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

God Justifies the Ungodly


by Mike Ratliff

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
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 4:1-8 (NASB) 

I was in a discussion with one of our elders recently about the worship “style” at our church. I am almost 70 years old. He is about the same age. He and I both would prefer a more “traditional” music format, but he told me that it was not going to happen because the population in our area is predominantly made up of people who would not go for that at all, but are very much attracted to the more “up-to-date” music with the musicians and loud volume along with the videos with the lyrics, etc. However, he did say that our new worship leader has changed the music to be more focused on worshipping God alone and not about us. I did agree with him on that. I thought a lot about what he said and also about the fact that our church is really growing in spite of the Covid-19 stuff. Our pastor also preaches the full gospel, that is, Law and Gospel. On Easter Sunday I lost count of how many people were Baptized. My elder friend also told me that our church is structured in such a way that new Christians are encouraged and discipled while more mature believers are encouraged to serve. No one has demands put on them that are beyond their maturity level.  Continue reading

He Will Abundantly Pardon


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. 5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” 6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  (Isaiah 55:4-8 NASB)

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not editable. It is not open to change. No matter how much anyone  wants it to be otherwise, it is unchangeable. It is God’s Good News to be proclaimed to all fallen man. This good news is the proclamation that there is a way, only one way, for sinful people to be reconciled to God. It is good news because all people suffer from the same condition. They are born dead in trespasses and sins and are not morally able to do anything about it. This separates all of us from God because He is Holy and must judge all sin. The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross and became sin on our behalf, our propitiation. God judged our sin in Him. This “atoned” for our sins. Now let us look at the pardon available to all who believe.

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Mercy


by Mike Ratliff

23 Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸ ἔλεος καὶ τὴν πίστιν· ταῦτα [δὲ] ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφιέναι. Matthew 23:23 (NA28)

23 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but you have neglected the more important things of the Law: justice and mercy and faith; but these things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

A simple definition of mercy is “the withholding of deserved punishment and relieving distress.” The Greek ἔλεος (eleos) speaks of “compassion, pity.” One Greek lexicon tells us, “Kindness or good will towards the miserable and afflicted joined with a desire to relieve them.” Even the pagans of Greece felt pity. Aristotle wrote that tragedy aroused pity and even fear that the same tragedy might befall them. Continue reading

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

Grace


by Mike Ratliff

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:14-17 (NASB) 

Grace is our theology. In a sense the word grace sums up all biblical theology. Of all the theological words we could discuss–redemption, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, election, and many more–none cuts to the heart of our theology like grace. 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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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

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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What Does it Mean to Overcome the World?


by Mike Ratliff

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:8-12 (NASB) 

There are some who believe that Romans 7:7-25 was written by the Apostle Paul in reference to before his salvation in that he proclaims his frustration with his inability to keep the law by his own strength. However, the unregenerate are not able to see that only 100% obedience to the law is acceptable to God. In this, they do not have the same grief over their inconsistencies in obedience that a genuine believer has. On the other hand, there are some who teach a false doctrine of perfection for Christians. This doctrine teaches that it is possible for Christians to mature to the point that they no longer sin. This is why I hold that Romans 7:7-25 very clearly teaches us that if we attempt to keep the law through morality or legalism then we will experience that same frustration that Paul did. On the other hand, when we understand that it is not us who have overcome the world, but our Lord, then we will have a very different view of tribulation and peace in this life for Christians.  Continue reading