Saturday, May 23, 2020

New WM Video resources on the PA added to Word Magazine channel

Last Tuesday (5.19.20) I was in a debate with Stephen Boyce on the PA. This brought to mind the two WM podcasts I did in 2014 (hard to believe it was that long ago!) reviewing a sermon by evangelical pastor John Piper in which he makes some of the same arguments as Boyce on the PA, especially in suggesting that the PA is a  "true" story that is not in the Bible.

In these podcasts I point out some of the problems I see with this rejection of the authenticity of the the Pericope Adulterae (PA), John 7:53-8:11.


I have added video versions of WM 31 and WM 32 to the Word Magazine channel:







JTR


Friday, May 22, 2020

The Vision (5.22.20): Set thine house in order



Image: Rhododendron, North Garden, Virginia, May 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 20.

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live (2 Kings 20:1).

Notice the ominous beginning: “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death” (v. 1a). We are told later that he had a boil (v. 7). An abscess or infection could, no doubt, be lethal in those days.

There is a sense, however, in which all of us have a sickness unto death. The old saying is that there are only two things certain in life, death and taxes. The mortality rate for healing evangelists is 100%. The great faith healer Oral Roberts, the “godfather of the charismatic movement” died on December 15, 2009. The apostle Paul said, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27).

The Lord’s minister, the prophet Isaiah, came to the king and said to him, “Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live” (v. 1b). This was God’s word, and it is always fulfilled. Many have their lives taken swiftly from them. They leave the house one day and never return. There is an accident or the heart fails and their deaths come unexpectedly. I remember years ago a minister acquaintance then the “ancient” age, from my 30 something perspective, of 52 years of age, thin as a rail and seemingly healthy as a horse, went out for a run on Sunday morning before church and died of a massive heart attack. Others have time to anticipate that which is to come. I remember my father being told by the cancer doctor he had four months to live and, sure enough, nearly four months to the day he passed from this life to the next. It is interesting to ponder which way we’d prefer, but we have no say in the matter. Isaiah’s word came not from doctors, who are not always right (as they had happened to be in the case of my father), but from the LORD.

Whatever prospects we face in life and the circumstances, God’s word to Hezekiah could well be his word to us: “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” This is what God is saying through his word today to each one of us today.

What is out of order? What needs to be corrected? What needs to be removed? What needs to be added? What must happen for you to set your house in order?
Then, having set our house in order, let us live, without worry of death, for Christ, the one who had a truly “perfect heart” (cf. 2 Kings 20:3), who lived a sinless life for us, who died on the cross for sinners, and who was raised for our justification.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.26-29: The "unmasking" of Paul of Samosata


Image: Paul de Samosata predikt voor de vroeg-christelijke gemeenschap (Paul of Samosata preaches for the early Christian community), etching by Jan Luyken (1700), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryHere is Book 7, chapter 26-29. Listen here:


Notes and Commentary:

These chapters describe the transitions of various bishops in the city centers of early Christianity, as one bishop was succeeded by another. It describes,in particular, the conclusion of Dionysius of Alexandria’s long and effective ministry. It also describes disputers over and the “unmasking” of Paul of Samosata at Antioch on the charges he held Jesus to be merely human and not divine.

Chapter 26 describes the conclusion of Dionysius of Alexandria’s ministry, including several anti-Sabellian letters sent to various bishops, including four to his namesake Dionysius of Rome.

He also wrote a treatise in letter form to Timothy “his boy” (son? servant?) on Nature, another on Temptations to Euphranor, an exposition on Ecclesiastes, and other works.

Chapter 27 turns to describe various transitions:

Xystus at Rome was succeeded by Dionysius of Rome.

Demetrian at Antioch was succeeded by Paul of Samosata, who held “low and mean views as to Christ.” A council was held to discuss Paul of Samosata’s belief, which the aged Dionysius of Alexandria could not attend but to which he wrote his opinion. Paul was confronted as “a spoiler of Christ’s flock.”

Chapter 28 describes those at this council, the best known of whom included Firmilian of Cappadocian Caesarea, Gregory and Athenadore of Pontus, Helenus of Tarsus, Nicomas of Iconium, Hymenaeus of Jerusalem, Theotecnus of Caesarea, and Maximus of Bostra.  Paul and his party tried to conceal his heterodox views, while the orthodox pushed to reveal them!

At that time Dionysius passed away after 17 years as bishop and was succeeded by Maximus in Alexandria.

In the Roman Empire, Gallienus was succeeded by Claudius, who then handed over the government to Aurelian.

Chapter 29 describes a final synod held in the reign of Aurelian in which Paul of Samosata was “unmasked,” condemned as heterodox, and excommunicated from the “catholic [universal] churches under heaven” (note the Greek has “churches” plural, not singular). His chief accuser was a man named Malchion, the head of a school of rhetoric and elder at Antioch. He had a dispute with Paul and stenographers took notes, which, Eusebius, says, could be read in his day.

Conclusion:

These chapters provide an account of the end of Dionysius’s ministry, as well as the “unmasking” or denunciation of Paul of Samosata (of Antioch) for his low Christology. It shows the early controversies over Christology that would later be addressed in the great ecumenical councils. As usual, Eusebius stresses the orderly transitions of the bishops, parallel to the transitions of the Roman emperors.

JTR

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

New Resources: New Audio on CJ Roundtable and PA Debate & New Video Version of WM 54 on CJ

I have posted some new audio material to sermonaudio.com from the two presentations I did yesterday on the text of the NT: (1) The audio of the CB Roundtable # 2: The Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7-8); (2) The audio of my debate with Stephen Boyce on the PA (John 7:53-8:11):





I have also posted a video version of WM 54 The Comma Johanneum and the Papyri (from 7.13.16):



JTR

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Debate on PA Coming (5.19.20)


God willing, I'm planning to take part this evening in an online debate with Stephen Boyce a staff "apologist" at City Light Church in Seattle on the "Talking Christianity" podcast at 9 pm EST (8 pm CST).

The topic: “Is the PA an authentic part of John's Gospel? The PA should be rejected on external, internal, and historical grounds."

The PA refers to the Pericope Adulterae or woman taken in adultery passage in John 7:53--8:11, one of two major textual issues in the NT (the other being the ending of Mark).

My opponent will be arguing that the PA is spurious and should be removed from our Bibles. I will be defending the PA as Scripture.

JTR


Monday, May 18, 2020

I Kid You Not: Pro-Textus Receptus Rap Song



"...Your Word is perfect and nothing is missing. This text is better than phones and message. I praise the Lord for the Textus Receptus....God has preserved his Word through the church..."

Enjoy! JTR

Saturday, May 16, 2020

CB Roundtable #1: John 1:18: "Only God" or "Only Begotten Son"?



Here's the video from the first Confessional Bibliology Roundtable (5.12.20).

You can also listen to the audio here:


Enjoy! JTR

Eusebius, EH.7.25: Dionysius on Revelation


Image: St. John Monastery on the Island of Patmos, Greece

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryHere is Book 7, chapter 25. Listen here. Or watch here:




Notes and Commentary:

This chapter conveys the observations of Dionysius of Alexandria on the book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse of John.

He notes that some in the past had rejected the book as “unintelligible and illogical.” They also said that it appeared under a false title, since it is neither an Apocalypse, which clearly reveals anything, nor is it by John the Apostle. He notes that some claimed it was written by the heretical teacher Cerinthus, since it taught the kingdom would be on earth (a literal millennium).

Dionysius, however, says the book is not to be rejected, but it cannot be understood on a literal sense. He confesses he has reached the conclusion that the book’s thoughts are “too high for his comprehension” but “I do not reject what I have not understood, but I rather wonder that I did not indeed see them.”

He also questions whether the John of the title is John the Apostle, since in the Gospel of John and the Johannine epistles, the apostle John never explicitly identifies himself as does the author of Revelation (see Rev 1:1, et al). Furthermore, the John of Revelation is never explicitly identified as John the Apostle (using terms like “the beloved disciple” or the “brother of James”). He points out that there were other early Christians named John like John Mark in Acts and that there were two tombs in Ephesus which were said to hold someone named John. He adds that the vocabulary and style of the Gospel and epistles of John are similar, and they have common themes (like “light,” “truth,” the command to “love one another”, etc.) which are not stressed in Revelation. Revelation is also written, according to Dionysius, in a less polished Greek style. He makes sure that he offers these observations not to denigrate the book, which he respects, but to point out its dissimilarity with the Gospel and epistles of John and to understand Revelation better.

Conclusion:

This chapter indicates how the book of Revelation continued to be one of the most debated and discussed books of the NT canon and how controversy surrounding it led to a slower process of its recognition and acceptance among early Christians. It is also interesting to see how Dionysius approached Revelation as a pre-critical interpreter, arguing that it not be interpreted literally but according to “a deeper meaning” which “underlies the words.” He also freely questions the authorship of the book, suggesting that it was not from the apostle John, and the quality of its literary style, but these considerations did not disqualify its acceptance and usefulness.

JTR

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Vision (5.15.20): Hezekiah's Model Prayer


 Image: Leatherleaf  Mahonia, Albemarle County, Virginia, May 2020.

Note: This devotion is taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 19.

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth (2 Kings 19:15).

2 Kings 19 describes a great season of distress in Judah, as they were surrounded by the Assyrians. Godly king Hezekiah declared, “This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy” (v. 3).

Having received a threatening letter from the Assyrians, Hezekiah went into the temple and “spread it before the LORD” (v. 14). He then offered a prayer (vv. 15-19), which we might well call Hezekiah’s model prayer. It was composed of three parts:

First, he acknowledged and praised God for who he is (v. 15).

The point: Authentic prayer begins with worship.

Some of you know the acronym for prayer ACTS (Adoration*Confession*Thanksgiving*Supplication), where the A stands for adoration. Hezekiah’s prayer does not precisely follow that acronym (prayer does not need to follow a cookie cutter form), but it does begin with A, adoration.

Think of when Christ taught his disciples to pray, and he told them to begin, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” Matt 6:9). His model prayer also began with adoration.

Hezekiah praised God as being the covenant God of Israel: “O LORD God of Israel.”

He praised the exaltedness of God and the sovereignty of God: “which dwellest between the cherubims.”

He acknowledged the reality of the one true God: “thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.”

He praised God as the Creator: “thou hast made heaven and earth.”

Second, he called upon the Lord to hear his prayer and to consider his situation (vv. 16-18):

Notice that Hezekiah called upon the Lord to bow down his ear and open his eyes (v. 16). Two things here need to be remembered:

First: The language is anthropomorphic. God does not have ears or eyes. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). This is language of accommodation to our needs.

Second: God is omniscient. He knows these things. But God is also pleased to have his children cry out to him, and to rehearse these things to him.

Third, he offered his supplication (request) (v. 19):

His request is a striking, straightforward plea for temporal salvation: “save thou us out of his hand.” And notice the reason is not to preserve Judah or Hezekiah, but to preserve the Lord’s own honor among the kingdoms of the earth: “that all the kingdoms of the earth many know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only” (v. 19b). The best reason for the Lord to hear and answer our prayers is not rooted in our merit but in God’s own glory.

Let us read and consider Hezekiah’s model prayer, as we also continue to learn how to pray.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Follow Up: Mark Ward's Rejoinder to My Review

One more follow up to my review of Mark Ward's Authorized: Yesterday (5.14.20) Mark Ward posted to his blog a rejoinder to my review titled "When Will the KJV Be Sufficiently Unintelligible to the 'Plow Boy' That Change Will Become Necessary?" He has also incorporated this rejoinder as an appendix to the audio version of the book.

IMHO, not much new ground is covered, so I'll let my review stand and readers can make their own judgments as to the ongoing usefulness and intelligibility of the classic translation of the Bible in English.

JTR

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Resource Recommendation: Bible League Quarterly


Image: Cover for current issue of the BLQ.

Here's a quick follow up to my post on my recent Authorized book review in the Bible League Quarterly (BLQ) and a recommendation for this publication.

Some might not know the BLQ. It is a publication of The Bible League Trust, a ministry in the UK, which, according to its website, "was instituted on May 3rd 1892, to promote the reverent study of the Holy Scriptures and to resist the varied attacks upon their inspiration, infallibility and sole sufficiency as the Word of God." Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi is currently on the council that directs the ministry.

The BLQ appears in a quarterly print version. It is ably edited by Pastor John Thackway and consistently presents encouraging devotional articles, book reviews, and notices. A number of articles are available to view and explore online at the BLQ web page.

Those of us in the US (and in other places in the world) who have become part of the "Confessional Bibliology" movement will find the BLQ to be a hidden gem. If you are a pastor or teacher, it will also provide a great resource for information, anecdotes, and illustrations.

You can get an annual subscription to the print edition for just 8 pounds in the UK (c. $13 to mail to USA), or it is just 5 pounds to get an annual online subscription which not only allows you to read the current edition but also to access the complete archive of past editions. Scroll down on the right side of the BLQ webpage for subscription info.

JTR

Book Review posted: Mark Ward, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible

My book review of Mark Ward's Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible appeared in the Bible League Quarterly, No. 479 (October-December, 2019): 28-31.

You can read a pdf of the review here on my academia.edu page.

You can listen to an audio version of the review here on sermonaudio.com:


Or a video version on the Word Magazine channel on youtube.com, where I have now set up a "Book Reviews" playlist to which I hope to begin adding past and future book reviews:




JTR

Monday, May 11, 2020

Confessional Bibliology Roundtable Coming: May 12, 19, 26, 2020


I'm looking forward to talking part in Episode 1 of 3 in the Confessional Bibliology Roundtable beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 4 pm EST with Chris Thomas (moderator), Pastor Christian McShaffrey (Five Solas OPC, Reedsburg, Wisconsin) and Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi (Providence Baptist Chapel, Cheltenham, England).

We plan to meet for three consecutive Tuesdays at 4 pm EST via Zoom (live-streamed on the Confessional Bibliology Facebook group). You can find out how to join the conversation here.

In each session a different speaker will give a presentation on an issue related to the text of Scripture and theology/ministry, which we will then discuss. The sessions will also be recorded and posted online.

Here is the upcoming schedule

Episode 1: May 12, 2020: Topic: John 1:18 (Presenter: Christian McShaffrey)

Episode 2: May 19, 2020: Topic: 1 John 5:7-8 (Presenter: Jeff Riddle)

Episode 3: May 26, 2020: Topic: Text and Apologetics/Evangelism (Presenter: Pooyan Mehrshahi)

JTR

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Hilarion Alfeyev on Q: It simply never existed



I returned this week to my reading of Hilarion Alfeyev’s Jesus Christ: His Life and Teaching (SVS Press, 2018) and was struck by his evaluation of the so-called Q hypothesis:

“What happened to Q? Why did it disappear?”…. We must answer directly: nothing happened to it; it has not disappeared—it simply never existed. There never was a “discovery” of Q. There have only been more or less clumsy attempts to invent it on the basis of the fragments remaining after the deconstruction of the Gospel text. It is plausible that the evangelists used some sources; it cannot be excluded that the collections of the sayings of Jesus existed not only in an oral, but also in written tradition; but in the form in which the Q source has been “reconstructed,” “discovered,” and “excavated” throughout the twentieth century, it is a typical scholarly myth raised to the status of dogma (80-81).

He later adds:

The pressing task of contemporary biblical studies is to be librerated from these types of myths and dogmas (81).

Such skepticism of “the assured results of modern scholarship” should not perhaps come as a surprise from one who comes from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, as does Alfeyev, given that the Enlightenment did not affect the East to the degree it did the West. Oddly enough, many evangelicals happily embrace modern Gospel source criticism, with its theories for resolving the Synoptic Problem, Markan Priority, and Q, without seeming to recognize the inherent dangers to the integrity and authority of the Gospels or drawing the clear minded conclusions taken by Alfeyev.

JTR

Friday, May 08, 2020

New Project: Youtube.com channels for Word Magazine and Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History podcasts

Yesterday I set up a couple of channels on youtube.com for sharing my podcast series in a video format.

First, there is now a Word Magazine channel. If there is enough interest, I plan to post upcoming Word Magazine podcasts either in a video or audio-only format to this channel, as well as the regular audio-only posts to sermonaudio.com and itunes. Again, if there is enough interest, I hope eventually to upload the present archive of 165 podcasts. For now I have posted WM 164 and WM 165:






Second, I have also set up a Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History channel, where I have posted Episode 1: Introduction to Eusebius. As above, if there is enough interest, I hope eventually to upload the archive of what is now 100 episodes in the series.




If you are interested in either of these series in a video format I invite you to subscribe.

JTR

The Vision (5.8.20): Hezekiah clave to the LORD



Image: Rhododendron, North Garden, Virginia, May 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 18. 

He removed the high places…. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel…. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him…. (2 Kings 18:4-6).

In 2 Kings 18, King Hezekiah provides a godly model for the Lord’s people. It is said of him that “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD” (v. 2).

In vv. 4, 5, 6, the inspired historian provides a series of three description of the godly actions and behaviors of Hezekiah:

First, he did not tolerate idolatry (v. 4):

The first thing we read is that he removed the high places! If you’ve been following 1-2 Kings you know meaningful this is. The high places were a violation of the Regulative Principle of worship, and he did away with them.

He “brake the images,” since they violated the second commandment. He cut down the “groves” (Asherah).

He even “brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made” (for the background see Numbers 21). Christ taught: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14). The Israelites of old had taken something good from the past and made it a relic, an object of religious devotion. They burned incense to it (v. 4b). Hezekiah, however, called it what it was: Nehushtan, meaning “a piece of brass.”

Second, he trusted in the LORD God of Israel (v. 5):

His trust was not in himself. Not in his army. Not in his people. Not in his family. Not in his clergy. Not in his allies (Egypt).

It was his forebear King Solomon who wrote, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Hezekiah was a man of faith.

Third, it says in v. 6 that Hezekiah “clave to the LORD and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments….”

I like that image of cleaving. The same verb is used here as in Genesis 2:24 which speak of a man leaving his father and mother and “cleaving” to his wife. Here it speaks of Hezekiah as a man leaving the world and cleaving unto the LORD and unto his Word. He was not merely a hearer of the word, but he was a doer of the word, as James will put it.

Let us, like Hezekiah, flee idolatry, trust in Christ, and cleave to the Lord and his Word.

Hezekiah was a godly man, but let us remember that from the line of David would come the greatest of men, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Above all, let us admire, follow, and imitate him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.24: Dionysius, Nepos, Revelation, and the Millennium



Image: Mummy painting of a young boy (Eutychus) from Roman Egypt, c. AD 150. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 7, chapter 24. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

This chapter discusses two treatises titled On Promises written by Dionysius of Alexandria in reply to the teaching of an Egyptian bishop named Nepos.

Nepos advocated a more literal form of Scriptural interpretation “after a more Jewish fashion.” For the book of Revelation, in particular, he taught there would be a literal millennium on earth. Nepos’s book (no longer extant) was titled Refutation of the Allegorists.

The first book in On Promises dealt with interpretation and the second on the book of Revelation.

Dionysus first expressed his respect for Nepos (already deceased) for his faith, devotion, and diligence in Scripture study. He then, however, stated that his love for truth required he correct Nepos’s supposed errors.

He notes that a meeting was held in the nome (division) of Arsinoë, where schism and defection of whole churches over Nepos’s teaching had taken place. Dionysius discussed Nepos’s book for three straight days, conversing day and night. In the end, the leader of this movement, Coracion, was convinced by the contrary arguments and rejected the teaching.

Conclusion:

This chapter highlights early disputes relating to the teaching of Nepos over proper interpretation of Scripture and of Revelation and the idea of a millennium, in particular. Dionysius rejects an overly literal interpretive method and is commended for his ability to correct errors in this teaching and restore unity among the churches. This illustrates the controversial nature of book of Revelation among early Christians, which many were slow to acknowledge as canonical. We also see another focus on the importance of unity in the church.

JTR

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

WM 165: Brief Review: Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher


I have posted WM 165: Brief Review: Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher. Listen here.

In this short episode I read a draft of my book review of the memoir of Methodist minister Will Willimon, once named by Baylor University (in 1996) one of the top twelve preachers in the English language.

JTR

Monday, May 04, 2020

Letter to the Governor of Virginia on Religious Gatherings


Image: Entrance to CRBC meeting house, Bells Grove, Louisa, Virginia, May 2020.

Last week I was glad to join with nearly 200 other pastors across Virginia in signing a letter urging the Governor of Virginia to modify current executive orders to exempt weekly religious gatherings.

The letter was composed by Mike Law from Arlington Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia.

You can visit this website for the letter, where pastors can join this list of signers.

You can read the letter, which has now been delivered to the Governor, and current signers here.

You can also visit this Facebook page for the letter and feel free to like and/or share.

JTR

Friday, May 01, 2020

The Vision (5.1.20): The LORD removed Israel out of his sight



Image: Lily pond, off the Billy Goat Trail, Great Falls Park, Montgomery, Maryland, April 2020.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 17.

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight (2 Kings 17:18a).

2 Kings 17 is a key chapter in 1-2 Kings, as it describes the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the hand of the Assyrians and the origin of the “Samaritans” who will figure so prominently in Christ’s ministry. What spiritual truths can we gleam from 2 Kings 17?

First, beneath the outward historical and political events of this world, there is the unseen hand of God.

The Lord brings judgment on men and nations that spurn his commands and reject his ways.

Notice how much of the judgment upon Israel came about because of his false worship, its rejection of the Regulative Principle. Dale Ralph Davis in his commentary on 2 Kings 17 writes: “So pagan religion creates what it likes; biblical faith receives what is revealed. Pagan worship is based on what they prefer; Biblicists must worship based on what God reveals” (2 Kings, 259).

We need to add here a note of caution. 2 Kings 17 is an inspired account. The historian was moved by the Holy Spirit. The explanation here is infallibly true. The historian was not providing an opinion but the Word of God.

Our evaluations of circumstances are not like that, and so we cannot speak with that kind of authority. Therefore, we need to have a much greater degree or caution and humility.

Why had the LORD allowed this virus pandemic and the reactions of the nations of the world and the political and economic uncertainty that has come about? Is it to chasten our nation? Is it to chasten the church?

We need to be careful about declaring what cannot be declared with authority. When Job questioned God’s sovereignty in his suffering the Lord answered him from the whirlwind, and Job replied, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth” (Job 40:4).

Our task is not to know the reasons behind every circumstance but to be faithful in the midst of every circumstance.

Second, even in God’s crushing judgment there is evidence of his coming mercy.

I see that in the formation of the Samaritans. Israel was taken out of God’s sight as a nation, but we might also say that to some degree they remained in this new religiously and spiritually confused people the “Samaritans.”

When Christ comes he will tell a parable about the good Samaritan, using him as an example of one who loved his neighbor as himself (Luke 10).

He talked to the Samaritan woman at the well and told her he could give her “living water” adding, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14a).

After his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, Acts 8 records how the evangelist Philip “went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (v. 5), adding that when they believed the things that Philip preached “they were baptized both men and women” (v. 12).

2 Kings 17 is a crushing account of God’s judgment, but it is not the end of the story. Through Christ, the grace of God will, in due time, be extended even to Samaritans.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

April 2020 Thoughts for the Day



Image: Water lilies, along Billy Goat Trail, Great Falls Park, Montgomery, Maryland, April 2020

I continued to update the "Thought for the Day" on the CRBC site. Here were April entries:

April 1:

“He it is that proceeded from a virgin, and appeared as a man on earth. He it is Whose earthly lineage cannot be declared, because He alone derives His body from no human father, but from a virgin alone” (Athanasius, On the Incarnation, c. AD 318).

April 3:

“Afflictions are disciplinary, they teach us. They are, Schola crucis, Schola lucis [the school of the cross, the school of light]….Gideon took ‘thorns of the wilderness, and briars, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.’ Judges viii 16. God by the thorns and briars of affliction teaches us” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).


April 6:

“Affliction shows us more of our own hearts. Water in a glass vial looks clear; but set it on fire, and the scum boils up; so when God sets us upon the fire, corruption boils up which we did not discern before” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).


April 7:

“Sharp afflictions are to the soul as a soaking rain to the houses; we know not that there are holes in the house till the shower comes, but then we see it drop down here and there; so we do not know what unmortified lusts are in the soul till the storm of affliction comes; then we find unbelief, impatience, carnal fear, dropping down in many places” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

April 9:

“Affliction is a sacred collyrium [eye-salve], it clears our eyesight: the rod gives wisdom” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).


April 10:

“Affliction brings those sins to remembrance which we had buried in the grave of forgetfulness…. When a man is in distress his sin comes fresh into his mind; conscience makes a rehearsal sermon of all the evils which have passed in his life; his expense of precious time, his Sabbath-breaking, his slighting of the word, come to remembrance, and he goes and weeps bitterly. Thus the rod gives wisdom, shows the hidden evil of the heart, and brings former sins to remembrance” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

April 13:

“There is profit in affliction, as it quickens our spirit of prayer… Jonah was asleep in the ship, but at prayer in the whale’s belly. Perhaps in a time of health and prosperity we prayed in a cold and formal manner, we put no coals to the incense, we scarcely minded our own prayers, and how should God mind them? God sends some cross or other to make us stir up ourselves to take hold of him…. In times of trouble we pray feelingly, and we never pray so fervently as when we pray feelingly; and is not this for our profit?” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

April 15:

“Why so much care for the body, to the neglect of the concerns of the immortal soul? O be not so anxious for what can only serve your bodies, since, ere long, the clods of cold earth will serve for back and belly too” (Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, 1721).

April 18:

“Affliction is for our profit, as it is a means to purge out our sins… Affliction is God’s physic to expel the noxious humour, it cures the imposthume of pride, the fever of lust; and is not this for our profit? Affliction is God’s file to fetch off our rust, his flail to thresh off our husks. The water of affliction is not to drown us, but to wash off our spots” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

April 22:

“Affliction is God’s file to fetch off our rust, his flail to thresh off our husks. The water of affliction is not to drown us, but to wash off our spots” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

April 27:

“The world is a great inn in the road to eternity to which you are traveling” (Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, 1720).

April 28:

“The worst men can do is to take away that life which we cannot long keep, though all the world should conspire to help us to retain the spirit” (Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, 1720).

April 30:

“If a clock be overwound, it stands still; so when the heart is wound up too much to the world, it stands still to heavenly things. Affliction sounds a retreat to call us off the immoderate pursuit of earthly things. When things are frozen and congealed together, the only way to separate them is by fire; so, when the heart and the world are congealed together, God has not better way to separate them than by the fire of affliction” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

JTR