The High Cost of Discipleship


by Mike Ratliff

21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21 NASB)

The message of salvation that is normally preached or taught in the vast majority of churches these days has been contaminated with Humanism. The focus is on becoming a Christian for some great benefit or reward from God based upon little to no personal cost. Masses of people respond to that false gospel as well. The genuine gospel that our Saviour preached during His earthly ministry may have mentioned the benefits of being saved, but He emphasized the cost of becoming His disciple in such a way that it caused many of His hearers to not follow Him anymore. In fact, whenever He saw that the people were flocking to Him to have their felt needs met, He would speak a message to them that expressed that those who are His disciples are the ones who have counted the cost and seen that the eternal is all that truly matters. Continue reading

The Love God Hates


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)

One of the markers of genuineness in a Christian is separation from the World. This isn’t a physical removal from planet Earth or a disintegration of the body of a Christian. A genuine Christian’s character should be in a continual upgrade unto Christlikeness. That means that as he or she cooperates with God in their sanctification, working out their salvation with fear and trembling, their character will take on more and more of Christ’s character. They will love what He loves and hate what he hates. God is love, but He hates a certain type of love. Continue reading

Isn’t it About Time That We Grow Up?


by Mike Ratliff

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11 NASB)

When the Lord circumcised my heart in August 2004, I was truly amazed at the level of spiritual discernment that came with that blessing. Leading up to this, God had drawn me ever deeper into our relationship. I had been in a deep, close, intimate walk with Him over a period of several weeks. I was fasting from anything that distracted me from my devotion to Him. I was praying, worshipping, studying my Bible, and researching doctrine, all in obedience to His drawing me to Him. Just a few days before Labor Day in 2004 I woke up one morning and knew that everything had changed. It was probably the most joyous and humbling experience I have ever had. I realized right then that I no longer cared for anything except to do His will. His glory was paramount. For someone who was had been in bondage to self-focused, flesh oriented, desperate pursuits for self-gratification for over 50 years, this was a genuinely miraculous thing.
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Is it Good Works or is it Works Righteousness?


by Mike Ratliff

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.  (Luke 2:36-38 NASB)

When I was a young man and even prior to that when I was a teenager, I was quite religious. I went to church with my family and tried to emulate what I saw my parents do in their devotion. I tried to reach a point in my own devotion where I could be fulfilled, wanting to serve God with the joy and fervor I saw in other believers. However, I just could not do it. I found myself bored in church. I found no inner drive to read my Bible. I had no desire to have a consistent devotion to God because there were so many other things in my life that were more important to me than that. I was tormented by the fact that I could not behave consistently “Christian.” I had no self-control in certain situations. Then I would visit my family and attend church with them on Sunday full of remorse and guilt. I would exit the service determined to do good works and not sin anymore. I look back on that time now and almost laugh except it was a horrible conflict in my life at that time. I was convinced that being a Christian consisted of doing Christian things. In that unregenerate mind, a Christian was a Christian because they did those things. That, of course, is what works righteousness is. Continue reading

From Where do Believers’ Salvation Garments Come?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Awake, awake, Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean Will no longer come into you. 2 Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; Loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3 For thus says the LORD, “You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money.”  (Isaiah 52:1-3 NASB)

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

The Law and Faith


by Mike Ratliff

14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!  (Romans 6:14-15 NASB)

Most of the early years of my Christian walk were spent in one church from February 1987 through February 2000.  During that time we had three pastors.  I was in some form of teaching for most of that time. One of the things that always came up when we studied the Old Testament was Romans 6:14-15. It was as if someone always had to make sure that we were not being legalistic. They cast the law as far from them and our church as the East is from the West. Is that how we are to treat God’s Law? Continue reading

What is Genuine Christian Faithfulness?


by Mike Ratliff

10 μηδὲν φοβοῦ ἃ μέλλεις πάσχειν. ἰδοὺ μέλλει βάλλειν ὁ διάβολος ἐξ ὑμῶν εἰς φυλακὴν ἵνα πειρασθῆτε καὶ ἕξετε θλῖψιν ἡμερῶν δέκα. γίνου πιστὸς ἄχρι θανάτου, καὶ δώσω σοι τὸν στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς. (Revelation 2:10 NA28)

10 Do not fear the things you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison that you may be tested and you will have affliction ten days. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the Crown of Life. (Revelation 2:10 translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

Πιστὸς (pistos) is the Greek adjective translated in Revelation 2:10 (above) as “faithful.” Πιστὸς is defined as “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable.” In the context of Revelation 2:10, 13, which are our Lord’s own words, to be “faithful” is to refuse to compromise the Christian faith, even in the face of persecution and martyrdom. In this day of superstar or what some call “Rock Star” Christian leaders whose popularity is based upon their willingness to dilute the Christian faith with the world and its ways or even by blending in the cultic ways of other religions, we need to have a clearer understanding of the faithfulness that is expected of the genuine Christian by our Lord.  Continue reading

Genuine Christian Assurance


by Mike Ratliff

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; (2 Peter 1:1,2 NASB)

God is good to those who belong to him. Within that he imparts knowledge of himself to us and that includes knowledge of our own fallenness. He uses this knowledge to make sure that those of us in Christ fully understand that we are in him despite our sinfulness and unworthiness to be so. When we walk in light of this knowledge we also, in the power of the Holy Spirit, walk in repentance according to God’s marvelous grace. We also come to know how awesome it is that we have obtained faith in righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ even though all we really  deserve is God’s wrath. As we examine ourselves, as we are commanded to do in sacred Scripture, then, if we are honest, we must admit that instead of loving our neighbor as ourselves we are selfish, self-centered, prideful, self-loving people who are total failures at this. Honestly, I have never kept this commandment by trying to do so. The only time I have ever done so is as I have humbled myself before my Lord as He worked through me as I served in ministry and I found myself loving and serving people in ways that I cannot do no matter how hard I try. On the other hand, as I walk (and drive) through each day with me in control with my focus on me and what I want, that is most certainly not the case.  Continue reading

Is Homosexuality a Sin?


by Mike Ratliff

22 ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22 NASB)

One of the early leaders of the Bolsheviks who lead the Russian Revolution at the beginning of the 20th Century was Leon Trotsky. After the death of its main leader Lenin, Trotsky came into conflict with the Bolsheviks who supported Stalin. He had to leave the country. He wrote articles in hiding that attacked the policies of the Stalinists. One of the “strategies” of Trotsky that was rejected by the Stalinist was “Continual Revolution.” He was a true Communist. According to Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Communism is the goal, but in order to reach it Capitalism must be replaced with Socialism and eventually done away with completely in order to bring in a pure Communistic state. Trotsky was a true believer, while Stalin was more pragmatic. What has this to do with Homosexuality? The ”Gay Rights” movement is constructed according to the principles of Leon Trotsky’s “Continual Revolution.” Its true believers will never stop until they achieve their goal of complete societal acceptance of Homosexuality as a protected minority with all the same legal rights as non-homosexuals, but with the added protection from the Federal and State governments to ensure it.   Continue reading