Be ye doers of the Word


by Mike Ratliff

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:19-27 (NASB)

Martin Luther hated the Book of James. He called it an Epistle of Straw and questioned whether it should be included in the Canon of Scripture at all. Why? His opponents in the Roman Catholic Church misapplied what James taught to try to support their theology that stated that people are saved by their works. A careful study of this wonderful book, however, does not support that. In fact, we find that James and Paul are in full agreement. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and the Book of James both speak of works and its place in the Christian walk in relation to Grace. They present the truth from different sides of the issue so when people who do not possess the spirit read James they often twist the word to fit their false theology. Continue reading

The Lordship of Christ Concerning Genuine Saving Faith


by Mike Ratliff

8 Πρῶτον μὲν εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν ὅτι ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν καταγγέλλεται ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ. Romans 1:8 (NA28)

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you because your faith is being proclaimed in all the world. Romans 1:8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In these broadly apostate days of the visible church the good biblical words such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are thrown around and used in such a loose way that it is important for us dig into what God’s Word says about πιστεύω (pisteuō), “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly, persuaded as to something” and πιστός (pistos), an adjective meaning “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable” instead of relying on what our modern translations give us for these words, for if we do not “dig” we remain in a shallow understanding of these things. On the other hand, God will use our hard work in these things to teach us, train us, and grow us into more mature Christians who do glorify God in our walks and perhaps other disciples will marvel and report to others and then our faith will be “broadly declared throughout the whole world.” You see, for Paul to make that statement about the Romans’ faith meant that there must have been something remarkable about it. What was it?  Continue reading

The Blessedness of the Regenerate


by Mike Ratliff

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:1-7 (NASB) 

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud. Proverbs 16:18-19 (NASB) 

When I encounter a professing Christian who is joyless and focused entirely on trying to be fulfilled by worldly things, I want to take them aside and tell them that what they are seeking will not be found where they are looking. I want to show them that only genuine Christians who are humble as their Lord is humble find true blessedness.

All truly regenerate believers have what they need to become humble and Spirit-filled, but most of us struggle for many years in the furnace of sanctification before God gives us that first taste of joy that is beyond measure. Why do we struggle so? God knows what is best for us. Each of us is unique and God will use us according to His will in His timing. Some require much more refining than others based on what God has for them to do. However, everyone who is regenerate can experience the blessedness our Lord shared at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. Let’s take a close look at what some call The Beatitudes. Continue reading

Quickened


by Mike Ratliff

13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, Colossians 2:13 (NASB) 

There is a related word in Scripture to “regeneration.” It only appears twice in the New Testament. One of those is in the passage I place at the top of this post. The words “made you alive together with” translate the Greek συνεζωοποίησεν (synezōopoiēsen) the third singular, aorist active indicative case of συζωοποιέω (syzōopoieō) which means, “make alive with someone.” The KJV translates this as “hath he quickened together.” Continue reading

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NASB) 

Western Christians, especially American Christians, are, for the most part, double minded. Materialism, humanism, and liberalism have so contaminated them that they believe that they will never be persecuted for their faith. It is as if the idea that persecution for being a Christian is unthinkable. In many parts of the World persecution is actually becoming worse. It is estimated that over 16,000 Christians are martyred each year. However, in this country Christians are more concerned about Football or Television shows or money or possessions than contending for the faith. Continue reading

Mercy


by Mike Ratliff

23 Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸ ἔλεος καὶ τὴν πίστιν· ταῦτα [δὲ] ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφιέναι. Matthew 23:23 (NA28)

23 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but you have neglected the more important things of the Law: justice and mercy and faith; but these things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

A simple definition of mercy is “the withholding of deserved punishment and relieving distress.” The Greek ἔλεος (eleos) speaks of “compassion, pity.” One Greek lexicon tells us, “Kindness or good will towards the miserable and afflicted joined with a desire to relieve them.” Even the pagans of Greece felt pity. Aristotle wrote that tragedy aroused pity and even fear that the same tragedy might befall them. Continue reading

What is the difference between Conversion and Regeneration?


by Mike Ratliff

12 “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26:12-18 (NASB) 

A hypocrite is someone who implies he or she stands for one set of values, but actually lives out their life doing the opposite. Since the post-modern church is mired in hypocrisy, one might assume that Christianity was the problem. If Christianity really was the one and only true religion and Jesus’ disciples truly are changed by their new birth in Christ, the hypocrite label should not stick. Why? True Biblical Christianity professes that all in Christ not only have their sins forgiven them, but they are also new creations who are no longer under the power of their former sins. Continue reading

Frustration and the Reality of Dealing with Discouragment


by Mike Ratliff

30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:30-32 (NASB)

I do all of my blogging on WordPress.com. I have been on WordPress since 2006. Over the last few months I have been getting hints that they were changing things. The first was when they changed the default editor to a “Block Editor” which I absolutely hate and refuse to use. I found a way to get the old editor to work and that is what I am typing on right now. However, today WordPress changed the entire background admin interface. I can no longer “work” with my posts the way I have done for the past 14-15 years. I found myself becoming very frustrated and angry. I put together tonight’s post in pieces and got it out there then edited it several times as I became more and more familiar with “where things are” in the “NEW” system.

In any case, I hope it is readable and as I compared my attitude and how I reacted to all this with my last several posts I did some praying and repenting. As I did this I asked myself where that “geek” was that can solve just about any computer issue (just kidding). I then put on that “hat” I use at work to solve problems and found that about 80-90% of what I had got used to in the old system was still available. It was just in different areas, etc. I just had to change how I did some things to get things done. God is good. I rejoiced as I went through this and now I pray that I can use this new interface to continue to write for God’s glory alone and to provide His message to the suffering Church.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Put Away


by Mike Ratliff

6 ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας—τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· ἐγερθεὶς ἆρόν σου τὴν κλίνην καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου. Matthew 9:6 (NA28)

6 “but in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins””–then He said to the paralytic, “Rise up, take up your stretcher and go to your house.” – Matthew 9:6 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The literal idea behind the Greek αἴρω (airō) is “to raise or lift up,” and it is usually used in this way. When the Lord Jesus forgave and healed the paralytic in Matthew 9:1-8, for example, His command was to, “Rise up, take up (ἆρόν) your stretcher and go to your house.” In this usage the verb ἆρόν (aron) is the second singular, aorist active imperative case of airō.

Continue reading

Dealing with Discouragement


by Mike Ratliff

23 Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Genesis 40:23 (1599 Geneva Bible)

My natural tendency is to heartily participate in self-pity, outrage, and un-forgiveness thereby opening doors in my heart that Satan enters causing me to become discouraged. When this happens to me, I find that my circumstances drive me to become very negative and impatient. I suppose that this is one of my besetting sins which clings closely to me ready to cut in on me causing me to drop out of the race God has set before me to run with endurance (Hebrews 12:1-2). My sense of joy that strengthens me as I run this race comes from looking unto Jesus. My focus has dropped from Him to me and my circumstances. When this happens the slide into self-absorption is very quick. I suddenly find myself in this ugly spiritually flat mood whose fuel seems to be anger. I have often pondered how this happens. Prior to my personal restoration in 2004-2005 I was probably in this mood or mode the majority of the time. Since then, however, these falls into this dark ditch have been rare enough so that when I find myself there I am very surprised. Now, I implore the Lord and ask why this has happened. Why am I so full of joy on Tuesday and so fleshly and down on Wednesday? Continue reading

The Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

3 παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις, ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον, ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς 4 καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη καὶ ὅτι ἐγήγερται τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NA28)

3 For I handed on to you among the first things that I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures 4 and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

This Christians walk is one in which we must take up our own crosses and follow our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. In this life we will have tribulation. However, in the midst of fiery trials we grow less self-oriented, less self-dependent, and less self-righteous while we learn that we must, at all costs, abide in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this time before our Lord takes us home, there will be much heartache, many crushing blows, and at times, it will seem that the world and those who follow it have all the cards and are on the way to winning by whatever means. However, as our Lord Jesus said on the night of his arrest leading up to his crucifixion, “ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε. ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλῖψιν ἔχετε· ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον.” Or, “These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but be cheerful, I have conquered the world.”  Continue reading

Those Who Love Jesus Keep His Commandments


by Mike Ratliff

15 Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτέ με, τὰς ἐντολὰς τὰς ἐμὰς τηρήσετε· John 14:15 (NA28)

15 “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments;” John 14:15 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at John 14:15-31, which is last part of the dialogue between our Lord and His disciples in the upper room after the Passover Feast just prior to His arrest in the garden on the other side of the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem (John 18). Never forget my brethren, our Lord did not come to bring all people together. His message was one of division. That was what He said. Also, His ministry was to reveal the Father (John 1:14, 18), to bring glory to Him. In this post we will see that our Lord even further defines who are truly His. Continue reading

Unless You Are Born Again You Are Not Able To See The Kingdom Of God


by Mike Ratliff

3 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. John 3:3 (NA28)

3 Jesus answered and said to Him, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless one is born again, he is not able to see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What causes corruption of the Gospel message? As we have gone back to the source, the root, which is the Word of God, as we exegeted from the Greek, John’s account of our Lord’s contention with the Jewish religious leaders during His earthly ministry, wasn’t it apparent to all that Jesus came to Israel to reveal the Father to them proving that He, the Son, was deity, to live a perfect, sinless life and then lay His life down voluntarily to purchase those who were chosen before the foundation of the world with the price of His blood? His perfect sacrifice was their propitiation. We learn these things and so much more by going to the Word and learning from the Holy Spirit as He transforms our minds as we submit to it. Studies into the Word like these are sorely needed in the Body of Christ. I would hate to be a Pastor whose time has come to stand before our Lord to give an account that had sold out and ministered in a way that simply tickled itching ears.  Continue reading

Humble Yourselves


by Mike Ratliff

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 (NASB) 

27 καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔσται ὑμῶν δοῦλος· Matthew 20:27 (NA28)

There are a group of men who I do not allow to comment on my blog, but who attempt to do so anyway. Their comments go immediately into the SPAM folder. I usually just dump it once a day without reading them. However, once in a while when I know that, through the discernment ministry God has given me, I have hit a precious target of our enemy, certain men in that group start commenting in direct, vicious attacks meant to do one thing alone. That one thing is to discourage me and thwart me from continuing obeying my Lord as His δοῦλος in exposing false teachers and their doctrines to the Body of Christ. It is an interesting way to gauge whether I am on target or not at times. I also find it very interesting that the accusations in those attacks are always meant to rouse me to some sort of self-defense or rebuttal type of response meant to “put them in their place.” When my anger reaches that point I know that my flesh has taken over and it is time to spend some time in humble repentance with my Lord before the Throne of Grace. What is my response to the attacks after that? I simply erase the SPAM and move on.  Continue reading