Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doctrines of Grace: Perseverance of the Saints

I completed the Doctrines of Grace sermon series in Lynchburg Sunday evening with a message on The Perseverance of the Saints.

Monday, April 21, 2014

WM # 23 Review: Bart Ehrman on How Jesus Became God. Part 2

Image:  The Craig Bird edited book which responds to Ehrman.
Image:  The Yehohanan ossuary, discovered in 1968 in Israel, shows the remains of a man who had been crucified with a nail still embedded in his heel.  The ossuary dates to c. 20 AD, showing that the Romans did allow the burial of the victims of crucifixion.
I've posted a new episode (# 23) of Word Magazine.  This one includes part 2 of my review of the NPR Fresh Air Interview with Bart Ehrman on his new book, How Jesus Became God (HarperOne, 2014).  In the review I make reference to the Craig Bird edited response to Ehrman's book, How God Became Jesus:  A Response to Bart D. Ehrman (Zondervan, 2014).  I called attention in particular to chapter 4 ("Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidence Right") by Craig A. Evans which IMHO completely demolishes Erhman's arguments against the Gospel accounts of the burial and empty tomb.  Evans notes Roman and Jewish literary evidence showing that the Romans permitted burial of the victims of crucifixion.  He also points to archaeological evidence, including tombs and ossuaries with the remains of those crucified (including the Yehohanan ossuary).


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reformed worship, holy days, and holidays

The arrival of “Easter Weekend” raises the question again of how Scripturally regulated worship relates to the “Christian calendar.”  Even many evangelical Calvinistic churches “observe Lent” and during this past “holy week” have held “Maundy Thursday” and “Good Friday” services.  But are such “holy days” Biblical or do they lead to erosion and even compromise of Biblical practice?  Even if one opts out of the “Christian calendar” what about private and family observance of holidays?

Back in December 2011, just before Christmas, I preached a message titled Reformed worship, holy days, and holidays in which I reflected on these questions.  Though it related to Christmas it also has relevance for Easter.  Below are five observations I made in that sermon:

1.     There is only one Biblically mandated holy day for new covenant believers and that is the Lord’s Day or the Christian Sabbath.


2.     The Christian calendar developed after the time of the apostles and led to confusion in the church.


3.     With the Protestant Reformation there came a purification of worship.


4.     We should follow in the tradition of the mature Reformation and hold to the Lord’s Day as our only Scripturally approved Holy Day.


5.     We can, however, personally and in families culturally celebrate holidays as long as we do so in a way that is commensurate with Christian conscience.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Vision (4.17.14): Baptism and Lord's Supper

We had our second-Sunday Sunday School discussion last Lord’s Day afternoon on baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

In the discussion I noted a five part series of messages I did back in 2010 when we were preparing to particularize (constitute) as a church and to begin the practices of these ordinances (or sacraments).   I framed the messages on a series of questions and answers.  Here are links to those sermons for those who’d like to review them:

I also made mention of a book review I did of Keith A. Mathison’s Given for You:  Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (P & R, 2002), which influenced my understandings of the Lord’s Supper and especially how it functions as an element in worship and the frequency with which it is observed.

Finally, I noted that we are about to complete our Sunday afternoon Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism sermon series by covering questions 70-82 which also deal with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Hopefully this series will help us to refresh, examine, clarify, reinforce, and confirm our understandings of these key Biblical practices in our church.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Doctrines of Grace Series: Irresistible Grace

Note:  I continued our Doctrines of Grace series in Lynchburg on Sunday evening with a message on the "I' in TULIP:   Irresistible Grace.  Below is the opening to the message including a definition of this doctrine:
Irresistible grace is the doctrine that God graciously applies the redemption purchased by Christ to the saved in such a way that their hearts are utterly and gladly taken captive to Christ.  The redeemed are drawn by God’s Spirit to trust completely in Christ for their salvation.  God lovingly overcomes any stubborn resistance to him and makes the redeemed his glad and willing servants.

We have already discussed man’s state in sin and his total inability to seek God (T); God’s plan to save mankind and his sovereign election of those who would be saved (U); and God’s accomplishment of redemption through Christ’s death on the cross (L).  We now come to the application of that redemption to the hearts of sinful men so that through faith in Christ they are saved (the I of TULIP).  This is where the doctrines of grace demonstrate a robust trinitarian thelogy:  the Father elects; the Son redeems; the Spirit applies redemption.

Imagine the following scenario:  Two people hear the gospel preached.  One is converted and becomes a solid believer.  The other is left cold by the gospel and remains in his unbelief.  What made the difference in the response of the two men?  The Arminian says the difference is merely that the first man chose God and the second man did not.  The Arminian implies that there was some special quality within or some work performed by the first man that distinguished him in the eyes of God from the second man.  The doctrines of grace say that the first man was saved by a sovereign act of God’s free grace alone.  The first man would have been just as indifferent to the gospel as the second man if the Spirit of God had not graciously drawn him to Christ.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Prayer at 2014 Cove Creek Opening Ceremonies

Image:  Cove Creek Commissioner John Grisham
presides over the Opening Ceremonies

Saturday was Opening Ceremonies at Cove Creek Baseball Park.  This is our family's tenth year of playing ball at Cove Creek and my fourth year coaching the Rookie League Hot Rods.  Last season was a "re-building year," but this season we've started off strong winning our first two games.  I was asked to do the opening prayer (it is a private park and we can still do this).  Here's the text:

Gracious and loving God,

Today we can say with the Psalmist, “the heavens declare the glory of God” and the firmament shows forth his handiwork (Psalm 19:1).

As we stand on the threshold of a new season of baseball here at Cove Creek, we bring you thanksgiving for the past and ask your blessing for the future.

We thank you for providing the benefactors, administrators, and officials whose generosity, hard work, and guidance have made this place possible.

We thank you for the coaches and parents for their instruction and support.  Help us to encourage excellence in competition without being overbearing or unkind.  Make us to be circumspect in our criticism and liberal in our praise.

And today we especially thank you for these young athletes, for their readiness, enthusiasm, and excitement for this new season.  We ask that you would watch over their physical safety.  Help them to honor their parents, their elders, and all those in positions of rightful authority by being respectful and considerate.   Help them to strive for excellence in proportion to their abilities, to be fair in competition, generous in victory, and noble in defeat.

Help us, as the apostle Paul taught, to do all to your glory.

And teach us to follow the timeless rule given by Jesus:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We ask all this in Christ’s name, Amen.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Word Magazine: Review: Bart Ehrman on How Jesus Became God

I just uploaded a new Word Magazine which I recorded on Friday, reviewing the NPR Fresh Air interview with Bart Ehrman on his new book, How Jesus Became God.