Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Vision (8.28.14): The abuse of our Lord

Image:  Modern tourists visit a site which claims to be "The Dungeon at Caiphas' house"

Note:  Here are some notes from the exposition of Luke 22:63-65 from the am sermon on 8.17.14 Christ on Trial:

And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him (Luke 22:63).

Luke begins:  “And the men that held Jesus…”  The verb here is synecho.  In addition to simply holding, the verb also has the sense of to surround, to hem in, or to encircle.  This is before the age when people thought anything about the humane treatment of prisoners or those in custody.  In the first century you were guilty unless proven innocent and the punishment began even before your trial ended.  Ironically, it is the life and teachings of the man they encircle that will result in humane treatment for those accused of crimes.

Luke continues, saying “they mocked him [empaizo:  ridicule, make fun of, trick, or deceive], and smote him [dero:  beat, strike, hit].”  We don’t know which was worse, the emotional abuse they inflicted or the physical abuse.  I feel sure that no blow they laid upon him hurt as much, humanly speaking, than when his eyes locked on Peter’s at the moment of his third and emphatic denial (v. 61 a).  Blows were laid upon our Lord that the eye could not see.

And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? (Luke 22:64).

In v. 64 we see one example of both this emotional and physical abuse laid upon our Lord.  The guards apparently had picked upon from the trial that Jesus was acclaimed as a prophet by the people.  So, they thought it would be great fun to blindfold him [perikalypto] and to strike him in the face, all the while saying, “Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?”  Get it?  We complain about bullying today, but we don’t know what bulling is—what the bullying was like that our Lord underwent for our sakes.

We see first the physical brutality Jesus endured.  The verb here for “to strike” used of their hitting Jesus in the face [a description omitted in many modern translations] is typto.  It is the root for the English word “type” which has the sense to hit so as to leave a mark or impression or, we might say, a bruise.  Some of us are old enough to remember typewriters where a key with a raised letter would strike the ribbon held to the paper and leave a mark.  Recall:

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

We see also the irony of their mockery.  What have we seen in this Gospel?  Jesus is a great prophet.  What he prophesies comes to pass.  He sends men toward Jerusalem and tells them they will find a donkey upon which he will ride and they go and find it as he said (cf. 19:29-34).  He sends men to prepare the upper room and tells them they will see a man with a pitcher of water and they are to follow and ask a room of him. And they find it exactly as he said (cf. 22:7-13).  He predicts one will betray him and Judas does (cf. 22:21-23, 47-48).  He predicts Peter will deny him before the cock crows, and he does (cf. 22:34, 56-62).  Perhaps the greatest irony is that Jesus predicted their very mockery and his own death as well as he resurrection:

Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

Their mockery reminds me of the Russian cosmonauts who went into space and reported they could not find God there, so he must not exist.  Silly men.  You prove nothing when you claim God does not exist, because you cannot see him.  So these men prove nothing but their own spiritual darkness in mocking our Lord who is the perfect Prophet, Priest, and King.

And many other things blasphemously spake they against him (Luke 22:65).

Notice especially Luke’s conclusion in v. 65.  The word that stands out here is the verb blasphemeo.  Though it can mean to speak against, slander, or insult a man, the most powerful meaning of the verb, of course, is to speak sacrilegiously or profanely about God.  What is Luke’s not so subtle point?  To blaspheme Jesus is to blaspheme God, because Jesus is Lord!  Perhaps Luke gave us this verse to alleviate our disgust at how Christ was so shamefully treated.  The one whom these men scorn and ridicule, myriads will fall down before and worship.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

WM # 25: Review: Wretched Interview with James White

I posted a new edition of Word Magazine (# 25) today.  This episode offers a review of this youtube video from Wretched Radio in which host Todd Friel interviews RB apologist James White of issues related to text and translation of Scripture.

I took exception to several things in the video including:

1.  Confusing a concern for the traditional text of Scripture with KJV-Onlyism.

2.  Undermining the traditional text by disparaging Erasmus' printed edition of the Greek New Testament (1516), including charges that the edition was riddled with errors because Erasmus rushed the work into print to beat Cardinal Ximenes' Complutensian Polyglott to the market and that the ending of Revelation (the last 5 or 6 verses) is filled with "bizarre" readings.

3.  The implication that the so-called Comma Johanneum (in 1 John 5:7-8) in the TR lacks ancient attestation.

4.  The implication that support for the traditional text is rooted merely in threadbare traditionalism.

Here also are some links to resources mentioned in the podcast:

a.  My blogpost (tract):  A Brief Guide to Bible Translations.

b.  Google Books entry for Anne Reeve, Ed., Erasmus' Annotations on the New Testament:  The Gospels (London:  Duckworth, 1986).

c.  Franz Delitzsch's Handschriftliche Funde (Leipzig, 1861).


Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Vision (8.21.14): Slander

Note:  The following story appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of The Messenger, the bimonthly magazine of Emmanuel Evangelical Church in Salisbury, England.  This is the church where Malcolm Watts is the minister.  He preached at the Keach Conference and at CRBC in 2011 (see here).  The story is a reminder of the dangers of the tongue (see James 3).  May we learn to be good stewards of our speech.

A farmer’s wife once spread a slanderous story about her Pastor through the village where she lived, and soon the whole countryside had come to hear of it.

Some time later the woman became quite sick and confessed that the story was untrue. After her recovery, she came to the Pastor and craved his forgiveness. The old Pastor said, “Of course, I will gladly forgive you if you will comply with a wish of mine.” “Most gladly,” replied the woman. “Go home then,” he said, “kill a black hen, pluck the feathers, and put them in a basket and bring them here.”

In half an hour she was back. “Now,” said the pastor, “go through the village and at each street corner scatter a few of these feathers, the remaining ones take to the top of the bell tower and scatter them to the winds, and then return.” She did so. “Now,” he said, “go through the village and gather the feathers again – and see that not one is missing.”

The woman looked at the Pastor in astonishment. “Why,” she said, “that is impossible! The wind has scattered them over the fields everywhere!”

“And so,” the Pastor said, “while I forgive you gladly, do not forget that you can never undo the damage your untrue words have done.”
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Five Books on Credobaptism versus Paedobaptism

A couple of young people who occasionally drive from Williamsburg to attend our church, recently asked me to recommend some books on a confessional perspective on believers' baptism by immersion, as they are studying the issue of credobaptism versus paedobaptism.  Here are five suggestions (listed in chronological order by the year published) with a few annotations:

1.  John L. Dagg, Manual of Church Order (The Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1858; Gano Books, 1990).

This is the companion volume to Dagg’s Manual of Theology (1857).  It provides a classic defense of believers’ baptism by immersion (pp. 13-73).  Special focus is given to the linguistic argument regarding the verb baptizo with references to its uses in ancient Greek.

2.  Fred Malone, A String of Pearls Unstrung (Founders Press, 1998).

This booklet, originally written in 1977, describes the author's transition from being a Presbyterian to being a Baptist.  It can be read online here.  For a fuller treatment on the subject of baptism you can also read his book The Baptism of Disciples Alone:  A covenantal argument for credobaptism versus paedobaptism (Founders Press, 2003).

3.  Samuel E. Waldron, Biblical Baptism:  A Reformed Defense of Believers’ Baptism (Truth for Eternity Ministries, 1998).

This 80 page booklet from a leading contemporary Reformed Baptist systematic theologian provides a careful exegetical, theological, and practical discussion of baptism.

4.  Hal Brunson, The Rickety Bridge and the Broken Mirror:  Two Parables of Paedobaptism and One Parable of the Death of Christ (iUniverse, 2007).

This self-published book from a former Southern Baptist who considered becoming a Presbyterian but who eventually became a confessional Baptist offers a creative take on the topic by imagining a discussion between the Presbyterian B. B. Warfield, the dispensationalist J. N. Darby, and the confessional Baptist C. H. Spurgeon.

5.  W. Gary Crampton, From Paedobaptism to Credobaptism:  A Critique of the Westminster Standards on the Subjects of Baptism (Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2010).

A pastor and scholar describes his transition from the Presbyterian to the confessional Baptist position through a study of the Westminster Standards.  For my written review of this book look here (for the same review in audio look here).

Friday, August 15, 2014

New Reformed Baptist Trumpet

I just sent out the most recent edition of the Reformed Baptist Trumpet, the quarterly e-journal of the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia (Vol. 5. No. 2 April-June, 2014).  Yes, we know it is a little behind. Hopefully we will catch up with the next issue!

The entire issue has also been posted to the RBF-VA website.

In this issue:

  1. Info on the 2014 Keach Conference which will be held Friday PM-Saturday AM, September 26-27, 2014.  Speakers:  Jim Savastio and Earl Blackburn.
  2. Article by W. Gary Crampton:  Reformed Theology and the Sabbath.
  3. Review of Tom Chantry and David Dykstra's Holding Communion Together by Jeffrey T. Riddle.
  4. Paradosis article:  Excerpt from Benjamin Keach's 1693 sermon "The Blessedness of Christ's Sheep."
Hope to see you at the Keach Conference,

Jeff Riddle, RBT Editor

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Vision (8.14.14): Christians, Violence, Government, Military Service, and Murder

We had a good Sunday School discussion last Lord’s Day following lunch on the topic of what the Bible teaches about non-violence and retaliation.  We also pondered the duties of Christians to government and whether or not a Christian can serve in the military, as well as the meaning of the sixth commandment.

Here is a summary of some of the points and passages we looked at:

1.  There are places in the Bible where Jesus teaches non-violence and non-retaliation.  In the Sermon on the Mount, he teaches his disciples to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies (cf. Matt 5:38-42).  We must understand the context of Jesus’ teaching and consider that Jesus was preparing his disciples for how to respond to persecution.  When arrested, he tells Peter to put away his sword (Matt 26:52).

2.  Civil government is ordained by God to restrain evil and the civil authority “does not bear the sword in vain” (see Romans 13:1-7).

3.  The apostles taught believers to pray for those in civil authority and to honor and obey them (cf. 1 Tim 2:13; 1 Peter 2:13-17).  Note that they did this even when the government was clearly pagan!

4.  When there is conflict between obedience to God and obedience to men, we must obey God rather than men (cf. Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-29).

5.  As to Christians in military service, notice that when soldiers came to John the Baptist he did not tell them to leave their posts but not to misuse their authority (Luke 3:14).   Likewise, when Cornelius became a Christian Peter did not require that he leave military service (see Acts 10—11).  Paul urged believers to be content with their status in life (1 Cor 7:20-24).

6.  We also discussed the meaning of the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:23 NKJV:  “You shall not murder.”).

Here is a follow up from John D. Currid, a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, from his commentary on Exodus, Vol 2 (Evangelical Press 2001):  pp. 45-46:

20:13:  ‘You shall not murder.’

The Hebrew word for ‘murder’ is rasah.  It occurs forty-seven times in the Old Testament.  In every instance but one it speaks of one human being killing another.  It is never used of a person killing an animal.  In addition, rasah is never employed in contexts of war, capital punishment, or self-defence.  Most often it denotes planned or premeditated murder in the form of revenge (Num. 35:27, 30), or assassination (2 Kings 6:32).  Unpremeditated killing, known as manslaughter in English common law, is also prohibited in Numbers 35 because it is rasah.

It should be noted that the verb does not specify any particular person(s) as its direct object.  The form is thus not qualified in that way.  Consequently, it is likely that suicide is included in the prohibition.

Jesus’ interpretation of this law goes well beyond the physical act of murder (see Matt. 5:21-22).  It also ‘forbids murder of the heart,’ as Calvin puts it.  Indeed, it is the hand that gives birth to murder, but it is the heart infected and inflamed with hate and anger that conceives it! (cf. 1 John 3:15).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Word Magazine # 24: Review: Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason"

I recorded and uploaded a new Word Magazine (episode # 24) today. The topic is a review of Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason:  How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success" (Random House, 2005).

Also below is the first of four Templeton Research lectures Stark did in 2006 at Vanderbilt University which present some of his ideas on religious marketplaces (all four lectures are worth viewing):