by Mike Ratliff
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-4 ESV)
Jesus is coming back soon. If that statement brought a surge of joy into your heart then more than likely, you are actively preparing for His return and are looking forward to it with eagerness. However, there may be some of you who reacted with a sense of dread or foreboding. If that is the case, then I pray that you will pay special attention to the truths from God’s Word we will look at in this post. There may be some of you who reacted to that statement with skepticism or doubt. For you, I pray that God will open your heart to the truth as we study His Word.
by Mike Ratliff
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 ESV)
One of the most tragic aspects of the growing apostasy of the Church, with its roots in Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, is the viewing of salvation as “easy” or something that can be planned or manipulated by men. Along with this, those who are its proponents must necessarily view God as somewhat less than Sovereign. They also do not teach that those who come to Jesus must necessarily become subject to the Lordship of Christ. What did Jesus say about this?
by Mike Ratliff
For it is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. (Psalms 55:12-14 ESV)
As the great Apostasy of the Church deepens and widens it seems that even those we once looked up to as solid and faithful servants of the Most High are slipping into unbelief. It is these failures that seem to strike the hardest at our hearts. We even begin to wonder, “Who’s next?” However, we must not become consumed with discouragement because of this. Yes, it should make us sorrowful, but we must not allow the lack of faithfulness by people to affect our walk with the Lord. Our role model is Jesus Christ. We should look to Him alone as our rock and firm foundation, not other people. Men will always let us down eventually.
We are fooling ourselves if we believe that persecution is not coming upon the Western Church. In every other part of the world Christians lose status in their society when they are saved. Their lives do not automatically become better when they profess Christ. Instead, they are seen as second-class citizens because of their faith. Here in the West, we exist in a climate of spiritual bankruptcy and easy-believism that is the product of decades of man-loving semi-pelagianism that has sucked the spiritual life out of the Church.
Our Lord said that to follow Him is costly, but in the West, it requires hardly any commitment at all. Christianity is seen as an add-on to ones life instead of what actually defines it. However, those in our culture who do take a stand for truth and attempt to live as Christ directs will find that they are no longer seen as “normal.” In fact, even in their churches, they will find there is a great deal of resistance to that level of commitment. Those who stand against this will soon be excluded and shunned. Why? The Western Church acts like the world because the world is in it. The world cannot tolerate true, genuine Christianity. It has no problem with empty religion, but Christ’s disciples who live out their faith as led by the Lord, will be at odds with the worldly.
by Mike Ratliff
Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. (Proverbs 4:14 ESV)
There are things taking place in Christendom that I never thought I would see. The Roman Catholic Church seems to be returning to its former aggressive ways while much of non-Catholic professing Christians are seeking reconciliation with the “Mother Church.”
We are fast approaching the end of this age. These “signs of the times” will only increase not only in intensity, but frequency as our Lord lines things up in this World according to His will to bring His Kingdom to completion. What are those of us who are not blind to these things to do? The focus of my last several posts has been on drawing our eyes to our Lord alone. We are to seek Him and do as He says because this is the way of the Righteous and not the way of the wicked.
by Charles Spurgeon
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)
This is tantamount to a promise: if we will bow down, the Lord will lift us up. Humility leads to honor; submission is the way to exaltation. That same hand of God which presses us down is waiting to raise us up when we are prepared to bear the blessing. We stoop to conquer. Many cringe before men and yet miss the patronage they crave; but he that humbles himself under the hand of God shall not fail to be enriched, uplifted, sustained, and comforted by the ever-gracious One. It is a habit of Jehovah to cast down the proud and lift up the lowly.
Yet there is a time for the Lord’s working. We ought now to humble ourselves, even at this present moment; and we are bound to keep on doing so whether the Lord lays His afflicting hand upon us or not. When the Lord smites, it is our special duty to accept the chastisement with profound submission. But as for the Lord’s exaltation of us, that can only come “in due time,” and God is the best judge of that day and hour. Do we cry out impatiently for the blessing? Would we wish for untimely honor? What are we at? Surely we are not truly humbled, or we should wait with quiet submission. So let us do.
“The knowledge of God is the great hope of sinners. Oh, if you knew him better, you would fly to him! If you understood how gracious he is, you would seek him. If you could have any idea of his holiness, you would loathe your self-righteousness. If you knew anything of his power, you would not venture to contend with him. If you knew anything of his grace, you would not hesitate to yield yourself to him.”
by Mike Ratliff
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)
The growing apostasy in the Church in our time is actually the culmination of decades of poor, man-centered doctrine within our churches and ministries coupled with relentless assaults of liberalism by unbelieving believers bent on remaking Christianity into a politically correct social institution. Those people behind this see Christianity as just another religion.
Since these people have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power, their motives for this could not be to partake of what they are denying, therefore, we must assume that they see the fulfillment of their spiritual journey elsewhere. They refuse to say that Jesus is Lord in the context that we mean it.
They may call Him Lord, but they are referring to another Jesus of their own making who is totally lined up with their spiritual agenda. Our enemy is working quite hard in attempting to discourage those of us who see the truth. Therefore, we must seek the one who is our only source of comfort; He can override the bleakness of this time in our hearts with His peace and joy.
By Mike Ratliff
Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? John 6:59-61 ESV)
One theologian that has helped me a great deal in my journey into the truth, out of darkness into light, is Dr. C. Matthew McMahon at A Puritan’s Mind. He was the pastor of Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church in South Florida. I subscribed to his podcast of his sermons and eagerly listened to his expository preaching that both edified me and brought me to repentance over many things in my life that God’s Word exposed as His light shown in the darkness of my heart.
However, over the last several months, the podcast sermons ceased. I wondered what had happened. Today I heard another podcast from Dr. McMahon’s Wild Boar radio cast. In it he explained why the doors to Christ Covenant had come to be closed. It was a long explanation, but the reason for what happened to that church could be boiled down into one succinct statement, “The people there could not endure sound doctrine.”
“Any church which puts in the place of justification by faith in Christ another method of salvation is a harlot church.”
by Mike Ratliff
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
(Psalms 36:7 ESV)
Life is not fair. One of the hardest humps for Christians to get over is the concept that there are no good deserving people on planet Earth. Bad things happen to people, but most people will lament when they see those who they perceive as “good” or “innocent” suffering. They want to know why “bad things happen to good people.” The hump that staggers us is that our perception of goodness being in people is a product of a flawed view of reality. When we seriously study the Bible we learn that no one is good, NO ONE! Jesus even told a person that only God was good. Instead of wondering why disaster comes upon “good people,” we should be asking why God didn’t simply wipe out the Human Race a long time ago. Those who refuse to believe or submit to this truth about people are under the influence of a wicked heart.
O HOLY SPIRIT,
As the sun if full of light, the ocean full of water,
Heaven full of glory, so may my heart be full of thee.
Vain are all divine purposes of love
and the redemption wrought by Jesus
except thou work within,
regenerating by thy power,
giving me eyes to see Jesus,
showing me the realities of the unseen world.
Give me thyself without measure,
as an unimpaired fountain,
as inexhaustible riches.
I bewail my coldness, poverty, emptiness,
imperfect vision, languid service,
prayerless prayers, praiseless praises.
Suffer me not to grieve or resist thee.
Come as power,
to expel every rebel lust, to reign supreme and keep me thine;
Come as teacher,
leading me into all truth, filling me with all understanding;
Come as love,
that I may adore the Father, and love him as my all;
Come as joy,
to dwell in me, move in me, animate me;
Come as light,
illuminating the Scripture, moulding me in its laws;
Come as sanctifier,
body, soul and spirit wholly thine;
Come as helper,
with strength to bless and keep, directing my every step;
Come as beautifier,
bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos.
Magnify to me thy glory by being magnified in me,
and make re redolent of thy fragrance.
From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
“If we had lain in hell forever, yet divine justice would not have been fully justified, for after thousands of years of suffering there would remain still an eternity of debt due to God’s justice. If God had annihilated all the sinners that ever lived, at one stroke, he would not have so honored his justice as he did when he took sin and laid it on his Son, and his Son bore divine wrath which was due to that sin. For now there has been rendered unto divine justice a full equivalent, a complete recompense for all the dishonor which it suffered.”
Let us look at temptation from the viewpoint of a great Baptist preacher from the 19th Centurty named John A. Broadus. He was an American contemporary of Charles Spurgeon. One of the reasons we look to those theologians who came before is that we live in a time of rampant apostasy and compromise in our churches and seminaries which has bled over into congregations of spiritually starving sheep. Those of us who desperately want to be fed the pure milk from God’s Word often must resort to sitting under the teaching of long dead men who knew not apostasy and compromise. They may have indeed confronted it in their day, but they did not fall under it. In the conception of those enamored with being part of some form of churchianity, the idea that we would study Tozer, Pink, Chambers, Spurgeon, Broadus, Whitefield, Edwards, Gill, Henry, Owen, Bunyan, Watson, Love, Brooks, Tyndale, Calvin and Luther (to name a few) rather than more modern thinkers, is strange bordering on the absurd. In their eyes we must be stuck in the past in areas where the Holy Spirit has departed and moved on. The problem with that sort of reasoning is that God’s Truth never changes. It doesn’t evolve from one form to another. Therefore, when God’s men get it right and obediently expound it then we must listen, learn and submit to the Lord’s truth. – Mike Ratliff
In our study of temptation for the believer it has become apparent that our major weapon in this battle is prayer. Jesus told us that we should pray as He showed us in what has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It ends with this, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This is a cry to God that He not allow us to be drawn into temptation which is not the same thing as being tempted. In any case, God has given us this prayer as part of what we do in seeing as we become holy and separate from the world. God allows us to be stressed so that we will pray.
by Martin Luther
Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. (Isaiah 37:14-16 ESV)
This chapter is Isaiah contains an interesting story about King Hezekiah. The Assyrians were attacking Jerusalem with a large army and beginning to overpower it. The situation looked hopeless. King Sennacherib ridiculed Hezekiah mercilessly. Sennacherib made fun of Hezekiah’s misfortune by writing him a letter filled with insults about God in order to make the devout king lose all hope. Instead of losing hope, Hezekiah went into the temple, spread out the letter in front of God, bowed down with his face touching the ground, and prayed a heartfelt prayer.
Learning to pray with there’s an emergency or when something is frightening us requires a lot discipline. Instead of praying, we tend to torture ourselves with anxiety and worry. All we can think about is trying to get rid of the problem. The devil often tricks us when temptation or suffering first begins, whether we are dealing with spiritual or physical matters. He immediately barges in and makes us so upset about the problem that we become consumed by it. In this way, he tears us away from praying. When we finally begin to pray, we have already tortured ourselves half to death. The devil knows what prayer can accomplish. That’s why he creates so many obstacles and makes it so inconvenient for us that we never get around to prayer.
On the basis of this story in Isaiah, we should get into the habit of falling on our knees and spreading out our needs in front of God the moment we have an emergency or become frightened. Prayer is the very best medicine there is. It always works and never fails–if we would just us it!