Thanksgiving at Job’s House


Thanksgiving at Job’s House, by Joe Reed 

Thanksgiving, that most excellent of perhaps all uniquely American traditions, stands in the doorway where we bid farewell to warmer weather and all its labors and rewards, and turn to meet the cold embrace of winter. It’s a moment to reflect on God’s generosity to us, His faithful provision for us, and to remember that our lives very much hang upon His grace to give us the strength to rise up and labor, the sun and rain to make our labors fruitful, and the friends and families around us to make them enjoyable. God owes us none of these, nor can we force His hand to provide them for us. So, we give thanks.


Sometimes a person gives thanks this way: “I didn’t have the best year. My life involved much hardship. I suffered pain, and I suffered loss. But then I realized that there are other people who have it much worse than I do, so I shouldn’t complain. Instead, I’m thankful. It could be worse!”


I understand the sentiment. But I wonder sometimes, what does that other person have to be thankful for? Life is rarely as good as it could be, but sometimes it’s about as bad as it could be.


I often think about Job at Thanksgiving. Job lived as the richest man in his corner of the earth, proud father of 10 close-knit children, an upright man who worshiped God with all his heart, a man blessed almost immeasurably in every aspect of life.

 And then, in a moment, without warning, he found himself the most miserable man in the world. His livestock was all carried off, his servants destroyed, his children killed in an instant, his health was completely broken. The only thing remaining to Job were the messengers who bore him the ill tidings, an inconsolable and angry wife, a pile of ashes to sit in, a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape his oozing boils, and three friends determined to convince him what a terrible person he was.


Job also had his life – you recall that God demanded his life be spared. And yet Job wasn’t thankful for that either: “Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?” (3:11) For Job, life really was as bad as it could get.


Imagine visiting Job’s ash heap on Thanksgiving. “Job, what are you thankful for? You’ve got nothing left, except your life, which you don’t want.” For what can Job be thankful?


The answer Job would give is this: 


I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

yet in my flesh I shall see God. (Job 19:25-26)


For Job, probably writing some 1500 years before the first Christmas, Thanksgiving was summed up in these few words: Jesus is coming. And when He comes, all this mess is going to go away.


Heaven is described as a place where God Himself wipes away every tear. Jesus gets us there, meets us there, and keeps us there. We may have many wonderful blessings for which to give thanks this year, or we may, like Job, have essentially nothing that gives us any sense of joy. But we have this: “Our Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” Nothing changes that truth. Nothing threatens Jesus’ arrival, or His ability to set all things right. And for that, we may indeed be truly thankful. 

Common Slaves Conference Audio


Common Slaves Conference Audio

by common slaves

(from Pastor Joe Reed)  

We are delighted to be able to share the audio from our Conference “Small Church, Big Problems.” Our speakers and their sessions were, in my incredibly humble and slightly biased opinion, second to none. LifeSpring Church in Crosby extended the greatest hospitality to us, and we are so thankful. I’d hold up our conference attended by 50 dear folks to any I’ve ever been to attended by thousands. It really was that good.

Thanks to all who joined us!

Check out the Conference Audio page to hear or download the sessions and see a brief intro to our speakers, or take a shortcut here


Christ Alone

Christ Alone (Priest, Prophet, King) 

from Table Talk, November 2012


Reformed theology affirms that Scripture and its teaching on grace and faith emphasize that salvation is solus Christus, “by Christ alone”—that is, Christ is the only Savior (Acts 4:12). B.B.Warfield wrote, “The saving power of faith resides thus not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests.”

The centrality of Christ is the foundation of the Protestant faith. Martin Luther said that Jesus Christ is the “center and circumference of the Bible”—meaning that who He is and what He did in His death and resurrection is the fundamental content of Scripture. Ulrich Zwingli said, “Christ is the Head of all believers who are His body and without Him the body is dead.”

Without Christ, we can do nothing; in Him, we can do all things (John 15:5Phil. 4:13). Christ alone can bring salvation. Paul makes plain in Romans 1–2 that though there is a self-manifestation of God outside of His saving work in Christ, no amount of natural theology can unite God and man. Union with Christ is the only way of salvation.

We urgently need to hear solus Christus in our day of pluralistic theology. Many people today question the belief that salvation is only by faith in Christ. As Carl Braaten says, they “are returning to a form of the old bankrupt nineteenth-century Christological approach of Protestant liberalism and calling it ‘new,’ when it is actually scarcely more than a shallow Jesusology.” The end result is that today, many people—as H. R. Niebuhr famously said of liberalism—proclaim and worship “a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

Our Reformed forebears, drawing on a perspective traceable all the way back to the fourth-century writer Eusebius of Caesarea, found it helpful to think about Christ as a Prophet, Priest, and King. The 1689 London Baptist Confession, for instance, puts it this way: “Christ, and Christ alone, is fitted to be mediator between God and man. He is the prophet, priest and king of the church of God” (8.9). Let us look more closely at these three offices.

Christ the Prophet

Christ is the Prophet whom we need to instruct us in the things of God so as to heal our blindness and ignorance. The Heidelberg Catechism calls Him “our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption” (A. 31). “The Lord thy God,” Moses declared in Deuteronomy 18:15, “will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (KJV). He is God’s Son, and God demands that we listen to Him (Matt. 17:5).

As the Prophet, Jesus is the only One who can reveal what God has been purposing in history “since the world began” and who can teach and make manifest the real meaning of the “scriptures of the prophets” (the Old Testament; see Rom. 16:25–26). We can expect to make progress in the Christian life only as we heed His instruction and teaching.

Christ the Priest

Christ is also Priest—our sorely needed High Priest, who, as the Heidelberg Catechism says, “by the sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us” (A. 31). In the words of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, “because of our estrangement from God and the imperfection of our services at best, we need his priestly office to reconcile us to God and render us acceptable to him” (8.10).

Salvation is only in Jesus Christ because there are two conditions that, no matter how hard we try, we can never meet. Yet, they must be done if we are to be saved. The first is to satisfy the justice of God through obedience to the law. The second is to pay the price of our sins. We cannot do either, but Christ did both perfectly. Romans 5:19 says, “By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Romans 5:10 says, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” There is no other way to come into the presence of God than through Christ alone.

Jesus’ sacrifice took place once only, but He still continues as our great High Priest, the One through whom all acceptable prayer and praise are made to God. In heavenly places, He remains our constant Intercessor and Advocate (Rom. 8:341 John 2:1). Little wonder, then, that Paul calls for glory to be given to God “through Jesus Christ for ever” (Rom. 16:27). We can grow in our enjoyment of access to God only by a deepening reliance on Him as our Sacrifice and Intercessor.

Christ the King

Finally, Christ is the King, ruling over all things. Over His church He reigns by means of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:30–33). He sovereignly gives repentance to the impenitent and bestows forgiveness on the guilty (Acts 5:31). Christ is “our eternal King who governs us by His word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in the enjoyment of that salvation, He has purchased for us” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A. 31). As the royal Heir of the new creation, He will lead us into a kingdom of eternal light and love.

As such, we can agree with John Calvin when he says, “We may patiently pass through this life with its misery, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles—content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph.” We can grow in the Christian life only as we live obediently under Christ’s rule and by His power.

If you are a child of God, Christ in His threefold office as Prophet, Priest, and King will mean everything to you. Do you love solus Christus? Do you love Him in His person, offices, natures, and benefits? Is He your Prophet to teach you; your Priest to sacrifice for, intercede for, and bless you; and your King to rule and guide you?

After a rousing performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the famous Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini is said to have told the orchestra: “I am nothing. You are nothing. Beethoven is everything.” If Toscanini could say that about a brilliant but dead composer, how much more should Christians say that about the living Savior, who, with respect to our salvation, is the composer, musician, and even the beautiful music itself.

Through Faith Alone

How are we justified through faith alone?  

Peter Jeffrey:  in Giving His Son to die in our place God demonstrated His Justice.  Our sins are not overlooked.  They are dealt with exactly as God had always said they should be dealt with.  They are punished, but because they have been laid on Jesus and he has taken responsibility for them, he takes our punishment instead of us. On the Grounds of what Jesus has done, God is able to justify guilty sinners.  He is acting in a perfectly lawful way because our sins have been dealt with according to divine law.  Our sins are credited to Jesus and God treats Jesus as he should treat us–he is forsaken and dies in our place.  Jesus righteousness is credited to us and God treats us as he has always treated Jesus–we become his children and he owns us as his redeemed people.  

CJ Mahaney Faith is not a means of saving ourselves; faith/repentance is a means of admitting we cannot save ourselves. It is a way of throwing ourselves upon the mercy of God and begging the savior to save us.  

Martin Lloyd Jones: It does not mean we are made righteous, but rather that God regards us as righteous and declares us to be righteous.  This has often been a difficulty to many people.  They say that because they are conscious of sin within they cannot be in a justified state; but anyone who speaks like that shows immediately that he has not understanding of this great and crucial doctrine of justification. Justification makes no actual change in us; but is a declaration by God concerning us.  It is not something that results from what we do but rather something that is done for us.  We have only been made righteous in the sense that God regard us to as righteous, and pronounces us to be righteous.  

By Grace alone

Who owns our Salvation?  Is The Gospel good advice, spiritual caffine to be a better you; or is it good News of a Free Offer from God alone?  

 The Cambridge Declaration: 1996--Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature. This false confidence now fills the evangelical world–from the self-esteem Gospel to the health and wealth Gospel, from those who have transformed the Gospel into a product to be sold and sinners into consumers who want to buy, to others who treat Christian faith as being true simply because it works.  This silences the doctrine of justification regardless of the official commitments of our churches.  God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation.  We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace

We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.  We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work.  Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation.  Faith is not produced by our unregenerate human nature.  

Fall Conference at Lifespring

Common Slaves Fall Conference: Friday, October 27, 2017

Small Church, Big Problems:  Identifying, confronting and healing from Destructive Church Conflict


Location:  Lifespring Church, Crosby, MN (

Date:  Friday, October 27, 2017 (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Who:  Pastors, Elders and laymen, all men and women who love Christ and His church.

Cost:  $17/person (+1.93 sales tax) 

To Register:  search and register:  small church, big problems 

Questions or Pastor Eric (  (218)820-7532

Why this Conference?  We know that conflict is inevitable in all areas of life in a fallen world; and one doesn’t need to be a Christian to learn how important good communication, apologies, and conflict resolution is.


But there is a type of conflict which is of a different variety and a type of person who causes this, which is far more sinister and destructive.  It has been present in Biblical Times and is still present today.  We also know that our enemy, Satan, hates God’s Word and men and women who are trying to preach the gospel or revive a church.  Diotrephes is one of his favorite people.

III John 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.  So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

The Apostle John was not the only one who dealt with Diotrephes, but in fact it seems almost axiomatic that he will be found from time to time in every church.  It seems that small, rural churches, many of them steeped in generations of one or more families dominating the church, are more susceptible to the damage caused by Diotrephes than perhaps large, urban churches

Hence the big material-producing people of our day, located in those large churches, rarely seem to address the issue from our perspective or ministry context.

We believe we will be greatly helped by hearing from four older, wiser, veteran pastors about handing wolves, division causers, and those with spirit of Diotrephes,  specifically in small and rural churches; as well as Gospel-healing from destructive conflict and division. 

Speakers:  We intentionally invited seasoned pastors to speak  at this particular conference (all of whom are approaching or have passed the 40-year mark in pastoral ministry). These men have been around long enough to “peach the Word”  through both “in season” and “out of season”, many times over, and we will all benefit from their wisdom.

Dr. Kevin Carr is Pastor of First  Presbyterian Church (PCA), Hinkley, MN where he has served since 1989.





Pastor Paul Walker is Pastor of Elm Ave Baptist Church, where he has served since 2002.






Pastor Randy Reed is Pastor of Calvary Bapsist church in Negaunee, Michigan. He has been in vocational ministry since 1979.





Dr, Ivan Fiske is the Senior Pastor at Quamba Baptist Church, Quamba MN, where he has served for a long long time.






8:30—Greetings, welcome and singing

8:45—Session 1:  Battlefield Survival (Pastor Paul)  


10:15—Session 2 (with Q/A following):  The Atmosphere of Authority  (Pastor Randy)


1:00—Session 3  Healing the wounded: Shepherding the flock post-crisis  (Pastor Ivan)


2:30—Session 4 (with Q/A following) Eyes straight ahead: Keeping focused on what really matters (Pastor Kevin)


 (Optional meal together afterwards) 

We believe that we will all benefit, not only from the content presented, but also from the fellowship time together as brothers-and-sisters who share a common faith and master in northern rural Minnesota.

Presented by the Common Slaves Network:   northern Minnesota fellowship of Rural Reformed (and reforming) churches

What is Discipleship?

Jeff Vandersveldt

 discipleship leading people to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering lordship and presence of Jesus Christ. 


a disciple as one who desires to worship Jesus in all of life, is increasingly being changed by Jesus to obey him in all of life, and leads and teaches others to do the same