“The more a church flourishes, the more, I believe, do hypocrites get in, just as you see many a noxious creeping thing come and get into a garden after a shower of rain. The very things that make glad the flowers bring out these noxious things. And so hypocrites get in and steal much of the church’s sap away.”
by Mike Ratliff
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. (Colossians 1:24-26 ESV)
In light of the slaughter of the missionaries and pastors in Turkey last week, A letter to the global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna, I believe we need to reexamine the role of persecution and suffering in the Gospel. Also, we must agree that God is very actively awakening His people who are in the Scarlet Woman. Persecution comes to Christians who are truly obedient to their Lord. When they obey Him they do not practice empty religion, but, instead, they pursue holiness, abide in Christ, and are Spirit-led, hence their lives are Christlike and this does three things. It brings the wrath of the enemy down on them in various forms of persecution. Their suffering glorifies God and it fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Continue reading
This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Continue reading
“It is a terribly easy matter to be a minister of the gospel and a vile hypocrite at the same time.” – C.H. Spurgeon
Christianity is rational despite the fact that the mass majority of unbelievers consider it to be irrational. However, there are forms of Christianity whose proponents attempt to understand Man’s ability vs. his responsibility only via human reason. The correct way for Christians to view God, His ways, His Sovereignty, Man, Man’s depravity, and Man’s responsibility is to reason biblically. Here is an example. If our reason is exclusively extra-biblical then we say that Man’s ability and responsibility are coextensive. They must match up exactly. If not, then the supposition is irrational. This makes sense and is reasonable if our reasoning is extra-biblical, but is it right?
by Mike Ratliff
34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:34-39 ESV)
Is a sinner’s prayer necessary for salvation? Is it wrong to use one in sharing the gospel? If we read the New Testament from Matthew through Revelation we will find not one example of anyone praying a sinner’s prayer to be saved. Look at the example of Philip sharing the gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch in the passage at the top of this post. The eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah. The Holy Spirit commanded Philip to approach and join the chariot. The eunuch was obviously reading aloud, which was how the ancients read. Philip heard him read from Isaiah 53. He offers to explain the passage. Philip explains that what he was reading is a prophecy about Christ. Then he preached the good news about Jesus to the eunuch. What was the good news? Of course this is the preaching of the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross paid the price as the propitiation for the sins of the Elect. In other words, he explained to the eunuch that Jesus had provided a way for people to be saved from the penalty for their sins which separated them from God who is Holy and Righteous. What was the eunuch’s response? He believed immediately and asked to be baptized. Philip sees no reason not to and does so.
Some time this afternoon the hits on Possessing the Treasure exceeded 100,000 since inception on March 31, 2006. The posts on this blog that date from earlier than that were migrated over from my old blog, Walking the Walk by Faith. In any case, what does this mean? I’m not sure except that I am in total amazement every day that God uses my little talent for the furtherance of the Kingdom. I pray that He will continue to inspire me and use me for His glory alone. Soli Deo Gloria!
You cannot receive Christ as your justification only, and then, later, decide to refuse or to accept Him as your sanctification. He is one and indivisible, and if you receive Him at all, at once He is made unto you "wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." You cannot receive Him as your Saviour only, and later decide to accept or refuse Him as your Lord; for the Saviour is the Lord who by His death has [bought] us and therefore owns us. Sanctification is nowhere taught or offered in the New Testament as some additional experience possible to the believer. It is represented rather as something which is already within the believer, something which he must realise more and more and in which he must grow increasingly. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
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by Mike Ratliff
This morning I logged into Possessing the Treasure to process the comments that came in overnight as usual. I always approach this with a sense of anticipation. However, awaiting me were two comments from one person who had a huge problem with the fact that I moderate comments using a set of rules that is publicly displayed on my blog. He wanted free reign to say whatever he wanted to say without any control by me whatsoever. Our flesh says that that sounds reasonable. However, this person’s comment was couched in bitter anger. He called me a fascist. He insinuated that I should allow people to say whatever they wanted to say any way at any time. Why? Why would someone demand that on a private blog? My response was that to comment in rebuttal on Possessing the Treasure will only be allowed from arguments from scripture alone. Why? We are proclaiming the truth from God’s Word. We are not proclaiming another way to be religious. Instead, we are attempting to proclaim the way to walk before the face of God in full submission to Him because He is the source of our spiritual life. Therefore, rebuttal arguments must be based within the same foundation that we use, which is scripture. Why? This forces those who desire to contend with what is said here to not respond in hot anger, but instead, calm down then go to the Word of God to seek the truth. I contend that if people will do this, many of their perceptions about our faith will be shown for what they really are in that they are contrary to what the Word says.
Humility is a something we all desperately need. Arrogance, self-righteousness, and self-absorption are fruits of pride. Christians should be constantly on guard against the manifestations of this evil in our hearts. That evil is there, but we don’t have to play ball by entertaining what our wicked hearts desire. The following article was written by John Newton in 1762. He is the hymn writer of what we call "Amazing Grace." He was a former slave trader whom God saved in a miraculous way. Eventually Newton repented of being a slave trader and became a Pastor in the Church of England. He was a prolific hymn writer as well. In the last years of his life, God brought him to the place where he saw the wickedness of the slave trade. It broke his heart. In that brokenness, he wrote a pamphlet that was used by Abolitionists to influence the English Parliament to abolish the Slave Trade. Newton knew about the sin of pride and self-sufficiency. He, like us, was just a human who, even though God had saved him, he still had a heart full of all kinds of evil. – Mike Ratliff
For most of the first year Possessing the Treasure was online I allowed wide-open comments without Moderation being turned on. However, in late 2006 it became apparent that something had changed. I began receiving many disparaging comments from those who seemed bent on changing the course of this ministry via intimidation and deliberate misrepresentation of facts.
Possessing the Treasure is the main outlet for my writing ministry. When I write a post it always has a message or focus (or more than one) that God gave me as I studied my Bible. Sometimes I will write a post in response to some personal discussions with other believers or with those who oppose this ministry for whatever reason. Below are some rules of engagement for Possessing the Treasure.
Martin Luther’s ministry as a reformer was in the early 16th Century. However, even back then people were trying to force their own man-made doctrines on the Bible. Nothing has changed. People still do this. The use of the Bible this way is always eisegetical. That is, it is reading into the text that which is not there. This does violence to the authority of scripture and it’s inerrancy. Every heresy started this way. Also, much of the rebellion against traditional churches these days is born within those who believe that established denominations are guilty of doing the same thing. This has tragic consequences. No matter how we "feel" about these things, we must not fall into the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bath water. I am not alone in contending that the Church is ripe for another Reformation. However, currently there are many counterfeit reformations taking place that are extra-Biblical in nature. In their zeal to reform, they have done away with the Authority of Scripture as our baseline. This is huge error and we must take a stand and not give in the least little bit on the truth and veracity of God’s Word, that it is inerrant and complete. As you read the following devotional by Martin Luther, I pray that the Lord will place the burden of remaining in this war on your heart as He has mine. – Mike Ratliff
“A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.”-Song of Solomon 1:13
Myrrh may well be chosen as the type of Jesus on account of its preciousness, its perfume, its pleasantness, its healing, preserving, disinfecting qualities, and its connection with sacrifice. But why is He compared to “a bundle of myrrh”? First, for plenty. He is not a drop of it, He is a casket full. He is not a sprig or flower of it, but a whole bundle. There is enough in Christ for all my necessities; let me not be slow to avail myself of Him. Our well-beloved is compared to a “bundle” again, for variety: for there is in Christ not only the one thing needful, but in “Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” everything needful is in Him. Take Jesus in His different characters, and you will see a marvellous variety-Prophet, Priest, King, Husband, Friend, Shepherd. Consider Him in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, second advent; view Him in His virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness-everywhere He is a bundle of preciousness. He is a “bundle of myrrh” for preservation-not loose myrrh tied up, myrrh to be stored in a casket. We must value Him as our best treasure; we must prize His words and His ordinances; and we must keep our thoughts of Him and knowledge of Him as under lock and key, lest the devil should steal anything from us. Moreover, Jesus is a “bundle of myrrh” for speciality. The emblem suggests the idea of distinguishing, discriminating grace. From before the foundation of the world, He was set apart for His people; and He gives forth His perfume only to those who understand how to enter into communion with Him, to have close dealings with Him. Oh! blessed people whom the Lord hath admitted into His secrets, and for whom He sets Himself apart. Oh! choice and happy who are thus made to say, “A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.” – C.H. Spurgeon