Complete in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:11-14 ESV)

We live in a time of deep deception. Even genuine Christians can be deceived if they are not exceedingly careful. It is imperative that, even though we must remain in the world for a time, we must not be of it. The Church has been under heavy attack since Acts 2. It is a wise and discerning thing for us to understand that God uses this to purify, cleanse, and teach the Church. It is as we address heresy that doctrine is developed or our understanding of God and His ways becomes more defined for us.

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Trust in God Destroys the Fear of Man


by Mike Ratliff

25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25 ESV)

 

Our enemy is pretty smart. He has been around long enough that he believes he knows us. He knows that lost people are enslaved to him via their sin nature. He knows that the little flock, our Lord’s sheep, may be new creations via the washing of regeneration, but they still have their flesh and a deep, overwhelming need to be fulfilled. Their salvation has changed them so they now have the ability to be fulfilled in God the more they take on Christ’s character. Our enemy, on the other hand, does all he can to neutralize those sheep by attacking them in innumerable ways so that they walk according their flesh instead of according to the Spirit.

Satan has always wanted to be God. He caused a war in Heaven by attempting to usurp God’s throne for himself. Ever since, he has been hard at work attempting to fool people into believing that he is God or at least driving a wedge between people and the Living God by enticing them to be gods unto themselves through their self-will. Continue reading

Separating Regenerate Christianity from Counterfeit Christianity


by Mike Ratliff

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)

God is sovereign. God is a Covenant God who has not relinquished any of His sovereignty nor has He left His people’s eternal status up to their fickle, fallen natures. However, those God saves are truly saved. Their hearts are regenerate. They are eternally His. None of eternal security is in their hands. Instead, they are held in His capable and omnipotent hands. Continue reading

The Cost and Benefits of Obediently Standing in the Gap


by Mike Ratliff

I was involved in a discussion the other day with someone who claimed that it was impossible for a person to be both a Baptist and Reformed in their Theology. I got involved because I saw no sense to what he was saying in the discussion group. When I assured him that I was a Baptist, but not Dispensational he said that was a contradiction in terms. It was then that I went after his presuppositions. His presuppositions was that only those in the Covenant and given a mark of that Covenant, which was reference to their infant baptism, and no one else could be a member of the New Covenant. I then challenged his understanding of believer’s baptism throughout the book of Acts of Jewish and Gentile believers. He then said they were believers not disciples. His theology stated that a person could be a disciple and not be a genuine believer. I disagreed saying that a genuine disciple was a genuine believer while all false disciples were also false believers. This is where we came to the crux of the disagreement. I went to the Greek in The Great Commission and our Lord’s statement about the true cost of Discipleship in Luke 14:25-33. It was then that he claimed that using the Greek meant nothing and I then accused him of playing word games insisting that just because of false disciples such as Judas meant that the term “disciple” was nearly meaningless. That ended the discussion. I doubt if there will be another.

However, we do know that believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.

Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.

Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.

One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading

Living A Life Well Pleasing to God


by Mike Ratliff

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write:‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “‘I know your works:you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:14-16 ESV)

We live in an evil day. When “cultural relevance” carries more weight within the leadership of a church than conformity to the revealed Word of God then it should grieve those who know the Lord and are known by Him. All around us are examples of “churches” that would best be described as “Laodicean,” that is, people-centered rather than God-centered. “Laodicean churches” are always “lukewarm” and a word study of Revelation 3:14-22 makes it clear that a professing believer who is “lukewarm” is actually a “temporary christian,” not a genuine disciple of our Lord Jesus at all. In fact, this lukewarmness is so disgusting to our Lord that he tells them that he will “spit” them out of his mouth.

What is the marker of this lukewarmness? It is as I said, lukewarm “professing christians” are “man-centered” rather than God-centered. They go out of their way to never offend anyone about anything for instance.  As we have said many times here at Possessing the Treasure, there are only two religions in the whole world. There is genuine Christianity, which is based entirely in God’s Sovereignty and consists of those whom He elected, called, justified, sanctified, adopted, and glorified. Then there are all other religions, which are based entirely in the sovereignty of Man’s Free Will. Which are those who are “lukewarm” and those who are “hot”?

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What’s Wrong with Pragmatism?


by Mike Ratliff

1 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:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober- minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

The proponents of the seeker-sensitive church growth model may very well have had good intentions when through it was spawned the rise of contemporary mega-churches such as Willow Creek and Saddleback Valley Baptist and their clones. The focus was outreach to the unchurched. While that appears to be a proper function of the New Testament Church one of the model’s fundamental components is actually an antithesis of the clear instruction to Church leaders found in God’s Word. That component is pragmatism.  Continue reading

Does the Church Need a Revival or a New Reformation?


by Mike Ratliff

1 Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty- five years old, and he reigned twenty- nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. 3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east 5 and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place. 6 For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord and turned their backs. 7 They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the Holy Place to the God of Israel. (2 Chronicles 29:1-7 ESV)

We must admit that the spiritual condition of the 21st Century Church in this country and in most of the West is generally or mostly apostate. Thankfully, God always has His remnant of faithful believers even in the worst apostate periods. Over the last several years as I have posted on the topics of righteousness, repentance, sanctification, Antinomianism, and the nature of salvation, the resistance to some of these teachings has, at times, been quite eye-opening. There are some who see any call to walk righteously as hypocritical because they associate it with self-righteousness. Is walking in right behaviour hypocritical? Continue reading

The Sufficiency of Jesus Christ in Our Salvation


by Mike Ratliff

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:2-4 ESV)

The root of most heresies springs from those who profess Christ as Saviour, but who believe in various ways that what the Christian receives at Salvation is not sufficient. Something else must be added in order for the Christian to enter into a fuller relationship with God or to go deeper into the things of God. Some even go so far as to say that unless certain things are added to salvation then it is not complete and, therefore, void. A good example of this is found in the book of Galatians. Some Judiazers had entered the churches Paul and planted in Galatia. They were teaching that salvation was indeed by Christ, but it was not complete unless the converts also were circumcised and kept the Law of Moses. Continue reading

All Genuine Christians Are Called to Undergo the Test of Patient Endurance


by Mike Ratliff

14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.  (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)

I totally agree with Dr. John MacArthur’s assessment of the spiritual status of the United States of America in which he stated that we are in the process of being abandoned by God. Why is God doing this? Our leaders, which include those in all levels of the government as well as religious leaders have, for the most part abandoned God. They have turned away from a Christian Worldview and have pursued a secular, humanistic Worldview in its place. As we read in Romans 1:18-32, God gives people over to their false gods. This, in turn, causes deep spiritual blindness that only God can take away. As a result of a nation being given over like this this causes those who do hold to a Christian Worldview and who do pursue the holiness of God in their lives to find themselves at odds with every fabric of their society.
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The Ultimate Contrast


by Mike Ratliff

16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον (John 3:16 NA28)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)

26 ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος νεκρόν ἐστιν, οὕτως καὶ ἡ πίστις χωρὶς ἔργων νεκρά ἐστιν (James 2:26 NA28)

26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (James 2:26 ESV)

There is no more dramatic contrast between two words than those describing what are alive and those describing what are dead. For instance, in James 2:14-26 James describes the difference between living faith, which is saving faith, and dead faith, which does not save. In v26 the first occurrence of “dead” translates the Greek adjective νεκρόν (nekron), the Nominative, Singular, Neuter case of νεκρός (nekros), which speaks of a dead body or corpse. The second occurrence of “dead” translates the Greek adjective νεκρά (nekra), the Nominative, Singular, Feminine case of νεκρός. What James is describing is a false faith that is as dead as a dead body. The ultimate contrast is to take that which is the state of death compared to the state of eternal life, which our Lord described in John 3:16.  Continue reading

The Letter to the Church in Philadelphia


by Mike Ratliff

[7] “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. (Revelation 3:7 ESV)

One of the big errors of our time in the visible Church of the 21st Century is the misguided concept that truth is subjective. In other words, truth is what you want it be. This concept is, of course, simply borrowed from the world, which loves it. While I do not contend that I know when our Lord will return, I do know that it will be at the end of this age prior to the age to come. I know that He has been given a people for Himself from the Father. I know that His blood purchased them at the cross. I know that those whom He saves must live in this sin-sick world in order to be sanctified, to mature in Christ, and for their lives to glorify God. These truths, and so many more from God’s Word, are not subjective. Continue reading

Brothers Do not be Surprised that the World Hates You


by Mike Ratliff

[13] Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (1 John 3:13 ESV)

There are many ministries in our time that are run by people who have either forgotten that friendship with the world is a sin or they are deliberately overlooking it. If a ministry operates in such a way that the world loves it then there is at least one missing component in it, which is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture is clear that Christians cannot be friends of the world. Why? Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system, which is in rebellion against God (John 14:30). Therefore, the world not only hates Jesus, but also those who follow Him. This hatred is also focused toward the Father because He sent Jesus to testify against it. Now, since this is true and clearly taught in Sacred Scripture, what does this say about those ministries who work overtime to accommodate the secular and to appeal to temporal ways and means? Continue reading

The Storm Center of the Protestant Reformation


by Mike Ratliff

[1] Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

I shared in a previous post how I had in an incident in a Bible Study class while attempting to teach about the Doctrine of Election back in 2006 by a couple of men who were dead set on stopping me from simply reading certain texts from Sacred Scripture. I have had similar experiences when teaching on the Doctrine of Justification, which is what this post is about. Justification by Faith is a doctrine that was the storm center of the Reformation. It was also a major concern of the Apostle Paul. As we study his epistles we can plainly see that he considered this doctrine to be the heart of the gospel. (Romans 1:17; 3:21-5:21; Galatians 2:15-5:1) It also shaped both his message (Acts 13:38-39) and his devotion and spiritual life (2 Corinthians 5:13-21; Philippians 3:4-14) Continue reading

Therefore Make your Calling and Election Sure


by Mike Ratliff

[22] Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, [23] since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; [24] for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, [25] but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV)

The Puritans had a term they used in their theological writings and discussions describing professing believers who fell away or were in some way not consistent in their walk. They called them “temporary believers.” This may be a little offensive to many these days, but there are untold numbers of Pastors, Deacons, Elders, Evangelists, or whatever in our churches in our time who would not even qualify for membership in a 17th Century Puritan Church. As I have stated many times, I grew up in Oklahoma as a Southern Baptist. I have seen literally hundreds (if not more) of “invitations.” In a large percentage of these invitations, people walked an aisle, prayed a sinner’s prayer, was Baptised, and made a full member of the church. All of this taking place in a just a period of days. I have also observed a staggeringly high percentage of those professing believers last only a short period of time before disappearing from church never to be seen again. Continue reading