TGC Panel Discussion on Evangelism with Tim Keller

Apr 08, 2015 | Erik Raymond


If you are attending The Gospel Coalition conference in Orlando next week you may want to make plans to attend this panel discussion and Q & A on Evangelism that I will be sitting on.

The panel will be moderated by Tim Keller and will include author Rebecca Manley Pippert (Out of the Saltshakerand author and pastor Rico Tice (Honest Evangelism, and Christianity Explored). 

I have found that when Christians make a point to talk about evangelism there is usually something that I can take away that is very helpful and immediately applicable. I would anticipate the same from this meeting. Plan to join Tim, Rebecca, Rico, and me from 8-8:55am in Wekiwa 3-5 on Wednesday April 15th.

There is more information available here.


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iOS Reading Hack for Efficiency

Apr 08, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Who doesn’t want to be more efficient and utilize their time to read more books? Recently iOS came out with an update that makes this much easier for its users. It has really helped me to redeem time while commuting, exercising, or simply doing menial tasks. Think about it: can get a chapter or two of Berkhoff in while taking the dog for a walk! In the last few months I’ve mentioned it to a number of friends who were not familiar with it, so I figured a blog would help others as well.

In the video below I walk through the steps. It’s quite simple to do:

Settings / General / Accessibility / Speech / Speak Screen

Here is the video for a demonstration.

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Good Friends Bring Friends to Jesus

Apr 07, 2015 | Erik Raymond

shutterstock_237302122Friends are valuable. They share life’s joys, disappointments, and hopes with us. They come to weddings, birthdays, hospitals, and funerals. Between friends there is straight talk and no barriers; there is trust and transparency; there is giving and getting. Friends share what’s on their mind and most important to them.

One of my favorite narratives is the story of Philip and Nathanael. This story depicts a good friend doing what good friends should do. Jesus came to Galilee and found Philip. When he found him he told him, “Follow me.” (Jn. 1.43) Being persuaded that Jesus was the Messiah he promptly did something that is both logical and instructive: he went and told his friend:

“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”” (John 1:45)

Philip, being convinced of who Jesus was, went to his friend Nathanael and told him all about him. This is the same thing that Andrew did for his brother Simon Peter after he was called to follow Jesus. In remarkable brevity we read in verse 42 about how Andrew served Peter: “He brought him to Jesus.”

This just makes sense, doesn’t it? Once we have realized, truly realized who Jesus is then we have to, we must tell other people who he is and what he’s done. We cannot simply look at Jesus, accept his claims, lean upon his promises, cling to his work, hope in his resurrection, view the world as he tells us and then keep our mouths shut! This doesn’t make any sense. In fact, it betrays a bit of our confession when we refuse to make that confession before others.

If you are a Christian, think of what we share with your friends. Think of what colors your conversation and time together. Do you tell your unbelieving friends and family members about Jesus? Have you walked up to that friend, that neighbor, that coworker, that family member and said, “Hey! Man, listen, I know that Jesus Christ is the King of kings. He is the only Lord and Savior. I gotta tell you about him.”

If you believe the truth about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done then, to the extant that you care about your friends and want to see Jesus honored, you will tell them about him. This is what good friends have always done.

(image source: Shutterstock)

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The Corinthians’ Surprising Familiarity with the Old Testament

Apr 06, 2015 | Erik Raymond


Who would you say was the most pagan, biblically illiterate church in the New Testament? Chances are Corinth would be at the top of your list. Judging by the tone of and issues included in Paul’s two letters, we can safely say that the church had a bit of a pagan hangover mixed with gospel amnesia. But this did not stop him from dipping his pen in the inkwell of the Old Testament Scriptures to make his point.

When you consider that Paul only spent about 18 months with these people it is even more striking. He got a lot done. He reasoned with Jews and, along with Aquila and Priscilla, saw Gentile converts and a church planted (Acts 18; Rom. 16.3; 2 Tim. 4.19-20). This is a strong gospel encouragement, even amid a city that was so full of false worship (1 Cor. 8.5).

Think about how the Old Testament Scriptures are treated today in Evangelicalism. They are rarely touched and when they are they are often moralized rather than preached with any connection to Jesus. Ask the average church goer how the Old relates to the New Testament and you will get a surprising array of answers. Consider the sermons by pastors. How may preach the Old Testament? There are many scholars who are occupied with redaction criticism and cast serious doubts about the reliability of many Old Testament texts. Sadly, many preachers have become functional evangelical redactors by ignoring large portions of their Bibles or at least lacking the confidence or the understanding to show the robust significance of their connection to Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul had no such inhibitions.


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Heaven’s Rout is On

Apr 04, 2015 | Erik Raymond


The parallels between the Passover feast and Christ are myriad. Jesus is God’s Passover Lamb who went to altar of Calvary to bear the sins of his people. Last night in our Good Friday service at Emmaus I preached a sermon entitled, “Christ our Passover” –He is God’s lamb, he is our liberator, and he has become our song. At the conclusion I included this poem I wrote that summarizes the point made–the rout is on! Bask in this truth today!

He stands speechless under Pilate’s cowardly gaze,
Glory concealed, but love frames his face

Our Passover lamb, pure and spotless he, slain on the altar of Calv’ry
Sin’s curse he wore so publicly, to make us his and set us free.

His dying breath was a victory shout! Heaven’s rout is on,
It is finished he declared–our redemption has been won!

Sing to the Lord, the sweet Lamb of God, for he has triumphed gloriously,
He’s conquered all our foes, He’s made us free, and cast our sin into the sea.

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The Price-Tag of Sin is Staggering

Apr 03, 2015 | Erik Raymond

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22.42

Jesus is here in the Mount of Olives. It is here that the olive, being pressed upon from every side, serves as an illustration of where Jesus comes. Indeed he is being tormented in spirit; his heart is being crushed as his abandonment upon the cross is in full view. He will reach the depths of human brokenness and lift up his voice in prayer. So here he comes to the Mount of Olives to feel and experience the relentless pressure of being forsaken by God.

Matthew tells us that the soul of Jesus is “very sorrowful, even to death”. Why? Why is Jesus here experiencing the uttermost grief and sorrow that a man can take? Why is he on the verge of death as he bears up under this grief? It is because of the infinite price-tag that accompanies the sin of rebels like you and like me. The inflexible and unrelenting cup of divine wrath is fully mixed and the Savior is contemplating the reality of having his head thrust back and drinking it down to the dregs.

There is much application here for us as Christians. See how heinous your sin is that it brings Jesus to the point of physical death when he considers its due penalty? How does your sin affect you? Do you hate it? I mean truly, do you see if for what it is? It is the unashamed rebellion against everything that is right and good; it is your hatred of the glory of God. It is your insistence upon personal supremacy. It is your desire to be God. It is sin and its price-tag is staggering, even for the God-man.

There is a great parallel here for the Christian; when considering sin are you like the disciples? That is asleep and indifferent? Or are you like the Savior? That is sickened and grieved.

Jesus then cries out,

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

We know that the cup is divine wrath and Jesus is getting ready to drink it. Jesus, looking down the barrel of divine wrath, pleads for the cup to be removed. The one thing that Jesus elevates above his fellowship with his Father (which he has intimately enjoyed throughout eternity), is the will of God. Jesus says in effect, “Take this away…I can’t bear to be separated from you….unless, it is your will, for then I will guzzle the cup. For your will is right and good.” O’ that we would learn from our Master here!

If ever there was a moment for the pluralistic, liberal view of Jesus and his ‘universalistic’ salvation to be stated it was here. However, in the echo of the Son of God’s prayer for the cup to be removed what do we hear? Nothing. His prayers of desperation go unanswered. The Father will not remove the cup for there is no other way to have my sin paid for and the glory of God vindicated than to have this perfect, holy, glorious, unblemished, lamb of God be slaughtered on the Calvary’s altar. Yes my sin is pricey. And yes my Savior is awesome!

Jesus continues to bear up under this relentless burden and now he begins to sweat drops of blood. The frosty Palestinian dirt is now being splattered with the blood of Jesus. Christ is in such agony that blood comes out of his forehead and dribbles on the ground. See the weight of the wrath of God. See the hefty price-tag upon your sin. See the faithfulness of the Savior. See his beauty here as he prays ‘fervently’ and sweats clots of blood.

The modern cries for pluralism are extinguished by the only one who saw the depths of human sin, the value of the glory of God, and then went and died for it. Yes, Jesus alone is Savior and Lord.

So friends in Christ, pull up a chair in Luke 22 and see your Savior deal simultaneously with the price-tag for your sin and the immovable righteousness and holiness of God. Come and see him pray, cry, and sweat. And then watch him look his betrayer in the eye and march resolutely to Calvary only to die for betrayers such as us. Amazing. Sit and stare and be amazed, “for while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom. 5.6)

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A Snapshot of Christ Singing that Makes Me Sing

Apr 02, 2015 | Erik Raymond

The scene is hard to imagine.  With the Last Supper’s lingering taste still in their mouths the disciples are led with Jesus out toward the Mount of Olives.  The time of Christ’s crucifixion is at hand.

But prior to proceeding on the Scripture includes a remarkable detail:

(Mar 14.26) And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives

Can you imagine this scene?  This is a precious time of singing with the Lord Jesus as he proceeds out to walk the lonely path to Golgotha to purchase redemption for sinners like me and you.

As we now stand on the other side of the cross we look forward to the reunion with all of the saints, together in the presence of the Lamb.

Think about this for a moment.

All opposition will be crushed, false teaching destroyed, sin and death appropriately displaced, the incessant hindrances of our flesh will be gone, our focus will be solitarily Christological and our praise will be united with heaven’s angelic chorus and the ransomed throng from all ages.

But in order for any of this to happen, the Prince of heaven had to stand with the Passover meal behind him and the cross before him as he accomplished our great redemption.

So as we see this bookmark in the life and ministry of Jesus we marvel.  We marvel at the setting, our Lord singing with his disciples.  We marvel at the overall context, our Lord moving forward to the shamefully wonderful cross.  We marvel at the dawning day of reunion, the church’s enjoyment of her glorious husband throughout eternity.

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Freshen Up Your Reading List

Apr 02, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Several months ago I carefully evaluated my personal reading habits. My conclusion troubled me a bit: I am reading a lot but it is not enjoyable. I read more because I have to instead of because I like to. This may not seem like much of an issue to you, but think with me for a minute and see if you can relate.

Being a pastor I have to read a lot. Each week I need to read commentaries for the passage I am preaching but also need to track down answers to questions from church members. I have books related to our residency program that I must also be very familiar with. Then there are personal items related to ministry that I feel I need to freshen up on or become familiar with. Having not gone to seminary and never read a book until 2002, I always feel like I need to be on the active end of filling any academic potholes that I may have. As a result, at any time there could be 10-15 books “in progress”. This is normal for most pastors and even a light load for others.


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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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