Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Eusebius, EH.4.3-4: Quadratus's Apology to Hadrian



Another episode is posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 4, chapters 3-4. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

These chapters mark the transition from the reign of the emperor Trajan to that of Aelius Hadrian (AD 76-138; emperor AD 117-138).

In chapter 3 mention is made of the apologist Quadratus’s defense (apologia) for the Christians presented to Hadrian. Quadratus was introduced in EH 3.37. Other tradition say he was bishop of Athens, a martyr, and among the first Christian apologists. Eusebius claims to have a copy of the apology and testifies that it gives proof of “his intellect and apostolic orthodoxy.” He cites a portion from Quadratus in which he mentions those who were cured and raised (resuscitated) from the dead by Christ and who remained alive up to his own times (cf. Matt 27:52-53?).

Mention is also made of an apology by another apologist Aristides, “a man of faith and devoted to our religion.” Other traditions say he was a philosopher of Athens.

Chapter 4 continues to chronicle the Christian leaders in Rome and Alexandria. In Rome Alexander was succeeded by Xystus, and in Alexandria, Justus succeeded Primus.

Conclusion:

The mention of the activity of the early apologists calls attention to the fact that early Christianity was an intellectual and literary movement and that it presumed to have influence in the highest levels of Roman society (evidenced by the fact that they made direct appeals to the emperor) in the faced of persecution.

JTR

Monday, September 16, 2019

Eusebius, EH.4.1-2: Christians and Jews in the Time of Trajan



Image: Ruins of ancient Alexandria, Egypt.

Another episode has been posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 4, chapters 1-2. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

The opening chapters of book 4 outline events during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan (53-117; emperor, 98-117).

Chapter one covers the succession of bishops in Alexandria, where Primus became bishop, and Rome, where Alexander succeeded Evarestus.

Again, we see the significance of Christians in these major city centers and a concern to trace succession from the apostles.

Chapter two describes various woes suffered by the Jews during this time.

A Jewish revolt in Alexandria and throughout Egypt is described which took place in the 18th year of Trajan’s reign (c. AD 115), and while Lupus was governor of Egypt.

The Jewish leader was named Lucuas. After some initial Jewish victories, the Roman Emperor sent Marcius Turbo to Egypt to put down the rebellion, and he killed many Jews. The Emperor also ordered Lusius Quietus to “clean” the Jews out of Mesopotamia for fear they would join the revolt, and for this he was rewarded by being named governor of Judea.

Eusebius notes that these events are recorded by the Greek historians. K. Lake notes this information is found in the writings of Dio Cassius, but that he gives the Jewish leader’s name as Andreas, rather than Lucuas.

Conclusion:

These chapters show the stabilization and growth of the Christian movement and the travails of the Jews in their homeland and in Egypt under Roman rule in the early second century. He presents Christianity as rising and Judaism as fading. The opening sentence of chapter 2 well captures this: “While the teaching of our Saviour and the church were flourishing daily and moving on to further progress the tragedy of the Jews was reaching the climax of successive woes.”

JTR

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Vision (9.13.19): But he lied unto him



Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 13.

He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him (1 Kings 13:18).

1 Kings 13 provides one of the most unusual narratives found in the Old Testament. A prophet described as “a man of God out of Judah” (v. 1) confronted the false worship promoted by King Jeroboam. As he returned home, however, this same prophet was deceived by “an old prophet in Bethel” who convinced him to disobey God’s explicit instructions to him and to turn aside for a meal.

In order to mislead the man of God the old prophet of Bethel claimed to have been visited by an angel (v. 18a). The inspired historian then adds: “But he lied unto him” (v. 18b).

We should stop and reflect on this:

First, this episode reveals the precarious nature of relying on supposed experience alone. It reminds us of the superiority of our present situation as New Covenant believers now that we have the complete Word of God written, by which to test all things.

Second, it reminds us that men can lie about their experiences and can claim false experiences in order to manipulate others.

Third, it reminds us of the importance of what we might call the “non-contradictory” principle of God’s Word. The man of God of Judah failed in that he believed that God’s Word to him had been changed or was contradicted by some “new” revelation.
The apostle Paul exhorted the churches of Galatia: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:18). In warning the Corinthians to beware “false apostles” Paul told that them that Satan can transform himself into “an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:13-14).

Beware the man who says, “God told me….” Test everything, as did the Bereans, by the Word of God (Acts 17:11).

As the apostle John exhorted, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

May the Lord give us wisdom and discernment.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.39: Papias of Hierapolis



Image: Colonnade in the ruins of ancient Hierapolis ("holy city") near the modern town of Pamukkale in western Turkey.

A new episode is posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapter 39. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

The focus in this chapter is on the writing of Papias of Hierapolis (c. AD 60-130).
Eusebius says that Papias was the author of five treatises under the title, “Interpretation of the Oracles of the Lord.” This work is no longer extant except in quotations from Eusebius and Irenaeus.

He notes that Irenaeus described Papias as “the hearer of John, who was a companion of Polycarp and one of the ancients.”

Eusebius notes, however, that Papias himself did not say he was “a hearer and eyewitness of the sacred apostles” but that he had learned from those who knew them.

He cites a passage in which Papias says he was diligent in learning from the followers of the apostles and other disciples of Jesus, mentioning Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, and Matthew, but also Aristion and the presbyter (elder) John.

He quotes a controversial statement of Papias in which he says he did not consider that he would profit so much “from books” as from “the word of a living and surviving voice.”

Eusebius also notes the mention of two Johns by Papias: John the Apostle and John the Elder, suggesting the possibility that the latter, John the Elder, was the author of Revelation.

He relays other traditions, including one related to the daughters of Philip the Apostle (Confusion with Philip the Evangelist?) at Hierapolis and the raising of a corpse, as well as an account of a tradition of Justus Barsabas drinking poison but suffering no harm (cf. Mark 16:18).

He also notes “unwritten tradition” conveyed by Papias that included “some strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some more mythical accounts.”

Among these accounts he mentions the teaching of a millennial kingdom. Eusebius accuses Papias of misreading mystical and symbolic accounts of the apostles, since he was a man “of very little intelligence.” Yet, he influenced others to hold such views, including Irenaeus.

He also records Papias’s description of the evangelist Mark as “Peter’s interpreter” who recorded the apostle’s remembrances accurately but not “in order.”

Of Matthew, Papias says, the evangelist “collected the oracles in the Hebrew language [dialect], and each interpreted as best he could.” This has led to questions about whether Matthew’s Gospel was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

He adds that Papias cited from 1 John and 1 Peter.

Finally, he refers to a story of a woman “accused before the Lord of many sins” recorded in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. It has been speculated that this refers to the pericope adulterae (John 7:53—8:11) and lends credence to this as a popular Jesus tradition “floating” about in early Christianity, but this is not substantiated.

Conclusion:

Eusebius recognizes Papias as an important early historical source but also raises questions about his reliability, especially with regard to his millennial views.

JTR

Friday, September 06, 2019

The Vision (9.6.19): Jeroboam and the Regulative Principle of Worship



Image: Remains of the ancient city gate at Dan in Northern Israel.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 12.

And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan (1 Kings 12:30).

In Reformed theology the Regulative Principle of Worship (or RP) refers to the idea that worship should be regulated by Scripture. That is, we should not introduce any element into our worship unless we can find direct command or warrant for it in Scripture.

1 Kings 12 provides a vivid example of the violation of the RP in ancient Israel.

At that time, the Lord had decreed that he would be worshipped in one central place, the temple in Jerusalem. The building of this temple had been one of Solomon’s greatest achievements and reflected the triumph of the RP. But when the ten Northern tribes of Israel under Jeroboam broke away from Judah and Benjamin under Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam, all this was undone.
 Rehoboam’s took a series of ungodly actions driven by political motivation and lack of trust in God (cf. 1 Kings 12:26-27):
First, he set up a false place and object of worship: the golden calves at Dan and Bethel (vv. 28-30). This violated the second commandment by making graven images. It violated Deuteronomy in abandoning the temple in Jerusalem as the true place of worship. Notice v. 30a: “And this thing became a sin.” Worship can be sinful if it is not worship that is done in obedience to the command of God.
Second, he set up false priests (v. 31). He put men into the priesthood who were not Biblically qualified, because they were not sons of Levi.
Third, he set up a man-made holy day (vv. 32-33). He created his own feast, a pseudo holiday made in imitation of true feasts that had been ordained by God. This holy day was one “he had devised in his own heart” (v. 33).
This spiritual degeneracy and compromise eventually led to the undoing of this North Kingdom of Israel, though it would take many years to be played out.
We are left to ponder:
Have we set up false objects of worship?
Have we been driven by pragmatism, convenience, and personal preference in worship, rather than obedience?
Have we compromised on Biblical standards for church officers?
Have we created worship practices or “holy days” that we have devised in our own hearts?
May the Lord direct us to purify our worship and to regulate it according to his Word.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.37-38: Quadratus, Hebrews, and Clement



A new episode has been posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapters 37-38. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

Eusebius here continues to describe the expansion of the Christian movement after the time of the apostles.

He begins with reference to one named Quadratus who was said to have prophetic powers like the daughters of Philip, but emphasizes that there were a large number of unnamed men who “built in every place upon the foundations of the churches laid by the Apostles.”

He notes that it would be impossible to describe exhaustively all “the shepherds or evangelists in the churches throughout the world,” noting, though, that it is natural to take notice of those who left behind useful writings.

Here he notes again the letters of Ignatius of Antioch as well as the first epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians.

Eusebius adds some interesting views on Hebrews here, noting that Clement made use of parallel thoughts from Hebrews and made quotations from it.

This, he suggests, proves the antiquity of Hebrews. He suggests that Paul originally wrote Hebrews in the native language of the Jews and that it was translated by either Luke or Clement.

He also refers to 2 Clement but sees it as spurious, and he likewise rejects the authenticity of other writings attributed to Clement, like a supposed dialogue between Peter and Apion. These pseudo-Clementine works are rejected, because they are not mentioned ‘by the ancient writers nor do they preserve the pure type of apostolic orthodoxy.”

Conclusion:

This analysis is interesting in noting the distinction between canonical, apostolic works (including Hebrews as in the Pauline tradition, even if translated by someone else) and non-canonical, post-apostolic works (like the authentic writings of Clement).

These chapters are also interesting in drawing a distinction between the age of the apostles and the age that followed, in which, Eusebius seems to indicate, the exercise of extra-ordinary gifts were diminishing.

JTR

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

WM 131: Interview: David Larlham, Trinitarian Bible Society



Image; David Larlham (right) speaks with a brother following the evening service at the Lynchburg RB Mission (9.1.19).

Sunday afternoon (9/1/19) I sat down and recorded an interview with David Larlham, who served for 20 years as the Assistant General Secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society in London. David and his wife Monica are vacationing in the US and joined us for Lord's Day worship at CRBC.

I have posted our conversation as WM 131: Interview: David Larlham, Trinitarian Bible Society. Listen here. The conversation covers David's testimony to faith in Christ, his career path, and the ministry of the TBS.

JTR

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Ned B. Stonehouse on the Authorship and Anonymity of the Canonical Gospels



Image: Ned B. Stonehouse (1902-1962).

An interesting point is made by Ned B. Stonehouse in the opening of chapter two (“The Self-Witness of Matthew”) in his Origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Tyndale Press, 1963) relating to the self-disclosure of the canonical Gospel authors (19 ff).

He notes that the canonical Gospels are technically “anonymous writings” in that the authors never directly self-identify. In this regard he makes a distinction between Matthew and Mark, on one hand, and Luke and John on the other, with the latter at least including some “features of self-disclosure” (cf. Luke’s historical prologue, Luke 1:1-4, the “we passages” in Acts, and passages in John like John 13:23 ff; 19:26 ff, 35; 20:2 ff).

He contrasts this with the apocryphal Gospel of Peter which includes this statement, “But I, Simon Peter, and Andrew my brother, took our nets and went out into the sea….” One does not find Matthew or the other Gospel writers speaking in the first person about themselves quite like this. The sense is that the canonical Gospel authors did not feel compelled to “prove” or “show” that they were eyewitnesses (at least in the case of Matthew and John), in the way that the pseudonymous author of the Gospel of Peter did, and this, in fact, subtly supports the traditional view of their authorship.

JTR

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Vision (8.30.19): His heart was not perfect with the LORD his God



Image: Swan Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, August 2018

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 11.

For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father (1 Kings 11:4).

This might called be the theme verse of 1 Kings 11. It begins, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old….” Solomon did not finish well. Young Christians sometimes might think, I can’t wait till I’m older, because then I won’t have to deal with all the temptations I face as a young person. But Solomon’s story tells us that sometimes the greatest dangers come when we are older. We can become lax in our watchfulness, our zeal for Christ can cool, our spiritual intensity diminish. I sometimes say that I am hesitant to recommend the teaching or writing of any living Christian teacher, lest he later prove a disappointment. Sometimes it is better to read and admire only dead people, because then you at least know the outcomes of their lives.

The historian repeats that Solomon’s wives “turned away his heart after other gods” (cf. v. 3). One might ask about Solomon’s agency here. He could not, in fact, use “the women made me do it” defense. They turned his heart, but his heart was prone to turning. The point is that he placed himself in a spiritually vulnerable situation which began with violation of Scripture by taking these pagan wives (v. 2).

We get the spiritual diagnosis of Solomon in v. 4b: “and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God.” Even as a saved man, Solomon had remaining corruption. Our ear might also perk up at the comparison to David. We know David’s faults, and they were great. But so was his repentance, especially as seen in Psalm 51. Thus, he was “a man after God’s own heart.” We have no Psalm 51, however, in Solomon’s writings.

This text is here for our “learning” (Rom 15:4). We are reminded that we are prone to sin just as Solomon was. Solomon broke both the first and second tables of the law (idolatry and adultery). We too sin against both God and against man. We have our own besetting sins, things that will turn our hearts away from the Lord. Like the church at Ephesus we are prone to leave our first love (Rev 2:4). What are we cleaving to in love, rather than cleaving to Christ?

There are warnings here. We are to finish well. It is not enough merely to make a good start. The man who starts out fast from the blocks and leads the pack may stumble coming down the final stretch and lose it all.

No, our hearts are not perfect with the Lord our God, but Christ’s is. He is our hope.

Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dale Ralph Davis in defense of the "predictive element" in OT prophecy



OT scholars steeped in the modern historical-critical method are fond of saying of the prophets that they should be understood as “forthtellers," rather than “fore-tellers.” Though it is true that prophets bring “forth” God’s Word, it also appears that such scholars desire to downplay the ability of the prophet to predict or describe future events. So, when Isaiah mentions the future Persian ruler Cyrus in Isaiah 45:1, the modern scholar is more likely to suggest this as an ex eventu device reflecting compositional authorship of Isaiah than to say that Isaiah “fore-told” the rise of Cyrus. To suggest that Isaiah actually prophesied the suffering of Christ in Isaiah 53 would, of course, be rejected out of hand.

I mention all this is to say that I was struck by a footnote I read last week in Dale Ralph Davis’s 1 Kings: The Wisdom and the Folly (Christian Focus, 2002), while preparing to preach on 1 Kings 11. In his discussion of the prophet Ahijah’s encounter with Jeroboam and his pronouncement of the Lord’s declaration that he would take ten tribes from the house of David and give them to Jeroboam, leaving only one tribe to David’s house (1 Kings 11:29-32).

Davis writes (p. 119, f.n. 13):

One often hears the predictive element of biblical prophecy played down. Introductory lectures on the prophets often stress that the biblical prophets were primarily forthtellers rather than foretellers, perhaps due to a paranoia of encouraging eschatological kooks. But the kooks will always be with us, so why justify distorting the character of prophecy by our panic? Biblical prophecy is primarily not tangentially predictive. Anyone who doesn’t think so should spend an afternoon with Isaiah 40-48.

Davis is one of my favorite modern commentators on the OT historical narrative. His commentaries on Joshua-2 Kings from Christian Focus are great resources for preaching.

I appreciate Davis’s comments on the modern playing down of the “predictive element” of the prophets. I’m not sure the motivation is to avoid encouraging “eschatological kooks” but, more generally, to avoid supernatural interpretations for naturalistic one.

JTR

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.36: Ignatius of Antioch, Letters and Martyrdom



Image: Russian icon, tempera on board, c. 17th century, depicting the martyrdom of Ignatius of Antioch

A new episode is posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapter 36. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

This chapter makes reference to some of the so-called Apostolic Fathers, the first generation of church leaders after the time of the apostles.

He first mentions Polycarp of Smyrna, appointed “by the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Lord.”

Next, he mentions Papias of Hierapolis.

And finally, he notes Ignatius of Antioch, the second after Peter to serve as bishop of Antioch.

He recalls the account of Ignatius’s martyrdom in Rome and the seven letters he wrote from Smyrna and Troas, as he made his pilgrimage.

Eusebius notes Ignatius’s zeal for martyrdom and his refutation of heresy, like Docetism (the rejection of the true humanity of Jesus).

Irenaeus also describes Ignatius’s martyrdom and Polycarp calls attention to it in his epistle to the Philippians.

Finally, he notes that Heros succeeded Ignatius as bishop of Antioch.

This chapter thus focuses on post-apostolic leadership from men like Polycarp, Papias, and Ingatius, and of the glory of an early martyr, Ignatius of Antioch.

JTR

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

How many tribes were left to the house of David (1 Kings 11:13, 29-32)?



Image: Matthew Poole (1624-1679)

I was preaching Sunday on 1 Kings 11 and was puzzled, as have others, by the Lord’s pronouncement upon Solomon’s sin: “Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom, but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen" (v. 13).

This is repeated in the prophet Ahijah’s tearing of Jeroboam’s garment and telling him to take ten pieces (vv. 29-31), while adding, “(But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) (v. 32).

There are two problems here:

One is simple math. If there are 12 tribes and Jeroboam takes 10 and 1 is left to the house of David that only makes 11 tribes. Where is the other tribe?

Another is the fact that two tribes seem to have composed the Southern Kingdom of Judah: Judah and Benjamin (cf., e.g., 2 Chron 11:12). Why then does it say that only one tribe is given to David’s house?

My first thought was that the tribe that was “left out” of the Ahijah’s count was the priestly tribe of Levi, scattered among the other tribes. This still, however, would not explain why just one tribe is designated to the Southern Kingdom, if it was, in fact, comprised of two tribes (Judah and Benjamin).

The ancient Jews and Christians who received these texts as infallible Scripture certainly did not see any contradiction here.

As is usually helpful in the face of such questions, I turned to Matthew Poole’s commentary where he offered the following possible solutions:

Either:

One: Benjamin is “swallowed up” in Judah and the one tribe refers to both Judah and Benjamin combined as one; or

Two: The one tribe left to David’s house refers to Benjamin, in addition to Judah, which would naturally have stood with the house of David; or

Three: The one tribe refers only to Judah, because Benjamin would not always prove faithful; or

Four: As Henry puts it: “Or if God promised to give one, and gave him two, I suppose that was no great injury to him.”

JTR

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.32-35: Martyrdom of Simeon of Jerusalem & Pliny the Younger's Epistle



Image: Bust of the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 53-117), Vatican Museum, Rome

A new episode is posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapters 32-35. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

With chapter 32 Eusebius resumes the narrative of early persecution and martyrdom of Christians, now under the emperor Trajan.

Citing again Hegessipus he cites the martyrdom of Simeon of Cleopas, the second bishop of Jerusalem, after James, and a relative of Jesus.

Simeon is said to have been accused by Jewish Christian heretics, who were than also put to death. After being tortured Simeon is said to have died by crucifixion at the ripe old age of 120. Eusebius speculates that given his advanced age, Simeon was likely “one of the eyewitnesses and actual hearers of the Lord.”

Reference is also made to the earlier cited influence of the grandsons of Judas, the brother of Jesus, in the early church.

Eusebius says that during the time of the apostles, the church remained a “pure and uncorrupted virgin.” Only after the death of the apostles did heresy arise. He seems to be referring to the rise of Gnosticism when he cites 1 Timothy 6:10’s reference to “knowledge falsely so-called.”

In chapter 33, Eusebius makes reference to the famed letter of Pliny the Younger (Plinius Secundus) to the emperor Trajan about his dealings with Christians. Pliny reported that Christians sang hymns to Christ as to God and that they lived morally exemplary lives. Eusebius says that Pliny’s communication led to a softening of anti-Christian persecution at that time. He also cites Tertullian’s reference to Pliny.

Chapter 34 briefly notes that Clement was succeeded by Evarestos in Rome.

Chapter 35 says that after the martyrdom of Simeon, a Jewish Christian named Justus became bishop of Jerusalem. He says there were thousands of Jewish Christians at this time.

These final chapter show the ongoing importance of key Christian cities like Rome and Jerusalem and the succession of their bishops.

JTR

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Vision (8.23.19): He will not forget your work




Note: Devotion taken from 7.28.19 sermon from 1689 Confession 16:6.

Hebrews 6:10: For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

London Baptist Confession 16:6: Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

The picture that comes to mind here is of a parent who has very young children, and the children take a crayon, and they scribble some works of “art”, and they come and present it, with real sincerity to the parents. And it’s just a scribble. It is filled with weaknesses and imperfections. It is not “gallery ready.” But it is deeply pleasing to the parents, who put it on the refrigerator, or they might even frame it and put on their walls. “This is what my beloved child did for me!”

So, our good works, though they are but filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6), are accepted by God in Christ.

The key prooftext for this paragraph is Hebrews 6:10, in which the inspired author says that God will not forget your work and labor of love in his name, your ministry to the saints.

It may seem like no one else remembers, no one else notices, no one else acknowledges, but God does. And who are we really serving anyhow?

The first time I ever preached from this verse was when we had returned from two years of missionary service in Hungary in a missionary debriefing conference with our fellow returned missionaries.

A large group of young people in their twenties had gone out to places around the world two years before. Some came back exhilarated, others exhausted and disappointed. Some openly wondered whether they had been able to accomplish anything. Some came back to families and friends who didn’t understand why they had even gone in the first place. Two did not come back. They had died while on the field. One was killed in an act of terrorism in China, and one had died of natural causes in rural Africa. Several had come back with life altering diseases, including some who came back from Kazakhstan with hepatitis.

And all for what? We must remember that God is not unrighteous. He will not forget our work and labor of love showed toward his name when we have ministered to the saints and continue to minister. He accepts our good works in Christ, despite their many weaknesses and imperfections.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

WM 130: Review: Peter J. Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels?



I have posted Word Magazine 130: Review: Can We Trust the Gospels? Listen here.

In this episode I offer a book report/review of Peter J. Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels? (Crossway, 2018).

JTR

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Vision (8.16.19): And all the earth sought to Solomon



Image: Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, fresco in the series "The History of the True Cross," by Piero Della Francesca (c. 1415-1492), in the Basilica of San Franceso, Arezzo, Italy.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 10.

And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart (1 Kings 10:24).

After Solomon completed and dedicated the temple (1 Kings 5—9), the historian tells us that “all the earth sought to Solomon to hear his wisdom” (10:24). This included the Queen of Sheba who “heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD” and “came to prove him with hard questions” (10:1).

1 Kings 10 anticipates the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). It is part of a theme and a trajectory in Scripture arcing toward its ultimate fulfillment in Christ.

One might say this arc begins in Genesis 12 with the covenant promise made to Abraham: “and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (v. 3).

It continues in Rahab the harlot of Jericho (Joshua 6) and in Ruth the Moabitess, who said to her mother-in-law Naomi: “thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

It is there in the account of Elijah’s visit to the widow of Sidon (1 Kings 17) and in Elisha’s ministry to Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5).

It is there in the book of Jonah, when Jonah is sent to prophesy to the pagan city of Ninevah, upon whom the Lord had compassion (Jonah 4:11).

It is there when Isaiah prophesies of the Lord’s house being established on a mountain “and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isa 2:2).

It is there in Solomon’s Psalm 72 when he says, “all nations shall serve him” (v. 11).

It finds its culmination in Christ, who offered living water to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and who said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). By “all men” he meant “all kinds of men” or “men from all nations.”
Christ himself even made reference to the queen of Sheba in Matthew 12:42: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”
1 Kings 10 anticipates the fact all nations will be drawn to the wisdom of Christ.
The amazing thing, indeed, is not merely that the queen of Sheba was drawn to the wisdom of Solomon but that we have been drawn by God’s grace to the wisdom of Christ!
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle