Friday, September 24, 2021

The Vision (9.24.21): The Humiliation of Jesus Christ

 


Image: Roses, North Garden, Virginia, September 2021

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon in our afternoon series on the Apostles' Creed.

Philippians 2:8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

When the godly men of old who compiled the Reformed confessions and catechisms discussed the incarnational ministry of Christ, they generally spoke of it as coming in two “states” or circumstances: his state of humiliation and his state of exaltation.

Consider Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism:

Q. 26: Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?

A: Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Q. 27: Wherein consists Christ’s exaltation?

A: Christ’s exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

The second of six subsections in the Apostles’ Creed addressing the second person of the Godhead (following, “And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord”), notes six Biblical facts about the incarnation of Christ, all related to his “humiliation” (numbers added):

Who was (1) conceived by the Holy Ghost, (2) born of the Virgin Mary, (3) suffered under Pontius Pilate, was (4) crucified, (5) dead, and (6) buried.

The believer is one who discovers that God had done something for him in the Lord Jesus that he cannot begin to fathom. The second person of the eternal Godhead entered into a state of humiliation for us.

We could not ascend to him; he had to condescend to us.

He entered the womb; he was born; he suffered; he was crucified; he died; he was buried.

Here’s another way Paul put it: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The believer is one who affirms this truth and stands before it with wonder, admiration, awe, and gratitude.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Book Review: Faith Cook, Troubled Journey: A Missionary Childhood in War-Torn China

 




JTR

Augustine, Harmony of the Evangelists.1.19-21: God worshipped alone, or not at all

 



Notes:

1.19: The proof that God is the true God.

Augustine continues to ask why the pagan Romans refuse to offer worship to the Biblical God in the manner in which he desires to be worshipped. He adds: “For unless he is worshipped alone, He is really not worshipped at all.” He suggests that even the pagans will admit that their deities have show less power than the one true God.

1.20: Of the fact that nothing is discovered to have been predicted by the prophets of the pagans in opposition to the God of the Hebrews.

Augustine here declares that the prophets of the pagan Gods, like those of Sibyl, never predicted that the God of the Hebrews would be worshipped by men of all nations. He makes reference to the devils confessing Christ during his performance of exorcisms, but notes, “their contention is that they were invented by our party.” In contrast to the pagan prophets, he calls attention to the Old Testament prophets who accurately predicted the coming of Christ.

1.21: An argument for the exclusive worship of this God, who, while He prohibits other deities from being worshipped, is not Himself interdicted by other divinities from being worshipped.

Augustine poses a logical challenge to his pagan opponents, based on two contradictory opinions:

First, their religion claim that all gods are to be worshipped. Why then do they not worship the God of the Hebrews?

Second, the God of the Hebrews demands exclusive allegiance. If they worship him aright, why then do they not put away the other gods?

He closes with this question: “Who is this God, who thus harasses all the gods of the Gentiles, who thus betrays all their sacred rites, who thus renders them extinct?”

Conclusion:

Augustine continues to press the superiority of the God of the Bible to the pagan gods. He especially makes the point that whereas the pagan gods did not demand exclusive allegiance, the God of the Hebrews was intolerant and demanded the exclusive allegiance of his worshippers. He also contrasts the pagan prophets to the Biblical prophets. In this work on the Gospels, it is important for Augustine to note the religious clash between the intolerant God of the Bible and the supposedly tolerant gods of paganism.

JTR

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Vision (9.17.21): Lord, save us: we perish

 


And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish (Matthew 8:25).

In Matthew’s account of Christ in the tempest in Matthew 8:23-27, we have the setting (v. 23), the crisis (v. 24), the appeal (v. 25), the intervention (v. 26), and the reaction (v. 27).

Let’s examine the appeal of the disciples, which begins “And his disciples came to him, and awoke him….” (v. 25a).

This is a reminder that the disciples of Christ can always come to their Master in the times of their distress. In Matthew 28:11 Christ will say to his followers: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We must not hesitate to come to him.

Notice the petition or prayer that the disciples offer. This is a model prayer for the individual who is seeking salvation from the Lord. It is also a model corporate prayer for the church, as it cries out for the Lord to deliver his flock from trouble.

The petition has two parts:

First, there is crying out to God for salvation: “Lord, save us.”

Later in Matthew 14, Christ will come walking to the disciples on the sea and invite Peter to come and walk to him. As fear grips Peter, he will cry out, “Lord save me” (14:30).

Peter had an individual prayer for salvation. Here, it is all the disciples petitioning Christ for their collective salvation. There is no more fundamental prayer for the disciple or church. Lord save me. Lord save us.

Second, there is an acknowledgement of the state of their need: “we perish.”

This is a declaration of the believer’s state apart from Christ. We are perishing. The same verb appears in the classic verse John 3:16 when it says, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Why are we perishing? Because the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).

If you doubt that we are perishing, go and look at some old photographs. Go to your class reunion and wonder where all these old people came from. You’re still the same age (at least in your mind!). The truth is we are all perishing. The Puritan era preacher Richard Baxter famously said that he preached as a dying man to dying men.

Christ, however, is with us in the tempest. And we can call on him. Do you have trouble knowing how or what to pray? Let me offer a suggestion. Take the words of the disciples and use them. Say them over and over again, till they become like your breath: Lord save us: we perish. And see if Christ will not arise and rebuke the winds and the sea and give to you a mega calm.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Vision (9.10.21): Too fast or too slow to follow Christ

 


Image: Pear tree, September 2021, North Garden, Virginia

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 8:14-22.

And a certain scribe came and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest (Matt 8:19).

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father (Matt 8:21).

After healing many who were sick of spirit and body (Matt 8:16), Christ left the home of Peter to cross to the other side of Galilee (v. 18). As he departed, two men cried out to him.

The first cry came from a scribe (v. 19). He said, “Master [didaskalos, teacher], I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”

This seems on the surface like a solid declaration of faith and confidence in Christ. But Christ’s response indicates that perhaps this man made this declaration without first fully understanding or considering the costs.

His words remind us of Peter who said in the upper room to Christ: “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet I will never be offended” (Matt 26:33). And: “I will lay down my life for thy sake” (John 13:37). Within a few hours, however, Peter had denied three times that he even knew Christ.

Christ thus says to this scribe who offered this great swelling promise of fidelity: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (v. 20). You are ready to follow me anywhere? Are you ready to be home-less? Are you ready to give up every material attachment for me?

The second cry came from another of his disciples (v. 21). This fellow asked for an extension for the commencement of his discipleship, a delay for taking up his cross daily and following Christ: “Lord [kurios], suffer me first to go and bury my father.”

Charles Spurgeon quipped: “The first man was too fast, the second was too slow” (Commentary on Matthew, 87).

This seems art first glance like a reasonable and even a lawful request (in light of the fifth commandment), but Christ answers in what might seem to be a rather stern and unsparing manner: “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (v. 22).

Christ’s point, of course, is not to be heartless in his response, but to demonstrate to this man the necessary priority of discipleship. Christ must be above all duties and every relationship. Christ will later tell his disciples:

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Let us then not be too fast or too slow to follow Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Scenes from CRBC Labor Day Picnic (9.5.21)

Perfect end of summer weather for swimming, fishing, boating, spike-ball, food, fellowship:




(The big one!)








JTR