Christian Oneness


by Mike Ratliff

7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:7-9 (NASB) 

Our sanctification is designed by God to transform us unto the image of Christ. The human heart before regeneration is clueless about the ways of God. The unregenerate heart can only comprehend the wisdom of the world. This ‘wisdom,’ such as it is, views the Christian calling as utter foolishness. Sadly, there are innumerable professing Christians in our time who claim that Jesus is their Saviour, but they cling to worldly comforts as they view the self-denied life as peculiar and only for Jesus freaks and fanatics. Continue reading

Unity of mind among Christians is born from our union with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9 (NASB) 

I have always used this ministry to stand against compromise of the Gospel and all that goes with it just as Charles Spurgeon did in the late 19th Century during the Down Grade Controversy. This stand has never been popular with the majority of professing Christians. That’s fine, I don’t do this in order make the majority of professing Christians like me or to make them feel good about what they are doing in their local churches or to continue to follow certain Christian leaders who claim to be solid in doctrine while actually ministering on the side in ways that, if made public, would ruin their reputations and cause them to lose not only followers, but who knows how much money. Taking a stand on God’s truth, Biblical Truth against what Christian leaders are saying and doing that are heretical leading to apostasy is not for those who think that Christians must always be positive and never rebuke another Christian no matter what they say or do. Of course, the reason that many of us call the visible Church in our time the Laodicean Church is that it is all about unity at all costs instead of being all about unity within our union with Christ.

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Biblical unity and separation


by Mike Ratliff

5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. Titus 1:5-9 (NASB) 

It doesn’t take very long for me to discern whether the person I am dealing with is truly God’s man or woman or is a pretender. That personal interaction is necessary for me to see the true nature and focus of the person. As we debate or discuss doctrinal or church issues or even secular issues it soon becomes very clear whether I am dealing with someone who is walking within the Lordship of Christ or is their own man or woman. Their values soon become apparent. All of us are in various stages of spiritual growth and repentance to be sure, but the mark of the washing of regeneration is there to be seen in all of God’s people that cannot be counterfeited. Of course, this is only discernible by those who are looking for it and then only through God’s testing fires.  Continue reading

Christians are to be unified in love while not being divided over every wind of doctrine


by Mike Ratliff

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 (NASB) 

On one hand, we are commanded in Sacred Scripture to stand firm while holding to God’s truth as “The Truth” with no exceptions. On the other hand, we are also commanded in the same Word of God to walk in unity with the whole Body of Christ. Unfortunately, many today insist on the latter while teaching that in order to obey it we must totally neglect the former. I read the Bible through each year totally outside of my studies. I find it very interesting to be reading through several chapters of a book in the Old or New Testament and come across passages that I have used in developing a post or a teaching. It is then that I pause and put those passages into the context of the whole. In this, we learn to be more careful with God’s Word by keeping everything in its proper context. Those who excise segments of Sacred Scripture outside of their proper context run a great danger of error. One example is found in Ephesians 4 in which Paul calls for the Church to be unified in love while not being divided over “every wind of doctrine.” Some have used this passage in attempts to silence our call for the Church to return to adherence to proper doctrine.  Continue reading

Water Baptism and the One Baptism


by Mike Ratliff

37 Ἀκούσαντες δὲ κατενύγησαν τὴν καρδίαν εἶπόν τε πρὸς τὸν Πέτρον καὶ τοὺς λοιποὺς ἀποστόλους· τί ποιήσωμεν, ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί ; 38 Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. Acts 2:37-38 (NA28)

37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:37-38 (NASB) 

12 Καθάπερ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα ἕν ἐστιν καὶ μέλη πολλὰ ἔχει, πάντα δὲ τὰ μέλη τοῦ σώματος πολλὰ ὄντα ἕν ἐστιν σῶμα, οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστός· 13 καὶ γὰρ ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι ἡμεῖς πάντες εἰς ἓν σῶμα ἐβαπτίσθημεν, εἴτε Ἰουδαῖοι εἴτε Ἕλληνες εἴτε δοῦλοι εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι, καὶ πάντες ἓν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NA28)

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NASB) 

This morning when we attended church we witnessed the baptism of about 15 people. Some were teenagers. Some were adults. Afterwards, we worshipped and prayed then we heard the Gospel preached with power by a young man who was one of the youth in our church when I was teaching there back in the 1980’s. Why does our church have such a large number of people being baptized each month while so many other SBC churches do not? The key to that is that God is moving through the obedience of our people in sharing the Gospel and making disciples as our Lord commanded in His Great Commission.

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB) 

Notice the importance of baptism in the passages I shared here. However, if we dig deeper we will find that there is the Baptism that is a sign which we witnessed this morning in church and then there is the “One Baptism” that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, which is not the same thing at all.  Continue reading

Biblical unity, humility, and obedience


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB) 

The number one accusation thrown at those who take up the armor of God and use it in the battle as they are called to do, is that they are full of pride. Those who use this fiery dart are equating certainty with pride. Extra-biblical revelation should not be used in the battle by God’s warriors. Instead, the source of truth that is used is the sword of the Spirit itself, the Word of God. Experience is extra-biblical. Man’s teachings, if contrary to the Word of God, are extra-biblical. One’s own private interpretation of Scripture and/or experience is extra-biblical. These battles may appear to cause disunity in the Body, but unity that is held together through compromise is false. Christians should never seek to be yoked up with those who hold doctrine or beliefs that are contrary to the truth from God’s Word or are based solely on extra-biblical sources. Unity in the Body of Christ is commanded in God’s Word, but that unity is not based in compromise, but love and humility within those who are obedient to the truth. Continue reading

Unity within the Body of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB) 

While the most common accusation against my friends at CRN is that their expositions cause disunity amongst the brethren, the call from the Word of God is not unity at all costs, but unity within the Body of Christ in the Spirit in the bond of peace. The key to having unity among Christians is not that all claim to be Christians, but that the Holy Spirit bestows oneness within all true believers through which He creates a bond of peace that is godly love for one another.

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Christian unity


by Mike Ratliff

7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:7-9 (NASB) 

Our sanctification is designed by God to transform us unto the image of Christ. The human heart before regeneration is clueless about the ways of God. The unregenerate heart can only comprehend the wisdom of the world. This ‘wisdom,’ such as it is, views the Christian calling as utter foolishness. Sadly, there are innumerable professing Christians in our time who claim that Jesus is their Saviour, but they cling to worldly comforts as they view the self-denied life as peculiar and only for Jesus freaks and fanatics and even go so far as accusing Bible teachers like me of “throwing a lot of law” at Christians.  Continue reading

Christians are called to walk worthy of the calling by which they were called


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε, 2 μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, μετὰ μακροθυμίας, ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ, 3 σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης· (Ephesians 4:1-3 NA28)

1 Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, encourage you to walk worthy of the calling by which you were called, 2 with all humility of mind and meekness with long-suffering forbearing one another in love, 3 being eager to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Please read Ephesians 4:1-3, which I placed at the top of this post. What is to be our demeanor in how we deal with each other as fellow believers? Paul starts out by reminding the Ephesians that he is writing the epistle from prison and that he is in prison because of his ministry. That means that the faithful Christian walk can be costly and that, like him, we can pay a considerable personal price if we remain faithful to our Lord in the face of persecution. From that “reminder,” Paul encourages us all to walk our Christian walk “worthy of the calling by which we were called…” What does that mean? Our “walk” refers to our daily conduct. Paul is calling for all believers to “walk” in such a way their lives match their position in Christ which is the outcome of the effectual “calling” by God himself. No one comes to Christ unless effectually called by God: Romans 1:18; 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:26; Philippians 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1. Continue reading

And Above All These Put On Love Which Binds Everything Together In Perfect Harmony


by Mike Ratliff

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self- controlled and sober- minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:7-9 ESV)

Our sanctification is designed by God to transform us unto the image of Christ. The human heart before regeneration is clueless about the ways of God. The unregenerate heart can only comprehend the wisdom of the world. This ‘wisdom,’ such as it is, views the Christian calling as utter foolishness. Sadly, there are innumerable professing Christians in our time who claim that Jesus is their Saviour, but they cling to worldly comforts as they view the self-denied life as peculiar and only for Jesus freaks and fanatics.

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Genuine Christian Unity


by Mike Ratliff

6 A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. 9 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:6-9 NASB)

The passage above  from Isaiah 40 is quoted directly in 1 Peter 1:24-25, which is why I placed it there. We are commanded in God’s Word to be unified in Christ, to love one another in the Lord. We are commanded to stand firm and rebuke false teachers as we warn the brethren as well, but our role is not to cause division. We are not to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. That is not our job at all. That will happen when our Lord returns in judgment. However, that does not mean that we are to be unified with heretics or to call apostates our brothers. No, there is a unity that we are to have as the Body of Christ that is built by the Holy Spirit that He establishes in God’s truth first then as a visible unity which is the eventual fruit of shared submission to the Word of God.  Continue reading

Christian Unity


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, encourage you to walk worthy of the calling by which you were called, 2 with all humility of mind and meekness with long-suffering forbearing one another in love,  3 being eager to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

About the time  I completed my exegetical study of Ephesians 1-2, which was titled “God’s Purpose for the Church,” we learned that my nephew Travis, who had had a brain tumor removed about 4 years ago and had been declared cancer free earlier this year, had begun to have severe headaches and seizure-like symptoms again. Tests showed that he had another tumor in a different part of his brain that was growing rapidly. His surgeon was able to remove most of it and utilized some very new treatments that will, hopefully, kill it. We thank all of you for your prayers for Travis and his family as well as my sister and her family. I learned a great deal from this in the matters of grace and the working of the Spirit in the body of Christ. Genuine Christian faith is genuine Christian faith regardless of whether everyone who possesses it agrees completely on matters of religiosity or not. We do not determine that, God does.  Continue reading

Keeping The Unity Of The Spirit


A good friend sent me a link to an article about an analysis of true Christian Unity that used Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones 1962 speech on that topic given to British Christian leaders and how it was received to show first how Dr. Jones got it right and second, how the emergent, purpose driven, ER 2 folks of our day are no different than the man-centered liberals of Dr. Jones day in their rejection of the clear teaching from God’s Word that genuine Christian Unity is found not in organizations or groups or people just getting along, but in the work of God himself. The link my friend sent me is here. The sermon below is by Geoff Thomas, a Welsh Reformed Baptist who is in full agreement with Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones on this issue. Enjoy and be blessed – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Unity At All Costs?


by Mike Ratliff

Οὐ περὶ τούτων δὲ ἐρωτῶ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν πιστευόντων διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ, ἵνα πάντες ἓν ὦσιν, καθὼς σύ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν σοί, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἡμῖν ὦσιν, ἵνα ὁ κόσμος πιστεύῃ ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας. (John 17:20-21 NA27)

“I do not pray concerning these only, but also concerning those who will believe in Me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in us that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (a personal translation of John 17:20-21 from the NA27 Greek text)

In yesterday’s post, Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, we looked at John 17 and our Lord’s prayer that transitioned Him from His earthly ministry to the beginning of His intercessory ministry for all believers. In the third section of the prayer, which is for the entire Church, I excerpted the section I placed at the top of this post. From that I exposited the following paragraph:

How often do we hear of the lack of unity in the visible church in our time? It is lamented as if we should compromise and come together at all costs. However, that is unbiblical. The basis of true Christian unity centers in adherence to the revelation the Father mediated to our Lord’s first disciples through Him. Believers are also to be united in the common belief of the truth that was received in the Word of God (Philippians 2:2). This became a reality when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4; 1 Corinthians 12:13). True Christian unity is not based on fleshly, temporal, or experiential things. No! It is based upon the common eternal life shared by all who believe the truth. These come together in the Body of Christ all sharing His life.

Last weekend my wife and I were involved in some discussions with other believers about these very things. I did not say much about the rank apostasy we discuss here from time to time, but I was absolutely taken aback by the ignorance expressed by some in that room of the darkness that is rampant in the visible church in our time. Again, there were only a few there who knew who I was and knew about this ministry and I was not there to take over the conversation. However, the few who were there who did know about me and what I do were watching carefully when these topics came up. I held my peace. On the other hand, no outright support any apostate teacher was expressed by anyone either or I might have reneged on my promise to be quiet.   Continue reading