Rooted and Grounded


by Mike Ratliff

14 Τούτου χάριν κάμπτω τὰ γόνατά μου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, 15 ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται, 16 ἵνα δῷ ὑμῖν κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον, 17 κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι, 18 ἵνα ἐξισχύσητε καταλαβέσθαι σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ ὕψος καὶ βάθος, 19 γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NA28)

14 For this cause I bend my knees to the Father 15 from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named, 16 that He may grant you according to the wealth of His glory to become mightily empowered in your inner being through His Spirit 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, having been rooted and grounded in love, 18 that you might have strength to grasp together with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of His love, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I would not pass the test for post modernism in any context. I am not politically correct nor do I care whether I am or am not. If that becomes a requirement for employment or something else that we view as temporally vital in this age, I will still refuse. On the other hand, as I walk through my day in this world, that does not mean that those around me are not exposed to God’s love through me. As I have meditated a great deal on this lately, I have done much repentance as well. When unbelievers see me, get to know me, et cetera, they should be drawn to Christ because they see evidence of His love being manifest through me. Is that always the case? Oh that it was! If we walk in light of Jesus Christ and Him crucified in all of our relationships, how can we be self-centered jerks at anytime with anyone?  Continue reading

A Very Grave Person


by Mike Ratliff

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NASB) 

The visible church is flesh driven. Evangelicalism is corrupt because of the very same thing. I visit both large and small churches. It seems that in many cases, the larger the church, the more geared the leadership is there to appealing to the flesh to attract and keep the crowds large and entertained. When I enter the physical buildings of these large churches I look around and take a visible inventory of the clues given of how focused the leadership there is to being “in tune” with culture in how church is done, how the music is done, how convicting the message from the Word of God is in all of this and how central that is to the life of that local body of believers. Forget those that have their own television networks or shows or whatever. They have sold out a long time ago to contextualization of the truth in order to keep the money coming in.  Continue reading

Three Kinds of Death


by Mike Ratliff

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB) 

The fallen nature of man does not understand death. Depending on culture, some fight to stay alive with their all. The correct understanding of death comes to us from God’s Word. The word death is used in three different ways in Sacred Scripture. The first is spiritual death, which is separation from God (Ephesians 2:1,1). Then, of course, there is physical death (Hebrews 9:27). Then there is eternal death, which is referred to as “the second death” in Revelation 20:11-15). While many would consider the topic of death to be a subject to be avoided, it is vital for us to have a clear understanding of all three manifestations in biblical terminology so that we will have a better foundation for sharing the Good News.  Continue reading

The Sword


by Mike Ratliff

34 Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. Matthew 10:34 (NA28)

34 Do not think that I cam to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The peace that Christians have because they are in Christ is between them and God and because of that, with each other. However, that does not mean that there will be peace between them and those not in Christ. In fact, these words of our Lord in Matthew 10:34-38 make it clear that those truly in Christ will be so changed by the Gospel, the presence of the Holy Spirit in them, and their new nature that there will be inevitable separation between them and those who are not in Christ. This holds true even within families. This is true because the genuine believer is so changed that no matter what sort of pressure comes to bear on them, they simply cannot be at peace with the ways of the world or the ways of the flesh. Their conscience is bound to Christ and His Word while those not in Christ have consciences bound to the flesh no matter how religious they are.  Continue reading

The Plumbline


by Mike Ratliff

7 Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. Amos 7:7 (NASB) 

In John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress, the characters’ names usually define their character. For instance there is Ignorance. He refuses to believe Christian and Hopeful when they tell him that unless he goes through the narrow gate to begin his pilgrimage, he will not be allowed into the gate of the Celestial City. Then there is Talkative who equates making a fuss about one’s sin with actual repentance. Early in Christian’s pilgrimage, he comes across two other pilgrims named Formalist and Hypocrisy who come from a country called Vain-Glory. They tell Christian that the shortcut that they took to the path, bypassing the narrow gate, was necessary because it was too far to travel from Vain-Glory to it. All were revealed to be counterfeit Pilgrims and none of them made it into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ save Christian, Hopeful and Faithful. Continue reading

Decided Ungodliness


by Mike Ratliff

3 O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth?
You have smitten them,
But they did not weaken;
You have consumed them,
But they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
They have refused to repent. Jeremiah 5:3 (NASB) 

Obstinate refusal to bow the knee to the Lordship of Christ is not always apparent or observable in professing Christians. Unlike men such as the late George Carlin, their rebellion is often shrouded in ceremonies, religiosity, morality, good works, and the like. They may have been convicted to repent, but instead of doing so they remain turned from God as they pursue their own way of placating their conscience. This is attempting to be a Christian on ones own terms. Continue reading

Deception Begins With Unbelief


by Mike Ratliff

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58 (NASB) 

As we continue to look at the evidence of God sending out a strong delusion upon professing Christians who appear to be running headlong into apostasy in ever increasing numbers let us look at what it is in these people that has brought this about. Why have they fallen into darkness and we have not?  I have always taught God’s Word as literal truth and there are many places in the Word that some professing Christians have a problem taking literally because, if we do, then it refutes their pet theology exactly to the point. That is the nature of God’s truth. I have had some very ugly discussions in Bible Study classes about doctrine in which certain people were insistent that a section of God’s Word cannot be taken literally even though the only refutation they have against doing so is human philosophy. This, my brethren, is unbelief in action.  Continue reading

Limited Atonement


by Mike Ratliff

26 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. 29 If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 30 As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.” Leviticus 23:26-32 (NASB) 

Please carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Do you see the serious emphasis God places on the need for His people’s atonement? What is this atonement? Biblical atonement is the act of God canceling the debt of His people’s sin. Without it God’s wrath against their sin could not be appeased.

Continue reading

The Cross is Not Proof of Our Worth But of God’s Grace


by Mike Ratliff

13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ Luke 18:13 (NASB) 

In our day it is not unusual to hear a man-centered version of the Gospel message that has everything turned around backward and is presented in such a way that is meant to appeal emotionally to unbelievers with a statement such as, “Christ’s crucifixion is proof of our worth to God!” The appeal is meant to show that if Christ was willing to go to Cross to save sinners like us then that proves we are of value to God. I have even heard one version of this that says that Jesus would have gone to that Cross even if it was for just one unrepentant sinner. Is that found anywhere in God’s Word? I have never found it. Instead, what I see clearly presented there is that all of us are undeserving sinners and even dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). Until God regenerated us, we are spiritual corpses, that is, without spiritual life. Therefore, grace that is not all grace is no grace. Grace that saves means that God has done everything; if He does not do everything, then it is not grace.  Continue reading

Joy in Trials


by Mike Ratliff

2 Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, 3 γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν. 4 ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω, ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι. James 1:2-4 (NA28)

2 Consider it all joy my brothers whenever you fall into various trials 3 knowing that the testing of your faith works endurance; 4 let endurance work to fulfillment, that you be mature and complete lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The word joy in my translation is the Greek noun χαρὰν, which is the Accusative, Singular of χαρά (chara), “is an antonym of grief and sorrow. It denotes ‘joy, happiness, and gladness.’” In other words, James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is telling Christians to not grieve or be sorrowful, but to be glad and full of joy when they “fall into various trials.” The words “you fall” translates the verb περιπέσητε, which is the Aorist tense, Subjunctive mood, and Active voice of περιπίπτω (peripiptō), which is a compound of περί (peri), “properly through (all over), that is, around” and πίπτω (piptō), “fail, fall (down), light on” with the result coming to mean, “to fall into something that is all around, that is, light among or upon, be surrounded with: – fall among (into).” Doesn’t that “figuratively” describe how we so often have found ourselves in the midst of something that seems “overwhelming?” The word trials translates the noun πειρασμοῖς, which is the Dative, Plural of πειρασμός (peirasmos), “refers either to a testing or a temptation to do something wrong.” Continue reading

What Happens When God Leaves Us to Ourselves?


by Mike Ratliff

30 It was Hezekiah who stopped the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all that he did. 31 Even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. 2 Chronicles 32:30-31 (NASB) 

I doubt if any professing Christian who is a genuine child of God has not come to that sobering and often devastating realization in which God has taken His hand away just enough so that decisions are made and actions are taken apart from His wise counsel. The consequences of our going it alone are humbling to say the least. God tests us in these circumstances to show us what is really in our hearts. We are placed in circumstances in which the wise and Christian thing to do would be to seek God’s face and move only as He leads, but if we are honest we must confess that in these circumstances our self-righteousness comes to the fore or we operate from pride or instead of mortifying our sin, we indulge our flesh. These are not marks of the unregenerate my brethren, but of the children of God. I am convinced that God uses these things to show us what we are really made of and, therefore, we are humbled and become more usable in the Kingdom.  Continue reading

God’s Firm Foundation Stands


by Mike Ratliff

18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:18 (NASB) 

My father-in-law went on to be with the Lord several years ago, but during World War II he was a U.S. Navy Pharmist’s Mate. In today’s Navy, they are called Corpsmen. These are the medics who hit the beach or land in the choppers with the Marines or Navy Seals when they go into real combat. My father-in-law hit the beach with the U.S. Marines in the Pacific on the Islands of Peleliu and Okinawa. He was about 20 years old at the time. He hit the beach as a boy and left that island at the end of those two battles with a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He rarely talked about it. I asked him to describe the battle in which he won the Bronze Star. He had volunteered to go in under fire to treat several wounded Marines then wait for a tank to come in as the means to take them out. That was where he earned that Bronze Star and the first of his Purple Hearts. He had already been wounded before he volunteered. He described the combat as men falling all around him.  Continue reading

Mistaken Notions About Repentance


by Mike Ratliff

30 I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. Ezekiel 36:30-31 (NASB) 

The following is partially adapted from a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon titled “Mistaken Notions About Repentance.”

Some have defined repentance as, “a change of mind.” Others add, “with resultant change in actions.” Others believe it is anguish and grief over sin. Others believe it is the same thing as belief. What is repentance? Repentance is wrought in the heart by a sense of love divine. In other words, it is the product of a work of God in the heart. If we hold this view of repentance we see it in its true light. This helps us to meet a great many mistakes which have darkened this subject. Many are kept from Christ and hope by misapprehensions of this matter. Continue reading

Casting out Fear


by Mike Ratliff

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19 (NASB) 

As God draws us out of darkness into a Spirit-led walk, we can still become discouraged or fearful when the fires of tribulation, tests, or trials come upon us. The move from walking according to the flesh to walking according to the spirit breaks those self-forged chains of bondage to our flesh that kept us mired in spiritual blindness. That happens as we become Spirit-led. We become Spirit-led when we obey God by drawing near unto Him. God’s ways are not our ways. Submission to the Lordship of Christ brings us rest and freedom. Rebellion against His Lordship puts in bondage and darkness. The Spirit-led walk is one which has its mind on the things of God. The flesh-bound walk is one which has its mind on the things of Men. Therefore, the Spirit-led believer fears only God while the flesh-bound walk is full of fear. Fear of what? Isn’t it a fear of having to submit to others? The Spirit-led believer submits to others for Christ’s sake. The Spirit-led walk is one that is free of fear of the unknown while the flesh-bound walk is anxious about everything. Continue reading