Fear not!


by Mike Ratliff

4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7 (NASB) 

We are told not to fear earthly things or other people no matter how evil or violent they are. However, we are told to fear God. Much of the fear Christians have, however, is not based in their fear of God, but in the fear of their own failures being exposed or their own spiritual deficiencies being exploited by the devil’s seed. Of course some of that fear comes from the spirit of fear that dominates some Christians. When we are obedient in telling the truth in the face of those who hate the truth and love the darkness, our enemy attacks us with things like fear. God creates these points of contention and everyone who reads what we write or hears what we preach or teach are brought to that point. How they respond to these truths is of eternal consequence. Many respond in anger and unbelief. Many respond in repentance and faith by obeying the truth. How should we respond when the fear grows and we see that our obedience will certainly bring conflict? Continue reading

Personal holiness


by Mike Ratliff

14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (NASB) 

Are we to accept the profession of faith from everyone who claims to be a Christian? This is a hot button issue in our time. I know of several people who once fellowshipped here at Possessing The Treasure who no longer do because they are convinced that it is wrong to rebuke and contend with those who profess faith in Christ, but whose fruit shows otherwise. What about this fruit? Is it an indication of the veracity of one’s faith? According to Hebrews 12:14 we see that only those who possess holiness will see the Lord. This is a way of saying that those who will see the Lord, those who are truly saved, will possess some degree of personal holiness. Continue reading

Those who truly have fellowship with Christ


by Mike Ratliff

14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (NASB) 

Contrary to what most believe about Christianity, what one’s own framework is of their conception of salvation and having fellowship with Jesus Christ is irrelevant. Unless this ‘understanding’ is totally submitted to the Word of God and the authority of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit then it will be according to the counsel of the individual’s own conscience. This counsel is according to the value system of the individual not according to what God has revealed. It creates its own image of God and holds that image accountable to the individual’s value system. Continue reading

Created


by Mike Ratliff

10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. Ephesians 2:10 (NA28)

10 For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for Good works, which God prepared previously that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

For those who believe they are in Christ because of their own efforts or their own actions or their own worth, I’m sorry. That concept does not stand up to what the Word of God tells us.  In the passage above we are told two things. The first is that we are His masterpiece (ποίημα).  That means that as new creations in Christ it was God’s work entirely.  In this post we will look at the second word that speaks about this in this passage, κτισθέντες, which, literally could be translated as, “having been created.” My brethren, if you are truly in Christ you have been created in Him. Continue reading

Abide in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

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. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. John 15:4-6 (NASB) 

As I sat down to put this post together I became convinced that I should write about the number one marker that reveals the authenticity of Christians. That is that genuine believers in our Lord Jesus Christ abide in Him and do not fall away. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. The word “abide” is translated from the Greek word μενη. It and its forms such as μεινατε and μενητε are used in the Bible to refer to the subject of the sentence remaining or staying in the emphasized condition it is in. The “Abide” in v4 is a command. It is in aorist tense, imperative mood, and active voice. This command tells us that we are to abide in Christ as He abides in us. Will Christ abide in an unbeliever? Will He abide in a professing Christian who is not regenerate? No! He abides only in His children and they, in turn, abide in Him. They remain. They do not fall away. Those who abide in Christ are analogous to branches abiding in the vine. Those who abide in the vine live and produce fruit while those who do not abide in it, but look like they actually do, do not fool the vinedresser. He gathers those who wither, because they are not abiding in the vine, and throws them into the fire to be burned.  Those who do not abide in Christ, that is, they fall away, are unbelievers. They do not have a personal faith in Christ. Continue reading

Christian suffering


by Mike Ratliff

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Mark 10:35-40 (NASB) 

The truth, Biblical truth that is, cuts like a sword or the sharpest dagger ever seen. God’s ways are not Man’s ways or the ways of the world. No, God’s ways are antithetical to the ways of fallen Men. Many reading this can testify to losing close friends and having conflict within family groups because God has quickened them by His grace. Their faith is alive. They are regenerate. They now can see the truth and are able to obey God. This new life in Christ belongs to those who have found the narrow gate, which is Christ. They have passed through it in belief and now are on the narrow way which leads to the Celestial City.

The conflict arises from this new life when it comes to bear on those around the believer who know not God. They may indeed be religious. They may be professing Christians, but neither of these things are guarantees of eternal life. The genuine believer is a possessor of the truth, God has written it on his or her heart. However, the unregenerate cannot grasp this truth. They see it as utter foolishness. When the regenerate believer walks in this belief with it affecting all parts of his or her life the unregenerate react in many ways. Anger, resentment, skepticism, hostility, and disdain are just a few of the reactions genuine Christians will encounter when they walk by faith. Continue reading

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him


by Mike Ratliff

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15 (NASB) 

There is a certain type of love that God hates. We find that in John 15:18-20)

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:18-20 (NASB) 

God has no love for “love of the world system that is opposed to God.” Jesus made it clear in the passage from John 15:18-20 that those who are “of the world” are not of God nor are those whom He has selected from out of the world part of the world. This is why those who are still “of the world” hates them. I want to reinitiate here that there are plenty of apostate, “so-called christians” in our time who exhibit that very same hatred toward those of us who refuse to back away from Orthodox Christianity and God’s Word and being infallible and complete. In any case, John is telling us in 1 John 2:15-17 two important truths about genuine Christianity. First, the Christian loves God and fellow Christians and an absence of love of the world must habitually characterize the love life of those to be considered genuinely born again.  Continue reading

Godly transformation


by Mike Ratliff

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NASB) 

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 12:2 (NA28)

Truth is not relative. Truth is not found through some synthesis process through which one concept of the truth is ‘synthesized’ with that which opposes it until some sort of compromise can be reached. That process is called the Hegelian Dialectic which states that truth is not found in the thesis nor the antithesis, but the synthesis of the two. This synthesis process may take countless evolutions, but the theory is that eventually change will occur and that is the real goal. This is not biblical transformation. It is not what God does in Christians when He transforms them from flesh driven, prideful, self-oriented people to spirit-led, humble, God-focused servants of the Most-High. Continue reading

Jesus Christ, 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 last post, Jesus Christ is the Son of Man and 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 him 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

Jesus Christ is the Son of Man and the Good Shepherd


by Mike Ratliff

35 Ἤκουσεν Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω καὶ εὑρὼν αὐτὸν εἶπεν · σὺ πιστεύεις εἰς τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου; 36 ἀπεκρίθη ἐκεῖνος καὶ εἶπεν· καὶ τίς ἐστιν, κύριε, ἵνα πιστεύσω εἰς αὐτόν; 37 εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· καὶ ἑώρακας αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λαλῶν μετὰ σοῦ ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν. 38 ὁ δὲ ἔφη· πιστεύω, κύριε· καὶ προσεκύνησεν αὐτῷ.
39 Καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς· εἰς κρίμα ἐγὼ εἰς τὸν κόσμον τοῦτον ἦλθον, ἵνα οἱ μὴ βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ οἱ βλέποντες τυφλοὶ γένωνται. John 9:35-39 (NA28)

35 Jesus heard that they threw him out and having found him said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 The man answered and said, “And who is He Sir, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him and you and He is the One speaking with you.” 38 And he said, “I believe Lord.” And he worshiped Him.
39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world that the ones who do not see may see and the ones who see may become blind.” John 9:35-39 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In the Word of God, light is associated with God’s way, His truth, what is right, et cetera. Darkness is the antithesis of light in this sense. While those who walk in God’s light walk in His truth, those who walk in darkness, walk in ignorance of His truth, of His ways. Those who are of God’s light are growing in the knowledge of Christ while those who walk in darkness continue in their ignorance. In John 1:4-5 , the Apostle John said, “ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.” Or, “In Him was life and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus as the “light” brings to the dark world true knowledge, moral purity, and the light that shows the very presence of God. The darkness of this fallen world cannot comprehend, grasp, or overcome the light of our Lord.  Continue reading

The Cross of Christ separates those in Him from those who are not


allby Mike Ratliff

19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. John 14:19 (NASB) 

When our Lord spoke of the “world” in John 14:19, He was talking about those in this temporal existence who are not in Him. They are not true Christians even though some in that group may profess to be so. In this context He was also referring to the Jewish religious leaders of His own day who so opposed Him and His ministry and who would continue to oppose the early church as is seen all through the book of Acts for example. What is it that separates those alive in Christ in this world from those who are not? Those in Christ are the ones who truly see Jesus for who He really is, believe and are saved from those who refuse to do so, reject the gospel, and remain in their sins, even if they may develop a form of Christianity that suits them, but is absent of the real Jesus. Continue reading

A little leaven


by Mike Ratliff

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, “ When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.
5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? 10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? 11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:1-12 (NASB) 

The Church in our time did not descend suddenly into the level of apostasy we see all around us now. No, it actually began many generations ago when Christian leaders who compromised God’s Truth were tolerated or not dealt with through Church discipline as instructed in God’s Word. With each compromise comes a bit more heart hardening and a dullness of Spirit in their churches so that eventually true Biblical discernment becomes rare. Those who have not compromised are the minority while those who are walking in spiritual darkness view them as divisive, self-righteous, and judgmental. Why? These with discernment stand firm and rebuke those who teach what is not Biblical as if it is the truth while teaching against Biblical truth as if it is false.  Continue reading

The fruit of proper Christian ministry devotion


by Mike Ratliff

13 ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. 1 Timothy 4:13 (NA28)

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

As the passage above (1 Timothy 4:13) makes clear, to the Apostle Paul the centrality of preaching in Christian ministry was critical. He knew that the fruit of that was the working of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ producing godliness. However, its neglect produces its own fruit. I am not exaggerating when I state that most ministries today are built on entertainment, personality, crowd-gathering events, gimmicks, programs, and anything entrepreneurs can come up with to draw people together that simply appeals to the flesh. However, that was not nor has it ever been the Biblical model of a Christian ministry.  Continue reading