Spontaneous Compassion


by Joni Earekson Tada

Bureaucracies aren’t programmed to be compassionate. It’s not in the nature of the thing. Take my friend, David Bowie, in his big, bulky wheelchair. After he became a quadriplegic in a car accident and his wife left him, he moved into a cramped one-room apartment and learned to rely on three or four part-time attendants to get him up and put him to bed. Life’s not easy. Continue reading

Thanksgiving


by Mike Ratliff

A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)

O, let us give thanks to the Lord for He is exceedingly good to us. No person born of Adam deserves anything from Him except eternal judgment yet every person, whether they are a believer or not, receives from God His common grace. However, those who are in Christ should joyfully give thanks to Him for the miracle of their salvation along with all of the heavenly promises that go with it. I was in a discussion on Sunday with a friend at church about how awesome it is that God has made Himself known to us through the Son and through His Word. We rejoiced together in our fellowship just seconds before the worship and praise part of our Sunday morning began. What a joy that was! Continue reading

Who is it That Has Fellowship With Christ?


by Mike Ratliff 

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV) 

Contrary to what most believe about Christianity, what one’s own framework is of their conception of salvation and having fellowship with Jesus Christ is irrelevant. Unless this ‘understanding’ is totally submitted to the Word of God and the authority of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit then it will be according to the counsel of the individual’s own conscience. This counsel is according to the value system of the individual not according to what God has revealed. It creates its own image of God and holds that image accountable to the individual’s value system. Continue reading

Who Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God?


by Mike Ratliff

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (1 Corinthians 15:50 ESV)

There are only two religions in the entire world. There is genuine Christianity and then every other form of religiosity including humanism. The latter are all opposed to the truth and are part of the rebellion against the sovereignty of God. Genuine Christianity is made up of those who have been redeemed from the slave market of iniquity. This slave market preys on people and keeps them in bondage to the flesh. On the other hand, Genuine Christianity, which is the Church, is spiritual. Those in it are adopted into the family of God. Those alive right now await the completion of their redemption. Those who have already died are with the Lord now. Those who remain are in process. This process is their progressive sanctification, which is the mortification of the deeds of their flesh, which is sin. However, all outside of the Church are in their sins and can only operate in the flesh. Continue reading

Accepted in the Beloved – Part 2


by Mike Ratliff

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV)

As we saw in Part 1, the Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians. We also saw that Ephesians 1:3-14 was one glorious sentence in Greek. This wonderful treasure house statement can be broken down into three parts. In vv3-6a we have God’s election of the Church which He did before the foundation of the world. In vv6b-11 we have Paul’s exposition on our redemption. Then the third part is in vv12-14. This part deals with the Christian’s future inheritance with emphasis on the Holy Trinity. In Part 1 we dealt with election. Now let us tackle Redemption and the Christian’s future inheritance. Continue reading

Accepted in the Beloved – Part 1


by Mike Ratliff 

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6 KJV) 

Our salvation, our redemption if you will, is God’s handiwork. In all my many years as a believer, I have run across multitudes of professing Christians in spiritual bondage because they believe that it is up to them and their performance in walking in repentance to remain in God’s good graces. It is as if they have the offer of salvation, which they have accepted, but they are in deadly fear that the offer will be revoked if they sin. This is a form of unbelief because God’s Word does not teach that. In fact, it teaches the opposite. I wonder if those in this bondage have every considered the fact that since none of us could do one thing to save ourselves, therefore, the teaching we will be held eternally accountable to a standard of perfection that is impossible for us to be conformed to in this life is not biblical. Continue reading

False Prophets and False Prophecy


by Mike Ratliff

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?” (Ezekiel 13:1-7 ESV)

A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused because obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal. Continue reading

Do Not Be Anxious


by Mike Ratliff

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 ESV)

I was in a discussion earlier today with some friends. We were discussing the current economic issues. I shared some of what I had been reading and hearing about from some very good sources. Then I asked some “what if” questions based on the following scenario. Let us say that sometime next year that the US Dollar fails. It becomes worthless. What would happen to our consumer driven economy/society? What would or could we do to stay in our houses, buy groceries, and put gas in our cars? No one had a clue. Neither did I. I left the discussion and went back to my desk. A few minutes later my phone rang. It was my wife. She asked me how I was doing. I lied as I said, “Oh I am fine.” She knows me too well and I could tell she did not buy it. Then she said she had just come from her morning devotions. She had started by praying about whether we should put away a year’s worth of food in our basement, just in case. Then she prayed for our family and friends. She prayed for wisdom and discernment. Then she realized that there was a question in her heart. That question was, “If you buy all that food, will you be willing to share it with those in need?” Continue reading

Called to Salvation as Exiles


by Mike Ratliff

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV) 

I was inundated with bad news, it seemed, all day today. The financial news is enough to drive us despair. There are predictions of another Great Depression on the horizon that could last for years. However, unlike the one in the 1930’s, which was deflationary, this one will be hyper-inflationary much like the one that plagued Germany after World War I. There are predictions that the U.S. Dollar is going to fall and be replaced with another currency that will eventually be absorbed by a one-world currency. In light of the upcoming devaluing of the Dollar, I know some who are buying caches of food that can support them and their families for a year. Their faith in the Dollar and our consumer driven economy has failed. Continue reading

Pragmatic Expediency


by Mike Ratliff 

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV) 

The proponents of the seeker-sensitive church growth model may very well have had good intentions when through it was spawned the rise of contemporary mega-churches such as Willow Creek and Saddleback Valley Baptist and their clones. The focus was outreach to the unchurched. That is a proper function of the New Testament Church, however, one of the model’s fundamental components is actually an antithesis of the clear instruction to Church leaders found in God’s Word. That component is pragmatism.  Continue reading

Have no Fear


by Mike Ratliff

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” (Matthew 10:26 ESV)

Despite what “some” say in referring to the seeker-sensitive church model as the “new paradigm” that it is the new mainstream Church in the world, God has not changed. The Church remains the body of Christ and those who belong to it came to be there the exact same way believers have since its inception. Oh, the seeker-sensitive church is a paradigm all right, and it may indeed have displaced many orthodox churches throughout the world, but all they have really done is create a pseudo-church that is friends with the world. Its apologists have attempted to blend Christianity with existentialism and humanism not understanding that these human philosophies are diametrically opposed to our faith across the board. Continue reading

Overcoming the World


by Mike Ratliff

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”(John 15:18-19 ESV) 

After the economy issues hit last month followed by the surge by the Presidential campaign of Barak Obama then his victory on the 3rd of November 2008, I found it very interesting who was celebrating and who was sorrowful. In response to that, I wrote a post called “What Now?“. The comments I received dealing with this was just as interesting. Some confessed that they had been in mourning for the last several months just as I had been. Some misunderstood the focus of that post thinking we were viewing the United States as a Christian country, et cetera. No, that was not even close to the focus of that post. The message of that post was that the Church had better prepare itself for reality as the powers of darkness that hate the light attempt to squelch the exclusivity of the real Gospel that we hold and preach. Continue reading

The Day of the Lord Will Come


by Mike Ratliff

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:10-12 ESV)

I fell asleep during the local evening news tonight. I slept right up to the time when the NBC evening news came on. Their lead-in woke me up. As I heard the gloomy economic news, I found myself wondering where all of this was going. I actually had to force myself to turn the TV off and get alone with God for a bit. It was tough to make myself do that because there was a voice inside me demanding that I despair, worry, and doubt. However, during my evening devotional I read the following from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening.

“And ye shall be witnesses unto Me.”-Acts 1:8

In order to learn how to discharge your duty as a witness for Christ, look at His example. He is always witnessing: by the well of Samaria, or in the Temple of Jerusalem: by the lake of Gennesaret, or on the mountain’s brow. He is witnessing night and day; His mighty prayers are as vocal to God as His daily services. He witnesses under all circumstances; Scribes and Pharisees cannot shut His mouth; even before Pilate He witnesses a good confession. He witnesses so clearly, and distinctly that there is no mistake in Him. Christian, make your life a clear testimony. Be you as the brook wherein you may see every stone at the bottom-not as the muddy creek, of which you only see the surface-but clear and transparent, so that your heart’s love to God and man may be visible to all. You need not say, “I am true:” be true. Boast not of integrity, but be upright. So shall your testimony be such that men cannot help seeing it. Never, for fear of feeble man, restrain your witness. Your lips have been warmed with a coal from off the altar; let them speak as like heaven-touched lips should do. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand.” Watch not the clouds, consult not the wind-in season and out of season witness for the Saviour, and if it shall come to pass that for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s you shall endure suffering in any shape, shrink not, but rejoice in the honour thus conferred upon you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord; and joy also in this-that your sufferings, your losses, and persecutions shall make you a platform, from which the more vigorously and with greater power you shall witness for Christ Jesus. Study your great Exemplar, and be filled with His Spirit. Remember that you need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility, if your witnessing is to be to your Master’s glory. Continue reading

Ecclesiastical Myopia


by R.C. Sproul

Perhaps the most remarkable statement I ever heard a man utter from the pulpit was: “He has a penurious epistemology, which tends to be myopic.” I was seated in the balcony of the church when that statement was made, and I could not restrain myself from laughing aloud. I nudged my wife Vesta and said, “I just might be the only person in the church who understood what that man said.” What is a penurious epistemology? A penurious epistemology is a theory of knowledge that is poverty-stricken or on the verge of bankruptcy. Such a view of knowledge, if it tends towards myopia, is simply suffering a bad case of near-sightedness. I’m afraid that the American church suffers from a similar sort of myopia. Continue reading