Westminster Larger Catechism Study

Spiritual Darkness Unbelief and Unrighteousness


Mike you take us on a 12 year journey with this post. It was quite interesting to follow back through your links into the evolution of the visible Church this past dozen years. That goes back before I regularly followed your posts. Words like Transformational, Dominion, Delphi, Dialectic, as well as leaders with familiar popular names are quite enlightening. I would encourage readers to follow the stream of links, and even read the comments on your old posts, there were quite a few. Btw the old link to Vision360 does work anymore, but Bob Roberts has his own site, and is quite active, having even received a special White House award just this September for his work. The list of organizations he is involved with is impressive. I spent about an hour reading through all that.

Also I add these verses to think about…notice the word, “many”.

John 6:64-67 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

4 And Jesus was saying to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He was marveling at their unbelief.
And He was going around the villages teaching.nMark 6:4-6 (LSB) 

The joy of the Lord is a tremendous gift to God’s people from him. Without it we would be left to deal with far more evil, disappointment, tragedy, distress, and despair than we could ever do on our own. We have prayer and the promise that we can always come boldly to the Throne of Grace.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us take hold…

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Westminster Larger Catechism Study

Do not despair


Not Despairing! Good thoughts for today’s world.
I observed the whole chapter is on the Gospel and the Glory of God.
Paul urges them not to Despair 😩 at his troubles. Or as the KJV translators put not to Faint, be that falling down as if dead, either at seeing his condition, our perhaps being concerned for their own lives. Fainting also implies, being like dead one can’t do anything….maybe the ultimate Despair! The Chapter ends.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Old John Gill wrote about verse 13 in this way.

Ephesians 3:13
Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you,…. The apostle was a man attended with many tribulations, and great afflictions, which he did not suffer as an evildoer, either from God or men; wherefore he was not ashamed of them, but gloried in them; yea, he took pleasure in them, having much of the presence of God in them; they did not come to him unawares, he always expected them, and was helped to look to the glory which should follow them, the view of which greatly supported him under them; and these tribulations were endured for the sake of the elect, for Christ’s body’s sake; the church, and among others, for the Ephesians, for the sake of preaching the Gospel among them, and for the confirmation of their faith in it;

and yet they were a stumbling to them, they were ready to faint at them; but he desires they would not, since they were on account of the Gospel,…..

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

12 ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ. 13 διὸ αἰτοῦμαι μὴ ἐγκακεῖν ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσίν μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἥτις ἐστὶν δόξα ὑμῶν. (Ephesians 3:12-13 NA28)

12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through faith in him . 13 Therefore, I ask you not to despair concerning my afflictions for you, which is for your glory.  (Ephesians 3:12-13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The words “not to despair” above translate μὴ ἐγκακεῖν. Μὴ or expresses absolute denial. Paul is expressing his desire to the Ephesians that they DO NOT do something. That something is ἐγκακεῖν that is the Present tense, Infinitive mood, Active voice form of ἐκκακέω or ekkakeō, which literally means, “to turn out to be a coward, to lose one’s courage, to faint or despond in view of trial or to be utterly…

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Westminster Larger Catechism Study

The Superiority of Christ and the Cost of Discipleship


Good message Mike. You covered a lot of ground. I heard a short talk the other day out of Ephesians 2, about the influence of the World, Satan and the Church in that early Church. Not much changed in 2,000 years!

Btw. John 6 is a powerful chapter. Your last quote continue on to a dramatic climax and even has Jesus explicitly repeating that first statement.

John 6:65-68 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. KJV

BTW2…I still prefer the KJV, translation of the Great Commission I think they accurately capture the idea that men don’t make Christ’s disciples, which may explain much of our difficulty. We are to teach them though in the way of truth.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

BTW3….If one looks up the word Preach in the NT, you realize that teaching is centered also in what is characterized as Preaching. But these are actually just God’s chosen means to bring the Gospel and Grace.

Romans 10:13-15 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

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

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…

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Westminster Larger Catechism Study

Secret Prayer Distinguishes Sincerity from Hypocrisy


Good message Mike!
I guess we all need to work on this.
Interestingly one of the reasons we don’t have many examples of these types of prayer is that they are private. Easy to fall into the gift machine trap.
Often I find a simple… Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Is all we need in that area, and depending on our circumstances, and what we are praying about for others, the bread of the day might have many different forms. Old John Gill described it this way.

“ By “bread” is meant all the necessaries of life, and for the support of it: it is called “our’s”; not that we have a right unto it, much less deserve it, but to distinguish it from that of beasts; and because it is what we need, and cannot do without; what is appointed for us by providence, is our’s by gift, and possessed by labour. It is said to be “daily” bread, and to be asked for “day by day”; which suggests the uncertainty of life; strikes at all anxious and immoderate cares for the morrow; is designed to restrain from covetousness, and to keep up the duty of prayer, and constant dependence on God; whom we must every day ask to “give” us our daily bread: for he is the sole author of all our mercies; which are all his free gifts; we deserve nothing at his hands: wherefore we ought to be thankful for what we have, without murmuring at his providences, or envying at what he bestows on others. All kind of food, everything that is eatable, is with the Jews called לחם, “bread” .”

I tend to see it as a broad spectrum but try to submit to God’s sovereignty in determining what is necessary.

I do think we are encouraged to ASK, I,e Ask, Seek, Knock in our prayer life.

Matthew 7:7-11 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

“1 Beware of doing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1 (LSB)

Of all of the things Christians do that sets them apart from non-believers, prayer is both practiced heavily and not well understood. There is controversy about what genuine prayer is and isn’t. The Word-Faith people go so far as to use prayer like a vending machine. I could write a post everyday on prayer in this blog from now until the Lord takes me home and never run out of things to write about. Before we go any further in this discussion I want to state here that I am no expert on prayer. My favorite place and time to pray is in my home office in the morning right after showering and dressing before I eat breakfast. I…

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