Since I am one of those Christians who struggle very much with despair and self-loathing because of sin, this devotion by Martin Luther really struck me right in the heart. I never considered this before as part of our Mortification of Sin. I pray God will use this in your heart as well for your edification. – Mike Ratliff
by Martin Luther
21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
When you become aware of your sin and frightened by it, you must not allow the sin to remain in your conscience. This would only lead to despair. Rather, just as your awareness of sin flowed to you from Christ, so you must pour your sin back on him to free your conscience.
So be careful you don’t become like the misguided people who allow their sin to bite at them and eat at their hearts. They strive to rid themselves of this sin by running around doing good works. But you have a way to get rid of your sins. You throw your sins on Christ when you firmly believe Christ’s wounds and suffering carried and paid for you sins. As Isaiah said, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Peter said Christ himself “bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). And Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
You must rely on these and similar verses with your whole heart. The more your conscience torments you, the more you must rely on them. For if you don’t do this and try to quiet your conscience through your own sorrow and penance, you will never find peace of mind and will finally despair in the end. If you try to deal with you sin in your conscience, let it remain there, and continue to look at it in your heart, your sins will become too strong for you. They will seem to live forever. But when you think of your sins as being on Christ and boldly believe that he conquered them through his resurrection, then they are dead and gone. Sin can’t remain on Christ. His resurrection swallowed up sin.
from: Faith Alone – A Daily Devotional James C. Galvin General Editor
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by Mike Ratliff
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you.
13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 (NASB)
All of our Christian Theology is worth nothing if our Lord was not resurrected. If He was not resurrected then His sacrifice for our sins was not accepted by God the Father. That means that we are still in our sins and will experience the wrath of God. Of course the atheist scoffs at everything we teach. Atheists demand proof of something that can only be accepted and grasped and believed by faith. Our salvation is by Grace through faith. Only those who have been regenerated by God have this faith and they are the only ones who understand the mystery of the Resurrection. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
If you have followed this blog for very long at all then you know that I am proponent of Sola Scriptura in the teaching and preaching of God’s Word as the ONLY way to be doctrinally correct which is vital for the health of the church and for the making of disciples who are genuine rather then what is culturally correct in our day which is what many call “Easy Believism.” I prefer to call those disingenuous professing Christians “Cultural Christians.” Now, with that said, we must come to understand two things. How does God save us and what is our part in it? With that out there we must then come to understand what our part in evangelism should be. Right? Let us look at how Charles Spurgeon came to Christ in his own words. I believe that there will be some reading this who will recognize how they came to Christ as well. The circumstances will undoubtedly be different, but how God works to save you and I will be the same. Then there will those who are in doubt that their profession of faith is genuine because of being immature spiritually, that is, a lack of sanctification or personal holiness. There may also be some who are religious but really have no genuine testimony of coming to faith in Jesus Christ. This testimony by Spurgeon will help all of us for that is its purpose. Continue reading
By Mike Ratliff
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30 (NASB)
The unregenerate cannot conceive of a religion unless it is fully entwined with the exercise of free will as an expression of devotion or belief. Genuine Christianity is not a religion if that is how religion is defined. Authentic Christianity consists of God’s work in the hearts of those whom He gave and drew to Christ. The Holy Spirit regenerated them at the will of the Father as they heard the gospel thereby enabling them to believe and repent. From that time forward they serve their Saviour and God as His disciples. Their divine faith, a gift from God, overcomes the world as they obey Him, love Him, and love their brethren. They share their faith with others thereby being obedient disciples whom God uses to bring others into the Kingdom. Continue reading
By Mike Ratliff
44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. 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 11:44-45 (NASB)
Much of the writing and exposing that we do in this battle against the growing apostasy in the Church is, unfortunately, simply about symptoms of a much deeper problem. Several years ago I had lunch with a pastor of a church that my wife and I had been visiting for several Sundays. We talked about many things as we ate our pizza. One question he asked me really stood out though. He asked me what I considered the main problem in our churches. It would have been very easy to point fingers at Rick Warren and others, but I stopped and thought a moment then said, “I believe that one of the main problems was that most professing believers are enslaved to their flesh.” He wholeheartedly agreed with me. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you. Proverbs 3:1-2 (NASB)
The Protestant Reformation was not a reforming of Christianity, but a rediscovery of God’s Truth that had been covered up, squandered, perverted, and misrepresented by the Roman Catholic Church for several centuries. Christianity has once again reached a point of contention where there are those who claim that the Protestant Reformation went astray and we need another reformation. I agree that the Church is very sick right now. However, the fault isn’t with the Reformers or what they did. The problems seem to be centered on a complete loss of godly wisdom spawned by there being no fear of God. Man is seen as sovereign and God is seen as subservient to Christian leaders.
This environment has been the breeding ground of neo-evangelism that is so devoted to evangelism that it suppresses and does away with Bible Study, discipleship, and all other things that distract from their evangelical push. They do this to such an extent that evangelism has become their golden calf. Admittedly, there has been much wrong with the church since the end of Spurgeon’s time. Aberrations of Christianity has always plagued the Church, but it seems that since the latter part of the 19th Century with the passing of Spurgeon and Broadus and their contemporaries, there has been an increasing emphasis on man-focused religion. The current push into neo-evangelism and the emergent church movements are actually quite natural expressions of rebellion against what these folks see as deadwood religion. If we take a look at TBN, for example, it is clear that something is very wrong.
by Mike Ratliff
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
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 5:3-16 (NASB)
I have often written on this blog and elsewhere about the spiritual awakening that God took me through in 2004. I remember vividly, however, being very confused about some things as I went through that. Several years earlier, I had been deeply involved in several men’s studies at a former church that were built around the teachings of Henry Blackaby. I had been through once and led several times the study called “Experiencing God.” One thing that always puzzled me in that study was how cool it was and how “deep” it was in the beginning and then so wrapped up in spiritual or mystical disciplines toward the end because to progress past the initial seeking where God is working then get involved stage, which was always quite exciting for everyone, it got into those parts of self-discipline that most of the men simply shrugged off and didn’t come back. In any case, I used the context of those studies to evaluate or try to understand what God was doing in my life in August 2004. Things just did not jibe together as I thought they should. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10:3-4 (NASB)
Westminster Confession of Faith
Of Effectual Calling
All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.
As many of you know, I was born in 1951 and grew up as a Southern Baptist. I never heard of the Westminster Confession of Faith until 2006 or so. That article above is entirely biblical and I had read those passages from where they were drawn, but I had never heard Christian Conversion described that way. No, what I heard continually in church services, Sunday School, Youth Groups, and Revival Services was all about us making a decision. It was all about what we did, not what God did. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
23 κατ εμαυτου ομνυω η μην εξελευσεται εκ του στοματος μου δικαιοσυνη οι λογοι μου ουκ αποστραφησονται οτι εμοι καμψει παν γονυ και εξομολογησεται πασα γλωσσα τω θεω 24 λεγων δικαιοσυνη και δοξα προς αυτον ηξουσιν και αισχυνθησονται παντες οι αφοριζοντες εαυτους Isaiah 45:23-24 (LXX)
23 “I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
24 “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. Isaiah 45:23-24 (NASB)
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.” Romans 14:11 (NASB)
Several years ago a friend contacted me with an issue she was having on her blog dealing with one of her readers who said that Romans 14:11 was a proof text for Christian Universalism.
Much of the controversy in the Church these days centers around the New Birth and what actually happens to those who believe. Some teach that a simple prayer of faith and baptism are all it takes. Some teach that all we have to do is let Jesus come into our lives and we are saved. However, the Bible is very clear that no one sees the Kingdom of God unless they are Born Again. Also, it is this “regeneration” that is the New Birth that changes a person from a Natural Man into a genuine Christian. This New Birth is what enables a person to believe and be saved. The person is a New Creation old things are past away, behold, the new has come. This means that the light from the life of God in them will be manifest in a life that is growing in Grace. They are working in cooperation with God in their sanctification. This is not what justifies them in God’s eyes. Instead, He justified them when they repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)
As many of you know, I grew up as a Southern Baptist. After God saved me in 1986 I was a Southern Baptist until 2006 when our former church was overtaken by the Purpose Driven paradigm. I was bitter about that for a while. I and many of you found common ground having had our churches ripped away from us and in many cases finding it nearly impossible to find a good Biblical local church remaining in our area after the Seeker-Sensitive tsunamis had moved through devastating what were once good churches, leaving behind man-centered, store fronts for Rick Warren’s brand of man-focused religiosity. However, God is good and through this devastation and some personal fiery trials, which actually began in 2004, He has worked in me to grow me into a more mature Christian, stronger in the Word of God than ever, more knowledgeable in Biblical Greek, and deeper in the more cerebral areas of our faith that are sorely needed in our day such as presuppositional apologetics. When I was a Deacon teaching Sunday school at our local SBC church, I was extremely mediocre in most of that and hardly knowledgeable at all in the area of apologetics. Why? I was serving and operating from within a mindset that was extremely spiritually immature compared to today. My understanding of the Gospel and theology was probably deeper than most of my peers at that time, but compared to now, it was probably surface level at best. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:2 (NASB)
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:10 (NASB)
Several years before I retired this December the company I worked for sent me to Seattle for a week of training. The flight from Kansas City Airport to SeaTac Airport is quite long. However, that day I had the privilege of sitting by a young man named Chris who was about the same age as my son. He and I talked the entire length of the flight. It seemed to last just a matter of minutes. We talked about many things, but eventually the discussion became centered on Christianity and our faith. He was very typical of my son’s generation in that organized religion turned him off and, therefore, he considered himself a questioning agnostic. However, I did share many things about our faith including my testimony. My heart went out to this young man because I saw the sincere searching that he was doing. Most of our conversation from that point on was me answering his questions. When we began our approach into SeaTac, he reached over and shook my hand and thanked me for sharing these things with him. I have prayed for this young man for years that God will pluck him from the fire. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 (NASB)
As I shared in another post, I tested positive for Covid-19. I retested about a week later when my symptoms seemed to be abating and it was again positive. My symptoms worsened. Then last week I retested again and it still came up as positive. I contacted my son who is an M.D. He had recently gone through the same thing, but was back at work. He told me to quit retesting as I will continue to test positive for about 90 days. This caused me to look back at how long these “symptoms” had been plaguing me. It started the same day I retired which was Christmas Eve. It was also the day that all of our family members came in for the holidays. We had a houseful. That’s when it started. My symptoms have been bad, then almost went away only to come back again and again. So, counting back to Christmas Eve I think I have another month of this up and down stuff. When the symptoms are raging I feel awful. When they abate it is like nothing at all is wrong. While this was all going on my brother had to be hospitalized because he got Pneumonia from the Covid infection he had. That started in December and even though he is home now, he is still on oxygen. I am very thankful that I have not had to go through that. So, as believers we have to ask, “What is God doing through all this?”
by Mike Ratliff
24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24 (NASB)
What is the definition of the English word “fact?” The following is from the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.
Main Entry: fact
Etymology: Latin factum, from neuter of factus, past participle of facere
Date: 15th century
1 : a thing done: as a obsolete : feat b : crime <accessory after the fact> c archaic : action 2 archaic : performance, doing 3 : the quality of being actual : actuality <a question of fact hinges on evidence>
4 a : something that has actual existence <space exploration is now a fact> b : an actual occurrence <prove the fact of damage>
5 : a piece of information presented as having objective reality
— in fact : in truth
The part that says, “a piece of information presented as having objective reality” is where I would like to concentrate in this post. I am a firm believer that there is something called absolute truth. Also, there exist truths that are objective. These are facts. On the other hand, there is information that is subjective in nature that is presented as if it has objective reality when actually this is not so because there is nothing objective behind the “proof.” For instance, there are times when I use a form of the word “purpose” in what I write to convey a truth of God “purposing” to do something or that as Christians we should purpose in our hearts to obey the Lord, et cetera. There are some who would attempt to make the case that this is “Purpose Driven” language and this “proves” that I have become compromised and am now a disciple of Rick Warren. I contend that this type of thinking is what our Lord was referring to in John 7:24 about judging by appearances. Continue reading