by Mike Ratliff
13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13 NASB)
There are many ministries in our time that are run by people who have either forgotten that friendship with the world is a sin or they are deliberately overlooking it. If a ministry operates in such a way that the world loves it then there is at least one missing component in it. That of course is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture is clear that Christians cannot be friends of the world. Why? Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system, which is in rebellion against God (John 14:30). Therefore, the world not only hates Jesus, but also those who follow Him. This hatred is also focused toward the Father because He sent Jesus to testify against it. Now, since this is true and clearly taught in Sacred Scripture, what does this say about those ministries who work overtime to accommodate the secular and to appeal to temporal ways and means? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.
15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him. (2 Kings 2:13-15 NASB)
As we stand in the thick of the battle, not falling or retreating, it is because we are wearing and using the armor of God. Our God is not a product of man-made religion. He is not created by man in the form of the creature. No, He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, righteous, and just. The great object to be desired is God, YHWH, Elijah’s God. With YHWH all things flourish. His absence is our decline and death.
Before genuine believers can enter into any good work they should seek for the God who was with their predecessors. What a mercy that the God of Elijah is also the God of Elisha! He will also be with us. He will be our guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:14)
The Spirit-filled believer does not need antiquities from the past, nor novelties of the present, nor marvels for the future; he or she only wants the Triune God, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and they shall then see with them wonders equal to those of Elijah’s age. “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” The old mantle, used with faith in the same God, parted the waters to the one side and to the other. The power is where it used to be. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NASB)
I remember a preacher who filled in for ours once for some reason. I was about 15 or so at the time. He was an older gentleman with a big booming voice and a head full of white hair. He was so different from our preacher that I actually listened to what he said. I believe that the person from the Bible he was talking about was Isaac. I remember him commenting on the fact that he was timid or shy or fearful. In my mind I thought of that person as shy or bashful by the way he described him. Then he said something I will never forget. He said, “Folks, timidity is not of God.” He then preached a sermon on how God calls His people to be bold and to fear not. Those who are fearful are those of little faith who make decisions that reflect their fear instead of reflecting a trust of God through their faith. He said that those who walk in fear and timidity are actually not in obedience to God and are therefore operating from pride. Their fear was the product of their pride as it did all it could do to protect self. However, those who walk in boldness are the truly humble believers because they lay aside self-protection while obeying God for His glory. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” (Revelation 17:1-2 NASB)
John the Baptist was the one who was sent to make the way straight, to prepare the way for the one who was to come. Of course the one who was to come is our Lord Jesus Christ the long awaited Messiah of the Jews. Gabriel told Zechariah, the father of John, “he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb, and will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Of course he did that very thing and our Lord was born of a virgin soon after John. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
9 “When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
10 “For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
11 “Therefore I swore in My anger,
Truly they shall not enter into My rest.” (Psalms 95:7-11 NASB)
Preaching or teaching from God’s Word is nothing to trifle with. The responsibility that goes with each is eternal. Those who minister through the Word will be held accountable. We must ask each time we preach or teach, “Did I treat what is Holy as it deserved? Have I fallen into doing my ministry perfunctorily?” Those of us who teach must never do so in a way that is in any way motivated by anything other than our love and devotion for our Lord. Yes, there will be circumstances that we respond to and use as inspiration or input in a spontaneous way, but, even in that, we do a tremendous disservice to our Lord if we don’t go to Him in prayer first before we respond, write, preach, or teach. While the leader has a huge responsibility to minister by the Spirit, those who hear the truth from God’s Word will also be held accountable. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13 NASB)
When I see or hear so-called Christians speak of God prospering them because of their faith or see Pastors or “Evangelists” with their own private jets, huge homes and limousines there is a bad taste that forms in my mouth. From the birth of the Church until now there have been those professing to be Christians who are anything but. They major in minors while ignoring the major points of our faith. They take passages of scripture out of context to make it say that it supports their aberrant forms of Christian theology. The huge tragedy of this, of course, is how many blindly follow them thinking they are Christian, when they are nothing but False Teachers who love money. Money is their idol and idolatry always leads to spiritual blindness. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15 NASB)
With the ever increasing move away from Orthodox Christianity into various forms of Experiential religion that we are witnesses of here and now, it seems that the bottom is falling out of Christianity. It’s bad enough that we have all of these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” drawing the unaware into false religions while pretending to be Christian, but there are seemingly endless numbers of our “Christian” leaders falling all over themselves embracing these heretics. No one seems to mind either. It’s not that we have heretics among us, we always have them, but there are now many of our leaders either falling in bed with these people or revealing their fleshly side in some of the grossest sins imaginable. What is going on? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak!”
17 Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, 18 and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘ Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated. ’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”
20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “ I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. (1 Samuel 15:16-20 NASB)
The Reformers and Puritans would not recognize as genuine most of what we call Christianity today. Of course one of the main thrusts of the Protestant Reformation was to make the Word of God accessible to all people. Why? It is in the Bible that we learn the truth. We learn what genuine worship is and what it isn’t. We learn that genuine Christianity will always have the requirement of obedience to God as what marks a true disciple of Christ. False versions of Christianity will always be marked by a version of the truth to obey that is not the complete truth from God’s Word. Instead, men’s rules are used.
False professions abound in false churches. Instead of complete obedience being the standard for believers, obedience to man’s version of God’s standard suffices. Just as Saul said he was obedient when he partially carried out God’s mission to destroy the Amalekites, false churches propagate this sort of thing in believer’s day-to-day obedience. It is all relative. There are no absolutes and only someone ate up with legalism would insist on complete obedience to God.
by Mike Ratliff
7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “ You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:9-24 NASB)
If we are honest, each of us would have to confess that there are sins that have an incredible hold on us. It seems that no matter how devoted we become in our walk before our Lord, there will be some sins that trip us up, making us stumble and fall to our deep chagrin. Our self-loathing resulting from this can be quite severe. We cry out to God, we promise Him that we are done with that sin. We declare that we would rather die than do it again. We weep. We mourn. We then start to recover and become joyous in the Lord again. Then a short time later there is that sin pouncing upon us out of no where. We seem to have little or no strength or resolve to fight it off and then we stumble right back into it again. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. (John 4:10 NA28)
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 Translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers receiving and drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
28 Καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐὰν φανερωθῇ σχῶμεν παρρησίαν καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 29 ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστιν, γινώσκετε ὅτι καὶ πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται. (1 John 2:28-29 NA28)
28 And now little children, abide in him that when he is manifested, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know that everyone practicing righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
I am sure many of you have come across the following video lately that many younger “Christian leaders” are saying defines Christianity in the eyes of the “Millennials.”
In 1 John 2:28-3:10, the Apostle John gives us “evidence” that is most definitely not “politically correct” that will enable us to determine those who really are the genuine children of God and those who aren’t. Of course, we should take a close examination of ourselves as we go through this passage. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NASB)
The very first time I raised concerns about the Kansas City Prophets and the International House of Prayer over 15 years ago over their extra-biblical activities, I was rebuked by another Christian with this statement, “You just don’t understand what is going on. If people’s lives are being changed then God is working so you should just shut up.” Back in 2006 when God opened my eyes to what the leadership at our church was doing with the Purpose Driven stuff and I raised the alarm I was rebuked again with pretty much the same argument. I was told that I should just kick back and cooperate so that the church could peacefully go Purpose Driven so that God could work there and people’s lives could be changed. When I began commenting on the old Slice of Laodicea blog about that same time, those PDC apologists who hated our firm stance against it said very much the same thing. If you listen to Rick Warren speak when talking about what a great ministry Saddleback Valley Baptist Church is, he will always try to emphasize the thousands of people whose lives have been transformed or changed. Back when we still lived in the Kansas City area I noticed the very same theme in the advertisements for The World Revival Church. Their ads on our local TV channels seem to always talk about the hundreds of lives transformed or changed through that ministry. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 James, a bond- servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:1-4 NASB)
33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NASB)
While the emergents and other forms of relativistic Christianity attempt to refocus Christians to this present age, we are clearly taught throughout the New Testament that what awaits us after we leave this life is that for which we should really be preparing. In the world, we will have tribulation (θλῖψιν) (John 16:33). Θλῖψιν symbolically means grievous affliction or distress that applies pressure or burden upon the spirit. Θλῖψιν is used to give the picture of one being crushed. At the same time we are given these warnings about our life here as resident aliens, we are also given encouragement beyond measure. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, 2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” 3 Jesus answered and said to them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me:4 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” 5 They reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him? ’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Luke 20:1-8 NASB)
Fallen man is enslaved to the flesh. When God regenerates and justifies sinners, saving them unto eternal life in Christ, the flesh remains. When we are born our pride and flesh are the main vehicles that we use in order to seek fulfillment. Our salvation does not eradicate this. Since discipleship in our churches is so shallow we do not learn that the most fulfilling place is to be humbly before the throne of grace seeking our Lord’s glory in all we do. Unfortunately, most do not learn or know this. Why? We learn this when we understand that none of us deserve salvation and that without God’s grace we would be on our way to Hell. We are all sinners. Continue reading