Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Vision (5.28.15): Would God I had died for thee (2 Samuel 18:33)

Image:  Modern view of Manahaim ("two camps") where David's forces fought with those of Absalom

Note:  Here are the notes for the final application from last Sunday’s message drawn from David’s cry of despair in 2 Samuel 18:33 after news reaches him of the death of his son Absalom.

Finally, we want to come to that last verse in this chapter and to that exasperated cry of David, which includes these words:  “would God I had died for thee” (v. 33).

Take that along with v. 3 where the people acclaim David as a valued representative man worth more than a thousand ordinary men and you have a premonition of something greater.  This desire for one man to stand in the place of the beloved can be traced throughout Scripture.

Compare Moses’ intercession for the people after their golden calf apostasy:

Exodus 32:32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

Or think of Paul’s reflections on recalcitrant Israel as so many rejected the gospel:

Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Think also of the words of Caiphas the high priest who unwittingly prophesied of Christ:

John 11:50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

What Moses could not do for Israel, what David could not do for Absalom, what Paul could not do for his kinsmen according to the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ, the son of David, has done for a nation of Absaloms.  He laid down his life a ransom for many.  Paul put it this way:

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Word Magazine # 37: Reaction: Duggar Scandal

This afternoon I recorded and posted WM # 37:  Reaction:  Duggar Scandal to

As the title indicates this episode offers a reflection on the recent scandal relating to Josh Duggar and the "19 Kids and Counting" television program on TLC.

Here is an outline of five thoughts on this scandal presented in WM 37:

1.  It illustrates the problems of gossip and tale-bearing.

2.  It reminds us that the world holds professed Christians to a higher standard.

3.  It shows that those who live by the media might also die by it.

4.  It shines the light on some weak spots in the Christian homeschooling movement.

5.  It reminds us that no matter to what degree we might be isolated from the world we still must do battle with the unseen presence of indwelling or remaining sin in our lives.

I also made mention of this sermon by David Silversides asking, in part, whether Christians should aspire to be entertainers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Vision (5.21.15): God's Provision in the Wilderness

Note: Here are some sermon notes from last Sunday morning’s message from 2 Samuel 17 on the Lord’s provision for David and his people in the wilderness while on the run from Absalom.

“…for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness” (2 Samuel 17:29b).

The Lord knew the condition of David and his people in the wilderness, and he provided for them from unexpected sources.

What father would see his children hungry and weary and thirsty and not provide for them food and rest and drink?  How much more will our loving heavenly Father provide for his children when they are in need and cry out to him.

In some ways David’s experience mirrors that of Israel in the wilderness after escaping bondage in Egypt.  In those days the Lord used manna and quail to provide for his people. Here he uses three unlikely instruments (v. 27: Shobi the Ammonite; Machir the Saulite; and the aged Barzillai) to bring them a store of food—see the mouth-watering list in vv. 28-29a).

Charles Spurgeon in his Lectures to My Students, tells about a godly minister (probably a Scottish Covenanter) who was being chased by his persecutors and who went into a hayloft and hid himself in the hay.  Spurgeon continues:

The soldiers went into the place, picking and thrusting with their swords and bayonets, and the good man even felt the cold steel touch the sole of his foot, and the scratch which was made remained for years: yet his enemies did not discover him.  Afterward a hen came and laid an egg every day hard by the place where he was hidden, and so he was sustained as well as preserved until it was safe for him to leave his hiding place (p. 403; Dale Ralph Davis also cites this illustration in 2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity, p. 178).

Some of you may be able to look back on your experience in Christ and see how the Lord has been able to provide for you in the wilderness.  Some may have the scratch on the heel to remind you or the memory of the daily egg.  Consider this exhortation from the author of Hebrews:

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

The Lord will provide for his people in the wilderness.

And what has been his greatest provision?  What did he provide for us when we were in the wilderness of sin?  He gave to us the best provision of all—even the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is in him that we find the ultimate nourishment, the ultimate hope, and the ultimate encouragement.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Vision (5.14.15): 2015 CRBC "Puritan" Vacation Bible School Coming!

CRBC “Puritan” Vacation Bible School

June 22-25, 2015 (Monday-Thursday)
@ Bells Grove Church (2997 Courthouse Road, Louisa, VA)

Image:  Scene from 2014 CRBC VBS singing "The Fruit of the Spirit" with hand motions

2015 Theme:  The Life of the Apostle Paul

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 Light Lunch will be served on site for participants and families daily from 12:30—1:00 pm.
VBS 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

VBS Daily Bible Topics:

Monday:                      Saul’s Conversion on the Damascus Road (Acts 9)
Tuesday:                      Paul the Missionary (Acts 13-20)
Wednesday:                Paul on Trial (Acts 21-28)
Thursday:                    Paul’s Letters and Legacy

Please begin now to pray for this ministry and begin thinking of those it might be appropriate to invite.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Church-based Discipleship Testimony

CRBC's Ethan McG. is doing short term mission support service this year at the Agape Church in Kobe, Japan. Last week Ethan attended a missions meeting on the theme of discipleship.  At the close of the meeting each person was asked to share his views on how discipleship happens.  Today I posted a clip of Ethan's comments at that meeting under the title:  Church-based Discipleship Testimony.  You can also follow his experiences on his blog.

Nepal Update (5.14.15)

Note:  Another update on relief efforts in Nepal from Pastor Poh in Malaysia:

Dear Brethren & Friends,

Pastor Samuel Rai has rented 4 trucks - three to carry goods and one to carry about 20 people to distribute goods to the earthquake victims. At his base in Pokhara, a total of 60 volunteers are helping with the packaging of the things. As they travel, locals are recruited to help in the distribution of goods. That number of helpers is needed not only to handle the goods, but also to protect the goods from being looted. In some places, the desperate survivors of the earthquake resort to snatching the goods. 

Samuel Rai is currently in Dhading, epicentre of the first earthquake of 25 April, 2015. He will be there for four days, travelling from village to village to distribute goods - including tents, food, water filters, and basic medicine such as anti-diarrhea tablets. Each family is given the equivalent of US$40 to buy food. He tries to work in co-operation with the local authorities. At some places in the journey, the roads had to be cleared or filled in. At another place, the villagers had to walk 2 hours to come to them. There are 1310 families in the Dhading area, of which 672 families have been helped as of today.

Last week, they helped at another village of 200 families. Some of Samuel’s helpers are still there, digging into the collapsed houses, searching for bodies, and burying those that are found. They also provided blankets and bedding for the injured in a makeshift shelter in the porch of an an office building. 

News has reached Samuel Rai that that the local Buddhists of an affected village near the border of Tibet are denying government aid to the Christians since the latter can easily get aid from abroad. Samuel Rai hopes to visit that village soon to distribute aid to all, regardless of whether they are Christians or not.

After returning to Pokhara for the weekend to rest, worship, and reload the trucks, a team will be going to Gorkha next week. Another team will be sent to Dolkha district, the epicentre of the second earthquake of 12 May, 2015. According to the news, the death toll from the second earthquake has risen to 110 persons, with 1,926 injured. Another trip to the border of India is planned to obtain more supplies, including 2,000 to 3,000 tents. 

While our brethren labour in that stricken land of Nepal, let us pray and contribute funds as we are able.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another Nepal Update in Light of Recent Events (5.12.15)

Note:  Here is part of an email report sent out today by Pastor Poh Boon Sing in Malaysia regarding another earthquake in Nepal and an update on relief efforts by brethren there:

Dear Brethren & Friends,


Another earthquake hit Nepal today, this time of magnitude 7.3, with epicentre near Mount Everest, east of Kathmandu. Pastor Samuel Rai reports that the people are badly shocked by it. He and his people are loading relief material to be sent to Dhading, the epicentre of the previous earthquake two weeks ago that killed more than 8,000 people. To date we have sent USD35,233 to him for earthquake relief. 

As with many issues, there are conflicting views on how best to help the situation. The establishment-minded people advocate funneling funds to the Nepali government, an example of which is seen in the article at this link:

We hold to a different view, believing that a plurality of approaches should be employed, including governments helping the Nepali government, while NGOs take the initiative to do what they are able, ideally working in tandem with government agencies and with the involvement of the locals. There are political, social and cultural nuances that are not well-understood by foreigners. For example, when the tsunami struck parts of Indonesia in 26 December 2004, funds from overseas could only trickle down to the needy so slowly through the government bureaucracy of the time. The victims of the same tsunami in Sri Lanka were largely the minority Tamils who lived in the east coast where the disaster was most severe. The Tamil separatists were fighting against the government forces at that time such that those affected by the tsunami felt they were not given sufficient attention by their government. A similar problem was encountered in Myanmar when cyclone Nargis hit the largely Christian Karen area in the south on 2 May 2008. The majority people in Myanmar are Buddhist Burmese, and Myanmar is similarly plagued with the problem of fighting with separatists forces, including from a portion of the Karens.

We will continue to send funds to our brethren in Nepal, and to pray for them. They are the best people to extend aid to those in need....

Thank you for fellowship in the gospel.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Follow Up on WM # 36: The Ending of Mark and Fulfillment in Acts

Note:  A reader of the blog sent this note yesterday regarding WM # 36 on the Ending of Mark, Cessationism, and Apologetics.  With his permission, I post it here.  His point is that the signs in Mark 16:17-17 find fulfillment in Acts (or in one case, the drinking of poison, in at least one account from extra-biblical descriptions of early Christianity).  In Nicholas P. Lunn’s The Original Ending of Mark he also stresses the connection between the traditional ending of Mark (16:9-20) and fulfillment in the book of Acts.  One does not have to wait even till citation of and allusion to Mark 16:9-20 in second century Fathers like Tertullian and Justin Martyr.  It is happening even before the last NT book is written (namely, in Acts).  This also reminded me that one of the very first academic presentations I did for a regional Society of Biblical Literature Meeting was titled “Mark and Acts.”  Here is Jimmy’s note:

Pastor Riddle,

I just listened to your program #36 dealing with the textual criticism of the ending of the Gospel of Mark, and I agree with you that its traditional ending is valid Scripture. I think I have come across a way to prove both its legitimacy and your point about the signs being limited to the Apostolic age, and you kind of hit on it. It's simply comparing Scripture with Scripture combined with some Church history. Every sign listed in Mark 16:17-18 occurs in the Book of Acts, except for one - drinking something deadly and not being harmed. See the table below.

Mark promise
Acts fulfillment
“cast out devils”                     
8:7, 16:16-18
“speak with new tongues”      
2:4, 10:45-46, 19:6
“take up serpents”                 

“drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them”    
not recorded

“lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” 
8:7, 28:8

It does, however, occur in Church history. The Apostle John's disciple Papias recounted a story he heard from Philip's daughters (mentioned in Acts 21:9) of Justus, who was nominated to take Judas' place among the Apostles in Acts 1, and may have been one of the 70 in Luke 10, drinking poison and suffering no harm. So, assuming the story is true, we still have these signs occurring in connection to the Apostles during the Apostolic age.

It's a shame that Dr. White is doing this. Whether he knows it or not, it's actually working to weaken Christians' faith in the Word of God. Any time Muslims, atheists, and other unbelievers can use his work in attempt to undermine Christianity, it's never a good thing.

Thank you for your work and God bless,


Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Vision (5.7.15): So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel

Note:  Here are some notes from the four practical applications drawn at the close of last Sunday morning’s message, from 2 Samuel 15:

“…so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6).

“….behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him” (2 Samuel 15:26).

Here are four applications:

1.  There is a warning here in the depiction of Absalom against those who undermine rightful authority and sow discord among God’s people.

I know a pastor who underwent a terrible trial in ministry in a church because of a man who came in and insinuated himself into the congregation and subtly worked to undermine his leadership and authority.  A friend said to him, “Someone has sat in the gate and stolen the hearts of the people.”

Recalls John’s warning against Diotrephes in 3 John:

3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

We might even extrapolate out to the widest of horizons and say that the world is an Absalom that tries to steal our hearts away from Christ. 

2.  It is a reminder that trials also bring about clarity of loyalty and unity.

Trials uncover the “Ahithophels” (David’s counselor who turned against him) but also the “Ittai the Gittite” (the foreigner who stood by David).

And they remind us of our greatest friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we owe the greatest loyalty above all:

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

3.  We can learn from David’s resignation to the will of God (vv. 25-26).

Can we say, as David did:  “behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good to him”?  That is a statement of faith.  Can we say that in the sick room, in time of crisis and conflict, in the heat of battle, on the cusp of failure or victory?

4.  But we also learn that resignation to God’s will does not mean retreating into passivity.

David’s resignation to God’s will did not mean that he gave up working, for he knew that the Lord uses means.

Dale Ralph Davis observes that David’s activity was “not a bit inconsistent” with his words in vv. 25-26.  He continues:

It only demonstrates that complete submission to God’s sovereignty still permits you to use your head, to work actively. But without the idolatry.  You do it without the feverish anxiety of having to play God.  It may sound strange, but people who hold the faith of verses 25-26 find liberty and relief and energy in it, especially in the darkest hours.  There are people who know what I mean (2 Samuel:  Out of Every Adversity, p. 159).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

2015 John Albert Broadus Religion Award at PVCC

PVCC held its annual Academic Awards and Leadership Convocation back on Thursday, April 16, 2015.  Last year I helped establish the John Albert Broadus Award in Religion as one of the honors presented at the convocation.  This year I was able to present the second annual award to one of my students, Samuel L. Amos, III. Just last week I ran into last year's winner who is now pursuing a Religion major at the University of Virginia. 

It has been both a blessing and challenge to teach within a diverse, secular academic institution. Here's the video of the entire convocation with the Religion award at about the 21:57 mark:

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Nepal Update: From Pastor Samuel Rai (5.5.15)

Note:  Here is another update (along with the images above) on the relief work of Pastor Samuel Rai in Nepal, which was sent out by Pastor Boon Sing Poh of Malaysia:

Two teams were sent out on 27 April to assess the damage in the villages in western Nepal. One went to Dhading, the other to Gorkha, located close to the epicentre of the earthquake which struck on 25 April 2015.

Barpak at Gorkha
The team that went to the Gorkha district included Pr Chhetra Baramu, Deacon Yanja Lama, and Pr Tul Man Gurung. Of the 1600 houses there, 1400 have been destroyed. The way up to the village is dangerous as there have been landslides, causing huge parts of the hills to collapse. The way is blocked, the forest destroyed, and even the wildlife is affected. Barpak lies between two rivers. The electric powerhouse is damaged, cutting off electricity supply to the village. Seventy people are confirmed dead, while hundreds are injured. The people are still searching in the ruins for dead bodies, amidst the constant tremors a week after the earthquake.

In Mandre Dhunga, located at the centre of Barpak, 3 believers died - one a Sunday School teacher, the others children. In the village of Cotgaun, nothing remains except for ruins. The earth is cracked open in many places, preventing the surviving people from going to other villages. It is difficult to extend aid to them as well. The earthquake has not abated, with tremors occurring very two hours. On 2 May, 30 people died as a result of landslide. 

Ree VDC at Dhading
Two of our pastors was despatched to this predominantly Christian village. They learned that 80 people died, while 666 were injured. Of the dead, 77 were Christians. The devastation included: 1200 houses, 28 of the 29 churches, 5 schools, 2 high schools, and 2 health posts (clinics). The injured have not been receiving proper treatment, while the people all stay in tents. 

In the village of Tawal, 140 houses belonging to Christians were destroyed. The dead include 17 Christians, two of whom were children. Similar devastation occurred in villages nearby, including Richet. The villages most affected have not been reached by rescue teams - including Tipling, Lawa, Sertung and Jharlang. The roads in the Dhading district are mostly damaged by heavy rain or blocked by the landslides, thus hindering relief effort.

The monsoon season is starting, with heavy rain already pouring down, making the situation worse. The stench of rotting dead bodies is strong because of the combined effects of the sun and the rain. The survivors find it difficult to sleep out at night when it rains. There is the fear that an epidemic of diseases might be triggered off by the presence of dead bodies, the carcasses of hundreds of cattle, and the poor sanitation. A family of 10 members have to sleep under one tent and are forced by the circumstances to eat whatever edible things they can find.  

We are planning to supply as many tents as we able. The priority things needed are medicine and sanitary items, followed by food and blankets. We are in the process of packaging the items. Soon, we will be dispatching three teams to deliver the supplies. We are also planning for long-term relief, including rebuilding the church buildings, the Bible School in Richet, the water supply for the villages, and setting up clinics.

Pr. Samuel Rai, Canaan Baptist Church, Pokhara.

You can donate to help Pastor Rai in his relief work here.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

WM # 36: The Ending of Mark, Cessationism, and Apologetics

I recorded yesterday (5.1.15) Word Magazine # 36 and just uploaded it to today. The topic:  The Ending of Mark, Cessationism, and Apologetics.

WM 36 has three sections:

Part one:  A review of the May 19, 2015 “Fighting for the Faith” Podcast in which Chris Rosebrough critiques the non-cessationist position of Angela Grenig on the basis of her usage of Mark 16:17-18.  Simply put, he opposes a wrong teaching (non-cessationism) using a bad hermeneutic (denying the authority of Mark 16:9-20).  A proper hermeneutical approach to Mark 16:9-20, in fact, affirms cessationism. Grenig's bad hermeneutical approach, not bad text criticism, leads to her wrong interpretation! 

Part two:  A review of Nicholas P. Lunn’s nine doubts against the modern idea that Mark was originally intended to end at Mark 16:8 from his excellent new book:  The Original Ending of Mark:  A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Pickwick, 2014).  Here are the nine doubts (from pp. 6-18):

1.  Early Christian kerygma
2.  Early Christian creedal formulations
3.  The shape of the other canonical Gospels
4.  Resurrection predictions in Mark
5.  The acceptability of the final clause
6.  The contrast with the beginning
7.  Lack of historical interpretation
8.  Lack of anti-Christian polemic
9.  The objections of modern scholarship

Part Three:  I played part of a Muslim apologetic video which presents a portion of a 2006 debate between James White and Shabir Ally, pointing out that Muslims are glad to see evangelical Christians denying the traditional ending of Mark and using this as evidence to downgrade the authority of the Bible and to deny the resurrection of Jesus.  Here’s the video (from which I played the first few minutes):

Friday, May 01, 2015

Nepal Update (May 1, 2015)

Here is an update on the ministry of brethren in Nepal that came today from Pastor Boon Sing Poh:

Dear Brethren & Friends,

Pr. Samuel Rai has sent out four teams - each consisting of five to nine people - to various areas needing help. Tents, blankets, food etc. are being distributed. One team led by Pr. Mitra Rai is still in Dhading, where 300 people died. Adding to the problem is that landslide has swept away and buried many houses. At around the epicentre of the earthquake, some 16 to 18 churches have been destroyed. 

Pr Timothy and his family have moved from Kathmandu to Pokhara, to stay with Samuel Rai. Timothy was the person who translated for me in the seminar held in Pokhara during our visit to Nepal last February. His house and church building in Kathmandu were destroyed by the earthquake. Thankfully, no one was injured.

A team of three persons are on the way to the Indian border by chartered lorry to buy things needed for relief work. Basic things in Pokhara have run out or are expensive. In cooperation with some other churches, Samuel Rai and church members are ministering to the earthquake victims, including Hindus and Buddhists. From emergency help, they are moving into short-term relief and planning for long-term relief. 

Tele-communications has barely been restored. Telephone conversations and internet access last a couple of minutes each time. Even money transferred to bank accounts do not get through immediately. In the brief conversation by phone this morning, Samuel Rai was relieved to know the sum we have sent so that he knows how much he can spend. We will send in the collection of the Nepal Earthquake Fund as it accrues. For information on contribution to NEF, please go to

Let's continue to pray for Nepal.