The Dragnet


by Mike Ratliff

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; Matthew 13:47 (LSB)

The thirteenth chapter of the book of Matthew is a treasure vault of truth about the true nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus spoke a great deal in parables. Why? The parables were, for the most part, analogies that used every day, common objects and events that Jesus utilized to present eternal truths in a way that the Holy Spirit used to cement those truths into the hearts of God’s people. On the other hand, those without the Spirit of God were perplexed and could not grasp those truths. For those reading this who are still resistant to the truth that God is Sovereign over ALL things I suggest a very deep study of the book of Exodus. Moses makes sure that the reader understands who calls the shots, who draws people to Himself while pushing others away. He puts His words in the mouths of His messengers and into their minds and hearts to be written down for the Holy Spirit to use to break hearts and enlighten minds. Continue reading

Drinking Living Water


by Mike Ratliff

10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. John 4:10 (NA28)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”John 4:10 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42.  Continue reading

The one boasting, let him boast in the Lord.


by Mike Ratliff

18 Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. 19 γέγραπται γάρ·
ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν
καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω. 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 (NA28)

18 For the word of the cross to those perishing is senseless, but to us being saved, it is the power of God
19 for it has been written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise ones and the understanding of the intelligent I will set aside.’1 Corinthians 1:18, 19 (translated  from the NA28 Greek text)

Look around at those man-focused, pragmatic, seeker-sensitive “churches” all around us in our time. They may vary in many ways, but there is a commonality that marks them all as products of the spirit of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) rather than the spirit of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). That commonality is seen in the passage I placed at the top of this post. It is what makes them of the spirit of Laodicea. They are structured and operate according to the wisdom of men. Their very way of handling the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ depletes the cross of its power. What do I mean? When the “so-called gospel” that is “preached” is given in a way that intentionally removes its offense and an attempt is made to make it sensible to the lost and dying world by removing the blood and removing the necessity of our Lord’s death for those who owed a debt to God they could not pay, well, what is given is more of a sales pitch and self-help remedy. All this does is create a body of people who are neither cold nor hot. No, they believe they have everything and are right with God, but are in reality, wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked who are simply ready for the next deceiver to come along.  Continue reading

Drinking from Christ’s Cup of Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:34-42 (NASB) 

I am sure you have heard some preacher somewhere at sometime say something like, “Come to Jesus so He can bless you and make your life better.” Every time I hear or read something like that, I want to grab them and ask them if they have ever seriously read their Bibles. Yes, a life in Christ is far superior to life outside of God’s grace; however, people who preach a gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity are guilty of misleading the gullible. The walk of a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of self-denial, humility, obedience, and devotion to God’s glory. Continue reading

The Righteous Shall Live By Faith


by Mike Ratliff

16 Οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι. 17 δικαιοσύνη γὰρ θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, καθὼς γέγραπται· ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. Romans 1:16-17 (NA28)

16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone believing, both to Jew first and to Greek. 17 For the righteousness of God is revealed in it from faith to faith as it has been written, “But the righteous man will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

After Saul the Pharisee was knocked off his horse on his way to persecute Christians, blinded by the power of God, and saved becoming the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-9), a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ in Damascus named Ananias was sent to lay hands on a “man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying” (Acts 9:11). When Ananias expressed fear and doubt, knowing whom Saul was, our Lord said, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and children of Israel. For I will show hm how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:15-16).  Continue reading

What is the Offense of the Gospel?


by Mike Ratliff

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (NASB) 

I have been working on writing a commentary. It is very tiring, but also exciting as I dig into an Epistle that I thought I knew pretty well, but now I think I will almost have it memorized. Here is a list of the different offenses of the Gospel that can cause us to not be the witnesses that we should be. Continue reading

Many are Called but Few are Chosen


by Mike Ratliff

11 “And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. 12 “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 “These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and elect and faithful.” (Revelation 17:11–14 Legacy Standard Bible)

There are three attributes of those who belong to Christ. No one else has these attributes. We see them in Revelation 17:14. Those with Christ, the Lamb who will conquer all His enemies for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, are called and chosen and faithful. In Matthew 22:1-14, our Lord tells a parable that is called “The Parable of the Wedding Feast.” In it our Lord describes the consequences that will befall those who believe their religiosity or position in the visible church is what earns them a place in the Kingdom, but who, in reality, are not among the chosen.  Continue reading

Blessed are the Forgiven


by Mike Ratliff

7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.” (Romans 4:7–8 Legacy Standard Bible)

The Church, the genuine Church that is, is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our Holy, Righteous, and Just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some. Continue reading

How Deep Are We Into The Last Days?


by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (NASB) 

The title to this post is strictly a rhetorical question. I do not expect anyone to be able to answer it succinctly except the Lord and He isn’t going to do that. However, as we, those of us who are not blind to the truth that is, survey the church visible, we must honestly say that what is going on is exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. Could things get worse? Sure, they could. Could God grant the Church a reprieve and send mighty men of God who would preach in the power of the Holy Spirit and bring another Great Awakening? God can do that if He wills, but will He?  Continue reading

A Brand Plucked From the Fire


by Mike Ratliff

2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:2 (NASB) 

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:10 (NASB) 

Several years before I retired this December the company I worked for sent me to Seattle for a week of training. The flight from Kansas City Airport to SeaTac Airport is quite long. However, that day I had the privilege of sitting by a young man named Chris who was about the same age as my son. He and I talked the entire length of the flight. It seemed to last just a matter of minutes. We talked about many things, but eventually the discussion became centered on Christianity and our faith. He was very typical of my son’s generation in that organized religion turned him off and, therefore, he considered himself a questioning agnostic. However, I did share many things about our faith including my testimony. My heart went out to this young man because I saw the sincere searching that he was doing. Most of our conversation from that point on was me answering his questions. When we began our approach into SeaTac, he reached over and shook my hand and thanked me for sharing these things with him. I have prayed for this young man for years that God will pluck him from the fire. Continue reading

There is only one Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ


by Mike Ratliff

8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:8-12 (NASB) 

The title of this article may surprise many. I have been in “conversation” on this topic for last several days with many who disagree that there is only one gospel. Their stance is that no one can know everything about the gospel. We must be tolerant of others views of salvation because the gospel is inherently unknowable. Before our Lord saved me I may have bought that argument, but not anymore. Our God is a very precise God who does things His way in His timing and always for His glory. Continue reading

What is the Offense of the Cross?


by Mike Ratliff

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,
“BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE,
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 9:30-33 (NASB) 

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ must always be offensive to the unregenerate. It is that offense that makes it clear to people that they have nothing with which to bargain with God. They are sinners lost with nothing to offer the one condemning them. The Gospel, the real Gospel preached with the Law, makes it clear that there is none righteous, no not one, but the Gospel shows that there is one and only one way to be reconciled to God, to be justified before Him. This is the Good News and that one way is via the Lord Jesus Christ alone. No one can work to earn or deserve salvation. No, this salvation is by God’s grace alone according to His divine election, according to His way alone. This is offensive. Let us look at Galatians 5:7-12 in which Paul makes the argument very clear to believers at Galatia who were being victimized by Judiazers making the claim that true salvation was not by Grace alone, but through Grace plus keeping the Jewish law.  Continue reading

Not Ashamed of the Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NASB) 

I have shared this before, but will do so again. When I first began this ministry, Possessing the Treasure, I was absolutely shocked not at the push-back against the Biblical truths I posted, but from where the majority of that push-back came. I had always assumed that those outside of the “Church” who hated God and hated his truth being presented as absolute would the ones who would be the most vicious and obstinate in their attacks, but I was wrong. The vast majority of the push-back, the back-stabbings, the most vicious, and absolutely evil attacks on the direct, clear meaning of God’s Word, exegetically and contextually presented here as God’s absolute truth came from what I would call “Religious Christians.” Continue reading

The Effectual Call


By Mike Ratliff

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”
2 Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6 (NASB) 

In Genesis 15:1-6 (above), God gives us through His prophet Moses probably one of the most important truths found in His Word. This truth is all wrapped up in God’s Sovereignty. In v1 we read that through a vision given to him by God, Abram learns that God is his shield and that he will receive a great reward. In vv2-3 we witness Abram’s fear and his plea for an heir from his own loins. His focus is temporal, but he recognizes that unless God ordains it, there will be no child of his own. Here we see that Abram is no different than us. When he is in control then he is dominated by fear and unbelief. However, in vv4-5 God gently deals with Abram’s unbelief and fear by assuring him that he would indeed have a son and that his descendants would be innumerable. From this we learn that God’s promises are eternally focused even if they have temporal elements. We are called to believe based on His character not our circumstances. In these two verses, we have God’s effectual call of Abram. In v6 we read that Abram believed the Lord, and God counted it to him as righteousness. As a result of every effectual call by God, the one called by God believes Him and as a result He justifies them. They are saved by grace through the saving faith that accompanies every effectual call.  Continue reading