Confession Apart from Obedience is Worthless


by Mike Ratliff

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21 ESV)

There are many false teachings in our time within the visible Church. What we must never forget is that there is nothing new under the Sun. The heresies we encounter now are actually very old. Some have been around a long time in their current form while others are recycled versions of an older heresy that was dealt with hundreds of years ago. Why should our enemy and his seed come up with new attacks when the old ones wreak havoc, deepen spiritual blindness, and keep people mired in man-made religiosity instead of becoming spirit-filled, obedient Christians? Continue reading

Why Trouble Follows the Preaching of God’s Truth


by Mike Ratliff 

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)

Cleansing the heart of man-made religiosity is not fun and games. In fact, it hurts. Many resist God’s truth even to the point of bitterly expressing their anger over what is taught or preached. God’s ways are not man’s ways. The way that seems right unto man is not God’s way. Even the regenerate can cling to a paradigm they have constructed in their hearts that represents God in a way that pleases them, but in fact, can be idolatrous. Their God would not do x,y, and z while the Word tells us that the God of the Bible most certainly does allow things to happen to His people in such a way that their idols comes under direct attack. Many of us have learned the hard way that in this age God sometimes allows His people to be oppressed by their governments, big business, false teachers, or social activists. This could very well be unjust treatment. How are we to react? Continue reading

Christian Liberty


By Mike Ratliff

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 ESV)

There is some confusion in our day about the Biblical term, “Christian Liberty.” I have heard all sorts of definitions for it. One that stands out in my mind is the insistence that it has freed the Christian from all restrictions on drinking alcohol, what music a Christian listens to, what books a Christian reads, what movies a Christians watches, even what ‘sexual orientation’ a Christian “chooses.” In other words, this definition says that salvation has no bearing on one’s fleshly pursuits. Is this Biblical or is it just another form of Gnosticism? Let us see. Continue reading

The Authority of Scripture


by Mike Ratliff

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  (Proverbs 14:12 ESV) 

I have yet to encounter a person who has a problem with the gospel, the sovereignty of God, election, the exclusivity of genuine discipleship, et cetera who does not also force a man-centered perspective on God’s Word in one form or another. These same people lean towards a form of Christianity that is almost all experiential. Since their view of how the gospel works and how God works with Man is wrongly focused and the Word of God contains clear teachings about the sovereignty of God, these people conceive of their entire “Christian” paradigm from a philosophical and existential base rather than on the authority of Sacred Scripture. Continue reading

Losing Your Life for the Sake of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38 ESV)

Jesus is coming back soon. Are you ready? Are you trusting in man-made or self-made religion to be what God will recognize as sufficient so that Christ will be your Advocate before the Father when you are judged? Without Christ as your Advocate, you will have no defense. How does Christ become our Advocate? How do we know if He is our Advocate? Let us examine Christ’s own words about this. Continue reading

Sanctification


by Mike Ratliff

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14 ESV)

I had a very insightful discussion today. The person with whom I was conversing was curious about why I was “so negative” about Barack Obama. She was quite excited about him becoming the US President. I first mentioned his economic plan of increasing deficit spending by reducing taxes and increasing Government spending. She looked at me as if I was a cretin. She informed me that all of the Nobel Prize winners in economics were applauding his plan. I then said that I had a minor in Economics and had taken some Master level classes in it as well and that deficit spending by a Government is not the panacea that most people think it is and can cause the Dollar to become valueless. It actually takes money away from future generations who will have to deal with a huge national debt. She then said that that was what FDR did to end the Great Depression. I then told her that the Great Depression did not end until WWII started. The war caused it to end. All FDR’s programs did was to give help to some. However, I then said that my real problem with Mr. Obama and his administration was their focus on taking away all restrictions on abortion as well as promoting their homosexual agenda along with veiled threats of enforcing hate crimes against those who preach against these things. She then told me that she did not believe that he would do any of that and besides, the economy was far more important to her than what the Bible said about those things. Continue reading

The Deceitfulness of Sin


by Mike Ratliff 

 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  (1 John 2:15-19 ESV) 

It is not very costly to profess Christ. Anyone can do that. Christianity becomes costly when the professing Christian stands and does not fall away in the face of persecution or pressure to conform to some position or stance that is clearly opposed in some way to God’s clear commands found in His Word. For the Christian to commit this sin will be either to disobey God in an act of commission or omission. In any case, when the professing Christian takes each step in disobedience a layer of scar tissue is burned into their conscience with the searing hot iron of deliberate sin. Over time those professing Christians will each have an inoperable conscience and the processes which caused this will have proven that these compromisers have become victims of the deceitfulness of sin and, therefore, they will become what the Bible refers to as apostate. Some of these will still believe they are Christians, but others will refer to themselves as ‘former Christians.’ The Word tells us though that they “went out” from “us” because they were never in Christ to begin with. All genuine believers “continue” in faithfulness to the end. Continue reading

Suffering as a Christian


by Mike Ratliff

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)

There was a large demand today where I work for some sort of way for people to watch the US Presidential Inauguration. Of course, I observe people during things like this so I noted how some of the people in my office were actually worshipping Barack Obama. They were viewing him as if he was some sort of savior. Emotions ran high. Several of those I work with stayed home today in order to watch the coverage on TV. I was amazed. I have not seen anything close to this since I was in the 3rd grade when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated or when Mikhail Gorbechev visited the United States back in the 1980’s. However, there were many of us who simply tried to ignore the whole thing. I observe my own reactions to these things as well… What was bothering me? Continue reading

Vision and Hope


by Mike Ratliff

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
”when I will send a famine on the land-
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.

12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it. (Amos 8:11 ESV)

The pragmatic church models, such as those used in Purpose Driven and the Willow Creek churches, emphasis is successful, for the most part, in building large churches. However, the problem is that they do not preach the genuine gospel nor do they emphasize the proper preaching of the word, which is expositional rather than topical. Since there are a large numbers of churches that have been compromised this way, it has created a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. This is tragic.  Continue reading

A Trustworthy Statement


by Mike Ratliff

1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound [1] doctrine. (Titus 2:1 ESV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV)

Our enemy is quite clever in his deceit. He knows exactly what buttons to push to incite us to step into conflicts or situations designed to do damage to our faith and our relationship with our Lord. He also has his own deceived people whom he has convinced that they are the only Christians who have it right and everyone else, including such Bible scholars as John Owen or John Calvin or preachers such as Charles Spurgeon were heretics and tools of the devil. This group would also include men of today such as John MacArthur or R.C. Sproul. If we are not very careful, we can be drawn into “discussions” with these people whom our enemy is using for his own heinous purposes. These discussions can grow into conflict very quickly because it will not take long for these servants of our enemy to go for the jugular and attempt to demolish our faith by casting doubt through distracting arguments. Continue reading

If Indeed We Hold Fast


By Mike Ratliff

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. [3] (Hebrews 3:5-6 ESV)

From the time God saved me in 1986 until just a few years ago I was convinced that I was a Christian because of my own actions on that cold January Sunday evening. I was also convinced by what was taught in the churches I belonged to that my salvation was sealed by what took place that day and I was a Christian regardless of how faithful I was through the years. Of course what I was being taught was a doctrine called Once Saved Always Saved. This doctrine states that people are saved by saying a sinner’s prayer and acknowledging that they believe certain doctrinal things and it does not matter how they live after that, their salvation is certain. Is this biblical? Continue reading

Right Now Counts Forever


by Mike Ratliff

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV)

Pragmatism is an ugly, profane word. Oh, I know that to some professing Christians that it is their modus operandi in how they approach and do ministry, but I assure you that it is the tool our enemy uses to attack and discourage Christians from standing for the truth of God and all of His underlying principles that we are commanded to hold dear and obey. God’s ways are not Man’s ways. No, His ways are higher, but that does not excuse Christians from obeying Him in standing for truth and never compromising with the ways of the world and the flesh. Continue reading

Believe and Love the Truth and so be Saved


by Mike Ratliff

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking [1] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:6-11 ESV)

I listened to two sermons today. The first was by R.C. Sproul and the second was by John MacArthur. Interestingly, both preachers emphasized in their sermons the vital importance of believers hearing and believing the truth of God. Even though it should be obvious to us, I believe we take for granted the veracity of Gospel. However, the Word of God, Sacred Scripture, makes it clear that those who belong to God believe His truth while those whose eternal destiny is Outer Darkness do not believe the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. Continue reading

Christians and Civil Government


by Mike Ratliff

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:1-7 ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, [2] whether it be to the emperor [3] as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants [4] of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV) 

God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good; and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers…Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Westminster Confession 23.1,3) 

During my recent visit to Washington, D.C., it was obvious that the city and surrounding area is being consumed by the upcoming Barak Obama inauguration. The city will be pretty much shut down for several days during this time; at least as far as vehicular traffic is concerned. One curious souvenir I returned with is my Metro fare card. I purchased it for $20 last Tuesday. When I departed on Saturday morning it still had $4.20 left on it. The curiosity about it for me, however, is the picture printed on front. At the top, just below the arrow showing what direction to insert the card, it states, “Celebrating the Inauguration of Barak Obama.” Below that is a black and white photo of a smiling Obama. Below his face is printed, “44th President of the United States.” Every time I used that card, my descending balance was printed one line lower just to the left of Obama’s face. Continue reading