Termites


by Mike Ratliff

10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Romans 14:10-13 (NASB) 

Without a doubt, there is a growing apostasy in the Church. One of the main reasons this is taking place is that the majority of professing Christians have adopted the pervasive attitude in modern Western culture that says authority to determine right and wrong resides in the individual. Combine this with a critical spirit in one person and we have one who not only believes that truth is whatever he or she determines it is, but they also seem to take great pleasure in hypocritically judging others just as our Lord commanded us not to do (Matthew 7:1-6).  Continue reading

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life


by Mike Ratliff

25 εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, 26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. πιστεύεις τοῦτο; John 11:25-26 (NA28)

25 Jesus said to her, “I am The Resurrection and The Life; the one believing in Me, even if he should die will live, 26 and everyone living and believing in Me never dies into the age. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at our Lord’s final and ultimate messianic sign. John also bluntly contrasted our Lord’s spectacular, uncontested miracle with the evil intent of the Jewish religious leaders who resolved to arrest Jesus and kill not only Him, but Lazarus whom our Lord raised from the dead. John also reveals their self-centered motivations for this later in John 11:45-57. In this post we will look at John 11:1-44.  Continue reading

The Mortification of Sin – Modernized Version


by Mike Ratliff

Several years ago I did a series on John Owen’s wonderful book, The Mortification of Sin. While a great number of people participated in that study they also struggled with John Owen’s 17th Century English. He was a wonderful preacher of God’s Word and a gifted teacher. He was also mightily used by God throughout his ministry, but in our time what he was teaching seems to have been largely ignored and lost. I have so many believers contact me wanting to know how to deal with their besetting sins and their inability to turn away or kill some sin problem. John Owen had the answer, which, of course, comes directly from God’s Word. Continue reading

Missing the Mark


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 (NASB) 

In the passage above, the word “sins” translates the noun ἁμαρτιῶν, which is the Genitive, Plural of ἁμαρτία (hamartia), from the verb ἁμαρτάνω (hamartanō), which means, “to miss the mark.” The word group from which these two words belong gives the sense of missing the mark, losing, or falling short of a goal (particularly a spiritual one), as in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” The noun form, ἁμαρτία, typically refers to the transgression of the law, for example, 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, ἁμαρτία is used to denote our sin against God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, ἁμαρτία results in death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 6:23). Continue reading

Drawing Near Unto God


by Mike Ratliff

7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” Matthew 15:7-9 (NASB)

What does it mean biblically to draw near to God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:

22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (NASB) 

Here is Hebrews 10:22 from the NA28 Greek text, “προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ·”

The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the Present tense, Subjunctive mood, Middle voice, 1st person, plural of προσέρχομαι (proserchomai), “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.  Continue reading

The Religious Are Not Immune From Being Carnal


by Mike Ratliff

63 τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν τὸ ζῳοποιοῦν, ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν· τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λελάληκα ὑμῖν πνεῦμά ἐστιν καὶ ζωή ἐστιν. John 6:63 (NA28)

63 The Spirit is who makes alive. The flesh does not profit anything. The words which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life. John 6:63 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Apart from my normal preparations and Bible study to put these devotions and articles together, I also do a systematic read through of the Bible every year. Today I read 2 Kings 12-16 and John 6, which, on Saturdays, I usually do from my 1560 Edition of the Geneva Bible. The rampant apostasy in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was horrifying to read. King Ahaz of Judah actually sacrificed his own son(s) to idols. I am sure things were just as bad, if not worse, in the Northern Kingdom. It was almost with relief that I came to the end of 2 Kings 16 and went to the New Testament. However, the Apostle John is someone I can identify with very well. I have been accused by many who know me well of not being able to compromise at all. I have no grey areas. Things are either right or wrong. I agree with that assessment to a point and I see the same sort of view of non-compromising adherence to the truth with the Apostle John. However, let us not forget that what he wrote for us in God’s Word is that very thing. We are reading the inspired Word of God and in John 6, the very words of our Lord are, for the most part, in response to His critics who were in the darkness of unbelief.  Continue reading

Build Your House on the Rock


by Mike Ratliff

46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46 (NASB) 

There is much controversy in the Church these days over some teaching from those who have made it a point to move their doctrine away from the Orthodox into a what used to be called liberalism. However, instead of rejecting everything spiritual as the liberals do, these new teachers claim that they are moving back to the origins of the Church with methods and doctrine that are more indicative of the early church rather than what is called Orthodox now. The followers of these teachers have, for the most part, rejected “church” with any hint orthodoxy in it. Continue reading

The Triumph of Grace over the Power of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

8 And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? Their condemnation is just. Romans 3:8 (NASB) 

The debate in the visible Church in our time concerning the need for Christians to walk in Repentance is actually quite perplexing to those of us whose hearts and consciences are bound to the Word of God. It clearly exhorts us all to repent and walk in righteousness. I had a conversation with a Pastor several years ago at lunch following his sermon that Sunday morning. We discussed the dreadful condition in the visible Church today in which most professing Christians appeared to be very immature and in bondage to their flesh. I asked for his opinion of why that was so. His response was that it was the result of the Church not being the Church as God designed. There was little or no Church discipline. There was little preaching of the Law and the Gospel together. There was hardly ever a mention of walking in repentance before our Holy God. I agreed completely with his analysis. He also shared that he did not believe that a very large percentage of the professing Christians were genuine.  Continue reading

It is Finished!


by Mike Ratliff

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John 19:28-30 (NASB) 

Sometimes God brings things into our lives that seem devastating. Others may also see these things in our lives and question that God even exists. They cannot conceive of a loving God who would cause or allow debilitating diseases that are always fatal into the fragile bodies of those who profess faith in the Saviour. However, I am always amazed at the deep, rock hard faith displayed by those in the center of these things, whether it is the one suffering or a close family member. As I attempt to minister to these folks, feeling 100% inadequate to do so, I am the one who is encouraged by their attitude and Christlike spirit that seeks to build me up in our Lord. It is then that I view my own walk and am ashamed.  Continue reading

Abundant Pardon


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:4-8 (NASB) 

We have been looking long and hard at the narrowness of the Gospel and how it it is not editable. It is not open to change. No matter how much a person wants it to be otherwise, it is unchangeable. It is God’s Good News to fallen man. This good news is the proclamation that there is a way, only one way, for sinful people to be reconciled to God. It is good news because all people suffer from the same condition. They are born dead in trespasses and sins and are not morally able to do anything about it. This separates all of us from God because He is Holy and must judge all sin. The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross and became sin on our behalf. God judged our sin in Him. This “atoned” for our sins. Now let us look at the pardon available to all who believe. Continue reading

Christ is 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?  Continue reading

The Excellency of Christ’s Humanity


by Mike Ratliff

17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:17-19 (NASB) 

Several years ago when I took my first Evangelism Explosion class, our instructor emphasized over and over again that our Lord was both fully God and fully Man. Why is it important that we grasp this about our Lord? Gnosticism, for instance, teaches that Jesus is indeed God, but not really Man. Others teach that He was a Man, but not God. Both extremes are wrong and the heresies which flow from them abound. Sadly, many are ensnared by them. When we see our Lord separate from His humanity or Deity we make the same mistake. We looked at the excellency of His Deity in yesterday’s post. Now, let us look upon the humanity of our Lord which is exceedingly lovely and amiable. Continue reading

The Excellency of Christ’s Deity


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. John 1:14 (NASB) 

All genuine Christians are involved in some form of spiritual conflict. They are tempted to doubt their salvation because their assurance is under attack or they are being tempted to turn aside for some fleshly “diversion” or they are tempted to compromise in some fashion in a way that would be an act against conscience, et cetera. Some reading this have contacted me for prayer because of family or health issues. We are all in desperate need of our hearts being strengthened in the resignation of ourselves unto the Lordship of  Jesus Christ. We need our affections as the Bride of Christ to be stirred up and made more apparent to our regenerate hearts. How do we do this? What can we do that will endear our hearts unto Christ? Continue reading

Pride and Humility


by Mike Ratliff

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB) 

Our pride is insidious. When we are convicted of our prideful behaviour or thoughts it takes cover and transforms itself into false humility. We take pride in our humility or our service or our devotion. Pride is idolatry of self. When we are not humble our pride actually displaces God with self as our center. Christians are not immune from it. Continue reading