Monday, October 15, 2018

Calvin on "three degrees" in John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

In Calvin’s commentary on John 14:6 he points out the significance of the three-fold description Christ offers of himself as the way, the truth, and the life, suggesting Christ speaks here of “three degrees” in the process of faith:

He lays down three degrees, as if he had said, that he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end; and hence it follows that we ought to begin with him, to continue in him, and to end in him.

So, Calvin says Christ is the beginning, the middle and the end. We begin in Christ by becoming followers of the way. We continue in Christ by abiding in the truth. And, finally, we reach our goal in Christ by receiving eternal life.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

WM 105: Full Armor Radio Interview: Text of the NT

This episode consists of an interview I did this week (10/11) with Brandon Lochridge on his Full Armor Radio podcast (visit the episode on his website here).

In this episode we discuss some of the basis issues in text criticism, why it is important, Bible translation, and the differences between the TR, Modern, and Majority texts of the Greek NT. Long time WM listeners might not find much that is new, but folk who are new to the topic might find it interesting.

Blessings, JTR

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Vision (10.12.18): In my Father's house are many mansions

Image: Marble Salon, Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, England

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 14:1-7.

In my Father’s house are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).

Jesus begins; “In my Father’s house are many mansions [monai pollai].” The word for “mansion” (Greek: mone) means a dwelling place, a room, or an abode.

For us, the contemporary English word “mansion” has the sense of an opulent dwelling. The point here, however, is not to say that in the Father’s house there are many opulent dwellings (thus stressing the greatness of the reward awaiting the saints—though it will be greater than we can imagine) but to stress the expansiveness of God’s grace toward many, many, many people.

The point is to say that heaven will not be sparsely populated, but that there will be an abundance of room for all kinds of men. In John 10:16, Jesus taught, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

This is an anticipation of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). There will not be just Jews, but Jews and Gentiles in the Father’s house. There will be men and women, those who were slaves and free (Gal 3:28).

Spurgeon in his Autobiography wrote:

The Father’s love is not to for a few only, but for an exceeding great company. “A great multitude, which no man can number,” will be found in Heaven. A man can reckon up to very high figures; set to work your Newtons, your mightiest calculators, and they can count great numbers, but God and God alone can tell the multitude of His redeemed. I believe there will be more in Heaven than in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in everything, is to “have the preeminence”, and I cannot conceive how he would have the preeminence if there are to be more in the dominions of Satan than in Paradise (Vol. 1, p. 171).

Spurgeon’s reference was to Revelation 7:9: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”

To say that the Father’s house has many mansions, however, is not, to affirm what is known as “universalism,” the idea that all will be saved whatever their response to Christ. John 3:36 contradicts that when it says that those who believe in him will have “everlasting life,” while those who do not believe will have “the wrath of God” abiding upon them.

Still, the Father’s house has many mansions or rooms. It is greater than we could ever ask or imagine. And this gives us hope as we make our pilgrimage through this life.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Craig A. Carter's "Thought Experiment" on the Modern Historical-Critical Method

Still working my way through Craig A. Carter’s Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition (Baker Academic, 2018) and getting closer to the end.

One of the most refreshing aspects of this book is Carter’s unrelenting critique of the sterility of the Enlightenment-influenced, modern historical-critical method of Biblical studies.

In a closing chapter, Carter offers this “thought experiment”:

Consider the following thought experiment. If astronomy ceased to use telescopes and never looked at the stars, focused all its attention on mentions of the stars in literary sources and the history of human thought about the stars, all the while entertaining an ongoing discussion of the sense in which stars could be legitimately be said to exist, with the most radical astronomers expressing doubts about the very existence of the stars in the traditional sense, and if astronomers  debated endlessly about what earthly realities the idea of “star” might be said to refer to and whether and to what extent traditional ideas about stars reflected class, gender, or racial bias—would we be justified in viewing the endeavor as “astronomy”? There might still be university departments of astronomy, learned societies at which papers were presented, journals of astronomy, conferences on topics of interest to astronomers, and doctoral programs in astronomy, but would it be astronomy? Or would it be something else operating under the name “astronomy”? And if we were persuaded to call it a science, would it really be the science we know today as “astronomy”? (p. 217).


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"Binge" Listening to Credo Podcast

I've been "binge" listening of late to the Credo Podcast hosted by Dr. Matthew Barrett, associate professor of theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, and editor of Credo Magazine.

You can listen here or find it on itunes. Episodes I've enjoyed include interviews with James Dolezal on Divine Simplicity, Michael Allen on Thomas Aquinas: Friend or Foe?, David Bentley Hart on Atheism, and Scott Swain on confessional interpretation of Scripture.

Worth listening.


Monday, October 08, 2018

Calvin on the New Commandment

Image: St. Pierre Cathedral, Geneva

From Calvin’s commentary on John 13:35-35:

            Brotherly love is, indeed, extended to strangers, for we are all of the same flesh, and are all created after the image of God; but because the image of God shines more brightly in those who have been regenerated, it is proper that the bond of love, among the disciples of Christ, should be far [closer]. In God brotherly love seeks its cause, from him it has its root, and to him it is directed. Thus, in proportion as it perceives any man to be a child of God, it embraces him with the greater warmth and affection. Besides, the mutual exercise of love cannot exist but in those who are guided by the same Spirit. It is the highest degree of brotherly love, therefore, that is here described by Christ; but we ought to believe, on the other hand, that , as the goodness of God extends to the whole world, so we ought to love all, even those who hate us.

…. Whosoever, then, desires to be truly a disciple of Christ, and to be acknowledged by God, let him form and direct his whole life to love the brethren, and let him pursue his object with diligence.


Friday, October 05, 2018

The Vision: A New Commandment (10.5.18)

Image: Fall fungi, Charlottesville, Virginia, October 2018

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 13:31-38.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).

Christ gave the new commandment to his original disciples, but it did not apply only to them. It applies to all disciples in all ages. So, Paul writes to believers in Rome: “Owe no man  any thing, but to love one another” (Rom 13:8a). In 2 John the apostle John writes to a church, which he calls “the elect lady” (2 John 1:1), with this admonition: “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which had from the beginning, that we love one another” (2 John 1:5). Thus, both Paul and John apply Christ’s new command not just to the original disciples but to all disciples, including ordinary believers in this age.

Jesus will later say, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

A sign that we are truly Christ’s disciples is the fact that we desire to keep his commandments, including the new commandment. Christ has given us a commandment (not a suggestion) to love one another in the same way that Christ himself has loved us. How did Christ show his love for the disciples? He laid down his life for them.

How do we obey this commandment today? I do not think one can really do this, unless he is a committed member of a local church, where he will have many opportunities for obedience to this command. It is in the church that we get to know our fellow disciples and love them in more than a hypothetical manner.

Sometimes that love is tested. The original disciples knew each well, and sometimes they had disagreements and conflicts with one another. They argued, for example, as to which of them was the greatest (cf. Mark 9:33-34).

The believers in the churches to whom John wrote also knew each other well, and they also engaged at times in conflicts that rent them asunder. In 3 John the apostle denounces an insolent man named Diotrephes who even had the audacity to expel faithful brethren from the church (see 3 John 1:9-10)!

Our obedience to this commandment is usually not tested when things are going smoothly but when we hit choppy waters.

In Galatians 5 Paul urges the saints: “by love serve one another” (v. 13), lest “ye bite and devour one another” (v. 15).

Dear brethren, let us show our love for Christ by keeping his commandments, including his new commandment to love one another.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle