Destructive Doctrines

by Mike Ratliff

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)

False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology ‘ gives them a green light. Continue reading

Out of Pocket

To all:

My brother-in-law had an accident at home which resulted in a shattered elbow and upper bone in his left arm as well as a some damage to his hip and spine. My wife and I will be traveling to their city to be with him and his family. I will not be able to post or do much with Possessing the Treasure until we return. Please be in prayer for my brother-in-law (Rick) and his family (Tara and Tristan) as well as our safe trip there and back.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

The Ministry of Reconciliation

by Mike Ratliff

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:22-25 ESV)

Not long ago I had an offline “discussion” with a fellow who was Hindu. He did not grow up as a Hindu, but in a Christian family. However, he forsook his parents’ faith because he believed that those professing Christians all around him were nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. Since I didn’t know the people he was referring to I did not interject anything into the “discussion” about that, but instead, I kept pointing Him to the finished work of Christ on the cross and I explained how Christians are not Christians because they choose to be, but because God the Father gave them to the Son who reconciled them to the Father through His death on that cross. God regenerated them so that they would believe and repent and be justified by faith. He would not “hear” it though. He insisted that Free Will is the center of all genuine religions and it is through the exercise of that Free Will to obey one’s religious “deity” that causes what we refer to as “salvation” or “justification.” Continue reading

Perseverance of the Saints

by Mike Ratliff

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40 ESV)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29 ESV)

The Doctrines of Grace are all tremendous blessings to the believer since they teach us that our salvation is God’s Work from beginning to end, top to bottom, and side to side. However, each of us from time to time, since we are only vessels of clay and a vapor that is here one day and then gone the next, will experience  a loss of joy born from life’s disappointments. We suffer this way because our focus is not perfectly fixed on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as the source of our fulfillment. God, in His omniscient wisdom, prunes us as He takes things out of our lives that our hearts cherished. It is as we struggle through these times that it is a good thing to review who we are in Christ and what He has done, and what He is doing for us. One such precious promise is the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. Continue reading

Loving the Esteem of Men Over the Esteem of God

by Mike Ratliff

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:39-44 ESV)

The sin of unbelief is amazing to behold. Those in its clutches deliberately refuse to believe the truth preferring instead to pursue untruths that are popular with men. What motivates so-called Christian leaders to do this? They do this because they love the esteem or praise of men more than the esteem or praise of God. This is no different than believers remaining silent because they fear that taking a stand as a Christian would lower their esteem in the eyes of their peers. However, when these preachers or pastors or writers who profess to be Christians teach or preach a form of the gospel that has all of the offense of sin, hell, and the sacrifice on the cross of our beloved Saviour removed or glossed over then they are just a guilty as those Jewish leaders who were secret followers of Christ out of fear of being excommunicated. Continue reading

New and Old Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46 ESV)

The correct way to understand Sacred Scripture is that the Old Testament contains the “old” promises of the Messiah and the fulfillment of His Kingdom while the New Testament is the “new” revelation from Jesus and His Apostles, which reveal to us how the “old” promises are fulfilled in Him. The New Testament explains the Old Testament, not the other way around. Continue reading

Salt of the Earth and Light of the World

by Mike Ratliff

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:21-23 ESV)

In Ephesians 5:18 Christians are commanded to continually be filled with the Holy Spirit instead of being filled with the desires of the flesh. This filling by the Holy Spirit is best understood in two ways. The first is the Christian being driven into God’s will by the Holy Spirit filling his or her spiritual sails. The believer must raise these sails and that happens as he or she pursues holiness and obedience by God’s grace. The other way to understand this is the Holy Spirit seasoning the Christian as salt permeates meat in order to preserve it and make it savory. This permeation is part of the believer’s persevering, however, it also flavors him or her to have the same savor as Christ. In turn, the believer who is so filled with the Holy Spirit is also the salt of the earth. Continue reading

Have You Lost the Love You Had at First?

by Mike Ratliff

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 2:1-3 ESV)

Christian, think back to those early days of your walk with the Lord. Your entire value system seemed to be turned upside-down. You loved God and your devotion to your Saviour was the most important thing in your life. Old sins had no power over you. You were full of joy and wanted only to serve the Lord Jesus with your all. At the same time, you also discovered that your relationships changed. You could love others with a deeper and more sincere love that was active and compassionate. Would this describe your relationship with the Lord Jesus and all those around you today? Continue reading

What is Faith?

by Mike Ratliff

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

Much of the false doctrine that we see in our time can be at least partially seen to emanate from a misunderstanding of what faith is. Paul tell us in Ephesians 2:8 that Christians are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. So, whatever faith is, saving faith has as its source something other than our fallen nature. Continue reading

The Unchanging Gospel

by Burk Parsons

I am a Christian, and I am a Protestant. Im a Christian because I trust Jesus Christ alone, believing that salvation is accomplished by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. I am a devout Protestant because I continue to protest against anyone who even suggests that salvation is accomplished in any other way. Continue reading

The Curse of Gospel Contextualization

by Mike Ratliff

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19 ESV)

Several weeks ago I found myself in a battle of words with a couple of men who tried every argument you can imagine in an attempt to move me away from the stance I have taken, which is that truth is the truth regardless whether people believe it or not. Along with this, I also refused to “compromise” by admitting that what I held to be true was only my opinion and, therefore, their “opinion” was just as valid. While this culture may actually side with those two fellows rather than me, I still stand and refuse to budge from the stance that the truth revealed in God’s Word is not hidden from the regenerate heart. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts to validate what is true and what is not. I have always allowed discussion on these topics as long as the one disagreeing with me will use scripture alone, in context, as the basis for his or her argument. No one has taken that challenge. Instead, all I have received are philosophical arguments and quotes from some source other than God’s Word. Continue reading

Debtors to God

by Mike Ratliff

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:8-14 ESV)

In the late 1980’s I was asked to teach a Sunday School class at the church (SBC) my family attended. I had never taught anything at any level before. The class was the 5th grade boys and girls. Even though I had not taught before I did have enough discernment to know that the curriculum they gave us to teach from was pathetic. It was about that same time that I took a class at church on Sunday evenings called Masterlife. I had been a Christian about two years at this time and did not know much about theology.

As I look back on Masterlife and the curriculum I was asked to teach from, I marvel at the foundation of sand on which much of it was based. For instance, the Masterlife course taught that there were three types of people. There are unbelievers who are spiritually dead. There are spirit-filled or spirit-led believers who walk in a close relationship with God. These are disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, the writers of this course included a third group. This group was made up of Christians, but they were carnal or fleshly. The course contended that there was not much difference between them and the lost person other than the fact that they had made a profession of faith, which guaranteed that their spirit was not dead, but alive. Continue reading