Truth says, “Examine me,” while tolerance says, “Leave me alone.”


by Mike Ratliff

10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble- minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11 NASB)

We live in an age in which tolerance is demanded, but those who disagree are quickly and swiftly met with heavy-handed intolerance from those very same people demanding tolerance. Of course, for what are they demanding tolerance? Isn’t it the very things that our Lord God calls sin such as homosexuality, bestiality, adultery, murder of the unborn, et cetera? Since the Christian is called by God Himself to use His Word alone as the source for truth then we must do so without compromise. This being so, those who call themselves Christians, but who join the “tolerance” bandwagon by compromising God’s truth with man’s lies are simply proving their disingenuousness. Continue reading

Sound Doctrine


by Mike Ratliff

5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:5-11 NASB)

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. What is the aim of the charge of a true discipler? It is to produce the good fruit of of love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. That is the good fruit of genuine prophet of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, our Lord Himself told us in His Sermon on the Mount how to discern whether a prophet was false or not.

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20 NASB)
Continue reading

The profile of an apostate


by Mike Ratliff

20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:20-22 NASB)

The Bible very clearly teaches that Christians should examine themselves quite often in order to see what their spiritual condition is. Genuine Christians are not perfect people. Neither are they always full of happiness, in perfect health while having plenty of money in the bank. No, the fact that all believers are called to be humble, poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart and many other things that are growing in their character means that they will spend much of their time in the fires of sanctification.

It is during these times of purging and pruning that believers are in the greatest danger of becoming despondent, discouraged, and even depressed if they have not learned to view their circumstances correctly.

Despite what many in the Easy-believism or Universalism camp teach, there are people who profess Christ who are not genuine. They are not regenerate nor do they have the Holy Spirit. They are not in Christ. Genuine Christians abide in Christ. They remain. They may go through the worst tribulation imaginable, yet they remain attached to the Vine. However, when tribulation descends on the disingenuous professing Christians they do not endure because they have no root in themselves. The world and the deceitfulness of riches cause others to fall away. These are not genuine believers. Continue reading

The offenses of the Gospel


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 came 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)

26 τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ; ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; (Matthew 16:26 NA28)

26 For what will be benefited a man if he acquires the whole world, but he forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

If you are an ardent listener to many so-called “Christian” leaders today you may be surprised to learn that the Gospel message is not meant to bring peace to the earth or between people. It is not meant to make your life better or to make this world a better place. No, in fact, the real Gospel message is hated by the world and those so-called “Christian” leaders who never preach it, but, instead, preach a man-pleasing comprised version of it that includes their own “Jesus” not the real Jesus Christ of the Bible. They compromise the message in order to enlarge their ministries and perhaps make more money. However, the Word of God itself tells us the true preaching of the Gospel will always be offensive. Let us look at these “offenses” of the Gospel. Continue reading

What it means to be filled by the Holy Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

18 καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία, ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, (Ephesians 5:17-18 NA28)

18 And do not become drunk with wine in which is dissipation, but be filled by the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What does it mean for a Christian to be “filled” by the Holy Spirit? In my translation above the preposition “by” renders the Greek word ἐν (en), “in, with, by, among, at, on, when, to, as, for, through, while, within, of, about, into, because, during, throughout, before, under.” Why did I render it as “by” instead of “with?” As Louis Sperry Chafer said, “It is not a matter of acquiring more of the Spirit, but rather of the Spirit of God acquiring all of the individual.”1 The believer who is Spirit-filled is influenced by the Spirit and nothing else while those who are not, are more influenced by the temporal. To be filled by the Spirit is to have our thoughts, desires, values, motives, goals, priorities, and all else set on spiritual things and spiritual growth.  Continue reading

Death and life


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. (Ephesians 2:1-2 NASB)

I spent the week in Denver at our corporate headquarters for a project kickoff in which I will be the Database Administrator. The day before my flight back home my wife texted me that a good friend of ours who was suffering from brain cancer had died. He had been in hospice care for several weeks. He was a godly man. His battle with cancer lasted about a year. We attended his funeral today. My brethren, it is not a tragic thing to be there for the family at the funeral of their lost loved one when that loved one was a solid Christian leader like my friend. Yes, we all wept as we witnessed the hurt in his wife, children and other family members and close friends. However, as some of them shared how his life had impacted them to draw them into a closer walk with the Lord, well, I wept with them all over again.  Continue reading

What is the evidence of being a genuine disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond- servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:3-13 NASB)

Several years ago, about 18 months after I was saved, I heard a wonderful lesson at a men’s retreat on Matthew 5:1-12. My Bible knowledge at that time was spotty. I had heard of The Beatitudes, but really hadn’t studied them. I had actually heard others teach that these statements are not possible for Christians until Jesus comes in His glory. I also heard that this is what Christians will be like during the “Millennium.” Both of these teachings came out of another teaching that said that there were two types of Christians, Disciples and Carnal Christians. At that time, being such a new believer, I thought that was Biblical. I look back on that period of time now and can see clearly why God moved me away from that church and denomination. Continue reading

What is genuine humility?


by Mike Ratliff

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others
(Philippians 2:3-4 NASB)

Our pride is insidious. When we are convicted of our prideful behaviour or thoughts it takes cover and transforms itself into false humility. We take pride in our humility or our service or our devotion. Pride is idolatry of self. When we are not humble our pride actually displaces God with self as our center. Christians are not immune from it. Continue reading

A prayer of praise of God and reflection of the Christian’s relationship with Him


GOD AND MYSELF

LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,
Thy understanding is unsearchable and infinite,
Thy arm cannot be stayed,
Thy agency extends through limitless space,
All works hang on thy care,
With thee time is a present now.

Holy is  thy wisdom, power, mercy, ways, works,
How can I stand before thee
with my numberless and aggravated offences?

I have often loved darkness,
observed lying vanities,
forsaken thy given mercies,
trampled underfoot thy beloved Son,
mocked thy providences,
flattered thee with my lips,
broken thy covenant.

It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed.
Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair;
Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning, loathing myself,
but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners.

At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, abhor it,
look on him whom I pierced,
as one slain from me, and by me.

May I never despise his death by fearing its efficacy for my salvation.

And whatever cross I am required to bear,
let me see him carrying a heavier.

Teach me in health to think of sickness,
in the brightest hours to be ready for darkness;
in life prepare me for death.

Thus may my soul rest in thee, O immortal and transcendent one,
revealed as thou art in the Person and work of thy Son,
the friend of sinners.

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett

Counterfeit love vs. Biblical love


by Mike Ratliff

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. (Colossians 3:5-7 NASB)

In Ephesians 5:1-2 the Apostle Paul gave us exhortation to line up our lives with God’s standard of self-sacrificial love that mimics His own for His beloved Children.

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB)

He then, in vv3-7, gives us the opposite, which is counterfeit love. This form of fleshly love always results in impurity of life. I find it amazing how I find so many professing Christians ready to call what I am teaching here “legalism” because they want to embrace the very things Paul lists in these verses which are Satan’s perversion of God’s creation. Continue reading

The transforming power of gratitude


by Mike Ratliff

17 ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NA28)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold he has become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When Christ comes into your life, your life changes. God’s Word everywhere declares that a change is automatic when someone truly believes. However, this is not entirely a passive thing. There is something called walking in repentance that is our part. I am sure all of you know someone or you may have personal testimony pertaining to struggling with sin or sins for years that seemed to cling very close and no matter what, freedom from the sin(s) seemed like chains in prison. However we are commanded to not sin like that aren’t we? Continue reading

Idolatry and the Holiness of God


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; 3 and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”  (Genesis 35:1-3 NASB)
 idolatry 1: the worship of a physical object as a god 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something (from Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary)

I’m sure that most Christians’ conception of idolatry is one in which people fall down and worship some statue or image or a facsimile of something that appears to resemble a god. While that is an example of idolatry there is a more subtle form of idolatry that all people are neck deep in outside of the grace of God. If we look closely at the dictionary definition I placed near the top of this post, we will see that the first definition is our conception while the second is the reality that we must all agree that we are guilty of. The last word in that definition could easily be change from “something” to “someone.” Then all we have to do is look in a mirror to see who that someone is. We are all guilty of idolatry to some level. Continue reading