The Parable of the Sower and the Soils


by Mike Ratliff

1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 NASB)

There’s something about Jesus’ parables that has always fascinated me. I have heard “stories” from others that were designed to drive home some relevant point, however, His parables are succinct and not only drive home His point, but reveal mighty truths straight from God to our hearts. The parable of the sower is not only important and relevant, it is vital for the Church to understand. Our complacent society has infiltrated the Church. No one seems to have an attention span longer than a few seconds. If some entertainment feature isn’t before our eyes or pounding into our ears, then panic sets in because our hearts are desperate for fulfillment, yet we are lazy and addicted to media, games, or music which tie directly into our flesh bound souls. Continue reading

Sola Scriptura – The Word Our Only Rule


I have been in a “discussion” with a Roman Catholic about the doctrine of Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone. His contention was that the epistle of James actually teaches against what Paul taught, but it is canonical as are all of Paul’s epistles. What is he saying? He is saying the tie breaker is Church tradition and the Pope. I used Biblical exegesis to show that there was actually no disparity between what Paul taught and what James taught, but it was like trying to describe an Elephant to a blind man. In response to this I am reposting John Calvin’s excellent article on Sola Scripture. Enjoy and be blessed. – Mike Ratliff

The Word Our Only Rule

by John Calvin

15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:15-16 NASB)

St. Paul hath shown us that we must be ruled by the Word of God, and hold the commandments of men as vain and foolish; for holiness and perfection of life belongeth not to them. He condemneth some of their commandments, as when they forbid certain meats, and will not suffer us to use that liberty which God giveth the faithful. Those who troubled the church in St. Paul’s time, by setting forth such traditions, used the commandments of the law as a shield. These were but men’s inventions: because the temple was to be abolished at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those in the church of Christ, who hold this superstition, to have certain meats forbidden, have not the authority of God, for it was against His mind and purpose that the Christian should be subject to such ceremonies.

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Prayer Needed


I received the following email from my brother-in-law this morning.

10/09/14 Thursday 6:39 P.M.

Prayer Request from Dan and Marilyn Wilson Missionaries who are in the areas that are being attacked by ISIS are asking to be showered in prayer. ISIS has taken over the town they are in today. He said ISIS is systematically going house to house to all the Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus. He said so far not one child has. And so far all have consequently been killed. But not the parents. The UN has withdrawn and the missionaries are on their own. They are determined to stick it out for the sake of the families – even if it means their own deaths. They are very afraid, have no idea how to even begin ministering to these families who have had seen their children martyred. Yet he says he knows God has called them for some reason to be His voice and hands at this place at this time. Even so, they are begging for prayers for courage to live out their vocation in such dire circumstances. And like the children, accept martyrdom if they are called to do so. These brave parents instilled such a fervent faith in their children that they chose martyrdom. Please surround them in their loss with your prayers for hope and perseverance. Continue reading

Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God


by Mike Ratliff

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NASB) 

3 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (John 3:3 NA28)

The more I deal with those who are adamantly against the fact that God’s Word is absolute truth as they claim the correct way to understand the gospel is as if it is some sort of smorgasbord or rotating buffet in which the sound doctrines taught to us from the Bible are simply one of untold numbers of various ways to God, the more amazed I become at the abject spiritual blindness exhibited by them. These same people want an understanding of the Bible that is loose and easy to hedge. Why? It is so they can include every person on planet earth as on “a” path to God regardless of status as a Christian or not. This multi-path concept to God is a perfect seedbed for the apostate authors such as Brian McLaren who wrote A Generous Orthodoxy. McLaren and those like him are rethinking “Christianity” so that it becomes the all-inclusive container for all religions. The end-product of this rethinking of Christianity is not Christianity at all. It is an open-ended, man-made false religion that has as its foundation the philosophies of men, not the Word of God.  Continue reading

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong


by Mike Ratliff

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NASB)

The sad state of the visible Church is both the product of the famine of hearing solid preaching of the Word of God and the cause of it. When the Word of God is seldom heard or read or taught then it’s purifying power is muted. The world and its ways now coexist with the visible Church. Genuine believers are new creations, God’s workmanship, and because they are new creations they now crave the pure milk of the Word of God. It is necessary for their Spiritual Growth and their new character craves it. This is not an attribute of the natural man. The unregenerate have no desire to know the Word of God and really don’t like to hear it preached to them. Therefore, the genuine believers in those churches which are apostatizing by neglecting the Word are leaving to find church homes that still preach it, teach it, and hold it as the revealed Word of God. Continue reading

Self-Righteousness vs Humility


by Mike Ratliff

23 “ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law:justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matthew 23:23-24 NASB)

A huge trap that Christians can fall into is self-righteousness. It is a form of idolatry and that always causes spiritual blindness (Romans 1:24-25). Self-righteousness puts all effort towards godliness in the wrong place. It creates a form of piety that is all about outward appearances while putting little or no priority on matters of the heart. It is all about being concerned about appearances and what others think rather than being totally committed to abiding in Christ from within first. The self-righteous are consciously holy. However, that is not what we are called to be. Christians must be consciously repentant and unconsciously holy. The difference is huge for these are totally opposite walks. Continue reading

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might


by Mike Ratliff

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17 NASB)

This ministry began primarily to bring Christians from the darkness of dead religiosity into the light of an obedient, vibrant, growing, daily walk by faith as a living sacrifice. However, it soon became apparent that a huge number of those who God sent this way were refugees from churches that had been taken over by the Purpose Driven paradigm. They had stood against the takeover and had been asked to leave or told to leave. They were no longer welcome in churches in which they had served for years. In many cases, generations of their family had served there. Now, that local church had become a local Purpose Driven franchise that only welcomed the world and cared nothing for real Christians. In our analysis of this and our ministering to those who were dealing with this we soon found ourselves also dealing with the PDC apologists who were allied with another group. That group was a loosely defined bunch of people we called the “emergent village.” We had other names for them, but that name will work for now.

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The Golden Calf of the Church Growth Movement


by Mike Ratliff

1 “ Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 NASB)

1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “ Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4 NASB)

Those familiar with the Exodus of Israel from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan know that the journey was long and arduous. Only two men from those who left Egypt made it through the journey. The rest died on the way. Their children were those whom Joshua led to conquer and claim the land flowing with milk and honey. God tested them in the wilderness. They were put in circumstance after circumstance by God to see if they would repent of their stiff-necked resistance to His Lordship, and time after time they proved that they were temporal, fleshly people who did not trust Him. In this post we will look at a parallel between one of those circumstances and the condition of the Church in the early 21st Century. Continue reading

A Christian response to fear mongering


by Mike Ratliff

Today I was reading a friend’s post on Facebook in which he had linked to an article by FOX News in which a military expert on one of their news shows had responded to a threat by ISIS to call all home grown terrorists in the United States to “attack the families of American military with extreme slaughter.” The expert said that if this happens the response would be that we would make an end of ISIS. I pondered what that would mean and then another person I did not know jumped in and commented, “ISIS is the rod of God and could not be made and end of…” He then said that God hated America and ISIS would soon make and end of it. I responded that he was “fear mongering.” He said that I was in denial. I told him that ISIS said all that stuff and showed those videos simply to make people afraid so they could get nations to react the way they wanted. He then posted a video of beheadings and said that was coming here. I told him that I was not afraid of ISIS and that I was afraid of no man. He said I was a typical hypocritical American Christian. I’m not sure what he meant by that. I told him that I feared no man, but I did fear God. He repeated that I did not fear God and proved it by not being afraid of ISIS. Not sure how he came up with that one either. I again told him that I feared God and only him and if he thought I was a hypocrite then go visit my blog, check out what was there, then get back to me. I gave him this site’s url and that was that. I didn’t hear back from him. Continue reading

Obedience and Accountability


by Mike Ratliff

7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, 9 “When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. 10 “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. 11 “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.” (Psalms 95:7-11 NASB)

Preaching or teaching from God’s Word is nothing to trifle with. The responsibility that goes with each is eternal. Those who minister through the Word will be held accountable and that should be very sobering for all of us. We must ask each time we preach or teach, “Did I treat what is Holy as it deserved? Have I fallen into doing my ministry perfunctorily?” Those of us who teach must never do so in way that is in any way motivated by anything other than our love and devotion for our Lord. Yes, there will be circumstances that we respond to and use as inspiration or input, but, even in that, we do a tremendous disservice to our Lord if we don’t go to Him in prayer first before we respond, write, preach, or teach. While the leader has a huge responsibility to minister by the Spirit, those who hear the truth from God’s Word will also be held accountable. Continue reading

What will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NASB)

A very important person in my Christian walk died this week. My dear brother in the Lord Ken Silva died on Sunday, September 28th. God used Ken in a huge way in directing my paths in 2004-2005 into how to do the right research into the Purpose Driven paradigm that was about to consume the local church where I served as a deacon and Bible teacher. It was through that research I also was drawn into several online debates on the old Slice of Laodicea website that was being run by Ingrid Schlueter with the help of Jim Bublitz and Ken. The debates were fierce and I learned a great deal about the “emergent church” along with those “christian liberals” in it as they accused us of being the Pharisees and much worse. Along with this I was also studying C.H. Spurgeon, Martin Luther, A.W. Pink, R.C. Sproul, and many others while making many new friends in the Reformation Theology online community. It was from that experience that I learned about Christian discernment and how important it is and how God demands that all of us exercise it for the health and well-being of the Body of Christ.

It was from this that this discernment ministry grew. Of course, in the beginning I focused mostly on the Purpose Driven paradigm and Rick Warren, but over time I also looked at past so-called Christian leaders such as Charles Finney. I remember the first time I wrote about Finney I had one fellow who had been my friend and posting comments for some time get very angry with me for saying that Charles Finney was a heretic. Our relationship went down hill from there.

Let us, honestly, compare 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 with the life and ministries of Warren and Finney and others that we have called out as heretics or false prophets. Are these two men examples of those who built upon the foundation of Christ with wood, hay, and stubble, and would, in the end, see all their works be consumed in the fire of judgment, suffering eternal loss, but themselves being saved, “but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) or something else? To get our answer we must put this passage into context. Continue reading

Assurance and Election


by Mike Ratliff

1 Simon Peter, a bond- servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self- control, and in your self- control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short- sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:1-11 NASB)

After God dragged me from my former Arminian doctrinal beliefs into the truth of Reformed Theology, my assurance of my salvation did not suffer at all. In fact, it deepened as the profundity of our salvation by grace and justification by faith became apparent to me. I no longer had a fractured or nebulous picture of God’s eternal plan. It all came into focus as I studied the “Ordo Solutis” from Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1 & 2. However, some I have attempted to teach these truths have virulently resisted. One of the questions these “resistors of the truth” seem to always ask is, “How could you ever have assurance believing that?” Continue reading

The Death of a Dear Friend


It is with a heavy heart that I must share news with all of you that I received earlier this evening. I received an email from one of our leaders at Christian Research Network to call a phone number. The message simply stated that it was about Ken. I called the number and was told that our leader, Ken Silva had died, probably yesterday evening. He was found this morning. I am devastated and am grieving. Ken and Jim Bublitz were instrumental in getting me started in this ministry now they are both with the Lord. He will be missed. I have no details about a funeral or anything like that. Please be in prayer for his family and for CRN and the CRN family. – Mike Ratliff

silva memorial