Assurance of Salvation


by Mike Ratliff

10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 2 Peter 1:10 (NASB) 

How can we know if we are truly in Christ? Or you may ask, “What is the fruit which genuine believers bear?” If true salvation is as impacting on a believer’s life as we contend then there should be verifiable evidence or fruit manifested in that life. The problem is in knowing what evidences really prove the presence of God in a person’s life and those that do not. I have noticed most of us look at the wrong things in our self-evaluations to determine if we are in Christ. Real evidence of the presence of God in a person’s life will be the fruits of salvation. These fruits will in turn lead to outward manifestations of “goodness” or “religiosity” which, unfortunately, can be counterfeited. These outward manifestations are often what we look at to determine if we are a “good Christian” or not. That is a fallacy. Any activity or attitude that can be counterfeited by a false believer cannot be used to verify one’s salvation. Continue reading

False Prophets and Teachers


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, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NASB) 

In these last days, there appears to be a clarifying work of God going on in within the Visible Church. In the early church and in all those historic periods when it was not “comfortable” to be counted among those who named Christ as their Lord and Saviour, the genuine believers were easy to spot. They endured. They may have undergone severe persecution even unto death, but they did not fall away. Since the end of Puritanism, Christianity has taken on a role in the West that ensured religious freedom. Humanism began to encroach upon doctrine and in every aspect of how Church was done. Despite bright spots in this period such as the Great Awakening and then later the ministries of men like Charles Spurgeon, a downgrade in doctrine began to emerge into the Church. Humanism begat Liberal Theology which devastated the Church. A backlash against it called Fundamentalism was born. It was a move away from Liberal Theology, but it’s doctrines bore the stamp of legalism in many areas. This caused a backlash in the opposite direction that begat the emergent church movement and the New Evangelism.  Continue reading

Who is the antichrist?


by Mike Ratliff

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 1 John 2:18-20 (NASB) 

The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church says that it is the only true church while all others are false. At the same time most solid evangelical Christians I know hold to the truth that the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is an “antichrist.” The word that is translated from the Greek that is rendered as “antichrist” in the New Testament is ἀντίχριστος (antichristos). It is made up of two words, ἀντί(anti), which means “instead of or against,” and χριστος(christos), which means “anointed one.” The ἀντί prefix may be reference to “substitution or opposition.” The word ἀντίχριστος is found only in 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, and 2 John 1:7. Paul refers to a man whom he calls “the man of sin, the son of perdition, and wicked one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8. He refers to “the one opposing” in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Most believe that John’s ἀντίχριστος is the same man that Paul is referring to. This man will attempt to assert the fulfillment of God’s Word in himself and will attempt to set up his own throne.

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Christ is both God and man


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 (NASB)

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. John 1:14 (NASB)

If we listen to some today it is as if the Incarnation of Christ was to show Man how to live in such a way that there would be no war, no hunger, no sickness and that the Earth be recovered back to the pristine state of Creation. Was this His mission? If you go to any secular book store either such as Barnes and Noble or even Amazon.com and browse the religious/theology section you will find a large number of books that attempt to blend Jesus Christ into all religions or even non-religious causes. I found one recently that was a supposed list of the parallel sayings of Buddha with those of Christ.  Continue reading

If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free


by Mike Ratliff

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32 (NASB) 

Legalism is something that is not as easy to define as we first think it is. Many definitions talk about a system of laws that must be obeyed in place of simply belief in order to have salvation or eternal life. However, I contend that there is a form of legalism that most of us are guilty of committing in our interrelationships with other believers. That legalism is that we try to force others to submit to us in one-way or another. We become a law unto ourselves. If we take this to an extreme then we will find ourselves using threats or even extortion to get others to bow to our will. When those we are abusing refuse to submit we label them as proud, arrogant, or worse when all along they are simply refusing to, perhaps, not compromise the truth. They may be only responding in self-defense against accusations of which they know that they are guiltless. Soon, they are in a no-win scenario. If they defend themselves then they are accused even more. If they give in then they admit to a lie and that is abhorrent. If they walk away then they will be quickly accused of being proud, arrogant, and dishonest. What must they do?

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The Source of True Joy


by Mike Ratliff

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.’
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:21-25 (NASB) 

Most Christians are seeking joy and are, perhaps, perplexed because their circumstances are anything but joyful. Our Lord gave us the example through the way He walked throughout His earthly ministry in which we are given what true joy is and how we must live in order to obtain it. The following passage is right in the middle of that part of John’s Gospel dealing with the Samaritan woman at the well.  Continue reading

Unity in the Body of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB) 

While the most common accusation against those who are considered in the “discernment ministry” is that their expositions cause disunity amongst the brethren, the call from the Word of God is not unity at all costs, but unity within the Body of Christ in the Spirit in the bond of peace. The key to having unity among Christians is not that all claim to be Christians, but that the Holy Spirit bestows oneness within all true believers through which He creates a bond of peace that is godly love for one another. Continue reading

Wheat and Tares


by Mike Ratliff

9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:9-15 (NASB) 

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Matthew 13:24-30 (NASB) 

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:36-43 (NASB) 

Several years ago a preacher asked me what a tare was. He knew that I was from Oklahoma and he thought I would know. I am no country boy, but when I was a young man, I worked in a grain elevator. Actually, most wheat farmers I knew complained about a weed, which grew in their fields, they called “Cheat.” I may not be spelling it correctly. I have seen the weed though. Wheat looks like a thick-bladed grass when it is young and green. “Cheat” is a native rye grass whose species name is Lolium Temulentum. When it is young, it looks just like the Wheat. However, when it matures, it has a head on it as does Wheat, but you can tell them apart. Wheat has value, but “Cheat” is a nuisance. We offered a Wheat cleaning service to farmers just prior to planting. To clean Wheat seed we ran it through a screening process to remove any other seeds that were not Wheat. We would drop the grain down a chute into a cleaning machine that had several well-placed screens that allowed only the Wheat grains to make it through the process. The rest of the chaff and weed seeds were waste, which we bagged. Some of the farmers took that waste and fed it to their chickens. Continue reading

True Godliness Comes Only From True Contentment


by Mike Ratliff

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 (NASB) 

I heard a rhetorical question in an interview with R.C. Sproul several years ago. He wondered aloud why so many liberal theologians entered “the ministry” when all they were about was denying the veracity of Sacred Scripture and, therefore, the deity of Christ. I remember pondering this as I thought of all those liberals who professed to be Christians using their “ministries” to effect social change. I also thought of those in their very public ministries perverting the Grace of God in order to become rich. Paul describes both groups of people succinctly in 1 Timothy 6:3-5.  Continue reading

The Sower and the Soils


by Mike Ratliff

1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:1-9 (NASB) 

There’s something about Jesus’ parables that has always fascinated me. I have heard “stories” from others that were designed to drive home some relevant point, however, our Lord’s parables are succinct and not only drive home His point, but reveal mighty truths straight from God to our hearts. The parable of the sower is not only important and relevant, it is vital for our post-modern Church to understand. Our complacent society has infiltrated the Church. No one seems to have an attention span longer than a few seconds. If some entertainment feature isn’t before our eyes or pounding into our ears, then panic sets in because our hearts are desperate for fulfillment, yet we are lazy and addicted to media, games, or music which tie directly into our flesh bound souls. Continue reading

The Authority of the Christ of God


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, or He is not Lord at all. 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 are not 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. Sigh… Pause right there and think about that. Many pastors would reject that as a description of their ministries, however, they inadvertently promote that very thing by using flip language about Christ. To what extent does a degraded view of Jesus in ‘evangelical’ churches start with pastors calling Jesus things like ‘dude’, ‘homeboy’, ‘co-pilot’, ‘boss’ and ‘buddy’? It’s not a far leap from these nicknames to say “Oh well, Jesus is just like me” on to “Well, maybe Jesus did sin like me” or “He was just a great man”. Dan Brown’s view of Jesus seems more likely to an unbeliever after hearing the name of Jesus being used this way by pastors doesn’t it?

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Be Filled by the Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 (NASB) 

What does it mean for a Christian to be “filled” by the Holy Spirit? In Ephesians 5:18 (above) the preposition “with” renders the Greek word ἐν (en), “in, with, by, among, at, on, when, to, as, for, through, while, within, of, about, into, because, during, throughout, before, under.”  As Louis Sperry Chafer said, “It is not a matter of acquiring more of the Spirit, but rather of the Spirit of God acquiring all of the individual.”1 The believer who is Spirit-filled is influenced by the Spirit and nothing else while those who are not, are more influenced by the temporal. To be filled by the Spirit is to have our thoughts, desires, values, motives, goals, priorities, and all else set on spiritual things and spiritual growth.  Continue reading

Unbelief, Disobedience, and Hatred


by Mike Ratliff

24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ John 15:24-25 (NASB) 

Let us never forget that those of us who stand for God’s Truth not only being knowable, but binding on all, are in a serious war. This is not a skirmish or a battle. It is a war as per John MacArthur’s book The Truth War. In it, he exposes the tremendous battle that is being fought over what is truth and what isn’t. The Church is wounded and compromised to an extent greater than most of us can imagine. The liberals who are part of those attacking the absolute truth we love and defend have said that the primary purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was not to provide a way for His people to be saved from their sins, but to show people how to be Kingdom people or to have a better life right now. They make the message sound so right and our flesh loves that message, but it isn’t Biblical. This statement is nothing more than unbelief packaged as an alternative truth designed to deceive people into discounting the truth from God’s Word thereby keeping them in darkness. It should be clear that this is a direct attack on the Gospel.

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Saving Faith is a Self-Renouncing Faith


by Mike Ratliff

24 Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. 25 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δʼ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν. Matthew 16:24-25 (NA28)

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If someone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, 25 for whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message given to be passed on as “Good News” of the completed word of Christ on behalf of those he came to save. The message is about his incarnation, his perfect life, his death on the cross, his three days and nights in the tomb, and his resurrection. All of these things were attested to by witnesses. The resurrection is the proof that our Lord is God and that the work of the Atonement is complete.  Those who hear the Gospel, believe it, receive it by grace through faith and repent as they turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour. As is made clear in Ephesians 2:1-10, there is no one is able to do this on their own, God must intervene making then alive in Christ who were once dead in their sins so they could believe and be saved.  Continue reading