How is it You do not Understand?

by Mike Ratliff
17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” 21 So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 8:17-21 NKJV)

In the last several posts we have looked at the mortification of sin, the difference between walking according to the spirit and walking according the flesh, and the dynamics of becoming Spirit-led. In this post we will take a closer look at a vital aspect of walking the walk by faith. When Jesus rebuked Peter in Matthew 16 it was for having his focus on the things of men rather than the things of God. Because of that focus, Peter had actually rebuked Jesus for telling them about His upcoming crucifixion and resurrection. Peter told Jesus that he shouldn’t talk about things like that. Instead, He wanted Jesus to change His focus to that of his vision of who the Messiah was rather than on what our Saviour had been telling and showing them about Himself. What was Peter’s real problem? Why did he have the wrong “vision” of Jesus’ ministry? Peter’s problem was that his heart was hardened and, therefore, he had a case of spiritual blindness. Before we point our fingers at him let’s turn those fingers around and point them right back at ourselves. All of us have been there and many of us are still there. Not everyone’s faith is as strong as those whom the Lord has drawn into this Spirit-filled walk. Therefore, instead of condemning our weaker brothers and sisters we should come along side them and help them see the truth from God’s Word and show them the way to change their level of devotion to our Lord and submission to His Lordship. Continue reading


Several years ago I used to be a computer programmer. During that time I worked with a great deal of sensitive data that, in some cases, had to be encrypted. Not long ago I found one of my old encryption programs that I used to encrypt financial or private data to be sent as an attached file to an email. I showed it to a young man I work with now who told me that he would have no trouble breaking my code and reading what I have encrypted. He could not do it. 🙂

This made me think. Of course, that isn’t always a good thing. 🙂 Here is a test for all who would like a challenge. The next couple of lines is an encrypted phrase. Can you decipher it? If you do, then please let me know. – Mike Ratliff



Breaking the Chains

by Mike Ratliff

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:12-17 ESV)

When God saves His people their hearts are regenerated. This means that they now have the faith that is required for salvation. It means that they are now able to obey God because they have everything in place that enables it. However, many of us can testify to many years of bondage to besetting sins after salvation. Even though our salvation freed us from the penalty of sin and provided the only way for us become victors over our sin nature, our pride working in cooperation with our sin nature had deceived us into believing that pleasing our flesh would give us more fulfillment than the Joy of the Lord. When we give in to this by exposing our members to the desires of our flesh we move away from the light into darkness. If we do not repent of this and learn how to walk according the spirit, to become Spirit-led, we will eventually become enslaved to our flesh. This bondage can become very hard to break. In fact, we cannot break these chains by our will power. We cannot kill our sin by trying hard or doing good works or being super religious. What makes this a huge problem is that there are very few mature believers in our time who teach and disciple new Christians how to kill their sin and thereby live according the spirit. Continue reading

Continual Repentance

O God of Grace,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,

    and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,

                    clothing me with bridegroom’s robe,

                    decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;

        my best prayers are stained with sin;

        my penitential tears are so much impurity;

        my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;

        my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;

I need my tears to be washed;

I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,

    no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,

    and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,

    for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

I am always going into the far country,

    and always returning home as a prodigal,

    always saying, Father, forgive me,

    and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,

    every evening return in it,

    go out to the day’s work in it,

    be married in it,

    be wound in death in it,

    stand before the great white throne in it,

    enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of

    the exceeding sinfulness of sin,

    the exceeding righteousness of salvation,

    the exceeding glory of Christ,

    the exceeding beauty of holiness,

    the exceeding wonder of grace.

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Edited by Arthur Bennett

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Charles Spurgeon Quote

“Some have staggered over the doctrine of eternal punishment, because they could not see how that could be consistent with God’s goodness. I have only one question to ask concerning that: Does God reveal it in the Scriptures? Then I believe it, and leave to him the vindication of his own consistency. If we do not see it to be so, it will be nonetheless so because we are blind.”

The Cost of Discipleship

by Mike Ratliff

21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21 ESV)

The message of salvation that is normally preached or taught in the vast majority of churches these days has been contaminated with Humanism. The focus is on becoming a Christian for some great benefit or reward from God. Masses of people respond to that false gospel as well. The genuine gospel that our Saviour preached during His earthly ministry may have mentioned the benefits of being saved, but He emphasized the cost of becoming His disciple in such a way that it caused many of His hearers to not follow Him anymore. In fact, whenever He saw that the people were flocking to Him to have their felt needs met, He would speak a message to them that expressed that those who are His disciples are the ones who have counted the cost and seen that the eternal is all that truly matters. Continue reading

The Narrow Gate

by Mike Ratliff

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:14 ESV)

Our Lord Jesus Christ set before us the way of Righteousness. Yes, He lived a perfect life and died on a cruel cross to pay the penalty and price for the sins of those whom He came to save. Yet, He also taught us both in word and deed how the truly Righteous should live. Those whom God has saved are regenerated so that they can believe and repent and receive salvation by grace through faith. However, this regeneration does not kill or do away with our sin nature. God uses our sin nature, which battles us in every step in our spiritual growth, for His own purposes. These purposes include keeping us humble as we see how unrighteous we really are because of our battles against our own flesh. Yes, we still sin. In fact we will never be free of these battles against our flesh until we are taken home to be with our Lord. Continue reading

I was Blind, Now I See (Confessions of a Believer whom God Delivered from Darkness)

by Mike Ratliff

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (John 9:35-41 ESV)

Just four years ago there was no way I could write about what God is having me write about these days. In fact, writing books or papers or teachings or blogs never entered my mind. Writing about theology or anything Christian was even further away than that. I was walking in the flesh. I was active in my church, but I was living in defeat most of the time. I was not praying much. I read or studied my Bible only in church or to get ready to teach. I was miserable. I was addicted to TV and Sports because I was seeking fulfillment from them since I was receiving no fulfillment from my walk before the Lord since I wasn’t running the race very well. I was spiritually blind. However everything changed in late 2003 and early 2004. Continue reading

Blog/Sidebar Changes

Over the last week or so I have made several changes to Possessing the Treasure. First, I changed my blog template. I like the new look, but if you preferred the old one, let me know and why. Also, I have created a sidebar widget that contains the RSS feed for Possessing the Treasure. It is directly under the calendar. If you click on the RSS Feed icon for Possessing the Treasure you will be taken to a page that will give you several options for subscribing. Also, to make subscribing easier for those who would like an email when we post here, I have moved the FeedBlitz sidbar widget up so that it is directly under the RSS feed.

To Live is Christ

by Mike Ratliff

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:12-16 ESV)

As some of you know, this week I and several other readers of “Possessing the Treasure” had a conversation about self-righteousness and how it is a most hurtful thing to come into a body of believers. Not only does it hurt weaker brothers and sisters, keeping them from finding their freedom in Christ, it also keeps those who are in bondage to it from humbling themselves before their Lord. My post God Justifies the UnGodly was written as a response to that. No one in Christ has any business looking down their noses at anyone else, believer or unbeliever. Yes, those with discernment must rebuke and correct, but that is never a license to attack from a motivation of demoralizing or hurting someone else. The motivation must always be from a foundation of humility and love with motivation to cause people to see the truth so they can repent and become restored. Continue reading

Taking up the Slack

by Mike Ratliff

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:16-17 ESV)

My friend Josh at Truth Matters and I had a good conversation via email this morning. He has a heart for the purity of the Gospel and it is broken over the state of the church in his state. In the process of creating a link to his blog, I decided to watch the YouTube video there with John MacArthur speaking at a conference last year. The topic was on his feelings on the future of the church. I suggest you watch it. Here is the direct link to the video. As I watched this video, I was struck by his confidence in the fact that our God is Sovereign and is still committed to building His Church. The tragic thing is how the Church has basically lost the last three generations of spiritual leaders who should have been trained in proper Bible Study and how to properly do ministry. Instead, they have been trained to minister as if the Church was a business. Continue reading

God Justifies the Ungodly

by Mike Ratliff

1What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:1-8 ESV)

I was in a discussion recently where the person I was conversing with was very upset because he felt that when we raise the standard high in our churches that it can be very discouraging to those who are not as spiritually mature as others. He believed that churches need to be more easy going and less demanding. He also believed that all we have been saying lately against seeker-sensitive church models is unfair because in those churches those who may not be very mature can feel comfortable and welcome. My heart broke while reading his comments because I understood exactly what he was talking about and I began to see that there is another group of Christians out there that are drawn to churches that are not so demanding on doctrinal issues as in a typical Reformed church. They are the ones who feel that they will never measure up. They feel inadequate to the apparent “Holiness” seen in the more mature members in those churches. Continue reading

Should Your Church Implement the Purpose Driven Church Model?

by Mike Ratliff

My fellow believers, when I posted “The Macedonian Call” Sunday night I had no idea that it would create such strong emotional responses both for and against what I shared in that post. If you haven’t read it, please go here and read it before continuing. I got several requests for the “paper” that I gave my ex-pastor last year about my research into the PDC model. I emailed it to a few people who asked for it then decided to post it. The content below is a modified version of that paper. I have taken out the identities of several people in our old church as well as the church name. Please prayerfully read this. Take your time. I know there is a lot detail here. It took me about two weeks to gather all of this data last year. I pray that the Lord will shine His light of truth into your heart as you read this. Continue reading

The Macedonian Call

by Mike Ratliff

29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29 ESV)

The original title for this post was “Obedience,” but as I researched it there was a nagging voice telling me that I already had a post on my blog titled Obedience. So, I went back and found the original. I then thought about simply posting it again here, but then I became convicted that the research and prayer for this post was unique and not a copy of the earlier piece. Continue reading