Count it All Joy


 by Mike Ratliff

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8 ESV)

Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:6-10 ESV)

When I was about 10 or 12 years old we went to the Santa Fe Depot in the town I grew up in to meet the train my cousin was on. He and his mother and sisters were traveling from Dallas to see us in Purcell, Oklahoma. In any case, I was excited to see my cousin. As we waited for the train, I did the typical boy thing at a railroad depot. I explored. I found a box on a pole that looked like it had a thermometer in it. I tried to read the temperature, but something had fallen down in front of it. I hit the side of the box to loosen it. It turned out to be a Yellowjacket nest full of Yellowjackets.  The station manager yelled for me to run but it was too late. The next thing I knew I had Yellowjacket wasps all over me. They followed me wherever I went. I could not get away from them. They stung me through my shirt and continued to attack even as I fell to the ground and rolled, trying to get away from them.  Continue reading

The Deception of Universalism – Part 2


by Mike Ratliff

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

As has been pointed out by some, the heresy of Universalism, no matter how wonderfully it is packaged, is easily refuted from Sacred Scripture if we practice solid exegetical techniques. If we keep everything in context then the passages used so support Universalism prove to not support this false doctrine at all, but are about other things. My focus on writing these few posts on universalism was to address what we are seeing today as more and more former solid Bible teachers join the ranks of those who teach ‘The Restoration of All Things in Ages to Come.’ This teaching is very subtle and seductive as well as appealing to those who have loved ones who do not walk with the Lord. However, it is unsupported in the Bible. Continue reading

The Deception of Universalism – Part 1


 

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10 ESV)

We have been discussing Hell and how the Bible very clearly refutes universalism, which denies the existence or permanence of the Lake of Fire or Hell. What prompted this study was two separate encounters with professing Christians who disagreed with our understanding of the Gospel, God, Man, and Eternity claiming that they had a better more correct ‘vision’ that was given to them by God Himself.  These visions stated that our teaching of the Gospel was wrong and contaminated by churchianity and was , therefore, not the genuine Gospel as taught by Christ and the Apostles. Continue reading

The Echo and Insufficiency of Hell, Part 2


Hell is not a subject that we like to discuss or think about. We should not want anyone to end up there. This is motivation for us to share the Gospel with everyone. We must give them the Good News that an eternity in Hell is not for those who love God, believe God, and obey God. Here is part 2 of John Piper’s exposition on the insufficiency of Hell. Continue reading

The Echo and Insufficiency of Hell, Part 1


In light of our encounter with a cult that teaches that there is no literal Hell as it is taught in scripture, I have decided to spend a few days on the doctrine of Hell. I, like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort would dearly love that there would be no such place as Hell, but we cannot be persuaded that way because the Bible overwhelming teaches the opposite. Do we place our trust in what men say or what the Word of God says? Like Luther, we must proclaim that unless we can be persuaded from scripture… In any case, I will be posting some articles from John Piper over the next few days about this. Why? Who is the enemy of truth? Would not the enemy of our Souls find the greatest leverage in teaching that no one has to fear Hell? What motivation could one possibly have to come to Christ if everyone is going to be saved anyway? This is the lie of Universalism and we must denounce it with all of our fervor. Continue reading

How to Detect a False Prophet


by Mike Ratliff

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:17-18 ESV)

While I was on vacation a week ago I was contacted by a friend who is a fellow Christian blogger. She was asking for prayer and help. Someone was attacking her because of her stance that her physical problems are of God and for His glory in her sanctification. These people were saying to her that if she was really in the will of God then she would not be suffering. I did visit her site while on my trip, but I didn’t have a lot of time to read very many of the comments, but I could tell that a battle had taken place there. I prayed for her and left an encouraging comment on one of her posts.

A few days later I started receiving emails from a person I had never heard of wanting to involve me in a discussion about my friend where he was continually attacking her character and salvation. He used intimidation tactics and used absolutely no biblical references to support his attacks. After about five of these emails, I replied with a question. I asked him why he was sending me this ‘garbage.’ The answer I got back was, “why do you think it’s garbage?” Continue reading

Fundamental Tests of Genuine Christianity Part 6


Part 3 of the Moral Test

by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:7-21 ESV)

The New Nature of the regenerate Christian (2 Corinthians 5:17) does not only include the believer’s ability to not sin when tempted, it also is characterized by God’s very nature becoming more and more manifest both within and without those who are Born Again. This comes as a result of the washing of regeneration. Continue reading

Believers Must Receive the Love of the Father


 

by Mike Ratliff

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  (1 John 4:8 ESV)

As most of you reading this know, I took about 8 days off from both work, writing, and blogging. My wife and I traveled to the Oklahoma City area to visit our daughter and son-in-law. We celebrated her birthday on Saturday then on Tuesday we went with them to observe her Ultra Sound. They estimate that our first grand child will be born in the middle of September. I am not sure what I expected while watching the Ultra Sound, but I came away from it with much joy. Continue reading

Conversion vs Regeneration


The following was first posted on January 13 2006.

by Mike Ratliff

At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:13-18 ESV)

Today I read an interesting parody of Jeff Foxworthy’s ‘You may be a redneck if…” comedy routine. In the article, the word redneck had been replaced with the word “hypocrite.” After a few of the quips, it became obvious the humor was becoming strained. It was no longer funny because each “You may be a hypocrite if” statement stressed the ugly half-heartedness which plagues the majority of church members. For example, one of them said something like, “You may be a hypocrite if you read “Left Behind” at work and “Fanny Hill” at home. Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 6 – By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them


by Mike Ratliff

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.” Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and because of his holy words. For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns, and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right. “Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD. Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall, for I will bring disaster upon them in the year of their punishment, declares the LORD. In the prophets of Samaria I saw an unsavory thing: they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.” Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds. “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD. Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the LORD.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD. “When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the LORD?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden, and I will cast you off, declares the LORD.’ And as for the prophet, priest, or one of the people who says, ‘The burden of the LORD,’ I will punish that man and his household. Thus shall you say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, ‘What has the LORD answered?’ or ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ But ‘the burden of the LORD’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. Thus you shall say to the prophet, ‘What has the LORD answered you?’ or ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ But if you say, ‘The burden of the LORD,’ thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have said these words, “The burden of the LORD,” when I sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The burden of the LORD,’” therefore, behold, I will surely lift you up and cast you away from my presence, you and the city that I gave to you and your fathers. And I will bring upon you everlasting reproach and perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’” (Jeremiah 23:1-40)

I hope you took the time to read the passage I placed above this post in its entirety. This series of articles on the Compromised Church has been very painful for me to put together and write. There is no joy in delivering this type of message to people who consider themselves to be the religious leaders of their day, but who are deceived into a form of Christianity that is man-focused and non-Biblical. Why? This message is not just a rebuke, but it is a proclamation of coming judgment upon those who have perverted what is Holy and used their influence and ambition to confuse, harm and scatter the flock. Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 5 – Self-Deceived Godliness


by Mike Ratliff

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:14-22)

The number one disturbing attribute of the leaders of Compromised Church is their rock-hard “conviction” that they are doing what God wants them to do in spite of overwhelming Biblical evidence that they are not. The measure of success or failure in business is profitability. It is that bottom line in the company ledger that reveals whether a company is on the right path or not. Unfortunatly, the Compromised Church leaders have taken the ways of the world and integrated them into their method of “doing church.” Church leader success is now measured in how well the church is managed. Is the church growing? If not, there must be something wrong. That church up the street started meeting in the library just a couple of years ago and now they are three times the size of our church. Their new building looks like a cathedral! What have they done right that we have not? We need to find out what their formula is and make it work for us. Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 4 – Friend of the World


by Mike Ratliff

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:1-16)

One of the most subtle aspects of the Compromised Church is its friendship with the world. All through the Bible we are told that we are not to love the things of this world, nor are we to be conformed to this world, nor are we to see this world as our home, but we are to have our treasure in Heaven rather in the world. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to live this life with eternity in mind. Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 3 – Ungodly Discernment


by Mike Ratliff

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:1-6)

One of the most tragic aspects of the Compromised Church, which is a product of its emphasis on numbers, baptisms. relavance, and worldliness is its complete lack of correct theology pertaining to salvation and assurance. Those who are believing they became part of the Kingdom of God in these churches are, for the most part, responding to a doctrine of salvation based upon some form of works righteousness which is the belief that one’s standing before God is founded and maintained by works of merit. These works begin with walking an aisle at an invitation then praying a sinner’s prayer followed by baptism. Assurance of salvation is then always looking back at that moment as when the believer chose to be “saved” by obeying the call at the invitation. Continue reading