The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord


In Psalm 111, the prophet giveth thanks to the Lord for His merciful works toward His Church. He also declareth wherein true wisdom and right knowledge consistith.

Psalm 111
1 Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart in the assembly and Congregation of the just.
2 The works of the Lord are great, and ought to be sought out of all them that love them.
3 His work is beautiful and glorious, and his righteousness endureth forever.
4 He hath made his wonderful works to be had in remembrance: the Lord is merciful and full of compassion.
5 He hath given a portion unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.
6 He hath shewed to his people the power of his works in giving unto them the heritage of the heathen.
7 The works of his hands are truth and judgment: all his statutes are true.
8 They are established forever and ever, and are done in truth and equity.
9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and fearful is his Name.
10 The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord: all they that observe them, have good understanding: his praise endureth forever. – (Geneva Bible Psalm 111)

The prophet declares that he will praise God both privately and openly and from his heart that he has consecrated wholly and only to Him.

He professes that God’s works are sufficient cause wherefore we should praise Him, but chiefly His benefits towards His Church.

God has given to His Church all that was necessary for them and will do still more for His covenant’s sake.

As God promised to take the care of His Church; so in effect does He declare Himself just and true in His government of the same.

They only are wise that fear God, and none have understanding, but those that obey His Words which are His commandments.

The fruit of the fear of God


by Mike Ratliff

13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NASB)

The total lack of the fear of God is what marks the ungodly. (Romans 3:18) On the other hand, genuine believers in scripture are described as those who do fear Him. Tragically, when moral issues between professing Christians and the unchurched are compared there is very little difference. There is the same level of divorce, adultery, pornography, dishonesty; et cetera in both groups. This should not be so. Continue reading

Are you willing to suffer in the flesh for Christ’s sake?


by Mike Ratliff

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:17-24 NASB)

From the moment the Gospel was first preached, it has been under attack. Impostors have come along pretending to be genuine Christians or preachers or teachers and they have led many to destruction. Part of my planning for this post was research into The Down-Grade Controversy that Charles Spurgeon was engaged in for many years until his death. When I started this blog back in 2006 a group of bloggers resisted nearly everything I and the rest of the CRN team did. Many of them were part of the Christian Restoration Movement. Continue reading

The testimonies of Simeon and Anna


by Mike Ratliff

33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:33-35 NASB)

Apostates, false teachers, those who seek redemption via religion, tares, and goats, have overrun the Church in our time. Since the beginning these people have been part of the visible Church, but now it appears that they have captured it and hold it prisoner. Much of the blame for this belongs to those who should be coming of age to lead the Church who have been compromised by humanistic teachings that make being a minister a “career move.” As a result these people are leading their churches further and further away from the real Jesus to follow one of their own making. Continue reading

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon


by Mike Ratliff

25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond- servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32 NASB)

Genuine (saving) faith is not well understood by most professing Christians. I grew up as a Southern Baptist. However, I now prefer to think of myself as simply a Christian. I have learned that God saved me. I was not saved because I decided anything. Those whom God saves are given the faith to believe. When He does this they believe and are saved. Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Who is saved? Only those who believe are saved. How are they saved? Continue reading

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness


by Mike Ratliff

18 Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “ Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”
19 Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. 20 The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth- gilead? ’ And one said this while another said that. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him. ’ 22 The Lord said to him, ‘How? ’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. ’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so. ’ 23 Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.” (1 Kings 22:18-23 NASB)

There is not a day during the week that goes by without me becoming involved in a discussion with friends about this or that very well known “Christian” figure saying or doing something that reveals fruit of apostasy in their lives and ministries. It used to be a surprise and we all marveled, but not anymore. Oh, we mourn, and we wonder at who will be next, but we have learned that our rock is Christ not any man. We cling to the Cross and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, not the life and ministry of any man. I grew up a Southern Baptist and was a Deacon and Bible teacher in multiple SBC churches from the late 1980’s until we left our old church in 2006 when it was preparing to go Purpose Driven. During that time, I was quite acquainted with the SBC way of making celebrities of its superstar preachers and evangelists. This same thing is also found in other denominations and church groups I am sure. These superstars have become idols and have taken a place in these churches that should only be held in a place in the hearts of the people reserved for our Lord.  Continue reading

Unbelief begets deception


by Mike Ratliff

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “ A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:53-58 NASB)

As we continue to look at the evidence of God sending out a strong delusion upon professing Christians who appear to be running headlong into apostasy in ever increasing numbers let us look at what it is in these people that has brought this about. Why have they fallen into darkness and we have not? Not long ago I received a “comment/link” to one of my posts concerning this. The blogger there was insistent in his post that I was actually blaming God for the apostasy we were seeing. I have run into many with that sort of “mind-set” in my many years as a Bible teacher. I have always taught God’s Word as literal truth and there are many places in the Word that some professing Christians have a problem taking literally because, if we do, then it refutes their pet theology exactly to the point. That is the nature of God’s truth. I have had some very ugly discussions in Bible Study classes about doctrine in which certain people were insistent that a section of God’s Word cannot be taken literally even though the only refutation they have against doing so is human philosophy. This, my brethren, is unbelief in action. Continue reading

Everyone who hopes in Christ purifies himself or herself, as He is pure


by Mike Ratliff

28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.  (1 John 2:28-29 NASB)

There are two types of people in the world. There are God’s children and everyone else. One of the reasons I love to read the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation is that John, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:7), wrote very profound words that have no gray areas. Of course he wrote as the Spirit breathed these words through him, but God used this man’s entire makeup in that process. John was very pastoral, but he was also a Christian apologist of the highest order. He was one the three Apostles who made up the inner circle closest to our Lord during His earthly ministry. Before Jesus called him to be his disciple, he was a disciple of John the Baptist along with Andrew, Peter’s brother. Jesus called him and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. He had great faith, but like most of us, he could get full of himself and focus inward instead of humble and lined up with our Lord’s will alone. Continue reading

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it


by Mike Ratliff

11 The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
The world and all it contains, You have founded them. (Psalms 89:11 NASB)

The real work done via Diaprax by Leadership Network and those it sponsors such as Rick Warren is done in the background in a way that will not be obvious to the Church. Why? It is done this way because what is being done can only be accomplished via deception. If these people were upfront with what they were trying to accomplish, it would be stopped cold. However, we are now in a stage in their process where we see the carnage of apostasy with local church after local church all across this globe going the way of man-focused seeker-sensitivity, losing their eternal focus, and along with that, the Gospel itself. This was accomplished as a fruit of deceit. In the New Testament, the word that is translated from the Greek as “deceit” is δόλος or dolos. Our Lord Jesus lists δόλος as one of the sins that come out of the human heart in Mark 7:22. He stated about Nathanael that there is no δόλος in him in John 1:47. Paul and Peter also include δόλος in their list of vices (Romans 1:29; 1 Peter 2:1). Let’s face it, δόλος is serious to those who truly fear God. Of course, to those who have no fear of God, so what, right? Let’s take a closer look.  Continue reading

How important is obeying the words of Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. (James 1:22-24 NASB)

How important is obeying the words of Christ? This is, of course, the essence of Lordship. Jesus Christ is Lord. That is not just a title nor is it something we say to revere him nor is it part of some religious controversy. No, He is Lord over all. He is one in essence with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in the Hypostatic Union of the Holy Trinity. God is Sovereign and because of his role in the Hypostatic Union, his submission in humbling himself to become a man, the Messiah, his obedience to the Father’s will in all of this as well as keeping the Law perfectly, he also, at the perfect time ordained by the Father, laid down his life as the propititiation for those he came to save. Continue reading

Blasphemy and the hatred of the World


by Mike Ratliff

10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:10-13 NASB)

Receiving Christ’s Word and becoming like Him in our conduct will unavoidably mean being treated by the world in the way it treated Christ.

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14 NASB)

The believer is privileged to participate in the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10), and it is only as we are willing to bear His reproach and suffer for His sake that we are promised that we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Jesus Himself was blasphemously accused of being demon-possessed. They hated Him without a cause (John 15:25). The believer, like Christ, must be willing to be misunderstood and have his good works maligned. Since our best efforts in serving Christ are mingled with sin and human imperfection, it should come as no surprise that our motives and behavior will be misinterpreted because of our forthright identification with Him.

12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12 NASB)

A mark of the world is to call evil good and good evil.

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight. (Isaiah 5:20-21 NASB)

Continue reading

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


by Mike Ratliff

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NASB)

From the time God saved me in 1986 until He shoved me out of our church in Olathe, KS back in 2006 when it began going Purpose Driven, I was immersed in a form of evangelicalism that can best be described as the pastors and leadership of the churches we belonged to teaching and preaching in such a way so as to make all of us uncomfortable with how much we served and how much we gave. They even twisted it in such a way to say that to mature and grow so you can hear the voice of God Christians must make themselves uncomfortable, get busy, then God will speak to them. My brethren, this is not grace, this is not Gospel, it is pure Law. Our Lord has some good news for refugees from this sort of bondage.  Continue reading

What is Contemplative Prayer?


by Mike Ratliff

19 καὶ ἔχομεν βεβαιότερον τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον, ᾧ καλῶς ποιεῖτε προσέχοντες ὡς λύχνῳ φαίνοντι ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ, ἕως οὗ ἡμέρα διαυγάσῃ καὶ φωσφόρος ἀνατείλῃ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, 20 τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται· 21 οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη προφητεία ποτέ, ἀλλʼ ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι. (2 Peter 1:19-21 NA28)

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic Word to which you do well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing first that every prophecy of scripture is not of ones own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever brought by the will of man at any time, but men spoke from God being carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In these days where post-modernist thinking has contaminated nearly everything including deeply into the visible church, we must have clear understanding of what Contemplative Prayer, or CSM, really is. Some seemly very solid Christian leaders give it a pass as if it is just another form of Christian meditation, but is it? Let’s see.  Continue reading

The lovingkindness of God endures all day long


by Mike Ratliff

For the choir director. A Maskil of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul and said to him, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”

1 Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The lovingkindness of God endures all day long.
2 Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit.
3 You love evil more than good,
Falsehood more than speaking what is right.
Selah.
4 You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.
5 But God will break you down forever;
He will snatch you up and tear you away from your tent,
And uproot you from the land of the living.
Selah.
6 The righteous will see and fear,
And will laugh at him, saying,
7 “Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge,
But trusted in the abundance of his riches
And was strong in his evil desire.”
8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones. (Psalm 52:1-9 NASB)

No matter how far away from the light the visible Church drifts into apostasy and darkness, we must remain faithful and understand that God is sovereign. Those God gives over to their idolatry are spiritually blind. They cannot see that while they believe they are serving God they are actually walking in rebellion. It seems that at this time God is placing me in a position of reflection on His grace and His love and that neither of them will ever fail. We must pray for those in darkness and never stop telling them the truth. Perhaps God will have mercy on them and call them to come out of the Scarlet Woman, from darkness into the light. Continue reading