Christ Obtains his Elect Spouse by Conquest

Apr 01, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Christ has done greater things than to create the world, in order to obtain his bride and the joy of his espousals with her: for he became man for this end; which was a greater thing than his creating the world.

For the Creator to make the creature was a great thing; but for him to become a creature was a greater thing.

And he did a much greater thing still to obtain this joy; in that for this he laid down his life, and suffered even the death of the cross: for this he poured out his soul unto death; and he that is the Lord of the universe, God over all, blessed for evermore, offered up himself a sacrifice, in both body and soul, in the flames of divine wrath.

Christ obtains his elect spouse by conquest: for she was captive in the hands of dreadful enemies; and her Redeemer came into the world to conquer these enemies, and rescue her out of their hands, that she might be his bride.

And he came and encountered these enemies in the greatest battle that ever was beheld by men or angels: he fought with principalities and powers; he fought alone with the powers of darkness, and all the armies of hell; yea, he conflicted with the infinitely more dreadful wrath of God, and overcame in this great battle; and thus he obtained his spouse.

Let us consider at how great a price Christ purchased this spouse: he did not redeem her with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with his own precious blood; yea, he gave himself for her. –Jonathan Edwards, The Church’s Marriage to Her Sons, and to Her God (As quoted in: The Infinite Merit of Christ, p. 45)

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Book Review- The Pastor’s Ministry

Apr 01, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Brian Croft has proven himself to be a shepherd of shepherds. I can attest to this personally as I’ve benefited from the Practical Shepherding website and seminars, and even phone conversations with him and my elder team. The book The Pastor’s Ministry is like a roundtable discussion with Croft as he instructs on 10 priorities of a pastor. This is a much needed book for us “younger” reformed guys who may know theology like the back of our hand but could definitely benefit from deepening our wells in the practical side of pastoral care. Although I think every pastor should read the classic, The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges, it’s not necessarily a book I would hand a busy pastor to help him get back to the basics of shepherding. Croft’s book, on the other hand, can be read in a few hours and bring immediate reform.


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Helping Children Benefit from the Sermon

Mar 31, 2015 | Erik Raymond

As a pastor I often get the question, “Do you have any advice for helping my kids to benefit from the sermon?”

This is a question that I really appreciate because it recognizes the importance of the preaching of the Word of God and our reception of it. It recognizes that even the children are to hear, and to best of their ability, understand what is being preached.

What follows are some things that I have done as a Dad and also as a pastor.

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The Priestly Treadmill was Not Meant to Be Plugged in Forever (Thank God!)

Mar 30, 2015 | Erik Raymond

(Lev 16.31-32) It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. 32 And the priest who is anointed and be consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments.

This is the famous Day of Atonement passage. In Leviticus 16 God communicates to the Nation of Israel how they would have their sin dealt with. This annual event was to deal with their uncleanness due to their sin. Embedded in the pronouncement of cleansing (Lev.16.30) is this reminder of repetition.


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Pastors, Remember Your Wife

Mar 27, 2015 | Erik Raymond


We know pastoral ministry is hard, but it is also tricky. In a given week a pastor can get the following comments:

  • Your preaching is blessing me greatly. I am learning to love Christ more and more!
  • Your preaching is too theological, it is not helping me.
  • Your preaching is too emotional, you need to be more doctrinal.

Sometimes this type of thing will cause you to spin in circles asking, “What am I doing? Is this working?”

I’ve heard John Piper speak of this and he talked about feeling like he is looking in one of those mirrors at the carnival. As you look at one angle the head is small, at another the head is big, etc. No matter which way you turn you get a different view. Ministry can be like this and the pastor can begin to think he is viewing his ineffectiveness in a carnival mirror.

One great, but often neglected resource for encouragement and straight-shooting is the pastor’s own wife. In this case they may not want to seem weak, complaining, or whatever. However, I would encourage pastors to talk to their wife. There is no one who knows you better (for better or worse) and no one who loves you more and wants what is best. You can trust them. So ask questions. Encourage honesty.

What’s more, take note of your wife’s growth in godliness. Many times we take for granted that our wife is going to be godly and growing in godliness. We should never presume upon grace! Instead, we should have our eyes peeled for evidence of grace and then respond with praise to God for it!

I think of my own wife. I have watched her go from an unbelieving utter pagan who was completely uninterested in the glory of Christ to one who is feeding on, delighting in, and defending the majesty of Jesus. This is nothing short of remarkable. Even in the last year I have seen her soar to heights of grace as she showcases God’s power in her life. She is a major encouragement to me as a wife, best friend, and helpmate. But, she is also the homeschooling mother of six, who disciples, counsels, serves, encourages, and does a myriad of other things–mostly behind the scenes–to promote Christ and his church. This makes your jaw drop and your spirit soar when you consider it.

Brother Pastors, do not neglect to observe the work of grace in your wife. She too is under your shepherding care. She listens to your sermons. You are discipling her. Look, observe, and remark upon the grace of God in her life. And then, give praise to God for it.

This does not directly address the issues of your preaching and the corresponding comments, but it does help you to see the impact of your ministry. It also encourages you to get some straight talk from the person who loves you most and wants what is best. Remember your dear and precious wife, she is a blessing from God in so many ways. Don’t overlook her and the bouquet of grace she carries about!


Image Credit: Shutterstock.

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God’s People are Known by Name

Mar 27, 2015 | Erik Raymond

I found this quote from Clowney’s book Called to the Ministry to be very encouraging.

Have you ever lost interest in Bible reading when you came to the endless names of the Book of Numbers, or the genealogies of Genesis or Chronicles? You may stumble in pronouncing those strange names, but you would not want a Bible without them. God’s people are known by name. Their names are recorded in the book of his covenant, and he remembers. The very writing of the names is a memorial of the faithfulness of God. As the names of the tribes of Israel were written upon the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest when he stood before the Lord to pray, so the names of the true people of God in all their generations are written in God’s book (Ex. 28:9-12, 17-21; 32:32; Ps. 56:8; 69:28).

…It is well to reflect on the fact that your individual calling is in the midst of the people of God. You are called individually, but not alone.

Edmund Clowney, Called to the Ministry, (pp. 8-9)

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Book Review – On Being a Pastor

Mar 26, 2015 | Erik Raymond

As a pastor I find myself reading and rereading books on pastoral ministry. When written well these pastors serve others in the fraternity by providing thoughtful and practical insights into their own ministries. Sometimes the smallest detail can translate to a large impact in other setting.

I recently read through On Being a Pastor by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg. Most likely you have heard of Begg while perhaps you are not familiar with Prime. Derek Prime served at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh for over 30 years. In fact, it was here that Alistair Begg served as an assistant pastor. This book was originally written in 1989 towards the end of Prime’s ministry and served to capture many items that he did well while also exhorting a new generation unto faithfulness. Later it was decided that the original should be revised and expanded a bit to fit a wider context. Begg joined the team and they labored together to produce this volume.

Like most books on pastoral ministry there is detailed treatment of the qualifications for ministry as well as the responsibilities of ministry. This book also spends time talking about things such as leadership, delegation, leading a worship service, family life, and leisure. If that sounds ambitious it is—and it’s not a short book (weighing in at nearly 300 pages).


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What is the Enemy of Mission?

Mar 25, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Why don’t people heartily engage in mission?

This is not a new question and I won’t propose any new answers. However, the question remains important to ask and answer. When I say “mission” I mean the mission of the church, specifically, the making and training of disciples (Mt. 28.19-21).


Why is there disengagement with and ambivalence towards mission? The answer is simple: selfishness. Selfish people do not give themselves away for the purpose of others. Selfish people do not serve, they want to be served. Selfish people will not open their homes, mouths, or lives for the sake of others. The enemy of mission is me.

This reminds me of a powerful verse in the back third of our Bibles. The Apostle John writes 3rd John to commend the church towards a gospel-driven hospitality. A “gospel-tality” if you will. He does this by highlighting the faithfulness of Gaius and Demetrius in contrast to the mission-sabotaging rebellion of Diotrephes. He could also be known as “me first guy.”


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Reading for Information vs. Reading for Delight

Mar 24, 2015 | Erik Raymond


I walked into a store recently and was greeted by a middle-aged women standing behind a booth strategically located in the entrance. “Good afternoon sir, do you get the Omaha-World Herald delivered to your home?” I did not, so I smiled politely and answered her question explaining that while I skim the newspaper on my phone I do not have plans to read the paper regularly. As I walked off I wondered about why I don’t read the paper. The answer seemed obvious: I don’t enjoy it, I simply scan it for information.

This reminded me of something that Alan Jacobs observed in his book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. He noted that with the advancement of technology, in particular web media, we are becoming people who are relentless scanners for information. This is not a bad thing of course, but we must remember that technological advancements are never free—they always cost us something. In this case our grazing for information is costing us our love for reading. His book, in my view, is eye-opening.

I have seen a similar phenomenon in the church. When I visit with people and ask them about their Bible reading they often look and sound guilty. Comments include: “I need to get back to that.” “I just need to be more committed.” “I really need to do a better job.” However, when I ask why they don’t read the answer is almost always the same: “I don’t know.”


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Reformation Study Bible Giveaway

Mar 23, 2015 | Erik Raymond


Last week Ligonier released their new, updated Reformation Study Bible in the English Standard Version. The new edition has a number of noteworthy features, including:

  • Over 1.1 million words of verse-by-verse and topical explanations
  • Nearly 2,000 years of historic creeds, confessions, and catechisms
  • New award-winning maps and visual aids woven throughout
  • Concordance, table of weights and measures, and more
  • New theological summaries and notes from R.C. Sproul
  • Contributions from 75 faithful theologians led by R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul writes: “Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve assembled a team of seventy-five pastors and scholars—men I trust—to help me preserve, refine, and expand what I believe are the best study Bible notes we have to date.”

Visit the Reformation Study Bible website here.

See the video below and how you can enter to win a copy for yourself:


To celebrate this new release they I will giveaway of two copies of the new edition, one copy of the hardcover white an one copy of the hardcover crimson (link). There are two ways to enter (must live in US or Canada). You can choose one or both of the options below.

1. Twitter. Send out the following Tweet: “Enter to win a copy of the new Reformation Study Bible -   #refstudybibleORDINARY” 

2. FacebookShare this post on your Facebook wall inviting people to enter the giveaway. Be sure to include the hashtag #refstudybibleORDINARY. That will enable me to keep track of all entries.

I will select 2 winners randomly Thursday evening and announce the winners on Friday. Good luck wishes towards winning (it’s the Reformation Study Bible after all!).

UPDATE: Congratulations to the winners of the Reformation Study Bible Giveaway:

1) Matt Sprinkle of Salem, VA

2) Steven Leatherbury of Kansas City, MO

Thanks to all who participated! 

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