The Throne in Heaven, the Scroll, and the Lamb


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Isaiah 6:1-4 (NASB) 

Any form of Christianity that is antinomian is Gnostic in nature and because of that always leads to licentiousness within the professing believers where this is going on. The Nicolaitans taught this form of Gnosticism saying that God is Spirit and so Christians should only be concerned with the spiritual things, but it does not matter what Christians do in the flesh since it is defiled anyway. Antinomianism says that Christians don’t have to obey God’s commands. This is rebellion against clear Biblical doctrine. They say they want Jesus, but forget that obedience stuff. Jesus is truth and love and He’s all I want. Those who say these sorts of things are actually treating God as if He is unimportant. What does the Bible tell us about God and His majesty and omnipotence? 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 asked 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

Boasting is Excluded


by Mike Ratliff

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 3:21-28 (NASB) 

Our pastor has been preaching through the first several chapters of Acts. In our small groups we have been taking a deeper look at the passages from which he gets his sermons. Last night was interesting because we talked a great deal about how each of us came to faith. Some of us had false starts, that is, we made a profession of faith as a child or teenager that was emotional not based on faith. Others were members of churches that did not preach the gospel, but they were baptized there. Since then we all have come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ at various ages, but, interestingly, none of them were the same, not even close. In my own case I sat there and listened to everyone sharing while God took me through the labyrinth of time and circumstances in my life which culminated in me repenting and believing on my Lord Jesus Christ. But, it didn’t stop there. I also reflected on my journey since then. For many years, even as a Bible teacher and Deacon, I confess to you all that my understanding of salvation and the doctrines that have been developed, which explain it, was very fuzzy compared to my understanding now. During those years of doctrinal “confusion” I based my salvation on something I had done. I based my assurance on things I did. When I witnessed to others during that time the emphasis was on bringing people to make a decision followed by them reciting a sinner’s prayer. As well meaning as all of that was, I see it now as the fruit of utter spiritual immaturity.

Continue reading

The Plot to Kill Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

1 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5 But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.” Matthew 26:1-5 (NASB) 

This ministry is geared primarily around presenting God’s Truth from His Word succinctly and in context to all professing Christians. That would include both genuine Christians and those who are Christians in name only. The purpose in this is to present God’s Truth as THE TRUTH. All else is incomplete or false. Within God’s Truth are the absolute doctrines of Christianity. These are indisputable. Therefore, when a Christian leader changes the focus of his ministry by departing from these doctrines or embracing as a fellow Christian leader one whose doctrinal beliefs are contrary to these doctrines calling that person “doctrinally sound” we have the responsibility, within the godly discernment given to us by God, to call all this into question and make the proper examinations to determine the soundness of all those in question. We do not do this to persecute anyone. We can do this correctly, however, because God’s Truth is absolute and objective not subjective like man’s truth.  Continue reading

The High Priestly Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

1 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. John 17:1-2 (NASB) 

In John 17, we have the transition marking the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of His intercessory ministry for all believers (Hebrews 7:25). This has been called “The High Priestly Prayer,” however; it does summarize John’s entire Gospel. For instance, its principal themes include Jesus’ obedience to His Father, the glorification of His Father through His death and exaltation, the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, the choosing of the disciples out of the world, their unity modeled on the unity of the Father and the Son, and the believers final destiny in the presence of the Father and Son. There are three main sections to this prayer. In vv1-5, we have Jesus’ prayer for Himself. In vv 6-19, we have Jesus’ prayer for the apostles. In vv20-26 we have Jesus’ prayer for all New Testament believers who will form the Church.  Continue reading

What is Living Water?


by Mike Ratliff

10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. John 4:10 (NA28)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

Where then is boasting? it is excluded; by what kind of law? of works? no, but by a law of faith


by Mike Ratliff

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 3:21-28 (NASB) 

As I reflect back on my personal testimony of my pilgrimage and how God drew me to Himself regardless of my unworthiness and then patiently matured me over the years I marvel at His gift of grace. However, that does not negate the fact that I, like everyone else, had a lot of growing up to do, and still do I am sure. For many years, even as a Bible teacher and Deacon, I confess to you all that my understanding of salvation and the doctrines that have been developed, which explain it, was very fuzzy compared to my understanding now. During those years of doctrinal “confusion” I based my salvation on something I had done. I based my assurance on things I did. When I witnessed to others during that time the emphasis was on bringing people to make a decision followed by them reciting a sinner’s prayer. As well meaning as all of that was, I see it now as the fruit of utter spiritual immaturity.

Continue reading

God’s providence and His inheritance


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ 12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (NA28)

11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will,12 for us to be to the praise of His glory, the ones having previously hoped in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Most modern Bible translations undoubtedly render v11 a bit differently than I did above. The words “we were made an inheritance” translates one verb, ἐκληρώθημεν, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Passive voice of κληρόω (klēroō), “obtain an inheritance. The passive voice is the key. Paul is saying that Christians are made an inheritance by God for God. One of the great misconceptions of our salvation, which is made by so many, is that it is the result of something we do, but how anyone could believe that after reading Ephesians 1 and 2 is beyond me.  Continue reading

John 1:1 and the Holy Trinity


by Mike Ratliff

1 εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος John 1:1 (Greek NT: Scrivener 1894 TR)

1 εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος John 1:1 (Tischendorf New Testament)

1 εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος  John 1:1 (Wescott and Hort New Testament)

1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. John 1:1 (NA28)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God , and God was the Word. John 1:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Carefully examine the four Greek examples I placed at the top of this post. The first one is from the Textus Receptus, which is the Greek behind the KJV. The next two are from the middle of the 19th century with Tichendorf’s New Testament predating Wescott and Hort’s by about 9 years or so. The last example is of the Nestle-Aland 28th Edition, which is what I use here. I pray that you noticed that there is no differences in the text other than the NA28 used a capital eplison at the beginning of the verse and the rest did not. Continue reading

Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers


by Mike Ratliff

34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. Psalms 37:34 (NASB) 

I read a great deal. I also walk through each day “listening” to the message from God from my circumstances, interactions with people, and what I read both in the Bible and from whatever book God has me reading. When it comes time to sit down and put together a message I try to put all of what I have “heard” that day together as I ask God for guidance. I seek scripture that speaks of the “Headline” that God has given me throughout the day. I suppose this is the same thing as God laying a certain message on a preachers heart. In any case, all today I could not get past how God has blessed me and my wife. My joy has been extreme for several days after I taught in Church this last Sunday. I have been delighting in God and He has answered our prayers in ways I thought I could not imagine. Our faith is growing and we are both extremely amazed at how He has taken care of us despite the evil that is going on all around us in our country.  Continue reading

Christian suffering in divine perspective


by Mike Ratliff

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB) 

On Facebook I have dropped out of nearly all of the discussion groups of which I have been a member for last several years. I am still a member of some, but those are tightly controlled by admins who do not tolerate troll behavior. On the other hand, those which I have left are loosely run and certain people have entered in with destructive agendas meant to divide us and cause much angst. I have witnessed outright attacks on people’s character and abandonment of the very purpose of these groups to pursue topics that bear no resemblance at all to why have come together for fellowship and discussion. Things have become so bad in some of these groups that I have obeyed the Spirit that is within me and simply left. To willingly remain in that environment is not spiritually healthy.  Continue reading

Regenerated to a living hope


by Mike Ratliff

3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν διʼ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν, 4 εἰς κληρονομίαν ἄφθαρτον καὶ ἀμίαντον καὶ ἀμάραντον, τετηρημένην ἐν οὐρανοῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς 5 τοὺς ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ φρουρουμένους διὰ πίστεως εἰς σωτηρίαν ἑτοίμην ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (NA28)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy having regenerated us to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The first chapter of 1 Peter is extremely pastoral. If there is anything the sheep in our time desperately need in great measure it is spirit-led shepherds (pastors) who are bound to the Word of God who obey Him in the pastoring of their flocks as our Lord commands. It is tragic that so many of those the world sees in our time that claim to be Christian leaders do not in any way shape or form meet that criteria. No, instead they are celebrities or they are apostates or heretics on the way to being apostates. God has his church, ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), and he will continue to build it and no power can destroy it (Matthew 16:18), however, we are warned throughout the New Testament that wolves in sheep’s clothing, false teachers and prophets would come in to the church and lead many astray. This has continued until this day.

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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