by Mike Ratliff
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:18-19 (NASB)
I grew up as a Southern Baptist, however God did not haver mercy on this sinner until I was 34 years old. I have remained in Baptist churches for the most since then except while living in Kansas. The SBC churches there were either very pragmatic or too far away. The last church we attended before moving back to Oklahoma at the end of 2012 was Mission Road Bible Church in Prairie Village, KS. The pastor was Rick Holland. It was a very solid church. When we moved back to the OKC area we were shocked at first at how many churches there are here compared to the KC area. In any case, we ended up back in my home town and were invited back to the church in which I had served as a deacon and Bible teacher for many years in the 1980’s and 1990’s. That being said, the idiotic politics going on the SBC seem like light years away from what we are doing, but I do know that it causes each of us to question what is going on and ask what we should do to stem the liberal takeover of our denomination.
by C.H. Spurgeon
“Sin . . . exceeding sinful.”-Romans 7:13
Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and then follows an unholy presumption: “We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent.” So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how thou thinkest lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced His heart! It made Him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”
I have family coming over this evening so I am working on my blog post early with little time to prepare, therefore, let’s do a Bible Study. Out text will be Ephesians 5:6-17. Enjoy! Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6–7 Legacy Standard Bible)
In 1980 I moved from the Washington, D.C. area to a suburb of Oklahoma City to take a new job. I was 29 years old and thought I was a Christian because of my on again, off again religiosity. I was single and a political liberal. I was also very close to being a libertine. Sometime during that year I remember reading in The Daily Oklahoman newspaper about a Southern Baptist pastor in Oklahoma City who was one of the leaders in a movement in the Southern Baptist Convention to bring in a more moderate stance on theology and Biblical inerrancy. His name was Gene Garrison. He was at that time the pastor of First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me, 27 and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning (John 15:26–27 Legacy Standard Bible)
We live in a time of biblical ignorance. Much of the ignorance is intentional. I have been involved in some discussions over the last several days that pertained to a movement that seeks to separate Jesus from Holy Scripture. In every case, these behind that have created their “own Jesus.” Those who are immersed in the Word of God as they walk before the face of God in their sanctification see this movement with a great deal of incredulity. How can anyone learn about Jesus and what is expected of His disciples if all understanding of Him comes extra-biblically? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. Galatians 5:6-12 (NASB)
In Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians he delivers a scathing indictment against all who teach works salvation or any version of the Gospel that has been edited from the original. If these false gospels be true then, as Paul says, the offense of the cross has been removed. However, the Apostle, in fact, is declaring that the offense of the cross never has ceased, and never can cease. Any attempt to soften the offense is folly. While genuine Christianity is peaceful, mild, and benevolent, history shows us that it has been attacked with the bitterest hate from the beginning. Why? It is clearly offensive to the unregenerate mind. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you.
13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 (NASB)
All of our Christian Theology is worth nothing if our Lord was not resurrected. If He was not resurrected then His sacrifice for our sins was not accepted by God the Father. That means that we are still in our sins and will experience the wrath of God. Of course the atheist scoffs at everything we teach. Atheists demand proof of something that can only be accepted and grasped and believed by faith. Our salvation is by Grace through faith. Only those who have been regenerated by God have this faith and they are the only ones who understand the mystery of the Resurrection. Continue reading
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. Romans 8:28-30 (NASB)
The unregenerate cannot conceive of a religion unless it is fully entwined with the exercise of free will as an expression of devotion or belief. Genuine Christianity is not a religion if that is how religion is defined. Authentic Christianity consists of God’s work in the hearts of those whom He gave and drew to Christ. The Holy Spirit regenerated them at the will of the Father as they heard the gospel thereby enabling them to believe and repent. From that time forward they serve their Saviour and God as His disciples. Their divine faith, a gift from God, overcomes the world as they obey Him, love Him, and love their brethren. They share their faith with others thereby being obedient disciples whom God uses to bring others into the Kingdom. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:25-32 (NASB)
Genuine (saving) faith is not well understood by most professing Christians. I have learned as God has matured me over the years that He saved me. I was not saved because I decided anything. Those whom God saves are given the faith to believe. When He does this they believe and are saved. Jesus said:
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)
Who is saved? Only those who believe are saved. How are they saved? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications!
Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!
2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous. Psalms 143:1-2 (NASB)
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:3-4 (NASB)
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:24-26 (NASB)
Despite the prevalent “Christian” teachings in our time that suffering is never God’s will for His people, a close, sober, and honest study of scripture reveals that the fires of tribulation are used by God to form and refine His people. The view that God desires of each Christian to always be healthy and prosperous is based on many false assumptions. One false assumption is that salvation is somehow deserved and those who profess faith can claim anything they want from a god who is bound to meet all their requests. Another false assumption moves the focus of salvation from God’s glory to the person’s glory and their “having their best life now.” Sin is seen as simple mistakes that God overlooks because He is all love. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NASB)
Steel is made through the smelting of iron ore. Iron becomes steel as carbon is added while the iron is very hot. What makes steel much harder than iron was not really understood by the ancients who created it. All they knew was that at a certain point in the shaping of a sword they would lay the red hot blade into the coals for a few minutes then resume the process of hammering, cooling in water, re-heating, hammering, cooling in water, et cetera. The finished product was a sword that would not bend in battle and could be sharpened over and over. The blade was actually made up of many pieces of iron rods that were heated, flattened, and folded upon itself over and over. It was hard work, but that was what it took to create a fine, usable steel sword.
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
When we are born of the Spirit at regeneration we are new creations. However, that does not mean that we become instantly sinless. Nor does it mean that we are instantly mature and able to know the will of God in walking before Him for His glory alone. No, these attributes come over time and after much “smelting, hammering, cooling, re-heating of us in the fires of sanctification. When I was a young Christian I remember many times being on the verge of walking away from my faith. Why? It seemed that I was “in the fire” all the time. I am very glad that God preserved me, but I want to share with all of you reading this that God has not stopped this process in me. I have been a believer since 1986, but I am no where near complete and this is obvious as God has not relented in showing me how much I must suffer for the name of Christ. Continue reading