Born Again to a Living Hope and Called to be Holy


by Mike Ratliff

6 ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὀλίγον ἄρτι εἰ δέον [ἐστὶν] λυπηθέντας ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, 7 ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως πολυτιμότερον χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου, εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ· 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NA28)

6 In this you greatly rejoice, for a little while now, if it is necessary, having been grieved by various trials, 7 that the tested genuineness of you faith—infinitely more valuable than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6.7 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

There are some who insist that the doctrine of imputation will create antinomianism because we will not “work out our salvation,” since we have been declared righteous, we can live any way we want. However, that “charge” is unbiblical for another very large and important doctrine, the doctrine of regeneration. We understand Sacred Scripture to teach that God regenerates all those He calls to believe and draws to the Son. This regeneration changes everything. It is supernatural. Here is how Paul described it in Ephesians 2:4,5, “ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ, – χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι –” or “But God being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when were dead in trespasses, he made us alive with Christ – by grace you have been saved —”. Regeneration is God making a person who is spiritually dead spiritually alive in Christ by His grace. Let’s look at what Peter has to say about this along with our imputed righteousness along with the call for us live unto the holiness of God. Continue reading

Poverty


by Mike Ratliff

41 Καὶ καθίσας κατέναντι τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου ἐθεώρει πῶς ὁ ὄχλος βάλλει χαλκὸν εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον. καὶ πολλοὶ πλούσιοι ἔβαλλον πολλά· 42 καὶ ἐλθοῦσα μία χήρα πτωχὴ ἔβαλεν λεπτὰ δύο, ὅ ἐστιν κοδράντης. 43 καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων ἔβαλεν τῶν βαλλόντων εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον· 44 πάντες γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ περισσεύοντος αὐτοῖς ἔβαλον, αὕτη δὲ ἐκ τῆς ὑστερήσεως αὐτῆς πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν ἔβαλεν ὅλον τὸν βίον αὐτῆς. Mark 12:41-44 (NA28)

41 And having sat opposite the Treasury He was observing how the crowd put copper coins into it; and many rich people were putting in much. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins which is a penny.  43 And having summoned His disciples He said to them, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than all the others who put into the Treasury; 44 for everyone else put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the passage above the word “poverty” translates the Greek noun ὑστερήσεως (hysterēseōs) the genitive, singular, feminine case of ὑστέρησις (hysterēsis), which means, “need, poverty.”  This refers to a beggar, someone who was completely destitute, having nothing. Continue reading

God’s Great Love


by Mike Ratliff

4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, Ephesians 2:4 (NA28)

4 But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which he loved us, Ephesians 2:4 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

God’s love (ἀγάπη (agapē)) is often viewed today as some sort of shallow sentimentality, but God’s love is deeper than we can even begin to comprehend. When the average person today says “love,” they do not even know what they are saying because they do not mean “self-emptying self-sacrifice.” Love today is more “self-gratifying” than “self-emptying.” Continue reading

Speaking the Word of God


by Mike Ratliff

34 ὃν γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ λαλεῖ, οὐ γὰρ ἐκ μέτρου δίδωσιν τὸ πνεῦμα. John 3:34 (NA28)

34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. John 3:34 (NASB)

In John 3:1-21 our Lord spoke the words of God to “ a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” In this passage our Lord clears the table and tells it like it is. He tells Nicodemus in v3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Of course, Nicodemus doesn’t “get it at first and asks, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” in v4 and, “How can these things be?” in v9. In between those two perplexed questions, our Lord, the Λόγος (logos) or Word, the living Christian proclamation as a whole of the New Testament proclaimed τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ or “the words of God” to Nicodemus in a way that he had never heard before. He said,”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” As we read in John 3:34 (above), He spoke or uttered the ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ to this man and all who read John 3. What did he say? Only those born again are part of the Kingdom of God and to be born again is to born of the Spirit. Notice carefully that this rebirth is not something controlled by or contained by or comprehended by people of the flesh. Everyone truly born of the Spirit are so by the work of the Holy Spirit not by the works of men. These are the ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ.  Continue reading

Watch Therefore


by Mike Ratliff

13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13 (ESV) 

Just a few days before his crucifixion, our Lord spent some very valuable time with His disciples, pouring Himself into them, preparing them for the time when He would no longer be physically with them. In Matthew 25 we have some of what He gave them. Much of the apostasy we are witnessing in our time in the visible church is a direct result of its mishandling of or forgetting of these things. In fact, any form of what is referring to as “progressive” or “liberal” “Christianity” proves that it is not valid because it does not adhere to the truths found here and the rest of God’s Word. You see, there is no wiggle room. There is no gray area. Why? It is because when we get into these human “rights of choice” forms of “so-called christianity” they are all based on what people do and choose, but when we get to God’s truth and what the real Gospel is and what the nature of the real kingdom of heaven is like, we find our Sovereign God at the center of all things with the elect worshiping Him.  Continue reading

Do Not Give Up


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 the boldness and access in confidence through our faith in Him. 13 Therefore, I ask you not to give up over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory Ephesians 3:12-13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post let us look at an important word from Ephesians 13 which many Bible translations render as ‘faint,’ ‘discouraged, ‘ or ‘lose heart.’ The words “not to give up” above translate μὴ ἐγκακεῖν. Μη (mē) 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 (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 spiritless.” So perhaps my translation of “do not give up” seems insufficient in light of this, but what we must see is that the verb structure Paul used here is speaking of a way of life not a one-time action. Continue reading

Quicken Together With


by Mike Ratliff

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:8-15 (NASB) 

The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from own Savior to forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slide right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω (suzōopoieō), “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”  Continue reading

World


by Mike Ratliff

4 ὅτι πᾶν τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ νικᾷ τὸν κόσμον· καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ νίκη ἡ νικήσασα τὸν κόσμον, ἡ πίστις ἡμῶν. 1 John 5:4 (NA28)

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4 (NASB) 

Depending upon a given context, world (κόσμος (kosmos)) can mean several things: earth, human race, et cetera. In its some 188 occurrences, however, it usually speaks of the “world system” or “world order,” that is, the values, pleasures, inclinations, philosophies, goals, drives, purposes, attitudes, and actions of society. This system is totally man-centered and is quite vivid in the humanistic and relativistic society of today.

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Cross


by Mike Ratliff

37 Ὁ φιλῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος, καὶ ὁ φιλῶν υἱὸν ἢ θυγατέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος· 38 καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος. 39 ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὁ ἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν. Matthew 10:37-39 (NA28)

37 The one who  loves a father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me and the one loving a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And the one who does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39 The one who has found his life will lose it and the one who has lost lost his life because of me will find it. Matthew 10:37-39 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

When we say, “The Cross,” we state the very focal point of history. The Old Testament points to it, the New Testament presents it, and the Christian proclaims it. It is the cross that is our salvation, not religion. A study of the cross as used in crucifixion is a sobering exercise. Several years ago my wife and I took our small group, made up of young singles, to Mel Gibson’s new movie “The Passion of Christ.” I believe that was in either 2004 or 2005. In any case, the way the movie presented how our Lord was treated all through his arrest, trial and crucifixion was one of the most brutal things I have ever seen. I was not the only person weeping throughout that movie. Continue reading

Idol


by Mike Ratliff

21 Τεκνία, φυλάξατε ἑαυτὰ ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων. 1 John 5:21 (NA28)

21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21 (NASB) 

Our English word idol is derived from the Greek εἴδωλον (eidōlon). Homer used eidōlon for phantoms and apparitions. In later Classical Greek, it carried the other non-religious meanings of picture, copy, or “any unsubstantial form, an image reflected in a mirror or water, an image or idea in the mind.”

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The Deep Things of God


by Mike Ratliff

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,
“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (NASB) 

I’m sure the title of this post struck some of you in a way hard to explain. When I first started this study, I could not help but think back on an investigation I did many years ago into some false teachings by a man who claimed that his ministry was based entirely “in the deep things of God.” That mysterious statement seemed to be used by him as a smokescreen to hide the fact that he was teaching rank heresy and that heresy was claimed by him to be coming to him as a direct revelation from God. Well, if that were true then it would indeed be “the deep things of God,” but what he was teaching was very shallow spiritually and really called for people to become submissive to him as a prophet based on one thing; he said so. This is not what the depths of God (the deeps things of God) are. Let us take a closer look.  Continue reading

Paul and Silas in Philippi


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἀναχθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ Τρῳάδος εὐθυδρομήσαμεν εἰς Σαμοθρᾴκην, τῇ δὲ ἐπιούσῃ εἰς Νέαν πόλιν 12 κἀκεῖθεν εἰς Φιλίππους, ἥτις ἐστὶν πρώτη[ς] μερίδος τῆς Μακεδονίας πόλις, κολωνία. Ἦμεν δὲ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ πόλει διατρίβοντες ἡμέρας τινάς. Acts 16:11-12 (NA28)

11 And having set sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a prominent city of the District of Macedonia, a colony, and we stayed in this city some days. Acts 16:11-12  (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As you know, Paul’s friend and companion Luke wrote the book of Acts in the New Testament. In Acts 16:10, we read that after Paul and seen the vision to leave Asia and come to Europe after seeking the will of God for next focus of his missionary journey, Luke includes himself in the narrative as an eyewitness, therefore, his account of what happened to Paul and Silas in Philippi are given as one who was there.  Continue reading

Forgiveness


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-12 (NASB) 

The key to understanding the passage above is in getting who the “us” is that Paul mentions repeatedly all through it. Whoever they are, they are indeed blessed. Of course Paul is talking about those who are called, those who believe the Gospel and are redeemed out of spiritual death unto eternal life in Christ. We looked at these marvelous truths in our post Redemption. In this post we will look at one of the direct results of it, which is the forgiveness of sins. It seems that the majority “opinion” of those with the loudest voices and coolest ministries in the visible church never talk about this because they never talk about sin and the doctrine of depravity. Why? They are merely a newer version of what is known as Christian Liberalism, which is a misnomer for it is not true Christianity at all for it denies the necessity of Christ as Saviour so they never preach the Cross. According to them, the Good News is about man not what God has done on man’s behalf. Fortunately, we still have God’s Word and some good solid Bible teachers, well grounded, who never waiver from preaching the whole Gospel. God still has His remnant and always will until Christ returns. Let us look at the three aspects of forgiveness that is the direct result of our redemption. Continue reading

The Mystery


by Mike Ratliff

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:28-32 (NASB) 

In our 21st Century languages, the word “mystery” is used as a series of clues to be figured out. However, the Apostle Paul used the Greek word μυστήριον (mustērion) six times in the book of Ephesians, twice in Romans, once in 1 Corinthians, four times in Colossians, and once in 1 Timothy. It is found nowhere else in the New Testament. His usage was not as a series of clues to be figured out, but of a grand word that points to mystery as a heretofore-unrevealed truth that has been made clear. Its usage in the Greek text preserves the sense that the revealed truth has such awesome implications that it continues to amaze and humble those who accept it. Many of you are familiar with the term describing the current day Evangelical Church as being a million miles wide and one inch deep. That sad fact is due to its losing its grasp of this Mystery and its implications all tied to the Sovereignty of God, the Deity of Christ, and the fact that Salvation is the result of Justification by Faith alone by the Grace of God alone not by the efforts of man. This loss has resulted in a focus on self rather than God. In return, God has caused His judgment to fall on these people so that they no longer hunger for God’s truth, but only hunger for what is new, cool, and culturally relevant. They seek it, but are never fulfilled by it while the very thing that would fulfill their hunger, God’s truth according to His grace, is available, but they look everywhere but there.  Continue reading