Mistaken Notions About Repentance


by Mike Ratliff

30 I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. Ezekiel 36:30-31 (NASB) 

The following is partially adapted from a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon titled “Mistaken Notions About Repentance.”

Some have defined repentance as, “a change of mind.” Others add, “with resultant change in actions.” Others believe it is anguish and grief over sin. Others believe it is the same thing as belief. What is repentance? Repentance is wrought in the heart by a sense of love divine. In other words, it is the product of a work of God in the heart. If we hold this view of repentance we see it in its true light. This helps us to meet a great many mistakes which have darkened this subject. Many are kept from Christ and hope by misapprehensions of this matter. Continue reading

Casting out Fear


by Mike Ratliff

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19 (NASB) 

As God draws us out of darkness into a Spirit-led walk, we can still become discouraged or fearful when the fires of tribulation, tests, or trials come upon us. The move from walking according to the flesh to walking according to the spirit breaks those self-forged chains of bondage to our flesh that kept us mired in spiritual blindness. That happens as we become Spirit-led. We become Spirit-led when we obey God by drawing near unto Him. God’s ways are not our ways. Submission to the Lordship of Christ brings us rest and freedom. Rebellion against His Lordship puts in bondage and darkness. The Spirit-led walk is one which has its mind on the things of God. The flesh-bound walk is one which has its mind on the things of Men. Therefore, the Spirit-led believer fears only God while the flesh-bound walk is full of fear. Fear of what? Isn’t it a fear of having to submit to others? The Spirit-led believer submits to others for Christ’s sake. The Spirit-led walk is one that is free of fear of the unknown while the flesh-bound walk is anxious about everything. Continue reading

The Lamb of God


by Mike Ratliff

29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NASB) 

In my Nave’s Topical Bible there is a subsection under “Atonement” titled “Atonement – Made by Jesus.” It covers half of page 85 and runs through half of page 88. I find it interesting that within today’s visible church there are way too many leaders who focus so much of their energies on trying to deny that the Lord Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross to atone for the sins of His people was the primary mission of His incarnation. Instead, these false Christian leaders point their followers to follow a man-made Jesus whose purpose in His incarnation was to show people how best to live and make the world a better place. At the same time, so many “denominations” are rapidly apostatizing through cultural compromise and moving away from God’s moral standards. Our enemy has planted easily believable lies throughout the visible Church and has given verbiage to the lying mouths of his prophets that are designed to confuse and take away the clarity of God’s Truth. They cannot preach a thing without emphasizing that ultimate truth is unknowable while elevating indefiniteness as a virtue while, at the same time, they attempt to say that Jesus wants us all to more about Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality while saying that their listeners should attempt to find themselves in scripture because its all about them. What?

Continue reading

Unworldliness


by Mike Ratliff

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:11-16 (NASB)

We cannot walk by faith, abide in Christ, take up the Yoke of Christ, run the race God has set before us, and be living sacrifices if we have a worldly focus. If we are enamored with the world and its ways then we are not doing any of these things. Instead, our service at church is nothing more than extensions of our pursuit of self-gratification. We are self-absorbed religious people who are not walking this walk as one who has died with Christ. In fact, when we are doing this we will find that our “service” is really no different than the ancient Jews reliance on circumcision as their “way to God.” Continue reading

Unity Through Humility


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB) 

The number one accusation thrown at those who take up the armor of God and use it in the battle as they are called to do, is that they are full of pride. Those who use this fiery dart are equating certainty with pride. Extra Biblical revelation should not be used in the battle by God’s warriors. Instead, the source of truth that is used is the sword of the Spirit itself, the Word of God. Experience is extra-Biblical. Man’s teachings, if contrary to the Word of God, are extra-Biblical. One’s own private interpretation of Scripture and/or experience is extra-Biblical.

These battles may appear to cause disunity in the Body, but unity that is held together through compromise is false. Christians should never seek to be yoked up with those who hold doctrine or beliefs that are contrary to the truth from God’s Word or are based solely on extra Biblical sources. Unity in the Body of Christ is commanded in God’s Word, but that unity is not based in compromise, but love and humility within those who are obedient to the truth. Continue reading

Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ταῦτα ἐλάλησεν Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἶπεν· πάτερ, ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα· δόξασόν σου τὸν υἱόν, ἵνα ὁ υἱὸς δοξάσῃ σέ, 2 καθὼς ἔδωκας αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός, ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκας αὐτῷ δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. John 17:1-2 (NA28)

1 Jesus said these things and having lifted up His eyes to Heaven said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You, 2 as You gave Him authority over all flesh that all You have given Him, He may give them eternal life.” John 17:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 17, we have the transition marking the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of His intercessory ministry for all believers (Hebrews 7:25). This has been called “The High Priestly Prayer,” however; it does summarize John’s entire Gospel. For instance, its principal themes include Jesus’ obedience to His Father, the glorification of His Father through His death and exaltation, the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, the choosing of the disciples out of the world, their unity modeled on the unity of the Father and the Son, and the believers final destiny in the presence of the Father and Son. There are three main sections to this prayer. In vv1-5, we have Jesus’ prayer for Himself. In vv 6-19, we have Jesus’ prayer for the apostles. In vv20-26 we have Jesus’ prayer for all New Testament believers who will form the Church.  Continue reading

For God So Loved the World


by Mike Ratliff

16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. John 3:16 (NA28)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that everyone believing in Him should not perish but have life eternal. John 3:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The first verse I memorized in Sunday School as a child was John 3:16 from the King James Bible. This must have been sometime around 1956-1957 since I did not learn to read until the 1st grade. My mother even had a plaque made with that verse on it and put it on the wall over my bed. I still have the little white New Testament I got for memorizing the most verses in my class that year. So what? When I look back on my life from that point to the time God had mercy on me in 1986, I am truly amazed that He did at all. Since the time I came to know Christ, I have known much of both of the tender mercies of our Lord as well as His flail of tribulation. My brethren, the school of the cross is the school of light, it discovers the world’s vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of God’s mind. Out of dark affliction comes a spiritual light. With that, let us look at John 3:16-21.  Continue reading

Effectual Fervent Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

16 ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. James 5:16 (NA28)

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray on behalf of one another so that you may be cured. The petition of the righteous, being effective, has great power. James 5:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Notice that my ability to do these “works” of apologetics or theology or whatever are within a very specific framework. It must be for God’s glory alone and for the edification of the Body of Christ. I can only do these things if it is God’s will for me to them and as my will to do them is lined up with His in this regard. Outside of this framework, it would be like chasing after the wind. It would be me motivated according to the ways of the world with the flesh in view, would not bring glory to God, and would only cause confusion and who needs that? Therefore, before I tackle any “issue” that affects the the Church, what must I do? Continue reading

Termites


by Mike Ratliff

10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Romans 14:10-13 (NASB) 

Without a doubt, there is a growing apostasy in the Church. One of the main reasons this is taking place is that the majority of professing Christians have adopted the pervasive attitude in modern Western culture that says authority to determine right and wrong resides in the individual. Combine this with a critical spirit in one person and we have one who not only believes that truth is whatever he or she determines it is, but they also seem to take great pleasure in hypocritically judging others just as our Lord commanded us not to do (Matthew 7:1-6).  Continue reading

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life


by Mike Ratliff

25 εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, 26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. πιστεύεις τοῦτο; John 11:25-26 (NA28)

25 Jesus said to her, “I am The Resurrection and The Life; the one believing in Me, even if he should die will live, 26 and everyone living and believing in Me never dies into the age. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at our Lord’s final and ultimate messianic sign. John also bluntly contrasted our Lord’s spectacular, uncontested miracle with the evil intent of the Jewish religious leaders who resolved to arrest Jesus and kill not only Him, but Lazarus whom our Lord raised from the dead. John also reveals their self-centered motivations for this later in John 11:45-57. In this post we will look at John 11:1-44.  Continue reading

The Mortification of Sin – Modernized Version


by Mike Ratliff

Several years ago I did a series on John Owen’s wonderful book, The Mortification of Sin. While a great number of people participated in that study they also struggled with John Owen’s 17th Century English. He was a wonderful preacher of God’s Word and a gifted teacher. He was also mightily used by God throughout his ministry, but in our time what he was teaching seems to have been largely ignored and lost. I have so many believers contact me wanting to know how to deal with their besetting sins and their inability to turn away or kill some sin problem. John Owen had the answer, which, of course, comes directly from God’s Word. Continue reading

Missing the Mark


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 (NASB) 

In the passage above, the word “sins” translates the noun ἁμαρτιῶν, which is the Genitive, Plural of ἁμαρτία (hamartia), from the verb ἁμαρτάνω (hamartanō), which means, “to miss the mark.” The word group from which these two words belong gives the sense of missing the mark, losing, or falling short of a goal (particularly a spiritual one), as in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” The noun form, ἁμαρτία, typically refers to the transgression of the law, for example, 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, ἁμαρτία is used to denote our sin against God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, ἁμαρτία results in death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 6:23). Continue reading

Drawing Near Unto God


by Mike Ratliff

7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” Matthew 15:7-9 (NASB)

What does it mean biblically to draw near to God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:

22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (NASB) 

Here is Hebrews 10:22 from the NA28 Greek text, “προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ·”

The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the Present tense, Subjunctive mood, Middle voice, 1st person, plural of προσέρχομαι (proserchomai), “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.  Continue reading

The Religious Are Not Immune From Being Carnal


by Mike Ratliff

63 τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν τὸ ζῳοποιοῦν, ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν· τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λελάληκα ὑμῖν πνεῦμά ἐστιν καὶ ζωή ἐστιν. John 6:63 (NA28)

63 The Spirit is who makes alive. The flesh does not profit anything. The words which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life. John 6:63 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Apart from my normal preparations and Bible study to put these devotions and articles together, I also do a systematic read through of the Bible every year. Today I read 2 Kings 12-16 and John 6, which, on Saturdays, I usually do from my 1560 Edition of the Geneva Bible. The rampant apostasy in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was horrifying to read. King Ahaz of Judah actually sacrificed his own son(s) to idols. I am sure things were just as bad, if not worse, in the Northern Kingdom. It was almost with relief that I came to the end of 2 Kings 16 and went to the New Testament. However, the Apostle John is someone I can identify with very well. I have been accused by many who know me well of not being able to compromise at all. I have no grey areas. Things are either right or wrong. I agree with that assessment to a point and I see the same sort of view of non-compromising adherence to the truth with the Apostle John. However, let us not forget that what he wrote for us in God’s Word is that very thing. We are reading the inspired Word of God and in John 6, the very words of our Lord are, for the most part, in response to His critics who were in the darkness of unbelief.  Continue reading