Righteousness which Exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees


by Mike Ratliff

6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NASB) 

What is our Lord’s number one desire for His sheep? Some would say that Jesus Christ wants Christians to just get along. Others might say that He wants Christians to live sacrificially while being busy doing good works. Some may say that proper religiosity is most important. The number one desire our Lord has for His people is that their Righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisee so that their lives will bring Him glory. Continue reading

Counterfeit Obedience and Discernment


by Mike Ratliff

13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:13-17 (NASB) 

The heart of Man is deceitful beyond our understanding. I find it incredible that God would desire to save any of us. Even after regeneration there is an element in each of our hearts that falls for the wicked appeal of our enemy to believe those things that have an affinity to our pride and flesh. One of the things that I must do in order to write these posts is to do research into the ministries of certain people who are suspected of some form of apostasy or heresy. I find it amazing how I can listen to one of these fellows preach or teach and find something within my heart having an affinity to what is being said. Of course this shows us the level of deception within these things. It is very interesting to then analyze what is being taught and compare it to Scripture. It is then that that part of me that liked what it heard runs for cover because I am seeking to kill it. 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

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

Unity Through Humility


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB) 

The number one accusation thrown at those who take up the armor of God and use it in the battle as they are called to do, is that they are full of pride. Those who use this fiery dart are equating certainty with pride. Extra Biblical revelation should not be used in the battle by God’s warriors. Instead, the source of truth that is used is the sword of the Spirit itself, the Word of God. Experience is extra-Biblical. Man’s teachings, if contrary to the Word of God, are extra-Biblical. One’s own private interpretation of Scripture and/or experience is extra-Biblical.

These battles may appear to cause disunity in the Body, but unity that is held together through compromise is false. Christians should never seek to be yoked up with those who hold doctrine or beliefs that are contrary to the truth from God’s Word or are based solely on extra Biblical sources. Unity in the Body of Christ is commanded in God’s Word, but that unity is not based in compromise, but love and humility within those who are obedient to the truth. Continue reading

The Triumph of Grace over the Power of Sin


by Mike Ratliff

8 And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? Their condemnation is just. Romans 3:8 (NASB) 

The debate in the visible Church in our time concerning the need for Christians to walk in Repentance is actually quite perplexing to those of us whose hearts and consciences are bound to the Word of God. It clearly exhorts us all to repent and walk in righteousness. I had a conversation with a Pastor several years ago at lunch following his sermon that Sunday morning. We discussed the dreadful condition in the visible Church today in which most professing Christians appeared to be very immature and in bondage to their flesh. I asked for his opinion of why that was so. His response was that it was the result of the Church not being the Church as God designed. There was little or no Church discipline. There was little preaching of the Law and the Gospel together. There was hardly ever a mention of walking in repentance before our Holy God. I agreed completely with his analysis. He also shared that he did not believe that a very large percentage of the professing Christians were genuine.  Continue reading

It is Finished!


by Mike Ratliff

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John 19:28-30 (NASB) 

Sometimes God brings things into our lives that seem devastating. Others may also see these things in our lives and question that God even exists. They cannot conceive of a loving God who would cause or allow debilitating diseases that are always fatal into the fragile bodies of those who profess faith in the Saviour. However, I am always amazed at the deep, rock hard faith displayed by those in the center of these things, whether it is the one suffering or a close family member. As I attempt to minister to these folks, feeling 100% inadequate to do so, I am the one who is encouraged by their attitude and Christlike spirit that seeks to build me up in our Lord. It is then that I view my own walk and am ashamed.  Continue reading

Abundant Pardon


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:4-8 (NASB) 

We have been looking long and hard at the narrowness of the Gospel and how it it is not editable. It is not open to change. No matter how much a person wants it to be otherwise, it is unchangeable. It is God’s Good News to fallen man. This good news is the proclamation that there is a way, only one way, for sinful people to be reconciled to God. It is good news because all people suffer from the same condition. They are born dead in trespasses and sins and are not morally able to do anything about it. This separates all of us from God because He is Holy and must judge all sin. The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross and became sin on our behalf. God judged our sin in Him. This “atoned” for our sins. Now let us look at the pardon available to all who believe. Continue reading

Christ is God and Man


 

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 (NASB) 

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NASB)

If we listen to some today it is as if the Incarnation of Christ was to show Man how to live in such a way that there would be no war, no hunger, no sickness and that the Earth be recovered back to the pristine state of Creation. Was this His mission?  Continue reading

The Excellency of Christ’s Deity


by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NASB) 

All genuine Christians are involved in some form of spiritual conflict. They are tempted to doubt their salvation because their assurance is under attack or they are being tempted to turn aside for some fleshly “diversion” or they are tempted to compromise in some fashion in a way that would be an act against conscience, et cetera. Some reading this have contacted me for prayer because of family or health issues. We are all in desperate need of our hearts being strengthened in the resignation of ourselves unto the Lordship of  Jesus Christ. We need our affections as the Bride of Christ to be stirred up and made more apparent to our regenerate hearts. How do we do this? What can we do that will endear our hearts unto Christ? Continue reading

Pride and 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

All That Believe are Justified


by Mike Ratliff

38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. 40 Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:
41 ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish;
For I am accomplishing a work in your days,
A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’” Acts 13:38-41 (NASB) 

We have been looking at Christian faithfulness vs. unfaithfulness  and the fruit of each. We have looked at the difference between Christian Externalism and Christian Internalism and what constitutes worship in Spirit and Truth. We looked at these things from the perspective of Christian authenticity and the culpability of Church leaders who do not disciple their flocks thereby spiritually starving those in their care. The responses to these things was very interesting. It was also very edifying to see some take it deeper by reasoning and praying their way through them. This is what Christians do in mind renewal, which is the engine that transforms Christians into the mature living sacrifices who both bring glory to God and become mature, Christlike, Spirit-filled believers. Continue reading

Unbelief and the Hard Heart


 

by Mike Ratliff

20 Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24 Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” Matthew 11:20-24 (NASB) 

Compromise and tolerance in our day are seen as ultimate virtues. While our flesh-bound reason agrees with this, there is the problem of our Lord’s own words from Sacred Scripture which say the very opposite. In the 21st Century, the mindset seems to be that we must never take a stand if it can be criticized by anyone. Several years ago I was writing some doctrinal things on this blog which caused many to no longer read or comment here. One of the comments I received at that time caused me to pause and reflect on my motives for doing what I was doing. The comment went something like this, “If you take stands in your articles, like you are doing now, in which you say this or that is the truth then you are opening up yourself to criticism.” Now, what was this person really saying? Continue reading