Saturday, December 31, 2022

WM 261: Review: Greek New Testament, Textus Receptus, Reader's Edition (2022)



Added to video description (1.4.23):

Note: It came to my attention after the review was posted that the TR Reader's Edition omits a "nu" in the spelling of the name "John" in the titles for the Gospel of John, 1-2-3 John, and Revelation. This is a matter of the table of contents and headlings alone and does not affect the text of the NT. Hopefully, this will be corrected in a later printings of the work.

You can order this book here:

Friday, December 30, 2022

Personal Reflections: A Dozen Memorable Events of 2022


Image: Preaching at the SDG Reformed Baptist Church, Budapest, Hungary, October 2022.

At the end of last year I noted a dozen memorable events of 2021. Looking back on 2022 I thought I’d do the same. Here are ten select highlights (in general chronology order), along with a few links, from 2022:

1.     I got to see my youngest two sons start on the Grace Christian School baseball team and win a second consecutive VACA state championship (this time over Smith Mt Lake CS) held on the campus at Liberty University on May 14. My son Isaiah won the tournament MVP for the second consecutive year. I also got to see Isaiah graduate from Grace in May and begin college in August.

2.     I enjoyed a week of vacation with my family at Topsail Island, North Carolina, June 27—July 2.

3.     I had the privilege of giving three lectures on “Received Text Apologetics” at the 2022 Kept Pure in All Ages Conference at the Five Solas OPC in Reedsburg, Wisconsin on July 22-23.

4.     The book Why I Preach from the Received Text, which I co-edited with Christian McShaffrey and to which I contributed a chapter, was released by The Greater Christian Heritage in July 2022 and became the publisher’s all-time best-seller. I also had several articles published throughout the year including “A Defence of the Traditional Text of Scripture,” in Sword & Trowel (Metropolitan Tabernacle, London) (2022 No. 1); “One Thing is Needful: An Exposition of Luke 10:38-42” in Reformation Today (No. 305, July-September, 2022); and “In Defense of the Traditional Text of Philippians 4:13” in Bible League Quarterly (July-September, 2022). In addition, the Ukrainian edition of my book The Doctrines of Grace: An Introduction to the Five Points of Calvinism was also published in December.

5.     I baptized my youngest son Joseph, along with several others, on Sunday, August 14 at the Woolfolk’s pond in Louisa. I have now had the privilege of baptizing all five of my children upon their profession of faith.

6.     My oldest daughter Hannah became the first of my children to be engaged to be married [to a fine young man from Texas] (the wedding will be in early 2023).

7.     I gave a challenge-to-the-candidate ordination message in the service to install my friend Andrew McCaskill to the eldership on August 28, at Emmanuel RBC, Verona, Virginia.

8.     I had the privilege of speaking on “The Case for the Received Text” at the Text and Translation Conference sponsored by the Trinitarian Bible Society in their offices in  London on September 15. I then attended the 191st Annual General Meeting of the Trinitarian Bible Society, held at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church in London on September 17. I also preached at Westminster Baptist Church in London in the morning and evening services on Sunday, September 18 (the day before the Queen’s funeral).

9.     I gave the “Orientation to the 2022 Keach Conference” at the 21st annual meeting of this theology conference, held on September 24 at Grace Baptist Chapel in Hampton, Virginia.

10.I gave three lectures on “The Reformation and the Text of the Bible” in a conference sponsored by the Soli Deo Gloria Baptist Church in Budapest, Hungary on October 29 and then preached the morning and evening services there on October 30. I enjoyed the hospitality of Pastor Miklos Chiciudean (and his family). Miklos had been one of my students in the Hungarian Baptist Seminary thirty years ago.

11. My youngest son Joseph started for Grace when they won their first ever VACA state championship in soccer on October 29 in Harrisonburg over Blue Ridge CS (but I was in Hungary and had to miss seeing it in person!).

12. I passed the 30th anniversary of my ordination to pastoral ministry, which took place at Beulah Baptist Church in Lyells, Virginia on November 15, 1992.



The Vision (12.30.22): Whose Son is He?


Image: Some CRBC youth sing at Epworth Outreach (12.21.22)

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 22:41-46.

After several confrontations recorded in Matthew 22, Christ turns the tables and asks the Pharisees some questions. He begins, “What think ye of Christ?” and then adds, “whose son is he?” (v. 42).

To answer the second question he conducts a Bible study on Psalm 110:1, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Matthew 22:43-44).

Notice three things about this latter question:

First, he identifies David as the author of this Psalm (v. 43). The title of Psalm 110 is indeed, “A Psalm of David.”

Second, he says that David was speaking “in the spirit” (v. 43). This refers not just to David’s spirit, but to the Holy Spirit. Mark adds that Christ plainly said, “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost….” (Mark 12:36). This Psalm was, as Paul would put it, “given by inspiration of God [God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).

Third, David spoke of the God of the Bible, the Father, Jehovah, the LORD in this verse as speaking to another person whom he calls “my Lord,” my Kurios, my Adonijah. Christ shows that this is a Messianic Psalm. He notes that the God of the Bible promised to this person whom David calls “my Lord” authority, “Sit thou on my right hand,” and dominion over his foes, “till I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

Spurgeon says Christ’s teaching answers “the present day critics who deny the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, and the Davidic authorship, and the Messianic application of certain Psalms” (Commentary on Matthew, 347-348).

Christ continues his pedagogy through questions in v. 45: “If David then calls him Lord, how is he is son?”

His point: If the Messiah is merely David’s son (a physical descendent who comes through David’s line), how could he address him as Adonijah or Lord or Kurios? How could he use such an exalted title for the Messiah if he was merely an ordinary man?

What was he saying about himself? He was declaring: I am the Son of David, born in Bethlehem. I am the anointed one. I am the King sent to suffer on a cross. I am true man, but I am not merely a true man. David called me his Lord. I am greater than David. I am not merely the Son of David, but I am the eternal Son of God.

Believers are those who affirm that this is true, while unbelievers deny it (cf. Matthew 10:32-33).

Grace and peace, Jeff Riddle

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Vision (12.23.22): Spurgeon on the Great Commandment


Image: CRBCers singing hymns following the Lord's Day afternoon service (12.18.22).

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 22:34-40.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

In this month when many think of the birth of Christ, we have continued our Lord’s Day expositions of the Gospel of Matthew.

Last Sunday we considered Christ’s teaching on the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) and were helped by Spurgeon’s commentary on this passage (Matthew, 345).

Christ commanded first, “Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart….”

Spurgeon: “Because he is our God, Jehovah claims our heart’s love. As our Creator, Preserver, Provider, and Judge, he commands us to yield to him all our heart’s affection; to love him first, best, heartiest; out of all comparison to the love we have to any fellow-creature, or to ourselves.”

“…and with all thy soul….”

Spurgeon: “We are love to God with all our life, to love him more than our life; so that, if necessary, we would give up our life rather than give up our love to God.”

“…and with all thy mind.”

Spurgeon: “We are to love God with our intellect, with all the powers of our mind, bringing memory, thought, imagination, reason, judgment, and all our mental powers, as willing subjects to bow at God’s feet in admiration and love.”

Let us be encouraged to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind, even as we also love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, December 16, 2022

James White and the Achilles' Heel of Modern Textual Criticism



Jonathan Arnold on the 500th Anniversary of Luther's NT (1522-2022)



The Vision (12.16.22): Christ and the Resurrection


Image: Scene from It's a Wonderful Life

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 22:23-33.

In Matthew 22:23-33 we find the record of Christ’s conflict with the Sadducees in the week leading up to the cross.

Christ rebukes the priestly Sadducees who denied the final resurrection, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (v. 29). This is the Lord’s answer to all cults, to all false teachers and false religions. And it is his answer to us when we stray from what it true and right and Biblical.

How and why did they err? Christ continues, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power [dynamin—miraculous or wonder-working power] of God.”

Having given this negative rebuke, Christ then turns to offer positive instruction in v. 30: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”

Note three key points:

First, Christ teaches that there will be a future time during which all men shall experience the resurrection at the end of the ages. This was taught in the OT in places like Daniel 12:1-2, Job 19:25-27, and Psalm 16:10-11.

Christ also explicitly taught this in his earthly ministry (see John 5:28-29 in which Christ spoke of how those in the graves who would hear the Lord’s voice and be raised either “unto the resurrection of life” or “unto the resurrection of damnation”).

This is what the apostles taught. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 declared, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed.... for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Second, Christ teaches that life in the glorified state will be different than our lives in this present age. One of the chief differences will be the ways in which our former relationships will be changed. Marriage was instituted by God at creation to be a sign of Christ’s relationship with the church (see Gen 2:24; Eph 5:32), but in the resurrection, the bridegroom (Christ) will be joined to his bride (the church) and the temporary institution of marriage will be eclipsed by our being without sin in the presence of God. This does not mean that we will not know each other. I believe we will, but our focus and attention will be upon the Lord and not each other.

This coheres with John’s description of life in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22:3-5, as he declares, “his servants shall serve him” and “they shall see his face.” Our gaze will be always upon the Lamb.

Third, Christ says we will be like the angels. Notice that he does not say we will become angels. But we will be like the angels. We will have a resurrection existence that exceeds our present earthly existence, and we will not be able to sin, and we will pursue without hindrance the worship and service of the Lord. That’s how the elect angels live.

Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life might be an entertaining film, but it has terrible angelology. In that film Clarence is a man who became an angel and has to earn his wings. We do not become angels at death, and we have no post-mortem purgatorial work to do to attain higher standing before God. Instead, like the angels we will glory forever in God’s magnificent presence.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Devotional Article: Though you are little (Micah 5:2-5a; Matthew 2:1-6)

Just posted to my page a devotional article I wrote last year for IRBS:

"Though you are little (Micah 5:2-5a; Matthew 2:1-6)," in O Come, O Come Emmanuel: Devotions for December Lord's Day, IRBS Seminary (2021).

You can find it here.

You can also download the entire booklet for free here.


Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Vision (12.9.22): Introduction to Habakkuk


We began last Sunday afternoon a brief series through the book of Habakkuk, one of the so-called “Minor Prophets.”

The title in Habakkuk 1:1 provides our basic orientation to this little book: “The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see” (cf. Nahum 1:1).

Who was the prophet Habakkuk? We have almost no biographical information about this prophet, other than his name, within this book. The name Habakkuk appears nowhere else in the Scriptures.

He must have been a man well known and respected, however, in his day. He does not need to explain who he is. He must also have been a man of humility, who did not feel compelled to call attention to himself. He is like John the Baptist, pointing away from himself and toward the Lord (John 3:30).

What does the name Habakkuk mean?  Even the meaning of his name is unclear. Some have suggested it comes from the name of a plant. Others suggest it comes from a Hebrew verb which means “to embrace” or “to ardently embrace.” This word appears in 2 Kings 4:16 when Elisha tells the Shunammite woman, “thou shalt embrace a son.” Some have suggested that the spiritual significance of the name was that Habakkuk would be one who would cling to God in the midst of troubles and calamity. To turn that around, maybe it referred to the fact that the prophet felt as though the living God had embraced him, as the Shunammite did her son.

What is the historical setting for the book? No specific names of the kings of Israel or Judah are mentioned for us to be able to pinpoint the date, but in 1:6 he prophesied of the LORD raising up the Chaldeans. From this most have construed that Habakkuk was writing in the last days of Judah before it fell to the Babylonians. This means Habakkuk would have been a contemporary of Jeremiah. Some have suggested that was ministering during the days of Josiah, the last great hope for Judah, and had seen the death of Josiah in battle and the undoing of all his reforms under his successor Jehoiakim. So, he was living in the last days of his nation. He saw the doom that was ahead and was naturally filled with dread and questions about the disturbing things that were about to come.

What is the structure of the book? The first two chapters are something like a lament and a theological reflection on the coming collapse of the nation. The last chapter is a prayer of the prophet (see 3:1).

How was Habakkuk used in the New Testament? This book was known, read, and used by the apostles. The most often cited passage from this book in the NT is Habakkuk 2:4 which ends, “but the just shall live by his faith.” The apostle Paul appealed three times to this verse in his writings (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

What is Habakkuk about? In the opening chapter, Habakkuk offers a lament, “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” (1:2a; cf. Psalm 13:1-2). He then proceeds, however, to acknowledge the greatness of God: “Art not thou from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One?” (1:12a). Thus, he notes the eternality of God, who is from everlasting to everlasting, as well as his holiness. Perhaps these two statements sum up the book’s theme. In the midst of national doom and personal distress, the prophet discovers the greatness of his God.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Saturday, December 03, 2022

WM 258: Beers, Evans, and McCurely on Why I Preach from the Received Text



The Vision (12.2.22): And the wedding was furnished with guests


Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 22:1-14.

Matthew 22:9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

In Christ’s parable of the wedding dinner in Matthew 22:1-14, those first beckoned to the feast rejected the invitation, so the King sent out a second round of invitations. He gives something like a Great Commission to his servants: “Go ye therefore…” (v. 9; cf. 28:19). He tells his servants to go out into the highways (epi tas diexodous tōn hodōn; literally, the ways leading out of the main way, the byways) and “gather together (synago, assemble) all as many as they found, both bad and good” (v. 10a). This refers to that general and promiscuous call of the gospel that would go out not merely to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. This is the general call of the gospel to all kinds of men. Spurgeon notes: “Glorious was the outburst of grace which bade the apostles turn to the Gentiles” (Matthew, 327).

When it says men “bad and good” were called it is not speaking here of moral indifference to the behavior of those called. It is simply saying that at the time of their calling there would have been some considered to be living badly and others considered to be living well. Their calling, however, was not conditioned on their present circumstances. This is a picture of what we call “unconditional election.” When Paul describes the divine choosing of Jacob and the divine rejection of Esau, he says this took place before they were even born “neither having done any good or evil that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” (Romans 9:11).

The end result: “and the wedding was furnished with guests” (v. 10b). Spurgeon was fond of saying that there will likely be many more in heaven than we think there will be. The picture here is of a King (God himself) who wishes to have many, many come to the wedding dinner of his dear Son. He is not stingy. He is not parsimonious. A wonderful feast has been prepared, and he desires large numbers to be there. And his will is always done.

I think of that scene in Revelation of John’s vision of God’s throne in heaven and those gathered around it, “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9).

Let us long for the day when Christ returns in glory, and his elect are beckoned to join at last “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Sermon: Reformed Worship, Holy Days, and Holidays


I preached this sermon  in the afternoon service at CRBC back on Sunday, December 11, 2022. The text is 1 Kings 12:25-33.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

WM 257: What about Apostolic Succession?



What about  Apostolic Succession?

I want to examine the topic of “Apostolic Succession.”

This is a term primarily used in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, but also in Anglican churches, suggesting that their tradition is a true church (or even “the true church”). because it can trace a direct line from the apostles to its own bishops/ministers.

It assumes an unbroken succession or line formed by the laying on of hands from the apostles to bishop to bishop to bishop down to the present day.

Furthermore, it contends that those outside this line of succession cannot lay claim to be true churches, because they are not the inheritors of this visible tradition.

At its root “Apostolic succession” raises the question of the authority and the essence or being (ens) of any tradition which claims to be a church.

Recall the questions of the chief priests and elders in the temple to the Lord Jesus, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” (Matt 21:23).

Notice that the Lord Jesus did not come from either a priestly or ruling family. His authority did not come from his priestly lineage, but from his authoritative teaching as the Word made flesh.

The Founding of the Church

We turn now to the founding of the church.

See Matthew 16:13-20.

The founder is Christ. He builds his church on Peter’s confession, not on Peter himself (vv. 16-18). He promises that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. In other words, he promises to preserve and maintain it. He gives to Peter the keys as a representative of the apostles (v. 19). He later addresses similar teaching not to Peter alone but to all the apostles (see Matt 18:18-20).

The Foundation of the Church

In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul uses various metaphors to describe believers, noting that they are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus himself being the chief corner stone” (v. 20). Notice also his prayer in Ephesians 3:20-21 where he makes reference to glory being given to God “in the church” (v. 21).

Does built on the foundation of the apostles have any reference to an unbroken succession of bishops/minister from the apostles?

Or, does it refer to those who hold to the doctrinal and practical teaching of the apostles?


Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Note: The focus was on the apostles’ didache.

Galatians 1:But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Note: Paul said that even if he (an apostle) preached a false gospel, let him be anathema. Right teaching prevails over personal office—even of an apostle.

Colossians 2:As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Note: Establishment in the faith in key, not adherence to any apostle.

2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Note: The emphasis is not merely on the fact that men be tapped who are associated with the apostle but that they be faithful teachers.

The Marks of a True Church

What make a true church to be a true church?

Does a historical claim to have bishop/ministers who were ordained in a line of succession going back to the apostles necessarily make a true church?

Or, are there some other, more central distinguishing marks of a true church?

The classic Protestant view has been that a true church bears three distinguishing marks (see Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 576-588).

1.     The true preaching of the Word (John 8:31, 32, 47; 14:23; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 9).

Berkhof: “The true preaching of the Word is the great means for maintaining the Church and enabling her to be the mother of the faithful” (577).

2.     The right administration of the sacraments (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 11:23-30).

Berkhof: “The sacraments never should be divorced from the Word, for they have no content of their own, but derive their content from the Word of God; they are in fact a visible preaching of the Word” (577-578).

3.     The faithful exercise of discipline (Matt 18:18; 1 Cor 5:1-5, 13; 14:33, 40; Rev 2:14, 15, 20).

Berkhof: “This is quite essential for maintaining the purity of doctrine and for guarding the holiness of the sacraments. Churches that are lax in discipline are bound to discover sooner or later within their circle an eclipse of the light of truth and an abuse of that which is holy” (578).

Apostolic Continuity

Rather than linear apostolic succession, Protestants have focused instead on spiritual apostolic succession, in continuity in teaching and practice with the apostles. A church “succeeds” the apostles not because it has a bishop/minister who can trace an unbroken line of ordination back to the apostles, but because it is consistent with the teaching and practices of the apostles as they are set forth in Scripture.

Calvin on Apostolic Succession

John Calvin addressed the issue of apostolic succession in his Institutes (see especially 4.2.1-5). Here are a few quotes:

“That is, wherever the ministry remains whole and uncorrupted, no moral faults or diseases prevent it from bearing the name ‘church’” (4.2.1).

“It therefore follows that this pretense of succession is vain unless their descendants conserve safe and uncorrupted the truth of Christ, which they have received at their fathers’ hands, and abide in it” (4.2.2).

“But especially in the organization of the church nothing is more absurd than to lodge the succession in persons alone to the exclusion of teaching” (4.2.3).

“To sum up, since the church is Christ’s Kingdom, and he reigns by his Word alone, will it not be clear to any man that those are lying words [cf. Jer. 7:4] by which the Kingdom of Christ is imagined to exist apart from his scepter (that is, his most holy Word)? (4.2.4).

“[Paul] means that apart from the Lord’s Word there is not an agreement of believers but a faction of wicked men” (4.2.5).


Saturday, November 26, 2022

Ukrainian Edition: The Doctrines of Grace: An Introduction to the Five Points of Calvinism

In 2019 our church's publishing ministry produced a short book I had written titled The Doctrines of Grace: An Introduction to the Five Points of Calvinism (print and digital editions, find it here). As the title indicates, this book is a brief and simple introduciton to the Reformed doctrine of salvation (the doctrines of grace), using the TULIP acronym.

Two years ago, Gloria Boyd, a member of our church originally from the Dominican Republic, translated the book into Spanish, and so we published a Spanish version (print and digital editions, find it here).

In the past year my friend Vadim Chepurny, Assistant Dean at the Reformed Baptist Seminary, enlisted the help of Daria Musiyenko to produce a Ukrainian version of the book.

D. Florentine, a member of our church who serves as technical editor for Trumpet Books formatted this work for publication, and it is now available on amazon. You can find it here.

We were hoping we could produce an inexpensive kindle edition (as we had done with the Spanish version) but at present amazon does not support books in the kindle format in Ukrainian. Maybe we can produce a digital edition of this version in the future.

We trust that the Lord may be pleased to use this new edition of the book in Ukrainian in any way he sees fit to magnify his glory and build his kingdom.

We are also interested in sending complimentary copies of this book to Ukrainian-speaking churches or ministries that might be interested in receiving it or using it in their labors.

If you are interested, send an email to the info.crbc (at)


Friday, November 25, 2022

Jots & Tittles 14: Rejoinder to Matthew Everhard on the Why I Preach Appendix



The Vision (11.25.22): Some Recent Scenes from CRBC


Image: Baby shower, balloon game (11.19.22). Can you find the expecting mom in this picture?

Image: CRBC nursing home outreach ministry crew (11.20.22)

Image: Children and youth overflow seating at the CRBC Thanksgiving gathering (11.22.22)


Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Vision (11.18.22): I will not


Image: Andrey Nikolaevich Mironov, Parable of the Two Sons, 2012

Note: Devotional taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 21:28-32.

Matthew 21: 28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented and went.

In Christ’s Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-31), Christ begins by describing the command given by the father to the first son (v. 28). Notice four things about this command:

First, the father begins by appealing to this first child as his “Son.” Sons are expected to obey and honor fathers (see the fifth commandment, Exod 20:12).

Second, he does not issue a request but a command. He does not say, Son if you have the time and you’re not too busy, would you be so kind as to go into the vineyard for me? Pretty please with sprinkle on top. No, he extends two imperatives, Go! Work!

Third, notice the urgency of the command. Not, if and when you have time. Not, by the end of the week or month. But “today.” This recalls David’s words in Psalm 95, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart” (vv. 7-8).

Fourth, he provides clear direction as to where the son is to go and labor (the sphere of is labor), “in my vineyard.” Any reference to a vineyard recalls those scenes from the OT, as in Isaiah 5, when the Lord presents himself as the owner of the vineyard, and the vineyard as the “house of Israel.”

We then have the response of the first son (v. 29). He answers his father, “I will not.” This is a perfect representation of the exercise of man’s free will. Man has a free will. Only problem is that it is in bondage to sin, so that when God the Father commands, sinful men respond, I will not!

In this case, however, we are next told that some change overcame the first son. We are not given any reason or explanation for this change. There is no record of angst or guilt or pangs of conscience. There is just a change: “but afterward he repented…” The word here for “to repent” is not the word typically used for the turning away from sin and self and toward God (metanoeo), but another (metamelomai) that appears less frequently and is associated with a sense of regret. It is used in Matthew 27:3 to describe how unconverted Judas “repented himself” or was filled with remorse for betraying Christ.

Finally, it says, he “went” out into the vineyard to labor for his father, even though he had initially refused (v. 29).

There is something in this account of the first son that is applicable to the experience of every believer. The Father calls us and commands that we serve him. The response of every unconverted man is, I will not. Then, however, the Lord is pleased to bring about repentance and leads the child of God to respond in obedience.

Let us listen to the Father’s commands and obey him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Jots & Tittles 13: Bishop Thompson on the Canterbury Convocation (1870-1881)



Thirty Years Ago Today


From my twitter @Riddle1689:

Thirty years ago today I was ordained to the gospel ministry at age 27 by the first church I served as Pastor, Beulah Baptist Church in Lyells, Virginia. The deacons gave me this Cambridge KJV Bible.

My father J. C. Riddle preached the ordination sermon. We sang this hymn I had written to the ST. ANNE tune in the service. My mother-in-law later created this calligraphy work of the lyrics and gave it to me as a gift. It hangs in my bedroom, so I see it every day.

At this point, I had just come back from two years in Hungary. Before that there had been four years of summer ministry as a college student and three years of seminary where I served in chaplaincy and teaching in my local church.

Over these 30 years I have served three churches as pastor, moving from SBC to RB life, and planting the church I now pastor, 12 years ago.

Ministry is hard. I've seen both the best and worst of myself and others. There have been many Mondays when I wanted to quit and have a normal job. I'll never forget the man I met at the DMV counter one day who told me through tears how he used to be in the ministry.

Through it all, Christ has constantly proved himself faithful and worthy of the greatest admiration. I love him and want to serve him with my life so much more than I did 30 years ago. SDG.