Christ’s Suffering and Ours


by Mike Ratliff

3 ἀρκετὸς γὰρ ὁ παρεληλυθὼς χρόνος τὸ βούλημα τῶν ἐθνῶν κατειργάσθαι πεπορευμένους ἐν ἀσελγείαις, ἐπιθυμίαις, οἰνοφλυγίαις, κώμοις, πότοις καὶ ἀθεμίτοις εἰδωλολατρίαις. 4 ἐν ᾧ ξενίζονται μὴ συντρεχόντων ὑμῶν εἰς τὴν αὐτὴν τῆς ἀσωτίας ἀνάχυσιν βλασφημοῦντες. (1 Peter 4:3 NA27)

3 For we have wasted enough time participating in the desires of the Gentiles, having proceeded in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties and unlawful idolatry. 4 Wherein they think it strange you are not running with them into the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:3,4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I got the following A.W. Tozer quote from a friend today.

The Loneliness of the Christian

“The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

“The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

“It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.”

AW Tozer

I know of what Tozer was talking about. I was amazed when this happened to me at a Deacon’s meeting one Saturday morning when I wanted to share that my walk with Christ had a great deal more to do with my time in the Word, in prayer, in worship, than it did in being a Deacon or whatever. I did indeed long for some of those men, perhaps just a few of them, would be in that same spiritual place. However, I remember the cold stares and from that day forward, I became an outsider looking in even through I was one of the senior deacons and was a Bible teacher at that church. It was only about 6 months or so later that all that Purpose Driven stuff started. We fought it, but it became apparent that those who made the decisions there were not going to listen to anyone that did not agree with them so we left. Continue reading

Life in the Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

1 Οὐδὲν ἄρα νῦν κατάκριμα τοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. (Romans 8:1 NA27)

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to the ones in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

 Romans 8 is best understood after reading the Apostle Paul’s exposition of his own “wretched man” trapped in a “body of death” in Romans 7:14-25. 

            [14] For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, [w]sold under sin. [15] For I do not understand my own actions. For [x]I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. [16] Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with [y]the law, that it is good. [17] So now [z]it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. [18] For I know that nothing good dwells [a]in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. [19] [b]For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. [20] Now if I do what I do not want, [c]it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

            [21] So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. [22] For [d]I delight in the law of God, [e]in my inner being, [23] but I see in my members [f]another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. [24] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from [g]this body of death? [25] Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.           

(Romans 7:14-25 ESV) 

[Cross References]

=======================================================

[w] 1 Kgs. 21:20, 25; 2 Kgs. 17:17; Isa. 50:1; 52:3

[x] ver. 18, 19; [Gal. 5:17]

[y] 1 Tim. 1:8; [ver. 12]

[z] ver. 20

[a] Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; 15:14; Ps. 51:5

[b] ver. 15

[c] ver. 17

[d] Ps. 1:2; 112:1; 119:35

[e] 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16; [1 Pet. 3:4]

[f] Gal. 5:17; [James 4:1]

[g] [ch. 6:6; 8:23]

There are some who teach from this passage saying that it describes Paul’s life before Christ citing that this description is contrary to his own account or description of true believers in Romans 6 (cf. vv. 2,6,7,11,17,18,22) . However, as we read this passage it is obvious that this is a believer because he desires to obey God’s law and hates his sin. He is humble, recognizing that nothing good dwells in his humanness. He sees sin in himself, but not as all that there is, and he serves Jesus Christ with his mind. This very struggle was my desperate struggle for a couple of decades and I get private emails from many readers in the same boat, doubting the veracity of their salvation because they are in the same battle. Why are they in despair? Why was I in despair for so long? The churches, the religious systems of which we were part of told us in their pragmatism that there would be some point when we would outgrow this and reach some level of maturity and would no longer struggle like this. If that did not happen either we were very immature or not Christians at all. Continue reading

Effectual and Fruitful in the Knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ


by Mike Ratliff

[8] For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:8 ESV) 

The Doctrine of Imputation is a wonderful blessing for the Christian. Christ’s Righteousness and perfect obedience to the Law were both imputed to the account of every believer at their justification. That means, in God’s sight, each and every one of us in Christ are as blameless in his eyes as Christ himself. I was asked on Thanksgiving before our meal to “briefly” state that for which I was most thankful. How can I separate the atonement and all the eternal blessings that await all of us in Christ and just single out one thing? I knew that it would be very confusing for some of those in attendance to talk about the doctrine of imputation so I simply said I was most thankful for God’s Grace.  Continue reading

Partakers of the Divine Nature


by Mike Ratliff

[3:1] See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. [2] Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. [3] And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 ESV) 

The way things worked out today (Sunday, November 26th, 2011) I found myself visiting another church this morning other than my own. This one is somewhat larger than the one I usually attend and is quite a bit closer to where I live, but we drive the extra distance because it most definitely “worth it.” On the other hand, there were certainly our Brethren in the Lord at the Church we visited today and even though I missed being with the local body of believers a few miles away at our church, we were with God’s people. What was I sensing? What was that “thing” that enabled us to fellowship together even though we were not known among them nor did we know anyone except those who invited us. It is that we are all partakers of the same divine nature. Continue reading

Firm in Your Faith


by Mike Ratliff

3 Ἐν σαρκὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦντες οὐ κατὰ σάρκα στρατευόμεθα, 4 τὰ γὰρ ὅπλα τῆς στρατείας ἡμῶν οὐ σαρκικὰ ἀλλὰ δυνατὰ τῷ θεῷ πρὸς καθαίρεσιν ὀχυρωμάτων, λογισμοὺς καθαιροῦντες 5 καὶ πᾶν ὕψωμα ἐπαιρόμενον κατὰ τῆς γνώσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντες πᾶν νόημα εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NA27)

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not warring according do the to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful through God to the overthrow of strongholds overthrowing reasonings 5 and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God and leading captive every thought into the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

All believers who are still in this life also live and walk in the flesh in a physical sense, but the goal must be to grow into maturity and no longer walk that way in a moral sense (Romans 8:4). Christians who are obediently doing this must actively war according to the spirit, never the flesh, in the battle to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-4). Therefore, those whose ministries are based around appealing to the flesh are actually warring according to the flesh and that does not work, at least not in an eternal sense. What is done in the flesh may look impressive to those who walk in the flesh in a moral sense, but they are impotent and powerless to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ. Why? They cannot successfully oppose satanic assaults on the gospel or any of God’s truths.  Continue reading

The Testing of Your Faith


by Mike Ratliff

2 Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, 3 γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν. 4 ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω, ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι. (James 1:2-4 NA27)

2 Consider it all joy my brothers whenever you fall into various trials 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect that you may be mature and complete lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

The man-centered religions that claim to be “Christian” in our time could never take James 1:2-4 literally. No, instead, they must demand from their own man-made Jesus that they have their best life now and that the Sun stand still so that they can fulfill the vision that they claim to have received from him. This whole idea of a faith that is self-renouncing while submitting to Christ as Lord in all things, taking up our crosses, bearing his reproach outside the gates because he bore our reproach to pay the price to atone for our sins is totally alien to those “so-called Christians” in those “religions.” Add to that the fiery trials of sanctification and they claim that we are taking the Bible too literally and that since God is love, he would never do that to anyone.  Continue reading

Saving Faith is a Self-Renouncing Faith


by Mike Ratliff

24 Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. 25 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δ᾽ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν. (Matthew 16:24,25 NA27)

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If someone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, 25 for whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24,25 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

As we have been emphasizing for quite some time now, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message given to be passed on as “Good News” of the completed word of Christ on behalf of those he came to save. The message is about his incarnation, his perfect life, his death on the cross, his three days and nights in the tomb, and his resurrection. All of these things were attested to by witnesses. The resurrection is the proof that our Lord is God and that the work of the Atonement is complete.  Those who hear the Gospel, believe it, receive it by grace through faith and repent as they turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour. As is made clear in Ephesians 2:1-10, there is no one is able to do this on their own, God must intervene making then alive in Christ who were once dead in their sins so they could believe and be saved.  Continue reading

The Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

3 παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις, ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον, ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς 4 καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη καὶ ὅτι ἐγήγερται τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς  (1 Corinthians 15:3,4 NA27)

3 For I handed on to you among the first things that I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures 4 and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3,4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

This Christians walk is one in which we must take up our own crosses and follow our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. In this life we will have tribulation. However, in the midst of fiery trials we grow less self-oriented, less self-dependent, and less self-righteous while we learn that we must, at all costs, abide in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this time before our Lord takes us home, there will be much heartache, many crushing blows, and at times, it will seem that the world and those who follow it have all the cards and are on the way to winning by whatever means. However, as our Lord Jesus said on the night of his arrest leading up to his crucifixion, “ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε. ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλῖψιν ἔχετε· ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον.” Or, “These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but be cheerful, I have conquered the world.”  Continue reading

The Abiding Commandment in a Transient World


by Mike Ratliff

15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· (1 John 2:15 NA27)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I’ve been on the road almost constantly over the last couple of weeks. In that time, I have not been able to write or post much, but that did not keep me from reading my emails from our CRN discussion group in the evening in my hotel room and marveling at the continuing spread of silliness that pretends to be Evangelicalism in our time. If we are not prayerful and become careless in our own abiding in our Lord, we can become distracted and then susceptible to the wiles of our enemy to become discouraged and even despair about these things. On the other hand, when we are in the heat of battle and God is using us, it is amazing how clear we can see the compromise all around us. We see believers with a love for truth and a profession of faith, but also with a love for this world and the things of this world that becomes evident in those compromises. When this takes place in “Christian leadership” what are the evidences we should look for? Are there consistent ones that obviously point to ones that we can say, “Blindness has blinded his eyes?”  Continue reading

Hope


by Mike Ratliff

13 Ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ἐλπίδος πληρώσαι ὑμᾶς πάσης χαρᾶς καὶ εἰρήνης ἐν τῷ πιστεύειν, εἰς τὸ περισσεύειν ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἐλπίδι ἐν δυνάμει πνεύματος ἁγίου. (Romans 15:13 NA27)

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing for you to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

The concept of “hope” as it is viewed in the world today, and, sadly, by much of what calls itself “Christian” is an expression of a wish or a want, such as, “I sure do hope I get…,” or “I sure hope I do not get…” In this, there is no certainty in the usage of the word “hope.” However, in the passage above (Romans 15:13) for example, the Greek noun which is the lexical root for both ἐλπίδος and ἐλπίδι, which is ἐλπίς or elpis speaks of a “desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.” The Christian concept of our hope in Christ, our blessed hope, is exactly this. We are not hoping, as the world does like football fans that our favorite team will win a game or even the title of conference or whatever. That is not what we base our hope upon. No, our hope is based upon certainty.  Continue reading

The Incarnation of the Son of God


by Mike Ratliff

14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (John 1:14 NA27)

14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

Some may question why we are going over these fundamental truths again. My brethren, it is our presuppositions which are the fruits coming from roots embedded in the foundation of what we really believe. If our presuppositions are based upon incorrect theology then it means the foundation in which they are rooted is rotten. It is of this world and contaminated with the man-made philosophies rather than God’s truth. For our presuppositions to be right they must be rooted and grounded in the right foundation, that is, Christ and God’s Truth with no wiggle room for compromise at all. Why is this important? If a person coming from a “so-called church” or “religious” group attempts to convince you to that your “faith” is not equal to his or hers and then attempts to engage you in some form of one-sided debate in which they have all the pat answers to your questions or statements while you are not prepared at all to do so, you can come through this both embarrassed and also, if others witness it, the source of their falling into the clutches of a false religious system.  Continue reading

Proof of Salvation Part 2


by Mike Ratliff

28 Καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἵνα ἐὰν φανερωθῇ σχῶμεν παρρησίαν καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 29 ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστιν, γινώσκετε ὅτι καὶ πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται. (1 John 2:28-29 NA27)

28 And now little children, abide in him that when his is manifested we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 Since you know that he is righteous, you also know that everyone practicing righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Antinomianism which is an attempt to claim to be Christian without Christ being Lord of a believer’s life along with Christless Christianity which is man-made religiosity in the form of Christianity, but totally denying the power of our Saviour and Lord because those within are neither rooted nor grounded in Christ offer only “feelings” and the forms of religiosity (works) in an attempt to assuage the consciences of those ensnared in those false religions. On the other hand, genuine Christianity can be put to the test and those who are in Christ can know if they are truly saved. All false religions have people looking within, to find that change within the inner person to see if that “salvation has really happened.” Only genuine Christianity looks at undeniable proof.  Continue reading

Proof of Salvation


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες (Philippians 2:1-2 NA27)

1 Therefore, since there is encouragement in Christ, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection, and compassions, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, the same love, as ones joined in soul and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

Christian unity is a much-abused topic at this time. Some insist, such as T.D. Jakes with his inclusion in Elephant Room 2, that all who claim to be Christian, regardless of their “doctrinal views” should be unified because this is God’s will. We can offer plenty of passages from the inspired Word of God that disproves both his claim of universal unity being God’s will and the fact that just because someone claims to be Christian they really are. The Postmodern mindset is irrational as we have seen in that it has no issue with holding various “truths” as being true even if when, in reality, that is impossible because to the rational person, those truths are absolute and cannot be true and something else be true that conflicts with it. For instance, Christian Orthodoxy has as one of its base doctrines that God is One, but is also the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which is the Holy Trinity. T.D. Jakes, a Modalist, rejects this. He says that God manifests himself as one of these three as he pleases, but only one at a time. T.D. Jakes’ god is not God.  Continue reading