Justification by Faith


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (NASB) 

Justification by Faith is a doctrine that was the storm center of the Reformation. It was also a major concern of the Apostle Paul. As we study his epistles we can plainly see that he considered this doctrine to be the heart of the gospel. (Romans 1:17; 3:21-5:21; Galatians 2:15-5:1) It also shaped both his message (Acts 13:38-39) and his devotion and spiritual life (2 Corinthians 5:13-21; Philippians 3:4-14)
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Have Peace In the Midst of Tribulation and Take Heart


by Mike Ratliff

 

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”          His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:25-33 ESV)

I love talking with dedicated believers who are relatively new in their faith as we discuss the pressures that they are dealing with in this life that, in many cases, their plastic, “seeker-sensitive” or “emergent” form of religiosity has in no way prepared them for. Yes we are all in process and no, none of us have become so mature that we never struggle with the fires of tribulation that the world can bring to bear upon us at times. I had a recent discussion with a young man who is a growing disciple yet I have noticed that the fervent heat of his faith has really gone into the background lately. I watched him for a few days before we talked and noticed how he was still very much engrained into the entertainment and ways of the world that are so prevalent with those of his age group (college student). We had some private time and I said nothing about any of that. What I did say to him was that for the believer, seeking fulfillment from any fleshly source is deadly to our walk and designed by our enemy to distract us from humble service. I also said that I could not name one thing the world had to offer that gave me more fulfillment than spending time rightly dividing the Word of Truth and teaching others what the Holy Spirit taught me. I could see the working of the Holy Spirit in him as we talked. I pray that the next time we see each other we can talk some more about it. Continue reading

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled


by Mike Ratliff

[27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

My dad’s brother, my uncle Paul, is the last living relative I have from that generation of his family. My dad, who died in 2010, was the youngest of many brothers and sisters. All of them were married and their spouses have all passed away as well. My aunt Dorothy, 97 years old, who was married to my dad’s brother Aubrey, died yesterday. He had died about ten years earlier. In any case, I do not really mourn my aunt Dorothy’s passing. She was a very sweet Christian lady with as strong a faith as I have ever witnessed in anyone. Right now she no longer cares about her aches and pains and being old and missing her husband Aubrey because she is with our Lord Jesus. Continue reading

Life and Peace


by Mike Ratliff

τὸ γὰρ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς θάνατος, τὸ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος ζωὴ καὶ εἰρήνη· (Romans 8:6 NA27)

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but he mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (a personal translation of Romans 8:6 from the NA27 Greek text)

Discernment work is no fun. I wonder at some who seem to thrive on it. I do not. I will take up the sword when necessary and will not hesitate to take that firm stand, but my heart yearns for that time of peace like I am in right now as I am working my way through Romans 8:1-11 in light of my reading Matthew Mead’s The Almost Christian Discovered. The other side of discernment work for me is dealing with the inevitable spiritual assaults that come through our enemy’s servants. Their nagging little cuts and slices are nothing compared to the power of our Lord. They are simply those ugly voices of small people who are being used to echo the accusing of our enemy as he attempts to derail us from exposing one of his favorites. Let us never forget that our God is Sovereign and Satan can do nothing to us unless God allows it.  Continue reading

Rejoicing in Faith


by Mike Ratliff

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7,8 ESV)

The confidence of the true Christian cannot be in men or the faithfulness of their so-called Christian leaders. No, no matter how well known or published or how solid his reputation is, he is still a sinful man. The Christian’s faith and trust and confidence is not in any other Christian, or in any earthly institution. No, it is in Christ our rock. The false teachers have always known this and that is why they always teach “another Jesus” that is more like the pagan gods of other religions or even more like just one of us than the perfect Son of Man who we learn of in the Word of God. We who really know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour are new creations and have faith that believes God and even when it is under heavy attack, as it seems to be continually nowadays, God has provided us a way to rest in Him and finding peace and joy that the unregenerate cannot understand.  Continue reading

Still, My Soul, Be Still


When I got off work yesterday, my wife handed me a a cd and dvd she had bought for me by Keith & Krystyn Getty titled “Awaken the Dawn.” There is one hymn on this cd that I just cannot hear enough. It is below. The message is exactly that which God continually presses into me. Self-focus, self-sufficiency, and the like are of the flesh, of the world, and are, therefore, worthless in the eternal. Oh my brethren, learn this… Here is the link to the Getty resource for this cd.

Still, My Soul, Be Still

Still, my soul be still
And do not fear
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow
God is at your side
No longer dread
The fires of unexpected sorrow

God, You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone

Still, my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways
With shield of faith
Against temptations flaming arrows

Still, my soul be still
Do not forsake
The Truth you learned in the beginning
Wait upon the Lord
And hope will rise As stars appear when day is dimming

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

Peace That Passes All Understanding


I have always had an issue with depression, but for some reason, uncontrollable anxiety has never been much of problem. However, since my Neurologist has put me on a larger dosage of anti-seizure medication this Fall I have had several very severe bouts of depression. Everything is under God’s control. I am positive that God is using this for my good and for the edification of all to whom the Holy Spirit ministers as they read the exegetical studies from Sacred Scripture God gives me to give to them. In my own case, I have found that even as I am dealing with depression I never cave in to the doubt and worry associated with a lack of faith. Even when I hit the bottom my Lord is there to minister to me. In this, I rejoice! In the January 2010 issue of Tabletalk Magazine from Ligonier Ministries there are several very good articles dealing with worry and anxiety. The one I have posted below struck me because in the magazine it is accompanied by a painting of Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Briton Riviere (below). There are seven or so large lions around him, but each of them has a puzzled look on his or her face and not one of them has their mouth open. Daniel is standing with his back to them looking up at the little bit of light filtering into the chamber. His face is calm and it is so obvious that he is confidently awaiting deliverance from the Lord. I pray that God will minister to you as you read this as He did me. – Mike Ratliff

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