Friday, June 25, 2021

The Vision (6.25.21): Take therefore no thought for the morrow....


Image: Magnolia, Albemarle County, Virginia, June 2021

Note: Devotion take from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 6:31-34.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:34).

The final exhortation in Christ’s teaching on dealing with worry relates to the future (tomorrow): “Take therefore no thought for the morrow….”

This verse does not exclude the exercise of prudential wisdom in planning for the future. The Proverbs offer strong exhortations against laziness and the value of planning ahead, putting in work, and accomplishing goals (cf. Proverbs 6:6-8; 20:4). Still Christ warns against excessive worry for the future, noting that “the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

He then adds: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The point: There will be enough things to occupy your attention today, so that you have no need to attempt to add to today’s pile the things that you will worry about tomorrow.

Spurgeon wrote: “Today will require all the vigor we have to deal with its immediate evils; there can be no need to import cares from the future. To load today with trials not yet arrived, would be to overload it” (Commentary on Matthew, 68).

J. C. Ryle observed: “Half our miseries are caused by fancying things that we think are coming upon us: half the things we expect to come upon us never come at all. Where is our faith? (Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 61).

A popular expression related to Christ’s words is that we have to take one day at a time. Yes, it is a cliché, but it rests on Biblical footing. If you have ever gone through a significant crisis of any sort (whether health or family related or financial) you know the wisdom of this. The best you can do sometimes is to live by faith day by day, and sometimes hour by hour, and even minute by minute (recall James 4:13-15).

Maybe you know the gospel song that alludes to this verse (I like this Alison Krauss version):

I don't know about tomorrow.

I just live from day to day.

I don't borrow from the sunshine,

For its skies may turn to gray


I don't worry o'er the future,

For I know what Jesus said,

And today I'll walk beside Him

For He knows what lies ahead.

Many things about tomorrow

I don't seem to understand,

But I know who holds tomorrow,

And I know who holds my hand.


Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

WM 207: Is the modern text of John 1:18 "out of sync" with the Nicene Creed?


Some Notes for this episode:

In this episode I want to play a brief clip from a recent Credo Magazine podcast (March 15, 2021) in which the host Matthew Barrett, an associate professor of theology at MWBTS, discusses his new book Simply Trinity: The Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Baker Books, 2021) with Charles Lee Irons, an independent scholar from LA.

I’ve been a regular listener to this podcast. Over the last couple of months, Barrett has had various theologians as guests to discuss his book. The book argues that there has been a significant “drift” among evangelicals not only with regard to the Trinity but also with regard to the classical orthodox doctrine of God.

Among the recent guests have been Fred Sanders, J. V. Fesko, Michael Bird, and Liam Goligher.

One of the things that has been often discussed is the doctrine of the Eternal Generation of the Son. Barrett has an entire chapter in his book in which he refutes the EFS (Eternal Functional Subordination) view of Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware. See chapter 8: "Is the Son Eternally Subordinate to the Father?"

This was also a subject of much discussion in the March 15, 2021 interview with Charles Lee Irons.

Irons has written in defense of the traditional understanding of the Greek word monogenéas “only begotten” as it is used in John (1:14, 18; 3:16, 18) and 1 John (4:9). He has been especially critical of modern translations of John 1:18.

I have previously address textual issues relating to John 1:18:

See WM 56.

See also the CB Roundtable on John 1:18.

The issue with John 1:18 is both textual ( monogenés huios or monogenétheos?) and translational (“only begotten” or “unique”).

Right at the end of the Credo podcast (c. the 1:02 mark) Barrett and Irons discuss the problem with modern translations. Neither of these guys are proponents of the traditional text, but they are picking up on doctrinal errors that are being introduced into the modern translations (from the modern texts).

Irons notes the fact that “a plethora of modern translations” which leave out the phrase “only-begotten” are “out of sync” with the Nicene Creed.

This raises the specter that the Nicene creed is unbiblical.

Again, he asks about the implications if our English Bibles are “out of sync” with the Nicene Creed.

He also asks, Who are making the creeds and why are they making them?

He says, “We do have a big problem on our hands.”

He adds: “The church needs to have a Bible … that is consistent with the church’s creed.”

Barrett asks: “Have we strayed/drifted?”

A few observations:

First, these men are to be commended for the questions they are raising. Text affects doctrine.

Second, the issue is not merely with English Bibles but the underlying modern texts.

Third, another great question: Who are the stewards of the Bible and why are they making them? Who are the five persons who edited the NA28?

Fourth, beyond John 1:18 and eternal generation, can this question be raised about other traditional texts that have been abandoned? Like 1 Timothy 3:16 and the deity of Christ or 1 John 5:7-8 and the doctrine of the Trinity.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

2021 Keach Conference Coming: Saturday, September 25, 2021


The Keach Conference is an annual theology and ministry conference sponsored by the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia.

The conference host is Redeeming Grace Baptist Church in Gloucester, Virginia.

2021 Conference Theme: Of Saving Faith

Speaker: Dr. James Renihan, President, IRBS Seminary, Mansfield, Texas

Conference Schedule:

9:00 am Registration Opens

9:30 am Morning Devotion

10:00 am Session One

11:00 am Session Two

12:00 noon Complimentary Lunch on Site

1:00 pm Session Three

2:00 pm Q & A

2:30 pm Conference Concludes

3:00 pm Safe travels home!

Note: There is no cost to attend the conference, but participants must pre-register. You can sign up for the conference here.

Monday, June 21, 2021

WM 206: Is Hosea 6:2 a prophecy of the third day resurrection?

Some notes for WM 206:

After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight (Hosea 6:2).

What is the issue?

As I’ve been preaching through Hosea, I have tried to call attention to places where there are “messianic” prophecies (e.g., Hosea 3:5) and I know there are more of these to come (cf Hosea 11:1//Matt 2:15).

Sunday before last, I was preaching through Hosea 6 and pondered the meaning of v. 2.

Is this a prophecy of an experience of the historical Israel or it is a prophecy of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ?

As I looked at a couple of commentaries I was struck by a stark difference in interpretation.

One hand, the MacArthur Study Bible comment on v. 2 flatly rejects this verse as relating to the resurrection: “Not a reference to the resurrection of Christ…”

On the other hand, there was Matthew Poole, who distinguishes between the historical and the “mystical” interpretation, but clearly affirms the latter.

This sent me on a survey of Study Bibles and commentaries:

Survey of commentaries:

Orthodox Study Bible: “The Church understands this text as a messianic prophecy regarding Christ’s resurrection….”

Calvin’s commentary: “We must always mind this, that we fly not in the air….”

Matthew Henry: “But this seems to have a further reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

ESV Study Bible: Acknowledges that this verse is behind the notion of Christ rising on the third day, but it suggests it does not speak of Christ “directly.”

Key NT passages:

Luke 24:46: And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:


Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

Cf. Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34.

Note also the charge of the chief priests and Pharisees to Pilate, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again” (Matt 27:63; cf. Matt 28:6).

1 Corinthians 15:3 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Matthew 12:40: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Hosea 6:2 and Jonah 1:17 would appear to be two of the key prooftexts for the OT prophecy of the third day resurrection of Christ.

This recalls G. K. Beale’s classic 1989 article “Did Jesus and his followers preach the right doctrine from the wrong texts?”

The MacArthur Study Bible note is then potentially dangerous.

We see the start of a more rationalistic interpretation in Calvin, but it is not followed in the Protestant orthodox Poole and Henry, but revived in the modern era.

We might also ask what further implications Hosea 6:2 has for the doctrine of the descent (Note: It is not listed in the Scriptural index for either Matthew Emerson’s He Descended to the Dead or Samuel Renihan’s Crux, Mors, Inferi; both, however, have an entry for Hosea 13:14).


There is good reason to defend the traditional, pre-critical view that sees Hosea 6:2 as a Scriptural proof text for the third day resurrection of Christ.

We can trace rationalistic interpretation of Hosea 6:2 to the very early modern period (as in Calvin), but it seems that later Protestant Orthodox (like Poole, Henry) continued to defend the pre-critical view.

We should also note that Hosea 6:2, if related to the resurrection, stresses the benefits of the resurrection for believers. Compare:

Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


CRBC 2021 VBS Video


One of our youth put together this video from last week's "Puritan" VBS at CRBC. Always one of my favorite teaching experiences of the year. I really enjoyed teaching about the life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) to our church's young people. Thanks to all the children, youth, and parents who made it an encouraging and successful week!


Friday, June 18, 2021

The Vision (6.18.21): Ye cannot serve God and mammon


Image: Roses, North Garden, Virginia, June 2021

Note: Devotion take from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 5:24-30.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).

Christ begins, “No man can serve two masters….” Note two important verbal facets of this statement:

First, the verb rendered here as “to serve” comes from the root word for “slave” (doulos). So, it might be translated, “No man can be a slave (doulos) to two masters….”

Second, the word rendered “masters” is from the Greek word kurios, “lord.” It is the word that Jews used to translate the holy name of God when they translated the OT from Hebrew into Greek. It was there in the confession that the earliest Christians made about Jesus, when they said, “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9). So, we could render it, “No one can be a slave to two Lords” or “No one can be a slave to two Gods.”

We might say it goes back to the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exod 20:3). Christ was warning against polytheism, belief and adherence to more than one God. You can’t serve two Lords. Christ demands your exclusive allegiance.

The last line in v. 24 is striking: “Ye cannot serve [be a slave of] God and mammon.” Mammon is an unusual term. In the NT it appears only four times (cf., Luke 16:9, 11, 13). It is a Semitic or Jewish term, used in both Hebrew and Aramaic (but not found in the OT). According to the dictionary definition it means “wealth or property,” but it is often rendered simply as “money.” The NIV, for example, translates the last line: “You cannot serve God and money.”

You cannot serve the Lord Jesus and try, at the same time, to serve Lord Money.

Let me offer two insights we should heed in rightly dividing this declaration:

First, Christ did not address these words to a gathering of wealthy men at the Jerusalem chamber of commerce meeting. He addressed this to all of his disciples, most of whom were ordinary men, and, by modern standards, even poor men.

Second, Christ is not saying that money or possession in and of themselves are evil. Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” He is also not saying anything here that nullifies the duties of stewardship that are given to Christians elsewhere in Scripture (cf. 1 Tim 5:8).

The point is that we must use mammon (including all of our material possessions) as a means to fulfill our duties toward God and man, but we are never to be “spiritual slaves” to it. Money is never to be our Lord.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

WM 205: Interview: David Charles on Albert N. Martin Festschrift


I have posted WM 205, my interview with David Charles, co-editor of A Workman Not Ashamed: Essays in Honor of Albert N. Martin (Free Grace Press, 2021).

You can read this recent review of the book by Brian G. Najapfour on the Biblical Spirituality Press website.


Friday, June 11, 2021

The Vision (6.11.21): Treasures in Heaven


Image: Hydrangea, North Garden, Virginia, June 2021

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 6:19-23.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth… But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

Christ begins his teaching on laying up treasures with a negative admonition: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth….” The Greek word for “treasure” in thēsauros, the root for our English word “thesaurus” which means a treasury of words. The word “treasure” or the plural “treasures” appears three times in Matthew 6:19-21, once each in vv. 19, 20, and 21.

It seems clear that “treasures on earth” are “understood to be material wealth in general, as well as any material goods in particular” (Alfeyev, Sermon, 306).

If you read through the Gospels, it will be clear to you that the Lord Jesus repeatedly sounded the alarm on the spiritual dangers of materialism. He saw the desire for and pursuit of laying up treasures on earth as one of the chief rivals and dangers to living an authentic life of discipleship (see, e.g., the seed that fell among the thorns in Matt 13:22; the parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:15-21; Christ’s encounter with the Rich Young Ruler in Matt 19:16-30).

He continues in v. 19: “where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” Two practical reasons are given as to why one should not make the focus of his life the laying up of treasures on earth.

First, such things will eventually break down and wear out with time. The moth and rust corrupt them. Have you ever left clothing up in your attic only to find later that moths have gnawed holes through them?  Or maybe you had an expensive tool and you left it in the leaky tool shed and when you go to retrieve it you find it is rusted to pieces.

Second, such things can be taken away from you. They can be stolen or lost. A fortune can be won and lost overnight. The online site “Economics Times” say that in 1930, the year after the 1929 stock market crash, 23,000 people committed suicide as a direct result of the crash.

On my first mission trip as a college sophomore, I went with a group of students to Haiti. Just before we arrived the missionaries whom we came to help had their home broken into and many of their most prized possessions were stolen. When we asked the missionary about this, he quoted from memory vv. 19-20. That left an impression on me that has lasted to this day.

The positive admonition comes in v. 20: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….” What is meant by treasures in heaven? In part it means the doing of good works that flow from a life that has been transformed by Christ.

Remember Christ’s words to the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

The thing is that we can see the treasures that one can lay up on earth. We can count them. We can quantify them. But we cannot count up or quantify the treasures that are laid up in heaven. They are not visible or tangible assets.

A great contrast is drawn at the close of v. 20. These secret assets, these heavenly treasures, are not corrupted by moth or rust, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. The shifting market will never be able to devalue them.

Christ concludes the teaching on treasures in v. 21: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The word “heart” here does not refer to the internal organ that pumps blood, but to the seat of one’s affections. If your affections are set on earthly things, that will be your treasure. And it will one day break down or be taken away from you.

The question one must ask: Where am I laying up treasures? Yes, we all need to live. We all have Scripturally sanctioned duties to provide for our own household and, as we have opportunity, to do good to all men and especially for those who are of the household of faith (cf. 1 Tim 5:8; Gal 6:10).

But what about the unseen spiritual treasures? Are we seeking to store up those things also? Let us heed Christ’s admonition and not lay up treasures on earth but treasures in heaven.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

2021 CRBC Youth Conference Coming: Friday-Saturday, July 9-10


Image: Scene from 2020 Youth Conference

Conference Theme: Jesus Christ: True God & True Man

Conference Speaker: Pastor Ryan Davidson, Grace Baptist Chapel, Hampton, Virginia.

Conference Participants: This Conference is designed for youth and young adults (ages 13-18, as of July 9) who are members or participants in Reformed Baptist Churches. Enrollment is limited.

Conference Cost: The cost if $20.00 per person. This includes lodging and all meals. You must bring sleeping bag/bedding and towels.

Conference Venue: C. H. Spurgeon Retreat and Conference Center (aka, at the home/farm of one of our members in Louisa).

Conference Schedule:

Friday (July 9):

Arrive any time after 5:00 pm.

6:00 pm                                                           Supper (Pizza Blast!--an inside joke)

7:00 pm                                                           Fellowship

8:00 pm                                                           Teaching Session One

8:30 pm                                                           Campfire Fellowship

11:00 pm                                                        Lights out

Saturday (July 10):

8:00 am                                                           Breakfast (Bring on the bacon!)

9:00 am                                                           Teaching Session Two

9:45 am                                                           Teaching Session Three

10:30 am                                                         Break

11:00 am                                                         Teaching Session Four

                                                                        Q & A

12:00 nn                                                         Lunch (Sandwiches and chips)

1:00 pm                                                           Recreation, Swimming, and Free Time

3:30 pm                                                           Depart for Home

Image: Pastor Ryan Davidson, 2021 Youth Conference Speaker

Please Note: This Conference is under the administration of the Elders of Christ Reformed Baptist Church, who reserve the right to make adjustments to conference details (schedule, participants, etc.) in order to meet the needs of the church and the goals of the conference.

For more information on the Conference: Email: info.crbc(at)

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Audio: ¿Soy realmente un cristiano?

My friend Ernesto Rodriguez has created an audio version of ¿Soy realmente un cristiano?, the Spanish translation of "Am I Really A Christian?"


CRBC's 2021 Vacation Bible School is Coming: Monday-Thursday, June 14-17


Image: Scene from 2020 VBS

I am looking forward to teaching the children of CRBC (ages preschool to age 12) next week in our annual "Puritan" Vacation Bible School. This year's theme is the Life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50).

VBS Daily Schedule:


Arrival: 9:45-10:00 am


Opening: 10:00-10:15 am


Bible Lesson: 10:15-10:45 am


Recreation: 10:45-11:15 am


Refreshment break: 11:15-11:30 am


Craft/Drama: 11:30 am-12 nn


Bible Lesson Review/Closing: 12 nn -12:30 pm


Lunch on Site: 12:30-1:00 pm


VBS Daily Bible Topics:


Monday: The Dreamer Becomes a Slave (Gen 37)

Tuesday: From Potiphar’s House to Prison (Gen 39-40)


Wednesday: Joseph and the Famine (Gen 41-46)


Thursday: Joseph and his Brothers (Gen 47-50)

Thomas Boston, Am I Really A Christian?


A couple of years ago I did this simplification and abridgement of an extract from Thomas Boston's Human Nature In Its Fourfold State that was published by Chapel Library as "Am I Really a Christian?"


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

WM 204: John Owen acerca de las Escrituras


WM 204 is now available. In this episode guest host Mark Boyd interviews me and Ernesto Rodriguez regarding the new Spanish translation of the book John Owen on Scripture.


Clement of Alexandria: Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? (Part 2 of 8)


I have added Part 2 of 8 (covering chapters 6-10) of Clement of Alexandria's "Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?" (Mark 10:17-31).

A few points to be clear:

I am not necessarily suggesting that everything Clement says about this text is accurate, nor am I commending all aspects of his interpretation. It should be taken with some caution (especially his views on soteriology).

I am more interested in how a second century Christian would approach interpretation of a Gospel text from a pre-critical perspective.

So, I am interested in things like:

How he harmonizes this account with the other Synoptic Gospels.

How he makes use of allegorical/spiritual interpretations alongside literal ones.

How his views may or may not be shaped by Socratic thought.


Enjoy, JTR

Monday, June 07, 2021

Clement of Alexandria: Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? (Part 1 of 8)


I am continuing to preach through the Sermon on the Mount on Sunday mornings at CRBC. Yesterday's message was on Matthew 6:19-22, with a focus on Christ's admonition not to lay up treasures on earth but to lay up treasures in heaven.

In some of my commentary reading, I ran across a reference to Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215) and his treatise "Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?", which is an exposition of Mark's account of the Christ's encounter with the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-31). This work consists of 42 short chapters. I decided to launch a new series to read through this treatise. Episode 1 of 8 appears above.

I'm interested not only in how Clement dealt with Christ's teaching on the difficulty of the rich entering the kingdom, but also how pre-critical exegetes dealt with the Gospels in general.

In chapter 5, for example, Clement stresses the harmony of the account of the Rich Young Ruler in the Synoptic accounts (Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 18):

These things are written in the Gospel according to Mark; and in all the rest correspondingly; although perchance the expressions vary slightly in each, yet all show identical agreement in meaning.

I am making use of the translation by William Wilson. You can find the complete text of the treatise online here.


Saturday, June 05, 2021

The Vision (6.5.21): Thoughts on Fasting

Image: Ripening blueberries, North Garden, Virginia, June 2021

Notes: I recently started a twitter account (@Riddle1689). I only have a few dozen followers and have only infrequently tweeted. Last week, however, I tweeted the following thread as a follow up to last Sunday’s sermon and thought I’d share the thread’s bite-sized content (collectively) here:

Preaching through the Sermon on the Mount. Last Sunday on fasting from Matt 6:16-18 (listen here).

Three questions posed:

1.    What is fasting?

2.    Is fasting still a spiritual discipline for disciples today?

3.    If it is expected, how is it to be practiced?


1.    What is fasting?

"Denying oneself of bodily necessities, like food or drink, which are ordinarily good and lawful, for some limited period of time, for spiritual purposes, especially to express one’s hunger and desire for the Lord’s presence and protection."

2.    Is fasting still a spiritual discipline for disciples today?

Christ speaks of it as normative: "Moreover when ye fast...." (Matt 6:16); "But thou, when thou fastest..." (Matt 6:17).

What about Christ's response when John's disciples asked Christ about fasting (Matt 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39)? Does Christ speak of fasting in this age when he says, "and then shall they fast" (Matt 9:15)?

Did Christ set an example when he fasted "for forty days and nights" in his temptation (Matt 4:2)? What of when he told the "lunatick's" father, "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt 17:21)?

Did not the church at Antioch fast and pray when setting part Paul and Barnabas for their missionary journey (Acts 13:3)? Did they then not pray with fasting when elders were set apart in the churches (Acts 14:23)?

What of Paul's instruction to husbands and wives to refrain from intimacy only with consent and for a limited season to give themselves "to fasting and prayer" (1 Cor 7:5)? Note: Modern texts omits "fasting" here.

“In this teaching Jesus does not dispute the practice of fasting itself. He is arguing only against an understanding of fasting that places the emphasis on the external, conspicuous form of the practice while ignoring its internal content” (Alfeyev, Sermon, 297).

3.    If fasting is expected, how is it to be practiced?

"Fasting is to be practiced, according to Christ’s instruction in Matt 6:16-18, not hypocritically, not to be seen by men, but to be seen only by the Lord."

Not like the Pharisee who "prayed thus with himself...I fast twice in the week" (Luke 18:11-12).

Spurgeon: “Fasting took a leading place in devotion under the Law, and it might profitably be more practiced even now under the Gospel” (Matthew, 61).

Spurgeon: “Use diligence to conceal what it would be foolish to parade…." (Matthew, 62).

Spurgeon: "Act in seasons of extraordinary devotion as you would at other times, that those with whom you come in contact may not know what special devotion you are practicing” (Matthew, 62).

Note how our Lord's teaching coheres with the spiritual heights of the OT prophets, as in Isaiah 58:6ff: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen?..."

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle