The Spirit is who makes alive while the flesh does not profit anything


by Mike Ratliff

63 τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν τὸ ζῳοποιοῦν, ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν· τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λελάληκα ὑμῖν πνεῦμά ἐστιν καὶ ζωή ἐστιν. John 6:63 (NA28)

63 The Spirit is who makes alive while the flesh does not profit anything. The words which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life. John 6:63 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

A study of 2 Kings 12-16 is horrifying to read. Why? The rampant apostasy in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern King of Judah was beyond reproach. King Ahaz of Judah actually sacrificed his own son(s) to idols. I am sure things were just as bad, if not worse, in the Northern Kingdom. However, are any better in our time. In today’s study we will look at John Chapter 6 and see that apostasy in our Lord’s time was little different than we are encountering in our day. Many who know me well say that I seem to enjoy teaching from John’s Gospel and his epistles and Revelation than from any other parts of the Bible.  I don’t know about that, but the Apostle John is someone I can identify with very well. I have been accused by those same people who who enjoy analyzing me so much of not being able to compromise at all. I have no grey areas. Things are either right or wrong. I agree with that assessment to a point and I see the same sort of view of non-compromising adherence to the truth with the Apostle John. However, let us not forget that what he wrote for us in God’s Word is that very thing. We are reading the inspired Word of God and in John 6, the very words of our Lord are, for the most part, in response to His critics who were in the darkness of unbelief. Don’t we have the same thing going on in our time? Continue reading

Wheat and Tares


by Mike Ratliff

9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:9-15 (NASB) 

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Matthew 13:24-30 (NASB) 

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:36-43 (NASB) 

Several years ago a preacher ask me what a tare was. He knew that I was from Oklahoma and he thought I would know. I am no country boy, but when I was a young man, I worked in a grain elevator. Actually, most wheat farmers I knew complained about a weed, which grew in their fields, they called “Cheat.” I may not be spelling it correctly. I have seen the weed though. Wheat looks like a thick-bladed grass when it is young and green. “Cheat” is a native rye grass whose species name is Lolium Temulentum. When it is young, it looks just like the Wheat. However, when it matures, it has a head on it as does Wheat, but you can tell them apart. Wheat has value, but “Cheat” is a nuisance. We offered a Wheat cleaning service to farmers just prior to planting. To clean Wheat seed we ran it through a screening process to remove any other seeds that were not Wheat. We would drop the grain down a chute into a cleaning machine that had several well-placed screens that allowed only the Wheat grains to make it through the process. The rest of the chaff and weed seeds were waste, which we bagged. Some of the farmers took that waste and fed it to their chickens. Continue reading

Election and Predestination


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. (Colossians 3:12-13 NASB)

To complement our study of “foreknowledge” in yesterday’s post, let us look at two other aspects of Doctrine of Election. When people confront me about my “Calvinism” I do not become tense or defensive. Instead, I usually make sure that whoever I am conversing with understands that the basis for my understanding of God and His doctrines is that He is Sovereign. Who in their right mind would worship a God that is not Sovereign and for any reason is dependent upon mankind (one of his creatures) for any reason whatsoever? Also, Reformed Theology (I prefer that term over Calvinism) is rooted in God’s Sovereign Grace. Because of this, and since I am fully submitted to God because of who He is knowing that He is God and without my Lord I can do nothing, I am fully at ease, and resting in His Sovereign Grace. What is the response I usually get? Tense argumentation! I don’t get it. Foreknowledge, as we saw yesterday, is a wonderful word that should cause none of us to squirm or get upset or whatever, but should drive us to our knees in thanksgiving for God foreordaining each of us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Likewise, as we are about to see, election and predestination are both wonderful words that describe God’s exercise of His Sovereign Grace on our behalf. Continue reading

Foreknowledge


by Mike Ratliff

28 Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν. 29 ὅτι οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς· 30 οὓς δὲ προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν. (Romans 8:28-30 NA28)

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 NASB)

Unfortunately, “foreknowledge” is a very controversial or contentious term. However, I contend that the debate over it is made overly “intense” by those who really do not understand what it actually means. I have heard more times than I can count from well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ something that goes like this, “Doesn’t ‘foreknowledge’ in the Bible in those verses such as Romans 8:29 simply mean that God looked down through time and had prior knowledge of who would be saved and elected them?” Well my brethren, that simply is not what it means. The root Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “foreknew” is προγινώσκω (proginōskō), which also carries the idea of “foreordination.” Continue reading

Religion does not keep people from being carnal


by Mike Ratliff

63 τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν τὸ ζῳοποιοῦν, ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν· τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λελάληκα ὑμῖν πνεῦμά ἐστιν καὶ ζωή ἐστιν. (John 6:63 NA28)

63 The Spirit is who makes alive. The flesh does not profit anything. The words which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life. (John 6:63 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Apart from my normal preparations and Bible study to put these devotions and articles together, I also do a systematic read through of the Bible every year. Recently I read 2 Kings 12-16 and John 6, which, on Saturdays, I usually do from my 1560 Edition of the Geneva Bible. The rampant apostasy in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was horrifying to read. King Ahaz of Judah actually sacrificed his own son(s) to idols. I am sure things were just as bad, if not worse, in the Northern Kingdom. It was almost with relief that I came to the end of 2 Kings 16 and went to the New Testament. However, the Apostle John is someone I can identify with very well. I have been accused by many who know me well of not being able to compromise at all. I have no grey areas. Things are either right or wrong. I agree with that assessment to a point and I see the same sort of view of non-compromising adherence to the truth with the Apostle John. However, let us not forget that what he wrote for us in God’s Word is that very thing. We are reading the inspired Word of God and in John 6, the very words of our Lord are, for the most part, in response to His critics who were in the darkness of unbelief.  Continue reading

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, and I will give you rest


by Mike Ratliff

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NASB)

From the time God saved me in 1986 until He shoved me out of our church in Olathe, KS back in 2006 when it began going Purpose Driven, I was immersed in a form of evangelicalism that can best be described as the pastors and leadership of the churches we belonged to teaching and preaching in such a way so as to make all of us uncomfortable with how much we served and how much we gave. They even twisted it in such a way to say that to mature and grow so you can hear the voice of God Christians must make themselves uncomfortable, get busy, then God will speak to them. My brethren, this is not grace, this is not Gospel, it is pure Law. Our Lord has some good news for refugees from this sort of bondage.  Continue reading

Genuine Christians are chosen in love


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 NASB)

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post my brethren. In love, God predestined believers for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. Our Creator’s great love for us moved Him to call us out of the passion we had for Satan and the kingdom of darkness. Never forget my brethren, all in Christ were predestined for adoption as sons with great affection by God Himself. He took us, who had no legal claim to being a part of God’s family, as His very children, with all the privileges that status entails. Continue reading

Accepted in the Beloved


by Mike Ratliff 

6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6 ESV)

Our salvation, our redemption, is God’s handiwork end to end. In all my many years as a believer, I have run across multitudes of professing Christians in spiritual bondage because they have a “distrust” of God that they absolutely refuse to admit is there, but prove it by walking in unbelief. This “walking in unbelief consists of believing their salvation is entirely up to them and their performance in walking in repentance to remain in God’s good graces. It is as if they have the offer of salvation, which they have accepted, but they are in deadly fear that the offer will be revoked if they sin or or not work hard enough. This is a form of unbelief because God’s Word does not teach that. In fact, it teaches the opposite. I wonder if those in this bondage have every considered the fact that since none of us could do one thing to save ourselves, therefore, the teaching we will be held eternally accountable to a standard of perfection that is impossible for us to be conformed to in this life is a heresy.

Continue reading

As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:3-5 ESV)

For what reason did the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose (elect) all in Christ before the foundation of world? It was that they would be holy (ἁγίους) and blameless (ἀμώμους) before him. The Puritans have always been accused of being legalistic and way too concerned about Christians living holy and blameless lives. I heard a Jeopardy clue not long ago that actually defined this aspect of them as being “harsh” and “stern.” Is it an unreasonable thing to command that believers conform their lives unto holy living and be separate from the world and its ways?  Continue reading

Do Conversion And Regeneration Represent The Same Thing?


by Mike Ratliff

13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. ’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord? ’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles— to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:13-18 ESV)

A hypocrite is someone who implies he or she stands for one set of values, but actually lives out their life doing the opposite. Since few would disagree that the post-modern church is mired in hypocrisy, one might assume that Christianity was the problem. If Christianity really was the one and only true religion and Jesus’ disciples truly are changed by their new birth in Christ, the hypocrite label should not stick. Why? True Biblical Christianity professes that all in Christ not only have their sins forgiven them, but they are also new creations who are no longer under the power of their former sins. Something isn’t right.  Continue reading

Who Are the Poor in Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 ESV)

One the most disturbing aspects of the churches who practice Christianity “lite” is the near total abandonment of a call to personal holiness. Even more discouraging is the fact that they preach a version of the gospel that has had any mention of repentance severed from it. The reasoning behind this, of course, is that they are building bridges to the unchurched. If they preach the whole gospel they will drive away those they are attempting to draw to join their churches. The problem with that sort of reasoning is that it is based in pragmatism. It is based on fleshly reasoning and the ways of the world. It is actually unbelief in the form of ministry. The architects of Christianity “lite” do not believe that God is still building His Church, therefore, they will do it themselves using marketing techniques constructed around “cultural-relevancy.” They reason that if they build “cool churches” that it will draw people who hate “traditional church.” They may not go to the old Baptist Church on main street, but they might go to a gathering that is more of an entertainment venue than a church.

Continue reading

Our Redemption in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

21 Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ πεφανέρωται μαρτυρουμένη ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν, 22 δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολή, 23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ 24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 25 ὃν προέθετο ὁ θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ [τῆς] πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων 26 ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ. (Romans 3:21-26 NA27)

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being attested to by the Law and the Prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all those who believe for there is no distinction. 23 For all sinned and come short of the glory of God. 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed as a propitiations through faith in his blood for a display of his righteousness because of the passing by of the previous sins 26 because of the forbearance of God for the display of his righteousness in the present time for him to be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

I listened to part of President Obama’s 2nd Inaugural speech and I want to reiterate to all of you reading this with discernment that we should not be surprised when leaders who are not Christians do and say unchristian things. I wrote about this over a year ago in a post I called Evil Personified.  We live in an evil world in a dark time in which the visible church has become dominated by those attempting to redefine the Gospel to make it more palatable to the post-modernism while at the same time blatantly ignoring what God’s Word clearly teaches about what is evil and what he judges and what genuine Christians are really to be about. On the other hand, God has always kept a remnant within the visible church, which is the True Church, and it has remained faithful. This post and what we are teaching here is meant for those Christians. In fact, I suggest that what we are about to study will “offend” many of those who call themselves Christians, but who are really just attempting to be religious while sanctifying what they do in the flesh.  Continue reading

What it Means to be God’s People


I am sure that most of you have not heard of Scottish preacher Eric J. Alexander who is former senior pastor of St. George’s-Tron parish church in Glasgow, Scotland. He is the author of Prayer: A Biblical Perspective. 

The following 5 sermons on 1 Peter are one of the best expositions on what it means to be God’s people that I have ever heard.

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 1

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 2

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 3

1 Peter 1 & 2 part 4

1 Peter 5 postscript to 1 Peter 1 & 2

If you have trouble linking to those files go here.

Soli Deo Gloria!

God’s Purpose for the Church Part 3


by Mike Ratliff

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints and believers in Christ Jesus who are in Ephesus.  2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and  our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1) 

In these dark days there is an accompanying Biblical ignorance within the Church. This ignorance is in itself quite sad because so many genuine Christians actually have a wrong view of God. This means they also have a skewed understanding of the gospel that is doctrinally shallow. In fact, the religious structure around this is man-centered rather than God-centered. The end result is a religious system that does not satisfy the spiritual needs that God designed into all of us. This is why those church leaders behind this moving tragedy are continually attempting to derail all attempts by their people’s demands to “go deeper” into the Word or to address what the Word says about election and the Sovereignty of God after they read a book by Dr. James White or listen to a sermon by John MacArthur, for instance, that does indeed address these highly relevant spiritual topics. My brethren, man-centered religiosity is so spiritually thin because it is based on man’s traditions that came out of policies designed to offend no one. In doing this, the theologians and religious leaders behind this also produced a religious system that is based on feelings and, therefore, is temporally based rather than focused on the eternal.  Continue reading