I must turn to my redeemer and get the right perspective. I know that the world’s answer would be to respond totally in the flesh, but that is not the way of the Christian who is walking Circumspectly is it?  Continue reading

The Day of the Lord Will Come


by Mike Ratliff

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:36-44 ESV)

I am no “expert” on eschatology. All I know is that the Jesus and writers of the New Testament say over and over again that the Day of the Lord is coming and we need to be ready, but most will not be ready. If you look at the current trends in the Missional movement, its adherents seem to have abandoned any concrete concept of a Church age that will end with the Lord Jesus returning in judgment against those outside of His Kingdom. To be honest, I grew up with a lot of that eschatology stuff with those very complicated charts with arrows and lines running all over the place and I must admit that I understood them only when those presenting them spoke, but when I read the Word of God for myself, I couldn’t find what they were talking about most of the time. I think they were overcomplicating things. Let’s look at one passage from 2 Peter that deals with this.  Continue reading

Where is your Blessed Hope?


by Mike Ratliff

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11:14 ESV)

The following is a quote from a sermon by John MacArthur titled ‘The Undying Faith of Christians Facing Death’ in the context of Matthew 24.

“There are false Christians today in the world, there were in the past, there will be in the future. The world is always full of false Christians. There are more false Christians than true ones. I’m afraid to say there may be more false prophets than true prophets. They’re certainly more false representatives of Jesus Christ than true representatives of Christ. But as things get worse, as persecution escalates. The false are going to fall away, they’re going to fall away for reasons that He gives us here. “False prophets will lead them astray,” verse 12, “because of iniquity being increased, their love will grow cold,” they’ll hold on to their sin. The world as it moves is going to get worse and worse and worse. The world’s evil is going to escalate and escalate, we’re seeing it in our own culture today. And people love their sin and as their sin is legitimized, as their sin is normalized, as their sin is legalized they’re going to cherish their sins more openly and more publicly and they’re not going to be interested in the things of Christ and suffering for the cause of Christ.”

That statement really shouldn’t have surprised us. It didn’t me. I’m really not very good at this apologist stuff in that I get discouraged very easily as I research the doctrine, sermons, and what is said by false prophets, and so-called christian leaders. Over time, I need to get away from it and rest in my Lord for awhile and get refocused on where my hope really lies. These jokers talk a lot about ‘vision’ and ‘hope’ and ‘transformation’ et cetera, but it doesn’t take very long to see that they are looking for all that from within. They see the potential to be within themselves to do it all. Their hope is in themselves. They may throw God and Jesus around a lot in there sermons, but the focus is all about what they can do and how God has to bless them because they are doing or because they have developed and are pursuing their visionContinue reading

Producing Much Fruit


by Mike Ratliff

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:1-8 ESV)

In my time off I listened to a few expositions by some preachers of some very bad, man-centered theology. The crux of their theology goes something like this. God wants everyone to have a vision and so every Christian needs to try really hard to pursue a vision until it aches within them. Then they know its from God and then they need to run after it as hard as they can. What passages from the Bible do you suppose they use to support that? Well, since its not found anywhere in God’s Word, they attempt to use passages out of context to do that and then misrepresent Jesus completely alien from the His Holy nature that we are given in Scripture to one of being more like a servant of these people. I believe they call this stuff either “vision-casting” or “vision-questing,” but, in any case, there are some so-called “evangelicals” who not only have those who preach this stuff come and preach it to their people, but they go to their “churches” as if they are all part of the same good ol’ boy network of ‘evangelicals.’ I think not. Oh, they may all be part of the same good ol’ boy network, but that ‘group’ has nothing to do with the Church and genuine Christianity.  Continue reading

Always Learning and Never Able to Arrive at a Knowledge of the Truth


by Mike Ratliff

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:3-6 ESV)

always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7 ESV)

Carefully read both passages above (1 Timothy 2:3-6 and 2 Timothy 3:7). Notice that the Apostle Paul used the exact same phrase “knowledge of the truth” in both. This a translation of the Greek words ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας in both passages. Notice also that in 1 Timothy 2:4 that Paul clearly is referring to believers coming to an understanding of God’s saving truth in Jesus Christ, however, in 2 Timothy 3:7 he is describing people are are unable to do so. What has truth to do with salvation anyway? I read some articles and emails today from some of these Emergent types and they are of the opinion that there is no such thing. However, here we must do two things. We must stand firm and tell it like it is.  Continue reading

The Unfruitful Works of Darkness vs the Fruit of Light


by Mike Ratliff

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:6-11 ESV)

In the passage above is the the word “fruit.” It is a translation of the Greek word καρπὸς or karpos. This word appears some sixty-six times in the New Testament. In most cases, it is used in reference to the the fruit of plants as in Matthew 21:19 or the produce of the earth (James 5:7, 18). However, its extended meaning in the New Testament is one in which we should pay special attention as well as to its opposite, ἀκάρποις or akarpois, which is translated in this passage as “unfruitful.” In this form, ἀκάρποις is the dative, plural of ἄκαρπος or akarpos. The dative plural simply means that this part of the phrase is an indirect object of the action of the sentence. In any case, this may be more significant than it first appears. Continue reading

Blindness


by Mike Ratliff

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— (Ephesians 4:17-20 ESV)

We are looking again at Ephesians 4:17-20. In this short study we will look at the concept of spiritual blindness and the progressive “hardening” or “callousing” over of the heart toward God and His truth as men seek to center everything in self to have their worship and religion be Man Centered instead of where it should be, and is in the hearts of those truly Regenerate, God Centered. Oh yes, I do recognize that all of us must grow from spiritual infants into maturity and that we follow false teachers and bad doctrine, but God will not keep those who are His in this darkness forever, but will do what it takes to draw them out even if it means they become ejected from their home church for example. I have have heard forms of that from so many of you that I have lost track of the number and I no longer doubt that this is God’s doing for He did it to me as well. Continue reading

That Is Not The Way You Learned Christ


by Mike Ratliff

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—  (Ephesians 4:17-20 ESV)

Earlier today I was listening to an episode of Dr. James White’s “The Dividing Line” from August 10th. In it, he played part of a “debate” that took place on a radio show in England. The person Dr. White wanted us to hear was a man who professed to be a Christian, but was what I would call a perfect example of the product of “Liberal Mainline Christianity.” He denied the verity of Scripture. He denied the deity of Christ. He denied the bodily resurrection of Christ. Well, you name it, whatever we believe by faith as Christians, he denied. I found it interesting that I listened to that after I had studied two Greek words from the passage I placed at the top of this post that are ματαιότητι, which is translated in the ESV as “futility” in v17 and ἄγνοιαν, which is translated as “ignorance” in v18. That mindset which looks at what we call “Orthodox Christianity” and our completely firm stance of non compromise on any of it with a jaw dropping arrogant, bullying attitude stance is what we are encountering more and more throughout the visible church because most of it has been given over to the darkness it loved more than the light of truth. Those with this mindset simply cannot comprehend God’s truth nor do they love Him or those who belong to Him and follow the Son. Continue reading

In The Form Of God


by Mike Ratliff

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 ESV)

In yesterday’s post, The Express Image of God, we saw that the Bible is very clear that our Lord Jesus Christ is God. He is not a created being. He is not an any way lower than God nor are we humans in any way on His level. I believe the passage I placed at the top of this post makes this very clear. In Philippians 2:1-11, the Apostle Paul used our Lord’s incarnation as an example of humility that we should emulate. For this study, however, we we will focus on vv6-8 which clearly show that our Lord is God, but humbled Himself on behalf of those He came to save. Here are those verses again from the ESV. Continue reading

The Express Image of God


by Mike Ratliff

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2 ESV)

I heard a sermon once a long time ago in which the preacher defined a cult as any religious group that called itself Christian but denied the orthodox view our Triune God. That means that those who deny the Doctrine of the Trinity, according to that definition, are not Christians, but heretics. The man-centered part of each of us, that is the flesh, rebels from such a strict “legalistic” view, but as our faith becomes more and more God Centered in all its aspects, that view becomes entirely justified in our hearts because as we come to know God as He reveals Himself to His children, we will not doubt His Word nor will we attempt to overlay His truth with “altered” truth nor will we add to it nor subtract from it nor take it out of context in order to make it more man centered. If we compromised and did those things we would do so in order to become more acceptable to the majority and not be excluded and hated by the world and those who call themselves Christians, but who are really just part of the world system. Continue reading