Who Are the Poor in Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 ESV)

One the most disturbing aspects of the churches who practice Christianity “lite” is the near total abandonment of a call to personal holiness. Even more discouraging is the fact that they preach a version of the gospel that has had any mention of repentance severed from it. The reasoning behind this, of course, is that they are building bridges to the unchurched. If they preach the whole gospel they will drive away those they are attempting to draw to join their churches. The problem with that sort of reasoning is that it is based in pragmatism. It is based on fleshly reasoning and the ways of the world. It is actually unbelief in the form of ministry. The architects of Christianity “lite” do not believe that God is still building His Church, therefore, they will do it themselves using marketing techniques constructed around “cultural-relevancy.” They reason that if they build “cool churches” that it will draw people who hate “traditional church.” They may not go to the old Baptist Church on main street, but they might go to a gathering that is more of an entertainment venue than a church.

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Justification, Sanctification and Lordship Salvation


You cannot receive Christ as your justification only, and then, later, decide to refuse or to accept Him as your sanctification. He is one and indivisible, and if you receive Him at all, at once He is made unto you “wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” You cannot receive Him as your Saviour only, and later decide to accept or refuse Him as your Lord; for the Saviour is the Lord who by His death has [bought] us and therefore owns us. Sanctification is nowhere taught or offered in the New Testament as some additional experience possible to the believer. It is represented rather as something which is already within the believer, something which he must realise more and more and in which he must grow increasingly. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

In Defense of the Gospel According to Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

[35] Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. [36] But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. [37] All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. [38] For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. [39] 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. [40] 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 6:35-40 ESV)

I received a heads-up email from my friend Ken Silva today about this post. I read and reread the points on that page several times and, to be honest, I am convinced that the author has some basic theological problems. He does not understand God’s Sovereignty and because of this makes many category errors in his theological understanding, as you will see. The first and foremost one is that he takes verses like John 6:40 out of context to support his thesis, while ignoring the immediate context (which I gave you at the top of this post). As you can see, put back into context, John 6:40 is actually a subordinate clause of what Jesus was saying in that statement. The point of what Jesus was saying to those people who wanted to follow him, but he ran them off with hard preaching, was that those who are truly his disciples are those given to him by the Father and each and every one of them serve him as Lord in faith and each of them will be raised up on the last day. Continue reading

Therefore Repent


by Mike Ratliff

19 μετανοήσατε οὖν καὶ ἐπιστρέψατε εἰς τὸ ἐξαλειφθῆναι ὑμῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας (Acts 3:19 NA27)

19 Therefore, repent and turn again in order that your sins will be removed. (Acts 3:19 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

One form of religion that claims to be Christian but isn’t is based in something called “no Lordship” or “easy-believism.” On the other hand, many of the proponents of it will point to what we call “the Gospel” in what follows as the “damnable heresy” of Lordship salvation. I have often shared here using passages such as Acts 3:19 (above) making it clear that the Bible tells us that there is no salvation without repentance and again in Acts 2:38, “Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.” Or, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent  [HE SAYS] and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” In any case, to support the Lordship case, all we have to go is go the God’s Word. In the case of the No-Lordship case, it all comes down to philosophical argumentation.  Continue reading

Raised Us Up


by Mike Ratliff

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4 ESV)

The debate over Lordship Salvation is more than unfortunate, but, as in all controversies in the Church, God uses them to, in multi-faceted ways, to accomplish His will. Through the controversy, those who stand firm against the attacks by going to the Word of God and via their defenses against the continual battles in the Truth War, the sheep are edified while the enemies of the cross are identified and are even further separated from the flock in order that they may do as little harm as possible. Some of these battles never seem to end. God has allowed some of these to rage for hundreds of years in various forms. After all, our enemy never really comes up with anything new, just a different slant here and there on his same old arguments, “Hath God said….” In the case of the battle over Lordship Salvation, those who reject it are really being very inconsistent in their theology because they are focusing everything from the perspective of man rather than from the perspective of God. However, to put things in the correct perspective, as one theologian has said, “When Christ comes into your life, your life changes. God’s Word everywhere declares that a change is automatic when someone truly believes.”  Continue reading

Light and Darkness


by Mike Ratliff

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:1-34 ESV)

The New Testament book of John is profound. The thirty-four opening verses (above) set the stage for us by making sure we understand whom Jesus Christ really is. Who is He? He is God! He is the Word, the Logos, who preexisted creation. Notice also, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This is an analogy. “Life” translates ζωὴ or zōē, which is speaking of spiritual life or eternal life (John 3:15; John 17:3; Ephesians 2:5) and John calls it what? It is “the light of men…” which translates the Greek phrase, “τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων.” “Light” translates the word φῶς or phōs and it refers to biblical truth, therefore, what do we have? In Christ, we have eternal life that also bears the fruit within us of God’s truth, which is Biblical truth. Of course, the opposite is true as well. Outside of Christ is spiritual death and those outside of Him are in darkness, which means they are in error or falsehood. Morally, this light refers to holiness and purity (1 John 1:5) while darkness refers to sin or wrongdoing (John 3:19; John 12:35, 46; Romans 13:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-7; 1 John 1:6; 1 John 2:8-11). Continue reading

A 15-Year Retrospective on the Lordship Controversy


The following article was written by John MacArthur at the 15th anniversary of the publication if the first edition of The Gospel According to Jesus, which was released in 1988. However, with the new and continual attacks on the genuine Gospel, as there always will be, it is good to continually focus on the clear stream of water that is God’s truth instead of the muddy waters clouded by our enemy’s use of misinformation and misapplied zeal of those whom he using in his attacks upon the Good News as well as our Lord’s faithful servants. Enjoy and be blessed – Mike Ratliff

John MacArthur

It has now been 15 years since The Gospel According to Jesus was first published and the lordship of Christ became a matter of intense debate among evangelicals. That book stood for the simple proposition that the gospel is a call to surrender to the lordship of Christ in humble, repentant faith.

My publisher originally assigned The Gospel According to Jesus to their academic division. They had high expectations for the book from the start and initially thought it might sell as many as 30,000 copies–an unusually high number for an academic book of that sort. But it surpassed 100,000 in sales in a few months, and within a couple of years it had reached the quarter-million mark. There are now about half a million copies in circulation, and the book is still in print. That is almost unprecedented for a polemic book dealing with a theological issue. Continue reading

A Response to an Antinomian


by Mike Ratliff

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? (James 2:17-20 ESV)

I have rules for commenting on Possessing the Treasure that are assiduously enforced. However, there are some who absolutely refuse to abide by them then act offended when their comments never show up. One rule that I rigidly enforce is this one in which I require Biblical support for any argument challenging any of my teachings. The emphasis is that I teach from God’s Word and any quotes I give to support what I teach will be from another Bible teacher or if I am contrasting the Bible with a worldly or anti-Biblical source then I will quote them. This rule was put into place to force certain people to cease attempting to hijack this ministry via attacks using bullying tactics. I analyzed their attacks and they absolutely never used exegetically sound Biblical arguments to support their claims. When I put this rule into place almost all of it stopped. However, every now and then certain people attempt to derail what I have taught with man-centered arguments right out of some “seeker-sensitive” seminar.  Continue reading

The Lordship of Christ Concerning Genuine Saving Faith


by Mike Ratliff

First indeed I give good grace to my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you that your faith is broadly declared throughout the whole world. (a personal translation of Romans 1:8 from the Greek text)

In these broadly apostate days of the visible church the good biblical words such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are thrown around and used in such a loose way that it is important for us dig into what God’s Word says about πιστεύω or pisteuō, “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly, persuaded as to something” and πιστός or pistos, an adjective meaning “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable” instead of relying on what our modern translations give us for these words, for if we do not “dig” we remain in a shallow understanding of these things. On the other hand, God will use our hard work in these things to teach us, train us, and grow us into more mature Christians who do glorify God in our walks and perhaps other disciples will marvel and report to others and then our faith will be “broadly declared throughout the whole world.” You see, for Paul to make that statement about the Romans’ faith meant that there must have been something remarkable about it. What was it?  Continue reading

Bought With a Price to be Slaves of Christ


 

by Mike Ratliff

Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24 ESV)

During the ministries of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles there was a full understanding of the nature of slavery. It dominated their culture. Therefore, we must take that into account when we read from God’s Word the true nature of our “personal relationship” with our Lord. The Greek word for Lord or Master is “κυριε” or “Kurios.” This title describes Jesus Christ as Lord in the sense of being the owner, possessor, or master. Some may teach that Christians can be genuine without them submitting to Christ as Lord, but that concept is alien to the Bible. We do not make Christ Lord of our lives my brethren. No, He is Lord of all those whom He bought with the price of His precious blood. Continue reading

The Authority of the Christ of God


by Mike Ratliff

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

As we saw in the last post, Jesus Christ is Lord of all of each of His people, or He is not Lord at all. That is very sobering isn’t it? It is supposed to be. Those are Jesus Christ’s own words about the nature of those who are and aren’t His disciples. There are some in the pulpit these days who treat Jesus as if He is just an add on their ministries. Not long ago I wrote a piece on evangelism and how it is God working through His people to do this work. The direction is Him working through us instead of us working and including God. However, I received one comment that stated what a “neat thing” it was when we included God in our evangelistic efforts. Sigh… In any case, I received the following comment today from Les on my post, Final Preparations to Receive the New Age Christ.

“Many pastors would reject the ideas described in the article yet they inadvertently promote these ideas by using flip language about Christ. To what extent does a degraded view of Jesus in ‘evangelical’ churches start with pastors calling Jesus things like ‘dude’, ‘homeboy’, ‘co-pilot’, ‘boss’ and ‘buddy’? It’s not a far leap from these nicknames to say “Oh well, Jesus is just like me” on to “Well, maybe Jesus did sin like me” or “He was just a great man”. Dan Brown’s view of Jesus seems more likely to an unbeliever after hearing the name of Jesus being used this way by pastors doesn’t it?” Continue reading

A 15-Year Retrospective on the Lordship Controversy


We are in a deadly battle. The church is becoming a horrible shipwreck. Why? The bar has been lowered. We are in the final stages of what Charles Spurgeon called the Great Downgrade Controversy. The church’s situation can be quite discouraging if we forget that God is still Sovereign and there are still pockets of believers, a remnant if you will, that has not bowed the knee to Baal. The visible church is ate up with idolatry and the biggest idol it worships is self. These folks decry the need for any doctrine as long as what they do in their churches continues to draw crowds. Of course, what they are doing is seeking cultural relevance including a version of the gospel that threatens no one with the reality of eternal death and the wrath God against all sins that have not been atoned for. Continue reading