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.”

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.

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

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

Christian Research Network

I have been asked by Pastor Ken Silva to become a contributor to the Christian Research Network. I made my first post there this evening called Jesus Knows What is in Man.

I prayed over the weekend about doing this. I also enlisted many friends from all over the country to pray for this decision as well. To those whom I enlisted to pray, thank you! The negatives that came upon me as I and others prayed about this were so obviously not coming from God that I knew that God was not standing in the way. What I mean is that all of the negatives had to do with excuses or taking risks that sort of thing. One thing that came through loud and clear to this disciple though was that just as I cannot write anything here that is of any eternal value that is outside of God’s grace, I cannot write anything for CRN that isn’t also completely focused on God’s glory alone. Possessing the Treasure is still my primary focus, but I will contribute to CRN as God leads. Please continue to pray for this disciple and this ministry.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Charles Spurgeon Quote

“I must frankly confess that of all my expectations of heaven, I will cheerfully renounce ten thousand things if I can but know that I shall have perfect holiness. If I may become like Jesus Christ–pure and perfect–I cannot understand how any other joy can be denied me. If we shall have that, surely we shall have everything.”