For This Light Momentary Affliction Is Preparing For Us An Eternal Weight Of Glory Beyond All Comparison


by Mike Ratliff

15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:15-18 ESV)

Religion, if it is worth anything, is worth everything; but it is worth little if it is not worth suffering for. – Matthew Henry

There has been such a long drought of the Word of God being rightly divided by true shepherds of the flock in so much of the visible Church that the spiritually weak and immature believers make up the vast majority. Their understanding of God is not well developed. When suffering comes upon them they react in a complete misinterpretation of what is going on. It is as if they expect everyone to love them and their problems will be over simply because they are now Christians. The Bible is very clear, genuine believers are the ones who endure to the end and they will suffer for Jesus’ sake. Continue reading

The Foundation Of Christlikeness


by Mike Ratliff

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV)

The vast majority of professing Christians in the United States and in other countries, whose churches are patterned after American churches, are enslaved to their flesh. Why? The trend that I have witnessed in our churches for at least the last 25 years or so is a de-emphasis of discipleship. Evangelism or outreach has crowded out in-reach and Bible study. Why? Church growth has become the golden calf of the new evangelism. Because of that, church leaders strive to be culturally relevant even if it means dummying down the Gospel and no longer putting any resources into biblical discipleship. Continue reading

Blessed Are You When Others Revile You And Persecute You And Utter All Kinds Of Evil Against You Falsely On My Account


by Mike Ratliff

21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. (John 16:21 ESV)

eschaton

noun ( the eschaton) Theology

the final event in the divine plan; the end of the world.

ORIGIN 1930s: from Greek eskhaton, neuter of eskhatos ‘last.’

Confession of Faith:

Q. Which is the ninth Beatitude?

A. The ninth Beatitude is, Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Q. What is required in the ninth Beatitude?

A. The ninth Beatitude requireth living out the laws of Christ in all aspects of life, before all men, and bearing public witness to Him in word and deed.

Q. What is forbidden in the ninth Beatitude?

A. The ninth Beatitude forbiddeth concealing our loyalty to Christ, either by action or inacation, so that we might have the approval of this world in the present age.

Q. What is the reason annexed to the ninth Beatitude?

A. The reason annexed to the ninth Beatitude is that, while open allegiance to Christ and profession of his witness will draw spite from the world, our reward will be great in the age to come, like unto the prophets who have gone before us.

The positive confession ministries, health, wealth, and prosperity ministries, seeker-sensitive ministries, and ministries  such as that of Joel Osteen have one thing in common. They all focus on salvation being a deliverance unto blessings in the here and now. Some even go so far as to teach that we do a disservice to people if we preach or teach that Man is lost and separate from God because of sin. They teach that this drives people away from the Church. Some water down the Gospel and refuse to ever mention repentance as of primary importance in the genuineness of ones salvation. What did our Lord teach about this? Continue reading

Let All Bitterness And Wrath And Anger And Clamor And Slander Be Put Away From You Along With All Malice


by Mike Ratliff

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV)

Steel is made through the smelting of iron ore. Iron becomes steel as carbon is added while the iron is very hot. What makes steel much harder than iron was not really understood by the ancients who created it. All they knew was that at a certain point in the shaping of a sword they would lay the red hot blade into the coals for a few minutes then resume the process of hammering, cooling in water, re-heating, hammering, cooling in water, et cetera. The finished product was a sword that would not bend in battle and could be sharpened over and over. The blade was actually made up of many pieces of iron rods that were heated, flattened, and folded upon themselves over and over. It was hard work, but that was what it took to create a fine, usable steel sword.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

When we are born of the Spirit at regeneration we are new creations. However, that does not mean that we become instantly sinless. Nor does it mean that we are instantly mature and able to know the will of God in walking before Him for His glory alone. No, these attributes come over time and after much “smelting, hammering, cooling, re-heating of us in the fires of sanctification. When I was a young Christian I remember many times being on the verge of walking away from my faith. Why? It seemed that I was “in the fire” all the time. I am very glad that God preserved me, but I want to share with all of you reading this that God has not stopped this process in me. I have been a believer since 1986, but I am no where near complete and this is obvious as God has not relented in showing me how much I must suffer for the name of Christ. Continue reading

What Is Temptation?


by Mike Ratliff

41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 ESV)

38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 ESV)

45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:45-46 ESV)

Temptation: Temptation is any thing, state, way or condition that, upon any account whatsoever, has a force or power to seduce, to draw the mind and heart of a man or woman from his or her obedience, which God requires of them, into any sin, in any degree of it whatsoever.

As Jesus agonized in Gethsemane in the hours prior to His trial, torture, and crucifixion, His disciples had a hard time staying awake. He went off by Himself to pray, but asked James, John and Peter to watch and pray. However, each time He came to them, He found them asleep. If we look closely at Mathew 26:41, Mark 14:38, and Luke 22:45-46, we will see the whole of our Lord’s caution to His disciples seems to have been, “Arise, watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation.” Our Lord knew that danger was near. He knew that His disciples would be scattered from Him when He was arrested. However, His concern seems to be on these men that they would not enter into temptation. Notice also that it is the flesh that is weak and it is the watching and praying that keeps them lined up with the spirit that they be one in spirit with Him. If they would do that then they would not enter into temptation.

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A Christian’s Election Is Confirmed By Spiritual Growth


by Mike Ratliff

11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)

Doctrine is a vital part of the true Church. Many of us may disagree on some things pertaining to our faith and still call one another brother or sister, but there are some things, from the sound doctrines from God, that are non-negotiable. I am constantly amazed when those who disagree with the clear exegesis from God’s Word will counter with nothing more than human philosophy or attempt to use human reason to void what the Bible actually says. Amazingly, they actually think they are making valid points. The veracity of God’s Truth is unimpeachable no matter who believes it to be so or not. One of those clear truths from God’s Word that is under severe attack in our time is the role and extent that regeneration plays in the life of the believer. Some claim that all that is required “to be saved” is the saying of some prayer or saying that he or she agrees with some “truth.” God’s Word tells us, however, that regeneration is a washing that changes everything (Titus 3:5). There will be solid and observable changes in those saved by grace through faith as a gift from God.  Continue reading

And Above All These Put On Love Which Binds Everything Together In Perfect Harmony


by Mike Ratliff

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self- controlled and sober- minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:7-9 ESV)

Our sanctification is designed by God to transform us unto the image of Christ. The human heart before regeneration is clueless about the ways of God. The unregenerate heart can only comprehend the wisdom of the world. This ‘wisdom,’ such as it is, views the Christian calling as utter foolishness. Sadly, there are innumerable professing Christians in our time who claim that Jesus is their Saviour, but they cling to worldly comforts as they view the self-denied life as peculiar and only for Jesus freaks and fanatics.

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Confession Devoid Of Obedience Is A Marker Of Disingenuous Faith


by Mike Ratliff

21 “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?

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Do Conversion And Regeneration Represent The Same Thing?


by Mike Ratliff

13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. ’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord? ’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles— to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:13-18 ESV)

A hypocrite is someone who implies he or she stands for one set of values, but actually lives out their life doing the opposite. Since few would disagree that the post-modern church is mired in hypocrisy, one might assume that Christianity was the problem. If Christianity really was the one and only true religion and Jesus’ disciples truly are changed by their new birth in Christ, the hypocrite label should not stick. Why? True Biblical Christianity professes that all in Christ not only have their sins forgiven them, but they are also new creations who are no longer under the power of their former sins. Something isn’t right.  Continue reading

For By Grace You Have Been Saved Through Faith


by Mike Ratliff

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

What is it that causes God to justify believers? What is justification? I heard a definition a long time ago where the preacher said something like this, “Justification is what happens when we are born again, it is ‘Just as if I had never sinned’” Of course, those of us who are Reformed in our Theology believe that our regeneration, our quickening, our New Birth takes place prior to belief because that is what enables ungodly, spiritually dead people to repent and believe. Justification follows that. Let’s look at an example.

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The Temporal Result Of The Testing of Our Faith


by Mike Ratliff

3 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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)

Despite what some false “so-called Christian leaders” in our time say, there is no guarantee that the Genuine Christian will be immune from suffering. In fact, suffering is the method God uses to prune the branches that abide in the Vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15) I have found that the form this suffering takes is nearly always a surprise. When atheists or pagans ridicule, the resulting sorrow from that is relatively minor and easily borne compared to that delivered by professing Christians. In any case, we must not be discouraged, even though that is what our enemy seeks to do to us through it. God is allowing him to do this to us, therefore, what should our reaction be? Continue reading

Nullifying The Spirit of Fear


by Mike Ratliff

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness ‘sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:12-17 ESV)

As I write this I am 62 years old and have been part of American Christianity my whole life either as a small child being taken to Church by my parents or as a young boy in Sunday School and later as a teenager in the Youth Group at Church. When I became a young adult I left all that, but God had other plans. When I was in my early 30’s I found myself with a wife and two small children going to a local Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma every Sunday and through that God caused the proclamation of the Gospel to finally work and He had mercy on me. Through all that I had gained much knowledge of how intertwined Evangelicalism is in the culture in Oklahoma. I knew this even when I was in rebellion and having nothing to do with “Church.” When God drew me to Himself in 1985-1986 and made me into a New Creation I still retained that “knowledge,” but now my focus was not on it, but on my Lord. From that point until early in this new Century I never thought I would see the throwing off of the moral covering in our society that comes from our culture being so intertwined with the knowledge of God and His truth. What amazes me the most though is how so many in so-called “Churches” are fully participating in this rebellion.

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Wielding The Sword Of The Lord Correctly


by Mike Ratliff

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

In this day in which the truth is said to be unknowable, Christians must rely on the only source of pure truth we have. There is no truth that we can say is the complete truth unless we take it from God’s Word. The Bible is pure truth and it is the authority we rely on in order to have a firm foundation in this lost and dying world that is consuming itself in rebellion against God.

What can we learn from Hebrews 4:12 about this?

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The Way of Wisdom and the Way of Folly A Biblical Contrast


by Mike Ratliff

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)

As we live in a time of great deception, let us reflect on our Lord’s ways in contrast to the way of men. God’s ways are not man’s ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. No matter how high and lifted up we perceive that God is, He is higher. No matter how good we come to believe that we are, we are nothing compared to God. Without our Lord, we can do nothing.

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