To whom be glory for ever


by Mike Ratliff

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36 (NASB)

All of the mature Christians I have known were not focused in any way on themselves except where it came to self-examination, repentance, prayer and service. We all have to live in this sin soaked, evil world, which God uses as part of our sanctification so that means we must not do what the monks do, that is, escape from the world in an attempt to earn God’s favor through asceticism. No, we are to be in the world, but be not part of it.

13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 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. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:13-19 (NASB) 

So, our Lord clearly tells us that we are actually “sent into the world,” however if we are in Him then we have already been spiritually removed from it though we are physically still here. Therefore, our focus as believers needs to be eternal rather than temporal. We need to take our Lord’s command on how to pray.

9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB) 

Carefully read v10. That is a prayer about God’s sovereignty. It places it and His kingdom above all our needs. We put Him and His kingdom first and our needs will be met, but more importantly, we will be used by Him in the furtherance of His kingdom. Continue reading

The Goal of Life


by Mike Ratliff

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NASB) 

I was searching for topical references in the NT that dealt with how Christians are to remain properly focused during times of great pressure and confusion. I have always believed that God has given me a role in my ministry to see through the confusion and go the root of the issues and then point His people to the truth. Yes, there are times we get our eyes on issues that are obviously being caused by evil people trying to use lies and deceit to gain power over those they view as mere “serfs” in their economy. We can become overcome with anger or fear or whatever emotion our enemy is trying to use against us if we focus on these things instead of seeking the real goal of life knowing that our omnipotent God is fully in control of all things at all times. Continue reading

Waiting, Not Running


by Mike Ratliff

Yes, we are to be discerning. Yes, we are to be Christlike. Yes, we are to have godly convictions and not be in love with this world. All that describes us as we we mature into the believers our Lord wants us to be. However, the path is not always a smooth one. No, part of this journey to the Celestial City takes us through severe tests of our faith as well as having to deal with people, governments, and even religious people who are under the control of our enemy. Therefore, we must become those living sacrifices, Holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1) who live our lives as Spirit-led, obedient slaves δοῦλοι (douloi) of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we do this the Holy Spirit will transform us according to the will of God. (Romans 12:2). It is through this along with confessing and repenting of our sins (1 John 1:9) and taking everything to the Lord in prayer with a repentant heart by drawing near unto God so He will draw near to us (James 4:7) that we learn to to be humble and walk before our Lord as His abiding disciples (John 15). As we do this we will not try to hurry through our walk with our Lord, but will learn to wait as Charles Spurgeon shows us in todays Faith check Book. Continue reading

Hear


by Mike Ratliff

27 εἶπεν δέ· ἐρωτῶ σε οὖν, πάτερ, ἵνα πέμψῃς αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ πατρός μου, 28 ἔχω γὰρ πέντε ἀδελφούς, ὅπως διαμαρτύρηται αὐτοῖς, ἵνα μὴ καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔλθωσιν εἰς τὸν τόπον τοῦτον τῆς βασάνου. 29 λέγει δὲ Ἀβραάμ· ἔχουσιν Μωϋσέα καὶ τοὺς προφήτας· ἀκουσάτωσαν αὐτῶν. 30 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· οὐχί, πάτερ Ἀβραάμ, ἀλλʼ ἐάν τις ἀπὸ νεκρῶν πορευθῇ πρὸς αὐτοὺς μετανοήσουσιν. 31 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ· εἰ Μωϋσέως καὶ τῶν προφητῶν οὐκ ἀκούουσιν, οὐδʼ ἐάν τις ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῇ πεισθήσονται. Luke 16:27-31 (NA28)

27 And he said, “I ask you then, father, that you may send him to the house of my father. 28 For I have five brothers that he may warn them lest they also may come to this place of torment.” 29 But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets let them listen to them.” 30 But he said, “No, Father Abraham. But if someone from the dead should go to them they will repent.” 31 But he said to them, “If if they did not listen to Moses and the Prophets neither will they they be persuaded if someone should rise again from the dead.” Luke 16:27-31 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Probably most of us tend to think that to hear something simply means that sound registers in our ears and brain, but even Webster says that it goes further than that: “to perceive or apprehend with the ear; to gain knowledge by hearing; to listen with attention.” Every parent has experienced times when their child says he or she hears what the parent is saying but does not really listen with attention. Continue reading

Draw Near part 2


by Mike Ratliff

22 προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ· Hebrews 10:22 (NA28)

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Let us continue our thoughts on Hebrews 10:22 (above). Drawing near to God first means having a sincere desire for truth. Continue reading

Draw Near


by Mike Ratliff

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22 (NASB) 

In v22 (above) the phrase “let us draw near” translates the Greek first plural verb προσερχώμεθα (proserchōmetha) the present tense, middle voice, subjunctive mood case of προσέρχομαι (proserchomai) which means “come to, go to, approach.” It is usually used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew qerab, which also means to come near or approach but also pictures the idea of closeness to the object being approached. Continue reading

Christian Maturity and How it Relates to Discernment


by Mike Ratliff

12 Οὐχ ὅτι ἤδη ἔλαβον ἢ ἤδη τετελείωμαι, διώκω δὲ εἰ καὶ καταλάβω, ἐφʼ ᾧ καὶ κατελήμφθην ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ]. Philippians 3:12 (NA28)

12 Not that I have already received or have been completed, I press on that, if possible, to apprehend it because Christ Jesus has apprehended me. Philippians 3:12 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)

I have been blogging since 2006. I have been online with Christian Research Network since 2007. Most of what I write would be classified as “devotional,” however, there have been times I have been led to expose some false teaching or to shine some light into some dark corners so believers could understand what was really happening in doctrinal issues facing all of us. Discernment is something all of us should be doing as believers. It is so sad when I encounter believers who have the attitude that their walk should never offend anyone so they do not “practice that discernment stuff.” On the other hand, I have also seen many “discernment ministries” online that I would prefer that they weren’t. Discernment is important so let’s take a closer look at the passage I placed at the top of this post (Philippians 3:12).

Continue reading

Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake


by Mike Ratliff

12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12 (NASB) 

I grew up as a Southern Baptist. I have heard a lot of very good preaching in my 68+ years. However, I have also heard a lot of what I would call now-a-days, humanistic preaching. Until just a few years ago I really didn’t know the difference, or if I did, then it was that the former was grounded deeper into the Word of God than the latter. The biblically based preaching was always geared toward the eternal even if talking about the temporal. The humanistic preaching was always geared to the temporal even when talking about the eternal. Do you see the difference? Continue reading

The Test of Shame


by Mike Ratliff

2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Matthew 11:2-6 (NASB) 

Do you remember the first time that someone ridiculed you for your faith? How did it feel? The Test of Shame is one that comes upon all professing Christians. This test is designed to separate the genuine from the disingenuous. Many may fail this test and still be genuine, but in their hearts they will bear a shame that is worse than the ridicule and persecution they sought to avoid. The beauty of God’s ways is that the path of forgiveness is there for those who repent. Peter’s denial of Christ during Jesus’ trial is a perfect example of this. There are also many during the reign of Queen Mary of England, Bloody Mary, who initially failed this test as they were persecuted or their families were threatened with persecution unless they abjured. However, as the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts they would go public with their faith and endure the fires of martyrdom in the joy of the Lord. Continue reading

Why It is Vital that We Become Mature in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

11 Καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, 12 πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 13 μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 14 ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, Ephesians 4:11-14 (NA28)

11 And He gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some shepherds and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints to the work of ministry to the building up of the Body of Christ 13 until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the fuller knowledge of the Son of God, to complete maturity, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ 14 that we should not longer be infants tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. Ephesians 4:11-14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In 1887, Robert Shindler, a fellow pastor and close friend of Charles Spurgeon, wrote in Spurgeon’s publication, The Sword and the Trowel: “It is all too plainly apparent men are willing to forego the old for the sake of the new. But commonly it is found in theology that that which is true is not new, and that which is new is not true.” If we think deeply and honestly on those searing words with all humility and willingness to repent of what God shows us about ourselves, I am certain that each of us must repent of falling for the fallacy of seeking that which is new or different in our theology. If we are honestly seeking the will of God that is both good and right, but if we are looking to have itching ears tickled or are pursuing the subjective or experiential as the means of fulfillment then all we are really doing is falling for some lie and are revealing that we are indeed just infants in the Lord who are being tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. I doubt if any one reading this really wants that.  Continue reading

Christian maturity and discernment


by Mike Ratliff

12 Οὐχ ὅτι ἤδη ἔλαβον ἢ ἤδη τετελείωμαι, διώκω δὲ εἰ καὶ καταλάβω, ἐφʼ ᾧ καὶ κατελήμφθην ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ]. Philippians 3:12 (NA28)

12 Not that I have already obtained  or have already been perfected, but I press on that, if indeed, I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Discernment is not a dirty word. I saw read a statement by friend the other day which stated that if a Christian leader demands to be shielded from those with discernment then that is a sure sign that he (or she) has some sort of theology problem or worse and that very thing calls for those with discernment to take an even closer look at that person’s ministry. When I read that I thought immediately of Paul’s preaching in Berea in which the Jews there closely examined the teaching of Paul comparing it with the Word of God to make sure that what he was teaching was the truth. Yes, that is what discernment is all about. Now, I know that many reading this agree with that and want to be true Bereans and I applaud that, but the second part of being one is becoming a mature Christian in order to be able to stand firm in the fire no matter how rough things get in power of the Holy Spirit for that is how it goes sometimes.  Let’s look at a short passage from the book of Philippians not usually associated with “discernment,” but more with growing in Christian maturity.  Continue reading

Christian meditation


by Mike Ratliff

8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Joshua 1:8 (NASB) 

To most believers the word “meditation” smacks of Eastern Mysticism or some sort of New Age mumbo jumbo. However, God calls for His people to not only pray and read His Word, but also to meditate on it day and night. There is the right way to do this, which is God’s way, as well as the wrong way, which is the way the false religions teach their adherents. Let’s look at God’s way. Continue reading

The body is the Lord’s


by Mike Ratliff

13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:13 (NASB)

Liberal Christianity is, as J. Gresham Machen told us in his masterpiece Christianity & Liberalism:

It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men. – J. Gresham Machen

In our time here in the early 21st Century we have men calling themselves pastors or Christian leaders telling all who will listen to them that the Bible is not authoritative. They say that even though it condemns certain behaviors as sin, we can ignore all that because people who preach or teach directly from the Bible are not obeying God, but are “cheating.” They contend that those of us who are strictly bound to God’s Word as His absolute truth are not meeting the needs of the people in our time. We are not being inclusive. We are attempting to shut or narrow the door of salvation that our Lord has opened wide so EVERYONE who desires to come can do so and remain in their sins. However, I am bound to the Word of God as His truth and know that all of the spiritual gifts I have are to be used only according to His will and that includes never straying from the whole truth from His Word. In light of this let us look at one passage that liberal Christians attempt to use to justify their all-inclusive ministries. Continue reading

The law of liberty and the conscience


by Mike Ratliff

15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. Titus 1:15 (NASB) 

I am constantly amazed at the diversity I witness in the believers who interact with this ministry. This, of course, displays Christ’s power to bring together in unity dissimilar people from every place on this planet and from all walks of life. Part of our sanctification is dealing with our unredeemed flesh. God uses it to humble as well as teach us to fight the good fight. We will never be totally sinless as long as we have our flesh within us. Our enemy also works within our flesh to create division in an effort to split what God has unified. Much of the attack from him and his minions will be to foment conflict between mature believers and those who are not so mature. Also, he is always working in a effort to create self-confidence and self-righteousness in believers. He knows that when believers fall into that trap they are working from a base of pride rather than humility. Continue reading