Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Vision (5.29.14): Hope Even For Sadducees

Note:  The article below gathers some thoughts from last Sunday morning’s sermon on Luke 20:27-40:

“Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection….” (Luke 20:27).

“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).

In Luke 20:27 we read that there came to Jesus “certain of the Sadducees.”  The Sadducees were a particular sect within first century Judaism.  Their name probably derived from the title “Zadokites,” taken from Zadok, the great priest of God during the days of David and Solomon when the temple was first built.  The Sadducees were priestly aristocrats who controlled the temple worship and sacrifices in Jesus’ day.  They were conservatives who had worked with the Romans to maintain the status quo temple operations.  They disappear from history after the Romans destroy the temple in 70 AD.

Luke adds an important detail about the Sadducees in v. 27:  “which deny that there is any resurrection.”  The Sadducees were naturalists (or anti-supernaturalists).  They were religious, but they did not believe in life after death.  They believed that you only live once and after death you simply pass into non-existence.

The first century Jewish historian Josephus describes the Sadducees several times in his works:

Antiquities of the Jews (Book 18.chapter 1.4):  “But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this:  That souls die with their bodies; nor do they regard the observation of anything besides what the law enjoins them; for they think it an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy whom they frequent.”

Summary:  Sadducees (1) did not believe in life after death; (2) they gave pride of place to the Torah; (3) they were contentious—they liked to argue.

Jewish Wars (Book 2.chapter 8.14):  “But the Sadducees …suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil…  They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades…  But their behavior one towards another is in some degree wild….”

Summary:  Sadducees (1) did not believe it mattered how one acted ethically in this life; (2) denied life after death and eternal punishment in hell (and, by implication, rewards in heaven); (3) they tended to viciously attack one another in disagreements.

What Josephus records is substantiated by what we read in Acts 23 when Paul was on trial before the Jewish Council:

Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

You might rightly ask:  How could the Sadducees possibly hold such views?  How could they deny the resurrection?  What about Job 19:26?

Job 19:26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

What about Daniel 12:2:

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Maybe the explanation rests in the fact that they chose only to value the Torah, and they thought it did not directly teach this doctrine.  It is an old ploy of anti-supernaturalists to deny the whole counsel of God.

It is a group of such men who approach Jesus to question him.  We do not have to wait till the Age of the Enlightenment or the modern period or for the so-called “new Atheists” to arrive to find men who reject the supernatural.  They were there in the first century in the Sadducees.  These men come looking to entrap Jesus, to “take hold of his words” (cf. Luke 20:20).  There is little that is hopeful about the spiritual state of these men in Luke 20.

In the book of Acts, however, we find this intriguing note:

Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

No doubt, among those priests who became disciples there were some former Sadducees.  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead convinced them of the resurrection.

God is still pleased to take those who have rejected truth and make them lovers of the truth, to take those who have rejected the supernatural and make them believers in miracles, to take those who had rejected life after death and give them hope.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Vision (5.22.14): How is the Word to be read and heard?

Image:  Scene from May 17th CRBC Church Family Fellowship hosted by the G. Family.

Here are abbreviated notes from last Sunday afternoon’s message in the Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism series:

Q 73:  How is the Word to be read and heard that it may become effectual to salvation?

A:  That the Word may become effectual to salvation we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer, receive it with faith, and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.

Here are the catechism’ seven admonitions, along with its seven prooftexts:

1.  With diligence:

Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Are we diligent in daily reading of the Scriptures?  In at least weekly, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day, attendance upon hearing the Word of God (cf. Heb 10:25)?

Are we as diligent in hearing the Word as we are in caring for our physical bodies?  Would you go days and weeks without eating, bathing, grooming?  Then why go the same length of time without Bible intake?

Are we as diligent in keeping a commitment to hearing the word as we are to our jobs or other commitments (schools, family, etc.)?

2.  With preparation:

1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Are we aware that it takes spiritual preparation to hear the Word?  Perhaps we do not sometimes “get something” out of reading Scripture or hearing sermons because our hearts are distracted.

3.  With prayer:

Psalm 119:18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Might it be helpful to begin your reading of the Bible with a prayer for illumination?

4.  Receive it with faith:

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Note the contrast here between those who are profited by the word and those for whom it does not give profit.  Our hearing must be mixed with faith.  If we are always just spectators or evaluators, we will not get the full benefit of the word.  We must say “I believe, help thou my unbelief.”

5.  Receive it with love:

2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

It is possible to know the truth and to outwardly obey the truth but not to love the truth.  Just as there are children who might be outwardly obedient to parents but who rebel when they gain their independence, so it is not enough just to know the truth or to merely obey the truth outwardly, but we must love it.

6.  Lay it up in our hearts:

Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

There is the reading of the word; there is the hearing of the word; and there is the hiding of the word in our hearts.  Have you memorized the word of God?  Do you know more lyrics of secular songs or the dialogue or secular movies or even uninspired Christian songs and movies than you do the word of God?  Which will be of more profit for you?  And how might memorized Scripture be used as resources for your personal Christian life and for your ministry?

7.  Practice it in our lives:

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

We are not only to know the truth, but we are to practice it.  The Bible is not to be a museum piece to be observed, but its teachings are to be put into living practice.

Love your enemies… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you… Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the love of Christ… Flee fornication… Practice hospitality…. Keep yourselves from idols… Love God and love your neighbor as yourself…

May God helps us through Christ faithfully to read and hear his Word.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Question on "Once Saved, Always Saved"

Note:  A friend recently emailed with a question about “once saved, always saved.”  I thought others might profit from reading the interaction (edited):


Hi Pastor Jeff,
Here's the deal. I was given a statement and was told it is controversial, then it was suggested that I learn about it on my own, then I might ask various men what their thoughts were.  So here's the statement:
Once saved, always saved.
Doing a little research proved to be singularly unenlightening.  Doing more led me to believe that this is a true statement with a caveat or maybe two.  Once saved, I suppose a person could go into some sort of denial, renounce the Lord as their personal savior, harden their heart and thus revert to their prior state: unsaved.  Now then, all that being said I cannot imagine a set of circumstances that would provide someone motivation to do such a terrible thing, but I suppose it could happen.  Most anything's possible, right?  But other than that, I believe that once you are saved, you are always saved.  What do you think?  And which passages should I be concentrating on for this?

The term "once saved, always saved" is a more contemporary interpretation of the classic, standard, Reformed concept of "perseverance of the saints" (the P in TULIP).  I personally don't like the "once saved, always saved" expression or the related "eternal security" language, because I believe it tends to water down the fact that genuine salvation is also accompanied by sanctification.

A few years ago John MacArthur got into some back and forth with some "once saved, always saved" or "carnal Christianity" folk over what was called "Lordship salvation."  You should be able to find traces of this discussion on the web.   

Other Resources:

Chapter 17 of the Second London Confession presents a classic Reformed view of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.  Can't be said better.

Hope this helps!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Notes on Augustine's "Harmony of the Gospels": Part 3: Defending the Gospels Against Pagan Objections

Notes from Book One (chapter vii):

Augustine begins by describing the four Gospels as “sacred chariots of the Lord … in which He is borne throughout the earth and brings people under His easy yoke and light burden.”  Still there are those who bring “calumnious charges” against them and attempt to rob them “of their credit as veracious historians.”  In particular Augustine responds in this work against those who accuse the four Gospels of standing in “antagonism” against each other, for the chief charge of critics is “that the evangelists are not in harmony with each other.”

Direct reference to critics and their works is rare in this section, but we can glean some of the basic charges being made as well as Augustine’s defense.  Here are a few:

1.  Some questioned the fact that Jesus wrote nothing but that testimony concerning him must rely on the writings of his followers.

2.  At the same time, it is charged that “the disciples claimed more for Jesus than he really was; so much so that they even called Him the Son of God, and the Word of God, by whom all things were made, and affirmed that He and God are one.”

3.  These critics say that Jesus should be honored as “the wisest of men; but they deny that He is to be worshipped as God.”

Augustine responds:

The pagan charge that Jesus left no written material is disingenuous given the fact that the noblest and most respected of the great philosophers also left no written accounts of their lives, but they were written about by their followers (e.g., Pythagoras, Socrates).  “What reasonable ground, therefore, have they for believing, with regard to those sages, all that their disciples have committed to record in respect of their history, while at the same time they refuse to credit in the case of Christ what his disciples have written on the subject of his life?”

If Jesus was the wisest of men, as they claim, did he not have the ability to make trusted disciple who could accurately record his life and teaching?  And if this is the case, why do they not believe the Gospel records of Jesus’ life?  Why do they not acknowledge Jesus to be God?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Text Note: Luke 20:23

Image:   The ending of the Gospel of Luke in Codex Alexandrinus, dated to the 5th century AD, which provides an early witness to the traditional text of the Gospels.  Note the closing title under the decorative marking, euangelion kataloukan, "The Gospel According to Luke."

The issue:

The problem here is whether the question:  “Why do you tempt me? [ti me peirazete;]” should be included in the text.  It is included in the traditional text and omitted in the modern critical text.

External evidence:

Greek manuscripts supporting inclusion:  Codices Alexandrinus, C, D, W, Theta, Psi, family 13, 33, and the vast majority.  It is also supported by the Old Latin and all the Syriac versions.

Greek manuscripts supporting omission:  Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, L, family 1, and others.  It is also supported by all the Coptic versions.

Internal evidence:

Metzger does not address this variant in his Textual Commentary.  No doubt, modern text advocates would see the inclusion of the question as a harmonization with the parallels in Matthew 22:18 (“Why do you tempt me, hypocrites?”) and Mark 12:15 (“Why do you tempt me?”).

Indeed, there is some evidence of textual harmonization in Mark and Luke, in particular to include Matthew’s “hypocrites [hypocritai].”  This is espeically true in Mark 12:15 where “hypocrites” is included in a wide number of early witnesses, including p45, N, W, Theta, family 1, family 13, 28, 33, and others.  It is not, however, adapted as the majority reading for Mark 12:15.  In comparison to Mark 12:15, the harmonization to Matthew’s reading in Luke is slight with only codex C and a few others adding “hypocrites” at Luke 20:23.

This raises the following important question:  If there was a scribal effort to harmonize the reading at Luke 20:23, why do we not see more evidence (as in Mark 12:15) to harmonize the reading with Matthew 22:18 by including “hypocrites”?  Some might impose here the theory of Markan priority and suggest that Luke simply followed Mark here as a source, but that conclusion is speculative.  Another adverse possibility if one adopts the Markan priority theory is simply that the question was original to Luke and would especially be so if he supposedly followed Mark here as a source.

Why, then, might the question have been omitted?  There are at least two possibilities:

First, there could have been an accidental scribal omission in an early manuscript or manuscripts which served as the exemplars for those which perpetuated the omission.

Second, there could have been an intentional omission for stylistic or theological reasons.

Stylistically, if original, the question is introduced with the statement:  “he said to them,” using the verb lego.  Perhaps, it was thought strange that the question was not introduced with “he asked them,” using the verb eperotao.  Furthermore, perhaps it was thought that the introduction “he said to them” better fitted the accompanying command, “show me a denarius” in v. 24.  In this case, the question might have been omitted for stylistic reasons.

Theologically, the question, “Why do you tempt me?”, with its use of the verb peirazo, recalls the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (cf. Luke 4:2) and, in particular, the response of Jesus in Luke 4:12, citing Deuteronomy 6:16, “It has been said [using the aorist of lego], You shall not tempt [ekpeirazo] the Lord your God.”  If original, here is a place where the divinity of Jesus is subtly affirmed in Luke, even as it is for the same reasons in Matthew and Mark.  As it is wrong to tempt God, so it is wrong to tempt Jesus, because Jesus is God.  Is it possible that there might have been Arian or proto-Arian scribes who were uncomfortable with such a subtle affirmation?


There is widespread and ancient support for the traditional text, which includes the question from Jesus in Luke 20:23, “Why do you tempt me?”  The modern critical text’s omission of the question belies its typical tendency to follow the heavyweights Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.  If the inclusion of the question was a harmonization to Matthew and Mark, why do we not see more evidence, as in Mark 12:15, of more effort to make Luke’s text comply with Matthew 22:18 by including “hypocrites”?

Furthermore, we can well imagine good reasons as to why the question might have been omitted either by accident or for stylistic or theological reasons by early scribes.

We therefore conclude that there is no compelling reason to abandon the traditional text reading of Luke 20:23.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Questions on the NT use of the LXX

A friend recently emailed with some questions about the NT use of the Septuagint (LXX).  I thought others might like to overhear the (edited) exchange:


I'm curious what you think we can learn from the NT use of the LXX, if anything? What does it tell us about using the LXX in particular, those specific passages of the LXX, and/or translations in general?


That's a great question and a big one, as you know.  Whole books could be written about it (and have!), so I don't think I'll be able to sum it all up in a short email, and I don't claim any expertise in this field.

At the least, the LXX's appearance and usage says that believers hold that one can read the Bible in translation, and it can be the Word of God. Unlike Islam which says one must know Arabic to read the Koran, Biblical believers have never said you must know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to read the Bible.

The apostles obviously often read the LXX and cited it in the NT (but not always, since they also made citations that give evidence of their rendering the Hebrew of the OT). 

The biggest problems with the LXX are twofold:
(1) It gives evidence that it was not based on the MT of the Hebrew Bible (see especially, e.g., Judges, 1-2 Samuel);
(2) It included the apocryphal books.
I agree with Owen's assessment that it is a "corrupt stream" whose readings must be taken cautiously.


Thanks, Jeff. One question in my mind is, if the NT cites a particular LXX passage, does it create an "alternate" authoritative version of that verse? Does it speak to the inspiration of translation of at least that passage?


Good question on how to interpret the ramifications of the authority of the LXX when cited in the NT.  My view would be that a citation does not set up the LXX as an "alternate" authority to the Hebrew OT. Rather, it only becomes authoritative (i.e., is part of the immediately inspired Scripture) as it is cited by the NT writer.

We have several examples of the NT writers referencing or citing non-canonical works.  Examples:

Luke 1:1-4:  Luke refers to unnamed sources (some of which might have been canonical, like Mathew or Mark, but others might not have been canonical, like perhaps a memoir of Mary or other eyewitnesses).

Acts 17:28:  Paul cites Epimenides and Aratus.

Titus 1:12:  Paul cites Epimenides.

Jude 1:9:  Jude cites the Testament of Moses (?) or some other lost source.

Jude 1:14-15:  Jude cites the book of 1 Enoch.

We would not say, for example, that Epimenides' works or 1 Enoch are inspired just because they are cited in the NT.  Only the parts cited are inspired as they are used by the NT authors.  The same could be applied to the NT citations of the LXX.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Notes on Augustine's "Harmony of the Gospels" Part 2: The Synoptics and John

Notes from Book I (chapters iv-vi):

In his “Harmony” Augustine recognizes a distinction between John and the Synoptic Gospels.  The Synoptics are engaged for the most part with things Jesus did “through the vehicle of the flesh of man and after a temporal fashion.”

But John, on the others hand, had in view that true divinity of the Lord in which He is the Father’s equal, and directed his efforts above all to the setting forth of the divine nature in his Gospel in such a way as he believed to be adequate to men’s needs and notions.  Therefore he is borne to loftier heights, in which he leaves the other three far behind him….

This is not to say that John did not recognize Jesus as the Word made flesh.  Yet John “is like one who has drunk in the secret of his divinity more richly and somehow more familiarly than others.”

Augustine suggests that the differences between the Synoptic approach and John’s approach to the life of Jesus can be explained by their application of two different virtues or talents.  The Synoptics are “active” while John is “contemplative.”  The active is concerned with “the right exercise of the temporal life” while the contemplative “deals with the doctrine of that life which is everlasting.”  “In this way, the one operates, the other rests; for the former finds its sphere in the purging of sins, the latter moves in the light of the purged.”

Finally, Augustine reflects on the how the four Gospels have been figuratively represented:  Matthew as lion, Mark as man, Luke as calf, and John as eagle.  He notes that Matthew is appropriately the lion, since he presents the kingly character of Christ.  Luke is rightly the calf "in reference to the pre-eminent sacrifice made by the priest."  Mark simply presents Christ as a man.   "Whereas John, on the other hand, soars like an eagle above the clouds of human infirmity, and gazes upon the light of the unchangeable truth with those keenest and steadiest eyes of the heart." 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Vision (5.15.14): The Beloved Son

Image:  The Lynchburg Fellowship had a reception after Sunday evening service last Lord’s Day to celebrate a student attendee’s graduation from Liberty University.

Note:  Here are some of the notes from the exposition of Luke 20:10-13 from last Sunday morning’s sermon.

“Then said the Lord of the vineyard, What shall I do?  I will send my beloved son: it may be that they will reverence him when they see him” (Luke 20:13).

In vv. 10-12 we see the vineyard owner sending a series of three servants or slaves to take his part of “the fruit of the vineyard” (v. 10).  We also notice there is an escalating hostility to these messengers.

The first comes “at the season” (v. 10).  But the husbandmen beat (dero:  hit, strike) him and send him away empty.  We see here the irrational nature of the treatment of these messengers.  Why do the husbandmen treat the servant in this way? Do they not fear the consequences of abusing the master’s servant?

We also see the patience of the owner.  Why did he not at this first injustice simply send a host to punish these wicked men?

Instead, he sends another servant (v. 11).  This one they not only beat (dero), but they also treated him shamefully (atimazo:  to dishonor, to offer disrespect).

Surely now he will swiftly act and crush these puny rebels!  Now, he will let them taste from the cup of his wrath.  They shall get their just reward.

But no, he sends yet a third servant (v. 12).  Is there no end to this man’s patience?  Now, surely, they will be humbled before his messenger.  Yet this one they treat worse still.  They “wounded” (traumatizo:  to injure or wound) him, and they cast him out (ekballo:  expel, reject, dispel).

Let’s see, he’s sent three servants and each has been ill treated and with escalating violence.  What happens now?  In v. 13 we gain insight into the internal counsels of God concerning the plan of salvation as Jesus says that the Lord of the vineyard asked himself, “What shall I do?”  And this is his amazing response:  “I will send my beloved son:  it may be that they will reverence [the passive of the verb entrepo, meaning to respect or be ashamed or humbled by] him when they see him” (v. 13).

Now, this is where the parable takes on a particularly unreal or hyperbolic nature.  What ordinary person would do this?  Let’s say I own a house, and I rent it to some disreputable fellows.  I send an employee to collect my rent, and they slap him in the face; I send another, and they not only slap him, but they also spit on him.  I send a third, and they stab him.  And then I think to myself:  Well, I think I’ll now send my beloved son to collect the rent.  Maybe they’ll respect him.  Who thinks like this???

And then we realize that this is how the God of the Bible has acted in Christ.  When prophet after prophet, messenger after messenger, minister after minister had been rejected, in the fullness of time, he sent forth his beloved Son to save sinners through his death on the cross.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Monday, May 12, 2014

Notes on Augustine's "Harmony of the Gospels": Part 1: Authority and Order

Image:  From Boticelli's "Saint Augustine in His Study" (1480)

Note:  I’m reading through Augustine’s Harmony of the Gospels and trying to get a better grip on the pre-critical understanding of the Gospels and their literary and theological relationship. Here are some notes:
Book One (chapters i-iii):

Augustine  begins by discussing the authority of the four canonical Gospels noting, “In the entire number of those divine records which are contained in the sacred writings, the gospel deservedly stands pre-eminent.”  He notes that the apostles were the first preachers of the gospel and that two of them—Matthew and John—“gave to the world, in their respective books, a written account of all those matters which it seemed needful to commit to writing concerning Him.”  The inclusion of the Gospels of Mark and Luke show, however, that one need not have been a disciple of Jesus while he was here on earth to write a Gospel.  Nonetheless, others who tried to do the same “failed to commend themselves in their own times as men of character which would induce the Church to yield them its confidence, and to admit their compositions to the canonical authority on the Holy Books.”

He notes that the number of the Gospels “has been fixed as four” perhaps due to the four “divisions” [directions] of the world to which the Christian movement has extended.  He argues for the chronological order, following the canonical order:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Matthew and John are rightly in first last place.  Thus, the interior Evangelists Mark and Luke who had not been apostles “were supported on either side by the same, like sons who were to be embraced, and who in this way were set in the midst between these twain.”

Augustine suggests (following Papias?) that Matthew wrote originally in Hebrew and that the others wrote in Greek.  Matthew construct the record of the Incarnation “according to the royal lineage.”  “Mark follows him closely, and looks like his attendant and epitomizer.”  Mark's narrative is “in words almost numerically and identically the same as those used by Matthew.”

Luke, on the other hand, “appears to have occupied himself rather with the priestly lineage and character of the Lord.”  This explains the divergence in their genealogies, as Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage through King Solomon, while Luke through David’s son Nathan, who was not a king.

Thus, the synoptic Gospels harmoniously present Christ “both as King and as Priest.”

While Matthew had Mark, Luke “had no one connected with him to act as his summarist.”  Augustine explains that as it is right for kings to have attendants, so it is right for Matthew which shows forth Jesus as King to have an attendant in Mark.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

"The Real MVP"

Kevin Durant's speech upon receiving the 2014 NBA MVP Award has been justly praised for its humility, generosity, candidness, and heartfelt emotion (the whole speech is well worth hearing). Durant's final words of appreciation for his mother as "the real MVP" are especially worth a listen on Mother's Day:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014 John Albert Broadus Religion Award at PVCC

PVCC has an informal Academic & Leadership Awards Convocation each Spring.  This year it was held on April 17th.  I was able to help get a Religion Award established for this year's convocation and to have it named the "John Albert Broadus Award."  Broadus (1827-1895) was born in Culpeper County, graduated from UVA, and then stayed in Charlottesville to become professor of ancient languages at his alma mater while also pastoring the First Baptist Church or Charlottesville (where he would baptized a young Albemarle Female Institute student from Scottsville, Virginia named Charlotte "Lottie" Moon), before leaving to become a founding faculty member, teaching NT and homiletics, at the Southern Baptist Seminary. I then had the honor of presenting the award to one of my students, Nathan Moore.  Here's a video of the entire convocation with the Religion Award at c. the 19.00 minute mark:

AT Hiking Trip

At one of the trail markers

I got to spend three days this week with three of my favorite people in one of my favorite places.  I spent three days hiking and camping the lower section of the AT (Appalachian Trail) in the Shenandoah National Park with my three oldest (Hannah, Lydia, and Sam).  We covered about 30 miles, setting in North of Loft Mountain and hiking South on the AT to Rockfish Gap.

I did my first AT hike the summer after my freshman year of college.  Then, the summer after I graduated from college I spent ten weeks leading group trips for the North Carolina ministry "Christian High Adventure."    This time out, I was soon reminded that my body is not in the same shape it was 30 years ago.  The kids had to do a lot of waiting for the old man to catch up from the rear.  Interesting how the relationship changes as the years go by.  God has blessed me with amazing children beyond what I might have asked or imagined.  The terrain we covered pushed us to our physical limits with steep ascents, but it also rewarded with breathtaking views.  I was also reminded of the value of water as we made it through the long dry patch between the spring at the Black Rock Hut and the stream at Jarman's Gap.

Here are a few more scenes from our outing:

Getting our gear together at home before setting out

From Loft Mountain

On the trail

A friend passed on the trail (we also saw deer and a bear!)

At Black Rock Summit

Reading and resting break near Jarman's Gap

Under nature's canopy

Open country near Beagle's Gap


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Vision (5.8.14): Jesus Weeps Over Sinners

Image:  Modern Jerusalem viewed from the Mount of Olives

Note:  Below are my notes from the applications from last Sunday’s sermon on Luke 19:41-48:

“And when he came near, he beheld the city, and wept over it” (Luke 19:41).

1.  The weeping of Jesus shows his full humanity (cf. John 11:35; 1 John 1:1-4).

2.  The weeping of Jesus shows his compassion for sinners [not only the first century inhabitants of Jerusalem but all they whom they represent].  When Jesus looks upon those who reject and spurn him he weeps. 

3.  The juxtaposition of the weeping of Jesus and the cleansing of the temple (vv. 45-46), show forth the mercy and compassion of the Lord but also his justice and zeal for the truth.

4. The cleansing of the temple shows that Jesus will have a pure church.  His bride must be spotless and without blemish. A pure Christ requires a pure church.

It must be pure in its membership:  a regenerate church.

It must be pure in its worship:  scripturally regulated worship.

It must be pure in its sincerity to serve Christ:  no mixed or false motives.

5.  Where Jesus teaches, there will always be a mixed reaction (vv. 47-48).  He will cause the unregenerate to recoil against him, to lash out in anger, or to plot his destruction.  But, there are also those who will listen to him with attentiveness.


Friends, when Christ wept over Jerusalem, he was weeping over sinners.  The Lord does not gloat over the rejection of the wicked knowing that their end is destruction.  Note these two key verses in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Our Lord was weeping over us in our unregenerate state, when we were deaf and blind to the gospel.  Now, rather than giving us what we deserve, he has lavished upon us his affections.  What a privileged position we now enjoy!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Vision (5.1.14): CRBC 2014 "Puritan" Vacation Bible School

CRBC 2014 “Puritan” Vacation Bible School
June 23-26 (Monday-Thursday)
Covenant Lower School, 1000 Birdwood Road
Charlottesville, Virginia
2014 Theme:  The Life of Jesus (Gospel of Mark)

Image:  Scene from 2013 VBS
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.
Free Lunch will be served on site for participants and families daily from 12:30—1:00 pm.
Daily Schedule:
9:50 am—10:00 am                      Arrival
10:00 am—10:30 am                   Opening (procession, songs, etc.)
10:30 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
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
Daily Bible Topics:
Monday:                   Jesus Begins His Ministry (Mark 1)
Tuesday:                   The Power and Miracles of Jesus (Mark 2-8)
Wednesday:             The Teaching of Jesus (Mark 9-13)
Thursday:                 The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Mark 14-16)