If The Foundations Are Destroyed What Can the Righteous Do?


by Mike Ratliff

14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, Ephesians 6:14 (NASB) 

Temporal focus is deadly for Christians. We know that God’s will for us is our sanctification, (1 Thessalonians 4:3) but we tend to let our focus drop from God to self. Our flesh is insidious in its desire to drive us to partake of the world and its ways for self-gratification. Our enemy knows this; therefore his temptations are often rooted there. No one is immune or exempt from this. In fact, God uses this battle to test His saints. Continue reading

Everyone Did What was Right in His Own Eyes


by Mike Ratliff

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 (NASB)

We live in an evil time. There are large numbers of “Christian” leaders who claim to be ministers of God, but prove by their words and actions to have thrown off the authority of God. They do what is right in their own eyes while claiming that they are only following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The fact that what they say or do is unbiblical seems to trouble very few. When some point out the truth to them, they claim that God has lead them to do what they do by giving them their vision so it must be okay and those who protest are just legalistic. Continue reading

Do Not Be Anxious


by Mike Ratliff

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25 (NASB)

As many of you know I turned 70 earlier this week. I am planning on retiring from my DBA job in December. We are working with various financial consultants, lawyers, the V.A., Social Security, etc. to prepare for that time when I won’t be getting a paycheck every couple of weeks. Then, I opened my email this morning and there was one of those scary emails from a company that is selling a specialized investment thing that they say works within an I.R.S. loophole, whatever that is. But the trick they use to get your attention is a quote and testimonial from a financial expert who is predicting that the Dollar will collapse at the end of October this year. Of course, with the stage I am in right now this opened me up to that dreaded “spirit of fear” that I have written about on this blog. What would we do if the dollar became worthless? What about our food, our livelihood, et cetera? Then I remembered how I responded to those professing Christians who were giving in to the spirit of fear when the COVID-19 stuff started as they actually contributed to the spreading that fear instead of being Christlike and not fearful as we are told to do in Scripture. Is this any different? Continue reading

A Circumcision Made Without Hands


by Mike Ratliff

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Colossians 2:8-12 (NASB) 

I have been working on a manuscript for a book that is an exegetical study of Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. Stuart and I are in the editing phase now. I still have to exegete Chapter 4 and work on the Introduction some, but it is coming together. The passage above takes place in a critical point in Paul’s Epistle. He has been working through a section that I titled The Preeminence of Christ and now just before he addresses the theological issues going on there he gives them more depth of the reality of who they are in Christ and just one verse earlier he warns them not to let anyone take them captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (v8). There is a great deal of false teaching in our time that claims that people can be saved without repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ. However, both repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ comes through regeneration and, therefore, are not “works,” but those who say the opposite are guilty of the very deceit Paul is talking about in v8. Continue reading

The Holiness of the Church


by Mike Ratliff

9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NASB) 

The Church is not a building. No, in the New Testament, written in Koine Greek, the English word translated as “church” is the word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia). This word literally means, “the called out ones.” It’s usage in scripture denotes the New Testament community of the redeemed in a two-fold aspect, the first referring to all those called by and to Christ in the fellowship of His salvation, which is the “Church” worldwide at all times. The second aspect, rarely used, refers to a local body of believers.  Continue reading

In Christ


by Mike Ratliff

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 (NASB) 

We live in a time of deep deception. Even genuine Christians can be deceived if they are not exceedingly careful. It is imperative that, even though we must remain in the world for a time, we must not be of it. The Church has been under heavy attack since Acts 2. It is a wise and discerning thing for us to understand that God uses this to purify, cleanse, and teach the Church. It is as we address heresy that doctrine is developed or our understanding of God and His ways becomes more defined for us. Continue reading

Salvation Garments


by Mike Ratliff

1 Awake, awake,
Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion;
Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Will no longer come into you.
2 Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.
3 For thus says the LORD, “You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money.” Isaiah 52:1-3 (NASB)

The way many look at our salvation it is as if they believe that it is a work of some kind. The cry to put on strength and beautiful garments is seen as a new believer putting on something they already have. However, in Isaiah 52:1-3 we see that those being saved were in bonds. They were in a captivity into which they were not sold, but they were redeemed without money. From where does their strength and beautiful garments come?  Continue reading

Proclaiming Christ Crucified


by Mike Ratliff

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NASB)

We preach to men as if they were conscious of being dying sinners; they are not; they are having a good time, and our talk about being born again is from a domain of which they know nothing. The natural man does not want to be born again. – Oswald Chambers from The Psychology of Redemption, 1062 R.

We live in a time in which the evangelical church appears to have been taken over by men who have rejected the Apostle Paul’s method of preaching the Gospel in favor of man-centered, man-pleasing methodology that is grounded in cultural relevance. You can tell very quickly if a local church has succumbed to this by observing whether the focus of what goes on there is on Christ Crucified or on the personalities of the leadership therein. If it is the latter then observe carefully how the Gospel is presented, that is, if it really is. If the preaching in the church is man-centered and geared to pleasing men then it will contain threads of entertainment intertwined with psychological methodology all based upon the concept that these things can actually persuade people to become Christians. Continue reading

Finishing the Marathon


by Mike Ratliff

In 1978 I decided to become a runner. I was 26-27 at that time. I began running a mile or so out from my apartment in Forestville, Maryland then running back. As I was able, I added distance to that run in half-mile increments on the outbound route. That would add a mile to my run. By late 1979 I was able to run 5 miles in about 30 minutes or so. In 1980 I moved from the Washington, DC area to the Oklahoma City area. By this time my Dad had taken up running. He could not run the distance at my speed, but he could run all day. He ran marathons. Continue reading

The Discipline of God


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) 

When I was a new Christian I heard a sermon by Chuck Swindoll in which he stated that before God can use a man for His purposes He must hurt him and sometimes rather severely. That was a quite startling to me at that time since that was so alien to the ‘doctrine’ I was exposed to in the church I belonged to. The focus there was that God was love and that He loved each of just the way we were. If that was so then what Swindoll was teaching wrong. However, as I studied my Bible I found that he was right and what I was hearing in church was wrong. Continue reading

Put On the New Self


by Mike Ratliff

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB) 

The enemy of our souls has from the beginning worked against all believers’ knowing and understanding the veracity of their eternal standing before God. God says that those who believe Him and obey Him, denying themselves in the process, have indescribable blessings awaiting them in eternity. Satan’s lie to us has never really changed. His goal is to distract us from the eternal promise then manipulate our flesh to demand that we focus on our own desires and needs in light of the temporal. Sadly, there is a growing movement that calls itself ‘Christian,’ but it’s message is focused on the here and now, not eternity. It is the Word Faith movement. For example, think of Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley who make incredible claims about their ability to heal with ‘signs and wonders.’  Related to it are preachers such as Joel Osteen who preach a message of prosperity and salvation by professing Christ in order to receive temporal blessings.  Continue reading

The Transformed Mindset


by Mike Ratliff

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NASB) 

A study of the First Great Awakening which took place 1730-1755 in the British Colonies in America contains fascinating historical and personal information about George Whitefield, the Lightening Rod of the Great Awakening, and his relationship with John and Charles Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards. Whitefield and the Wesleys were not well educated in doctrine. They were devout believers and had a heart for the lost. However, their understanding of doctrine was no deeper than any other new believer’s. Over time Whitefield’s doctrine became more conformed to that of Jonathan Edwards’ after spending time with him in the Colonies. This changed his preaching drastically.However, Wesley stayed with his understanding of doctrine that he held from the day he was born again and that was Arminian. The reason Wesley was such a powerful revivalist, however, was not that he was an Arminian, but that he was a preacher of righteousness. He did preach that all men are dead in their trespasses and sins and would go to Hell if they did not repent and accept Jesus and Lord and Saviour. Whitefield was indeed the Lightening Rod of the Great Awakening. He was also a preacher of righteousness, but his doctrine was centered in the doctrines of grace. As believers surrender more and more to the Lordship of Christ in every area of their lives they are also surrendering to the sovereignty of God. This is a huge part of the process God uses to transform us unto the image of the Son. What is our part? Continue reading

Law and Faith


By Mike Ratliff

14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Romans 6:14-15 (NASB) 

Most of the formative years of my Christian walk were spent in one church from February 1987 through February 2000.  During that time we had three pastors.  I was in some form of teaching for most of that time. One of the things that always came up when we studied the Old Testament was Romans 6:14-15. It was as if someone always had to make sure that we were not being legalistic. They cast the law as far from them and our church as the East is from the West. Is that how we are to treat God’s Law? Continue reading

The Most Frightening Words


by Mike Ratliff

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB) 

Over the years I have had many would be dissenters attempt to thwart the message I have labored long and hard over on this blog. They come in all sorts of directions, but one of the most confusing are those who insist that Jesus taught a totally different “Gospel” than that which Paul the Apostle preached. These same people also insist that they are following Jesus instead Paul. Why they do this is puzzling, but really what is being said by these people is nothing new. There are really only two groups of people. There are those who believe God and those who don’t. When people reject the Gospel they will give all sorts of reasons for doing so, but really it all boils down to the fact that they refuse to bow the knee in total surrender to the Lord of Lords. Continue reading