Taking up the Slack

by Mike Ratliff

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:16-17 ESV)

My friend Josh at Truth Matters and I had a good conversation via email this morning. He has a heart for the purity of the Gospel and it is broken over the state of the church in his state. In the process of creating a link to his blog, I decided to watch the YouTube video there with John MacArthur speaking at a conference last year. The topic was on his feelings on the future of the church. I suggest you watch it. Here is the direct link to the video. As I watched this video, I was struck by his confidence in the fact that our God is Sovereign and is still committed to building His Church. The tragic thing is how the Church has basically lost the last three generations of spiritual leaders who should have been trained in proper Bible Study and how to properly do ministry. Instead, they have been trained to minister as if the Church was a business.

As John got to the crux of his statement I was struck again by his point that God is calling those who do know the truth to replace those who have corrupted themselves by becoming part of the Compromised Church. Who is that can take up the slack, to step up to the plate, speak the truth in love to all those whom God directs to listen? Well, there are many good pastors out there. There are many good spiritual leaders out there. The dividing line between those ministries and those of the Compromised Church are clearly defined and so we we can find them. However, there are so many of God’s people who have been chased out of their PDC churches because they wouldn’t put up with the apostasy there. There are many people God is drawing to Himself that need to hear the truth. Who is going to speak it to them?

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:11-15 ESV)

Is God calling you to be one of those whom He will send into the battle? As I heard John MacArthur speak today in that video it was as if the Holy Spirit said to me, “and you too!” Well, I am no pastor or evangelist, however, I can teach and I can present the gospel. However, If God sent me to do those other things I may not think I could do, it makes no difference because I know that I must go and that He would make it work for His glory.

I believe the greatest need in our 21st Century Church are church leaders who will not compromise the truth, who will preach the whole gospel without trying to make it appealing to the flesh, and will disciple their disciples. Also, I am convinced that God is raising up a group of people in these last days who will be used by Him in an extraordinary way for the Kingdom of God. The Christian Research Network is a good example. Our team is very varied. We are all unique, but God is using this ministry in a very powerful way and I believe it is only beginning. However, since I became a team member, I have found many others out there who all seem to be responding to the call to “take up the slack” and help as many people as they can to find the truth. It has blessed my heart to read their comments, visit their blogs and websites, fellowship with them and find our common ground of sorrow for the state of the Church in our time. This sorrow, I believe, is from the Holy Spirit grieving for the rampant apostasy and outright heresy passing for Christianity today.

I agree with John MacArthur. God is Sovereign and He loves His Church and will never stop building it until it is complete. In the meantime, get ready because He will not stand for the corruption we are witnessing now to continue unabated forever. Perhaps those He is raising up to “take up the slack” will have to minister in an environment that is anything but safe. Look at how Christians are treated in China, North Korea, India, Sudan, and all Muslim countries. Didn’t Jesus say that we should expect to be persecuted for Righteousness sake? He was persecuted for it and all who follow Him will be persecuted. If we desire to live godly lives in obedience to our Lord then we will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) Even so, we must not shrink from the call and we won’t if our hope is in heaven instead of here in the temporal.

The state of the Church in our time can cause us to despair if we take our eyes off of our Lord. However, as long as we have breath we must proclaim the truth to this lost and dying world. We must never stop rebuking those who try to pass their apostasy off as Christianity, but at the same time, we must do so in love from the motivation of healing and restoration. Our responses to them must be spoken from a humble heart that is bound to the truth of God’s word. We have hope because our treasure is in Heaven, not here. Our faith is in our Lord, not some religious system. Our walk before the face of our Lord, our Coram Deo, must be one of devotion to our Lord keyed by spending time in His Word and in secret prayer. We must not look at our faith as being tied to religion. Instead it must be bound to our Lord and we must serve Him in building His Church in the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory alone.

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10 thoughts on “Taking up the Slack

  1. As Jesus told Simon Peter, blessed are you Simon Barjonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.

    What you have written above is from the Holy Spirit and anyone that has eyes to see and ears to hear knows it is true. As Jude 3 tells us, we need to contend for the faith; it’s just so troubling that we must do it inside our own churches!

    But as you say, if the heart of the minister is to actually obey God, he will listen when confronted in love; but if his heart is set on his own glory, he will not. In such a case, he has made his decision and we need to make ours. If the congregation will not call him to repentance from compromised teaching, let God deal with them all since that church can no longer be of any benefit to God or true believers.


  2. Thank you, Mike.

    We may never see widespread revival; we may never see sweeping repentance; we may never see wholesale surrender; and ultimately we may witness the continued falling away of the visible church . But I recall the words of the Apostle Paul saying,

    “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself…”

    The gift that Christ has given everyone of His true followers is the opportunity to pursue Him with all of our hearts and culminating in one eternal moment of His grace that will feed our perfect souls forever as He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

    Spurgeon once remarked that he did not desire lofty positions either here or in heaven’s glory, and that he would be eternally content and grateful to be allowed to dwell in the meanest and most insignificant corner of heaven if it included just a small and continuous glimpse of the Risen Savior.

    Oh one day to see Him and to be changed into a vessel fit for perfect praise and surrendered worship. If you could add up any and all the good and most sacrificial services I have ever done in Christ’s name in these last 31 years and you could times them to the billionth power, I still could not earn one fleeting moment in His glorious presence.

    As a blood bought sinner, bathed only in His grace, one day will I lift up my humble voice and eternally proclaim, “Halleluiah, what a Savior!!”


  3. Mike,

    I’m continually amazed at the working of the Holy Spirit. After reading Pastor Silva’s post entitled “The Elijas of God Are Coming” and being greatly encouraged by A.W. Tozer’s foreword I sat down and blogged this post.

    I then decided to skip back over to CRN and see what else was new today and scrolled down to your post “Taking up the Slack”.

    Lo and behold I read your missive and was stunned to see the similarities within the subject matter the Lord had placed on my heart tonight.

    God is good!


  4. Rick,

    Amen, yes I think I and Mr. Spurgeon have much in common, at least in that area. 🙂 I think we should approach our future glory just like that. I just want to be where my Saviour is. I want to see Him face to face and experience His glory. Oh – just to see Him! Amen!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  5. Coram Deo,

    Yes, it is the Lord. I had no idea Pastor Ken was going to post that. All day long yesterday I felt compelled to write “Taking up the Slack.” After I posted it, I read Ken’s piece and was stunned as you were. This is how God works. There is no confusion or helter skelter running around creating havoc with people’s faith. Instead, there is a common focus as His will becomes manifest through His servants.

    I enjoyed your post as well brother.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  6. Thanks for the link on the video Mike. We all are to take up the slack. We as a nation and even so as Christians have lost the idea of virtue. The mundane, average and close enough attitude suffices in much of what we do in the church when it comes to the Gospel. We don’t hold that standard in regards to technology, but in regards to preaching the truth , we do. We want the best when it comes to buildings and programs. We want the WOW effect. What we need is the WOE effect. Preaching that will start with our sin and position with God so that we will say, Woe is me, I am a person of unclean lips living among a people of unclean hearts. This is repentance. Without that the Good News is empty. The recognition of what Christ has done for us should make us be filled with so much gratitude that we would want to obey Him, please Him, honor Him with all our hearts , mind and soul and to do this in the manner proscribed by Him , not our by our own ideas and opinions.

    As I read the OT , I am amazed and tremble at the fact that judgement always starts with the people of God. Will we stand in the gap? Will Christ find somene who is faithful? The American church has lost her way. It has taken up the marketing mentality of the world and the religio presumptions of the East, and the philosophical presumptions of the West. How can we stand as a people before a righteous God? We must once again “find” the Law. Not for justification before God , but to show us our sin and to use as a guide for life. I know people will say that the only law is the love of Christ. True, but the Law is the Word of Christ and He is Love. God said the He WOULD take their our hearts of stone and give His people a heart of flesh . They WOULD worship Him {in Spirit and Truth} and He WOULD be their God and they WOULD be His people. My question is this. How much of the church today HAS a heart of flesh? How much of the church today truly worships HIM as God said they WOULD? I ask everyone to examine themselves. Are you part of the true church in which God has wrought a mighty miracle ? Or are you part of a church that is user friendly first, relationship bound first, tolerant over truth first?


  7. Amen Fred,

    I read through the book of Exodus recently and God used that to shatter some strongholds in my heart that I did not even know were there. Yes, Woe is me! Revival happens as the Holy Spirit convicts followed by our self-examination, followed by broken repentance on our faces before our Holy and perfectly Righteous God. Brother, let’s agree to pray for God’s people to be drawn from empty religion into this dynamic personal faith walk before our Lord that cleanses us of our idols and drives us to His Word, the source of all genuine truth.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  8. i am reading through a church history book right now and was thinking about the topic of the church needing reform.

    i have just finished a few chapters that are dedicated to the middle ages and the church. its amazing, because it seems that there was a call for reform in the church from about 800 AD til 1500 AD when the protestants finally split.

    this is a long time to be trying to reform the church, and there were some “successful” reforms, but in general all they did was cause violence and problems rather than growth. this seems to be the trend throughout the middle ages. thats a long time that the church seemed to be pretty messed up. (and really if you look back til constantine the church was messed up from about 300 – 800 as well) so maybe what we can really learn is that the church has problems. especially as it becomes and institution with power and money, causing greed and pride etc.

    so what can we do? can we reform the church? certainly. but remember that no change will happen over night. this is for the long haul. plus, we arent to condemn others because they dont always agree with us, because that only causes more problems than it solves.

    so let us love the church. let us reform her. let us love each other.

    may we reform ourselves and in so doing reform the church


  9. Amen Peter,

    All we can see is what we have before us now. We can’t see the end from the beginning like God. Therefore, as you said, love the church, reform the church and love each other. Yes, and Amen!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


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