A Very Grave Person


by Mike Ratliff

I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:14-17 ESV)

We often lament the vast number of church leaders, pastors, Christian writers, et cetera who have compromised their ministries with the ways and means of the world from various motivations. Instead of doing all for the glory of God, these have some other focus most often fixed upon selfish ambition in one form or another. What about the genuine, God-called Shepherd of the Sheep who obediently takes care of those entrusted to him by our Lord? What is his modus operandi? Continue reading

Destructive Doctrines


by Mike Ratliff

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)

False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology ‘ gives them a green light. Continue reading

What Defiles a Person?


by Mike Ratliff

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” (Mark 7:15 ESV)

One very interesting character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is a fellow named ‘Ignorance.’ ‘Christian’ and ‘Hopeful’ encounter him after they depart the company of the ‘Shepherds’ as they continue their journey to the Celestial City.  The path on which they traveled became crooked and it lay next to a country called ‘Conceit.’ ‘Ignorance’ came from there. Bunyan described him as ‘a very brisk lad.’ After ‘Christian’ learned  that ‘Ignorance’ claimed to be on the same journey as he and ‘Hopeful’ he also deduced that this fellow had not begun it at the Narrow Gate nor had he encountered Christ Crucified. Continue reading

Out of Pocket


To all:

My brother-in-law had an accident at home which resulted in a shattered elbow and upper bone in his left arm as well as a some damage to his hip and spine. My wife and I will be traveling to their city to be with him and his family. I will not be able to post or do much with Possessing the Treasure until we return. Please be in prayer for my brother-in-law (Rick) and his family (Tara and Tristan) as well as our safe trip there and back.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

The Ministry of Reconciliation


by Mike Ratliff

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:22-25 ESV)

Not long ago I had an offline “discussion” with a fellow who was Hindu. He did not grow up as a Hindu, but in a Christian family. However, he forsook his parents’ faith because he believed that those professing Christians all around him were nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. Since I didn’t know the people he was referring to I did not interject anything into the “discussion” about that, but instead, I kept pointing Him to the finished work of Christ on the cross and I explained how Christians are not Christians because they choose to be, but because God the Father gave them to the Son who reconciled them to the Father through His death on that cross. God regenerated them so that they would believe and repent and be justified by faith. He would not “hear” it though. He insisted that Free Will is the center of all genuine religions and it is through the exercise of that Free Will to obey one’s religious “deity” that causes what we refer to as “salvation” or “justification.” Continue reading

Perseverance of the Saints


by Mike Ratliff

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40 ESV)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29 ESV)

The Doctrines of Grace are all tremendous blessings to the believer since they teach us that our salvation is God’s Work from beginning to end, top to bottom, and side to side. However, each of us from time to time, since we are only vessels of clay and a vapor that is here one day and then gone the next, will experience  a loss of joy born from life’s disappointments. We suffer this way because our focus is not perfectly fixed on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as the source of our fulfillment. God, in His omniscient wisdom, prunes us as He takes things out of our lives that our hearts cherished. It is as we struggle through these times that it is a good thing to review who we are in Christ and what He has done, and what He is doing for us. One such precious promise is the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. Continue reading

Loving the Esteem of Men Over the Esteem of God


by Mike Ratliff

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:39-44 ESV)

The sin of unbelief is amazing to behold. Those in its clutches deliberately refuse to believe the truth preferring instead to pursue untruths that are popular with men. What motivates so-called Christian leaders to do this? They do this because they love the esteem or praise of men more than the esteem or praise of God. This is no different than believers remaining silent because they fear that taking a stand as a Christian would lower their esteem in the eyes of their peers. However, when these preachers or pastors or writers who profess to be Christians teach or preach a form of the gospel that has all of the offense of sin, hell, and the sacrifice on the cross of our beloved Saviour removed or glossed over then they are just a guilty as those Jewish leaders who were secret followers of Christ out of fear of being excommunicated. Continue reading

New and Old Treasure


by Mike Ratliff

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46 ESV)

The correct way to understand Sacred Scripture is that the Old Testament contains the “old” promises of the Messiah and the fulfillment of His Kingdom while the New Testament is the “new” revelation from Jesus and His Apostles, which reveal to us how the “old” promises are fulfilled in Him. The New Testament explains the Old Testament, not the other way around. Continue reading

Do Not Grow Weary


by Mike Ratliff

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV)

A huge part of the Lord’s discipline is designed to eradicate within His people a love for this world. How can it be pleasing to God for His people to love the system that despised His Son and killed Him? Yes believers must live the lives God has given them here amidst people who are not His. God uses this to discipline and reprove His people. Unlike the message of many false teachers in our day, sickness, conflict, and trouble are not outward signs of God’s displeasure with a believer, but are, in fact, His work of sanctifying those in whom He delights. Continue reading

Salt of the Earth and Light of the World


by Mike Ratliff

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:21-23 ESV)

In Ephesians 5:18 Christians are commanded to continually be filled with the Holy Spirit instead of being filled with the desires of the flesh. This filling by the Holy Spirit is best understood in two ways. The first is the Christian being driven into God’s will by the Holy Spirit filling his or her spiritual sails. The believer must raise these sails and that happens as he or she pursues holiness and obedience by God’s grace. The other way to understand this is the Holy Spirit seasoning the Christian as salt permeates meat in order to preserve it and make it savory. This permeation is part of the believer’s persevering, however, it also flavors him or her to have the same savor as Christ. In turn, the believer who is so filled with the Holy Spirit is also the salt of the earth. Continue reading

Have You Lost the Love You Had at First?


by Mike Ratliff

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 2:1-3 ESV)

Christian, think back to those early days of your walk with the Lord. Your entire value system seemed to be turned upside-down. You loved God and your devotion to your Saviour was the most important thing in your life. Old sins had no power over you. You were full of joy and wanted only to serve the Lord Jesus with your all. At the same time, you also discovered that your relationships changed. You could love others with a deeper and more sincere love that was active and compassionate. Would this describe your relationship with the Lord Jesus and all those around you today? Continue reading

Sin Not Mortified Leads to a Darkened Soul


by Mike Ratliff

O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; (Psalms 88:1-8 ESV)

Despite what many so-called Christian leaders are teaching in our day about the necessity of repentance in the life of the believer, the Word of God teaches us something entirely different. In it, we learn that the life, vigor, and comfort of our spiritual life depends much on our actively and deliberately mortifying the sin that clings so closely. This teaching has unfortunately been neglected much over the last several decades to the point that some scoff at its necessity in the Christian walk. However, if we go back and read the Puritans and others that came before we find that personal holiness has not always been neglected in the Church as it has been in our day. Continue reading