Blessed is the One


by Mike Ratliff

1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit! Psalms 32:1-2 (NASB) 

I debated with myself for a while about the title of this post. There is a part of me that still wants the name of it to be “What a Saviour!” My brethren, there is mischief afoot caused by a misunderstanding fostered by the deceit of the enemy of our souls. That mischief is to convince Christians that there is no need to hear the Gospel anymore now that they are safe in the arms of their Saviour. What rubbish! My times of struggling with my flesh and with overcoming the world always coincide when I am overwhelmed with discernment work or some other business that keeps me from simply expositing Sacred Scripture that points me to the Cross of the Christ. Also, proper worship should also do that very thing.  Continue reading

Betraying Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

21 Ταῦτα εἰπὼν [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς ἐταράχθη τῷ πνεύματι καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν καὶ εἶπεν· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι εἷς ἐξ ὑμῶν παραδώσει με. John 13:21 (NA28)

21Having said these things, Jesus was troubled in His Spirit and He testified and said, “Amen, amen I say to you that one of you will betray me.” John 13:21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, Lord Do You Wash My Feet?, our Lord revealed that one of the twelve disciples was “not clean” in John 13:10 and then in 13:18 He revealed that this would fulfill Old Testament prophecies about an insider betraying Him. Now, we enter that part of John’s account of our Lord’s last Passover Feast in which His betrayer is sent away to do his deed. In contrast, our Lord reveals that those who truly belong to Him follow the commandment from God to love one another. Then He reveals to Peter, even though Peter declares that he would rather die than leave the Lord, he will deny that he even knows Jesus three times this very night. Let us take a closer look.  Continue reading

Lord Do You Wash My Feet?


by Mike Ratliff

6 ἔρχεται οὖν πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον· λέγει αὐτῷ · κύριε, σύ μου νίπτεις τοὺς πόδας; 7 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ σὺ οὐκ οἶδας ἄρτι, γνώσῃ δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα. 8 λέγει αὐτῷ Πέτρος· οὐ μὴ νίψῃς μου τοὺς πόδας εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς αὐτῷ· ἐὰν μὴ νίψω σε, οὐκ ἔχεις μέρος μετʼ ἐμοῦ. John 13:6-8 (NA28)

6 Then He came to Simon Peter who said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to Him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will understand after these things.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never will you wash my feet even into the age.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you do not have a share with me.” John 13:6-8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As I write this and work on this translation of John 13:1-19 I am listening to a CD from Sovereign Grace music titled “No Greater Love.” Right now, my favorite song on that CD is playing which is titled “Know You.” Why am I sharing this? The heart that knows the Lord is so because the Lord knows that person by and through the power of the Cross. Those who are loved by the Lord through the work of the Gospel want deeply to know their Lord, to be with Him and they can never get enough of Him. That is what is expressed in that song and all through this CD. Now, remember what I have shared continually through this series, Christianity is true not because of feelings or by any esoteric values that I was attempting to describe above.  Continue reading

The Knower of Hearts


by Mike Ratliff

8 καὶ ὁ καρδιογνώστης θεὸς ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν 9 καὶ οὐθὲν διέκρινεν μεταξὺ ἡμῶν τε καὶ αὐτῶν τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τὰς καρδίας αὐτῶν. Acts 15:8-9 (NA28)

8 And the knower of hearts, God, bore witness to them having given to them the Holy Spirit just as to us, 9 and He differentiated nothing between them, and us having cleansed their hearts by faith. (Acts 15:8-9 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

God is omniscient, which mean that He knows all things. What is puzzling to me at times is that so many who profess to be Christians either do not understand what this really means or, their hearts are so hard in their unbelief that the “god” of their “faith” is one of their own making, hence, they live and “do their religion” in ways that are “of the world” and in no way could be called Biblical Christianity. Within that paradigm are all forms of man-focused religiosity that came into being, at least in the U.S. about the time of the Second Great Awakening. It was at that time that preaching the Gospel, coming together as a local body of believers to worship, pray together, and hear the Word of God opened and rightly divided was hijacked and made to be seen as something “old fashioned” or “boring.” Instead, so-called Christian leaders sought the tent revivals and continual crusade atmosphere that was much more conducive to large numbers of “conversions.” Forget the fact that very few of those “conversions” actually “stuck.”  Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 2 – Spiritual Blindness


by Mike Ratliff

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 (NASB) 

Over the last several years, perhaps even over the last several decades, I have become aware of a disturbing phenomenon in the Church in America. Perhaps you have noticed it as well. The phenomenon I am writing about is willful ignorance in our spiritual leaders. Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 1 – Humanism


by Mike Ratliff

13 “But He is unique and who can turn Him?
And what His soul desires, that He does. Job 23:13 (NASB) 

2 “I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2 (NASB) 

5 For I know that the LORD is great
And that our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does,
In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. Psalms 135:5-6 (NASB) 

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE,
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
“THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” Romans 3:9-18 (NASB) 

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB) 

12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 (NASB) 

Humanism: A system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth; the doctrine emphasizing a person’s capacity for self-realization through reason

Reformed Theology – the theological system which emphasizes the omnipotence of God and salvation by grace alone

If you haven’t done so already, please prayerfully read the scripture I have placed at the beginning of this chapter as well as the definitions for “Humanism” and “Reformed Theology.”

God is sovereign. He is omnipotent. He is perfect. He is Holy. He is Just. He is immutable. That means He does not change. He spoke His truth at the beginning of creation and that truth is still the truth now and will be for all eternity. God said in Isaiah 55:8-9 that His thoughts and ways are not as ours are. In fact His thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours. When I say “ours” I am speaking of all mankind. There are no exceptions. God said this to Isaiah and Isaiah wrote it down. It is given to us in the Bible which is the perfect Word of God. Continue reading

This Morning’s Devotion from Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

This Morning’s Meditation

C. H. Spurgeon


 

“And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with met.”—Genesis 21:6.

Twas far above the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that the aged Sarah should be honoured with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and He is mine for ever. This day will I lift up psalms of triumph unto the Lord who has remembered my low estate, for “my heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in Thy salvation.”
I would have all those that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high, laugh for joy with me. I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of His society. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with excess of rapture, and all her friends laughed with her; and thou, my soul, look on thy Jesus, and bid heaven and earth unite in thy joy unspeakable.

Soli Deo Gloria!

How to avoid letting false teachers mislead you


by Mike Ratliff

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. (Romans 16:17-19 NASB)

The visible church is overrun with false teachers and their doctrines. There is a mindset in the Church right now that is actually part of the problem in that it ostracizes and attempts to isolate and silence those who, in their obedience to the discernment God has given them, reveal the truth about certain false teachers and why their doctrines are unbiblical. Some of these wolves in sheep’s clothing are very popular in the visible church to the point that their supporters are more than willing to “give them a pass” when they err biblically because they have been ministered to by them in the past. However, this very thing simply promotes the environment for “tolerance” of error. This mindset contains a lie that those who discern these things, warn the body, and expose the false teachers and their doctrines, are the ones being divisive, unloving, and unChristlike. Thankfully, we still have God’s Word, and in it, we learn that we must always be on guard against false and deceptive teaching. One of the helpful things it teaches us in this battle is the knowledge of the believer’s new identity in Christ. This knowledge helps us resist the arguments of false teachers as we walk before the face of God for His glory alone.  Continue reading

Shame and a tender conscience


by Mike Ratliff

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:31-38 (NASB) 

One of the major weapons of our enemy is attacks centered on provoking our pride, to incite us to be deeply concerned about what others think of us in relation to our profession of faith and how we walk the narrow path set before us by God. Our Lord warned us that this sort of attack would be coming our way and it causes professing Christians to lose their boldness as they actually seek to preserve “their life” for their own sake. When we are more concerned with our image and standing before men rather than for Christ and His gospel then we compromise because we have set our minds on the things of man rather than the things of God. Continue reading

Who is the antichrist?


by Mike Ratliff

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 1 John 18-24 NASB)

The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church says that it is the only true church while all others are false. At the same time most solid evangelical Christians I know hold to the truth that the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is an “antichrist.” The word that is translated from the Greek that is rendered as “antichrist” in the New Testament is ἀντίχριστος (antichristos). It is made up of two words, ἀντί(anti), which means “instead of or against,” and χριστος(christos), which means “anointed one.” The ἀντί prefix may be reference to “substitution or opposition.” The word ἀντίχριστος is found only in 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, and 2 John 1:7. Paul refers to a man whom he calls “the man of sin, the son of perdition, and wicked one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8. He refers to “the one opposing” in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Most believe that John’s ἀντίχριστος is the same man that Paul is referring to. This man will attempt to assert the fulfillment of God’s Word in himself and will attempt to set up his own throne.

Continue reading

The Time of the End


by Mike Ratliff

20 Come, my people, enter into your rooms
And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while
Until indignation runs its course.
21 For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
And the earth will reveal her bloodshed
And will no longer cover her slain. Isaiah 26:20-21 (NASB)

God is Sovereign! He has always been and always will be Sovereign. I use Gmail as my main email. Unfortunately Google embeds ads in the interface just above the control buttons. Sometimes I will see something interesting there and click it. Usually I regret it. I once saw one that advertised a study that was supposed to show the real definition of Hyper-Calvinism. I am Reformed in my Theology, but I abhor Hyper-Calvinism. I know that many confuse the two so I hit the link to see what was what. The formula this writer of the document used to determine if a person was Hyper-Calvinistic was if all they talked about was God’s Sovereignty and glory instead of insisting on man’s responsibility. While I can see what the writer was trying to say I also saw that even though he agreed that God was Sovereign, he still was not sovereign over Man’s will. I read about half the document then gave up because the further I read the less Sovereignty God had and the more Man had. I had to go get a cold drink of water after that because it left a very bad taste in my mouth. Isn’t this the very essence of Man’s rebellion against God? Continue reading

Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life


by Mike Ratliff

6 λέγει αὐτῷ [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ ζωή· οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸν πατέρα εἰ μὴ διʼ ἐμοῦ.John 14:6 (NA28)

 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and life; no one come to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We continue with the time our Lord spent with His disciples in preparation for His separation for them as He was arrested, tried, crucified, died, and laid in a tomb. In John 13 He has told them that He is about to be betrayed by one of their number and that Peter this very night will deny that he ever knew the Lord at all. All of these are extreme jolts and tests of their faith therefore our Lord encourages them greatly. In this post we will look how He begins this by exegeting John 14:1-14.  Continue reading

How Believers Hold Communion with the Lord Christ


by Mike Ratliff

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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.Ephesians 1:3-10 (NASB)

I have in my possession a book published as part of series of books called the “Library of Spiritual Classics.” The one I have is Volume One, which is titled Practicing His Presence. It is made up of three volumes. Two of the volumes contain the letters of Frank Laubach while the last volume is simply letters and interviews of Brother Lawrence, a 17th Century French Monk. I bought the book back in 2005 in order to have a source from which to quote Brother Lawrence for a book I was trying to put together. At that time, I had no knowledge of Contemplative Prayer, its source, or its dangers. In the Epilogue to the book, the editors give the purpose for the publishing of the six volume series, which include works by Jeanne Guyon, Fenelon, and Michael Molinos as well as Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. I find it interesting that one of the works listed for Frank Laubach is Letters by a Modern Mystic. If I had just encountered these works now, I would immediately recognize them for what they are, but back in 2005 I had no idea. Below is an excerpt from the Epilogue for Practicing His Presence.

There is no question: there are a vast number of Christians out there who are not content. Today’s Christianity does not satisfy, is not deep enough; its formulas are all wanting.

We are publishing these books to help satisfy the hunger that is so widespread. But we also want to tell you something. It is this: God did not give you the presence of Christ just to make you blissfully happy all your life. He saved you to put into His kingdom. And , in the first century at least, all believers had a vital part in the daily and very practical experience of that kingdom. They called it the body of Christ. We call it the church.

Whatever it is, it is basic, practical, real. And whatever it is – though it has many inferior imitations (such as “community,” “going to church on Sunday,” etc.) – church life is an experience unknown to Christians today.

Here is my plea. In all your seeking to know Christ in a real and deep way, don’t forget to seek to know Him as they did in the first century. They all knew Him in the context of practical church life.

May you find Him. But may you also find that further experience of knowing Him in the daily experience of the body of Christ. – Gene Edwards

While I see some things in Mr. Edwards statement that I do agree with, I think his conclusion about how Christians in the 1st Century Church communed with Christ is simply “his take” or “his opinion,” not based in any way on what we learn from Sacred Scripture, God’s Word, which is the final say. As many of you know, I have been working my way through a work by 17th Century Puritan John Owen titled Communion With The Triune God. What follows is based on Chapter 9, “Of Communion with the Son Jesus Christ,” section ‘How Believers Hold Communion with the Lord Christ.’ I will be quoting from pages 329-333. There are three subsections in this section which will be the outline for this article and will refute what the mystics like Gene Edwards are saying about how Christians commune with their Lord. Those who are selling Contemplative prayerhave taken up the baton. Mysticism, no matter its source, is fair game in many so-called Christian circles. John Owen had a very different take on how we are to commune with our Saviour according to God’s Grace.  Continue reading

Therefore God Sends Them A Strong Delusion


by Mike Ratliff

And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.” (1 Kings 22:18-23 ESV)

There is not a day during the week that goes by without me becoming involved in a discussion with friends about this or that very well known “Christian” figure saying or doing something that reveals fruit of apostasy in their lives and ministries. It used to be a surprise and we all marveled, but not anymore. Oh, we mourn, and we wonder at who will be next, but we have learned that our rock is Christ not any man. We cling to the Cross and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, not the life and ministry of any man. I grew up a Southern Baptist and was a Deacon and Bible teacher in multiple SBC churches from the late 1980’s until we left our old church in 2006 when it was preparing to go Purpose Driven. During that time, I was quite acquainted with the SBC way of making celebrities of its superstar preachers and evangelists. This same thing is also found in other denominations and church groups I am sure. These superstars have become idols and have taken a place in these churches that should only be held in a place in the hearts of the people reserved for our Lord.  Continue reading