Tuesday, June 30, 2009

VBS 2009 at JPBC

We completed our visit to Rome last week with VBS at Jefferson Park. Above are some of the youth, students, and adults who worked throughout the week to make it happen.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

SBC Politics and Driscoll Criticism

One of the things noticed at the SBC were motions brought from the floor (all of which except for the Great Commission Resurgence one were simply referred to various agencies and not voted upon) criticizing Acts 29 Network and "Reformissional" Pastor Mark "the cussing preacher" Driscoll (see the BP article on motions).
BP reported one such motion: "--that author Mark Driscoll's books be removed from LifeWay Christian Bookstores because of his 'reputation for abusive and ungodly language and ... promotions of sex toys on his church web site.' This was submitted by Jim Wilson, pastor, First Baptist Church in Seneca, Mo. "We need to live holy lives and bringing this man to our college campuses and promoting his books in the bookstore ... I believe is a violation of Scripture."
The website of the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association takes Driscoll to task as well as some Southern Baptists who have invited Driscoll to speak at SBC sponsored events. Among these are Lifeway's Ed Stetzer and SEBT's Danny Askin. The attack on Akin who invited Driscoll to speak at the seminary's 20/20 student conference this year seems suspiciously timed to coincide with his promotion of the Great Commission Resurgence. Obviously, this did not slow down the passage of the GCR or Akin being named to the GCR task force.
Most of the attacks on Driscoll were related to his use and promotion of alcohol (namely home-brewed beer). As one who has also offered a critique of Driscoll and who also disapproves of his invitation to things like 20/20 at SEBTS, Piper's pastors conferences, and the Gospel Coaltion, I would say that a prudish concern over alcohol consumption is the least of worries. In other words, his SBC critics were again' him for all the wrong reasons. The problem is not merely alcohol use but his commitment to uncritical pragmatic cultural engagement and non-cessationism.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Transformed Hope

Romans 8:15: For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

I recently read a book by Joel Beeke on the doctrine of adoption [Heirs With Christ: The Puritans on Adoption (RHB, 2008)]. In one chapter, Beeke writes of how our adoption as God’s sons transforms our view of the future:

God’s child is like a poor peasant who has been taken out of the mire and raised to the position of prince of the realm. The adopted prince lives in the palace, has free access to the king, and enjoys the king’s favor, love and protection. The prince tells the king that he cannot comprehend the greatness of the king’s love; it is unspeakably great to him. The king responds: "You have not begun to see the extent of it. Your inheritance is coming to you."

If our present privileges as God’s adopted children are so great that the world cannot grasp them, our future prospects are so glorious that even we cannot fully grasp them. As 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Because God is our Father and we are his adopted children, we have a full inheritance awaiting us. The best is yet to be. Today we experience great blessings, despite our infirmities and sins; but one day we will be in glory, free from sin and living in perfect communion with God. Our heavenly Father keeps the best surprises for His children until the end, when He will turn all their sorrow into joy.

May God open our eyes to perceive all the promises, privileges, responsibilities, and hopes that have been granted us as sons of God through Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel article for June 24, 2009.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009 SBC Meeting Underway

The Southern Baptist Convention is meeting this week in Louisville, KY. I am staying home to participate in Vacation Bible School at JPBC. It really isn't a sacrifice, because I did not have a desire to attend. I'd much rather use my conference funds to go to something like the Banner Conference I attended last month.

I am streaming some of the meeting online and have been listening this morning. The big issue in this year's meeting is the "Great Commission Resurgence." Danny Akin of SEBTS and SBC President Johnny Hunt have offered this "resurgence" plan and SBC executive Morris Chapman has opposed it.

Morris Chapman spoke this morning. The most interesting statement: "The SBC didn't become great because it loved doctrine but because it loved Jesus." My question is: "Can you love Jesus without having some doctrinal understanding of who Jesus is?" Johnny Hunt's morning convention message offered little substance. Clearly, the leadership of the SBC is worried about the declining health of the denomination. As Hunt noted, LifeWay is projecting that if current trends continue the SBC will stand at just 7 million members by 2050. He added that the SBC is getting older.

As the years roll by I have less and less interst and passion for the SBC. And this is someone who grew up going to Discipleship Training on Sunday nights, did "Sword Drills," attended RAs and Prayer Meeting on Wednesday nights, was in BSU in college and went to an SBC factory seminary for my MDiv. Watching the SBC meeting online makes me even more sqeamish. The emphasis is so clearly on the pragmatic and not the doctrinal (see the Chapman quote). Watching is a stark reminder on how my mind and heart have changed on issues like the doctrines of grace, worship, missions, and ministry.

It was interesting to hear Johnny Hunt give some evidence of knowing about the resurgence of interest in the Reformation spirit among younger Baptists and evangelicals. He spoke of God choosing us before we chose him--an interesting comment since he has vehemently opposed Calvinism in the SBC. He also made anecdotal reference to having taken a sabbatical to read through the prayers of the Puritans. "They even prayed about praying," he said. One wonders whom he read and when and why he did this.


The Afterglow of Father's Day

Sunday was Father's Day and God reminded me again of the five incredible blessings he has given me.
"As arrows in the hand of mighty man; so are the children of the youth" (Psalm 127:4).

Brewers are Cove Creek Minor League Champions!

Friday evening we were back at Cove Creek Park where Sam pitched three of six innings in a playoff game (combining with a team-mate for a one hitter in a 3-0 victory) that put his team (the Brewers) into the Saturday Minor League Championship game. Then, Saturday morning his team beat the Reds to take the tournament title. Sam pitched another inning, played second base, and hit second in the order with an RBI single and a run scored in the win.

Sam and Llew's Dad (from whom Sam gets his middle name "George") pose after the closing ceremonies at Cove Creek.

League commissioner John Grisham gives a pep talk to the boys chosen to represent Cove Creek on the various All-Star teams.

Washington DC Trip

Wow! We have done a lot over the last week. On Thursday-Friday we went to Washington, DC and visited the National Zoo, the Mall and Memorials, and the new visitor center at the Capitol Building.

The Riddles pose by the Virginia pillar at the WW2 Memorial.

The dome inside the Capitol Building.


Thursday, June 18, 2009


JPBC's John B. and Byron G. also got the opportunity to hear Voddie "Big Papi" Baucham at the HEAV Conference last week. I think they have definitely become Voddie-ites. In fact, the photo above might even indicate shades of stalking. You draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Note: This article below is adapted from the conclusion to last Sunday’s morning sermon from Romans 2:12-16.

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel (Romans 2:16).

I recently read Ian Murray’s biography of Professor John Murray (The Life of John Murray [Banner of Truth, 2007). John Murray lived from 1898 to 1975. He was born in Scotland but spent the bulk of his adult life in the United States, teaching first at Princeton Seminary and then for decades at Westminster Seminary outside Philadelphia. I have been reading his classic commentary on Romans in preparation for this sermon series.

Murray was known for his gravity, his seriousness, and his piety. Many consider him a modern day Puritan. He was particularly known for the seriousness with which he kept the Sabbath.

In the biography, a former student describes a time when he and Dr. Murray were guests in the home of the Freeman family. The conversation turned to the subject of human sinfulness, and Dr. Murray began vigorously to hold forth the doctrine of total depravity. The hostess protested: "But Mr. Murray, we know that you are not as bad as that." Though probably meant as a compliment, Murray did not smile. Instead, he fixed his gaze on her and replied in his sternest tone: "Mrs. Freeman, if you knew what a cesspool of iniquity this vile heart of mine is, you would never say such a thing!" (p. 99).

Truly, it is the most godly men who understand to the greatest degree their absolute and utter need for Christ. The more we understand about ourselves, the less we think about ourselves, and the more we admire Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel article June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

2009 HEAV Conference: Saturday

Saturday (June 13):

The morning keynote was Voddie Baucham on "Cultural War." His text was Acts 4:18-21.
He chided churches and pastors for "educational antinomianism"—that is not taking a stand in the pulpit in encouraging Christians to leave "government" education.

He noted three factors in our culture today:

1. Religious relativism;
2. New Tolerance. Here he cited the illogical stance of those who say that have tolerance for everything except intolerance.
3. Philosophical pluralism.

At the close he said that some say they want to go back to the way things were in the 50s and noted that was not so good for his people. He then said some want to go back 150 years—that was even worse! He noted that we cannot recapture some ideal that never existed. Instead, we have to strive now to place all things under the crown rights of King Jesus.

Llew and I spent the rest of the morning in the exhibition hall and used curriculum sale getting books for next year. My best find on the religion table was a copy of Lelan Ryken’s Wordly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (out of print) for only a few bucks.

In the afternoon I went to Joel Salatin’s workshop on "Working With Your Kids So They Will Want to Work With You." Salatin is a farmer who runs Polyface Farms outside Staunton, VA. He and his family were pioneer Christian homeschoolers in VA and he has also been a pioneer in the home grown food community.

Here were his ten points:

1. Integrate your children into every aspect of life.
2. Inspire them to love work. Don’t ever give work as punishment. Make work task oriented and not time oriented.
3. Give them freedom to work and even to fail.
4. Create investment opportunities for them.
5. Encourage your child to have a separate small business.
6. Maintain humor with kids.
7. Pay the children for their work. Don’t give allowances. No one should be paid for breathing!
8. Praise! Praise! Praise!
9. Enjoy your vocation! Children generally warm up to your heart’s passion. If you enjoy your work, they will enjoy theirs.
10. Back off from your personal domains and delegate to them while you do other things.

I so enjoyed Salatin that I stayed for his second seminar on turning your home and garden into a profit center. Salatin is an interesting man. He said the home grown food movement is where the homeschool movement was 30 years ago.

Till next year's meeting!


2009 HEAV Conference: Friday

Photo: The exhibit hall in the Richmond Convention Center at HEAV.

Llewellyn and I attended the HEAV conference June 11-13 at the Richmond Convention Center. I think we have found the best way for us to attend the conference. First, Llewellyn’s parents come up and keep the children. This is a good time for us to be alone, to discuss school and other issues, and choose curriculum. Second, we stay in a hotel in Short Pump and drive back and forth to the Convention Center (we’ve tried staying downtown and like staying on the West End much better).

Here’s a report on the Conference:

You see all sorts at a HEAV conference. There are Mennonites and Brethren, nattily dressed suburbanites, and (yes) stereotyptical large families with moms wearing denim jumpers trailed by 6 or 7 head of children. It is always encouraging as a homeschooling family just to know that so many others are doing the same thing you are. You also see the diversity of the homeschool community. There seemed, in particular, to be more African-American homeschooling families at this year’s conference which was nice to see. That might have been due to the fact that Voddie Baucham was the keynote speaker.

The Conference centers on various workshops, an exhibit hall, and a used curriculum sale.

Friday (June 12):

I attended the morning workshop led by Adam Andrews of the Center for Literacy Education on "What is a Classic, Anyway? Teaching Great Books: The Why and Wherefore." He used the book of Job as an example of classic literature but also referenced "Mike Mulligan and the Steamshovel," the Iliad, and The Lord of the Rings. A discussion also ensued on whether "Good Night, Moon" would be considered a classic.

In the afternoon I went to Mike Snavely’s talk titled "Aunt Lucy?" He offered a critique of the evolutionary "ascent of man" conception, arguing that the dating of supposed links is presumptive and that all the figures on the chart are either apes or men. He also described various finds like the "Piltdown Man" that have later been determined to be hoaxes. Snavely also noted the racist origins of evolution and the original subtitle of Darwin’s Origin of Species which featured the phrase "the preservation of favored races."

The evening keynote address was by Voddie Baucham on "Education and Worldview: How Education Affects Worldview and What That Means for Your Child." Using Luke 6:40, Baucham argued that education is inseparable from discipleship. He noted that less than 10% of professing Christians and only 50% of pastors have a Biblical worldview. He lamented that some people say we could change our society if all the professing Christians would just stand us, but he said if they did this the problem is that they would all be facing in different directions.

As a parent he wants to teach his children to read, write, and reason.

He noted that if a child goes to a "government" school K-12, he will spend 14,000 hours in class. How can that be counterbalanced by 1 hour per week in Sunday School? For the church to match at that rate would take 140 years!

He offered this quip: "If you send your child to Caesar, don’t be surprised if he comes back a Roman."

He contrasted the secular humanism view with the Christian theism view on God (atheism vs. theism); Man (evolution vs. creation); truth (relative vs. objective); knowledge (natural materialism vs. reason/revelation); and ethics (negotatited/cultural vs. objective/universal).

He noted that whereas 70-88% of children in typical youth groups end up leaving the faith, 94% of children who are homeschooled retain the faith of their parents.


Sermon of the Week: John Wagner's Personal Testimony

I listened to this testimony a few weeks ago and made reference to it in a sermon. Wagner tells his story of conversion and call to ministry and makes effective use of Psalm 34:6: "This poor man cried and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles."


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Profiting from Pink

I am reading through A. W. Pink’s little book Profiting from the Word (Banner, 1970) with one of our young men from JPBC this summer. The interns will also read it a little later in the summer. You can read the book online here.
Here’s a sample of Pink’s convicting style as he describes how the reading of Scripture ought to bring us to a clearer recognition of God’s claims:

Salvation means being reconciled to God; and that involves and includes sin’s dominion over us being broken, enmity within us being slain, the heart being won to God. This is what true conversion is; it is a tearing away of every idol, a renouncing of the empty vanities of a cheating world, and taking God for our portion, our ruler, our all in all. (p. 23).

A few year’s back I read Iain Murray’s revised biography of Pink (1886-1952). He belonged to new-age type "theosophical society" as a young man and then was wondrously converted to Christ. His public ministry was spasmodic taking him to the US, Australia, and back to the UK. He lived the last years of his life as a virtual recluse in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. His enduring legacy comes from his writing. In 1921 he began a monthly magazine titled Studies in the Scriptures whose readership never rose above a thousand. Pink lived in a time when few shared his doctrinal convictions. He did not live to see the revival of Calvinism. It was only after his death that his writings from the magazine began to be collected in book form, published, and widely read.

Pink should be read with discernment. One of the nice features of Murray’s biography is an appendix that offers a bibliography and assessment of his major writings (pp. 337-42). Sadly, Pink did not share fellowship in a local church in the final years of his life. His life is a reminder, however, that sometimes the Lord’s most profitable servants labor in obscurity and, like Abraham, never live to see the fulfillment of God’s promises in this life.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Questions about Dan Wallace Interview

I rarely post comments on blogs, etc., but I could not resist making a comment after listening to the interview with Dan Wallace regarding New Testament text criticism on the Christ the Center broadcast.
You can listen to the interview and read comments here.
My post:

I’m a regular listener and enjoy the program, but don’t you think there are some major problems with some of the things that Wallace said from a Reformed/orthodox perspective?


He reinterprets the doctrine of divine preservation of Scripture (contra article one of the WCF and 2LBC).

He makes the old claim that contemporary text criticism has no impact on doctrine. How about the doctrine of providence (preservation) and the doctrine of the canon of Scripture. Canon involves not only books of the Bible but also the text of the Bible (e.g., Mark 16:9-20 is roughly the same length as 2 John). While we’re on the issue of canon, what would happen if Dr. Wallace discovered an ancient copy of Romans in a library somewhere that omitted chapters 9-11, and the world’s best academic text critics (neo-evangelicals among them) decided this was the most ancient text of Romans. Would we then remove these chapters from our Bible?

He says that the Gospel record of Christ’s words contain merely the ipsissima vox and not the ipsissima verba of the Lord. Do you concur?

He drives an artificial wedge between Jesus and the Bible, claiming that he does not want to make Jesus the handmaiden of the Bible but the Bible the handmaiden of Jesus. But, from where does he learn about Jesus but from the Bible? The two are not at odds.

I was glad that someone challenged his views on the “incarnational” approach to inerrancy, but I wish some of these others issues had also been raised as well.


The Text of Romans 1:29-31: 23 vices or only 21?

One of the most common arguments for the modern critical Greek text is that it really does not involve that many significant changes to the Bible. Apart from John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20, they say, there really are no major differences. When one reads through the text of Scripture closely, however, one finds that there is rarely a string of verses that does not provide some significant changes and alterations in the modern text.

Last Sunday, for example, I preached through Paul’s vice list in Romans 1:29-31. The traditional text lists 23 items. The modern critical text, however, lists only 21. The modern text omits "fornication" (porneia) in Romans 1:29 and "implacable" (aspondous) in 1:31.

Metzger’s Commentary (pp. 506-507) addresses the omission of porneia in v. 29 but only gives it a "C" reading. He notes that "The Textus Receptus, following L Psi 88 326 330 614" and the Majority include the word before poneria ("wickedness"). He admits that one might well argue that porneia fell out accidentally in transcription given its similarity to poneria, but he concludes, "it is more likely that the word is an intrusion into the text…." No substantial reason is provided as to why this conclusion is more likely.

Metzger’s Commentary does not address the omission in v. 31, even though it too has significant attestation in the corrected hand of Sinaiticus, C, Psi, 33, the Vulgate, and the Majority. Given that all the other words in v. 31 also begin with the negative prefix alpha one could easily see how it might have been accidentally omitted in transmission.

Conclusion: There seems to be no outstanding reason not to maintain the traditional-ecclesiastical text and affirm 23 items in Paul’s catalogue of vices. Most modern translations simply omit the two items with no reference or footnote (cf. NIV, RSV, RNRSV, ESV).

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sermon of the Week: Malcolm Watts on Biblical Church Government

This message is one Malcolm Watts gave at a Conference in 1998 on church government. I cannot say I am in total agreement on all points, but I think he makes a strong case for a vision of church government that incorporates the role of the congregation, the role of the pastor (teaching elder or minister) and that of other elders (ruling elders) who are not ordained gospel ministers. He also offers a critique of the relatively contemporary notion of parity among elders.

Near the end (c. the 53 minute mark) he makes seven points about Biblical church government:

1. Christ has not made church power common to all.

2. It is the responsibility of elders to rule.

3. Each church should possess a plurality of elders.

4. There is one office of elder but two kinds of elders: teaching elders or ministers who labor in Word and doctrine; and ruling elders who labor in ruling or governing work.

5. Such offices will be recognized by the church, as they are chosen by the people.

6. Special responsibility rests with the teaching elder to labor in word and sacrament.

7. This government is for all time.


The Centrality of Christ

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:3-4).

One of the speakers at the conference I attended last week challenged the ministers to read, speak, and think more about Christ. In his commentary on Romans 1:3-4, Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers the following observation:

The first point which we have to make is that the gospel is concerning God’s Son. That is the nerve, the heart and the very centre of the gospel. There is no such thing as the Christian gospel, and there is no such thing as Christianity, apart from Him. Christianity, by definition, is Christ Himself….

Now that is what constitutes the whole uniqueness of the Christian gospel. Take any religion that you like; you will generally find a man’s name associated with it; but in none of these can it be said that the particular man is absolutely essential. You have Buddhism, but you can have Buddhism without Buddha. You have Confucianism, but you can have Confucianism without Confucius. It is more or less an accident that a particular man happens to put forward the teaching, but the man himself is not essential to the teaching; what is vital in all these religions is the particular teaching. But here, when you come to the realm of the Christian faith, the whole position is absolutely different. Take away the Person and there is no message at all. There is no teaching. There is nothing. The connection, in other words, between our Lord Himself, as a Person, and Christianity is obviously something which is of central significance [Romans: The Gospel of God (Banner of Truth, 1985): pp. 98-99].

Let us always remember that Christ is at the center of our faith and our life.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Note: Evangel article 6/2/09.

Audio of Pastors' Fraternal Talk

Audio has been posted of the talk (and ensuing discussion) I did a few weeks ago at the SPBPP fraternal in Roanoke on "The Coming Evangelical Collapse."


New Blogs

I've gotten word of a few friends who are launching new blogs.
Check out Northern Virginia pastor Travis Hilton at Hiltonblog.
You can also read the thoughts of Suffolk churchplanter Steve Hills at his blog Musings of a Suffolk Church Planter.

Banner Books

Photo: In discussion with Walt Chantry (left) after his message.

Of course, one of the draws to attend a Banner Conference is the ability to peruse the bookstore and buy some good titles at discount prices. I am in the midst of reading a number of books right now and hesitated to load myself down with much more, but I picked up a few nonetheless.

Here are the book I bought or received:

John Calvin, Songs of the Nativity: Selected Sermons on Luke 1 & 2 (This was the free book this year given to all attendees).

R. L. Dabney, Evangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures on Preaching.

Charles J. Brown, The Ministry (a gift from John C.).

James Bruce, From Grief to Glory (This pastoral care book is for parents who have lost a child. It was another free gift from Banner).

Bernard Honeysett, The Sound of His Name.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans 2:1-3:20.

John E. Marshall, Life and Writings.

Iain Murray, A Scottish Christian Heritage.

____., The Life of John Murray.

____., The Undercover Revolution: How Fiction Changed Britain.

John Owen, Volume 16 in his Collected Works.

A. W. Pink, Profiting from the Word (multiple copies to read with staff and interns this summer).

Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography, Vol. 1.

I also got some books for gifts:

For Llewellyn a collection of devotions by Susannah Spurgeon, wife of C. H.

For Hannah, Sharon James’ More Love to Thee, the biography of Elizabeth Prentiss, author of Stepping Heavenward.

For Sam and Lydia, a Word Wise Bible activity book.

For Isaiah, A Bible Alphabet Activity Book and for Joseph a Bible Alphabet story book.

For the whole family for use in reading aloud during family devotions the two volumes of biographical stories for children by John Tallach, God Made Them Great and They Shall Be Mine.