Friday, October 30, 2020

The Vision (10.30.20): But he giveth more grace

 


Image: Sunrise, North Garden, Virginia, October 30, 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 4:5-7.

James 4:6: But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

In James 4:1-5, the apostle describes man’s dilemma in sin, including the lusts that war in his members (v. 1).

In v. 6, however, there is relief: “But he giveth more grace.” This refers to God’s saving grace (cf. Eph 2:8-9). He gives to those who are his own grace that is greater than all our sin. John 1:16 says: “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Some modern versions render that last phrase in John 1:16 as “grace upon grace.” The idea here is grace piled on grace, grace heaped on grace.

What if you had a huge debt. It was like a cloud hanging over your head every day. It made you to lose sleep. The harder you worked the further behind you got. But then someone comes along and says, I have paid off all your debt and, what is more, there is a huge surplus left over, and I have transferred this to our account also.

Our sin is great, but God giveth more grace.

James cinches his point by citing Proverbs 3:34, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” This fits with Christ’s teaching in Matthew 23:12: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

Likewise, in Matthew 18, we are told how Christ once set a child into the midst of his disciples and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3-4).

A child is generally not too proud to ask for help. An infant will, in fact, wail and cry till his needs are met. Even though a toddler cannot articulate the words, he can extend his arms and ask to be picked up and comforted. It seems the older we get, the more prone we are to pride. The man who stiffens his back in pride against God will be broken in his obstinance, but the man who humbles himself will be saved.

Yes, our sin is great, but God giveth more grace. Let us then humble ourselves, child-like, and extend our arms to him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.4 (part three): The Panegyric of Eusebius (part three)



This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 10, chapter 4 (part three).

Notes and Commentary:

This section continues and completes the lengthy chapter 4 which records the Panegyric of Eusebius dedicated to Paulinus of Tyre at the end of persecution under the tyrants and the rise of Emperors sympathetic to the Christians.

The occasion of the Panegyric is the dedication of a magnificently restored and expanded church building.

This final part begins by continuing a comparison between the physical restoration of the building and the spiritual restoration of the people.

Eusebius notes, with thanksgiving, how God first raised up the Emperors (Constantine and Licinius), “dearly beloved of God” in order to cleanse “the whole world of all the wicked and baneful persons and of the cruel God-hating tyrants themselves.” Next, he raised up his disciples, including the church leaders, whom he had secretly concealed from the storm of persecution.

Eusebius takes up a spiritual allegory using the idea of locations of various persons in the church building to describe how God had “duly divided the whole people according to their several abilities.” Some were at the entrances. Others were at the pillars becoming acquainted with “the letter of the four Gospels.” Still others were on the inside taking in “the innermost mystic teachings of the Scriptures.” The whole temple was adorned with “a single, mighty gateway”, the praise of God.

He also describes Christ as being the “unique altar” and as standing by it as “the great High Priest of the universe.” The Word has created not only this temple but the whole universe.

He closes the panegyric with a call to worship “the Author of the present assembly … even the Ruler of the Assembly Himself.”

Conclusion:

This final part concludes this lengthy speech that comprises EH 10.4. Eusebius continues to celebrate and give thanks to God for the removal of the tyrants and their replacement by the sympathetic emperors. We also see his use of spiritual allegory in taking the dedication of the restored building to describe the restoration of the Christian community with Christ, as their altar, in the center.

JTR


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.4 (part two): The Panegyric of Eusebius (part two)



This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 10, chapter 4 (part two).

Notes and Commentary:

This section continues the lengthy chapter 4 which records the Panegyric of Eusebius dedicated to Paulinus of Tyre at the end of persecution under the tyrants and the rise of Emperors sympathetic to the Christians.

In this section Eusebius recalls the pagan attacks on the Christians, and especially how the “books [no doubt, including Bibles] they destroyed and set on fire the sanctuary of God” adding “they profaned the dwelling place of His name to the ground.”

He also notes that this trial served as divine chastisement for the church, as discipline from “a careful father.” The end result was that the church emerged even stronger.

Paulinus is also highly praised as “our new and goodly Zerubbabel.” Taking Christ as his “Ally and Fellow-worker”, who alone can quicken the dead, Eusebius says that Paulinus “raised up her who had fallen.”

Eusebius next gives a detailed description of the church building that had been restored by Paulinus. It was built on the foundations of the previous building and expanded. Oulton calls this “the earliest account that we possess of the structure and furniture of a Christian church” (421, n. 2).

He begins by describing an outer porch, “great and raised aloft,” so that “even strangers to the faith” could gaze inside. The building thus served as an “evangelistic” tool to encourage pagans to enter. Between the entrance and the temple were “four traverse colonnades, fending the place into a kind of quadrangular figure.” An open space let in the sun and fresh air and fountains supplied “copious streams of flowing water.”

Within the temple were the “innermost porches,” adorned with “rich materials” including “costly cedars.” One entered through three gates, the central one of which was larger and ornately decorated.

The building was ordered with “perfect wisdom and art” leaving those who saw it in awe of “the surpassing beauty of every part.”

The temple was also fitted with thrones, “very lofty, to do honour unto the presidents”, and with benches.

In the midst was the “holy of holies,” an altar, protected “with a fence of wooden lattice-work.”

The pavement was of “fair marble.” Various chambers and buildings were also erected outside the temple.

After the description of the church building, Eusebius says its beauty is fitting since Christ had taken the church (both people and building) and changed its “foul body” into “His splendid and glorious body.” This also anticipated what will happen at the resurrection, when believers receive their glorious resurrection bodies.

Conclusion:

This panegyric is essentially a building dedication speech or sermon. As Oulton points out it serves as the earliest written description of an early Christian church building. Whereas, according to the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, the church of the first century met in the homes of believers or in rented school buildings (cf., e.g., Acts 18:7-8; 19:9; Rom 16:5) the Christian movement of the early fourth century meets in spacious and prominent public buildings. The church building is described in terms taken from the OT temple. There is a strong emphasis on the pleasing aesthetics of the architecture of the building. The early Christians are concerned that their churches be places of beauty and order. They are taking a new place in the Roman public square.

JTR


WM 179: Refuting James White's Four Internal Arguments Against Mark 16:9-20

 



Recorded this WM last Saturday (10/17/20) but just getting around to posting it.

JTR

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Vision (10.23.20): Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss


Image: Rose, North Garden, Virginia, October 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 4:1-4.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).

James here suggests that one reason for unrest in the heart is faulty prayer, immature prayer, self-serving prayer, described here as “asking amiss.”

He reminds us that mature prayer, born of mature faith, does not center on the satisfaction of our good pleasure but in doing God’s will, giving him glory and in giving blessing to our neighbor.

So, Christ taught: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13; cf. John 16:23; 1 John 3:22).

The reason to pray for an education is to love God with your mind.

The reason to pray for a job is to serve God with your vocation.

The reason to pray for a good salary is so that you can be a faithful steward for the kingdom of the resources with which you have been entrusted.

The reason, if single, to pray for a spouse is so that you might serve him or her and establish a household where Christ is at the center.

The reason to pray for a home is so that you can extend hospitality in the name of Christ and wash the feet of the saints.

The reason to pray for children is so that you might be able to raise disciples for the Lord.

The reason to pray for good health is so that you might serve him with your body.

The reason to pray for a church is that you might join with like-minded brothers and sisters to worship the Lord and serve the brethren.

The reason to pray for the peace and security of the world is that the Great Commission might be fulfilled.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Taylor DeSoto: The Textus Receptus: A Defense Against Postmodernism in the Church

Image: I don't know who created this meme, but just grabbed it off Google images.

Taylor DeSoto has been at it again on his Young, Textless, and Reformed Blog.

He just dropped another article noting how the Textus Receptus represents an emphatic "No!" to the encroachment of postmodernism into traditional Christianity.

He writes:

My goal here is to convince you that the discussion of textual criticism is not only Postmodern in nature, but that its impacts are far reaching well beyond which Bible you read. Starting with the Critical Text, we have to understand that the process of reconstructing a Bible is at its core a fruit of Postmodernism. It begins with the assumption that the previous structure must be torn down and replaced with empirical methodologies. The faith based systems of the past were good for their time, but the modern men of science know better. We shouldn’t be enslaved to the chains of tradition and the narrow thinking of the men of old.

Enjoy, JTR


Vince Krivda: Which Textus Receptus?! A Response to Mark Ward's Critique of Confessional Bibliology


My friend Vince Krivda has written a solid and detailed response to Mark Ward's "Which TR?" objection to the Confessional Text position. He shared this with me in August, and I am just getting around to doing a post on it. Sorry for the delay. You can read the full article here on academia.edu.

The conclusion to the paper begins:

Although Ward’s paper is to be welcomed for thoughtfully engaging CB, his insistence to forge the position as a kind of KJV-Onlyism is overreaching. If anything, his argument is a sure warning for CB proponents not to fall into the motions of KJV-Onlyist tendencies that ignore the slight differences in the micro-TR editions or to view Scrivener’s GNT as a diplomatic text. Perhaps, besides any typographical misprints, the latest Scrivener revision is a perfect replication of the authentic NT texts. But to assert so dogmatically risks the type of special pleading that Ward accuses CB proponents of committing because it is not a claim that is necessitated by the position. Rather, CB proponents may pragmatically appeal to the Scrivener GNT prima facie, recognizing that any defeaters to this position are not sufficient to upset the authority of the macro-TR or its baring on matters of faith and practice. 

Glad to see Vince makes use and reference to some of my material in WM 140: Responding to the "Which TR?" Objection and that he pointed out Ward's reluctance to engage with it.

Enjoy, JTR



Ernesto Rodriguez Cruz: EL TEXTO INSPIRADO NO NEGOCIA CON LA CRÍTICA TEXTUAL


My friend and fellow RB Ernesto Rodriguez Cruz is a student  at the Seminario Reformanda Latinoamericano.

He shared a recent paper he wrote for his NT class offering a Confessional Text position on Matthew 5:18, titled EL TEXTO INSPIRADO NO NEGOCIA CON LA CRÍTICA TEXTUAL (THE INSPIRED TEXT DOES NOT NEGOTIATE WITH THE TEXTUAL CRITICISM).

You can read the original paper in Spanish here and an English translation here.

It is encouraging to see that men studying for the ministry are embracing the Confessional Text position.

Ernesto also reports that the seminary instruction he is receiving is friendly to the Confessional Text position. He writes:

This Seminary is one of the few that still teaches good doctrines on this topic. I would recommend watching clases 20 through 24 here (Class 20Class 21Class 22Class 23Class 24).

He also shares the following on some of his ongoing ministry:

I have a channel in Youtube where I am uploading reformed audiobooks in Spanish. So far I published The Attributes of God by A. W. PinkCalvin's catechism, and the whole New Testament in audio. For the New Testament I used a good version of the Biblia in Spanish, it is called Reina Valera Gómez 2010, this is a revision by Dr. Humberto Gómez, he restored all the missing/changed words in 1909 version and he updated the grammar and language but keeping the beauty of the original translation made by Casiodoro de Reina (1569).

Blessings, JTR

Monday, October 19, 2020

Andrew Warrick: A Systematic Defense of the Textus Receptus

Andrew Warrick, an RB brother here in Virginia and a contributor to the Particular Baptist website and podcast, has written an article worth reading, titled "A Systematic Defense for the Textus Receptus" (find it here).

This article hones in on the overlooked but key theological issue when considering issues related to the text of Scripture: epistemology.

To borrow James Carville's mantra from the 1992 Presidential election ("It's the economy, stupid!"), we can say that the mantra most likely to open the eyes of conservative Reformed men to the dangers of wholeheartedly embracing the modern critical text is, "It's epistemology, stupid!"

JTR


The Tale of a Great Puzzle: An Allegory on the Preservation of the Text of Scripture

Poul de Gier, an RB pastor in Alberta Canada has written the "The Tale of a Great Puzzle," an allegory on the preservation of Scripture, turning the modern critical text puzzle analogy on its head.

The allegory begins:

Many centuries ago, there was a wise man, named Dominus, who lived in a large castle with four majestic towers. Each of these towers was commissioned as a testimony of the amazing feat Dominus had accomplished in his realm. Dominus ordered a painting to be made of his castle. In the background, the painting portrayed a magnificent landscape with rolling hills and a beautiful forest.  Carving the painting into an exact one thousand pieces, he made it into a grand puzzle.  Dominus bequeathed the beautiful puzzle to his twelve sons, who received the majestic work with much joy and care.  He explicitly promised his family that the puzzle would always be part of their family, a part of what identified them....

Read the rest of the story here. 

JTR

Two Views of the Transmission of the Bible: A Farmer's Perspective

 

Here is a meme shared by my friend Poul de Gier, RB Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church, Pononka, Alberta Canada. In addition to his work as a pastor, Poul is also a farmer, so he knows something about baling twine.

Enjoy, JTR