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

Perseverance in Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:3-7 (NASB) 

When God saves a person, he/she is changed forever. However, they are not at the spiritual maturity level that God desires for His people. Therefore, from that point until they go home to be with their Lord all genuine Christians will go through a series of tests and trials that put pressure on their faith. This pressure is spiritual, but the circumstances applying it come from all directions and sources. The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh that put his faith to test to the point that he implored the Lord to take it away. Continue reading

The Word Makes Us Clean


by Martin Luther

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:3 (NASB) 

In this passage, Christ is offering us a remedy for the poison of arrogance, which is overestimating your own holiness. Jesus says this so none of us will think that our own suffering, apart from Christ, can attain forgiveness of our sins or make us fruitful branches in the sight of God. Here’s what usually happens: Someone does many good works and endures much suffering. That person becomes aware of producing fruit. In other words, they are aware of achieving something through preaching or some other method. Then that sweet poison begins to make the person think, “Oh, I have now done something that will make God notice me and be merciful to me.” In this way, little wild branches begin growing alongside the true branches. These wild branches steal the sap and energy from the true branches so that they don’t flourish. That is why the Gardener must be alert. He has to restrain such arrogance and presumption by constant application of the Word. Continue reading

Why Trouble Follows the Preaching of God’s Truth


by Mike Ratliff

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36 and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.
37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39 (NASB) 

Cleansing the heart of man-made religiosity is not fun and games. In fact, it hurts. Many resist God’s truth even to the point of bitterly expressing their anger over what is taught or preached. God’s ways are not man’s ways. The way that seems right unto man is not God’s way. Even the regenerate can cling to a paradigm they have constructed in their hearts that represents God in a way that pleases them, but in fact, can be idolatrous. Their God would not do x,y, and z while the Word tells us that the God of the Bible most certainly does allow things to happen to His people in such a way that their idols comes under direct attack. Many of us have learned the hard way that in this age God sometimes allows His people to be oppressed by their governments, big business, false teachers, or social activists. This could very well be unjust treatment. How are we to react? Continue reading

Testing of Your Faith


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:3-7 (NASB) 

There is no guarantee that the Genuine Christian will be immune from suffering. In fact, suffering is the method God uses to prune the branches that abide in the Vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15) I have found that the form this suffering takes is nearly always a surprise. When atheists or pagans ridicule, the resulting sorrow from that is relatively minor and easily borne compared to that delivered by professing Christians. In any case, we must not be discouraged, even though that is what our enemy seeks to do to us through it. God is allowing him to do this to us, therefore, what should our reaction be? Continue reading

More than Conquerors


by Mike Ratliff

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37 (NASB) 

How often have you heard Romans 8:37 in support of the concept of a “higher Christian life?” I have heard it in that context, but I have also heard it in its proper context, which is found in the entire chapter of Romans 8. In this context we learn that it is only in the context of suffering that Christians can learn what it means to be “more than conquerors.” Continue reading

Treasures in Jars of Clay


by Mike Ratliff

2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ Judges 7:2 (NASB) 

This walk before the face of God is fraught with difficulty and pain. No one who is His will pass through this life unscathed by affliction, perplexity, persecution, and even being struck down. That may fly in the face of much of the teaching in the Church in our time, but the reality is that Genuine Christians walk through this life being molded and conformed unto the image of Christ. That process is quite painful because much of what is the Christian is chiseled and burned away via the fires of sanctification. As the image of Christ is burned into us, we must remember that whatever is afflicting us will not crush us. What is perplexing us will not result in God forsaking us. Whatever has struck us down will not destroy us. Continue reading

The Promise of the Holy Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. John 15:26-27 (NASB) 

There was a time when I sat under the teaching of men who taught that the only difference between a lost person and a saved person was the presence of the Holy Spirit. While only Christians have the Holy Spirit there are other differences. The Christian is Born Again. He or she has been regenerated unto a New Creation. The Christian has faith that the unregenerate do not have. This faith, working in the regenerate heart believes God and has the ability to cause the believer to obey God. The regenerate can repent, but the unregenerate (the lost) cannot. However, all living Christians still must coexist with their sin nature. Also, they live in a world that is hostile to God and all genuine Christians. These two facts seem to stack the deck against the believer ever being able to live in victory in this life.

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Persevering Grace


by Mike Ratliff

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24 (NASB) 

As one who adheres to the Doctrines of Grace, I believe firmly in the what is referred to as “the security of the believer.” Our confessions refer to it as the Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. R.C. Sproul liked to use the term “Persevering Grace” instead because he believed it put the emphasis on God and His grace preserving His saints rather than His saints working to be preserved.

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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 Ancient of Days Reigns


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. Revelation 20:1-3 (NASB) 

If we listen to much of the preaching these days we might get the idea that our God was an old grandfatherly type entity who loves people so much and wants to save them all, but is helpless to do anything to make that happen. Also, He really isn’t in control of anything. He simply set the Universe into motion and now it’s on its own. He simply waits helplessly in a far off Heaven for people to make the right decision by their own reasoning capabilities. He is sorry for all the suffering and heartache in the world, so if people would simply follow the right preacher they could be happy, rich, and healthy. Is that what the Bible teaches us about God? Continue reading

The Coming Day of the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

1 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. 5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! Zechariah 14:1-5 (NASB) 

When I preached in a small Baptist Church in northern Missouri several years ago the title of my sermon was, “Are you ready to meet God?” The main theme of that sermon was who Jesus Christ really is and what He has done to redeem His people from the wrath to come. I can still see the expression on those faces as I preached. It was obvious they had not heard that sort of preaching before. My brethren, God’s wrath is coming. His wrath burns against all sin. Only those who bear the mark of His Son will be rescued. I have been part of some discussions lately where we all agree to an extent that the growing apostasy in the Church could be a precursor for the soon return of our Lord. Since the Church seems to have abandoned its mission to a large degree, and instead, has become Compromised with the World and its ways, then we see only two alternatives. Either God will send another Reformation / Revival / Restoration or this Church we see now is the beginnings of the apostate church similar to the Church of Laodicia.

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Therefore Do Not Be Afraid


by Mike Ratliff

28 καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεννόντων τὸ σῶμα, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι· φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ. Matthew 10:28 (NA28)

28 And do not be afraid of those killing the body, but are unable to kill the soul, but fear instead the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will look at Matthew 10:16-33 which is part of our Lord’s instructions to His disciples as He prepared them for what was coming when they were eventually sent on their worldwide mission to the Gentiles. They had to understand that persecution would inevitably accompany their mission wherever God sent them. Continue reading

God’s Strength is Made Perfect in Our Weakness


By Mike Ratliff

31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Hebrews 11:31 (NASB) 

5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. 6 Jesse was the father of David the king.
David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Matthew 1:5-6 (NASB)

24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:24-26 (NASB) 

How would you like it if your name was forever associated with the profession of prostitution? Rahab lived on the wall in the city of Jericho. When the two spies sent by Joshua entered the city, they stayed at her house. When the city officials knew of their presence, Rahab hid them then helped them escape. In return the spies promised to save her and her family when Jericho was attacked by the Israelites. Later, she was wed to Salmon of the tribe of Judah. Their son Boaz was the kinsman redeemer who married Ruth. Their son Obed became the father of Jesse who became the father of David the King.

This put Rahab in the genealogical line of Jesus Christ. However, she is still called Rahab the Harlot or Rahab the prostitute in scripture. Why? Rahab is a trophy of God’s grace. She is an example to us all that the good we do that is eternal is always by and through God’s grace. When we are weak, yet obedient, God is strong through us. That is why James can say that good works will always accompany genuine saving faith. As regenerate believers, we must learn this. Any works we do in our own abilities are not eternal. All of the work God does through us is eternal. Continue reading