The Counterfeit Church


by Mike Ratliff

4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Revelation 18:4-5 (NASB) 

The world system, for the most part, is extremely tolerant of religion as long as it is not evangelical Christianity. However, it has no problem with that version of Christianity that is politically correct. Many countries in this world have imposed anti-hatred and anti-conversion laws specifically directed against Christianity. Liberalism, ideology, or cultural religions protecting their turf dominate those governments. Even in the United States, a preacher can get in a great deal of hot water with the FBI if someone in his audience becomes offended by the preaching of the truth from scripture about sin and depravity. It appears the deck is stacked against evangelical Christianity. Continue reading

The Word Became Flesh


by Mike Ratliff

1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 John 1:1-4 (NASB) 

What sort of Christian message is it that is not Christ centered? Christ must be central to all that we teach or preach. The cross must be presented as God’s solution for Man lost in sin with no hope of salvation without His divine help by His grace. If a sermon is man centered rather than Christ centered of what value is it? When we are witness to our Lord being treated in a flippant manner by pragmatic preaching it ought to cause righteous indignation at the very least. We should also mark out those who do that as false teachers. Those who treat my Lord as if He is nothing more than an add-on to people’s life so they can have joy should deeply offend us. If it doesn’t offend you then perhaps you should spend some time at the Throne of Grace in confession and repentance. Our Lord is fully God and fully Man. Let’s look at a real picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Union with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9 (NASB) 

We are commanded to have unity among the brethren, but that unity must be based on our union with Christ. Jesus prayed that His church would have unity through Him in John 17, but how does the Bible describe it? Here are a few passages. The first two describe union with Him as Christ being in us. Continue reading

The Lord is the Strength of His People


by Mike Ratliff

8 The LORD is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
9 Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. Psalms 28:8-9 (NASB) 

The Genuine Christian walk is actually part of a war. Each believer’s walk is a battle or skirmish in that war. As we see in Ephesians 6:10-20, this war is not specifically against other people. Even if heretics or apostates rant and rave against us or terrorists from some pagan religion threaten our lives, our war is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The people who attack us are in some way controlled by these evil forces. Continue reading

God will not Forsake His Saints


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) 

Several years ago The Discovery Channel released a movie that supposedly showed a grave from an archaeological dig in Israel that contained the bones of Jesus, Mary, and other members of that family. Before people actually saw it the hype certainly caused many interesting responses from people. I remember reading responses that I agreed completely with which were obviously based from the foundation of faith. I mean either we believe God or we believe men. However, I read responses from some professing Christians who were distraught about this “news” as if it would somehow destroy Christianity. I pitied them. Their faith seemed to be based entirely on sight. Now here we are in 2021 and the unbelieving Main Stream Media still does this sort of thing it seems annually. Their goal seems to be an attempt to destroy our faith. Of course, they never get anything right about our Lord Jesus because they don’t know Him because they are ignorant of the Truth. Those professing believers who have angst about these things show that their faith is not genuine by how they react to the lies.  Continue reading

The Sword of the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) 

In this day in which the truth is said to be unknowable, Christians must rely on the only source of pure truth we have. There is no truth that we can say is the complete truth unless we take it from God’s Word. The Bible is pure truth and it is the authority we rely on in order to have a firm foundation in this lost and dying world that is consuming itself in rebellion against God.

What can we learn from Hebrews 4:12 about this?

Continue reading

What is Truth?


by Mike Ratliff

33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”
And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and *said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. John 18:33-38 (NASB) 

Is it important to God that His people know the truth? In the passage I placed at the top of this post, we see where Jesus, as He was being questioned by Pilate, made the statement that He came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Then He made the following statement, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Of course Pilate made the following sarcastic response, “What is truth?Continue reading

God Will Judge the Ungodly


by Mike Ratliff

Ayin.
121 I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation
And for Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness
And teach me Your statutes.
125 I am Your servant; give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
126 It is time for the Lord to act,
For they have broken Your law.
127 Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything,
I hate every false way. Psalms 119:121-128 (NASB) 

There are times I deeply desire for God to hurry up and bring judgment upon the wicked people in this world. I love the Lord. I live for His glory. When people belittle Him with their inane jokes, my blood boils. A fellow told me once that he understood the gospel just fine, but it was meaningless because he did not believe in God. The spiritual gift of prophecy God gave me at my rebirth kicked in and I told him that only a fool would say something like that. That probably was not the wisest thing to say, but I became righteously indignant since he was attempting to amuse himself with angering me by attacking my faith. Of course, my response was wrong. I did not respond with winsomeness, gentleness, or self-control. Then he told me everything was relative then attempted to say there were no absolutes and he could prove it. I responded by telling him that he used an absolute statement by saying, “There are no absolutes.” Then he stalked off. That was not very productive was it? Continue reading

Unworldliness


by Mike Ratliff

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:11-16 (NASB)

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 Pillar and Support of the Truth


by Mike Ratliff

14 Ταῦτά σοι γράφω ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐν τάχει· 15 ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NA28)

14 These I write to you hoping to come to you quickly; 15 but if I delay, that you may know how one ought to conduct oneself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When Paul wrote his first epistle to Timothy which we call “1 Timothy,” Timothy was the pastor of the Ephesian church. Ephesus was home to the pagan temple to the goddess Diana or Artemis, which is considered on of the seven wonders of the ancient world. One of its features was it pillars. It contained 127 pillars, every one of them the gift of a king. All were made of marble and some were studded with jewels and overlaid with gold. Not only did each pillar (στῦλος) act as a tribute to the king who donated it, all of them together, obviously, had the function of holding up the immense structure of the roof. Therefore, Timothy and his flock at Ephesus would have certainly grasped Paul’s analogy. What exactly was he telling the church about its true mission? Continue reading

Rightly Handling the Word of Truth


by Mike Ratliff

14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:14-15 (NASB) 

One of the lynchpins of whatever it is that God calls us to do to take up the slack in the battle for the truth is that we must be those who do indeed present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth. What does it mean to “rightly handle the Word of Truth?” Continue reading

Do not love what Jesus died to deliver us from


by Mike Ratliff

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5 (NASB) 

Much of the doctrinal confusion in the “Church” is directly attributable to attempts to understand scripture without proper study. It is fine to read the Bible and find joy in God’s truths. The Holy Spirit can and does reveal those truths to our hearts as we read and study His Word. However, the fact that there are huge doctrinal disagreements in the “Church” can be quite disconcerting to those who seek only to live for the glory of God by obeying Him in all things. If some teach that a passage in scripture really means one thing while others teach something very different then we have the makings of a paradox if our understanding of doctrine and scripture is based entirely within human reason. Continue reading

What is Sweet as Honey yet Causes Bitterness in the Heat of the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

Believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being humble and Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading

Walking in the Light


by Mike Ratliff

1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 (NASB) 

God’s truth is knowable. Also, His truth is as His attributes and character. He is immutable. His truth is never changing. He is Holy. His truth is Holy, separate from the corruption of the world. His truth, the Word of God, is precise. It supernaturally divides man’s “truth” and understanding from God’s genuine truth. It is sharper than a two edged sword, however, religion is the bane of genuine Christianity. It dilutes our devotion from where it should be, on God and God alone, while placing it on works and religious activities that suck all the devotion away from God while placing it on things that build up pride and feed the flesh. While genuine expositions of God’s Word by spiritually gifted men is necessary, many Church activities are so far from what Christians should be about that their removal would not in any way hinder the genuine work Christians should be doing. Continue reading