The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal


 

by Mike Ratliff

15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NASB) 

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

What is a false prophet?


by Mike Ratliff

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:15-23 (NASB) 

The attack on Sola Scriptura is nothing new nor should we be surprised by the shrill and accusing voices of those whom seem bent on leading their adoring followers into greater and greater error and apostasy. This attack on the Word of God is first seen in Genesis 3 when our enemy asked of Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” This enemy has raised up his own false prophets and teachers since the fall who are bent on creating “alternate truths” and creating paradigms which are structured as counterfeits of the genuine Christian religion. These “alternates” come in a very large variety of forms and flavors. Each is designed to draw a group of people into error and cause their irreparable separation from God. This isn’t a very hard job since the natural man is born spiritually dead and has no ability to know God or His truth. Those our enemy targets with his most virulent lies, however, are the religious. He works continually to use his charlatan prophets and teachers to keep in darkness the religious who follow them. Continue reading

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come


by Mike Ratliff

1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 (NASB) 

Being Reformed in my theology, I adhere to the Sovereignty of God in all things. He keeps remnants of believers even in the most apostate of times. He always has pockets of genuine believers who know their Lord by His grace through the faith He gives no matter what darkness is attacking the Church. According the the passage I placed at the top of this post (1 Timothy 4:1), we see what the source is of the false doctrines propagated by apostate “Christian” leaders. That source, of course, is that they have been seduced by evil spirits and now they are following and teaching the doctrines of demons or devils. In this post we will look at the different epochs or eras that have not only come to attack the Church down through the ages, but have remained and are still with us now. They have accumulated now so that there is much overlap between them and this complicates the task of explaining these things to you my brethren. However, it is vital at this time that we take the covers off of what is hidden behind religiosity in order to direct our devotion to the Lord alone, not a local church or a pastor or a denomination or a certain set of religious rules or any other thing that are in actuality only distractions sent from the enemy to muddy the waters and draw believers into a from of Christianity that neither edifies us or glorifies God.  Continue reading

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood


by Mike Ratliff

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NASB) 

In the passage above the words “Put on” translate the Greek verb ἐνδύσασθε (endysasthe) the second plural, aorist middle imperative case of ἐνδύω (endyō) which means “clothe.” This is a command for believers to clothe themselves with the “full armor of God” and never take it off. Why? The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We ἐνδύσασθε this whole armor in order to stand firm in the evil day. Well, this is most definitely an evil day when truth is seen as something to be bargained away or shunned while lies and that which only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Therefore, we must become discerning and wise and that means we must consistently wear this armor.  Continue reading

Fruitfulness


by Mike Ratliff

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:1-8 (NASB) 

There is a form of man-centered theology that is called “vision-casting” or “vision-questing.” Beware of it, whatever those who do it call it. The crux of their theology goes something like this. God wants everyone to have a vision and so every Christian needs to try really hard to pursue a vision until it aches within them. Then they know its from God and then they need to run after it as hard as they can. What passages from the Bible do you suppose they use to support that? Well, since its not found anywhere in God’s Word, they attempt to use passages out of context to do that and then misrepresent Jesus completely alien from the His Holy nature that we are given in Scripture to one of being more like a servant of these people. There are some so-called “evangelicals” who not only have those who preach this stuff come and preach it to their people, but they go to their “churches” as if they are all part of the same good ol’ boy network of ‘evangelicals.’ I think not. Oh, they may all be part of the same good ol’ boy network, but that ‘group’ has nothing to do with the Church and genuine Christianity.  Continue reading

Come and see


by Mike Ratliff

45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46 (NASB) 

In the passage above, John 1:45-46, we see two of our Lord’s future Apostles, Philip and Nathanael, conversing. Philip finds his friend Nathanael and tells him that he and other friends have found “him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.” This is, of course, the Messiah. Then he tells him who he is, “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” What was Nathanael’s response? He asked a rhetorical question, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” What was Philip’s answer? It was the one we must all take to heart and make the foundation of how we approach both evangelism and apologetics. He said, “Come and see.”  Continue reading

Courage found to pray


by Mike Ratliff

27 For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 2 Samuel 7:27 (NASB) 

There is a difference between how a genuine believer should pray and how most professing Christians actually pray. Our perception is that we pray as we feel or desire or as the result of viewing both our needs and other’s needs. What we often overlook is that God is heavily involved in all aspects of our sanctification and that includes leading us in prayer. God loves those who are His and blessing them is part of His expression of that love. Continue reading

Life in the Spirit as heirs with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 Οὐδὲν ἄρα νῦν κατάκριμα τοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Romans 8:1 (NA28)

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to the ones in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

 Romans 8 is best understood after reading the Apostle Paul’s exposition of his own “wretched man” trapped in a “body of death” in Romans 7:14-25. 

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.  Romans 7:14-25 (NASB)

There are some who teach from this passage saying that it describes Paul’s life before Christ citing that this description is contrary to his own account or description of true believers in Romans 6 (cf. vv. 2,6,7,11,17,18,22) . However, as we read this passage it is obvious that this is a believer because he desires to obey God’s law and hates his sin. He is humble, recognizing that nothing good dwells in his humanness. He sees sin in himself, but not as all that there is, and he serves Jesus Christ with his mind. This very struggle was my desperate struggle for a couple of decades and I get private emails from many readers in the same boat, doubting the veracity of their salvation because they are in the same battle. Why are they in despair? Why was I in despair for so long? The churches, the religious systems of which we were part of told us in their pragmatism that there would be some point when we would outgrow this and reach some level of maturity and would no longer struggle like this. If that did not happen either we were very immature or not Christians at all. Continue reading

The law of liberty and the conscience


by Mike Ratliff

15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. Titus 1:15 (NASB) 

I am constantly amazed at the diversity I witness in the believers who interact with this ministry. This, of course, displays Christ’s power to bring together in unity dissimilar people from every place on this planet and from all walks of life. Part of our sanctification is dealing with our unredeemed flesh. God uses it to humble as well as teach us to fight the good fight. We will never be totally sinless as long as we have our flesh within us. Our enemy also works within our flesh to create division in an effort to split what God has unified. Much of the attack from him and his minions will be to foment conflict between mature believers and those who are not so mature. Also, he is always working in a effort to create self-confidence and self-righteousness in believers. He knows that when believers fall into that trap they are working from a base of pride rather than humility. Continue reading

Blind guides leading the blind


by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. John 1:14-18 (NASB)

In John 1:18 the Apostle tells us that no one has ever seen God, but the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us, that one, explained him. What got Jesus in hot water with the religious Jews during his earthly ministry? It was when he did that very thing and it was always in opposition to the presuppositions according to which the Scribes and Pharisees operated. They continually opposed our Lord’s ministry because they could not or would not see the true intent of God’s will as our Lord revealed as taught in the Old Testament. Because of this “blindness” our Lord called them blind guides and hypocrites. Let’s look at Matthew 15:10-20 then we will look at a current example of this same sort of blindness brought about by clinging to man-made presuppositions rather than obeying the Gospel and looking to the Word of God alone for God’s authoritative will for His church.  Continue reading

Christ the Judge


by Mike Ratliff

47 If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” John 12:47-50 (NASB) 

Ultimately, we find ourselves either under a judgment of condemnation or in a state of salvation. This is the consistent teaching of Scripture, particularly with respect to the last days. A final day is coming on which the dead will stand before God and the condemned will go off into everlasting contempt while the saved will go on to enjoy everlasting life (Daniel 12:1–2). Continue reading

When false shepherds preach error with assurance


by Mike Ratliff

6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. 1 Timothy 1:6-7 (NASB) 

There is a retort made in my direction more times than I can count when I have exposed a certain ministry or so-called Christian leader as saying or doing things that do not line up God’s Word in one or more ways. That retort is, “Well, I don’t believe it!” The standard for truth then becomes what they believe to be true rather than what God says is the truth. Christians are not immune from this my brethren. That is why we are commanded to stay immersed in God Word and be transformed through the renewal of our minds by that (Romans 12:2). Please carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (1 Timothy 1:6-7). What Paul is talking about in these verses are false teachers or shepherds who were preaching their error with assurance. Let us put that passage into context.  Continue reading

The Church, Unity, and Separation


by Mike Ratliff

5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. Titus 1:5-9 (NASB) 

It doesn’t take very long for me to discern whether the person I am dealing with through personal interaction is truly God’s man or woman or is a pretender.  That personal interaction is necessary for me to see the true nature and focus of the person. As we debate or discuss doctrinal or church issues or even secular issues it soon becomes very clear whether I am dealing someone who is walking according to the Lordship of Christ or is their own man or woman. Their values soon become apparent. All of us are in various stages of spiritual growth and repentance to be sure, but the mark of the washing of regeneration is there to be seen in all of God’s people that cannot be counterfeited. Of course, this is only discernable by those who are looking for it and then only through God’s testing fires.  Continue reading

Come soon Lord Jesus!


by Mike Ratliff

11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Revelation 3:11 (NKJV) 

3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV) 

It is one thing to say, “Come soon Lord Jesus!” and quite another thing to live as if you mean it. There are even some today who are of the “progressive” mindset that teach we should live this life with our focus on the here and now rather than eternity. Why? This is to create a better world or make this world a better place. However, I also tire of those who treat eschatology much like the world handles conspiracy theories always looking for the right combination of “signs” that our Lord’s return is imminent. I used to do that myself, but I do not do that very much anymore. Why? My focus is on living this life for the glory of God and that means I focus on my relationship between me and my Lord first and from that flows my relationships with everyone else. Yes, the sad shape of the visible Church grieves me and, to me, this is the most telling sign that our Lord’s return is imminent.  Continue reading