The following was posted on January 23, 2006. Enjoy and be blessed.
by Mike Ratliff
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 ESV)
There’s something about Jesus’ parables that has always fascinated me. I have heard “stories” from others that were designed to drive home some relevant point, however, His parables are succinct and not only drive home His point, but reveal mighty truths straight from God to our hearts.
The parable of the sower is not only important and relevant, it is vital for our post-modern Church to understand. Our complacent society has infiltrated the Church. No one seems to have an attention span longer than a few seconds. If some entertainment feature isn’t before our eyes or pounding into our ears, then panic sets in because our hearts are desperate for fulfillment, yet we are lazy and addicted to media, games, or music which tie directly into our flesh bound souls. Continue reading
by Oswald Chambers
“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18 KJV)
This verse is the grandest condensation of the propaganda of a disciple of Jesus Christ in the whole of the New Testament.
The first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words–“that they may receive remission of sins.” When a man fails in personal Christian experience, it is nearly always because he has never received anything. The only sign that a man is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our part as workers for God is to open men’s eyes that they may turn themselves from darkness to light; but that is not salvation, that is conversion–the effort of a roused human being. I do not think it is too sweeping to say that the majority of nominal Christians are of this order; their eyes are opened, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is one of the neglected factors in our preaching to-day. When a man is born again, he knows that is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People register their vows, and sign their pledges, and determine to go through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins.
Then there follows the second mighty work of grace–“and inheritance among them which are sanctified.” In sanctification the regenerated soul deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s interest in other men.
by Charles Spurgeon
And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul that thou mayest live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)
Here we read of the true circumcision. Note the author of it: “The Lord thy God.” He alone can deal effectually with our heart and take away its carnality and pollution. To make us love God with all our heart and soul is a miracle of grace which only the Holy Ghost can work. We must look to the Lord alone for this and never be satisfied with anything short of it.
Note where this circumcision is wrought. It is not of the flesh but of the Spirit. It is the essential mark of the covenant of grace. Love to God is the indelible token of the chosen seed; by this secret seal the election of grace is certified to the believer. We must see to it that we trust in no outward ritual but are sealed in heart by the operation of the Holy Ghost.
Note what the result is – “that thou mayest live.” To be carnally minded is death. In the overcoming of the flesh, we find life and peace. If we mind the things of the Spirit, we shall live. Oh, that Jehovah, our God, may complete His gracious work upon our inner natures, that in the fullest and highest sense we may live unto the Lord.
by Mike Ratliff
Much of the conflict we are seeing in our time between those who are seeking a return to Biblical values in the Church and those seeking “relevance” in every aspect has resulted in a standoff over “freedom.” Those who seek to remain Biblical understand what genuine freedom is while those seeking alternative forms of church are demanding freedom that is anything but. Martin Luther addressed this in his day as well. Continue reading
Personally, I have to bless God for many good books; I thank Him for Dr. Doddridge’s Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul; for Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted; for Alleine’s Alarm to Sinners; and for James’s Anxious Enquirer; but my gratitude most of all is due to God, not for books, but for the preached Word, — and that too addressed to me by a poor, uneducated man, a man who had never received any training for the ministry, and probably will never be heard of in this life, a man engaged in business, no doubt of a humble kind, during the week, but who had just enough of grace to say on the Sabbath, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” Continue reading
by John Piper
The little letter of Jude teaches us something about the value of learning history. This is not the main point of the letter. But it is striking. In this next-to-last book of the Bible, Jude writes to encourage the saints to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (verse 3). Continue reading
Our Bible Study leader at church is working his way through the book of Ephesians. Today, he taught on the sovereignty of God and election. He did a very good job. However, there were some in the class who became quite disturbed about it. They misunderstood him in his teaching because he did not emphasize man’s responsibility, however, that was not what the lesson was about. I sensed that so I raised my hand and asked this, “Within the context of election how do we pray for the lost?”
I was amazed at what happened next. There were about five others with their hands raised, but when the teacher answered my question (he did very well) no one else had a question. We are to pray for the lost just as we are to evangelize them. We aren’t God. We have no idea who the elect are, but God does. Therefore, we must obey our Lord and make disciples from all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit then teach them to observe all things that our Lord taught. Continue reading
by R.C. Sproul
Shortly after the Reformation began, in the first few years after Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, he issued some short booklets on a variety of subjects. One of the most provocative was titled The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. In this book Luther was looking back to that period of Old Testament history when Jerusalem was destroyed by the invading armies of Babylon and the elite of the people were carried off into captivity.
Luther in the sixteenth century took the image of the historic Babylonian captivity and reapplied it to his era and talked about the new Babylonian captivity of the Church. He was speaking of Rome as the modern Babylon that held the Gospel hostage with its rejection of the biblical understanding of justification. You can understand how fierce the controversy was, how polemical this title would be in that period by saying that the Church had not simply erred or strayed, but had fallen — that it’s actually now Babylonian; it is now in pagan captivity. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
I was driving home from work today and heard the tail end of a song on the radio where the female singer said in essence, “I want to change and be like you God, but I cannot unless you change me.” We are the clay in the potter’s hands. He is the one who designs and completes us. We work with Him in our sanctification, but it is all according to His plan and good work in us. Continue reading
By Mike Ratliff
“For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44-45 KJV)
Much of the writing and exposing that we do in this battle against the growing apostasy in the Church is, unfortunately, simply about symptoms of a much deeper problem. Earlier this year my wife and visited a church in our city for several Sunday’s. We had lunch with the Pastor and his wife one Sunday. While we were eating our pizza, he and I began discussing our ministries. He asked me what I perceived as the root cause of much of what was going on. It would have been very easy to point fingers at Rick Warren and others, but I stopped and thought a moment then said, “I believe that one of the main problems was that most professing believers are enslaved to their flesh.” He wholeheartedly agreed with me. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
“Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God. Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2 WEB)
There are some who teach that our salvation is something of a crapshoot. Oh, they don’t ‘use words like crapshoot to describe their Soteriology, but their insistence that a person’s salvation is a mere decision means that their approach to the Gospel is one of mood and emotion manipulation that can be resisted by a person and, therefore, results in nothing more than some emotional decisions amidst many equally emotional rejections. Is this God’s plan for building His Church? Continue reading