Friday, May 25, 2018

The Vision (5.25.18): CRBC 2018 "Puritan" VBS Coming: June 18-21

CRBC Vacation Bible School (VBS) Coming!

June 18-21 (Monday-Thursday)

VBS is for children ages preschool to 12.  Older children (ages 13-18) will be youth helpers.  Parents and family may also stay and participate in the sessions if they like.

VBS meets from 10:00 am—12:30 pm, Monday-Thursday. Light Lunch will be served on site for participants and families daily from 12:30—1:00 pm.

Theme:  The Life and Ministry of Elijah

VBS Daily Schedule:

9:45 am—10:00 am          Arrival
10:00 am—10:15 am        Opening (procession, songs, etc.)
10:15 am—10:45 am        Bible Lesson
10:45 am—11:15 am        Recreation
11:15 am—11:30 am        Refreshment Break
11:30 am—12:00 pm        Craft (Younger Children)/Elijah Play (Older Children)
12:00 am—12:15 pm        Bible Lesson Review
12:15 pm—12:30 pm        Closing
12:30 pm—1:00 pm          Lunch/Pick-up

VBS Daily Bible Topics:

Monday:  Elijah, the Ravens, and the Widow (1 Kings 17)
Tuesday:  The Still Small Voice (1 Kings 18—19)
Wednesday:  Naboth’s Vineyard (1 Kings 21)
Thursday:  The Chariot of Fire (2 Kings 2)

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Scenes from the 2018 Youth Conference @ Machen Conference Center, May 18-19

Image: Group picture with a portrait of Reformed theologian John Gresham Machen, the camp namesake.

Image: Getting to know each other games.

Images: Scenes from the "Chopped" (Reformed Baptist Edition) dessert cooking competition.

Image: Teaching session with Pastor Van Loomis.

Image: CRBCers singing on Saturday afternoon.

Images: "Blob" tag and soccer during Saturday recreation time.

Image: Another group pic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 Youth Conference Messages: Spiritual Disciplines

Image: 2018 Youth Conference @ Machen Conference Center

CRBC hosted our third annual Virginia Reformed Baptist Youth Conference at the Machen Conference Center in Highland County Virginia last Friday-Saturday (May 18-19).

Our guest speaker was Van Loomis, Pastor of Redeeming Grace Church in Matthews, Virginia.

The conference theme was "Developing the Spiritual Disciplines" (1 Timothy 4:8).

Here are audio links for the 2018 conference messages:

You can also listen to messages from the 2017 Conference (Theme: Doctrines of Grace) and 2016 Conference (Theme: Life Stewardship).

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Vision (5.18.18): And the stranger they will not follow

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 9:39-10:6.

And the stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:5).

Jesus here makes the point that not only do the sheep know the voice of their shepherd, but they also know the difference between his voice and the voice of a stranger, an imposter (v. 5).

This verse stresses the importance of discernment among believers (cf. 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”).

Calvin says of John 10:5: “This is the spirit of discernment, by which the elect discriminate between the truth of God and the false invention of man.”

Believers know the difference between Christ’s voice and the voice of a stranger.

I have heard that when persons are trained to detect counterfeit currency, they do not study phony money but the real thing. If they know the real currency, they will recognize the false when it comes before them.

Because believers know the true Christ they can recognize his voice and reject that which is not his voice.

I have heard some lament those who profess faith and then leave it for a false belief—like Mormonism. The problem is poor evangelism. Such persons were never actually converted. They never truly knew the voice of Christ, or they would have known and rejected the voice of the stranger.

Consider the discipline known as apologetics. They key is not necessarily knowing everything about every religion or religious group out there but about knowing Christ.
I read sometime back the memoir of Charles Marsh, longtime Brethren missionary to Northern Africa, who noted that some of his fellow missionaries made the mistake in evangelizing Muslims of thinking that they must first explain Islam to them. In so doing, they inadvertently become teachers of that religion, rather than Christianity. No, Marsh said, we must focus on explaining Christ to them.

The elect will not abandon Christ, but false professors will. The sheep will hear the voice of their shepherd in Christ, and they will turn away from the voice of the stranger.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Vision (5.11.18): For them ... any motherland is a foreign country

“…and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
When I teach a class on the New Testament and Early Christianity I sometimes have students read a brief tract called The Epistle to Diognetus. The work is dated c. AD 120-200. We don’t know the name of the author, but he was an early Christian living in the age after the apostles who was attempting to provide a defense or apology for the faith during a time of persecution and harassment. There is something in his description of believers in his times that fittingly describes who Christians are or should be in every age:
For them, any foreign country is a motherland, and any motherland is a foreign country. Like other men, they marry and beget children, though they do not expose their infants. Any Christian is free to share his neighbor’s table, but never his marriage-bed. Though destiny has placed them here in the flesh, they do not live after the flesh; their days are passed on the earth, but their citizenship is above in the heavens. They obey the prescribed laws, but in their own private lives they transcend the law. They show love to all men—and all men persecute them. They are misunderstood and condemned; yet by suffering death they are quickened unto life. They are poor, yet making many rich; lacking all things, yet having all things in abundance. They are dishonored, yet made glorious in their very dishonor; slandered, yet vindicated. They repay calumny with blessings, and abuse with courtesy. For the good they do, they suffer stripes as evildoers; and under strokes they rejoice like men given new life. Jews assail them as heretics, and Greeks harass them with persecutions; and yet of all their ill-wishers there is not one who can produce good ground for this hostility (in Louth, Early Christian Writings, p. 145).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Book Review of Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty

My book review of Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our "Correct" Beliefs (HarperCollins, 2016) has just come out in the spring issue of Midwestern Journal of Theology, Vol. 17, No. 1 (2018): 162-165.

I have posted a pdf of the review to my site (read here). You can find the entire journal online here (as well as back issues).

This book and the draft of my review was also the subject of Word Magazine # 90 (listen here).


Friday, May 04, 2018

The Vision (5.4.18): Hearing it again (and again)

Image: Azaleas, North Garden, Virginia, May 2018

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 9:26-38.

John 9:26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27 He answered them, I have told you already and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will we also be his disciples?

When the Pharisees asked the man born blind what Jesus had done to him and how he had opened his eyes (v. 26), he responded, in part, by asking them: “wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?” (v. 27b).

There is great irony in this. Of course, they do not want to be his disciples. They want to accuse the Lord Jesus Christ as had been their motivation with brining to him the woman taken in adultery (see 8:6).

There is also an interesting truth in these questions: Disciples are indeed those who rejoice in repeated hearings of accounts from the life and ministry of Jesus. This is why we love to read our Bible (especially the Gospels) and why we love to hear the preaching and teaching of the Word.

The text of the old gospel hymn reflects this sentiment:

Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious, sweetest that every was heard.

We love to hear the story of Jesus, of his parables and his miracles, but especially to hear of his death, burial, and resurrection. One mark of a genuine disciple is the desire to hear the old, old story again and again.

If you are a professed believer and do not have that desire, this should bring you grave concern for your spiritual state.

May we show that we are Christ’s disciples by virtue of our desire to read the inspired accounts of Christ’s ministry and to drink in teaching and preaching on his life.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeffrey T. Riddle

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Calvin on human depravity

More from Calvin’s commentary on Romans 9:

Did Calvin believe that the image of God in man had been completely obliterated through his fall into sin? This will be a caricature of what will later be called “total depravity.” Calvin, however, presents a more nuanced view here:

It is true that we are all born blind, but still, amidst the darkness of corrupt and depraved nature, some sparks of continue to shine, so that men differ from brute beasts. Now, if any man, elated by proud confidence in his own opinion, refuses to submit to God, he will seem—apart from Christ—to be wise, but the brightness of Christ will strike him with dismay; for never does the vanity of the human mind begin to be discovered, until heavenly wisdom is brought into view.