Those Who Love God

by Mike Ratliff

Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν. (Romans 8:28 NA27)

And we know that to the ones who love God, He works all things together for their good according to His purpose. (a direct translation of Romans 8:28 from the NA27 Greek text)

As I shared with some of you in private conversations over the last several days and weeks, the place God has taken this ministry over the last few years is remarkable, but the way He has done it in and through me has been quite painful. Through these lessons of submission to His will and obedience through fiery trials and tests, I have let go of many things I used to think were important while submitting more and more to His will in simply having no goals or ambitions for me or this ministry in this world at all. When I first began, I thought that God was going to eventually grow this ministry into something and use me and who knows how far He would take us? However, that has not been the case at all. 

When I first starting writing, it was with the goal of gaining readers with the hope of eventually getting a writing ministry going and become a successful Christian writer and possibly even a full-time Bible teacher/commentator traveling around doing seminars and talk shows, et cetera. Well, God had other plans. I soon found myself just a few months into this in a full-scale war at my old church against those who desired to take it down the Purpose Driven path. However, through that battle and my own desperate education on how to combat it, I became Reformed in my theology and I made friends with Ken Silva. After several months of seeking God’s will as I wrote commentaries and posted them while commenting as I could in those battles over at the old Slice of Laodicea blog, Ken contacted me, asking me to come on board the Christian Research Network team. This did several things. It increased my exposure of course, but it also brought home a certain sense of reality of the increasing spiritual darkness that has overtaken the visible church.

After several severe battles with some enemies of the truth, all of those illusions I began with were gone. One by one, my goals and ambitions were being taken away. When I came to the end of the summer of 2009, I was thinking about quitting. Then in the last part of August, I began to have Epileptic Seizures again. The last ones I had had were back in the 1970’s. Over the next nine months as my Neurologist tried to get them under control, I had at least one seizure every few weeks. This messed up my shoulders. My left shoulder was in a lot of pain. My Orthopedic Surgeon gave me a Cortisone shot and sent me to Physical Therapy starting in November. In just a few weeks I was doing great, but in March and April I had my last two seizures about the time by Dad died, which left my right shoulder in great deal of pain. I have tried to manage that the same way my physical therapist showed me, but over the last several weeks, the pain has become unbearable.

I went to the same Orthopedic Surgeon today and he told me that my right shoulder has a condition that they call a “frozen joint.” Next week I am going into their outpatient surgery center. They are going to knock me out, manipulate my shoulder to free it up, shoot my shoulder full of Cortisone, and set me up for more Physical Therapy.

What has this to do with this ministry and loving the Lord? I am convinced that God has foreordained that I go through all of this. It has been through the seizures and pain and being helpless, et cetera that I have become totally dependent upon His grace. I know that the only thing that matters at all is His glory. When I look back now on those goals and ambitions for this ministry and myself that I had in 2006 or so I am almost embarrassed. It has been through persevering through these trials and witnessing His strong right arm holding me and not letting me fall in the midst of all them that my faith has grown deep roots and my gratitude towards my Lord is as deep as it can be. I am my Lord’s to do with as He sees fit. He is the Lord! I am His slave. Blessed be the Name of the Lord God almighty!

Now, do I love God? Oh my goodness! Yes, I love Him beyond what I can describe. However, that Love has grown deeper and wider and more intense through these tests and trials especially as I have studied those parts of Sacred Scripture that talk about how God first loved us, before we ever loved Him. Let us look at Romans 8:26-30.

Ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα συναντιλαμβάνεται τῇ ἀσθενείᾳ ἡμῶν· τὸ γὰρ τί προσευξώμεθα καθὸ δεῖ οὐκ οἴδαμεν, ἀλλὰ αὐτὸ τὸ πνεῦμα ὑπερεντυγχάνει στεναγμοῖς ἀλαλήτοις· ὁ δὲ ἐραυνῶν τὰς καρδίας οἶδεν τί τὸ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος, ὅτι κατὰ θεὸν ἐντυγχάνει ὑπὲρ ἁγίων. Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν. ὅτι οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς· οὓς δὲ προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν. (Romans 8:26-30 NA27)

And in like manner also the Spirit joins in to help our weakness for what we should pray for we doe not always know what to ask, but the Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groanings unexpressed. But the one searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because according to God He intercedes on behalf of the saints. And we know that to the ones who love God, He works all things together for their good according to His purpose. Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son for him to be firstborn among many brothers. And whom He predestined, these also He called and whom He called, these also He justified; and whom He justified, these also He glorified. (a direct translation of Romans 8:26-30 from the NA27 Greek text)

What action of God is first in the progression of vv29-30? God foreknew then predestined those whom He later called. The word translated as “foreknew” in v29 is the verb προέγνω, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, and Active voice form of προγινώσκω. This word does mean “to have prior knowledge, but it also carries the idea of foreordination.” If you take that nugget back and reread Romans 8:26-30 then you see that it is God not simply looking forward in time, knowing all things, but is foreordaining His will in predestining these same ones to be conformed to the image of His Son. These same ones He also predestined He also sealed it by calling them. All those whom He called, He also justified. All whom He Justified are glorified.

The word translated above as “predestined” in v30 is the verb προώρισεν, which is the Aorist tense, Indicative mood, Active voice form of προορίζω, “to predestine; choose, determine, set apart before hand.” Let’s look at another example, which is 1 Peter 1:1-2,19-20.

Πέτρος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς Πόντου, Γαλατίας, Καππαδοκίας, Ἀσίας καὶ Βιθυνίας, κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ πατρὸς ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος εἰς ὑπακοὴν καὶ ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη. (1 Peter 1:1-2 NA27)

ἀλλὰ τιμίῳ αἵματι ὡς ἀμνοῦ ἀμώμου καὶ ἀσπίλου Χριστοῦ, προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων δι᾽ ὑμᾶς (1 Peter 1:19-20)

Peter an Apostle of Jesus Christ to the chosen exiles of the dispersion of Pontus, of Galatia, of Cappadocia, of Asia, and of Bithynia. According to the foreknowledge of God the Father by Sanctification of the Spirit resulting in Obedience and sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ, Grace to you and peace may it be multiplied. (a direct translation of 1 Peter 1:1-2 from the NA27 Greek text)

But with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and unspotted, the blood of Christ having been foreordained before the foundation of the world yet having been manifested in the last of the times for you. (a direct translation of 1 Peter 1:19-20 from the NA27 Greek text)

The noun foreknowledge in v2 translates πρόγνωσιν, the Accusative, Singular of πρόγνωσις. This is the noun form of προγινώσκω. In v20 we have the Perfect, Passive, Participle form, προεγνωσμένου, which I translated as “having been foreordained…” All of this is clear if we prayerfully and carefully study these things with the right motives. It is obvious that all this does not mean that God simply foresaw that Christ would be manifested. Instead, He was, as we are, foreordained and foreknown by an intimate relationship before the foundation of the world.

Now take one or several steps back and digest all of that. I have done this in light of the health issues I have had and the issues I have had with dealing with the enemies of the truth as well as infiltrators in the camp who have done all they can to destroy what we do in our discernment ministries from the inside out. Who is Sovereign? Who foreknew us, loving us and foreordaining that we are who we are and all of this stuff? God is in control my brethren. He is on the throne. My arm feeling like it is about to fall off sometimes and me being in so much pain that I wish it would, is all part of this. I am in the fires of tribulation. I have a thorn in the flesh. I am not at some relaxing picnic. No, I am called by God to stand in the gap and tell the truth to the Body of Christ to all who will hear. Some who hear do not like it and strike back. Some hate what we do so much they attempt to do evil against us. It does not matter. It is all foreordained.

I am sustained in these fires of trial. The Grace of God is sufficient for any trial. I am His to use as He sees fit. If it is my time to be used up them so be it. If my time is done then it is far better to be face-to-face with my redeemer. However, as long as I am kept here, I will serve in whatever capacity God ordains for me to do. His will be done, all for His glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

23 thoughts on “Those Who Love God

  1. Mike..hang in there, my brother!
    One way that the Lord shows His power in our life, is by directing and controlling what we possibly could not, and in the face of human opposition, to boot!
    I’ve prayed for your pain, and perhaps others will, too.
    We all need to pray for each other…it is pleasing to Him!

  2. Mike, I’m going to be lifting you up before our Father, much , in these days.. Some of my closest times with Him, and getting to knw His love in a deeper way, have been after bad falls and injury, and being temporarily disabled with great pain!
    But each time the pain our Lord went through for us came uppermost in my mind….

  3. Two comments–This shoulder problem is very painful, I have experienced this too. My shoulder was stiff and sore so I thought exercise was indicated. I was training a young horse
    that decided to leave the arena. As soon as the slack in the reins was taken up,as he took off, the next tug was on my shoulder. I heard cracking & crunching, then excruciating pain in the shoulder. The horse left and I doubled over. With exercise after this,training the horses, all is well now. Believe me you want to be out, for this manipulation–it is painful and does not sound nice as the adhesions are torn down!! I’m a retired M.D. and have performed this procedure many times–it works well for a “frozen shoulder”
    Second comment , and more importantly, your posts are such a blessing–I learn so much and it prompts me to keep studying God’s Word. Thanks so much.

  4. This is my first reply to this website as i have been reading this website for many years and would like to say your comments on God foreordaining alot of your struggles with epilepsy and so forth convinced me that that is the way God really works with some of us. God used my depression as a way of cutting down my pride and chipping away at me to get me more dependant upon him. I have had my battles within the church in upholding the faith and defending against purpose drivenism and i have been left with fewer friends and even lost a potential ministry within the said church as the pastor dropped me from the membership there. Going back to my ailments, I do confess that i do fight that sometimes, wanting to be well, fit and healthy, wanting to go my own way sometimes much ashamedly, but there’s always something happening to me either physically or circumstantially that i know is the hand of God that always brings me back to my knees, and i can only say that that is the wonderful grace of God. I do still feel there is alot of worldliness in me and i do feel grieved by it, but i can only pray that the Lord would find me as a more useful servant in this sanctification process. Thank you for your many articles over the years.
    regards
    George

  5. Mike,

    Thank you for such an encouraging insightful post. I tell you it’s a miracle to realize that I am sustained by His grace especially when the enemy is working overtime to shipwreck all our lives. Sometimes it is an incredible struggle just to pray.

    I thank God who is greater than all for sustaining men like you who will preach the Word without adding or taking away. Yesterday, God gave me Psalm 37 to encourage me. He speaks directly to our needs through His word and it astonishes me at how great is His love.

    Psalm 37 (New King James Version)

    1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
    Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
    2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
    And wither as the green herb.

    3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
    Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
    4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
    And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

    5 Commit your way to the LORD,
    Trust also in Him,
    And He shall bring it to pass.
    6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    And your justice as the noonday.

    7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
    Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
    Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
    8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
    Do not fret—it only causes harm.

    9 For evildoers shall be cut off;
    But those who wait on the LORD,
    They shall inherit the earth.
    10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
    Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
    But it shall be no more.
    11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
    And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

    12 The wicked plots against the just,
    And gnashes at him with his teeth.
    13 The Lord laughs at him,
    For He sees that his day is coming.
    14 The wicked have drawn the sword
    And have bent their bow,
    To cast down the poor and needy,
    To slay those who are of upright conduct.
    15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
    And their bows shall be broken.

    16 A little that a righteous man has
    Is better than the riches of many wicked.
    17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
    But the LORD upholds the righteous.

    18 The LORD knows the days of the upright,
    And their inheritance shall be forever.
    19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
    And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
    20 But the wicked shall perish;
    And the enemies of the LORD,
    Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
    Into smoke they shall vanish away.

    21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
    But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
    22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
    But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.

    23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
    And He delights in his way.
    24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
    For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

    25 I have been young, and now am old;
    Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
    Nor his descendants begging bread.
    26 He is ever merciful, and lends;
    And his descendants are blessed.

    27 Depart from evil, and do good;
    And dwell forevermore.
    28 For the LORD loves justice,
    And does not forsake His saints;
    They are preserved forever,
    But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
    29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
    And dwell in it forever.

    30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
    And his tongue talks of justice.
    31 The law of his God is in his heart;
    None of his steps shall slide.

    32 The wicked watches the righteous,
    And seeks to slay him.
    33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
    Nor condemn him when he is judged.

    34 Wait on the LORD,
    And keep His way,
    And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
    When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
    35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
    And spreading himself like a native green tree.
    36 Yet he passed away,[a] and behold, he was no more;
    Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

    37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
    For the future of that man is peace.
    38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
    The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

    39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
    He is their strength in the time of trouble.
    40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
    He shall deliver them from the wicked,
    And save them,
    Because they trust in Him

    Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

  6. Mike: I pray for you brother and understand fully! The Lord is coming back for a holy and blameless church and sometimes that means deep pain and sorrow. He has taken me down the road of physical suffering yet by His power I continue to teach and speak His truth. It is through these very tribulations that He has drawn me closer to Himself. Hopefully I am a bit more like HIs Son for it.

    A good friend of mine is in her last days here on earth. There is a part of me that is envious that she will soon be joining the church at rest. I, like so many of us, remain on earth as soldiers in the church militant. May we battle for His glory and to protect His Gospel. As the hymn says: “Fight manfully on, dark passions pursue, look ever to Jesus, He’ll see you through.” Fight, fight, fight manfully on, Mike…

  7. Thanks Celine, even though I know what you say is true and I have been there too, when we are in the fire, it is as if we have to relearn it. Again, thank you!!!!

  8. Harvey, your comment means a great deal to me. My son is an M.D. and was with me during the examination today. He agrees with your prognosis about the “frozen shoulder.” I have often wondered if these things had not happened if I would not have been drawn as close to my Lord nor as deep into His Word nor as committed to teaching it to His Sheep as I am now. Somehow I think I would have remained a bit too self-focused or self-centered for that with an eye on trying to avoid offending thereby blunting the truth. I am reading about Elijah and Elisha right now. Those fella’s didn’t have it easy and they didn’t mince words. Please pray for God to continue to use me for His glory.

  9. You are very welcome George. Yes, I think God most assuredly works this way brother. He is making you usable in His Kingdom. Rejoice and submit to His Lordship brother. This life is just a brief interlude to eternity.

  10. Wendy, thanks for this comment. I too envy those brothers and sisters who are entering eternity to be with our Lord. I have family here that I love so that is tough, but the rest of what is here, God has removed it from the thrones in my heart. Therefore, we must make sure those we love know the Lord as well don’t we?

  11. Amen Mike!!!
    I think one of my favoite verse is Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
    No matter what trials we face, He ordained them for a reason and He is right there with us as we face them.
    For when we are week, He is strong. my prayers are with you dear brother.

    Cristina

  12. This is a true story I heard about many years ago… “There was a man driving in a car. As he drove along, the Lord spoke to him and asked, “How long will it take you to get where you’re going?” The man replied, “Oh, I imagine about 2 hours” The Lord then asked, “Why is that?” The man said, “Well, I can only do the speed limit and it’s going to take me about that long to get there.” Then the Lord said, “Look up” and when he did, he saw an airplane. The Lord asked, “How long do you think it would take that plane to get where you’re headed.” The man replied, “Probably about 15 minutes, or it’s probably there already!” Then the Lord asked, “Do you know the difference between your car and the plane?… The price of the ticket!”
    When I first heard this, I cried out in my heart… “Oh Lord, I don’t want the plane… I want the Space Shuttle!!” About a year later… the Lord spoke to me and said, “Mary, how would you like to ride the Enterprise?” I paused for a moment, knowing I would say yes, but also knowing that the price of the ‘ticket’ would be high. Over the last 15 years, I’ve been paying for the ‘ticket’… and suffering has been the currency used to pay for the ‘ticket’… and Oh! The depth of my souls’ relationship and walk with Him is beyond wonderful!! And I am still only at the beginning, it shall continue and only go deeper still. Never fear the crucible… never fear the fire! What God has allowed, He also gives an over abundance of His wondrous grace and mercy to see His works in you accomplished!

  13. Out thoughts and prayers are with you and your family Mike. I won’t get into it here, but your topics on adoption into the kingdom, and predestination have always had a special place in my heart (as I am adopted!) My mother died 1 1/2 years ago after a battle with cancer, and I miss her terribly. She wasn’t my biological mother, but she was my mother in every way!

    So it perplexes me as to how people can “not see what is right in front of their eyes in God’s Word” on these fundamental truths?
    “He works all things together for their good according to His purpose” Amen and amen…

  14. Thank you for continuing to share your study of the Lord’s Word. My family and I will be praying for your recovery.

  15. Mike, I am so thankful that God’s plans for your life were better than yours..I hope this makes sense but what i think I am trying to say is that I would never have been blessed if you had not followed God’s plans for your life. I can understand exactly what you are saying, as God has had to bring me through some dark days in order to make me more like Him. Only by forcing out our selfish nature can we be filled with God. Praying that God continues to hold you up for as long as He has plans for you!!

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