Who is it That Truly Has Fellowship With Christ?


by Mike Ratliff

14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?  (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NASB) 

Contrary to what most believe about Christianity, what one’s own framework is of their conception of salvation and having fellowship with Jesus Christ is irrelevant. Unless this ‘understanding’ is totally submitted to the Word of God and the authority of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit then it will be according to the counsel of the individual’s own conscience. This counsel is according to the value system of the individual not according to what God has revealed. It creates its own image of God and holds that image accountable to the individual’s value system. Continue reading

Finishing Well


by Mike Ratliff

3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν δι’ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν, 4 εἰς κληρονομίαν ἄφθαρτον καὶ ἀμίαντον καὶ ἀμάραντον τετηρημένην ἐν οὐρανοῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς 5 τοὺς ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ φρουρουμένους διὰ πίστεως εἰς σωτηρίαν ἑτοίμην ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ 6 ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε ὀλίγον ἄρτι, εἰ δέον ἐστίν, λυπηθέντας ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, 7 ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως πολυτιμότερον χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου, διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (1 Peter 1:3-7 NA28)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one according to his great mercy has regenerated us to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an imperishable inheritance that is undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if it is necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to bring praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I left on a trip early in the morning of August 19th for a scheduled two week meeting in the Kansas City area dealing with restructuring much of how we do our Database Management at our company. However, I knew going into this that there was the possibility that I could receive a message or call or email from my sister that the time in hospice care was drawing to an end for my nephew Travis who has been battling brain cancer for about 6 years or so. In fact, on Wednesday last week I got an email from her saying that the hospice care nurses were saying he had only a matter of hours or days left so we had better be prepared. I called her that night and she confirmed that and I could also sense a deepening dread in her perhaps some weariness. In any case the very next  evening after after my wife drove up to KC from our home in the OKC area to spend the weekend with me, we received the message from her that Travis had died. I made all the arrangements to depart the meetings and head home the next day so we could then drive to Houston to be with family and attend Travis’ funeral, which was on Monday this week. We arrived in Houston with our daughter Sunday afternoon in time to attend the “Viewing” at the funeral home. This was the first time I had seen my sister in several weeks, perhaps months. What a difference! It was a like a massive load had been removed from her. We visited with my brother-in-law, Travis’ brother and sister, and his wife Jennifer and it was amazing how, yes, they were in mourning, but there was also a great release and joy present knowing that the one they loved was no longer suffering and was now in the presence of our Lord.  Continue reading

Traveling


I am out of town on business through August 30th. I have internet access, but I will not have any time to write or post and very little time to keep up with comments and email. Your prayers and patience are greatly appreciated. – Mike Ratliff

Our Faith Comes Before Our Good Works


by Mike Ratliff

8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· 9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. 10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NA28)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift;  9 not by works lest any should boast. 10 For we are his masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:8-10 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We spend a great deal of time here at Possessing the Treasure examining what makes up “Christian Authenticity.” The genuine Christian is a new creation. He or she will not be the same after regeneration as they were before. Before regeneration they were children of wrath and conformed to this world. After regeneration they were adopted children of God who, from an eternal perspective, are Holy, justified, sanctified, and glorified in Christ. However, from a temporal perspective they are in the process of sanctification that God uses to conform His children unto the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The unregenerate may suffer. They may have a large number of problems. However the suffering of Christians is different. God uses suffering, tests, and trials in the lives of His children to build humility and uproot pride in their hearts. Continue reading

What Happens When the Authority of Sacred Scripture is Ignored?


by Mike Ratliff

12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:12-17 NASB)

The Great Down Grade Controversy in the latter part of the 19th Century was between Charles Spurgeon and a few orthodox ministers who stood against the trend towards modernism that was sweeping through England. This also coincided with the last years of Spurgeon’s ministry. That conflict had many similarities with the battle we are in the midst of right now with the movement into “relevance” and “the new evangelism.” Just as in Spurgeon’s day, there seems to be only a remnant that is standing against this onslaught against the truth for the sake of being man pleasers.  Continue reading

The Authority of Sacred Scripture


by Mike Ratliff

12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.  (Proverbs 14:12 NASB) 

I have yet to encounter a person who has a problem with the genuine, biblical gospel, or the sovereignty of God, or election, or the exclusivity of genuine discipleship, et cetera who does not also force a man-centered perspective on God’s Word in one form or another. These same people lean towards a form of Christianity that is almost all experiential. Since their view of how the gospel works and how God works with Man is wrongly focused and the Word of God contains clear teachings about the sovereignty of God, these people conceive of their entire “Christian” paradigm from a philosophical and existential base rather than on the authority of Sacred Scripture. Continue reading

Private Interpretation Leading to Subjectivism


by Mike Ratliff

13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  (John 16:13-14 NASB)

Even though it is discounted by many today, the Protestant Reformation was a wonderful work by God in that the Gospel was freed from the captivity of the apostate Roman Catholic Church. Over the centuries the Gospel had become obscured as the Bishop of Rome was declared perfect with authority over Scripture. Any resistance to his authority was dealt with through excommunication followed by being burned at the stake. The Reformation not only recovered the Gospel and Justification by Faith, the Bible became available to the common people whereas before this, no one was allowed to read it by the edicts of the Pope.

At Martin Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms when pressed to recant of His teachings he proclaimed, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” Continue reading

Mays Family Adoption Fund


The Adoption was made legal today (8-14-2013)

The Adoption was made legal today (8-14-2013)

As many of you know, I have a grandson named Calvin. Over the last couple of years my daughter Misti and son-in-law Brian have been working at adopting a second child. It is pretty expensive. This January they were notified by the adoption agency in OKC they were going through that there was a baby boy available for them. A few days later they took him home. However, there have been a large number unforeseen legal battles with this adoption since he is Native American (as am I). In any case, my daughter and son-in-law have set up a fund-raiser site to help pay for both the adoption costs and the very expensive legal fees it has taken to finalize the adoption, which is rapidly approaching. Go here to see the details. I pray that God will lead you to help.

Comparing the Unregenerate Mindset With the Transformed Mindset


by Mike Ratliff

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NASB)

George Whitefield and his ministry and the history of the Great Awakening of which he was a major part has always fascinated me. Wouldn’t another Great Awakening in our time based upon the same Law and Gospel preaching at core of his preaching be something to see! A study of George Whitefield will reveal that he had a close relationship with both John Wesley and Charles Wesley. At the beginning of their ministries none of them were well educated in doctrine, but they were devout believers and had a heart for the lost. However, their understanding of doctrine was no deeper than any other new believer’s. Over time Whitefield’s doctrine became more conformed to that of Jonathan Edwards’ after spending time with him in the Colonies. This changed his preaching drastically. However John Wesley stayed with his understanding of doctrine that he held from the day he was born again and that was Arminian. The reason Wesley was such a powerful revivalist, however, was not that he was an Arminian, but that he was a preacher of righteousness. He did preach that all men are dead in their trespasses and sins and would go to Hell if they did not repent and accept Jesus and Lord and Saviour. Whitefield was the Lightening Rod of the Great Awakening. He was also a preacher of righteousness, but his doctrine was centered in the doctrines of grace. As believers surrender more and more to the Lordship of Christ in every area of their lives they are also surrendering to the Sovereignty of God. This is a huge part of the process God uses to transform us unto the image of the Son. What is our part? Continue reading

Not Legalism but Law and Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.  (Romans 6:5-9 NASB)

As one who has been accused of being a Pharisee bound to legalism more times than I could ever recount, I was very pleased recently when I discovered a more biblical definition for “legalism” which states that the “legalist” is one who attempts to make legal and binding that which is never addressed to be so by God. For instance, I was taught growing up by my well meaning parents that even to take a sip of an alcoholic drink was a sin. I have read the Bible cover to cover many times and I know for certain that there is no such command in scripture that is even close to that admonition. However, I did find several references to not becoming drunk with wine or strong drink. Our Lord turned water into wine at Cana. He drank wine at the Last Supper. Paul counseled Timothy to take a little wine with his food to help his stomach, et cetera. Continue reading

Divine Sovereignty


A Sermon
(No. 77)
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 4, 1856, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?—Matthew 20:15.
The householder says, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” and even so does the God of heaven and earth ask this question of you this morning. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” There is no attribute of God more comforting to his children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty hath ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend than the dominion of their Master over all creation—the kingship of God over all the works of his own hands—the throne of God, and his right to sit upon that throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a foot-ball, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow him to be in his almonry to dispense his alms and bestow his bounties. They will allow him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends his throne, his creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and his right to do as he wills with his own, to dispose of his creatures as he thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on his throne is not the God they love. They love him anywhere better than they do when he sits with his sceptre in his hand and his crown upon his head. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon his throne whom we trust. It is God upon his throne of whom we have been singing this morning; and it is God upon his throne of whom we shall speak in this discourse. I shall dwell only, however, upon one portion of God’s Sovereignty, and that is God’s Sovereignty in the distribution of his gifts. In this respect I believe he has a right to do as he wills with his own, and that he exercises that right. Continue reading

He Will Abundantly Pardon


by Mike Ratliff

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. 5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” 6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  (Isaiah 55:4-8 NASB)

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not editable. It is not open to change. No matter how much anyone  wants it to be otherwise, it is unchangeable. It is God’s Good News to be proclaimed to all fallen man. This good news is the proclamation that there is a way, only one way, for sinful people to be reconciled to God. It is good news because all people suffer from the same condition. They are born dead in trespasses and sins and are not morally able to do anything about it. This separates all of us from God because He is Holy and must judge all sin. The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ went to the cross and became sin on our behalf, our propitiation. God judged our sin in Him. This “atoned” for our sins. Now let us look at the pardon available to all who believe.

Continue reading

Lead Me In Your Truth and Teach Me Your Paths


by Mike Ratliff

A Psalm of David. To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. 4 Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.  (Psalms 25:1-5 NASB)

Doubting God and His promises, worrying about things that are in God’s control are sins. Our enemy focuses primarily in His attacks on us by attempting to bring us to a place where we doubt God. This struggle comes to all who commit themselves to serving God with their lives. The closer they draw to God, the more Satan or his forces attempt to bring discouragement and despair to bear on these believers in an attempt to thwart their devotion to their Lord. Continue reading

Genuine Christianity and Repentance with Joy


by Mike Ratliff

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1,2 NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Deception is our enemy’s most powerful weapon. When a person is deceived into believing a lie they are not intending to participate in something that is wrong. No, they believe they have the truth and all those who oppose what they believe are just wrong. When the lie leads people to believe that their form of ‘religion’ is true Christianity, regardless of how unbiblical it is, they are not actually intending to be evil following an evil system. They are ‘sure’ they have the truth. They are sincere. I am sure the priests of Baal whom Elijah defeated at Mount Carmel were sincere as well. Continue reading