Holding fast the word of life


by Mike Ratliff

19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Acts 5:19-20 (NASB) 

We are in a period of the Church in which we must keep our eyes fixed on Christ alone for if we look to men we are in danger of being deceived.  To counter this, we must become focused where God wants us to be focused, doing as He desires us to be doing. Continue reading

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling


by Mike Ratliff

19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” Acts 5:19-20 (NKJV) 

6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJV) 

Learning, knowing, and then responding according to God’s will to His truth is NEVER done subjectively. No, we are told that those who are truly in Christ walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:6). To do this we must know God’s truth and respond by faith and this is not done through mysticism or feelings. No, in fact, when we encounter those who claim they are receiving direct input from God outside of His Word how should we respond? Shouldn’t we remain in our position of walking by faith and not by sight, going boldly to the throne of grace in prayer, seeking the truth in the Word of God? I submit that seeking truth outside those parameters will only lead to deception, not the truth.  Continue reading

Personal Holiness, Christlikeness and the Doctrine of Imputation


by Mike Ratliff

18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 (NASB) 

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22 (NASB) 

If you have ever listened to or read any defense made by those who claim to be Christians, but also “Gay” then you know that they are very loose with how they handle doctrine and very vital words within those doctrines. One of those key words is “love.” The Biblical definition of love from a Christian perspective is one of self-denial under the sanctifying hand of God. However, for those who are attempting to invade Christianity with their “Gay Agenda,” they redefine “love” from a self-focused, narcissistic bent that is all about seeking self-fulfillment above all no matter who else has to pay the cost. On the other hand, the genuine believer, is regenerate, saved by grace through faith according to the mercy of God, and is on the path or way of learning to deny self even to the point of loving their enemies as Christ commanded.
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Be like Christ


worby Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Philippians 2:1-3 (NASB) 

I was not very surprised recently when there arose some resentments against what some label as “Discernment Ministries.” Some of those who are trying to raise the alarm against these ministries are making themselves “former friends” with some of us who actually do the work of warning the flock of Christ about the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the false prophets, the false teachers, et cetera who Paul commanded us in his epistles to expose, for example, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” from Ephesians 5:11. In any case, those who do this work are also required to do it as unto the Lord with wisdom rooted in maturity in Christ. All of which means that those who are discerning are also mature and Christlike and so should represent His character in how they do this work. The Apostle Paul gave us a good example of Christian character in Philippians 2, which we must have if we are to be discerning and it must also apply to all those who are pastors and elders. Let us be honest. If church leaders followed what Paul taught in his epistles then there would be little if anything for us to do and that would be a good thing indeed. Continue reading

Obediently hold fast to the Word of life with fear and trembling


by Mike Ratliff

19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” (Acts 5:19-20 NASB)

We are in a period of the Church in which we must keep our eyes fixed on Christ alone for if we look to men we are in danger of being deceived. We must become focused where God wants us to be focused, doing as He desires us to be doing. Continue reading

Christlikeness


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες, 3 μηδὲν κατʼ ἐριθείαν μηδὲ κατὰ κενοδοξίαν ἀλλὰ τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ ἀλλήλους ἡγούμενοι ὑπερέχοντας ἑαυτῶν, 4 μὴ τὰ ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστος σκοποῦντες ἀλλὰ [καὶ] τὰ ἑτέρων ἕκαστοι.
5 Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων
οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο
τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ,
7 ἀλλʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν
μορφὴν δούλου λαβών,
ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος·
καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος
8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν
γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου,
θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.
9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν
καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα
τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα,
10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ
πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ
ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων
11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι
κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς
εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. (Philippians 2:1-11 NA28)

1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, 3 doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit  but in humility, esteeming one another above self. 4 Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but those of one other.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but he poured himself out, taking the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men, and having been found in appearance as a man,
8 he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death, and that death by a cross.
9 Wherefore also God exalted him and gave to him the name above every name
10 that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Here we have Paul’s exhortation for believers to live out their lives in Christ in the Spirit by living in unity. Who is our example? It is Christ! Christ’s humbling himself to become our Saviour is our example to serve one another. We are to consider other people’s interests first. Jesus did not come and set up a huge church or ministry to rival the Temple et cetera. He did not instruct his disciples to do that either. No, that sort of religiosity is not what we should be about. I hope you noticed that throughout this exhortation by Paul, that he focused on our worship and service of our Lord and that was lived through the sacrificial love for each other. Continue reading

Obediently standing firm while holding fast to the word of life


by Mike Ratliff

19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” (Acts 5:19-20 NASB)

It seems that Christian suffering is a very big topic right now. In some cases “teachers” will use Job Chapters 1 &2 in an attempt to make their points. However, the more I listen to men teach on the topic of “Christian suffering” the more I have become convinced that the majority of the teachings on this are actually attempts to manipulate people in one form or another using fear or guilt strategies to try to get people to part with either their service or money or both. If one studies these teachings from a Biblical perspective things get confusing. Why? Not everyone can teach from the same passages from Sacred Scripture and teach such different things. What is going on? The best answer I can give to that is that most of these false teachers are guilty of teaching the evils of out-of-control subjectivism being elevated to the level of truth rather than simply teaching what God’s Word says. My brethren, instead of looking for the truth in that morass of man-centered subjectivism, as believers we should be going to the throne of grace and God’s Word for the truth. When we look for it anywhere else we will never find it.

Continue reading

The Foundation Of Christlikeness


by Mike Ratliff

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV)

The vast majority of professing Christians in the United States and in other countries, whose churches are patterned after American churches, are enslaved to their flesh. Why? The trend that I have witnessed in our churches for at least the last 25 years or so is a de-emphasis of discipleship. Evangelism or outreach has crowded out in-reach and Bible study. Why? Church growth has become the golden calf of the new evangelism. Because of that, church leaders strive to be culturally relevant even if it means dummying down the Gospel and no longer putting any resources into biblical discipleship. Continue reading

Hold Fast to the Word of Life


by Mike Ratliff

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” (Acts 5:19-20 ESV)

It seems that Christian suffering is a very big topic right now. I think I have heard at least three separate teachings on Job Chapter 1 & 2 in the last few months. Then there is Matt Chandler at T4G making that impact with his message of God taking him through cancer and brain surgery. It was very interesting to watch the reaction when Ken Silva posted this article the other day. I knew there would be some who would cry foul and some did. They called what was said, “watchblogging” as if that is an evil thing. However, Ken let me read some of the email he received on this and it was very interesting to see the confusion. Yes, no one had an issue with the evils of out of control subjectivism being elevated to the level of truth, but then as what they disagreed with was laid bare, they would revert right back to analyzing everything subjectively. What ever happened to prayer and going to God’s Word for the truth? When we look for it anywhere else we will never find it.  Continue reading

The Proper Focus: Christ and the Life Above


by Mike Ratliff

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:13-16 ESV)

I am sure many of you reading this can identify with what I am about to say. The more we attempt to point the visible church away from the time wasting, world-focused, nonsense of this present evil-age, the more popular it seems to become in its hearts, minds, and eyes. I have seen some behind the scene plans by many so-called pastors to even bring their ministries into tighter focus with the secular to be even more involved with every aspect of government, entertainment, you name it, in the world. Of course, Emergence Christianity, which is simply a cult that is just another form of Christian Liberalism from the 19th Century, has no issues with this since it sees the ekklisia as containing the entire world anyway as per Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola in their new book Jesus Manifesto due to hit the stands June 1st of this year. Their publisher gave me an advanced copy of Jesus Manifesto last month in order to prepare a review for Possessing the Treasure. Continue reading

Shall the Sword Devour Forever?


by Mike Ratliff

Then Abner called to Joab, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?” (2 Samuel 2:26 ESV)

When King Saul died along with his son Jonathan, the tribe of Judah made David King. His military and security people during this time consisted of the three sons of David’s sister Zeruiah. The eldest was Joab. Abner was Saul’s cousin, the son of his uncle Ner. After Saul died, Abner made Saul’s son Ish-bosheth king of Israel. There was conflict between these two kingdoms continually. David’s kingdom, because God blessed him, became stronger and stronger while the kingdom of Ish-bosheth became weaker and weaker. The power behind his throne was Abner whom David considered to be a noble and fine man. On the other hand David, a man after God’s won heart, considered the three sons of Zeruiah to be harsh and virulent. He could not trust that they would keep a peace that he had made with others. Joab actually deceives Abner and murders him after David had made peace with him  (2 Samuel 3).

Over the past several weeks, we have all witnessed shameful behavior in the Internet between professing Christians intent on character assassination. Debates have devolved into ugly battles replete with straw man attacks, continual  ad hominem barrages, and actual secret plots by some to destroy others. This should not be so. As I witnessed much of this, the phrase that I used to title this post kept coming into my mind. I remember in the past when I have participated in some of these types of debates that it is a very ugly thing that never accomplishes anything except bitterness and entrenched hatred by some against others. Continue reading

Spontaneous Compassion


by Joni Earekson Tada

Bureaucracies aren’t programmed to be compassionate. It’s not in the nature of the thing. Take my friend, David Bowie, in his big, bulky wheelchair. After he became a quadriplegic in a car accident and his wife left him, he moved into a cramped one-room apartment and learned to rely on three or four part-time attendants to get him up and put him to bed. Life’s not easy. Continue reading