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Common Slaves

Common Men; Uncommon Master

The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.3

…these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. – 1John 1:4

John rather surprisingly writes that he pens his first epistle for the purpose of completing the joy of his companions and himself. The implications were discussed in part 1, and now we are in the midst of trying to see what kind of thinking leads to such an almost bizarre statement, and to discover that, we are looking at three propositions I believe are undergirding the mind of John. The first proposition was this: Union with Jesus can never be divorced from union with brothers.

The second proposition I want to make is this:

Love for Jesus can never be divorced from love for brothers.

Or we could say it this way: Love for Jesus is equal and proportional to to love for my brother. Continue reading “The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.3”

The Completing Joy Of Fellowship, pt.2

…these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
-1John 1:4

What sort of things must shape the mind and thinking of John to write things such as “if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another,” instead of the seemingly more “appropriate” way to say it, “if we walk in the Light… we have fellowship with Him”? Continue reading “The Completing Joy Of Fellowship, pt.2”

Reformed Bible Conference Messages

The Reformed Bible Conference hosted by First Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Hinckley, MN is under way, and is off to an excellent beginning. For information on service schedule and to hear/download the messages as they become available, click here.

The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.1

These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
– 1 John 1:4

When we study the Bible, we become rather quickly aware that with the exception of the book of Romans and some other scattered portions of other books, the Bible is not strictly a theological treatise. The Bible is a collection of history, poetry, of communications from God to specific men or a specific people, (think Old Testament Prophets) and written correspondence between persons, rather ordinary save for the fact that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Examples of this are the writings of Paul or the letters of John.

So in that sense, the Bible is not written first-hand personally to you or me, nor is it written as an encyclopedia of theological positions or propositional doctrinal statements. It’s written by men of God inspired by the Spirit of God who are going about their business of helping their fellow countrymen or brothers in Christ, recording history for the sake of future generations, or in the case of the Psalms, expressing in a poetic way their thoughts and emotions in their given situation.

This means that when we study the Bible in order to construct a good and true understanding of God, self, and the world around us, in a sense we have to reverse engineer the mindset and worldview of those writing the Bible, and distill propositional, doctrinal truth out of the things they say. This tells us something of the genius of God who used this method to write a book whose meaning would be understandable in all languages and cultures over the past 3,500 years, so that all men could read, understand, and be delivered from Divine judgment. By making the Bible sound nothing like a systematic theology, we can look at inspired truth in a variety of situations and settings and systematize the truths explicitly or implicitly stated. Continue reading “The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.1”

Thanks from the Slaves!

Many thanks to all who attended the Common Slaves Combined Service this past Sunday afternoon at Bethany Bible Church in Big Lake, MN. Many of you traveled over 90 minutes to attend and encourage the body of Christ as well as be encouraged by it. Special thanks to Pastor Ken Carlton for preaching the Gospel with great passion and power. Thanks to the folks from Bethany who provided an such an opulent spread of sugar-based food sufficient for the great gathering of people from Crosslake, Crosby, Quamba, Hinckley, as well as locally.

Thanks to Pastor Eric for volunteering me to sing, and many more thanks to Pastor Mark for letting me serve everyone by not singing! The brotherhood in Jesus Christ is profoundly deep, joyful, playful, meaningful, and life-giving. What a glorious gift is the cross of Christ that makes such an evening of joy and gladness together with the children of God possible.

As Flavel says, “Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ!”

-jr

A Somber Exhortation from Bishop Ryle

When we have carried you to your narrow bed, let us not have to hunt up stray words and scraps of religion, in order to make out that you were a true believer. Let us not have to say in a hesitating way one to another, ‘I trust he is happy; he talked so nicely one day, and he seemed so pleased with a chapter in the Bible on another occasion, and he liked such a person, who is a good man.’ Let us be able to speak decidedly as to your condition. Let us have some solid proof of your repentance, your faith and your holiness, so that none shall be able for a moment to question your state. Depend on it, without this, those you leave behind can feel no solid comfort about your soul. We may use the form of religion at your burial, and express charitable hopes. We may meet you at the churchyard gate, and say, ‘Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.’ But this will not alter your condition! If you die without conversion, without repentance, and without faith, your funeral will only be the funeral of a lost soul, you had better never have been born.

-JC Ryle, Holiness

I am of Flesh, pt2

“I am of flesh”
– Paul, Romans 7:14

In these following paragraphs, I want to simply consider the nature of the human body in light of its relationship to the soul. In part 1 we considered the behavior of creatures lacking an eternal soul, finding at least in some degree a similarity toward many of our own behaviors and even feelings.

I am neither a scientist nor a doctor, as you will no doubt easily discern. But I am an observer and to some degree an interpreter of the data these worthy professions have unearthed, and I set observation of their data forth for our consideration.

When Paul says “I am of flesh,” what exactly does that mean? Flesh is obviously related to wicked behavior in the pages of the New Testament, but why use the term “flesh”? If we are flesh and non-flesh, or body and spirit, or material and immaterial, what is the connection between the material and the spiritual, or perhaps more appropriately, what are the boundaries of each of them, if we can even use such a term? Continue reading “I am of Flesh, pt2”

I am of Flesh, pt1

I am of Flesh”
– Paul, Romans 7:14

Calvin famously opens his Institutes this way:

Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.

Much has been written expounding the boundless glories which necessarily rise when pondering what God has revealed to us concerning Himself. But I find it fascinating that Calvin should assert that true and solid wisdom consists not only in knowledge of God, but also in knowledge of ourselves. Continue reading “I am of Flesh, pt1”

Reformed Bible Conference

Sunday Evening, March 5 marks the first of six consecutive Sunday evenings that comprise the Reformed Bible Conference, sponsored and hosted by Pastor Kevin Carr and First Presbyterian Church in Hinckley, MN. The conference this year is themed around the five solas of the Reformation. Bookending the conference are the patriarchs of Common Slaves, Drs. Kevin Carr and Ivan Fiske. I want to highlight also that another one of our own, Pastor Eric Anderson, will be presenting at the Conference on March 12.

Service time is 6:30PM, Sunday March 5 through Sunday April 9.

Click here to see a copy of this year’s brochure, including schedule and speakers. In lieu of a Common Slaves Combined Service in March, we would encourage you to join us for this conference, and we’ll do a coffee gathering in March as well.

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