The cost of true discipleship


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. 19 Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20 Jesus *said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:18-22 (NASB) 

For the Christian, this life is a test as well as a proving ground in which God grows and matures those who belong to Him through pruning and removing what is not of Him in order that the believer will be humbled and, therefore, enter deeper into the process of becoming more Christlike. There is a cost of discipleship, but if you listen to certain preachers and teachers in our time, this is not true at all. Instead, what they teach is that repentance is not at all part of one’s salvation. However, repentance is a marker of Christian authentication. On the other hand, in the visible Church in our time there are many voices which seek to normalize homosexuality. However, to make this claim they must ignore what the Bible clearly teaches about what constitutes marriage (Genesis 2:24;1 Corinthians 7:8-9). Those who truly follow Jesus must do so on His terms, not the terms of this lost and dying world.  Continue reading

Purging the old man


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) 

God allowed me to teach in church this morning. It was the pastor’s class. There are 4 teachers and they rotate. One of the four had to be out of town so I was asked to fill in for him. We are working our way through Romans. When my turn came it was time to cover Chapter 12. I was asked to do this a week ago so I guess you know now why so many of my posts lately have been about what it means for Christians to be a living sacrifice acceptable to God which is our reasonable service. However, this morning we covered vv1-21. This is first time I have stood in front of a group in church to teach since 2013. I have led our small group Bible studies when we have met in our home, but that is not the same thing, at least not for me. I knew all the elders in the class and there were several people I knew and have known since the 1980’s, but there were also several people I did not know. I spent a great deal of time preparing for this class both in the Word and in prayer.

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Be a true worshipper of our Lord


by Mike Ratliff

1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7 Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” John 12:1-8 (NASB) 

I am convinced that most professing Christians are absolutely clueless when it comes to genuine worship of the Lord in spirit and in truth. The idea that going to a building once or twice a week to sing a few songs and listen to Bible lesson and a sermon constitutes genuine worship would be foreign to Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the early Church. Genuine worship is more than singing God glorifying songs or simply praying a prayer that someone else wrote. If it isn’t these things, then what is it? Continue reading

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God


by Mike Ratliff

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God? Psalms 42:1-2 (NASB) 

Spiritually healthy Christians have a deep desire to know God’s will thereby knowing where God wants them to be as well as doing what God wants them to do. Without a doubt, discovering God’s will commands more interest and arouses more anxiety among those spiritually healthy Christians than anything else. That desire is a sign of spiritual health. Why do they deeply desire this? They want to please God. At their regeneration, God gave them a love of obedience that is bolstered as they find joy in doing His will. Along with that, the very thought of offending God grieves them deeply. They deeply desire to live in a way that shows gratitude to God for His grace. He has given them this as their purpose in life. With each victory of obedience as they mortify their sin by His grace, this desire becomes stronger and stronger. Therefore, believers deeply desire to know God’s will so they may do it.

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The gifts of grace


by Mike Ratliff

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:3-8 (NASB) 

Born Again believers have a duty to God to give themselves unto Him completely as we saw in my post The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship. It is through becoming a living sacrifice that the believer’s sanctification precedes to the level of surrender. This process takes place as the Holy Spirit renovates the minds of these believers as they submit more and more to the Word of God in all parts of their lives. Those who are on this path of spiritual growth become ready for service.

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What is spiritual worship?


by Mike Ratliff

19 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:19-24 (NASB) 

In 2006 my wife and I left our old church in Olathe, Kansas because the leadership there began the processes to change it to the Purpose Driven Church model. There were warning signs that something was not quite right well over a year earlier. For instance, some couples had left the church because they wanted less “frivolous worship” and more Biblical preaching. About that time the Pastor created care groups. Each of the Deacons was given families to care for.

There is nothing wrong with that, but when I began calling those in my group I came across some of those families which had left. They were nice to me when I called, but firmly told me that they weren’t coming back. I asked the Pastor what was going on. He told me that those folks wanted “only Hymns” and no “Contemporary” music. I looked at him and suggested that perhaps we could have both. He just shook his head and said that nothing could be done and that I should just cross them off my list. Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The vast majority of people in this age of Evangelical churches are by-and-large spiritually immature, Biblically ignorant, and self-centered, therefore, these people are also no threat to our enemy and his kingdom because they fall for every wind of doctrine, are prey to the wolves who have invaded the church at every level and they believe the lies such as, “God wants all of you to be rich and healthy and to have your best life now.” There are also the lies subverting the Gospel to make it into a social gospel all about “social justice” or making the world a better place. I could fill this post up with examples of these and countless other subversions that derail God’s people and move them to be focused on the temporal rather than on the eternal. Those who are suffering under these delusions are self-focused rather than God-focused. Continue reading

Law


by Mike Ratliff

17 Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας· οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι. Matthew 5:17 (NA28)

17 Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I do not come to abolish, but to fulfill. Matthew 5:17 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I have been dealing with legalism in many different forms lately. In every one of those forms there are attempts to make our salvation dependent upon our works in one way or another. How are we to respond? Outrage is the goal of our enemy so that is not appropriate. Also, look at the havoc going on in our society right now with what some are calling the “outrage monster” taking control of them as they give themselves over to their passions. That being true, we certainly shouldn’t go that way. Our responses should always be Biblically based always seeking God’s Truth to shine into the darkness of our enemy’s lies.  In this post I will attempt to look at Law and Grace.

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We are his masterpiece, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God previously prepared that we should walk in them


by Mike Ratliff

10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. Ephesians 2:10 (NA28)

10 We are his masterpiece, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God previously prepared that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

The last few weeks on social media has been quite interesting for me. I left a couple of discussions groups I have been part of for years. I left because I could no longer bear the trollish behavior being allowed to dominate them. Also, late in the week I saw a strange post on a discussion group that I am part of that I hardly ever visit. It is run by a “friend” who has friended and unfriended me several times over the past few years so the word “friend” hardly defines our relationship. In any case the post pertained to a tweet made by radical Social Justice Warrior Jackie Hill Perry that said, “The ones who believe that Christianity is “The White Mans Religion” have actually believed the “White Mans” narrative. Christianity didn’t start in Europe nor did all black folk get introduced to Jesus for the first time on a plantation. Stop believing Massa & calling it history.” J.D. Hall at Pulpit and Pen responded with a tweet of his own, “Christianity is also not a religion belonging to militant, butch, black women. What’s your point?”

Now, on my “friend’s” group everyone was piling on to her outrage over J.D. Hall’s blunt response while ignoring the blatant heresy proclaimed in Jackie Hill Perry’s tweet. Me being me posted a comment that said pretty much that. Heresy is heresy. I didn’t know what J.D. Hall was trying to say with some of his language in his tweet at that time, but I knew and agreed with him that what Perry was saying was not to be defended by orthodox Christians. I was unfriended again about 5 minutes later. Later that evening J.D. Hall went online and explained everything, which made everything very plain for me at least. Here is a link to that.

The day I ran into all those tweets and got unfriended I did some research into Black Liberation Theology, Woke Christianity and social justice stuff that goes with it. From that came my post Black Liberation Theology, Woke Christianity and Racism. I didn’t receive very much push back on it like I expected I would. However, I did receive one comment that I refused to post because it violated the rules for commenting on my blog. The fellow who was commenting had a ministry in the inner city in which it was all about social justice. The Gospel to him was secondary to social justice. He even stated in his comment that the purpose of salvation, purpose of the Church by God was to bring about social justice. The reason I didn’t post his comment was his accusations that I was ignorant and did not do any research in coming up with the content of that post. If I had written a positive post about social justice I doubt if he would have cared. What those deceived people in the social justice movement, in whatever form, lack is an understanding of the necessary centrality of the the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that the good works that we are to walk in are those that we can do only by the grace of God as we shall see in the Bible Study below.

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Black Liberation Theology, Woke Christianity and Racism


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)

If you have read even a small percentage of my posts then you know I focus a great deal on defining and presenting the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I also focus on the Word of God as our source of God’s Truth, which is absolute. We also have defined faith and what God has done to save His people from their sins, which is the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation, perfect life, crucifixion, and resurrection. Continue reading

Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble


by Mike Ratliff

5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NASB) 

Humility was not considered a virtue in the ancient world any more than it is in our day and time. Oh, it is given lip service here and there, but what I have seen get the most attention from people is arrogance that is rooted in pride. When this is rampant in the world it is understandable, but when so-called Christian leaders become so puffed up with their own importance that they refuse to listen to any constructive criticism whatsoever nor will they change the course of their ministries in case they may damage their public image, well, those are men living according to the flesh not in the Spirit. The imperative in the passage above is not just for leaders. It is for all of us. We know this since it is in the context of being subject to our elders. Let’s look at it a bit closer. Continue reading

The Cross and its offense


by Mike Ratliff

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 9:30-33 (NASB) 

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ must always be offensive to the unregenerate. It is that offense that makes it clear to people that they have nothing with which to bargain with God. They are sinners lost with nothing to offer the one condemning them. The Gospel, the real Gospel preached with the Law, makes it clear that there is none righteous, no not one; but the Gospel shows that there is one and only one way to be reconciled to God, to be justified before Him. This is the Good News and that one way is via the Lord Jesus Christ alone. No one can work to earn or deserve salvation. No, this salvation is by God’s grace alone according to His divine election, according to His way alone. This is offensive. Let us look at Galatians 5:7-12 in which Paul makes the argument very clear to believers at Galatia who were being victimized by Judiazers making the claim that true salvation was not by Grace alone, but through Grace plus keeping the Jewish law.  Continue reading

Christian suffering in divine perspective


by Mike Ratliff

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB) 

On Facebook I have dropped out of nearly all of the discussion groups of which I have been a member for last several years. I am still a member of some, but those are tightly controlled by admins who do not tolerate troll behavior. On the other hand, those which I have left are loosely run and certain people have entered in with destructive agendas meant to divide us and cause much angst. I have witnessed outright attacks on people’s character and abandonment of the very purpose of these groups to pursue topics that bear no resemblance at all to why have come together for fellowship and discussion. Things have become so bad in some of these groups that I have obeyed the Spirit that is within me and simply left. To willingly remain in that environment is not spiritually healthy.  Continue reading

Living for God’s glory


by Mike Ratliff

8 “I am the Lord, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another,
Nor My praise to graven images. Isaiah 42:8 (NASB) 

3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,
‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.’”
So Aaron, therefore, kept silent. Leviticus 10:3 (NASB) 

God is far more serious about His glory than anyone else. Does it feel wrong to you that our God demands that we be humble before Him while also demanding that His creation exist solely to glorify Him? (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:4; John 8:29; Romans 8:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:9) If that concept rankles within your soul then it is imperative for you do some self-examination. Don’t feel too bad about that because all of us who are in Christ are in the process of becoming conformed unto the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29-30; Philippians 2:12-13) That process is called sanctification. (Romans 6:19-23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:3;1 Peter 1:2) Continue reading