Walking in Wisdom


by Mike Ratliff

5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB) 

There are really only two mindsets. There is the natural man mindset that we were all born with then there is the transformed mindset that comes as a result of being transformed by the renewal of our minds as a way of life and walking before the face of God. (Romans 12:1-2) The natural man mindset sees things of God as foolishness or unfairness while the transformed mindset is in the process of learning to see things as God sees them.
Continue reading

Damaged Goods


by Mike Ratliff

There is a push in the United States to make it illegal to preach the truth from God’s Word where it pertains to the sin of homosexuality. Of course the emphasis of those laws or initiatives is to protect the rights of certain people based on their sexual preference, which is also called gay rights. They say that to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality is to foment hate; therefore, the laws are placed under the umbrella of hate crimes.

On the other hand, some who preach against certain sins are also guilty of trying to force morality upon the unregenerate. How can an unregenerate person stop sinning? When Christians focus on sins that are abhorrent to God that should be just as abhorrent to believers, the focus should be on cleansing those sins from the Church itself. At the same time, we must never shut our doors to the lost, no matter what sins are consuming them. God saves sinners. Continue reading

The Holiness of God


 

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:1-3 (NASB) 

In the English translations of the Old Testament when we encounter the word “Lord” we are actually reading the Hebrew word “Adhōnāy.” On the other hand, when we read the word “LORD,” it is is completely different Hebrew word, “Yehōwāh.” “Adhōnāy” is actually a title for God meaning “sovereign one.” “Yehōwāh” is the sacred name of God. It was the name He used to reveal Himself to Moses at the burning bush. “Yehōwāh” is the unspeakable name, the holy name of God. The Hebrew scribes wrote it as “YHWH.” Therefore, it is referred to as the sacred tetragrammaton, the unspeakable four letters. “Adhōnāy” is the plural noun form of “Ādhōn,” which, when used in reference to God, means Lord. However, “Adhōnāy” is plural but singular in meaning. This speaks of the Holy Trinity, i.e. One God in three persons. Continue reading

The Blessed State of the Righteous


In Psalm 112 the prophet praiseth the felicities of those that fear God and condemeth the cursed state of those who contend with God.

Psalm 112
1 Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man, that (a) feareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly in his commandments.
2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed.
3 (b) Riches and treasures shall be in his house, and his righteousness endureth forever.
4 Unto the (c) righteous ariseth light in darkness: he is merciful and full of compassion and righteous.
5 A good man is merciful and (d) lendeth, and will measure his affairs by judgment.
6 Surely he shall never be moved: but the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.
7 He will not be afraid of evil tidings: for his heart is fixed, and believeth in the Lord.
8 His heart is established: therefore he will not fear, until he see his desire upon his enemies.
9 He hath (e) distributed and given to ye poor: his righteousness remaineth forever: his (f) horn shall be exalted with glory.
10 The wicked shall see it and be angry: he shall gnash with his teeth, and (g) consume away: the desire of the wicked shall perish. (Geneva Bible Psalm 112)

(a) He means that reverent fear which is in the children of God, which causes them to delight only in the word of God.
(b) The godly will have abundance and contentment, because their heart is satisfied in God alone.
(c) The faithful in all their adversities know that all will go well with them for God will be merciful and just.
(d) He shows what the fruit of mercy is, to lend freely and not for gain, and so to measure his doings that he may be able to help where need requires and not to bestow all on himself.
(e) The godly are not stingy, but distribute liberally, as the need of the poor requires and as his power is able.
(f) His power and prosperous estate.
(g) The blessings of God on his children will cause the wicked to die for envy.

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom


In Psalm 111, the prophet giveth thanks to the Lord for His merciful works toward His Church. He also declareth wherein true wisdom and right knowledge consistith.

Psalm 111
1 Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart in the assembly and Congregation of the just.
2 The works of the Lord are great, and ought to be sought out of all them that love them.
3 His work is beautiful and glorious, and his righteousness endureth forever.
4 He hath made his wonderful works to be had in remembrance: the Lord is merciful and full of compassion.
5 He hath given a portion unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.
6 He hath shewed to his people the power of his works in giving unto them the heritage of the heathen.
7 The works of his hands are truth and judgment: all his statutes are true.
8 They are established forever and ever, and are done in truth and equity.
9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and fearful is his Name.
10 The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord: all they that observe them, have good understanding: his praise endureth forever. – (Geneva Bible Psalm 111)

The prophet declares that he will praise God both privately and openly and from his heart that he has consecrated wholly and only to Him.

He professes that God’s works are sufficient cause wherefore we should praise Him, but chiefly His benefits towards His Church.

God has given to His Church all that was necessary for them and will do still more for His covenant’s sake.

As God promised to take the care of His Church; so in effect does He declare Himself just and true in His government of the same.

They only are wise that fear God, and none have understanding, but those that obey His Words which are His commandments.

The Superiority of Christ and the Cost of Discipleship


by Mike Ratliff

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4 (NASB) 

The Church in the early part of the 21st Century is very sick. This sickness has not happened all at once. Instead, it is the result of centuries of compromise after compromise on the part of Christian leaders and their followers to adapt the Gospel and the Church doctrines to conform to what men want. That process is called “Pragmatism.” As a result, the Church has lost its savor. It is no longer salty. The countries in Europe where the Reformers restored the Gospel at the cost of untold numbers of martyrs would not now be considered Christian at all.

In the United States, the visible Church still has some influence in politics and society, but is that what the Church is supposed to be about? The segment of the American Church that would consider itself evangelical has become so doctrinally shallow that most of the members as well as their leadership have no idea what they really believe. If they are confronted with the Arminain/Semi-Pelagian vs. Calvinism debate they would be clueless about what each side believes and does not believe. In fact, they are so spiritually shallow, they don’t understand why it is important to know what you believe and why you believe it. Continue reading

Your Sins Are Forgiven


by Mike Ratliff

17 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18 And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19 But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:17-21 (NASB) 

I have known many through my many years who professed to be Christians, but who held to doctrines that placed the burden and veracity of their salvation on themselves. For the first 20 or so years of my walk with the Lord, I was a Southern Baptist. The SBC is not a denomination of churches that are consistent across the board on doctrine. There are Reformed and Arminian Churches in the convention along with everything in between. In fact, until God woke me up and drew me into the light in 2004 I really had no idea what the difference was. I had never heard of Arminianism. I had only heard of Calvinism in World History classes.  However, as I studied doctrine I found to my great surprise that my own personal doctrine of salvation was a mishmash of Calvinism and Arminianism. Most non-Reformed Southern Baptists believe in a ‘doctrine’ of ‘Once Saved, Always Saved.’ It is not the same thing as the Reformed doctrine of ‘The Perseverance of the Saints.’ The former appears to be a holdover from the old days of the Baptist churches that were predominately Reformed in the doctrine. Continue reading

The Vanishing Conscience


by Mike Ratliff

5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. Romans 13:5 (NASB) 

Part of daily devotional time is to pray for personal holiness along with wisdom, discernment, and Christlikeness. Why do I do that? Just take an honest look at the visible church all around us. What is missing? Yes, we have religion. Yes, we have growing churches. But if you take a good, long, hard look at the spiritual maturity of most professing Christians in the U.S.A. what do we come up with? This blog is public enough that I do receive quite a few comments and emails from those who contend that “religion” is a scourge and a plague in the world. While I agree that that does describe man-made religion, we contend that genuine Christianity is not man-made, or man-controlled, or in any way a scourge or a plague. The blunt instrument that these “fellows” use in their “contentions” is entirely based in relativism. They claim to be using “reason” while accusing all who live by faith as being blind fools for being so certain. But as I stated above, the vast majority of those “Christians” these religion haters are referring to are the same ones I was talking about who could best be described as fleshly, worldly, and spiritually dead.  Continue reading

I Have Many In This City Who Are My People


by Mike Ratliff

14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. John 10:14-16 (NASB) 

When those of us who came from an Arminian or Free Will background come to grips with the reality of God’s Sovereignty, it is amazing how we struggle with letting go of the responsibility to “earn” our salvation. Of course, part of that struggle is rooted in the misconception that “election” happens at salvation. Ephesians 1 makes it clear, however, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. An honest reading of that wonderful letter by the Apostle Paul shows us that God’s people are His in completion even though many of them have not yet believed and repented. They are our Lord’s sheep. Continue reading

The Results of Justification


by Mike Ratliff

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) 

There is a lot of dispute in our day about the nature of Christ’s atonement on the cross. What did Christ purchase for His people that day? Many imply that our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross was not necessary. Others say that He did not die for the sins of His people, He simply suffered for them. Let us not rely on tradition or ‘feelings’ here. Let us go the source, God’s Word, to see what the Holy Spirit revealed to us about this through the Apostle Paul. Continue reading

The Risen Christ is Faith’s Reality


by Mike Ratliff

18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. John 2:18-22 (NASB) 

Without the resurrection of Christ, Christianity is just another religion based on ancient teachings of Men. It was the reality of Jesus’ bodily resurrection that God used in light of the teachings from Scripture to bring Jesus’ disciples into belief. His resurrection is what God uses in the Gospel to make it real in the hearts of those whom He effectually calls and regenerates. In other words saving faith’s reality is the Risen Christ. Continue reading

The Natural Man and the Visible Church


by Mike Ratliff

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB) 

A pernicious lie currently permeating the visible Church in our time says that all who profess Christ are genuine believers. This lie conveniently overlooks that even our Lord’s chosen 12 contained one devil. Another closely associated and equally detrimental lie says that Christians must never judge. If taken together, these two lies create an environment of deceit in which professing Christians who prove their disingenuousness by their words, their actions, and their doctrines, which is their “fruit,” cannot be brought before the ecclesiastical court of their church brethren for discipline. In fact, in this environment, to even address the issue is to be classed as a judgmental hypocrite. Continue reading

Drinking From The Cup The Father Has Given Us


by Mike Ratliff

37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Mark 10:37-40 (NASB) 

The truth, Biblical truth that is, cuts like a sword or the sharpest dagger ever seen. God’s ways are not Man’s ways or the ways of the world. No, God’s ways are antithetical to the ways of fallen Men. Many reading this can testify to losing close friends and having conflict within family groups because God has quickened them by His grace. Their faith is alive. They are regenerate. They now can see the truth and are able to obey God. This new life in Christ belongs to those who have found the narrow gate, which is Christ. They have passed through in belief and now are on the narrow way which leads to the Celestial City.

The conflict arises from this new life when it comes to bear on those around the believer who know not God. They may indeed be religious. They may be professing Christians, but neither of these things are guarantees of eternal life. The genuine believer is a possessor of the truth, God has written it on his or her heart. However, the unregenerate cannot grasp this truth. They see it as utter foolishness. When the regenerate believer walks in this belief with it affecting all parts of his or her life the unregenerate react in many ways. Anger, resentment, skepticism, hostility, and disdain are just a few of the reactions genuine Christians will encounter when they walk by faith. Continue reading

Stand Firm


by Mike Ratliff

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB) 

Back when I first started this blog in 2006, me and several of my readers agreed with the following statement, “Without a doubt, in the North American visible church there is much famine of the Word of God.” We also agreed because of what the Word of God tells us, that when there such a famine the results are tragic. What results? The growing apostasy in the visible Church seems to be accelerating and because of that the spiritual blindness of so many professing believers and their leaders is very deep. At the same time, we see that those same spiritually immature and spiritually blind professing Christians have unity as their number one priority in the visible Church. Continue reading