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Without Love I am Nothing

Aug 18, 2015 | Erik Raymond

nothing

I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!


This chapter on love is often used at weddings and other special occasions where love is the grand theme. It is also frequently lifted from the context of chapters 12 and 14 which emphasize the use and especially the abuse of spiritual gifts.

Even more unfortunate is how seldom this chapter is thought of in light of the rest of 1 Corinthians. Paul reminded them the “testimony of Christ was confirmed among you…they were called into the fellowship of… God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is a true Christian church which Paul says was not “lacking in any spiritual gift.” But his praise soon turns to a passionate appeal to them regarding “divisions” and “quarreling.” Among many problems, they had divided allegiances – “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or the super saints, “I follow Christ.” The lowest blow early on is when he said in 3:1, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”

As you read the rest of the book it is filled with incident after incident of every kind of behavior lacking in biblical love. From suing one another, to putting up with deviant sexual behavior, to getting drunk before the Lord’s Table and being totally thoughtless regarding the less advantaged brethren among them.

As we look at this chapter, each reference to love corresponds to some aspect of the less than loving behavior toward one another. Though they were abounding in spiritual gifts, they were lacking in the love of Jesus In chapter 12 he said, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” – which introduces chapter 13:1-3 – “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

He moves from the lesser to the greater:

(1) the gift of tongues of either human languages or angelic speech; apart from love, I am just a loud clanging noise.

(2) the gift of prophecy – whether in preaching or understanding great mysteries, or revelations from God.

(3) the gift of intellectual knowledge. And further

(4) “all faith” to “move mountains”- if I don’t have love, “I am nothing.”

(5) great acts of mercy – so as to give all I own away to the poor or otherwise and finally

(6) I give my life in a terrible martyr’s death, “but have not love, I gain nothing.” They had looked at the cross; they had professed to love Jesus; they said they were recipients of grace and mercy; but something went awry. And Paul is saying, “give it your best shot” if isn’t wrapped in the self sacrificing, gospel love of Jesus – it is not worth a thing.

Prayer of Confession:

Dear Lord, this is a penetrating, deeply convicting, soul searching passage. We confess before you Lord, all of us at some time in our lives, have seen ourselves right here in this text – help us, we pray; forgive us we plead; strip us of our love of self and give us tender hearts of selfless love for others. Lord, when we are tempted to do otherwise, show us the love of Jesus – the verbal abuse, his bloody back, his crown of thorns, his parched lips, his heavy heart, his agonizing cries from Gethsemane and the cross; and especially his suffering soul in his lonely abandonment – all for my sin and the sins of my brothers and sisters in Christ. As we pray in his most worthy name. Amen!

Where do we find remedy for our sin sick souls but in the cross and the Christ of the cross –

Assurance of Pardon 

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say to Your Wife then…

Aug 17, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Young business man with adhesive tape. Picture was made in a studio

We have all heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This may be good advice for elementary school children but it is not preferred for husbands.

Am I saying, “Feel free to insult your wife.” Hardly. Instead I am saying that we need to try harder, look deeper, pay more attention.

Along these lines Timothy Witmer writes to husbands in his book Shepherd Leader At Home, (p.40):

You should thank her just for her willingness to have hitched herself to you!…There are plenty of (other) things you can say to build up your wife. When is the last time you complimented her appearance? When is the last time you thanked her for all she does in taking care of you and the children? Even more important is taking the opportunity to praise her for her character qualities. Be sure to be specific. The writer of Proverbs 31 was very specific about the praiseworthy traits of an excellent wife. She is praised for everything from being a good seamstress to being a good businesswoman. However, the summary statement focuses on the most essential thing. ‘Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’ (Prov. 31.30)

(more…)

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Book Review- A Reformed Baptist Manifesto

Aug 14, 2015 | Erik Raymond

reformed baptist manifestoSometimes it is nice to not make too much of our differences–particularly theological differences. But other times we can actually be hindered from more fully understanding what others believe and why we really believe what we do. If one can study differences with a charitable tone then there can often be real progress. To do this though we would need to ask and answer the questions behind the questions.

I’ve asked and been asked before, “What is with the antinomians?” or, “Why are we different than paedo Baptists?” Often people go after the specific issue without showing the reason why or the strong support for their contrasting position. This may paint people in a theological corner but it does not provide the framework for solid understanding.

This is why I very much appreciated this short little book by Sam Waldron and Richard Barcellos. The title A Reformed Baptist Manifesto: The New Covenant Constitution of the Church. With a title like this you may be expecting some theological haymakers, but it is surprising irenic. These are a number of sermons that Waldron preached years ago at his church. He has also included some healthy appendices.

Early on they write:

The premise of this study is intimated in the subtitle: the New Covenant Constitution of the Church. To state the premise plainly, the New Covenant is the Constitution of the Church of Christ. In other words, what the Constitution of the United States of America is to our country, what the Magna Carta is to the British Commonwealth, that the New Covenant is to the Church of Christ…Though written church constitutions are permissible for the sake of administration, the premise of this study is that the New Covenant is itself the ultimate, formal basis and legal rule of the Church. This study, therefore, will be spent in establishing and opening up this premise from Jeremiah 31. (pp. 5-6)

To establish the confessional Reformed Baptist position the authors compare and contrast it with Dispensationalism, Antinomianism, Arminianism, and Paedobaptism. As the authors work through each system they show the contrast of confessional Reformed Baptist views.

When I saw the chapter titles I thought, “This is going to be messy. They can’t possibly come out of this clean.” But, I was wrong. The authors kept the tone charitable and all punches were squarely above the belt. But, they did go after them–to show the contrast to the confessional position (London Baptist Confession of 1689).

From the standpoint of the New Covenant the contrast is simple. The Dispensationalist sees very little continuity between the Old Testament and the New (particularly the covenants), while the Paedobaptist sees too much. The Antinomian does not see the need for the moral law to apply to the church today (note: practical antinomians teach against law in the Christian life and advocate lawless living while moderate antinomians don’t advocate lawless living but deny the third use of the law –10 commandments as a rule for Christian living or redefine what law means). The Arminian would deny the certainty and sovereignty of God in the work of the church. To all of these the Reformed Baptist position is one of contrast. The church is the Israel of God, the New Covenant is really new and distinct from the old, the 1o commandments are still ruling us, and there is certainty in God’s sovereign grace.

The authors also provide a critique of padeobaptism and New Covenant Theology in the appendices. Both are very helpful and flesh out some of what is previously argued in the book.

If you are looking to learn about any of these issues then this little book is very helpful. It may be a tad technical at time, but with resolve and patience the reader will be rewarded. The authors do a good job tackling complex and heated topics in just a few pages. I really found the book to be a blessing to me.

Pick up a discounted copy of  A Reformed Baptist Manifesto at Amazon.

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Gospel Shaped Outreach Giveaway 4

Aug 14, 2015 | Erik Raymond

GSCOutreach1

Last year I completed an evangelism training program for The Gospel Coalition’s new Gospel Shaped Church curriculum. It was published by The Good Book Company and contains a leader’s guide, participant manual, and DVD’s of the course. This is material that I have taught at our church and have found it to be helpful.

For today’s free copy, leave a comment explaining why you think your church or small group should get this free copy of the training. I’ll pick two people to receive the copy of the Leader’s Guide.

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Exposing the Hate: Ben Carson Talks Eugenics and Planned Parenthood

Aug 13, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Abortion, racism, violence, moral apathy, and political posturing. This is the suffocating and nauseating smog that dominates American News. It makes Christian’s pray, “Thy Kingdom Come” Lord.

Every now and then there is a surprising, even encouraging spark of light. The lies get exposed, albeit briefly, but they are exposed. And, we are encouraged amid the smog.

This happened the other night when I watched Republican Presidential candidate and Dr Ben Carson made a very important connection on Your World with Neil Cavuto. He was asked about “Black Lives Matter” and after discussing that topic for awhile he made a connection to the Planned Parenthood and its abortion facilities. The video is below but I quote the part I’m referring to:

“Well, maybe I’m not objective when it comes to Planned Parenthood. But you know, I know who Margaret Sanger is, and I know that she believed in eugenics, and that she was not particularly enamored with black people….And one of the reasons that you find most of their clinics in black neighborhoods is so that you can find way to control that population. And I think people should go back and read about Margaret Sanger, who founded this place — a woman who Hillary Clinton by the say says she admires. Look and see what many people in Nazi Germany thought about her.”

(more…)

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Simeon Trust Workshop in Omaha, Nebraska

Aug 13, 2015 | Erik Raymond

This November Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska will host a Simeon Trust Workshop. I am very excited about this as I think about Omaha and its surrounding area. Like many others I am burdened for the gospel to go viral. We know that God uses preachers bring about such revival. Therefore, the training and refreshing of preachers is vital to gospel expansion.

What is Simeon Trust? They are workshops that help pastors and Bible teachers to learn methods of expositional preaching, be encouraged through sitting under God’s Word, and gather in small groups with the aim of sharpening each other’s teaching.

Below is a video from David Helm describing the Simeon Trust.

Personally, I have greatly benefited from the Charles Simeon Trust. The workshops remind Bible teachers of the importance of exposition while equipping us with the proper framework to do it ourselves. Unlike many courses on preaching Simeon Trust is not concerned primarily with the delivery of the sermon but the building of the sermon. You come out of the workshop refreshed in the power and primacy of God’s Word.

One of the ways they do this is by putting preachers together with other preachers. In smaller group sessions we sit together to deliver 5 minutes of “sermon work” on our text of Scripture. This covers the passage’s structure, emphasis, context, gospel implications, and principles. After delivering this the preacher is given feedback by another brother. This constructive feedback is gold.

The training in November is the 11th -13th. David Helm will be joining us along with James Seward. Both of these guys are immensely helpful to expositors.

If you are a preacher or regular teaching pastor and are close to Omaha (really, who isn’t close to Omaha?) make plans to come up and register. Space is limited, so, the sooner you register the better.

REGISTER FOR SIMEON TRUST IN OMAHA, NE

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Gospel Shaped Outreach Giveaway 3

Aug 13, 2015 | Erik Raymond

gospel shaped outreach 2Last year I completed an evangelism training program for The Gospel Coalition’s new Gospel Shaped Church curriculum. It was published by The Good Book Company and contains a leader’s guide, participant manual, and DVD’s of the course. This is material that I have taught at our church and have found it to be helpful.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be giving away 5 copies of the Leader’s Kit, one per day.

For today’s free copy, leave a comment detailing how God has showed you the importance of prayer for evangelism. I’ll pick one to receive the copy of the Leader’s Guide.

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The NIV Celebrates 50 Years

Aug 12, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Zondervan continues its celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the NIV. Recently, I did a little poking around and was greatly encouraged by the impact of the NIV since 1965. In particular,  the NIV has held a unique place among Bible readers for whom English is a second or developing language. The video below highlights this:

In celebrating this anniversary, they are offering the free NIV50 app, reading plan, and other aids created to celebrate the 1965 convening of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT).

  • The free NIV 50th Anniversary Bible App (available in IOS and Android) provides free access to the NIV, additional quarterly content, and the notes from a variety of NIV Bibles for the 2015 calendar year.
  • 365-day reading plan drawn from an NIV study or devotional Bible, delivered via email

But I am most excited about the NIV Zondervan Study Bible with Dr DA Carson as the general editor. As the video below shows, this Study Bible is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. It’s a comprehensive undertaking of crafted study notes and tools to present a biblical theology of God’s special revelation in the Scriptures. This looks like a very helpful tool. I am looking forward to getting a copy.

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Gospel Shaped Outreach Giveaway 2

Aug 12, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Gospel shaped outreachLast year I completed an evangelism training program for The Gospel Coalition’s new Gospel Shaped Church curriculum. It was published by The Good Book Company and contains a leader’s guide, participant manual, and DVD’s of the course. This is material that I have taught at our church and have found it to be helpful.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be giving away 5 copies of the Leader’s Kit, one per day.

For today’s free copy, leave a comment explaining why so many churches struggle with evangelism. I’ll pick one to receive the copy of the Leader’s Guide.

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Gospel Shaped Outreach Giveaway 1

Aug 11, 2015 | Erik Raymond

gs outreach

Last year I completed an evangelism training program for The Gospel Coalition’s new Gospel Shaped Church curriculum. It was published by The Good Book Company and contains a leader’s guide, participant manual, and DVD’s of the course. This is material that I have taught at our church and have found it to be helpful.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be giving away 5 copies of the Leader’s Kit, one per day.

For today’s free copy, leave a comment describing the worst experience you’ve had in trying to share the gospel with people. I’ll pick one to receive the copy of the Leader’s Guide.

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