Let us make our calling and election sure


by Mike Ratliff

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4 (NASB) 

Is it possible to know whether we are genuine partakers of the divine nature and not simply religious converts? Let us look at the Apostle Peter’s understanding of this. If anyone would understand that our own efforts to please God are a total waste of time, Peter would be the man. He declared to our Lord on the night of His arrest that he would rather die with Him than desert Him. However, we all know that Peter not only deserted our Lord that night, he denied Him three times. From that failure and his later restoration by our Lord after He was resurrected, we know that we cannot please God with our own efforts. Any work that we do that is outside of His Grace is just works of the flesh and totally worthless. Continue reading

The Big Lie


by Mike Ratliff

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:7-10 (NASB) 

Repentance is not a large part of the paradigm that is the 21st Century version of the visible Church. The current trend to build Mega-Churches has as one of its main tenets that the prevailing culture within which the church resides must determine the content of the Gospel. In order to attract the largest possible number of people to be part of these churches absolutely no emphasis is placed on living a life of repentance by the professing Christian. Instead, the way “church is done” is to bring the world into it, to not be threatening in any way to those who have no desire to abandon their flesh oriented lifestyles. Continue reading

Do not love what Jesus died to deliver us from


by Mike Ratliff

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5 (NASB) 

Much of the doctrinal confusion in the “Church” is directly attributable to attempts to understand scripture without proper study. It is fine to read the Bible and find joy in God’s truths. The Holy Spirit can and does reveal those truths to our hearts as we read and study His Word. However, the fact that there are huge doctrinal disagreements in the “Church” can be quite disconcerting to those who seek only to live for the glory of God by obeying Him in all things. If some teach that a passage in scripture really means one thing while others teach something very different then we have the makings of a paradox if our understanding of doctrine and scripture is based entirely within human reason. Continue reading

What is Sweet as Honey yet Causes Bitterness in the Heat of the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

Believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being humble and Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading

The Curse of Mediocrity


by Mike Ratliff

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-39 (NASB) 

Relativism has enslaved this post-modern 21st Century. The push to equalize everything continues unabated even though it has become apparent to continue down this path is bordering on insanity. There is a Nike commercial being shown this Christmas featuring Lebron James, the NBA star. In the commercial he talks about how the current culture we live in now elevates those like him who came from “humble beginnings,” have overcome that by striving to attain a level of cultural acceptance either through their education or, like him, their athletic abilities. He pushes in the commercial that his real goal and that our goal should be to eliminate all “humble beginnings.” Of course, he also decries all forms of Capitalism and has said he wants the world to turn to Socialism. Unfortunately, evangelical Christianity has succumbed to this madness as well. We see this, for instance, in the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention leadership by men who are advocates of the “Social Justice Gospel,” Critical Race Theory, and a determined effort on their part to move SBC church membership to become liberal in their politics rather than conservative. Continue reading

Believers are Heirs with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:16-17 (NASB)

Even through as Christians we are justified and are under no condemnation (Romans 8:1) it is also clearly taught in God’s Word that Christians are to live lives of repentance from the works of the flesh. There are some, such as those who call themselves “New Calvinists” who take the Doctrines of Grace and separate them from the great teachings of the Puritans such as John Owen, John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Jonathan Edwards, et cetera that made it clear that in this life Christians are required to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). No, these “New Calvinists are antinomians in that they teach those who follow them that if they are in Christ, what they do in the flesh is merely for their enjoyment and has no eternal consequences. Really? Is that what God’s Word says?  Continue reading

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God


by Mike Ratliff

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalms 51:10 (NASB) 

Perhaps the number one teaching missing in the Compromised Church is that of how horrible sin is in the eyes of God. The Gospel is good news only if it includes how our sin is rebellion against God which separates us from Him. This separation is eternal. No one is born righteous. There is no one who does enough good works to be declared righteous by God. There is not one thing men can do to save themselves from God’s judgment against all sin. His wrath burns against it. The Gospel is the good news that God has provided a way for people to be saved from His wrath. He has provided His own sacrificial lamb whose death was sufficient to cover the sins of those whom He will save. Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are saved by God. This belief is by the grace of God through the faith He gives those whom He saves. As they believe they repent of their sins, they turn from them and, therefore, God declares them righteous. He justifies them. Did you see that the gospel is the good news that our sin can be forgiven and taken away? Isn’t it clear that it is given to those who believe and repent? Continue reading

Alive in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB) 

When God saved us He justified us by imputing Christ’s righteousness to our account. He washed us clean through the miracle of regeneration that changed us so that we now have the spiritual ability to walk through our lives and not sin. He also sanctified us, but that was only positional. He did not remove our old nature. We are still in a death struggle with it to nullify our pride and cultivate humility as God’s Holiness becomes manifest in us more and more. This body of death is still with us, but we are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins (Romans 3:10-18) because we are now alive in Christ.

Continue reading

Christian Freedom and Antinomianism


by Mike Ratliff

28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.
31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Romans 3:28-31 (NASB) 

Antinomianism: The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.

I grew up as a Southern Baptist, however, I was not a Christian until January, 1986 a few months after turning 34. After that, my wife and I were members of 5 different SBC churches in the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City areas. I am sure that not all SBC churches teach the exactly the same thing, but the ones I have belonged to definitely discounted the Law of God. Sadly, I think that most of the antinomian teaching out there is centered in a misunderstanding of what is meant in Sacred Scripture by the term Christian Freedom.  Continue reading

A Better Rest


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) 

I placed Psalm 95:7-11 at the top of this post. This part of Psalms 95, a song of praise, is a call for professors of faith to not harden their hearts like the Israelites in the Exodus, but to believe and obey God and, therefore, enter into His rest. In my post Pragmatism and Mustard Seed Faith a few nights ago, we looked at faith, belief, and unbelief. Those with faith that saves, πίστις, believe God and obey Him. These will enter into God’s rest. On the other hand, those in unbelief, ἄπιστος, do not believe God and, therefore, disobey Him. I used this contrast in an attempt to show how “liberal Christianity,” no matter what form it takes, is not Christianity at all because it is based entirely in ἄπιστος. This is true because its leaders attack God’s Truth as absolute truth. In fact, they elevate uncertainty about everything as a virtue and attempt to say that certainty about anything is arrogance in action.  Continue reading

Glory Praise and Worship


by Mike Ratliff

28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. Luke 9:28-32 (NASB) 

As we continue in our discussion and deeper look at the makeup of the dividing line between genuine Christianity, that which is God centered, and counterfeit Christianity, that which is man centered, let us look the vast difference in how each side understands the concepts of God’s glory and the praise that is His due. The word most often translated as praise in the New Testament is δόξα (doxa). It is also translated even more often as glory. However, in secular Greek, δόξα means opinion or conjecture, especially favorable human opinion, which then includes an evaluation placed by others, such as fame, repute, honor, or praise. Is this what is meant in God’s Word when δόξα is used in reference to God’s glory and the praise that His due? I submit that that definition exactly defines most professing Christians’ understanding of praise and worship, but is not in any way shape or form what is true δόξα. Continue reading

What is religious externalism?


by Mike Ratliff

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25-28 (NASB) 

Because of our old church going Purpose Driven in 2006, my wife and I left. The journey to find a new local church fellowship was a long and difficult one. One of the churches along the way was just a few blocks from the one we had just left. A coworker of mine served there as part of one of their worship teams. This was one of the churches my ex-pastor was continually commenting about because of how small it started out and how big it had become while his church seemed to be stagnant, maybe even declining. The “worship” at this church was what I like to call “show time!” There were all sorts of colored lights with spotlights on those “performing.” Each had their own microphone and were all dressed in the same colors. There were at least 20 musicians on stage playing drums, keyboards, guitars, horns, you name it. The drummer was enclosed in a glass booth. It was all very “contemporary.”

After the “worship,” the main pastor walked onto the stage with the spotlights following him. The stage was black. The stairs were black. They worked the lights so that nothing could be seen on the stage except the pastor. He was dressed casually in all black. He was carrying a nice looking cardboard box that he set on the table next to the lectern. He said a few words to direct our attention to the screen that dropped down silently behind him. Then the auditorium went dark. We watched a movie for about 15 minutes of a glass blower working on a vase. The video took us through the whole process of blowing and shaping the glass. It looked like both hard work and a bit of fun. In any case, when the movie ended the spot light came back up revealing the pastor preparing to open the box.

He then spoke of Jesus desperately desiring for “us” to give Him a chance to make our lives better. All we had to do was “accept” Him, and then Jesus would remake our lives unto excellence. Then he reached into the box and took out a beautiful glass vase. He told us that this vase was the one the glass blower in the movie was working on. He gestured to the vase and said, “This is what Jesus wants to do for you, to take you from corruptible sand to beautiful glass.” I don’t remember much after that. That was one of the shortest “sermons” I have ever heard.  Continue reading

It’s All of Grace


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. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB)

As many of you know Tom Ascol collapsed Sunday at his church. He was rushed to the hospital and is still there. I have been following this as much as I can and I have prayed for him, his family and his ministry as many of you have. I rejoiced today as I read that Tom is responding verbally to those around him. Continue reading

Our Eyes Look to the Lord Our God


by Mike Ratliff

1 To You I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He is gracious to us.
3 Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us,
For we are greatly filled with contempt.
4 Our soul is greatly filled
With the scoffing of those who are at ease,
And with the contempt of the proud. Psalms 123 (NASB) 

The vast majority of people on planet Earth want nothing to do with the real Jesus. Many love and hold dear another Jesus, but he is one made up by people who don’t know the one who is real. Tragically, the numbers of professing Christians are growing continually who are also following another Jesus who does not resemble in the least the one found in scripture. Those who hold dear the real Jesus are those who are entirely reliant upon the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly there are baby Christians who are not spiritually mature and whose faith is not strong. However, there are also huge numbers of “religious” Christians who live as if their “decision for Christ” many years ago is their fire insurance. Some of these are quite religious while others are simply calling themselves Christian as if it is some sort of family trait. Those who are completely reliant upon God, whose focus is His glory in all things are those who know the real Jesus and are known by Him. These are the believers whose eyes look to the Lord our God. They look unto God because this brings them knowledge of His countenance. Christians know God by interacting with Him in prayer, Bible Study, obedience and repentance. They are able to do these things with Him as they look unto Him, fully trusting Him to work out the details for His glory. Continue reading