The Spirit-filled Christian’s Walk is an Act of Worship


by Mike Ratliff

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ESV)

The Christian walk that John Bunyan set before us in his masterpiece The Pilgrim’s Progress is not one of “having your best life now” nor is it having all of your problems suddenly replaced with “opportunities.” No, Bunyan understood, and we need to as well, that no where in God’s Word are we promised that all we have to do is “come to Jesus and all our problems are over.” No, in fact, the opposite may very well be true. Jesus was not exaggerating when he said in John 15:18-19, “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.” Why does the world hate real Christians? They are not of the world, but have been chosen by Christ out of the world, regenerated and made part of His Kingdom. This change is radical. This salvation is by grace through faith not according to merit or works, but according to Ephesians 2:10 good works are part of what this Christian walk is all about, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” In fact, our Lord Jesus went so far as to say it very plainly in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Therefore, genuine Christians will be evident to the world because they will serve their Lord with their lives in obedience walking in the good works set before them by God Himself. That means also that they will not be those compromising all over the place with false religions seeking unity with false brethren and obvious wolves in sheep’s clothing for the sake of a friendly, false peace. That sorta explains why the world hates us don’t you think?  Continue reading

Reverence


by Mike Ratliff

Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ (Matthew 21:37 ESV)

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated “reverence” is usually שׁחה or shâchâh. It is the same word used for worship as well because it speaks of assuming a humble posture before royalty for instance. However, in the New Testament we find a most remarkable word translated as respect or reverence or even shame. It is found in the passage above (Matthew 21:37). Here is the Greek, “ὕστερον δὲ ἀπέστειλε πρὸς αὐτοὺς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ λέγων· ἐντραπήσονται τὸν υἱόν μου.” Here we have ἐντραπήσονται the plural, future tense, indicative mood, passive voice form of ἐντρέπω or entrepō, which literally means “to turn into oneself, to put self to shame, to feel respect or deference toward someone else.” If you are at all familiar with the parables of our Lord then I am sure you recoginze from where I drew the passage above. You may be asking yourself, what has this got to do with worship? Let’s see…  Continue reading

Prophecy and Tongues


by Mike Ratliff

Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp. (Numbers 11:26-30 ESV)

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13 ESV)

As I ended our study last week on the Biblical definition of being Spirit Filled, I became convinced that after that was complete I should compare that with some very aberrant things being presented as “Christian” by an internationally, well-known local “church” in the metro area in which I live. I gave some hints about that in the post “What is the Purpose of Being Filled With the Spirit?” even though I did not give the name of the “church.” I did that because I was still praying about whether God really wanted me to do this. On my recent trip to Oklahoma, several family members encountered me concentrating on this as I meditated on scripture and prayed for wisdom. They all attempted to startle me as if I they thought I was in some sort of sleep state or something. No, I was simply listening to the Spirit as I worked through the Word comparing God’s truth with what I know these people are saying and doing which is most certainly not. I was simply planning the outline of what you are about to read. With each interruption I was concerned that I would lose the trail and not be able to get back to where God had me, but as I sat down this evening with my Bibles, lexicons, and commentaries, I found that the trail is indeed very hot and I pray that God uses me in this battle for His truth for His glory alone. Continue reading

The Intention Wherewith Christ Came into the World


by Mike Ratliff

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:5-10 ESV)

Having just returned from a short vacation trip to Oklahoma for my Grandson’s 2nd birthday and a visit with my mother and family and being completely cutoff from the internet and email through it all, I find myself having finished reading for the third time the Biography of William Tyndale during that time. I finished it on Sunday evening and as I knew it would, God used that life of one of his martyrs to inspire me to continue in obedience regardless of the cost. After I finished it, I began reading again another book I had taken with me just in case I did in fact do that. The second book is The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by 17th Century Puritan Dr. John Owen. The following is an excerpt from the introductory essay for this book:

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ is a polemical work, designed to show, among other things, that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive of the gospel. There are many, therefore, to whom it is not likely to be of interest. Those who see no need for doctrinal exactness and have no time for theological debates which show up divisions between so-called Evangelicals may regret its reappearance.”

As I reread Book 1, over the last couple of days, I was actually amazed at how edifying it is for the Christian to read of the propitiatory work of Christ on the Cross specifically for his or her behalf, that is, to purchase them specifically by His blood. Continue reading

What is the Purpose of Being Filled With the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-18 ESV)

There is a certain charismatic “church” in the metro area in which I live that advertises heavily on TV during the evening news hour. Some of their commercials are supposed to be humorous like the ones in which a fellow with an Australian accent supposedly stops random people on the street to ask them what their favorite “church” is. Of course, they all say that its the church they are advertising. All through the commercials they play the song from this video in the background and, of course, the dude with the cool Aussie accent looks so relevant… In any case, each commercial ends with the line where they give the name of the church then say, “Religion that works!” They have other commercials of course. Some show people running down the aisles of their auditorium or people falling on the floor. Nearly all those commercials say something like, “Come here, because this is where God is.” I noticed lately though that they have moved to a new level. They now have family groups who all stand around smiling and talk about the transforming power they have gone through by being there and finding God’s purpose for their lives as they were put to work serving in that “church.” Continue reading