Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth." Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The Lord's Supper
What is the Biblical view of the Lord’s Supper?
The Lord’s Supper was established by Jesus himself on the night that he was betrayed. The Gospels tell us how Jesus gathered in an upper room with his disciples to celebrate the Passover meal (see Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22). In the midst of this "last supper" with his disciples, however, Jesus transformed the meal into a symbolic anticipation of his sacrifice on the cross. He declared that the bread represented his body and the cup represented his blood (see Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20). He also commanded that the disciples continue to celebrate this meal "in remembrance of me."
We know that the early Christians were, in fact, obedient to Jesus’ command. Paul describes the observance of the Lord’s Supper in the church at Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:17-34). Some Christians refer to the Lord’s Supper as "communion," while others prefer the Biblical phrase "Lord’s Supper" (1 Corinthians 11:20).
Who can participate?
As with baptism, the New Testament seems to reveal that the proper participants in the Lord’s Supper are those who are already believers and members of a local church body (thus baptized believers). Paul rhetorically asks, "The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16). Therefore, children of believers who have not yet professed faith in Christ and been obedient to baptism and non-believers should not participate in the Lord’s Supper. Paul warns that anyone who takes the Supper in an unworthy manner "will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27) and may face dire consequences (vv. 29-30).
Who hosts the Lord’s Supper?
The New Testament also teaches that the proper host of the Lord’s Supper is the local church. Paul tells the believers in Corinth about proper observance of the Supper "when you come together" (1 Corinthians 11:20, 33). This does not mean that only the members of a local church can take the Supper. That view is sometimes called "close (or ‘closed’) communion." Baptized believers who are visiting in a local church that is not their own are certainly welcomed to the table. This does mean, however, that the Lord’s Supper is not a private or individual event. It is hosted only under the authority of a local church. The Lord’s Supper symbolizes our commitment to Christ and to a local body of believers. This is why it is especially important that every member of the church try to be present at those times when the Lord’s Supper is being served.
What does the Lord’s Supper mean?
Some have taken the words of Jesus literally when he said, "This is my body," and "this is my blood." This view, however, misses Jesus’ point. He often used symbolic language. Jesus also said, "I am the door" (John 10:7, 9) and "I am the vine" (John 15:5), but we hardly take these words literally. In like manner, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper he meant these words to be taken symbolically. The bread is like his body; the cup is like his blood. When we take the bread and cup, we remember the death of Jesus on the cross. We recall that he died for us. We are also challenged to take up our cross and follow him (see Luke 9:23).
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 11 of two important things about the Lord’s Supper. First, it is a festival of self-examination. Before we take the Supper we should examine ourselves closely. "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (11:28). The Lord’s Supper is a time for taking spiritual inventory of our lives. We ask deep within, "How closely am I walking with the Lord?" Second, it is a time to remember and proclaim Jesus. Paul said, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes" (11:26).
See you this Sunday as we observe the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in morning worship.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Baptist Identity and the "Angry Young Men" of the SBC
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Beware of Lot's choice!
a. Remember this in choosing a dwelling place or residence. It is not enough that the house is comfortable, the situation good, the air fine, the neighborhood pleasant, the rent or price small, the living cheap. There are other things yet to be considered. You must think of your immortal soul. Will the house you think of help you toward heaven or hell? Is the gospel preached within an easy distance? Is Christ crucified within reach of your door? Is there a real man of God near, who will watch over your soul? I charge you, if you love life, not to overlook this. Beware of Lot’s choice.
b. Remember this in choosing a calling, a place, or profession in life. It is not enough that the salary is high, the wages good, the work light, the advantages numerous, the prospects of getting on most favorable. Think of your soul, your immortal soul. Will it be fed or starved? Will it be prospered or drawn back? Will you have your Sundays free and be able to have one day in the week for your spiritual business? I beseech you, by the mercies of God, to take heed what you do. Make no rash decision. Look at the place in every light, the light of God as well as the light of the world. Gold may be bought too dear. Beware of Lot’s choice.
c. Remember this in choosing a husband or wife, if you are unmarried. It is not enough that your eye is pleased, that your tastes are met, that your mind finds congeniality, that there is amiability and affection, that there is a comfortable home for life. There needs something more than this. There is a life yet to come. Think of your soul, your immortal soul. Will it be helped upwards or dragged downwards by the union you are planning? Will it be made more heavenly or more earthly, drawn nearer to Christ or to the world? Will its religion grow in vigor, or will it decay? I pray you, by all your hopes of glory, allow this to enter into your calculations. "Think," as old Baxter said, and "think, and think again," before you commit yourself. "Be not unequally yoked" (2 Cor. 6:14). Matrimony is nowhere named among the means of conversion. Remember Lot’s choice.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Monday, February 19, 2007
Hymn Singing, Cyberhymnal, and Family Worship
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Wilberforce on Unitarianism
In his book "Real Christianity," Wilberforce also addressed the rise of Unitarianism in Britain [which was at the time much more "Protestant" than is its contemporary manifestation]:
The Unitarian teachers by no means claim to absolve their followers from the unbending strictness of Christian morality. They prescribe love for God that dominates all life and a habitual spirit of devotion. However, people who seek a refuge in this form of faith seem to go there because they want a watered-down sort of faith; they want the joys of Christianity without the difficult doctrines. In particular, most of them seem to want to escape the Bible’s command to be separate from the world, a unique and special people. They prefer to remain at one with the world’s philosophies….
Christianity has not gone to the same efforts to promote its arguments that the Unitarians have. If they were attacked as they have attacked orthodoxy, and asked to defend their tenets, I doubt they would be able to keep their ground so well. In short, we can find no watered-down alternative to Christianity that can be rationally supported. If we have abandoned Christianity, then we must logically abandon all its forms. We must abandon any hope we have of finding the comfort of faith without its demands.
(As quoted in Lon Fendall, William Wilberforce: Abolitionist, Politician, Writer [Barbour, 2002]: 193-95).
Wilberforce, "Amazing Grace," and the end of slavery
What do you say to a Unitarian?
JPBC February 14, 2007
I. Definitions: What is Unitarianism?
II. Historical Backgrounds:
- Michael Servetus (1511-53).
- Faustus Socinus (1539-1604).
- John Biddle (1615-62).
- American Unitarian Association formed in 1825.
- In 1961 they merged with the Universalist Association of America to form the Unitarian-Universalist Association.
1. Reason and conscience as authority, vis-à-vis the Bible.
2. Complete religious toleration.
3. The innate goodness of man.
4. Universal salvation.
5. Liberal social agenda. Examples: Pro homosexual behavior/marriage; anti-war, etc.
IV. What do you say to a Unitarian?
1. What does the Bible teach about God?
The Bible teaches the Trinity.
Examples: (1) Baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3; (2) Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20; (3) Acts 2:32-33; (4) Romans 1:2-3; (4) 2 Corinthians 13:14.
Does the Unitarian view do justice to Jesus’ own self-understanding?
Compare the claims Jesus made for himself. See:
John 10:30: "I and My Father are one."
John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Luke 5:17-26: "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (v. 21).
Does the Unitarian view do justice to the early Christian view of Jesus?
See "Jesus is Lord" (Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3).
See the warning against those who do not preach Jesus properly: 1 John 4:1-3; 5:1, 9-13.
2. Does it make sense to say that all religions deserve equal toleration and consideration?
3. If men are innately good, then why is there so much human evil in the world?
4. If all men meet the same eternal destiny what does this say about the justice of God?
5. Can we ever hope to solve all the world’s problems apart from God’s complete and final intervention?
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Book Recommendation: Pinocchio
At the end of Lorenzi’s story, the wayward Pinocchio learns to obey his elders, to keep his word, to work hard, and to think of others above himself. As he drifts off to sleep, the Blue Fairy appears to him in a dream and says:
Brave Pinocchio! In return for your good heart I forgive you all your past misdeeds. Children who love their parents, and help them when they are sick and poor, are worthy of praise and love, even if they are not models of obedience and good behavior. Be good in the future, and you will be happy.
When he awakes in the morning, Pinocchio finds he is a real boy and exclaims, "How ridiculous I was when I was a puppet! And how happy I am to have become a real boy!"
What a great book for a child (or adult) to read!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
"You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter" (Psalm 74:17).
"If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13).
As I write we are in the midst of a cold snap. All the complaining about warm winters is over. It is keep-your-pets-indoors, wear-layers-of-clothing, see-your-breath-in-a-fog-before-your-face COLD!
When Noah and his family emerged from the ark after the flood, the Lord made a promise to mankind: "I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done" (Gen 8:21). Then, as a reminder of this, the Lord promised the constancy of the seasons. As long as there is seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night, we know that there is a covenant God.
This account reminds me of Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:13: "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." Just as the preservation of the earth does not depend on God’s approval of human conduct, so our salvation does not depend on God’s approval of our human efforts at faithfulness. If we are saved and persevere in the faith, all the glory goes to God alone. "If [read "when"] we are faithless, He remains faithful." Now this is not to make any excuses for slackness in our behavior. The redeemed man will strive to live a godly life. This word humbles us and it gives us hope.
So, when it gets cold outside or the snow starts to fall, consider for a moment a faithful Creator God who has entered into a covenant with unfaithful men whose hearts are evil from youth. Remember also that the same God who is faithful to give us winter and summer is also faithful to keep those who are saved in Christ.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle