Christian Exclusivity


by Mike Ratliff

30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 (NASB) 

Genuine Christianity, not the false versions of it, is unique when compared to the world’s religions. In fact, those false versions of it are just like the rest of the world’s religions in one regard that makes genuine Christianity absolutely unique. All other “religions” are based upon some form of works based theology and belief system in which a some form of justification is made through those works which increase the value of the person in that religion thereby gaining the reward. On the other hand, genuine Christianity is nothing like that at all. Salvation or justification comes as a result of something God has set out to do and has completed. Those who are justified were elected by Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) based upon no works or deeds or value inherent in them (that none may boast). All of the work to justify these elect was done by God and completed; and He, being sovereign and all-powerful, saves them all as we will see in the short passage we will exegete below. Those who are saved are new creations after their justification because God himself regenerated them so that their dead faith is made alive and they are now able to believe the gospel and be saved (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5). Who believes? Who are these Christians?

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Remember


by Mike Ratliff

5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:5 (NASB) 

In yesterday’s post, What is the relationship of our Salvation with Repentance?, we saw that without repentance there is no salvation. In the passage I placed at the top of this post we see another element of repentance that is elemental for the spiritual health of believers. Continue reading

What is the relationship of our Salvation with Repentance?


by Mike Ratliff

38 Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. Acts 2:38 (NA28)

38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 (NASB) 

The word repent in v38 (above) translates μετανοήσατε (metanoēsate) the second plural, aorist active imperative case of μετανοέω (metanoeō) which means, “to change one’s mind.” This word is rarely found in Classical Greek because Greek society never thought of a radical change in a man’s life as a whole, of conversion or turning around. In fact, the whole concept of conversion is not found in Greek thought, but is derived from the New Testament. The idea μετανοέω, then, is to turn around, change one’s mind, relent , and in the theological sense involves “regret or sorrow, accompanied by a true change of heart toward God. Continue reading

Woke Christianity and Genuine Christianity are two different religions


by Mike Ratliff

As 2020 has unfolded with the so-called Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter/Social Justice/Antfia riots causing havoc across our country, it does not take a genius to see that there is more to what is going on than just a lot of ugliness at the same time just because the Left wants to ruin all chances of Donald Trump being reelected. As one who looks closely at what Christian Leaders say and do comparing all that with what the Word of God says, I have been on “red-alert” about the Social Justice/BLM merger with what has been called “Woke Christianity” ever since Donald Trump got elected. I know it has been going on longer than that, but that is when it really came to my attention. Continue reading

Bearing Fruit


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. Matthew 7:15-20 (NASB) 

The fruit of a ministry in God’s economy is not the number of people “converted” under it. No, the fruit, which will be what God will use to judge, refers to the effectiveness that ministry has in leading and developing within those who are ministered to by it unto a Christ-like life produced by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). What is it that those God uses in these ministries do that achieves this? They teach their flock sound doctrine from God’s Word. The Holy Spirit takes these truths and applies them to the hearts of the flock. It is not emotion or feelings. It is being transformed by the renewal of their minds because they are being living sacrifices unto God (Romans 12:1,2).  Continue reading

Blasphemy and Persecution


by Mike Ratliff

10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13 (NASB) 

Receiving Christ’s Word and becoming like Him in our conduct will unavoidably mean being treated by the world in the way it treated Christ. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). The believer is privileged to participate in the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10), and it is only as we are willing to bear His reproach and suffer for His sake that we are promised that we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Jesus Himself was blasphemously accused of being demon-possessed. They hated Him without a cause (John 15:25). The believer, like Christ, must be willing to be misunderstood and have his good works maligned. Since our best efforts in serving Christ are mingled with sin and human imperfection, it should come as no surprise that our motives and behavior will be misinterpreted because of our forthright identification with Him. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). A mark of the world is to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21 (NASB) 
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The Judgment of Deception


by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB) 

Idolatry, as I have been teaching you for these last many years, always produces spiritual blindness. It also brings God’s judgment. As we see in Romans 1:26, God “gave over,” or παρέδωκεν the unrighteous to the their own lusts as an act of judgment. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post from 2 Timothy. This accumulating for themselves of teachers to suit their own passions by those who will not endure sound teaching, but have itching ears is the very same thing. God has given them over to their false gods, to their idols. Their deception is willing. Think of all those people lining up to to become Social Justice warriors in the big push of Critical Race Theory by these false prophets with their false gospel of works righteousness which preys upon the post modern’s inability to think critically about anything. Continue reading

The Believer’s Armor


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! 2 I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:1-6 (NASB) 

Satan opposes the believer in many ways. No matter how he attempts to subvert our faith, the method he uses is a fiery missile. With these fiery darts he attempts to attack or question or deny God’s character and credibility. We see this as he works through those who hate Christianity, Lord God, and His Holy Word. Their attacks will always be to try to bring doubt into our hearts about God’s faithfulness and our faith. If we are successful in our service to God he will try to undermine our victories by generating trouble that makes life difficult, thereby temping us to forsake obedience to God’s standards and calling.

He attacks believers through doctrinal confusion and falsehood. Remember he cannot attack God so he attacks the church. He wants to destroy unity in the Body of Christ. What better way to divide God’s people than over doctrine? He also attacks God’s people by hindering their service to Him. I have a great deal of experience in this. It seems that every time I would have a role to play in some ministry at church, there would be things that would go wrong. These things could be anything, but many times it was people who seemed bent on thwarting our efforts through non-cooperation or some other method in which we could not follow through in what we needed to do. Through these things divisions in the body would become apparent.

He attacks believers by persuading them to trust their own resources. This is an area in which we can all testify I’m sure. If we are trusting in our own abilities then we will be an easy target for one of Satan’s fiery darts. He also attacks believers by leading them into hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a fruit of pride and no believer is where they should be if they are functioning from pride. Humility, knowing who we are in Christ, functioning within His Lordship, and obeying Him as servants to all is where we should be, but our enemy will convince some that their righteousness is somehow earned. This is the beginning of hypocrisy.

He attacks believers by leading them into worldliness. This is a slippery slide. Once we step of into compromise with the world, we will find the next step a little easier then before we know it we are on a slippery slide into apostasy. He attacks believers by leading them to disobey God’s Word. If there are parts of the Bible we hate to read because we do not want to submit to what it says then we have been attacked by Satan and have given in to him. This is not good. However, although we should be aware of all of these devices of Satan, our defense against them is not simply our knowledge of them, but rather God’s provision to meet them. Continue reading

Faith and Hope


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (NASB) 

What is the difference between faith and hope? Are they the same thing? They are not the same, but they are two sides of the same coin. If I want my old College to win in football against our biggest rival that is hope. On the other hand, if I believe it will happen then it is faith. With this faith, my hope is enhanced. It becomes active. On the other hand, if I have little faith that it will happen then my hope becomes simply wishful thinking. What about our faith through which we are saved by grace? Is this faith simply working up enough belief so that our hope becomes strong, or is there more to it than that?
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Break Open the Jar


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