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He is Just the Christ I Need!

Apr 11, 2015 | Erik Raymond

The believer, too, beholds a suitability in Christ, sees Him to be just the Savior adapted to the necessities of his soul; and this renders Him peculiarly precious.

“I see Him,” exclaims the believer, “to be exactly the Christ I need- His fulness meets my emptiness- His blood cleanses my guilt- His grace subdues my sin- His patience bears with my infirmities- His gentleness succours my weakness- His love quickens my obedience- His sympathy soothes my sorrows- His beauty charms my eye.

He is just the Savior, just the Christ I need, and no words can describe His preciousness to my soul!”

–Octavius Winslow, The Precious Things of God

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Next Week and The TGC Conference

Apr 10, 2015 | Erik Raymond

tgc15-1-0-s-386x470Next week I will be in Orlando at The Gospel Coalition conference. As a result I will not be posting new content to this blog. Instead, I’m going to have some of my favorite older articles come through as a repost. I like them because they come from some times of rich discovery of the centrality, beauty, and sufficiency of the gospel. Most are from a number of years ago so I am doubtful that they will seem like reruns for you. I just wanted you to know in case you see comments from 2006 or something.

Also, if you are headed to Orlando and you read the blog, I’d love the chance to say hello. I’ll be teaching a breakout session on Tuesday at 3pm on Evangelism and then a discussion on Wednesday morning (more info here). It is always great to meet folks and put a face with a name.

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Book Review- The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen

Apr 10, 2015 | Erik Raymond

Over the years I have noticed a remarkable trend: the people who read, understand, and apply what John Owen wrote–are consistent with their pursuit of both doctrine and devotion. If you are paying attention these two are not always happily married. Regrettably some are very much consumed with doctrine but not with devotion. This is a dreadful trap where the mind could be stimulated, and even puffed up apart from work on the heart. Then there is the other side where people are very committed to a devotional life but are often devoid of the doctrinal rebar needed to bear the freight of the Christian life. Owen, and his ilk, are consistently pressing hard into both. This is very appealing and even attractive to me as someone desirous of rightly reflecting what honors God.

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How The Trinity Should Shape Evangelism

Apr 09, 2015 | Erik Raymond

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Sometimes we may get caught in a bit of a trap of thinking about God simply in broad, non-precise terms. For example, we may think and pray about how God has saved us from our sins and promises to bring us to dwell with him forever.

This is a beautiful and infinitely glorious truth! But there is more.

As Christians when we think of God we think in Trinitarian terms. There is one God, one being that is God. At the same time, within the one being that is God there are distinct, coequal, coeternal persons. The distinct persons are: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father sent the Son. Jesus, the Son, lived and died for us, purchasing our redemption. The Holy Spirit was sent to apply what the Son has accomplished according to the what the Father has decreed. Look, you just went from a “Costco sample sized” prayer or theological thought to a 48 oz ribeye!

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TGC Panel Discussion on Evangelism with Tim Keller

Apr 08, 2015 | Erik Raymond

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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

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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

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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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