by Mike Ratliff
16 ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. James 5:16 (NA28)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray on behalf of one another so that you may be cured. The petition of the righteous, being effective, has great power. James 5:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Prayer, to me, has always been a very personal thing. Yes, I have always admired those people who can pray those long eloquent prayers publicly, but I am not one of those. When I pray, I do so with a one-on-one between me and God. Of course, there is always Paul’s exhortation from 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
17 ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NA28)
17 unceasingly pray, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
That exhortation is talking about how we walk through each day, that is, with our focus being eternal rather than temporal. I, for one, believe that this is more important for me to do than learning how to pray long eloquent prayers in public. In any case, prayer is important and it is far more important to pray as James described, don’t you think?
by Mike Ratliff
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Matthew 10:24-25 (NASB)
When God saves a person, it is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life. No matter how many years that person lives in this life after that, that condition will not change. However, all those whom God saves are left to deal with their flesh in a demon infested temporal place that He uses to purify and mold them unto the image of their Saviour. This process is dealt with all through the New Testament and is referred to as fiery trials or tests. The journey from that moment of spiritual rebirth to the Celestial City is a pilgrimage along a narrow way through these tests and trials. The way is not bereft of problems, false brethren, false teachers, false prophets, pressure to conform to this Vanity Fair, pressure to dilute the pure truth from God’s Word, pressure to fit in with this lost and dying world, et cetera. It can seem at times that we are about to be destroyed by the very things God is using to perfect us and ready us for our eternity with our Saviour forever. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
God saved me in 1986, but that was by no means the beginning of the history of my Churchianity and religiosity. No, I grew up going to church. When I was in the U.S. Navy (June 1973-July 1976) I was stationed in Washington D.C. I was in a period of rebellion at that time in which I wanted nothing to do with “church” in any form. My family was all Southern Baptists, which is the dominant denomination in Oklahoma where I grew up. However, in 1975 I moved to a new apartment just off of Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia. There was a married couple on my floor that I became acquainted with over the next several weeks. They invited me to their church. It was in the District. I resisted for quite awhile, but finally agreed to go. It was nothing like “church” that I was used to. The focus was not on singing hymns nor were there long dry sermons making me feel guilty about my sins. Instead, the messages were “cool” and there was an actual band that performed on stage rather than a choir. The place was full of guys with long hair wearing jeans and sandals. The women dressed very casually. The place was packed. It also had something I had never seen in a church before. There was a bookstore right inside the entrance full of books that I had never heard of before written by men and women who were definitely not “mainstream.” Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.,Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
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?
by Mike Ratliff
20 ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ εὐθὺς μετὰ χαρᾶς λαμβάνων αὐτόν, 21 οὐκ ἔχει δὲ ῥίζαν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν, γενομένης δὲ θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ διὰ τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς σκανδαλίζεται. Matthew 13:20-21 (NA28)
20 And the seed upon the rocky places being sown, this one is like the one listening to the Word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but is only transitory, and when tribulation or persecution comes on account of the Word, immediately he falls away. Matthew 13:20-21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In the passage above, tribulation translates θλίψεως (thlipseōs) the genitive singular feminine case of θλίψις (thlipsis). This is a graphic word that literally means “to crush, press, compress, squeeze” and “is from thlaō, “to break.” We see θλίψις again in Matthew 24:21.
21 ἔσται γὰρ τότε θλῖψις μεγάλη οἵα οὐ γέγονεν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κόσμου ἕως τοῦ νῦν οὐδʼ οὐ μὴ γένηται. Matthew 24:21 (NA28)
21 For then there will great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now nor will it by any means happen again. Matthew 24:21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Here we have the Nominative, Singular, Feminine form of θλῖψις. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Matthew 13:20-22 (NASB)
The Bible very clearly teaches that Christians should examine themselves quite often in order to see what their spiritual condition is. Genuine Christians are not perfect people. Neither are they always full of happiness, in perfect health while having plenty of money in the bank. No, the fact that all believers are called to be humble, poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart and many other things that are growing in their character means that they will spend much of their time in the fires of sanctification.
It is during these times of pruning that believers are in the greatest danger of becoming despondent, discouraged, and even depressed if they have not learned to view their circumstances correctly.
Despite what many in the Easy-believism or Universalism camp teach, there are people who profess Christ who are not genuine. They are not regenerate nor do they have the Holy Spirit because they are not in Christ. Genuine Christians abide in Christ. They remain. They may go through the worst tribulation imaginable, yet they remain attached to the Vine. However, when tribulation descends on the disingenuous professing Christians they do not endure because they have no root in themselves. The world and the deceitfulness of riches cause some to fall away. These are not genuine believers. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30 (NASB)
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 (NASB)
justify | ˈjəstəˌfī | verb (justifies, justifying, justified) [with object] 1 show or prove to be right or reasonable: the person appointed has fully justified our confidence. • be a good reason for: the situation was grave enough to justify further investigation. 2 Theology declare or make righteous in the sight of God. 3 Printing adjust (a line of type or piece of text) so that the print fills a space evenly or forms a straight edge at one or both margins. DERIVATIVES justificatory | jəˈstifəkəˌtôrē, ˌjəstəˈfikəˌtôrē | adjective justifier | ˈjəstəˌfīr | noun ORIGIN Middle English (in the senses ‘administer justice to’ and ‘inflict a judicial penalty on’): from Old French justifier, from Christian Latin justificare ‘do justice to’, from Latin justus ).
sanctify | ˈsaNG(k)təˌfī | verb (sanctifies, sanctifying, sanctified) [with object] set apart as or declare holy; consecrate: a small shrine was built to sanctify the site. • make legitimate or binding by religious sanction: they see their love sanctified by the sacrament of marriage. • free from sin; purify. • cause to be or seem morally right or acceptable: ancient customs that are sanctified by tradition. DERIVATIVES sanctification | ˌsaNG(k)təfəˈkāSH(ə)n | noun sanctifier | ˈsaNG(k)təˌfī(ə)r | noun ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French saintifier (influenced later by sanctifier), from ecclesiastical Latin sanctificare, from Latin sanctus ‘holy’.
From the Apple Dictionary Version 2.2.2 (203) Copyright © 2005–2017 Apple Inc.
All rights reserved.
The theological climate in the “visible church” today has taken on the characteristics of a free-for-all. Most professing believers’ Bible knowledge is extremely shallow. On top of that we are also in a period of intellectual barbarianism which is marked by relativism. This causes the truth to be perceived as unknowable. Those holding this form of thinking refuse to believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. In this intellectual climate it is little wonder that false prophets and false teachers can lead so many astray simply by saying what people want to hear. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
19 Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν· 20 θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν· 21 ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου.
22 Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται· 23 ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον.
24 Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν· ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει. οὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ. Matthew 6:19-24 (NA28)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon the earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in nor steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
22 “The eye of the body is the eye. If, therefore, your eye is healthy, your whole body will be enlightened. 23 But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
24 “No one is able to serve two masters; for either the one he will hate and the other he will love, or one he will hold to and the other he will despise. You are not able to serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:19-24 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Our Lord Jesus was the most powerful and best expositor of God’s Word that believers have ever had. He spoke only the truth and he never taught anything from any motive other than that which is the will of God. We are to follow his example in every part of our lives. In the passage above, in v22, the word “healthy” translates the Greek adjective ἁπλοῦς (haplous). Is healthy a deep enough or strong enough definition for us to grasp what our Lord was teaching here? If we look at the context it is obvious that he is making a contrast between people with a “healthy eye of the body” with those who do not. What does this mean? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2 (NASB)
It is impossible to walk through one’s day without having to make judgments. In fact our Lord Jesus who made the oft misquoted and misunderstood command found in Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37 to “Do not judge!” also made the following command.
14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
19 “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. 22 For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:14-24 (NASB)
by Mike Ratliff
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 5:19-22 (NASB)
God has called His people to discernment. If you listen to many so-called Christians in our time, you would think the very opposite. In fact, to question the veracity of someone’s teaching is considered the ultimate case of uncouthness in these so-called postmodern times. I find it very interesting that this concept works only in one direction. These who hold to this sort of “ministry” are very quick to point fingers at those of us who do proclaim that God’s Word is The Truth and we are all called to obey Him. We are seen as being immersed in legalism when we draw lines that are precise and unyielding based entirely from clear biblical teaching. However, those of us who do this are anything but that. Instead, we are being obedient to what God tells us to do in His Word. We must test every spirit. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 Ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ προσῆλθον οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ λέγοντες· τίς ἄρα μείζων ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν; 2 καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος παιδίον ἔστησεν αὐτὸ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν 3 καὶ εἶπεν· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν μὴ στραφῆτε καὶ γένησθε ὡς τὰ παιδία, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. 4 ὅστις οὖν ταπεινώσει ἑαυτὸν ὡς τὸ παιδίον τοῦτο, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ μείζων ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν. 5 καὶ ὃς ἐὰν δέξηται ἓν παιδίον τοιοῦτο ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου, ἐμὲ δέχεται.
6 Ὃς δʼ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων εἰς ἐμέ, συμφέρει αὐτῷ ἵνα κρεμασθῇ μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ καταποντισθῇ ἐν τῷ πελάγει τῆς θαλάσσης. Matthew 18:1-6 (NA28)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:1-6 (NASB)
The Bible is the Word of God. It is inerrant, inspired, and our final authority for faith and life. The Bibles we have in our day are translations of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. These translations are rendered into most languages of the earth in our time. When we study the Bible, dig into God’s Word to know Him and His ways then He will bless us with knowledge as He gives us wisdom, discernment, and direction. As our minds are renewed through this as well as through the hearing of godly preaching, teaching, and coming to terms with the extent of God’s grace permeating our lives, we do not become prideful, arrogant, or self-focused for very long. Why? As we become more mature in Christ, we also acquire more and more of His character. That means we will have the proper perspective of our place in God’s Kingdom. This place is not at the head. Instead, it is in total submission to the will of God. It is a humble place to be. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ Judges 7:2 (NASB)
This walk before the face of God is fraught with difficulty and pain. No one who is His will pass through this life unscathed by affliction, perplexity, persecution, and even being struck down. That may fly in the face of much of the teaching in the Church in our time, but the reality is that Genuine Christians walk through this life being molded and conformed unto the image of Christ. That process is quite painful because much of what is the Christian is chiseled and burned away via the fires of sanctification. As the image of Christ is burned into us, we must remember that whatever is afflicting us will not crush us. What is perplexing us will not result in God forsaking us. Whatever has struck us down will not destroy us. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15 (NASB)
False prophets have infiltrated the Church since the very beginning. Also, disingenuous professors have always plagued churches. There has not been a time when the church has been free from enemies within. However, in our time the church is the sickest it has ever been. False prophets beget false doctrine, the doctrine of demons, for the false believers that flock to them. Sound Doctrine is no longer tolerated. Expository preaching and teaching is ignored or shouted down. This is happening not between Christians and non-Christians, but between professing Christians in the “name” of Christ. As a result of the “visible church” becoming more and more like the world, it has also begun to take on the insanity of “Political Correctness” and “Cultural Marxism”. As a result of this pollution, those in the “visible church” who are contaminated by these things also demand, “No Offense to Anyone,” that is, except those who hold solid doctrine. Continue reading