Faith Grace and Certainty


by Mike Ratliff

16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO shall your descendants be.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Romans 4:16-21 (NASB) 

Several years ago I wrote a post about Liberal Theology. That post produced a very long and protracted discussion in the comment section of this blog. I remember it very well. The discussion became quite heated at times. One person insisted that scholarship and critical analysis of the Bible far outweighed faith when it comes to theology. In fact, he tried very hard to make us see that the Bible is unreliable and cannot be understood or held by Christians to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God.As some of my friends from around the blogosphere joined the battle, he soon “tired” and left when it became obvious that we would not accept what he was “preaching.” He gave some parting shots that were intended to do some damage to our faith. The one that stood out to me was, “No, I encourage you to continue in your faith. Hold tight. Don’t let go. But I think that over time you will find that it is kinda like trying to hold on real tight to a handful of sand.Continue reading

The Hatred of the World


by Mike Ratliff

13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13 (NASB) 

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. That of course 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

Me a Sinner?


by Mike Ratliff

1 On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, 2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” 3 Jesus answered and said to them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me: 4 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” 5 They reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Luke 20:1-8 (NASB) 

Fallen man is enslaved to the flesh. When God regenerates and justifies sinners, saving them unto eternal life in Christ, the flesh remains. When we are born our pride and flesh are the main vehicles that we use in order to seek fulfillment. Our salvation does not eradicate this. Since discipleship in our churches is so shallow we do not learn that the most fulfilling place is to be humbly before the throne of grace seeking our Lord’s glory in all we do. Unfortunately, most do not learn or know this. Why? We learn this when we understand that none of us deserve salvation and that without God’s grace we would be on our way to Hell. We are all sinners. Continue reading

Sin Grace Faith Righteousness Flesh and Spirit


by Mike Ratliff

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They *said to Him, “Yes.” 52 And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:51-52 (NASB) 

Charles Spurgeon spent the last several years of his ministry contending with “liberalizing” efforts within the Evangelical churches in England in what came to be known as the “Great Downgrade Controversy.” That “downgrade” gained momentum not only in England, but here in the United States and around the world. It began in the 19th Century when Seminaries began embracing “higher criticism” of the Bible. This caused many promising Biblical Scholars to eventually cast loose that which moored them to orthodoxy, the belief that the Bible is God’s Word, inerrant, and complete. Even though movements came forth to contend with this liberalization, this downgrade, instead of dying, has only changed form many times while still poisoning the Church like a parasite, sucking the spiritual life from it. Continue reading

A Case of Spiritual Blindness


by Mike Ratliff

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3 NASB)

I watched a murder mystery on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater several months ago which was situated in Sweden. The story revolved around a murdered police detective who was homosexual. He lived a secret and depraved lifestyle, but the writer of the story and his characters refused to talk about that except when it involved the interview of suspects who were also in that lifestyle. In the end, they show his funeral, which takes place in a Lutheran church. They cover his casket with the blue and gold Swedish flag. The pastor of the church is a woman. They bury the man in the church cemetery, which is full of crosses. It is very interesting to watch these vignettes of what has happened to the morals in Europe as the Church there has lost its way because this very thing is happening in the United States at an astonishing rate. The Church is apostatizing and it seems that many within those local churches which are standing firm against it are some who are attempting to cause division with attacks rooted in self-righteousness fueled by conspiracy theories such as King James Onlyism. Continue reading

The Real Gospel as Opposed to Another Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, 7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρ᾽ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω· εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρ᾽ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 10 Ἄρτι γὰρ ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢ τὸν θεόν; ἢ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἂν ἤμην. (Galatians 1:6-10 NA27)

6 I marvel that you are so quickly being turned from the one who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel; 7 which is not another; except there are some troubling you and are desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you besides that which we preached to you, let him be a curse.  9 As we have previously said, and now again I say, if anyone preaches a gospel to you besides that which you received, let him be a curse.  10 For am I now trying to convince men or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave. (Galatians 1:6-10 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

Along the lines of our last post which was from John MacArthur’s book, Ashamed of the Gospel, in which he summarized Charles Spurgeon’s struggle with the move towards Christian liberalism in England in the 19th Century. This move began earlier after the Puritan era and gained momentum as Christian leaders sought to become more appealing and less strict, more conciliatory and less divisive no matter the cost in terms of theology. While some held the high ground in terms of their own theology they saw no issue in the compromise in fellowshipping with those who held more “liberal” views than they or some of their peers did. As this trend continued the erosion lead to a spiraling down that became known as the Great Down Grade. In the end, the struggle led to the ejection of from England’s Baptist Union of Spurgeon himself because he had led the defense against the Down Grade. For Spurgeon it cost him his health, but for the Baptist Union it cost it it’s spiritual life. The liberals won the leadership and led the denomination into the death throes of Christian Liberalism. Yes, it still exists today, but it stands for nothing having lost its backbone. What would Charles Spurgeon think about that?  Continue reading

Death in Adam Life in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  (Genesis 3:1-6 NASB)

19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 NASB)

The doctrine of original sin is a vital part of genuine Christian orthodoxy. For a long time I didn’t really appreciate how important it is in our concept of the depths of our guilt before our sovereign and thrice Holy God. However, as I have become involved in ‘discussions’ with those who reject this doctrine, God has revealed to me, through my studying his Word in order to answer certain ‘arguments,’ that when this doctrine is not part of one’s theology then their concept of their salvation is more self-centered and, in some cases, is understood that one is a Christian based solely on religious acts they have done. Let’s look again at the Apostle Paul’s thesis on our salvation, which none of us deserve. Continue reading

Rejoicing in Faith


by Mike Ratliff

I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. (Philippians 2:25-3:1 ESV)

God uses our circumstances to shape, prune, and purify our hearts. This is that part of our sanctification that can be quite stressful and even seem as if we are in the flames of God’s wrath at times. However, what is happening to God’s people whom He takes through sickness, painful circumstances, frustrations, or anything that seems at times that is bent on destroying us, is that they are being humbled and trained for service of the King. Only the humble are usable in the Kingdom, but people are naturally full of pride. Sometimes our tests and trials come upon us when we are actually serving God with our all. Think of Job and the great test God allowed in his life at Satan’s hand. A deep study of that book will reveal that troubles in our lives are not always the result of our disobedience. No, God can place us in the fire for any purpose, but it will always be for our best and His glory. Continue reading

Car Accidents and the Ways of the World


by Mike Ratliff 

I thought I was pretty smart leaving work about 30 minutes early today. It began snowing here about mid-morning and snowed all day. As far as snows go it wasn’t much, but with the heavy rains last night and the slushy condition of the roads as the temperatures dropped all day I knew that they would be slick. That was an understatement. The first 5 miles of my commute were at the blazing speed of 10mph. There were cars on both shoulders in various conditions with the ever-present State Trooper cars with their warning lights flashing. I remember praying as I started my commute that I would arrive home safely and that I would not be the cause of any one else having an accident. Continue reading

Sit at My Right Hand


by Mike Ratliff

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41-46 ESV)

Many Psalms, written a thousand years before Christ’s birth, contain many references to Him that are wholly inapplicable to any other person in history. Even many references to David surpass him in scope, strength and duration – often pointing to a Son of David who would reign eternally. Let us look at one of these Psalms that our Lord cited in Matthew 22:41-46, which is Psalm 110. Our Lord tells us that this Psalm speaks of Him. In it we will see that it also very succinctly shows us the result of our Lord’s incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension in what has been called the ‘Church Age.’ It also shows us what will transpire when He returns at the end of this age. Continue reading

I Have Many In This City Who Are My People


by Mike Ratliff

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:14-16 ESV)

When those of us who came from an Arminian or Free Will background come to grips with the reality of God’s Sovereignty, it is amazing how we struggle with letting go of the responsibility to “earn” our salvation. Of course, part of that struggle is rooted in the misconception that “election” happens at salvation. Ephesians 1 makes it clear, however, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. An honest reading of that wonderful letter by the Apostle Paul shows us that God’s people are His in completion even though many of them have not yet believed and repented. They are our Lord’s sheep. Continue reading

Another Jesus


by Mike Ratliff

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 ESV)

Every professing Christian, whether he or she is trained theologian or not, has constructed some kind of Christology in their mind, in their heart. Sadly, with the dearth of clear and correct doctrine being taught in our churches, most seem to believe that whatever their own concept of Christ is it is okay. After all, to have correct doctrine isn’t that important…right? Some think that Jesus came to give His followers a “better life” here and now. This would include becoming prosperous and influential. Others see Jesus as mostly concerned about the environment and that He is the ultimate tree hugger. Still others see Jesus as primarily a teacher of ethics. This same Jesus is concerned with accepting all into His kingdom regardless of whether they have repented of their sins or not. Are any of these examples representative of the Jesus we meet in God’s Word? Continue reading

A Life Pleasing to God


by Mike Ratliff

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. 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)

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. I read an article today written about a post on a blog belonging to a youth pastor at Saddleback Church. The poster was questioning whether it would be okay to teach a series to the youth there about the evils of stealing. This is just another sad example of the visible Church being something other than The Church. 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. Continue reading

Love What God Loves But Hate What God Hates


by Mike Ratliff

For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! (Psalms 97:9-12 ESV)

As I drove home from work today, I saw a bumper sticker on a SUV in another lane. I had seen this particular bumper sticker before so I was not surprised by it. However, for some reason it caused me to focus on the message it was attempting to convey. The bumper sticker read, “Hate is not a family value.” Now, I know and I am sure most of you know that that statement is meant to cause those who stand firm for family values and parental rights pertaining to the exposing of their children to the Homosexual agenda in school or any other public institution to become intimidated. The message conveys the idea that those taking this stance are expressing hatred towards people who only want to be accepted for how God made them. Of course, the Bible clearly teaches us that that concept is a lie and that Homosexuality is a set of perverse, sinful, sexual behaviors that are condemned by God as an abomination. It also says that any who practice them will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Continue reading