Are you walking in the light?


by Mike Ratliff

1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 NASB)

On this last day of 2014 looking back on the themes of the posts the Spirit has led me to write and post this year, especially in these last few weeks, I have never been more convinced that God’s people are being called to draw nearer to Him, to examine their walks with Him and, from that, come to a deeper and fuller understanding that God’s truth is knowable and also that we will be held accountable for how we handle it.

Also, His truth is as His attributes and character. He is immutable. His truth is never changing. He is Holy. His truth is Holy, separate from the corruption of the world. His truth, the Word of God, is precise. It supernaturally divides man’s “truth” and understanding from God’s genuine truth. It is sharper than a two edged sword.

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Test every spirit


by Mike Ratliff

16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NASB)

CSM is an acronym for “Contemplative Spiritual Meditation.” It is a perverse melding of Christian prayer with Eastern mysticism. Bottom line, those who are behind this are deceived. They have been taken in by deceptive spirits because they have not “tested” every spirit, but have, instead, eagerly sought spiritual influences from outside the Church. The Word of God expressly warns believers against this sort of thing. In this post I would like to unpack 1 John 4:1-6 which does indeed address this. Continue reading

Let him be anathema


by Mike Ratliff

23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘ There He is, ’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:23-24 NASB)

I have been a Christian since January 1986. I had just turned 34 in October so I was an adult with a wife and children when God had mercy on this sinner. However, I grew up in a “Christian” home going to church every Sunday until I grew up and went my own way. I know that Christians are commanded to be forgiving, kind, and gentle with others. However, we are also commanded to stand firm and withstand false teachers and their doctrines. When I began writing and blogging as an extension of my teaching ministry, I soon experienced a very rude awakening. When I wrote about things that were experiential and not tied to any specific doctrines no one seemed to care, but the closer I came to that dividing line that separates God’s Truth from everything else, the attacks of every sort seemed to descend on me from every direction. The more precise I came in laying out what is true from that which is not true, the angrier many of my so-called brethren became. It seems the way to ‘get along’ in the visible church is to accept the default form of Christianity and never, even if you have irrefutable Biblical truth to the contrary, teach against it. The one who does that is labeled as divisive as well as an enemy of Christian unity. But this stance is all one-sided. We are divisive for publishing God’s pure doctrines, but those who hold to man-made doctrines are allowed to say anything they want about us. It is as if they have free speech, but we do not.

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The Hermeneutic of Humility


by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self- control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB)

The lack of tolerance within the visible church for the exclusivity of the genuine Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is rooted in the “Hermeneutic of Humility.” Even amongst some pretty solid Christians that I am close to, I have noticed that pained or shocked look on their faces when they hear me succinctly define the Gospel the way our Lord Jesus did and the way the Apostle Paul did. These reactions are rooted in the “Hermeneutic of Humility,” which is a way of looking at our faith and interpreting the very Word of God through a filter that sees certainty as a product of pride and uncertainty as a virtue. It looks so humble to these people when they hear a Christian leader say that they don’t know the full truth about this or that, but as far as they know, “blah…blah…blah.” These people contend that to be certain divides people while uncertainty creates an environment of unity. I have been accused of being filled with pride over the last several years so many times by some people because I will not agree with their interpretation of scripture or whatever. My brethren, our God does not give us His truth in shades of gray. He tells us succinctly what is truth and what is not. The Gospel, for instance, is very well defined and those who insist on a variegated version of it do so because they view certainty as divisive and uncertainty as being truly humble and uniting.  Continue reading

Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost


by Mike Ratliff

14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:“Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘ And it shall be in the last days, ’ God says, ‘ That I will pour forth of MY Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even on MY bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of MY Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19 ‘ And I will grant wonders in the sky above And signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20 ‘ The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21 ‘ And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21 NASB)

Thus began the Apostle Peter’s sermon following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost just 10 days following our Lord’s Ascension. I am going to walk through this sermon with you so that we can see how the Gospel works when preached with power and with the right focus. Who is being glorified in vv14-21 above? Is it the preacher Peter? Is it those prophesying? Is it those responding? No, it is God who is causing this to happen through the moving of His mighty hand. What will be the result as Peter summarizes in v21? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Here is that verse from Greek, “και εσται πας ος εαν επικαλεσηται το ονομα κυριου σωθησεται.” The NASB’s rendering of “calls on” translates επικαλεσηται the Aorist, Subjunctive, Middle form of ἐπικαλέομαι or epikaleomai, which, in this context, is making use of the name of the Lord in adoration as Lord and Saviour. This is a turning to Him for salvation from the hour of judgment and wrath to come. That is how Peter opens his sermon. Let us see the rest. Continue reading

Who enters into the Lord’s rest?


by Mike Ratliff

7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, 9 “When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. 10 “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. 11 “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest. (Psalms 95:7-11 NASB)

Those who insist that we are in a ‘post-evangelical era’ and must, therefore, radically alter not only how we do church in order to reach unbelieving people in our time, also insist that this must be accompanied by a toning down of one’s Christian convictions about the truth. We are told that the culture we are in now will not respond to those who are militant, aggressive, preachy, and extremely sure of their convictions. I ask, since when has pragmatism become how the Gospel works? Did Jesus preach and teach pragmatically or did what He taught cause a huge division between those who believed and those who didn’t? You know the answer to that. He pulled no punches. The reality of His ministry was the epitome of God’s ways not being man’s ways. All we are told to do until our Lord returns is make disciples, teaching them all that He has taught us. In the meantime we are to abide in Christ, love one another, deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus. We are to be the antithesis of world and its ways, not conforming to it in how we minister. Continue reading

How far should Christians go in coexisting with other religions?


by Mike Ratliff

13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Peter 3:13-20 NASB)

Genuine Christianity cannot coexist with any other religion. God has given us the tenets of our faith and they are mutually exclusive with the claims of all other religions. There can be no peace between them and true Christianity because once compromise has taken place here then what remains is something less and no longer true. We are called to live our lives in the flesh here in the temporal, but with entirely different motives than non-Christians. The confusion about this exists because what passes for Christianity, for the most part, in our time has been compromised. The world has been welcomed in in various ways at different levels and the professing Christians within are far more concerned about their temporal existence rather than obeying God in all things for His glory.  Continue reading

Responding to false accusers biblically


by Mike Ratliff

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 NASB)

Christian apologetics and discernment are very serious things. It is very easy to incorporate the ways of the world into method and focus in this. When this happens then attacks on professing Christians come from an impure motive. This then causes the ones making the accusations to use slander, speaking evil against their target falsely. They revile the Christian, persecuting him and his ministry using innuendo. They have no real evidence that their accusations are true. Guilt by association is their bludgeon and their usage is meant to deceive many into believing their false report. How are we to balance this? We must continue to stand firm and, using the discernment given to us by God, expose false shepherds. It must begin with godliness.  Continue reading

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, and I will give you rest


by Mike Ratliff

37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “ If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. ’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 NASB)

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-12 NASB)

Hell is real. All who do not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity there. Those who repent and believe are those who ‘come to Jesus to drink.’ They believe as the Holy Spirit is poured out on them to the point that their lives are taken over by Him. Those who do will never experience hell. Instead, they come to Jesus and find rest for their souls. Those who do this are poor in spirit. They mourn for their sins. They are not proud, but meek. In their growing godliness they hunger and thirst for Christ’s righteousness to become manifest in them. They become more and more Christlike, therefore, they take on His character. They show mercy as He does. They become more and more pure of heart. They remove themselves from seeking their own. Instead, they become those who live to bring others to their Lord. Conversely, this holy and separate life does not cause them to find peace in the world. No, instead they are persecuted for righteousness sake. Continue reading

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?


by Mike Ratliff

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, “ When it is evening, you say, ‘ It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. ’ 3 And in the morning, ‘ There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening. ’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. 5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “ He said that because we did not bring any bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “ You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? 10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? 11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:1-12 NASB)

The Church in our time did not descend suddenly into the level of apostasy we see all around us now. No, it actually began many generations ago when Christian leaders who compromised God’s Truth were tolerated or not dealt with through Church discipline as instructed in God’s Word. With each compromise comes a bit more heart hardening and a dullness of Spirit in their churches so that eventually true Biblical discernment becomes rare. Those who have not compromised are the minority while those who are walking in spiritual darkness view them as divisive, self-righteous, and judgmental. Why? These with discernment stand firm and rebuke those who teach what is not Biblical as if it is the truth while teaching against Biblical truth as if it is false.  Continue reading

Jesus Christ’s Authority


by Mike Ratliff

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “ All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 NASB)

Jesus Christ is Lord of all of each of His people. Christians do not make Him Lord in order to be saved because He is Lord. Those who claim to be Christians, but refuse His Lordship are not genuine Christians. That is very sobering isn’t it? It is supposed to be. Those are Jesus Christ’s own words about the nature of those who are and aren’t His disciples. There are some in the pulpit these days who treat Jesus as if He is just an add on their ministries. Several years ago I wrote a piece on evangelism and how it is God working through His people to do this work. The direction is Him working through us instead of us working and including God. However, I received one comment that stated what a “neat thing” it was when we included God in our evangelistic efforts. That bothers me to this day. Sigh…  Continue reading

Our Lord’s Parousia


by Mike Ratliff

19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NASB)

In my biblical research in order to answer the claims of Universalists, I have found that much of their “doctrine” comes from a mishandling of Sacred Scripture, especially those passages dealing with the state of the dead in Christ and who makes up those who meet the Lord in the air at his παρουσια or parousia or arrival or coming or presence. In this post we will look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and attempt to unpack Paul’s statement about our Lord’s παρουσια.  Continue reading

Wisdom from the Holy Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

4 For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. (Isaiah 64:4 NASB)

Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: ec·u·men·i·cal
Pronunciation: \ˌe-kyə-ˈme-ni-kəl, -kyü-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin oecumenicus, from Late Greek oikoumenikos, from Greek oikoumenē the inhabited world, from feminine of oikoumenos, present passive participle of oikein to inhabit, from oikos house
Date: circa 1587
1 : worldwide or general in extent, influence, or application 2 a : of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches b : promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation
ec·u·men·i·cal·ly \-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Ecumenicalism is just a word, however, its usage in these last days has come to mean much more than a term referring to the promotion or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation as we see in the dictionary definition. To the ecumenicists, it states that Christianity is the same regardless of definition of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, that is not even mentioned. Instead, they focus on calling those who attempt to emulate Christ’s humanism or good works their brothers. This has to be because those who come together as “one” to stand against certain political or cultural issues actually claim to hold to doctrines that are mutually exclusive. This difference is that they actually doctrinally contradict each other. However, as we see with the the recent actions of Rick Warren with his declaration that the Pope is the “Pope of all Christians,” for example, the ecumenicists are willing to overlook these differences as if they are negotiable.  Continue reading

The Privileges of the Lord’s sheep


By Mike Ratliff 

7 So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:7-9 NASB)

On this blog we spend quite a bit of time looking at doctrine, heresies, apostasy, et cetera, but not enough time looking at the incredible privileges Christians have and why they have them. We must obey our Lord in standing firm against the forces of darkness, but we should also take the time to reflect on who we really are in Christ. The mind of Christ includes this my brethren and we should not neglect it. Why? It is as we learn the truth of who we are in Christ that we also gain the right perspective of God and His sovereignty. Continue reading