Saturday, May 02, 2015

WM # 36: The Ending of Mark, Cessationism, and Apologetics

I recorded yesterday (5.1.15) Word Magazine # 36 and just uploaded it to today. The topic:  The Ending of Mark, Cessationism, and Apologetics.

WM 36 has three sections:

Part one:  A review of the May 19, 2015 “Fighting for the Faith” Podcast in which Chris Rosebrough critiques the non-cessationist position of Angela Grenig on the basis of her usage of Mark 16:17-18.  Simply put, he opposes a wrong teaching (non-cessationism) using a bad hermeneutic (denying the authority of Mark 16:9-20).  A proper hermeneutical approach to Mark 16:9-20, in fact, affirms cessationism. Grenig's bad hermeneutical approach, not bad text criticism, leads to her wrong interpretation! 

Part two:  A review of Nicholas P. Lunn’s nine doubts against the modern idea that Mark was originally intended to end at Mark 16:8 from his excellent new book:  The Original Ending of Mark:  A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Pickwick, 2014).  Here are the nine doubts (from pp. 6-18):

1.  Early Christian kerygma
2.  Early Christian creedal formulations
3.  The shape of the other canonical Gospels
4.  Resurrection predictions in Mark
5.  The acceptability of the final clause
6.  The contrast with the beginning
7.  Lack of historical interpretation
8.  Lack of anti-Christian polemic
9.  The objections of modern scholarship

Part Three:  I played part of a Muslim apologetic video which presents a portion of a 2006 debate between James White and Shabir Ally, pointing out that Muslims are glad to see evangelical Christians denying the traditional ending of Mark and using this as evidence to downgrade the authority of the Bible and to deny the resurrection of Jesus.  Here’s the video (from which I played the first few minutes):

Friday, May 01, 2015

Nepal Update (May 1, 2015)

Here is an update on the ministry of brethren in Nepal that came today from Pastor Boon Sing Poh:

Dear Brethren & Friends,

Pr. Samuel Rai has sent out four teams - each consisting of five to nine people - to various areas needing help. Tents, blankets, food etc. are being distributed. One team led by Pr. Mitra Rai is still in Dhading, where 300 people died. Adding to the problem is that landslide has swept away and buried many houses. At around the epicentre of the earthquake, some 16 to 18 churches have been destroyed. 

Pr Timothy and his family have moved from Kathmandu to Pokhara, to stay with Samuel Rai. Timothy was the person who translated for me in the seminar held in Pokhara during our visit to Nepal last February. His house and church building in Kathmandu were destroyed by the earthquake. Thankfully, no one was injured.

A team of three persons are on the way to the Indian border by chartered lorry to buy things needed for relief work. Basic things in Pokhara have run out or are expensive. In cooperation with some other churches, Samuel Rai and church members are ministering to the earthquake victims, including Hindus and Buddhists. From emergency help, they are moving into short-term relief and planning for long-term relief. 

Tele-communications has barely been restored. Telephone conversations and internet access last a couple of minutes each time. Even money transferred to bank accounts do not get through immediately. In the brief conversation by phone this morning, Samuel Rai was relieved to know the sum we have sent so that he knows how much he can spend. We will send in the collection of the Nepal Earthquake Fund as it accrues. For information on contribution to NEF, please go to

Let's continue to pray for Nepal.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Vision (4.30.15): More Names for God's People

In last week’s Vision article, I gave a partial list of some of the Biblical names and titles given to God’s people in the New Testament. Here are a few more to add to the list:

Saints (Philippians 1:1; Note:  In the NT this term is never used in the singular but always in the plural; it does not describe “super” Christians but all of God’s people);
The seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:29);
Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17);
Servants of Christ (Ephesians 6:6);
Strangers (1 Peter 1:1);
Sons of God (John 1:12);
God’s husbandry (1 Corinthians 3:9);
God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9);
           A new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17);
Fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:12);
The salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13);
The light of the world (Matthew 5:14);
A good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3);
The circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3);
The bride, the Lamb’s wife (Revelation 21:9).

May meditation upon these titles encourage us in the faith as we consider who we are in Him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Report on Reformed Baptist Brethren and the Nepal Earthquake

I got this email news report today from Pastor Boon-Sing Poh of the Damansara Reformed Baptist Church in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, regarding the recent massive earthquake in Nepal and its impact on some Reformed Baptist churches there:

April 28, 2015

Dear Brethren & Friends,

Our long-time friend Pastor Samuel Rai of Canaan Baptist Church, Pokhara, has sent in his initial report on the earthquake of 25 April 2015. His congregation was in worship when the ground shook for about five minutes. The people were shaken by the experience, although there was no damage to the building. They were even more shaken to hear, later, of the devastation in other parts of Nepal. Five districts were most affected, viz. Gorkha, Nuwakot, Kathmandu, Kavre, and Sindhupalchowk. The epicentre of the earthquake was at Barpak in Gorkha district, causing the worst devastation there. The death toll has exceeded 3,500 while the injured has exceeded 7,000. A number of affected areas have not been reached, due to distance, isolation, and damaged roads. Communication is slowly being restored. 

The government of this poor country was totally unprepared for such a major disaster, despite the many warnings given by seismologists before that. Major earthquakes of magnitudes 8.5, 6.7 and 6.8 were recorded in the years 1932, 1988, 2013, and now in 2015 it is of 7.9 magnitude. There is no modern machinery to rescue those trapped under buildings nor equipment to detect others under the rubble. 

The news has come in that many Christians throughout Nepal died while they were worshipping, crushed by the collapsed buildings or by the stampede of the panicking people. Nepal is a predominantly Hindu nation such that Christians worship on Saturday, Sunday being a working day. The survivors have to witnessed the death of loved ones and the destruction of their houses and cattle. To make matters worse, there is a shortage of food, water, and proper sanitation. Most of the people are staying out in the open fields, stricken with fear and not knowing what to do. 

Samuel Rai has dispatched teams of people to villages that are affected to do rescue and relief work, especially to Gorkha and Dhading near Kathmandu. Samuel Rai has five churches there, while other churches are linked to Canaan Baptist Church in Pokhara in some ways. The church in Richet, where Samuel Rai also runs a Bible School, is totally destroyed. Of the 127 families of about 500 people in the church, 261 persons were killed. Pastor Man Bahadur Tamang is seriously injured, while his wife and daughter are dead. A team of helpers is on the way there, but transportation is a problem. At Gorkha Barpak, which was the epicentre of the earthquake, 90% of the houses and all the churches were destroyed. Some 210 people were found dead, while many are still missing. Some 32 pastors in this area were trained under the Bible Education by Extension (BEE) programme run by Canaan Baptist Church, Pokhara. Samuel Rai has dispatched a team there, led by Pastor Chhetra Baramu. 

Together with other churches, Pastor Samuel is arranging for emergency needs to be brought to the affected areas - food, medicine, blankets, tents, water supply, etc. Funds collected will be wholly channeled to these needs. Samuel Rai asks for prayer that the Lord will open many hearts to the gospel and comfort the churches that are faced with such a tremendous challenge at this time.

There is also a page on the Gospel Highway website of the Reformed Baptist Churches of Malaysia that allows you to contribute to the "Nepal Earthquake Fund."

These photos accompanied the news report above:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blackburn Quote

A friend shared this meme with a 2014 Keach Conference quote from Earl Blackburn:

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Images:  I enjoyed watching some cardinals visit our bird feeder off the back porch this Lord's Day afternoon.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Youngblood: Israelite monotheism not the result of a "process of evolution"

I’ve been getting ready for teaching another Old Testament Survey class this summer by reading a new assigned book, Ronald Youngblood’s The Heart of the Old Testament, Second Edition (Baker Academic, 1971, 1998).  Youngblood traces various OT themes, including monotheism, sovereignty, election, covenant, theocracy, law, sacrifice, faith, and redemption.

I was struck by his discussion of monotheism in the OT.  He notes that modern historical-critical and comparative religion scholars have tended to see monotheism as “a product of evolution.”  So, there was a “process of evolution” in the religion of Israel from primitive animism (belief in spirits in natural objects), to polytheism (belief in many gods), to henotheism (also called monolatry, belief in one superior god among many gods), and, finally, to monotheism (belief in one true God).

Youngblood, however, responds:

But it simply cannot be shown that there is a universal tendency of the part of polytheistic religions to gradually reduce the number of deities until finally arriving at only one deity.  Indeed, in some instances such a religion may even add more deities as its adherents become aware of more and more natural phenomena to deify.  At any rate the Old Testament teaches that monotheism, far from being evolved through the centuries of Israel’s history, is one of the inspired insights revealed to the covenant people by the one true God himself (p. 11).