Filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions

by Mike Ratliff

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. (Colossians 1:24-26 ESV)

In light of the slaughter of the missionaries and pastors in Turkey last week, A letter to the global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna, I believe we need to reexamine the role of persecution and suffering in the Gospel. Also, we must agree that God is very actively awakening His people who are in the Scarlet Woman. Persecution comes to Christians who are truly obedient to their Lord. When they obey Him they do not practice empty religion, but, instead, they pursue holiness, abide in Christ, and are Spirit-led, hence their lives are Christlike and this does three things. It brings the wrath of the enemy down on them in various forms of persecution. Their suffering glorifies God and it fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.

If you haven’t read Foxes Book of Martyrs, I suggest that you do. The resemblance to the persecution of the martyrs John Foxe wrote of to what happened in Turkey last week is uncanny. Why does the world hate the Gospel? It hates it because it is not of the world and cannot be discerned by people who are in their sins and are of the flesh. Only by the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of people can they understand spiritual things correctly. In the United States, at least right now, we can proclaim our faith and live Christian lives and not have to worry about people killing us. However, in most of the World, its okay to be religious, but it isn’t okay to be a Christian who shares his or her faith. Why is there a difference? Why is it that Christians in China are arrested and tortured, but in the United States, we don’t? The worst that happens to us here for being active in our faith is disdain or ridicule or being falsely accused. I contend that the reason we don’t suffer as they do in China is for two reasons. God has given us an environment in the United States where Christianity is not seen as a threat. The other reason is that we don’t actively proclaim the gospel and live godly lives, as we should. We don’t live out what we proclaim. The reason those Christians in Turkey were tortured and killed was that they did actively proclaim the gospel no matter that they were in the midst of people who hated Christianity. Their ministries were bearing fruit. Those who instigated that attack hoped to intimidate Christians. However, that is not how God operates.

Our God is sovereign. The suffering and death of those men was horrible, but their lives were poured out before the Lord as an acceptable offering. They are with Him now. They experienced the persecution intended for Christ. Jesus died on the cross, but He is still the most persecuted person who has ever lived. Christ’s enemies still want to attack Him in order to injure Him. Therefore, they turn their wrath on those who preach the gospel and are, therefore, bearing the image of their Lord.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, ◙but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. (John 15:18-24 ESV)

As Paul, and all others who obediently live out their faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaim the gospel they will suffer persecution and fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions, but it will be for God’s purpose and according to His will.

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV)

17From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:17 ESV)

Part of the outcome of our suffering and persecution that comes when we truly Christlike lives, is God drawing others to our Lord. Christ drew people to Him in His ministry, but drew millions of others to Him through His death on the cross. When Christians suffer persecution God uses that to draw people from darkness to light. Persecution does not eradicate Christianity. Instead, the more Christians suffer, the stronger the “Church” is wherever that is. On the other hand, where Christianity carries with it little, if any, resistance, the “Church” becomes weak, cold, dead, and nothing more than empty religiosity. Christianity is strong when it is turning the world upside down. It is weak when it is in power and institutionalized. In China, the Christians who are being persecuted are in house churches. It is perfectly legal to go to the churches that are certified by the government. But, these people defiantly meet in small groups, fellowship, study the Bible then walk before the face of God the rest of the time as salt and light. There is always the danger of being arrested, beaten, tortured, or killed. However, through their suffering, God draws millions to Christ.

Today, the Scarlet Woman dominates Christianity in the United States. However God is drawing His Remnant out of her. They are being awakened and matured and shown that the eternal is the true reality. As those of us who have been awakened, cleansed, and drawn into the light obey our Lord, we will undoubtedly draw fire from those who hate the light and love the darkness. However, another group will also hate us. That group is made up of those who are in the Scarlet Woman who love her. They love their religiosity. They have a form of godliness, but deny its power. They love their God and their Jesus whom they have created from their own imaginations, but neither are the God or Jesus from the Bible. These will also hate those who tell the truth and are used by God to draw others from the Scarlet Woman into the Remnant. This will eventually bring persecution. That of course would require he Scarlet Woman to be politically aligned with those in power at that time. But that is for another time…

6 thoughts on “Filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions

  1. Hi Mike,
    As I thank you for this article I would also like to point something out about Colossians 1:24.
    In your Bible part of this verse reads: ….and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body….
    The actual Greek says: ……and fill up the things lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh on behalf of His body…….

    Please notice that the words – in my flesh – are, in the original text, placed after – the afflictions of Christ. Therefore from yours and other Bible versions the reader is led to understand that Christ is lacking in some afflictions and Paul is filling up that which is missing.
    But from the original, the reader is led to believe that Paul is only experiencing what is still lacking, in himself, of the afflictions of Christ.

    I hope I was clear in the way I expressed this concept.
    Christ’s work, as you know, is complete and lacks nothing, period. No one can add anything to it or fill in with anything.
    1Peter 4:13 confirms this by stating: ….but according as you share the suffering of Christ rejoice……So you see that the believers share, experience or partake of the suffering of Christ but do not fill up because Christ work has been completely accomplished.

    My own translation had this wrong that is why I was exposed to it. Of all the Bible translations that I have consulted the King James is one of the very few that render this verse properly.
    I trust I was clear and that this may be helpful in some way.

    Thank you so much for your work in Christ.
    Giulio Mari
    Victoria, BC
    Canada

  2. “That of course would require the Scarlet Woman to be politically aligned with those in power at that time.”

    Behold, the reality has arrived. Slowly but surely many if not most corners of the church continue to yoke on many levels with the anti-christ governments including ours. I continue to hear from many believers though how the Lord is opening their ears to hear His call to come out from among them.

    Years ago we were sold a bill of goods that said that our government was on God’s side and that God wanted us active and involved in the heap of carnal refuse called politics. I was there once but I am now praying that the remnant you referred to will allow God to extricate them not only away from this world’s systems, but into the glorious light of the immutable gospel of the Risen Christ of God!

    That, alone and exclusively, will be the conduit through which God will glorify on Earth His Only Begotten Son!!

  3. Giulio,

    I rejoice when I find a brother or sister who loves the Word of God enough to dig into it as you have done my brother. Yes, I agree with you completely. Christ’s work is complete and finished.

    You said, “But from the original, the reader is led to believe that Paul is only experiencing what is still lacking, in himself, of the afflictions of Christ.”

    Well said. Thank you for sharing that.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. Rick,

    Those who see this, as you have done, have been given that by God. We are being allowed to see what is REALLY happening with the Scarlet Woman. Imagine it! We are seeing these things prophesied in scripture opening up right before our eyes.

    Great comment, I appreciate your insight very much Rick.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Giulio, may I also add that your comment was very edifying and important as to meaning. I noticed that same thing about the quoted Scripyure and I was glad you were led to expound. I join Mike as well in rejoicing over someone’s love for the Word and the humble way in which you taught the Word.

    The Author was glorified!

  6. Giulio,

    Thank you for sharing the truth of the Word. I read NIV, NASB and KJV. I have found that reading all three on the same passage helps me to get a good understanding of the text. Reading the newer translations helps me to understand without the language barriers but reading the KJV helps me to get a deeper understanding of the depth by the heft of the words used or the proper credit due to sentence structure. I was raised KJV. Going to the original Hebrew or Greek through a concordance is even better. They are all so good for different reasons. Thank you very much for the truth you shared.

    Love in Christ,
    Rachel

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