Possessing the Treasure

Conversion vs Regeneration


by Mike Ratliff

12 “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26:12-18 (NASB) 

A hypocrite is someone who implies he or she stands for one set of values, but actually lives out their life doing the opposite. Since the post-modern church is mired in hypocrisy, one might assume that Christianity was the problem. If Christianity really was the one and only true religion and Jesus’ disciples truly are changed by their new birth in Christ, the hypocrite label should not stick. Why? True Biblical Christianity professes that all in Christ not only have their sins forgiven them, but they are also new creations who are no longer under the power of their former sins. Continue reading

Unbelief and the Christian in this Lost and Dying World


by Mike Ratliff

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB) 

My first job as an application developer was with the FDIC. I developed the application that was used by those who went through the Bank inventory process during a bank closing to record that bank’s inventory into a database which resided on a Compaq portable computer. I usually went to those closings to support the app and do whatever was needed to keep things running. When we got back to the office I would take that Compaq, copy the db files off of the hard drive onto a network drive, open those db files with the main database server app, and then upload that data into our main database, then assist whoever needed it in printing reports, etc. I also wrote the code and developed the database for for the main database in our office and the app everyone used to look at each bank’s inventory. However, there was a problem. When I was out of the shop, I was not there to support the main app or db. My boss, the man who hired me was preparing to leave and start his own I.T. company in Dallas and was suggesting that I apply for a job. His boss hired someone to replace him who wanted to change how everything was done. He hated the fact that I was the only one who could work on that system. I was gone for a week to Del Rio, Texas for a bank closing there and when I got back the manager of the office that was the primary user of that system was waiting for me. She said someone had made changes to the system while I was gone and now the system was down. I found the problem quickly and fixed it. I asked who made the change. My interim boss told me he assigned the change to one one of our junior programmers. I made the comment that he had no understanding of the complexity of my code. He made the comment that he wanted the code simplified so anyone in the shop could work on it. I told him I didn’t have the time time for that. That would be an entirely new project. He told me he was going to remove me from all responsibility from any development work until I could get it simplified. I told him to drop dead. I had been offered a job at an Engineering Firm that used the same Networking system we used and this just made my decision easier. I took that job and never looked back.

However, what really bothered me about all this was that the man who hired me had promised to take me with him to Dallas, but, instead, he hired that junior programmer who had fouled up my program. I asked him why. Here is his answer, ‘Well, you remember when I took you to lunch to talk about this a few weeks ago?” I replied, “Yes!” He said, “I asked you about your faith and you sorta preached to me.” Well I didn’t preach to him. I shared my faith with him and witnessed to him. HIs response was, “Man you are really close minded!” The junior programmer he did hire claimed to be a Christian as well, but did everything he could to back stab me and make sure I didn’t get that job. i’m sure he never witnessed to our old boss either. In any case, two weeks later I started my new job at the engineering firm and the first person to call me at my new desk to congratulate me on getting that job was that junior programmer. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. I worked at that job about 18 months then they had to downsize and I was laid-off. I was unemployed for about 2 weeks. I was then hired by the bank I had worked for in the early to mid-1980’s to manage the I.T. department in OKC to install all the Networks, configure them, manage the email systems and, oh, by-thew-way, if we need a database developer, we know who to call. I worked for them from 1992 to 2001. I was then hired by a large Hospital management group in Lenexa, Kansas as a DBA. I worked for them from Sept 2001 to Dec. 2021. I retired December 24, 2021.

I have never regretted sharing my faith with my old boss because we are all called to do that. I was a bit taken aback by his response, but I should have expected it because he was a very crass person. The person in all this that I was the most upset with was the other programmer who seemed to be trying to supplant me. I am sure he was feeling a bit guilty about how things went down after he heard I had left. My brethren I have learned that we cannot hold grudges like this. I cannot do that in this case or I will become bitter. I have forgiven everyone involved. I have rejoiced how God worked everything out. Unbelief is the marker of the lost, but it is also rampant in professing Christians. That same programmer and I went to lunch once on s Bank Closing in Stillwater, OK. He told me we were having lunch with a friend of his who was lost. I asked him if it was okay to witness to him. He got a very frightened look on his face and then said it probably be okay. When we met this guy at the restaurant, my co-worker took over the conversation and would not let me say anything. In other words, whenever I tried to get the conversation going towards the Gospel, he would interrupt me and would not let me continue. Why would a Christian do that?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Signs we are close to the time of the end


by Mike Ratliff

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Matthew 24:3-8 (NASB)

I have been wanting to write about this for several weeks, but have not had the opportunity. If you have been keeping up with what has been coming from the White House, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum it is as if the elites have taken George Orwell’s book 1984 and are attempting to use it as a blueprint for what they have in store for us. Private ownership of property including your personal vehicle will be prohibited. Ownership of land will be prohibited. Single family homes will be excluded. Everyone will be forced to relocate to large multi-family complexes in large cities. Ownership of any property of any kind will be a thing of the past. Cash money will be replaced with a digital currency system fully controlled by the elites. I have heard predictions from several very well placed experts over the last few weeks who are predicting the collapse of economic supply line structures that our food systems rely on right now. If that happens we will be in famine situation that is caused on purpose by very evil people who’s goal is to depopulate then gain full control or enslavement of those who remain. When I first heard this I could only think of what Jesus said in that passage I placed at the top of this post and what John wrote in Revelation 6 as the first 5 seals are broken on the scroll held by the Lamb of God. Here is that passage.

1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
The Second Seal—War
3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” 4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
The Third Seal—Famine
5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
The Fourth Seal—Death
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
The Fifth Seal—Martyrs
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
The Sixth Seal—Terror
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6 (NASB)

The man on the white horse in the first seal who goes out conquering and to conquer is the Beast or Antichrist. How do you think he comes to power? The world will be in horrible shape in economic collapse. People will be starving. A Messianic figure will come on the scene and be given all kinds of power as he works to solve these problems. However, he is a liar. His intent is to supplant Christ and God. I watched a documentary a few days ago about the Third Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews there are all ready to build it, but they can’t because the Temple Mount has two Muslim Mosques right where the Temple should go. When asked by the one doing the documentary why they persisted in doing what they were doing their reply was, “We are waiting for the man who is to come.” Wow! Who could that be? The man on the White Horse will cut a covenant with the Jews for 7 years. This is found in Daniel 9:27.  I suggest you read the whole chapter. Here it is.

1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. 6 Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.
7 “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. 8 Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10 nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11 Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. 12 Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. 14 Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.
15 “And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked. 16 O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us. 17 So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
Gabriel Brings an Answer
20 Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, 21 while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. 22 He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.
Seventy Weeks and the Messiah
24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. 25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9 (NASB) 

In this passage we see the covenant this man cuts with the Jews then he breaks it by committing the Abomination of Desolation, which our Lord spoke of in Matthew 24:15, which immediately precedes our Lord’s second coming, the first resurrection and the rapture of the Church as per Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2. Please notice that our Lord’s account of this and Paul’s both talks about the Great Apostasy or falling away. This has always puzzled me. What would cause that? I am convinced now that I have studied this more and I see evidence of the evil going on in the world right now that the AntiChrist will be able to seduce many professing Christians away to follow him instead of Jesus. Part of this will be the Second Beast of course who professes to be Jesus and kills everyone who won’t worship the Beast by taking his mark.

I have always thought all this would be far in the future and me and my family would be long gone before all this took place, but here we are. Jesus Himself said we are going to be persecuted by the AntiChrist and I believe Him. I grew up in Church and have heard countless times that the Church would be raptured before all this happened, but if you believe that and then here comes all this persecution if you don’t worship the Beast if you want to buy food then you have a problem. Help us Lord Jesus!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Will To Be Faithful


A person’s will is embodied in the actions of the whole person. I cannot give up my will— I must exercise it, putting it into action. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God’s Spirit. When God gives me a vision of truth, there is never a question of what He will do, but only of what I will do. The Lord has been placing in front of each of us some big proposals and plans. The best thing to do is to remember what you did before when you were touched by God. Recall the moment when you were saved, or first recognized Jesus, or realized some truth. It was easy then to yield your allegiance to God. Immediately recall those moments each time the Spirit of God brings some new proposal before you.

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….” Your choice must be a deliberate determination— it is not something into which you will automatically drift. And everything else in your life will be held in temporary suspension until you make a decision. The proposal is between you and God— do not “confer with flesh and blood” about it (Galatians 1:16). With every new proposal, the people around us seem to become more and more isolated, and that is where the tension develops. God allows the opinion of His other saints to matter to you, and yet you become less and less certain that others really understand the step you are taking. You have no business trying to find out where God is leading— the only thing God will explain to you is Himself.

Openly declare to Him, “I will be faithful.” But remember that as soon as you choose to be faithful to Jesus Christ, “You are witnesses against yourselves…” (Joshua 24:22). Don’t consult with other Christians, but simply and freely declare before Him, “I will serve You.” Will to be faithful— and give other people credit for being faithful too.

Our heart shall rejoice in Him


The following Devotional if from Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for July 2nd.

“Our heart shall rejoice in Him.”—Psalm 33:21.

BLESSED is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and, like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance; they have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.” To whom shall the glory be given? Oh! to Jesus—it is all by Jesus. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, “Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God.” As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, “Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God.”1 As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost affrighted to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”2 Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die; nay, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once

 

“The glory of our brightest days;
The comfort of our nights.”
1 Isaiah 41:10
2 Luke 12:32

 


. . . made perfect.


the HTML processor for WordPress does not seem to like my HTML coding for using subscripts to mark the scripture passages in Spurgeon’s devotional. NO, it couldn’t be me and my confused state, right? Please forgive me for the sloppyiness. I tried for over an hour to get the subscipts to work, but it won’t do it. In any case, I rejoice that so many of you have been praying for me and have let me know you are going through your own trials or someone close to you is. God is good and as Spurgeon says in this devotion, we who belong to Him are being made perfect.

The following Devotion is from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for May 15.

“Made perfect.”—Hebrews 12:23.

Remember that there are two kinds of perfection which the Christian needs—the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption yet remains even in the breasts of the regenerate—experience soon teaches us this. Within us are still lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work which He has begun; and He shall present my soul, not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. Can it be true that this poor sinful heart of mine is to become holy even as God is holy? Can it be that this spirit, which often cries, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this sin and death?1 ” shall get rid of sin and death—that I shall have no evil things to vex my ears, and no unholy thoughts to disturb my peace? Oh, happy hour! may it be hastened! When I cross the Jordan, the work of sanctification will be finished; but not till that moment shall I even claim perfection in myself. Then my spirit shall have its last baptism in the Holy Spirit’s fire. Methinks I long to die to receive that last and final purification which shall usher me into heaven. Not an angel more pure than I shall be, for I shall be able to say, in a double sense, “I am clean,” through Jesus’ blood, and through the Spirit’s work. Oh, how should we extol the power of the Holy Ghost in thus making us fit to stand before our Father in heaven! Yet let not the hope of perfection hereafter make us content with imperfection now. If it does this, our hope cannot be genuine; for a good hope is a purifying thing, even now. The work of grace must be abiding in us now or it cannot be perfected then. Let us pray to <sup>2</sup>”be filled with the Spirit,” that we may bring forth increasingly the fruits of righteousness.

<sup>1</sup>Romans 7:24
<sup>2</sup>Ephesians 5:18

Understand


by Mike Ratliff

13 διὰ τοῦτο ἐν παραβολαῖς αὐτοῖς λαλῶ, ὅτι βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν οὐδὲ συνίουσιν, 14 καὶ ἀναπληροῦται αὐτοῖς ἡ προφητεία Ἠσαΐου ἡ λέγουσα·
ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε καὶ οὐ μὴ συνῆτε,
καὶ βλέποντες βλέψετε καὶ οὐ μὴ ἴδητε.
15 ἐπαχύνθη γὰρ ἡ καρδία τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου,
καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν
καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν ἐκάμμυσαν,
μήποτε ἴδωσιν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς
καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκούσωσιν
καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν
καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς. Matthew 13:13-15 (NA28)

13 For this reason I am speaking to them in parables for while seeing they do not see and while hearing they do not hear nor do they understand, 14 and the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled in them, which says,
‘In hearing you will hear and by no means understand,
and while seeing you will see and my no means perceive.
15 for the heart of this people has been made dull,
with their ears they hear with difficulty,
and their eyes are closed, lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart and return,
and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:13-15 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the heartbreaking passage above the word “understand” translates the Greek verb συνίουσιν (syniousin) it is the third person plural present tense, active mood, and indicative voice of συνίημι (syniēmi), which means “understand.” It originally meant to bring together. One Greek scholar has explained συνίημι this way, “The comprehending activity of the mind denoted by συνίημι entails the assembling of individual facts into an organized whole, as collecting the pieces of a puzzle and putting them together. The mind grasps concepts and sees the proper relationship between them.”

Another example of this word appears in Acts 28:25-28.

25 ἀσύμφωνοι δὲ ὄντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἀπελύοντο εἰπόντος τοῦ Παύλου ῥῆμα ἕν, ὅτι καλῶς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἐλάλησεν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ὑμῶν 26 λέγων·
πορεύθητι πρὸς τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον καὶ εἰπόν·
ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε καὶ οὐ μὴ συνῆτε
καὶ βλέποντες βλέψετε καὶ οὐ μὴ ἴδητε·
27 ἐπαχύνθη γὰρ ἡ καρδία τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου
καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν
καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν ἐκάμμυσαν·
μήποτε ἴδωσιν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς
καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκούσωσιν
καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν
καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν, καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς.
28 γνωστὸν οὖν ἔστω ὑμῖν ὅτι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπεστάλη τοῦτο τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ θεοῦ· αὐτοὶ καὶ ἀκούσονται. Acts 28:25-28 (NA28) 

25 And when they did not agree with on another, they were dismissed after Paul had spoken, “The Holy Spirit spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand,
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive.
27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
and with their ears they scarcely hear,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart and return,
and I would heal them.”’
28 Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been set to the Gentiles and they will listen. Acts 28:25-28 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

While under house arrest in Rome for two years, Paul taught those who visited him. Some believed, but some didn’t. When he saw the unbelief of the Jews, He said, quoting Isaiah 6:9-10:

9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” Isaiah 6:9-10 (NASB) 

Romans 3:11 likewise declares:

11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; Romans 3:11 (NASB) 

In both cases the point is that the unbeliever does not understand spiritual truth; he cannot “put the pieces together” and comprehend what he is hearing. This is why Jesus used parables in His teaching.

In contrast, Romans 15:21 declares that Paul’s word among the Gentiles fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, that the Gentiles who had never before heard God’s truth would hear and understand. This is a great encouragement to us. Why? After’s Peter’s confession that Jesus was “The Christ, the Son of the living God,” our Lord responded, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Likewise, the Holy Spirit illumines spiritual truth to us so we can understand it, so we can “put the pieces together.” 

I know that before the Holy Spirit did that for me I was spiritually clueless even though I had gone to church my whole life. But one Sunday morning as I was minding my own business trying to be as invisible as possible in Bible Study class, the truth of the Gospel hit home like a ton of bricks and all those years of hearing the Gospel suddenly made sense and I saw that I was a lost sinner whose only hope was to turn to Jesus as my Lord and Savior, repent of my sins and be baptized. I have never been the same. How about you?

Soli Deo Gloria!

But prove yourselves doers of the word


by Mike Ratliff

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22 (NASB) 

The visible Church in our time has been compromised for the most part by human philosophy and has succumbed to the pressure from the world to not emphasize God’s truth as absolute. Professing Christians who discount the Word of God as absolute truth are actually placing their intellect, their beliefs, and the counsel of their own hearts above the Word of God as it relates to authority and truth. It is one thing for an atheist to denigrate Christians, the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the God the Holy Spirit. That is almost expected and should not surprise us. However, when the majority of professing Christians demand the right to behave contrary to what the Word teaches about Christian behavior can God’s judgment be far behind? Continue reading

Quickened


by Mike Ratliff

13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, Colossians 2:13 (NASB) 

There is a related word in Scripture to “regeneration.” It only appears twice in the New Testament. One of those is in the passage I place at the top of this post. The words “made you alive together with” translate the Greek συνεζωοποίησεν (synezōopoiēsen) the third singular, aorist active indicative case of συζωοποιέω (syzōopoieō) which means, “make alive with someone.” The KJV translates this as “hath he quickened together.” Continue reading

Stir up one another to love and good works


by Mike Ratliff

23 κατέχωμεν τὴν ὁμολογίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος ἀκλινῆ, πιστὸς γὰρ ὁ ἐπαγγειλάμενος, 24 καὶ κατανοῶμεν ἀλλήλους εἰς παροξυσμὸν ἀγάπης καὶ καλῶν ἔργων, 25 μὴ ἐγκαταλείποντες τὴν ἐπισυναγωγὴν ἑαυτῶν, καθὼς ἔθος τισίν, ἀλλὰ παρακαλοῦντες, καὶ τοσούτῳ μᾶλλον ὅσῳ βλέπετε ἐγγίζουσαν τὴν ἡμέραν. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NA28) 

23 Let us hold firmly the confession of the hope without wavering, for trustworthy is the one who made the promise. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not abandoning to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Proof that these are Laodicean times, that is, lukewarm, man-centered, not fervently God-centered times in the “visible church” is always found in points of contention. The Social Justice/Woke/Critical Race Theory/Intersectionality corruption of our seminaries and leadership in our denominations should clearly show those with discernment that those involved in that have believed “another gospel.” There is that, then there is the always present so-called Christian leaders teaching a false gospel of “Easy-Believism” (just believe, no repentance required). I thought we had that one snuffed out, but I now believe our enemy will always find fake Christian leaders who hope to build large churches on that foundation of dung. However, if we focus too much on the apostasy all around us my brethren we can become very discouraged, therefore, as the writer of Hebrews says in the passage above, “Let us hold firmly the confession of the hope without wavering, for trustworthy is the one who made the promise. Continue reading

Being a Living Sacrifice


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:1-3 (NASB)

All of the things that true Christians should be doing for the glory of God, drinking from the cup of Christ’s suffering, wrestling the correct opponent, loving your enemies, and behaving like a Christian are possible only for the believer who is in the process of taking on Christ’s character. No one can do these things naturally. No one is able to attain this level of spirituality by trying to do those things. Instead, these behaviors flow from a Christlike heart. No believer will ever become Christlike in their character unless they also become Spirit-led. If a believer is controlled by their emotions then they are not Spirit-led. Neither are they who have not learned to walk in the Spirit. If sin runs rampant through a believer’s life then they are not Spirit-led. In addition, if a believer is constantly consumed by anger, bitterness, envy, and self-protection then they are not Spirit-led. Continue reading

Beware of false prophets


by Mike Ratliff

4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. 9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:4-14 (NASB)

When I encounter those whose theology and eschatology has been colored by presuppositions, philosophies, and the teachings of some theologians that the Church’s main function is to establish and prepare God’s Kingdom here on this Earth so the Lord will return and to claim it, I wonder how seriously these people take Scripture passages such as Matthew 24:4-14 (above). These same people are all about making secular culture conform to Christianity. I find it very difficult to line that up with what our Lord said in Matthew 24 about what things would be like before he actually did return. What is the reality? Will the Church totally take over the world in this age? From what I have studied in the New Testament, the Church is a called out “congregation” of people that are despised, persecuted, and put to death for their faith as they live for the glory of their Lord in this life. The point of that is to attain a greater resurrection in the next age. Let’s see what our Lord said about the reality of what we have to deal with in this age as the Church. Continue reading