Ungodly Focus


by Mike Ratliff

6 Then Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?” Genesis 43:6 (NASB)

Unforgiveness is poison for the Soul as it ensnares those who refuse to forgive by binding them into the prison of bitterness. This world is not a peaceful, easy, benign place. It is fallen. The world system is the product of Man’s rebellion against God. There is war. There is crime. There is oppression. People wrong other people. They place their wants and desires and perceived needs ahead of the wants and desires of others. The world system is marked by people pursuing their own no matter who gets hurt. The Christian is called to respond to the hurts and wrongs done to them in a vastly different way from the ways of the world. Continue reading

God’s Strength is Made Perfect in Our Weakness


By Mike Ratliff

31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Hebrews 11:31 (NASB) 

5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. 6 Jesse was the father of David the king.
David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Matthew 1:5-6 (NASB)

24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:24-26 (NASB) 

How would you like it if your name was forever associated with the profession of prostitution? Rahab lived on the wall in the city of Jericho. When the two spies sent by Joshua entered the city, they stayed at her house. When the city officials knew of their presence, Rahab hid them then helped them escape. In return the spies promised to save her and her family when Jericho was attacked by the Israelites. Later, she was wed to Salmon of the tribe of Judah. Their son Boaz was the kinsman redeemer who married Ruth. Their son Obed became the father of Jesse who became the father of David the King.

This put Rahab in the genealogical line of Jesus Christ. However, she is still called Rahab the Harlot or Rahab the prostitute in scripture. Why? Rahab is a trophy of God’s grace. She is an example to us all that the good we do that is eternal is always by and through God’s grace. When we are weak, yet obedient, God is strong through us. That is why James can say that good works will always accompany genuine saving faith. As regenerate believers, we must learn this. Any works we do in our own abilities are not eternal. All of the work God does through us is eternal. Continue reading

How the Gospel Shapes Pastors to Oppose False Teaching


by Mike Ratliff

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20 (NASB) 

When I began studying Theology as part of my spiritual renewal back in 2004-2006 it never occurred to be at that time that I would end up as a Calvinist, but that is what happened. How? It was through the study of God’s Word and taking what it said about our Salvation then comparing that with how I had been taught in church for years upon years. From that it became obvious that something was amiss. This caused me to dig deeper. I then discovered that there was indeed a difference between Arminianism (I actually had never heard of that term before) and Calvinism. From that study I concluded that what I had been taught was actually a mishmash of the two. The Southern Baptist Churches I had attended as a child preached the gospel much like John Wesley except there was that “once saved, always, saved” part that true Arminians hate. From my study of several weeks I came through it as a 5 point Calvinist and have never looked back. Continue reading

Be all the more diligent to make your 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 Authority of the Christ of God


by Mike Ratliff

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB) 

Jesus Christ is Lord of all of each of His people, or He is not Lord at all. That is very sobering isn’t it? It is supposed to be. Those are Jesus Christ’s own words about the nature of those who are and are not His disciples. There are some in the pulpit these days who treat Jesus as if He is just an add on their ministries. Several years ago I wrote a piece on evangelism and how it is God working through His people to do this work. The direction is Him working through us instead of us working and including God. However, I received one comment that stated what a “neat thing” it was when we included God in our evangelistic efforts. Sigh… Pause right there and think about that. Many pastors would reject that as a description of their ministries, however, they inadvertently promote that very thing by using flip language about Christ. To what extent does a degraded view of Jesus in ‘evangelical’ churches start with pastors calling Jesus things like ‘dude’, ‘homeboy’, ‘co-pilot’, ‘boss’ and ‘buddy’? It’s not a far leap from these nicknames to say “Oh well, Jesus is just like me” on to “Well, maybe Jesus did sin like me” or “He was just a great man”. Dan Brown’s view of Jesus seems more likely to an unbeliever after hearing the name of Jesus being used this way by pastors doesn’t it?

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

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

True Fruit of the Fear of God


by Mike Ratliff

13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NASB) 

The total lack of the fear of God is what marks the ungodly. (Romans 3:18) On the other hand, genuine believers in scripture are described as those who do fear Him. Tragically, when moral issues between professing Christians and the unchurched are compared there is very little difference. There is the same level of divorce, adultery, pornography, dishonesty, et cetera; in both groups. This should not be so. Continue reading

Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?


by Mike Ratliff

47 While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48 (NASB) 

When the dogs and swine come to harass and distract it is not pleasant, but I can bear it. However, when someone approaches this ministry as if a friend only to be discovered later to be a deceiver, it is a difficult pill to swallow. When one breaks the bread of the Word of God with us then turns on us it is a hard thing to bear. Why? Deceitfulness is as the word suggests, it is the process of deception, for whatever purpose, that causes trusts to be broken and fills us with anguish and grief. Continue reading

Redemption Through the Blood of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” 4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Exodus 24:3-8 (NASB) 

With the demise of the Biblical/Christian Worldview those of us who belong to the Lamb of God must stop assuming that our culture, our environment, knows or grasps what we mean when we talk about sin and God being Holy, Righteous, and Just. In Romans 1, we see that the natural Man knows the truth in his or her heart of hearts, but they suppress it. In turn, God gives them over or gives them up to a debased mind. This is spiritual blindness. These given over to their lusts and desires are no longer convicted of the evil of their sin. They lose their fear of God’s judgment. Over time, they become resentful and full of hate towards any who teach or preach the Gospel to them. This is why so many flock to seeker-sensitive “churches.” There they are stroked and made to feel good without having to deal with the real Jesus. Their religion, Christless Christianity, is a friend of the world and eager to welcome those of other ‘religions’ except for those troublesome orthodox Christians who preach the whole Gospel, the Law of God, and the truth about sin and total separation from God for the unredeemed. Continue reading

Humility, The Mark of a Genuine Disciple


By Mike Ratliff

17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:17-21 (NASB) 

Arrogance, boasting, retaliation, and self-protection are just a few of the fruits of Human pride. The natural mind exalts pride while demeaning humility. Timidity is often confused with humility. Timidity is actually a fruit of pride and is a form of fear. It is the method pride uses for self-protection. On the other hand, boldness is often confused with pride. Biblical boldness is actually a fruit of humility. Biblical boldness is the method humility utilizes in our obedience to God. It is an expression of self-denial as our flesh is crucified as we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

When we are bold as we obey our Lord we are often accused of being full of pride. Those opposed to our message use this argument as we proclaim the truth and refuse to compromise with those insisting that Christianity must contain multiple versions of “truth.” As Elijah stood in the gap against overwhelming numbers as well as spiritual oppression, we must remain humble and bold. If we become timid then we are operating from a base of fear and will become self-protective and will not obey God nor stand for His truth. Continue reading

The necessity of preaching the Word free


by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB) 

25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:25-30 (NASB) 

We are in a strange time in the visible Church. We were warned throughout the New Testament that the Body of Christ would be attacked without mercy by savage wolves who will not spare the flock. I grew up in a time in the American Church when it was considered a good thing to be a Christian and Christian values were found throughout our culture. Those days are past. However, what is so discouraging is the rapid downgrade within the Church as denomination after denomination has made friends with the world and, thereby, their churches became just another entertainment venue and a place the worldly can go and assuage their consciences by being somewhat religious every now and then believing that the Jesus they hear about there just loves them the way they are. No repentance necessary! As one who has not been compromised I will state emphatically that those so-called Christian leaders behind all this are those savage wolves mentioned in Acts 20:29 and they are leading their flocks into empty religiosity and idol worship.  Continue reading

The Word of God makes us clean


by Mike Ratliff

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:3 (NASB) 

All people are born dead in their trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13) This condition of spiritual death also means that each person, though desperate for fulfillment that can only be satisfied in God, cannot come to God, know God, or even seek Him. Because of this, they pursue fulfillment from everything around them. The number one method of doing this is via the flesh. The flesh is all about self and self-gratification. The problem with this is that nothing works for very long, including religiosity. Continue reading

Death in Adam Life in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:12-14 (NASB) 

Those professing Christians who for one reason or another believe they should attack the doctrines of grace usually begin with arguments against the Doctrine of Original Sin. Of course, I know many who I would call doctrinally ignorant like I was for the first couple of decades after the Lord saved me who simply do not know what the doctrines of grace really are. They only hear the “noise” from the “haters” out there who simply cannot believe that God’s Sovereignty overrides their free will. In this post, let us look at our salvation by grace through faith that the Pelagians (whether they know they are or not) tell us we can “make everything right between us and God” by our own willpower alone. Continue reading