Genuine Believers Are Dead to Sin but Alive to God


by Mike Ratliff

1 Εἰ οὖν συνηγέρθητε τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖτε, οὗ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ καθήμενος· Colossians 3:1 (NA28)

1 If, therefore, you were raised with Christ, seek the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

One of the most unpopular Christian teachings is summed up in Colossians 3:1 and Romans 6:1-4. I have been in discussion with some professing Christians who detest any teaching calling for repentance and walking before the face of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, denying self, taking up one’s cross and following Christ. These same ones look at sermons such as Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” with disgust. They claim this is self-righteousness and calls for salvation by works. Nowhere do we teach salvation by any means other than Justification by faith alone. On the other hand, we do teach that from that moment of rebirth into God’s family, He begins the sanctification process in the life of the believer that will not end in this temporal existence.  This sanctification, unlike our justification, is synergistic. We cooperate with God in our spiritual growth. This is where we learn to walk in repentance through the fires of tribulation, to abide in Christ as we are pruned, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and to put on the new self. Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 4


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Colossians 3:16 (NASB) 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 3, we looked at Romans 12:2a, which says, “And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind“. We learned that genuine believers give their souls to God at salvation and their bodies to to God as living, holy sacrifices as genuine acts of worship, as our priestly self-sacrifice and they give their minds to Him as the third element of our priestly self-sacrifice is giving our minds to God as an act of worship. In this post we will look at Romans 12:2b, which says, “that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This implied fourth element of our priestly self-sacrifice is giving our wills to God as an act of worship.  Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 3


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Colossians 3:16 (NASB) 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our last post, The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 2, we looked at Romans 12:1b, which says, “to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service.” We learned that genuine believers give their souls to God at salvation and their bodies to to God as living, holy sacrifices as genuine acts of worship, as our priestly self-sacrifice. In this post we will look at Romans 12:2a, which says, “And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind“. The third element of our priestly self-sacrifice is giving our minds to God as an act of worship.  Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 2


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In yesterday’s post, The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 1, we looked at Romans 12:1a, which says, “Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God.” Today we will look at Romans 12:1b which says, “to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service.” Actually, what Paul is saying here is that genuine believers must give their bodies to God. Yes all of us who are true believers have given our souls to God through faith in Jesus Christ, however, we also specifically called to present our bodies to Him as living, holy sacrifices. Continue reading

The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship – Part 1


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Our supreme calling is to serve God with all our being first and foremost in worship. The writer of Hebrews tells us through Christ we are to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). When I was a younger Christian I struggled for many years trying to work hard to please God while all the time never believing or feeling like I was doing enough. Along with that I struggled with my assurance because I saw other men and women in our church who were so much more mature than me and they were always at the right place at the right time doing the right things while it seemed to me that I was always “off” and “out of place.” I finally got past this when God took me through nearly a year of personal revival in which I shed all focus on self and worldly things and simply spent time in prayer, in the Word, and especially in worship whenever I was not at work or asleep. A huge part of this was discovering the passage I placed at the top of this post. Oh, I had read it many times and even memorized it when I was part of Evangelism Explosion at our church. However, I had not studied it like we are going to do here over the next several posts.  Continue reading

You Are of Your Father the Devil


by Mike Ratliff

7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:7-8 (NASB) 

Relativism is the fatal disease of the unregenerate heart. Of course, it is a self-focused relativism. Everyone is unique, of course, but we have this built-in sense of ‘fairness’ that is antithetical to God’s Sovereignty. Several years ago my late friend and colleague Ken Silva was the subject of a satirical article meant to attack his character. If you think through that then you should immediately recognize the tactics of our enemy. Since he cannot refute the truth then he and his minions go after those who uphold the truth by attacking them directly. The article was a satirical portrayal of Ken killing a beast on the beach called an EvanJellyFish even though every now and then the beast said something that might be considered edifying. Ah, now we are back in that comfortable realm of relativism. It goes something like this, “Hey man, why are you attacking this brother in Christ? Look, he may practice Yoga and Contemplative Prayer and lead his congregation to pray to Mother God, but hey, look at all the edifying and nice thing he says in this book he just wrote!” That my brothers and sisters in Christ are the words of someone who thinks that the truth is truth because they think it is, but they do not know the words of God, the truth, because they do not hear them (John 8:46).  Continue reading

The Lordship of Christ Concerning Genuine Saving Faith


by Mike Ratliff

8 Πρῶτον μὲν εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν ὅτι ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν καταγγέλλεται ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ. Romans 1:8 (NA28)

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you because your faith is being proclaimed in all the world. Romans 1:8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In these broadly apostate days of the visible church the good biblical words such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are thrown around and used in such a loose way that it is important for us dig into what God’s Word says about πιστεύω (pisteuō), “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly, persuaded as to something” and πιστός (pistos), an adjective meaning “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable” instead of relying on what our modern translations give us for these words, for if we do not “dig” we remain in a shallow understanding of these things. On the other hand, God will use our hard work in these things to teach us, train us, and grow us into more mature Christians who do glorify God in our walks and perhaps other disciples will marvel and report to others and then our faith will be “broadly declared throughout the whole world.” You see, for Paul to make that statement about the Romans’ faith meant that there must have been something remarkable about it. What was it?  Continue reading

Have No Fear


by Mike Ratliff

4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7 (NASB) 

We are told not to fear earthly things or other people no matter how evil or violent they are. However, we are told to fear God. Much of the fear Christians have, however, is not based in their fear of God, but in the fear of their own failures being exposed or their own spiritual deficiencies being exploited by the devil’s seed. Of course some of that fear comes from the spirit of fear that dominates some Christians.

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Faith


by Mike Ratliff

1 Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων. 2 ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι. 3 Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι. Hebrews 11:1-3 (NA28)

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by this the elders were given approval. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not created from visible things. Hebrews 11:1-3 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Several years ago while we were still battling continually with the Purpose Driven nonsense a friend sent me a link to a devotion from a PD web site. The title of the devotion was “Faith: Doing Exactly What Jesus Says to Do.” The reason my friend wanted me to read it was obvious. Why? Is that a definition of faith as we understand it as Christians? Obviously not! However, over the years of dealing with the PD heresy along with Ken Silva he commented often that I seemed to have a handle on it that most of the others at CRN did not seem to have. I was surprised by that because I really struggled for a long time trying to grasp what was at the core of Rick Warren’s message. However, that devotion is the very thing that points to what makes the “gospel” preached by all versions of the Seeker-Sensitive paradigm a false gospel. What is it? Continue reading

Therefore They Could Not Believe


by Mike Ratliff

35 So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” John 12:35-40 (NASB) 

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.” Isaiah 6:8-10 (NASB) 

God is Sovereign. In John 12:40 the Apostle quoted Isaiah 6:8-10. I placed both passages in context at the top of this post. Notice John 12:39, “For this reason they could not believe” This is the NASB rendering. The NA28 Greek text for this part of v39 is, διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἠδύναντο πιστεύειν. Here is my rendering, “Through this they were not able to believe.” The word translated here as “not” is οὐκ (ouk), which is an absolute negative. Therefore what it is defining is absolutely negated and that verb is ἠδύναντο, which is the 3rd person, imperfect tense, indicative mood, middle voice form of δύναμαι (dunamai), which means “to be able, either intrinsically and absolutely, which the ordinary signification; or, for specific reasons.” The third part of this is the word “believe” which is a translation of the verb πιστεύειν the present tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of πιστεύω (pisteuō), “to have faith.” The way this is structured my brethren it is plainly a work of God that these people were not able “to have faith.” Continue reading

Simeon and Anna’s Testimonies


by Mike Ratliff

34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35 (NASB) 

Apostates, false teachers, those who seek redemption via religion, tares, and goats, have overrun the Church in our time. Since the beginning these people have been part of the visible Church, but now it appears that they have captured it and hold it prisoner. Much of the blame for this belongs to those who should be coming of age to lead the Church who have been compromised by humanistic teachings that make being a minister a “career move.” As a result these people are leading their churches further and further away from the real Jesus to follow one of their own making. Continue reading

What is an Almost Christian?


by Mike Ratliff

16 θεὸν ὁμολογοῦσιν εἰδέναι, τοῖς δὲ ἔργοις ἀρνοῦνται, βδελυκτοὶ ὄντες καὶ ἀπειθεῖς καὶ πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἀδόκιμοι. Titus 1:16 (NA28)

16 They profess to know God, but by their works, they deny Him, being detestable and as to every good work, unfit. Titus 1:16 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In Puritan Matthew Mead’s The Almost Christian Discovered we find the very definition for what is plaguing the visible church in the 21st Century.  If Pastor Mead was alive today preaching as he did in the 17th Century, he would be quite controversial, but isn’t that what we who are called of God to stand for His truth in the lost and dying world supposed to do? In our time we lament what cheap grace and easy-believism and post-modernism have done to our churches’ ecclesiology, watering down the Gospel and doing away with rightly dividing the Word of Truth while turning the what should the weekly gathering of the local church into some sort of sales promotion or entertainment event. Those terms would be unknown to Pastor Mead, but he would have been quite familiar with one coined by Martin Luther, antinomianism. This describes those who desired to be called Christian, with all of its benefits, but shunned all of its obligations. 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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God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble


by Mike Ratliff

1 Πόθεν πόλεμοι καὶ πόθεν μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν; οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν, ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν ὑμῶν τῶν στρατευομένων ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ὑμῶν; 2 ἐπιθυμεῖτε καὶ οὐκ ἔχετε, φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε καὶ οὐ δύνασθε ἐπιτυχεῖν, μάχεσθε καὶ πολεμεῖτε, οὐκ ἔχετε διὰ τὸ μὴ αἰτεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς, 3 αἰτεῖτε καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετε διότι κακῶς αἰτεῖσθε, ἵνα ἐν ταῖς ἡδοναῖς ὑμῶν δαπανήσητε. 4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. 5 ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει· πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν, 6 μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν; διὸ λέγει·
ὁ θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται,
ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν. (James 4:1-6 NA28)

1 From where do wars come and from where do fights come among you? Is it not from here–from your pleasures warring in your members? 2 You desire and you do not have. You kill and you envy and you are not able to obtain. You fight and you war. You do not have because you fail to ask. 3 You ask and you do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world is made an enemy of God. Or do you think that  it is in vain the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us“? Be he gives greater grace. Therefore it says,
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.” 
(James 4:1-6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The Church since its inception in the 1st Century AD has been plagued by quarrels, disagreements, feuds, splits, et cetera. According to God, the problem is not with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ or His doctrines, but with the fact that people in the Church are not submitted properly to Him or to each other. Pride is behind most disagreements just as it is behind those who break away from the truth to lead their followers with false doctrines and a focus that is on self rather than on God and his glory. Instead, those who cause these problems are in love with self and, therefore, in love with the world, its ways, and the things of the world.

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