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

Humility Under the Lash


by Mike Ratliff

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 (NASB) 

There is a form of Christianity prevalent in post-modern America that has an incredible hold on some people to the point their conception of God is that He is little more than a vending machine or a kindly grandfather who would never hurt anyone. I speak, of course, of all forms of Christianity that are man-based. Their problem is that they are conceived of by people who have no patience for theology. Instead, they rely on their own conception of God based within the limits of their ability to reason. For instance, their conception of God is that He is too good to be unfair. Then, of course, their conception of what is fair and unfair enter into their reasoning. The end result is that, since God does not seem to come through the same for all people, then the problem must be with the people themselves. If one person is not healed while some are then those who are not healed must not have enough faith because God is fair and would not leave anyone in sickness while healing others. Continue reading

Put Away


by Mike Ratliff

6 ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας—τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· ἐγερθεὶς ἆρόν σου τὴν κλίνην καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου. Matthew 9:6 (NA28)

6 “but in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins””–then He said to the paralytic, “Rise up, take up your stretcher and go to your house.” – Matthew 9:6 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The literal idea behind the Greek αἴρω (airō) is “to raise or lift up,” and it is usually used in this way. When the Lord Jesus forgave and healed the paralytic in Matthew 9:1-8, for example, His command was to, “Rise up, take up (ἆρόν) your stretcher and go to your house.” In this usage the verb ἆρόν (aron) is the second singular, aorist active imperative case of airō.

Continue reading

Humble Yourselves


by Mike Ratliff

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 (NASB) 

27 καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔσται ὑμῶν δοῦλος· Matthew 20:27 (NA28)

There are a group of men who I do not allow to comment on my blog, but who attempt to do so anyway. Their comments go immediately into the SPAM folder. I usually just dump it once a day without reading them. However, once in a while when I know that, through the discernment ministry God has given me, I have hit a precious target of our enemy, certain men in that group start commenting in direct, vicious attacks meant to do one thing alone. That one thing is to discourage me and thwart me from continuing obeying my Lord as His δοῦλος in exposing false teachers and their doctrines to the Body of Christ. It is an interesting way to gauge whether I am on target or not at times. I also find it very interesting that the accusations in those attacks are always meant to rouse me to some sort of self-defense or rebuttal type of response meant to “put them in their place.” When my anger reaches that point I know that my flesh has taken over and it is time to spend some time in humble repentance with my Lord before the Throne of Grace. What is my response to the attacks after that? I simply erase the SPAM and move on.  Continue reading

Perseverance in Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:3-7 (NASB) 

When God saves a person, he/she is changed forever. However, they are not at the spiritual maturity level that God desires for His people. Therefore, from that point until they go home to be with their Lord all genuine Christians will go through a series of tests and trials that put pressure on their faith. This pressure is spiritual, but the circumstances applying it come from all directions and sources. The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh that put his faith to test to the point that he implored the Lord to take it away. Continue reading

Abiding in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:1-4 (NASB) 

When My dad was still with us he loved to garden. One of his passions was to grow tomatoes. When I was a teenager we were living in a suburb of Oklahoma City called Yukon. Our backyard wasn’t small, but it wasn’t big either. One day in early spring he came home from work and informed me we were going to dig up and turn over the dirt in a square at the back side of our yard. He told me he was sick to death of store-bought tomatoes. I really didn’t understand what he meant by that, but I did help him break up that ground. Continue reading

Raised Us Up


by Mike Ratliff

4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (NASB) 

The debate over Lordship Salvation is more than unfortunate, but, as in all controversies in the Church, God uses them, in multi-faceted ways, to accomplish His will. Through the controversy, those who stand firm against the attacks by going to the Word of God and via their defenses against the continual battles in the Truth War, the sheep are edified while the enemies of the cross are identified and are even further separated from the flock in order that they may do as little harm as possible. Some of these battles never seem to end. God has allowed some of these to rage for hundreds of years in various forms. After all, our enemy never really comes up with anything new, just a different slant here and there on his same old arguments, “Hath God said….” In the case of the battle over Lordship Salvation, those who reject it are really being very inconsistent in their theology because they are focusing everything from the perspective of man rather than from the perspective of God. However, to put things in the correct perspective, as one theologian has said, “When Christ comes into your life, your life changes. God’s Word everywhere declares that a change is automatic when someone truly believes.”  Continue reading

Walk in Light


by Mike Ratliff

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; Ephesians 5:6-11 (NASB) 

Intentional godliness is the product of a spirit-filled walk. No Christian becomes godly by simply wanting it. Neither do they become godly through self-righteousness. Instead, the walk that is truly godly is one that is not self-focused at all. It is one that is totally wrapped up and empowered by a consistent, deliberate attempt to discover or discern what is pleasing to the Lord, then doing it. If we analyze this, and we should, we will see that the intentional walk in the light of God is one that separates the Christian from both non-Christians and professing Christians who bear no eternal fruit.

This separate walk does not include promises from God that all will be easy. There is no fine print that states that the obedient Christian will not become ill or lose their job or find themselves having to part with the world’s goods or even having a spouse walk out on them. No, we find examples in Sacred Scripture of God taking His saints through very heavy trials even though they were exemplary in their walk in the God’s light. Think of Joseph and Job. It is during these times that we discover who the real Christians are as well as those who either have a long way to go in their sanctification or are not genuine at all. The more mature believers are the ones who will come along side the suffering saint to help bear the burden while the others say insipid things like, “You must have committed some horrible sin and God has struck you down for it.” Continue reading

Christ’s Blood and the Atonement


by Mike Ratliff

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 1:7-12 (NASB) 

A proper study of the doctrine of Penal Substitution will reveal that it is actually a line of contention, or line of demarcation if you will, that divides Orthodox Christianity from those forms whose advocates have in some way come up with their own version of the Gospel. These forms are diverse and too numerous to go into here. As we read the “opinions” of those decrying the validity of Penal Substitution, it becomes quickly apparent that the modus operandi or focus of these people was never from the perspective of God’s glory or His majesty or His righteousness or His justice or His Sovereignty. No, it was always from man’s perspective of either the writer’s religiosity or philosophy. There is never any attempt to use Biblical exegesis to make their points. In other words, those who decry Penal Substitution also seem to have a serious issue with Sola Scriptura. So, instead of focusing this post on these vain arguments and speculations, let us focus on the incredible mercy of the Atonement in which Christ reconciled His people to God the Father and what that purchased for them.

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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