Are Christians Saved by Making Decisions for Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:11-17 (NASB) 

Look at the passage at the top of this post (Romans 10:11-17). I remember memorizing v13 several years ago when I was in Evangelism Explosion training. We pulled that verse out of Romans 10 and used in part of our gospel presentations. Does this passage show us the human side of the order of salvation? Start in v15. Preachers of the Gospel must be sent. Then from v14 we see that the preachers are to preach the Gospel. Then people hear the Gospel. As they hear the Gospel they believe. Then they call on the name of the Lord and are saved. It is very important that we see that belief comes before a person calls on the name of the Lord. Now let’s compare this with another passage. Continue reading

If The Foundations Are Destroyed What Can the Righteous Do?


by Mike Ratliff

14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, Ephesians 6:14 (NASB) 

Temporal focus is deadly for Christians. We know that God’s will for us is our sanctification, (1 Thessalonians 4:3) but we tend to let our focus drop from God to self. Our flesh is insidious in its desire to drive us to partake of the world and its ways for self-gratification. Our enemy knows this; therefore his temptations are often rooted there. No one is immune or exempt from this. In fact, God uses this battle to test His saints. Continue reading

The Good Shepherd


by Mike Ratliff

11 Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός. ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων· John 10:11 (NA28)

11 I am the Good Shepherd. The good one lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In our post from February 28th, The Son of Man is the Good Shepherd, we looked closely at John 9 and the Lord’s healing of the man born blind. This caused a large confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders who could not refute the healing, but refused to believe that Jesus was from God because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Jesus absolutely refused to conform to their religious expectations in any way. There was not one iota of compromise in His method of ministry in order to be as “inclusive” as possible. No, after the fact, after these men had cast the man whom Jesus had healed out of the Synagogue, Jesus found and as we see in John 9:35-41,  this man believed and worshiped our Lord, but those who refused to believe, our Lord confronted further saying that they had no excuse for their unbelief since they claimed to believe the Law and the Prophets, which our Lord was fulfilling with His life and ministry. Then in John 10:1-6 He makes it very clear that all leaders like them are false shepherds of the people. He makes it clear that the true sheep hear the voice of the true shepherd and follow Him, referring to Himself. Now we come to John 10:7-21.  Continue reading

The Right Attitudes Concerning Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14 (NASB) 

Prayer is a mystery my brethren. Anyone who claims to be a master of it is someone who has been deceived or is a deceiver. We do not know exactly how prayer works, but we do know that God uses it. Does some outcome depend upon you or I praying for it? No, it depends upon the sovereignty of God. However, God still uses prayer. Our role in this is to obey Him and pray knowing full well that God is sovereign and that He will be glorified in and through the circumstance and love for His children. On the other hand, there are so many in our time who twist wonderful passages like Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” bending its meaning to say, “I can do anything I want because Christ gives me the strength.” However, context of that passage is about contentment through the fires of tribulation as Paul was given the strength to do what God commanded of him. Others turn to this and other passages like it to prove their “self-image” teaching and their “Christian success-motivation” philosophies. These are polar opposite from the true meaning of these passages. They are nothing but examples of humanistic arrogance with a Christian label pasted on it. Our trust and confidence must never lie in “self,” but only in Christ. Continue reading

The Mind of the New Man Rooted in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) 

All forms of Liberal (so-called) Christianity are another religion, not True Christianity. Why? They are rooted in worldly, humanistic, and non-Christian presuppositions.  On the other hand, the Word of God clearly directs believers to avoid these philosophies and/or ideologies, instead, their presuppositions must be the precepts and doctrines of Christ, not the futile traditions of men (Col. 2:3, 4, 22; 3:1-2). Based upon this clear division, believers are precluded from any form of neutrality or even seeking after it. Why? As we have seen in earlier posts, neutrality is in actuality veiled agnosticism or unbelief—a failure to walk in Christ, an obscuring of Christian commitment and distinctive, and a suppression of truth (cf. Rom. 1:21, 25).  Continue reading

Hope of Relief in God’s Mercy


by Mike Ratliff

I had a commenter here on Possessing the Treasure several years ago who tried to discourage me and all of my readers with his aggressive attacks on the character of God along with his disparaging remarks about Christians in general. He called us all a bunch of deceived hypocrites who believed a lie and thought we were better than everyone else. Then he said that if God did exist he would find him then the first thing he would do would be to kick him in the crotch. Yes, he said that. I told him that I would reply to his comment, but then I would not let him comment further. I told him that he had genuine Christians all wrong. Yes, there were plenty of professing Christians who were probably like that, but real Christians were humble, knowing they had received mercy they did not deserve by grace from God who is perfect, sovereign, and good. I told him also, that God probably took his threat as a joke, thinking it was pretty funny since He is omnipotent. However, this is not the point of this post. Do we really take our absolute unworthiness before God seriously? None of us deserve this wonderful salvation we have been given. We all deserve God’s wrath that is prepared for all those who love their sin and refuse to obey Him. However, because we have believed the Gospel and received our Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by the faith given to us as His gift (through grace), we are seen by the Father just as holy and righteous as the Son. This is mind-boggling! However, it is vital that as believers we continue to preach this Gospel to ourselves until we reach home. It is also vital that we continue to understand that in this life, we are still wretched sinners, but are saved by grace. Continue reading

A Dead Church


by Mike Ratliff

1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1 (NASB) 

As part of my research for this piece, I did some Google searches on the Internet using the word phrase, “A Dead Church.” It was very interesting reading what “some” people considered the markers of a “dead church.” One fellow was adamant that the two markers which revealed that a church was dead was that its leaders used a Bible other than the King James Version and/or its denomination practiced infant baptism. Other markers I saw were things like the sort of music was used in worship or if there was an over abundance of ceremony or ritual in the order of worship. Are these the markers of a “dead church?” Continue reading

Everyone Did What was Right in His Own Eyes


by Mike Ratliff

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 (NASB)

We live in an evil time. There are large numbers of “Christian” leaders who claim to be ministers of God, but prove by their words and actions to have thrown off the authority of God. They do what is right in their own eyes while claiming that they are only following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The fact that what they say or do is unbiblical seems to trouble very few. When some point out the truth to them, they claim that God has lead them to do what they do by giving them their vision so it must be okay and those who protest are just legalistic. Continue reading

Do Not Be Anxious


by Mike Ratliff

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25 (NASB)

As many of you know I turned 70 earlier this week. I am planning on retiring from my DBA job in December. We are working with various financial consultants, lawyers, the V.A., Social Security, etc. to prepare for that time when I won’t be getting a paycheck every couple of weeks. Then, I opened my email this morning and there was one of those scary emails from a company that is selling a specialized investment thing that they say works within an I.R.S. loophole, whatever that is. But the trick they use to get your attention is a quote and testimonial from a financial expert who is predicting that the Dollar will collapse at the end of October this year. Of course, with the stage I am in right now this opened me up to that dreaded “spirit of fear” that I have written about on this blog. What would we do if the dollar became worthless? What about our food, our livelihood, et cetera? Then I remembered how I responded to those professing Christians who were giving in to the spirit of fear when the COVID-19 stuff started as they actually contributed to the spreading that fear instead of being Christlike and not fearful as we are told to do in Scripture. Is this any different? Continue reading

The Anger of Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” John 2:12-16 (NASB) 

Some today have made a caricature of our Lord Jesus Christ. This man-made image is far from the truth we see in Sacred Scripture. There have been some who have even portrayed the Bible as revealing two separate “Gods,” the mean, angry God of the Old Testament, and the kind, gentle Jesus of the New Testament. The former is an image contrived by those who resent God’s commands for holiness and righteousness while the latter is vastly incomplete and derived by those who are either ignorant of what the New Testament teaches about our Lord or they are deliberately ignoring what it says. Continue reading

The Counterfeit Church


by Mike Ratliff

4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Revelation 18:4-5 (NASB) 

The world system, for the most part, is extremely tolerant of religion as long as it is not evangelical Christianity. However, it has no problem with that version of Christianity that is politically correct. Many countries in this world have imposed anti-hatred and anti-conversion laws specifically directed against Christianity. Liberalism, ideology, or cultural religions protecting their turf dominate those governments. Even in the United States, a preacher can get in a great deal of hot water with the FBI if someone in his audience becomes offended by the preaching of the truth from scripture about sin and depravity. It appears the deck is stacked against evangelical Christianity. Continue reading

A Circumcision Made Without Hands


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. Colossians 2:8-12 (NASB) 

I have been working on a manuscript for a book that is an exegetical study of Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. Stuart and I are in the editing phase now. I still have to exegete Chapter 4 and work on the Introduction some, but it is coming together. The passage above takes place in a critical point in Paul’s Epistle. He has been working through a section that I titled The Preeminence of Christ and now just before he addresses the theological issues going on there he gives them more depth of the reality of who they are in Christ and just one verse earlier he warns them not to let anyone take them 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 (v8). There is a great deal of false teaching in our time that claims that people can be saved without repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ. However, both repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ comes through regeneration and, therefore, are not “works,” but those who say the opposite are guilty of the very deceit Paul is talking about in v8. Continue reading

Are You Being Filled With the Spirit or Something Else?


by Mike Ratliff

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:15-21 (NASB) 

In Ephesians 5:18 Paul commands, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,“ At first glance that may read or sound like Paul is saying, “instead of getting drunk, do these religious things,” which he lists in vv19-21. However, as we know, the proper way to interpret Sacred Scripture is by keeping what we are studying in context foremost. Here, the context tells us that the Apostle Paul is making a contrast that the Ephesians would have understood perfectly. Let’s go deeper. Continue reading

The Armor of God


by S.M. Baugh

Paul’s exhortation to take up the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10–18 is a favorite passage for many Christians. It is stirring and vivid. It reads like an inspiring call to battle. It inflames the Christian’s heart with language that radiates strength and courage for the warfare we face “in the evil day” (v. 13). Its position at the end of Ephesians makes this passage a reprise of Paul’s earlier teachings in the epistle and a final exhortation before he passes on to a very brief ending to the letter. The exhortation is quite simple: “Stand firm” and “pray.” But this beloved passage has a few striking features that come out with a closer reading, which we will briefly survey here. Continue reading