And now, little children, abide in him


by Mike Ratliff

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 ESV)

There are two types of people in the world. There are God’s children (genuine Christians) and everyone else. One of the reasons I love to read the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation is that John, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:7), wrote very profound words that have no gray areas. Of course he wrote as the Spirit breathed these words through him, but God used this man’s entire makeup in that process. John was very pastoral, but he was also a Christian apologist of the highest order. He was one the three Apostles who made up the inner circle closest to our Lord during His earthly ministry. Before Jesus called him to be his disciple, he was a disciple of John the Baptist along with Andrew, Peter’s brother. Jesus called him and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. He had great faith, but like most of us, he could get full of himself and focus inward instead of humble and lined up with our Lord’s will alone. Continue reading

Hold fast what you have so that no one may seize your crown


by Mike Ratliff

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” (Revelation 3:7 ESV)

One of the big errors of our time in the visible Church of the 21st Century is the misguided concept that truth is subjective or relative. In other words, truth is what you want it be. This concept is, of course, simply borrowed from the world, which loves it. While I do not contend that I know when our Lord will return, I do know that it will be at the end of this age prior to the age to come. I know that He has been given a people for Himself from the Father. I know that His blood purchased them at the cross. I know that those whom He saves must live in this sin-sick world in order to be sanctified, to mature in Christ, and for their lives to glorify God. These truths, and so many more from God’s Word, are not subjective. Continue reading

Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God


by Mike Ratliff

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2 ESV)

Even though genuine Christians are new creations and have been purchased out of the world through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross, as they attempt to live godly lives in the temporal, they will come under tremendous pressure to compromise by reverting back to the fleshly way of dealing with life. This way of reacting to circumstances, both good and bad, has emotions as its catalyst motivated by a form of self-righteousness that is manifested through self-exaltation and self-protection. Here we witness ourselves reacting to the good and bad in a way that is little different than we did prior to our salvation. We may even attempt to justify our actions by proclaiming that we are only seeking justice. Pride is the culprit behind this and when we stumble into these sins it is because we are not spirit-filled and, therefore, not humble. Continue reading

Do you betray the Son of Man with a Kiss?


by Mike Ratliff

47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss.” (Luke 22:47-48 ESV)

When the dogs and swine come to harass and distract it is not pleasant, but, by the grace of God, I can bear it. However, when someone approaches this ministry as if a friend only to be discovered later to be a deceiver, it is a difficult pill to swallow. When one breaks the bread of the Word of God with us then turns on us it is a hard thing to bear. Why? Deceitfulness is as the word suggests, it is the process of deception, for whatever purpose, that causes trusts to be broken and fills us with anguish and grief. Continue reading

Bountiful Supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ


by Mike Ratliff

19 οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι τοῦτό μοι ἀποβήσεται εἰς σωτηρίαν διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν δεήσεως καὶ ἐπιχορηγίας τοῦ πνεύματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ 20 κατὰ τὴν ἀποκαραδοκίαν καὶ ἐλπίδα μου, ὅτι ἐν οὐδενὶ αἰσχυνθήσομαι ἀλλʼ ἐν πάσῃ παρρησίᾳ ὡς πάντοτε καὶ νῦν μεγαλυνθήσεται Χριστὸς ἐν τῷ σώματί μου, εἴτε διὰ ζωῆς εἴτε διὰ θανάτου. (Philippians 1:19-20 NA28)

19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ  20 according to the earnest expectation of my hope that in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all courage  as always even now Christ will be magnified in my body whether through life or through death. (Philippians 1:19-20 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What is this “bountiful supply” Paul is talking about and how can we “tap” into it ourselves as we stand firm in these Laodicean days? Let’s see…

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“Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!


by Mike Ratliff

11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. (Revelation 3:11 ESV)

3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. (2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV)

It is one thing to say, “Come soon Lord Jesus!” and quite another thing to live as if you mean it. There are some today that teach we should live this life with our focus on the here and now rather than eternity. Why? This is to create a better world or make this world a better place. However, I also tire of those who treat eschatology much like the world handles conspiracy theories always looking for the right combination of “signs” that our Lord’s return is imminent. I used to do that myself, but I do not do that very much, if at all, anymore. Why? My focus is on living this life for the glory of God and that means I focus on my relationship with my Lord first and from that flows my relationships with everyone else. Yes, the sad shape of the visible Church grieves me and, to me, this is the most telling sign that our Lord’s return is imminent.  Continue reading

Christians and the Resurrection


by Mike Ratliff

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35 ESV)

Eternity is the true reality, not this physical life in the temporal. At the heart of our Christian faith is our blessed hope of a bodily resurrection. Many mistakenly believe that all Christians who die are given their eternal body right then, but the Bible is clear that our eternal bodies are resurrected by God from our physical bodies that we have now. There will be an interim between our death and the resurrection before we are given our Resurrection Bodies, but this post is about what will be after our Lord returns in victory and glory. Continue reading

Count it all joy


by Mike Ratliff

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:1-4 ESV) 

33 “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

With what has God blessed His Chosen in His Beloved?


By Mike Ratliff

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 ESV)

The unregenerate cannot conceive of a religion unless it is fully entwined with the exercise of free will as an expression of devotion or belief. Genuine Christianity is not a religion if that is how religion is defined. Authentic Christianity consists of God’s work in the hearts of those whom He gave and drew to Christ. The Holy Spirit regenerated them at the will of the Father as they heard the gospel thereby enabling them to believe and repent. From that time forward they serve their Saviour and God as His disciples. Their divine faith, a gift from God, overcomes the world as they obey Him, love Him, and love their brethren. They share their faith with others thereby being obedient disciples whom God uses to bring others into the Kingdom. Continue reading

How can we discern the Lord’s will?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1-2 NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.(Romans 12:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Both the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul used light and darkness in analogies pertaining to spiritual life and spiritual death. For instance, in John 1:4, 5 the Apostle says, “ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.” Or, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not grasp it.” In order to lay the foundation for this discussion on discerning the Lord’s will, it is imperative that we understand what is being said in these two verses. First, the “Him” in v4 refers back to ὁ λόγος or “the Word” from v1. This is, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ. In v4, we learn that in Him was ζωὴ or zōē, “life.” This ζωὴ is not simply the life we all have here and now, but was φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων or the “the light of men.” What does that mean? This light comes from God and brings to this dark world true knowledge, moral purity, and the light that shows the very presence of God. Finally, notice that this light shines into the darkness, but the darkness does not “receive, admit, or grasp” it. Those who discern the will of God are in His light. Those who cannot are in darkness.  Continue reading

Thus you will recognize them by their fruits


by Mike Ratliff

6 Μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς ἀπατάτω κενοῖς λόγοις· διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας. 7 μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν· 8 ἦτε γάρ ποτε σκότος, νῦν δὲ φῶς ἐν κυρίῳ· ὡς τέκνα φωτὸς περιπατεῖτε 9 — ὁ γὰρ καρπὸς τοῦ φωτὸς ἐν πάσῃ ἀγαθωσύνῃ καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ — 10 δοκιμάζοντες τί ἐστιν εὐάρεστον τῷ κυρίῳ, 11 καὶ μὴ συγκοινωνεῖτε τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις τοῦ σκότους, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἐλέγχετε. (Ephesians 5:6-11 NA28)

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do no be joint partakers with them; 8 for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 ( for the the fruit of light is in all that is good and right and true), 10 proving what is will pleasing to the Lord. 11 And to not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:6-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

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.

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Enter through the narrow gate


by Mike Ratliff

13 Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι διʼ αὐτῆς· 14 τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. (Matthew 7:13-14 NA28)

13 “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are the ones entering through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and constricted the road leading to life and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

It has been said that no prophet preached about Hell as much as our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also true that His preaching would be considered “divisive” and “offensive” in today’s politically correct culture. However, I seriously doubt that if preaching the truth or hurting someone’s feelings or offending someone’s “sensibilities” were the issue with our Lord it would make any difference. He would not hesitate to preach the truth because in God’s truth is life. In man-made truth is only death. Consider the passage at the top of this post. The lie that has taken over our society is that it is a sin to be narrow-minded. We must be as broad and as accepting as possible. We must be all-inclusive in all things to the point of madness. From this our enemy has sown the lies such as “There are many roads to heaven,” and since God is a good God He must also me a “fair God” so “eventually everyone will be saved.” The problems with this are that this “god” is a creation of these people’s wishful thinking not The God, our God, the Creator of all things. Also, in His Word, our Lord Jesus taught exactly the opposite of this as the passage above clearly says.

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Glory Praise and Worship


by Mike Ratliff

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. (Luke 9:28-32 ESV)

As we continue in our discussion and deeper look at the makeup of the dividing line between genuine Christianity, that which is God centered, and counterfeit Christianity, that which is man centered, let us look the vast difference in how each side understands the concepts of God’s glory and the praise that is His due. The word most often translated as praise in the New Testament is δόξα or doxa. It is also translated even more often as glory. However, in secular Greek, δόξα means opinion or conjecture, especially favorable human opinion, which then includes an evaluation placed by others, such as fame, repute, honor, or praise. Is this what is meant in God’s Word when δόξα is used in reference to God’s glory and the praise that His due? I submit that that definition exactly defines most professing Christians’ understanding of praise and worship, but is not in any way shape or form what is true δόξα. Continue reading

Oh, if only we could recognize how poor and filthy we are in God’s sight!


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” (Zechariah 3:1-4 ESV)

The neo-evangelists in our day push their evangelical emphasis to the forefront where it has become the golden calf in their churches. Instead of obeying our Lord to make disciples they seek to multiply their numbers through easy believism. They use shame tactics to get their flocks to bring their friends and relatives to church so they can hear that Jesus wants to come into their lives so they can live abundantly here and now.

It is a golden calf because it is the primary focus at the cost of discipleship. Being an idol, it cannot deliver on its promises though. Whereas, we learn in the Bible that those who abide in Christ and His word and obey Him in all things will have an abundant life. This abundant life is spiritual not material. It is the byproduct of becoming more and more Christlike as God molds and shapes His people as they surrender to the Lordship of Christ more and more in every part of their lives. On the other hand, the golden calf’s version of the Gospel is incomplete and skewed towards “decisions for Christ” instead of giving people the good news that even though they are filthy in God’s sight because of their sin, there is peace available between God and men through the Son who paid the price for their sin.

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