What divides what should be unified in the Body of Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

9 Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς, ἀφʼ ἧς ἡμέρας ἠκούσαμεν, οὐ παυόμεθα ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν προσευχόμενοι καὶ αἰτούμενοι, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει πνευματικῇ, 10 περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως τοῦ κυρίου εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκείαν, ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ καρποφοροῦντες καὶ αὐξανόμενοι τῇ ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ, Colossians 1:9-10 (NA28)

9 Therefore, we also from the day which we heard, do not cease praying for you and asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,10 to walk worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God;  Colossians 1:9-10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In discussions with other believers we have all come to the conclusion that our walks in this life are actually a continuous series of tests and trials, putting us into places of contention in which it is has become apparent to us that the way we have gone before is not how God would have us go and be walking worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God. If we become self-focused and prayer-less through this then this could become very burdensome and discouraging. However, as seek the Lord’s face in prayer and repentance we see that God is putting those things in us that are not of Christ under the spotlight, such as pride. Our response to this is crucial. We can respond the way the world does in arrogance and self-protection or we can, in the power of the Holy Spirit, deny self and  μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, seek to ἀνέχομαι, forebear with those with whom we are in contention ἐν ἀγάπῃ, in love. Of course, I have paraphrased Ephesians 4:2, which is actually about unity within the Body of Christ. However, I am convinced that we must also apply the same forbearance to everyone while never compromising by unifying with those who are not true Christians. Shouldn’t we treat everyone the way our Lord would? Continue reading

What Is That to You?


by Mike Ratliff

20 Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” John 21:20-22 (NASB)

Part of my makeup that God molded into my character is the ability to observe, take note, and analyze as part of Him directing what I study and pray about in order to obediently minister in my writing and teaching. What do I observe? Everything! I take note of my fellow Christians when they interact on this blog and others. I see the patterns of what is hot and what is not. I have seen people come at me or one of my friends with vehement viciousness over doctrinal differences. What have I learned? I have learned that humans have a huge problem in wanting to control other people.

Those of us who write for CRN are often called “Watchbloggers” by those who believe that we go too far in comparing what is really going on doctrinally in the church in our time to what should be going on. Much of what is “wrong” in the Church in our time is a drive to reform it into “man-centered” relevancy. When we reveal the very words of those leaders doing this then out come those accusing us of being “over the top” or “arrogant” or “backward” or “legalistic” even “heretical” because we obediently reveal what is said in comparison with what the Bible says.

Since the adherents of “relevancy” are mired in their man-centered worldview, they insist that Biblical truth to that level is unknowable. For instance, they say that the Doctrines of Grace are heretical. For us to say that God is Sovereign in election and saves His people whom He chose before the foundation of the world, then we are heretics even though we teach exactly what the Bible says. Continue reading

What is effectual fervent prayer?


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. James 5:16 (NASB) 

16 ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. James 5:16 (NA28)

16 Confess, therefore, to one another your sins and pray on behalf of one another so that you may be cured. The petition of a righteous man, being effective, has great power.  James 5:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I have received many requests through many different channels from brethren who desire to know how to stand firm in these last, dark, and evil days. My reply is that we must pray for ourselves and each other for God to mature us, to give us the ability to stand, to give us wisdom, discernment, personal holiness, Christlikness and as He does this that he gives us boldness to stand in obedience. The issue is that many are confused about prayer. The “Name it and Claim it” heresy has corrupted the view of prayer for many. While that is in no-way Biblical and Satan has used it to keep many of us from praying as we should, we are given all sorts of examples in scripture of how to pray and why to pray. In this post we will look at James’ encouragement to us to pray and why. Continue reading

For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the 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) 

In the passage I placed a 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

I decided to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified


by Mike Ratliff

2 οὐ γὰρ ἔκρινά τι εἰδέναι ἐν ὑμῖν εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NA28)

2 I decided to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When I started this writing ministry I had completely different goals (i.e. motives) than what I have now. I was doing this as a career move. I approached it from that perspective, but it did not take very long at all for God to force the issue and take away all of that as most in what we know of as the ‘visible church’ would consider what we do here as borderline reprehensible. However, I find it interesting that many of these same people do not hesitate to come to us for prayer and counsel when they hit rock bottom and God leaves them without an escape from the fiery trial that has come upon them.  Continue reading

Christian faith and hope


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (NASB) 

What is the difference between faith and hope? Are they the same thing? They are not the same, but, so-to-speak, they are two sides of the same coin. If I want my old college to win in football against our biggest rival that is hope. On the other hand, if I believe it will happen then it is faith. With this faith, my hope is enhanced. It becomes active. On the other hand, if I have little faith that it will happen then my hope becomes simply wishful thinking. What about our faith through which we are saved by grace? Is this faith simply working up enough belief so that our hope becomes strong, or is there more to it than that?
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Wisdom in the power of God


by Mike Ratliff

6 Σοφίαν δὲ λαλοῦμεν ἐν τοῖς τελείοις, σοφίαν δὲ οὐ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου οὐδὲ τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου τῶν καταργουμένων· 1 Corinthians 2:6 (NA28)

6 But wisdom we speak among the mature, yet it is a wisdom not of this age or of the rulers of this age, the ones being brought to nothing; 1 Corinthians 2:6 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Every generation of genuine Christians must fight the battles for the truth and correct doctrine. Some of these “Truth Wars,” as John MacArthur calls them, have been worse and longer than others, but the one we are in now has been especially ugly with outright defections from within what most would consider the bulwark of Christian leaders who have shown their true liberal colors. However, what has been most enlightening to this Christian has been the absolute faithfulness of our Lord in the building of his church in the midst of rampant apostasy, pop-culture so-called chrisitianity, the decimation of local churches on a huge scale with the proliferation of mega-churches that are seeker-sensitive and politically correct non-gospel man-centered fake churches. There are also the huge churches based on the personality of the pastor as if he is some sort of rock-star. I have contacts from all over the world who testify how hard it is for them to find a solid, Biblically based church in their area. Even through all of this carnage, our Lord is faithful and continues to build his church.  Continue reading

Walking Circumspectly


by Mike Ratliff

21 Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment,
But a man of understanding walks uprightly. Proverbs 15:21 (NKJV) 

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:15-21 (NKJV) 

15 Βλέπετε οὖν ἀκριβῶς πῶς περιπατεῖτε μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι ἀλλʼ ὡς σοφοί, 16 ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. 17 διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνίετε τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου. 18 καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία, ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, 19 λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς [ἐν] ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ, 20 εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί.
21 Ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ, * Ephesians 5:15-21 (NA28)

15 See then how circumspectly you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Through this not become unthinking, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And not be drunk in wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled in spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21 Being subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5:15-21 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

This “walking,” this περιπατεῖτε is the present, indicative, active form of the verb περιπατέω, which, in this context, is speaking of ‘walking concerning something.’ It is describing a certain way in which a Christian walks through each day. It has to do with relationships and how he or she responds and reacts both outwardly and inwardly to all of life’s circumstances. Paul tells us to do this ἀκριβῶς or akribōs. I and the NKJV translated this as “circumspectly.” The idea is to walk through this life looking all around, being on the lookout. The word ἀκριβῶς can also be translated as “accurate, which speaks of precision, diligence, accuracy, and exactness. Those are very important things in how I do my job as a DBA, but in our walk as Christians it also applies in our diligence to hold to the things of the Lord. Think of those preachers of God’s Word who hold firm and never waiver. They are diligent. Now think of those who do the very opposite as they waiver all over the place desperately seeking to be culturally relevant. Continue reading

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood


by Mike Ratliff

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NASB) 

In the passage above the words “Put on” translate the Greek verb ἐνδύσασθε (endysasthe) the second plural, aorist middle imperative case of ἐνδύω (endyō) which means “clothe.” This is a command for believers to clothe themselves with the “full armor of God” and never take it off. Why? The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We ἐνδύσασθε this whole armor in order to stand firm in the evil day. Well, this is most definitely an evil day when truth is seen as something to be bargained away or shunned while lies and that which only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Therefore, we must become discerning and wise and that means we must consistently wear this armor.  Continue reading

Prayer that is powerful and effectual


by Mike Ratliff

16 ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. James 5:16 (NA28)

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray on behalf of one another so that you may be cured. The petition of the righteous, being effective, has great power. James 5:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Prayer, to me, has always been a very personal thing. Yes, I have always admired those people who can pray those long eloquent prayers publicly, but I am not one of those. When I pray, I do so with a one-on-one between me and God. Of course, there is always Paul’s exhortation from 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

17 ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NA28)

17 unceasingly pray, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

That exhortation is talking about how we walk through each day, that is, with our focus being eternal rather than temporal. I, for one, believe that this is more important for me to do than learning how to pray long eloquent prayers in public. In any case, prayer is important and it is far more important to pray as James described, don’t you think?
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Live the rest of your life for the will of God


by Mike Ratliff

5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:5-6 (NKJV) 

There are really only two mindsets. There is the natural man mindset that we were all born with then there is the transformed mindset that comes as a result of being transformed by the renewal of our minds as a way of life and walking before the face of God. (Romans 12:1-2) The natural man mindset sees things of God as foolishness or unfairness while the transformed mindset is in the process of learning to see things as God sees them. Continue reading

God’s wisdom is spiritual wisdom


by Mike Ratliff

6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NKJV) 

When we are pressured in our circumstances to compromise and respond via the flesh, i.e. the way of the world, we are actually employing worldly wisdom. That wisdom says to, “Look out for number one!” It says to, “Never allow yourself to be taken advantage of.” It says to, “If attacked, respond in kind.” When Christians react this way then they are actually utilizing values that are part of a system that does not know God, cannot know God, and sees truth as relative. Those who hold to relativism appear to the unregenerate as the most enlightened and, obviously, more fair minded. However, when the disciples of relativism come head to head with those who will not compromise  God’s truth, their response can be quite brutal. Continue reading

The Pilgrim’s Heart Part 14 – Conclusion


by Mike Ratliff

37 For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Hebrews 10:37-39 (NASB) 

As we end this study of the Pilgrim’s Heart, let us take notice of the vast difference between the self-focused Christian, the Flesh-bound, and the God-focused Christian, the Spirit-led. The former is fleshly. He or she may very well be a genuine Christian, but they struggle mightily with besetting sins and are still focused on self-gratification as a means of fulfillment. His or her heart is relatively hard or callous towards God. The latter is not nearly as fleshly. He or she is a genuine Christian, and besetting sins are actively fought via mortification. The Spirit-led believer seeks to obey God and deny self. He or she has learned to take every thought captive so that sin does not have a chance to take root. His or her heart is relatively tender towards God. The Spirit-led believer, in his or her obedience, is Spirit-filled. That means he or she walks and obeys God by His grace. These fundamentals are the basis for all aspects of the victorious pilgrimage.

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The Pilgrim’s Heart Part 12 – The Disciple’s Heart


by Mike Ratliff

25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:25-35 (NASB)

During all my Flesh-bound years as a born again believer, I read the passage above (Luke 14:25-35) innumerable times. I had an understanding of it, but I have found since I became Spirit-led that I was wrong all along. I had assumed someday I would learn to enjoy church enough and develop a deeper love and devotion to the Lord through that. Boy was that stupid! Continue reading