Friday, October 19, 2018

The Vision (10.19.18): The Patient Ministry of Christ to His Disciples

Image: Fall berries, North Garden, Virginia, October 2018

Note: Devotion adapted from last Sunday's sermon on John 14:8-14.

The Gospel of John is unique in numerous ways. Many believe it was the last Gospel written and that John the Apostle assumed that his readers were already familiar with the accounts of the Lord Jesus in the other Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He was led by the Holy Spirit, therefore, to record things not recorded elsewhere.

One of the unique things that John records is the conversations which our Lord had with his disciples in the Upper Room before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

Of late in our sermon series through John, we have been looking at the sequence of four conversations which the Lord Jesus had with his followers in response to their questions and requests: Peter (13:36—14:4); Thomas (14:5-7); Philip (14:8-21); and Judas (not Iscariot) (14:22—16:16).

What is striking is the fact that these men had been with Jesus. They had been ear and eye witnesses to his ministry. They had heard his words and seen his signs (miracles). Their questions, however, show that even at this point, they still did not fully understand our Lord. So Thomas asks, “and how can we know the way?” (14:5), and Philip asks, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us [it will be enough for us]” (14:8).

When Calvin reflects on Thomas’ question he observes that “the knowledge possessed by the saints is sometimes confused.”

On Philip’s request that Christ show them the Father, Calvin comments:

It appears to be very absurd that the Apostles should offer so many objections to the Lord; for why did he speak but to inform them on that point about which Philip puts the question? Yet there is not one of their faults that is here described that may not be charged on us as well as them. We profess to be earnest in seeking God; but when he presents himself before our eyes, we are blind.

These questions provide yet another example of discipleship. It shows how that followers of Christ can be “sometimes confused,” but also how that Christ continues patiently to teach and to reveal himself more fully to us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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.