Pride and Humility


by Mike Ratliff

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

Our pride is insidious. When we are convicted of our prideful behaviour or thoughts it takes cover and transforms itself into false humility. We take pride in our humility or our service or our devotion. Pride is idolatry of self. When we are not humble our pride actually displaces God with self as our center. Christians are not immune from it. Continue reading

Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?


by John Hendryx

First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” Acts 26:20

“I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21

There is a divergence of viewpoints on this topic that, recently, has led to quite a bit of contention among evangelicals. This has also been known as the Lordship, no-Lordship debate. After we strip away the bark what is left is the difference between the Reformed and a dispensational view of salvation. After doing some serious personal contemplation over this I have personally come to the conclusion that the difference lies in each camps’ understanding of the doctrine of regeneration. Continue reading

The Difference Between Justification and Sanctification


 

by Mike Ratliff

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 ESV)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

justify

Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): jus·ti·fied; jus·ti·fy·ing

Etymology: Middle English justifien, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French justifier, from Late Latin justificare, from Latin justus

Date: 14th century

transitive verb

1 a: to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable b (1): to show to have had a sufficient legal reason (2): to qualify (oneself) as a surety by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property

sanctify

Function: transitive verb

Inflected Form(s): sanc·ti·fied; sanc·ti·fy·ing

Etymology: Middle English seintefien, sanctifien, from Anglo-French seintefier, sanctifier, from Late Latin sanctificare, from Latin sanctus sacred — more at saint

Date:14th century

1: to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use : consecrate

2: to free from sin : purify

3 a: to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to b: to give moral or social sanction to

4: to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12(Douay Version)> 

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. 29 May 2008

The theological climate in the Church today  has taken on the characteristics of a free-for-all. Most professing believers’ Bible knowledge is extremely shallow. On top of that we are also in a period of intellectual barbarianism which is marked by relativism. This causes the truth to be perceived as unknowable. Those holding this form of thinking refuse to believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. In this intellectual climate it is little wonder that false prophets and false teachers can lead so many astray simply by saying what people want to hear.  Continue reading

Personal Holiness and Intercessory Prayer


 

by Mike Ratliff

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

Much of the spiritual bankruptcy of the Church in our day can be attributed to the dire lack of Biblical discipleship within the Body of Christ. It seems that little is heard of the necessity of being separate from the world and not be conformed to it. That, combined with most professing believers having a very shallow Bible knowledge, creates an environment with very little spiritual discernment and wisdom.

I used to have a prayer requests page on Possessing the Treasure. I had to take it off line. Why? It was receiving hundreds of “requests” a week from people wanting prayer so they could be rich, that they would not be convicted of some crime, that someone on which they had a crush would love them, et cetera. It was as if the prayer requests page had been hijacked by disciples of Benny Hinn.  Continue reading

Christian Freedom and Antinomianism


 

by Mike Ratliff

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one–who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:28-31 ESV)

Antinomianism: The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.

I grew up as a Southern Baptist, however, I was not a Christian until January, 1986 a few months after turning 34. After that, my wife and I were members of 5 different SBC churches in the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City areas. I am sure that not all SBC churches teach the exactly the same thing, but the ones we were part of definitely discounted the Law of God. Sadly, I think that most of the antinomian teaching out there is centered in a misunderstanding of what is meant in Sacred Scripture by the term Christian Freedom.  Continue reading

Suffering Much at the Hands of the Physicians


by Mike Ratliff

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. (Psalms 107:1-7 ESV)

I have been experiencing some “discomfort” in my nether regions for the past year or so. Sometimes it feels as if the parts within my lower abdomen want out and at other times it just burns. Most of the time it is just uncomfortable to sit on hard surfaces. Before I flew to Seattle a few months ago my doctor gave me a prescription for some antibiotics. They helped a lot, but now the pain is back. I went back to the doctor today after work. He poked and prodded in places we will not discuss here. He felt all around my abdomen and had some blood drawn for a PSA test. Then he sent me to Radiology in a different part of the Hospital for a CAT Scan. Continue reading

A Call to Revolution


It is the year 2008. The gospel has been spreading and the Kingdom of Christ has been growing for nearly two thousand years. But not without setbacks. For almost a thousand years, in the middle ages, the gospel was slowly obscured by the corruptions of a satanically-influenced medieval church. The light was almost entirely extinguished. But then God raised up a man, shaken to the core by a sudden insight into the inexpressably glorious truth proclaimed in Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith,” and the whole world was again turned upside down with the divine power of the gospel. Two hundred years later, when hypocrisy and self-motivated will-religion had nearly swallowed up the good effects of the Reformation, a diverse and unlikely group of men, including John Bunyan, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and even John and Charles Wesley trumpeted the joyful news that once again shook up the sleeping world, and fueled a missions movement that has reached across the globe for the sake of the Name. And now, more than two hundred years later, the gospel that has once more been attacked and suppressed, and has given way on many fronts to the false gospels of prosperity, self-esteem, inclusivism, and tolerance, is on the rise again. The heavenly insights of Edwards, Owen, and others on the sovereignty of God, his unconquerable grace, and the joy which his glory produces in those who are his has fueled another generation of outnumbered but unfailingly victorious men and women ready to give up their lives for the King. A last, great missions-minded movement is preparing for a final thrust into the heart of unconquered territories, and the trumpet sound which announces that the kingdoms of this world are the kingdoms of our Savior can almost be heard.

(click here to read this post)

Is Christianity a Life or Is it a Doctrine?


 

by Mike Ratliff

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. (1 Timothy 4:6 ESV)

From January 1986 until the late fall of 2005 I probably would have, if asked, responded to the question in the title that Christianity is a life or at least a relationship while doctrine, though unnecessary, helps us understand that. I didn’t really believe during that time that doctrine was of any real value. Why? My whole understanding of Christianity is that it is based on my experience. For some odd reason I didn’t think much past that in an attempt to understand why my experience would be so radically different than other Christians’ experience. Continue reading

Warning Against Apostasy


 

by Mike Ratliff

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14 ESV)

Apostasy: [Middle English apostasie, from Old French, from Late Latin apostasia, defection, from Late Greek apostasi, from Greek apostasis, revolt, from aphistanai, aposta-, to revolt : apo-, apo- + histanai, to stand, place; see st- in Indo-European roots.]

Noun pl -sies abandonment of one’s religious faith, political party, or cause [Greek apostasis desertion] from: Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006

I heard another definition today for the word “apostasy.” This definition says that a good way to understand apostasy and what causes one to abandon his or her religious faith is “to forget.” In the history of civilization, the battle between intellectual honesty and intellectual barbarity is one that has cycled back a forth for millennia. When intellectual honesty is on top, truth is seen as succinct and knowable and authoritative. When intellectual barbarity is on top, truth is seen as relative and completely unknowable.  In case you weren’t sure, we are now in an intellectual barbarian stage in the early 21st Century. Continue reading

Expository Preaching


 

by Mike Ratliff

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV)

My wife and I attended an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in our area this morning. I have been a Baptist as long as I can remember and this was my first time in a Presbyterian Church. The congregation was on the small side, but every pew was full. I’m not sure what I expected, but I want to share with you my brethren that this heart worshiped God in spirit and truth this morning. Also, I found myself saying ‘Amen!’ (silently) quite a bit during most of the service. The order of service was something I have never experienced before, at least not like this. It was divided into four parts. Continue reading

Necessity of the Atonement


by John A. Broadus

The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin. I John 1:7

My hearers, what is the most wonderful event that ever occurred on earth, that ever happened in the universe? The history of our race is so full of wonderful events-you might well pause for your answer. My answer would be this: by far the most wonderful thing that has ever happened in the universe, is the atoning death of Jesus Christ the Lord. If without philosophizing, if in simplicity you will take what God’s Word declares concerning it, you will not only see this to be so, perhaps you will feel it to be so. If you will remember who he was-the thought would startle us if we were not so used to it-if you will remember how he died, how the Lord of life and glory, the sinless one, how he died in suffering and shame, and above all if you will remember what he died for, what his death is declared in the Scriptures to mean for the universe and for us, then you will believe that this is the great wonder of all wonders. And yet, God be thanked, it may be the simplest matter of each individual human heart’s everyday experience to rest upon that wonderful thought. There are many things we can never comprehend as to their nature, which are yet unquestionable as facts and essential to our existence. To declare before heaven and earth that all our hopes are turned upon the atoning death of Jesus Christ, a man may do that, may live on that atoning death, although it be a mystery he cannot solve. Continue reading

All That Believe are Justified


 

by Mike Ratliff

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: “‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'” (Acts 13:38-41 ESV)

We have been looking at Christian faithfulness Vs. unfaithfulness  and the fruit of each. We have looked at the difference between Christian Externalism and Christian Internalism and what constitutes worship in Spirit and Truth. We looked at these things from the perspective of Christian authenticity and the culpability of Church leaders who do not disciple their flocks thereby spiritually starving those in their care. The responses to these things was very interesting. It was also very edifying to see some take it deeper by reasoning and praying their way through them. This is what Christians do in mind renewal, which is the engine that transforms Christians into the mature living sacrifices who both bring glory to God and become mature, Christlike, Spirit-filled believers. Continue reading

Religious Externalism


by Mike Ratliff

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. “ (Matthew 23:25-28 ESV)

Not long after my wife and I began searching for a new church back in 2006, we visited one just a few blocks from the one had just left. A coworker of mine served there as part of one of their worship teams. This was one of the churches my ex-pastor was continually commenting about because of how small it started out and how big it had become while his church seemed to be stagnant, maybe even declining. The “worship” at this church was what I like to call “show time!” There are all sorts of colored lights with spot lights on those “performing.” Each had their own microphone and were all dressed in the same colors. There was at least 20 musicians on stage playing drums, keyboards, guitars, horns, you name it. The drummer was enclosed in a glass booth. It was all very cool.

After the “worship,” the main pastor walked onto the stage with the spot lights following him. The stage was black. The stairs were black. They worked the lights so that nothing could be seen on the stage except the pastor. He was dressed casually in all black. He was carrying a nice looking cardboard box which he set on the table next to the pulpit. He said a few words to direct our attention to the screen which dropped down silently behind him. Then the auditorium went dark. We watched a movie for about 15 minutes of a glass blower working on a vase. The video took us through the whole process of blowing and shaping the glass. It looked like both hard work and a bit fun. In any case, when the movie ended the spot light came back up revealing the pastor preparing to open the box. Continue reading