No Servant Can Serve Two Masters

by Mike Ratliff

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13 ESV)

When the Protestant Reformation took off in the early 16th Century one of the motivating factors for the cruel retaliation by the Roman church was the teaching by the reformers from God’s Word to the common people that wealth and power were not indicators of God’s blessing on the prelates, priests, monks, bishops, and the Popes. Luther preached a sermon on the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-13) telling all who heard it and read the published versions of it that salvation is by grace through faith alone and it is for all who trust in Christ alone, not for those who accumulate wealth and power as a pretense of God’s blessing. Continue reading

Be Not Overcome by Evil

by Mike Ratliff

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

In our daily Christian walk it is a rare day in which we take every thought capture and, through our active repentance, successfully deny ourselves through every circumstance. I don’t think I could claim that I have successfully done this the majority of the time. However, our God is wise and omniscient. It should be a matter of great rejoicing on our part that our perseverance is in His hands and is based on the work of the Holy Trinity on our behalf, not on our will power. Continue reading

Born to Love


by Mike Ratliff

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

As I have mentioned in other posts, I am re-reading the biography of William Tyndale by David Daniell. I am doing this because I believe God desires that I do so. I read it over a year ago, but this time I am picking up a great deal more about many different things than I did before. Through this I have seen that there are many parallels between our time and that of the Reformation. One of those parallels is how ungodly and cruel professing Christians can be. Another is how man-made religion has become accepted as Christianity while genuine Christians are few and far between. These genuine believers see the fallacies of the false, man-focused religion going on in their churches. Many have left. Others stay and fight it out.  Continue reading

The Old Gospel and the New

by James I. Packer

The old gospel of Owen, first of all, contains no less full and free an offer of salvation than its modern counterpart. It presents ample grounds of faith (the sufficiency of Christ, and the promise of God), and cogent motives to faith (the sinner’s need, and the Creator’s command, which is also the Redeemer’s invitation). The new gospel gains nothing here by asserting universal redemption. The old gospel, certainly, has no room for the cheap sentimentalising which turns God’s free mercy to sinners into a constitutional softheartedness on His part which we can take for granted; nor will it countenance the degrading presentation of Christ as the baffled Saviour, balked in what he hoped to do by human unbelief; nor will it indulge in maudlin appeals to the unconverted to let Christ save them out of pity for His disappointment. The pitiable Saviour and the pathetic God of modern pulpits are unknown to the old gospel. The old gospel tells men that they need God, but not that God needs them (a modern falsehood); it does not exhort them to pity Christ, but announces that Christ has pitied them, though pity was the last thing they deserved. It never loses sight of the Divine majesty and sovereign power of the Christ whom it proclaims, but rejects flatly all representations of Him which would obscure His free omnipotence. Continue reading

The Reality of Sin


The Simple Gospel
John MacArthur
All Rights Reserved

(A copy of this message on cassette tape may be obtained by calling 1-800-55-GRACE)

John 8:21-30    Tape GC 1246


It’s wonderful when a person comes to Christ…they no longer are under the tyranny of sin and guilt or of lust and desire, and they no longer are under the bondage of a purposeless and meaningless kind of existence. Christ not only gives meaning to life, but He restores harmony to our spiritual lives by completely forgiving our sin.

Now, what happens when somebody does not want to establish a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ? What happens when a person maintains the masquerade of Christmas, giving homage to an event, but not tolerating the individual in which that event finds its meaning? If receiving Jesus Christ results in an abundant and eternal life, then not receiving Jesus Christ results in receiving the curse of God.

As we find in this passage of John 8 some very alarming statements by Jesus, I must admit they make the passage a difficult thing for me to discuss, let alone understand. I sometimes want to cry out with Richard Baxter, “Oh, for an empty hell and a full heaven!” It is not my desire, nor is it Jesus’ desire for anyone to enter hell, for God is“not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9b). It is not condemnation, but rather warning that Jesus speaks in these verses. Continue reading

Examine Yourself

by John MacArthur 

Are you a Christian? Many people who claim to be point to some event in the past to substantiate their claim. But inviting Jesus to come into your life in the past is not proof that you are genuinely saved. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says to the Corinthian church, “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves (emphasis added).” He wouldn’t have said that if some event in the past were obviously the answer. The Bible never verifies anyone’s salvation by the past but by the present. If there is no evidence of salvation in your life now, you need to face the fact that you may not be a Christian. You need to examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. How does one do that? Jesus shows us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Continue reading

Family Time

I am in OKC through Wednesday. I will try to post and cover comments the best I can. In the meantime please enjoy the articles I have posted from John MacArthur and J.C. Ryle etc. about the Gospel and Christian Authenticity.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Posted in FYI


by J. C. Ryle

“He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” (Luke 18:9)

Are there none to whom this parable is applicable in the present day? Truly, if it were so, the ministers of Jesus would have comparatively a light employment and an idle post. We do not often meet with men who deny the divinity of Christ—or the personality of the Holy Spirit—or disbelieve the Bible—or doubt the existence of a God, and so bring upon themselves swift destruction. But, alas! We have daily proof that the disease spoken of in our text is as deep-seated and hard to cure as ever, and of all the mischievous delusions that keep men out of heaven, of all the soul-destroying snares that Satan employs to oppose Christ’s Gospel, there is none we find so dangerous, none so successful, as self-righteousness! Continue reading

Self-Righteousness and Repentance


by Mike Ratliff

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:25-30 ESV)

I heard part of a sermon on the radio in my pickup this afternoon that pierced my heart. I have learned to pay attention when this happens. The preacher was Dr. Richard Land and he was expounding on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. I began listening just as he read Luke 15:25-30. Then he gave a couple of illustrations that God used to direct my path to this post. The first illustration concerned a friend of Dr. Land who was dying. He had terminal cancer. This man was a Pastor of a church in a small town. His daughter had returned home after living a sinful debauched lifestyle. She was pregnant out of wedlock. Her intent had been to privately abort the baby, tell no one, and remain in her sinful lifestyle. However, God entered in to her heart, brought her to repentance, and sent her back home. She arrived at home as her father was dealing with his cancer.  Continue reading

Not Legalism but Christ


by Mike Ratliff

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:6-8 ESV)

As one who has been accused of being a Pharisee bound to legalism more times than I could ever recount, I was very pleased today when I heard a definition for “legalism” that I had never heard before. This definition of “legalism” states that the “legalist” is one who attempts to make legal and binding what is never addressed to be so by God. For instance, I was taught growing up by my well meaning parents that even to take a sip of an alcoholic drink was a sin. I have read the Bible cover to cover many times and I know for certain that there is no such command in scripture that is even close to that admonition. However, I did find several references to not becoming drunk with wine or strong drink. Our Lord turned water into wine at Cana. He drank wine at the Last Supper. Paul counseled Timothy to take a little wine with his food to help his stomach.  Continue reading

And Such Were Some of You


by Mike Ratliff

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11 ESV)

I met Ray Boltz very briefly in 1988 at a tent revival in Oklahoma. He sang several of his songs and I bought one of his tapes that evening. I was a very new Christian at that time and I really liked the focus of Ray’s songs. When I heard today of his “coming out of the closet” proclaiming that he is living the “homosexual lifestyle” I was saddened. We must learn from this my brethren. First, we must not put other Christians up on pedestals. None of us are perfect. That means we focus on Christ, bearing our hearts to Him for cleansing and healing. We never rely on our will power to resist temptation. Second, when we base the authenticity of our salvation on experience we are treading on very thin ice. Those who rely on that time from their past when they made a ‘decision for Christ’ by walking an aisle or whatever, but have shown little if any movement away from bondage to the flesh are more than likely deceived into relying on religiosity to save them rather than knowing our Lord intimately because He knows them.  Continue reading

A Place of Discernment


by Mike Ratliff

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. (1 Corinthians 14:29 ESV)

For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. (Matthew 24:5 ESV)

Not long ago I posted a piece titled Proclaiming Christ Crucified.  I believed at that time, and I still do, that this must be the number one focus of the Church. We must preach it. We must hold it and guard it by defending it against all attacks. These attacks come from every direction. Some are direct, but most are subtle and easy to overlook if we are not vigilant and discerning. Christ and Him crucified is the gospel. It is constantly under attack for that very reason. What tells us the truth throughout about this? Isn’t it Sacred Scripture? This is why there are so many assaults on its inerrancy and completeness.  Continue reading

Salvation Garments


by Mike Ratliff

Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” (Isaiah 52:1-3 ESV)

The way many look at our salvation it is as if they believe that it is a work of some kind. The cry to put on strength and beautiful garments is seen as a new believer putting on something they already have. However, in Isaiah 52:1-3 we see that those being saved were in bonds. They were in a captivity into which they were not sold, but they were redeemed without money. From where does their strength and beautiful garments come?  Continue reading

John Calvin’s Commentary on the Denial of Jesus by Peter


As I have assisted my daughter and son-in-law and my wife after the birth of our first grandchild this week I have been struck by people I have encountered in the hospital during this. Some are so obviously Spirit-led believers like the Sunday School teacher and his family of my daughter and son-in-law. Then there are the overheard conversations in the hallways and waiting rooms that are all about the fruits of the flesh. I have been under very severe conviction during all of this to stand firm and give God the glory in all things. I have a few hours until I have to return to the hospital this evening so I am posting a commentary on Peter’s denial of Christ. What Peter did was heinous. When we walk through our days in this world as if Christ meant nothing to us so that we won’t stand out in the crowd then aren’t we just a guilty as Peter? Continue reading