by Mike Ratliff
“And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.” (2Kings 2:13-15 ESV)
As we stand in the thick of the battle, not falling or retreating, it is because we are wearing and using the armor of God. Our God is not a product of man-made religion. He is not created by man in the form of the creature. No, He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, righteous, and just. The great object to be desired is God, YHWH, Elijah’s God. With YHWH all things flourish. His absence is our decline and death.
Before genuine believers can enter into any good work they should seek for the God who was with their predecessors. What a mercy that the God of Elijah is also the God of Elisha! He will also be with us. He will be our guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:14)
The Spirit-filled believer does not need antiquities from the past, nor novelties of the present, nor marvels for the future; he or she only wants the Triune God, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and they shall then see with them wonders equal to those of Elijah’s age. “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” The old mantle, used with faith in the same God, parted the waters to the one side and to the other. The power is where it used to be. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalms 25:0-5 ESV)
Doubting God and His promises, worrying about things that are in God’s control are sins. As we have seen in the last few posts, our enemy focuses primarily in His attacks on us on attempting to bring us to a place where we doubt God. This struggle comes to all who commit themselves to serving God with their lives. The closer they draw to God, the more Satan or his forces attempt to bring discouragement and despair to bear on these believers in an attempt to thwart their devotion to their Lord. Continue reading
by Fred Klett
So you’re an atheist. Mazel Tov, at least you aren’t wishy washy. As a former atheist myself, I won’t condemn you. How could I? Some atheists think they’ve taken a heroic stand, but could it be that they really don’t want to face up to the possibility that God is indeed there? I hope you’ll be intellectually honest enough to consider what I have to say and see if it makes sense. Continue reading
Window on the World
You may not realize this, but there is an embattled group of religious believers in this country that is badly in need of protection from public hostility. Fortunately, help is on the way. Bestselling books by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are providing encouragement, support, and supposedly rational argumentation to help lonely atheists who are feeling isolated in the dominant Christian culture of America and the West. Another morale booster is coming this month with the release of a new book by Christopher Hitchens: God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything .
Several new things seem to be happening at once. To begin with, the success of these books has put atheism on the public agenda. The main religious viewpoints in America are still Christianity, deism, and agnosticism (not necessarily in that order); but now out-and-out atheism is part of the discussion. The new atheists are hoping that more and more of their fellow atheists will come out of the closet and say that they do not believe in God. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV)
Before believers mature to the point where they can consistently mortify the sins that so easily ensnare them, they are not a serious threat to Satan and his subordinates in his war against God. However, when believers have matured so that they continually seek to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Word and to serve the Lord more faithfully they will soon discover that their walk before the face of God, serving Him, and living for His glory becomes more difficult instead of easier.
This difficulty is part of the battle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. When believers become Spirit-filled, growing in Christ-likeness, they come under attack by our enemy because his goal is to rob God of His glory and those believers are living in such state of grace that their lives bring glory to God more and more as they obey Him in every part of their lives. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17 ESV)
In our last post we looked at 9 keys to Biblical evangelism. Those keys are what makes up effective evangelism. Today we will look at the necessary attitudes believers must have in order to use those keys effectively. Unless these attitudes are foremost in the hearts of believers any evangelical efforts in which they they become part of will not be as effective. Why? These attitudes are growing in those who have matured as a Christian to the point that their lives reflect God’s grace to all around them. If a believer is still enslaved to their flesh their attitudes will reflect that more than God’s grace. Continue reading
By Grace Through Faith
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body*n3.2 and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But*n4.1 God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV) Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:6-8 ESV)
I have been in “conversation” with a person over the last several days who is apparently an apostate with a degree in theology. When I try to get this person to read a passage of scripture so I can make a point, the resistance to do so is incredible. This person’s attacks on what we hold dear are centered on two things, our faith and the Bible as the Word of God.
It was through this little skirmish and others I have had over the last several weeks that I have seen how incredible this faith is that God has given His people. Only those with the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:1-10) hold the promises from the Bible as truth from God Himself. Those without it see those things as foolishness. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)
The reality of this physical life in the temporal is that the death of our bodies is inevitable. This is the result of the fall of Man that we find in Genesis 3. This fall changed our race so that we are mortal instead of immortal. We age and eventually die. We can become ill and die. We can be killed in many different ways. We do not live in these bodies forever. Along with that part of the fall, Man also became spiritually dead. All are born as children of wrath because we have within us a Sin Nature. The presence of sin within us separates us from God who is Holy. Prior to the fall, Man was fulfilled in God because His presence with Man. Man was vertically or God oriented. After the fall that part of Man died. Now Man is horizontally or temporally oriented. Man seeks fulfillment in desperation through the flesh, but it is futile. Only God’s presence fulfills, but Man has no ability or desire to seek God and His presence. Tragically, all who are separate from God in this life will also be separate from Him when they die. They will die in their sins and be forever cutoff from Him, suffering His wrath for eternity. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
8λεγω γαρ χριστον διακονον γεγενησθαι περιτομης υπερ αληθειας θεου εις το βεβαιωσαι τας επαγγελιας των πατερων 9τα δε εθνη υπερ ελεους δοξασαι τον θεον καθως γεγραπται δια τουτο εξομολογησομαι σοι εν εθνεσιν και τω ονοματι σου ψαλω 10και παλιν λεγει ευφρανθητε εθνη μετα του λαου αυτου 11και παλιν αινειτε παντα τα εθνη τον κυριον και επαινεσατωσαν αυτον παντες οι λαοι 12και παλιν ησαιας λεγει εσται η ριζα του ιεσσαι και ο ανισταμενος αρχειν εθνων επ αυτω εθνη ελπιουσιν 13ο δε θεος της ελπιδος πληρωσαι υμας πασης χαρας και ειρηνης εν τω πιστευειν εις το περισσευειν υμας εν τη ελπιδι εν δυναμει πνευματος αγιου (Romans 15:8-13)
Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles
Sadly, the visible Church has become mostly Christless. I heard a definition for the opposite of “pride” today from John Piper. I thought he was going to say genuine humility was the opposite of pride, but instead he said that it was genuine saving faith. Christian authenticity, then, belongs to those whose pride is the process of being eradicated and replaced by a walk of faith as a result of their regeneration. This faith is not in a religion nor is it placed on a Christian leader, preacher, or teacher. It is totally focused and wrapped up in our Lord Jesus Christ. Through our Lord, the only Hope for Jews and Gentiles, is found genuine fulfillment and the spiritual growth that results from being a living sacrifice produces a life that can laugh with those rejoicing and weep with those sorrowing because it is not self-focused, but is taking on the very character of the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1οφειλομεν δε ημεις οι δυνατοι τα ασθενηματα των αδυνατων βασταζειν και μη εαυτοις αρεσκειν 2εκαστος ημων τω πλησιον αρεσκετω εις το αγαθον προς οικοδομην 3και γαρ ο χριστος ουχ εαυτω ηρεσεν αλλα καθως γεγραπται οι ονειδισμοι των ονειδιζοντων σε επεπεσαν επ εμε 4οσα γαρ προεγραφη εις την ημετεραν διδασκαλιαν εγραφη ινα δια της υπομονης και δια της παρακλησεως των γραφων την ελπιδα εχωμεν 5ο δε θεος της υπομονης και της παρακλησεως δωη υμιν το αυτο φρονειν εν αλληλοις κατα χριστον ιησουν 6ινα ομοθυμαδον εν ενι στοματι δοξαζητε τον θεον και πατερα του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου 7διο προσλαμβανεσθε αλληλους καθως και ο χριστος προσελαβετο υμας εις δοξαν του θεου Romans 15:1-7
The Example of Christ
Christ-likeness is what we call the desired outcome of our sanctification. Even as we remain in our renovation from sinful, flesh-bound yet redeemed believers to spirit-filled, obedient, and mature believers we will begin to manifest Christ’s character in our walk. God seems to enjoy surprising us in our testing when we respond to that which is unreasonable with grace and patience. This, of course, is part of the fruit of the spirit that is manifest through the spirit-filled. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
14οιδα και πεπεισμαι εν κυριω ιησου οτι ουδεν κοινον δι εαυτου ει μη τω λογιζομενω τι κοινον ειναι εκεινω κοινον 15ει γαρ δια βρωμα ο αδελφος σου λυπειται ουκετι κατα αγαπην περιπατεις μη τω βρωματι σου εκεινον απολλυε υπερ ου χριστος απεθανεν 16μη βλασφημεισθω ουν υμων το αγαθον 17ου γαρ εστιν η βασιλεια του θεου βρωσις και ποσις αλλα δικαιοσυνη και ειρηνη και χαρα εν πνευματι αγιω 18ο γαρ εν τουτω δουλευων τω χριστω ευαρεστος τω θεω και δοκιμος τοις ανθρωποις 19αρα ουν τα της ειρηνης διωκομεν και τα της οικοδομης της εις αλληλους 20μη ενεκεν βρωματος καταλυε το εργον του θεου παντα μεν καθαρα αλλα κακον τω ανθρωπω τω δια προσκομματος εσθιοντι 21καλον το μη φαγειν κρεα μηδε πιειν οινον μηδε εν ω ο αδελφος σου προσκοπτει 22συ πιστιν ην εχεις κατα σεαυτον εχε ενωπιον του θεου μακαριος ο μη κρινων εαυτον εν ω δοκιμαζει 23ο δε διακρινομενος εαν φαγη κατακεκριται οτι ουκ εκ πιστεως παν δε ο ουκ εκ πιστεως αμαρτια εστιν (Romans 14:14-23)
Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
In Romans 14:1-13 we looked at the Law of Liberty that genuine believers have in Christ. This Law is not license for licentiousness, but, rather, it is freedom to not be bound by ritual or religiosity while denying self in order to not cause strife and disunity in the body of Christ by practicing that liberty in a way that causes those with weak faith to have battles with their conscience. In this lesson we will finish Romans 14 in looking at vv14-23. This passage is actually a continuation of Paul’s teaching on this vital topic for the Church in our day. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1τον δε ασθενουντα τη πιστει προσλαμβανεσθε μη εις διακρισεις διαλογισμων 2ος μεν πιστευει φαγειν παντα ο δε ασθενων λαχανα εσθιει 3ο εσθιων τον μη εσθιοντα μη εξουθενειτω ο δε μη εσθιων τον εσθιοντα μη κρινετω ο θεος γαρ αυτον προσελαβετο 4συ τις ει ο κρινων αλλοτριον οικετην τω ιδιω κυριω στηκει η πιπτει σταθησεται δε δυνατει γαρ ο κυριος στησαι αυτον 5ος μεν γαρ κρινει ημεραν παρ ημεραν ος δε κρινει πασαν ημεραν εκαστος εν τω ιδιω νοι πληροφορεισθω 6ο φρονων την ημεραν κυριω φρονει και ο εσθιων κυριω εσθιει ευχαριστει γαρ τω θεω και ο μη εσθιων κυριω ουκ εσθιει και ευχαριστει τω θεω 7ουδεις γαρ ημων εαυτω ζη και ουδεις εαυτω αποθνησκει 8εαν τε γαρ ζωμεν τω κυριω ζωμεν εαν τε αποθνησκωμεν τω κυριω αποθνησκομεν εαν τε ουν ζωμεν εαν τε αποθνησκωμεν του κυριου εσμεν 9εις τουτο γαρ χριστος απεθανεν και εζησεν ινα και νεκρων και ζωντων κυριευση 10συ δε τι κρινεις τον αδελφον σου η και συ τι εξουθενεις τον αδελφον σου παντες γαρ παραστησομεθα τω βηματι του θεου 11γεγραπται γαρ ζω εγω λεγει κυριος οτι εμοι καμψει παν γονυ και πασα γλωσσα εξομολογησεται τω θεω 12αρα ουν εκαστος ημων περι εαυτου λογον δωσει τω θεω 13μηκετι ουν αλληλους κρινωμεν αλλα τουτο κρινατε μαλλον το μη τιθεναι προσκομμα τω αδελφω η σκανδαλον (Romans 14:1-13)
Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:1-13 ESV)
When I encounter a believer who is legalistic, no matter how well versed they are on the Biblical passages they specialize in, I know I am dealing with someone who is spiritually immature. The more mature we become in our sanctification the more Christlike we become and that means we do not pass judgment on those who do not understand the Law of Liberty. Continue reading