Out of Pocket

I am leaving for Arkansas in just a few moments to visit some In-Laws. I will be unavailable for comment moderation except possibly in the evenings. I intend to rest a bit and get back into the swing of things Monday. Have a blessed weekend. – Mike Ratliff

The Just Live by Faith

by Mike Ratliff

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8 ESV)

I am in the process of reading a book that is a collection of works by John Owen. One of the works is his masterpiece The Mortification of Sin, which I have read several times already. The other two works are Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It and Indwelling Sin. This is not light reading, but it is rich and a treasure house of Biblical wisdom that is presented practically to shine these truths from God into our hearts.

I was attempting to read some of this last evening so I deliberately separated myself from my Mac and went to another part of the house. However, my wife was watching an episode of Law and Order on TV. As I read about the necessity of actively putting to death the sinful desires in my heart I found my mind drawn to the presentation on the screen of some of the most sinful things imaginable. All this day I have been asking God for direction because I know that He was speaking volumes to me through this.

As the time grew near to write this, it all started coming together. As usual, I got into the Word. I did a search in my Bible software for the phrase, “sin no more.” This lead me to John 5:14. Continue reading

The Righteousness That Exceeds That of the Scribes and Pharisees

by Mike Ratliff

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)

I had a friend tell me several days ago that her father had made the comment that most believers nowadays have never experienced real Christianity. I agree with that statement. Why? Most professing Christians are not regenerate. They are in the Religion of Do. They practice the same righteousness that the scribes and Pharisees practiced in Jesus’ day.

As we saw in John Piper’s sermon “Battling the Unbelief of Lust,” the predominate teaching in most churches is salvation by grace, but sanctification by works. In this dualistic view of our salvation, all who profess Christ are saved, but not all actually work to be holy and pure before God and that’s okay because, once saved, always saved. Piper showed us in his sermon that genuine Christians are those who battle unbelief in all its forms. They work with God in mortifying their sins by killing the desire within them to walk according to the flesh. I found it very striking that Piper’s stance was that the mark of Christian genuineness is perseverance to the end. Continue reading

Battling the Unbelief of Lust

As I prayed today in light of yesterday’s post on what Biblical Phariseeism really is, I asked for direction and discernment in what direction to go next. As usual, I simply went to work. At my job as a Database Administrator I am surrounded by cubicles. Some of those I work with love to have speaker phone meetings in their cubes that seem to go on forever. The way God created my mind, I cannot work if those amplified conversations are going on all around me. Therefore, I use my iPod and headphones to compensate.

I have podcasts on my iPod from John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul, among others. Today during a very long, loud meeting in the cube behind me, I listened to a sermon by John Piper called “Battling the Unbelief of Lust.” I did not think that this sermon would have much to do with our current topic, but I was very surprised. Those who battle lust, mortifying the desires for it, are the ones who seek a pure and holy life. They are genuine Christians. On the other hand, those who treat lust as simply something temporal while their salvation is some abstract concept that guarantees eternal life in Heaven are assuming that that religious act they did in the past saves them and their pastor has told them, “once saved, always saved.”

What has this got to do with Phariseeism? Phariseeism is the Religion of Do. It is based on salvation by religion instead of by faith in the promises of God and the finished work of Christ. Who battles unbelief in all its forms? The genuine Christian who is regenerate and justified by faith does this because they are working out their salvation with fear and trembling. They seek holiness and purity and Christlikeness. The temporal is their proving ground. On the other hand, those who do not battle unbelief prove that they are in it and their unregenerate nature becomes manifest in their dead religiosity through which they depend upon to gain God’s favor. Please read John Piper’s sermon below. I pray that it will bless you as it did me. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

The Religion of Do

by Mike Ratliff

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:7-10 ESV)

I watched a special on the National Geographic Channel over the weekend about a small group of people who absolutely refuse to believe that NASA landed men on the Moon in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I graduated from High School in May 1969 and I remember very well watching the lift off of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. I watched the coverage of the mission from end to end. Then several years later when these accusations came out from these skeptics I was astounded. Continue reading

The Root of Liberal Theology

by Mike Ratliff

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)

Observing unbelief in a professing Christian is a terrible thing. Unbelief, which is rooted in spiritual blindness, is deceitful. We must never forget that spiritual blindness is the product of idolatry. These nominal Christians never walk by faith. They make choices based entirely within a flesh-bound value system. This decision making process is part of self-worship. Their value system is based entirely within self-worth, self-focusedness, self-protection, et cetera. If they are religious Christians then their religion will be the same.

This is idolatry. It is worship of self. As a result, God blinds their hearts. They are given over to their idol. Genuine Christianity is of faith. God’s grace accords with His people’s faith thereby washing them clean in their regeneration. Their faith was dead, but now it it is alive. They are new creations. God justifies them by this faith and begins their sanctification. This sanctification is the process of removing them from sin. This process takes time and will result in their spiritual blindness coming under attack. This means that their self-worship must go. They are called to humility and to be God’s servants forever. Continue reading

The Nebulous Jesus

by Mike Ratliff

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-33 ESV)

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
1. hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused: a nebulous recollection of the meeting; a nebulous distinction between pride and conceit.
2. cloudy or cloudlike.
3. of or resembling a nebula or nebulae; nebular.
[Origin: 1375–1425; late ME < L nebulōsus full of mist, foggy, cloudy. See nebula, -ous]

—Related forms
neb·u·lous·ly, adverb
neb·u·lous·ness, noun

–noun, plural -ties.
1. the state of being certain.
2. something certain; an assured fact.
3. for or of a certainty, certainly; without a doubt: I suspect it, but I don’t know it for a certainty.
[Origin: 1250–1300; ME certeinte < AF, equiv. to certein certain + -te -ty2]

—Synonyms 1. certitude, assurance, confidence. See belief. 2. truth.

–noun, plural truths
1. the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. the state or character of being true.
5. actuality or actual existence.
6. an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7. honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
8. (often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
9. agreement with a standard or original.
10. accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
11. Archaic. fidelity or constancy.
12. in truth, in reality; in fact; actually: In truth, moral decay hastened the decline of the Roman Empire.
[Origin: bef. 900; ME treuthe, OE tréowth (c. ON tryggth faith). See true, -th1]

—Related forms
truthless, adjective
truth·less·ness, noun

—Synonyms 1. fact. 2. veracity. 7. sincerity, candor, frankness. 10. precision, exactness.
—Antonyms 1. falsehood. 2, 4, 7. falsity.

Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

I have always loved Astronomy. Looking into the sky at night in Oklahoma back in the mid to late 1950’s we could clearly see the Milky Way and planets and the constellations. This was before light pollution washed out the night sky. I remember seeing pictures in the library books I checked out on astronomy back then. I had no problem understanding the differences between stars, planets, comets, asteroids, meteors and meteorites. However, at that time, it seemed that there was still a great deal of conjecture about the nature of nebulas. Their explanations left me confused.

When people like Galileo looked through their telescopes they could easily make out the rings of Saturn and even see its moons. However, when they looked at the constellations they often found points of light within and around them that would never tighten down into a precise visible form. Even as their telescopes became more powerful these “nebulas” seemed to be splotches of light with no definite shape. Therefore, they were called nebulas because that word seems to define their indefiniteness. In our time scientists have determined that some nebulas are other galaxies while others are gigantic clouds of gas.

We use the term “nebulous” to refer to things that are mercurial or indefinite. Genuine Christianity says that God’s Word is truth. Jesus says that He is the truth. Truth is definite. Truth is knowable. However, if you have the “opportunity” to debate Liberal Christians or Emergents or even Atheists, you will find that they will deny all of these things. They will claim that absolute truth is unknowable. In their “religion” if anyone claims to know the truth then they are branded as being full of pride while the humble are those who refuse to admit that anything is ever certain. Continue reading

How The Gospel Makes Men Holy

As I stated in the last post, some of us have been looking in-depth into the preaching and teaching of some post-evangelicals. These are the fellows who are trying to have the coolest, largest church in town. The methods they use are pure Church Growth tactics, in other words, pragmatism. These are the same methods used by entrepreneurs who are trying to start a successful company. They even measure their “success” the same way. It’s all about numbers and how much money came in through tithes and offerings.

Some may ask why we would have a problem with that. That’s a fair question. The problem with “doing church” this way is that is just man-made, man-focused religiosity dressed up in Christian clothes. It is pragmatism, therefore, it is of the flesh and not of faith. It is not doctrinally sound and makes “church” all about self-adoration rather than God glorification. Man was created by God to love, serve and enjoy Him forever. Church should be all about worshiping God for His glory alone and hearing God’s Word expounded to the flock for their edification. Continue reading

Regeneration and the Holy Spirit

I have been doing a great deal of research lately along with some of my friends at CRN and Old Truth into post-evangelism and the church growth/planting movement. Today I listened to two motivational “talks” by Stephen Furtick and one by Bil Cornelius of this movement. These “talks” were from The Evolve Conference.

There is more research to go. It was as I listened to these men that I realized how important it is to be very careful to whom we listen and whom we read. It was very disturbing. This evening as I prepared to “write” I felt an overwhelming desire for some solid Biblical teaching instead of what I have been hearing all day. Therefore, in this post we will look at a chapter from All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon. The chapter’s title is “Regeneration and the Holy Spirit.” Enjoy and be blessed – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

The Christian Life

by Mike Ratliff

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)

Much that claims to be Christian these days is not if the standard used to determine this is the Bible. Perhaps this is why Emergents and Liberals refuse to acknowledge the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. What this proves is that they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Continue reading

War? What War?

by Mike Ratliff

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV)

About a week ago or so a fellow writer for CRN gave me access to a preview of the video of Bill Clinton speaking at the Liberal Baptist conference in Atlanta. When I first watched it I had to stop. I just couldn’t take his deceptive handling of his version of Christianity. I made a comment along those lines and my friend wrote back that I should watch it all. Why? It is imperative to know the enemy and how he works. To have an enemy implies that there is a conflict of some kind. Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other? Continue reading

Love’s Foremost

by Mike Ratliff

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:41-43 ESV)

Do you love God? Why or why not? If you consider yourself a Christian yet your love for God is not growing both in depth and breadth then there is a problem. Those who have this growing love for God are those who have learned the art of contentment. (Philippians 4:11) Their circumstances are not the basis for their love of their God. Instead, their love for God is the product of His working in their hearts as they have become God’s humble and obedient bondservants. They are spirit-filled because their lives are saturated in God’s Word. They are living sacrifices whose minds are being renewed under the control of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

The Good Practitioner

Some friends sent me this after the skirmishes we had this week with those who claim that intellect and human reason combined with Liberal Theology far outweighs knowledge of and obedience to God’s Word. Those of the Liberal Theology camp are like snakes, they are all head and no feet. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading