Called to be Holy


by Mike Ratliff

45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Leviticus 11:45 (NASB)

The resistance in today’s version of the Church of Jesus Christ to commands such as the one above is rooted in rebellion. Yes, I know that is a blunt statement. Yes, I know that there are huge segments of the church in America that believe that the Old Testament is not for them. However, the truth does not stop being the truth simply because people refuse to believe it. I run into this quite a bit. I teach something or write something that is a clear command of God that we must obey and someone will say or write something like, “well everyone knows that that can’t mean that because God isn’t like that.” Excuse me but since when does what people believe about God change what God is like or diminishes the veracity of His commands? Continue reading

The Chief Way Whereby Doctrine is Maintained


by Mike Ratliff

16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans 12:16 (NASB) 

No matter what category this ministry is placed in some peoples’ catalogs, I still see myself as primarily a teacher of God’s Word. Several years ago while I was just getting started writing and blogging I was working with Ken Silva, Ingrid, and Jim Bublitz on the old Slice of Laodicia website dealing with the hateful attacks coming from the emergent and Seeker apologists who had a massive disdain for nearly everything Ingrid or Ken posted there. They also went after the rest of us who supported them grouping us together calling us “haters, narrow-minded, and bigoted” among other things I can’t share here. I remember one term Ingrid used that caused a massive blowup that went on for days. She referred to Christian leaders and their churches who did not cave into the liberalism of the emergent and/or Seeker Sensitive movements while also remaining orthodox in their theology as rapidly becoming a “remnant.” The reaction to that was, as said above, “massive.” Continue reading

Stand Firm


by Mike Ratliff

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB) 

Back when I first started this blog in 2006, me and several of my readers agreed with the following statement, “Without a doubt, in the North American visible church there is much famine of the Word of God.” We also agreed because of what the Word of God tells us, that when there such a famine the results are tragic. What results? The growing apostasy in the visible Church seems to be accelerating and because of that the spiritual blindness of so many professing believers and their leaders is very deep. At the same time, we see that those same spiritually immature and spiritually blind professing Christians have unity as their number one priority in the visible Church. Continue reading

The Fruit of Devotion


by Mike Ratliff

13 ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. 1 Timothy 4:13 (NA28)

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As the passage above (1 Timothy 4:13) makes clear, to the Apostle Paul the centrality of preaching in Christian ministry was critical. He knew that the fruit of that was the working of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ producing godliness. However, its neglect produces its own fruit. I am not exaggerating when I state that most ministries today are built on entertainment, personality, crowd-gathering events, gimmicks, programs, and any thing entrepreneurs can come up with to draw people together that simply appeal to the flesh, which can be summed up by one term: pragmatism. However, that was not nor has it ever been the Biblical model of a Christian ministry.  Continue reading

The Golden Calf


by Mike Ratliff

1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NASB) 

1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1-4 (NASB)

Those familiar with the Exodus of Israel from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan know that the journey was long and arduous. Only two men from those who left Egypt, Joshua and Caleb, made it through the journey. The rest died on the way. Their children were those whom Joshua led to conquer and claim the land flowing with milk and honey. God tested them in the wilderness. They were put in circumstance after circumstance by God to see if they would repent of their stiff-necked resistance to His Lordship, and time after time they proved that they were temporal, fleshly people who did not trust Him. In this post we will look at a parallel between one of those circumstances and the condition of the Church in the early 21st Century. Continue reading

The Righteousness that Exceeds the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees


by Mike Ratliff

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:1-4 (NASB) 

I am sure when our Lord told His disciples on the Mount of Olives–

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB) 

–that there were some who were getting the idea that the way of our Lord was some form of works righteousness that was at a higher, but better level than that of the Scribes and Pharisees who were all about legalism. Some today still have that idea. However, He followed that statement with this another:

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20 (NASB) 

So, what was our Lord teaching here? He wasn’t teaching us to follow legalism, that is, that our righteousness is somehow obtained by a strict adherence to the Law of Moses was He? Paul was very clear in the book of Galatians that no one ever obtained the righteousness of God that way.  Continue reading

Producing Much Fruit


by Mike Ratliff

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:1-8 (NASB)

Have you ever heard a preacher say in one of his sermons something like this:

“God wants everyone to have a vision and so every Christian needs to try really hard to pursue a vision until it aches within them. Then they know its from God and then they need to run after it as hard as they can!”

Unfortunately, I have heard this in sermons online and while doing research. What passages from the Bible do you suppose they use to support that? Well, since its not found anywhere in God’s Word, they attempt to use passages out of context to do that and then misrepresent Jesus completely alien from the His Holy nature that we are given in Scripture to one of being more like a servant of these people. I believe they call this stuff either “vision-casting” or “vision-questing,” but, in any case, there are some so-called “evangelicals” who not only have those who preach this stuff come and preach it to their people, but they go to their “churches” as if they are all part of the same good ol’ boy network of ‘evangelicals.’ I think not. Oh, they may all be part of the same good ol’ boy network, but that ‘group’ has nothing to do with the Church and genuine Christianity.  Continue reading

The Open Door


by Mike Ratliff

24 They passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia. 25 When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished. 27 When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they spent a long time with the disciples. Acts 14:24-28 (NASB) 

Not all of the letters to the churches from our Lord in the book of Revelation were as harsh as the one to Laodicea. In his letter to the church in Philadelphia he commended their faith and good works. In that letter He made one marvelous statement (v8) that we will be the focus of this post. Continue reading

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God


by Mike Ratliff

18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 (NASB)

Genuine humility is found only in genuine believers. What the world sees as humility is often just self-deprecation, which is pride in reverse masquerading as humility. Then genuinely humble believer is the one who sees their true position before God. God’s ways are not our ways. The way people conceive of things naturally is not the way God does. For instance, when the Jews conceived of their Messiah coming they envisioned a conquering hero on a white horse defeating the Romans and setting up His capital in Jerusalem. However, what they got was a baby born in stable who had only a feeding trough for a bed. He did not come into the world at the head of an army to live in palaces. Instead our Saviour came as a man who lived a perfect sinless life, preached the truth, healed the sick, raised the dead then laid His life down as a perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of His people. Continue reading

A Word Study


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, 2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις 3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, 4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 5 διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, 6 ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 7 πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Romans 1:1-7 (NA28)

1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Part of the process I go through to determine what God wants me to write about or what to study is, of course, prayer and meditation. That meditation involves searching Sacred Scripture, seeking God’s truth. Sometimes that involves going deeper where I stop and dig deeper into a certain word or truth.  I became convinced that I needed to look up the Greek lexical definition for our English word “obedience.” From there I decided to do a study of how it is used in the New Testament and that would give us the understanding of the writers of those books of the Christians’ obligations to know and obey God’s commands. Continue reading

Humility Under the Lash


by Mike Ratliff

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 (NASB) 

There is a form of Christianity prevalent in post-modern America that has an incredible hold on some people to the point their conception of God is that He is little more than a vending machine or a kindly grandfather who would never hurt anyone. I speak, of course, of all forms of Christianity that are man-based. Their problem is that they are conceived of by people who have no patience for theology. Instead, they rely on their own conception of God based within the limits of their ability to reason. For instance, their conception of God is that He is too good to be unfair. Then, of course, their conception of what is fair and unfair enter into their reasoning. The end result is that, since God does not seem to come through the same for all people, then the problem must be with the people themselves. If one person is not healed while some are then those who are not healed must not have enough faith because God is fair and would not leave anyone in sickness while healing others. Continue reading

I Am Who I Am


by Mike Ratliff

14 God said to Moses, “ I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14 (NASB) 

In our look at the Bible and the Christian view that it is the living Word of God, His communication to His people, we see that it is not just a collection of writings or a simply a history. The Holy Spirit not only indwells Christians he also indwells Sacred Scripture. When believers read and study the Word of God, The Holy Spirit works through it to accomplish spiritual, eternal work within them. God communicates with His people primarily through His Word. One of the main goals in this is His revelation of Himself to those who love Him.

Jesus Christ is the interpretive key to Sacred Scripture. Any other hermeneutic will lead people into various forms of heresy or unbelief. However, if we view all of scripture from this key, it enables us to see clearly the utter depravity of fallen man because it imparts this to us via God’s Word by the Holy Spirit working in our consciences and minds. We see that the Gospel is not what most of us have conceived of as we have listened to some preacher’s water-down version of it. No, we see that Christ is the center and purpose of all creation and that the Word of God clearly shows us God’s plan of redemption of those chosen before the foundation of the World. Continue reading

Dead to Sin Alive to God and Slaves to Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 1 Timothy 1:12-13 (NASB) 

The older I become as I journey down this narrow way the more what passes for Christianity seems more and more absurd. Why? I suppose it is that I have become very convicted that we are very guilty of taking God for granted. Instead of worshiping Him for who He is, we seem to be totally focused on His works. While we should worship Him for His works with a grateful heart, we are leaving out direct worship of our Wonderful, Awesome, and Majestic God for who He is.

Our salvation is an incredible gift by His grace. That is why it troubles me so when Christian leaders cheapen it with their man-focused, easy-believism. Easy-believism produces professing Christians who believe their salvation came as a result of something they did. I know this because I was one of them for nearly 20 years. If this is our mindset about our salvation, we believe that our walk as Christians is also totally dependent upon our will power. It is as if what the Bible teaches about regeneration is unheard of or at least completely misunderstood. Also, Jesus’ own words about the exclusivity of who are His disciples and who aren’t seems to be in code because few seem to grasp what He is saying. Continue reading

God Justifies the Ungodly


by Mike Ratliff

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,
AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.” Romans 4:1-8 (NASB) 

I was in a discussion with one of our elders recently about the worship “style” at our church. I am almost 70 years old. He is about the same age. He and I both would prefer a more “traditional” music format, but he told me that it was not going to happen because the population in our area is predominantly made up of people who would not go for that at all, but are very much attracted to the more “up-to-date” music with the musicians and loud volume along with the videos with the lyrics, etc. However, he did say that our new worship leader has changed the music to be more focused on worshipping God alone and not about us. I did agree with him on that. I thought a lot about what he said and also about the fact that our church is really growing in spite of the Covid-19 stuff. Our pastor also preaches the full gospel, that is, Law and Gospel. On Easter Sunday I lost count of how many people were Baptized. My elder friend also told me that our church is structured in such a way that new Christians are encouraged and discipled while more mature believers are encouraged to serve. No one has demands put on them that are beyond their maturity level.  Continue reading