Mike Ratliff


The Bible is full, complete revelation of God. Inspiration is the activity of God by which He superintended the reception and communication of His message, even in the specific words used, while still allowing for the style and personality of each writer, with the result being the Word of God.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21 KJV)
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21 ESV)
21 For not by will of man was borne at some or other prophecy but by spirit holy being borne spoke the holy of God men. (2 Peter 1:21 The Apostolic Bible Polyglot)
21 οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη προφητεία ποτέ, ἀλλʼ ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι. 2 Peter 1:21 (NA28)
21 Not for the will of man was brought forth prophecy at any time, but men by the Holy Spirit being brought spoke from God.  (2 Peter 1:21 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
It is vital that we “get it” that without the foundation of the inspiration of Scripture, all we have is human subjectivity as the basis for truth and that opens the door to the mindset of “anything goes.” We see this with heretics. We see this in liberal churches and denominations. As soon as they drop the Bible as the authoritative Word of God then all sorts of heresies creep in and it isn’t long before all these people stand for has about as much substance as malformed jello. Several years ago my good friend in the Lord, Chris Rosebrough, debated Emergent leader Doug Pagitt on the doctrine of Hell. I wrote this post back then as a response to that debate. I am reposting it now because it is still pertinent to what we are studying. There are still false Christian leaders who are teaching doctrinal fallacies leading people astray. As I listened to the debate what I marveled at most was the patience of our brother Chris in dealing with the absolute indefiniteness of Pagitt on all topics pertaining to how we know what is truth. It was a bit like trying to nail that malformed jello to a tree in a stiff breeze. In any case, what did we expect? I mean, Pagitt is a heretic. He isn’t a Christian.
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You Will Not be Able to Serve the Lord, for He is a Holy God

When we get it right and walk in the joy of the Lord with our eyes firmly fixed on Christ it will always be in submission to Him and all those around us. Pride is banished. Meekness rules. This is what we do when we abide in Christ (John 15). We can only serve the Lord on these terms. Outside of these terms, we are on our own and that is an ugly, inconsistent, casual place to be. It is devoid of the joy of the Lord and we will find that our worship here is all emotion with no substance. On the other hand, when we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling we will have the joy of the Lord no matter what our circumstances. We will have success at the altar and, therefore, success in the field as did Able.

19 Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve Yahweh, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. 20 If you forsake Yahweh and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” Joshua 24:19-20 (LSB)
One of the products of the growing apostasy of the Church in our time that is especially tragic is the loss of the understanding of God’s Holiness. Several years ago I wrote a post about our great need to walk in fear of God. Some of the comments I received on that post were heart breaking. Some insisted that Jesus was their buddy or their homeboy or their ‘bro’ and he loved them so much that it really did not matter how they lived. My brethren God has not changed. He is immutable and perfect. He neither changes nor has any need to do so. 
The lie that has inundated and corrupted the Church causing this casual and carnal approach to being a professing Christian goes something like this, “God is love and by His grace we do not have to worry about offending His Holiness now that we are on this side of the Cross…” The concept is that God’s Love, mercy (not receiving the judgment you deserve), and grace (receiving good things you do not deserve) trump God’s Holiness, Righteousness, and, Justice. Since Christians are saved by grace then there is no need to be concerned about that… This is a lie my brethren. If it was true then why have all of the exhortations and commands all through the New Testament for Christians to live holy and pure lives?
When Joshua told the Israelites (above), “You will not be able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God.” he was not being peevish nor was he stating something that is only Old Testament for God has not changed. His point is that serving a holy and jealous God cannot be done casually or without divine assistance. What does it mean that God will not forgive the transgressions or the sins of those who fail to serve the LORD as He has commanded? This isn’t talking about an exception to God’s mercy, but is talking about the reality of apostasy. When apostasy reigns in the midst of those who are called by God’s name then the reality is that those in unbelief and rebellion within have crossed a line of no return. This is true because no one can walk in repentance and faith outside of the grace of God and when He withholds His grace then all that those who have forsaken Him have to look forward to is God turning to do them harm and to consume them.
19 Then He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because Yahweh had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20 And the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of Yahweh; come down and take it up to you.” 1 Samuel 6:19-21 (LSB)
The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant in battle. Plagues came upon them until they realized that they were dealing with the Holy God of the Israelites. They sent the Ark back to the Israelites on a cart pulled by two cows. When the men of Beth-shemesh discovered it, they rejoiced until some of them opened it to look inside.
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It’s Time to Grow Up

No one will ever reach spiritual perfection in this life, but we are called to pursue it. Don’t wait for your pastor or church elders to say it’s time to do this. God works one-on-one with each of His children. We are all unique so our paths to the way of the cross may differ somewhat, but Christ will be the center of each of those ways and they will all be in the shadow of the cross.

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man, I did away with childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 (LSB)
When the Lord circumcised my heart in August 2004, I was truly amazed at the level of spiritual discernment that came with that blessing. Leading up to this, God had drawn me ever deeper into our relationship. I had been in a deep, close, intimate walk with Him over a period of several weeks. I was fasting from anything that distracted me from my devotion to Him. I was praying, worshipping, studying my Bible, and researching doctrine, all in obedience to His drawing me to Him. Just a few days before Labor Day in 2004 I woke up one morning and knew that everything had changed. It was probably the most joyous and humbling experience I have ever had. I realized right then that I no longer cared for anything except to do His will. His glory was paramount. For someone who was had been in bondage to self-focused, flesh oriented, desperate pursuits for self-gratification for over 50 years, this was a genuinely miraculous thing.My level of spiritual discernment was beyond any previous experience I have ever had up to that time. I would be right in the middle of a conversation with my pastor and realize that he was completely blind to what I was trying to convey to him. There were a few others at our church who seemed to be on the same path as me. They did understand what I was talking about. There was no fear of the unknown in our little group. We were all terribly excited about the daily changes God was doing in our hearts. The problem was that this little group of sold-out believers was seen as radical and trouble makers at our church. The leadership just could not understand, refusing to believe the truths we were sharing with them were from God. I had one of the men there tell me that I was just excited and would eventually get over it.
There are some common denominators that I have noticed with all of the believers I have encountered who are on this narrow path. Each of us are committed to God’s glory. Each of us see man-focused religiosity as a complete waste of time. Each of us see spiritual maturity as key. Christlikeness is far more important than being part of a huge growing church. We all have a deep desire to see the Church repent, become pure and 100% focused on God as it obeys the Great Commission. Also, those whom God has awakened to this level of walking blameless before Him, have spiritual discernment that is completely outside of their own abilities. It is supernatural to be able to see the spiritual blindness in most professing believers. I can listen to someone speak on things spiritual or read what they write and know within a very short period whether that person is tenderhearted towards God and, therefore, not spiritually blind, or he or she is hardhearted towards God and, therefore, spiritually blind as a bat.
Does this mean that I can strut around showing everyone how spiritual I am. Oh, my Lord no! May it never be! Quite the opposite in fact. The closer I get to God the more I see how utterly helpless I am without Him. Any spiritual advances I have made are really His work. All I have done is obey Him and remain faithful as I abide in my Lord. Without Him I can do nothing. Humility is the marker of all who walk this narrow way of the cross.
What are the markers of those who are not walking this walk by Faith? Well, only the humble can do it consistently. That means that the prideful cannot do it at all.
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The Doctrine of the Atonement

It is very important to observe that the Bible’s teaching about the cross of Christ does not mean that God waited for someone else to pay the penalty of sin before He would forgive the sinner. So unbelievers constantly represent it, but that representation is radically wrong. No, God Himself paid the penalty of sin — God Himself in the Person of God the Son, who loved us and gave Himself for us, God Himself in the person of God the Father who so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, God the Holy Spirit who applies to us the benefits of Christ’s death. God’s the cost and ours the marvellous gain! Who shall measure the depths of the love of God which was extended to us sinners when the Lord Jesus took our place and died in our stead upon the accursed tree?

The very best weapon to use against heretical teaching and apostate leadership in the visible church is solid Biblical truth, that is, sound doctrine. Yes, we must continue to use our discernment to expose those who err and are leading so many into darkness, but the sheep still need to be fed and they still need to learn what the truth is that they many know it then when they are given what is false, they will recognize that it is of the devil and flee from it. In this post we will look at the doctrine of the Atonement as taught by J. Gresham Machen shortly before his death. 
The Doctrine of the Atonement
The priestly work of Christ, or at least that part of it in which He offered Himself up as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God, is commonly called the atonement, and the doctrine which sets it forth is commonly called the doctrine of the atonement. That doctrine is at the very heart of what is taught in the Word of God.
Before we present that doctrine, we ought to observe that the term by which it is ordinarily designated is not altogether free from objection.
When I say that the term ‘atonement’ is open to objection, I am not referring to the fact that it occurs only once in the King James Version of the New Testament, and is therefore, so far as New Testament usage is concerned, not a common Biblical term. A good many other terms which are rare in the Bible are nevertheless admirable terms when one comes to summarise Biblical teaching. As a matter of fact this term is rather common in the Old Testament (though it occurs only that once in the New Testament), but that fact would not be necessary to commend it if it were satisfactory in other ways. Even if it were not common in either Testament it still might be exactly the term for us to use to designate by one word what the Bible teaches in a number of words.
The real objection to it is of an entirely different kind. It is a twofold objection. The word atonement in the first place, is ambiguous, and in the second place, it is not broad enough.
The one place where the word occurs in the King James Version of the New Testament is Romans 5:11, where Paul says:
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Here the word is used to translate a Greek word meaning ‘reconciliation.’ This usage seems to be very close to the etymological meaning of the word, for it does seem to be true that the English word ‘atonement’ means ‘atonement.’ It is, therefore, according to its derivation, a natural word to designate the state of reconciliation between two parties formerly at variance.
In the Old Testament, on the other hand, where the word occurs in the King James Version not once, but forty or fifty times, it has a different meaning; it has the meaning of ‘propitiation.’ Thus we read in Leviticus 1:4, regarding a man who brings a bullock to be killed as a burnt offering:
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
So also the word occurs some eight times in the King James Version in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, where the provisions of the law are set forth regarding the great day of atonement. Take, for example, the following verses in that chapter:
And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house (Lev. 16:6).
Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat:
And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness (Lev. 16:15f.).
In these passages the meaning of the word is clear. God has been offended because of the sins of the people or of individuals among His people. The priest kills the animal which is brought as a sacrifice. God is thereby propitiated, and those who have offended God are forgiven.
I am not now asking whether those Old Testament sacrifices brought forgiveness in themselves, or merely as prophecies of a greater sacrifice to come; I am not now considering the significant limitations which the Old Testament law attributes to their efficacy. We shall try to deal with those matters in some subsequent talk. All that I am here interested in is the use of the word ‘atonement’ in the English Bible. All that I am saying is that that word in the Old Testament clearly conveys the notion of something that is done to satisfy God in order that the sins of men may be forgiven and their communion with God restored.
Somewhat akin to this Old Testament use of the word ‘atonement’ is the use of it in our everyday parlance where religion is not at all in view. Thus we often say that someone in his youth was guilty of a grievous fault but has fully ‘atoned’ for it or made full ‘atonement’ for it by a long and useful life. We mean by that that the person in question has — if we may use a colloquial phrase — ‘made up for’ his youthful indiscretion by his subsequent life of usefulness and rectitude. Mind you, I am not at all saying that a man can really ‘make up for’ or ‘atone for’ a youthful sin by a subsequent life of usefulness and rectitude; but I am just saying that that indicates the way in which the English word is used. In our ordinary usage the word certainly conveys the idea of something like compensation for some wrong that has been done.
It certainly conveys that notion also in those Old Testament passages. Of course that is not the only notion that it conveys in those passages. There the use of the word is very much more specific. The compensation which is indicated by the word is a compensation rendered to God, and it is a compensation that has become necessary because of an offence committed against God. Still, the notion of compensation or satisfaction is clearly in the word. God is offended because of sin; satisfaction is made to Him in some way by the sacrifice; and so His favour is restored.
Thus in the English Bible the word ‘atonement’ is used in two rather distinct senses. In its one occurrence in the New Testament it designates the particular means by which such reconciliation is effected — namely, the sacrifice which God is pleased to accept in order that man may again be received into favour.
Now of these two uses of the word it is unquestionably the Old Testament use which is followed when we speak of the ‘doctrine of the atonement.’ We mean by the word, when we thus use it in theology, not the reconciliation between God and man, not the ‘at-onement’ between God and man, but specifically the means by which that reconciliation is effected — namely, the death of Christ as something that was necessary in order that sinful man might be received into communion with God.
I do not see any great objection to the use of the word in that way — provided only that we are perfectly clear that we are using it in that way. Certainly it has acquired too firm a place in Christian theology and has gathered around it too many precious associations for us to think, now, of trying to dislodge it.
However, there is another word which would in itself have been much better, and it is really a great pity that it has not come into more general use in this connection. That is the word ‘satisfaction.’ If we only had acquired the habit of saying that Christ made full satisfaction to God for man that would have conveyed a more adequate account of Christ’s priestly work as our Redeemer than the word ‘atonement’ can convey. It designates what the word ‘atonement’ — rightly understood — designates, and it also designates something more. We shall see what that something more is in a subsequent talk.
But it is time now for us to enter definitely into our great subject. Men were estranged from God by sin; Christ as their great high priest has brought them back into communion with God. How has He done so? That is the question with which we shall be dealing in a number of the talks that now follow.
This afternoon all that I can do is to try to state the Scripture doctrine in bare summary (or begin to state it), leaving it to subsequent talks to show how that Scripture doctrine is actually taught in the Scriptures, to defend it against objections, and to distinguish it clearly from various unscriptural theories.
What then in bare outline does the Bible teach about the ‘atonement’? What does it teach — to use a better term — about the satisfaction which Christ presented to God in order that sinful man might be received into God’s favour?
I cannot possibly answer this question even in bare summary unless I call your attention to the Biblical doctrine of sin with which we dealt last winter. You cannot possibly understand what the Bible says about salvation unless you understand what the Bible says about the thing from which we are saved.
If then we ask what is the Biblical doctrine of sin, we observe, in the first place, that according to the Bible all men are sinners.
Well, then, that being so, it becomes important to ask what this sin is which has affected all mankind. Is it just an excusable imperfection; is it something that can be transcended as a man can transcend the immaturity of his youthful years? Or, supposing it to be more than imperfection, supposing it to be something like a definite stain, is it a stain that can easily be removed as writing is erased from a slate?
The Bible leaves us in no doubt as to the answer to these questions. Sin, it tells us, is disobedience to the law of God, and the law of God is entirely irrevocable.
Why is the law of God irrevocable? The Bible makes that plain. Because it is rooted in the nature of God! God is righteous and that is the reason why His law is righteous. Can He then revoke His law or allow it to be disregarded? Well, there is of course no external compulsion upon Him to prevent Him from doing these things. There is none who can say to Him, ‘What doest thou?’ In that sense He can do all things. But the point is, He cannot revoke His law and still remain God. He cannot, without Himself becoming unrighteous, make His law either forbid righteousness or condone unrighteousness. When the law of God says, ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die,’ that awful penalty of death is, indeed, imposed by God’s will; but God’s will is determined by God’s nature, and God’s nature being unchangeably holy the penalty must run its course. God would be untrue to Himself, in other words, if sin were not punished; and that God should be untrue to Himself is the most impossible thing that can possibly be conceived.
Under that majestic law of God man was placed in the estate wherein he was created. Man was placed in a probation, which theologians call the covenant of works. If he obeyed the law during a certain limited period, his probation was to be over; he would be given eternal life without any further possibility of loss. If, on the other hand, he disobeyed the law, he would have death — physical death and eternal death in hell.
Man entered into that probation with every advantage. He was created in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. He was created not merely neutral with respect to goodness; he was created positively good. Yet he fell. He failed to make his goodness an assured and eternal goodness; he failed to progress from the goodness of innocency to the confirmed goodness which would have been the reward for standing the test. He transgressed the commandment of God, and so came under the awful curse of the law.
Under that curse came all mankind. That covenant of works had been made with the first man, Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity. He had stood, in that probation, in a representative capacity; he had stood — to use a better terminology — as the federal head of the race, having been made the federal head of the race by divine appointment. If he had successfully met the test, all mankind descended from him would have been born in a state of confirmed righteousness and blessedness, without any possibility of falling into sin or of losing eternal life. But as a matter of fact Adam did not successfully meet the test. He transgressed the commandment of God, and since he was the federal head, the divinely appointed representative of the race, all mankind sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression.
Thus all mankind, descended from Adam by ordinary generation, are themselves under the dreadful penalty of the law of God. They are under that penalty at birth, before they have done anything either good or bad. Part of that penalty is the want of the righteousness with which man was created, and a dreadful corruption which is called original sin. Proceeding from that corruption when men grow to years of discretion come individual acts of transgression.
Can the penalty of sin resting upon all mankind be remitted? Plainly not, if God is to remain God. That penalty of sin was ordained in the law of God, and the law of God was no mere arbitrary and changeable arrangement but an expression of the nature of God Himself. If the penalty of sin were remitted, God would become unrighteous, and that God will not become  unrighteous is the most certain thing that can possibly be conceived.
How then can sinful men be saved? In one way only. Only if a substitute is provided who shall pay for them the just penalty of God’s law.
The Bible teaches that such a substitute has as a matter of fact been provided. The substitute is Jesus Christ. The law’s demands of penalty must be satisfied. There is no escaping that. But Jesus Christ satisfied those demands for us when He died instead of us on the cross.
I have used the word ‘satisfied’ advisedly. It is very important for us to observe that when Jesus died upon the cross He made a full satisfaction for our sins; He paid the penalty which the law pronounces upon our sin, not in part but in full.
In saying that, there are several misunderstandings which need to be guarded against in the most careful possible way. Only by distinguishing the Scripture doctrine carefully from several distortions of it can we understand clearly what the Scripture doctrine is. I want to point out, therefore, several things that we do not mean when we say that Christ paid the penalty of our sin by dying instead of us on the cross.
In the first place, we do not mean that when Christ took our place He became Himself a sinner. Of course He did not become a sinner. Never was His glorious righteousness and goodness more wonderfully seen than when He bore the curse of God’s law upon the cross. He was not deserving of that curse. Far from it! He was deserving of all praise.
What we mean, therefore, when we say that Christ bore our guilt is not that He became guilty, but that He paid the penalty that we so richly deserved.
In the second place, we do not mean that Christ’s sufferings were the same as the sufferings that we should have endured if we had paid the penalty of our own sins. Obviously they were not the same. Part of the sufferings that we should have endured would have been the dreadful suffering of remorse. Christ did not endure that suffering, for He had done no wrong. Moreover, our sufferings would have endured to all eternity, whereas Christ’s sufferings on the cross endured but a few hours. Plainly then His sufferings were not the same as ours would have been.
In the third place, however, an opposite error must also be warded off. If Christ’s sufferings were not the same as ours, it is also quite untrue to say that He paid only a part of the penalty that was due to us because of our sin. Some theologians have fallen into that error. When man incurred the penalty of the law, they have said, God was pleased to take some other and lesser thing — namely, the sufferings of Christ on the cross — instead of exacting the full penalty. Thus, according to these theologians, the demands of the law were not really satisfied by the death of Christ, but God was simply pleased, in arbitrary fashion, to accept something less than full satisfaction.
That is a very serious error indeed. Instead of falling into it we shall, if we are true to the Scriptures, insist that Christ on the cross paid the full and just penalty for our sin.
The error arose because of a confusion between the payment of a debt and the payment of a penalty. In the case of a debt it does not make any difference who pays; all that is essential is that the creditor shall receive what is owed him. What is essential is that just the same thing shall be paid as that which stood in the bond.
But in the case of the payment of a penalty it does make a difference who pays. The law demanded that we should suffer eternal death because of our sin. Christ paid the penalty of the law in our stead. But for Him to suffer was not the same as for us to suffer. He is God, and not merely man. Therefore if He had suffered to all eternity as we should have suffered, that would not have been to pay the just penalty of the sin, but it would have been an unjust exaction of vastly more. In other words, we must get rid of merely quantitative notions in thinking of the sufferings of Christ. What He suffered on the cross was what the law of God truly demanded not of any person but of such a person as Himself when He became our substitute in paying the penalty of sin. He did therefore make full and not merely partial satisfaction for the claims of the law against us.
Finally, it is very important to observe that the Bible’s teaching about the cross of Christ does not mean that God waited for someone else to pay the penalty of sin before He would forgive the sinner. So unbelievers constantly represent it, but that representation is radically wrong. No, God Himself paid the penalty of sin — God Himself in the Person of God the Son, who loved us and gave Himself for us, God Himself in the person of God the Father who so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, God the Holy Spirit who applies to us the benefits of Christ’s death. God’s the cost and ours the marvellous gain! Who shall measure the depths of the love of God which was extended to us sinners when the Lord Jesus took our place and died in our stead upon the accursed tree?
The Active Obedience of Christ
LAST Sunday afternoon, in outlining the Biblical teaching about the work of Christ in satisfying for us the claims of God’s law, I said nothing about one very important part of that work. I pointed out that Christ by His death in our stead on the cross paid the just penalty of our sin, but I said nothing of another thing that He did for us. I said nothing about what Christ did for us by His active obedience to God’s law. It is very important that we should fill out that part of the outline before we go one step further.
Suppose Christ had done for us merely what we said last Sunday afternoon that He did. Suppose He had merely paid the just penalty of the law that was resting upon us for our sin, and had done nothing more than that; where would we then be? Well, I think we can say — if indeed it is legitimate to separate one part of the work of Christ even in thought from the rest — that if Christ had merely paid the penalty of sin for us and had done nothing more we should be at best back in the situation in which Adam found himself when God placed him under the covenant of works.
That covenant of works was a probation. If Adam kept the law of God for a certain period, he was to have eternal life. If he disobeyed he was to have death. Well, he disobeyed, and the penalty of death was inflicted upon him and his posterity. Then Christ by His death on the cross paid that penalty for those whom God had chosen.
Well and good. But if that were all that Christ did for us, do you not see that we should be back in just the situation in which Adam was before he sinned? The penalty of his sinning would have been removed from us because it had all been paid by Christ. But for the future the attainment of eternal life would have been dependent upon our perfect obedience to the law of God. We should simply have been back in the probation again.
Moreover, we should have been back in that probation in a very much less hopeful way than that in which Adam was originally placed in it. Everything was in Adam’s favour when he was placed in the probation. He had been created in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. He had been created positively good.
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Judge Not Part 4 – The Necessity of Contentment

The contented heart is a humble heart. How is it constantly content? The attitudes that both build and are the attributes of a contented heart are developed in our godly character as we cooperate with God in our sanctification. It is by His grace that we can learn to be content in both low and high situations. Notice also that the contented heart is also humble. Paul’s concern is for those who were seeking to help him. He wanted them to be edified and for God to be glorified in them. 

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived thinking about me; indeed, you were thinking about me before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in abundance; in any and all things I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 (LSB)
As I write this it is Labor Day, 2022. I turned 70 years old in October 2021 and officially retired December 24, 2021. Man has everything changed from a year ago. A year ago this week I was working on my book Complete in Christ which is a commentary of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. My good friend Stuart helped publish it on Amazon and it is available there. However, since I retired things have changed in our lives drastically. My son, who is a physician, had my wife and I up to visit him over the Thanksgiving holiday in November. He had been concerned for quite some time that I had had a stroke that inhibited my ability to speak clearly when under pressure. I suspected something was wrong because this happened to me at the worst possible times such as when teaching a Bile Study. In any case, Thanksgiving Day, one of his physician friends sat next to me at his dining room table while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking and she kept asking me some very strange diagnostic questions. Later, my son told me she was just seeing what my response was to “pressure.” He told me that he still suspected that I had had a small stroke at some time. Well, in March of this year I was sitting here at my desk doing research and suddenly felt my brain go numb. How do you describe something like that? I just sat in my chair and waited for normalcy to come back. Eventually, I felt better, but when I tried to stand up it was like my arms and legs were rubber bands. Eventually, I made it to bed. The next day my wife and I worked on our flower bed retaining wall. I drove over to Home Depot with her to get the blocks and sand. I missed several turns both going there and coming home. The next day, I collapsed in the hallway, running into the wall. My wife and daughter called 911 and I ended up in the hospital. They said I had had a stroke.
Since then I have been in therapy. I have to work on brain skills like word searches, problem solving, etc. I am wearing an implanted heart monitor and now sleep with a C-PAP machine. Yes things have changed, but I am now driving again and some of my therapists want to discharge me. God is taking me through a different route in my prayer life and much of what He is teaching me revolves around remaining humble and content.
Contentment is a word that most of us see as short-lived “happiness” or “satisfaction” feelings because of favorable circumstances. If we get a new car, pickup, or computer then we are excited and proud. We want everyone to see us with our new possession. Of course, this type of behavior is clearly pride-based. These feelings of satisfaction from possessing something or someone are exactly what our wicked pride controlled hearts are after. If we deny our fleshly desires to focus on God and our relationship with Him our “OLD MAN” sin nature does not like it one bit. It never wants our hearts to move away from fleshly pursuits. However, walking in the spirit, walking by faith, running the race God has set before us, and abiding in Christ all require this. The Spirit-led believer walks through each day practicing the presence of God rather than seeking self-gratification from fleshly focus. The Spirit-led believer who has matured into the late Adult Christian stage of development or into the Mature Christian stage has learned that attempts at fulfillment from any source other than God is complete waste of time. Nothing temporal fulfills. However, when God blesses believers with “stuff,” but they focus on the blessor rather than the blessing, God will give them a wonderful sense of contentment. Look at the passage I placed at the beginning of this chapter. It is an excerpt from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. It is a wonderful book on remaining joyful, content, and Christlike no matter what our circumstances are like.
Paul wrote Philippians when he was in his first imprisonment in Rome. During his first imprisonment, Paul was not in a dungeon. He was in chains, but lived with his guards in rented quarters. (Acts 28) Paul planted the church at Philippi during his second missionary journey. It was the first European church. During that period, Paul and Silas were imprisoned in the local jail for casting a demon out of a slave girl who was used by her owners for profit through her fortune telling. (Acts 16) Let’s dig into this wonderful book. Perhaps we will learn Paul’s secret of contentment.
The first passage we will look at is Philippians 1:12-30. Here is the entire passage. Read it through.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my chains in Christ have become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord because of my chains, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me affliction in my chains. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that THIS WILL TURN OUT FOR MY SALVATION through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know what I will choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better, 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 And convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your reason for boasting may abound in Christ Jesus in me, through my coming to you again.27 Only live your lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about your circumstances, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind contending together for the faith of the gospel, 28……. Philippians 1:12-30 (LSB)
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Judge Not Part 9 – Doing All for the Glory of God

The believers who abide in Christ are also walking the Walk by Faith. They are running the race set before them. They are genuine disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are taking on His character. Along with the spiritual growth, these processes also draw the believer into a deep desire to know God intimately. How does a believer do this? The Bible is our source of knowledge about God and Man. The believers who draw close to God experience God drawing close to them. (James 4:8) He will put into them the hunger to study and learn the truth about Him and His ways that He desires to teach them. 

31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (LSB)
Some have said that God’s demand that He be glorified above all things (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:4; John 8:29; Romans 8:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:9) while commanding that His people remain humble, puts Him in a bad light. The scriptures tell us that God created humankind for His glory. Doesn’t this make God selfish, vain, and overly proud? That viewpoint comes from a distorted view of God and Man. That viewpoint is at the core of Humanism.
Each of our sinful natures is still very much alive. If we do not live self-denying lifestyles, the sin that lives within us will consume us. It will push for self-gratification above all things. It sees genuine humility as a losing proposition. Since our Souls are especially vulnerable to the appeal of self above all, we must learn to live Spirit-led lives. The Spirit-led walk puts our Souls on the cross and Jesus on the throne of our hearts.
The call to do all for the glory of God is not God selfishly demanding His due for His sake alone. Instead, God knows that His people maximize their fulfillment, joy, and peace when they are most satisfied in Him.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:7-11 (LSB)
Abiding in Jesus Christ carries with it a remarkable guarantee for the believer. Those who abide in the savior are fruitful in the Kingdom. The abiding believer will also bring glory to God by doing so. God’s joy brings believers fulfillment and it is their strength to abide and be obedient to the Lord. Who is excluded from abiding in Jesus Christ? No one can abide in Christ while being dominated by self-focus. Abiding requires our hearts to become directed to the Lord for fulfillment rather than what our fleshly sin nature wants. We maximize our fulfillment when we seek God’s glory in everything we do. Our fulfillment diminishes when we seek our own glory in anything.
One of my favorite books is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. There is a place in this book called the Valley of Humiliation. This place allegorically represents the time in each believer’s walk with God when he or she departs from all self-focus while fellowshipping and communing with God in a warm, deep, personal way. Bunyan represented the Pilgrim’s time in the Valley of Humiliation as the time of deep spiritual growth and satisfaction in the Lord. On the outside looking in, however, the world would see a Christian who is a walking paradox. He or she would be suffering in a way that would consume a non-believer, but the suffering saint is joyful and full of inner strength that makes little sense to them.
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Judge Not Part 8—The Invaluable Treasure of a Clear Conscience

The maturing believer’s conscience is in the process of cleansing and purification. Judging other hypocritically is a sin. Gossips and slanderers are guilty of that sin. Believers are called to be cleansed of that sin. 

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.I am grateful to God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I unceasingly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, having remembered your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, 5 being reminded of the unhypocritical faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am convinced that it is in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:1-7 (LSB) 
People are such illogical creatures. The fallen nature we all inherited from Adam reveals itself at the most maddening of times. Our Christian scholars, ministers, and theologians are not immune. It seems that our lack of humility is Satan’s most valuable tool in defeating us. I have a Blog as part of my writing ministry. I also participate in theological discussions on other Blogs. Some of those discussions can become chaotic situations at times. There are times when the ones contending in these “discussions” become so adamant about their polarized positions that the situation becomes ripe for frustration, anger, and bitterness.
The conscience is part of each of our Spirits. This part of our spirituality condemns us when we violate the “standards” it holds high. It also commends us when we do well as far as those “standards” are concerned. The condemnation it sends into the Soul makes us feel guilty and unfulfilled. The commendations it sends into the Soul leads makes us feel fulfilled. God designed it to condemn us when we are not experiencing His glory. This makes Man religious. Those outside of Christ have no way to contact God’s glory because the Spirit that the conscience is part of is deadened to God. The regenerated believer’s Spirit is not deadened to God. In fact, the Holy Spirit resides there. The believer has the ability to experience God’s glory directly via his or her Spirit; however, only maturing believers have learned to do this consistently. This is covered in detail in my first book, Walking the Walk by Faith.
The conscience’s role in our spiritual walk is huge. The immature Christian’s heart is relatively hard when compared to that of the maturing Christian. When I speak or write about our “hearts,” I am not speaking of the physical muscle in our chests that pumps blood to keep us alive. Instead, I am referring to our spiritual hearts. The “heart” is made up of the Soul and the conscience. When the Bible refers to “hearts of stone” or “hard hearts” it is speaking of a condition where a person has not heeded their conscience as they should resulting in a callous layer of hardness (Romans 2:5) or greasy fat (Psalm 119:70) separating God’s value system, which resides in the conscience, from the Soul.
A hard heart is one that has become defiled and possibly impure. That means, the person with a hard heart is not heeding his or her conscience. In extreme cases, this blatant denying of the conscience will actually sear it. Serial killers are said to have done this.
The Christians who have hard hearts are in trouble. They may be unaware of the danger they are in as well. However, their hard hearts blind them and deafen then from hearing their consciences condemn and blame them about their sinful behavior. With each act of disobedience, their hearts become more and more callous towards God. However, when the believer responds to God’s calling to repent and turn his or her heart back to Him a miracle takes place. God will cut away the callousness from the repentant heart. He will circumcise the repentant heart making His ways, His values, His Law, and the reality of His grace apparent to that believer’s Soul. This enables the Walk by Faith.
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Be on Guard and Watch Yourself

God did not design our hearts with the ability to bear the burdens that our flesh demands. The more a person places these burdens on their hearts by becoming consumed by trying to be fulfilled through fleshly behavior are actually falling into a trap. All unbelievers are in this trap already. Christians are delivered from this trap at salvation, but can fall into again by not crucifying their flesh and becoming consumed by their flesh.

11 And do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:11-14 (LSB)
Genuine Christians are marked in this life by a spiritual journey that God uses to sanctify them. Sanctification is the process whereby God removes Christians from the pollution of the world and conforms them unto His holiness. I have had some emergents and neo-evangelicals attempt to deny this as true for all Christians. They claim that only God is Holy and there is no call by God for His people to repent and mortify their sins. Regardless of what these people say, the Word of God does contradict what they say.
While the Apostle Paul wrote the passage at the top of post, our Lord Jesus Christ spoke the passage below.
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Christians and Honesty

Our Lord is forbidding here the flippant, profane, or careless use of oaths in everyday speech in that culture, such oaths were often employed for deceptive purposes. Those doing that would swear by “heaven,” “earth,” “Jerusalem,” or their own “heads” (vv. 34-36), not by God. In this they hoped to avoid divine judgment for their lie, however, all of it is in God’s creation, so it drew him in, and produced guilt before him just as if the oath were made in his name. Jesus suggested that all our speech should be as if we were under an oath to tell the truth (v37).

12 You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:12 (NASB)
2 If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Numbers 30:2 (NASB)
21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22 However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised. Deuteronomy 23:21-23 (NASB)
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘ YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. Matthew 5:33-37 (NASB)
For a short period of time in late 1980’s I worked in a PC/Computer store in sales. I am not a sales person, but most if not all of the other fellows I worked with were. Instead, I simply told people what the computers could do or what they could not do and tried to match them up with what the people needed. I was usually in the top two or three in sales, never number one there, but I was always number one in customer satisfaction. In fact, the only time I ever saw those customers again was if something broke or they wanted an upgrade or they brought a friend or relative in to buy a computer. However, something changed when I sold a truckload of computers to a local school. Then I did it again.
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The Compromised Church – Ungodly Discernment

We must walk in repentance always seeking the Lord’s will. This obedient walk is one of spiritual growth. Instead of works righteousness we must obey the Lord in our good works all for His glory. We will do good works, but as a product of Christ’s Righteousness in us not earning salvation by those works. Also, when we are blessed by godly pastors, elders and deacons who refuse to compromise with the World or become part of the Compromised Church, we should thank the Lord for them, pray for them, help and support them as God leads.

1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:1-6 (NASB)
One of the most tragic aspects of the Compromised Church, which is a product of its emphasis on numbers, baptisms. relavance, and worldliness is its complete lack of correct theology pertaining to salvation and assurance. Those who are believing they became part of the Kingdom of God in these churches are, for the most part, responding to a doctrine of salvation based upon some form of works righteousness which is the belief that one’s standing before God is founded and maintained by works of merit. These works begin with walking an aisle at an invitation then praying a sinner’s prayer followed by baptism. Assurance of salvation is then always looking back at that moment as when the believer chose to be “saved” by obeying the call at the invitation.
The need to repent is never mentioned in this type of “evangelical” church. It is never mentioned because no mention of why it is necessary is ever mentioned either. These preachers never mention God’s Holiness, Righteousness or Justice. His wrath against all sin is not mentioned either. Instead God is presented as a loving god who wants all people to simply seek Him and do some religious work so they can become part of His Kingdom. When people do respond to this “evangelical” invitation they are never counseled about their sin and their need to repent, deny self and take up their cross as they follow Jesus. Instead, they simply assent to whatever doctrinal statements the church wants them to agree to and that’s that. There is never a call to biblical discipleship.
Since this type of “salvation” permeates the Compromised Church their numbers are dominated by simply religious people who are, for the most part, unregenerate. They base their assurance of salvation on their religious work at that moment when they assented. They may have even prayed a “sinners prayer” before they were presented to the church for membership and baptism. However, there has been no regeneration by God because the genuine Gospel is not preached in these churches.
These works righteousness Christians, being unregenerate, are basing their salvation on their own work at the moment of their spurious conversion. When they doubt, and they will, they are told to look back to that day when they knelt and prayed that sinner’s prayer and were baptized. However, if they are ever presented with Bible passages such as the one I placed at the top of this post (1 John 2:1-6) they struggle because they have no real spiritual power to keep God’s commandments. They don’t grow in grace because they are unregenerate. They are religious, that’s all.
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