by Mike Ratliff
16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO shall your descendants be.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Romans 4:16-21 (NASB)
Several years ago I wrote a post about Liberal Theology. That post produced a very long and protracted discussion in the comment section of this blog. I remember it very well. The discussion became quite heated at times. One person insisted that scholarship and critical analysis of the Bible far outweighed faith when it comes to theology. In fact, he tried very hard to make us see that the Bible is unreliable and cannot be understood or held by Christians to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God.As some of my friends from around the blogosphere joined the battle, he soon “tired” and left when it became obvious that we would not accept what he was “preaching.” He gave some parting shots that were intended to do some damage to our faith. The one that stood out to me was, “No, I encourage you to continue in your faith. Hold tight. Don’t let go. But I think that over time you will find that it is kinda like trying to hold on real tight to a handful of sand.” Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:22-25 (NASB)
As I have grown older as a Christian, and, hopefully, as the Lord has matured me, the more I want freedom from everything that is in any way tinged with The Fall. Of course that includes my own flesh that wants only to have its cravings satiated as well as the World System whose king is Satan. God does use our time here to grow us in humility while uprooting our pride, but I so want to be past this so I can be with my Saviour.
Prayer is a huge struggle for me most of the time. It seems that God must wring my heart and drive me into deep despair at times in order for me to pray in such a way that bears fruit. Why do I struggle so? I think the following piece by Martin Luther nails this right on the head. Enjoy and be blessed – Mike Ratliff
by Martin Luther
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)
Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you–even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.
We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.
So go ahead an feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness. Yes, everything depends on this alone. Don’t turn his faithful promise into a lie by your doubts. For your worthiness doesn’t help you, and neither does your unworthiness hinder you. A lack of faith is what condemns you, but confidence in God is what makes you worthy.
From Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional – James C. Galvin General Editor
by Mike Ratliff
4 Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ τὴν ἀνομίαν ποιεῖ, καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία. 5 καὶ οἴδατε ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη, ἵνα τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἄρῃ, καὶ ἁμαρτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν. 6 πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν.
7 Παιδία, μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς· ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν· 8 ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν, ὅτι ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς ὁ διάβολος ἁμαρτάνει. εἰς τοῦτο ἐφανερώθη ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα λύσῃ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου. 1 John 3:4-8 (NA28)
4 Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that he was manifested to take away sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 No one who abides in him continually sins; those who continually sin have not seen him or known him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you; the one practicing righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous 8 The one practicing sin is of the devil for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this cause the son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:4-8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Antinomianism means “opposed to law.” Antinomian views are those denying that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life. Dualistic antinomianism appeared early in the Gnostic heresies. The Gnostics taught that salvation was for the soul only, making bodily behavior irrelevant both to God’s interest and to the soul’s health. The conclusion was that one may behave riotously and it will not matter. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25 (NASB)
The Puritans had a term they used in their theological writings and discussions describing professing believers who fell away or were in some way not consistent in their walk. They called them “temporary believers.” This may be a little offensive to many these days, but there are untold numbers of Pastors, Deacons, Elders, Evangelists, or whatever in our churches in our time who would not even qualify for membership in a 17th Century Puritan Church. As I have stated many times, I grew up in Oklahoma as a Southern Baptist. I have seen literally hundreds (if not more) of “invitations.” In a large percentage of these invitations, people walked an aisle, prayed a sinner’s prayer, was Baptised, and made a full member of the church. All of this taking place in a just a period of days. I have also observed a staggeringly high percentage of those professing believers last only a short period of time before disappearing from church never to be seen again. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:16-18 (NASB)
The test of true faith is that which is revealed in how one lives and walks through this life. Right belief, that is, a faith that lives in a regenerate heart born from above, is exhibited in right living as James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ wrote in the passage above. Notice also that he began that passage in v16 with, “Do not be deceived,” or Μὴ πλανᾶσθε from the Greek. This literally says, “not be deceived.” The verb πλανᾶσθε here is the present imperative active form of the Greek verb πλανάω, which means “to lead astray, deceive.” So, in the form used here, James and the Holy Spirit is commanding and warning believers to actively work to not be led to believe the lie that which is the opposite of the truth that he is about to share concerning the nature of how true Christian faith produces a true Christian walk. The good gift of faith comes from God and all the gifts that follow concerning this Christian walk do as well. This is God’s plan for His people that they should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13 (NASB)
There are many ministries in our time that are run by people who have either forgotten that friendship with the world is a sin or they are deliberately overlooking it. If a ministry operates in such a way that the world loves it then there is at least one missing component in it. That of course is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture is clear that Christians cannot be friends of the world. Why? Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system, which is in rebellion against God (John 14:30). Therefore, the world not only hates Jesus, but also those who follow Him. This hatred is also focused toward the Father because He sent Jesus to testify against it. Now, since this is true and clearly taught in Sacred Scripture, what does this say about those ministries who work overtime to accommodate the secular and to appeal to temporal ways and means? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. Luke 9:28-32 (NASB)
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 at 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 (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
by Mike Ratliff
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. John 1:1-2 (NASB)
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
by Mike Ratliff
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 (NASB)
We have been looking at unbelief and the utter foolishness it begets. Also, I have been in discussion with several of you about the trials you are currently going through that are, for the most part, oppression resulting in despair as you are dealing with others who either claim to be Christian, but prove they aren’t by their reprobate lifestyles or they claim to be superior in knowledge about nearly everything and so attack those who profess to be Christian in an attempt to disavow the gospel, the atonement, our desperate need for redemption, and that Jesus Christ came to fulfill that role. I have been dealing with this as well, but instead of despair or fear while I have been going through this, I have felt nothing but pity for the one whom our enemy as assigned to attack me and this ministry. The superior attitude is offset by an arrogance that is so off the scale that it is laughable to one whose faith is strong. As they attempt to cast doubts on God’s sound doctrine and say stupid things like, “everyone knows that the bible is nothing more than a book of symbolism so you can’t use those exegetical techniques you use to prove anything!” Let’s look at this. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, Ephesians 4:17-20 (NASB)
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
by Mike Ratliff
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18 (NASB)
The wrath of God is something that is never part of a seeker-sensitive, emergent, or pop-culturally relevant type of church. Nor is it ever part of those who have abandoned the Word of God as being the authoritative, infallible, inerrant, and complete Word of God. In other words, any form of liberal leaning religious group that calls itself Christian, but who is on the road to apostasy also, through their unbelief, has a total misunderstanding of the wrath of God. Lest we forget, in God’s economy, just calling oneself a Christian does not make you one. Those who say they are but really are not believers are unregenerate and are just as lost as those who openly reject the Gospel and Christ Jesus as Saviour. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:22-27 (NASB)
The main argument that I run into in debates these days after scripture is used to nullify opponents’ arguments is that they “do not agree” with whatever doctrinal position I am defending. In other words, the veracity of a truth is determined by their belief in it or not. That is a completely invalid argument. The qualities of a truth that make it true are not dependent upon whether people believe it to be true. Our enemy, a liar from the beginning, is hard at work selling compromise as something vital in our relationships and all dealings with others. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (NASB)
Genuine Christianity is vastly different than the religiosity and Churchianity all around us. I remember as a much younger Christian as I studied eschatology, that we always assumed that the attacks on Christians during the close of the end of this age would come from the secular, from the evil that is opposed to everything about our faith. However, over the last several years as I have battled in the truth war and studied the writings of the reformers, Puritans, and men such as C.H. Spurgeon, it has become clear that the visible church is mostly anti-Christian. On the other hand, God has His saints in the invisible Church kept secure and is continually growing them in maturity, transforming them through continual mind renewal through immersion into His Word. Continue reading