Forgiveness and perseverance


by Mike Ratliff

17 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18 And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19 But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:17-21 (NASB) 

I have known many people over the years who professed to be Christians, but who held to doctrines that placed the burden and veracity of their salvation on themselves. For the first 20 or so years of my walk with the Lord, I was a member in 5 different Southern Baptist churches in two states. The SBC is not a denomination of churches that are consistent across the board on doctrine. There are Reformed and Arminian Churches in the convention along with everything in between. In fact, until God woke me up and drew me into the light in 2004 I really had no idea what the difference was. I had never heard of Arminianism. I had only heard of Calvinism in World History classes.  However, as I studied doctrine I found to my great surprise that my own personal doctrine of salvation was a mishmash of Calvinism and Arminianism. Most non-Reformed Southern Baptists believe in a ‘doctrine’ of ‘Once Saved, Always Saved.’ It is not the same thing as the Reformed doctrine of ‘The Perseverance of the Saints.’ The former appears to be a holdover from the old days of the Baptist churches that were predominately Reformed in their doctrine. Continue reading

Regeneration, Forgiveness, and Redemption


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. In this post we will look at one of the direct results of our redemption, 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

An ungodly focus


by Mike Ratliff

6 Then Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?” Genesis 43:6 (NASB)

Unforgiveness is poison for the Soul as it ensnares those who refuse to forgive by binding them into the prison of bitterness. This world is not a peaceful, easy, benign place. It is fallen. The world system is the product of Man’s rebellion against God. There is war. There is crime. There is oppression. People wrong other people. They place their wants and desires and perceived needs ahead of the wants and desires of others. The world system is marked by people pursuing their own no matter who gets hurt. The Christian is called to respond to the hurts and wrongs done to them in a vastly different way from the ways of the world. Continue reading

Are your sins forgiven?


by Mike Ratliff

17 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18 And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19 But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:17-21 (NASB) 

I have known many through my many years who professed to be Christians, but who held to doctrines that placed the burden and veracity of their salvation on themselves. For the first 20 or so years of my walk with the Lord I was a maturing Southern Baptist. The SBC is not a denomination of churches that are consistent across the board on doctrine. There are Reformed and Arminian Churches in the convention along with everything in between. In fact, until God woke me up and drew me into the light in 2004 I really had no idea what the difference was. I had never heard of Arminianism. I had only heard of Calvinism in World History classes in reference to the Protestant Reformation.  However, as I studied doctrine I found to my great surprise that my own personal doctrine of salvation was a mishmash of Calvinism and Arminianism. Most non-Reformed Southern Baptists believe in a ‘doctrine’ of ‘Once Saved, Always Saved.’ It is not the same thing as the Reformed doctrine of ‘The Perseverance of the Saints.’ The former appears to be a holdover from the old days of the Baptist churches that were predominately Reformed in doctrine. Continue reading

Forgiveness of the Saints


by Mike Ratliff

7 “ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 “ Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” (Romans 4:7-8 NASB)

The Church, the genuine Church that is, is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our Holy, Righteous, and Just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some.

Continue reading

The blessedness of 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. In this posts we will look at one of the direct results of our redemption, 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

And whenever you pray, do not be as the hypocrites


by Mike Ratliff

Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς· (Matthew 6:9a NA28)

You, therefore, pray in this way: (Matthew 6:9a translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The context of Matthew 6:9-13 from which get what is traditionally called “The Lord’s Prayer,” is, of course, Matthew 6, which is part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. The theme of Matthew 6:1-18 (the context of vv 9-13) is found in v1, “Προσέχετε [δὲ] τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μή γε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.” Or, “But be careful of demonstrating your righteousness before men with the aim to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven.” Our Lord gives an example in vv 2-4 of believers giving alms to the needy. Their motive is to be seen by others in order to receive praise from men. Then in vv 5-18 our Lord gives uses and examples of prayer, fasting, and forgiveness, which will be the subject of this post.

Continue reading

And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”


by Mike Ratliff

48 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῇ· ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. 49 καὶ ἤρξαντο οἱ συνανακείμενοι λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν; (Luke 7:48-49 NA28)

48 And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 And the ones reclining with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:48-49 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I went to “Easter” services at our church with my family last night. Yes, we still call it that, but I assure you there was nothing pagan, or worldly about what went on there. I heard the Gospel preached clearly and succinctly. I heard how vital our Lord’s resurrection is to not only our faith, but also to our entire orthodox belief system. Jesus was raised from the dead and 40 days later he was taken up into Heaven to sit at right had of God the Father. However, we are told in the Word that in like manner, our Lord will return. (Acts 1:9-11) As I heard the Gospel preached I rejoiced and worshipped God and thanked Him for saving me. I know that I most certainly am unworthy of being one of the elect, but that is the nature of grace and I as I think back on how God the Father drew me to the Son even though I was not even thinking about going that way myself, I am amazed that He would have mercy on a wretch like me. In Luke 7:36-50 we are given the circumstances of our Lord saving a woman who most of us could most certainly relate to if we are honest.

Continue reading

Whose sins are forgiven and why?


by Mike Ratliff

48 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῇ· ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. 49 καὶ ἤρξαντο οἱ συνανακείμενοι λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν; (Luke 7:48-49 NA28)

48 And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 And the ones reclining with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:48-49 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In Luke 7:36-50 there are three main characters. There is our Lord Jesus Christ, Simon the Pharisee, and an unnamed woman who is referred to in v37 and v39 simply as ἁμαρτωλός (hamartōlos), “sinful, sinner.” The events in this passage take place at a meal in Simon’s home and there are others reclining at the table with them. The unnamed woman is uninvited. These events take place in Galilee immediately after John the Baptist’s disciples have come to our Lord on his bequest to confirm whether Jesus is indeed the Messiah. He then shows the Pharisee’s hypocrisy in vv31-35 for rejecting John the Baptist even though he lived in rigid abstinence even though they demanded that of our Lord while the message preached by both was the same. Then in v36 one of these Pharisees, Simon, invites Jesus to eat with him. Continue reading

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven


by Mike Ratliff

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:7-8 ESV)

The Church, the genuine Church that is, is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our Holy, Righteous, and Just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some. Continue reading

Why Christians must walk humbly before the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother? (Genesis 43:5-6 ESV)

Unforgiveness is poison for the Soul as it ensnares those who refuse to forgive by binding them into the prison of bitterness. This world is not a peaceful, easy, benign place. It is fallen. The world system is the product of Man’s rebellion against God. There is war. There is crime. There is oppression. People wrong other people. They place their wants and desires and perceived needs ahead of the wants and desires of others. The world system is marked by people pursuing their own no matter who gets hurt. The Christian is called to respond to the hurts and wrongs done to them in a vastly different way from the ways of the world. Continue reading

The Sermon on the Mount Part 11


by Mike Ratliff

36 Τότε ἔρχεται μετ᾽ αὐτῶν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς χωρίον λεγόμενον Γεθσημανὶ καὶ λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς· καθίσατε αὐτοῦ ἕως [οὗ] ἀπελθὼν ἐκεῖ προσεύξωμαι. 37 καὶ παραλαβὼν τὸν Πέτρον καὶ τοὺς δύο υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου ἤρξατο λυπεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν. 38 τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς· περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου ἕως θανάτου· μείνατε ὧδε καὶ γρηγορεῖτε μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ. 39 καὶ προελθὼν μικρὸν ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ προσευχόμενος καὶ λέγων· πάτερ μου, εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν, παρελθάτω ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο· πλὴν οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω ἀλλ᾽ ὡς σύ. (Matthew 26:36-39 NA27)

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go there to pray.” 37 And having taken Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be grieved and to be distressed. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sad to the point of death. Remain here and keep awake with me.” 39 And having gone forward a little, he fell upon his face praying and saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, but not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:36-39 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

I have been a Christian quite a long time (since January1986). Even though I began serving first as a Bible teacher then as a deacon while still teaching only a few years after God had mercy on me, I must confess to everyone that as I evaluate my walk prior to 2004 in light of my pilgrimage on the narrow path since then, I shudder. Of course we cannot go back and change our past. We can’t travel back to some specific point in time to meet ourselves in the midst of some self-focused nonsense and ask the poignant, “What are you thinking?” There were high points to be sure, but these were followed by long stretches of self-focused living with my religiosity just being part of that.  Continue reading

Who Is This Who Even Forgives Sins?


by Mike Ratliff

48 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῇ· ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. 49 καὶ ἤρξαντο οἱ συνανακείμενοι λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν; (Luke 7:48-49 NA27)

48 And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 And the ones reclining with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:48-49 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

In Luke 7:36-50 there are three main characters. There is our Lord Jesus Christ, Simon the Pharisee, and an unnamed woman who is referred to in v37 and v39 simply as ἁμαρτωλός (hamartōlos), “sinful, sinner.” The events in this passage take place at a meal in Simon’s home and there are others reclining at the table with them. The unnamed woman is uninvited. These events take place in Galilee immediately after John the Baptist’s disciples have come to our Lord on his bequest to confirm whether Jesus is indeed the Messiah. He then shows the Pharisee’s hypocrisy in vv31-35 for rejecting John the Baptist even though he lived in rigid abstinence even though they demanded that of our Lord while the message preached by both was the same. Then in v36 one of these Pharisees, Simon, invites Jesus to eat with him. Continue reading

Evil Personified


by Mike Ratliff

[6:1] When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? [2] Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? [3] Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! [4] So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? [5] I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, [6] but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? [7] To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? [8] But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! [9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:1-11 ESV)

As we have been studying over the last several months, genuine Christians are not “of this world.” We are new creations under a new covenant, a better covenant. However, many try to blend what is in the Old Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant with what is in the New Covenant causing much confusion. A close study of Matthew 5, 6, & 7 shows that those bought with a price, those in the New Covenant, are not here on this Earth to occupy it, subdue it, or transform it. No, we are here as witnesses of the Gospel and to give an account of the hope that is within us to those still in their sins. God will draw some of them to himself through this and of these, we make disciples. As we study our role in world as our Lord and the writers of the New Testament reveal it, we see that we only are conquerors in the Spiritual sense while it will appear that the evil of this world, even that which pretends to be Christian, but is not, will appear to be victorious to most. Continue reading