You Must be Ready


by Mike Ratliff

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Matthew 25:1-4 (NASB) 

Jesus is coming back soon. If that statement brought a surge of joy into your heart then more than likely, you are actively preparing for His return and are looking forward to it with eagerness. However, there may be some of you who reacted with a sense of dread or foreboding. If that is the case, then I pray that you will pay special attention to the truths from God’s Word we will look at in this post. There may be some of you who reacted to that statement with skepticism or doubt. For you, I pray that God will open your heart to the truth as we study His Word.
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The Carnality of Christians and the Mortification of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Romans 7:9-24 (NASB) 

If we are honest, each of us would have to confess that there are sins that have an incredible hold on us. It seems that no matter how devoted we become in our walk before our Lord, there will be some sins that trip us up, making us stumble and fall to our deep chagrin. Our self-loathing resulting from this can be quite severe. We cry out to God, we promise Him that we are done with that sin. We declare that we would rather die than do it again. We weep. We mourn. We then start to recover and become joyous in the Lord again. Then a short time later there is that sin pouncing upon us out of no where. We seem to have little or no strength or resolve to fight it off and then we stumble right back into it again. 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

God Wills for His People to be Holy


by Mike Ratliff

4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:4-6 (NASB) 

“Holiness is the demonstration of faith working by love. It is wholly supernatural in the sense of being God’s gracious achievement within us and wholly natural in the sense of being our own true humanness, lost through sin, misconceived through ignorance and through listening too hard to current culture-but now in process of restoration through the redirecting and reintegrating energy of new creation in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers called holiness “our brilliant heritage.” The phrase was well chosen. Brilliant-bright, shining, precious, glorious-is the word that fits.” From Rediscovering Holiness, p32 by J.I. Packer

I know that many may be suddenly struck by a sense of guilt or inadequacy when they read or hear that it is God’s will that His people be Holy, however, that does not change the fact that genuine Christians will be both saved eternally and are changed temporally by the working of the Holy Spirit in them. God regenerated them at salvation so they are new creations. Are they automatically in sinless perfection then? No! That is why we should not become discouraged from this walk simply because we struggle with sin. All Christians sin. That is why God gave us 1 John 1:5-10. Continue reading

God Wills for His People to be Christlike


by Mike Ratliff

12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NASB) 

The Holy Spirit and Christ actually indwell each genuine believer. They work within their hearts to transform them into Christ’s likeness. What is involved in this? Christ and His Spirit empower Christians to put to death sinful habits replacing them with Christlike behavior patterns that Paul described as the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-26) None of us are capable of walking perfectly this way…not in this fleshly body, but godly patterns of behavior will become more and more predominant flowing from our maturing character. Continue reading

Jesus is the Light of the World


by Mike Ratliff

12 Πάλιν οὖν αὐτοῖς ἐλάλησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων· ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου· ὁ ἀκολουθῶν ἐμοὶ οὐ μὴ περιπατήσῃ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ, ἀλλʼ ἕξει τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς. John 8:12 (NA28)

12 Then again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I Am the light of the world; the one following Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

For those who still have issues with the deity of Christ and whether He ever claimed that or not, He made it clear to those who opposed His ministry in vivid terms that he made that claim and they “took up stones” to kill Him for that more than a few times. For the record, he made clear, absolute “I am” statements that made it plain that He equated Himself to be the Son of God in five (5) absolute statements (John 6:20; 8:24, 28, 48; 18:5). He also made seven (7) metaphorical “I am” statements about Himself, one of which we will examine in this post, that referred back to Old Testament prophecies that clearly could be claimed only by the Messiah and the Son of God.

  1. I am the bread of life – John 6:35, 48, 51.
  2. I am the light of the world – John 8:12; 9:5.
  3. I am the door of the sheep – John 10:7, 9.
  4. I am the good shepherd – John 10:11, 14.
  5. I am the resurrection and the life – John 11:25.
  6. I am the way, the truth, and the life – John 14:6.
  7. I am the true vine – John 15:1.

We study these truths because when we know the truth about our Lord and Saviour, we are actually learning His good doctrines. We are doing our part in Romans 12:1-2 by renewing our minds by immersing ourselves in the Word of God. Through this, the Holy Spirit will transform us, maturing us, deepening and growing our faith. This is how we become those living sacrifices who bring glory to God.  Continue reading

Righteousness which Exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees


by Mike Ratliff

6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NASB) 

What is our Lord’s number one desire for His sheep? Some would say that Jesus Christ wants Christians to just get along. Others might say that He wants Christians to live sacrificially while being busy doing good works. Some may say that proper religiosity is most important. The number one desire our Lord has for His people is that their Righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisee so that their lives will bring Him glory. Continue reading

Laodiceans


by Mike Ratliff

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:14-16 (NASB) 

I have heard numerous sermons and read even more teachings on Revelation 3:14-22, which is is our Lord’s letter given to the Apostle John to be sent to the church at Laodicea. I have written and taught on this passage myself numerous times. In any case, there are two aspects of it that we will look at in this post that point directly to the apostate mess that is going on right now in the “visible church.”  Continue reading

Living Holy in the World


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NASB) 

Even though genuine Christians are new creations and have been purchased out of the world through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross, as they attempt to live godly lives in the temporal, they will come under tremendous pressure to compromise by reverting back to the fleshly way of dealing with life. This way of reacting to circumstances, both good and bad, has emotions as its catalyst motivated by a form of self-righteousness that is manifested through self-exaltation and self-protection. Here we witness ourselves reacting to the good and bad in a way that is little different than we did prior to our salvation. We may even attempt to justify our actions by proclaiming that we are only seeking justice. Pride is the culprit behind this and when we stumble into these sins it is because we are not spirit-filled and, therefore, not humble. Continue reading

Arrogance


by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB) 

No Christian would argue that this list characterizes man in these last days, but sadly, these very things are tolerated in professing believers in our time. This passage and other obvious Bible verses that state these things are simply ignored by professing Christians and Christian leaders. They give lip service to the Bible, but disregard what it actually says. How often do we encounter a professing brother or sister in Christ and as we attempt to deal with them Biblically are rudely attacked from an obvious base of pride manifesting itself in arrogance? I personally find that very disquieting. Yes, it may accomplish what that person wanted in getting us to back off, but what has it done to our relationship and, even more importantly, what has it done to their own relationship with God, if one did indeed exist to begin with?  Continue reading

He Must Increase But I Must Decrease


by Mike Ratliff

30 ἐκεῖνον δεῖ αὐξάνειν, ἐμὲ δὲ ἐλαττοῦσθαι. John 3:30 (NA28)

30 It is necessary for Him to increase, but for me to decrease. John 3:30 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We often think that false doctrine concerning the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will begin with denials of His deity or the fall of man et cetera. Consider this my brethren. All it takes to get the gospel wrong is to make the focus of it man rather than the glory of the Father through the glorification of the Son as He lived that sinless life and through that perfect obedience became the propitiation for those He came to save. Then he deliberately laid down His life to be that perfect sacrifice on their behalf. He went to that cross so that those chosen before the foundation of the world, given to the Son by the Father, are given eternal life when they believe the Gospel in repentance turning to Christ as Lord as Saviour. At that moment, the Father imputes Christ’s perfect obedience and perfect righteousness to their account. However, during our Lord’s earthly ministry, those who followed Him as well as those who opposed Him did not see this at all. Jesus came to reveal the Father to the lost sheep of Israel, but most of them rejected the message. It was not until our Lord rose from the dead three days after dying on that Cross that He opened the minds of His disciples so that they could understand Sacred Scripture and then know the truth of His true mission and what the gospel is all about. Yes, when the gospel is handled correctly, people are saved and brought into the Kingdom, but the purpose is the glory of God. John the Baptist understood that perfectly.  Continue reading

Counterfeit Obedience and Discernment


by Mike Ratliff

13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:13-17 (NASB) 

The heart of Man is deceitful beyond our understanding. I find it incredible that God would desire to save any of us. Even after regeneration there is an element in each of our hearts that falls for the wicked appeal of our enemy to believe those things that have an affinity to our pride and flesh. One of the things that I must do in order to write these posts is to do research into the ministries of certain people who are suspected of some form of apostasy or heresy. I find it amazing how I can listen to one of these fellows preach or teach and find something within my heart having an affinity to what is being said. Of course this shows us the level of deception within these things. It is very interesting to then analyze what is being taught and compare it to Scripture. It is then that that part of me that liked what it heard runs for cover because I am seeking to kill it. Continue reading

Rooted and Grounded


by Mike Ratliff

14 Τούτου χάριν κάμπτω τὰ γόνατά μου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, 15 ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται, 16 ἵνα δῷ ὑμῖν κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον, 17 κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι, 18 ἵνα ἐξισχύσητε καταλαβέσθαι σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ ὕψος καὶ βάθος, 19 γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NA28)

14 For this cause I bend my knees to the Father 15 from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named, 16 that He may grant you according to the wealth of His glory to become mightily empowered in your inner being through His Spirit 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, having been rooted and grounded in love, 18 that you might have strength to grasp together with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of His love, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I would not pass the test for post modernism in any context. I am not politically correct nor do I care whether I am or am not. If that becomes a requirement for employment or something else that we view as temporally vital in this age, I will still refuse. On the other hand, as I walk through my day in this world, that does not mean that those around me are not exposed to God’s love through me. As I have meditated a great deal on this lately, I have done much repentance as well. When unbelievers see me, get to know me, et cetera, they should be drawn to Christ because they see evidence of His love being manifest through me. Is that always the case? Oh that it was! If we walk in light of Jesus Christ and Him crucified in all of our relationships, how can we be self-centered jerks at anytime with anyone?  Continue reading

A Very Grave Person


by Mike Ratliff

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NASB) 

The visible church is flesh driven. Evangelicalism is corrupt because of the very same thing. I visit both large and small churches. It seems that in many cases, the larger the church, the more geared the leadership is there to appealing to the flesh to attract and keep the crowds large and entertained. When I enter the physical buildings of these large churches I look around and take a visible inventory of the clues given of how focused the leadership there is to being “in tune” with culture in how church is done, how the music is done, how convicting the message from the Word of God is in all of this and how central that is to the life of that local body of believers. Forget those that have their own television networks or shows or whatever. They have sold out a long time ago to contextualization of the truth in order to keep the money coming in.  Continue reading