Does prayer change things?


by Mike Ratliff

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16-18 (NASB) 

I participate in many online and offline theological discussions. Some them have to do with today’s topic and for those whose faith is focused on the here and now rather than the eternal it is perplexing. However, just so we can address this issue, let us ponder it in the correct fashion. In light of the fact that God is sovereign over all and has ordained whatsoever comes to pass according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:11), why should we pray? If God already knows what is going to happen and, indeed, if He has already determined what will happen, what is the point of praying at all? Continue reading

Be anxious for nothing


by Mike Ratliff

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (NASB) 

Where I work, we are having a great deal of turmoil with a lot of turnover with people departing including my boss. The person over all the technology departments has put one of my coworkers over our DBA group as a “team lead,” whatever that means.  She is quite a bit younger than me. She is competent as a DBA. I have been getting signals from her emails and phone calls over past several days and also from my fellow DBAs that she is really pushing the envelope hard to look like a competent manager and is asking for all sorts of reports and for us to do goal setting, etc. I am 67 years old and a few weeks ago had made up my mind to continue to work for a few more years in order to get some things paid off before I retire. However, these things are very frustrating. Last week I “pushed back” on a few of her requests telling her that it was something that was not what a DBA could ever do nor needs to do. We solve problems. We do installs. We don’t goal set. We don’t play management games. She told me I had to do it anyway. We’ll see. In any case, I no longer want to go to work. I no longer want to have anything to do with the company I work for. They have been very good to me since 2001, but this is too much. I am really not in the financial position to simply retire yet. So I started praying about it more and more. Continue reading

God is sovereign and that sovereignty is not partial


By Mike Ratliff

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:25-30 (NASB)

God is Sovereign. That sovereignty is not partial. It is not subject to any conditions or forces outside of God. He has never nor will He ever relinquish any portion of His sovereignty. What He sets out to do, He does. What Men believe or refuse to believe about these truths changes nothing. Just because professing Christians cling to the fallacy that they are saved because they exercised their free will does not in any way diminish the truth from God’s Word that tells us the very opposite.

Man is fallen. All born of Adam are children of God’s wrath. No one seeks after God because none are righteous (Romans 3:10-18). God’s people are part of our Lord’s flock. Those of His flock believe God, seek God, and know the Lord’s voice. The Lord gives them eternal life. Notice that the veracity of their eternal life is not subject to them or their behavior. No, the Son holds them and no one can snatch them out of His hand.

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Unbelief, signs, and wonders


by Mike Ratliff

48 εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς αὐτόν· ἐὰν μὴ σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα ἴδητε, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε. John 4:48 (NA28)

48 Therefore, Jesus said to him, “Except you see signs and wonders you never believe!” John 4:48 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I lived in the Kansas City area from September 2001 until the first couple of weeks of December 2012.  In Kansas City is a “church” that calls itself “World Revival Church.” It is closely associated with another “church” that was once sued by the corporation ‘International House of Pancakes’ because it used the same logo, i.e. IHOP. In any case, the people behind these “churches” advertised heavily on local television during the evening news hour while we lived there. The focus of their ads was not to come there to see God glorified or to come and learn about Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Nope, it was all about “feelings” and “being blessed” and “experiences.” I have written about them before. There are some very disturbing videos portraying “signs and wonders” on Youtube about them as well. In any case, what they promote is attending their church for the experience, to get something for self, all subjectively. Contrast that with our Lord’s own words from John 4:48 (above).  Continue reading

Who 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

Unworldliness is the state of being dead in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
Blessing and a Plea
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:11-16 (NKJV)

We cannot walk by faith, abide in Christ, take up the Yoke of Christ, run the race God has set before us, and be living sacrifices if we have a worldly focus. If we are enamored with the world and its ways then we are not doing any of these things. Instead, our service at church is nothing more than extensions of our pursuit of self-gratification. We are self-absorbed religious people who are not walking this walk as one who has died with Christ. In fact, when we are doing this we will find that our “service” is really no different than the ancient Jews’ reliance on circumcision as their “way to God.” Continue reading

The Joy of the Resurrection is found in being a living sacrifice


by Mike Ratliff

22 καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν νῦν μὲν λύπην ἔχετε· πάλιν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς, καὶ χαρήσεται ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία, καὶ τὴν χαρὰν ὑμῶν οὐδεὶς αἴρει ἀφʼ ὑμῶν. John 16:22 (NA28)

22 “Therefore, you now have grief, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one takes your joy from you.” John 16:22 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

According to my stats page, What is Joy?, is one of most popular posts. It was also one of the first ones I wrote when I started this ministry in 2006 and its focus has been the focus I have attempted to maintain since I started, which is the edification of the Body of Christ by pointing all to the true source of our joy instead of what the world attempts to sell us as a replacement, which is just temporal happiness. That true source is our Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that we have eternal life in Him. He has also given us the Encourager, the Holy Spirit and eternal promises from the Father that we are not left here alone. Also, and by far that which is strangely overlooked today, is the joy that we have in the promise of the Resurrection. The fact that our Lord was dead on our behalf, but is now alive and has promised that we too will be raised to be with Him with glorified bodies forever is not well understood by most believers today.  Continue reading

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us


by Mike Ratliff

4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ , — χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι — 6 καὶ συνήγειρεν καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 7 ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Ephesians 2:4-7 (NA28)

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in the trespasses, he made us alive with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and he raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus 7 that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we will focus on our wonderful God with worshipful, grateful hearts. Back several years ago when I was confronted with Reformation Theology, I was amazed that the passages that the Holy Spirit used to “nail it” firmly in my heart were not only those that best lined up with the Bible in all areas of reformed doctrine, but were also many if not all of the same passages that I had taught from, memorized in Evangelism Explosion training, and read every day during my devotions. They were all very dear to me because they spoke of the saving work of God on my behalf. Of course, I must confess, I was never a “theological Arminian,” just a default one since that is what most SBC churches teach. It was as this confrontation took place over each point of doctrine I was amazed that in every case it really came down to whether our salvation is work of cooperation between us and God (Synergism) or if it is all of God (Monergism). It was as I did some serious study on the Sovereignty of God throughout the Bible that the last thread of synergism I held on to finally broke away.  Continue reading

God is Sovereign in Salvation


by Mike Ratliff

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:14-16 (NKJV)

When those of us who came from an Arminian or Free Will background come to grips with the reality of God’s Sovereignty, it is amazing how we struggle with letting go of the responsibility to “earn” our salvation. Of course, part of that struggle is rooted in the misconception that “election” happens at salvation. Ephesians 1 makes it clear, however, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. An honest reading of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians  shows us that God’s people are His in completion even though many of them have not yet believed and repented. They are our Lord’s sheep. Continue reading

Manna and faith


by Mike Ratliff

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. Exodus 16:4 (NKJV) 

Most Christians I know do not walk by faith. They may claim that they do, but when their circumstances evolve so as to put them in a corner with a clear black and white choice to trust God or play it safe, they rarely step out on faith trusting God. Instead, they choose the easy way out which is always the wrong choice because it does not lead to the blessings of God or the peace of God or into His light. Continue reading

Religiosity based in carnality is not genuine Christianity


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)

The rampant apostasy in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah is horrifying to read in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings. 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, during our Lord’s ministry there was rampant apostasy among the Jews as well as we shall see in this study.

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.

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That which can keep believers from stumbling


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ σκανδαλισθῆτε. John 16:1 (NA28)

1 “These things I have spoken to you that you not be caused to stumble.” John 16:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 15 our Lord spoke of certain “things” in great detail in order that believers “not be caused to stumble.” He was referring to John 15:18-25, which is the fact that those who are truly in Christ will be hated by the world just as our Lord was. Our Lord made it an imperative that we understand that this is true, but also that we do not have to contend with this alone. In John 15:26-27, the promise of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is given again. Those who have the Holy Spirit are genuine believers and they bear witness about Christ because that is what the Holy Spirit does.  Continue reading

For this reason they could not believe


by Mike Ratliff

35 So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” John 12:35-40 (NASB) 

God does control all things. If you doubt it, read the following passage from Isaiah.

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