Fight the Good Fight of Faith


by Mike Ratliff

ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. (1 Timothy 6:12 NA27)

Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called and confessed the good confession before many witnesses. (a personal translation of 1 Timothy 6:12 from the NA27 Greek text)

There are times when this work becomes an agonizing battle just to combat the attacks of our accuser; just to pray and prepare to open God’s Word; let alone dig into the Greek then translate et cetera. I am a mere man upon whom God had mercy January 1986 when I was 34. I was 35 later that year. Here I am now just a couple of months from being 60 years old and when the accuser comes to battle me, to distract me, to belittle me, what do you think he uses for ammunition? Yes, I know that at the cross all my sins were atoned for and that by God’s grace through faith the father justified me. Yes, Amen! I have days when I can take any fiery dart the enemy shoots in my direction with hardly any problem because I am so totally full of the Spirit and, using the shield of faith, extinguish those fiery darts as if they are nothing. However, there are times when I am convinced that God allows the enemy access so that his accusations seem to overwhelm me. I feel worthless. I look at my past sins and then at the task of doing this work and cannot see how God could or even want to use one such as I.  Continue reading

To Abide You Must First Believe


by Mike Ratliff

καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. (John 5:38 NA27)

“And His Word you do not have abiding in you because He whom He sent, this one you do not believe.” (a personal translation of John 5:38 from the NA27 Greek text)

In John 5:30-47 the apostle gives us several witnesses to establish the truthfulness and genuiness of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Our Lord Jesus presented these witnesses who testified to His identity as the Son to those who opposed Him. The first witness given is John the Baptist in vv32-35. The second witness is our Lord’s own words in vv 35, 36. The third witness is the Father in vv 37, 38. The fourth witness is the Old Testament Scriptures in vv 39-47. However, as is the case from this point to the end of John, those who most vehemently opposed our Lord and His ministry, refused to believe.  Continue reading

Jesus Deals With Unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς αὐτόν· ἐὰν μὴ σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα ἴδητε, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε. (John 4:48 NA27)

Therefore, Jesus said to him, “Except you see signs and wonders you never believe!” (a personal translation of John 4:48 from the NA27 Greek text)

In this stage of my life, God has me residing in the Kansas City area. In our city is a “church” that calls itself “World Revival Church.” It is closely associated with another “church” that was recently sued by the corporation International House of Pancakes because it used the same logo, i.e. IHOP. In any case, the people behind these “churches” advertise heavily on our local television during the evening news hour. The focus of their ads is not to come there to see God glorified or to come and learn about Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Nope, it is all about “feelings” and “being blessed” and “experiences.” I have written about them before. There are some very disturbing videos portraying “signs and wonders” on Youtube about them as well. In any case, what they promote is attending their church for the experience, to get something for self, all subjectively. Contrast that with our Lord’s own words from John 4:48 (above).  Continue reading

Drinking Living Water


by Mike Ratliff

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. (John 4:10 NA27)

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (a personal translation of John 4:10 from the NA27 Greek text)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

He Must Increase But I Must Decrease


by Mike Ratliff

ἐκεῖνον δεῖ αὐξάνειν, ἐμὲ δὲ ἐλαττοῦσθαι. (John 3:30 NA27)

It is necessary for Him to increase, but for me to decrease. (a personal translation of John 3:30 from the NA27 Greek text)

We often think that false doctrine concerning the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will begin with denials of His deity or the fall of man et cetera. Consider this my brethren. All it takes to get the gospel wrong is to make the focus of it man rather than the glory of the Father through the glorification of the Son as He lived that sinless life and through that perfect obedience became the propitiation for those He came to save. Then he deliberately laid down His life to be that perfect sacrifice on their behalf. He went to that cross so that those chosen before the foundation of the world, given to the Son by the Father, are given eternal life when they believe the Gospel in repentance turning to Christ as Lord as Saviour. At that moment, the Father imputes Christ’s perfect obedience and perfect righteousness to their account. However, during our Lord’s earthly ministry, those who followed Him as well as those who opposed Him did not see this at all. Jesus came to reveal the Father to the lost sheep of Israel, but most of them rejected the message. It was not until our Lord rose from the dead three days after dying on that Cross that He opened the minds of His disciples so that they could understand Sacred Scripture and then know the truth of His true mission and what the gospel is all about. Yes, when the gospel is handled correctly, people are saved and brought into the Kingdom, but the purpose is the glory of God. John the Baptist understood that perfectly.  Continue reading