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

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

Seventy Times Seven


by Mike Ratliff

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 ESV)

Pride is poison to the Christian. Oh, our flesh loves it, but it is unredeemed and has nothing to do with God. On the other hand, all truly in Christ are New Creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that part of them that is redeemed is of God not of the flesh and this lost and dying world. However, all of us would be liars if we said that have not found ourselves in situations in which we were completely controlled by our flesh and pride. In those situations, we react fleshly just like the world. We lie, cheat, steal, and refuse to forgive when wronged. Then we become bitter and the cycle just spirals downward. All of this happens because we are walking in the flesh with our pride in control instead of in the Spirit, humbly before our God. It is impossible to forgive from the heart without first humbling ourselves and that takes a work of submission to the Spirit of God.  Continue reading

For He Hath Made Him to be Sin for Us


For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Mourning Christian! why weepest thou? Art thou mourning over thine own corruptions? Look to thy perfect Lord, and remember, thou art complete in Him; thou art in God’s sight as perfect as if thou hadst never sinned; nay, more than that, the Lord our Righteousness hath put a divine garment upon thee, so that thou hast more than the righteousness of man-thou hast the righteousness of God. O Thou who art mourning by reason of inbred sin and depravity, remember, none of thy sins can condemn thee. Thou hast learned to hate sin; but thou hast learned also to know that sin is not thine-it was laid upon Christ’s head. Thy standing is not in thyself-it is in Christ; thine acceptance is not in thyself, but in thy Lord; thou art as much accepted of God to-day, with all thy sinfulness, as thou wilt be when thou standest before His throne, free from all corruption. O, I beseech thee, lay hold on this precious thought–perfection in Christ! For thou art “complete in Him.”1 With thy Saviour’s garment on, thou art holy as the Holy one. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”2 Christian, let thy heart rejoice, for thou art “accepted in the beloved”3-what hast thou to fear? Let thy face ever wear a smile; live near thy Master; live in the suburbs of the Celestial City; for soon, when thy time has come, thou shalt rise up where thy Jesus sits, and reign at His right hand; and all this because the divine Lord “was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” – C.H. Spurgeon

1Colossians 2:10   2Romans 8:34   3Ephesians 1:6

Blessed are the Forgiven


by Mike Ratliff

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 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

Self-Righteousness and Repentance


 

by Mike Ratliff

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:25-30 ESV)

I heard part of a sermon on the radio in my pickup this afternoon that pierced my heart. I have learned to pay attention when this happens. The preacher was Dr. Richard Land and he was expounding on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. I began listening just as he read Luke 15:25-30. Then he gave a couple of illustrations that God used to direct my path to this post. The first illustration concerned a friend of Dr. Land who was dying. He had terminal cancer. This man was a Pastor of a church in a small town. His daughter had returned home after living a sinful debauched lifestyle. She was pregnant out of wedlock. Her intent had been to privately abort the baby, tell no one, and remain in her sinful lifestyle. However, God entered in to her heart, brought her to repentance, and sent her back home. She arrived at home as her father was dealing with his cancer.  Continue reading

Stones in the Sand


by Mike Ratliff

I have come the conclusion that most believers walk through their days on planet Earth in a complete fog about the enormity of their salvation. As we have seen in the last few posts here, the price God paid for our salvation is beyond our understanding. They also are mostly oblivious concerning the depth of their sin. The very short passage of John 8:1-11 is a window for us to look through to see God’s willingness to forgive the sins of those who humble themselves in repentance before Jesus Christ their saviour. My friend, Jessica Taylor of Whispers in the Garden, has written a poem about this passage called Stones in the Sand. After you read it and thank God for forgiving you of your sins, stop by Whispers in the Garden and let Jessica know how her poem has blessed you.

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