My Soul Waits for the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalms 143:2 ESV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3-4 ESV)

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:24-26 ESV)

Despite the prevalent “Christian” teachings in our time that suffering is never God’s will for His people, a close, sober, and honest study of scripture reveals that the fires of tribulation are used by God to form and refine His people. The view that God desires of each Christian to always be healthy and prosperous is based on many false assumptions. One false assumption is that salvation is somehow deserved and those who profess faith can claim anything they want from a god who is bound to meet all their requests. Another false assumption moves the focus of salvation from God glory to the person’s glory and their “having their best life now.” Sin is seen as simple mistakes that God overlooks because He is all love. Continue reading

The First Shall be Last and the Last Shall be First


 

by Mike Ratliff

Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:27-30 ESV)

God awoke this believer from a spiritual stupor in 2004. From my rebirth in January 1986 through the end of 2003 I rode a roller coaster of faithfulness and backsliding to the point that I despaired of ever being able to be consistent in my walk. What always amazed me during that period is how God still used the spiritual gifts He had given me despite my own sorry spiritual state. It did not help that I was also suffering from depression after the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing in 1995. I confess that from April 19, 1995 through 2003 I was a very angry, resentful person. Then God drew me to Himself in January 2004 in such a way that ‘reversed it all and changed it all.’ It took 8 months of drawing closer and closer to Him, but He did a wonderful work in this heart. Continue reading

From Suffering to Glory


 

by Mike Ratliff

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:15-18 ESV)

Religion, if it is worth anything, is worth everything; but it is worth little if it is not worth suffering for. – Matthew Henry

There has been such a long drought of the Word of God being rightly divided by true shepherds of the flock in so much of the visible Church that the spiritually weak and immature believers make up the vast majority. Their understanding of God is not well developed. When suffering comes upon them they react in a complete misinterpretation of what is going on. It is as if they expect everyone to love them and their problems will be over simply because they are now Christians. The Bible is very clear, genuine believers are the ones who endure to the end and they will suffer for Jesus’ sake.  Continue reading

New Look


Those familiar with Possessing the Treasure have, I am sure, noticed the new look. I have opted for a new template that has all of the functionality of my old template, but with the added feature of having a flexible width.This means that if you have a wide profile monitor then this blog will widen to match that display. I use one and I think it makes a huge difference in reading.

I have also tried to make the text darker and more intense for better contrast and easier reading. Please let me know if this does not work for you. I have found that what looks good in Safari may not look so good in Firefox and, of course, the opposite is true as well. 🙂

If you are interested in trying out Safari here is the download link. I use an Apple Macintosh running OS X Leopard at home and a Toshiba Laptop running Windows XP at work. I use Safari as my default browser on both. It is the fastest and best looking browser I have used. I also have FireFox, IE, and Camino browsers, but Safari beats them all. The only time I have to resort to FireFox or IE is for some very specific websites like that of my bank or some .NET application servers at work. However, for JAVA based apps Safari works great.

What do you think? 😎

El-Shaddai


 

by Mike Ratliff

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (Genesis 17:1-2 ESV)

In these last days it is imperative that God’s people have a more complete knowledge of God. So, in light of this, let us look at one of the names of God that speaks much about His power and provision. God keeps His part of the covenants He makes and it is this name, El-Shaddai, that God used for Himself that gives us much comfort as we come to understand that He helps and blesses His people. El-Shaddai (   אל שׁדּי  ) – We must never forget that in Hebrew we read from right to left and this name of God is two separate words,  Ēl( אל), meaning, “might,”  and Shaddai  (שׁדּי, meaning , “the Almighty, the Powerful One, or the Mighty One.” As a combined name of God, El Shaddai, which occurs seven times in Sacred Scripture, was the covenant name for God to the Patriarchs until the time of Moses. The Jewish rabbis believed  that the term meant the “One who is self-sufficient.” God’s covenant was moral and ethical in character, not ritualistic or orgiastic. 

Continue reading

A Circumcision Made Without Hands


by Mike Ratliff

For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. In him you also were circumcised — not, however, with a circumcision performed by human hands, but by the removal of the fleshly body, that is, through the circumcision done by Christ. Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:9-12 NET)

In light of our study on The Holiness of God,  with the emphasis on God’s separation from the fallenness and sin of creation, let us look at the part of His work in our regeneration that washes us clean. There is a great deal of false teaching in our time that claims that people can be saved without repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ. However, as we have seen the last several posts, both repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ comes through regeneration and, therefore, are not “works.” Continue reading

The Holiness of God


 

by Mike Ratliff

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3 ESV)

In the English translations of the Old Testament when we encounter the word “Lord” we are actually reading the Hebrew word “Adhōnāy.” On the other hand, when we read the word “LORD,” it is is completely different Hebrew word, “Yehōwāh.” “Adhōnāy” is actually a title for God meaning “sovereign one.” “Yehōwāh” is the sacred name of God. It was the name He used to reveal Himself to Moses at the burning bush. “Yehōwāh” is the unspeakable name, the holy name of God. The Hebrew scribes wrote it as “YHWH.” Therefore, it is referred to as the sacred tetragrammaton, the unspeakable four letters. “Adhōnāy” is the plural noun form of “Ādhōn,” which, when used in reference to God, means Lord. However, “Adhōnāy” is plural but singular in meaning. This speaks of the Holy Trinity, i.e. One God in three persons. Continue reading

The Abomination of Easy-Believism – Part 4 – The Real God of the Bible


 

by Mike Ratliff

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV)

Several years ago my wife fell down stairs while visiting our daughter in Oklahoma. She broke her leg. She actually shattered one of the bones right above her ankle. It required surgery and some metal plates to be used to hold her bones together. Our former Pastor came and sat with me in the waiting room while my wife’s surgery took place. We discussed all sorts of things. One of the things that we spent a great deal of time on was Easy-Believism and how those who adhere to it have an incomplete view of God. He said, “It is quite foolish to think that one attribute of God, His love, can trump His Holiness or His Righteousness or His Justice.” This from a man who is not Reformed in his theology and has even preached sermons siding with John Wesley in the Calvinist vs. Arminian debate.  Continue reading

The Abomination of Easy-Believism – Part 3 – The Way of Salvation


 

by Mike Ratliff

“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. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

In John Bunyan’s masterpiece The Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character, Christian, reads a book, which is the Bible, resulting in a huge burden appearing on his back. Day after day as he reads God’s Word the burden becomes more an more overbearing. We learn that he is in rags. He learns of God’s coming judgement upon his city, The City of Destruction. He despairs and calls out to God for help. Then he is approached by a man whose name is Evangelist. After a discussion about Christian’s problem, Evangelist tells Christian that the only way to remove the burden on his back and escape the coming destruction is to go to the little wicket gate at the far end of a distant field. Christian asks what he is to do when he gets there. Evangelist tells Christian to knock then he commands him to flee from the wrath to come. Christian then runs out of town to the derision of his neighbors.  Continue reading

The Abomination of Easy-Believism – Part 2 – The Nature of True Faith


 

by Mike Ratliff

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)

What a glorious Biblical truth it is that sinners my come to Christ just as they are! They come on the basis of faith and He saves them all (John 3:16). Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1-10 that salvation is by grace through faith alone, apart from works. God saves His people this way so that none may boast. This means that no one whom He saves must do any work or attain any merit in order to be worthy to come. No, God saves sinners. However, in “today’s gospel” these wonderful truths have been twisted or extended to say that not only does Christ receive sinners just as they are, but He also will let them stay that way.  Continue reading

The Abomination of Easy-Believism – Part 1- Repentance


 

by Mike Ratliff

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV)

Today’s gospel, that is, the gospel that is prevalently adhered to by most of the visible Church, is one constructed around the goal of persuading people to make a ‘decision for Christ.’ The entire process is one of appealing to either one’s desire for a better life here and now or their fear of hell. Invitations are designed to entice people to “come forward” by “priming the pump” as several people move towards the front when it begins. Then those folks who are persuaded are led to pray a prayer “accepting Jesus” into their lives or hearts. There is no mention of the Lordship of Christ. There is no mention of repentance. Is this the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? Continue reading

Please Pray for my friend Jon


 

by Mike Ratliff

My friend and dear brother in the Lord Jon Cardwell has ALS. He is a preacher of the Word of God and one who earnestly contends for the faith. God is working in and through Jon for His glory and our edification. Here is a link to his latest, and possibly last, sermon, Preaching the Kingdom of God.  Please read the following “letter” from Jon then I pray that you will also pray for Jon and his family that they be encouraged and strengthened in the Lord.  Continue reading

Reformed or Fundamentalist?


 

by Mike Ratliff

In one week not long ago I was called a fundamentalist twice. The first time it was meant as an insult by one person commenting on Possessing the Treasure. The second time it was actually contained in a question by a friend at church asking if I considered myself to be a fundamentalist. This person did not use that word the same way the first person did. In fact, I am positive that he meant it in a positive way. The more I have pondered this, the more I have come to understand that these two people had a completely different concept of what it means to be a fundamentalist. This word is used in the news media in a negative context to describe religious people who commit acts of terrorism or retreat from society into cultic communes. The emergents’ view fundamentalists with anger and resentment. They view them as backward and mired in dead religiosity. However, is that what fundamentalism is? Continue reading

A Short Response to the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace …


by John Hendryx

The term “prevenient grace” – a distinctly Arminian doctrine – refers to a universal grace which precedes and enables the first stirrings of a good will or inclination toward God and it explains the extent or degree to which the Holy Spirit influences a person prior to their coming to faith in Christ. The Arminian, together with the Calvinist, affirms total human moral inability and utter helplessness of the natural man in spiritual matters and the absolute necessity for supernatural prevenient grace if there is to be any right response to the gospel. Like Calvinists, Arminians agree that, apart from an act of grace on God’s part, no one would willingly come to Christ. This point is important to distinguish so as to not confuse Classical Arminianism with either Finneyism or Semi-Pelagianism, which both reject the need for prevenient grace. So Christ’s redemption is universal in a provisional sense but conditional as to its application to any individual, i.e. those who do not resist the grace offered to them through the cross and the gospel. Prevenient grace, according to Arminians, convicts, calls (outwardly), enlightens and enables before conversion and makes conversion and faith possible. While Calvinists believe the inward call to the elect is irrevocable and effectually brings sinners to faith in Christ, the Arminian, on the other hand understand God’s grace as ultimately resistible. In short, they affirm that prevenient grace, which is given to all men at some point in their life, temporarily brings the sinner out of his/her condition of total depravity and puts them in a neutral state of free will wherein the natural man can either accept or reject Christ. Continue reading