The cleansing power of God’s Word


by Mike Ratliff

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. (John 15:3 NASB)

All people are born dead in their trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13) This condition of spiritual death also means that each person, though desperate for fulfillment that can only be satisfied in God, cannot come to God, know God, or even seek Him. Because of this, they pursue fulfillment from everything around them. The number one method of doing this is via the flesh. The flesh is all about self and self-gratification. The problem with this is that nothing works for very long, including religiosity. Continue reading

Unrepentant sin leads to spiritual blindness


by Mike Ratliff

1 O Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You. 2 Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! 3 For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol. 4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength, 5 Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And they are cut off from Your hand. 6 You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths. 7 Your wrath has rested upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah. 8 You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out. (Psalms 88:1-8 NASB)

Despite what many so-called Christian leaders are teaching in our day about the necessity of repentance in the life of the believer, the Word of God teaches us something entirely different. In it, we learn that the life, vigor, and comfort of our spiritual life depends much on our actively and deliberately mortifying the sin that clings so closely, which results in genuine repentance. This teaching has unfortunately been neglected much over the last several decades to the point that some scoff at its necessity in the Christian walk. However, if we go back and read the Puritans and others that came before we find that personal holiness has not always been neglected in the Church as it has been in our day. Continue reading

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king


by Mike Ratliff

17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17 NASB)

There is a false belief in much of 21st Century Christianity that grew out of the late 20th Century push to merge Fundamentalism with Conservative politics. That false belief is that the U.S. Government is somehow supposed to be Christian and should govern this country within that framework. Is this the role that God gave government? What about the Christian’s role in politics? Should Christians labor and give large sums of money for political purposes or should those resources and effort be used for God’s Kingdom instead? Martin Luther was often caught in the middle between Kings, Emperors, Popes, and what he believed God willed for him to do. How did he handle this? Continue reading

Thanksgiving trip and sabbatical


by Mike Ratliff

16 καὶ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ· καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρίτης. (Luke 17:16 NA28)

16 and he fell on his face at His feet thanking Him and He was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:16 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I am leaving Wednesday morning to drive from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas. My wife and I have been invited to spend the Thanksgiving holiday there with her brother and sister-in-law and their son. He lives here in the OKC area as well and will ride with us on the roundtrip. I will be offline at least through Saturday the 29th. As I prepare for the trip I have noticed some things that have caused me to reflect on how “thankful” I am to God in the midst of some very ugly societal downgrades. The Ferguson, Missouri riots began last night for instance and it looks like there is political maneuvering behind much of how this being both instigated and handled. I am totally aghast at the blatant ignorance of some of the “talking heads” on Television about “the rule of law” and our President saying the most absurd thing last night in his speech that the violence and all that went with it in Ferguson was “understandable.” Is it? Should it be?

Continue reading

God’s Grace and God’s Justice


by Mike Ratliff

17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “ In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly- minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. (Jude 1:17-23 NASB)

I just watched on FoxNews the the last couple of hours coverage of the Grand Jury decision in the St. Louis County, Missouri not to indict Police Office Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. I listened to the entire speech of the the prosecutor so I had a very thorough understanding of the process and how the evidence went down in that case. However, his speech was then followed by questions from the media. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did those people actually listen to his speech? Do they have no understanding whatsoever of what the term “Rule of Law” means? It was as if they were demanding that his prosecutor override all the evidence and indict the policeman in the case because so much “political pressure” from all directions demanded it. I thought that with a few exceptions those reporters in would have been given a failing grade from my Newspaper Reporting class professor at Oklahoma State University back in 1970. As the prosecutor left the microphone and headed to the door I heard one of the reporters yell after him, “How are you going to sleep tonight….?”  Continue reading

Obedience, a word study


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, 2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις 3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, 4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 5 διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, 6 ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 7 πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Romans 1:1-7 NA28)

1 Paul, a bond- servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 NASB)

Part of the process I go through to determine what God wants me to write about or what to study is, of course, prayer and meditation. That meditation involves searching Sacred Scripture, seeking God’s truth. Sometimes that involves going deeper where I stop and dig deeper into a certain word or truth. Due to the subject matter of the last several posts, many of the comments lately have felt with apostasy in many areas of the visible church. Through that have I became convinced that I needed to look up the Greek lexical definitions for the noun and verb forms of our English words “obedience” and “to obey.” From there I decided to do a study of how these words are used in the New Testament and that would give us the understanding of the writers of those books of the Christians’ obligations to know and obey God’s commands. Continue reading

Christians cannot strain toward the goal unless they are truly in the race


By Mike Ratliff

3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; (1 Corinthians 2:3-7 NASB)

When we observe those “Christian Leaders” espousing the social activism of new evangelicalism, which is rooted in Semi-Pelagianism and Humanism, it should make us wonder at what motivates them. Why would these people seek to create a new version of Christianity? I suppose it is that they see that what they are seeking to replace has “failed” because so many young people want nothing to do with it. Therefore, they desire to create a new Christianity that uses the marketing techniques of the world and entertainment to entice people to be part of a church that is new and exciting. Gone is any call to repent of sins. Sin is hardly, if ever, mentioned. Instead of calling on God for mercy and seeking the Son for salvation from the Father’s coming judgment, they are told to come to Jesus and let Him into their lives so He can make their life better.

What are the leaders of this movement missing? What is wrong with what they are doing? It is not wrong to want to reach the lost with the Gospel. No, we should be doing that, but it is very wrong to make every Sunday morning into a show that only appeals to the flesh. Instead of worshipping our Lord God in referential fear, they have a rock concert. The leaders of this movement may indeed create large churches and international ministries by doing what they do, but is it right?

Continue reading

From where does the righteousness of the Christian come?


by Mike Ratliff

7 but what things were gain to me, these I have considered loss on account of Christ. 8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already been perfected, but I press on if indeed I my lay hold of that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:7-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Justified through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the 4th grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986.  Continue reading

Humble service vs YRR


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, 3 doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit but in humility, esteeming one another above self. (Philippians 2:1-3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Over the last several years there has been a “movement” in the visible church that has been made up of group called “Young, Reformed, and Restless” or YRR. I have always been puzzled by the YRR group. Why? God’s truth, especially the Gospel, divides, but those who are truly in Christ are called continually in Sacred Scripture to come together, to unite in love and humility as exemplified by Christ himself. On the other hand, what I see in the YRR folks is a co-opting of a genuine restoration of Reformation Theology by those who are attempting to blend it with the seeker sensitive, cultural relevance, and gospel contextualization which are all corrupting influences that move the focus back to the mis-direction mainstream evangelicalism was going, but with the hope or desire of “getting a pass” because they proclaim themselves to “be reformed.” As those in the Seeker Sensitive paradigm have found though, emotionalism and getting people to work through motivations other than the genuine moving of the Holy Spirit will work only for a short period of time. Why? It’s all of this flesh and that means, of this world. That is not what Christians are called to do. I believe the recent tragic implosion of Mark Driscoll’s ministry is a prime example of what we are talking about. Continue reading

For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις, 2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Philippians 1:1-2 NA28)

1 Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In vv1-2 Paul and Timothy give the standard Christian greeting that was very common in the early Church. Notice that it is from both Paul and Timothy, who identify themselves as δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (slaves of Christ Jesus), but it addressed to all the ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (saints in Christ Jesus) at Philippi. The word “saints” translates ἁγίοις, which is actually a form of an adjective that means “holy.” That root word is ἅγιος or hagios, which in the Dative form, as used in this passage, designates “saints.” Paul used this word in Ephesians 2:19 saying, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Who are the “overseers?” This is the Greek word ἐπισκόποις the Dative, Plural of ἐπίσκοπος or episkopos, “overseer, bishop.” In the Greek, it literally refers to someone who “looks over” or “watches over” a group of people. It is translated as “overseers” or “elders” in the church. Paul gives their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7. What we must understand my brethren is that in 1 Peter 2:25, Peter refers to our Lord Jesus Christ as “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls..” Therefore, Jesus is, the chief overseer of our lives. Those men who are appointed as elders and such in our churches function on His behalf and should use His life as a model. Continue reading

Hope and Despair


by Mike Ratliff

4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4 NASB)

The role of a Christian writer primarily focusing on the growing apostasy in the church is a tough one. As the Lord shows us what is really going on in the “visible church” that is Christian in name only it is easy to become overwhelmed. If we focus on the these things to the exclusion of our devotion to our Lord we will find in short order that these battles take a heavy toll. They cannot be fought in our strength alone. Fortunately, we can remain in the fight in obedience to our Lord as long as we are doing battle while yoked to our Lord. Also, we must never lose sight of our Lord’s own promise to never stop building His Church (Matthew 16:18). Continue reading

Love of this lost and dying world is a key marker of the apostate


by Mike Ratliff

15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· (1 John 2:15 NA28)

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 NASB)

There is a certain type of love that God hates. We find that in John 15:18-20)

18 Εἰ ὁ κόσμος ὑμᾶς μισεῖ, γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐμὲ πρῶτον ὑμῶν μεμίσηκεν. 19 εἰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἦτε, ὁ κόσμος ἂν τὸ ἴδιον ἐφίλει· ὅτι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκ ἐστέ, ἀλλʼ ἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, διὰ τοῦτο μισεῖ ὑμᾶς ὁ κόσμος. 20 μνημονεύετε τοῦ λόγου οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον ὑμῖν· οὐκ ἔστιν δοῦλος μείζων τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ. *εἰ ἐμὲ ἐδίωξαν, καὶ ὑμᾶς διώξουσιν· εἰ τὸν λόγον μου ἐτήρησαν, καὶ τὸν ὑμέτερον τηρήσουσιν. (John 15:18-20 NA28)

18 “ If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘ A slave is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (John 15:18-20 NASB)

God has no love for “love of the world system that is opposed to God.” Jesus made it clear in the passage from John 15:18-20 that those who are “of the world” are not of God nor are those whom He has selected from out of the world part of the world. This is why those who are still “of the world” hates them. I want to reinitiate here that there are plenty of apostate, “so-called christians” in our time who exhibit that very same hatred toward those of us who refuse to back away from Orthodox Christianity and God’s Word and being infallible and complete. In any case, John is telling us in 1 John 2:15-17 two important truths about genuine Christianity. First, the Christian loves God and fellow Christians and an absence of love of the world must habitually characterize the love life of those to be considered genuinely born again.  Continue reading

Should Christians dialogue with obvious apostates and heretics?


by Mike Ratliff

8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For, “ The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 “ HE must turn away from evil and do good; HE must seek peace and pursue it. 12 “ For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12 NASB)

This era of the Church is one of extreme deception due to compromise with the standards and focus of the world. Separation between the Church and the world is not being kept. Instead, the holy barrier between the two has been breached as false prophets have welcomed in not only the world and its ways into their churches, but have also embraced the mysticism of the Eastern religions. Syncretism is the new byword of the Emergent Village and the New Evangelism. On the other hand, God is good. He keeps His promises. The Lord told Peter that He is the one building His Church and no evil will ever be able to destroy it. (Matthew 16:18) If this is true, and it is because our Lord spoke it, then how do we reconcile the rapid apostasy of so much of the visible Church with what He said? God always keeps a remnant during times of rampant apostasy. These Christians are the small group whom God has reserved who have not bowed the knee to Baal. These are also the ones in whom God is developing Christlikeness and through the fires of persecution by those in the visible Church who have succumbed to the heresies and ungodliness going on in it, He is teaching them how to stand firm and never compromise with evil. In this they learn the difference between debate and dialogue and know that the former actually clarifies the truth and why they hold to it while the latter is only a conversation which has the intent of compromising the truth. Continue reading

Destructive heresies


by Mike Ratliff

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2 Peter 2:1 NASB)

False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology ‘ gives them a green light. Continue reading