With his stripes we are healed


The following devotional is from Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for March 31.

“With his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of his flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over his poor stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon him without tears, as he stands before you the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of his own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which his stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our bosoms.

“See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in his lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty’s hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.
With thorns his temples gor’d and gash’d
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lash’d.
But sharper scourges tear his heart.”

We would fain go to our chambers and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first pray our Beloved to print the image of his bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with him, and sorrow that our sin should have cost him so dear.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sanctification by Suffering


“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.”-Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through suffering”-it is, that He can have complete sympathy with us. “He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”1 In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He suffers in me now; He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.”

Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in His steps. Find a sweet support in His sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing-to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does He honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”2

1Hebrews 4:15
22 Timothy 2:12

This devotional is from C.H. Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for March 29.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Beware of Light Thoughts of Sin


by C.H. Spurgeon

“Sin . . . exceeding sinful.”-Romans 7:13

Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and then follows an unholy presumption: “We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent.” So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how thou thinkest lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced His heart! It made Him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”

The Words of Eternal Life


by Mike Ratliff

53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53–58 Legacy Standard Bible)

About 36 years ago God intervened in my life with eternal results. He called me to Himself. He regenerated me. He justified me. He sanctified me. He adopted me. He changed me forever. However, I was a baby Christian. I had only a vague concept of what God had done on my behalf. I really did not have a clear understanding of this thing we call Christianity. All I knew was that before that wonderful day I did not care too much for church. My concept of the proper Christian life was one of being religious, but that religion had to meet certain criteria. However, after God saved me, my concept changed radically. I suddenly found that I loved God and His people. I loved hearing Bible centered sermons and being in Bible study classes. I had a deep desire to know God’s will that I may obey Him in all things. However, that earlier concept of the proper Christian life was still with me. That meant that one’s religiosity was what determined one’s right standing before God. Continue reading

Many are Called but Few are Chosen


by Mike Ratliff

11 “And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. 12 “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 “These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and elect and faithful.” (Revelation 17:11–14 Legacy Standard Bible)

There are three attributes of those who belong to Christ. No one else has these attributes. We see them in Revelation 17:14. Those with Christ, the Lamb who will conquer all His enemies for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, are called and chosen and faithful. In Matthew 22:1-14, our Lord tells a parable that is called “The Parable of the Wedding Feast.” In it our Lord describes the consequences that will befall those who believe their religiosity or position in the visible church is what earns them a place in the Kingdom, but who, in reality, are not among the chosen.  Continue reading

The Spirit-filled Christian’s Walk is an Act of Worship


by Mike Ratliff

16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophecies, 21 but examine all things; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 Legacy Standard Bible)

The Christian walk that John Bunyan set before us in his masterpiece The Pilgrim’s Progress is not one of “having your best life now” nor is it having all of your problems suddenly replaced with “opportunities.” No, Bunyan understood, and we need to as well, that no where in God’s Word are we promised that all we have to do is “come to Jesus and all our problems are over.” No, in fact, the opposite may very well be true. Jesus was not exaggerating when he said:

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:18–19 Legacy Standard Bible)

Why does the world hate real Christians? They are not of the world, but have been chosen by Christ out of the world, regenerated and made part of His Kingdom. This change is radical. This salvation is by grace through faith not according to merit or works, but according to Ephesians 2:10 good works are part of what this Christian walk is all about:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 Legacy Standard Bible)

In fact, our Lord Jesus went so far as to say it very plainly in John 14:15:

  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15 Legacy Standard Bible)

Therefore, genuine Christians will be evident to the world because they will serve their Lord with their lives in obedience walking in the good works set before them by God Himself. That means also that they will not be those compromising all over the place with false religions seeking unity with false brethren and obvious wolves in sheep’s clothing for the sake of a friendly, false peace. That sorta explains why the world hates us don’t you think?  Continue reading

Christ’s Suffering and Ours


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose—because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin— 2 so as to no longer live the rest of the time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2 Legacy Standard Bible)

Resurrection Day or Easter this year is about 4 weeks from now as I write this.  I love to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection because without it our faith is empty and worthless. Those in Christ have the promise of our own resurrection at some point in the future. But, let’s not forget that before He was resurrected He had to die and before He died He suffered. Continue reading

Seventy Times Seven


by Mike Ratliff

21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21–22 Legacy Standard Bible)

Pride is poison to the Christian. Oh, our flesh loves it, but it is unredeemed and has nothing to do with God. On the other hand, all truly in Christ are New Creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that part of them that is redeemed is of God not of the flesh and this lost and dying world. However, all of us would be liars if we said that we have not found ourselves in situations in which we were completely controlled by our flesh and pride. In those situations, we react fleshly just like the world. We lie, cheat, steal, and refuse to forgive when wronged. Then we become bitter and the cycle just spirals downward. All of this happens because we are walking in the flesh with our pride in control instead of in the Spirit, humbly before our God. It is impossible to forgive from the heart without first humbling ourselves and that takes a work of submission to the Spirit of God.  Continue reading

The Man Centered Gospel vs The God Centered Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

22   so much more Jesus also has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
23 And the former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:22–25 Legacy Standard Bible)

Back in 2005-2006 as God was working to root me out of my old church as the leadership there was attempting to convert it to a Purpose Driven/Seeker Sensitive Church, I became involved in the discussion forum at the old Slice of Laodicea Blog. This came about because I was seeking answers. It was through this that I became friends with Ken Silva and later became part of the CRN discernment team. One thing that struck me during that period that had never occurred to me before that I now see more and more apparent every day is that God’s true Church is a remnant of what the world sees as the visible church. I can remember Ingrid saying that in her blogs and comments and those who were bound and determined to shut her down and silence her would simply lose it. Continue reading

Blessed are the Forgiven


by Mike Ratliff

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 4:7–8 Legacy Standard Bible)

The Church, the genuine Church that is, is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our Holy, Righteous, and Just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some. Continue reading

Friendship With the World is Enmity with God


by Mike Ratliff

4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. James 4:4 (NA28)

4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world sets himself as an enemy of God. (James 4:4 Legacy Standard Bible)

The Seeker-Sensitive paradigm is rooted in a form of Pelagianism. Of course, the theology I grew up with as a Southern Baptist in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, et cetera was somewhere between semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. In each of these forms of theology, man is at the center. God has done all he can do to create the possibility of salvation, but it is up to man to exercise his autonomous free will in order to be saved. Even in this, after salvation there is a time of working to please God, to become perfected, to become moral, et cetera. Again, the focus is on man, not God. The reason I brought this up is to reflect on how far I have come in my understanding of these things since God revealed to me the veracity of His Sovereignty over all things. From that, I rapidly rebuilt my theological understanding of justification and sanctification. It was probably not as dramatic as Luther’s awakening when he discovered the doctrine of Justification by grace through faith, but, for me, it was. I was utterly amazed and spent days and hours in prayer of gratitude and praise before the throne of grace expressing it the best way I could of how utterly unworthy I was that I was totally justified before God with the Righteousness of Christ and His perfect obedience imputed to my account. My righteousness, in God’s eyes, actually did exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees!  Continue reading

The Basis for Genuine Christian Living


by Mike Ratliff

1   “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-grower. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He cleans it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1–2 Legacy Standard Bible)

Something has changed. Of course, I am sure the changes I am referring to have not suddenly taken place, but are, in fact, the result of years of God’s judgment upon nations, church groups (denominations), church leaders, and professing Christians because Christians at the core along with their leaders have compromised. Adherence to preaching Jesus and Him crucified has been replaced with feel good sermons that are designed to draw people in to large church bodies that have little to nothing to do with how the Bible defines the role of Christians and their relationships with Christ, each other and the world. Let us look at John 15, which was one of our Lord’s final teaching to His apostles just prior to going to the Cross. Continue reading

Christian Boldness


by Mike Ratliff

1 Why do the nations rage
And the peoples meditate on a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against Yahweh and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord mocks them.
5 Then He speaks to them in His anger
And terrifies them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

7 “I will surely tell of the decree of Yahweh:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like a potter’s vessel.’”

10 So now, O kings, show insight;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Serve Yahweh with fear
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2:1–12 Legacy Standard Bible)

Christians should not be surprised when they are the minority in the world. They should not become discouraged when worldly philosophies such as Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality become predominate in the social and educational structures where they live. However, we should take a stand when these evil philosophies invade our churches, denominations, seminaries, and Christian schools just as Charles Spurgeon did in the 19th Century when the Baptist Union churches in England began going Liberal. He refused to be part of it and it cost him. He ended up removing the church he pastored from the Baptist Union and was then censured by them. He died just a few years after that, but in our time who do we remember? Who’s books are still studied and who’s sermons are still read? I still read his daily devotionals. On the other hand if you go to the Baptist Union’s website you will find a denomination that stands for nothing.

Continue reading